Hypocrisy, the RNC, and the Empty Chair

I think it’s interesting how political satire–political mockery–is taken, depending on the target of the mockery, and the deliverer of the material.

In my opinion, one of the great things about this country is we’re free to question, criticize, and even make a considerable amount of sport of whomever we’d like, especially during election season.

Except we are only allowed by the extremely biased media the freedom to do those things if the object of the satire or mockery goes against the far left status quo.

Nothing quite so worthy of mockery, mean-spirited “satire” or even outright name calling as a conservative, Christian, or Republican.

God help anyone who criticizes or mocks President Obama. Apparently, the only president in history whose policies, ideals, and person are beyond reproach or question.

If one is unfortunate enough to make fun of or disagree with any of this president’s policies, or perhaps point out a bit of tarnish on his halo, they will soon find out just how deep the tolerance of the liberal side of the coin actual runs.

They’ll have their intellect questioned. No one with any kind of intelligence can have conservative values.

They’ll have their patriotism and even their faith questioned. Check that last part. If you believe in anything other than a liberal agenda there goes your intellect again.

So far as satire goes, the most vocal and pointed satirists in the entertainment industry (people like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, for instance) have remained nearly silent regarding President Obama.

This is not because he hasn’t said anything worthy of mockery–“you didn’t build that” comes to mind–but likely because to question the President or liberal policies is to be branded intolerant, to be filled with hate, or even be racist.

Last night’s Republican National Convention comes to mind. Clint Eastwood delivered a “speech” that was really more of a pointed commentary at President Obama and his last 4 years of mediocrity, mostly in the form of a one-sided conversation with the President Himself, “seated” in an empty chair next to the podium.

Eastwood’s speech was supposedly completely ad-libbed, which would explain some of the stiltedness and occasional moments of silence. He did have probably the best “line” of the evening, something to the effect of:

We own this country. The government is in our employ. If the President is not doing his job, we’ve got to let him go.

No hidden meaning there.

So today, I’ve seen a lot of stuff in social media that was outright insulting to both Governor Romney, his wife, and Mr Eastwood, who is now apparently suffering from dementia.

This is the same man whose commercial during the Superbowl was widely viewed as being supportive of the Obama administration, which made him more of a media darling than the goat he is today.

Funny how that works.

Plenty more ugly to come in the days, weeks, and months ahead as we progress toward election day.

I can accept that. It’s just becoming increasingly clear that tolerance has become clearly little more than a buzzword without meaning, and free speech clearly is not that free.

Clearest of all to me lately, is that the liberal left (especially the entertainment “lobby”), as my mom would have said, “Can dish it out, but they can’t take it.”

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Perspective

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From this point of view, that can looks about a mile high. I’m sure your problem does, too. Maybe it even is.

But look what happens when you step back a little and get a different perspective.

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A little bit of distance is sometimes what you need to see things as they actually are. It gives you the ability to see there is an end to whatever giant thing is in your path.

You’ll get through it.

Of Conviction, Inspiration, and Change

There’s this scene in the movie Sling Blade where the camera moves through the day room in a mental hospital, passing by various patients on its way to Karl, played by Billy Bob Thornton, who is quietly sitting in a chair looking out a window.

The audience is offered brief glimpses of many of the patients, and their common features all seem to be lots of slack jaws and staring eyes.

I was thinking about my high school Sunday school class the other day and that image occurred to me.

It has been no walk in the park to try and get those kids interested and participating. I’ve been observing the other teachers and taking lots of notes, and hopefully my next lesson will go a little better.

Certainly, part of the problem must lay with the students having difficulty relating to someone so much older than they are. Also that it’s likely they are not in class by choice, but because their parents make them go.

But I think the problem is larger than that. It’s more than my teaching style and that the students may be tired from a long evening of playing Call of Duty or instant messaging their “bestie” on their smart phones.

I think we’ve raised a generation of kids that has forgotten about the passion of Jesus. By that I do not mean his long walk down the Via Dolorosa, but his zeal for his father, and his Father’s house.

It’s my job to find a way to reawaken that in them. It’s not just about Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, though he does.

It’s about reminding these kids that Jesus is relevant to them, and is not simply a set of ideals passed down from their parents like a set of holiday china. This is the same Jesus that wept over a city. The same Jesus that calmly made a whip from leather cords and then cleared the temple.

But how do you instill passion and zeal in a generation that seems to care for very little other than what’s before them at that moment?

That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I feel a sense of urgency about it because now is when these kids are going to learn the things that will stay with them. The urgency comes from the knowledge that if things about the world that so desperately need changing are ever going to be changed, it will be these kids that do it.

I think of movements like Jesus Culture, who get so much right. I think it will take some kind of revival to wake this kids up, and that it starts with us. It starts with parents, teachers, and pastors.

We need to find a way to not only make Jesus relevant and real to them, but also to help them realize that while Jesus is the hope of nations, they are, too.

Until (and unless) Jesus returns, they have the unique opportunity to shape their own futures.

How do we do this?

I believe there are several things we need to do.

1. Awaken in them a hunger and a thirst for righteousness. There seems to be an almost choking apathy amongst young people today–the “whatever” generation.

2. Inspire them to act for the kingdom. Retreats and conference highs are great, but we need to be there when they come off it and the real work begins. Inspiration is not a one time thing. We lead from the front and we kick them in the pants when they need it. We need to do this for them:

3. Pray for them. Lift them up. Let them know they can do anything, with effort, with God, and with accountability.

4. Teach them it will not be easy to change the world. It will be tough. Teach them that changing the world starts with their own world. Search their lives and their hearts and identify the areas lacking and bring God to those places. Invite healing.

5. Walk with them. Let them know they aren’t alone and never were. We might be out of touch with their reality in respect to our own, but if we show them consistency and back our pledges to be there for them and pray for them with the actuality of doing those things, then we can change that part, too.

I am not writing this because I think I have all the answers. Certainly the opposite is true. The conviction I’ve been feeling lately is my own, based on my own experiences and my own prayers. It could even be that the huge pile of words I’ve just expelled is solely for my own edification. But on the off chance there’s even 1 other person out there who shares my struggles and convictions, I’m going to put both this and myself out there.

And I’m going to pray.

Abandon

I’ve always had these sort of…hang ups about the worship portion of a church service. I would occasionally feel moved to worship in a certain manner–sometimes lift my hands, or kneel, or even sing out loud.

I never did it, though. Not even when I felt like I was supposed to. I didn’t want people to think I was weird, or fake, or had a bad voice.

Tonight during the youth worship I had this moment of clarity where I realized it didn’t matter what anyone thought but Jesus. It never had mattered.

And then I obeyed.

It may be that my inhibitions don’t trouble me anymore. I don’t know at this point. It could also be the dimness of the room and the fact I was in the back row.

Whatever tonight was about, I’ll take it for what it was: God speaking truth.

The Anthem

I was listening to music this morning. This song, actually. The Anthem, by Jake Hamilton:

and a snatch of an Ozzy Osborne song occurred to me. “I don’t want to change the world, I don’t want the world to change me.”

I don’t want to change the world

I wondered why someone wouldn’t change the world, given the opportunity? There are so many terrible things going on in a place that was not designed to be terrible. I could list a million things I would change about the world so it would be more to my liking. Instead, I’ll just mention what I’d change about the world to make it better.

I’d bring God to it, bring Jesus. Like Galadriel told Frodo, “a light when all other lights go out.”

I don’t want the world to change me

That much at least is true. I don’t want the world to change me. Not because I don’t think I need to be changed, but because I want God to do the changing.

So I listened to that song again and I thought that change is possible, but that if it happens it’s up to us. Not a politician, or a president.

The change we can believe in comes from God. It breaks chains, it delivers, and it sets captives free. If you want that kind of change, you’ll have to seek it out, and work for it.

Here’s the lyrics to The Anthem. Maybe it will inspire you, too.

I can hear the footsteps of my King
I can hear his heartbeat beckoning
In my darkness He has set me free
Now I hear the spirit calling me

He’s calling, wake up child, it’s your turn to shine
You were born for such a time as this
He’s calling, wake up child, it’s your turn to shine
You were born for such a time as this
Such a time as this

I can hear a holy rumbling
I’ve begun to preach another king
Loosing chains and breaking down the walls
I want to hear the Father when He calls

He’s calling, wake up child, it’s your turn to shine
You were born for such a time as this
He’s calling, wake up child, it’s your turn to shine
You were born for such a time as this
He’s calling, wake up child, it’s your turn to shine
You were born for such a time as this
Such a time as this

This is the anthem of our generation
Here we are God, shake our nation
All we need is your love
You captivate me

This is the anthem of our generation
Here we are God, shake our nation
All we need is your love
You captivate me

This is the anthem of our generation
Here we are God, shake our nation
All we need is your love
You captivate me

I am royalty, I have destiny
I have been set free, I’m gonna shake history
I’m gonna change the world

Unity in Diversity?

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The pictures above are displayed above the proscenium at the San Diego House of Blues, with “Unity in Diversity” written beneath and “All Are One” above.

Certainly, all are not one.

From the little I know about world religions, pretty much all the major ones are symbolically depicted. There’s Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Brahmanism, Islam, and several other isms I didn’t recognize.

Unity in Diversity. All are one.

I’m not sure what they’re trying to get at with that, but I’m going to go ahead and call BS on the slogans.

Diversity in the symbols depicted, certainly. There’s yin/yang, the star and crescent of Islam, and many other statues and symbols except 1.

I didn’t see a cross.

Considering the rubber stamp political correctness that’s become ubiquitous these days, the lack of representation for Protestant Christianity is perhaps understandable.

Jesus has become persona non grata for much of the world, and representing the instrument of His death and mankind’s hope in a place where secular and sometimes even evil music shakes the roof on an almost daily basis could be seen as ***gasp*** favoring mainstream Christianity.

It was interesting because while diversity and “tolerance” was proclaimed from the proscenium, the message of Christ was fearlessly proclaimed from the stage. First, by opening act Jake Hamilton.

Followed by headliner Jeremy Camp, who turned a very unlikely place and a few hundred strangers into a church service (no video for his set. I was busy worshipping).

It was a great and amazing evening, and the whole point of writing this is simply to say I am continually blown away when I see firsthand how God can use anyone at any time.

During the pre-show Q&A and meet-and-greet, Jeremy Camp was humble, and kind, and very funny. He answered everyone’s questions honestly and straightforwardly, even taking time to lay hands on a young man and pray for healing for him.

The music was great, and the word was proclaimed. During Overcome, Jeremy even had hundreds of strangers link raised hands in praise to the one who’s worthy.

The smartest and best thing Camp said came toward the end of the evening, when he had very little voice left. He looked out over the crowded floor and said “the best thing I can tell you is ‘read your bibles.'”

Simple advice, perhaps. But also the best thing we can do in a world where diversity and “tolerance” are valued far more than the sacrifice of an obscure Nazarene carpenter.

Hear o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

You can think what you want about diversity, and Christianity, and political correctness, but you will still be just as lost if you fall for that “all is one” nonsense.

All are not one.

You can serve God or not.

If not, you’d best be prepared to face the consequences.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.