“I want women to be empowered and have opportunities and be whoever they want to be, but I don’t want them to think they have to be a liberal to get there.”Allie Beth Stuckey, June 8, 2017, YouTube
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” — Romans 1:25, NIV 1984
“At the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, there’s really only two religions: you’re either going to worship the Creator or some aspect of the creation.”Frank Turek, CrossExamined, August 27, 2020, YouTube
I remember the first time I learned about abortion in school. “It’s a clump of cells until after 3 months” said my obtuse gym teacher turned health instructor.
Fast forward to more than a decade later to my 10 week scan, and I will never forget the feelings I experienced.
I was amazed that our baby already had arms and legs, hands and feet and was dancing around inside me. I was overcome by an inexorable sense of love followed by the powerful realization that I would do anything and everything to protect my unborn child.
But I was mostly astonished that all those years ago in high school, I was lied to. I was brainwashed into believing that it was my body, and therefore, simply, my choice.
Today it’s become fashionable for narcissistic celebrities, to perpetuate such brainwash amongst their fans. Like Miley Cyrus, posing half-naked with her tongue out over a cake that reads “abortion”. Like Jameela Jamil, tweeting to scores of vulnerable young girls about how “proud” she is of an earlier abortion from her teen years. Years ago, I would have thought these women were heroic feminists. Today I know that they are anything but.
And so as I move into this next chapter of my life I want to say this: To all of the young girls who have vocally supported abortion— you are allowed to change your mind. To all the young women who made uninformed decisions to go through with abortions: you are not “murderers” and you are not automatically disqualified from being pro-life. You too can have a change of heart. Education followed by transformation is one of life’s greatest offerings.
These past 5 1/2 months have been a whirlwind. A viral video with over 200 million views, comedians threatening to physically assault me, adult men degrading me because they disagree with my viewpoints on George Floyd, while others have accused me of not “showing up”, not being invited, or not caring enough to jump into the perpetual protest scene.
It is such a relief to finally share the truth.
Life is a miracle. Life is sacred. And when women carry life, we get to become the keepers of some of the Universe’s greatest secrets: beginnings.Candace Owens, August 28, 2020, YouTube
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” — Acts 2:17, NIV
“Pastor Kyle Searcy continues the FAHOW [Fresh Anointing House of Worship] ‘Shine: Living A Life That Matters In Eternity’ sermon series with a powerful interview with 25-year-old Josh Miles and his father Willie Miles. On January 3rd  Josh was rushed to the hospital after his temperature spiked to 106 degrees. His father says during the car ride to the hospital Josh lost consciousness, but Josh says he left his body and encountered hell and then heaven. When he finally reached the hospital and awoke doctors informed him he experienced a heart attack, stroke, and seizures.”YouTube video description, dated March 1, 2020
“And He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it …” — Jesus, Luke 19:19
“This cup is the new covenant in My blood …” — Jesus, Luke 19:20
I was on the schedule at my church this past Sunday to present the “communion meditation,” a short homily preceding our weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
That schedule—published late last fall for our Traditional services in 2020—was obviated (i.e., “blown to smithereens”) by the COVID-19 shutdown. We still partake in the Lord’s Supper in our online service (at home) but with no Traditional service homily.
Months ago, pre-shut-down, I hit on an idea for the homily and made notes. When my phone calendar chime reminded me last week to prepare the communion meditation, I dug out the notes and figured, column! Here is my communion thought:
“The broken body and the spilled blood of Christ.” That’s the phrase we hear so often as we encounter the Lord’s Supper, our commemoration of Jesus at the last supper in the upper room. Jesus there instructed His disciples, going forward, to eat the bread and drink the cup “in remembrance” of Him. In the ensuing hours, Jesus—the perfect and innocent lamb—would be arrested, tried, beaten, and crucified. Jesus’s broken and bloody body hung on the cursed cross sacrificed to defeat death, forgive humanity’s sins, and complete His mission of salvation in perfect obedience to God.
That’s a story we all know, but frankly I don’t always like the way it is told. Jesus died a violent but purposeful death and His resurrection proved His truth. But scripture tells us that Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, would have no “broken” bones (Exodus 12:46, Psalm 34:20, John 19:36). And though Jesus bled, crucifixion is not a “blood” sacrifice—death comes from multiple trauma and agonizing asphyxiation on a “cursed tree.”
Listen closely to the words of Luke 19:19: “He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it.” Jesus was breaking the bread of sustained fellowship with His disciples and instructing all believers for all time to remember and replicate the holy communion the disciples had with Jesus and each other. Fellowship, not brokenness, is the point.
And hear Luke 19:20: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood …” Blood is the locus of life, we are taught in the Old Testament, and this new cup of Christ indicates not only His bloody death but the blood—the new life of faith—in the New Covenant.
Let us always encounter the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Supper with joy and fellowship, in both our communion with Christ and in loving each other. Why would we celebrate a guilty remembrance of a brutal death, or a shaming reminder of our sins, failures, and fallenness? When did Jesus say to believers, “Remember your guilt!”?
No! In communion with the gracious, risen Christ we are to joyfully and properly share in His eternal gifts of hope and peace. “Go and sin no more!” Jesus said. In this supper we commemorate the glory and love of God, the perfect truth and obedience of Jesus, and the abiding comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit. The bread and the cup remind us that we are Christians commissioned to shine Jesus’s light on mankind and that Jesus commanded us, as faithful servants, to love God and to love each other.
In a world where Satan’s darkness is close, we are citizens of a Heavenly light in communion with the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and each other. Let’s remember that.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) is fixed and gathered, not broken and spilled. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.
“…that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on the power of God.”
“…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”1 Corinthians 2:5, Hebrews 11:1
If I do say so myself, I wrote the most amazing sentence this past week in an email exchange with an extraordinarily bright, non-religious, long-time friend.
Let’s call him John, and his irenic response to that sentence inspired this column.
John had commented wryly but critically about a recent op-ed piece I had written, “On Facemasks … Who Are We?” It was an editorial about American character, COVID-19, and hiding the identity God gave to us behind a facemask.
John’s public observation contained what seemed to be ad hominem vitriol. I pushed back, but our ensuing non-public exchange was thought-provoking. He noted: “My lack of faith means I do take things more objectively, and though your words were almost poetic it might not resonate as deeply with me as it would with a Christian. …”
A nice compliment from a smart guy that revealed a common error about “faith.”
I responded, “Great note John. I deeply appreciate your sincerity. Don’t ever think lack of faith makes one more objective; it makes one (maybe not you) less able to embrace the existence of objective truth, which requires faith. …”
That was my “amazing sentence,” in case you couldn’t tell. I continued briefly about being 47 when I “got” Christ, what a deeply intellectual journey my faith-growth has been, and I noted John’s keen capacity to parse and understand virtually anything.
To that John replied, “I love how your journey has … led you into sureness that (in my wry and respectful observation) you can use a phrase like ‘embracing the existence of objective truth requires faith.’ I … understand that after you have crossed that faith bridge you are no longer tentative but living in a new certainty, such that a phrase that seems to be a contradiction in terms isn’t a contradiction at all.”
And there it is, this week’s column: objectivity vs. faith. John was gently, eruditely, and without condescension acknowledging that what is a contradiction to him, i.e., “objective truth which requires faith,” he understands is not a contradiction to me.
And that seeming contradiction, friends, is what limits the world. It also largely defines today’s truth-obviating post-modernism which positions “truth” as objectively incompatible with the inferior “faith” as objective proof of the reality of Jesus Christ.
John also cited the “metaphysics” required for me to take such a “leap of faith.”
It reminded me—and underscored—how western civilization overly-relies on the ancient Greek philosophical axiom that reality and objectivity are confined to that which can be seen (or discussed) and “proven.” I also think of Francis Bacon’s 17th century “scientific method” that adds “repeatability” to the proof of “scientific” reality. These worldly constructs exclude faith and combine to vacantly imply, “Faith isn’t objective.”
Really? Which is closer to objectivity: God the Creator of all things, His infinite love and eternal relationship, that He made humanity in His own image, and lights our lives with Christ, or the machinations, variations, limitations, and opinions of fallen men?
Life’s objective truth is not a leap of faith; it is a faithful walk in the light of Jesus.
Walters (email@example.com) met John (smart even back then) in Little League. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.
“When the Counselor comes, who I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about me.”Jesus, in John 15:26
A little more than a year ago I inherited the teaching duties in our church’s Thursday morning seniors “Mustard Seed” Bible study fellowship. At age 65 I am the “kid” in the group, and I can barely describe how enriching it is to share Scripture with this weekly group of seasoned, Bible-savvy saints.
Currently we have not met since Thursday, March 12, which was pretty much the last open day in Indiana before everything, including our East 91st Street Christian Church, area schools, and public meetings started shutting down Friday, March 13.
Mustard Seed–no argument there–is the kind of group that especially needs not to meet when a pandemic like COVID-19 is an evident danger to older folks.
But what I wanted to talk about this week is not the dire, dour, and depressing isolation of our nation’s and indeed the world’s present situation. Nor can I think of anything new to say about our individual and largely home-bound circumstances. To all those folks still out there working every day in hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations, and other life-saving and society-sustaining endeavors, I say “Thank You!”
What I do want to discuss is the plain-as-the-nose-on-my-face fact that perhaps the greatest joy-robbing, hope-jangling feature of this unprecedented time is the utter absence of what I would call reliable truth about virtually anything having to do with the reporting, media narrative, and politics surrounding the pandemic. Who can we trust?
From China to Washington state to New York City to Washington D.C. to Italy to my home here in Fishers, Indiana, I wonder who is pushing which social, political, or economic agenda. What is the real danger: the disease or our reaction to it? Since “tomorrow is guaranteed to no one,” let’s not panic about the presently more intense vagaries of “tomorrow.” What we all need are facts and truth, not fear and spin.
I started by talking about “Mustard Seed” because our past several months have been a study of “The Words of Jesus.” Especially illuminating to me personally, in the Last Supper and Gethsemane sections of John 14-17, is Jesus talking through these four entire chapters about God’s unwavering righteousness, eternal truth, boundless love, infinite glory, their relationship… and His disciples’ responsibilities going forward.
This truth–His truth–marches on. In His last hours it is virtually all Jesus talks about.
When we can’t see truth–in anything, whether particular or whole–our human misery most likely is in our inability to see God, relate with Jesus, and listen to the Holy Spirit. The world, for unrighteous reasons in times like these, prefers our focus to be on fear and anxiety. These are man’s evil shackles that choke our free breath in Christ.
I listen carefully for God’s truth. I know that’s what Jesus brought into the world–freedom not just from our own sin and the wiles of wicked men and women, but toward faith, hope, love, peace, creativity, and joy that our trust in God’s eternal truth assures.
What a better world we make, and what joy we reap, when we believe in and testify to God’s truth. The fallen world controls us in fear, but Jesus by His life, death, resurrection, and sending of the Spirit let God’s righteous, saving truth out of the bag.
Sometimes we have to fight for that truth, but our joy always is in knowing it.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) watches little mainstream news but stays informed and prays big sincere prayers… regularly. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.
By Bob Walters
Before we ask every American who goes out in public to wear a facemask “just in case”…
A treasure of the American experience is our historically unique and individually tenacious dedication to that most striking declaratory characteristic which forms our lives, our communities, and indeed our very definition of humanity.
And that American treasure is the sanctity of our individual human identity.
That is what is different about America; it is what America introduced to the entire world when the people—not the government, not the strong-arm bullies, not kings or emperors—were bequeathed with the righteous power of self-determination and the moral imperative of government of, by, and for themselves.
It would require Americans to function cooperatively, peacefully, and honestly together as citizens. Government would exist for the common defense and the common good. It would consist of representatives of the people, and would break “ties” when competing interests required arbitration, settlement, adjudication, or restitution.
It was novel. For the first time in human history government would serve the people, not the other way around. America’s greatest strength was the freedom its citizenry enjoyed to form interest groups and both pursue individual aspiration and serve the common good. This would be our identity not just as a nation or tribe—those are common all over the world—but the identity I have, you have, each of us has as active and free agents in shaping our own lives, families, communities, and indeed, the nation.
Identity. What is that? In America I believe it is the inviolability of our belief that we—each one of us—was uniquely created by God and will be uniquely judged by God: I will, you will, we all will. America is socially weighted to that proposition that all are created equal. I believe that divine identity to be universal to global humanity, but America puts a special twist on it because of the many qualities we embrace.
The first quality is freedom. Imperfect as we may be, we are nonetheless free to be who we want to be and aspire to achieve what we want to achieve.
Then, responsibility, which freedom requires. We are responsible to and for ourselves, family, neighbors, communities, nation … and all humanity. The binding agent in responsibility, ultimately, is our responsibility to God, though some would remove God from the list. Unless we understand our Creator, we will not understand our creation or purpose. In America we truly see each other with an at least visceral and at most resolute belief that each us was uniquely created for a unique life’s purpose and will be judged for the life we lived. That informs and mandates our responsibility to each other in the here and now and to God in the hereafter. Some folks hate that truth.
Our American identity—our individual identity as Americans—I believe begins with freedom and responsibility. After that … I think we are free and perhaps even duty-bound to construct our own list; to think about what our identity means. I propose a cornucopia of virtues. Following closely after freedom and responsibility, I’d tout opportunity, aspiration, creativity, industry, motivation … and hope. Hope of the possible; hope of the good; hope of life and love and joy and accomplishment.
I believe God loves to see his kids play and loves to see us prosper. He’ll help.
And I also believe that Americans like to see each other; we live face to face. Some cultures—especially in the East but also among communists, socialists, totalitarians everywhere—attach no such significance to individual identity because their identity is either defined elsewhere (by government), culturally diminished, or non-existent. Sadly, it seems, their faces don’t matter … not even to themselves.
Most of what a common surgical facemask is going to hide is our identity. There is debatable prophylactic effectiveness for the loosely-fitted cloth masks we see on most people, and yes we might avoid some risk for some time by “locking down” our faces behind N-95 medical grade masks. But that is not who we are; nor who I want to be.
Risk is an American value, as are freedom, responsibility, opportunity and hope. We will not fully function as Americans when externally instilled fear overrides our legitimate questions about reality.
As I believe in the critical importance of American individual identity, so I am also convinced of darker forces within our nation dedicated to diminishing that foundationally and morally proper human characteristic of self. The “you-me-us-we” Americans freely and joyously expressing our individual, responsible, proper God-given identities works against the dark forces desiring our fear, submission, and the evisceration of self-worth.
Before we don masks and berate those who would both question their efficacy and note their deleterious effect on community esprit dé corps—“What!!! You Want People To DIE!!!???—let’s instead consider who we are as a nation and assess our identities as individuals created in the image of the living God. Yes, we live in a fallen world, but with the divine promise of God’s truth and brighter hope for tomorrow. Jesus said so.
Not everyone believes that, of course. I do, and I want to be prudent towards and considerate of others because it’s my American responsibility to respect their health, well-being, hopes, and aspirations. That’s what Americans do because we know it is the right thing. But we also have to know when a right thing becomes a wrong thing; when someone declares something to be a “new normal” … and it’s not normal.
Put on a mask … ?
Let’s not make a habit of this. Soon we won’t know who we are.
Walters (email@example.com) is a writer in Fishers, Indiana USA, and publishes a weekly Christian short essay at CommonChristianity.blogspot.com. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.
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“ … and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.”Colossians 2:10, NIV
What an irony that an empty grave was humanity’s first sign of salvation when what salvation means is humanity’s fullness in Christ.
In the Jesus-generated hubbub of Holy Week–the triumphant entry, trashing the temple, His teaching, the last supper, the new commandments, Jesus’s arrest, trials, horrible death on the cross, entombment, arisen and bodily seen on the third day, humanity’s forgiveness and salvation at last!–easily overlooked is the sure reality that Jesus was the human, divine, tactile proof of God’s existence and truth.
The disciples were frightened, disillusioned, and dispersed during the crucifixion. The empty grave confounded everybody. The believers were then stunned Jesus was no longer dead; many saw Him, talked to Him, touched Him, ate with Him. He was real.
And as for what it all meant, initially, to the believers, it meant joy mixed with confusion. Over the years we have come to talk about Easter and perhaps over-focus our faith on the gracious forgiveness of our sins by the cross and, by the empty grave, the gift of eternal life with God through faith in Christ. Sins forgiven; death defeated.
But we mustn’t stop there. It took even the disciples a while to figure it all out.
Everything the disciples needed to know about Jesus’s resurrection, who He was–God in the flesh–and what their task would be going forward, Jesus had already told them the past three years and especially in that eventful final week. Little of His infinite significance–what “Son of God” actually meant–truly sank in, at least not right away.
Even we today are often distracted by the Good Friday misery of death and the joyous Easter-morning relief of life revived. “He is Risen!” For the most part we have figured out, believe, and cherish the gifts of divine grace, the big “whew!” of our sins covered and behavioral debts canceled, and the secure knowledge that heaven, eternal life, and our adoption into God’s family and Kingdom are the sure goals of our hope.
That’s all great, but really it is only fullness for us. What about fullness for God?
That fullness is the life we are to give to others going forward. That is the glory of God Jesus brought to mankind. Jesus had fully briefed the disciples how His presence, life, death, and resurrection would define their mission ahead. And for a couple of obvious reasons, it was not the disciples’ mission to accompany Jesus into death. They were dispersed after Jesus’s arrest because 1) they had to be around later to tell about Jesus, and 2) death was something Jesus had to go through… rejected and alone.
Jesus finished His mission on the cross; their mission was then to tell the world.
Think of the whiplash juxtaposition: on Friday the disciples thought they had seen their hope turn into a cruel lie and their mission into an empty hoax. On Sunday, hope became proof of God’s surest truth, and their mission would come to change the world.
Much, much more happened, of course. It took many years and many people to put those amazing events into the fulfilling context of truth and salvation for all mankind.
But that empty grave?
It will remain empty forever, and thankfully, it is one we will never occupy.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org), who won’t be surprised if his own grave is a tad itchy, notes that the stone was rolled away not to let Jesus out, but to let us see in. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.