Political Peppers, Onions and Cukes!

Various errands took me 10 blocks up Broadway, rather than my usual 10 blocks down Broadway, and I stopped for vegetables at a stand familiar to me. But the usual Hispanic young man was not there. A handsome young Middle Eastern youth stood there, quite friendly looking.

“Hello!” I greeted him, “how are you?”

“God is good” he replied with a smile. His ethnic looks, accent, and Marlboros led me to believe his god is Allah. Ok.

I picked up some bananas, “4 for $1”, some big red peppers and cukes. Then onions. He knew the price of everything but his English was very limited.

“Do you have carrots?”

With a bewildered look he replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand much English”. Ok.

He collected my peppers, onions, bananas, and cucumbers and gave me the total, “$8.75. One more banana?” He asked, to make it an even $9.00.

Sure! Then I had to ask,

“Where are you from?”

“I am from Turkey!”, he said with a smile.

After a slight heart cringe I asked, “What do you think of your president Erdogan?”

“He is good I think”.

“Well, you should tell him to treat Armenians better.”

The same bewildered look came upon him, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand…”

“That’s ok”, and I knew in the Lord that it was. I handed over the $9.00.

I took my bags and raised up my hand, saying the few Turkish words I know.

The young man’s face beamed with a smile, and he gave a high two thumbs up!

I called him friend.

NYPD: Missing Man Formation

Almost everyone grieves the loss of these two outstanding young men, dedicated to public service, ambushed and killed by a treacherous reprobate. To honor their service and sacrifice, I would encourage those who missed the services to view the funerals online for Detectives Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, promoted posthumously.

Prior to my retirement from State Parole, I covered the Harlem precincts, including the 32 precinct, for nearly 30 years. We often worked alongside NYPD during investigations, executing warrants and making arrests. On my own, I averaged about 20 homevisits a week in Harlem, checking on curfews, parolee status, community and family complaints, and general assistance to releasees. That’s about 1,000 home visits a year. While there were some hairy moments, I was never afraid, never wanted to leave the Harlem community for ‘easier’ precincts or positions.

That was then.

Just a week before these shootings I wondered, How to Live in a Reprobate City, noting the dilution of criminal offenses by newly elected D.A. Bragg. The deaths of Detectives Rivera and Mora now mark the fourth and fifth shootings of NYPD officers in January alone seem a grim launch into 2022.

We don’t have a ‘gun problem’, as some politicians would sum it. We have a serious violence problem, morality problem, and sin problem which is reaping the dark and tragic fruits of lawlessness.

As Detective’s Mora’s casket left St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the skies held a traditional sad tribute – a Missing Man Formation. In honor of a lost one of valor, planes or helicopters fly overhead in formation, then one will depart.

Today, helicopters flew in Missing Man Formation to honor Det Wilbert Mora,

Mora missing man formation

While both Detectives Rivera and Mora are a tremendous loss to our community, there is, I fear, one even greater.

The incremental annihilation of God’s laws, God’s ways, and God’s decrees is leaving us to the destructive ways of human nature. We have boldly rejected God and elect men and women to establish this anarchy.

There is a colossal Missing Man Formation flying overhead everyday. His absence and departure, His abandonment in judgment, will culminate into the worst lament of mankind.

May we, who know God, seek Him everyday, call upon Him everyday, walk with Him everyday and however He wills, may we boldly represent God and His salvation through Jesus Christ alone. He may be a ‘Missing Man’ to those around us – let us be a light that He may be seen.

How to Live in a Reprobate City

Wait, can a city be reprobate? Or are only individuals given over by God to a reprobate mind…”given over” as a convicted prisoner is given over for sentencing? I believe that both assertions are true as individual corrupt minds promote and elect the leadership that will govern over them. Collectively, there is a ‘reprobate mind’, set against God, against His commandments – preparing to receive the “wages of sin”.

NYC’s flashpoints of sin are almost forgotten but not by God. The culmination of ‘Gay Pride’, landmark celebratory parades and festivities continue to resound and replicate around the globe. ‘Abortion up to delivery’, legislation effective January 2019, had to repeal several penal laws to allow the murder of viable babies even as they are pushing through the womb. This great victory was celebrated at the State Capital but most notably in NYC as elected officials clapped and cheered before cameras and the city was lit up in triumphant celebration for the world to see.

The Empire State Building, set aglow to celebrate this infanticide, was not struck by lightening. No tsunami washed over the city. Instead, I believe, God silently yet powerfully effected an abandonment of this city. He is still here, of course, and faithful to the brethren, but is allowing rebellious unrestrained expression bring about unrestrained consequences of sin. God has given us over to a reprobate mind.

A year after the murderous abortion celebration came ‘Bail Reform’ 2020, delighting ‘progressives’ and igniting freed detainees. The great lie of Satan, “you can sin and nothing will happen!” was planted in the NYC judicial system, just prior to, just in time for, the riots of George Floyd. Criminals are freed, instigated, and emboldened toward utter lawlessness while police, set upon and degraded, retire, quit and transfer in record numbers.

Crime and lawlessness rule once again in this city but with great difference – it is facilitated by the leadership. In fact, according to the newly elected Manhattan District Attorney, crime is no longer crime in this city.

“Bragg has sparked a firestorm after announcing that his office will no longer prosecute a variety of crimes, from resisting arrest to drug dealing. He has also laid out a plan that lowers the type of crimes that armed robbers, for example, can be charged with by reducing the charges to lesser counts. What has been considered felonies would be cut to misdemeanors, which would often mean no jail time for offenders.” (from Fox News report, 1/12/2022)

One need not be a retired law enforcement to conclude that consequences are powerful influencers of behavioral change. However, after supervising felony offenders for nearly 30 years I must say that no other factor affects decisions more than considering sure and exact consequences. Hollow threats are laughable but real consequences, punishment for crimes, can stir rational thinking and change behavior.

How is one to live for Christ in a ‘reprobate city’? Are we to live in a reprobate city?

The answer to the latter is, of course, and surely, what springs forth from the cities will cast seeds into the nation. The apostle Peter exhorts us, “prepare your minds for action”, having our mindset toward holiness and unto the Lord. If we walk aright before the Lord, we can know the confidence and power of walking in His favor and faithfulness wherever He calls us to live.

The greatest temptation for those striving to live a righteous life is to fight against the ‘unrighteous’, to hammer shameless leaders and their supporters. However passionate and logical, it is not God’s way.

“For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness…” Fighting a political party is easier, even rewarding to the flesh. But as Lloyd Martyn-Jones expounds in The Christian Warfare,

“The term “world rulers”…is a very powerful word which conjures up the notion of power to govern and to rule the whole world.”

Martyn-Jones also states in this captivating book,

“There are unseen “rulers” who are manipulating world affairs…”

“They are manipulating the Press and all other such agencies…”

“There is nothing more monstrous than that people should joke about the devil…”

So how to live for Christ when the heart of the city is reprobate and the majority celebrate it?

While the whole world lies in darkness and is ripening to receive the antichrist, as believers (I remind myself!) we’re not called to fight fallen man. They are already under the wrath of God, should we defeat them to preserve ‘our way of life’ which is destined to conform to the antichrist? Surely this is a devilish snare set to derail us from the high call of God.

“You are the light of the world” proclaimed Jesus about His followers. I pray to be a light in this dark world, obedient to Him, available to Him, humbled under His word. My flesh would rather fight but my heart knows it’s all futile and worse, what purposes of God will I miss by following carnal fervor?

I believe God has us living amongst reprobate minds for two reasons. One, to draw nearer to Him through prayer and His word, becoming more dependent upon the Him and ultimately to conform to the image of His Son. Secondly, there are people in the darkness, those whom the Lord would call out. Representing Him in the short time we have left in this world, may God reveal them, enable us to minister to them, counsel them in the truth and draw them into the Kingdom of God.

May the Lord embolden and brighten His life and light in us, order our steps, and call His sheep from within the ‘reprobate city’ – wherever it is.

Signs of The Times and The Suburbs

The implosion of major US cities is no secret.  Even as steadfast New Yorkers, we prayed about leaving, considering a condo in the country for a real change.  However, while visiting my parents, my elderly dad offered, “Why not move in with us?”  As my 90 year old mother slowly passed by with her walker, the country real estate postings in my mind went ‘poof’.  Grateful to enjoy and honor my parents in their senior days, we are for the most part, in suburbia.

For me, ‘suburbia’ tries hard through landscape to look ‘country’ and tries hard through programs to be ‘cultural’ but it misses the urban and rural essence somewhat.  Nonetheless, aside from occasional days back in NYC, I am here to serve the Lord however He assigns.

Part of my personal routine here is an early morning worship walk around the neighborhood where I free myself to sing to the Lord, add some dance steps to my walk, and pray.  Seeing occasional rabbits hop by or chipmunks scurry adds to my joy.

What takes away my joy is the boisterous signs that seem to declare a self-righteousness that, at times, pointedly disavows God.

20200804_065602One popular sign asserts the gamut of humanistic values on evolution, gender equality, immigration, and, in rainbow colors, sexual affirmations.

WE BELIEVE…..and believe so strongly that we want to post all this on our front lawns!

There are ‘minority’ families in the neighborhood, black and Indian.  Notably, none of them have any such signs, an ongoing reminder of what our black friends in Harlem reported months ago, “Yeah, Black Lives Matter marched through Harlem…but they were ALL WHITE PEOPLE!”

20200804_071213    20200804_070050

According to The Acton Institute, BLM champions: Reparations through racial socialism, Defunding the Police, Dismantling the family, Global overthrow of Capitalism, Reparations for drug dealers and the legalization of drugs and prostitution….

Hello neighbors, is that what you really believe?  If any ONE of these things happened on your pristine street you would dial 911 and fast….

In a culture nearly scrubbed of God, people are hungry for ‘righteousness’ and some kind of zeal to stir their hearts.  So needy for meaningful passion they will follow and ride a Trojan horse even to their own detriment…

What can a believer do during daily walk-worship?  Pray for my neighbors and believe that Jesus Christ, our Head, moves His Body around with eternal purpose.  If I had my own home, I would put my own sign….

20200804_170220

I’m no graphic artist but it’s a start…

May the Lord inspire and encourage you as you press on for His glory!

  

Our Enduring City

As a pandemic peters out, our nation implodes with rampant rioting, looting, and destruction.  Spilled blood, ashes and rubble can in no way reveal actual ruined lives, grieving hearts, and fearful, anxious souls.

While I do believe in peaceful protests, rage and depravity are deepening brokenness and painful divisions.  What say You Lord, to those who mourn for a country, their city, their community that they love? 

For American Christians, the hard truth that should order our lives and structure our perspective is this:

“Love not the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  (I John 2:15)

The Apostle Peter and others note our standing in this world…

“To God’s elect, strangers in the world…live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear….Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world...”

Because of America’s freedom, opportunities, and the prosperous fruits gained from moral living and hard work, American Christians have so intertwined and blended in with unbelievers that the Gospel message has no distinction and worse, our contented lives leave no true longing for God’s Kingdom…

…until perhaps, our world begins to crumble.

When our world is crumbling, we must remember who we are, the ‘ekklesia’ – “the called out ones”, God’s people called to live as strangers and foreigners.

There is a foray of racial, political, and criminal fervor beckoning us all to jump in at some juncture.  But believers are called to navigate the narrow road – God’s word, God’s call, God’s way.   Jesus said,  “…narrow is road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  I want to be one of that few!

broken bank

Would you put your money here?  Neither should we invest our heart in this world.  

As a social worker and retired law enforcement officer, I care deeply for my community.  I avail myself to serve and pray to be a light.  But I know that this world cannot be fixed, it will not improve, but will, in fact, downward spiral into further darkness and chaos toward that day of judgment.  Whether we push a broom or sit as CEO, now is the time to hear from the Lord, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” and we need the reward of His presence and infilling more than ever.

 

From Genesis to Revelation, an overriding truth is evident:  for God’s people, strength comes from separation – separation from this world, separation unto God.  God is not partial to Americans, but to His “treasured possession”,  the Body of Christ, and we are from “every tribe, every nation, every tongue”.

Injustice, loss, grief and utter destruction are real and painful.  But may the Lord detach our hearts from the things and fervor of this world.  I pray that the Holy Spirit lift our heads and focus our hearts as our spiritual forefathers’, “…they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

Everything that can be shaken will be shaken so, “Love not this world….”

“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”    (Hebrews 13:14)

Maranatha!