End of All Monsters


If you ask adults today when America was last “great,” I think many would hearken back to the days of the Internet boom, the mid-1990s. Back then, people made money hand over fist, new, exciting companies popped up left and right, the stock market boomed, and America felt unbeatable. Heck, I got married, lived in the heart of Silicon Valley, and worked for Apple. This was the dream, right?

But didn’t we have a monster in the White House, Bill Clinton? Weren’t those dark days in American history?

I think it was impossible then to underestimate how much conservatives despised and excoriated Clinton. He was the anti-Contract-with-America scourge who threatened all that was good with our country. We had government shutdowns because of that crafty good ol’ boy. BIll sullied the reputation of the presidency with his “cigars and tarts” shenanigans. He was all that was wrong in the world. He was the reason America was in trouble.

But reread that opening paragraph. Funny how we recall those days.

Tired, old Bill ClintonThen check out the picture.

Time and memory are strange bedfellows that obscure, diminish, and erase. Their effect on people is to make us all nostalgic and reflective while our minds cloud and our bodies fail.

All monsters come to an end. Whether tempered by time and memory or summoned to the grave.

Bill Clinton is a tired, old man now. Some people look back at the 1990s and think those were the good, ol’ days. Weird how the stuff that bothered us then is now largely forgotten.

The 1960s had Kruschev. The 1940s, Hitler. The 1920s, Lenin and Stalin. The world has never NOT been filled with monsters, real or imagined. And they are always dying and passing away, along with our memories of them.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
—Psalm 103:15-19

At the beginning and end is God. He was there all along and all through the middle. Monsters come and go, and so do memories, but God remains. He persists. He persistently loves you and wants you to be with Him.

Whatever the monster of today is, or who, God is greater.

Those who are with and in God need never fear the monsters, because God’s throne and His Kingdom are over and above all.

When Everything Sad Becomes Untrue


Toward the finale of The Return of the King, after Frodo and Samwise have cast the evil ring into the molten core of Mount Doom, an exhausted Sam, recovering from his ordeal, awakes to the face of Gandalf.

“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”

A great Shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count.”

Everything sad is going to come untrueYesterday, I attended the visitation of an old neighbor from an old neighborhood, the one in which I experienced some of the sweetest days of my life. Joe had suffered through dementia for years, and the family of six boys with whom we played football in our backyards felt a sense of relief for their dad. Shirley, his wife, did too. She said it was a blessing that all this happened during Holy Week. Even in that sad time, there remained hope that everything sad is going to come untrue.

The passion of Jesus marks the high, holy days of the Christian Church. And they are holy because they mark the beginning of the answer asked by a beloved fictional character.

In the cross of Jesus, everything sad begins its journey toward untruth. The lie of who we were in sin is replaced by the truth of who we are in Christ. The great shadow over us has been removed.

In the resurrection of Jesus, sadness takes a further step toward being untrue. Death no longer holds the victory. Christ triumphed over it. When we are in Christ, so will we be victorious. And there will be no second death.

In the ascension of Jesus, sadness declines yet again, as the promise is of Christ’s return. In that return, we understand that sadness will be swallowed up in truth, and that tear-filled eyes will no longer be so, that no one will want for anything, and that all our crushed dreams will live again.

And sadness will be untrue forever.

In this week of recalling Jesus’ betrayal, death, and resurrection, we understand that the world has changed, because Jesus made it so.

Jesus can change your world, if you lay aside your life and let Him give you His. All you have to do is ask Him.

Lord, Purge Your Church


It’s the early a.m. here and quiet as a tomb. That silence lends opportunity to think.

I’m pondering the state of the American Church. But then, I never stop.

We live in a world coming apart at the seams. Some say that’s not the case, but as I see it, the deterioration is clear. I wonder regularly how it is that all sense is missing from whichever brouhaha holds our attention this day.

It may not be much on the grander scale, but the fiasco surrounding last week’s notorious conference makes it clear genuine Christians must pray this:

Lord, purge Your Church.

If the Church in America is to have any influence at all on the larger culture and society of the United States, the dross must be removed.

Pray also that you are not the dross.

At this point in 2013, I’m fully convinced that the American Church is thinking too far ahead of itself if it continues to believe it can have such an influence. While the gates of hell cannot hold against the Church as a whole, no assurance is given for any one branch:

Ephesus in ruins

Ephesus in ruins

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
—Revelation 2:1-5 ESV

We could point to the vitality of the Ephesian Church and its contemporary influence on the world—if it were still around. But the Lord removed that Church’s lampstand and the light went out.

The American Church is at the lampstand-removal phase, if it hasn’t happened already. An opportunity to repent may still exist, but I wonder if it must come down to something more drastic than repentance.

Lord, purge Your Church.