2020 changed everything for me and for all of us. I think I managed the survival mode pretty well but the psychological trauma was real. For those of us who worked in churches it was extreme. Wounds were willfully opened. They are and were deep and spread open for continuing salt and fire. The insidious nature of the fear disease still persists.
2021 has provided some reprieve from the constant antagonistic climate. I am personally experiencing a complex and prolonged grief cycle. There is no returning to normal, whatever that was. The future is filled with uncertainty. I am certain of the loss. I have faith in the future. The internal trauma response continues in me. I am not afraid. I am angry and judgmental more often than not. Both states are toxic.
I am grateful to see each day as it is. Arianna Huffington spoke on a Cisco meeting today and said “gratitude and anxiety can’t exist at the same time.”
I think that is right. We must choose gratitude and the anxiety will dissipate. Faith teaches me to thank God for every moment. Faith is the antidote and vaccine for fear.
What do you have faith in, specifically? Therein lies the root of our hope or our fear. I choose constantly. This is life. This is just me.
A man without faith is a man without hope. This explains the mental illness of so many humanists and social “science” academics. They cannot thrive because the consume the wrong fuel for thought.
Hope is not a management strategy but it is required along side it’s trinity companions.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
When the stone was rolled away, the mask was ripped off of the facade that death is the end. The fear is overcome and faith is revealed in the flesh. Man’s vicious pursuit of relevance and virtue at the expense of the virtuous is proven false and empty.
There is nothing rational and reasonable about our risen Lord. The resurrection is miraculous just as our salvation. The Age of Enlightenment has no answer for a resurrection because Jesus is both God and Man. We see dimly through our human eyes, but today we see enough. We celebrate eternal life given to each of us specific, beloved, first born children of Christ. Hallelujah. He is risen. He is risen indeed. In the resurrection, the promise is fulfilled.
This cactus “crown of thorns” was given to me by dear friends years many ago. We aren’t good at plants in our house but it always seems to survive. Some periods have more thorns than others. Some times have more flowers than others. Today is Easter and we celebrate the risen Lord. Earthly death awaits all of us. In Christ we live forever. Death, o death, where is thy sting? It is not here in this period and time.
A year ago, the federal government and state governments of the United States of America locked down the greatest country in the world. We the people were told that it was for our own food, for the greater good.
Stay at home, no church, no school, no hugs, no handshakes, no travel, no exercise, no choice. No preventative and normal medical care for anyone. Why? Covid.
The “experts” used faulty projections and models to terrify the population into submission instead of leading with authority. Media fueled the panic. Toilet paper disappeared. Supply chains were disrupted globally. Families disintegrated overnight. Singing in choirs was utterly destroyed overnight.
The TRUTH: none of the countermeasures delivered as promised. The epidemic and mortality curves of the lockdown leaders are equal or greater than the anti lockdown leaders. We live and we die. This was true before. It will always be true. The mortality rate of the human race is 100%.
What happened, whether intentional or not, was the further subjugation of people’s minds and ability to think for themselves. Our bodies fought the battles with Covid. Our minds chose to surrender to the “experts” opinions over our own because we were and are afraid.
We the people fell in line. We went along to get along. We dutifully put on our masks and stopped singing our songs of community and connection.
The medical crisis is ending now. Science has prevailed with vaccines and synthetic immunity. Those of us that had the actual disease either lived or died like every other disease. The infestation of fear and dependence on government has only begun. The consequences of THIS disease will be far worse over time. Write it down. Follow the science.
We the people need community. Masks are bad things both physically and mentally. Not singing in community is catastrophic. The one societal entity that could have fought successfully was the local church. Instead, it largely proved its insignificance and irrelevance and stayed on the sidelines like it has in so many global crises of the past.
God is working indeed. He is working individually in hearts and minds. Faith over fear is the answer. Once we accept the astounding authority of God and His power to overcome death, these earthly things become nothing. Governments rise and fall. Churches form and fail. My God is real and present in my day. I am not afraid. I am sorry for when I was afraid. I will strive to NEVER be afraid of death again. You should too.
Assigning blame and convicting a leader is a weekly reality in most churches. Punishment is death. This is how the majority of the world of “church politics” acts in response to a message of hope, plans of action, and accountability for results and better choices. This is a story we all know and relate to viscerally. Apologies and reconciliations are rare indeed but they are a foundation for healing.
Couple of weeks ago I was attacked by friends in public, in my church. It is true that I was to blame for many results over the past year. It is also true that I deserve credit for inspiring, desiring more, and delivering when most did nothing and continue to do exactly that even today.
My choice as a leader was to stay and fight on terms of men or withdraw and let God work in hearts and minds. I and family made a hard choice based on principles, plans, and hope for a future for everyone involved. The pain is still real. The grief is stifling. This is the life we are provided. Every day is an opportunity to be. Love. Serve. Repeat. Some years go better than others.
Results can’t be determined one day at a time but my decisions over time will show that I’m proud to say. Look at what I did when I stand for judgement.
I’m pretty sure that I retired from vocational music ministry this morning officially. 25 years of doing the job, fitting in, and going along for the greater good with notes, rhythms, and service design are over in my mind.
I actually resigned from First Baptist Ridgeway for any that don’t know. No hard feelings but plenty of anxiety.
Ministry is guaranteed to always be part of my future. I’m a musician so there is that, but I can’t see a job for me which forces me to fit into a box anymore. The old Jeff, the tenor, the performer, the passionate powerful presenter has been in a chrysalis for a long time. Maybe I stay in there. Maybe I come out a moth. Maybe I come out a glorious butterfly. Who know? Only God knows.
I hope that I’ll be afforded and opportunity to lead again in the future. I adore choirs. I revel in live music making with passionate and skilled collaborators. I also love preaching and teaching scripture and leadership and using technology.
the future is bright but the one thing I know for sure is that it won’t be like it was. I’m grieving that loss. I’m a change champion but even for me it is exhausting and the cost is high.
What you do when someone says “I am not okay.” Says a lot about you.
Most people will never answer that way because they don’t trust. They expect judgement, condemnation, fixing, and controlling behaviors to follow such a personal admission. Fear is in charge.
What do they most often need?
Acceptance, attention, time... relationship and connection. LISTENING and Sitting/serving, maybe studying, eating or just silence.
Are you okay? Don’t ask the question if you aren’t prepared to put in the time, sacrificially, to love and serve.
Doctrinally, I do not believe that blanket submission to govt authority coupled with the idea that safety comes from medicine and SCIENCE is correct. Forcing masking for vaccinated, and recovered patients based on nano-risk thinking is misplaced... Locking down ALL of society by force was a terrible failure and a horrific precedent which we the people have allowed.
We have swung the pendulum to politics and science and media WAY off center....
The ONLY path back is Faith over Fear.. but that is NOT popular. never was.. never will be.. such is life. PrinciplesMatter. Practically now and into the future. Be not afraid means something powerful and profound.
For anyone who sings and leads in worship AND anyone who attends and wants to lead. Perhaps most important of all...for the congregation: as we approach worship we must find the balance and always seek the higher excellent things for glory to God, not praise of men and not our own preferences. It is difficult for all roles to execute. It is simple to criticize. The relentless return of the sabbath provides a weekly opportunity. As for my experience, some are far better than other. This is simple reality.
The force is strong with this one. He should go back to population and act like everyone else to set a good example. That is one way.
In the movie of course, the special then step up and lead in a new way, setting themselves apart.
The real way is to learn where you can best serve and then do so safely after education yourself. Raising all with you while you continue to seek to improve yourself.
The answer is never to lower the bar and race to the bottom to simply include. The distribution curve has a top and a bottom. Neither can be ignored.
Educate yourself. Live your life. Be. Love. Serve. Repeat. Freely giving and loving but standing proud. Let your light shine bright for all to see. Sing loud for all to hear. Stand and be counted. You are specific, beloved, first born child of Christ. Act like it.
it would be awesome if Jesus gave the disciples light sabers. Wait? Maybe he did. See: #TheHolySpirit
Local churches too often thrive on a culture of control. We set a standard of fear and condemnation based on an unachievable standard and spend our precious relationship cycles telling people what they can’t do. Our control choice inhibits the mission of spreading good news.
We should be focusing our leadership and congregations on what they CAN do. That is GOOD News of great joy. God is love. We the people are charged to live in that example. The entire garden of Eden is ours and yet we focus on control and the one tree. That power choice controls us.
Faith in God trumps fear, Including fear of viruses and fear of big governments. Fear easily focuses ME exactly on what I view as the ultimate authority AND power in my life at the moment. I choose to use faith as my lens instead, now and into the future. If I remain afraid, I’m not rooted in faith and I’ve chosen poorly. Honestly.
In order to proceed differently, we must accept what went well and what is failing. Changing nothing is accepting a likely outcome.
All we really know is that happened based on the actions in the past and even those facts are often interpreted differently. How do we define success and what are we able to actually do to make a difference? There is a judgement and the accountability for how we spend our time, money, and precious ability. We choose and we are thus accountable for our choices. Too many desire to be subjects to avoid accountability.
What is the job? What is the goal? What is success?
for your church? Your family? Your job? Your freedom? Your example? Your writing? Happiness?
Tozer teaching still today. “No free believer should ever sell his freedom to another. No Christian is worthy to be the master of other Christians.”
Christianity is not rational. It is miraculous. Jesus loves us in spite of us. He was resurrected from the dead and is God was God as well as man. Based on what we know, this is impossible. Faith requires belief in what it impossible.
The mystery of the Trinity boggles the minds of men because we are made, we are not God. It is okay to not understand everything. Be. Love. Serve. Repeat. This is the way.
Singing in a safe space is a way forward. We need to start somewhere in society. The local church and musicians are a critical step.
We as individual must step up and be the light. #JustSing
Turning on a light in the midst of a dark, dangerous place is not a subtle small thing. It is miraculous, courageous and powerful.
Think evil, bugs, criminals, etc. The light is the beginning of their end and they know it. They will fight.
Stand up and fight back. Be. Love. Serve. Repeat is not about being neutral. Let your light, the light of God, shine. Let it shine Let it shine let it shine.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
--- Marianne Williamson.
I enjoyed listening to Cardinal Dolan in NY just now. I agree... Religion is a very personal thing, but it is not private. The secular humanist idea/movement to silence and sideline faithful is in direct opposition to the great commission. Relegating faith and testimony to Jesus as non-essential is insidious. Amplifying secular voice while restricting and minimizing the "church" will not succeed. It never has. Focusing on secular and human ability has however created and spread chaos and tyranny along with pain and suffering whenever it is separated from GOD. History proves this simple fact over and over and over.
Christians must utilize our rights and stand up publicly for our beliefs and principles. Government is not God. Science is not God. Pain and suffering are not God and are certainly not eternal. We are blessed beyond measure to understand and accept the simple truths personally as we share the good news publicly.. in word and deed. Be. Love. Serve. Repeat.
"God fully expects the church of Jesus Christ to prove itself a miraculous group in the very midst of a hostile world. Christians, of necessity, must be in contact with the world but in being and spirit ought to be separated from the world. --- and as such we should be the most amazing people in the world." A W Tozer 1897-1963
“...All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with youalways, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
It is difficult for me to understand actions which elevate the darkness of our world in the face of such hope and light. The birth of the child, any child, is an inestimable miracle and blessing. Jesus birth, savior of the world, shows us the love and hope in the Lord.
It is a choice to embrace the sadness, and the darkness born out of our fallen nature. It is a choice to submit to the fear of the unknown. Faith is hope in the throes of the turmoil and struggle.
Joy comes in the morning. The night is cold and dark, and we must not linger there precisely because we KNOW that the morning is coming.
We as Christians MUST stand and be counted for what we know. I know whom I have believed. It is not the television, or the government. I trust in the name of the Lord of Lords. Jesus loves me in spite of my nature. That is a miracle indeed.
Refuge and relief from evil does not come from logic, laws, nor music, nor art or poetry. Evil and darkness do not recognize reason. We cannot save ourselves but we need to only ask and we are saved. In a moment... Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the way the truth the life... Our hope... He is our refuge and our strength in the face of evil. He lights the way and walks by our side. In him every valley shall be exalted...the crooked straight, and the rough places plain. Look to the heavens friends. Seek ye first the kingdom and his righteousness. And then, all these things will be added unto you.
Friend asked about black churches, democrats, and D vs R “theology” this am. I responded this way.
Political party affiliation really has nothing to do with Christianity. Period. Worldview and politics are best rendered and focused to Caesar. I love attending “black” churches and all Great commission focused churches. There are plenty, look to left, look to right... and then focus UP. Philippians 4 addresses it perfectly.
For record: All have sinned and fall short of glory. We are saved by Christ... not by govt or politics... or Caesar.
Unity of purpose in great commission does not require uniformity of action. Period. It is a hard reality for all sides. I do not need to understand actions and choices of others if I’m focused on God and my assigned mission. Where I am. As I am. Be. Love. Serve. Repeat.
Intersection of principles and practices...