Not Home Yet

Have you ever been on a long trip? It may have been a wonderful time, perhaps seeing new things or relaxing in a beautiful location, or it might have been difficult and emotionally or physically exhausting. It doesn’t seem to matter the nature of the trip, as it approaches its conclusion and the closer you get to home, the more urgently you long to be home.

My wife was returning from an extended visit with her parents. Unfortunately, the only way to get from there to here is to go through Chicago. As any seasoned traveler knows, avoid flying through Chicago, at all costs. This was one of those trips that proved the rule.

Weather closed in on the airport, and all flights were delayed. And delayed. And delayed again. After many hours, a young child lay down on the floor and kicked her feet, screaming “I. Just. Want. To. Go. Home!” Everyone in the terminal identified with her.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:23

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead changed everything. While he made it clear during his earthly ministry that he was not seeking to establish an earthly kingdom, his disciples were steeped in Jewish prophecies and tradition about the Messiah sitting on the throne of David. It is my personal belief that his disciples followed him in a continual state of bewilderment, not entirely knowing what he was doing, but wanting to be in the middle of it, whatever it was.

When he rose from the dead, the pieces started to click into place. Their dashed hopes were renewed, and again they looked towards David’s throne (Acts 1:6-7), but instead of meeting their expectations, he sent them to Jerusalem and ascended to heaven. Instead, angels gave them a new hope (Acts 1:11), one of his return.

From the very beginning, the church lived in eager anticipation of the return of Jesus. Especially as persecution increased, there was little about the present age that could attract them more than a returning, triumphant, reigning Christ. Their hearts and minds were eagerly set upon the imminent return of Jesus (Revelation 22:20).

In the centuries since that time, however, the urgency of Jesus’ return has waned. Christians still hold it as a doctrinal tenet, but it does not occupy the forefront of our thinking, like it did in the early church. Especially in the United States, where life is prosperous and filled with various delights to occupy our time and dull our affections, few give more than a passing thought to what comes after this life. We say we believe in heaven, but live as if it isn’t real.

“Belief” can have an interesting dichotomy. There are the things that I hold to be true in my mind, my “objective” belief, and there is the way I live day to day, my “practical” belief. It is strange how easily we accommodate incongruity in these two perspectives. 

Most Christians will profess a belief in the resurrection from the dead into eternal glory and communion with God through Jesus. The Bible teaches that in heaven there will be no more mourning, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4). That sounds pretty appealing right now.

Practically, though, we live as if that is not true. I was a young teen in the wake of the Jesus Movement. Youth groups were focused on the rapture of the church, and I remember thinking “Jesus could come again any day… but please God, not before …” [some not-yet experience]. In wanting to delay the coming of Christ, I was implicitly asserting that the temporal experience to which I was looking forward was of greater value than the experience of eternity in the presence of God.

What about death? For the Christian, death is understood to be nothing more than passing through a doorway from temporal life to eternal life (2 Corinthians 5:8). It is my observation that most people have a visceral dread of dying; many refuse even to talk about it, even when it is a near-term practical consideration. Some insist in using euphemisms, such as “passing” rather than face the starkness of saying someone “died”.

I am not at all saying we should do anything to hasten it along; God has numbered my days, and as long as my heart still beats and my lungs draw air, I will live for him. I am saying that we should actually believe that what comes after this life is better than anything we have ever known (for those who are in Christ), and not face death with fear. To be clear, death is an enemy, but one who Jesus has vanquished. In rising from the dead, he demonstrated that the power of death was broken.

At this point, I should emphasize that if you are not in Christ, you have no such hope; you should fear death and eternity because you are dead in your sins. The good news, though, is that by ending your rebellion to God and surrendering to his love, forgiveness, and sovereignty you can be “transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
1 Peter 2:11

More practically, what occupies your attention? Are you building for yourself  an earthly kingdom, pursuing wealth, power, status? Are you driven to obtain comfort and entertainment? When Peter says “passions of the flesh” he is describing a focus on temporal, material satisfaction. While to some extent, these things are a necessary aspect of temporal, material existence, the desire for them is at odds with having an eternal perspective. As Paul writes, being focused on these things is being hostile to God (Romans 8:7).

Can I invite you to a change of perspective, “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2)? Remember this is a journey, whose destination has not been reached yet. The end (purpose) of this journey is the glory of God (Ephesians 1:13-15).

Your objective should not be to improve your seat on the journey; rather it should be to make sure the journey itself is successful. That is, that whatever you do, do it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).


Hear My Cry

Hear my cry, O God;
   attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee,
   when my heart is overwhelmed: 
lead me to the rock
   that is higher than I.
For thou hast been a shelter for me,
   and a strong tower from the enemy.

Psalm 61:1-3, KJV

(technology defeated me; I tried to hide this at the bottom and auto-play it, but it just won’t work; give it a click and read on)

In the early 90s, the majority of the music we sang in church was simply scripture set to music. Of course, music is a powerful mnemonic device, but I believe it is the power of God’s word that has cemented the words of these songs in my mind, heart, and spirit. Even today, the phrase “and when my heart is overwhelmed…” is likely to arise, unbidden, from my unconscious, set to Kent Henry’s 1993 music.

However, if I’m truthful, my heart is rarely overwhelmed. I’d like to say it is the fruit of walking with God for nearly 6 decades. I like that a lot; sounds very spiritual. My faith in God is just so strong that no matter how bad things get, I trust in him. Yeah, that sounds like something a Pharisee would say.

Maybe it’s the survival instinct of chronic illness that closes down before anything gets too intense. My mother said that she knew something was wrong before she knew something was wrong, because she watched me pull into myself before the physical symptoms were evident. I’m not sure I ever really came out.

Or perhaps my sinful, broken heart just doesn’t feel like it should. A couple of related blogs I read recently suggest that the more we love, the more injustice offends us. A child starves in Africa and I can cluck my tongue, wag my finger, and say piously, “someone should do something about that.” But let my child be wronged, and my righteous anger will flare and I will gird my loins for battle.

That, perhaps, hints at another reason my heart isn’t overwhelmed. I can more easily mask pain with anger, lashing out, scorching the earth before me, than I can allow myself to feel the full weight of the evil that confronts me. I am skilled at anger, and a warrior at heart; let me go to battle and deal with the feelings later. Except I never do.

Recently, I’ve been glimpsing hints of overwhelmed. One of my friends is an incredibly gentle and caring woman. She has been visited by enormous and repeated grief, and is facing it yet again. As we have been praying for her family member, we cannot help but also pray for her. I begin to taste the magnitude of her pain; suddenly the word “overwhelmed” is no longer an abstract poetic verse, but a tumultuous storm threatening to wash away everything in its path.

Similarly, the unrest coming out of Minneapolis is a stark reminder that too many in my country are still marginalized, dehumanized, belittled, and abused. It is too easy to allow this not to touch me as I sit enthroned in my basement cyber-kingdom. It is too easy to allow the anarchy, riots, and violence to drown out the outrage. Appropriate outrage. Overwhelming outrage.

So this is where we come to hope: “When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Being overwhelmed means that it is too much for you to bear; too much for you to hold. Overwhelmed is the storm surge rising, a tornado uprooting trees, a mudslide erasing houses. It is a God-sized problem. You need a God-sized God.

I still remember vividly, in the midst of my deepest despair and the excruciating pain that seemed like it would never end, the mental image of me clinging to God like a young child might wrap himself around his father’s leg. When life is more than you can bear, stop bearing it alone. As a rock is immovable in a storm, so God can weather the storms of your life.

For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” Trust is built from experience. Like the psalmist, I have lived long enough to have enough experience to know that God is faithful. This isn’t self-righteous Pharisee-speak; it is the first-hand voice of experience. God has shown himself faithful to me and through me.

I’m no longer content to hide from the powerful pain and sorrow that is unavoidable in this world. I’m learning to only fight the battles my commander tells me to, but that leaves me open and vulnerable. The best place to hide is in the tower of my God.

Always simple, never easy. SDG.

Some other links that are worth reading. This is not an exhaustive list, but just some of the best that came across my path.

Render Unto Zuckerberg

And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances,[a] but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius[b] and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.
Mark 12:13-17

Jesus was no stranger to controversy. People in his day were not so very different from people today. It’s not particularly surprising that his opponents tried to get the government to do their dirty work. In fact, modern liberal “theologians” maintain that Jesus was actually executed by the Romans as an insurrectionist, and not in accordance with God’s plan as the atoning sacrifice for sin.

However, Jesus did not get embroiled in earthly debates. You see, who governs earthly kingdoms is of little consequence in God’s eternal story. Debates about laws and taxes and such will not determine your eternal destiny, and rarely result in God’s glory being magnified. So when asked to take a stand on a hot-button political topic in Jewish society, Jesus articulated a crucial, eternal truth: those who control earthly kingdoms have the right to make the rules of those kingdoms. But God, who controls the eternal, spiritual kingdom, makes the rules of that kingdom. Both deserve their due, and must be served.


This post isn’t about politics and such, although there is certainly much in the current political landscape that deserves comment. In fact, I have purposely avoided political issues in this blog; not because there isn’t much that I could say, but more because in the limited opportunities I do have to speak, I prefer to focus attention on my God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Rather, this post serves as explanation about my decision to leave Facebook. The short version, for those who don’t want to read on, is that I am no longer willing to subject myself to Facebook’s one-sided editorial policy, that emphasizes the liberal echo-chamber and silences dissenting views. I don’t begrudge Facebook their right to do with their platform as they wish; I just exercise my freedom not to participate. This in no way speaks judgement on those who choose to continue; this is my personal decision and it is right for me. For those who choose to continue the fight, you have my support and encouragement.

The Gory Details

It is a simple fact that the Facebook “feed” is a never-ending firehose of content. Just trying to keep up with your family and friends is an impossible task. Even if you were to maintain a continual presence, reading every story as it appeared, you would miss some. So, when a casual user opens Facebook a couple of times a day, what stories do they see?

We’ll Decide What You See

Facebook has sophisticated algorithms that deliver customized content to you based on a number of factors. They consider your past history, who your friends are, and other things. If you respond to a particular friend’s post, you are more likely to see posts from that friend. They use your Google history (ever notice that you search for something and moments later see an ad for it on your Facebook feed?). They also monitor pictures posted by your contacts, running image recognition algorithms and helpfully offer to tag you in the pictures in which you appear.

All of this curation of content is designed to help you sift through the vast ocean of data and focus on the posts you are most interested in. For the most part, it provides a satisfactory experience.

However, in the 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook became a nexus for  dire warnings about “fake news”, particularly when it came to light that Russian agents purchased ads targeting particular demographics, posting stories with little or questionable support. Since that time, society has grappled with the reality that the internet is an unmoderated forum, where anyone can publish anything.

Outrage Amplifier

In 2019, Tristan Harris testified before Congress. In his testimony, he asserted that platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are driven to get “market share” and the market is your attention. Their research and empirical data show that polarization and extremism are the fastest way to keep a user engaged. In his words, these platforms are “outrage amplifiers” that move users away from calm and towards “crazy town”.

Illusion of Intimacy

To this point, I hope nothing I’ve said is surprising or controversial to you. Hopefully you are just nodding your head, as all of this matches your experience. So why, you may be wondering, am I now deciding to jump ship? I mean, Facebook is a marvelous way of re-connecting with people from your past. Certainly, I have been able to “connect” with folks from high school and college who were important to me. I likely would never have made contact with them if not for the pervasive reach of Facebook.

Unfortunately, for the most part these contacts are unsatisfactory. Some people I care deeply about, people who were a major part of my life in the past, just don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to connect with me on the deeper level that I crave. I long to sit down over dinner, one-on-one and get to know who they are now, how their lives have changed, and where they are going. That doesn’t happen on social media.

Others are consumed by posting hate-mongering click-bait. It is painful to endure the constant onslaught of vitriol. While I admit that I’m a bit more tolerant of the posts that more closely align with my positions, I’m just not a fan of incitement, unless it is to “[incite] one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

With some people, I have the illusion of contact. I see as you post pictures of your family, advertise your business, give your inspirational sayings. These don’t offend me, but neither do they provide the necessary grist of shared experiences that produce real relationship.

Fake News (aka, Points of View We Don’t Agree With)

What has pushed me over the edge is Facebook’s decision to protect the sheeples from misleading information, and to become the sole arbiter of what is and is not true. The problem with Facebook’s “fact checking” is that no one is fact-checking the fact checkers. What ostensibly should be an objective and straight-forward process is inherently flawed by the biases and brokenness that humans bring to the equation.

A friend posted this article, describing the Facebook fact check of the Epoch Times film on Coronavirus. Regardless of the factuality of the film (and frankly, I don’t much care how or where Coronavirus stared), the flaws in the fact check are disturbing.

Recently, I shared a video from PragerU. In it, Michael Knowles and Ben Shapiro do a “book club” review of the Federalist Papers. In the likely case that your high school education did not include reading this book, it is a collection of essays written by the authors of the U.S. Constitution explaining why the Constitution is what is it, and what they were hoping to achieve (and prevent) by instituting this form of government. My posts have a certain rhythm to them; a certain number of people can be expected to react and comment within a day or so. This post was strangely silent. I’ve had similar posts over the years (typically of my blog), and I just attribute it to Facebook’s ranking algorithm de-prioritizing dissenting points of view.

Within a day or so, I received an e-mail from PragerU declaring that Facebook had labelled them as a “Fake News” site. If you are not familiar with PragerU, they produce high-quality videos from a number of voices, many of them leading conservatives, but also some from the left. I don’t agree with everything they say; Dennis Prager and I might disagree on more than we agree upon, but they are an important counterpoint to the so-called “Mainstream Media”. The upshot of the e-mail was a fundraising plea, so I filed it away, but the timing, coincident with my “dark” post was curious.

I did some research to try to validate the claim. I’ve been down all sorts of rabbit holes, only to come out the other side with more questions than answers. Without boring you with my results, I’ll just say that there is no moral high ground in the search for unbiased reporting. The fact is that Facebook, YouTube, and Google have, at various points in time (whether just now, or not) restricted access to conservative voices because they were conservative voices.

Censoring the Censor

Therein lies the rub. These platforms, ubiquitous and pervasive though they be, have no obligation to the consumer. I don’t frequent sites like Huffington Post or Breitbart because their stories are more likely to be supporting or defending their bias than giving me useful information to think about. I’m more likely to be interested in a Munk debate, where both sides have the opportunity to make their case. But if Facebook is going to take the choice away from me and only present points of view that agree with their world view, then it’s not a place where I need to spend my time.

So, Mr. Zuckerberg, it’s your platform, and you are free to prioritize, curate, and censor content as you see fit. I leave you to it. I just won’t be submitting my eyeballs to your kingdom anymore. Oh sure, I’ll miss out on a few things, like our neighborhood private group, incidental information from incidental contacts, and occasional outrage flares. And while I don’t think I was overly swayed by your thought-experiment of driving people towards “crazy town”, the fact that too many of the people I care about have been demands that I remove the imprimatur of tacit approval given by my participation.

Stay In Touch

If you would like to stay in contact with me, and for some reason you don’t have my contact information, leave a comment with a valid e-mail and I’ll reach out to you. If, for some strange reason you would like to keep reading my blog, be sure to subscribe (see the box to the right).

If you have a good social media platform that is an alternative to Facebook, let me know. There aren’t many. An effective monopoly is difficult to beat. For now, I’m exploring Diaspora, a distributed network of networks. You can find me at Maybe. I don’t see much need for social media.

In the meantime, I will be rendering unto God the things that are God’s.