Puppets and Pawns

Cindi Gale

During last Week’s State of the Union address, the attendees moved to their poles just as they were trained. Much of America did the same in their homes.

We have become a nation of puppets.

The memes tell us we should go all in to the extremes. Newscasters tell us we should do the same. Leaders effectively rally us to groupthink.

Peers pressure and scold us if we don’t join in.

But we can’t just blame the influencers …

Each person who ended up in blind loyalty allowed it to happen. We let ourselves be played. We let it happen. We walked right into the traps.

We don’t think for ourselves. We don’t investigate topics until we understand them. We don’t break ranks from groupthink to search for solutions. We read a meme or hear an angry voice and let them inflame us too, without spending a minute more…

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On This Rock

Cindi Gale

Featured Image -- 5805

A building needs to be strong enough to withstand all that comes against it. It needs a foundation that distributes and withstands the loads above ground: dead load; wind, live and seismic loads.  A building’s height above ground must be balanced by an adequate underground foundation. Each part of the building needs to be strong.

You need to be strong. Could it be that God has exposed you to challenging conditions to reinforce your foundation? In the blustery conditions of your life, are you deepening your purposefulness? Are you becoming more committed, determined, unwavering; more dependent on Him, more consistent—is your foundation being made secure?

excavator-digging[1]

In the midst of suffering, do you exercise your free will to consistently please God? If you haven’t yet, you can start today. If you have been faithful, as Job was faithful to God in successive losses, God is no doubt at work converting your grit…

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The Word of the Lord

     God is not made in our image. He is who he is. Yet we sit in our churches or alongside like-minded peers and relish only the aspects of God that assuage our unconsecrated souls.
     We want God to deliver his judgment and wrath on our enemies:  those not like us; those who oppose our values, politics, and prejudices; those who we determine, according to our own thinking, to be “sinners”. We assume those “others” will receive God’s vengeance for their misdeeds, but we … we will receive God’s love and grace.
     When it comes to God’s focus on us, we are absolutely certain of God’s longsuffering and forgiveness and favor, but the other’s … let them be punished by God. We even get specific in our prayers:  we “pray” to God what we want him to do to our enemies.
     We are certain we are God’s chosen and our enemies are God’s enemies. What do we base that certainty on? Do we form our judgments according to who God is, or do we base them on beliefs that are passed down by man:  man’s additives to God, I call it.
     Those who have developed theologies with man’s additives in place of God himself are free to believe themselves to be God’s chosen, while God himself may say of them, “I do not know you.”
     Surrounding ourselves with people who think like us, it’s easy to part ways with God and go as far down alternate roads as we want. He gives us free will. We are free to exalt “man’s additives”. We are free to exalt self. We are free to stray from God and betray him in any and all of our life choices.
     We are even free to make false claims about God, such as claiming he endorses our points of view, politics, values, and behaviors, when in reality he does not.
     We can make God into our own images in our imaginations … but he will not bend to any human. He is God. He is constant. He is unchanging. He will not be mocked.
     We can become God’s enemies even while we believe we are God’s favored. We can self-righteously oppose people God loves and call them God’s enemies. We are free to pray upon those presumed enemies our own ideas of proper judgments …
     And end up with those judgments being delivered by God to … Us. Because sometimes … in the only eyes that matter, God’s eyes … We have become God’s enemies.
   So what shall become of us for betraying God so arrogantly? Look no further than the Word of the Lord.


1 Kings 2:44

The king also said, “You know in your heart all the evil that you did to my father David. Therefore the LORD will bring your evil back upon your head.

Esther 7:10
So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the fury of the king subsided.

Esther 9:25
But when it came before the king, he commanded by letter that the wicked scheme which Haman had devised against the Jews should come back on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.

Psalm 7:15 He has dug a hole and hollowed it out; he has fallen into a pit of his own making. 16 His trouble recoils on himself, and his violence falls on his own head. 17 I will thank the LORD for His righteousness and sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.…
Psalm 9:15
The nations have fallen into a pit of their making; their feet are snared in the net they have hidden. 

Psalm 10:2
In pride the wicked pursue the needy; let them be caught in the schemes they devise. 

Psalm 94:23
He will bring upon them their own iniquity and destroy them for their wickedness. The LORD our God will destroy them. 

Psalm 140:9
May the heads of those who surround me be covered in the trouble their lips have caused. 

Psalm 140:11
May no slanderer be established in the land. May calamity hunt down the man of violence. 

Proverbs 11:6
The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the faithless are trapped by their own desires. 

Proverbs 11:27
He who searches out good finds favor, but evil will come to him who seeks it.

Dear Hate

Written by:  Maren Morris, Tom Douglas, David Hodges.

Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd perform “Dear Hate” live on the Bobby Bones Show. Listen to the Bobby Bones Show On Demand // http://bit.ly/2aO1CJ2 . See also Bobbybones.com. 

Purchase official song recorded by Maren Morris and Vince Gill at http://smarturl.it//mmdearhate. Proceeds go to Music City Cares Fund.  

When People Show You Who They Are

Cindi Gale

“When people show you who they are, believe them.” … When a person let’s you know … they say, “I told you I was unkind. So now why are you angry?”

I suppose Maya Angelo’s question is a rhetorical one, but I’m going to answer it anyway, because God knows I’ve spent countless hours over decades trying to understand how twisted relationships happen.

“Why don’t you believe them the first time they show you, or tell you, who they are?”

Because…

  • You very much want them to be better than they are at any given point in time.
  • You are optimistic they can be.
  • You are committed to the relationship, and don’t give up on your commitments that easily.
  • You aren’t ready to give up on what COULD be, if only some crucial corrections are made.
  • You know this person CAN be good, you’ve seen them act the part with…

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Water of Life

Isaiah 55

Invitation to the Thirsty

55 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor.”

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

man and woman bathing on running water

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Have You Heard?

I suppose I should have instant opinions or insight about the current rioting in the U.S.A. and beyond. I do have a blog and that’s what blogging is all about. But …

I’m still back in the murder of George Floyd.

I’m still there …

With a grief that has yet to erupt in tears, but threatens to at any second.

I’ve been in constant, underlying grief for a week.

I want to move forward, I expected to, but it’s just not happened. Because I have noted that, with God, for every problem there is a solution, I prefer to hurry ahead to solutions. That stage pulls me out of agonizing problem-mode, and puts me in the more tolerable fixing-mode.

Yet, I’m still in problem mode.

I’m still in grief of white men murdering a black man. I don’t even have words for all that is embedded in that video.

  • Layers of terrible.
  • Layers of betrayal.
  • Layers of injustice.
  • Layers of evil.

My ear is still bent to God in that terrible video. With George Floyd.

I’m still at God’s feet waiting, listening. I’m still …

Grieving.

I’ve read on social media that I am supposed to be speaking out as a white person. If I don’t, I’m condoning the murder and racism. In my mind I agree, yet I’ve tried to make myself have the words to condemn racism and the words don’t come.

I’ve read antithetical posts that tell me to not speak up … as whites we should be listening now, not speaking.

Such is life. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

It doesn’t matter. I won’t let anyone pressure or guilt me into saying and doing according to their convictions. I wonder, though …

How do people already have certainty of what to say and do? Instantly, they took to their platforms to command us to say this, and do that. How did they already have such clarity on such a terrible, muddled, never-before-experienced, complicated mess?

I’ve been immersed in live news for a week, soaking, absorbing. It keeps coming. Transpiring every hour. What I see is:

  • The whole spectrum of human behaviors being expressed individually and corporately. The whole spectrum.
  • Unchanged social, political, judicial, law enforcement, educational, civil, housing, health, nutritional, and financial inequities.
  • Centuries of racism. Centuries. 
  • Victimizers and victims.
  • Aggressors and passivists.
  • Advantaged people groups doubling down to maintain power over disadvantaged people groups.
  • Perpetrators of injustice and violence insistent on retention of their rights to do as they do.
  • Marginalized groups rising to push against the oppressors who keep breaking their backs and crushing their necks.
  • Professional rioters, criminals, killers, destroyers, and haters exploiting opportunities to do what they’ve perfected.
  • Generalizations of people groups as all good or all bad; all right or all wrong.
  • Ignorance of the fact that each person on the planet is an individual, not a generalization; not a profile; not a stereotype.
  • A nation already divided, set up at the poles of extremes, established in “us” verses “them”.
  • A nation of masses who didn’t have to, but chose to, or were tricked into, seeing everything through lenses of politics:  as if it is normal and only right to put on “liberal” or “conservative” glasses to see life through; as if pandemics and racism and all issues cannot be assessed independent of politics.
  • An overlay of a novel global pandemic that added a layer of dense oppression to disadvantaged people groups more-so than to advantaged groups. For months now, COVID-19 has been laid on hot embers of injustice. The heat has been building there while we who are not oppressed watched Netflix.

We’ve never had this set of conditions before. Ever. How do people note and understand all this and launch so immediately from their established opinions, when there is so much to digest, and it’s still transpiriting?

Are people retaining their pre-existing opinions without listening to those immediately affected by that big list above? Are people gravitating to those who share their sets of beliefs and finding safety in numbers there, again? Are people looking for confirmation for their biases, again? Do we never learn, even when our choices of solutions haven’t solved anything? We just keep doing the same wrong things over and over again, and call it right?

People of faith profess to add God to all equations of their lives — they claim to seek God and represent God. Are they seeking God in this time of all things new, or are they launching their reactions from the cement pads of their old, established views? How did they instantly have directives to tell us what we should be doing and what we should be saying?

How did they “knee jerk” react as instantly as an intact patellar reflex to the tap of a doctor’s hammer?

When did they hear from God to know what to do and say? Maybe they did hear that quickly, but if they did I want them to tell me what he said and what he’s feeling and what he’s directing. I haven’t heard them even mention an encounter with God in their all-knowingness.

I must be slow, or I must not have the same God. Because I’m at God’s feet and I’m still back a full week in George Floyd’s murder …

Grieving.

Even for people who aren’t used to God as a living, active participant in their daily lives, how can anyone know what to say and do right now? — we’ve never ever had this set of conditions before. It seems to me to be presumptive to have the solutions for this unprecedented and complicated time without listening.

  • Listening to people who have firsthand accounts.
  • Listening to people in unedited videos.
  • Watching live television, muting the journalists if their opinions are biased.
  • Reading facts-only reports.

Listening. To people. All people.

And for those of us who profess to know God … listening to him. First and foremost, listening to him.

If you already claim to know God, but haven’t even put your pre-existing views in a holding pattern in this time of newness, then I don’t want you to tell me what to do and what to say. Certainly not in God’s name. You aren’t representing God, you are representing you.

It’s understandable that people who do not have a faith background would leap ahead to enact the views they hold, and project those views onto society; they don’t know what they do, as Jesus said. But for those who have our identities in God, why are we not practicing what we preach? — why are we not at the feet of God seeking his heart, mind, and direction?

I wrote the following, linked blog post years ago, and it has been picked up by many many readers globally since the onset of the pandemic. Recently, I republished it under a new title, and it, too, is being read by many globally. The rise in numbers this week has captured my attention. I took note. If so many people are reading it, it must be desired information. As it happens, it is a teaching article about how to pray, specifically, how to listen to God.

  • I am listening.
  • Waiting to hear.
  • Determined to not launch from my own pre-existing views.
  • Choosing to say and act only if he chooses to teach me and send me.

If you are interested, here is that link:  https://cindigale.com/2018/10/04/if-my-people-who-are-called-by-my-name/

Restoring the Pearl of You

What determines a person’s unique identity? What is constant about him? What changes about him? Has he morphed to the climate, attitudes, perceptions and expectations of certain groups of people?

Most of us have experienced this morphing sometime in our life. We kick ourselves after taking on the group attitude when a discussion erupted. We voice or nod agreement, when it’s not what we agree with at all. We vow to not let ourselves become what others have pegged us, then go to a gathering and act exactly as they expected. It’s a strange power.

Is it possible to be consistent in our identity? Is this what integrity is? Who can hold their own amid the pressures of society, influential people, loved ones, or even the corrupted theologies of some churches, and not flex so much that we sell our souls?

When we compromise our integrity, is it worth it? Who gains from our loss? Often we morph to be agreeable, and the person or group demanding it takes. And takes. And takes. And takes some more. They aren’t appreciative or respectful of our sacrifice, only glad to have it go their way.

How far have we sold out our identities? Do we know anymore who we are, or who we would have been had we not morphed for others? Have we become stained and disfigured when we were meant to be perfect pearls?

God offers to help us regain our intended identities. He will quarantine us (metaphorically or literally) to keep pressures to conform at bay, then educate how the outside influences wrongfully shaped us. If we truly want him to, he will restore the identities we lost.

But we must recognize our opportunity for restoration. It’s common for people to reject his intervention. We can be so indoctrinated that we remain bound to imaginary chains, chains that don’t have to restrict us. We too often continue our old thinking. We go through the motions, unmindful. We fail to pause, question, ponder, debate, and resist our status quo.

If we never ponder what others ponder, does that capture our attention? Are we often robotic, hollow, or “Stepford wife-ish” to others? Do we consider ourselves the ones to change, or do we stand firm as being “right”, and dismiss thinkers as “too analytic, too deep, too philosophical”? Sure, it saves time and energy to continue as is, but only for the short term. In the long run, our failure to alter our thinking wastes immeasurable time.

Consider this: Are there people in your life denying your right to pause, think, resist, ponder, question, and struggle with concepts? Who has a right to do that? Should any individual or group claim sovereignty over your mind?

God doesn’t operate that way. He grants us full freedom of will. He is an educator, not a manipulator. He engages in healthy relationships, offering ideas, not imposing them. He encourages dialogue and honest expression of self. He knows our thoughts regardless, it’s illogical to believe he would forbid or reprimand us for being honest with him.

mirror for blogSo let me ask:

Who are you?  What do you think? What is your innate personality?

Are you afraid to express your honest thoughts or true personality, convinced they are unacceptable in your sphere of society? Do you ever wonder why some people get away with authentic self-expression and have no repercussions for it? Have you noticed people like that get their freedom and groups tend to step back with respect to that person? Yet, the more compliant and agreeable you are, the more the group moves in closer and further restricts your rights and individuality. Give them an inch, and they take a mile.

When did it happen, this slow, subtle, giving way to group think? How do you get it back? Can you get yourself back?

You can. If you’ve lost your identity, may God fill you with wisdom and courage for the cause of regaining it.

You must be wise if you’re in unsafe surroundings. Even then, your thoughts are yours and yours alone. Do what you must to stay safe, but don’t let your mind be stolen.

Matthew 7:6 – “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

May you have clarity, wisdom, and courage to reach safety. May you reach a haven where people are like God, where there is no rejection, where you are free to express yourself honestly.

When you do, be prepared to be well-received. The world is thirsty for trustworthy, grounded, independent thinking. Those who suffer under stifling demands to conform to their unrighteous environments are losing hope. They need to see role models living their callings. When you are able to express yourself consistent with your God-given, God-approved, true identity, you will not turn others off; you will draw others to you.

The power of evil to slowly, imperceptibly rob us of our identities is real in all settings. We are unlikely to be a threat to evil as long as we remain subjugated to ungodly people. Satan knows what he’s dealing with as long as we are predictable. He knows the rules of religions, the demands on underlings to conform. If we swallow the pill of mindless compliance, he is assured of our passivity. We will be passive to injustice. We won’t learn of our God-given rights. We won’t express our true personalities and develop our God-given insights, gifts, talents, and strengths. We won’t be capable of overcoming evil with good.

If you’re suppressed and your identity is muddled, let’s do something about it. Let’s flip-flop the situation, and free you to be capable of overcoming evil with good.

Pray. Expect and listen to the Holy Spirit’s perfect counsel. Reflect: What is your true personality? Is it spirited? Is it strong? Does it debate with majority thinking? Does it fight against untruths? Does it seek ultimate harmony? Does it rise to defend victims? Does it rise to defend yourself, if you are the victim?

Do you fear that your independent thinking will break the rules? What rules? Whose rules? 

Did Martin Luther King turn people off? Did Abraham Lincoln? What if they had been shortsighted, and given up their right to think, debate, and resist common public opinion, because they feared being considered disruptive? So they temporarily ruffled some feathers, they disturbed some people — who said we are born to make unrighteous people comfortable? Who created you for that destiny?

Where is the person God created you to be? You can throw off every demand and expectation that hinders, and be that person.

Will you be accepted? Were Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln accepted?

Look beyond the nearest faces of disapproval as you defy their unrighteousness, and look to the purpose and goals for which Christ calls you. Get past the forceful people in your face spouting their policies, and discover it’s very different away from those people. There is a world beyond your immediate world. Just beyond the few disapproving faces is a world of people who will accept you.

Be bold. Be strong. Be wise. When you are acceptable to God, you are also acceptable to a whole lot of people.

2 Corinthians 10:18 (NIV) – For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

 

Hate In The Time Of Corona

Me.

Me, who hears your anger.

Me, who hears your dogma and certainty and outrage.

Me, who watches as you assign blame for this nation’s devolution.

Me, who sees the objects of your wrath:  the people with names and faces and value in God’s eyes; the people you used to care about, but have dehumanized now. They are …

Me.

Me, who reads the articles and watches the videos you share. Propaganda pieces created by people that you think are your peers, your tribe, your team.

Me, who knows that propaganda machine doesn’t care about me and they don’t care about you. That giant, cruel machine is effective and determined to divide, to incite rage, to invent targets, and justify the incited anger at those targets,. It seeks to ruin and slander and win and destroy innocent lives.

Me, who reads your posts and articles and watches the videos you share, and with each one I feel the blows.

Because you participate in the machine, you willingly pass on the division and slander and hatred and rage …

To me.

Did you know that I am your target?

Maybe you did. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe I’m naive to have expected you to stop short of aiming attacks on people you know. Not that that makes it better, because it doesn’t, but it could be understandable, I guess, to not fully realize the destruction of your target on the ground when your launch is from an aircraft.

In just the last few weeks, especially the last two … you, who used to be so loving and caring and a peacemaker and a team player by nature … your aggression has been emerging. Quickly. So quickly. Already, in the past week, it is approaching militancy.

You, who I never knew to be like that, ever. Somebody, somewhere got your ear and heart and soul and changed you.

You, who were my classmates and coworkers.

You, who were my friends and neighbors.

You, who were my sisters and brothers in Christ.

You are different now. Now, of all times. Now, when so many are struggling with drastically changed lives, illness, financial devastation, and looming uncertainty.

Now, in the time of COVID-19.

Now, when the world needs help, support, reliability, and a reason to expect a better future. Now, when we need rest and a reprieve, you release this onto us. Now, when we desperately require caring and compassionate and loving people …

You give us this new person you have become.

Now, when I needed you most.

Because I, too, am seeking my footing. Like everyone, as life changed abruptly and drastically, I went tumbling in this atmosphere of massive upheaval.

I needed you. Just like all people depend on those they believe care about them. Right now more than ever.

I needed you to be who I thought you were. I needed to count on some people. Not all people, but some people. And I can, but those numbers of people are small, very, very small. I thought you were one of them — a person whom I could know, beyond-a-doubt, no matter how difficult or crazy the world became, would be good.

This has taken a toll I didn’t anticipate. You, not being who you used to be … you have caused me to trip and somersault and tumble in ways I have never tumbled before. You were part of a rock of sorts, beneath my feet. And it turns out, because you chose the route you chose … you are no longer a part of the rock beneath my feet.

You left who you were. You are no longer there. I never dreamed you would be one of those who would go rogue; who would turn inhumane and hate-filled; who would go frighteningly militant. I thought you would be here, always. I thought you would be godly and good, always.

But you are gone.

You are over there, hating at …

Me.

You are over there, fighting against …

Me.

Your words and militancy have found their target in …

Me.

You thought you were sending out your judgement and condemnation to people that you would never have to see hit by your missiles of destruction?

Me. They hit me.

Maybe you knew that and wanted that. Maybe you didn’t know. I say you should have known. Maybe you are so caught up with those voices that fill your ears and mind that you lost self-awareness. You certainly lost other-awareness. You stopped being concerned about who, exactly, you are targeting, and if, it is right even, this thing that you do now.

I don’t know if you will ever again be the person I used to know.

I am not angry. I haven’t been angry. I have been very, very, very sad for weeks now. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, exactly, that was making me so sad. I knew I could handle all that this pandemic has thrust on us. It was something else:  a low that was distinctly unique; one I have never ever felt before.

But now I know. People I believed in, people I trusted, people I admired and loved and respected and appreciated …

Hate in the time of corona.

You hate me in the time of corona.

And you are gone. You are no longer where you used to be. Nowhere near. I feel in my gut that you are not coming back. I have lost you forever.

And that …

Makes me sad. So very, very, very sad.

You probably aren’t, because you have found a new power. You are strong and mighty, alright. You have it, power. I know that firsthand, because I feel its effects. Your power to hit your target is real. You hit …

Me.

 

 

I