Monday, April 23, 2012

Chuck Colson Reports to Jesus

Chuck Colson, former right-hand man of Richard Nixon, and implicated in the Watergate scandal that not only caused Nixon to resign his presidency but sent Colson to federal prison, has passed away. He was 80 years old.

Chuck was a Marine officer, a Washington D.C. lawyer, and then went on to serve at the White House. But there, at the top of his game, heady with power and prestige and self-confidence, he crashed and his life was ruined.

He turned to Christ for help, and became, as his autobiography was titled, Born Again.

What most people think, and you may even hear some new outlets report, is that he became a Christian in prison. He had a jail-house conversion. And even us who have served in those areas, understand that many of those men are 'born again' until they are 'out again.'

But Chuck was not converted by going to prison. He went to prison because he was converted.

That's right. It's in his autobiography. He pled and was found, Not Guilty of all the charges against him. He was a free man. But Chuck Colson was walking a new path of honesty. He knew he WAS guilty of obstruction of justice, though he had not been charged with it.

He went and confessed. He served seven months in the Holabird facility for admitting to this crime, and there is where he saw the lostness and loneliness of men who had been cast off from society for their crimes. He began a Bible study and men warmed up to him. But as his day of departure came, an inmate said, "Man - you ain't gonna care about us once you are outside."

Chuck said he would; he would never forget. I picture the inmate shaking his head in disbelief. He was unconvinced. Chuck said he would come back and minister to them. They did not believe him, knowing all too well that the promises inside prison walls are as solid and strong as wet tissue paper.

Never tell a born-again Marine he won't do something. Never challenge a disgraced lawyer to a duel.

That day, Prison Fellowship ministries was born in Chuck Colson's heart. A world-wide ministry that made sure the Gospel was available and preached and taught in hundreds of facilities and for thousands of inmates - possibly millions in the 30-plus years of existence.

Now his ministry is over. What began as shame before the world ended as fame before God and those who love Him. Chuck Colson stopped reporting to the President decades ago.

He began reporting to the Lord of Creation then.

And this week, he walked into the highest seat of power in the universe, reporting for further orders I suspect, from Jesus.

There is only one thing the Commander of the Heavenly Hosts can say to such a man.

"Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Amen.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Making Feral Children -Pt. 2

If you read Dani's story on my previous blog, both parts, you see how far she has come - and how far she has to go. She is in motion now - she responds. She speaks a few words but it is up to everyone else to watch over her, care for her, keep her under control and be watchful.

I'm sure Dani has no idea how much love and attention is being given her to save her from her past. I am also sure she appreciates it and finds it better than before. She has fun in her own way. She kicks a ball up in the air like a kitten with her feet. She's interested in the world. She moves and runs and plays.

It's like watching a 3 year old in a 11 year old body.

I am praying for a full recovery and I expect it will take more than human intervention to see this child become an adult in communication and expression. I see the need for a miracle, because only God can do such a great work. We do our part, but only He does the miraculous. And yes, since He is a covenant-making God, He works with those who work with Him.

The problem most of us have is that aspect, in fact. We may believe that there is a God or gods, that there is a Supreme Being, that there is a Creator, but we stop there far too often, leaving Him/Her/It [I'm repeating the Politically Correct viewpoint here] in the realm of philosophy.

Keep in mind that philosophy is for the mind - and it may affect the heart, it is still a mental exercise to keep the mind on top of things. It is rational, tends to eschew any form of emotionalism and seeks reason as its highest call.

So when a philosopher, even a Christianized, church-going, Christian-educated philosopher runs into the God of the Bible who wants Friends and destroys enemies of His people, they freak out.

They simply cannot understand why God is so angry, so distant and then so carnally emotional.

It's because they wanted a paper god, not a real one. Or let me put it in another way, they did not want a God who was real, they wanted an ideal god - who was the product of their imagination.

Like men who create pornography using women and children to titillate, they created a God who does not judge between what is right and what is wrong. A god who does not have to pay for filth and depravity and daily perversity with blood.

This God of the Bible wants friends who understand evil is evil. This is a God who does NOT befriend everyone casually, but eats with those who invite Him in and stays with those who call on Him. He sets banquets and invites guests - and far too many of us make excuses as to why we aren't going to show up.

But the joke is on us.

He is God. We are not. He is love and truth and holiness incarnate. We are fallen, lost, easily deceived and carnal in lots of ways.

So we need Him to make us better. We need Him to give us wisdom. We need to ask for what we need because it is a pride-killer: admitting we need His help in an evil world is a smart move.

If we refuse to ask? To ask for wisdom? To ask for salvation? What will He do to us?

Nothing.

And that is what is terrible.

You see, I have come to realize that I can create my own oubliette - a spiritual one. I can wrap myself in enjoyable diversions and ignore the Spirit of Truth. I can fill in my damaged areas with plastic surgery, fitness tapes, money, lovers, drugs, etc.

But in the end, I will become more and more separated from Him. I will become feral.

Spiritual Ferality in America
When I speak of 'spiritual' things, I want the reader to know I am mainly focusing on Christian spirituality that is healthy, not demonism, or any New Age Spirituality. Angels and demons are both spirits; when we say we are interested in spiritual maturity, I am assuming the reader understands that no one surpasses Christ in this regard, and so as a Christian, I want Him as the focus in discussions on spirituality.

The problem is, we are losing that focus in America. We are becoming spiritually feral. We don't just have children who don't follow Christ and do not believe the Christian message, we have kids who think Hitler was a Christian, that there is no Hell for unbelievers and the prime message of Jesus was to feed the poor and wave support flags for LGBT parades.

If you point to the Bible as the final authority on the message of Christ, you will get a hideous mish-mash of post modernism and secular thinking that ends up denouncing all miracles and making the son of God a political figure who just HAPPENS to agree with their ideology.

The simple fact that Christ wants to live inside their soul, make a home for Himself there, transforming them into a heavenly creature filled with honest love and righteous actions eludes them.

They honestly think God likes abortion. Or even thought it would be OK in certain circumstances.

They honestly think sex outside of marriage is OK - and are shocked to find consequences when they practice it.

They honestly think they can indulge in perverse behavior and be blessed.

They are dead, says the Bible. Spiritually dead. I see the insanity from a lack of relationship with a good, loving and holy God and say "They are crazy! They have become like animals."

The topper of this horrific life? They will not teach their children to read the Bible and seek God in Christ.

I sat there, mouth agape, as one fool boasted to me, "I don't teach my kids religious stuff. I'll let them make up their mind when they grow up."

What an idiot! We don't do that with potty training, hygiene, math, science or art, do we? We don't let children decide what they will be taught: WE ADULTS DECIDE THAT.

But who can MAKE a child believe when they grow up? No one. They can drop the subject if they want. Many do - and come back later.

So do yourself a favor. Tell your child about the God of the Bible - but take your time. You may have been taught some really bad things about Him and need help yourself. You might as well start with Jesus, since God used Him to make Himself known.

"Bring the little children unto Me - for of such is the Kingdom of God!"

Jesus said that.

I'd obey Him if I were you.

It'd go a long way to prevent spiritual ferality from entering your family.

Amen.




Friday, April 13, 2012

Making Feral Children -Pt. 1

[Edit: I re-wrote this for clarity and less self-justifying anger - it just still sets me on fire...]
A few years ago, a dear Catholic man's heart was touched by the story of a feral child and shared it with me and a few other ideologically aggressive pundits on a forum. He wrote "this will make your heart weep."

About 12 sentences in the story, I was not weeping.

I was seething.

I wanted to find the mother of this child and impose on her the same life sentence she had subjected her daughter to.

You see, her daughter was found by Plant City police to be living in a modern-day oubliette - a dark hole to place something you want to be forgotten - filled with feces, cockroaches and trash. The girl herself was found curled up in a closet wearing diapers that were brimming over.

From the article:
Just before noon on July 13, 2005, a Plant City police car pulled up outside that shattered window. Two officers went into the house — and one stumbled back out.
Clutching his stomach, the rookie retched in the weeds.
Plant City Detective Mark Holste had been on the force for 18 years when he and his young partner were sent to the house on Old Sydney Road to stand by during a child abuse investigation. Someone had finally called the police.
They found a car parked outside. The driver's door was open and a woman was slumped over in her seat, sobbing. She was an investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Families.
"Unbelievable," she told Holste. "The worst I've ever seen."
The police officers walked through the front door, into a cramped living room.
"I've been in rooms with bodies rotting there for a week and it never stunk that bad," Holste said later. "There's just no way to describe it. Urine and feces — dog, cat and human excrement — smeared on the walls, mashed into the carpet. Everything dank and rotting."

The girl, named Danielle, was eight years old and could not even speak. No, kids - there was nothing wrong with her brain. She was not born damaged. She had become this way because of her mother's neglect. Her consistent hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly neglect.

She had become feral - a 'wild child.' Unable to socialize or communicate.

My 'Wild Childs'
I am not utterly unfamiliar with this horrific style of parenting (if you can call it that).

I lived and worked for one year in the inner city of Memphis, TN with neglected and abused children. I took a crash-course and made plenty of mistakes as I tried to help. I was completely and utterly unqualified.

The kids were 'wild' and it made me want to get tough on them - to straighten them out.

From a co-worker I learned that most normal developing children have thousands of hours of experiences with parents and siblings before grade school. 'At-risk' children get hundreds. It retards their growth intellectually, academically and socially. The girl in the story above probably has less than a hundred -in the nearly seven years of her life.

I have heard that grown men, locked up in dungeons for years, can lose their ability to write or speak. One pastor in communist Russia, after being locked up for six months in a pitch black cell said, "I could not even write my name!"

I remember reading that account, connecting it with the aforementioned factoid and realizing that my job - the one I was 'unqualified for' - was to give good experiences and personal time to wounded kids.

That was all.

TIME + EXPERIENCES = DEVELOPMENT
If you want damaged and abused kids to behave differently, you have to put in the time. Good times are best. Quiet times and play times and fun times and work times. Not more instructions, just more time and experiences.

I watched my 'squadron' of boys get better at school, at conflicts, at writing, at spelling, etc. - you name it - all because I got a small but significant revelation from God: these were not dumb kids. They were attention starved. So they needed someone to give them that - to say by example that they were valuable - and then, they could figure out how to get better at whatever they had to do.

I do not think my care and love alone made them better -but with others also pouring in their time also, it made these children see that they were indeed valuable -and then their parents could see the change in them so hopefully they too would change, and then all could see Christ's love.

"Love covers a multitude of sins," wrote the apostle Paul. It does. And when you keep in mind that the opposite of love is not hatred, but apathy, you begin to see that caring and loving is simply time-based, not performance-based.

So help me out by reading "The Girl In The Window" from 2008, and then the following update that shows how Danielle is improving: "Three Years Later, 'The Girl in the Window Learns to Connect'."

In the next post, I hope to show you how we Americans are heading down a similar path spiritually - or we are sending our kids there with our ungodly neglect.

May God grant you wisdom to simply give time to your child [or children] -who sees you as a gift from God.

Amen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Men of Vision [Part 2]

Strangely, events have transpired to complete my earlier thoughts, in a different way.

I had thought to speak on the martyrdom of a pastor in a foreign land, simply for having faith in Jesus Christ and proclaiming the Good News. I found out the report of his demise was false, so I held back. Then, in quick succession, I experienced some personal losses, back to back. One of which was the sudden death of a gentle evangelist I knew. A CPA who did all he could to wisely handle other people's money and a true servant of the kingdom of God.

His name was Paul Sweas. An elfin-featured man, Paul spoke with a kindness and a clarity that usually escapes me. Paul also was aware of a great challenge in reaching people for Christ - it was the challenge of getting them to the simple basics of Christian faith - to the very simplest understanding of the what the Bible says (and doesn't say) about God, His agreements with His people and how He wants the world to know of His love in sending His son to pay for all sins.

Long sentence, but if I stopped it anywhere in between, people come up with crazy variations. Paul understood this challenge of communication, and though he KNEW the answers backwards and forwards, he patiently would open the Bible and point to relevant scriptures, letting each person see what God was saying through ancient writers. He met people where they were, asking them if they were happy, if they had heard of God or Jesus? What had they heard? Did they believe that to be true? Did they know what the Bible said? Would they like to come to a friendly low-key Bible study?

Again and again, with Paul's gentleness and sincerity they would indeed come - and begin a relationship with God they had never had before.

They were called "Alpha Courses" - for beginners to see the plan of God in the Bible in saving us from eternal death and separation from Him.

His funeral is this coming Saturday. I miss him already. He's with Jesus and I am still here.

Paul's biggest compliment to me was sort of backhanded in a nice way. I was teaching in the jail to men who were perfectly willing to get out of trouble with God; he was talking to people who in general thought they had no trouble with God due to physical comforts. So I preached [with some biting humor] and Paul persuaded [with sensitivity and insight.] The goal was still the same: get these souls to Christ! He saved US, He can save THEM!

So were 'geeking' about Christ's redemption and sacrifice and how He makes all things new, but my take is on the semi-humorous way Jesus played with His disciples AFTER His resurrection -playing dumb, asking questions, completely unoffended at their disbelief but committed to them serving Him anyway, and on and on [frankly I don't know WHAT all I covered] and then Paul ends up saying "Justice, you could teach an Omega Course!"

It was a sweet compliment.

Just like the man. Just like the man.

God, I am glad he is in heaven. Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Paul was gift to us all.

And like his namesake, that great apostle, he knew where to begin with the spiritually confused, the carnally fecund and the spiritually feral children of this world - at the beginning.

We'll start tomorrow, hopefully.

Amen.