Monumental Mistakes 

While I think I understand why many African-American citizens may be offended at hearing the song Dixie and/or seeing Colonel Reb prancing around a football field, I think European-American Civil War statues may actually serve a more useful  purpose.

God in the Bible often instructed the Children of Israel to construct memorials so that they would remember what He did for them and would not forget Him. Perhaps we should consider that wisdom before removing all the Civil War statues?

I have no idea what the motivation was behind the construction of most of these controversial statues but perhaps, like the memorials God instructed the Children of Israel to construct, we should focus on the time period represented by these statues and the evil things done during those times and not the statues themselves. The escalating racial tension of our day shows us that we haven’t progressed nearly as far as we should have and perhaps we need a concrete, no pun intended, example of what happens when one group of people thinks they are superior to another to remind us.

I fear the old saying attributed to Philosopher, Poet George Santayana and paraphrased by Edmund Burke and Winston Churchill, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, is true. And, perhaps we should stop and consider the wisdom of Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom who said, “memories are the key not to the past, but to the future”.

Perhaps it would be a monumental mistake to remove these reminders of our history of racial disparity.

Mason Swinney

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Where were you that fateful day
when evil flew and innocence betrayed,
we watched in shock as the towers fell
knowing sadly life had forever changed.

Evil does its master’s bidding,
Satan lives to kill, steal, and destroy
and lying is his native language 
though in the end his rebellion’s foiled.

Evil comes in many shapes and sizes,
religion perhaps the worst of all;
but Jesus modeled love, forgiveness,
and defeated death caused by the fall.

Jesus was transfigured on the mountain,
Evil by the burning towers;
God the Father praised Son Jesus,
Satan, his hand picked religious cowards.

Let’s not forget our fallen heroes
their lives cut short by insanity
and murdered by these heartless lackeys
who lacked a conscience, no humanity.

Most of the heroes gone but not forgotten,
some flown headlong in to history,
while others ran towards the evil,
the survivors, living testaments to this travesty.

Such a contrast between good and evil
but the good will have the final say,
it’s the evil who’ll burn forever,
the good, we remember, honor, praise.

Mason Swinney

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Bye Bye Miss American Pie Dreams

We have gone from being the land of opportunity to being the land of anger, angst and addictions. What has caused this seismic shift in attitudes and behavior? Could it possibly be the result of what we have placed our hope and faith in?

As a nation we’ve gone from winning World War I and World War II and kind of winning the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts to losing wars in countries many of us knew very little about or even knew existed even  25 years ago.

Our students are no longer the smartest in the world and our athletes and teams the best.

The country governed through the greatest human document ever written and expecting our elected officials to be the best of the best now finds itself governed by a plutocracy where the wealthy hand pick and finance eventual career politicians who in so many cases primarily think of protecting their financiers, being reelected, and making a buck and clueless political parties that are solely focused on the parties continuation and seem to care less about the nation. Consequently, in this most recent election with all the talk of hope, change, draining the swamp, returning our country to greatness, transparency………,we’ve gotten very little of what was promised and now either savagely discount the presidential election results or vehemently support them.

21.5 million of our citizenry were addicted to drugs in 2014 so the number now is well beyond that and our nation finds itself in the throws of a deadly epidemic that’s only getting worse. That’s not to mention the other addictions out there like pornography, sex, greed, power, youth/beauty, success……

Romance is no longer what it used to be with now over 50% of the marriages in America ending in divorce and young people no longer seeing marriage as the logical end result of dating nor see the relevancy of marriage. 34% of children now live with an unmarried parent and 1,601,527 live births to unwed mothers were reported in 2015.

We’ve placed our hope in sports figures only to see them disappoint us through their own self-absorption, cheating, performance enhancing drugs, the almighty buck, spousal abuse and a host of other things.

And, 63% of people in the USA seldom or never attend church and/or attend once or twice monthly according to Pew Researce.

Things like someone being a statesman, the middle class, pulling yourself up by the boot straps, honest news reporting, ethical business practices, home of the free, and many others now appear to be things of the past and/or at least not appreciably improving. American exceptionalism has been badly tarnished.

It seems everything that we at one time looked to for security and a sense of purpose and wellbeing have either thoroughly disappointed us or seemingly vanished into thin air. Or, perhaps, these very things that were once the basis for our confidence and hope became instead the idols that we clinged to and, consequently, were set up to inevitably fail and disappoint us? They have done just that. And, now that they have failed and disappointed us, we are left devastated and without hope. Idols demand that we love, obey and trust them but when we do they inevitably turn on us and they always fail us. That’s the problem with idols, we allow them to control us and make us their slaves but they are incapable of delivering what we naively think they can provide. Things like unconditional love, joy and a sense of purpose and accomplishments. We humans have the very bad habit of looking to humans and human organizations (idols) for the very things that only God can give (perhaps that’s why superhero movies are so popular) and when they disappoint and let us down, which inevitably they will do, we are left with only anguish and despair.

When the levee, the circumstances of life, breaks, all you can do is hold onto something solid and firm and hope you don’t get washed away. But if you’re holding onto false, powerless idol, anger and/or despair are all you are left with and neither one of them offers much hope and possibility. Which is why during the great depression so many wealthy people jumped out of their office buildings to their deaths because their idols, money, had done what idols always do when needed most, left them high and dry.

What’s your hope grounded in?

Mason Swinney

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History’s Mysteries and The Lived Language of God

God fishing ole Jonah out of the drink,
Isaiah humbly praying, “here am I send me”.
Elijah running scared to Horeb after killing Baal’s priests,
God appearing to Abraham near the tree at Mamre.
Peter timidly despondent at the crow of the cock,
John on the Isle of Patmos, locked away on the rocks.
We’re all hobbling through history, a bone or two out of joint;
but God uses broken people, history shows that’s the point.
But using “son’s of Adam” was His plan from the start,
He just wraps us in Christ’s righteousness and gives us new hearts.

Mason Swinney

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Eulogy To Wrestling 

Jacob wrestled with God
and held on with all his might;
Jesus pinned the evil one 
by sacrificing His own life.

Jacob got a blessing
for wrestling with I Am,
man got the blessing,
Jesus wrestled all for them.

Mason Swinney

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Mason and King Nebuchadnezzar

Have you ever stopped to think how powerless you really are? We had no say about where, when, and how we were born and who our parents were going to be. We had no say if we were to be born before electricity was invented or after; in the 12th, 14th, 18th or 21st century; or in Syria, Rome, Africa, Europe or the USA. We had no say about the color of our eyes, our sex, whether we had brothers and/or sisters, who our aunts, uncles, and cousins were, and little say-so concerning most of the life circumstances we encounter. We had no input about our genetic structure and little into our physical stature and if we were to be Amazon beasts or little wimps with three-inch glasses, whether we were future sports Hall of Famer’s or high IQ’d geeks or average joes. We had no say so into the neighborhood we were raised in or the first couple of schools we attended. And, while youngsters, we had little say about who our friends would be. 

Perhaps that’s why so many of us have become “control freaks” now that we’ve reached maturity. The unconscious need to gain some “sense” of control over ourselves and our lives was simply to much. The truth of the matter however is we are for the most part powerless!

Looking back over my life I can see three main factors that largely determined who I was to become. My genes (no control); my environment (where and when I was born, my sex, where I was raised, went to school, my IQ, etc., –again, no control); and my own, personal choices. I had no control over the first two and really little control over the third because of Adam and Eve and my sin nature/gene. What little success I’ve had is really in spite of me and not because of me and is a result of grace alone.

Let me give you an example. Soon after graduating from high school and after attending two semesters of college I was sitting around in the break room at SIUE talking with some friends. One of my friends had just enlisted in the Navy and was sharing with us that fact. I had recently failed physics and probably due to my low self-esteem had in the back of my mind the fear that I would soon flunk out of school, even though up to that point I had a C average, and would end up on skid road. To make a long story short, I decided right then and there, without really thinking it through or getting my parent’s blessing, to enlist in the Marine Corps. My buddy drove me to the Marine Corps Recruitment Office in East St. Louis, IL and I enlisted for four years. Unbeknownst to me, but not God, grace kicked in and the recruiter must have taken pity on this poor young fool and gave me aviation guaranteed, something I didn’t know was even available, as a part of my enlistment. I’m convinced that that recruiter saved my life since instead of being in the infantry during the height of the Vietnam War, I was an aircraft hydraulic mechanic, even though I have no mechanical aptitude whatsoever, and eventually stationed in safe DaNang rather than the rice patties of Vietnam where the soldiers and Marines in the infantry were fighting the real war. I wouldn’t have been a very good grunt.

If it’s a choice between grace and controlling, give me grace everytime is what I’d say if I was asked. But most of us don’t think through these kind of things, we simply react. And, our reactor is badly broken.

Think for a moment about the most important and most powerful person who ever lived? To my thinking it would be Jesus, hands down. But the key to his success, though the very Son of God, was His humbling Himself and becoming a servant and dying on the cross for the sins of mankind. The very Son of God who did not need to humble Himself since He was God, humbled Himself for a people who needed to humble themselves, but refused to. Jesus died for our pride and our need to be in control and our need to be successful, to be somebody. Now He’s all these things for us and much much more.

At the heart of all sin is pride. Pride caused Luicifer to get booted out of heaven and Adam and Eve to get booted out of the Garden of Eden and you and me to get booted out of thinking straight and into delusionally hallucinating that we could actually control our lives. To defeat this pride problem and our need to control our lives and the lives of others, you have to stick a cross in them and admit that you’re nothing and Christ is everything. Only then can you put an end to your pride problem and need to be King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4) in your life. But it took him 7 years of eating grass and living like a wild animal to come to his senses and confess his pride problem. I don’t know about you but I’m getting real tired of this grass taste in my mouth.

Mason Swinney

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The Approachable God

Two words reveal the Trinity,
relationship and love,
ya can’t have one without the other,
they’re part of the nature of God above.

Self-love is narcissistic, and
agape love can’t function alone.
Only the real God exists in 3 persons,
so eternal love’s been around all along.

Other gods are one sole being
so love’s unknown to ’em all;
and if love is not their essence,
then something else describes their call.

With other god’s power’s their focus,
love, compassion, altruism don’t exist,
it really takes 2 to tango
and to love, submit, coexist.

Tainted blood’s man’s biggest problem
it’s infected with a fatal plague called sin,
it’s terminal and man can’t fix it,
thankfully Jesus’ blood makes it pure again.

Jesus gave up His throne in heaven
so sinful man could be absolved;
He left His Father for an insolent people
whose problem only Jesus could solve.

The reason for Jesus’ coming,
the over-arching purpose for His trip,
was His creation’s restoration
along with God and man’s relationship.

If we could get how much God loves us
we’d never think or act the same,
God made us, forgave us, and saved us        
and He knows each of us by name;

and the Father’s eternally joyful,
He knows how the story ends,
thankfully the Trinity condescended
to make a way for sinners to ascend.

Mason Swinney

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