It’s Monday! Time to Worship

Towards a Practical Theology of Work — Part 1
Victor Chininin Buele

Let me ask you something. When you come in on Monday and you’re not feeling real well, does anyone ever say to you, “Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays?” The Christian cannot have his theology of work dictated more by the old “classic” Office Space than by the Word of God. But it happens. We all do it. It’s easier to just go along with it and say, “Yes, I have a case of the Mondays” than it is to actually live by faith, to worship God with our work.

I’ve done it countless times. It’s easier to give in and go through the motions on Monday (or any other day, really). We just gathered to worship God on the Lord’s Day. How can we possibly have a case of the Mondays?

“[…] Immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.  […] [No] one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces.  No one had the strength to subdue him.  […] [Crying] with a loud voice, he said, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ For he was saying to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit! […] As [Jesus] was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him.  And he did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’”

Mark 5:2-4, 7-8, 18-20 (ESV)

After reading this, we need a very different vision for Monday.

Let me tell you how much the Lord has done for me, and how he has had mercy on me. Let me live that out in my work, doing it excellently, to the glory of God and the well-being of my neighbor. How can I pursue delighting in God in worship through the checking of emails and writing of documents and reading of documents and producing of my work product deliverables?

“The enjoyment and the glorification of God are one.  His eternal purpose and our eternal pleasure unite.  […] For:  ‘The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.’”[1]

If I am to glorify God by enjoying Him forever, and I give in to the so-called case of the Mondays, there must be something wrong with the way I am approaching my day-to-day work.  We cannot compartmentalize our faith–There cannot be a difference between the person that goes to Sunday service and serves the church, the person that goes to community or prayer group on Tuesdays, the person that goes to school, the person that goes to work every day. All of our lives are worship. All of life for Christ’s glory.

Over the years, I’ve read a number of books and articles on the theology of work, but the following statement really stirred me up inside: “Eventually, Christians tend to adopt one of two solutions to relieve the tension they feel at work.  They either run or they hide.  The run response comes from the idea that it would just be easier to make a clean break – to start over in a new environment or to withdraw completely by enrolling in seminary and going into ministry full-time.  […] The hide response is nothing less than a subtle surrender of the mission.”[2]

As a result of the Fall, we struggle with work.  Numbers 11 tells the story of the people of God complaining, “There is nothing at all but this manna to look at” (6).  It didn’t matter to them that the Lord had rescued them from slavery and given them manna abundantly as they walked away from their chains and towards the land that He promised to their fathers.  It didn’t matter that God had proven time and time again His love, mercy, wrath, and justice.  The people were complaining and kept on complaining.  They complained so much that Moses went to God, and that’s where we will pick up with this attempt at a practical theology of work next time.

Time to Reflect

Until then, reflect on the following. Peter writes to the exiles:

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)

This presupposes the freedom I am highlighting today. We are all walking out of prior chains of oppression and slavery to sin. Whatever our past sins, they are all covered by Christ once we call upon His name as Lord to be saved. Our work is the fruit of our repentance, the fruits of our justification, the fragrant offering of the fruit of the work of Christ in our lives through the Holy Spirit. So, our work ought to leave people wondering. Our colleagues, our customers, our managers, our partners, our vendors will necessarily be driven to ask why. Why is this person so different? Why does he conduct his business in this way? Why does he treat me differently from the rest? Why do I leave his presence with a renewed sense of encouragement and an appreciation of my value as a contributor? Why do I feel loved? Why?

And it is in that context that we will have that opportunity to do, gently and respectfully, lovingly and compassionately what Peter calls “a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” and what the Lord commissioned the Gadarene man to do, “to tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.

[1] Piper, John.  Desiring God.  (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2003), 307

[2] Campbell, Regi.  About My Father’s Business.  (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2009), 27

The Great Persuader?

Victor Chininin Buele

One of the most important books that I read during the aftermath of the last presidential election was Scott Adams’ Win Bigly. Scott Adams makes the argument that Donald Trump is a master persuader. And he, trained hypnotist that he is, walks us through a plausible explanation for Donald Trump’s hold on people that resulted in his rise to the office of the President of the United States. Adams argues that everything serves a purpose: the third-grade playground “nickname” insults given to his competition, the lies (truthful hyperbole from The Art of the Deal). Some quotes to let the man himself speak:

If you have ever tried to talk someone out of their political beliefs by providing facts, you know it doesn’t work. That’s because people think they have their own facts. Better facts. And if they know they don’t have better facts, they change the subject. People are not easily switched from one political opinion to another. And facts are weak persuasion. So Trump ignores facts whenever they are inconvenient. I know you don’t want to think this works in terms of persuasion. But it does.

People are more influenced by the direction of things than the current state of things.

Facts don’t matter. What matters is how you feel. And when you watch Trump and Pence fight and scratch to keep jobs in this country, it changes how you will feel about them for their entire term. This is a big win for Trump/ Pence disguised as a small win.

If you want the audience to embrace your content, leave out any detail that is both unimportant and would give people a reason to think, That’s not me. Design into your content enough blank spaces so people can fill them in with whatever makes them happiest.

What mattered was that people saw Trump agree with them on an emotional dimension—that immigration was a big problem that needs fixing. Once he agreed with voters on an emotional level, he was free to tweak the details of his policies, and people followed him.

Whenever there is mass confusion and complexity, people automatically gravitate to the strongest, most confident voice. We humans don’t like uncertainty, so we are attracted to those who offer clarity and simple answers, even if the answers are wrong or incomplete.

Trump used his mastery of the news cycle to create the impression that he was the most important person running for president, even if you hated him.

If you are trying to get a decision from someone who is on the fence but leaning in your direction, try a “fake because” to give them “permission” to agree with you. The reason you offer doesn’t need to be a good one. Any “fake because” will work when people are looking for a reason to move your way.

Another important book I read was Amanda Carpenter’s Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us. She shows a pattern of behavior that we can use to trace back through many of the big media events mediated by the President’s Twitter account and see the gaslighting at work. She herself was gaslighted by the campaign while live on CNN as one of Ted Cruz’s supposed extramarital affairs.

The benefit of embracing the lie ultimately outweighs the sacrifice required to cling to the truth. Sometimes, more often than we’d like to admit, lies are easier to believe than the truth. Especially in politics.

He learned that people actually love it when he lies. He loves it because he gets stories about his prowess—whether it be sexual, business, or political—in the press. The media loves it because it keeps people reading the papers, watching their shows, and clicking their links. And his enemies love it because they keep thinking that this time will really, finally, truly be the time Trump does himself in with his jaw-dropping yarns. We’re all suckers.

Questioning everything is exhausting.

You may hate his lies, but Trump sells them with unshakable confidence. He forces us to pay attention. Trump even keeps those who don’t believe, as he has said, “in suspense.” We are a captive audience, living in constant anticipation of his next move.

You see, when Trump is gaslighting, he rarely tells an outright lie. When pressed, he avoids specifics but keeps everyone chattering away with speculation on the topic.

This is the pattern Carpenter observes:

STAKE A CLAIM: Trump finds a political issue or action that competitors are unwilling to adopt and that will ensure a media frenzy. Such as: “President Obama is not a U.S. citizen.”
ADVANCE AND DENY: Trump casts the issue into the public realm without taking direct responsibility. He does this by raising questions about or discussing what other people are saying, reporting, or thinking. Tabloids, YouTube videos, tweets from unknown origins, and unverifiable Internet news stories are often used as sources.
CREATE SUSPENSE: He says evidence is forthcoming that will soon get to the truth of the matter. Trump can remain in this mode for weeks, months, or even years.
DISCREDIT THE OPPONENT: If critics gain traction, Trump attacks their motives and personal character.
WIN: Trump declares victory, no matter the circumstances. This step usually takes a long time to reveal itself, and Trump will often engage it when he is ready to drop the matter.

Can either one of them actually prove they are right? No. They can’t. This is an important point. And neither can I. And in some sort of super sick and weird way, that is precisely the point.

That’s the allure of this situation. People are super convinced that Trump is a liar and the worst scum of the earth or the most hard-working, accomplished president. Disgusting or hero. Satan or Messiah. Either he is complete trash or the King set in place by the Lord God Almighty. That’s the polarization we go through. And the thing is that somehow, as I’ve said before, if you squint your eyes and tilt your head 72 degrees counterclockwise… Confirmation bias abounds.

But either way, we follow his agenda. He controls us. We talk about what he wants us to be talking about. I find it absolutely fascinating, like a sociological experiment at a massive scale, that Democrats cannot make any headway with their agenda but are constantly responding to Trump’s tweets. Tantrums. Whatever you call them. And the Republicans have given over their platform entirely over to the President at the price of some judges, a couple of justices, and who knows what else. Trump wins. The media loves it because it fuels our interest in them through this. And don’t think I mean just CNN or Fox. There are all sorts of other opportunists there ready to capitalize in our ever-thirsty desire to engage with the crazy! It is obvious that the massive amount of content produced by trolls and bots is shaping discourse—I doubt people had a ready copy of Bill Clinton’s picture while he was holding a Bible back in the day. Some of the phrasing in what I see in people’s feeds, I know did not originate with them. It came from elsewhere.

We are facing a battle of manipulation. And we are at the center of it. And we love it! But nobody is actually talking about what we need to do to truly move forward. And that is because we are all still too enamored with our flesh.

I don’t think Trump is a master persuader, I believe he is.

What? Precisely that. It’s a walking contradiction wrapped in an enigma. I don’t think he is smart enough or wise enough to the degree Adams gives to him. I don’t think that there is a master plan, or even a plan. But because I know how big of a sinner I am (iOS keeps autocorrecting that to winner), I know he is a master persuader because these things work. I know this stuff works on us because we, like Trump, care about ourselves the most. I find it is entirely plausible to assert that he doesn’t care about you, your faith, your religious freedom, aborted children, the second amendment, your convictions, Covid-19, Dr. Fauci, international relations, the national debt, the future of the Supreme Court, police abuses, racial tensions, polarization. He does not. He cares about himself, and that is why he takes an interest in whatever will allow him to remain seated behind the Resolute Desk, much like you or I do. He is a master persuader because the feeding of his ego demands it. And face it, facts don’t come close to changing anyone’s mind. The most frustrating job in America is to be a fact checker for Trump’s speeches. Probably the second most frustrating job is to be the one transcribing the speeches. Have you seen the poor fact checkers on TV? They are desperate to change your mind by showing you evidence.

It doesn’t work. We are facing a master provocateur, and that has unfortunately come at a time when our sin leaves us lacking critical strength not just in the area of discernment but in the area of foresight.

While we are distracted, a massive number of forces are in conflict. What is the point of taking your time to read this? There is more at play than BLM, the Coronavirus, the November election.

Cancel culture is choking us to death. We do not live as if redemption existed. We cannot possibly see how redemption is possible for someone like Trump or any of his favorite enemies of the day.

But there is redemption, and we need it. We must recognize first and daily our continued need for redemption and salvation. And that will be the only way out of cancel culture. Why share segments from the Scott Adams and Amanda Carpenter books? Because seeing is helpful. Because seeing how much we don’t see if helpful. But most importantly:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17 ESV)

You, too, dear traveler, can be redeemed, forgiven, and saved. And so can even Donald Trump. Our problem is the same. The solution is the same—the real Messiah, Jesus Christ.

On the Day My Daughter and I…

Victor Chininin Buele

Shortly after moving to Johnson County, Kansas, it became clear to us that our phones were not working very well.  In the process of figuring this out, one day my daughter and I walked into a very special place.

I very soon realized I must not have looked like I fit there because nobody said hello or helped me.  My daughter and I left without buying a phone from such a slick place.  I realized what may have happened.  I was wearing a Mexican soccer jersey and old jean shorts.  She was wearing play clothes and non-matching shoes.  Her hair was unkept.

When I came to the United States, almost twenty years ago, I made two “promises” to myself in an attempt to survive the cultural change: (1) I was never going to allow myself to be homesick, and (2) I was never going to allow myself to participate in self-racisim.

You can see my delusion of godness there thinking I had more control over things than I did in reality.

Addressing homesickness came because I observed these big plans of my fellow Lojanos to go to big places, but very shortly thereafter, I would see them back in the streets of Loja with dreams unfulfilled.  My 17-year-old self was too proud, too selfish, and the wrong kind of ambitious to desire against all obstacles to avoid going back to Loja.  But what about the self-racism promise?

My 17-year-old self developed this theory that it takes two to tango.  If I would refuse to see myself as fundamentally different than the rest of the U.S. population, no matter what other people would think about me, I would not be contributing to the development, brooding, and systematization of racism.

In other words, I banked the foundation of my survival in America in this–that a white person may choose to look at me as whatever they would want to look at me, but I would not reciprocate that by acknowledging it, fearing it, acting differently because of it, living up to any stereotypes, or changing my plans because of what they may say, think, or do.  In other words, this was self-esteem on steroids.

And as one of the very, very, very few Hispanics in Nodaway County, Missouri, back then, there were far more than a handful of interesting encounters that would have crushed my soul had I not had this front up the whole time. And wearing this mask was exhausting, I must confess.

Yet, none of these encounters threatened my life. They are actually pretty comical in retrospective. Beside the usual high school mockery and sidelining, a few strange questions about whether we have cars in Ecuador, a date asking me if Ecuador was in Texas, none of these things put my life in danger.

Most of my life in the United States I have lived as a coconut, which is how they would call it in that Netflix show Gentified. Brown in the outside. White in the inside. And in God’s kindness of His providence to me, He has shown me a glimpse of another world I had always succeeded in avoiding. White/brown relations were always very simple for me because I‘ve had the means to live mostly as a white person. There are only a couple of places where I’ve really felt out of place–Monroe County, Illinois, and Johnson County, Kansas.

Yet, in the last four years, a number of strange incidents have continued to occur where I’ve been seen and treated differently. And also, in God’s kind providence, we have discovered the joys and challenges of gathering with the saints in a Spanish speaking immigrant church. We’ve edged towards a different circle of influence, and we’ve felt and seen different things than before.

I was only partly right as a teenager, imagine that—yes, I can compound the problem by responding to racism, which is a real problem, and to systemic inequality, which is a real thing, by making my identity largely a response to real and perceived racism. My identity is not founded in this, and it cannot be. If it were, it would be soul crushing. What I did not account for and what I was largely blind to as a result of living in different socioeconomic circles than the majority of Latinos is that racism dos remain a big sin in our country, a very real struggle, and a foundational roadblock for peace. And the King of Kings specializes in the solution for this sort of thing.

Donald Trump did not create racism. He is an opportunist who has leveraged sin in people’s hearts to rise to power and try to hold on to it. That’s what he does. And it is vile. But if we didn’t love it, if we didn’t desire that sin, we would not fall for it. The racism in our hearts must be put to death.

We have to deal with our sin.

There is no other way. We can keep putting it off and only make it worse. It’s time to wake up and really get woke. Not as the popular use of such a term but as in “I have my eyes open, what must I do to be awakened to this? What must I do to be saved?”

First Peter 2:11: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” We wouldn’t be racists is we didn’t have this passion inside our flesh for it. We wouldn’t be entitled looters if we didn’t have this passion for entitlement inside our flesh for it. If we don’t love it, we don’t fall for it.

We have to face the evil desires within ourselves. We must put that sin to death. We, minorities, must destroy the sin within our hearts. The traditionally not thought of as minorities who are becoming the minority, must destroy the sin within their hearts. We are both a very entitled people. We demand to have. We are envious. We hold grudges and are not quick to repent. We loot and set things on fire. We play the victim. We oppress, we abuse, we victimize. We do not foster opportunities for true advancement of those who don’t look like us. We do not make it a point to actually incarnate, to pitch a tent and live among those who do not look like us. We do not make any efforts to truly understand those who are different than us: What is their plight, what is their sorrow, what is their joy?

In short, by becoming more like the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, we can put to death these sins that are destroying us. This is not a mere call to “act like a Christian” or to “do Christian things.” The gospel is not about mere behavioral change, but it is about a radical transformation of the heart that only God can bring about. A man being turned into the image of Christ will be made more and more like Him every day—every day the sin within the heart that leads to murder, to abuse, to looting, to rage will be put to death a little bit more.

It is time to seek the Lord while He may be found and heal this land.

There is no other way. We keep trying what looks like other paths. And here we are again, it’s not even June of 2020, and the sad story repeats itself. George Floyd is the name today. Will you wait until it is your name to turn and seek Christ?

On Sheep and Mediators

Victor Chininin Buele 

What a season! One of the first things I ran into today was a man saying on Instagram that he wasn’t a [you can imagine what wonderful expletive was use]ing sheep.

But I am a sheep, I said to myself. I am. And so are you, “Costco Kevin.” And so is Tison.

Why should you consider what I am sharing with you? I have seen a further escalation of our polarization—new adjectives we can use to distinguish ourselves from others, I should say.  “Mask wearers” are sheep, I’ve read, since I must highlight that we don’t actually talk to one another like this. We let memes do the work. It is easier.

Living in a pluralistic society is very difficult. We have been pretending for quite some time that it isn’t, but it is. It requires listening, speaking civilly, articulating our ideas clearly, having grace when we and others aren’t clear, patience when trying to express ourselves again, grace to overlook minor offenses, and a ton of other things we do not have time to address. It requires humility, and that is not our strongest gifting in America.

On the last post, I was saying, in Spanish, that moments like this novel coronavirus pandemic crisis reveal our faith and by revealing it, this crisis clarifies the definition of our generation’s faith.  It’s not that we don’t have faith.  We have just as much faith as Fundamentalists of old or as the sun worshipers of the ancient Incan empire. We are sheep.

Our cultural faith is a very deep faith in ourselves. And that’s backfiring bigly. Or should we say big league? I am not sure anybody can agree to what it is that the President actually says anyway.  And that’s part of the point. In the post I said that we have a tendency to make an omelet with our faith. But that doesn’t translate super well. The best analogy I can find in English is a steamroller. We want a steamroller faith.

We have a profound faith in ourselves. Blind faith. Unquestionable faith. Unshakable faith. A steamroller faith. We can and will get through this.

Sometimes we hide this faith of ours in Christianity, secularism, atheism, conservative values, morality, equality,  public opinion polls, liberal values, rights. You get the point. What I’m saying is that the collective American faith is out, exposed and in shambles. We are most definitely not watching after each other. From the man behind the resolute desk watching out for his reelection to my procrastination to write this because I after all do care inordinately about what you think about me, we are all watching after ourselves. We are insufficient for this thing. We are sheep, and we keep shouting at others that we aren’t. We want what we want. We want to not wear masks. We want to wear masks. We want to be free. We want to be healthy. But before we get too far, I do see glimpses of hope here and there of some who are showing a disposition to think of others first, to think of others as more significant than themselves as Paul exhorts us to do in Philippians 2 based on the example of Jesus.

I am frankly amused that a public health matter has taken such tones. My musical brain takes me to the wonderful seats of Powell Hall in St. Louis, remembering the STL Symphony and the choir singing from Handel’s Messiah that we like sheep have gone astray, which is nothing more than Isaiah 53 put to song:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6 ESV).

We are sheep. It is not a pleasant description. I think it’s good that it offends people because we need to understand that Holy Scripture does not show us in a very favorable light with such an accurate and appropriate description. Yes, we are also made in the image of God and are privileged with great worth and value because of that kind gift bestowed to us. But sheep are dumb, they follow the crowd, they do not think, their vision is fascinating and powerful yet they miss what’s right in front of their noses, they lack depth perception. Sheep are easily led astray by wolves. It matters infinitely if the sheep is being watched by a shepherd or by a thief:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. – John 10:1-15

Sheep find it easy to make mediators for themselves to hide the difficulty of life.  Don’t. Don’t swallow whole what your mediator of choice gives to you.  The research on masks is not straightforward, the research on COVID-19 is all over the place, government officers have been tripping all over it and making contradicting and contradictory claims and decisions. We simply don’t know. It may be that wearing a mask is a greater danger than not wearing it. Perhaps, perhaps not. I have followed the evidence closely from many sources, not just from a central mediator. I have made choices for my family and for myself. I trust in God and in His wisdom. Some Christians will think I am living in fear. Some Christians will think I am too liberal or too lose.

We want to have somebody to tell us what to do and to have that match perfectly with what we want to do. That is what going astray like sheep means.

It matters infinitely who our shepherd is. All man shepherds will ultimately fail us. Trump, scientists, pastors, talking heads, politicians, governors, the media, those who say not to be the media but are, WND, CNN, Fox.  They will all fail us.

Here is what I long for. I long for the gospel to sweep over our sick land and give us a renewal, a fresh start, the end of our sad divisions. That those who have found a love for life and a desire to defend life will let that go all the way to all it’s necessary implications even if they require a death—the death of their own self-interest. That those who have found a love for what is thought of by them as holiness but is really self-righteousness will let that go all the way and let Christ transform them with a profound sense of compassion of tireless dedication to love others well, to truly love them. That those who have a passion for freedom would work and pray ceaselessly for true freedom to be found in Jesus for themselves and those they long to make free.

There is a kingdom that cannot be shaken. We can either waste this pandemic fighting over masks and rights and shooting and shouting at each other, or we can surrender, pick up our cross, and seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and find true joy, a joy that does not require mediators through faith in a Shepherd that will never let us down and will truly protect us whether COVID-19 kills us or not, whether it came from a bat or from a lab, whether we see our false dilemmas and faulty logic or not, whether we look like we are right or not. In the end, we can know the One who is Right

It is grace. Turn your eyes to the Shepherd.

La Tortilla del Salmo 91

Victor Chininin Buele

Hay momentos que revelan nuestra fe y al revelarla clarifican la definición de la fe de nuestra generación. Nuestra fe colectiva es una fe muy profunda en nosotros mismos.  Es el fruto de la autoestima que estuvo cerca de la raíz de nuestra educación. Juntos podemos decimos todos. Yo estoy en control. Yo puedo contra esto. Si nos lavamos las manos, si no salimos, si compramos mascarillas, si compramos papel higiénico en abundancia (por una razón que parece que se nos escapa a todos), si agotamos los recursos disponibles en el super y lleno mi casa de atunes y arroz, entonces no nos llegará el Coronavirus. O si nos llega sobreviviremos.

Al inicio de nuestro encuentro con el Coronavirus, el gobierno de la república puso una mesita en el aeropuerto con un mantelito y un doctor con mascarilla.  Nada más.  Tomamos foto de eso y fue el origen de los memes “Nos fallaste flaco” una vez que ingresó el coronavirus al territorio nacional. Vamos de la falta completa de atención a esta materia (como aquella mesita en el aeropuerto Mariscal Sucre) a un pánico, vamos de 0 a 160 km/h en pocos segundos. Pero el pánico deja nuestros corazones al descubierto.

Y puede que los cristianos leamos esto diciendo, “pero yo confío en Dios”. Y resulta que hacemos lo mismo.  Somos creyentes grandes del evangelio de la prosperidad. Aunque lo rechacemos formalmente y aquellos mercaderes de evangelios falsos nos hagan dar náusea, dentro de nosotros reaccionamos de la misma manera–quiero la oración que haga que este virus no entre a mi casa, quiero la solución que mantenga a mi familia con salud y seguridad, quiero la garantía de que no voy a perder mi trabajo, quiero una fe que me garantice que no me llegará el Coronavirus.

Y entonces entra esta fe en nosotros mismos y se disfraza de cristianismo.

He visto mucho el Salmo 91 en estos días, especialmente los versículos 9 y 10. Nos dan cierta confianza y pueden fácilmente calmar nuestro deseo de encontrar confianza en nosotros mismos:

Porque has puesto al Señorque es mi refugio,
Al Altísimo, por tu habitación.
No te sucederá ningún mal,
Ni plaga se acercará a tu morada. (Salmo 91:9-10)

Cuando hacemos una tortilla, nos aseguramos de aplanarla bien–los huevos, la salchicha, las verduras, lo que sea que le pongamos. La hacemos bien planita.  Muchas veces hacemos eso con la Palabra de Dios y nos encontramos en lugares que demuestran que nuestra fe está en nosotros mismos y no en Dios.

Decimos–porque el Salmo 91 dice esto, entonces si yo pongo al Señor como mi refugio y mi habitación, entonces el Coronavirus no entrará a mi casa. Y en ese momento rendimos nuestra fe al altar idólatra de nuestras propias obras, de nuestra fe en nosotros mismos, de nuestra confianza en nosotros mismos.  En vez de apurarnos a comprar mascarillas nos jactamos que porque tenemos a Dios como nuestro refugio, entonces, el Coronavirus no nos llegará.

Cuando aplastamos nuestra fe como una tortilla no damos espacio para que toda la Palabra tenga su lugar correcto en nuestros pensamientos y nuestra fe. No damos espacio para que al justo Job le pase gran desgracia y enfermedad. No damos espacio para los sufrimientos de los salmistas. No damos lugar para que Pablo le pida al Señor en agonía que le quite la espina que tenía en su carne (no sabemos qué dolencia sería). No damos lugar para el rol del sufrimiento en nuestra santificación. Por medio del sufrimiento nos volvemos más como Cristo. Esta promesa y realidad también está en la Palabra.

Pero es que nos suena tan bonito decir, “Si me porto bien y hago lo que se supone que los cristianos deban hacer, entonces no me dará el Coronavirus”. Porque entonces todo está en mis manos, en mi compra de artículos de aseo personal, en la distancia que guardo de las personas, en la intensidad de mis oraciones, etc. Porque si resulta que en mis viajes para proveer a mi familia de la provisión que Dios nos da me he agarrado semejante compañero de viaje del Coronavirus, entonces ¿qué se diría de mí? ¿Que mi fe no es lo suficientemente fuerte para que el Coronavirus no entre en mi casa? ¿Que no he hecho morada permanente en el Señor? Tenemos que cuidarnos de hacer una tortilla del pobre salmo 91 porque las dos cosas son ciertas–Jehová debe ser nuestra morada permanente y en Él, ninguna peste nos alejará de Él por la eternidad, eso es consistente con Romanos 8 por ejemplo. Entonces, venga o no venga la peste, debemos amarnos los unos a los otros, cuidar de los más vulnerables, predicar el evangelio porque no hay mejor momento para explorar la verdad de la cruz y resurrección de Cristo que cuando nuestra mortalidad parece estar muy cerca.

Lo que no podemos hacer jamás es confiar en nosotros mismos.

El diablo le citó el salmo 91 a Jesús para que Él se aleje de la relación perfecta con Su Padre, para que desobedezca al Padre, para que de una vez por todas nos deje sin posibilidad de salvación. Cuidémonos de utilizar a la preciosa Palabra como una muleta para ayudarnos a caminar por nosotros mismos, con nuestro propio esfuerzo, diciendo que estamos en Cristo pero viviendo alejados de Él.

Solamente la fe. No lo que yo haga o pueda hacer.

Que Dios los proteja en estos tiempos difíciles y no dejemos de orar.

La Luz

Victor Chininin Buele

Ayer vi a mis hijas jugar con una de mis primas. Su nombre es Luz. Supongo que su nombre con intención honra a mi abuelita Luz. Y verla en casa de mi abuelita Luz corriendo y haciendo todas las cosas que hace un niño delante de aquel pesebre que por tantos años ha estado en la misma esquina de la sala desde más antes de mi niñez, me llevó a pensar acerca de cuantas veces la luz está tan cerca y tan brillante y andamos con los ojos vendados, o peor aun, cerrados por nuestra propia voluntad. Verlas corren me hizo pensar como aquel carpintero de Belén debió haber estado preocupado que el pequeño Jesús no acabe con clavos en sus pies o que no se ensucie con las heces de los animales que pasaban por las calles polvorientas de aquel entonces o que no termine con mucho aserrín en la cabeza antes de ir a comer.

La ciudad se llena de luces.  Hace ya buen tiempo que no he estado en Loja por Navidad. He pasado muchas más navidades en Kansas City que en Loja. Y en realidad he llegado a extrañar el frío y el pronóstico del clima tan anhelado que diga que haya unos dos centímetros de nieve: lo suficiente para una foto bonita y para que se vea todo bonito afuera pero no tanta nieve como para quedarnos atrapados dentro de la casa sin poder salir. He llegado a extrañar tantas cosas que una vez fueron extrañas para mí.

He estado preparando la prédica del día domingo.  Entonces he estado estudiando Isaías 60. Es un sermón que lo he tenido pendiente por muchos años. Las imágenes que el Señor nos da en ese precioso capítulo han cautivado mi imaginación por mucho tiempo. Y al ver esas palabras tan hermosas—levántate y resplandece—uno no puede quedarse callado o sin compartir el asombro.

¿Cuánto más bella fuera Loja si en verdad resplandeciera con la luz de Cristo, la luz de su glorioso evangelio?

Decimos que queremos la luz pero solamente nos gusta para las fotos que vamos a poner en las redes sociales.  Cuando penetra en nuestra oscuridad, córremos a escondernos.  No queremos ser expuestos. Nos tapamos con lo que sea. No queremos que la luz nos muestre nuestra debilidad verdadera—la oscuridad de nuestra depresión, la profundidad de nuestra ira, nuestra adoración de lo que queremos y nos gusta pero sabemos que nos está matando, nuestros secretos y engaños, nuestros rencores e insatisfacciones.  Nuestros pecados.

Y nos llenamos de palabras supuestamente bonitas y sabias para callar nuestra conciencia—la Navidad es acerca de la familia, el espíritu de la Navidad es compartir, la Navidad “no es un momento ni una estación, sino un estado de la mente”, la Navidad es valorar la generosidad.

Fui al Teatro Bolívar a ver una obra de teatro que me entristeció y al mismo tiempo me dio gran esperanza.

Aquella obra de teatro me mostró el corazón de mi ciudad—queremos una Navidad bonita, llena de luces y pavo, regalos y sonrisas, que una a la familia, que nos dé cierto calor en nuestro vacío y triste corazón pero, por favor, sin Cristo.

Por generaciones nuestra sociedad lo minimizó volviéndolo un juguete al que le ponían vestidos suntuosos y lo llevaban a la misa obligatoria. Pero ahora ha sido minimizado aun mucho más—ya ni lo mencionamos. En el Mall de Don Daniel escuchaba a una madre amenazar a su hijo con la ira de Santa Claus si no dejaba de colgarse de ese estante en el almacén. Antes nos decían que el Niñito nos traía las cosas. Ahora somos más avanzados—sabemos que Santa y el Mall vienen de la mano. Y esa obra de teatro expuso esto. Queremos una Navidad sin Cristo. Es lo que el pueblo pide y a lo que le dio una gran ovación antes de que las luces se apagasen.

Me entristece esto porque la luz resplandece y nos tapamos los ojos y nos escondemos de ella.

Pero me da gran esperanza porque en Cristo, cuando llega la salvación, nos unimos a una familia mucho más gigantesca que la familia más grande de Loja (Marcos 10:29-31), compartimos en realidad de un corazón que es generoso porque recibió gracia infinita, inmerecida y gratuita del Señor Jesucristo (2 Cor 8:9).  La Navidad es recordar un momento que pasó en la historia real, en una ciudad real de este mundo, el nacimiento del Salvador (Lucas 2:1-7). Es decir, que anhelamos lo que solamente Cristo nos puede dar. Y eso es buenas noticias.

La luz está brillando. La pregunta es simple: Si usted está con los ojos abiertos en esta oscuridad y ya se da cuenta que está en un cuarto oscuro y sin salida, ¿está lista para seguir al Espíritu Santo a la luz? Es hora de prender el foco.

“Pero, ¿qué dice? «CERCA DE TI ESTÁ LA PALABRA, EN TU BOCA Y EN TU CORAZÓN », es decir, la palabra de fe que predicamos: que si confiesas con tu boca a Jesús por Señor, y crees en tu corazón que Dios lo resucitó de entre los muertos, serás salvo. Porque con el corazón se cree para justicia, y con la boca se confiesa para salvación.” (‭‭Romanos‬ ‭10:8-10‬ ‭NBLA)‬‬

Si usted está con los ojos cerrados, ábralos. Se dará cuenta que es verdad que la oscuridad cubre todo lo que ve—hay dolor, sufrimiento, pena, destrucción, enfermedad, devastación, corrupción, engaño, mentira, adicciones, pérdidas cuantiosas. Pero cuando reconozca que está en la oscuridad podrá ver la luz. Y Cristo se deleita en hacer el milagro de hacer la luz:

“Y si todavía nuestro evangelio está velado, para los que se pierden está velado, en los cuales el dios de este mundo ha cegado el entendimiento de los incrédulos, para que no vean el resplandor del evangelio de la gloria de Cristo, que es la imagen de Dios. Porque no nos predicamos a nosotros mismos, sino a Cristo Jesús como Señor, y a nosotros como siervos de ustedes por amor de Jesús. Pues Dios, que dijo: «De las tinieblas resplandecerá la luz», es el que ha resplandecido en nuestros corazones, para iluminación del conocimiento de la gloria de Dios en el rostro de Cristo. Pero tenemos este tesoro en vasos de barro, para que la extraordinaria grandeza del poder sea de Dios y no de nosotros.” (‭‭2 Corintios‬ ‭4:3-7‬ ‭NBLA‬‬)

Feliz Navidad a ustedes.  Y voy a orar por una Loja verdaderamente unida, resplandeciendo en Cristo Jesús.

Seeing Through Shame

Victor Chininin Buele

I’ve spent a lot of time in an analytic mode lately–reading the Word, reading about failure, forgiveness, words, civility, abuse, polity. Trying to digest some of these big ideas is not easy because at times you can get disconnected from the metanarrative that connects it all–the gospel.

Failure only exists because sin entered the world, and we fall short of God’s glory.  The use of our words is only compromised because our first parents fell prey to the sinful misuse of words to deceive and alter the truth. Forgiveness takes us to the fundamental question–I have been forgiven much, will I forgive as Christ has forgiven me? Civility is a struggle because not being civil always seems right to us in this side of eternity–it’s our default setting, so to speak. Abuse is a serious problem that destroys relationships and trust. Polity can be broken in a world of broken promises and self-preservation. And all of these problems are easier to see without than within. We need help.

One of the things I am seeing is how shame is integrally connected to all of this. Shame appears in some of the most unsuspected places, but it is there, driving our actions. I learned that the Thai word for being shamed means “to tear one’s face off so they appear ugly before their friends and community.” And that in Zimbabwe, it means “to stomp or wipe your feet on my name.”

Consider how avoiding or covering up failure can be driven by shame. Failure is inescapable since we are finite creatures with limited knowledge and compromised wisdom. We are going to fail. When college students ask me about career advice, I often tell them, “You will always hear ‘No!’ It matters greatly what happens after ‘No.'” We will face failure–we are not good enough, we are not smart enough, we don’t anticipate every eventuality, we cannot possibly ever buy sufficient insurance against risk.  Rich or poor, smart or not so smart, sophisticated or careless, we will all fail.  And we fear failure and will try to do whatever is necessary to avoid it. A door opens to shame people to prevent failure or to prevent failure from getting out. We can end up building cultures of failure avoidance and/or of failure cover-up that are in reality cultures of shame. We can live in them for years and not even blink an eye.

Consider how forgiveness gets entangled with shame. The call to forgive is impossible for a human being this side of eternity.  Forgiveness is not our default setting at all.  We need to look to Christ, we need to be forgiven by Christ. Look at the now famous speech by Greta Thunberg (and I wonder how long it will be until everyone forgets about it). It is a deeply religious call to overcome what amounts to sin from her secular context: the unpardonable sin of ignoring climate change and not doing anything about it. She utters god-like judgment towards those who refuse to repent–“We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this.” Because forgiveness is tied to exposure, shame can creep in unnoticed.  Greta needed to make her definition of sin known before she could ask us to repent of it.  And here is where things get tricky–what if I don’t see it? Or worse, what if I say that I don’t see it but I truly do and am too ashamed to admit it? That’s one way that shame gets in. We could shame the other person by labeling her all sorts of things so that she can just stop talking and reminding us of the true weight of what we’ve done.  But shame can also get in during the exposure. We can avail ourselves of all sorts of dark tools of rhetoric and belittling and shaming to force a confession that condemns the other and vindicates us, so to speak. The Christ says we must forgive and forgive infinitely many, many more times than we think we are supposed to forgive. The Christ never shamed anyone while convicting him of sin.  Jesus Christ spoke hard words of judgment that were never separated from words of redemption.  And that we must imitate.  No shaming of our neighbor.

Consider how our words can get venom attached to them because of shame, even these words I write are affected by shame one way or another.  Being made in the image of God, we are storytellers, that is truly a marker of the hand of the Almighty Creator in us. And we can use our stories to glorify Him or to shame others, to build narratives to keep people where we want them or need them to be.  Shame works quite well to accomplish that. We know things about them. We make things up about them. We reconstruct reality. Gossip is serious–the sharing of things about somebody from a bad heart, with ill intent.  Slander is poison–the sharing of false reports, of lies, about somebody.  Labeling is dangerous–the quick overgeneralization of a person’s traits into one label–heretic, unbeliever, weak, coward, abuser. And it is possible to be passive-aggressive about this all. Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone. Go ahead. We can pause. And yet, we are not to remain there. We all fall short. Have we not been guilty of gossip, slander, labeling, passive-aggresive sinful behavior? There would be no gospel if Christ would just leave us there. Our words matter, and our definitions cannot be defined from shaming or by using shaming.

Consider how civility is affected when we are unable to speak because we’ve been shamed into not saying anything about something or when we know we are going to fulfill some narrative already crafted about us.  Civil and meaningful dialog cannot happen when the very first thing we fear is reports of us that say, “You see! You are a slanderer!” That comes from shame and produces shame.  Christ never shamed anyone even when they fulfilled the prophecy.  Let’s look at our beloved and unfaithful Peter.  He was so brave and courageous–I will never fail you, Lord! Jesus told him he would deny him three times.  Peter said, “No way, José” But he did.  Three times.  And not to some big authority or under duress but in the shadows of a mock trial and to people whose names history has erased. Christ does not come to him later and say, “You see, you are a betrayer. You did exactly what I said you would do.” There was no crowd preparation for the people to look at Peter and say, “Yes, it’s true. Look at how this is happening exactly according to the filth in this man.” Christ asked Peter to feed his lambs, and that is us, folks. Three times. Once for every time he denied the Lord. There is redemption, no shame, in the gospel.

Consider how abuse thrives in shame.  And how abuse is perpetrated by shame and through shame.  Abuse needs shame to exist.  It becomes a vicious cycle: the abused is shamed into never saying anything about it, even to those with the right standing or position or ability to do something about it, even to someone they trust and open up to to help them see what may be wrong in a situation.  Shame breeds shame.  The cycle has to be broken.  And only Christ, who never abused but was abused by sinful men, can bring redemption in that darkness and redemption from that darkness.  And light instead of shame. Neither abuser nor the abused are powerless to be freed once and for all from the chains of abuse.

Consider how polity is affected by shame. This is an unpopular word these days, but it refers to the way things run.  Everything has a polity.  There are rules we set out, procedures, ways of running things, routines we can go to when we are in trouble.  Have you seen the emergency plans that are displayed in the break room at your work? That’s polity.  You never read it and hardly ever pay any attention to it (unless you are so desperately bored and alone and your phone died and there is no WiFi anywhere and you have to make it until 5 o’clock somehow so that you stand there and mindlessly read it), but it’s there so that when that tornado watch comes, you know where to go by following the steps.  Polity is not Scripture, but it can be helpful and authoritative so long as it is rooted in the Word.  But because it is not Scripture, it can get infected by shame. We write procedures to handle the things that shame us. We shame people by the procedures. But Christ has a way to fix that, too.  If we are open to hear the errors of our ways even from those we think are our intellectual and spiritual inferiors.

A dear sister in the Lord and I were talking about the difficulty of certain questions in the Christian life.  We can give answers for them when they are theoretical questions without much hesitation. “This is what I would do…” But when the questions become real because we are in the middle of the thing we thought was only theoretical, things all of a sudden get really murky and complicated.  She wisely suggested that the reason that is comes from the fact that we stop trusting and believing that God’s hand is in the thing that is happening to us.  We don’t really believe in a sovereign God.  Now we find all sorts of qualifiers, buts, howevers, nuances, exceptions, and cries for mercy. Many times the answer is really the simple answer we gave when the troubles were away.

Failure is real, and we can get through it in Christ without shame and without shaming others. Forgiveness is possible through the cross of Christ who bore all my shame at the hand of sinful, slanderous people.  My words can and are being made more like Christ’s day by day as he makes me more and more like him every day, one degree of glory to the next. I’m seeing ways in which I have failed to be civil by both allowing others to shame me and by shaming others–sin is that deep, but repentance can restore civility. Abuse dies when Christ takes over shame, when repentance takes over shaming. Polity indeed shows us the way out of a tornado watch when we are willing to proofread it according to The Standard. Shame dies when light comes.

One of the things that has been impressed the most in my mind and my heart is this: “My resistance to vulnerability is feeding my deepest shame (J. R. Briggs, Fail)” I have a choice daily–what am I going to feed? Will I feed my deepest shame by not being vulnerable and sitting in a corner ashamed? Or will I feed my love and passion for Jesus Christ by being vulnerable to those he has brought into my life to walk with me? What will you feed? More shame?

A Cumplir la Promesa

Victor Chininin Buele

Esta mañana por medio de la tecnología escuché al sacerdote dar su homilía en la misa que se efectuó en el parque de Catamayo como que yo estuviera allí.  El sacerdote preguntó a las personas que se habían congregado antes de comenzar la caminata de 30 y pico de kilómetros a Loja: ¿De qué nos sirve caminar más de 30 kilómetros si no queremos dejar el pecado? Me pareció una pregunta muy importante y acertada.

Pero después el sacerdote empezó a describir a Jesucristo como un ser muy exigente. Y eso me trajo recuerdos de aquellos maestros en la escuela o en el colegio a quienes nosotros llamabamos exigentes. Y pensé: “Así no es Jesucristo”. Me hice esta pregunta: ¿Qué aprendemos de nuestro ser colectivo como lojanos y como seres humanos al ver dos cosas: (1) que muchisíma gente (yo vi 50 mil en algún periódico) vaya a cumplir la promesa realizada a Mamita Virgen y (2) que pensemos que Jesucristo es exigente?

La Promesa

¿Por qué los lojanos hacemos promesas a la Mamita Virgen? Cuando estamos en aquellos instantes en los cuales ya no hay escapatoria–la muerte está cerca, el examen empieza en dos minutos, la farsa que hemos creado se empieza a desplomar, el trabajo se pierde, los hijos se pierden, la casa se cae, la plata se acaba, la mujer me deja–en esos momentos empezamos a hacer las promesas.

Mamita Virgen, si me das <inserte su petición aquí>, yo <inserte su promesa aquí>.

Y es lo mismo que decimos con nuestra frase popular “Dios le pague”. Nosotros estamos diciendo de que para hacer algo, Dios necesita ponerse en deuda nuestra.  Para que Dios actúe nosotros debemos hacer algo. Caminaré 35 km o 72 km (dependiendo de donde se empiece el recorrido) hasta de rodillas si me das <inserte su promesa aquí> o si no permites que me pase <inserte su temor aquí>. Estamos diciendo que no entendemos el concepto de la gracia.  La gracia es algo desconocido para nosotros.  No tiene lugar en nuestro vocabulario.  No tiene lugar en nuestra vida. ¿Ve lo que le digo? En vez de decir gracias decimos “Dios le pague”, es decir, estamos diciendo que lo que se ha hecho por nosotros amerita que Dios de un pago a la otra persona por haberlo hecho. Dios se vuelve pequeño y nosotros nos volvemos grandotes.

La esencia de la promesa es nuestra necesidad innata de tener control sobre nuestras vidas. Cuando todo se cae y perdemos el control, corremos a algo que nos pueda dar alguna sensación de control. Ya todo se va a mejorar porque hice la promesa y la Churonita es bien milagrosa. Me lo va a hacer porque yo voy a caminar, o voy a dejar de fumar, o voy a dejar de tomar, o voy a dejar de acostarme con esa persona que no es mi cónyuge.  Me lo va a hacer porque soy buena persona.

Cuando hacemos la promesa decimos fuerte y claramente que (1) Dios no es Dios, (2) nosotros somos Dios, (3) tenemos el control de nuestras circunstancias si hacemos el bien.

Oramos, “Dios te salve, María, llena eres de gracia” y no sabemos lo que decimos. Y lo decimos con fe. Eso es indudable.

Jesucristo es exigente

Se nos olvida porque como es simplemente el bebito en el brazo de la Churonita que Jesús es el Rey de Reyes y Señor de Señores, Dios encarnado, segunda persona de la Trinidad, Todopoderoso y compasivo, lleno de gracia. El mensaje implícito en el señorío de la Señora de El Cisne, coronada y adornada en majestad ante nuestros ojos, es que Jesucristo es menor.  Seamos honestos, en nuestra fe popular, ¿cuántas veces en realidad pensamos en Jesucristo?

Cuando el sacerdote dijo que Jesucristo era exigente y que demandaba todo nuestro corazón, me recordó eso de mis tiempos cuando no podía contener mis necesidades biológicas en la escuela y me metía en graves problemas por eso.  Recordé el miedo, el temor. No podía controlar esas necesidades y me ganaban. Temía a la exigencia de las personas que me iban a reprender por ello, pero nadie me ayudaba a cambiar.

Cuando vemos a Jesucristo de esa manera cerramos la posibilidad de ver el camino al cambio verdadero, al cambio duradero. Cerramos la puerta a la gracia.

Oramos, “Bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús” y no sabemos lo que decimos.

La Promesa del Evangelio

Lucas 1:72-73: “Para mostrar misericordia a nuestros padres, y para recordar Su santo pacto, el juramento que hizo a nuestro padre Abraham”.

Hechos 2:33: “Así que, exaltado a la diestra de Dios, y habiendo recibido del Padre la promesa del Espíritu Santo, ha derramado esto que ustedes ven y oyen”.

Romanos 4:20-21: “Sin embargo, respecto a la promesa de Dios, Abraham no titubeó con incredulidad, sino que se fortaleció en fe, dando gloria a Dios, estando plenamente convencido de que lo que Dios había prometido, poderoso era también para cumplirlo”.

¡Resulta que es al revés!

La gracia es lo contrario de lo que pensamos.  No merecemos semejante promesa de Dios pero es un regalo inmerecido, de pura generosidad, misericordia y gracia. La promesa de Dios no falla, Zacarías profetiza en Lucas 1 de que la razón por la cual su hijo Juan vendría al mundo era parte del cumplimiento de la promesa del Padre de enviar a Jesucristo al mundo para terminar de una vez para siempre con nuestros pecados y darnos salvación, darnos descanso, darnos paz. Dios no olvida su promesa. Y su promesa is infallable.  Se ha cumplido y se cumplirá.

Esta promesa no depende en lo que nosotros hagamos o no hagamos, lo que querramos hacer o lo que no querramos hacer sino que depende en la exaltación del Hijo de Dios, resucitado y sentado a la derecha del Padre  en este momento.  Esta promesa se puede recibir hoy por medio del Gran Consolador, el Espíritu Santo que da vida nueva al muerto. Y en nuestros pecados, todos estamos muertos.

Pablo en Romanos nos muestra la fe de Abraham que no titubeó en confiar en la promesa de Dios, quien es poderoso y capaz de cumplirla. Nadie es más grande que Él.  Nadie más puede cumplir todas sus promesas sin fallar.

Nuestras promesas fallan.  Algún día no podrán caminar de Catamayo a Loja, y ¿qué pasará? Algún día se olvidarán de hacer lo que dijeron que iban a hacer. Algún día la tentación les ganará. ¿Y qué pasará entonces? ¿La furia de un ser exigente? ¿Su venganza?


Vamos al Padre. Vamos a Jesucristo, nuestro Salvador verdadero. Solamente en Él podemos descansar. La fe en Jesucristo no requiere caminar 30 km para que alguien sane. O seguir caminando por toda una vida para que siga sano. Necesitamos la profundidad del amor y la sabiduría de Dios en nuestras vidas. Necesitamos aquel milagro en nuestra vida–de que el Señor cambie nuestros corazones y nos de vida eterna para que en lugar de salir a cumplir la promesa y agotarnos tratando de cumplirla por siempre, salgamos en fe a proclamar las excelencias de Aquél que nos dio descanso verdadero, paz duradera, amor mejor que incondicional y satisfacción eterna.

Jesucristo cumplió todo a cabalidad para que pueda darnos por gracia su mano con agujeros de aquellos clavos de nuestra cruz.  Y la libertad que nos da no viene con cadenas o con el requerimiento exigente de hacer y hacer y hacer y hacer para demostrar que somos buenos. Viene con la humildad de reconocer la profundidad de nuestro pecado y de la maldad de nuestro ser alejado de Jesucristo. Puede tener paz verdadera sin tener que ir a cumplir la promesa.  La promesa se ha cumplido.  Cristo vino al mundo a salvarlo.

“Porque no nos predicamos a nosotros mismos, sino a Cristo Jesús como Señor, y a nosotros como siervos de ustedes por amor de Jesús. Pues Dios, que dijo: “De las tinieblas resplandecerá la luz,” es el que ha resplandecido en nuestros corazones, para iluminación del conocimiento de la gloria de Dios en el rostro de Cristo.  Pero tenemos este tesoro en vasos de barro, para que la extraordinaria grandeza del poder sea de Dios y no de nosotros. Afligidos en todo, pero no agobiados; perplejos, pero no desesperados; perseguidos, pero no abandonados; derribados, pero no destruidos” (2 Corintios 4:5-9).

Es diferente. Lo contrario de lo que nuestra creencia popular determina.

Que Dios hoy haga la luz en su corazón y respandezca en usted mostrándole el conocimiento de la gloria de Dios en el rostro de Cristo.  Que este milagro verdadero se de en su vida hoy.

Para que nos quede claro

¿Qué es el evangelio? Jesús es Dios.  Jesús se volvió hombre, nacido de una virgen. Jesús es el hijo de Dios sin pecado, quien no necesita un salvador como nosotros o como su madre María (Ella misma dijo: Dios mi salvador).  Nosotros necesitamos salvación.  Jesús no. Jesucristo es el camino, no un camino. Él es el cordero de Dios que quita el pecado del mundo, no solamente una manera de ser salvo sino la única manera de ser salvo. Y la fuente de esta salvación no son nuestras obras ni nuestras promesas sino Dios.  Jesucristo es el Cordero de Dios. Él se sacrificó en nuestro lugar–nosotros pecamos, Él no; Él fue crucificado, nosotros no. Él murió en esa cruz en el Calvario y resucitó de entre los muertos en el tercer día. Y nos llama como el victorioso Jesús que reina a la derecha del Padre a arrepentirnos de nuestros pecados, a darles la espalda a nuestros pecados.  La pregunta del sacerdote era correcta–¿de qué sirve caminar tanto si queremos seguir viviendo en el pecado? Y cuando nos arrepentimos debemos seguir viviendo en el arrepentimiento porque, querido amigo, toda la vida es una vida de arrepentimiento pero confiando ya en la obra culminada por Cristo.  No le podemos añadir nada.  Ya no hay nada más que hacer.  Jesucristo conquistó.

Hasta la próxima, querido peregrino.  Espero que caminemos juntos a la Nueva Jerusalén. No se quede atrás. Vamos.

Testamento 2018

Victor Chininin Buele

No he dejado que esta familia tenga tiempo para escribir por aquí. No he dejado tiempo para que esta familia pueda hacer muchas cosas en las que siempre han confiado para encontrar recreo en el medio de la adversidad.

Y aquí me encuentro, a punto ya de expirar. Es hora de recibir mi ola anual de adoración. Una ola de escritos a nivel nacional e internacional. Soy muy famoso y me dan crédito por todo. Yo doy y yo quito cosas. Les he dado una imagen real de Caperucita Roja y su lobo disfrazado de abuelita con el licenciado cuántico y su pandilla. Les dejo un Vice al que no lo podrán botar jamás porque no podrán  gritar su apellido en las huelgas. Les he dado una película peor que sólo para adultos con rating TV-MA con el Donald J. por el norte.

Y de eso escribirán mucho. A mi querida Loja le dejo los mismos de siempre, peleando para ser dizque alcalde y dañar e ignorar lo que el otro hizo y dejar que lo que no hizo sea el foco de la atención pública. Castillos de cristal o baches con agua podrida para Ciudad Victoria. Viaductos y Zona Rosa o escombrera en Sierra Nevada. Les dejo con intriga para el 2019 o quizás le escuchen al Einstein que era tan pilas—que la locura es hacer lo mismo una y otra vez pero esperando resultados diferentes.

Dejo precios altos y recortes salariales. Dejo enfermedades pero también les dejo memes para que no se olviden que en este lugar no se gana, pero al menos se goza.

El Chininín no se calla. Ha venido de una visita al hospital. Uno de los hermanos de su amigo tuvo un ataque cardiaco y un accidente automovilístico debido a aquel. Está, como yo, a punto de fallecer. Yo quiero que también lo ponga en el testamento de las cosas que le dejo. Me dice que el hijo mayor de otra familia que son amigos suyos tuvo una muerte muy trágica esta semana pasada. Y yo quiero también que lo ponga en el testamento de las cosas que le dejo. Pero me dice que no soy yo quien está detrás de todo.  Hasta le dejé el privilegio de celebrar la boda de uno de sus grandes amigos de siempre pero ni por eso me quiere elogiar. Y eso que dicen que sabe escribir bonito.

Esto me causa gran pena porque en esta agonía mi consuelo es ser adorado por todos que aunque me quemen esta fatídica noche por un ratito me querrán. Mis viudas me llorarán. Mis borrachines cantarán clariririritito (porque aún no les suben el Cantaclaro, pero esperen nomás).  Y él no me deja. Incluso me dice que la juventud se hará quedar todas las moneditas que pidieron dizque para mi.  ¿Y mi viuda…?

Le recuerdo a este individuo muchas de las cosas que quería hacer y no pudo como evidencias de mi gran poder. Sus proyectos que no se concretaron. Pero no me deja.

Me dice que no necesita quemarme aunque ganas no le faltan porque él confía en la mano bondadosa de lo que yo le digo es un personaje ficticio de su ambiciosa imaginación—este Dios supuestamente vivo y viviente que no fallece como yo. Que supuestamente es quien da y quita, quien obra todas las cosas para el bien de su pueblo, para el bien de quienes lo aman.

Le digo que me deje aquí en la cama en esta hora final de mi sosiego. Que me deje en paz. Que no me hable de su cuento de hadas que dizque se llama el evangelio.

Pero al ver que las luces ya se apagan empiezo a preguntarme si es en verdad la única historia, la única explicación para todo—si me permiten repetir lo que me dice—que Jesús en verdad se volvió un ser humano que conoce el aguijón y el dolor de la muerte. Que Jesús es el único que es Rey Soberano sobre todas las cosas. Que Él es quien ha permitido al cuántico traidor y al de cabello anaranjado sentarse un ratito en la silla de administración de la creación de Dios. Que Él es quien quita toda la basura de nuestras vidas para que podamos ver con claridad que cuando se nos acaban los engaños, la bebida, las pastillas, los amantes, la farra, el trabajo, o lo que sea que hemos puesto en lugar de Dios, Él nos levanta de la aflicción con la esperanza eterna de la creación restaurada. Donde la abuelita correrá.  Donde la libertad abundará. Donde el dinero no engañará con su aroma falso de felicidad. Donde las lágrimas de dolor ya no existirán. Donde los precios serán todos GRACIA SOBERANA de un Dios abundantemente generoso. Me dice con esa sonrisa tonta que Dios está en un gran plan de regeneración de su creación.  Que hay esperanza verdadera en la resurrección de Jesucristo.  ¿Pueden imaginarse eso, que un muerto vive, sentado a la diestra de un Padre supuestamente generoso que (como me dice) se deleita en dar a sus hijos buenos regalos aunque se hayan portado mal, aunque hayan fallado de manera desastrosa? Incluso usa esa palabra pecado.  Que yo he pecado.

Y todo gracias a Aquél que vino a morir en el Calvario en una cruz. Me pregunto si es posible que todo este peso que llevo sobre mi espalda, toda mi ansiedad y toda mi preocupación pueden en verdad, como este Chininín tan patéticamente me sigue diciendo, ser dejados al pie de esa cruz. ¡Como si fuera algún milagro!

Chao, mis queridos.
-El Susodicho 2018


Nota del Chininín:

Es un milagro es en verdad. ¡Hágase la luz!

Feliz Año 2019. Que Dios les bendiga abundantemente. Que sus hogares tengan amor y paz, comida y gasolina abundantes, que su trabajo sea fructífero, que sus hijos e hijas tengan padres que los amen sin condición, que todas las circunstancias ya que parezcan ser buenas o malas les lleven al trono de la gracia donde Jesús dice: “Venid a mí, todos los que estáis cansados y cargados, y yo os haré descansar.  Tomad mi yugo sobre vosotros y aprended de mí, que soy manso y humilde de corazón, y hallareis descanso para vuestras almas. Porque mi yugo es fácilmi carga ligera” (Mateo 11)

Vamos. Y bienvenidos a Jesucristo.

Judging the Judge

Victor Chininin Buele

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the other end of this big mess. And you have sat in the seat–you have judged the judge, now an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Since I suspect it will take you no time whatsoever to revert back to saying it’s not cool or acceptable to judge, a few words are important to consider.

Why Do You Care So Much?

When allegations like the ones we have heard take place, and when issues that are at the foundation of the religious soul of America (whether the religion of secularism or any other) are brought up, the soul cries out for the truth.  Not just for “her truth” or “his truth” or “my truth” or “your truth.”  When it truly matters, such as in times like today, we can smell the fake from a mile away, and I’m not talking about President Trump’s fake fake.  Deep inside, we know that there is an objective truth, an absolute truth, and our soul won’t rest until the truth is found.

You and I, common folks, will probably never know what actually happened.  But something did happen.

And it bothers us.

Why Is It That You Want So Badly to Protest?

Augustine is famous for having said that our souls are restless until they find rest in God.  We live in a free nation where it’s entirely acceptable for you to exercise your freedom to proclaim that there is no God, that the God of the Bible is a figment of my imagination, or that you can’t quite figure out whether there is a God or not.  We always got along just fine.  But now, people are no longer just disagreeing with one another.  Now, there is an assumption placed on the other person.  And it’s a most terrifying one: I disagree with you, and you are, quite frankly, the scum of the earth, the worst human to ever have lived.  If you believe the opposite I believe about abortion, well, you just want to kill millions of women… If you don’t agree with the same set of moral imperatives we want you to affirm, well, then you are just hateful and should lose everything you’ve got unless you reform, of course.  We no longer listen to understand.  We just want our turn to shout louder.

We want to protest because as the apostle Paul says, we groan inwardly for redemption.  This whole circus went terribly bad.  It was horrible for Dr. Ford.  It was horrible for Justice Kavanaugh.  It is probably fair to say that many were auditioning for their next seat of power in the future, whether dog catcher, senator, aspiring White House occupant, or whatever.

You are mad. I understand.  And you should stay mad.

Why Do I Want You To Stay Mad?

I want you to stay mad because pretty soon, you’ll return to your old ways.  You’ll go back to your echo chamber.  You’ll get distracted with the noise and the sound of the things you use to silence your conscience.

You are desperately broken.  You are mad quite possibly because you’ve been where Dr. Ford reports to have been.  You are mad quite possibly because the thought of you or one of your daughters being in the place where Dr. Ford reports to have been is quite frankly a major source of fear and despair.  You are mad quite possibly because you’ve been the one who has afflicted this kind of pain upon somebody.  You are mad quite possibly because deep down you know that to a lesser degree you are guilty of at least one of the things that have been thrown out there.

But you may also say you are a righteous person, a good human being, trying your best.  And this just shows you the futility of it all, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” said the old writer of Ecclesiastes giving words to your more modern “WTF?”

We Groan.  The Judge Groaned to Death.

So, we are groaning, regardless of your camp. Whether you are willing to camp outside of the Supreme Court crying out for abortion rights to remain or whether you are quietly contemplating how badly this whole thing went.  Whether you are ashamed that this happened or whether you are secretly sighing in relief.  Whether you think this is the biggest victory for the “conservative pro-life” or the destruction of that.

We are groaning.  How does this get any better?

Our legal system is based on the fundamental principle of the assumption of innocence unless somebody is found guilty.  That is a system of grace, of unmerited grace.  The criminal, the terrorist, the rapist, the man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, the serial killer, the scapegoat, the innocent man, they all share this–we cannot call you a criminal, a terrorist, a rapist, etc., unless we have proven that beyond reasonable doubt.  That means that sometimes people get away with something…

And here is where I bring you to the gospel.

You are mad because Kavanaugh got away with something.

You are mad because the Democrats got away with something.

I honestly do not know which way it is.  And I’m not going to tell you which side is more persuasive to me because that’s beside the point I’m trying to make.

You get away with sin every day of your life and still live!

We are singing a song at church tomorrow that goes like this:

All who strayed and walked away
Unspeakable things you’ve done
Fix your eyes on the mountain
Let the past be dead and gone
Come all saints and sinners
You can’t outrun God
Whatever you’ve done can’t overcome
The power of the blood
We have all gone astray.  There is not one of us who can stand when we are placed in the  seat waiting our judgment.  And our Judge is more righteous than Chairman Grassley.  We have all sinned.  And we groan because our conscience bears witness of this, and we do not have peace.  We self-medicate.  We occupy ourselves with things to take our minds away from this.  We groan because the stain is deep and obvious, and we want to hide it.  We carry this scarlet letter in our robes, and we try everything possible from Chanel to Walmart’s George brand to try to cover it up.
Our legal system in the United States confronts us with grace.  If God calls the person who’s wronged you the deepest to Himself, and he comes in repentance to ask your forgiveness, would you give it? Can we imagine a redeemed Donald Trump sitting next to a redeemed Brett Kavanaugh sitting next to a redeemed Dr. Ford sitting next to a redeemed me?  The gospel is that powerful!  Paul closes his epistle to the Philippians in a most interesting way: [22] All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.[23] The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:22–23 ESV)

Got that?  Let me write it in modern English.  “All the redeemed sinners of this part of the world known as the United States, made holy through the sacrifice of Christ, greet you, especially the Trumps and the Clintons.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

God can change those who are the farthest from Him.

You know you fail the judgement.  Do you want to be free? Do you want to be clean?

This all bothers you because the thing that’s happened confronts you with the fact that you are guilty until made innocent.  And only Jesus can make you clean.  And that’s grace.  You will get away with it because Jesus didn’t.  He took it all–your worst filth, your worst sin–it was all nailed to His cross.

It can only happen when you take off your stained robes and take Christ’s as your own.

Turn to Him and be saved.  Don’t delay.