Got a Minute? Priests?

Hi, Friends in exile, Got a minute?

I was on a flight a few years ago from Denver, Colorado, to Houston, Texas. While in route, I sat next to a man whom I mistook for a Catholic priest. He was wearing black pants and a black long-sleeved collarless shirt that had a small opening in the front. My guess was way off. He was Mennonite, on his way to a homeschooling convention. We struck up a warm, meaningful, and personal conversation. My wife and I had been homeschooling our children for several years, and he had an obvious and serious faith in Jesus Christ.

In Scripture (1 Peter 2:9), followers of Jesus are called a “royal priesthood.” We non-Catholic Christians speak of “the priesthood of every believer.” It is not a priesthood of special vestments or specific rituals that we alone can lead. Our shared priesthood is a calling to stand between God and the world of people to bring them together. We do this through prayer and through the witness of our lives and words.

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? “Congress Should Do Something!”

Hi, Friends in exile, Got a minute?

Dr. Richard Halverson retired a few years ago as the chaplain of the U.S. Senate. When he was chaplain, he spoke before a group of evangelicals who were mad because Congress was so inactive and seemingly apathetic about the issue of school prayer. They were irritated that Congress had not acted with a strong initiative to restore prayer in schools. During his speech, Dr. Halverson asked, “How many of you have prayed with your children this month, outside of church?” Not a single hand went up.[1] I remember a song about The Man in the Mirror a few years ago. Do you?

Peter reminds Jesus’ people: “But you are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession[2], in order that you may proclaim the virtues’ of the One Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9, FJV). This calling truly begins with That Person in the Mirror.

Smiley Mudd


[1] Quoted in In Other Words, 1997, p. 42.

[2] Presumably a possession for God.

Got a Minute? Priority of Allegiances

Hi, Friends in exile, Got a minute?

Andrew Johnson was the vice-president under Abraham Lincoln. He assumed the presidency after Lincoln was shot. He pardoned those who had seceded and continued Lincoln’s plan for Reconstruction of the South. He had his sense of priority in place, even as he struggled to lead in the rebuilding of the Union. On one occasion, he said: “Let us look forward to the time when we can take the flag of our country and nail it below the Cross, and there let it wave as it waved in the olden times, and let us gather around it and inscribe for our motto: ‘Liberty and Union, one and inseparable, now and forever,’ and exclaim, Christ first, our country next!”[1] Can you see in your imagination heads exploding today, if almost any elected official said that?

But his point was this: government isn’t established in a vacuum. Christians believe that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Jesus, the Son of God]” (See Matthew 28:19). He is the true Source of liberty.

Smiley Mudd


[1] America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, p. 334.

God a Minute? It Was “Little Short of a Standing Miracle.”

Hi, Friends in exile, Got a minute?

Every year on the Fourth of July, I begin a book of solid scholarship on America’s founding. Readings have included the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, The Federalist Papers, and biographies of key figures of the time. This year, Jeannie and I will listen to David McCollough read his book 1776. In early 1776 newly minted General George Washington wrote the most despondent letter of his life. In it, Washington doubted himself, he doubted the Congress, he doubted the soldiers. The one thing he did not doubt was the justice of the cause and the ideals they were pursuing.

Washington gave Farewell Orders to the troops when he resigned his commission as General officer. In them he “expressed ‘astonishment’ at the American triumph, calling it ‘little short of a standing miracle.’” (see chapter 25 of John Ferling’s Almost a Miracle). Many agree. It is right for us to thank God for the founding of this country, and to pledge anew to pursue our shared ideals.

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Masking the Face … and the Soul

Hi, Friends in exile, Got a minute?

People in Washington State and now at least in Texas are required to wear face masks in group settings. The hope is to slow a second surge of COVID-19. Before a kind friend made us face masks, I used a bandana. I kept wanting to say, “Stick ‘em up!” Too many Westerns on TV growing up.

Masking the face may serve a good medical purpose. Masking the soul is something else. In the age of social media, many have assumed personas, writing things, especially on Twitter, that they wouldn’t say to someone’s face (thank God). They join the Shame-mob to cancel others because of something they said or did, often long in the past. Such soul-masking is soul-sickness, a worse spiritual disorder than COVID-19.

We need to recover this focused prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24, ESV).

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Celebrating on Independence Day

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

In 1776, prominent citizens gathered in Independence Hall in Philadelphia for the Second Continental Congress. Great Britain and the thirteen British colonies in America had been in armed conflict for a year. Five men were assigned to write a Declaration of Independence, stating their intention and reasons for becoming a sovereign nation. Thomas Jefferson wrote the rough draft, and it was revised slightly by the other four members: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston.

The final edition was approved on July 4 of 1776 and signed by the delegates over the next month or so. That document declared: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights….” I remind you that this is the best reason to celebrate Independence Day. It calls us every year to remember this foundational ideal and to renew our resolve to pursue it.

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Frank Reed, and Who Really Cares?

Hi, Friends in exile, Got a minute?

From Lynn Prior in Leadership: “From 1986 to 1990, Frank Reed was held hostage in a Lebanon cell. For months at a time Reed was blindfolded, living in complete darkness, or chained to a wall and kept in absolute silence….

“Although he was beaten, made ill, and tormented, Reed felt most the lack of anyone caring. He said…, ‘Nothing I did mattered to anyone. I began to realize how withering it is to exist with not a single expression of caring around [me]. … I learned one overriding fact: caring is a powerful force. If no one cares, you are truly alone.’”

This pandemic lockdown has made those prone to depression even more isolated. The political climate right now is nasty and polarizing. Who really cares? Good question.

“God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, FJV). Paul asks, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” Answer: no one and nothing (see Romans 8:37-39).

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? “God in Three Persons”?

Hi, Friends in exile, Got a minute?

I finished reading a biography of Thomas Jefferson recently. It was written by Edwin Gaustad (apologies if I mispronounced your name, Ed), and entitled Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s religious beliefs landed somewhere between Unitarian and Deist, with a great respect for Jesus—albeit Jesus shorn of deity (so, not Christian).

Jefferson stumbled on the doctrine of the Trinity, believing it defied logic: three Persons, One God. Perhaps a humble analogy to music might help. The C-major chord is composed of three separate notes: C, E, and G. They are all separate notes with a distinct sound. When played simultaneously, they make the C-major chord. Perhaps this might help us as we try to conceive of our Creator, who is, by definition, beyond our full comprehension.

Isaiah hints at this when he quotes the LORD, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9, NIV).

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? William Carey, Paul, and Me

Hi, Friends in exile, Got a minute?

William Carey’s work has inspired two centuries of Christian missions, but he wasn’t born by Immaculate Conception. He was a profane, dishonest youth before God found him as an apprentice cobbler. He wrestled with foul speech, honesty, and unhealthy relationships before his conversion. I can identify, really.

Carey went to India in 1793. In forty-one years without a furlough, he oversaw the translation of the whole Bible into six languages and portions into twenty-nine others. He helped found Serampore College, the first Christian university in Asia, still going today, and much more. But he was saved by grace through faith in Jesus just like everyone else. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” writes Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Paul knew this by experience. Carey understood this. So do I. God sent His Son to save, not condemn for past failures (see John 3:17). He has forgiven our past, redeemed our present, and promised our future.

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Was I This Bad?

Hi, Friends in exile, Got a minute?

I have been teaching through the Gospel of Luke this year. Today I am teaching from chapter 8 on the story of Jesus’ encounter with a man that everyone had marked off as hopeless. His family and his society had given up on him. He had given up on himself. He is described as demon-possessed, and it fits: “For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs” (v. 27). Even when Jesus asked the man his name, he could only reply, “Legion,” because, as the text tells us, “many demons had gone into him” (v. 30).

Yet, after a dramatic encounter with Jesus, he is described like this: “sitting at the feet of Jesus, dressed and in his right mind” (v. 35). I have often said that this is my humble aspiration as a follower of Jesus: to be described as “sitting at the feet of Jesus, dressed and in [my] right mind”! The powerful lesson here, in part, is, if Jesus can save him, He can save anyone, and that includes each of us.

Smiley Mudd