Friday, December 16, 2016

The Reason for All Seasons

For years people have proclaimed Jesus is the reason for the season. Meaning that He is the reason for Christmas. Of course, not everybody meditates on the Christ child while celebrating the chaos they gleefully dive into once a year. Some don’t give a thought to the ancient tale of the baby born of a virgin. Shopping, parties, and forcing screaming toddlers onto Santa’s lap are the unforsaken traditions. The day after, they clean up the mess and try to forget the holiday assortment of exhaustion, disappointment, and debt. Then a year later, they do it all again.

When I say they, I mean us. Even in my community of Christians, it happens. We live up to our societal expectations, and it’s not such a bad thing, but we forget the immense reason for this season. The astonishing act of God coming down here. The ultimate gift for our redemption. The odd plan to offer our only hope through an infant who was, who is, God Himself. The awestruck wise men brought good gifts rich in symbolism of the newborn King’s royalty, His worth, and His future suffering. And now we gift each other with the trivial, soon broken or forgotten. Even when we offer a gift of great value, we’re expected to give again next year. ‘Tis the season, after all.

This year, I’ve heard it said that Jesus is the reason for all seasons. Not just Christmas, but every season. This is the time of year we send out cards embossed with Season’s Greetings, so what does it mean to declare that Jesus is the reason for all seasons? The four seasons—spring, summer, fall, and winter? The seasons of life—birth, childhood, adulthood, death? The years spent raising children is one season. Aging brings another season until one dies, leaving others to continue the seasons. All of life can be categorized into seasons. A nation can be born, and thrive, and then wane to less than it once was. Even the broad expanse of our universe, once new and seemingly endless, may shift into variable seasons of existence. Is Jesus the reason for all seasons?

If He is the reason for one season, for Christmas, then yes, He is the reason for all. Speaking of the Christ child, the dying Savior, victorious Redeemer, and soon returning King of kings and Lord of lords, Scripture proclaims:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:15-17

He is more than we can imagine. And yet this time of year we view Him simply as a baby. If we pay close attention, if we slow down, we will remember to behold the infant and celebrate with joy. What a wonderful gift God gave us.

Every season of our lives, of our world, gives us hope to know Him, to be redeemed by Him, to seek Him more, to worship Him, to cling to His love for us, to tell of His goodness, and to obtain His eternity. So in this merry season, especially when we’re caught up in the holly jolly of it all, we must fall to our knees before the manger and gaze at the shadow of the cross. And be awestruck by God’s immeasurable gift.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Darkness Interrupted

We all know it probably didn’t happen in December. The manger scenes we display on our tables or in our yards may not be an exact representation of the real thing. Our Christmas is more culture than conviction. While we’re shopping, baking, decorating, and even while we’re singing out with joy, we do well to keep in mind the awesome peculiarity of God’s gift. At the church I attend, we dedicate each Sunday night in December to singing about the great event that took place and changed the world. Our first evening service of the month brought a new song, one written and sung by a young church member.

The words of the song sank deep and reminded me that God didn’t have to send us a baby in a manger. That baby didn’t have to give up residency in Heaven and lay down in the dirt where animals slept. He could have stayed where He was and done one of two things—revealed to us in a loud voice that we must follow Him, or else just wiped us out.

But neither of those plans would have suited Him. He made us in His image, and so we can’t be obliterated—not really. He’s eternal, so we’re eternal. And using His outside voice isn’t exactly in His nature either. At least not when it comes to redeeming His children.

So did He have to come as a baby and live like a peasant and die like a criminal? We can’t answer that question. It’s what He did. He did it for us. He did it for Himself. But he could have just let it ride. We—the whole human race—would have burned ourselves out eventually and existed eternally apart from Him. That’s what would have happened if He didn’t do what He did.

The angels made an announcement that night—whenever it was.  “Good tidings of great joy.” And then a light came on. Maybe the whole sky lit up. Maybe the light burned in the hearts of those who heard the angels’ cry. Maybe it was just a low glow in the souls of all mankind. A spark to ignite future generations. A glimmer to remind creation that redemption had come at last. Whatever it was, our dark world got interrupted by His glory. Halleluiah. 

He could have left the light off—said, “Nobody’s home. Not for you, lost world.” But He didn’t.

Chorus from that new song—one I hope we hear again in our church next Christmas:
You could have stayed on high,
But you came into our night.
Came to give us light. Came to give us light. 
                                                   ( written by Beka Burns)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Moving from Nonsense to Civility

I missed the whole #assassinateTrump craze on Twitter because I was busy with, you know, real life. But on Sunday I did catch the #RapeMelania nonsense.

Here are a few of those tweets:

I just saw that Rape Melania is trending This week, many tweets talked about killing Trump More reminders that Love Trumps Hate is a lie

So "Assassinate Trump" & "Rape Melania" is the narrative from the "tolerant" liberals and the lib media will protect these violent animals.

From "Love Trumps Hate" and "Stronger Together" to "Rape Melania" and "Assassinate Trump." #LiberalLogic

As a black woman, I despise the racism and misogyny of @realDonaldTrump but Rape Melania is disgusting and should not be tolerated!!!

"Assassinate Trump", "Rape Melania", "Riot" trending shows that the Liberal Media has embolden the most dangerous people in America.

I'm asked a lot how I can be gay and vote Republican. I want NOTHING to do with a party who's sunk so low to have a Rape Melania sign.

The left says the Rape Melania doesn't represent all them and yet I've seen them lump all Trump supporters as racist due to some bad apples.

If I'm at a Trump rally protesting and I hear someone say, "Rape Melania". You catching these hands. How dare you disrespect women like that

And an alt-view:
Rape Melania trending is the alt-right being told to pretend to be left and cause our own party to implode. It's a tactic. Learn about it.
The nastiness eventually went away, but shame on Twitter for not shutting it down sooner. I get it—freedom of speech and all that. The problem is that some think Twitter pulled it after becoming convinced it was indeed a bogus ploy by…somebody to prove…something. More likely they stopped the hashtag because the left was coming off as idiotic, cruel, and dare I say, immoral. Which leads me to another recent declaration:

“New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls the Trump victory a ‘moral 9/11 except that 9/11 was done from us on the outside and we did this to ourselves.’” 

But did we really? Whether we preferred a crass renegade or liberal career politician, almost half of us didn’t care. MSNBC reported that 46.9% of registered voters didn’t vote in this election.

The protestors, no doubt, are from one camp. Questions as to how many of them actually voted are irrelevant. They’re mad and they have a right to make a stink about it. Though corralling people onto buses and delivering them to certain high-profile spots seems less like free speech and more like planned media events. 

As for the count of non-voters, perhaps some thought this was no contest and didn’t bother casting their ballots. But most of the apathetic likely saw no good choice, so they stayed home. Perhaps there was no good choice, but there was a choice and it has been made. Those who voted and those who didn’t, the ones protesting and the ones celebrating now have the same president elect. We still have the right to march and cry foul. Do we still have the fortitude to stand together as citizens and encourage peace?

To the Christian community, of which I am a citizen, don’t be so quick to declare moral victory as the liberal tone cries moral defeat. Here’s our part in facilitating peace in our ever-changing nation. I included it my last blog—pre-election—and now its weight is even greater.


I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” I Timothy 2:1-4

Friday, November 4, 2016

Shut the Door

What to do after the election.

Today we will know the answer. We’ll assume by the outcome of the election that our country will take one road or another. Or the road might not seem too different at all from the one we’re on now. In my sliver of America, the Christian community, we have voiced opinions and attended rallies. We have spoken, written, posted and tweeted. In some instances, we’ve argued. And without a doubt, we have prayed, for we consider prayer our greatest hope.

What exactly have we been praying? It seems the consensus is to pray that the lesser of two evils will win this election. Perhaps that should be our prayer, but rulers are appointed by God to achieve a purpose. Whether they are less evil or more evil may be nothing more than God’s determination on timing. Will the America we know become less recognizable now, or later?

After the ballots are counted and the candidates have fussed and strutted, then what will we pray? No more public outcry about this candidate or that one will be required. Perhaps a humbler application is what we’ll need. It’ll be time to go into our rooms, if we haven’t already. Time to kneel in the closet.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6

What will we pray for in the secret place? A defensive measure might be that public prayer is not outlawed. The trend of the law is to quiet our voices. But no one can stop us from praying in the secret place. Here’s how we must pray after the election when we think it’s all over, because won’t be over at all.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” I Timothy 2:1-4

When you pray, remembering to be thankful—don’t skip that part—pray that we may lead a certain type of lifestyle. Peaceful, quiet, godly, holy. Should we pray for our agenda? Our rights? Sustaining Social Security? Keeping our churches tax exempt? Appointing the right justices? Securing our borders? Avoiding WWIII? All good prayers, but the motivation behind our prayers should be primarily to extend and prolong the call of the Gospel in this world. For the nations—for our nation. Even for the sake of our national leaders.

So next week, whether you feel like you’ve won or lost, go into your room and shut the door. Pray for the newly elected. For our country. Pray that we in the Christian community might live as God leads us. For this is good and pleasing to God, who desires all people to be saved. The ones across party lines. The ones with ungodly political motives. The ones who celebrate evil’s rule as if it were good. Pray that while the time remains, the message of God’s truth will reach them. All of them.

And then go be a peaceful, quiet, godly, holy, unrelenting force in revealing God’s answer to your prayer. Hope doesn’t quit. People still need to hear the Gospel. And God is not done.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Far-Reaching Gospel

Nearly four hundred years ago, a movement within the Christian community engineered the future of the church by stressing field preaching, aiming to draw in young people, the writing of innovative hymns, taking those hymns outside the church, and meeting together in small groups. The fields have become streets, and street preachers are not typically well received. But the overall plan suggests a modern approach.

Of course, nobody wants to hear how European pietism of the 1600s shaped modern evangelism. Not right now. Too many oddities have swept over Christianity in the new world and this is not the time to delve into church history. What we need now is the safe comfort of an American Bible-belt sanctuary filled to the last pew with clean-cut, straight-laced, but not too politically correct believers. We want the familiar, the good old-time religion. We don’t want the wrong crowd, the radical music, the broad political agenda, or the apprehension of too much evangelism in a hostile environment. We just want a place to call our own where the outsiders won’t bother us. Maybe that’s a good definition of church for some, but it doesn’t carry the Gospel into the broken world.

While the movement of those long-ago believers progressed, their culture endured political and religious wars. In the thinking of most of the population, the evil of slavery was socially acceptable. Witchcraft and paganism were common. This was no Bible belt. If the average family had access to scripture, it wasn’t in the form of several faux-leather copies piled unread in the den. This was a harsh existence for most. The voice of the Gospel, however, rose above the obstacles as it always must.

Living the Christian life has never been easy. Looking back, it may seem a more pleasant and peaceful saneness blessed a generation or two at various points in history. But peace not found in Christ is an illusion. Sometimes, it’s a very good illusion that demands to be kept. Then a generation comes to its senses by revelation or oppression, and the Gospel moves. It reaches into a stained society to free those wrenched in unbelief. It calls to the ones deemed unclean. It meets the threat of perversion. It counters the claim of irrelevance. It is a far reach the Gospel sustains into the uncomfortable places we thought we could avoid.

It is the joy of the church to tell the old story anew in times of trouble. It is not the privilege of the church to remain forever content in its surroundings. Our security is not of this world, nor our hope in this world. Our guarantee is not to remain citizens of a Christian nation. Nor should we think our national leaders are anything but appointed by God for some purpose. If their objective proves detrimental for us, then God will be sufficient. And by His will the message of the Gospel will become a louder cry.  

A very old hymn that was once new:

Christ, the Life of All the Living

Christ, the life of all the living;
Christ, the death of death our foe;
Christ, for us yourself once giving
to the darkest depths of woe:
through your suffering, death, and merit,
life eternal we inherit;
thousand, thousand thanks are due,
dearest Jesus, unto you.

 You have suffered great affliction
and have borne it patiently,
even death by crucifixion:
our atonement full and free.
Lord, you chose to be tormented,
that our doom should be prevented;
thousand, thousand thanks are due,
dearest Jesus, unto you.

Lord, for all that bought our pardon,
for the sorrows deep and sore,
for the anguish in the garden,
we will thank you evermore.
For the victory of your dying -
sinful nature mortifying -
thousand, thousand thanks are due,
dearest Jesus, unto you.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Heaven is My Destination

 My last post, Hell is My Destiny, ended my summer blog break with a message of sheer hopelessness. I am, as are you, bound for eternity in the bad place and there’s nothing we can do about it. Most of us don’t think too much about it because our earthbound existence keeps us feeling hopeless enough already.  I wrote about summer’s mass murders, terrorist attacks, plagues, and about the impending pick of a new POTUS. As for that last one, some might see a little piece of Heaven waiting for us depending on the outcome of November eighth. Most of my community seems to lean one way. But I can’t put my hope in it, and the leaners I know and love don’t place their confidence in this slipshod election either.

But back to Hell, I may have stuck a needle in some readers’ sensitive expectations. After all, I am a Christian and my message must portend a better way. As I stated at the end of the blog of bleakness, I’m not on the Hellbound train. I used to be. I should be. But there’s a new train coursing over the lost earth with a gracious conductor ready to snatch us off the locomotive of destruction. So, I turned around. I’m going the other way. But it wasn’t my doing, it was the conductor who rescued me. If He hadn’t plucked me off the track I was on, I wouldn’t have changed trains. Okay, enough with the trains.

We are going the wrong way. The only way for us to turn around is to trust our Maker to turn us. It’s His choice to do it. If it wasn’t then we wouldn’t even know we had a choice. It’s our choice to say, “Yes, please rescue me. I have no other hope but You.” We can’t stop the train, get off at the next station, or pick a different conductor. (Again with the trains!) We’re speeding out of control toward one destination. Only God can save us from the wreckage waiting for us when the broken track meets the jagged cliff. Only He can put us on the new train.

So here I am on a new course, on the train to glory. Bound for Heaven. But the view from my passenger car is no different. I still witness death. Even since my last post, senseless violence took more lives. The candidates faced off. They had a lot to say but said very little. I don’t know who won the debate, but I feel like we the people lost. I’m still the citizen of a world with a destiny. I’m also a citizen of Heaven and I will ride this train home.

No, it’s not about trains. The plan to rescue us preceded trains by…forever. The God of eternity made a way. The way is to follow His Son. It is the way of the cross proclaiming that all who believe He died to save us and rose again will gain true life with Him. This is the thing that changes destiny.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
                                                                                                                                                                             I Thessalonians 5:9

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hell is My Destiny

If you were to ask me, a Christian, if I think you’re going to Hell, this would be my answer: It’s your destiny. And mine.

Somewhere between disdain and confusion, you might settle on curiosity. Why would I tell you that we’re both bound for Hell? Don’t I have some good news for you? Shouldn’t I say something positive and uplifting so you will feel better about yourself and know that God loves you?

In this season of history, not many of us think about our eternal destiny. Life is hell enough for most people. During my summer-long blog break, a number of atrocities grabbed the writer in me, but I kept the page blank.

It started with a mass murder in my own backyard—forty-eight people gunned down. I could have written my own personal commentary about it, but so many others took care of that. My people, at least those of us with our halos on crooked, showed deep sympathy and abiding concern for their people. We aren’t so far apart—their community and mine. We share a common destiny.

Other countries experienced more deadly disasters. A truck plowed into a crowd in France, killing over eighty people. A coup in Turkey left 260 dead, and three suicide attackers killed over forty people. Other senseless attacks killed other people. But the murderers and the murdered all share the same destiny.

Again in on my own backyard—the Zika virus made itself known. It started out with mosquitoes, but then Planned Parenthood classified it as an STD. It’s just one more plague on the human existence, and this one attacks the unborn. Some reports note a rise in abortions in Latin American countries. Concern has been expressed over abortion restrictions in the U.S. if the virus becomes a national threat. I stand against that ungodly agenda. But I share a destiny with the abortionist.

The Olympics played out, stirring patriotism here at home. Big wins. Profound words appreciated by the Christian community. Stupid antics not appreciated by anyone. Opposing destinies? Not at all.

The Conventions kept some of us up at night ruminating over whether to go north of the border or south to start our new lives. As the day approaches, the two potentials just seem to make the voter booth an even scarier place. What will become of us? I don’t know, but I do know the destiny of all who vote for one and all who vote for the other.

The unpredictable summer only verified this world is bound for something we can’t change. Our destiny is before us, globally, nationally, and individually. God’s got the whole world in His hands, so I won’t fret over that. He’s got the election too, and the new POTUS will fulfill a purpose according to God’s plan, whatever that may be. As for me and the confused and curious, well, destiny is just as much beyond our control.

Nothing we can do will change our destiny of death and Hell. No amount of goodness, benevolence, altruism, religion, or positivity will change a thing.  We can’t escape it, avoid it, or climb out of it. We’re on a fast track headed right for it. We are most hopeless. Seems unfair, doesn’t it?  But the entry fee for the other place is way beyond our ability to pay. So we all share a common destiny, whether we believe in destiny or not.

Maybe that’s not what you wanted from me—to hear I share your destiny. Maybe you were hoping against hope I’d tell you how to get out of it. Well okay, here’s some good news: While Hell is my destiny, I’m not on that train. Next blog, find out why Heaven is my destination.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Get Ready for Spectacular Brain Function

Hey, I'm branching out with a whole new blog site. To get started, here's my most popular post from blogs past. (Yes, this is a test.)

Who wouldn’t want to be a nethead?

Nethead: a person who is an enthusiast or an expert on the Internet. Like most of the techno words I used in Wake the Dead, this is another one of those terms I didn’t make up.  After studying transhumanism, and assuming the rest of the reading population had at least heard of it, it surprised me when I had to tell people I didn’t make it up. Not the word, or the science, or the social movement promoting it as the next leap in the evolution of mankind. It’s all astonishingly real.

I didn’t make up nethead, but I think it will take on a new meaning. Beyond expertise in the use of the Internet, netheads will be classified as those who can pull up a website without a computer. They will order pizza, reserve a hotel room, call the doctor, and monitor their kids simply by thinking about it. No laptop, tablet, or smart phone needed. Just a chip, maybe an electrode and they…we…will be on the grid.

Your augmented cyberabilty may mean you won’t even have to think too hard to get your own needs met. If your brain knows your body is lacking a nutrient, you might find a yummy vitamin bar delivered before you request it. You can thank the personal assistant robot that’s cyber-connected to your head. Your doctor may be informed long before you notice signs of illness. How? The nanobots coursing through your blood vessels will tell your brain implant there’s a problem, and your implant will send a report to the appropriate medical specialist. As well as being a nethead, you could be a botbod.

These are some things I thought I made up when I wrote Wake the Dead: Implants that allow you to see in the dark, to hear beyond normal human ability, or to instantly speak any language. Turns out all these enhancements are coming soon to an implant store near you. Well, it won’t be that easy, but it is coming. Some things I knew about from my study of transhumanism: Superior brain function—math will no longer be an issue for people like me. Remote control devices will require nothing more than brain waves. Access to information will be instantaneous. Learning any new skill will require no more time than it takes to think about learning a new skill. Will the body be able to keep up with the brain? The transhumanist believes it will. When will this happen? The plan is for some of these advancements to be available by 2020.
Wake the Dead takes place in the 2030s. By then the whole premise of the story may be outdated.
Chances are things won’t progress as quickly as the H+ (transhumanist) community hopes. But progress is being made, and at least some degree of human enhancement is inevitable. In fact, it’s already happening. People have asked me why I wrote about something so strange and unsettling. I jokingly say, “The voices made me do it.” I’m a conservative American Christian woman, so you’d think I’d be writing inspirational romance. Or something Amish. Well, Chase Sterling (the transhuman on the cover of my novel) is a romantic soul, but he’s also a nethead. He can see in the dark, and hear a cricket fart, and he has superior upper body strength that kicks in when he needs it. Did he want to become the world’s first transhuman? Not at all. Do I? Not for a cyber-coded nanosecond.

Do you? You might have to make that decision before too long. Or you might not have the option. My issue with the prospect of wide-spread transhumanism is kind of like my inability to grasp the concept of time travel. I like the stories, but I don’t get it. If you go back in time, are you still in the present? If you’re not, won’t people miss you? If you are, do you know you’re also in the past? And doesn’t your activity in the past change the future—your present—so that you might not even exist in the future? So, do you only exist in the past? If that’s true, then how did you get there from the future? Wait, what?
Too many implanted brains doing the same thing at the same time could make the transhuman world just as confusing. Chase can shut down a government operation with just a thought, but he hasn’t come up against another transhuman who might be working against him. (Not yet anyway.) What if 100,000 brains were working against each other, or all trying to manipulate the same system at the same time? I use that number because I read there are currently 100,000 people living with brain implants. They aren’t able to function like Chase, but the next generation of implanted humans might be.

Do I really believe that? Yes and no. I think it might happen. Science is gearing up to make it a reality. But I think it might fail. Like the tower of Babel. We all know how that worked out for the human race. Here we go again.