Category Archives: Walking with Jesus

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A bumper sticker popular in certain circles declares “If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention”. Am I actually outraged? Or do I just see the outrageous?

Is outrage even possible now in response to moral depravity? Or, is it merely another way to be angry and hateful?

My former colleagues in the news media play a part in this sickening climate of public discussion; I’ve written about this before.

Three years ago, I published an obituary for American journalism. I was too hasty. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps journalism isn’t dead: it is now un-dead, zombie-like. News-as-golem.

What is called “news” has devolved into a soap opera: winners and losers; left and right; Ins and Outs; Non-mythinformation and conspiracy theory, and the like. Edification now takes a back seat to speculation.

Story lines are driven by ideological narrative, not from a desire to truly inform or enlighten. Hard questions are no longer asked; creating and sharing Fake Outrage are now the order of the day.

So what then, is a discerning person to do? My friend Joel Baker has some excellent observations, which lead to practical answers.

Problems and Solutions

News provokes an emotional reaction in us. We don’t usually notice it much because we’re used to it. If I can watch video of babies being murdered, buildings being bombed and catastrophic natural events without weeping, I have a hard heart. 1 Am I really immune to this? Or do I just spend too much time with it (and at the movies)?

A practical answer: Turn it all off until it hurts to watch it again because my heart is softer. The truth is, I don’t need to know. It’s okay not to know. 2

The more I consume stories of evil and mayhem, the more I become hardened to them. This endless scrolling through the Outrage Machine sows seeds and these seeds produce fruit: very bad fruit. 3

What is that fruit? Anxiety, fear, anger (I might justify this as “righteous anger”), judgment (I condemn someone), scorn (I laugh at someone), skepticism, disappointment, deep sadness, or misplaced hope in some man-made solution.

A practical answer: Prayer that leads to repentance for partnering with these things and a softer heart. 4

News is now like professional gossip: tasty morsels that go down easily but are laced with poison. 5

With everything I see, read, ponder or act upon, my daily choices are to respond, to react, or to ignore. There are only two outcomes: I harden my heart, or soften it.

A practical answer: God’s word. God’s word is truth. It purifies, sanctifies, washes, liberates and edifies me. All other words, including news media and social media, are laced with lies, which come from the father of lies. They ensnare me. They bind me. They slowly build a fortress of fake outrage that wars against true Godly outrage: moral outrage.

The words of the world are a heart-hardening potion. But the words of God are life and soften my heart, when I let them in, and let them rule me. 6

I must guard my heart above all things. It’s a fickle thing 7 and cannot be tamed, but it is the most precious think I own, after my soul. It’s worth guarding because I’m worth it. Jesus thinks so.

He thinks that about you too. 8

1. Jeremiah 18:11b-12 – “Repent now, everyone from his evil way, and make your ways and your deeds good. But they say ‘There is no hope! But we will walk after our own devices, and each of us will do according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.”
2. Matthew 6:25 “Therefore, I say to you, take no thought about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body than clothing?”
3. Matthew 7:18 – “A good tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bear good fruit.”
4. Job 23:16 – “For God makes my heart soft, and the Almighty troubles me;”
5. Ezekiel 21:7 – “It shall be when they say to you ‘Why do you groan?’ that you shall answer, ‘Because of the news that is coming. And every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water. It comes and shall be brought to pass,’ says the Lord God.”
6. Ezekiel 36:26 – “Also, I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”
7. Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is more deceitful than all things and desperately wicked; who can understand it?”
8. Ephesians 2:10 – “For you are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT)

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Myth Information

We don’t suffer from an epidemic of misinformation, but a burden of myth-information. Modern censorship prevents us from getting an edge in word-wise.

The self-appointed powers-than-be, those who control liberal governments, education systems, mass media and online behemoths believe they are the repository of all knowledge. Anything that doesn’t match their preferences is de-listed, de-platformed, de-monetized, de-humanized and denied an audience.

Fortunately, they can only control worldly knowledge. Unfortunately (for them) worldly knowledge is, in the end, worthless. It’s the intellectual version of fiat currency, with value only to those who trust it. God does not and God’s people should not.

God’s kingdom is not about knowledge anyway, but about love. Love only exists because there is a God in heaven who cares more about us than He cares what He knows about us. Jesus was and is the living embodiment of that love. “He who has seen Me, has seen the Father,” 1 He said.

As an American, my national heritage is framed by documents proclaiming “God-given” rights. The founders recognized that all good things come from God; 2 any rights we have are ordained in heaven, not dreamed up in a government bureaucracy.

In fact, the US Bill of Rights was written not to endow rights, but to protect people from government taking them away. How much this is endangered now. And it’s not just traditional Christian thinkers in the US who are suffering death by innuendo. It’s spread here to the UK and in most of the English-speaking nations.

The false ‘rights-based’ culture we currently live in has produced a wrongs-based social environment. Rights come from God alone. When people try to create ‘rights’ we only compound wrongs.

The Absolute from which all rights derive is no longer the driving force in Western culture. The perfect absolute has been cast aside in favor of political advantage.

Too many church leaders play along with cultural fictions to win the hand, even as they’ve lost sight of the game. The apostle Paul tells his spiritual son Timothy to “guard that which is committed to your trust.” 3

Too many church leaders have forgotten this charge. They inhabit a Cowardly New World. It remains, as it always has been, for an overlooked remnant of faithful souls to intercede, rise up and be bold. Risk allows us to take good theology and put it into practice in a hurting world.

So let us be light. Light always attracts a crowd in the darkness.

I currently worship in the Church of England, but I admit to a certain level of Anglicanxiety. Not for me myself, but for many leaders. God doesn’t change and doesn’t change His standards; this is clear from one end of the Bible to the other. He even says this about himself: “I am the LORD, I do not change.” 4

Thus it isn’t “Our Father” who is “problematic”, to use Archbishop Stephen’s troublesome phrase. If there’s a breakdown in perception, it’s not on the other end of the line. Some serious self-reflection and repentance is needed in many quarters.

I pray that I’m always quick to repent when this type of self-satisfaction appears in me; such I find repugnant. Holy Spirit is free to point this out to me, and so are you. This is how we get to the fine point of a sanctified life.

All of us who profess to follow Christ must take heed. Whom do we follow, really? And from whom do we wish honor and approval: Christ? Or the world and its institutions full of self-proclaimed knowledge?

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I agree. A little worldly knowledge is a dangerous thing. Spirit-filled believers should stay away from it. It lies, misleads and corrupts, and it takes both leaders and the led along with it.

The advice from Paul to Timothy quoted above reads in full, “O Timothy, guard that which is committed to your trust. Avoid profane babblings and opposing views from so-called knowledge. By professing it, some have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.” 5

Yes. Grace be with you. And mercy as well.

1. John 14:9 – Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you such a long time, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. So how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
2. James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no change or shadow of turning.”
3. 1 Timothy 6:20
4. Malachi 3:6a – The full verse (with context) is “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver….Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness…against those who…do not fear Me, says the LORD of Hosts. For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” [Malachi 3:2-3a. 5a, 5c, 6]
5. 1 Timothy 6:20-21

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When life deals me a blow, especially at the hands of another person, I can feel grief, or I can feel aggrieved. It’s always my choice. I can grieve, or I can create a grievance.

By feeling grief, I choose to be hurt; to be aggrieved, I choose to hurt myself further. Grief leads to freedom; a grievance, to bondage.

When I allow myself to be hurt, God can help me work through the pain and, in the end, release it to Him. I find Him in that pain, and then He leads me out of it.

When I perch atop a grievance, a resentment, I tell God: ‘This is more important that the forgiveness You offer to help me with.’

Grief is a sadness, a product of compassion. I grieve because people can be wicked, thoughtless and selfish. They can knowingly or unknowingly hurt me.

Grievance, on the other hand, is a product of pride, which feeds my own selfishness in response to that of others. Should their choice to be selfish give me the right to choose selfishness as well?

Compassion always leads me toward forgiveness. Grievance always hardens a heart, even a soft one.

Where does my heart rest today? Always between the extremes in the moment of hurt, but it must ultimately move one way or the other.

If I’m to have peace, and move forward, my heart must come to rest (and will have rest), in Jesus. He’s my only source of rest. So I grieve, and find peace.

“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” (Ephesians 4:26-27 MSG)

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)

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