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The Pulpit: Only dead fish float downstream

By the time this is published I have no clue what the presidential field of candidates will look like. However, as I write this article “The Donald” is the Republican frontrunner by nearly two-to-one. By the time you read this, the first debate of the top ten contenders will be history and it will be interesting to see if Mr. Trump helped or hurt his candidacy. He might be wrong but he’s never in doubt. Have you ever known someone like that? Usually their arrogance goes before them like a town crier in a village market. According to columnist David Brooks of The New York Times, Trump has been birthed out of the chaos of our cultural. He recently wrote: "The times are perfect for Donald Trump. He's an outsider, which appeals to the alienated. He's confrontational, which appeals to the frustrated. And, in a unique 21v-century wrinkle, he's a narcissist who thinks he can solve every problem, which appeals to people who in challenging times don't feel confident in their understanding of their surroundings and who crave leaders who seem to be." Only 29 percent of Americans think the nation is on the right track and just three in ten of them believe their views are represented in Washington. Brooks finishes his recent article by saying this: "Never before have we experienced a moment with so much public alienation and so much private, assertive and fragile self-esteem. Trump is the perfect confluence of these trends…. He is deeply rooted in the currents of our time." I love what Jim Denison wrote, “Popular leaders reflect their times. Transformational leaders redeem them.”

The first dictionary definition I found of the word “redeem” is “making something acceptable.” The only way that can be done regarding the culture is to change those within the society wherein that culture exists. Our current American culture can only be changed by the transformative power of the gospel – one soul at a time. I think this is why Albert Reyes in The Jesus Agenda challenges Christians to be "agents of redemption" and people of "courage, compassion and conviction on a mission with Jesus to turn what was intended for harm into good." You see that throughout the New Testament in the lives of people radically changed by the gospel such as Zacchaeus who restored all he stole and then some, or the Samaritan woman at the well who boldly shared the Messiah with her entire village and those people were forever changed. Each of them became a change agent as was Joseph in ancient Egypt or Daniel in the court of Babylon. However, you can’t give away what you don’t have for, as Frederick Buechner said, “Only what happens to us can happen through us.” He also said, “We are in constant danger of being not actors in the drama of our lives but reactors, to go where the world takes us, to drift with whatever current happens to be running the strongest." So, where do you think the ship of your life might be today? Are you floating silently downstream wherever the currents of this debased culture takes you or are you vigorously swimming upstream in order to accomplish God’s purpose for your life? To find joy in Jesus you must serve Jesus, but it’s so easy to profess to know Christ and then sit back in the recliner and coast to the grave. The truth is, our faith is usually either vibrant and verdant or it’s vacuous and uninviting. Do you want to reflect your culture or redeem it by bolding speaking the truth in love? If the latter then you will see the hand of God change what appears unchangeable – one precious soul at a time.

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