The Words of Todd

June 19, 2020

Insufficient

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd R. Vick @ 3:54 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

What if prayer were like a cosmic ATM card, and you receive this message?

A recent conversation with a dear friend left me befuddled. He made a statement that really gave me pause. He said, “Christ’s love is boundless, but not enough to change the human heart.” Insufficient?

We were talking about the awful posts and comments we are bombarded with in this Information Age. The words spoken between total strangers, hiding behind a screen, paints an ugly picture, and causes us to face an unfortunate reality: 2,000 years of Christianity on earth has had zero impact on the human heart. Zero. Nada. Nill.

I know what’s coming, so hang on with me. 2 Corinthians 12:9, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (ESV) Paul the Apostle was writing about his “thorn in the flesh.” We have no idea what that thorn was, specifically. We do have Paul’s quote from God about his grace being sufficient (enough) for whatever it was.

As a preacher/teacher, one of my favorite tactics for explaining Scripture is by first pointing out what was NOT said. God did not tell Paul that his grace (unearned love and favor, eternal life now) was IN-sufficient. In fact, the Greek expression used here, ἀρκεῖ σοι ἡ χάρις, is written in the active voice, which should read, suffices. The active voice also indicates continuity. In other words, God’s grace always suffices and keeps on sufficing. There is no point where grace ceases to suffice.

Okay, so why do I say that 2,000 years of Christianity have had no lasting effect on humanity?

Because there is no grace in the picture. Grace is not earned. Society has always taught us that if we want something valuable, it must be earned. You have to pay the price to have it. This is not true with grace. It is given freely and sufficiently. You CAN’T earn it. Oh, we try, though.

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, aka, the Gospel, has been hijacked centuries to make it less grace-friendly. We have invented, creeds, religions, statements of faith, and the sinner’s prayer, to add a level of insufficiency to the grace of God. The crucifixion has been recreated as a transaction to be made rather than forgiveness, love, and grace to simply be had and enjoyed by everyone. We have created a Zeus-like deified monster that we call God to send the unrepentant unbeliever to a hopeless, Christ-less eternity. But…at least He loves you.

It’s no wonder that the love and grace of God haven’t been understood and penetrated the human heart enough to make lasting positive change in our world, Christians can’t seem to understand it either. We have it so screwed up, who the hell would want to hear it?

I submit that the grace and love of God are more than enough to change the world. We have to let it change us, though. God is not a wrathful monster. Jesus told his followers that if they saw Jesus, they were looking at God. Jesus was not a wrathful, cosmic killjoy. He loved everyone and especially the hurt, sick, and marginalized.

Why is that so damn hard for us to embrace and accept? Why do we ignore the very people that Jesus himself cared for and loved?

I’ll tell you why. If we give God and his grace freedom to reign in the lives of every human, you and I lose the ability to control the narrative. We lose control of the outcomes we invented to frighten and control people.

I understand that. I have serious control issues myself. I prefer to have control over my own destiny, rather than just trust that God will unfold every detail as it is meant to. The good news of Jesus Christ and his love have been reduced to something that if you want to get, you have to be willing to give up something of value first. Your dignity, value, purpose, and divine perfection are all left on the altar of “salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.”

No wonder my black brothers and sisters are working so hard to be accepted as equals. No wonder immigrants are treated with unwarranted fear and disdain. No wonder over half a million Christians have left the Church over the last 10 years.

We got it wrong. We screwed it up. Not grace and love, but the presentation of it to mankind. We have packaged the greatest love ever shown as an Americanized cult that keeps the rich, rich and the poor, poor.

No wonder social media is replete with pure hatred and anger and knee-jerk responses to half-truths.

Love is free. Grace is free. Mercy is free. Stop trying to sell it and start living it.

It is most assuredly sufficient. And as someone created in the image of God, you are sufficient too!

May 13, 2020

But, I’m (Not) A Racist!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd R. Vick @ 4:45 PM

o-RACISM-HANDS-facebook

I am pretty well on record regarding my anti-racist stance and passion for human equality. That’s not what this post is about.

I’m a lower middle class white male. I always have been. When we talk about “privilege,” we are not referring to wealth. The privilege is that I have always been able to cross the street, take a walk, marry a white woman, and vote — all of which I can do without worrying for my life.

Ever.

Another jewel in my non-racist crown is that I have as many black friends as white — maybe more. I love them all equally, no one more than the other. My favorite TV shows growing up were Sanford & Son, Good Times, The Jeffersons, What’s Happening, Different Strokes, The Cosby Show, and A Different World. All my life, I have prided myself for being a friend to all regardless of color.

When I was a pastor, I had my life threatened twice for welcoming people of color into the church. I once invited a famous Promise Keeper’s speaker to speak at my church. When he took the podium, over half the church walked out. Until that moment, it had not even occurred to me that he was black. He was my friend, and he graciously came to our church at his own expense. Those of us who stayed had a great time! I, myself, have preached in black churches several times. I was treated like a king.

Here is my piéce de resistance! I have been in two countries where my life was threatened by locals because of my color…or, rather, my lack of color. I have stared down the barrel of an M-16 and an AK-47 just because I was white.

I have shared that story a number of times to PROVE that I understand the plight of black people in America. I have experienced what it feels like to be a minority and to fear for my life because of my race. If anyone understands black people, it’s yours truly.

Until recently.

I have been doing an awful lot of soul searching since the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. My heart hurts for his family and friends. My heart hurts for yet another young black man shot for being black in the wrong place at the wrong time. My lifetime of being a non-racist came to a screeching halt the other day.

I don’t know anything about being a minority. I have no idea what it’s like to be afraid for my life because of my race. I am bullsh*t.

Unlike my friends of color, I got to leave those places. I came home to America, where I am once again safe from prejudice and threats. I remember a movie from the 80s, Soul Man, starring C. Thomas Howell. His character was a guy who took some pigmentation pills to darken his skin so he could qualify for an African-American scholarship. His being white was the only thing that kept him from winning.

Fast forward to the end. James Earl Jones, the amazing actor who played the school president, says to Howell, “So, you have learned what it means to be black.” To which he replied, “No sir. If I didn’t like it, I could always get out.”

White people, it’s time we admitted a serious truth. We have no idea what it means to be black. It’s so easy for us to criticize rioters, and declare that ALL lives matter. We are so full of ourselves. Even when we mean well, we are still racist. I am still racist. It was a hard truth for me to accept. I am racist in that I really don’t understand what the black community goes through. I see it, but I don’t get it. Not really. I swear that I want to understand, though.

I will keep trying, though! I promise you that!

Dr. King referred to a world of equality as the mountaintop. He said he had been to that mountaintop and saw a vision of what it would look like in a world where all humans are equal, and black people need not be afraid of being black. It was his dream and he died for having it.

Now, more than ever, we need to start climbing that mountain again. We are yet so far from the mountaintop that Dr. King dreamed of. But I am crazy and foolish enough to believe we can make it…together.

I will go first.

May 9, 2020

10 Reasons to Attend NOMAD 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd R. Vick @ 3:10 PM

NOMAD2020  In the spirit of my friend Keith Gilesarticle yesterday, I wanted to offer ten reasons why you absolutely should attend NOMAD2020!

First, I will tell you what NOMAD 2020 is: it is a gathering of speakers who have moved beyond the constraints of American Conservative Evangelical Christianity and into a deeper faith in the true and authentic Jesus Christ. They have embraced the truth of a more Christ-like gospel. Each speaker has a unique story that will encourage and inspire you! What makes the conference even more interesting is that all of the speakers were once a part of that conservative system of beliefs.

Second, I will tell you what NOMAD 2020 is not: it is not an attempt to lure people out of their faith, beliefs, families, or churches. It is not an attempt to insult and belittle those who choose to stay where they are in their spiritual journey. We want to encourage you, right where you are, because you are deeply loved and that your life matters.

Now, here are the 10 reasons:

  1. You can get access to all speakers and live panels for the entire weekend for only $29.00. For the cost of dinner for two at Ruby Tuesday’s, you get access to some of the most influential voices in Christianity today! The earlybird discount will end next Friday, so don’t wait.
  2. You get to experience the entire conference from the comfort of your home and office! No airline travel, rental car, or hotel/lodging costs!
  3. You have the opportunity to meet and ask questions of each of the twelve speakers during the live panels.
  4. Not a single one of the twelve speakers is making any money for appearing. This is by choice, and because our hearts sincerely want to connect with you in your journey.
  5. Your family and friends can join you around your device to watch the conference. You only pay for one registration. You can host watch parties!
  6. You might just hear something that will change your life! In fact, I guarantee it!
  7. None of the speakers are what you would consider, “Christian Celebrities,” many of whom would not attend a conference like NOMAD without a substantial fee. When I was a pastor, I once invited a “celebrity,” to come and speak at my church. I heard from their manager that they would need $25,000.00 up front. The NOMAD speakers all have jobs and support themselves. NOMAD 2020 is our gift to you. You are worth the investment!
  8. After the conference is over, you will still have personal access to all twelve speakers through their websites and social media. We love making new friends!
  9. No one will be preaching at you. We will simply have a talk and then invite your input during the live panels. We are not seeking converts, and there is not some deity you must pledge to. This is an interactive experience!
  10. You are now, and will be loved unconditionally and continually. You will be affirmed and accepted without judgement. You will not be asked to be anyone except yourself. That is an iron-clad promise from me to you!

There are probably a hundred more reasons that you should be our guest at NOMAD 2020, but I will leave it to you to discover those!

I sincerely hope to see you there, and cannot wait to meet you!

We Need to Talk About Pro-Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd R. Vick @ 9:00 AM

(The following is an excerpt from my book, The Renewing of Your Mind: Asking Modern Questions to Ancient Answers.)

America is going to great lengths to legalize late term abortion, even after delivery. To my surprise, some states are leading the charge to get this law passed. It deeply sickens me that there are people out there who want to legalize this brand of murder and call it OK. You see, I am Pro-Life.

You may consider yourself Pro-Life as well. Many Christians do. I have known Pro-Life pastors who were willing to put it all out there and risk arrest to lovingly send the message that abortion, at any term, is murder. Oddly, many who claim to be Pro-Life also support war and the death penalty.

Can I state the obvious here? You are not Pro-life, are you? If you support war and the execution of convicted criminals, you are not Pro-Life, you are Pro-Death. You can cloak yourself as a Pro-Lifer all you want to. Understand that Pro-Life needs to be concerned with all life, not just the unborn. Being okay with other humans being executed and going off to war to kill our enemies isn’t Pro-life at all. At best, it is only partial Pro-Life.

I am happily married to Laura. I am crazy in love with her. She is the cheese to my macaroni. She saved my life. Suppose on our wedding day I went to her and said, “Laura, honey, I have a deal for you. I will be faithful only to you ninety-nine percent of the time. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I will come home only to you! But one percent of the time, I will go where I want and do what I want with whom I want.”

Obviously, she would never have gone for such a deal. No one would. Why? Because partial faithfulness is unfaithfulness. Partial commitment is no commitment at all. Partial Pro-Life is Pro-Death.

For many years in our country, black men and women have been killed by white men and women, and vice-versa. From their days of slavery to their days of living on the wrong side of the street, people of color have been killed by white police officers. In the early twentieth century, black men were lynched, violated, and hung by white men. The law of the day found nothing wrong with this. They even took pictures to celebrate!

Black churches were blown up by white perpetrators, and children died. The all-white juries set them free. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man with a dream of equality for all men, was assassinated. Robert F. Kennedy carried Dr. King’s torch of equality for all, and was also assassinated. Then came the Rodney King beating caught on video, followed by the exonerating of the white officers who beat Mr. King and were recorded doing so.

If you are a person of color in a society that makes it OK to shoot you, beat you, murder you, and take away your basic human rights, what are your choices? You can continue to be subordinate to white people, or you can stand up for your rights. The Black Lives Matter movement did just that and was met with disdain from the Caucasian community. They said that All Lives Matter. They do, in fact. But being compliant with the persecution or murder of people of color or other nationalities, sends a clear message that all lives do not matter.

Again, you can’t be Pro-Life until you are Pro-ALL-Life. Partial Pro-Life is Pro-Death. What if you are Pro-Choice? Pro-Choice is also Pro-Death at its core. I am not suggesting that if you’re Pro-Choice, you’re the one doing the killing, However, if we are honest, supporting death of any kind, for whatever reason, is Pro-Death. I realize I am being nit-picky, here. I feel that I must to make a larger point.

The United States of America, in her two-plus centuries, has been at war with someone nearly all the time it has existed. America was created because of war. We must admit to ourselves a truth that has been kept hidden in plain sight. War is good for the economy. War makes certain people a lot of money. Americans have purchased war bonds and invested money in the stocks of companies that build artillery and weaponry for war, because the stock prices soar during conflict. Face it, we like war in this country. It makes people money. People die in wars. People on both sides.

Liking and supporting war is not Pro-Life. It is Pro-Death. The fact that it is the death of the enemies of our way of life doesn’t change that fact. To be fair, being Anti-War doesn’t make one Pro-Life, either. Only Pro-all-life is Pro-Life.

I want to pause here and deal with what many of you are feeling right now. Your American pride is hurt. You staunchly disagree with me for minimizing the death of U.S. Troops and their sacrifices. You are thinking, “If you don’t like our country, then leave.” You are telling me under your breath to pick up a weapon and stand a post or shut the hell up. For the record, I was turned down by the Navy twice, and the National Guard once. I tried. I did. You see, I’m an American, too. I wept on September 11, 2001. I wanted vengeance to be swift and severe. When I heard that Saddam Hussein was dead, I rejoiced. I was later happy to hear that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Justice was served. It was a long time coming.

You don’t need to hate me; I am one of you. My father-in-law served in Vietnam. My maternal grandfather fought in WWII. My biological father served in the same U.S. Navy that turned me down. My step-dad served in the Army National Guard. I am a proud American. I love this country.

Nevertheless, pride in one’s country doesn’t make one Pro-Life if we are being brutally honest. Furthermore, Jesus was not a white, conservative American. Ironically, Jesus would have looked a lot like the people who flew four airplanes into three of our buildings on 9/11. Try wrapping your brain around that fact. Since you’re already upset, I might as well tell you that as Christians, patriotism shouldn’t take first place. Our hearts and actions should be within the Kingdom of God, not America. The same Bible that is wielded to justify war and capital punishment also exhorts us to forgive people like Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden. I said this in one of my former churches, and several people got up and walked out of the church. I understand why, but where is your loyalty? Is it in your country or in God’s kingdom? You believe in God, but not in forgiveness? We will examine forgiveness more closely in a later chapter.

Renewing, or reprogramming our minds requires of us to back away from national pride, and embrace our true citizenship in God’s Kingdom. Even as I write these words, I find a pit in my stomach where this truth just doesn’t sit right. The thing is, I love my country, I truly do. I always have. I am now choosing to love God’s Kingdom more than my country through the renewing of my mind.

It gets easier when you think it through.

May 8, 2020

Generational Bigotry Needs to Die

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd R. Vick @ 1:06 PM

gettyimages-520830453-2048x2048

The above photo reflects the very worst of humanity over the last century. I edited the photo a little because it is gruesome and hard to look at. J. Thomas Shipp and Abraham S. Smith were young African-American men who were murdered in a spectacle lynching by a mob of thousands on August 7, 1930, in Marion, Indiana. They were taken from jail cells, beaten, and hanged from a tree in the county courthouse square in front of men, women, and children. It is very notable that the two men were never convicted of a crime. They were only suspected of robbery and brutally murdered. Sound familiar?

History continues to repeat itself, despite the efforts of great people like Dr. Martin Luther King, one of my personal heroes. He had a dream…this was not it.

Ahmaud Arberey was a young black man who went for a jog one morning in February 2020. Two white men, a father and son (we’ll come back to that), followed him, stopped him, and fatally shot him at point blank range with a shotgun. The video that was released recently removes all doubt. The two murderers, Gregory and Travis McMichael, have now been arrested, nearly three months later, and only because the video of the murder went viral.

There is no doubt that we have a problem with racism in America. It has been there for generations. Racism has been passed down like a priceless family heirloom. That’s what I want to examine here today.

I was born in Wisconsin in 1967. I don’t remember the events that happened in this country after I was born, but they happened. In 1968, both MLK and RFK were assasinated. Both men were outspoken advocates of civil rights and equality of all people. For their vision of an equal and better America, they were murdered. My ancestors came to America from Norway after the Civil War. I have no generational skin in that game for which I am grateful.

In 1975, we moved to South Carolina, and I was awakened to the reality of generational bigotry. A good friend of mine was Bryan. I had him over to my house after school many times. We were good pals, and still are. He is a great man, husband, father, and friend. When we were young boys, it never occurred to me that he was black. He was my friend, and that is all I cared about.

One day at recess, a boy approached me and asked me why I was hanging out with n—-rs. I had never heard that word before. I didn’t even know what it meant. After a while, I noticed that the boys always played football at recess…blacks versus whites. I realized that I was the only white kid with black friends. I never saw this as a problem. Apparently, I was wrong.

As an adult, I became a pastor in that same community that I grew up in. Some of the older men in the church were outspoken racists. I overheard this exchange in their Sunday School class one day:

“This country went to hell after we integrated the schools.”

“Yeah, all they (black people) wanna do is bounce that ball.”

My jaw dropped and my heart sank into my stomach. I would later discover that these men modeled racism to their children, who modeled it to their grandchildren, and now their great grandchildren. After decades of living in the south, I realized that people like me are very rare and called things like, “snowflakes,” “libtards,” and “bleeding hearts.”

I am speculating that Gregory McMichael’s father taught racism to him, and that he passed it to his son, Travis, who pulled the trigger of the shotgun that killed Ahmaud Arbery. According to the men, they thought Ahmaud had committed burglary and were “protecting” their neighborhood. Not unlike Smith and Schipp in the photo, Ahmaud was killed for no good reason except for being black. I wonder how many of the people in the photo passed that hatred and fear to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren…

I am more convinced than ever that this generation of humans, whatever color we are, needs to kill the generational hatred and replace it with love. Love for everyone. Period. Like those courageous people of the 60s, we need to act on our convictions. We need to march. We need to blow up social media with love. We need to call our local politicians and hold them accountable for turning a blind eye to injustice.

Action is what it will take to put an end to hand-me-down hatred and violence. Thoughts, prayers, and being “color blind” are not effective. They may be well-intended, and I believe they are, but without action, our thoughts, prayers, and sentiments are dead.

To all of my friends, black, white, brown, yellow, purple, blue, or indigo, I deeply love you and believe in your potential to make the world a better place for this generation and for future generations.

My granddaughter will be a year old soon. I want her to grow up in a world without senseless hatred and violence. I want her to know that her Grampa did his part in making that happen.

Let’s do this…together.

May 6, 2020

The Words We Don’t Really Mean But Need To

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd R. Vick @ 9:35 PM

download I was talking to an old friend recently who was going through some difficult times. He reassured me that he was, “holding on to his faith.” What does that mean, exactly? What is he holding on to? Is it a system of beliefs based in tradition, or…is it something we say just because we always say it?

I remember my father’s funeral in 1992 like it was yesterday. I barely knew my father, and yet there were hundreds of people at his service. I resemble him a lot, and so people were looking at me as if they had seen a ghost. Another stand-out from that day is the number of people who said to my face as they shook my hand, “If there is anything…anything at all…that you need, don’t hesitate to call.”

I wonder what their response would have been if I had said, “Well, my car could use some detailing…”

One of my old favorite things we say but don’t really mean is, “We’re praying for you!”

Are you? When? What did you say, specifically? What did God say?

Okay, I realize I am being a bit crass. We almost always mean well when we say such things. However, what does it say about us when we walk away from that person and never actually pray? Yes, I said “we.” I’ve done it for years. During my ministry years, if someone at the church asked me to pray for them, I would try to stop right there and pray. Not to puff myself up, but because I knew I would forget as soon as they walked away.

What about, “If you need to talk, you can call me day or night?” When they actually do call, do we take the call or let it go to voicemail and apologize later?

“No! You called last night? I must have turned my ringer off.”

Words are powerful. James chapter three says that words have the power of life and death. When we say things we don’t really mean, even if we believe we mean it at the time, our credibility suffers. Our integrity takes a big hit. The confidence of those we love and care about slowly erodes each time we say something we don’t really mean.

Years ago, I was going through a horrible time. A close friend of mine told me that I could call him 24/7 if I needed to talk. He had been through what I was facing and gave me really sound advice. He also talked me down when anxiety, along with the tendency to make bad choices, would overcome me. And he meant what he said. I called him at all hours of the day and night. If he was at work, he would drop everything for me. If he was asleep, he would get up and make coffee so we could talk as long as I needed to. I would have never made it through that ordeal without him. That’s the truth.

After that experience, I realized what a substandard person I was. There were so many times that I said something kind or made commitments that I failed to follow through on. 

As a Jesus follower, we have the power of the good news to share. We have the words of Christ to help guide people through difficulties. We have the words of comfort and strength and peace that surpasses comprehension. It’s because of grace that we are compelled to be whatever people need us to be, and to be there for them whenever they need us. It’s not a chore. It’s a delight.

Choose your words carefully, and make sure you are prepared to back them up. When we do, we magnify the boundless love of Jesus!

Who doesn’t need that?

April 10, 2020

Good Friday Thoughts on Bullying

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd R. Vick @ 12:05 PM

Good Friday

My son, Cody, has taught me more about God than anyone on Earth. Especially when he was just a small boy. In first and second grade, he seemed to be a magnet for bullies. There were two kids giving him trouble. We spoke with his teacher and the problem seemed to stop for a short while. A very short while.

I was picking him up and as he was getting in the car, I could tell he had tears in his eyes.

“What’s wrong, son? Are you okay?”

“(The two boys) picked on me again.”

“Where are they?”

“Over there.”

I began to see red. I am generally a quiet, patient, and easygoing person. When someone hurts my children, however, Papa Bear comes out.

“Cody, let’s go talk to your teacher right now. I have had it with those two.”

“No, Dad. I don’t want to.”

“Well let’s go see those bullies and I will give them the what-for!”

“No, Dad. I don’t want to do that either.”

It seemed like my boy was cowering to these two creeps. I wanted to confront them.

“Cody, why don’t you want to do anything to settle this? When we get home, I will teach you what my father taught me about bullies. If you hit them just right, you will break their noses. Then they will back off!”

I was livid. I was not going to let this go. My son was hurting, and I needed to fix it.

“I can’t fight them, Dad. I just can’t.”

“Sure you can. I will show you how! Why won’t you let me?”

My son looked at me and said something that I will never forget as long as I live.

“Dad, if I hurt them, then I can’t show them the love of Jesus.”

My heart dropped into my stomach. The red went away. I was a minister of the gospel, and yet my default for bullying was revenge with extreme prejudice. Cody’s default was Jesus. I was so ashamed. I apologized to Cody and told him that we would pray for those boys every day. We did that. They eventually moved on to some other kid or stopped bullying. I hope it was the latter.

Death. It is the impulse of the selfless person. Denying yourself in favor of others is what Jesus modeled for us, and my son knew this at such a young age. I take no credit for that. Jesus made an impression on him, and it showed. He passed by revenge and went straight to forgiveness and compassion.

Following Jesus has nothing to do with saying the right words, memorizing Scripture, attending worship, giving money, witnessing to the lost, or shining your shoes. It is about freely giving love, compassion, and forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it – no matter what it costs us.

That is the place where miracles happen.

That is where people are healed!

That is where death becomes life!

That is resurrection living!

April 6, 2020

Holy Week 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd R. Vick @ 5:57 PM

Seven Days

When I was a pastor, this was my favorite week of the year. I call Easter, Resurrection Sunday! I love it! Think about it…everything done in the church revolves around the resurrection, whether they realize it or not. The resurrection changed all of human history. Jesus was dead and buried. Then his tomb was found to be empty! Mary and Mary Magdalene first saw the empty tomb. Astonished, they ran and told the men. The men ran to the tomb. Peter looked in and saw the Lord’s clothing nice and folded.

Interesting…the men looked into the tomb and saw laundry. The women saw resurrection.

I digress.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. We celebrate the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowds laid palm branches down as he came through, shouting, Hosanna! Hosanna means, save us. At last their King had come, though not as they expected.

The following day, we see Jesus in the temple flipping the merchant’s tables. This part is where I want to focus today.

The Temple is very significant in the Old Testament. Every piece of it has significance. From the tent pegs to the Holy of Holies, everything mattered. The Temple was a place to worship and bring sacrifices under the Old Covenant. To make an extra buck, merchants entered the Temple to sell animals for worshippers to sacrifice. The Temple was a place where people could pray and worship God. Now, it was a mall with kiosks.

Jesus saw this and became angry. He turned over the tables and said, My house is a house of prayer and you have turned it into a den of thieves. Jesus didn’t have a problem with what they were doing as much as where they were doing it. I get that people have to make a living and do what they can for their families. And I don’t think Jesus had a problem with small businesses. The Temple was built for a spiritual purpose not a financial one.

Social media is abuzz with whether or not pastors should hold church services during COVID19. Thus, there is no need for me to do that here.

What I want to show you are two fallacies surrounding the flipping of the tables.

  1. The flipping of the tables had deep spiritual meaning. Not only was the business in the temple an offense, but it is also symbolic of flipping over the old way of doing things. In six days, Jesus is going to offer himself as the ultimate sacrifice for sin, negating the outdated sacrificial system. The New Covenant was being ushered in, and Jesus was giving the Temple-goers a foretaste of that. That is very significant, and is often missed. Here’s why…
  2. The flipping of the tables was not done to give you and I an excuse to be jerks both in and out of the church. It had nothing to do with politics, so please stop referring to the cleansing of the temple when you talk about your candidates. I served in a very stuffy church in my younger days. Sometimes, members would leave for whatever reason and some wag would say, Well, Jesus is cleansing his temple. No. It has nothing to do with you using it as a crutch to be a curmudgeon with immunity. Stop it. Just…stop it. Please?

That said, I want to offer my hopes that this week and Resurrection Sunday will cause you to see Jesus as he really is, and to do the things he did…healing the sick, helping the widows and orphans, bringing good news to the poor, and becoming a servant to all.

The people wanted a King, Jesus washed their feet. They wanted a warrior King, Jesus told them to pray for their enemies. They wanted someone to keep the blind, lame, and lepers away from the population. Jesus loved and healed them.

May we all go and do likewise. Starting now. Perhaps we need to flip the tables in our souls so we can move forward toward resurrection living!

 

 

 

March 27, 2020

…And the Women Shall (Finally) Lead Them

Filed under: Women in Ministry — Todd R. Vick @ 2:21 PM
Tags:

Karen Race Photography 2019

Hello. My name is Todd. I’m a man. A human male. In the 21st century.

I have watched you for many years. When I was a boy, I was fascinated by Gloria Steinem and the whole “Women’s Lib” movement. I remember hearing the men in our family dismiss the movement saying things like, “We let them vote…what else do they need?”

I have watched you graduate college and take on the 80-hour workweek while getting your kids to school and soccer practice while wearing heals. You know, that 80 hour week created by men that pays you significantly less than you deserve…?

I have watched the religious system dismiss and belittle you. Women must submit to their husbands. A woman’s place is in the home. They can bake the pies and casseroles. They can keep the nursery. They can look pretty, if they don’t cause the men to stumble in their thoughts. They can have Bible studies if they don’t teach any men. They can decorate the church at Christmas and Easter. They can cook Sunday dinner and watch the kids while we men take naps during NASCAR. Men will allow you to do all of that, but for the love of God and Saint Peter’s dog, you can never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever ,ever, ever, ever, ever preach and God would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever call you to become pastors! I actually heard that, verbatim, in a sermon once.

I have watched you excel in sports. Not as cheerleaders. As soccer players, boxers, MMA fighters, race car drivers, basketball, volleyball, pro-wrestling, and other hard sports like that which men have dominated for years. You all are kicking our butts!

I have watched you distinguish yourself in the all boy’s club of politics. We even elected you President in 2016 (although the electoral college said otherwise). You have proven yourself time and again as policy makers.

I have watched you rally together and encourage one another to keep pushing while the men pushed back again and again.

In the last few years, I have noticed something else. Something new. That’s why I’m writing.

I have also recently noticed that you have stopped waiting for men to give you your due. No more rallies. You are just stepping up and taking what has always been yours. Men are noticing. They are powerless to stop you. They know this, and they are telling you to “Go home.”

That’s all they have left to say. Go home. 

It’s a new world, ladies! You did it, and I want you to know I am proud of you.

All of you.

 

March 19, 2020

Quarantine, Day Two

Filed under: COVID19, Isolation — Todd R. Vick @ 11:49 AM
Tags: ,

isolationI almost forgot I had this blog. I started it ten years ago to chronicle my novel writing. When I realized that fiction wasn’t my passion, I just stopped using it.

I shared with a friend earlier that if I don’t journal or blog, my mind might implode on itself. Sometimes I just need to write out my thoughts to keep my sanity about me.

Irony is a funny thing. Literally. For most of my life I have been somewhat of a recluse. My heart longs to travel and see the world, and yet I am content to just stay home with the wife and pets. Recently, my therapist and I agreed that I needed to get out more and be around people. I have spent time over coffee and breakfast with my lifelong pal and brother, Jay. I have tried to reconnect with my pastor and friend, Kevin. I had the option to work from home at my company, and I decided to stay in the office so that I could be around people. It’s good for me not to isolate. Right?

Enter COVID19. Suddenly, it seems, our whole world is in crisis. To help prevent contact with the virus, my company sent us all to work from home for the foreseeable future. Then the unthinkable happened.

Yesterday, Laura, my wife, who has autoimmune deficiency, was tested positive by a rapid COVID19 test. We will have the actual results in about 3-4 days. Meanwhile, we have been placed on a fourteen day quarantine. No guests in our home. No going to visit our children and granddaughter. No breakfasts with Jay or coffee with Kevin. Forced isolation.

Irony.

COVID19 is one of those things that happens to someone else. Not me. Not my family. But, here we are. I have every confidence that Laura will come through this like she has so many other things, like abuse and cancer. She is a fighter.

She is a fighter, and I am a writer. She will do her part, and I will do mine.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.