Any Good Father

An inquiring child
Asked his father one day
Father what would you think
If I went astray?

If I wasted my blessings
Resources you gave I squandered
Places unknown and unsafe
Getting lost as I wandered

If I did things that were evil
Things that only cause shame
To your good reputation
If I spoiled your name

Would it bother or hurt you?
Disturb your peace of mind
Would you forget me, your child?
For all I did so unkind

His Father took only an instant
Not a moments delay
You are My dear child
Even when you do stray

And as any good father
Would do for his own
I would search the whole world
I would never leave you alone

For all My children do wander
And all My children do sin
But because I AM the good Father
I welcome them home once again

Luke 15:18-20

Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

That Awful Smell

Did I need forget my deodorant? Did I step in something? I know I brushed my teeth! What is that awful smell? Who else notices?

We are always concerned about our personal hygiene. However the real problem is we actually wallow in the unhygienic. We have become comfortable with and actually brag about awful smells.

The apostle Paul declared that all of his accomplishments and acquisitions were just dung. That is also known as, doo doo, poop, feces, and…., well you got the picture.

The problem with this smell is we not only ignore it but we brag about it. We brag about things that bring glory to us, make us look good. The big car, house, closets, bank accounts and a host of collectibles. We collect these piles and compare our piles with the piles of other people. Is it as big, warm, fresh or solid? Who has the best pile?

God takes notice and He smells it too.

All of these things have no eternal significance. None of these things draw people to the God we claim. In fact, our piles distract from His glory. We claim this pile of dung helps us proclaim Jesus. We deceive ourselves that people will see how much our God has given us and want to know Him as we do. This is a smelly deception.

The worst part is that we want to lift up our hands in praise and worship. But as we do so, God smells what is in our hands, under our arms, from our mouths.
God sees the piles.

I allow myself to be deceived, claiming that God’s rewards are tangible and pleasurable things. To some degree that is true. But when my focus is on the tangible and pleasurable, I have become a dung collector.

I ask God to cleanse me from this awful smell. I ask God to make me a sweet aroma.

Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.

But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
2 Corinthians 2:14‭-‬16 MSG

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Philippians 3:8 KJV

As God Sees

When I awaken each morning
I get down on my knees
Keeping both my eyes closed
I need to see as God sees

Before looking in mirror
Seeking self to appease
I ask God to look deeper
I need to see as God sees

What do others think of me
Those of higher degrees
No need to examine myself
I need to see as God sees

At day’s end He will ask
Settle accounts if you please
Did I help or hurt someone
I need to see as God sees

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
Psalm 139:23 KJV

Advance the Nation or Proclaim the Kingdom

I remember and cringe now as I look back on my years of service in Africa. I stuck out my chest with pride. The Kenyans had noted my distinct American accent. I would be afforded the honor and privilege that came with such acknowledgement. After all, I was a citizen of the most powerful and influential nation in the history of mankind. Our history, though filled with many contradictions and cruelties, was the envy of the nations of the world, or at least, so I thought. Our nation would live on forever, or at least until Jesus returned. Oh yes, about that Jesus fellow. I failed to mention Him. Let me back up. I stuck out my chest with pride. I am an American Christian. That makes it a lot better. Or does it?

It has become more obvious to me over the past two years, that I have been trying to serve two gods. I have tried to advance the nation in which I live and claim citizenship right now and at the same time. proclaim the Kingdom of Christ to which I belongforever. The problem is I can’t serve God and mammon. I can’t advance and protect the nation and at the same time, proclaim the Kingdom of Christ with equal zeal.

My Father in heaven has never stated that America would last. He has never exclusively, blessed America above any other nation. He has never told me to advance or protect this nation with the same reverence I have to Him. Because to do so would mean to compromise my proclamation of the Kingdom of Christ.

The political, moral, social, civic and economic agenda of the nation will always be dictated by who holds the most power. These can be good, or nice or even well intentioned people. These can also be morally corrupt, selfish and evil people. That is why I must always proclaim Christ’s kingdom first, foremost and finally with greater zeal than advancing and protecting America. I must be aware that the USA can be as much an idol as a golden calf.

It is an uncomfortable situation. I will be criticized, ridiculed for being wishy-washy, non-committed and a compromiser. I must not allow myself to be identified by political party, social grouping, ideology or even denomination.

I am a time constrained, mortal pilgrim on earth, but my soul is headed for an eternal destiny in heaven. I must be aware that I cannot as Christ said, serve both God and mammon. I will eventually come to hate one of the two. I would rather be declared unpatriotic to the US than an unfaithful follower of Christ. Man judges patriotism. God judges faithfulness.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Matthew 6:24 KJV

Open Wound Healed Scar

In learning to forgive
This proverb takes me far
A wound that remains open
Is more lethal than a scar

The wound will stink and fester
Allows the microbes to increase
Can lead to more infection
A healed scar hurts the least

I can either irritate the injury
I can remember the offense
Or I can choose to let it heal
Drop my guard, stop my defense

Forgive the ones who hurt me
Let them move on with life
For God to heal my wound
Forgiveness is the price

Ephesians 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Matthew 6:15 KJV: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Access to Excess is Not Success

I am hungry, I told my older brother Sterling. We were just kids, I think maybe 8 or 10 years of age. Sterling was always ready with a quick retort to my complaining. He replied, ‘ you ain’t hungry! You just ready to eat!’ His wisdom from those many years ago comes to mind whenever I have the notion to complain.

As much as I try to be empathetic with the poor, I fail at it. I don’t have any idea what the poor really feel because I have never truly been impoverished. I have always had a way of accomplishing or acquiring what I felt was necessary for life and to indulge in unnecessary pleasures. It became even more difficult as I have got older and completed my education and professional training, I don’t know what it is to need things. I only know how to want, how to be ready to eat. If I don’t have it immediately available in my overstuffed closets, garage, outside storage shed, basement, cabinet, cupboard, refrigerator or upright freezer, I can always purchase it.

If the local retailer is closed, I can use my credit or debit card to have my desired object sent to my home within a few hours or days. If I desire something to eat, other than what is already canned, frozen, or dried within my household store of abundance, I simply open my phone, laptop or other smart device and literally within minutes, I can satisfy my desires. These realities limit my empathy with the poor. I have access to excess. Most Americans would tell me this is success. That is by having access to excess I have success.

I have a good paying job. I have sufficient funds in my bank, my retirement account and savings account. I have health care, dental, eye care insurances. I have car, house and life insurance. Even my car and house insurances offer me life and health insurance. This absurdity means that I have insurance within my insurances. It makes it near impossible to have empathy with the poor.

I can open any one of my 5 closets and find sufficient items to clothe a small village. I have enough socks and shoes to protect the feet of a family of ten. I have enough toiletry items, including soap, shampoo, deodorant, lotion, colognes toothpaste and toothbrushes to provide personal hygiene for dozens of people living on the streets. By most American standards, this is success. I complain about the high price of gas as I fill the tanks on both of our cars and even the rental car I needed during the interval of car repair.

Success is defined as having access to excess. That doesn’t mean I can afford what I acquire or even need it. After all, that is why I have a credit card. That is why I have larger belts, looser pants and bigger shirts to accommodate my growing girth. That is why I have enough exercise equipment, gym membership, bicycles to equip a small gymnasium. I am not hungry. I am just ready to eat. This version of success leads me to less empathy, less charity to those who truly live in poverty.

Poverty is a lack of options. Scenarios like, he would like to send his children to a safer school, but they live in an underfunded district. They would like to find some place to hide, but the soldiers are bombing their village. She would like to take that new job, but she can’t afford the bus fare across the two districts and there is gang violence in the streets. She would like to get out of this abusive relationship, but she needs the money he provides for their children. They have no options.

I have no idea how they feel, no matter how desperate and sometimes unhealthy they appear on one of my three television screens. I am insensitive because of my success, demonstrated by my access to excess. Lord, please help me to develop true hunger for the things which matter, most importantly providing for those who have too little while I have too much. Don’t let me just be ready to eat. Give me a hunger for righteousness and justice for those who are truly in need.

Luke 3:11 Jesus said “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”

Loosely Attached, Well Connected

The key to your peace
To be well protected
Is to be loosely attached
And stay well connected

The things you acquire
The stuff you collected
Get stolen, gather dust
Better stay well connected

All the people you know
Either loved or rejected
One relationship counts
Better stay well connected

They can’t get you in heaven
Even if they are elected
Only Jesus can save you
Better get well connected

1 John 2:15-17
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Mercy Not Merit

This is a great truth
And so I must share it
We live by God’s grace
By His mercy not merit

Not by work nor by deeds
Badges of honor we wear it
But by God’s tender forgiveness
By His mercy not merit

How deep is my sin
I cannot compare it
God’s love is much deeper
It is mercy not merit

My evil intent and desire
On the cross He did bear it
I’m forgiven set free
By God’s mercy not merit

It is the truth of His love
He commands me to share it
Tell the world Jesus saves
By His mercy not merit

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
Ephesians 2:8 NIV

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
Psalms 103:10 NIV

Go To Hell

I did take life for granted
No time for quick farewell
Arrived at heaven’s gate to hear
You can go to hell

He said I was a stranger
While I thought He knew me well
I attended church each Sunday
He said, just go to hell

Taken back by this strange greeting
My countenance quickly fell
I gave a lot of money
He said, just go to hell

But Lord the preacher knew me
My life in deep detail
My friends told me I’m nice
He said, just go to hell

I have done so many good things
I violently screamed and yelled
I am a very religious person
He said, just go to hell

You ignored Me when you saw Me
While in your midst I dwelled
I was sick, hungry in prison
He said, just go to hell

Matthew 25:41-46 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Send Them Away

They keep streaming across the border
Thousands every hour every day
What do you say about this Jesus?
Should we accept or send them away?

They are overwhelming our resources
No homes or shelter to stay
Jesus, let’s keep this simple
Kick them out, yes, send them away

They have nothing to offer our nation
Just look at this pitiful display
They are trying to make us look bad
Put them in bunches and send them away

Don’t get all teary-eyed Jesus
We know what you usually say
All these people are hungry, tired and poor
I think it best, if we just send them away

Mark 6:36-38 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: 36Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. 37He answered and said unto them,

Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? 38He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.