Tag Archives: G K Chesterton

How To Form a Quality Book Club or Reading Group


This is unashamedly a “How to” post. How to form a “quality” book club or reading group. The adjective in this title is all important. It describes what kind of reading group you form. In my opinion, and since you have no possibility of redeeming wasted time, a quality book club is the only kind of reading group worth participating in.

Assuming that you value your time, this is the right post for you. Either it will confirm something you’re already doing right (that should make you feel good); or, it can prove helpful motivational to consider doing something worth your time and effort. Perhaps the information shared here will equip you to take that step you’ve been contemplating–planning the launch of a quality book club or reading group. So, where do we begin?

So, are you starting a group that you will lead? Or are you wanting something more democratic? Just remember, the more cooks you invite into the kitchen the better or worse the food may be, but the question is do you want the confusion that can come with a room full of cooks? If so, then bring the group together to form the group, otherwise, you form the group and see who’s interested. Some groups prefer to not have to make a thousand decisions. They make far too many decisions every day as it is. So they may LOVE that fact that the leader takes that load off. Other groups don’t like one person leading. At this point, it’s your decision and your group, if you haven’t formed one yet.

Let’s assume you’re beginning a group and you’re unsure.

Decide Upon the Nature of the Group

First of all, is it a “reading group” or a “book club.” The suggestions in this post apply to a group of either nature. A “reading group” may read any number of different kinds of books. It may read a novel one month and a non-fiction, self-help the next. The group may decide to read the likely definitive  biography of Neil Armstrong this month and a history of the game of Monopoly the next (there is such a book).

A “book club” usually forms around a particular author, topic, or genre. The participants may decide to read all the works of G.K. Chesterton or to read as many books as they can find about Sable Island. They could also be genre oriented. One book club I know of reads nothing but high fantasy another club reads only military history books.

It’s important to determine the nature of your club or group, but don’t get into angst about this. You can either decide up front–before you invite participants–or you can think of the people you want to invite into the group and bring them together to discuss what kind of group you’d like to be. Just make sure you enjoy the process. This is about FUN!! Keep that central. When it stops being fun, forget about it. You don’t need more stress in your life.

Once you know what kind of group you’ll be–reading group or book club–you’re ready to take the next step–determining the content.

Determine the Content

Is there an expert in the group from whom you can learn something new and valuable? Get rid of her/him. Just kidding. Actually, if you have a person who is knowledgeable in a particular area, and it’s an area worth exploring or learning more about, the group may want to invite that person to suggest or submit a bibliography and the group or leader could choose a reading list from the bibliography. In any case, bibliographies are invaluable when exploring an author, a genre, or a niche. Here is a source of bibliographies that can be invaluable to the reading group or book club.

Perhaps you decide you want to form a reading list from the top 10 New York Times best sellers (though that list is no guarantee of quality). A group that enjoys hiking or mountain climbing may want to Google books about climbing K2 or great hikes in the White Mountains of NH. Some groups I’ve heard of really like to gamble. They invite a different member each month to determine the title they’ll read for that month. It can be interesting and informative OR you could be held hostage to bad taste and disaster. You don’t want an exodus of members because they’re exposed to bad or bankrupt literature.

In deciding what your group wants to read, make sure that the writing is good and that it will hold the interest of the group. Fiction should engage the reader and allow for vicarious experience. Non-fiction should instruct, inform, challenge, and provide practical solutions. Both should come highly recommended by a diverse number of people, journals, or reputable sources.

Be able to answer the questions: What do you hope to get out of this group? What are you willing to contribute to the group?

Location, Location, Location

Will you meet in a home, at Borders (are there any left?), the local library? Find the right environment for the group. Make sure that it’s geographically central to the group members. Is it comfortable? Well lit? Free of distractions?

Will you meet in one place or move around? You can rotate homes on a voluntary basis or you can go to one location for the duration. This can be decided by the group or the club members’ circumstances. Libraries often have rooms available for reading groups and book clubs. And the libraries are usually central for a community.

There Must be a Facilitator – the same person or rotate? Clubs that are supposed to “just happen” don’t usually. They flounder unless someone is willing to facilitate–as opposed to dictate. See if anyone is experienced at leading small groups. If not, you do it, but read a few articles on “small group leadership” by searching on Google or your favorite search engine.

Invite Participants

Invite people who love books, reading, growing. Diversity brings growth. Avoid clones. I don’t much like being in a group where everyone has to think alike. I’m challenged and stretched by being with people who have different perspectives. But the key to a positive experience with people who hold different values is–respect the right to disagree agreeably. We don’t all see things the same way. We all have filters we walk the world with. As long as we’re willing to acknowledge that and understand that we don’t have to all agree to enjoy and respect one another, we have the opportunity to grow, to explore. Guard this freedom  in your group.

Other Enhancements

Begin a Blog or establish an email newsletter. Give everyone in the group access to share a review or suggestion.

If the group is an open group, Register at an online Finder like “Readerscircle.org” so that others in your area can find you.

Housekeeping

What time will you meet? How long will this club meet? Six weeks or throughout eternity? Eternal clubs usually only last six weeks anyway. A good rule of thumb is to read three to six books. If you read one book per month, then that would be three to six months. Then meet for a celebration or barbecue and decide if you’ll go another six months. This gives people the opportunity to opt out or have new people join (assuming you’re a closed club until the time limit is reached). Open clubs can have members come and go as they determine together.

Outside Speakers or not? (see my blog on “Speakers for Book Clubs – Yes or No?” I haven’t written it yet, but check back from time to time or, “Follow” this blog and sign up for email notification at top right)

Decide on a Format

Make sure that you have track to run on that makes your club comfortable because its predictable. Studies have been done that show that MOST people are more relaxed and comfortable when they know what to expect.

I like the following format.

Light Refreshments

Icebreaker–a question that gives some insight to the person answering. Ask the question. Let each answer in turn. “What was your favorite book when you were 11?” “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?” If you write down the answers, you could surprise everyone with a special ice cream bash which includes all the flavors mentioned.

Discussion By chapter? By character? By topic? What stood out to you in this week’s reading? Leave to facilitator? Use a study guide for the book? I understand that guides are available for book clubs. Do a search.

Choose the First Book

However you decided to proceed, it’s time to pick the first book. Make it a winner! Read something that is absolutely engaging. How will you know? Ask around. Do you know other book clubs or readers? Ask a librarian. Read some reviews. What title keeps coming up? What do reviews at Amazon.com say on the book’s product page?

Now Go and read the “Do’s and Don’ts of Facilitating a Book Club Meeting” [This post is not written yet either, but if you check back, I’ll include the link just as soon as it’s complete.]

QUESTION: Have you ever started a group? Would you add something I left out?

What Don’t Unbelievers Get About Math?


First, an admission: I stink at math. Marcy has to do the checkbook and does great with our finances (we have no debt or depreciating loans). But that’s because she gets math. Though I’m mathmatically challenged, I at least know that I am because I understand some mathematical absolutes. And I don’t argue with them.

Having said that, I recently got baited into a discussion/argument with a couple of reader-friends over what they perceive as judgmentalism, intolerance, and forcing my views on readers. This discussion came as a result of them reading a recent blog post which got more hits than any post I’ve ever written.

Their biggest question (gripe) was, “Why are Christians so pushy and dogmatic about God’s standards?”

What many people (especially unbelievers) fail to understand is that for devout, serious, Spirit-born  followers of Jesus, God’s standards are absolute. When God says that something opposes his values and is bad for people because it will harm them, then that’s it! That’s the last word. God gets that last word with serious followers of Christ because he’s God, we’re not. Our opinion is immaterial. God has spoken . . . period!

So, I was thinking and wondering . . . how can I make this crystal clear in a way that even a person who shuts off the moment you challenge their “opinion” can recognize, that sometimes our opinion–no matter how much we’re entitled to it and in love with it–is simply WRONG?

What’s even more amazing is the line of reasoning that an unbeliever follows when you challenge his/her “opinion” with God’s absolute. If people are shown his Word, they say either that men wrote the Bible (as though that should disqualify it) or they say that they don’t believe in God.

MEN WROTE THE BIBLE?

Of course men wrote the Bible. Biblical scholars and educated beleivers alike would never dispute that. What they would dispute is the implication that because men wrote it, they made it up. This is an absurd line of reasoning for many reasons but scholars more astute than me have established divine biblical inspiration far better than I could. And any intellectually honest person can read their work if they are genuinely interested in how the Bible came from the Holy Spirit through its human agents as God gave them utterance. But back to my point.

Then it came to me.  I know . . . Teachers and students alike will get this . . .

MATH CLASS

You’re a math teacher and are conducting a class on Addition.

You tell the students 2+2=4.  But two or three of your students don’t agree. They say that 2+2=7. You tell them gently that they’re mistaken.

They take offense and tell you that your answer is your opinion. But in their opinion, 7 is the answer. Because you’re well versed in math, you explain to them that math has absolutes. And you gently assure them that 2+2 will always equal 4 whether they agree on it or not.

They still insist that though you may know more math than they do, they’re not going to allow you to shove your intolerant opinions about addition down their throats. They now take a different tact. No longer do they remain with the 2+2 point.

“Well, that math book was man-made. It is a book written by men.”

“Yes, that’s true,” you say, “but the principles in it are established absolutes just like the law of gravity.” What they’re describing faithfully are the foundations and principles of Math.

Now they’re really going to push you into the corner. “Well, we don’t believe that Math exists. We’re amatheists! We don’t believe in your Math or its principles or your judgmental, intollerant views. We believe in love. And love would never tell us that 2+2 has to be 4 and can’t be 7.” What do you do now?

DEPARTING FROM REALITY

There’s really no arguing. You have to give them an “F” and let them live their lives believing that 2+2=7. Now a bunch of them gang up on you for being unjust to those who received “F”. They harange you and call you a mathematical bigot. You’re intolerant. You’re a 7-phobic. What makes your opinion superior to theirs?

Of course this analogy falls apart at the end, because what they believe about math, only affects their grade in school, not their immortal souls. But what would happen if their eternal destiny was settled by the stubborn insistence upon their error? What would you do? How would you respond if you knew that they would be eternally lost if they held to their mistaken opinions? Would you write them off and say “Hey, they’ve made their choices. Let em face the consequences.

BRING THEM TO THEIR SENSES

Most likely, if you were a compassionate, loving teacher, you would try to convince (not force) them. You might cite all kinds of people and authorities to try to bring them to their senses to escape the lie they have embraced as their firm opinion. You would provide them with expert testimony and scholarship. The problem is that they wouldn’t care. They have made up their minds based upon their opinions (and of course they got those opinions from others with the same misinformed, unexamined opinions).

THE PROBLEM WITH OPINIONS

G.K. Chesterton once said, “An opinion lacking in knowledge is an ugly thing.” It destroys truth. It undermines reality. An uniformed opinion is the devil’s delight, especially where souls are involved.

In our culture, opinion reigns when it comes to God and spiritual matters. With regard to morality and spiritual reality, unbelievers don’t want the facts to cloud their right to believe any fantasy that appeals to their imaginations. Yet, we would never base our destiny on a stubbornly held opinion when it came to other matters of living.

DON’T TRUST YOUR OPINION, GET THE FACTS!

What if a bridge under construction was blatantly unsafe? Signs warn motorists to proceed no further. But a driver–insistent upon her own opinion–decides to cross. What would people say when her car plunges into the depths of the river below?

How far should we trust our own opinions?

Another scenario: What about the patient, who’s scheduled for a brain operation and decides that in his opinion what his doctor proposes is not in agreement with his opinion as a patient. The surgeon insists that she needs to operate on the patient’s left side to affect his motor functions on the right side of his body; but, he insists that if the problem is on the right side of his body, then it only makes sense that she should operate on the right side of his brain. Seems resonable right? No matter how much the patient insists upon the validity of his reasons and his “opinion,” this man is dead wrong. His opinion means nothing, though he’s entitled to hold it dogmatically. It won’t change the reality for his surgeon (fortunate for him.) She will not be convinced by her patient’s stubborn insistence upon his own limited views of anatomy and physiology. She will perform the operation as she has been trained in her knowledge of the human body. The patient’s only choice is to proceed with the operation or not.

You get what I’m concerned about? When it comes to universal principles, opinions are meaningless and only get in the way of the greater good–God’s Kingdom and His reality which includes our joy, peace, and eternal destiny.

Now you can insist that Math doesn’t exist and close your eyes, stop up your ears, jump up and down and cry, but Math exists. And math will not bend its principles for you, me or anyone else–regardless of our cherished opinions.

DON’T BLAME THE MAILMAN

In my post I shared God’s view. It’s not my view. It’s GOD’s view. The believer or disciple who delivers God’s Word is just the mailman who delivered the letter. Don’t whack him because you don’t like what’s in the letter.

The problem with the unbeliever is solved by God. He has already told us why they don’t and CAN’T get it. He says:

1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

This is where our prayers come in. All that we can do is gently share the truth with them that may be set free and to see that 2+2 really does equal 4. God really does have absolutes that include or exclude us from his marvelous Kingdom:

2 Timothy 2:24–26 (NIV)

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

It’s really a matter of humility. As long as they remain in pride, they are captive to a spiritual entity that will not let them see the truth. Only when they respond to the truth with humility and let go of their opinions will God “grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” that will bring them to “their senses.”

What’s frustrating is when you know their time for “getting it” is short. That makes us more insistent because of our love for them. And that makes them more intolerant with us because they think that we’re forcing our values and reality on them or patronizing them. Lord, remove the veil. Grant the the grace you granted us when we were 7’ers ourselves.

QUESTION: Have you run into this stubborn insistence upon a person’s culturally informed opinion?

Why I Despise “Religion”


I despise religion. I despise all dead religion wherever it is found. Let’s define our terms so that if you’re still reading, we’re talking about the same things. Be courageous and stay with me to the end. Be open and honest and you may find that you agree.

Religion–man’s attempt–apart from God–to appease or serve a deity/deities through rules, lifeless rituals, regulations, empty traditions, and vain babbling (empty repetition). Religion enslaves. Dead religion inoculates against relationship. And the TRUE GOD is all about relationship from beginning to end.

Despise–means intensely dislike and have no use for, to count as worthless.

It’s OK if you don’t agree with me, though I wish you would. Then you’d be tracking with God, because I’m agreeing with God. God–Yahweh–HATES religion too. He despises it. God is being quoted here by the prophet Amos:

“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. –Amos 5.21(ESV)[emphasis mine]

So does Jesus as he speaks to the Pharisees and teachers of tradition:

41 . . . We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” –John 8:41–47 (ESV)

It helps to know where you stand when you substitute religion for relationship–loving Jesus and Yahweh. There are only two Fathers. One is the father of lies and religion. The other is the Father of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah and of all those who have been transformed supernaturally by the power of the living God.

The Apostle, Paul summarizes a section on empty religion by saying:

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. –Colossians 2:20–23 (ESV)

You notice that God actually uses BOTH words “hate” and “despise” in the Amos passage.  WHY?

“Religion” is a man’s or woman’s attempt to placate some god, or practice some rituals to make them feel closer to their imagined view of a deity or spirituality of some sort. Hinduism has millions of these gods. Pagans worship mother earth, Sophia. or darkness itself. Monotheists have ONE God (though–contrary to modern opinion–not the same one). For example, contrary to ex-Presidents, and nominal Muslims, the god of Islam is not the God and Father of Jesus–Yahweh. They have diametrically opposed values and character (if Mohamed is any indicator of the type of leader Islam produces). Read the history of the Ottoman Empire. Read a life of Mohamed and see if you can honestly say that he knows the biblical God of Love and Life–the Father of Messiah, Jesus. Read A God Who Hates by Wafa Sulton. The God who hates people and the God who loves people are not the same God. The Muslim who must model his life after its founder must love what he loved; he must love violence, hate and demean women, be duplicitous (loves lies) and embrace evil. These character traits come from the father of lies, Jesus pointed out when He said:

44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. –John 8:44 (ESV)

Couldn’t someone say the same about Yahweh–that if the Inquisition and Crusades are an example of the kind of believer the biblical God produces then He is not the true God either? One could, except that according to the Apostle John, those who committed those acts were clearly serving religion. They were obviously not in relationship with Jesus or His Spirit:

4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.  –1 John 2:4-6(ESV)[emphasis mine]

For in Jesus, we see the kind of person that IS in relationship with Yahweh. He walked in love with God and people. Even his anger served Love. Those who walk in the same way He did, know God, the Father. And throughout history, those few have been treated with contempt and treachery even from so-called “Christians”–the keepers of dead Orthodoxy–both Roman Catholic and Reformation Protestant. Dead religious Christianity is no better than radical Islam–and both will one day see the demonic principality behind their systems.

Only the voices outside the city get it right–those who are standing with Jesus, living out of His Spirit. That’s why the world hates us and our voice. Jesus warned as much:

19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. –John 15:19 (ESV)

13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. –Mark 13:13 (ESV)

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. –Luke 6:22–23 (ESV)

It’s all about relationship–ON GOD’s TERMS, THROUGH GOD’s BELOVED–Jesus. Those in the love of the Father are not threatening, not killing, not oppressing anyone. If you want to see how they live, look at their Lord, their King. They will reflect his lifestyle and values and Life, though imperfectly. But murder, torture, killing, hating, are not even named among them. I hear some “Christians” now. Well, that leaves me out I guess. Not if you have forsaken religion for Messiah Jesus. You are not guaranteed Life by being a “Christian,” only by being in a living relationship with the living Lord Jesus–the Lord of Love. And His way is narrow and few ever find it.

Let’s not make the mistake of imagining that all paths lead to the same place, or that all the waterslides of live lead into the same pool of whatever . . . That’s one of the lies that floats around. The all-paths option disintegrated when Jesus burst upon the scene and made it crystal clear, beyond a shadow of doubt that only One God was the true God–Yahweh–the Father of the Messiah. There is NO OTHER GOD. And that Jesus is the ONLY conduit to a relationship with Yahweh.

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” –John 14:5–7 (ESV)

Demons and fallen angels masquerade as gods, but they have no deity. They only seek to usurp and mimic true deity.

Are you telling me that you believe in demons? Are you nuts or something? Don’t you know that this is the 21st Century? Since we know that psychology has explained all of human behavior and demons don’t really exist, Why do you believe in them?

Well . . . a professor asked me that very question at a Christian college one day in English class. I thought about it for a moment and then the Holy Spirit gave me an answer for the professor. “I believe in them because JESUS BELIEVED in them! And I am a follower and disciple of his.” The professor had no answer. But following class, many of my classmates came and affirmed the answer, some questioned me further out of curiosity.

Jesus was not commanding psychological manifestations when he commanded legion to leave the demonized man and go into the pigs. I see more people today who are demonized, including children, but treating their symptoms by going to people who don’t acknowledge the existence of demonic activity or power so they see  little freedom. This is the main reason I hate religion. Because of what religion–and the demons behind it–does to people.

The antisupernatural bias of western culture has so permeated our thinking, that few people entertain the possibility that their “issue” or “condition” could be a symptom of demonic oppression. Even among believers . . . I have seen a rush to secular answers before they explore the biblical witness. And now that this post has come out, I’ll be curious as to how many of my “friends” will distance themselves from me. But I have weighed the cost . . . and will stand with Jesus in what He believes.

It’s time to speak up and let the chips fall where they may. I have tried to be diplomatic for too long, but I’m tired of the powerlessness of a pluralism that sacrifices truth in order to seem tolerant or open minded. G. K. Chesterton once said, “An open mind is like an open mouth; it’s meant to be closed around something solid.” Relativism is not the foundation upon which I intend to build my eternal future.

I happen to have experienced demonic deliverance and have seen the freedom it brings. I have participated in seeing people healed of Aids and other hopeless diseases. I have seen the power of Yahweh in the name of Jesus and I have the Spirit of boldness upon me to BE A WITNESS to the name and work of Jesus. So . . . I’m finished with trying to couch my words  and witness in nice, comfortable, insipidities that offend no one.

12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” –Matthew 15:12–14 (ESV)

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. –John 5:24 (ESV)

20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. –John 15:20 (ESV)

19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. –John 15:19 (ESV)

Yahweh is so far above and beyond any other so-called gods that other gods–in the words of God–are no gods at all. If they are no gods, and I believe God’s Holy Spirit, then those who follow or propitiate them are in bondage to beings or images that have no right to rule in their lives. Religion keeps people in slavery to earth-bound systems and powers. Most religious people are not evil, simply lost. Some are genuine seekers. Some have the beginnings of a relationship with God. Only the keepers of these systems know the truth behind them and are themselves empty, deceived and deceiving. Remember what Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day: 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” –John 8.44 (ESV)

Relationship on the other hand, brings people into close fellowship with the One who created humankind. His resurrection Life is a Way for us to know him. And in that knowing to realize that He is Love and indwells those who receive Him. That ALL his purposes for people are good and loving. He has removed our hardened hearts by showing his love. There exists NO OTHER RELIGION on the face of the earth that can claim that their God so loves us that He gave His Son to us, to indwell us. That God himself made a propitiation–a gift–for our separation from the Father.

Consider this: He did not give a gift to himself–He gave the Gift of Himself to us. Whoever receives this Gift–Jesus–has immortality. Whoever rejects the Gift has so hated God that he or she remains in alienation and death. That ends forever any talk about eternal life of ANY KIND (including in Hell). For only those in Jesus have the Life (immortality). Whoever does not have the Son, does not have the Life. (1 John 5:11)

Religion has no life, no relationship. Religion is demonic and lifeless. Religion hates God. Religion goes nowhere and takes countless millions with it.

Jesus said:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. –Matthew 7:13–14 (ESV)

Jesus is the narrow gate to Life. Religion–human performance and pride–is the wide and easy way to destruction, deceiving “many.” . So, along with God, I despise religion and choose relationship.

QUESTION: How about you–have you entered the narrow gate or still within the wide. Will you make Jesus Lord of your life today. Have you forever turned from religion to relationship with Jesus and Father?

©2011, David C Alves



Sad American


I have a house, but I feel homeless. Not only because I’m a pilgrim in this temporal world. Not only because my real home is the “home of righteousness.” But my nation is homeless. A home is where love and common history and values create an integrity of character that is modeled and passed down from generation to generation.

I am a sad American. A thief has broken in and robbed and destroyed our sense of family, of HOME-land. Since the 1960’s, I watched the rapid decline of my country. The values that made our nation great, the values that bring countless thousands from other nations to settle here, have been abandoned by our people and our leaders [I’m no longer a supporter of parties–Democrat or Republican, let’s deal with that right up front.

I’m not happy in any political party nor with any recent candidate [No, I’m not a religious kook either. I passed the MMPI–Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory–though I don’t think Jesus or the Apostle Paul would have–they heard the Voice more often than me]. Besides, I despise religion (not religious people). But that’s for another post.]

The nation’s decline is most clearly reflected in the behavior of our public officials who cater to the party spirit. I think I’d prefer to elect a statesman or a stateswoman, who truly cared about the nation, the people, and God’s values. But I fear that will not happen in my lifetime unless Jesus comes back first.

What are my political views? I’m an Ambassador of the Kingdom of the living God. The government I serve is not from this dimension (though it impacts this dimension). My Father appointed me to go where He sends me. To speak what I hear. My loyalty is to Him and His Kingdom. My life purpose is to seek His sons (no this does not exclude women, it lifts them higher than secular feminism ever could). I would not step down from my high calling to be in political office–that’s Caesar’s realm. I used to be an Independent, but I do not see much future for political parties in our nation as long as they continue on their current path downward.  Libertarianism is often a guise for putting people under bondage or–at the other extreme–lawlessness. And those of you who are “Christians” [I don’t use the term any longer. It has no meaning), you are as big a part of the problem as the political parties. You too have abandoned truth to chase after human solutions. (Please don’t quote 2 Chron. 7.14 either, (I know it by heart!) because more of you are called by the name Republican or Tea Party than by the name of Yahweh .

Isn’t anyone tired of the Anthony Weiners, Bill Clintons, John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzeneggers, and others? They lie, cover up, strut unashamed before cameras, and redefine their willfully sinful behavior calling it a “mistake?” Have you ever noticed their use of the word “mistake?” I made a “mistake?” For clarity on the definition of “mistake” versus “sin,” see publisher Michael Hyatt’s excellent post “The Difference Between a Mistake and a Sin

Almost as troubling as those who lack moral values are those who support and defend liars, cheats, and frauds. What kind of person can trust an Arnold S? or a John Edwards. These are men who “take responsibility” only when their deliberate lies to their spouses, the press, and the American public are uncovered.  For them, taking responsibility is really doublespeak–meaningless. They take responsibility for getting caught? And what will be their restitution? NOTHING! Weiner’s statements make it clear that he still doesn’t really think he did anything wrong. He just made the “mistake” of not being more careful in his deceit. So he doesn’t see any reason that he should forfeit his role as a representative of the people. His wife did the right thing not standing with him in public. She knows that he apparently recognizes no wrong doing. He is not the only one. Most of these men are blatantly “above responsibility.”

Perhaps their power assures them that they are above the rules and can operate outside morality with impunity. Their constituents foster this attitude. I remember a guy named Curly, in Massachusetts many decades ago, who was repeatedly reelected, even from jail.

As events play out, we’ll get to see the true character of the New Yorkers Weiner represents. Will they affirm his lack of integrity? Or will they send him and future leaders a message that hypocrisy, cover up, and lying are not the example they want set for their children. Nor should we want the kind of world that compartmentalizes morality and character. In time, whatever someone is in secret will show itself publicly.

Lack of integrity used to be called hypocrisy. Immoral leaders don’t see a problem. They’re confused by accountability and integrity. They want to continue in office. They actually expect someone to trust them. Sadly, many will. Who are these people that don’t care that Edwards lied to his wife? They don’t care that Weiner has betrayed the public trust? Who are these people? How can they compartmentalize like that.

People who are ready to overlook lying, cheating, embezzlement, extortion, manipulation, etc. are equally a part of the problem. I’m sure that they can’t imagine that some of their neighbors actually have character. Some people actually walk in integrity. One source says that integrity “regards internal consistency as a virtue.” Integrity means acting consistently in every arena with the values one CLAIMS to hold. For the American people, these values have ALWAYS included honesty, fairness, compassion, faithfulness, and personal accountability.

I’m less afraid of terrorism than I am of our loss of integrity!

I am more concerned over what our nation is becoming as a result of this loss. When I watch the news, I see the issues that face us. I also know history. We cannot escape the inevitable. Our nation has lost its moral compass. God has been declared irrelevant. This abandonment of the God and Father of Jesus is the indictment that will convict us in the courtroom of history.

Long after republicans and democrats no longer exist and a foreign enemy has occupied the United States of America because of our immorality and sinful choices, our children will shake their heads in disbelief that a people, who had been so blessed of God could have been so ungrateful and blind.

You have to be a student of history, theology, and values to recognize just how far our nation has declined. We are a nation adrift. We are a people perplexed and manipulated by all political parties and the media. We have no cannon by which to measure truth. No set of common or shared values that we can agree upon. We don’t even believe in objective truth any longer. In our pluralistic, politically correct, tolerant (except for people of faith) culture, opinion rules.

I’ll NEVER forget the wise words of G. K. Chesterton: “An opinion lacking in  knowledge is an ugly thing.” I’ve heard so much stupidity from so many self-appointed experts on all sides. I have begun to believe that no health or healing can come to our nation because, like Pontius Pilate, we no longer clearly recognize truth when it stands before us, so we pass the responsibility on to others.

I’ve known men whose word was their bond. They wouldn’t lie come hell or high water. If you called them a liar, they’d punch you in the nose. Are those kind of people–people with integrity–so rare that no one expects integrity anymore?

I was told (don’t know if it’s true) that one of the more recent dictionaries does not have the word “integrity” in it. WOW!! I never thought I’d live to see the day! No need to even include or define integrity. But should I be surprised?

Millions could care less about cheating in private life. But if men and women cheat in private, why wouldn’t they cheat the public? How can anyone trust bold-faced liars.

HONESTLY: Would you entrust your children to be cared for at a day care by a parent who only harms her own children in private? Would you reason that what she does in her own private life is her business? Would you advocate that she is qualified to take care of your child in a public day care? You’re in denial or naive if you would entrust your precious child to someone like that.  So why would you trust public officials who privately lie to their own  family members? Who deny any wrong-doing? Do you think they’ll be more honest in their dealings with YOU? They serve themselves, not the American people. I’m tempted to think that many Americans do not want someone of character in office, otherwise we’d have better men and women there now. But I’m afraid there exists a silent majority who seldom speak up except in private. Unless we turn the ship around, we’re going to run aground.

Well, I guess you’ve heard enough from me. What do you think? And please . . . pastors, don’t lecture me. No I don’t think I’m a judge. Nor do I condemn anyone. That ministry belongs to others. And PLEASE . . . if you comment below, don’t give your systematics paper from seminary. I know systematic theology as well as you, so let’s have a more genuine, heart-felt, relevant dialog. Don’t defend your little kingdoms. All I’m saying is that I long to see integrity restored to public and PRIVATE life, so that we can be a great nation–perhaps greater than we’ve ever been. Do you agree?

©2011, David C Alves

**[The photo in this post is from iStock.com. The person portrayed is a model. and not me. The opinions stated are mine and–as far as I know–do not reflect those of the model or iStock.com]

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