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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FDR and Fake News

Fake News is not a new thing. For example, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) dealt with it and attacked it head on in his December 10, 1941 radio address to an estimated 90 million listeners of the nations 130 million citizens. In it he tried to correct some of the numerous rumors floating around and exacerbated by the national press about air attacks by the Japanese on both coasts, various military setbacks and victories that were not true, etc. He went so far as to say that hearing any statement attributed to “an authoritative source” you can assume the actual source is not “any person in authority”. Sound similar to present day reporting by the New York Times, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC? He then dropped the hammer on all newspaper and radio stations by stating:

“To all newspapers and radio stations-all those who reach the eyes and ears of the American people-I say this: You have a most grave responsibility to the nation now and for the duration of this war. If you feel that your government is not disclosing enough of the truth, you have every right to say so. But-in the absence of all the facts, as revealed by official sources-you have no right in the ethics of patriotism to deal out unconfirmed reports in such a way as to make people believe they are the gospel truth.The lives of our soldiers and sailors-the whole future of this nation-depends upon the manner in which each and every one of us fulfill his obligation to our country.”

These words are surprisingly accurate today as well. And remember this was directed at a press corp that kept FDR’s polio-caused paralysis a secret so as not to alarm and/or unduly frighten the American people. Our current news corp isn’t anywhere near that thoughtful, respectful or sensitive. Now it’s all about scooping all other news sources no matter the consequences and the all important ratings.

The one thing our current leadership deals with and FDR did not have to encounter was social media and the instantaneous distribution of facts, figures, truths, and untruths and the writer’s opinions on that information.

FDR faced the problem head-on and President Trump appears to be trying to do that also but FDR was the imperial president elected 4 separate times with far-reaching executive powers unheard of since the Civil War and President Trump is in many respects a minority president allegedly elected with fewer popular vote vote than his rival candidate.

Further complicating things is a federally funded educational system that is outdated and fully biased to the left and teaching classes and methods contrary to what most of the citizens believe and in many cases downright lies.

One thing we know and history seems to flesh out is that politicians aren’t going to fix it. There have been exceptions along the way, Winston Churchill, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln to name a few but the idea that a great statesman/ stateswoman can fix it seems to be a thing of the past.

Our only hope is that voters can somehow decipher truth from all the misinformation and bias out there, read the tea leaves, and elect the best candidates available. Sounds like a tall order doesn’t it?

So, is fake news the problem or a symptom of the problem? I think our problem centers around a profession, journalists, that think they are far smarter and wiser than they are and authorities on whatever the current topic of discussion is. They’ve gone from thinking they are smart to thinking they are gods. They think they have the right and duty to educate, lead, and correct the mere mortal intellectually-challenged masses. Unfortunately, they are not alone in this self-assessment as other professions like politicians, actors/singers/entertainers, educators, tycoons/plutocrats/wealthy, and others, me included, think we have all the answers as well. So, perhaps it’s time for all of us to do a little serious soul searching/self-examination and try to make an honest evaluation of our own glorification, coronation, and motivation. Perhaps then God will forgive us for trying to do His job and we will do a whole lot more listening than talking, thinking before speaking and self-assessing rather than pontificating.

Mason Swinney

* all quotes from the book “December 1941” by Craig Shirley

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The Highway Called Life

You can’t find the good
always looking for the bad;
and you can’t see the truth
if the false don’t make you mad.

The key to living rightly
is the eyes w’see life through,
but it’s not just the eyes God gave us,
it’s the worldview glasses that we use.

Two people can study history
but their conclusions not the same,
one might see Honest Abe a hero,
other’s see him quite to blame.

Che Guevara, a champion to the little guy,
to others, a Marxist traitor at his best;
Jesus Christ to some a Savior
but to others a whole lot less.

Man’s rebellion starts with coveting,
we want something w’see and so we take;
for there’s an expressway ‘tween our heart and eyes
with our character the roadsigns along the way.

But navigating the road signs is very circular,
like an intersection roundabout;
our behavior determines character
and our character determines behavior,
that’s for sure and certain, there’s no doubt.

Jesus taught the importance of good foundations,
sand is bad and stone the best,
the right foundation provides firm girding
to withstand life’s storms and tests.

We’re each kings and queens of our castles,
and charged to rule them fair and true,
and that starts with a highway clear of clutter
and a vision that seeks the truth.

Applying God’s word to daily choices
helps us slow down, stop, and think
and weigh the consequences,
and the wrong answers start to shrink.

And as we make more right decisions
a change in pattern starts to emerge,
and this pattern is the you that God always intended
and the sound in the background is a softly fading dirge.

God gave us His word to help us,
it’s a roadmap for our life’s trip,
the smart ones follow His directions
and allow His Spirit to transform, direct, equip.

Mason Swinney

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The Question 

Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
It’s lifes biggest question and if He did,
we’d better do what He said.

And if He didn’t
we can do what we like,
but we’d better be sure
our answer is right!

Mason Swinney

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