Rebecca K. Reynolds

Honest Company for the Journey

Delay, Lord Jesus

https://www.wikiart.org/en/morteza-katouzian/grief-1983

https://www.wikiart.org/en/morteza-katouzian/grief-1983

They pray, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus," but I cannot pray with them.


My heart wants an escape hatch, a beam-me-up-Scottie, some ruby slippers to click.

There's no place like home.

There's no place like home.


But my spirit resists.


"Delay, Lord," it prays.


"Delay. Lord, and protect me from asking for the end before its time."


Oh Father, I want to be with you. How I ache to recline on your chest, to hear your eternal heart beat with my own ears, to walk in the rooms your artistry has made for me, to revel in your creativity and thoughtfulness, and to rest forever in your joys.


But if today were that great and terrible day of your coming, how many souls would pass into an eternity void of even the simplest pleasures?


No sun on their arms forever and forevermore.


The wind in their hair. Lost.


The sound of a whippoorwill.

Forgotten.


The feeling of clean sheets on their legs. Gone.


Music. Gone.


Beauty. Gone.


Light. Gone.


A hot shower. Gone.


The taste of a strawberry.


Only fear and regret and darkness and pain forever and forever...only the great sucking void left by the absence of God's bright presence.


Only the eternal echo of, "My will be done!" resounding in empty halls of an empty castle


Creation revels in the glory of God, but hell is an alien horror.


Hell is the cyclical praise of the natural earth come to a sudden stop.


Come, Lord Jesus?


No, no.


Wait, Lord Jesus. Wait.


We can wait.


Because if today were that great and horrible day, how many would be caught unprepared? How many would pass into a realm in which today's sick fear and despair have no end?


Yes, I see this violence. Yes, I taste on my tongue the bitterness of the hater of humans.


I can barely stand to see the chaos.

I can barely breathe.


Is hell so bad as even this? Worse too?


Oh, then delay, Lord Jesus. Delay.


Delay though it burns us to stay on this sin-scorched planet. We can bear it. We can endure for their sake


Receive all prayers that you might come with an outpouring of your Spirit. Come in invisible ways. Read every plea as, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."


While we linger like the grass that fadeth,

come to make us more focused.


Come to make us more courageous.

Come to make us more reliant.

Come to help us see through the glass darkly so that we spend every resource well.


To die is gain, but to live is Christ? Then delay our gain. Hold our rest. Wait. Wait. And though these brief years of sorrow break us, make our sorrow yield a spiritual harvest beyond what we can ask or imagine.


Don't rescue us yet.


Let us stay, instead, for the rescue of the lost.

Let us take rush into the fray with the gospel

Send us into this darkness to tend the wounded.


Use our weary, war-torn souls to bring your children home.


Your Hardest Belt is Your White Belt

I'm sitting in a cafeteria in Maryville, Tennessee, waiting for my daughter to finish her All-East Choir tryouts. She's not nervous this year like she's been in the past. She's a senior, and she knows the ropes. She has learned that life goes on after you make it to State, and she has learned that life goes on after you don't.


Before her sophomore tryouts, she practiced obsessively in the car on the ride down. That was the year I tried to ease her jitters by pointing out all the cute, red-headed tenors before the big audition. She giggled, and paced, and got through her first big scare, but there's no need to do any of this this go around. This year, she's a couple years older than almost everybody. The ginger that would have turned her head three years ago now looks like a little brother.


She's grown, see. She's learned to jump in and do the hard thing and manage the jitters. That's the goal--it's why we encourage our children to belly flop into all sorts of risks at this age. It's the grown-up version of holding our baby's hands while she takes her first few barefoot steps on the hallway carpet. "Go. You can do this. And you can survive and try again if you can't."


This year my daughter also started Brazilian JiuJitzu, which has been a quirky and hilarious journey. If you know anything about the art, you know that people don't "like" JiuJitzu. They fall in love with it.


Frankly, I'm astonished that a teenage female has the courage to walk into a practice room with ten huge adult males twice her size and learn to flip them on their butts, but she does it. I sit on the bleachers to watch, biting my nails and holding my breath. I pray for her bones, and I laugh, and I yell things I never thought I'd say in public--things I've only ever yelled at a television while watching Rocky.


Over my past few months of hanging out with ninjas, I've picked up one of my favorite sayings from the martial arts community:


"The hardest belt you'll ever get is your white belt."


Blue, purple, and black belts say this to newcomers as a statement of affirmation because it takes a long time (two years) to rank up in this complex martial art. Yet all those experts want beginners to remember that 99% of people in America never even achieve a white belt because they aren't willing to walk into the room to try something new.


You win the first day you show up for class, feeling stupid and awkward. You win even bigger when you show up for the second class after spending your first session feeling like a fool. You failed, and you were worse than everybody, and you'll never get this right, and it's too hard... yet here you are again not giving up. Bravo.


As I wait for my daughter to finish her choral tryouts, I am watching clusters of rural Tennessee families pass in and out of the cafeteria doors. Little bands of teenagers are walking out of their auditions, some with tears in their eyes, some complaining about the sight reading, a few saying they aced "Ave Maria" or botched the Whitaker. From their accents, it seems that more than a few come from tee-niny towns in the mountains, but here they are, glorious and brave because they've learned to sing a few lines of Bach in German.


One girl just passed me singing still, singing what she just sang in a tiny room full of tension, a song now pouring from her lungs in relief and delight. She likes that song. It's part of her now.


She showed up here this morning because she was willing to invest in beauty. She showed up because she was willing to believe that her small voice had a shot at something wonderful. She might never make it to All East or to All State, but that little songbird was a flutter of levity as she nearly danced through the doors. It's over. She did it. I'm so darned proud of her.


I got tears in my eyes a few minutes ago--maybe because I'm a teacher, maybe because I'm a mom--I can't tell. I was trying to grade reasearch papers, but I couldn't focus because I kept wanting to grab these kids and tell them what they've accomplished already.


I kept wanting to make all the choral teachers and parents stand and make an ginormous arch with their arms for all these kids to run through. I want to applaud for them, and find cheerleaders to call out their names, and assure them all that no matter what results they get two weeks from now--showing up today was practice for the rest of their adult lives. This stuff is so much more important than any of them realize. No matter what happened in there, they've won already.


Our school's cross country team keeps a meme in the hall of our school. "Run the mile you are in," it says. I think about it all the time. I remember those words and tell myself, "Do the next thing, and do it in faith and with all your heart. Trust this minute's resources. Eat today's manna. That's all you have to do right now. That's it."


Jump in. Try. Engage. Look stupid. But keep going.


Get a cramp in your side. Fall on loose gravel. Then finish that mile. That's a win.


Goof up the sight reading. Mispronounce the German. Walk out of that room on your own two feet and promise yourself you'll do better next year. That's a win.


Botch the MLA citations. Forget to match your pronoun and antecedent in number. Wreck your verb tenses. Then go in to writing lab to learn to do it better. That's a win.


Stand up for a lost cause. Have the conflict. Pray and leap. Be willing to apologize if you mess things up. That's a win.


Ask the girl out who rejects you. Try out for the role in the play you'll never get. Love your someday enough to flub up your now. Believe that there is grace enough from Jesus for your weakness, grace enough to begin what we can't learn without failing some along the way.


Then get back up. Run one more mile. Do the humiliating, awkward, faith-laden work of a white belt. Receive the awkwardness of learning, knowing that some failures are victories in themselves. This is where all of the greatest things begin. I'm proud of you for taking a single, wobbly step. I'm even more proud of you for taking a second.


- - - -


(This post is dedicated to my brave friends Mitzi Pierce and Jessica Rogers and their warrior children. It's especially dedicated to Xander, who has taught me more this week about the fierce, proactive work of reconciliation and forgiveness than any book I have ever read. Miss Becca loves you, X-man. And kiddo, you have no idea how much I needed your example this week.)


http://www.thistleandtoad.com/wwwthistleandtoadcom/writings


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Karl Marx and Our Divided America

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I received one of the best questions I’ve ever received from a blog reader this week, so instead of replying in a comment, I’d like to devote an entire post to my answer.

A reader named Allen wrote to say:

“I would love to hear your thoughts on the influence of Social Marxism and the efforts to foment and manipulate some of the deep connotations of both the left and the hard right to bring chaos and deconstruction.”

First off, it did my heart great good to hear that someone in America is even thinking along these lines. Bravo.

Secondly, I wish I had time and space to devote to a longer answer, but the best I can do at this super busy stage of life is throw out a few bullet points and related comments. Perhaps these will at least give you direction for more research.

1. Marxism vs. Marxism vs. Communism and Socialism

If you’ve read Karl Marx’s writings, you know that they vary enough to be organized into at least two eras (pre-Engels and post Engels). Marx’s early manuscripts (known as the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts or The Paris Manuscripts) were published in 1844 and were hidden from the public eye for almost 100 years. Marx never referred to them in his later writings. Those early manuscripts had a big impact on Western intellectuals.

Marxist theories that resulted from Marxist writings split into more subcategories after his death. When we talk about Marxism today, we might be talking about Classical Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, Western Marxism, Libertarian Marxism, Structural Marxism, Neo-Marxism, Cultural Marxism, Analytical Marxism, Post-Marxism, Marxist Humanism, or Marxist Feminism.

And while there are similarities among Marxism, Communism, and Socialism, Americans tend to err by using these terms interchangeably. I am not going to distinguish between these philosophies in this post, but I want to at least acknowledge that there are differences.

2. Some Time Well Spent

When the Emergent Church began to appear on the landscape of evangelicalism, I was concerned that modern voices were beginning to echo the Social Gospel of Walter Rauschenbusch (early 1900’s). In fact, I found uncited sentences that were nearly verbatim Rauschenbush in several emergent writings. While it’s true that the church should bring the the Kingdom ethic to the earth, the Social Gospel is riddled with grave theological error. I won’t make time to unpack those errors here, but I will urge you to spend time with two sources that may shed light on how political evil intends to commandeer the church.

The first is an interview with former KGB agent and defector Yuri Bezmenov (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgmg2VFX058 ). Yes, this video is old. Yes, every single American should spend the hour and a half needed to watch Bezmenov explain how enemies of democracy can maneuver a government and its people to gain power. Even if you think Russian aggression is no longer a threat to the United States, the practical instruction you will gain from hearing about Russian cultural strategy is vital. Every Christian (Republican, Democrat, and independent) needs this information to grow in awareness about how the cause of Christ might be manipulated for worldly ends.

The second resource is a little more obscure. It's a list of 45 Communist Goals entered into the Congressional record in 1963 after they were given in a speech by U.S. Representative Albert Sydney Herlong Jr.. (Liberal readers might find it interesting that Herlong was, in fact, a Democrat. As you read the list, remember that.) http://nwlibertyacademy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/communist_goals.pdf . Whether or not these goals were ever official, it’s fascinating to see how many have come to pass in the past 54 years. And it's helpful to at least think about why each step might (or might not) be important in undermining a democracy.

3. Intentional Unrest

Stirring up internal cultural chaos is almost always a declared goal of opposition forces, and we should be aware of the vulnerability of our own reactivity. When discussing this matter, our fingers should not simply be pointed at young people taking to the streets en masse, but also to the highest office in the land, and to every political leader who has built a platform on vitriol.

I do not know where the deep, secret allegiance of our leaders takes root, but even an unintended personal weakness (such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder) can feed the chaos that is beneficial to America’s enemies. This is why it is vital that our leaders maintain a dignified and mature presence on social media. Words have consequences, and any true patriot would be wise to remember that while rhetorical boldness can be as inspiring as one of Churchill's speeches, it can also be as foolish as any "Hold my beer" redneck with a handful of lit firecrackers on YouTube. Loud and proud doesn't equal wise and trustworthy.

4. None of this complexity excuses Americans from taking a stand for essential human morality.

The proper response to this tenuous social context is not silence. We are to speak truth—even hard and costly truth—into the public sphere firmly, wisely, and repeatedly. Furthermore, the evasive move of answering the KKK with “But BLM...” does not remedy the essential problem America faces. We must call evil evil and not allow reactive bifurcation fallacies (which benefit our enemies) to determine our course.

That’s all I have time to offer for now, but I will try to give more another day.

Allen, thanks for your good question. For now, readers, please be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. Not only is it right and good to take the time to be informed about the complexity of our situation, educating ourselves is the second-most patriotic effort Christians can make for our nation at this time. The first, of course, is to live in complete submission to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I reread this every few years just to remind myself of how much has changed since 1998

Declaration concerning religion, ethics, and the crisis in the Clinton presidency

The following declaration can be found at moral-crisis.org, November 16, 1998

The following declaration can be found at moral-crisis.org

To be released on 13 November 1998

As scholars interested in religion and public life, we protest the manipulation of religion and the debasing of moral language in the discussion about presidential responsibility. We believe that serious misunderstandings of repentance and forgiveness are being exploited for political advantage. The resulting moral confusion is a threat to the integrity of American religion and to the foundations of a civil society. In the conviction that politics and morality cannot be separated, we consider the current crisis to be a critical moment in the life of our country and, therefore, offer the following points for consideration:

1. Many of us worry about the political misuse of religion and religious symbols even as we endorse the public mission of our churches, synagogues, and mosques. In particular we are concerned about the distortion that can come by association with presidential power in events like the Presidential Prayer Breakfast on September 11. We fear the religious community is in danger of being called upon to provide authentication for a politically motivated and incomplete repentance that seeks to avert serious consequences for wrongful acts. While we affirm that pastoral counseling sessions are an appropriate, confidential arena to address these issues, we fear that announcing such meetings to convince the public of the President’s sincerity compromises the integrity of religion.

2. We challenge the widespread assumption that forgiveness relieves a person of further responsibility and serious consequences. We are convinced that forgiveness is a relational term that does not function easily within the sphere of constitutional accountability. A wronged party chooses forgiveness instead of revenge and antagonism, but this does not relieve the wrong-doer of consequences. When the President continues to deny any liability for the sins he has confessed, this suggests that the public display of repentance was intended to avoid political disfavor.

3. We are aware that certain moral qualities are central to the survival of our political system, among which are truthfulness, integrity, respect for the law, respect for the dignity of others, adherence to the constitutional process, and a willingness to avoid the abuse of power. We reject the premise that violations of these ethical standards should be excused so long as a leader remains loyal to a particular political agenda and the nation is blessed by a strong economy. Elected leaders are accountable to the Constitution and to the people who elected them. By his own admission the President has departed from ethical standards by abusing his presidential office, by his ill use of women, and by his knowing manipulation of truth for indefensible ends. We are particularly troubled about the debasing of the language of public discourse with the aim of avoiding responsibility for one’s actions.

4. We are concerned about the impact of this crisis on our children and on our students. Some of them feel betrayed by a President in whom they set their hopes while others are troubled by his misuse of others, by which many in the administration, the political system, and the media were implicated in patterns of deceit and abuse. Neither our students nor we demand perfection. Many of us believe that extreme dangers sometimes require a political leader to engage in morally problematic actions. But we maintain that in general there is a reasonable threshold of behavior beneath which our public leaders should not fall, because the moral character of a people is more important than the tenure of a particular politician or the protection of a particular political agenda. Political and religious history indicate that violations and misunderstandings of such moral issues may have grave consequences. The widespread desire to “get this behind us” does not take seriously enough the nature of transgressions and their social effects.

5. We urge the society as a whole to take account of the ethical commitments necessary for a civil society and to seek the integrity of both public and private morality. While partisan conflicts have usually dominated past debates over public morality, we now confront a much deeper crisis, whether the moral basis of the constitutional system itself will be lost. In the present impeachment discussions, we call for national courage in deliberation that avoids ideological division and engages the process as a constitutional and ethical imperative. We ask Congress to discharge its current duty in a manner mindful of its solemn constitutional and political responsibilities. Only in this way can the process serve the good of the nation as a whole and avoid further sensationalism.

6. While some of us think that a presidential resignation or impeachment would be appropriate and others envision less drastic consequences, we are all convinced that extended discussion about constitutional, ethical, and religious issues will be required to clarify the situation and to enable a wise decision to be made. We hope to provide an arena in which such discussion can occur in an atmosphere of scholarly integrity and civility without partisan bias.

The following scholars subscribe to the Declaration:

1. Paul J. Achtemeier (Union Theological Seminary in Virginia)

2. P. Mark Achtemeier (University of Dubuque Theological Seminary)

3. LeRoy Aden (Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia)

4. Diogenes Allen (Princeton Theological Seminary)

5. Joseph Alulis (North Park University)

6. Charles L. Bartow (Princeton Theological Seminary)

7. Donald G. Bloesch (University of Dubuque Theological Seminary)

8. Carl Braaten (Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology)

9. Manfred Brauch (Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary)

10. William P. Brown (Union Theological Seminary in Virginia)

11. Don S. Browning (University of Chicago)

12. Frederick S. Carney (Southern Methodist University)

13. Ellen T. Charry (Princeton Theological Seminary)

14. Karl Paul Donfried (Smith College)

15. Richard Drummond (University of Dubuque Theological Seminary)

16. Jean Bethke Elshtain (University of Chicago)

17. Edward E. Ericson, Jr. (Calvin College)

18. Gabriel Fackre (Andover Newton Theological School)

19. Robert Gagnon (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)

20. Joel B. Green (Asbury Theological Seminary)

21. Robert H. Gundry (Westmont College)

22. Scott J. Hafemann (Wheaton College)

23. Roy A. Harrisville (Luther Theological Seminary)

24. Stanley M. Hauerwas (Duke University)

25. Gerald F. Hawthorne (Wheaton College)

26. S. Mark Heim (Andover Newton Theological School)

27. Frank Witt Hughes (Codrington College)

28. Robert Imbelli (Boston College)

29. Robert Jenson (Center for Theological Inquiry)

30. Robert Jewett (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary)

31. Jack Dean Kingsbury (Union Theological Seminary in Virginia)

32. Paul Koptak (North Park Theological Seminary)

33. John S. Lawrence (Morningside College)

34. Walter Liefeld (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

35. Troy Martin (Saint Xavier University)

36. James L. Mays (Union Theological Seminary in Virginia)

37. S. Dean McBride (Union Theological Seminary in Virginia)

38. Sheila E. McGinn (John Carroll University)

39. John R. McRay (Wheaton College)

40. Robert Meye (Fuller Theological Seminary)

41. David Moessner (University of Dubuque Theological Seminary)

42. Grant Osborne (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

43. Carroll D. Osburn (Abilene Christian University)

44. William A. Pannell (Fuller Theological Seminary)

45. Jon Paulien (Andrews University)

46. John Piper (Bethlehem Baptist Church)

47. Stephen Pope (Boston College)

48. J. E. Powers (Hope College

49. Mark Reasoner (Bethel College),

50. John Reumann (Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia)

51. David Rhoads (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago)

52. W. Larry Richards (Andrews University)

53. Daniel E. Ritchie (Bethel College)

54. Joel Samuels (University of Dubuque Theological Seminary)

55. David Scholer (Fuller Theological Seminary)

56. Keith Norman Schoville (University of Wisconsin)

57. J. Julius Scott (Wheaton College)

58. Mark Seifrid (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

59. Christopher R. Seitz (St. Andrews University)

60. Klyne Snodgrass (North Park Theological Seminary)

61. Max Stackhouse (Princeton Theological Seminary)

62. W. Richard Stegner (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary)

63. Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner (University of Dubuque Theological Seminary)

64. R. Franklin Terry (Morningside College)

65. David Tiede (Luther Theological Seminary)

66. Reinder Van Til (Eerdmans Publishing Company)

67. Warren Wade (North Park University)

68. J. Ross Wagner (Princeton Theological Seminary)

69. David H. Wallace (American Baptist Seminary of the West)

70. Timothy P. Weber (Northern Baptist Theological Seminary)

71. Merold Westphal (Fordham University)

72. Jonathan R. Wilson (Westmont College)

73. Edward and Anne Wimberly (Interdenominational Theological Center)

74. Harry Yeide (George Washington University)

https://www.layman.org/news86fd/