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We Are Regarded by God

Martin Luther writes:

Mary confesses that the foremost work God did for her was that He regarded her, which is indeed the greatest of His works, on which all the rest depend and from which they all derive. For where it comes to pass that God turns His face toward one to regard him, there is nothing but grace and salvation, and all gifts and works must follow.

[We pray] that God would lift up His countenance upon us, that He would not hide His countenance from us, that He would make His face shine upon us, and the like. And that Mary herself regards this as the chief thing, she indicates by saying:

Behold, since He has regarded me, all generations will call me blessed.

Note that she does not say men will speak all manner of good of her, praise her virtues, exalt her virginity or her humility, or sing of what she has done. But for this one thing alone, that God regarded her, men will call her blessed.*

There is comfort in the Word of God:

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the Lord life up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

 

* Quoted in Treasury of Daily Prayer,
624-626

 

The Land of Covid

John Bunyan described Christian as a pilgrim progressing on an earthly journey. Christian travels over hills of difficulty and through dark valleys. He meets Despair and Doubting, but also Faithful and Hopeful. At one point on the journey,

Hopeful began to get very sleepy. Christian, shaking his friend’s arm, exclaimed, “Remember, the shepherds warned us about the Enchanted Ground. We must stay alert!”

“What would have happened to me if I’d been by myself?” Hopeful wondered. “I’m thankful you are here with me!”

Christian said, “To keep us from falling asleep, let’s talk….”*

Today, we might say that Christian is traveling through the Land of Covid. It is unfamiliar to him and like no place he has ever been. The River of Fear flows along the trail. Some travelers have already slipped into the River. Others have set camp near the River.

A voice calls to Christian. “Come camp with us. There is no need for talk here. Close your eyes for a while. We will keep you safe.” The invitation is tempting, but Christian is bold to ask, “What does this mean?

Stepping away from the camp, Christian scouts the area. His reason and all his senses are alert. He looks right, then left, then ahead. There, Christian sees other travelers walking away from the River. Moving closer, Christian hears them talking and telling stories of where they have been and what they have seen.

Christian looks back toward the camp where he was invited to close his eyes and feel safe. Then he looks to the talkers moving on the trail. Christian is deceived neither by the campers nor the talkers. He knows the Savior of his life and trusts the guidance of Wisdom.

In Wisdom, Christian walks.

To keep from falling asleep, Christian talks. In humility, he asks questions. With discretion, he listens. The way does not become easier.

But in Wisdom, Christian walks.

 

L. Bartlett, 5-7-20

*From Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan’s Classic Story Adapted for Children,
Great Commission Publications.

Road Trip

 

A road trip might not seem wise right now. But one was necessary if my husband and I were to return to the fields of Iowa from the desert and mountains of Arizona. We socially-distanced at motels, picked up food for our room, and sanitized before and after fueling the car.

One morning we knew we could go no further until an unscheduled stop was made. We pulled off the interstate and into the small town where a dear, widowed friend lives. I called her. “Rubie, if you stand at your front door, we’ll come visit you!” And that we did. No, it wasn’t the same as giving her a hug, or sitting next to her on the sofa, but for a few minutes we were able to let her know that she matters to us. We sat curbside in our car and she stood on her porch. We exchanged news, shared a laugh or two, and told her we love her without placing her at risk. Pulling away, I’m quite sure I saw her wipe away a tear.

It is all quite surreal. Gazing out the car window at the beauty of Utah and Colorado, we could see that nothing had changed. It is still possible to love our neighbor. It is still possible because God first loved us. He loves us through His Son, our Savior and Lord Jesus. He loves us by holding His world together and sustaining it. He sends rain and then the sun. He sprouts leaves from bare and seemingly dead trees.

The Lord has not turned His face from us. He is asking us to turn our face toward Him.

 

A pregnant woman is not autonomous.

Her pregnancy is not “a cancer.”

And the placenta knows it!

When serving as president of National Lutherans For Life, I had long discussions with my Ob/Gyn friend, Karen Rehder, M.D. I’ve never forgotten what Karen told me: “Birth is a miracle. Were it not for the placenta, the mother would reject the baby as something foreign to her body just like a transplant patient rejects a liver or kidney.”

Two separate entities—baby and mother—are attached by umbilical cord and placenta. The placenta tells us that a pregnant woman is not autonomous.

The placenta “is the only organ made in cooperation by two people,” explains Dr. Kristin Collier. It is “the organ through which the baby and mother interface.” Dr. Collier is Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and practices general Internal Medicine. She also serves as Director of the U of Michigan’s Medical School program on Health, Spirituality, and Religion.

The placenta, “made from the growing baby’s tissue and the mother’s tissue together . . . is known as a ‘feto-maternal’ organ . . . [that] helps provide nutrition, produces hormones, and protects the baby against infection.” This “purposely transient organ” acts like “a lung, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and the endocrine and immune system.”

The placenta is so important that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S. has a research arm called the Human Placenta Project. A “healthy placenta is not only crucial for healthy development of the prenatal child, but also affects the health of the child and mother for years to come.”

There is “a unique transfer of cellular materials that happens across the placenta. In science, microchimerism refers to the presence of a small population of genetically distinct and separately derived cells within an individual. In pregnancy, small amounts of cells travel across the placenta. Some of these cells are the prenatal child’s cells that travel from the baby into her mother, and some cells also pass from the mother into her child. The cells from the prenatal child into her mother are pluripotent, which means they haven’t yet differentiated into the type of cell specific for one organ or tissue in particular. These cells find their way into mother’s tissue and start acting like the tissue in which they find themselves. This process is known as feto-maternal microchimerism.”

Scientifically, we can say that mother is helped by her unborn baby. “For example, these [fetal] cells have been found in Caesarean sections incisions helping to make collagen to help mom heal after a surgical delivery. These cells have been found in the maternal breast and have been hypothesized to help reduce mom’s risk of breast cancer in her later years.”

The “gift of these cells from the baby, entering into mom’s body and helping her heal and protecting her from cancer, is amazing to think of and really challenges our ideas of people as autonomous beings.” Just as amazing is the fact that “these cells that enter the mother are allowed to survive and are not attacked by the mother’s immune system, even though they are somewhat ‘foreign.’ This again speaks to a cooperation, at the cellular level, between mother and child.”

This science sheds new light on the abortion debate. “Every dehumanizing ideology succumbs to the same temptation—to see the undesirable other as a non-person. In the abortion debate, as in similar debates around marginalized vulnerable populations, language is used when describing the undesirable other that is dehumanizing. In the abortion debate, the prenatal child is referred to as a ‘clump of cells’ or even a ‘parasite.’” We must “resist appeals to individual autonomy that detach us from our duty to aid others, and resist language, practices, and social structures that detach us from the full reality and dignity of . . . marginalized [persons]. A radical view of autonomy that leads to the end of another human life is one that is anti-life and oppresses the rights of another in the name of ‘freedom.’”

Dr. Collier admits that she is not a theologian, but she encourages us to think of biology “in a relational sense that mirrors the nature of God. The scriptures speak of a God who is in relationship with his people. We then would only expect that God, being the author of biology, would create our bodily nature in a way that was also relational—even down to the level of the cell.” Dr. Collier draws our attention to the “cells from the incarnate word of God, Jesus Christ, in his mother, the Virgin Mary [who] not only carried the Son of God in her body when he was in her womb, but . . . likely carried his cells in her body throughout her life . . .”

It is a loss to the human family when we pervert the language of conception and pregnancy. May we instead share God’s hope for mother and child revealed through the miracle of the placenta. A baby in the womb is not “a cancer”—and the placenta knows it!

 

by Linda Bartlett 2-16-20
(Source: “Together, baby; forever, baby,”
an interview by Carolyn Moynihan with Dr. Kristin Collier
in MercatorNet.com, 2-5-20)

Sacrificial Blood

“Abortion is the sacrifice I made for myself.” That is the way that some women describe the most difficult decision of their life.

But God does not ask for such sacrifice. He does not ask for the blood of an unborn son or daughter. He asks that we turn our eyes to the cross where the sacrificial blood of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ has covered every fear, doubt, and repentant sin.

January 22 of 2020 marked 47 years of legalized abortion in the United States. The reasons for abortion are most often fear-based. “I fear for my future.” “I fear losing my boyfriend.” “I fear the disappointment of my parents.” “I fear inconvenience.” “I fear the unknown.”

Since 1973, Americans have offered the blood sacrifice of 61,628,584 unborn children. That is 2,362 abortions daily and 98 abortions per hour every hour in the U.S. Our nation cannot sacrifice the lives of sons, daughters, cousins, grandchildren, and neighbors and be better for it. There is no hope in the blood shed by abortion.

But there is hope in the saving blood of Jesus Christ. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:7). Forgiveness for abortion—and any other sin—is costly. But it is a cost that Jesus was willing to pay. Why? Because nothing else would save us.

King David’s bones were wasting away under the weight of his sin. The blood of another human being was on his hands and for as long as he refused to confess his guilt he suffered. Day and night, God’s hand was heavy upon him. His “strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” But then David acknowledged his sin. He said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’” and he was forgiven. (Psalm 32:3-5).

“Yes!” says the woman who’s had an abortion “I believe that even a murderer like David can be forgiven. But how can God possibly forgive me, a mother who has killed her own child?”

To believe that abortion is “the unforgiveable sin” is to believe the lie of Satan. It is to sit in the darkness of doubt and despair, held captive by “the thief [who] comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

The blood of abortion may stain the hands of a mother, father, or grandparent, but the blood of Jesus makes us white like snow. (Isaiah 1:18) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

God has compassion on “a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). Jesus sets the sorry heart free! Jesus says, “There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

Linda Bartlett
Titus 2 for Life

I’m Not a Hater

There are dozens of different genders. (If I disagree, I’m a hater.) Women must allow men to use their locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers. (If I disagree, I’m a bigot.) Marriage can be between two men or two women. (If I disagree, I’m a hater.) It’s ok for a child to have two mommies or two daddies. (If I disagree, I’m a bigot.) Abortion should be legal up to the moment of birth. (If I disagree, I hate women.)

BUT… I don’t hate women. A great deal of my life has been spent listening to women who’ve had abortions explain their grief, regret, and hope that younger women will not choose to do what they did. With concern for mother and child (and in spite of my own inadequacies), I try to defend both.

I am not a hater or a bigot. I respect my fellow human beings. Even when someone chooses to live differently from me, I do not turn my back on them. Their personhood–body and soul–matters to me. If they want me as their friend, I will strive to be an honest and persevering friend on good days and bad. As a Christian, I simply believe that God the Creator of male, female, and marriage gets to define male, female, and marriage. I trust that He knows better than me how His creation and design benefits every generation for the good of society.

In this period of time described in Romans 1, I realize that some will call me a hater, a bigot, small-minded, deplorable, judgmental, and even dangerous. But, in the end, it matters most what Jesus Christ has done for me and, therefore, why I need to draw closer to Him rather than to the world. God help me.

L. Bartlett

Peace at the end of my day does not come in being a wife. It does not come in being a mom.

It comes in being a daughter.

There is peace in knowing that I have an inheritance that is imperishable and kept for me by my Father in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). There is nothing I do to earn that inheritance. It is a gift. I must wait to receive its full richness, but even now the Lord reveals a bit of that gift in His forgiveness and mercies that are poured out every morning.

My identity as the Father’s daughter affects my character. Remembering who I am affects my words, behaviors, and self-restraint. If God has mercy on me, shouldn’t I also have mercy on others? Every day is really an opportunity to act more like His forgiven daughter.

Every day, however, comes with temptations. One of them is to confuse my identity with being a “wife” or a “mother” or a “grandmother.” Those are vocations. Vocations are awesome callings and privileges, but they are for this life only. My identity is for this life and the next. I won’t be a wife and mother and grandmother forever because Jesus says there is no marriage in heaven. Individual family units will no longer exist and, instead, there will be one visible family of God. My place in His family will be then as it is now… only perfect in body and soul. No longer will I disappoint my Father, nor will I frustrate my brothers in Christ.

A vocation is what God calls me to do on this earth and in ways that honor Him. I can be a better child to my parents, wife to my husband, mother to my children, sister, aunt, and friend when I act like His forgiven daughter.

A vocation is a way for me to love God by serving my neighbor. I sin in my vocations, but that doesn’t change my identity. I can feel like a failure in my vocation, but that doesn’t change my identity.

No one can alter my identity. Nothing will cause the Father to stop calling me His daughter. My sinful choices and selfish behavior do not make me less God’s child, but they can change my attitude toward Him. Being unrepentant of my sins dangerously leads me to becoming my own little god. To prevent that, God the Father stirs my conscience and uses emotions of shame and guilt to rescue me from myself.

It is in humbling moments of rescue that the eyes of God’s children are turned to the Cross of Christ. His sacrificial outpouring of mercy is a love the world can’t understand. It is the kind of love that my neighbors need.

My children are my neighbors. The father of my children and grandfather of my grandchildren is my neighbor. In a world bent by sin—in a world that tells me to think of myself first, the neighbors I love most can be the most challenging and painful to love.

At the end of the day, there is peace. There is peace because my identity does something else. It helps me endure and live through the circumstances and consequences of a sinful, messed up life.

The circumstances of life—age, abilities, health, successes or failures—are always changing. Vocations change. But the identity given to me by God never changes. It cannot change. I will always be God’s daughter.

And that’s the reason why Satan hates me. It’s why he prowls around stirring things up. He does to me what he did to Eve. He deceived her into forgetting who she was. And then he tempted her to doubt God, fear vulnerability and desire control. Satan wants me to stop acting like I am God’s child so that I can’t show children and grandchildren how to act like His child.

The battle isn’t me against my neighbor. It’s me against the devil and this world. It’s me against my own fearful and selfish nature. In this spiritual war against evil, it’s me united with my closest neighbor—my husband—for the sake of generations.

When Satan targets me, he is really attacking my Lord. When he targets my marriage and children, he is attacking what the Lord has made. When he targets my home, he is attacking the place where my Lord has promised to dwell. Satan attacks the Lord by targeting His children.

Satan wants me to forget my identity so that my words, attitudes and behaviors cause division between me, my neighbor, and God.

The whole “love your neighbor” thing takes on a deeper meaning for the Christian when we remember that Jesus lives in us. So, what I do to my neighbor, I do to Him. Saul hurt his neighbors. He stoned Stephen. When he was blinded on the road, Jesus asked, “Saul, why do you persecute Me?”

Oh. My. Goodness. How many times have I wounded the Lord who gave His life for me? The number should burden me to such despair that I no longer want to live. But wait! God doesn’t measure or judge me by my failures and sins. When He looks at His daughter, He sees Christ in me and as my Father opens His arms to me.

God doesn’t love me because I’m loveable. He doesn’t love me because I make Him happy. He loves me because I am incomplete and lost without Him. He chooses to be merciful and forgiving even when I’ve betrayed Him. He pursues me with His Spirit.

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16). Jesus suffered on this earth. I can expect suffering in my vocations and relationships, too. But at the end of the day there is peace in crying, “Abba Father.” And…

He answers, saying, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27a).

   Linda Bartlett
10-30-19

How odd, observed G.K. Chesterton, that many women consider it slavery to be the master of their own home, but working under a man in a place of business to be freedom.

Deception is a foul thing. But it is necessary for the destruction of the family. And so the world uses words like trivial, drudgery, and slavery to describe the work of a homemaker. With one question, the hissing serpent tempts women to doubt the goodness of domestic privilege. “Did God really say that you must be confined?”

Leaving home for a while can be the most wonderful adventure, but not necessarily freeing. Volunteering or working for pay can be rewarding, but not necessarily freeing. Being given a title may be flattering, but not necessarily freeing.

When I leave home to accept a job or assume a public position, I am obliged to work under the expectations and ideologies of someone else who sets the conditions for my labor. My talents and abilities are metered to the tune of an employer or board of directors. In my home, however, I labor not to grow a business or a corporation but to grow hearts and minds.

Never once did I think of my father’s mother or my own mother as being confined to the drudgery of their homes. My grandmother and mom were not free from day-to-day difficulties, but neither were they captive to slavery. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, they were blessed to find contentment in doing their best work from and for their households. They did their husbands good, not harm; they looked to the ways of their children; their lamps burned at night. They made time for hobbies and served in the church and community. Their tables welcomed family and friends. Relationships were strengthened. Neighborhoods were richer for it.

Within my home I am free not to compete with men or other women, but with myself. I am free to create, design, rearrange, make use of culinary skills, practice hospitality, organize, correspond, buy and sell, study, teach, train, mentor, read books, write books, engage through websites and blogs, supplement family finances, welcome neighbors, keep my lamp burning at night, and tell children and grandchildren what God has done.

The home where men and women complement one another in their roles as fathers and mothers is the foundation of a thriving society. A man may build and protect the house, but the woman makes and keeps the home. When chaos threatens, a woman can nurture a calming environment. By way of her quiet and gentle spirit, a woman can win an unbelieving husband for Christ. With grandchildren in mind, a mother in the home sets the moral compass for her children.

The way of the world makes no sense to me. Nor to Anthony Esolen who writes, “We must rid ourselves of the feminist spite that pretends to despise the woman of many talents and many tasks in the home, preferring the specialist who … does one thing well.” Esolen continues:

To do fifty things in one day for which you alone are responsible, for the immediate good of the people you love, is deemed easy, trivial, beneath the dignity of a rational person, but to push memoranda written in legal patois from one bureaucratic office to another, at great public expense and for no clear benefit to the common good, now that is the life. Chesterton put it well when he said that the work of a mother is not small but vast. A teacher would bring to fifty children the arithmetical rule of three, and though that is an interesting thing, it is but small and limited. The mother brings to one child the whole universe. That is no sentimentality. It is exactly true.

It is true that a woman may be needed by her family to temporarily leave the home to help provide for the home. But, writes Esolen, the “home is not a flophouse where we stay and recuperate so that we can go back out and earn money, much of which we burn in the very earning of it.” There is a difference between “money you make for yourself” and money made for the health and well-being of the family.

The world asks: Shouldn’t we save women from the drudgery of home and family? A civilization with eyes on the future asks: Shouldn’t we save home and family by holding in high esteem the home-making vocation of women?

There is hope! There is always hope! The Proverbs 31 woman, wrote St Bernard of Clairvaux, was not praised because she was so magnificent. She was praised for “not being deceived” by the world.

My dear niece,

In our communications, you have expressed the desire to see the “bigger picture.” I understand what you’re saying. You believe it would be helpful to know what God is doing through you and for what purpose.

Two people come to mind who most likely had this same desire. My mom–your grandmother–didn’t talk about her cancer very much, not even to her family. Instead, she lived. While she had strength, she kept doing the things she had always done. She kept working from home, stayed involved at church, kept up with her friends, and encouraged family activities. Your grandmother corresponded regularly with a man sentenced to life imprisonment. Every morning at 8:00, your grandmother called her recently widowed friend, Gladys, to help her start her new day. Gladys told me many times how important those calls were; calls from someone who put aside her own discomfort and fears to reach out to a grieving friend.

Edwin is the father of my close friend, Mary. When Edwin was 34, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He lived a faithful life into his 60s. Everyone who knew Edwin agreed that he was a humble, always cheerful, helpful, and encouraging man. He chose to live each day as he always had: working on the farm, raising his son and daughter, volunteering at church, and being a good neighbor. Edwin turned conversations to the matters of life that are most important. He seemed to realize that he had a window of opportunity, not to do something for himself, but to become more bold in directing people’s attention to the Word and work of Christ. Edwin was well-studied by medical students. He impacted lives with his “it’s not all about me” attitude. Even when Edwin’s vision and speech were impaired, he continued teaching Sunday school. He would laugh and explain to the children why he talked differently. He would ask them to be patient whenever he mispronounced a blurry word. Those children still remember him. Edwin didn’t just pass the Christian faith on to his son and daughter. He showed how it can be lived out. Mary remembers her dad saying, “Be kind to your mother. Support her. Be the family she needs you to be.”

Dear niece, I could speak to you like Job’s friends Zophar, Eliphaz, and Bildad spoke to him. They came to sit with Job in the ashes, but their words provided little comfort. Job asked: “Where is my hope?” I cannot come and sit with you, but I can be like Job’s friend Elihu who faithfully reminded his suffering friend of God’s Word and work. Elihu understood that he didn’t have any great wisdom or advice for Job. All he had was love for his friend and reverence for God.

“God is greater than man,” Elihu said.

“God does no wrong.”

“God is mighty in strength and understanding.”

“God delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity.”

Elihu was faithful to his friend, not by showing him all the things Job could do but reminding Job of all that God does.

The Pharisees wanted to know why the man had been born blind. “Who sinned,” they asked, “the blind man or his parents?” Jesus replied that it was not because of a particular sin that the man was blind. Instead, he was blind so “that the work of God might be displayed in him.” God’s strength “is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor. 12:9). Elihu seemed to understand this, assuring Job that God often uses affliction not for punishment but for deliverance. Affliction opens ears to learn the Lord’s purposes and opens mouths in praises.

Elihu never presumed to speak for God. Nor do I. (Eve did that and regretted it the rest of her life.) But, Elihu was faithful in reminding Job to fear and love God; to be humbled and in awe of His power. I, too, want to be faithful in reminding you to fear and love God. Why? Because the best thing you and I can do for each other is to help one another be ready for God’s visitation. On the day that the Lord visits us, all that will matter is our confidence in the mercy and saving work of Jesus Christ.

My dear niece, I continue to pray that you have peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

A letter to my niece who bears the cross of brain cancer.

Photo credit: celebbabylaundry.com

 

What did I see the night of the President’s State of the Union Address?

I saw people gathered, some believing that had come to tolerate the words of a fool.

When this fool exposed New York’s celebration of legalized full-term abortion and the governor of Virginia’s promotion of infanticide, I saw a senator from New York with a smirk on his face. This man, in office long enough to know that the camera might very well be focused on him, continued to smirk while a fool spoke what some pastors will not: “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children—born and unborn—are made in the holy image of God.”

I saw women dressed in white stand with applause when a fool recognized women’s rights and bursting opportunities as legislators but sit stone-faced when that fool spoke of “dignity of every person,” most especially “children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.”

I saw those women dressed in white, but why? The early suffragettes once wore white as they sought the dignity of voting rights. But Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others agreed there was no dignity in the right to abort children. “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” (Stanton in a letter to Julia Ward Howe, 1873)

I saw a fool speaking against socialism. I saw people stand and applaud while those women in white remained seated and silent.

I saw a fool renewing his promise to “build a wall” in order to stem the tide of human trafficking and sexual slavery. When the chamber burst into applause, those women in white called attention to themselves by their silence and stone-cold betrayal of defenseless women and children. But another fool—his name Nehemiah—told the citizens of Jerusalem to build a wall. Of course, the neighbors surrounding the crumbled Jerusalem laughed at the ridiculous notion. Wouldn’t it, after all, be the mark of progressive people to see all ideologies as equal, all blessings evenly distributed, and a utopian dream come true? But Nehemiah understood human imperfection and the potential for corruption. So, for the sake of homeland security, he instructed that the wall be built, the gates repaired, and the citizens armed with weapons and the Word.

I saw a fool who was unafraid to speak truth. Admittedly, I have never spoken to this fool whose buffoonish ways irritate restless souls. But his words to American citizens remind me of who I am called to be.

“… We have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you [disciples] are wise in Christ … When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat” (1 Corinthians 4:9-13).