Many are asking what happened to me, so I thought I would tell you all at once, so I don’t have to repeat the gory details so often
I put Reenie on the plane to Florida to visit her friend who has MS. Being alone, I was looking forward to some serious study and writing. Got up the next morning, dressed in my sleeper shorts and tee shirt, and decided to take out the trash to the curb. The temperature was 16 degrees.  Half-way down the driveway, I hit a patch of ice and went down hard. My right knee buckled underneath me. In a split second I knew I had seriously twisted my knee or broken my leg. I remember thinking, “My knee has never been that close to my face,” and it was horribly distorted. My knee cap was off center.
I laid there for a second wondering what to do next. I straightened my leg with excruciating pain. I looked around and all the neighbor’s lights were off. No help there. I could not move my legs, but began to inch my way back up the ice on the driveway. It took me ten minutes to reach the door step. When I got to the door, I couldn’t reach the handle, but managed to push myself up enough to open it. Then I realized I was blocking the door from opening and had to maneuver my body around it. Every movement was agonizingly painful. Finally I made it into the house, pulled the phone off the shelf, and called 911. I told paramedics the door was open and I’m the guy on his stomach with this feet sticking out of the office.
When they arrived, turning me over was painful. They got me on a board and took me to the ER where I found out several hours later that I had completely torn my Patella tendon off the bone and my Medial Collateral ligament was in tatters.
After ER, I was taken to a nursing home for five days to wait for the swelling to subside. Surgery was performed to reattach the Patella tendon. Rehab will take at least six months which is a long process for an impatient man who is not used to sitting around. I have taught others to live in the moment, but now, I have to do it. The only way to get through something like this is to focus on one step at a time and not look too far ahead.
It is amazing how your life can change in only one second. One minute, I am starting a normal day. The next moment, I am clearing all things from my calendar and walking down a different path. It was disappointing not to be able to teach at the church, but God changed the schedule.
Sometimes, when I see skid marks on the highway, I wonder about other’s lives that were changed in a split second.
I have found three verses on affliction that have been somewhat helpful.
Ps 119:67 “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.”
Ps 119:71 “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
Ps 119:75 “I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”
So now I am sitting in a nursing home trying to get strong enough to go home (hopefully Jan. 28), and begin the long process of rehab.
No need to visit. I have my journal and Bible and have plenty to do.

So that is what is happening.
Thank you all for your friendship and love,

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YADA – YADA – YADA… The best guidance system in the universe!

No kidding!
An old mentor told me the best way to find the right path in life was to “Yada.”
If I was ever confused about a decision he said to “Yada” and I would know what to do.
Well, he didn’t quite say it like that, but he did say the best advice on guidance was Proverbs 3:5, 6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.”
The Hebrew word for “acknowledge” is “Yada” and is rich with meaning. The synonyms of this word are staggering, all-encompassing, and deeply informative
“Yada” means…

See for yourself. To acknowledge Him means “to ascertain by seeing.” We must personally respond to Jesus’ invitation to “come and see.” [Jn. 1:39] We must come like the Greeks who said, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” [Jn. 12:21] Then we will have the spiritual perception of Isaiah who said, “I saw the Lord high and lifted up…” [Isa. 6:1]

Seek His advice. Before becoming confused by the opinions of well-meaning friends, self-serving ads, conflicting “clinical studies,” how it worked for others, consulting a commentary, or meeting with an expert, we should consult with the Lord. As the lord warned Israel, “The Lord said, ‘How terrible it will be for these stubborn children. They make plans, but they don’t ask me to help them. They make agreements with other nations, without asking my Spirit.” [Isa. 30:1,2]
Then He tells them what to do. “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” [v. 15] When we have the One “in Whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge lies hidden,” it is foolish not to ask His advice first.
“Yada” means, “Let Him instruct you.” “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him.” [Ja. 1:5] We honor and acknowledge God by accepting His wisdom and instruction.
“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” [Prov. 2:1-5]

Answer Him when He speaks. Our Lord asks, “When I came, why was there no one? When I called, why was there no one to answer. Was my arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you? By a mere rebuke, I dry up the sea, I turn the rivers into a desert…” [Isa. 50:2]
“Yada” means “to respect him” and one of the best ways to show respect for another person is to listen to them, and it is the core of true worship of God. Respond when you read His word. Ask questions and obey His word. “Lord I don’t understand what this means?” “What are you asking me to do about this? “ Prayer is conversation with our Father. He speaks and I listen. I speak and He listens. “The ultimate purpose of prayer is not to get what we want, but to learn to want what He gives.” [John Maxwell, “Partners in Prayer”]

Let Him be in charge. “We worry, because we are not in control and the problem is we were never intended to be in control. There is seldom anything functionally wrong with us as people. It is simply that we get ourselves into the wrong position. We are like a passenger on an airplane who, having bound and gagged the pilot, attempts to fly the plane himself. He soon finds, to his sorrow, that he does not know enough about flying to keep the plane under control. Our new pilot is becoming anxious, understandably. He begins to turn the knobs of the control panel. Perspiration is cascading down his cheeks. He is presently the world’s busiest, most serious and most foolish man! His only hope lies in asking the captain to take over the controls. If our mutinous passenger is to be saved, he must get back into his assigned seat, buckle his seat belt as the other passengers have done and behave himself.” [Earl Jabay, “The God-Players”]
To acknowledge Him is to let Him be the Lord of our life by choice. Joshua said it well, “Now fear the Lord and serve Him with faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped…But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” [Josh. 24:14,15]
Let Him be your pilot, not just your copilot.

Be aware of His presence. God is with us. His name is “Emmanuel” which means “God with us.” [Matt. 1:23] He said, “Surely, I am with you always…” [Matt. 28:20]
It is one thing to know He is there, but it is another to acknowledge His presence. My wife tells me that it hurts her when I take her for granted and don’t acknowledge her presence. It must hurt our Lord also.
In addition, “Yada” means to “feel his presence.” Emotions are God-given gifts to share God’s heart. David said of the Lord, “You have made known to me the paths of life; you fill me with joy in your presence.” [Psa. 16:11]

Consider Him. We need to make Him a part of our plans, because “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” [Prov. 19:21] We must consider His will in our planning. “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city…carry on business and make money.’ Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow… Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” [Ja. 4:13-15]
“We have only one recourse,” says Malcolm Muggeridge, “to put aside every other consideration, the backwards and the forwards, hope and despair, ardour and listlessness, and get down on our knees to pray with the utmost humility, and utterly meaning it: ‘Thy will be done,’ confident that our Creator’s purpose for His creation is to do with love rather than power, with peace and not strife, with Eternity rather than Time, and with our souls rather than our bodies or minds.”

Care about Him. To acknowledge Him is to be considerate of His heart and His feelings. “I looked for sympathy, but there was none. And for comforters, but I found no one.” [Psa. 69:20] Instead of trying to get Him to care about us, when He already does, we need to care about Him. There must come a time when we seek to comfort Him, more than to seek His comfort.

Recognize Him. Learn to look for Him all day, especially in the little things. Malcolm Muggeridge said, “For every situation and eventuality there is a parable if you look carefully enough. God will always turn up, though in what guise and in what circumstances cannot be foreseen…” [“Confessions of a Twentieth Century Pilgrim”]
God is speaking all around us; we just have to open our eyes. “God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening. Their words aren’t heard. Their voices aren’t recorded. But their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.” [Psa. 19:1, 2 “The Message”]

Declare Him. Proverbs 3:6 can be translated, “In all your ways, make Him known.” We can make Him known by words and actions. We can honor spontaneous declarations of God’s love and works. Instead of saying, “It’s a nice day,” we can say “God has given us a nice day.” Simple gestures of kindness and love declare Him to a world that is blind to His ways.

Discover Him. Paul said the supreme value in life is to get to know God. In this age of information, the first thing we need to know is God. We are covered with mountains of paper and pages of E-Mail. In all this confusion, we can narrow down the voices and get to know Him. I consider everything a loss compared to the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost everything. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ.” [Phil. 3:8]
What Fenelon said in the 1600’s is still fitting today, “What men lack most is the knowledge of God. They know when they have read a good deal, a certain sequence of miracles and works of the providence in the deeds of history. They have made serious reflections on the corruption and frailty of the world. They are even convinced of certain maxims useful to reform their habits as touching their salvation. But all this edifice lacks foundation. This body of religion and Christianity is without a soul. What should stir the truly faithful is the idea of a God who is all, who does all, and to whom we owe all.”
Spurgeon adds, “It has been said by someone that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I will not oppose the idea, but I believe that it is equally true that the proper study of God’s people is God. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom we call Father.
“If I am going to know who Jesus is, I must obey Him. The majority of us don’t know Jesus, because we have not the remotest intention of obeying Him. In the spiritual domain nothing is explained until we obey, and then it is not so much an explanation as an instant discernment.” [Oswald Chambers]

Tell Him. Before telling your friends, family, or others, tell Him. He knows all about it. He has the best insight. He has more love and concern for you than any other person in the universe.
Be honest and open with Him about all your thoughts, and then you will have deep friendship with Him. “If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” [I Jn. 1:6]

Be His friend. I will never forget the time I read that Abraham was the friend of God and felt that being God’s was the highest desire in my heart. As the years have gone by, that desire has grown to the number one goal in my life.
The really good news is that He calls us His friends. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” [Jn. 15:14] He sticks “closer than a brother.” [Prov. 18:24] He is the best friend we can have; because He speaks the truth, stands behind His promises, and understands our trials.
These are all synonyms of “acknowledge Him.” And in acknowledging Him we have the promise of His guidance.

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This is one of those years when the family can’t get together at Christmas. The distances and expenses are just too great.

My wife and I were overcome by a deep loneliness and sadness. I thought it was just missing our kids, but the intensity was out of proportion to their absence. After a couple of days, I asked the Lord what was going on.

He reminded me of my desire to be his friend, which was my main goal back when my walk with Him began, and true friends share both the joys and sorrows of life. Our Father told me he was allowing me to experience his loneliness and sadness when his children do not come to Him and stay with Him.

He is called “Father” and we are called “His children” for a reason. The essence of our identity is “the family of God,” and as our Father He wants us home with Him. We were born into this world to be a part of His family. Jesus saw the broken heart of our Father when His sons and daughters turned away from Him. He gave his life in horrific death to make a way for us to come home. When we stay away, we break His heart.

We sing many songs in church about freedom from sin and going to heaven, but we miss the point of why we were rescued.
Freedom for what? To run around stores on Black Friday?
Heaven is not the goal – that is just another beautiful place. It is empty without the family.
The goal is to be with Him and know Him.
Paul got it right. “For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness.” (Phil 3:10 AMP)

Eternal life is knowing Him, not just receiving Him, praying the sinners prayer, answering an alter call, or going to church. “And this is eternal life that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3
I know Him in seeing what he has made, his creation, like getting to know an artist through his paintings or sculptures.
I know Him by viewing His life in his autobiography – the Word.
I know Him in his grace toward me and those around me.
I know Him through honest and transparent friends. The spirit of man is the unique picture of God in each person.
I get to know Him in candid talk and a listening ear.

Coming to His place, and getting to know Him fills the emptiness in our Father’s heart and makes his sad heart glad to see his children around him. He is not looking for us to act “right,” but to enjoy playing at his feet.

So take a moment as I did to just sit and be with Him this Christmas and in the days to come.

You will give him a priceless gift and put a smile on His face.


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Resisting Evil Empowers It

There it is sitting in a context of the seriousness of sin – “Resist not Evil.” (Matt. 5:39) What? In an age of genocides, beheadings, sex trafficking, and violence, aren’t we supposed to fight this stuff? For a long time, this was a very confusing mystery to me.

It was Norman Grubb who gave me the key to unlock the secret.
He said, “When we resist evil, we empower it.”

In looking back over my life, I realized this was true. When I fought sin, it got worse! For example, I saw it in trivial matters like dieting. When I said, “The one thing I won’t do today is eat vanilla ice cream,” I looked for a Dairy Queen all day, and if I found one, I got a vanilla cone (large of course).
If I promised God, “I’ll never do that again,” I did it again and again.
Whatever I fought, I strengthened, and whatever I resisted, persisted.
I saw this principle in larger matters…

When schools came against bullying, it multiplied.

When the country voted for Prohibition, bootleg liquor increased, the mob was born, speakeasies flourished on every block, and illegal profits and violence increased.

When Christians came against “The Devinci Code,” Dan Brown sold millions more books, and smiled all the way to the bank.

Scripture is clear that saying NO! makes it worse.
Paul says, “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. (Rom 5:20 NKJV)
The law increased the sin! “The strength of sin is the law.” (I Cor. 15:56)

Yes, evil is serious and needs to be conquered, but the “How?”

BY GOOD! Evil is not conquered by opposing it, but by doing good! “Overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21)

If we do good we automatically turn from evil.
If we turn to God, our attention is inevitably turned from self-centeredness.
If we seek truth, lies are silenced.
Love abolishes hate.

“The mere presence of goodness destroys its opposite as light destroys darkness. Nothing needs to be said, or even done. In the presence of goodness anger is consumed.” (Malcolm Muggeridge)

My wife volunteers at an Alternative Pregnancy Center helping young girls through difficult circumstances. The group was formed when pro-life advocates realized that standing across the street from Planned Parenthood yelling “Baby Killers!” was not helping these girls. So they decided to “overcome with the good” of offering alternatives to abortion, rather than resisting the evil, and hundreds of babies have been allowed to live.

There seems to be something in us that rebels at being told “NO!” Maybe it is the “mystery of lawlessness.” When my wife says, “You shouldn’t have seconds,” I get more. When she asks, “Would you like some seconds,” I say, “No thanks.” Freedom conquers bondage.

We are destroyed by what we seek to destroy. “The only way for the bird to break the spell is to take its eyes away from the fearsome thing upon which it is gazing, and the only way for man to break the spell of hate, fear, sins, and lack is to take his attention away from appearances… But few people do… They want to attack the evil and destroy it and so they are destroyed by the very thing they desire to destroy. The appearance you are attempting to destroy is the out-picturing of your own belief. You are attempting to destroy it while you are constantly creating it by gazing at the handling of it, and examining the nature of it.” (Walter Lanyon)
Conquer lies with truth.
Conquer evil with good.
Conquer self with God.
Conquer sin with freedom.

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“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts… Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Shakespeare)

My wife and I were having a heated argument on the way to a dinner party. I was angry that we were late, had to turn around, go back and put the chicken in the refrigerator so it wouldn’t spoil. She was upset at my anger, tone and raised voice. It got into “You can never admit you are wrong” and “You can never accept criticism” and “You make me feel like an idiot when you contradict me.” A whole bunch of things like that. She is probably right on most counts, but I would strike the word “never” and insert “most of the time.” It escalated from there until we parked in front of the home of the party. We slammed the doors, walked up the walk, rang the doorbell and immediately put on our party faces. We had a good time – laughing, eating hamburgers, and sharing stories. My wife and I played a role on the stage of a party, and fooled everyone there, I think. It was a farce.

When we got back in the car, we drove home in absolute silence (mostly my fault again). It was tense. It is still tense two days later, and I am in depression because I asked myself, “Is life a farce, a fake?”

Is life simply a series of roles we play and the winner is the best actor?

As Shakespeare observed, we all have many roles to play. Republicans and Democrats, Christians and Islamists, husbands and wives, parents and children, boss and employee, revolutionary and conformist, conservative and liberal, elites and commoners, giver and taker, leader and follower, teacher and student, and a thousand other roles. Before going “on stage,” we sit “backstage” putting on our makeup, adjusting our costume, and going over our lines for our play of the day. Then we go act out our role for that performance like my wife and I did at that party. We have to learn different lines for different plays in life.

Every group demands we play a different role. It can become very confusing. We play so many parts, we don’t know who we are.

In politics, the best actor wins. He has his lines memorized and comes across as a caring person, and millions believe it and rewards him with votes. As they say, “In politics, perception is reality.”

Frenchman, Blaise Pascal wrote about the mystery of costumes in the 17th century. “Our magistrates have known well this mystery of imagery. Their red robes, the ermine in which they wrap themselves like furry cats, the courts in which they administer justice, the fleurs-de-lis, and all such august apparel were necessary; if the physicians had not their cassocks and their mules, if the doctors had not their square caps and their robes four times too wide, they would never have duped the world, which cannot resist so original an appearance. If magistrates had true justice, and if physicians had the true art of healing, they would have no occasion for square caps; the majesty of these sciences would of itself be venerable enough. But having only imaginary knowledge, they must employ those silly tools that strike the imagination with which they have to deal; and thereby in fact they inspire respect.”

Watching the pretense of men, Malcolm Muggeridge comments, “Judges need their wigs and robes, priests their vestments, scholars their gowns – for that matter, hippies their long hair and fancy dress; otherwise the fraudulence of their pretensions would be all too apparent. Similarly the British Raj needed majestic titles, silver thrones, and ceremonial durbars. In my years of journalism, I have never seen authority that did not give off a whiff of decay, or power that was not sawdust stuffed, or glamour without grease-paint. The White House smile! That Kremlin glower!”

That is an interesting phrase: “sawdust stuffed,” because “farce” means “To stuff, to improve as if by stuffing, or a funny play or movie about ridiculous situations and events”

Even in marriage, we have to play a role. My script calls for a soft voice, speaking in the write tone of voice, never getting angry, and not contradicting. When I shared this with a buddy of mine, he laughed and explained that, he too, had to play a role with his wife – mainly agreeing with what she says. Peace was more valuable to him than being right. Me too!

But what if we come to the play with the wrong lines? It is like recurring scene that comes to Malcolm Muggeridge’s mind: “I am standing in the wings of a theater waiting for my cue to go on stage. As I stand there, I can hear the play proceeding, and suddenly it dawns on me that the lines I have learned are not in this play at all, but belong to a quite different one. Panic seizes me; I wonder frenziedly what I should do. Then I get my cue. Stumbling, falling over the unfamiliar scenery, I make my way on to the stage, and there look for guidance to the prompter, whose head I can see rising out of the floor boards. Alas, he only signals helplessly to me, and I realize that of course his script is different than mine. I begin to speak my lines, but they are incomprehensible to the other actors and abhorrent to the audience, who begin to hiss and shout: `Get off the stage!’ `Let the play go on!’ `You’re interrupting!’ I am paralyzed and can think of nothing to do but go on standing there and speaking my lines that don’t fit. The only lines I know.”

Somehow we feel out of place. The lines we have learned are not being received, but we go on speaking them, because it’s all we know. It is very uncomfortable, but we don’t know what else to do. Husbands and wives can walk through life disconnected with each other. The roles for peace are so defined, we know every line. We even know every detail of the script of an argument. Our true selves never emerge because it is unsafe.

Why do we learn our lines? To be accepted? To fit in? To not be alone? Significance? Applause?

The best actors get the awards in the end, so we do our best to play our roles. But the trophies leave us empty, and crowd is envious, even with the practiced lines of our acceptance speeches – with the proper amount of humility and gratitude.

Living a divided life between role and soul is unhealthy. It lacks integrity. The outside does not match the inside. “Every discrepancy between our outward behavior and our inner feelings is both a moral fault and a psychological injury to our personality.” (Dr. Paul Tournier)

When we hide behind a wall, we cannot enlighten the world with truth and authenticity. We cannot receive the light to penetrate our darkness. (“If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness.”) Others begin to distrust us and distance themselves from us. We are not a safe place for their true selves, and they distrust our duplicity and hypocrisy. We alienate ourselves from others and loneliness kicks in.

“We all know stories of people who have wandered off into the madness of economic injustice, ecological ruin, physical and spiritual violence, and their inevitable outcome, war. Their moral bearings and even their mortal lives make headlines because they take so many innocents down with them.” (Parker J. Palmer. A Hidden Wholeness)

The good news is that while the soul may be lost in a blizzard of lies, it can never be destroyed, because lies can never conquer truth.

Palmer continues, “As we cross the rising terrain between infancy and adolescence-still close enough to our origins to be in touch with inner truth but aware of the mounting pressure to play someone else “out there”- the true self starts to feel threatened. We deal with the threat by developing a child’s version of the divided life, commuting daily between the public world of role and the hidden world of soul.”

There something fundamentally wrong with life that has turned itself into a role to play rather than a person to be. “Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. In the process, we become separated from our own souls. We end up living divided lives, so far removed from the truth we hold within that we cannot know the “integrity that comes from being what you are.” (Thomas Merton)

I believe the appeal of great literature is that it reveals the true soul of man, by going behind our masks and roles and veils. In “C. S. Lewis’s classic Chronicles of Narnia, we read about a magic wardrobe through which young Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy pass from their humdrum existence in the English countryside into a parallel universe of light and shadow, of mystery and moral demand, confronting the daunting and bracing challenges of the inner journey.’ I have never doubted the truth of the Narnia tales: that magic wardrobe was in my bedroom, too! But when we turn from literature to life, this charming feature of childhood soon disappears, to be replaced by an adult pathology. As the outer world becomes more demanding (and today it presses in on children at an obscenely early age) we stop going to our rooms, shutting the door, walking into the wardrobe, and entering the world of the soul.” (Parker Palmer)

The hypocritical Pharisees are called “play actors.” Jesus said, “Watch out for hypocrisy.” Why? Because the outside does not match the inside. We are not whole. We are living a divided life. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees. I’m talking about their hypocrisy. Nothing has been covered that will not be exposed. Whatever is secret will be made known.” (Luke 12:1-2) This seems to indicate that the inside will eventually be exposed. I used to think this was a negative about our faults, because I heard sermons on God exposing all our sins on a giant screen in the sky. Now I see this exposure totally differently. It is a good thing, because our true self will come out and we will be whole again. And Jesus goes on: “Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight. Whatever you have whispered in private rooms will be shouted from the housetops.” This seems to apply to everyone. If this is true then we all will come back to our souls and be whole. When this happens the human race will become “one new man.” This is my hope out of the dark place of my divided life.

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Why is it that liberal, socialist utopias end up producing the opposite of their stated goals?

Malcolm Muggeridge pondered this question most of his life. His father, H.T. was a prominent Labor party minister of parliament, and Malcolm grew up fascinated by the socialist dreams of a better world. He was attracted by Communism, and after graduating from Cambridge, he and his wife travelled to Moscow in 1932, where he was a correspondent for the liberal, Manchester Guardian. He, along with the rest of the Western liberal press, was giddy about finding out about Stalin’s New Soviet Man, thinking it was the answer to the world’s problems. But he found out things were not as they seemed.

While proclaiming the success of state-controlled communism, Stalin was starving six million Ukrainians to death. Malcolm was horrified and reported the holocaust, but was censored, silenced and eventually resigned. Other Western reporters like William Duranty of the New York Times continued to praise the Soviet system and even received a Pulitzer Prize (1932) for his reporting. It is a mystery to many why the Western liberal press continued to promote such an evil dictator long after he was exposed. I, too, am deeply puzzled and disturbed why evil is excused and good is condemned in our post-modern culture.

Malcolm was devastated at the deception and could only conclude it was fueled by a thirst to be close to raw power. He writes about his time in Russia, “The depression was on at that time (1932-33) It was on in Lancashire, and it seemed as though our whole way of life was cracking up, and of course, I looked across at the USSR with a sort of longing, thinking that there was an alternative, some other way in which people could live, and I managed to maneuver matters so that I was sent to Moscow as the Guardian correspondent, arriving there fully prepared to see in the Soviet regime as the answer to all our troubles, only to discover in a very short time that it was an unattractive answer. It is difficult to convey to you what a shock this was, realizing what I had supposed to be the new brotherly way of life my father and his cronies had imagined long before, was simply on examination appalling tyranny, in which the only thing that mattered was raw power.”

Meanwhile Malcolm pondered why the socialist system produced the opposite of its promises.
The more it spend on education, the more illiteracy increased.
The more it regulated health care for all, the more it became available to less. (As we are discovering in our own time with the “Affordable” Health Care.)
The more it distributed wealth, the more the poverty.
The more it tried to make everyone equal, the more classes were divided.
The more guns and weapons were banned, the greater the crime.
The more it promoted freedom, the more it used slave labor to build the country.
Malcolm called it “the great liberal death wish.”
Why is this?

Malcolm concluded that in the absence of a “higher power” man becomes his own god. He ends up in megalomania (delusions of fantasies of greatness, power, omniscience, wealth, and intelligence) or egomania (pursuing happiness and ending up in the carnality of animal instincts). Megalomania produces narcissistic mad men like Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin Dada, and Kim Jong Ill. Egomania produces the chaos of debauchery, and in seeking happiness man never finds it.

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ – could set themselves up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside of God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery, – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” (C.S. Lewis)

Malcomb’s diagnosis got me thinking further:

In the absence of the Anointed One, elites anoint themselves as those with the answers to the problems of the world. This arrogance has brought the Western world to the brink of destruction.

It is interesting that Dostoevsky starts his political novel, “The Devils.” with the story of Jesus casting demons into swine who follow each other over the cliff. It is the picture of socialism’s death march. Self-anointed elites are leading their herd of swine (their view of people) over the cliff of socialism. What they don’t realize is they are committing suicide with their herd. On the other hand, the man who remained with Jesus on shore was “in his right mind” while the insane herd plunged over the cliff. This is a poignant description of the death walk of collectivism in the 20th century.

In a lighter vein, comedian, Groucho Marx said, “Politics is the art of seeking trouble and finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies”

In the absence of the Kingdom of God man has to create his own utopia. (“No-where”) Thus he creates systems with the need to control and regulate. People are herded into collectives and dehumanized. (Dostoevsky’s, “The Devils, Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” Orwell’s “1984”.) Human utopias are cries from man’s heart for the Kingdom of God, who is the only one who can unite humanity in love and cooperation.

In the absence of true worship, man will create and worship a man-made god he can control, because he has to worship something. “The one essential condition of human existence is that men should always be able to bow down before something infinitely great. If men are deprived of the infinitely great, they will not go on living and will die in despair. The infinite and eternal are as essential for man as the little planet on which he dwells.” (Dostoevsky, “The Possessed”)

In our day, in the absence of worship of the creator, we begin the insanity of worshiping creation. So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them — the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes! “ (Rom 1:24-25 Msg.)

In the absence of the significance of God’s purpose, man seeks significance in attaching himself to important people. But this is not God’s way.

“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”?” (1 Cor 1:26-28 Msg.)

In the absence of God’s power, man seeks to be close to human power. As Muggeridge walked the street of Moscow, he looked up looked up at the flag. “The Red Flag flying above the Kremlin was illuminated at night, a little pool of blood suspended in the darkness. This was the true image of the revolution; the mysticism of power…” Being close to power is very addictive and motivated many Western elites and journalists.

In the absence of God’s plan, man creates his own plan that delivers the opposite of what is intended. This is the record of the history of Marxism, socialism, and the progressive movement. Muggeridge writes, “I came to realize that in the name of progress and compassion, the most terrible things were going to be done, preparing the way for the great “humane holocaust” (the killing of over 50 million babies). There was, it seemed to me, a built in propensity in this liberal world-view whereby the opposite of what was intended came to pass. Take the case of education and the assumption that being educated would make people better and better… but the more money that is spent on education the more illiteracy is increasing. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the whole revenue of the western countries would be spent on education causing total illiteracy.”

In the absence of God’s security and protection, man has to eliminate his own enemies. Thus there is much blood spilled in the name of protecting ourselves. As Dostoevsky has his revolutionary leader say, “What we need are a few generations of debauchery at its most vicious and most horrible – followed by a little sweet bloodletting, and then the turmoil will begin.” This is the sort of thing that is happening in Western culture at this moment in history. The debauchery is well underway and the chaos and bloodletting are soon to follow.

In the absence of the true Scapegoat, man casts blame on whole races and nationalities resulting in the genocides of millions.

In the absence of God’s love, man has to lift himself in prideful arrogance above others. Survival of the fittest has become the doctrine of success. The “politics of personal destruction” gets votes, because people drift to negative gossip like flies to honey. This is upside down to God’s ways. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served — and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.” (Matt 20:25-28 Msg.)

In the absence of God’s provision, man redistributes the wealth starving many to feed the chosen.

In the absence of God’s place for us, man has to build his own mansion trading castles for shacks. “If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” [C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”]

In the absence of God’ special place for us, man has to bribe or bully others to push his way to the front of the line. “Don’t try to be like those who shoulder their way through life. Why be a bully? “Why not?” you say. Because God can’t stand twisted souls. It’s the straightforward who get his respect.” (Prov. 3:31-32 Msg.)

In the absence of forgiveness, man has to eliminate guilt by calling bad good and good bad. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isa 5:20)
“Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent — are equally abhorrent to God.” (Prov 17:15) Prov. 17:15

In the absence of grace, man adopts repressive, selective morality crushing those who disagree. So now we have the insanity of sending a child home from school for making an innocent jester of a gun with his hand while releasing vicious child molesters on the streets. Everything is upside down.

The younger generation will probably witness the collapse of Western civilization, but true spirituality will rise from the slave camps as it has in the past. This was Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s great discovery in prison. “It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, the essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of my youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it is only when, in the Gulag Archipelago, on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart and through all human hearts…And that is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me: Bless you prison!” [“Gulag Archipelago”]

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The Greatest Enemy of Freedom is Freedom

“The greatest enemy of freedom is freedom.” So says Os Guinness, in his recent excellent book, “A Free People’s Suicide.”

“Freedom requires order and therefore restraint, yet the only restraint that does not contradict freedom is self-restraint, which is the very thing that freedom undermines when it flourishes. Thus the heart of the problem of freedom is the problem of the heart, because free societies are characterized by restlessness at their core.”

“The core problem can be expressed like this: Such is our human propensity for self-love—or thinking and acting with the self as center—that the virtue it takes for citizens to remain free is quite unnatural… Thus, in Montesquieu’s words, the self-renunciation needed for freedom is “always a very painful thing.”

Paul understood the necessity of self-restraint for freedom to flourish. He said everything was permissible for him, but not everything was beneficial, helpful, or constructive. [I Cor. 6:12,10:23] He restrained himself so as not to put a stumbling block in the path of those whose faith is weak. [II Cor. 6:3]

America is losing her freedom because we no longer want to pay the painful price of self-restraint and we are on the way to tyranny. After the Greatest Generation spilled their blood and gave their lives to preserve our freedom, the next generations grew increasingly tired of the necessary vigilance and sacrifice.

“A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep… [G. K. Chesterton, “The Everlasting Man”]

The more we let “one sentinel” watch the gates and give us what we want, the more power seduces him, and the more he controls us and the more freedoms he steals from us. Or it is probably more accurate to say, the more we give away our freedom to false promises of peace and provision.

In reality, freedom is the privilege of choosing our master – self, others, or God. We are all in the position of the young slave boy on the block for auction…

Once upon a time a young slave was put on the block for auction. He was terrified at the thought of being separated from his family and by the unknown character of his new master. Who would buy him? Would he be kind or cruel? Finally the bidding began and after a few minutes, it reached the point about which everyone figured he was worth, and the bidding stopped. The auctioneer was about to pound down his gavel and cry, “Sold!” Then suddenly, a stranger stood in the back and bid triple the price of the highest bidder. It was a ridiculous price to pay and silence filled the room. All eyes turned toward the new bidder and watched him walk up to the auctioneer, pay the price, and receive the certificate of sale. Then he slowly walked over in front of the lad and simply said, “I have bought you to give you your freedom,” and he handed him the certificate of sale.

Now the lad was faced with the tremendous burden of freedom! His first impulse was to run out the door and just do what he wanted. Then he thought about returning to his family. The possibilities were flooding his mind. Then he looked into the eyes of the man who had the love to purchase his freedom and he saw what his heart truly was made for, and he said, “Sir, can I be your servant?”

Christ set us free to chose our master. Choose wisely.

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I know these thoughts are very familiar to us, but after reading Philippians again this weekend, I realized I needed the reminders. There were several of these wise words that I had lost in my daily duties, and what we don’t use, we lose. Sometimes I get into a deception that if I have read something, I am doing it, but the peace is not there until there is practice. So I pass these reminders on to you so you can come back to peace for yourself.

“I want you to be able always to recognize the highest and the best.” Phil. 1:10 Don’t just recognize the best but the highest. There are a lot of people who are the best at what they do, but they do very bad things – crime, fraud, judge, bully, deceive, etc. So it has to be the highest good.

“For it is God who is at work within you giving you the will and the power to achieve His purpose.” Phil. 2:13 When we don’t feel like doing anything, sit back, relax, and ask God to motive you to take the next step.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” Phil 2:14-16 NIV If we stop complaining we will be very bright lights in this dark world, because that is very unusual.

“All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Phil 2:21 What are his interests? Here are just a few things he loves: Listening ears, I Sam. 15:22, honesty with ourselves Psa. 51:6, truth Jn. 17:17, our trust Prov. 3:5, broken hearts Psa. 51:17, forgiveness Matt. 18:21-35, humility I Pet. 5:5, love and washing feet Jn. 13:14.

“Delight yourselves in the Lord, yes, find your joy in Him at all times.” Phil. 4:4 His plan is not boring. It satisfies our need for adventure. If we are bored, we are probably not obeying.

“Have a reputation for gentleness.” Phil. 4:5 Start a chain reaction of kindness where you are.

“Never forget the nearness of the Lord.” Phil. 4:5 He never leaves or forsakes us.

“Don’t worry over anything whatever.” Phil. 4:6 The Greek for ANYTHING IS ANYTHING!

“Tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer.” Phil. 4:6 Tell Him and incomprehensible peace will follow. Tell others and you will be left hanging.

“Fix your minds on whatever is true, honorable and just and pure and lovely and praiseworthy.” Phil. 4:8. The mind set on the flesh is death. The mind set on the spirit is life and peace.

“I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know how to live when things are difficult and when things are prosperous.” Phil. 4:11 Things that happen to us turn out the way they should in the end.

His peace will mount guard over our hearts. Phil. 4:7
We can do all things through Him who strengthens us. Phil. 4:13
He will supply all our needs from His resources. Phil. 4:19

From the journal of Jim May Oct 20, 2013 www.jimmay.org

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My new book, “Silencing our Imposter” grew out of a deeply moving time from my heart surgery.

Not only did I get my physical heart fixed, but God did something to me spiritually when I wasn’t looking! Just like him to remove all self-effort so we know He gets the credit.

When I woke up from open heart surgery (six bypasses) something had changed in me. It is hard to explain, but I felt more deeply connected with all hearts around me, both friends and strangers. It was like I was looking beyond their faces into their hearts. I felt the universal connection with others that philosophers and mystics talk about. A close friend who knows me very well told me I seemed softer in describing this experience.

Next, I was shown a diagram of the surgery with the old blockages and the new bypasses. While Iooking at that picture, I had the distinct impression that it was a physical sign of a spiritual truth. God had bypassed the old ways with new routes. God was telling me he was doing a new thing in bringing truth to the world.

This is what we have discovered in Rachel’s Challenge where we have to present truth in schools without religious language. God is awakening spirits in a new way coming into schools as a spy. It is like he said, “Even if you outlaw speaking my name, I can still send my Spirit to transform hearts.” We are seeing kids come alive spiritually and forgiving each other, and starting chain reactions of kindness and compassion. We view it as a new way of spiritual transformation in a culture that will not allow the old language and methods.

God gave me a vision of his next great movement on earth. It will be the age of the PERSON rising out of the world’s political, educational, and religious systems binding the human race. Man cannot live in collective systems and will eventually break out. I shared this vision with a friend who immediately responded, “That is God’s “ONE NEW MAN.” As people discover their TRUE SELF they will be brought into harmony with God’s creation and find their place in his kingdom and body.

A few days later, God spoke to me about past relationships that were broken, because of decisions that had hurt me deeply. I was assured that these men and women did exactly what they were supposed to so I would be set free from the religious systems that bound me for decades. I was also freed from the obligation to judge and fix people. What a relief that was! Even the painful break-up of a church was part of his plan to set people free from the “dead works” of maintaining a group that had served its purpose. In fact, my Father assured me that everything that has happened to me, good and bad is part of his preparing me for my destiny. And what is my (and your) destiny? “To this end I was born, for this cause I came into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.”

Before the creation of the universe we all began as a pleasant thought in the heart of our heavenly Father. Then he spoke the word and we became flesh to take our place in God’s plan to reconcile all things. My journey on earth began in 1941 in Kansas City. Your path had a different birthday, but we are all here for the purpose of being unique expressions of His love and grace. To this end, I wrote “Silencing our Imposter” to help us understand how to find our true identity.

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Strange feelings in my chest and arms during workouts for about a month.
But it comes and goes, so not to worry.
Then one day on the elliptical machine I think, “I better stop.”
That’s not me, but it was wisdom speaking.
Probably saved my life.
Checked myself into the emergency room to avoid endless referrals.
First, it is low potassium.
Great! Two pills and I am out of here.
Then, a stress test isn’t quite right.
Angiogram shows too many partial blocks to stint.
Need open heart surgery.
Meet Doc Walker – a 70 year old vet who knows what he is doing.
Everyone says he is the best.
Says he won’t retire, because he loves what he is doing.
So he continues what he loves to save others to do what they love.
They wheel me in for surgery and…
Doc Walker drives his truck over me. I am crushed under all eighteen wheels. I become road kill with meat seeking buzzards and crows circling overhead. Then he saws me in two, stops my heart for hours, takes veins out of my leg, and gives me six bypasses.
When I come to, he asks me how I am feeling!
Are you kidding, Doc?
I feel like I have been crushed under an eighteen wheeler.
I asked Doc Walker when he gets a break in an eight-hour surgery. He joked, “Oh, we just turn up the morphine and go out for cocktails.” So I am taking him a letter of thanks,and a small bottle of Jack Daniels, you know, like you get on the airplane, so he won’t drink too much and be smashed.

Recovery starts. Sleepless nights watching the second hand tick, boring TV, too drugged up to read, so God puts me on a fast–track.
One ICU nurse says I am recovering faster than anyone she has seen.
Out of the hospital in four days.
Everything hurts. It hurts to swallow where that tube was, where they took the veins out of my leg, where they cut me in two, but I am getting a little better each day.
Eleven days out now and on my way with a black and blue right leg and a zipper down my chest wearing those ugly knee socks.
They shaved the whole front of my body. I look like the great white whale!
It hurts to look at the mirror. Ugh!
But it looks like the old man will be around a few years longer to write for you and point you to His unconditional grace.
Here’s the really good part.
While I am getting physically healthy, something mystical happened in my spirit.
I feel closer to everyone around me.
Reenie has been a magnificent nurse and we are closer than we have ever been.
Michelle came from Phoenix to organize diet and drugs.
Our girls call constantly.
Friendships are more valuable than ever.
Even strangers climb into my heart.
God softened and deepened my heart spiritually while I wasn’t looking or even trying.
Just like Him.
When we try real hard to make it happen, it doesn’t.
When we least expect it, He makes it happen.
It’s all by grace.
During rehab I read Brennan Manning’s, “All is grace, A Ragamuffin Memoir,” and close with his words:
“God has put up a “Gone Fishing” sign on the religion shop. He has done the whole job in Jesus once and for all and simply invited us to believe it—to trust the bizarre, unprovable proposition that in him, every last person on earth is already home free without a single religious exertion: no fasting till your knees fold, no prayers you have to get right or else, no standing on your head with your right thumb in your left ear and reciting the correct creed—no nothing.… The entire show has been set to rights in the Mystery of Christ—even though nobody can see a single improvement. Yes, it’s crazy. And yes, it’s wild, and outrageous, and vulgar. And any God who would do such a thing is a God who has no taste. And worst of all, it doesn’t sell worth beans. But it is Good News—the only permanently good news there is—and therefore I find it absolutely captivating.”

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