Saturday, May 30, 2020

Justice for All?

How can anyone remain silent after viewing the horrific murder of George Floyd? As I watched the video, I asked myself: How would I respond if I was part of the crowd that was pleading for the police officers to just let him breathe? How would I respond if I find myself in a similar situation? Would I rush the cops? Would I attempt non-violent resistance like Gandhi? Would I conspire with other onlookers to place these rogue cops under citizen’s arrest and hope that somehow that would stick? Would I dial 911 and plead with the dispatcher to help stop the murder? Could I stand by helplessly and watch someone die for no apparent reason? 

Conservatives and Liberals can all agree that what happened was wrong… tragic… senseless… reprehensible! It represents what the Black Community has been repeating for years: that America is a racist country. Demonstrations have emerged across our nation, some peaceful and others violent. People who have become frustrated with a system they believe is broken have spread carnage, looting stores and setting the 3rd precinct in Minneapolis on fire. 

In my hometown of Indianapolis, a demonstration over the shooting of Dreasjon Reed turned violent. Dreasjon went to the same high school as my own kids. His final moments were documented on a Facebook live stream video, and protestors frustrated over his death, now compounded with the murder of George Floyd, ultimately found themselves being pelleted with tear gas and rubber bullets. 

I learned as a naval officer in training that perceptions are every bit as real in their consequences as reality. Over the years, people have shortened this management principle to say “Perception is reality”, but if we really want to fix this broken culture, we have to deal with both perceptions and reality. Is America a racist country or is America a country that still has racists? Is the system broken or do we have broken people subverting the system? 

Perceptions are every bit as real in their consequences as reality. 
We must deal with both perceptions and reality. 

It shocks me that all four officers involved in the killing of George Floyd were not immediately taken into custody in light of the video documenting the entire incident. If it was sufficient to immediately fire those officers, then why was it not also appropriate to apprehend them? Stating that an investigation was underway while letting these men walk was fuel for the fire that eventually destroyed their precinct. 

I have family members that served as police officers, and I am very proud of their service. Cops see the worst of society on a daily basis, and they live in a society that ties their hands behind their back while telling them to keep our streets safe, often proclaiming them guilty until proven innocent. Yet our society needs to be swift in holding them accountable for actions unbefitting of their office. With power comes responsibility, and police need to be held to a higher standard than the society that they serve, especially when technology that documents unacceptable behavior is in the fingertips of nearly every person above the age of 13. In other words: we need to refine our system so that it works as it was intended to work and with greater expediency. 
We need to refine our system so that it works as it was intended to work and with greater expediency. 
We also need to respectfully call out the lies as they emerge, dispelling perceptions that are not based in reality, no matter how tragic. The death of Dreasjon Reed was such a tragedy. Watching his final moments on video filled me with both sadness and anger. He stated that he didn’t want to go back to jail. He fled the police in a high-speed chase, and ultimately he pulled a gun on a black police officer who shot Dreasjon multiple times, ending the fugitive’s life. Dreasjon’s death cannot be compared to George Floyd, and the actions of the police in these two situations cannot be more different. I’m sorry that Dreasjon is dead. I truly am. I sincerely wish he had made better choices that didn’t result in his death, but the perception that his death resulted from a racist system is a lie, not based in reality. 

If we want to see healing in our country, in our cities, and in our communities, we need to acknowledge the issues and work on them together. That is what reasonable people do. May God help us address our issues reasonably, not shouting down people with a different perspective or avoiding the tough conversations that need to be discussed. We need to respectfully disagree until our collaborative efforts towards healing cultivate the unity of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream .


copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Monday, May 25, 2020

Respectfully Disagree


My freshman year in high school I was bullied by another guy, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. He would sarcastically make comments about me in mock praise, and at the time, I remember feeling so frustrated. I knew his words were insincere, but I couldn’t confront him directly or call him out on his attacks. I finally figured out that if I “praised” him with equal sarcasm, he would eventually stop. 

I feel that same frustration with what has now become an obvious attack against the things I believe. The words are smooth and nice, filled with empty platitudes that everyone should support, but the results and trends are destroying freedom, not just in America, but throughout the world. Sadly, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, was correct when he said that people will believe a lie if repeated often enough. I wonder how many people take the time to look at the facts, both what is known and unknown, and examine what people have to gain from their position. How many others examine the walk of policy-makers and journalists to see how it matches their talk and then consider the likely results? 

War is evil, but sometimes it is necessary to stop a greater evil. Every life is valuable, yet there are some things worth dying for. In other words: some things are more important than life. On this Memorial Day in the United States, we remember those who gave their lives so that we may live in freedom. Sadly, out of fear and complacent convenience we are incrementally relinquishing freedom. I want to fight for it like the heroes of the past, but I feel like that high school freshman again, confronted with pleasant-sounding lies that have become internalized by so many innocent people in our society. 

I am further saddened by the recent news of Ravi Zacharias, a man gifted with the ability to wage this war with words yet who has now completed his race and joined Christ in His heavenly kingdom. Ravi had a way of respectfully disagreeing with the lies he encountered, treating the questioner with respectful consideration. He would often respond to inquiries and challenges with powerful questions, seeking to understand his questioner so he could better understand their question, and his gentle technique would often help others to find truth. 

Jesus also used questions as He set people free from the lies they had come to believe, and He complemented this with stories to illustrate the truth, making it relevant to their lives and causing them to ponder. I on the other hand want to be direct, and I appreciate directness from others. Unfortunately, that is not very effective in helping people break away from the lies that have captured their minds and ensnared their souls. Being direct works for maybe 5% of us, and then only part of the time. 

So with one less Ravi in the world, who is willing to take up the sword of truth and wield it with precision, attacking the lies and not the person? In a society that is more concerned with pushing forward an agenda than with truth and love, I wonder. People are vilified and mocked for having a different opinion on social media, and they are silenced in the workplace by HR policies that reflect conventional wisdom, regardless of how foolish conventional wisdom has become. Who is bold enough to say, “The emperor has no clothes!” yet considerate in how they say it so as to not embarrass the emperor?

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Piercing the Illusion


The Lord promised me years ago that He would be my inheritance. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, and I’m still figuring it out. However, I do know that He put me in a position of dependency upon Him and has shown me consistently that He is faithful to provide for my every need. Despite this, I am continuously drawn to the illusions of peace and security. I have walked the dual path of expecting His imminent return while following the command to “build houses… plant gardens… get married…” (Jeremiah 29:5-7) and otherwise live in this world, believing that at some point in my lifetime, the harvest will reach fruition and this age will come to an end.

Walking a dual path without being double-minded is a struggle. I am little bit like John the Baptist, who started to doubt if Jesus was the Messiah. In his last days, John sent word to Jesus asking for reassurance. Because of the peril in John’s present circumstances and the gap between his expectations and reality, John needed to know that his life was spent wisely. (Luke 7:19-23) At times, I wonder if I am like the seed that was sown among thorn bushes: will the worries of life, the deceitful pleasures of riches, and the desires for other things take over? Will these distractions choke God’s word in me so that it can’t produce anything? (Mark 4:19

But then I see how my dependency upon God is all part of His plan for me so that I am not ensnared with the thorn bushes when the time comes to make a choice. It’s hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom (Matthew 19:23) because the more you own, the more it owns you. If I’m truly honest, what little I have will be hard to part with. If the Lord told me today in a clear and certain way to leave it all, would I obey with a sad heart or with a joyful expectation that He has something greater in mind? 

The illusion of peace and security, houses and retirement accounts, is one that will keep many from entering the Kingdom when forced to choose. Our global society has erected modern idols of wealth, technology and government to be our providers and protectors, and in the COVID-19 crisis, people are looking to their gods for an answer. They beseech their god of medical technology to provide a cure to this contagion, and they look to their governmental idol for provision. They trusted in their financial plans as a wall of protection, so what will happen when the wall crumbles? I have no doubt that the masses will embrace promises of a universal basic income when their wealth crumbles. Someday, we will discover how much of the world’s current crisis is manmade, but our current trajectory will subjugate us to the global, totalitarian system described in the Bible. In the end, we will get the leaders we deserve, forfeiting the hard-fought freedoms secured by previous generations for the promise of peace and security. When people ignore the truth, they get ensnared in the lies they’ve embraced.
God’s anger is revealed from heaven against every ungodly and immoral thing people do as they try to suppress the truth by their immoral living. What can be known about God is clear to them because he has made it clear to them… While claiming to be wise, they became fools… For this reason God allowed their lusts to control them. As a result, they dishonor their bodies by sexual perversion with each other. These people have exchanged God’s truth for a lie. So they have become ungodly and serve what is created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen!

We like to think that people are basically good, and while we need to see and cultivate the good in everyone, the fact remains that man is a fallen and selfish creature. It is only the loving grace of God that lifts us up, and it is only in knowing His Truth that we are set free from pet sins that keep us from becoming who we were made to be. The truth shines light on our filth so it can be cleaned. But what happens when we refuse to embrace the truth? The first chapter of John tells us that the light came into the world, but men preferred darkness over light. Our real danger is a spiritual contagion that threatens eternal life, yet people live in denial, avoiding the light of truth that can set them free. 
“These people are rebellious and deceitful children,
children who refuse to listen to the Lord’s teachings.
They say to the seers, ‘Don’t see the future.’
They say to those who have visions,
‘Don’t have visions that tell us what is right.
Tell us what we want to hear. See illusions.
Get out of our way! Stop blocking our path!
Get the Holy One of Israel out of our sight.’”
Magic elixirs promising a cure for all ailments have been sold throughout the ages to gullible and desperate people. How anxious have people become in this global COVID crisis? In desperation and fear, will people grasp onto anything that offers them peace and security? When a man with a confident demeanor emerges with a plan to recover from the global crises, will he be embraced? Will people stop to consider the cost?
The man of sin will come with the power of Satan. He will use every kind of power, including miraculous and wonderful signs. But they will be lies. He will use everything that God disapproves of to deceive those who are dying, those who refused to love the truth that would save them. That’s why God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe a lie.
Healthy people acknowledge the issues; they don’t hide from the truth. I don’t know how close we are to seeing the end of this age, but the world has been staged for the antichrist to appear. Many will embrace a universal ID if it is a requirement for getting a COVID vaccination or universal basic income paycheck. The Book of Revelation predicted this, calling it the “mark of the beast”. Without this “mark” no one will be able to buy or sell in the global economy. The Greek word for this “mark” is “charagma”, which is translated as “an etching or a piercing”. It will become part of a person’s body, like a tattoo or perhaps like a subcutaneous chip that is inserted in animals for tracking them. 

The infrastructure exists to implement a global tracking system for everyone on the planet. The technology exists now for a universal ID to be implanted in everyone and for that ID to be used for security access and exchange of electronic currency. In this COVID crisis, people across the world are now shunning the germ-infested cash and using electronic money. Apple Pay and Google Pay on mobile phones even allow wireless transactions with a cashier. It is a small step to link transaction authorizations to a universal ID, but the Bible warns against accepting this mark of the beast.
Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” 
You may hear religious authorities disagree with me. You may hear religious authorities say we shouldn’t be concerned with end-time prophecies and just focus on living the Christian life. But they either knowingly or unknowingly disregard the introduction for the Book of Revelation: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3) Remember that it was the religious authority of Jesus’ day that arranged for his crucifixion, and Jesus warned His disciples about the Pharisees and Sadducees. So yes, live the Christian life: read the Bible, walk in the Spirit, embrace and extend the grace of God in this world. And do not ignore any truth of Scripture or be ignorant of how it applies to the time in which you live. Do not be desensitized from the truth because people mock it, whether they are within or outside of the Church. 

If anything in this blog has left you concerned or confused, ask God to show you in Scripture what He has said and ask Him to open your eyes more fully to His truth and love. And feel free to reach out to me directly through email: mitch at malloyclan.com. 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/) 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Inconsistent Christian

I've procrastinated writing this blog. It's uncomfortable for me to look at myself honestly, write about it and then publish it for the whole world to see. I'd rather portray some nice image of myself, a picture of who I want to be, someone who always gets it right. Historically, we put on our Sunday best image at church, playing the part of the perfect family for a couple hours each week, rather than being honest about our imperfections. And that's what we do on social media, right?

So you may be thinking: “Then why do it, Mitch? What’s the purpose? What’s the benefit and the cost?” Yes, my thoughts exactly. Why not portray an image of my best self? It only shows part of the truth. God wants each of us to be authentic and has prompted me to do this… insistently… for several months… with ever-increasing intensity. Yet just as Jonah took a ship in the opposite direction, I’ve set this topic aside repeatedly.
Consistently Inconsistent
I wrote before that the one thing consistent about me is my own inconsistency. I re-read that post and see where what I wrote fell short. I put a timeline on something, but 2015 was actually a pretty good year despite what I felt. I sometimes feel such a sense of urgency and importance in a message that I convey the message with that same sense of urgency. I hear the Lord say “soon” and assume it is soon by human standards, but “soon” is a relative term. What seems like an eternity to me is a blink of eye to our eternal God, and I need to remember that He is patient. God will extend the timing of His judgement as long as possible so that (1) no one is left behind and (2) no one is left with an excuse. Ultimately, I’m grateful that He is slow to pass judgement, because it means He is patient with me… patient with my half-hearted, and inconsistent walk with Him. 

His patience is a reflection of His saving grace. Because of His grace, I don’t need to be perfect in behavior, desire or thought; I only need to be perfect in choosing to trust Him. Yet as simple as that is, it's often a decision that I need to make repeatedly throughout the day: struggling, stumbling, repenting and repeating. It is a decision to hand the struggle over to Him and obey the one thing He has told me to do until He gives me the next step. I may not have a singleness of heart and mind at that particular moment, but fixing my eyes upon Him, the anxiety and passion for lesser things fades. Especially during times of inner struggle, I am more keenly aware than anyone else of my need for Christ, yet even then I’m not as aware as my God and Savior wants me to be. He is changing me over time from glory to glory, always becoming. (2 Corinthians 3:18) I have a vision for what I want to become that includes how I measure my growth and guardrails to keep me on the path, but in my selfishness, I jump over the guardrails into the wrong lane. As the Apostle wrote: “I don’t do the good I want to do. Instead, I do the evil that I don’t want to do.” 

My salvation does not depend upon my faithfulness, but it rests completely upon God being faithful. Still, there are consequences to being unfaithful. It is like a pebble thrown into a still pool of water, creating ripples. No one likes to talk about our failings, but we learn more from our failures than our successes. In other words: every failure is a learning opportunity. Every stumble is a step in our becoming who we were made to be. I heard long ago that a smart man learns from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. I can only hope to be smart in my failures, but you have the opportunity to be wise.
Publicly Inconsistent
My inconsistency has been both public and private. It's easy to see where my public inconsistency has hurt others. The world looks for believers to represent Christ; we are both ambassadors of His grace and recipients of His grace. When we don’t represent Him well, it has a ripple effect. We are rightly called hypocrites, sowing pain and doubt into the lives of those we should be encouraging and strengthening. 

Some of my greatest regrets involve not being consistent in front of my kids. On a family vacation, we decided to go horseback riding, and I lied about son’s age so he could ride along with us. It seemed so innocent in my mind. I easily justified it, but when my son discovered that I lied, it changed him in ways I don’t think he even realizes. On a different occasion, when one of my daughters was 12 years old, I flew into a rage, and even though I never touched her, I deliberately intimidated her to make her afraid of me. Sadly, it worked. My juvenile outburst both terrified her and created a wall between us.

I value kindness and consideration, yet what I did to my daughter was mean and manipulative. The truth is important to me, and there's nothing more detestable to me than a lie. Yet I lied. I can't live up to my own standards; how could I possibly live up to God's perfect Law? That is why God's grace is so important. It's my only hope.

I hate lies, yet I lie. Lies are at the foundation of all our depravity. Adam and Eve believed the lies of the serpent, which led to their fall. The illusion that wealth provides safety and security leads to greed. The perception that temporary pleasures will ease our painful situation leads to so many addictions and does nothing to resolve the root cause. Healing comes when we acknowledge and reject the lie, affirm the truth and resolve to live in truth. The most insidious lies are the half-truths, the ones that leave out that one important detail. We learn to use it as children: "He hit me first!" neglecting to say how much we provoked 'him' to hit me.
Privately Inconsistent
My private inconsistency is that kind of half-truth. Someone on the outside may wonder why I trust in a God who has allowed me to suffer, but they don't see all that is below the surface or understand how God disciplines the ones He loves because they failed to exercise self-discipline. I have privately been an inconsistent Christian, allowing myself to entertain wrong thought patterns that feed the old nature: lust, fear, pride, and laziness. It's God's discipline that dissolves the pride that would otherwise consume me.

My internal thought life can lead to wrong behaviors, yet I can often justify my secret sin as acceptable because "I won't follow through". In other words: “It’s okay to look at the menu so long as you don't order.” But I’ve learned that the internal thought life is where it all begins. It’s the battleground of the soul. While the struggle is only felt by me, the ripple effects pour over into the lives of others. It’s easy to see what we have done to hurt others, but what about what we’ve failed to do? When my thought life has been consumed by some “guilty pleasure”, how have I failed to spend time doing good that others desperately need? How have I failed to be there when my family, friends or neighbors needed someone like me? How have I lost the better thing that God had planned for me? The secret life creates ripples every bit as powerful even if it’s less visible. 

So, I try to be smart man, learning from my mistakes, and I strive to pass this wisdom on to a new generation. My key take-away is to seek a consistent walk with Christ, privately as well as publicly. I realize that I can’t do this perfectly, but as the proverb says: “A righteous person may fall seven times, but he gets up again.” It doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful, and my Father in heaven cheers each step I take toward Him, no matter how many times I may stumble. 
Consistently Hopeful
I proclaimed decades ago that my only hope is in Christ. That remains true today. I was both amazed and excited when I discovered the meaning of Jesus's name: Yahweh Saves! His very name was a promise of what He has done for me! He has saved us, and He leads us to become what we were created to be.

I long to have the promised heart of flesh that replaces my stubborn and rebellious heart of stone, but until that day comes, I’ll remain in this state of becoming, struggling against the old nature that creates this inconsistent Christian walk. God and His promises are unchanging. We see His grace described in the Old Testament (e.g. - Ezekiel 18, Jonah), but it’s in the New Testament where Romans 6 -8 describes the victory of God’s grace over our struggles. It has become the cornerstone doctrine that distinguishes Christianity from other religions and that completes the law of Moses
However, not only creation groans. We, who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts, also groan inwardly. We groan as we eagerly wait for our adoption, the freeing of our bodies from sin. Romans 8:23
copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)