Jackson Five Friday: English Muffin Addiction

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week. March is one of my favorite months of the year. It is a time of being almost there, and this year more than ever. I actually spoke at my church last night about Psalm 121 which scholars believe Jewish pilgrims sang the night before reaching Jerusalem. It’s an unabashedly hopeful song sung by a tired crowd who is almost there. In short, it’s perfect for where we all are right now.

The problem — well one of the problems — was I felt a bit of brain fog last night. When I finished I felt unsure if I had delivered the whole talk. Did I skip whole pages of my prepared remarks? Did it flow at all? Although it was recorded I’m not planning to listen to it, like ever. I have no interest in confirming my worst fears.

Then this morning when I went upstairs to make sure Nate was awake, my knees felt like I’d run ten miles yesterday, despite doing nothing strenuous whatsoever. As I hobbled my way back downstairs I had an epiphany. The brain fog and the knee pain have an explanation. The explanation is I have an English muffin addiction. My favorite coffee shop/bakery (Niedlov’s) in Chattanooga sells English muffins that are the tastiest morsels of toasted goodness on the planet. My so-called friend, Susan, introduced me to this glutenous crack about six months ago. I had been happily spending time at Niedlov’s for five years before I tried the English muffin. But my three-muffin indulgence yesterday (no I’m not exaggerating, although I ate almost nothing else) was like a controlled experiment proving once and for all that gluten is not kind to my brain nor to my joints. So if you see me trying to purchase a six-pack of muffins please, for the love of God, intervene.

Paul wrote so beautifully about self-discipline: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

I want to run in such a way, spiritually and physically, to get the prize. Gluten is a hurdle I keep throwing in my own path. Do you have ways that you self-sabotage your spiritual and physical goals? Because Spring is a great time for a reset.

On a different note, I walked to my car last night with a woman who is old enough to be my mother, a woman who I was blessed to meet when I first moved to Tennessee. I could not have spent a full five minutes with her, but we talked about a wide variety of topics in our brief interaction. She made me laugh so hard, and then she made a super timely and profound statement about a situation in my life. This kind of social snippet has been discarded by leaders and decision-makers as inconsequential. The truth is it’s priceless. Praise the Lord she didn’t “stay home” last night.

So, my friend, we are almost there. May we not sabotage our own races and always cherish our people. Have a fabulous weekend!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: License Plate Theology

Hey Friends,

I am sitting at home this soggy morning, and grateful to have nothing on my calendar today. It’s been sort of a crazy week and I’m quite content to just stare at the monochrome landscape, listen to the birds chirping, and know that spring never fails to come. We do not hope for spring like we hope our team wins a big game, we hope for spring knowing it always always shows up.

On Monday I got my husband’s car registration renewed. He had a license plate with his hospital on it, but Tennessee got rid of that as an option so he was going back to a regular license plate. For the regular plate, there are two options. The girl behind the counter asked, “Do you want it to say, ‘In God We Trust,’ or not?” I wish I would’ve asked how many people reject the “In God We Trust” plate. It sounds so simple, but in truth it’s life altering. Attaching the words “In God We Trust” to the back of your car does not reveal your heart, nor does it hold any special power, yet living a life of trusting God should be a primary goal.

Years ago I had a pastor, Lon Solomon, who said the Bible could be summarized in two words. The overarching theme of both the Old and New Testaments is God saying, “Trust Me.” And honestly, it’s true. Peter Kreeft makes a similar argument:

So when everything seems senseless and your faith is tested and God puts you on Job’s dung heap, there is nothing better than to look at the crucifix (which is much worse than a dung heap!) and say “Jesus, I trust you.”

Before I Go: Letters to Our Children about What Really Matters

Our world seems so utterly senseless, so full of pain and sorrow. The abandonment of truth, the calling what is sin, good, and what is good, bad. It is so messed up. It is not going to be solved by a license plate, that’s for sure. Yet Kreeft rightly observed that the harder it is to say, “Jesus, I trust you,” the more precious those words become.

Can you say them? Can you acknowledge all that is painful in your life, all that you do not understand, and yet still utter these words: Jesus, I trust you. Because here’s the thing, you can fight against the goads but you’ll struggle and struggle and never be free. The paradox of Christianity is that we find freedom when we stop fighting. The freest among us are the most trusting. The freest among us don’t kick against the goads.

Spring is coming — that is our certain hope. But trusting Jesus is just as certain. A.W. Tozer said, “Everything that God does in His ransomed children has as its long-range purpose the final restoration of the divine image in human nature.”

Sometimes I hesitate to quote Romans 8:28, because it’s not always a comfort in the midst of deep pain, and I know so many who are deeply struggling right now. But the truth is we do know “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Praying today that I’ll trust the long-range plan of my Lord and Savior, and that you will too. Kicking against the goads does not lead us to peace, but trusting His always restorative and often mysterious plan does.

Singing this simple chorus is a wonderful way to remind yourself of this important truth.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Living Free in the Present

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a great week. I spent a few days in Florida which was capped off by a drive across the state in a cute little rented Jeep. En route I talked to my mom’s best friend from high school, and when I arrived I got to see my best friend from high school. If this past year has taught us anything it’s the value of staying connected and of in-person laughs. That morning, before my little trek across Alligator Alley, I encountered another dead animal on a walk. This time, unlike the iguana, I did not witness the death, but there — facedown on the beach — was a bald eagle. Was this a symbol of the death of freedom? It was such a pitiful sight.

Do I think our government and institutional leaders have behaved irrationally and implemented policies that impede freedom? I do. Do I trust the government to ensure our freedoms moving forward? I don’t. However, I am free in Christ, and nothing any human will ever do can change that. The Bible is clear: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” The bondage of being consumed by what might happen is a choice. Bondage to sin is a choice. Bondage to fear is a choice. We are free in Christ, why would we submit to any yoke?

Relatedly I read two snippets this morning that can help us stay the course. C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters that Satan wants us to be “perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now” missing out on every gift offered in the present. Do you cherish the gifts that are offered you in the present? Or are you in pursuit of the rainbow’s end?

Even in moments spent on the most menial of tasks we can be grateful and intentional. I have so much laundry to catch up on. I need to work on our taxes and pay bills. These are not my favorite things to do, but a mindset of doing these things well, knowing they are important, is key. It is counterproductive to instead long for more time at the beach.

And that brings me to the other snippet I read this morning, this one from Oswald Chambers: “If we will arise and shine, drudgery becomes divinely transfigured.”

So my friend, arise and shine, live free in the present. Seek God’s will which is good, pleasing and perfect and do not worry. It is for freedom that you have been set free.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: TB12 and the Cat Lawyer

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a great week. I have. My youngest son is a devoted, even rabid, Bucs fan. The boys and I were quarantining in Florida when Brady signed with the Bucs last spring and big brothers stoked the Super Bowl fire that day and many days since. Sam watched each week, hopeful but also a nervous wreck. I wonder if God let that game be uninteresting just for Sam. His pacing in front of the TV subsided after the first quarter and he just enjoyed the inevitable. And I mean the guy is the GOAT. On Monday I read about how much water he drinks and was inspired to guzzle all day long. I guess maybe he did a different kind of guzzling Wednesday at the boat parade, but I’m really into grace in a world that seems to have forgotten it. It’s not like the GOAT was driving, you know like the Boss.

Another great thing that happened this week is the cat lawyer video. I saw it posted numerous times on Tuesday and thought to myself, “Not into cats, not clicking.” But finally someone said it was as funny the 20th time as the first and I took the bait. Unfortunately I was in bed with my sleeping husband, and my efforts to muffle my big laugh were not successful. I was DYING. It is truly one of the funniest things I have ever seen. My sweet man, who was so rudely disturbed, found it just as funny as I did, fortunately.

Shared experiences — and personally I’d choose big laughs over big NFL wins — are important for relationships to flourish. The ubiquitous calls for unity mostly strike me as empty. The modern use of “unity” is a nebulous concept without real-world application. But you know how you can love your neighbor? Spend time with them, laugh with them, make some kind of unique memory with them. You don’t need to talk about unity. In fact, until you know someone really well why broach politics or faith? Just ask questions about their life and listen to what their joys and struggles are. I don’t get how politics bleeds into everything on a macro scale because it definitely doesn’t on a micro level. Maybe that’s the point. Social media implies life is lived in a sphere it’s not. That’s not life, that’s carefully curated clips that are often edited so profoundly that they bear little resemblance to actual life.

I’m intentionally talking out of both sides of my mouth here. Yes, our shared experiences are bonding, even when they are as far reaching as the Super Bowl and the cat lawyer, but that concept is infinitely more important for your in-the-flesh relationships. We can hold in tension that we need shared experiences as a society to have any commonality, and yet know that passive experiences like watching something cannot be the sole basis for our deeper personal relationships. God can love the whole world, and does. But we don’t have that capacity. We are called to love our neighbors — real, in-the-flesh people. And we are called to love them not with words — even words like unity — but by our actions. My dad instilled in me that “talk is cheap” and I often remind my own sons of this vital truth. Of course, the Bible says it best: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:18-20).

As Americans, as neighbors, as Christ-followers, as human beings, may we love those around us in deed and truth.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Slavery to Self-Interest and Fear

Hey Friends,

I hope you have had a great week. I have accomplished almost nothing I set out to this week. I had a list in my head and I’ve checked off almost nothing. Instead I have been blessed to spend time with people. In fact, some the very best moments of my week have happened in the last 24 hours. Yesterday morning I spent some time catching up and praying with a few friends. Last night I went to a women’s event at church that has a time of worship and teaching on the Psalms. Then this morning as I drove Sam to school, we caught up with my grand-nephew Brooks. He sang us a song about rejoicing. These all felt like cup-filling moments of worship, prayer and celebration.

If you have read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline you might recognize these –worship, prayer and celebration — as three of the twelve Spiritual Disciplines. I resolved to re-read this book by the end of January, but in typical fashion I’m just a few pages in on February 5th. Still, every page is worthy of deep reflection. It’s an incredible book. On page two is this stunning statement: “The purpose of the Disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery to self-interest and fear.” Foster’s words feel almost prophetic: in our 2021 world the need for liberation from self-interest and fear is dire.

We know from experience that fear is combatted not so much by a determination to be brave, but to practice the Disciplines (Foster consistently capitalizes it so I guess I will even though it feels weird). So how are you doing? Have you been to a worship service? Have you stood with the body of believers and corporately acknowledged that God is good and full of steadfast love? Last night we sang a song I love called Yet Not I, but Through Christ in Me. Reminding ourselves together of God’s truth through song has always been part of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It would be a terrible thing to give up now.

Here is the last stanza of this beautiful song:

With every breath, I long to follow Jesus,

for he has said that he will bring me home.

And day by day, I know he will renew me,

until I stand with joy before the throne.

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus; all the glory evermore to him.

When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat,

“Yet not I, but through Christ in me.”

2018 CityAlight Music

How are you using worship and all of the Spiritual Disciplines to remind yourself that hope is found only in Jesus? That no matter how dark the world around you feels, no matter how fear-inducing the headlines, no matter how enslaved you may be to self-interest, Jesus is the source of day by day renewal?

One the best quotes I’ve come across this last year is from Sinclair Ferguson, who said, “But, you see, if you are crippled by fear you don’t even enjoy your food, or your friends, or your family, or your life.”  We can turn that question around and ask are you enjoying your food, your friends, your family and your life?

Fear, worry and fretfulness rob us of much, but they are not merely benign pitfalls. Check out what Psalm 37:8 says: “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.” Do you need to turn from anger or wrath? Do you recognize how fretting leads only to evil?

Matthew Henry makes a wonderful point on this. He says, “Fretfulness and envy are sins that are their own punishments; they are the uneasiness of the spirit and the rottenness of the bones; it is therefore in kindness to ourselves that we are warned against them.” Kindness to know they are their own punishments, and kindness to practice Disciplines to drive them out.

I hope if you haven’t read Foster’s book, that you’ll pick it up. I’ll be reading it sloth-paced for the foreseeable future. Hope you have a blessed weekend and that the promise of life springing out of the cold, hard ground very, very soon gives you as much joy as it does me!

With Love,

Kristie

P.S. Another Spiritual Discipline is solitude. Two weeks ago I spent a few hours on the beach, just me and Jesus. Those were the most spiritually renewing hours I’ve enjoyed in a long, long time. Maybe the disciplines we most neglect are the ones we need the most. I guess that means I need to take up fasting.

Jackson Five Friday: Invasive Species

Hey Friends,

A couple of Christmas vacations ago, I took just Sam golfing in Florida. It was a lovely little par 3 course that has just one problem: iguanas. They are everywhere on the course. I have vacationed in that same area essentially my entire life and when I was a child they weren’t there. Even twenty years ago I do not remember seeing them, but now this invasive and disgusting species is commonplace.

On one hole, Sam’s ball was between the pin and three or four iguanas hanging out near a little pond. As Sam was about to hit his shot, being the daughter of Judy Huber (who loved to tease), I considered how I might make him think the iguanas were about to attack. But the anticipation of the ensuing hilarity kept me from devising a good plan. I ran over to him feigning panic and inexplicably yelled out, “Charge!”

He did not for a minute think the iguanas were coming for him. But dang if we didn’t laugh and laugh and laugh over my failed prank. In fact we can still get a good laugh reliving the moment.

Then in a strange turn of events this Christmas vacation an iguana did in fact charge. I was out walking on a path that parallels the beach (see picture above). Between the path and the beach are sea grape trees which provide lovely shade for my morning strolls. I never knew that iguanas go in there. But a huge one — honestly I cannot overstate how mindbogglingly massive it was — charged out of there causing me to nearly jump out of my skin. For 0.7 seconds I marveled at witnessing an iguana running at full speed, but then unbelievably the charging stopped. The enormous, lightning-fast Usain Bolt of iguanas got run over, and I watched it die. The sound was about like the car running over a small tree trunk. I probably screamed because I’m a weirdo like that, but I’m not sure because I was alone. I guess it’s good when an invasive species dies, but death is never pretty, is it?

You know what is even uglier and more invasive than iguanas? Sin. God created this world to be perfect. Before sin entered the Garden there was no hint of destruction. Post-fall we see evidence of decay all around us. Sorrows and pain are everywhere. If we are honest, we all know that nothing is as invasive as sin. Life on earth daily testifies to the truth of the Bible: the wages of sin is death. Left to our own devices we have no way to push back the darkness. Sin mars everything it touches and it rages on until death comes. But God loves us so much that He sent His Son to reverse the fall. Jesus paid the price for all our sins. He offers us clean hearts and purpose. We can partner with Him to shed light in a dark world, and to help restore what was intended. This restoration will not be complete until Jesus returns but I don’t even want to imagine a world without the partial-redemption we now enjoy.

Do you ever stop to consider the cost of forgiveness? Jesus on the cross is such a horrific image. The brutality He suffered, and the grave injustice of it all. These are things we avoid thinking about. We just want the clean heart, the ticket to heaven, and the deep purpose and steadfast love for the here and now. We don’t want to linger over what was suffered. But I think that’s a mistake. Those who have been forgiven much, love much. You can’t appreciate how much you’ve been forgiven if you don’t take a good, long and frequent look at your own heart. Without counting the cost, you also can’t appreciate the forgiveness that is required in daily life. Tim Keller said, “Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.” Our culture has largely abandoned the goal of forgiveness, and as Christians we need to constantly model and highlight both the goal and its cost. To apply Keller’s words, where do you need to be willing to suffer in a costly way to forgive someone? How can you encourage those around you to embrace forgiveness even when in the short-term it’s painful to do so?

The Lord’s Prayer states it so simply: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12).

May the word “as” in that verse be a tremendous motivation to us all.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Home Signage

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a great week. This week, along with every other week, I’m grateful to live with people who make me laugh. No matter what is going on in life or the world, my husband and sons seem to find ways to crack me up. I never want to take that for granted.

If you know me, you probably know that I don’t watch TV. I truly do not know a single channel and never turn it on. I don’t have any interest in it. I can get into it when others are watching, especially a game or occasionally a documentary, but most of all, I like commercials. Commercials are more my speed. Short and sweet, and sometimes quite entertaining. The one I like now is the Progressive guy who helps people not become their parents (click here if you don’t know what I’m talking about). The slide to becoming our parents does feel almost inevitable. The coach holds up the artful sign, “Live. Love. Laugh.,” and queries his students, “Do we really need a sign to live, laugh, and love?” They think maybe they do, but he’s direct and firm: “The answer is ‘no.'” The music and the whole vibe add to the humor. But here’s the thing, if we swap out “Live. Laugh. Love.” with another popular home sign, “Gather,” the bit wouldn’t work, would it? Why is that?

First of all, the coronavirus has eliminated a great deal of gathering. My little family of introverts has been relatively unscathed. We spend a lot of time with just us, anyway. My sons have all been back to school since August, and our church meets in person or online. I’ve had in-person Bible study and book clubs that have continued to meet, except now they are outside. We can attend Nate’s basketball games, and limiting our social imprint is entirely consistent with our frequent family card games on weekends. My parents are both deceased and we don’t live near any family. Would I be eager to attend a beautiful dinner party of some sort? Of course! But, I’m not devastated by the absence of such outings either. However, I am increasingly aware that my situation is somewhat uncommon. I see the isolation taking its toll on people. I hear the low-grade depression in their voices. Are we just not concerned with mental health anymore? COVID-19 seems to be the overwhelming health concern, despite the statistics (for example, drug overdoses are truly staggering). President Biden said the death toll is like that of World War II (over 400,000). The average age of a soldier in WWII was 26. Do you know how many Americans have died of COVID-19 in the 15-54 year old demographic? The answer, according to the CDC, is 25,076.

What is the agenda of people who use numbers to so skew perceptions? Losing 400,000 soldiers when the total population of the United States was 131 million is not remotely comparable to losing 25,000 people today. Why do people want to hide the fact that the vast majority of deaths are among the aged? I find it all very perplexing. We are all going to die. Every single one of us. Increasingly the pertinent question has become, how many of us are going to actually live?

But back to the “Gather” sign and the Progressive coach, maybe it’s a reminder we actually do need. The verse I used to name this blog is from Hebrews 10:24: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” But the next verse continues the thought: not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” So whether you have the signage or not, the Bible counsels against giving up gathering.

So how are you doing from a mental health perspective? How about those around you? Do you need to find ways to safely gather as the writer of Hebrews counsels? I hope you have great discernment in evaluating the many risks we face each and every day. I hope you do not fall into the trap of thinking this virus is the only potential harm in the world.

Praying tonight for my family to wisely weigh costs and benefits, to seek first the kingdom of God, and to continually spur one another on to love and good deeds.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: The Death of Credibility

Sunrise 1/15/2021

Hey Friends,

Hope you’ve had a great week. I’ve had one of those weeks where I’ve looked so forward to sitting down and processing life through writing. I’ve jotted down all kinds of blog ideas and if time allowed, I’d write a mega post — there are so many issues I’d like to fully unpack. But the day is almost over and I’m just now at the computer so I’ll be brief: sadly, so far 2021 seems like more of the same. Lies, lies, lies and more lies, accompanied by shameless attempts to craft certain pre-determined narratives. It can be very discouraging. Are facts no longer relevant? Does common sense play any role at all? Are thoughtful questions no longer allowed? On the one hand the death of credibility is disheartening. We long for someone on the national level to be honest, upright, even noble, but on the other hand why would we think it would be any different?

We are steeped in sin at birth. Even on a personal level the reality of this truth packs a punch. You may think the world of someone, but eventually you learn that no person is disappointment-free. The facts are every person is a hypocrite, no one maintains credibility, and disappointment is an inevitability. It’s sad, and yet awesome at the same time. How is it awesome? Because the pervasive letdowns should lead us all to the feet of Jesus. Because He is never hypocritical. He will never lose credibility, and He will never disappoint.

One of the first verses my sons learned was “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). It’s such a simple concept, but what a great reminder for 2021. The world may feel insanely out of control, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. He does not change. He’s not surprised by anything that is going on, and His love for you is just as unquenchable as ever. Love the people in your circle of influence. Continually point them to Christ. Recognize there is nothing more toxic than unforgiveness. Ask God to reveal and ruthlessly dig out your own bitter roots. And proceed with peace, knowing deep down that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Happy or Holy?

Hey Friends,

I’ve been thinking about what it means to really really love someone. Does it mean that you want that person to have everything their heart desires? A carefree, healthy and happy life? In a sense I guess it does, but even more than that I believe if you really really love someone, you want what’s best for them. This is how God loves us. Most modern-day Christians are familiar with the refrain “God doesn’t want you happy as much as He wants you holy.” Are you able to love those closest to you like that? I’m not suggesting we can discern what’s best for others all of the time, but sometimes we are granted the wisdom to know at least what isn’t best. Are you willing to speak truth into the lives around you when you can see a situation or path is not edifying? Can you prayerfully muster the resolve to lovingly tell someone they’d benefit from guardrails? These are hard things to do and obviously only effective within loving relationships, but I believe it is unloving to fail to speak.

The interesting thing is that God’s ways are not our ways. Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” And it may seem counterintuitive or even paradoxical, but the holy life is the happiest life. If you’ve lived long enough you’ve seen this play out over and over again. The happiest people are not the richest, the happiest people are not the smartest, the happiest people are certainly not the most famous or the most powerful, the happiest people are the ones who are the holiest. Just last week I posted about the 21st Century church ladies who go around telling others how to live. Their holier-than-thou vibe whether based on purported concern for the health of others, the environment or whatever their pet project may be, is of course not the kind of holiness that is fulfilling. Instead, the holiness that leads to joy is trust in and obedience to Jesus. So the question for 2021 is how will you trust and obey more this year? Every ounce of good in us is because of God’s grace, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is our only means of trusting and obeying, but we can still aim to build holy habits, to put our sinful little selves in the endless fountain of his mercy and grace. How do you thrust yourself — even when your flesh resists — into the fountain? What are your holy habits?

I have not started the year with a lot of discipline. My boys are not back in school yet and so I’ve been in an extended vacation mode. In fact, when the national news broke this week, Nate, Sam and I were making memories without phones and so we didn’t even know what had happened till later in the day. But I plan to re-read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline before the end of January, and I have also started a new Bible reading plan. I’m doing The Bible Recap. The reading takes less than twenty minutes a day and has an accompanying podcast that is less than ten minutes. The brief discussion of the reading is a game changer. So, I highly recommend both Foster’s book and The Bible Recap reading plan and podcast. And I’d truly love to know what you plan to do this year.

Finally, speaking of loving enough to value holiness over happiness, how do you think that applies to nations? Do you think the United States is a holy nation? Do you think we can be blessed as a nation without a return to God and His Word? You probably know what I think. In fact, the Stuart Townsend’s lyrics have played over and over again in my mind this week: “In Christ alone my hope is found…” Praying for revival and that no American would put their hope in any person or institution, but in Christ alone.

Love to you,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: The 21st Century Church Lady

Happy New Year, friends! Hope you had a sweet time with those closest to you ringing in 2021. I’ve been thinking about the old SNL skit with Dana Carvey. Do you remember the Church Lady? She was appalled by the behavior of many and had many opinions about how others should live. Her righteous indignation stemmed from her 20th Century religion, implicitly Christian but certainly not representative whatsoever of the gospel of Jesus.

Oddly, and only somewhat amusingly, the 21st Century has ushered in a new religion with devout fanatics. Uptight Dana Carvey-like church people are everywhere. Most of these people are not aware that they are religious zealots. They fail to overtly acknowledge the tenets to which they subscribe. But there are two primary ways to identify them: (1) they tell other people how to live; and (2) they derive meaning and self-satisfaction in showcasing their own superior choices.

Thomas Sowell wrote about this in his 1995 book The Vision of the Anointed. Sowell observed that the “anointed” of society believe they have the answers and must impose them on the uninformed masses.

Great social or biological dangers can be averted only by the imposition of the vision of the anointed on the less enlightened people by the government…Perhaps even more important than the specific tenets of this vision is that these prepositions are not treated as hypotheses to be tested but as self-evident axioms. Evidence is seldom asked or given — any evidence to the contrary is often ignored or answered only by a sneer.

p. 242

The sneer of “church people” may have been a thing 26 years ago, but social media combined with untrustworthy media and an intense season of fear-mongering have combined to produce a concentration of benighted condescension never before seen. In 1995, there was some effort to obscure the desire to control. But not anymore, there is no hiding of intent. Instead the aim to control is unabashedly front and center. The we-know-better-for-you-than-you-do mentality doesn’t even meet with much resistance. If you know me at all, you know I find it all utterly revolting. People I would think would resist have succumbed to joyless judgmentalism. Not one of these people — not the Dana Carvey character — nor any of the modern day equivalents have one minute of true happiness, not one. Do you really think this is what Jesus meant when he said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”? Of course not! May the abundant life of John 10:10 be a consistent aim of 2021.

How are you glorifying God for His many gifts to you and living abundantly? Are you praying for those who are in bondage (whether the bonds be fear, addiction, or something else)? I am resolving to do these things better in 2021.

With Love,

Kristie