America Deserves “Alternative Facts”

[Note: In no way is this post intended to defend or endorse any political figure nor is it written in support of either the Republican or Democratic Party. May this be an equal-opportunity blog of offense.]

Alternative Facts.

Without doubt, this is a catchy way to start a presidential term that is sure to be filled with divisive arguments that only make the liberal more liberal and the conservative more conservative.

What else will the next 3 years and 11 months bring us?

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Truth D – The 2017 Presidential Inauguration produced a laughingly, underwhelming number of attendees – especially when contrasted with the record-size crowds of the 2009 Inauguration.

Truth R – The liberal media skewed the actual attendance of the 2017 Inauguration by only showing pictures of the crowd at a low point. Actual attendance numbers for the event are huuuuge.

These, America, are your alternative facts.

Cue the media firestorm and social media warfare.

 

You might respond to this episode with disgust, fury and ridicule.

You might respond to it with defensiveness, frustration, and pride.

Left or right, liberal or conservative, black or white, male or female, America…

You get what you deserve.

 

The outrage, the disbelief, the excitement over Alternative Facts betrays our hypocrisy.

America, after all, has prided itself on being enlightened enough to recognize the need for Alternative Facts when it comes to religion.

Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism.

Now, we all know these are different, it is argued, but deep down, they’re just different ways of getting to the same finish line. All of these are worthy systems of belief, it is contended, that mean the same thing. As long as you genuinely believe it to be true and you do not tell anyone they are wrong, it is proclaimed, you can believe whatever you want.

These are just Alternative Facts.

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But ask just one question to these groups, and you will be confronted by a reality that should produce the same firestorm and fury as our President’s take on the attendance of his inauguration.

Who is Jesus?

Christians believe Jesus is the promised Messiah,  the Son of God, who as fully God and fully man, lived a perfect life, died on the cross for the sake of our sins, physically raised from the dead three days later, and sits in Heaven now waiting to return to establish His eternal kingdom.

Jews believe the promised Messiah, the Son of God, has not arrived yet. God has not fulfilled his promised to Abraham and David, but he will one day.

Muslims believe Jesus was a good prophet in a long line of good prophets. He is not God as there is only one God.

Buddhists believe Jesus was a good man who reached complete enlightenment and achieved non-existence.

Hindus believe Jesus to be one god among 300 million.

Atheists believe none of this. At best Jesus is a good man with some helpful thoughts on peace and love. At worst he is a con-artist who has engendered worthless wars and hindered the advancement of humanity.

 

This is only in answer to one question. We do not need to move to the next one.

But in the spirit of tolerance and unity, we champion the idea that these systems say the same thing!

We do not just believe these to all to be different sides to the same greater truth. We vehemently oppose anyone who would claim an exclusive interpretation of truth.

Forget that Christians say Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and Jews say He’s an imposter.

Forget that Muslims defend monotheism while Hindus embrace millions of gods.

Forget that Buddhists strive for non-existence in Nirvana and Christians place their ultimate hope in physical resurrection.

Forget that these systems express mutually exclusive claims.

We have Alternative Facts.

 

This week, the president of our country uses a parallel thought-process to give some political spin on his big day, and our tolerant, unity-loving, post-modern society loses its collective mind.

Those who are angry and disgusted that our leader would stoop so low as to present a falsehood as a truth need only look in their societal mirror. We do this everyday, and we label those who reject it as closed-minded bigots.

You are right to be angry. Truth is truth. Falsehoods are falsehoods. They cannot coexist.

Those who are defensive and proud of the president ought to observe caution. If you claim to be a Christian, you cannot endorse or defend Alternative Facts. Your first allegiance is not to an oval office but to a King who claimed to be The Fact (John 14:6).

Truth is truth. Falsehoods are falsehoods. They cannot coexist.

Left or right. It is time to stop the charade.

We get what we deserve.

This week has sown alternative facts for America because alternative facts are what our America has long reaped.

 

Five Youtube Videos That Earned My Thanks

When my family makes it’s way around the table so that each person can offer something for which they are thankful, I am going to be pretty tempted to say thanks for Youtube.

I know I am not the only one either.

How many times have you found yourself in a situation and you didn’t know what to do? Sure, maybe the first thing you did was think, “Oh, I know! I’ll Google it.”

Then your browser takes you to a list of videos on Youtube showing you how or to a list of blogs which include said videos within the text.

It may seem trivial, but, man, I am thankful for Youtube.

Since I am in such a festive mood, here are 5 videos for which I am particularly thankful:

1.  How to Carve a Turkey (from Art of Manliness)

One thing I am doing in a current discipleship group is working through what we call man-plans. We each chose 2-3 things we wanted to learn from a list found in this great book on biblical manhood.

One of the things I chose to learn (or really re-learn) is how to carve a turkey. This video was just what I was looking for. The corresponding blog article also includes step by step written instructions.

If you’re a guy whose never taken the reins of the holiday bird, check out the video and step up to the serving plate this Thanksgiving.

2. How to Tie a Tie (from Tie-a-Tie.net)

I am not embarrassed to say this video might be one of my best-friends.

Before serving at a church where tie-tying knowledge is a necessity, I didn’t really have much of a demand in my life to step up and learn how to tie a tie. As I hit graduation from seminary and went through the interview process, the demand picked up quickly.

At this point, I no longer need to watch the video. But I do find my way back to the site to brush up on my technique or to look at other knots.

Still don’t know how to tie a tie? Check out this video to learn how to tie a half-windsor knot.

3. Kings to Win Protest Against Grizzlies

One, I am thankful for the Memphis Grizzlies. I am thankful for the Grit-Grind. I am thankful for their NBA-best start to the season.

I am also thankful for really funny videos. When I first watched this video, I was overly anxious that the NBA was going to strip the Grizzlies of their controversial win over the Sacramento Kings.

Lastly I am thankful for Rickrolling.

4. Surge is Back!

When I found out that this once-extinct beverage was making it’s way back to the market on Amazon via a Facebook campaign, I ordered several cases.

I am thankful for the many memories it brought back from my days growing up in a crazy youth group.

I am thankful for Surge, as it helped me accomplish one of my initial goals when I became a youth pastor: Make a kid throw up. 

It was glorious.

5. Katy Perry – Dark Horse – Ten Second Songs Cover

For one thing, I am thankful that people who have talent (not talking about Perry here) still have an outlet to showcase their creativity. This guy is awesome.

But I am also thankful for this Katy Perry song for another reason.

One night this fall, some students decided to play some pranks on the youth pastor.

They didn’t know what they were setting themselves up for.

I may or may not have kept the students up til 4 a.m. I may or may not have poured water on all of them as they slept in their sleeping bags. I may or may not have thrown their stuff in the street.

I may or may not have played this song and sung some of the lyrics in a very menacing voice while blowing up balloons filled with shaving cream.

No matter how long I live, Dark Horse will be a song very close to my prank-loving heart.

So thank you Youtube for letting me reminisce on my night of terror in 20 different styles.


Obviously in the endless spectrum of Youtube videos, there are a number of other videos that I have enjoyed or benefitted from this year, but these are 5 for which I am especially grateful.

What about you? Send me a link to a Youtube video that you are thankful for this year.

Tuesday: A Day of Suffering, Grace, & New Adventures

Tuesday has always been one of my favorite days of the week for one reason. Tuesday brings new things. New music. New books. New movies. New video games.

One Tuesday especially stands out. Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

We all know what happened on that fateful morning. But what I also remember is what new releases came out the same day. While all my friends were heading after school to BestBuy to buy Jay-Z’s infamous “The Blueprint”, I jumped at the chance as a 16-year-old to hop in the car and drive the 15 minute trip to Lifeway to grab a copy of the brand new album, “Satellite” from P.O.D. Both new albums would be devoured by audiences as people across the country looked for hope in the midst of darkness. In fact, many soon found songs on both albums released that Tuesday in September to be providential, or coincidental depending on who you talk to, such as P.O.D.’s single “Youth of the Nation.”

It was a day marked by suffering that sent people looking for new hope and grace.

On this New Release Tuesday in May nearly thirteen years later, new books and media highlight the same transcendent themes: suffering, grace, and newness.

1. Suffering –  From Reach Records comes Tedashii’s fourth album, “Below Paradise”.

Tedashii is a brilliant artist who has experienced grave suffering. This new album served as a journal for Tedashii as he sought relief from the suffering he experienced in losing his son. “Below Paradise” powerfully points to the reality that our world is broken and needs the renewal and rescue that is available through Jesus.

To read an interview with Tedashii, click here.

2. Grace
Released by Zondervan, “Proof: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace” is Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones’ Twenty-First Century rebranding of the doctrines of grace. Montgomery and Jones point the Christian back to the truth that “God’s wonderful acceptance of us [is] not because we have earned it or deserve it but because he gives it to us freely at Christ’s expense.”

The authors invite us to drink from the strong drink of grace until it leaves us staggering.  As a former member of Montgomery’s church in Louisville, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

To read a review of PROOF, click here. 

3. Newness –  The name David Crowder should not be new to too many people familiar with the Contemporary Christian music scene. Through his former band, The David Crowder*Band, Crowder consistently won awards, filled arenas, and dominated airwaves as he turned the Christian’s attention to the greatness of God and to the joy that is found in belonging to the family of Christ.

But today, “Crowder” as he is now known, releases his first solo album, “Neon Steeple”. As always Crowder is insightful and creative. He also continues to deliver music that easily translates to family worship services on long car rides.

To read a review of “Neon Steeple”, click here. 

There’s no way to argue against it. Tuesdays are great. New releases are exciting. They also serve as a powerful reminder of the good news that Jesus has come to make all things new. He suffered himself in his life on the cross so that we could enter new life with God in his new kingdom, and this was only done through his grace.

This Tuesday, pick up something new and revel in the good news that Jesus came to make you new by meeting you in the midst of your suffering and giving you such “intoxicating grace”.