Author: DwightClough

What will heal our land?

What will heal our land?

Anger won’t. Anger may be justified. It may be warranted. It may be necessary. But, by itself, it will heal nothing.

Protests won’t. Whether peaceful or violent, they don’t have the power to change anything.

A different president won’t. Sorry. You can change presidents a thousand times, and you’ll still have murder, racism, hatred, and police brutality. These evils cannot be elected away.

Some say love will heal our land. But that’s not a workable solution because we as a people don’t have the power to love. Yet.

Our land will not be healed until we begin to see with a different set of eyes. Specifically, we need God’s perspective.

I don’t mean someone’s opinion of God’s perspective. I don’t mean listening to some preacher.

I mean we—each of us—must take all that is churning and boiling inside and everything connected to it directly to God Himself and ask Him what He wants us to know.

Until we see ourselves, each other, and the world we have created through God’s eyes, nothing will change. Apart from that, all of our “solutions” will be tainted with false narratives and broken thinking. But transformative paradigm shifts from God Himself will heal you and me, our homes, our communities, our systems, our world.

This, by the way, is why I don’t let other people do my thinking for me. Leaders—Black or White, commentators—Democrat or Republican, may have good ideas. I will pause. I will listen. I will consider. But I will not swallow. Instead, I will take their thoughts back to the only Person in the universe who is objective, and ask Him.

Groupthink frightens me because it opens the door to every kind of evil including racism.

Murder is evil. Racism is evil. Police brutality is evil. Many other things are evil. But we will not fix these things until we fix ourselves, and we cannot do that until we step into the Light.

Dwight

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Internal junk

Ever take one of those personality tests?

I took one today, only this was a test that gives you information about who you are and what your role is in our world. Fascinating stuff. I’ll boil down 11 pages of my results to this one phrase:

“You produce ingenious solutions to complex problems.”

That got me thinking. What problems am I working on? Then I realized I’ve been obsessed with solving three complex problems for many years.

Here’s the first:

#1 Internal junk

All of us walk around with a certain amount of internal junk—feelings and inner messages that keep us from experiencing life to the fullest. This is the stuff we seldom share, the inner self we hide when we go out in public. We like to deny that this part of us even exists. But it does, and it holds us back; it dampens how we experience life.

For the last 30 to 40 years I’ve been focused on this question: How do you get rid of this internal junk? More specifically, does our Christian faith offer us any tools that allow us to get rid of this junk?

Here’s what I’ve found: Most of the tools out there don’t work. Most of the Christian tools out there don’t work. Or they work like this: We try them. They don’t make a difference. But we don’t want to tell anybody they didn’t work. So we lie. We lie and say we’re fine.

I don’t like that.

I have a strong distaste for religious pretending disguised as faith. “I’m fine in Jesus’ name.” Yeah. Sure.

Denial is not the same as faith. Faith is first of all honest. Honest with ourselves, honest with God. Read the Psalms.

So anyway, I found something 19 years ago that works for me. I’ve seen it work for others. It really does clear out internal junk. It really does leave you feeling lighter, happier, stronger, more at peace, healthier. It changes how you experience life.

I’ve been trying to cut through the clutter and convey that for much of the last 17 years. I’ve been trying to shout from the rooftops: “Hey, this isn’t another form of religious denial. This is the real thing.”

Sometimes people listen. Sometimes they don’t. But, anyway, if you want to read what I’ve written, if you want to learn how to clear out that internal junk, I’ll recommend my books, The Gift of Transformation, Spiritual Self Defense, What It Means to Follow Jesus.

Thanks!

Dwight

PS. I’ll post the other two, Lord willing, sometime soon.

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Are we really the sum?

Are you really the sum of the five people you spend the most time with? That concept is sacrosanct to many, but I’m going to label it mostly false. Here’s why:

What this usually means is this: If you wanna get rich, avoid poor people and hang out with rich people. Poor people will poison your mind. Rich people will enrich your mind.

Yeah. About that. Every human being has something to teach you if you have the humility to listen and learn from them. And it seems to me that many of my fellow Christians have found a way to overlook James 3:1-9.

Another thing that troubles me about this: It seems to assume you’re a passive puddle of jelly just waiting to be tainted by association. That’s not who you are. You are a change agent. You are designed to bring good into many lives. That’s who you are. Everyone you meet should be better for having encountered you.

Okay, now for the caveats. Yes, some relationships are toxic, and some people are just not good for you to be around. If you’re young and impressionable, then you shouldn’t be friends with people who will influence you to develop self destructive patterns of behavior. Even those of us who are older need to exercise some caution: There’s someone in my life (ironically, he’s wealthy) that I avoid; the relationship diminishes me, and I need to let him hang with someone else.

But that’s the exception. The person I hang out with the most is God. And I figure that God plus any other four people is still gonna be a very large number.

Have a super day!

Dwight

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I will not be shaken

It makes me sad, in a way, that we often need a disaster to “get right with God.” Foxhole conversions seem cheap, and I wonder if they’ll last.

But then, if I’m honest with myself, when I look back on my own life, I find that it was during the difficult moments—like when I was homeless with a wife and a little baby with birth defects, when our marriage was threatened, when I was hungry, when loved ones wrestled with addictions—that I grew in ways I did not expect.

While I wouldn’t wish any of those things on you, I look back on them and see only the kindness of God. These challenging moments in my life jarred something deep inside me—something that God was trying to get at, so He could show me who He really is.

And what emerged from these challenges is a beautiful vision of God. My cynicism was stripped away, and I realized that God Himself was the friend I had been searching for all my life.

I don’t know what the future holds for you, but I do pray that you will have life-altering encounters with God, and that you will emerge from our present crisis with your feet more solidly on the ground, and a smile inside that says, “I am in the company of God Himself, on a mission to bring good into many lives, and I will not be shaken.”

Much love from our home to yours!

Dwight

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What does God intend for you?

What does God intend for you in this crisis?

#1 He intends for you to have peace—the peace that surpasses understanding. (Philippians 4:7) Feeling worry, panic, dread? Please share those feelings with God. Please tell Him about it. Tell Him what feels true inside. Tell Him what this crisis dredges up inside you. Invite Him in, and then stop, look, and listen. Let Him bring to you the truth you need to set you free and leave you at peace.

#2 He intends for you to have wisdom—the wisdom that comes from above. (James 3:17) Navigating forward will require wisdom, and God wants you to have it. How do you get wisdom? You gotta value God’s voice above every other voice, including your own. You filter everything—the media, your thoughts, everything—through Him.

#3 He intends for you to triumph. (Romans 8:37) In most cases that means you will have health, healing, provision. In some cases, God will show you how to triumph even if you don’t have those things. God does not plan to diminish you. Rather, God intends to empower you to be a change agent for good in many, many lives.

Be encouraged!

Dwight

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Is COVID-19 a judgment from God?

Is COVID-19 a judgment from God?

The answer is no, of course, but I think it’s important to understand why the answer is no.

I’ll start here: When Peter (an early church leader) describes Jesus to a non-Jewish audience for the first time, he uses this description: “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 NIV)

What’s the mark of someone who has been with God? They do good, and they bring healing. If you read the Bible carefully from cover to cover, if you walk with God any length of time, you discover that this is the heart of God: to do good and to bring healing. When God gives out power, what is it to be used for? To do good, and to bring healing.

In John 9, we come across a man who was born blind. Immediately, the disciples look for someone to blame. They ask Jesus, “Who sinned? This man or his parents that he was born blind?”

Jesus shakes His head, and, yes, I’m paraphrasing, but He essentially says, “You’re asking the wrong question. Stop looking for someone to blame. Instead, see this through God’s eyes. Here’s an opportunity to do good and to bring healing.”

Is God capable of judging people and nations? Yes. Does He have a right to judge? Yes. Will He judge? Yes, eventually He will. But that isn’t His go to. That isn’t where He starts. That isn’t where His heart is. His heart and the heart of His followers is to do good and bring healing.

Many blessings!

Dwight

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The 4 point sermon

Here’s a template for sermons, blog posts, and other Christian messages.

1. This is who God is.

2. This is who God has created and redeemed you to be (your true and real identity).

3. This is how someone with your identity lives.

4. If you are having trouble living in accordance with your identity, this is how you access the grace of God to overcome.

Hope this is helpful!

Dwight

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Do guilt trips work?

Okay, this will be a rant.

Sorry.

I’ve heard some variation of this sermon hundreds, maybe thousands of times. XYZ is a sin. You are probably committing this sin because I gotta admit I’m committing it. But you need to stop. Try real hard to stop, though you can expect to fail much of the time because you’re a sinner just like I am.

Inspiring huh?

I also see this played out: Someone makes a mistake. Mr. or Ms. Good Christian condemns his behavior. (You don’t wanna be soft on sin.) Instead of “repenting,” the offender gets even more entrenched in his mess.

So, do these guilt trips really work?

No.

First of all, they don’t work with people who don’t believe in God. And here’s why: Most unbelievers don’t believe in God because they look around, they see the mess of a fallen world all around them, and they conclude: If there is a God, it must be His fault.

In their minds, God is the sinner.

Trying to convince them that they are sinners is largely a waste of time. Here’s what they need to discover instead: God is good. And that discovery is a long, uphill road for most people.

But guilt trips don’t work with people of faith either. Here’s why: Trying to motivate people with a guilt trip ignores how people grow and change. The Bible says the kindness of God leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:4) The Bible teaches that repentance is not something we do, but rather something we receive from God. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

We grow when God opens our eyes to see who we really are and who He really is. We grow when our perspectives change. And the only way that happens is this: We need to bring our faulty beliefs to God and allow Him to tell us the truth.

What can we do to help each other change? We can show the love of God. We can listen, understand, respect, affirm, encourage, help.

Is there ever a place for calling out sin? Yes, there is. But don’t be too eager to be the prophet that meddles in someone else’s business. John the Baptist did that and got thrown in prison. I’m not saying he wasn’t doing God’s will. I’m just saying: Don’t be too eager. That kind of behavior has a way of rebounding and hitting you square in the face.

I’ll leave you with this short story: Several years ago a Christian friend came to me and admitted that he was in an adulterous affair. Everyone who knew was condemning him, and telling him what a terrible sin he was committing. So he asked me, “What do you think of me now?” I paused for a moment and then said, “I think you’re a guy looking for a solution, just like all the rest of us.” That eventually led to him taking a look at the problems he was trying to solve with his affair. As he started to get God’s solutions, the affair made less and less sense. He eventually reconciled with his wife, and they are by all reports happily married today.

Dwight

PS. I’ll be covering this in a little more detail in Inner Wealth on November 30, 2019.

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My prayer for our nation

Every day I pray the same prayer
for our nation.

I thought about explaining why,
but instead, I think,
I’ll just share this prayer with you.

Maybe you’ll want to make it your own:

Let truth triumph
over deception.

Let justice and mercy triumph
over injustice.

Let understanding, respect, trust, and love triumph
over polarization.

Amen.

Dwight

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Evangelical phobia

I recently read yet another article where the author’s biggest fear seemed to be that evangelicals would gain political power, and I feel like I need to respond.

Most people would classify me as an evangelical. Some would call me a fundamentalist. I don’t choose those terms for myself; I simply call myself a Christian. As such, I cannot speak for all evangelicals; I only speak for myself. But I think most evangelicals would read my words and nod their heads.

What are you so afraid of? I want to ask.

Are you afraid that I want to install a theocracy like the ayatollahs have done in Iran? I have neither the desire nor the ability. My Bible says only Jesus has the power to do that, and if He wants to do that, He certainly doesn’t need my help.

Are you afraid that I’m trying to establish a state church and force everybody to attend? Yuck. I want the right to believe what I want to believe, to speak freely about what I believe, and to practice my beliefs in a way that does no harm to others. And I want you to have the exact same right.

Are you afraid that I want to install surveillance in your bedroom to monitor your morality? That’s a laugh. Zero interest in that. Less than zero. Am I interested in legislating morality? Depends on what you mean. I do think rape and robbery are wrong. I do think that six year old children should not be molested. And, yes, I do want to have political power over those who disagree with me on that.

Do you think I’m a white supremacist eager to subjugate African Americans? Come on! Really? I mostly don’t notice skin color unless someone brings it up and makes an issue out of it. My mind goes to an occasion where I promoted a Black man (I honestly hadn’t even noticed he was Black), and my liberal white colleagues shot it down and chose a white man instead because “he looks like us, and he sounds like us.” Hmm.

Am I a pawn of the “Religious Right”? I don’t think I’m a pawn of anybody.

What do I want?

For starters, I want to help people who are in poverty to get out of poverty forever. And, no, I am not at all impressed with the Right or the Left in this area. Not at all. Read my book. I want quality health care available and affordable for all. Again, I’m unimpressed with the Right and the Left in this area.

It’s on my radar that Christians are actively persecuted in 50 nations in the world, and actively discriminated against in another 50 nations. I don’t want that here. I don’t want anybody to be persecuted whether they look and sound like me or not. I’m an anti-totalitarian because history teaches me that totalitarian states are very dangerous places for good people who just want to live a good life. I want good people to be free to do what they want to do.

And so, to those of you who are afraid of evangelicals: Why would these things make you afraid? What is it that I am threatening?

Dwight

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