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Monday, March 18, 2019

Count the Cost (Again)

I recently wrote about the problem we American Christians have with Jesus's "Sell all your possessions" because of our own wealth. "Are you talking to me?" This is not that. We do need to count the cost in other areas.

You may have heard that Jesus said, "Which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?" (Luke 14:28). He did. Do you know the context? To what was He referring when He said it?
"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:26-27)
Oh, now, hang on a moment. Is Jesus saying that the "cost" we are to count is ... hardship? Yes, yes He is.

Jesus told His disciples, "In the world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33). Notice that there is no ambiguity, no question, not even a "might have." "You will." Peter told his readers, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12). Notice, again the complete lack of ambiguity. Not "if it comes upon you," but "when." This is the cost Jesus told them to count. Personal loss. Public loss. Loss of family and friends and even life. Count on it.

We don't, do we? We're the "comfortable Christians." We want to "get along," to be friends with everyone, to suffer no loss, to be on the "right side of history." We encounter family and friends who "come out" as "gay" and we need to reevaluate our understanding of Scripture because "that just can't be." No, it always has been, but we aren't willing to suffer loss, to bear the pain. We are told it is hate to think biblically on some of these topics so ... we don't. Because we are not willing to suffer loss or bear the pain.

Frankly, Christianity is not our idea. We don't get to play with it, manipulate it, make it our own, update it, correct it. It is God's. And because it is God's, it will necessarily clash with our world, our world's values, our world's perceptions. Yours and mine. If you are practicing a Christianity that is comfortable and gets along with the world around you, I would argue that you're not practicing God's Christianity. If you read God's Word and find in it just those things with which you agree, I'd argue that you're not reading God's Word for what it's worth. If your Christian life is pretty comfortable and never contentious as it rubs up against the culture and society, I'd have to say you may not be living God's Christianity. On the other hand, if it is your plan to do just that -- live God's Christianity -- you had better count the cost because the founder of Christianity said it won't always be pleasant. Count on it.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Ministers of Christ

I am reading Colossians and came across Epaphras whom Paul identifies as "a faithful minister of Christ" (Col 1:8). What is that?

We've come to think of a "minister" as a part of the clergy. "Clergy" refers to those ordained by the church. That's all well and good until you read
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
That's odd, isn't it? That says we are all "a royal priesthood," which we would term "clergy" or "ministers," and we are all to "proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you." Huh. That seems like all believers would be ministers in a sense. Not just, you know, ministers.

Are we? The word in Scripture refers to a servant of any kind. The Greek language used it for military laborers and temple workers and priests and servants of the king or state. Any kind of servant, apparently. And Paul said he was "ministering the gospel of God" (Rom 15:16), so that would be distributing the gospel to those who need it ... as a servant. Hey, we use the word that way, or, at least, we did once. A nurse might "minister to his wounds," where it would mean that she attended to the needs of the person. And that's the real idea here, isn't it?

So ... are we? Are we ministers? Are we, in fact, attending to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Sometimes I wonder. Watch your typical church gathering and you'll often find an overall sense of "you first." You know, "I'll be glad to take part, but you go first. You invite me. You ask me. You first." We show up to get fed, not to feed. We show up to be served, not to serve. We show up to hear the Word, not to give it. Oh, sure, there is always that 20% who do 80% of the work, but I'm talking about the 80% that don't. Like baby birds, we sit there with our mouths open begging for food and not feeding others. We don't really act like ministers.

I'd like to see that. I'd like to see a church where people are reaching out rather than in. I'd like to see a place where the majority have a primary concern of giving, not getting. Giving time, prayer, attention, the Word, support, and, yeah, okay, money, too. But that is way down on my list. I would like to see a church where you couldn't walk in without being engaged, cared for, embraced, and not merely physically. Well, we're not there. Answering my own question, no, we are not, as a whole, ministers. We'll just leave that up to the professionals. Even though we should be "trying this at home." Even without the quotes. (I mean, seriously, ministering as servants at home and everywhere else.) Just a thought.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

News Weakly - 3/16/19

Speaking Truth to Power
I cannot fathom this story about Elizabeth Warren who seeks to break up Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon. They have "too much power." Which sounds to me a lot like, "And I want it." The plan here seems to be boldly, "I'm opposed to any corporation with big money and signficant influence and I want to make sure we in the government get both." Is no one else hearing, "We're staunchly opposed to the Free Market"? Look, maybe they are. Certainly the Socialist Democrats are; maybe it's just a Democrat thing ... with a lot of backing from today's younger generation. Maybe. Just say so. That's fine. Don't hide behind "patriotism" while you aim to dismantle the underpinnings of the nation.

Identity Crisis
I'm sure she didn't mean this, but I'm not clear on what she meant. Alyssa Milano tweeted she was transgender, a "person of color," an immigrant, lesbian and gay man, and disabled. She says she just wanted to provide empathy. She said she was identifying with and not as. Ummm, okay ... but ... "I am" is an identity term, not an "identify with" term. And clearly, no matter what you think, you don't get to be who you think you are unless you are in those very specific categories now deemed "real". Like some in Islam, they say they want peace while they continue their aggression and wonder why peace isn't accepted.

99.99% Voter Turnout
North Korea had an election this week. A 99.99% turnout, they said. Wow! Didn't know it was a democracy, did you? Of course, you'd have to put "vote" in quotes since a North Korean election has no choice of candidates and voter turnout is mandatory and anything less than complete devotion to the Kim family is outlawed. You show up to "vote" and your ballot is a piece of paper with one name on it for each office. You place that paper in the ballot box and go home. Oh, and, surprise, surprise, guess who won? Hopefully not a system coming soon to a country near you.

Taking Its Cue from the Religion of Peace
Islam is known as "the religion of peace" while many adherents seek to kill as many infidels as they can. Following their example, it seems, Russia is complaining about the demise of the treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership with the Ukraine. Apparently after Russia backed a civil war within Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula and seized three Ukrainian naval ships (they still hold the crews), Ukraine isn't interested in renewing the treaty. Imagine that! Ol' meanies. Or maybe Russia was just so impressed when the Nazis did the same thing to them that they thought the Ukraine would like to give it a go, too. "We'll completely violate the treaty and then whine about how you aren't interested in peace." Makes sense in today's world.

Ecclesiastes Illustrated
Solomon wrote, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil" (Ecc 8:11). In 1972 a group of soldiers shot protestors in an event that came to be known as Bloody Sunday. This week one of them will face charges for that shooting ... 47 years later. Sixteen other soldiers involved are not being prosecuted. Justice deferred is justice denied.

Bad Will Hunting
Connecticut's top court has ruled that the maker of the AR-15 used in the Sandy Hook shooting can be liable for the actions of the nutjob that killed his mother and stole it from her to do the deed. It seems to me there are all sorts of problems with that. "If you market your car as 'the car that makes the man' and someone kills you and steals it and kills people with it, you can be held liable." Really?

But it's worse than that. According to the FBI, between 2010 and 2014 there were roughly 63,000 murders in America. Of those over two-thirds (68%) were done with firearms. And, as we all know, the leading firearm for these murders is the AR-15 or its cousins. Except that's not true. According to the FBI, the leading firearm is the handgun (70%) with rifles at 3.5% and shotguns at 3.7%. Now, to be fair, "other guns" and "type not stated" collectively make up nearly 23%, but clearly the winner (rather, loser) in this discussion is not the rifle or assault rifle, but the handgun. Of the total number of murders, knives make up nearly 13%, much more than the 2.4% that are rifles. 30% of all murders are done with knives, blunt objects, personal weapons (hands, feet, etc.), poison, explosives, fire, narcotics, drowning, strangulation, and other weapons. So why are we focusing on the 2.4%? Clearly murder is a bad thing and clearly we want to try to curtail it, so why are we pointing to such a small number? I get that we're trying to hunt down the killers and put an end to it, but it seems like we're looking in the worst possible places. (Note that New Zealand has drastically stricter gun laws than the U.S. and they have the same problems, so maybe gun laws are not the "fix all" that many seem to think they are.)

DOS
A New York court ruled that a former contestant on The Apprentice can proceed with her law suit against the president. She accuses him of sexual harassment in 2007 followed by defamation in 2016. The court ruled that a sitting president can be sued. The president, they said, is not above the law.

First, given the animosity of the entire state of New York against this president, I don't know who would have expected a different ruling. Second, I don't understand how "You can sue him when he's out of office" equates with "above the law." Finally, I can foresee a withering firestorm of lawsuits levied against this president that would so cripple him (in computers we call it "DOS" -- Denial of Service -- where the attack is so intense that nothing else can be done regardless of the effectiveness of the attacks) that he could leave office without doing another presidential thing. Any president-hater can use this new option to cause havoc without any real merit. Let's see if we can cripple America by suing its leadership.

Speaking of Universal Healthcare
Okay, the Green New Deal has been nagging at the back of our news cycles for a few weeks now. It includes government-managed healthcare. So it seems appropriate to run this story on a guy who took advantage of a 3-hour wait at the DMV to write an argument for government-managed healthcare.

Must be true; I read it on the Internet.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Where Are You Going?

It seems to me that many of us start off on trips without keeping in mind where we're going. We don't have a clear view of the aim. We aren't at all sure what the point is. So we go to school or we go to work or we enter relationships and marriages and such with only a vague notion of where we're going with this.

Consider, for instance, the dilemma of prayer. We know that God is sovereign (I prefer the capital S, but I still think that most Christians agree that He is sovereign in some sense.) He is omniscient. He is omnipotent. He is perfect. And so ... we pray. What? Why? If God knows everything and God has the power to do whatever He wants and God is actually in charge, why do we bother? It's not like you're going to say, "Dear Lord, please help my friend Jimmy. He has cancer." And God is going to say, "Wait ... what? Jimmy has cancer?? When did that happen??!" He knows it. And He can heal it if He wants. He doesn't need you to ask. He's going to do what He's going to do. And yet, we pray. Why? Well, there are reasons, but if we're not clear on where we're going with prayer, the reasons won't be clear. We pray first and foremost because He said to. We are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). Jesus taught His disciples "that they ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). We pray because we're supposed to. But that doesn't answer why. Prayer is our communication path with God. In it we ask and we thank, we confess and we implore. We ask, seek, and knock. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Php 4:6). Did you catch that? We pray with supplication and thanksgiving to eliminate our worries. No, prayer doesn't change God's mind or God's information. It changes us. It makes us humble. It teaches us dependency. It directs our attention. It glorifies God. If your aim is to get God to do what you want Him to do, you're using prayer for the wrong reasons (James 4:3). Prayer is to aid your relationship with God. If that's your aim, prayer works. If your aim is to twist God's arm with it, you will be disappointed with prayer. God uses our prayers in His work and we get to participate in His work with our prayer, but informing God or changing His will is not a function of prayer. We need to know where we're going with prayer or we will find ourselves frustrated.

I think we have all sorts of misguided ideas about where we're going with what we're doing. I think this is true in all sorts of things we all face every day. What is the purpose of Christianity? Is it to make bad people into good people? Is it a fire escape, so to speak? No. What is the point of life? Is it money, sex, power, fun? Is it a chance to fulfill my desires and dreams? No. What is the point of Christian Apologetics? To make converts? To argue people into the kingdom? No. What is the point of church? Is it to get large crowds and a good band? No. We need to ask this about everything in life and we need to have a clear grasp on the right answer because if we don't know where we're going, it will be hard to get there, we won't know if we do, and we won't likely know where to go.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Count the Cost

We are Americans. Even the poorest of us has more than the majority of the world. A family of of five living at the poverty line in the U.S. is actually "the 1%" compared to the rest of the world. "Poor" is relative, and Americans -- even the "less wealthy" -- are rich.

That's why it's so tough for me to read about the rich young ruler. A seemingly sincere young man with money asked Jesus, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 18:18). Good question! Good attitude! And you're asking the very best Person! This is great! But it wasn't. Jesus asked for perfection (Luke 18:19-20) and then pointed out his single most difficult problem -- wealth. "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" Luke 18:22). "Yeah, we hear You, Jesus," we say. "'Come, follow Me.' We got it. We'll do that. Hmmm? What's that? Nope, I didn't hear anything about too much wealth."

My all-time most-viewed entry for this blog is from 2006 on the topic of "Sell all your possessions." It's what we do. Dodge it. Jesus did not mean "Sell all your possessions," right? No, of course not. But ... and then we dodge it. We play the game. "If He didn't actually mean that Christians must own absolutely nothing, then He must have meant we don't have to do anything at all about our wealth." What kind of logic is that? Bad logic.

Jesus did not make "own nothing at all" a prerequisite to salvation despite what skeptics (anti-theist and Christian alike) claim. What we must face is that because of our wealth as American Christians, we're using that fact to suggest that Jesus said nothing at all. We are relying on our wealth to keep us safe and happy. We trust our funds to supply our needs. We promise God everything, but keep our bank accounts, televisions, and comfortable lives from the potential chopping block. Brothers, these things ought not be.

Wealth isn't a sin. Idolatrous wealth is. Who is it that we're supposed to count on to keep us safe and happy, to supply our needs? It's not that stuff. When we do, it's idolatry and we American Christians sin. I struggle with this. I suspect I'm not alone.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Question Authority

The problem I mentioned before -- "patriarchy" -- is actually problem of sin. However, even that is hard to pick out of patriarchy. That is, the notion of patriarchy is that it is a system of male-led authority which is, by definition, bad. It is oppression. It is evil. No one should be in that position. Really? Is that where we are? Has our decades old "Question authority" become "Deny all authority"? Yes, yes it has.

The problem of patriarchy is the problem of authority. Oh, we don't put it that way. What we say is the problem is oppression of women by men. (No one seems to be concerned about the oppression of men by women where it occurs.) The problem of patriarchy is male supremacy. (That feminism seeks female supremacy is not an issue.) Most of us recognize that not all men are rapists or sexual abusers (although very, very few seem to think that women might be rapists or sexual abusers) (and "all men are ..." is almost always wrong). The problem is a male domination -- male-controlled, male-centered value and authority. Under this hierarchy is rape and sexual abuse, domestic violence, devaluation of women, unequal pay, all that.

The message women are sending to men these days is "We don't need you anymore." It is wrong for men to want to defend women. The "damsel in distress" idea is evil, immoral, outdated. But the problem isn't women. And the problem isn't men. The problem is authority. In our mindset today we love "freedom," by which we mean "Do whatever I want to do." It might be sexual freedom -- perform whatever acts with whoever I want. It might be the right to "follow your dream," to "be what you want to be." It might be the right to do nothing at all. But the child's rebel yell, "You're not the boss of me!" is our adult yell, too. Not the people around you or even God. "I will be like the Most High." The most basic element of sin. Even Christians do this. We nod our heads to the sovereignty of God and then assure the world that He has sovereignly surrendered His sovereignty to Man's free will and still hold that he's sovereign. We submit to Him ... if it suits us.

We're mistaken on a couple of key points here. First, we think we are the best decider of our own direction and fate. Obvious foolishness given God's Omniscience, love, and goodness. Then we think that submitting is diminishing. If we submit, we're "less" somehow. This one is understandable because sometimes it's true. But not always, and we miss that fact. Jesus was in submission to the Father, but that didn't make Him "less"; it made Him obedient and useful and, ultimately, wildly successful. And that was the Son of God. How much more should we submit, first to God and then to those whom God has set over us?

Rejection of authority for human beings begins with rejection of God's authority simply because we are sinners at heart. Hostility to God is natural (Rom 8:7). It's Satan's job to convince us that we need to be our own authority because any recognition of authority over us could very easily lead to a recognition of God's authority. So we set up alternatives pushing toward anarchy when anarchy is patently nonsense. We question authority as if it's a virtue to do so and complain when authority is present, never realizing that authority is necessary and can be highly beneficial. Especially when it's God.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Captain Marvel - Not Quite a Review

The Captain Marvel movie did well at the box office for its first weekend. I didn't see it, so this is not a review. However ...

If you've been disconnected and didn't know it, the title character is a woman. If you've been connected from the start, you might know that it wasn't always so. Captain Marvel was introduced to the Marvel Comic line in 1967 when an alien named Mar-Vell (I can't make this stuff up) arrived on the planet. (To tell the truth, Fawcett Comics introduced their own Captain Marvel in 1966, but you might know him better as "Shazam" today.) His assistant was Carol Danvers in the Marvel series. An Air Force pilot and love interest for Captain Marvel, they called her Ms Marvel in 1977 when they endowed her with superpowers of her own. (Note the "Ms", a hat tip to feminism in the 70's.) She wasn't actually promoted to "Captain" until 2012 "pushing to create a safer space for women inside comic fandom." So Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios head, thought it was important to have a female-driven, female-written, female-directed female superhero star to be "the most powerful Marvel superhero." Why? As one fan wrote, it is the end of "dying patriarchy."

Ah, there it is! We're not looking at defeating bad guys. Just guys. No, no, that's not accurate. Just guys in power. Patriarchy. That's the thing that's gotta go. But ... why? What's so bad about patriarchy? The truth is, nothing. It's not patriarchy that's the problem. It is the abuses of patriarchy. It is the control, abuse, inequality, the rape and sexual abuse and cruelty done in the name of patriarchy. It is the dismissal, rejection, and "foot on the neck" treatment of women done in the name of patriarchy. It is displayed in the MeToo movement and all its offshoots. So horrendous are these abuses of women in all its forms tied to men that they have simply substituted the term "patriarchy" to mean what the abuses have been perpetrated rather than, you know, what it means.

Now, I'm thinking ... whose idea do you suppose that was?

Patriarchy, you see, as an original concept, was not the idea of men. It was God's idea. He made Adam first (Gen 2:7-8) and made Adam responsible (Gen 2:15-17; 1 Tim 2:13-14). He warned that the sin condition would cause a conflict of authority and responsibility between men and women (Gen 3:16). He calls Himself "Father" (Matt 6:9; 1 Cor 8:6; etc.). He set up a hierarchy with a clear delineation: "The head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor 11:3). It's in there. To deny it is simply to deny Scripture. So, if we agree that patriarchy is bad and patriarchy is dying and should be finally snuffed out, to what are we agreeing?

If we concur that patriarchy is bad, in the words of Robocop, "There will be ... trouble." Since patriarchy was God's idea, we would be stating unequivocally that God was mistaken. God erred. God goofed. He may have gotten a lot of things right, but not this. He certainly is not "Father". "Mother" maybe or "Other" perhaps, but not "Father". And, of course, that would mean that Jesus was wrong. He consistently referred to God as "Father" -- 42 times in Matthew alone; 92 times in John where He repeatedly stresses His relationship with the Father where He is in subjection to the Father. He was clearly wrong, wrong, wrong. And, of course, having clearly proven that God is not Father and Jesus is wrong in His ideas about His relationship to God, we've effectively nullified anything approaching reliable Scripture which, in the end, terminates any hope of a meaningful religion at all. Christianity, with an errant God, a misguided "Savior", and an unreliable guidebook, becomes errant, misguided, and unreliable. So I ask again, whose idea do you suppose this "end of patriarchy" thing was?

Perhaps, then, there is another possibility. Perhaps we might consider that abuses of a concept don't nullify the validity of the concept. If it was God's idea and God's design and God's plan, perhaps our misuse of it does not rightly reflect what God's idea, design, and plan should be in it. Like Christianity, in whose name lots of anti-Christian things have been done, patriarchy is not the problem, but sin is. Perhaps addressing "patriarchy" as the problem produces little net gain since it doesn't address the problem. But, of course, any attempt to point this out and redirect our attention to the real problem will be shouted down today, even in the church, because genuine biblical Christianity is not on the "bestseller" list, even among many called "Christians".

Conclude what you will here. Understand, however, that the problem is sin, not patriarchy, and that the militant feminism that the Captain Marvel thinking feeds is not about equality. It's about superiority. It's another "I want what you have and I hope to take it away from you." Or ... sin ... again. The "she" of this kind of feminism will not be satisfied. There is no "enough." Because with sin there is no "enough." It's like Christ surrendering authority to His Bride; never happened. Would you want it to? To many, the answer is "Yes!" To many, they've already usurped that authority. It's called "sin."

Monday, March 11, 2019

Friends and Enemies

Paul says something I cannot imagine coming out of my mouth. "Brothers, join in imitating me" (Php 3:17). Maybe it should, but I can't imagine it. He goes on to say "and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us." So Paul is talking about examples. Where do we look to find examples of how we ought to live as believers? Paul said, "Start with me." Then Paul warns about others.
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Php 3:18-19)
There are other examples available for us. That is, there are those in among the believers who you might think could be good examples of how Christians might live. Paul warns about these bad examples.

The first thing that strikes me is Paul's lack of righteous indignation or moral outrage. He tells them with tears about these others. He's not angry; he is sorrowful. Are we?

So how do we tell a bad example? How does Paul describe an enemy of the cross of Christ? He lists 4 characteristics. "Their end is destruction," he says. They have the form of religion, but the end of it -- the direction it heads -- is eternal death. They say, "I believe in Jesus," but their actual actions and attitudes say something different. They say they follow Jesus but deny the doctrines that save. They claim to love God but reject His instructions from His Word. That cannot end well. "Their god is their belly," Paul says. They give God lipservice, but are really driven by their own immediate felt needs. They worship their own appetites. They live for self-indulgence and sensual gratification. "They glory in their shame," Paul says. Isaiah wrote, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness" (Isa 5:20). Those are the people. Those people who claim to believe in and follow Jesus while denying the clear commands of Scripture and consider that denial a good thing, Paul says, are enemies of the cross of Christ. "Their minds are set on earthly things," Paul says. This is clear. Where are the values? Where are the standards? What is the source? If "one of us" is operating from a standard worldly perspective, then that one has their mind set on earthly things. If right and wrong are defined by what they see around them rather than by the One who made us, they have their minds set on earthly things. If their goals and values align with the world's goals and values, they have their minds set on earthly things. These people are enemies of the cross of Christ.

Examine them for yourself. You need to be able to tell what examples to avoid. You might want to see if you could be an enemy of the cross of Christ. That would be good to know, too.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Unrecognizable Love

A coworker of mine is from India. Recently he took his family back for a visit and a dual marriage. They had, you see, chosen spouses for his of-age son and daughter and they were going back for the wedding. Arranged marriages. Other coworkers were stunned. "How do you even ...?" "Where's the love?" One feebly said, "They believe that you can grow to love someone" but was met with shaking heads and disbelief. That doesn't happen.

Love just ain't what it used to be. Okay, that's not entirely accurate. There has always been romance, always been that "in love" feeling, that kind of thing. But what we appear to all recognize as "love" today hasn't always been the defining nature of "love". Consider, for instance, the famous 1 Corinthians 13 passage. I say famous because even secular weddings might use the section that describes love. Very nice. Interestingly, however, the King James Bible does not use the word "love" in that text. It uses "charity" because the "love" in view in this text (and many, many others) is not "romantic love." It's something quite different. In fact, if you read that description of love in that chapter, you'll find very little that hints at "warm affection," "heart goes pitter-pat," or "falling into." It's not in there.

We've bought a lie. All of us. We've been told that "Love is all we need" and that love is that romantic, heart-pounding, all-gooey-inside, emotion we feel for "that special one" or something like it. It's chemistry. The best kind, we think, is that "love at first sight." We've been told you "fall in love" and, obviously, if you can "fall in love," you can "fall out of love." Makes sense. But we all think that this thing we call love is grand. Maybe some are disillusioned by it, but only because they don't have it. So muddled are we that we've bought into "love is sexual desire" and "love means never having to say you're sorry" and "love is accepting others for who they are." Lots of nonsensical ideas. Psychology Today says, "Love is a force of nature. However much we may want to, we can not command, demand, or take away love, any more than we can command the moon and the stars and the wind and the rain to come and go according to our whims." To which we all nod and say, "Amen." All, I suppose, except God, because He commands it, and if love cannot be commanded, God is stupid.

Now, wait a minute, if God is not stupid and love can be commanded (and He certainly commands it), what can we then conclude? Love is not the unbidden, emotional link that makes us feel good. It is something else. It is something that we can choose to do. And if it is commanded, it does not depend on someone else. It's something we do at will -- that is, as a function of our will. We also know that God is love (1 John 4:8), requiring that the definition of love is determined by the nature of God. Actual love, then, is defined by and produced from God. John said, "Love is from God" (1 John 4:7). In that same verse John went on to say, "Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." You can see, then, that this is not romantic, emotional, everyday "love." Or everyone has been born of God.

This kind of love looks different. It doesn't seek anything from the loved one, but simply gives of itself. It seeks always for the best for the loved one even if that doesn't align with what they want. It is sacrificial, not sentimental. It is giving, not getting. This kind of love doesn't worry about being unrequited. Not the point at all. It is an act of the will, not a feeling of the heart. Mind you, a person who invests themselves in another person like that will certainly have feelings. You can't do that kind of love and not feel toward another as a result. But that's the result, the product, the side effect. This version of love is tied directly to a relationship with God and His provision of that love. This love is so far above the "warm affection" we accept as "love" so as to be almost completely disconnected in our minds.

Biblical love is a command. It assumes self-love (Eph 5:28-29), but goes far beyond. It is superior to the love we "fall into" and sourced by God Himself. Loving others is an act of obedience that is enabled by Him and can be given without abatement simply because "it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Php 2:13). We can experience the lesser version the world offers today, but we should not miss out on this grand love that God has for us and gives to us. It is obedience, to be sure, but it is far more fulfilling, effective, and without end than anything this world has to offer. Their love is short term, emotional, and dependent on "chemistry." We have a much better gift from God.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

News Weakly - 3/9/19

Pollute Them While They're Young
At least in one community in Canada the requirement will be that all public elementary schools fly the rainbow flag for at least one week during Pride Month in June. Elementary schools. You know, the one age where you believe whatever your teacher tells you, even if it is in opposition to what your parents tell you. That age where they tell their parents helping them with math homework, "That's not how the teacher did it, Dad. You're doing it wrong." Lest you think that public schools are (or, at least, should be) ideologically neutral. They're not. They will block religion, then substitute their own humanistic materialism with all its worship and works of the flesh. That's how it works; get them while they're vulnerable.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
Meet Brendan Johnston. He is a high school student in Colorado who came in fourth place in the state wrestling championships. He could have taken third place, but chose to forfeit a match rather than wrestle a girl. "I don’t want to treat a young lady like that on the mat. Or off the mat." It wasn't a lack of respect. "Wrestling is something we do, it's not who we are," he said. "I'm willing to have those priorities." Johnston has won 37 of his 43 matches his senior year. Five of those six losses were forfeits to girls -- four of them to the same girl to whom he surrendered third place. His choice ended his high school wrestling career. I would hope there is no commentary necessary, but in today's world where respecting women and where chivalry are considered sexist and hateful, comment will likely be necessary.

Lady Justice Without a Blindfold
Lady Justice is displayed with a balance, a sword, and a blindfold. We get the balance (make things even) and the sword (power to make it so), but what about the blindfold? The blindfold represents impartiality. Justice, the idea goes, can only occur if it is impartial. In some cases it is not. The House Judiciary Committee, emboldened by its majority and unified in its hatred for President Trump, has begun a sweeping probe ... because special counsel Robert Mueller hasn't found anything. They will examine his businesses, his campaign, the transition committee, Russian interference, a list of 81 names to start. The investigation is predicated on the position that "Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms" and the plan is to hold him accountable. This is not "innocent until proven guilty." It is "Mueller hasn't found him guilty, so we will" -- guilty even though he's been found innocent. I'm not a Trump fan, but surely the American people can see this has nothing to do with impartial justice. But, I don't think they will. The hate for all things "Trump" goes deep with this one -- the opposite of impartiality.

Responsibility Without Authority
Last week the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordered that a 14-year-old girl receive testosterone injections without parental consent. Further, if either of her parents tried to persuade her to abandon the treatments, addressed her by her birth name, or referred to her with female pronouns, they would be guilty of family violence. Her father was concerned that other mental health issues were driving this gender dysphoria and he was troubled by the permanent ramifications of the hormone treatments, so he wanted her to wait until she was older. The court told him to start her treatments. The father has no say, but bears the responsibility to obtain the treatments he fears will harm his daughter. Parents, you should be prepared to surrender your parental rights to the governmental poison of the day ... in the name of "progress."

Intolerance Illustrated
Cynthia Nixon has declared an end to civility towards anyone who holds to biblical convictions about sexuality. While Joe Biden refers to Mike Pence as a "decent man," Nixon is outraged that anyone would argue that her particular sexual activities are a sin. It is ... her words ... "vile, hateful," "insidious and dangerous." She makes no pretense of actual tolerance -- "He's entitled to his opinion even though I disagree with him wholeheartedly." She believes she is being attacked and all should do the same to those who hold to the view that sexuality acceptable to God is limited to the traditional marriage bed. The double standard -- "You have to be tolerant but we will not!" -- is painful to watch. Christians, are you ready? We aren't edging away from persecution.

Actions Speak Louder
The New York Post did an exposé on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) ("Miss Green New Deal") regarding her "giant carbon footprint." While she pushes to save the planet in 12 years by demanding the elimination of combustion-engine vehicles and the use of public transit, she spent nearly $30,000 on Uber, Lyft, Juno, and other car services in combustion-engine vehicles even though her campaign office was less than 150 feet from a subway station. While she pushes to decrease or eliminate air travel, she spent $25,000 on airline transactions during her campaign. Her response is she was just "living in the world." The Green New Deal is about systematic change, she said, and not about personal practices. "Practice what you preach" is not a tagline for AOC ... or a lot of other people in that group.

We Have Consensus
The consensus on human-caused global climate change has long been touted as a strong reason to agree with the crisis and get a move on. Forbes is reporting that "only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis" and a strong majority believe that it will not be a very serious problem.

Now, mind you, I've never been a fan of "consensus" as a means of determining scientific fact. I'd prefer ... you know ... scientific fact to determine scientific fact. So I'm not really excited about this report. I'm just wondering how many rabid "the sky is falling and it's called anthropogenic global climate change" types will rein themselves in and admit, "Well, if we believed the consensus that it was a problem, then we'll believe the consensus that it's not a problem." I don't think that the "consensus" they threw at doubters will be allowed now that it is against them.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Untermenschen

It is a German word used by the Nazis to describe those "inferior people" that they opted to oppress and murder. Literally, it translates to "under-person". They weren't killing people; they were killing non-persons. It was the same logic when whites enslaved blacks in the South and when the KKK killed them for sport. They weren't killing people; these were non-persons. It's the same logic used by the Supreme Court in 1973 when they opted to legalize the murder of the unborn. "They may be human," they argued (and still argue today), "but they are not persons." They are untermenschen. The Senate this last week opted not to step in and defend children born alive. It appears that undermenschen is spreading to the "born alive" as well.

The court in 1973 declared that the unborn were "human non-persons," essentially. Under that classification, they have no rights and no protection. Kill them if you want; you're not killing a person. The idea was that "viability" determined personhood. Of course, our current move is to push that limit to the 4th trimester. "They're not a person until we say they are." Nazi Germany declared, de novo, that Jews were "human non-persons," essentially. Under that classification the Nazis stripped them of all rights, goods, and, as many as possible, life. Well, Jews and others. They weren't abusing people, you see. They were working, in a sense, with something less than a person. Non-persons have no expectation or right to rights, so it wasn't wrong. We know the result.

The question, then, swirls about in the air. In 1973 the court declared the unborn as undermenschen and, under the law, they became so. In today's world they're pushing that boundary farther out, after the "magical birth canal." "If we don't want that baby, it's gone. If we intended to kill it before it left the birth canal, we should be allowed to kill it afterwards." So how long until it moves down the human chain? And how far? Peter Singer suggested up to 3 years old. That far? Why? And on what basis? Babies in the womb are killed if they aren't wanted, making them permanent undermenschen. The criterion there is "the woman's choice". What about born children? When will we leave that up to the mother? "I wasn't happy with them; I killed them. They were undermenschen." Lacking any basis to prevent such a slide, what can we now expect a little further down the road?

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Besetting Sins

You've probably heard the term. You won't find it in modern Bibles. The King James talks about "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us" (Heb 12:1). Modern translations talk more about entanglement. Fine. The principle remains. You and I have besetting sins -- sins that seem to hang around, trip us up. We are running along and we trip over something and we say, "Oh, come on, I thought that was dealt with!" And it wasn't. What's a brother to do?

We often live in one of two extremes. One side says, "You can be a Christian and sin to your heart's content." The other says, "You can be a Christian and sin your way into hell." Both of them seem rational. Both of them are wrong. Scripture is abundantly clear that we are saved for good works (Eph 2:10) and that those who are born of God cannot make a practice of sin (1 John 3:9). On the other hand, God's Word is equally clear that those who are in His hand will remain in His hand (John 10:29). What then? We cannot make a practice of sin, but we do sin (1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:1-2).

So, here we are, genuine believers who sin and hate it. We are almost schizophrenic, hating sin and still doing it. And we seem to have our "pet sins", those "besetting sins" that entangle us again and again. We want to stop but don't. We repent and turn and declare "Never again", but apparently "never" is actually not as far off as we thought. So what are we to do?

Scripture isn't silent on the topic. We are told, for instance, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2). I suspect that some of our problem sins are problem sins because we don't do that. We don't share our burdens and we don't bear one another's burdens. The mere suggestion terrifies some Christians. "Then they'll know I'm a sinner!" Which is true, but it is premised on the faulty idea that those other guys aren't. And they want to maintain the same image that you do -- "Don't let them know I struggle with sin" -- especially that sin. So we don't do it and we should (because, you know, God said so).

The reference I started with is also helpful.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2)
First, it contains the command. Lay aside those "besetting sins", those sins that encumber, those sins that tie us up when we're trying to run. Do it! How? "Looking to Jesus." That's what the author of Hebrews says. He started our faith. He is perfecting our faith. Look to Him. Look at what He endured to save us. Look at how little value He put in shame. The text goes on to say, "Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted" (Heb 12:3). Jesus struggled with sin to death; we haven't (Heb 12:4). If that's not enough for you, the author goes on to warn of the discipline of the Lord (Heb 12:5-11). That ought to help.

If you don't suffer from sins, you aren't human. We all do. If it is true that all sin, then why are we so hesitant to share it? Why do we listen to the enemy who tells us to keep quiet about it? Why aren't we bearing one another's burdens? Complaining about our sin is natural -- if you don't, at least to yourself and God, you may need to examine your relationship with Him -- but we should be doing something about it. He is perfecting our faith; we should be cooperating. He is our best possible example; we should be following Him. You tend to go where you look. Are you looking to Jesus? Or, sure, I suppose it could be just me who struggles with sin. Who knows?

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

We're Getting Better

"Progress," they call it. They even term an ideology "progressive" and those who follow it "progressives." Because we're progressing ... right? Or, are we?

Throughout the entire history of mankind from beginning to the 21st century we always knew what marriage was. We varied in its outworking, its modes, its rules, but we never varied in its basic definition: A man and a woman joined for life for the purposes of mutual support and for procreation. Some cultures embraced marriage in multiples -- we call it polygamy -- but even in a polygamous society if one man and one woman are married, they're married. Even in polygamous societies the man only married one woman; the "wives" (plural) never married each other. Marriage has always been the same thing. Enter "progress." In a push for "marriage equity," our "progressive" society did not redefine it; they undefined it. It is now some vague "two of us" for unclear purposes and no definition of why only two. By golly, that's progress. No. It's not even regress. We aren't going backward. We've left the road entirely.

There has never been any question about the sexes. In 1946's Annie Get Your Gun Ethel Merman sings Doin' What Comes Natur'lly, a song about how you can get along in life without serious schooling. One example in the song says, "My little baby brother, who's never read a book, knows one sex from the other, all he had to do was look." You'd think. All of human history and science prior to the 21st century has been certain that "binary gender" is a biological fact. Couldn't get around it. What idiot would think otherwise? There are things that only males do and there are things that only females do and never the twain shall meet. But we've progressed since then. We've figured out that men can be women and women men and there is a spectrum -- a movable one -- in which humans can move. So we've progressed to 50+ genders that make no sense and can't be backed by actual science and don't even actually work out in everyday life. While no male-to-female transgender has ever been able to get pregnant and no female-to-male transgender has ever been able to impregnate (just a couple of biological functions unique to the two genders), we're pretty sure that they are not set and you can be whatever you feel like. Oh, in gender, of course. Not race or anything else. And if you decide you were born one gender and are actually another, you are never allowed to change your mind and say you were wrong. That's "progress."

They tell me we're getting better. I heard it just the other day. Better education, better healthcare, more women empowered (this was the list they actually gave me). Better. We do it at the cost of rationality. We do it by denying fundamental biology, by denying basic definitions that have existed since the beginning of time, by ignoring basic ideas. For instance, America was founded on the premise that people had the right to the free exercise of their religious beliefs and the government didn't get to tell them what to believe. It was foundational. It was the primary reason why many of those who first came to this continent came at all. When it wasn't addressed in the Constitution, they made sure it was addressed in the Bill of Rights because it was important. To them. Not to us. We've transitioned from "free exercise of religion" to "separation of Church and State" (not contained anywhere in our Constitution or Bill of Rights) to "limited exercise of religion" to being arrested and fined for exercising that right. This is "progress." Deconstructing marriage and family is "progress". Denying basic biology and embracing a "feel like it" biology is "progress".

And we're not done. We're moving farther away. We're moving away from the religious moorings, the economic principles, the basic concept of God-given rights. We're moving without braking or correction. We're not getting better.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Applying the Wrong Solutions

We disagree, I'm sure, but most of us are pretty sure that we know what should be done about the gun violence in America. That would be to limit guns, right? I mean, if you can limit guns (or even eliminate guns), you can limit (or eliminate) gun violence. Easy. Even a certainty. Drugs are a problem in our country, so we started the "drug war" by targeting dealers and such to stem the flow. That ought to stem the problem, right? Well, on that one we're pretty sure the answer is "no". But ... why? I mean, isn't the same logic? Eliminate guns and eliminate gun violence. Eliminate the drug supply and eliminate the drug problem. But it clearly hasn't worked.

The reason is obvious on the surface. You can't eliminate drugs. You can stop them coming through that door, but they'll come through this other one. You can block this access, and they'll come in the window. They'll always be getting in. Why? Because it's not the source; it's the market. It's not the supply; it's the demand. Guns are the same. The theory that eliminating guns eliminates gun violence is sound, but you can't eliminate guns. In America they are there by constitutional right. But even in countries where they've been "eliminated", gun violence is still there. And, worse, it's just a shell game. They will tell you that gun violence is down or even eliminated, but there are still knives, baseball bats, automobiles, hands (one of the leading murder weapons), poisons ... we are virtual murder-weapon factories.

You see, the problem isn't guns. Or drugs. The problem is people. But, of course, our society can't see that because our society believes that people are basically good. Utter nonsense, of course. You just have to look around you to see that. Drive a freeway sometime and see how that theory works out. The number of people that let you in versus the number of people that cut you off is not a close ratio. No, we are born sinners (Psa 51:5), dead in sin (Eph 2:1-3), hostile to God (Rom 8:7). No less than God said, "The intent of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gen 8:21). No amount of "People are basically good" will overcome that problem. No sin legislation or vice control will fix it.

I don't say this to point fingers at people. I say this to point out that we have the answer. We -- Christians, believers, God's ambassadors -- have the Gospel. The Good News. The way to be born anew, born of the Spirit, indwelt by the Spirit. The old is passed away. So if we have the actual answer to the drug problem and the gun problem and the abortion problem and the ... well, the sin problem, why are we so timid? Why are we so quiet?

That's easy. It's because they don't want it. They don't want the answers we have. They are, after all, hostile to God. The good news to us is that it is God who has the capability of overcoming that. It is God who actually opens hearts (Acts 16:14). That is, the success of your mission of making disciples starting with giving them the Gospel is not premised on you; it is premised on God. So, what are you waiting for? We have problems in this country. Don't waste time with legislation, "drug wars", or gun control. They need Jesus. You have Jesus, don't you? How about sharing?

Monday, March 04, 2019

A Prayer of Repentance

Psalm 51 is David's documented repentance after being called out as an adulterer by the prophet, Nathan. He pulls no punches; he was guilty. He admits that His sin was against God (Psa 51:4) and that he was a sinner from conception (Psa 51:5), but that he wanted truth in his inward being (Psa 51:6). He counted on God to make Him clean since He couldn't (Psa 51:7). In the 10th verse he says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Now, that is a loaded prayer.

The prayer has two primary components and both carry their own parts. The first is a prayer for a clean heart. We can assume from that that David did not believe his heart was clean. He believed in what the theologians refer to as "Original Sin" -- that all humans are sinners. He understood that we are all in need of a clean heart. But he asked to have it created because we lack the capacity to do it ourselves. That was done by God alone.

The second part is often missed. He asked that God would renew a right spirit within him. We typically pray for forgiveness, repent of our sins, ask for cleansing, that sort of thing. But the need is actually two-fold. There is a need for a clean heart, but there is an additional need for a right spirit. There is a need to be cleaned, but that leaves us blank; we also need to be right. Interestingly, the word David used there was not "create" but "renew". That suggests there was, at some point, a "right spirit" and he needed that right spirit renewed.

The same is true for us. Paul said, "For our sake He (God) made Him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him (Christ) we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21). We see the two components there. In the first, the sin is taken away. In the second, we become righteous. Both are needed. We have forgiveness; we have the righteousness of Christ. Still, we constantly need to come to the Advocate (1 John 2:1-2) who paid for our sins. We need to confess -- literally to "say with" God -- our sins. We need a clean heart. We need a renewed right spirit. We need it often. We need to share in David's wisdom and David's repentance and David's prayer.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

All About Me

Jesus said, "I will build My church" (Matt 16:18) and proceeded to die and rise again to make that happen. It has always been absolutely clear from Scripture that the Church is not ours, not even about us, but about Him. The works of believers are supposed to bring glory to the Father (Matt 5:16). We are blessed by God to the praise of His glory (Eph 1:5-6,12,14). Since everything is about His glory (1 Cor 10:31), certainly church is as well. It is His making, His doing, His maintaining, and for His purposes.

Why is it, then, that we tend make it all about us? We work to make it more appealing. We aim to produce the proper emotional response toward our church, toward God, and toward others. We aim to encourage people, which isn't all bad, but we do it at the cost of things like biblical mandates and God's stated purposes. We will, for instance, make sure there is a gospel invitation but we won't make disciples. We will endure a sermon but not a sermon that makes us feel bad. (And "feel bad" includes "had to sit in that pew too long".) We'll sing songs that make us feel good -- hopefully toward God -- but not "those other kind of songs" (whether that's "old songs" or "too heavy songs" or what Larry Norman termed "funeral music", or, for some, those "too contemporary" songs). Upbeat. Cheerful surroundings. Current technology. Sermons that don't meddle. These are what we want in churches. All of it aimed at us.

Oh, we let God in there, to be sure. Not the Transcendent God. We like the Immanent God, the one that is "right here", the "buddy" God, the one more like us. Mind you, He is, in some sense or another, all of that, but I would think that worship would include, nay, demand that we embrace and extol the Transcendent God much, much more. So far above us. Over all. The God of Paul. "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!" (Rom 11:33) The God of Job "Who does great things beyond searching out and marvelous things beyond number" (Job 9:10). The God of David, the knowledge of Whom he says, "is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it" (Psa 139:6). We like the "Abba" God, but that "out there" God isn't really our cup of tea.

I live in a troubled world where sin seems to be on the rise and sin-bred insanity seems to be the norm. Governments are endorsing sin wholesale and moving against God's people. In our nation the move seems to be away from everything God and toward the full embrace of immorality as god -- not merely allowed, but worshiped. In this kind of a world I need a God who is Immanent -- right here beside me -- but I desperately need a God who is above it all, not mired in the day to day, not shackled by His creation, not losing ground or muddling through. I need that Transcendent God. And if church is about the equipping of the saints and the building up of the body of Christ to attain unity and maturity (Eph 4:11-14), I would think that the rest of the Church would, too.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

News Weakly - 3/2/2019

You've Come a Long Way, Baby
Since forever in America only men could put themselves in harm's way in the military. Women could serve in non-combat roles, but only men would go to the shooting part of war. In the last couple of decades, that was overturned. We opted to take the best of humanity -- women -- and place them in the worst of situations -- war -- and call it "equality". Of course, that only went so far. The idea was that women who wanted to be put in that kind of danger could, but none would be required to. That's not equality. A federal court has ruled that a male-only draft is unconstitutional. What's good for the gander is good for the goose, and women get the "privilege" of signing up to die in the case of sufficient conflict. If they don't register for the draft, there will be consequences. There's your equality. Good job, ladies.

Kissing America Goodbye?
Ultra-liberal Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein collided with climate activist children in a duel over what constitutes sufficient action to save the planet from human-caused global climate change. The children from the Sunrise Movement assured her that we need to eliminate capitalism and turn our lives over to a socialist government to save the planet and she assured them, "I know what I'm doing." It did not play well. Unfortunately, the large and growing portion of the Democratic party as well as the younger generation has no concept of the evils of socialism and really believe that the philosophy of government and economy that made America great in its first 200 years plus of existence have no place in this world. They'd much rather kiss that America goodbye and let a government run our lives.

The Wrong Message
I mentioned the Green New Deal before. I mentioned how Majority Leader Mitch McConnell planned to bring the Senate version by Senator Markey to a vote and how odd it was that Senator Markey was opposed to it. Not to be outdone, a crowd of activists from the Sunrise Movement (those kids again) are equally upset by McConnell's plan ... to bring the bill to a vote ... which would seem like he's giving the bill its day in the sun ... but apparently is not. A group of 42 mostly young people were arrested for obstructing the Capitol building, but more were there including as young as 7. McConnell appears to want the Democrats to go on record that they support this kind of socialism in America, and these folks appear to want that socialism but ... not on record??

What I want to know is who is brainwashing these young minds?

Be afraid, America. The loudest young voices want to remove your capitalism and your democracy and make it a socialism. Oh, you be afraid. I have other plans.

Disappointing
Generally speaking, if I go somewhere new and need to find a church -- say, on a Sunday while on vacation -- I can generally expect that a Baptist church, especially Southern Baptist (SBC), should be okay. With the latest scandal of so many being sexually abused in the SBC, I have to think again. Then a story like this hits the headlines and I'm ... disappointed. A Southern Baptist megachurch in Texas ordained a woman to the pastorate. I would like to think that an SBC church would stand firmly on the Word, but I suppose this is wishful thinking.

Outdoing Others
New York passed a baby-killing bill that the governor said could extend to post-partum abortion. Vermont followed suit with a "kill 'em any time up to birth" law. Illinois is considering its own plan to eliminate restrictions on abortion up to birth and require churches and other religious organizations to provide insurance that covers it. In the meantime, a host of names that includes many of the current group of 2020 presidential candidates is on a bill before Congress aimed at insuring the slaughter of the most defenseless humans is legal and unlimited, aimed specifically at all those states that have tried to limit abortion through limitations on medical professionals or informed consent. What they want to do is make America pro-abortion/anti-life by law.

At the same time, a bill was introduced that would protect newborns who were born alive. Seems like a no-brainer, but the Senate shot it down. They failed to secure enough votes to outlaw infanticide -- actual killing of infants. The declaration is absolutely clear: "They are not persons until we say they are persons ... and we're not saying when that is" with a faint, threatening echo of "We haven't decided if you're a person, either."

Not to be Outdone
While the "Green New Deal" is running its news gauntlet trying to push America into socialism, House Democrats have unveiled another "next step" plan to get us away from market forces and let the government handle things. Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal from Washington state has revealed her bill for a single-payer "Medicare for All" program. The government will pay for your healthcare. She has not revealed how the government would pay for it, but there would be no premiums or deductibles or out-of-pocket costs. She suggests it will come from that "tax on millionaires and billionaires" pot that the other socialists in government are planning to tap for everything else. Goodbye 70% tax rates; hello 90%. (The New Green Deal, Forbes tells me is expected to cost $2.5 trillion a year for the next 10 years, added to the 2018 $4.5 trillion budget. All this "prosperity" is going to get pricey, folks.)

Wrong-headed, Right Vote
The United Methodist Church (UMC) rejected a move to ease their ban on same-sex marriage and ordination of openly gay clergy. That was, frankly, a surprise. A pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. Why it was a surprise to me was illustrated in the story. A "former Methodist pastor Rebecca Wilson" (emphasis mine) said she was devastated because she left the clergy "because I'm gay," and not because they don't ordain women. Included in that story was the suggestion that "the faith" was somehow up for a vote. In other words, God's Word is not the authority here and there is no such thing as "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

In general, the UMC believes in no such thing, as illustrated by the outrage and defiance from their people at this vote for what is termed "the Traditional Plan." The Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), a United Methodist organization promoting LGBTQIA+ (their letters, not mine) inclusion, complained that any opposition to including "LGBTQIA+" people is based on "a white nationalist strain of Christianity", which is strange since one of the main reasons the Traditionalist Plan passed was the large African presence who demanded biblical rather than social positions. Go figure.

Some Dare Call It Treason
Bradley Manning ... oh, I'm sorry ... Chelsea Manning, a guy who decided to be a girl ... on your dime ... while serving his time for violations of the Espionage Act (what most of us call "treason") has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to testify, we don't know what about. Probably about his, sorry, "her" contact with Julian Assange. I understand that. What I don't understand is when issuing a subpoena became unconstitutional. At least, that's where Manning's legal team plans to go. This will be so cool if we discover that the government no longer has the right to call people in to court. The end of the American justice system as we know it. Good plan ... from a documented traitor.

Quick Question
While France wrestles with giving females their own job titles, I'm wondering who's looking out for the "T's" (of the LGBT)? Given the "given" that gender is not binary, when are the "in-betweens" going to get their own job titles? I'm just wondering ...

Friday, March 01, 2019

No Kids Allowed

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) believes that having children is immoral. No, no, she's not arguing for a chinese-type ban on children. She's not talking about legislation. She just thinks that, given global climate change and millennial debt and how hard it is too live in this world and all that, reproducing humans is an evil, not a good.

It's not like she's alone. I'm not pointing to her as the leading edge of a movement. We recently saw a story about a guy who wants to sue his parents for him being born without his consent. He's a "anti-natalist" who believes that all reproduction is evil and the only way to solve the problems in life is to eliminate all life. But this guy isn't the leading edge, either. In fact, birth rates in developed countries are on the decline everywhere.

The fact that human beings no longer carry intrinsic worth is the leading edge. This is demonstrated in the 1973 decision that privacy outweighs personhood and children can be summarily executed on the whim of their mothers. This leads to the obvious conclusion that killing people if they want to be killed (referred to as "euthanasia") is a perfectly good thing. So confused are we that defending living babies is not the right thing for us to do. Australian ethicist Peter Singer logically argues that belief in the special value of human beings is merely "speciesism" and we should have no qualms about killing them all the way out to 2 or 3 years old. Makes sense in the current worldview.

So far reaching is this notion that Christians are buying into it (see, for instance, this article). "Have kids? No thank you. Not really interested. Certainly not sure it's a good idea." Biblically-minded Christians will tell me, "That whole 'Be fruitful and multiply' thing is old, Old Testament, no longer applicable to our world or times." It is no longer a defining or recommended or, possibly, even desired feature of "marriage." I'm not talking about the "If we had a child it would likely physically kill my wife" kind of thinking. I'm talking about the "I can't be bothered," "We can't afford it," "There's already too many people in the world" kind of thinking. I'm talking about the idea that child-bearing and child-rearing are purely optional if you're in the mood for it and very likely not a very good idea for us.

So where do we go with this? Do we side with the "anti-natalists"? No, of course not. But what about the AOC's of this world? Is is morally wrong to have children in this day and age? Maybe only if you don't want them or can't afford them? Is human reproduction, biblically a function of marriage, no longer a function of marriage? Now it's preference? Or is the goal of producing children a highly recommended, essentially normative activity ("normative", that which establishes what is normal) for the married Christian?

If that old-fashioned view is out, I have to ask what we're supposed to do with the texts. Do we discard "Be fruitful and multiply" as "Old Testament" and "No longer applicable"? When the psalmist says, "Children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them" (Psa 127:3-5), do we correct him and tell him, "Sure, that was in your day, but God no longer thinks so"? I am pretty sure that there are a sufficient number of folks that are happy to discard Paul's argument that women are "saved through childbearing" (1 Tim 2:11-15). (Note: That "saved" doesn't mean "saved from sin".) Can we safely do that? I suspect we're not asking these questions anymore because we've bought the current mindset that how we feel determines what we should do, that what we want is what is right. We can be quite certain that "what we want" is not a valid measure of what is right. Maybe we should be examining this idea more.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

What Is It?

We all know and love Ephesians 2:8-9.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
So awesome. "It is a gift of God ... so that no one may boast." And we really, really love "not a result of works" because, let's face it, if it was a result of works, none of us would make it. Really good news. Oh, hey ... the Gospel, right?

But there has been a large amount of discussion on a rather a rather small word -- "it." Paul says, "It is a gift of God." So ... what is? The first answer people will give me almost by reflex is "Salvation!" And, of course, salvation is a gift from God. But is that the "it" in view? I ask because I would think it would be patently obvious that "grace" is equally a gift from God. I mean, by definition, grace is unmerited favor, so that's a gift, isn't it? So then we come to the crux of the matter. Why is there even a discussion? Because if salvation is a gift and grace is a gift, wouldn't it seem logical that Paul's "it" was also in reference to "faith"? Wouldn't it make sense that Paul is saying, "The whole package -- saved by grace through faith -- is a gift"?

We typically balk at the notion that faith is a gift. We think of faith as the ingredient we bring to the party. When they say, "God does 99.99% of our salvation," they're referring to the 0.01% that is faith. We bring that to the table. That's our contribution. I mean, God doesn't produce faith in us, does He? If He did, wouldn't that eliminate our input, our choice, our trusting Him? Wouldn't that make us robots of a sort? Worse, if He did that and did not do it for everyone, wouldn't that make Him a monster of some sort? All things to consider.

Scripture does say that God gives faith. He grants that you believe (Php 1:29). Those who don't believe don't believe because it is not granted (John 6:64-65). He assigns a measure of faith to each believer (Rom 12:3). We may not like it, but it's in there. Further, if we do supply the catalyst, the final agent that makes salvation work, why would there not be room for boasting? It wouldn't work if you didn't set it off. If it is "not of your own doing" and faith is your own doing, wouldn't that make Paul wrong? So there is that.

To me it is evident that the "it" in view is not "faith" specifically (as some argue), but rather the whole package. That we are saved by grace through faith is a gift from God. I don't think the argument that faith is a gift can be made from this passage. Conversely, I think that those who argue that it is not a gift are not engaging with the Scriptures that say it is or the ramifications that would result from the position that we complete God's work for Him ... even if it's just "0.01%." Conversely, I would really hope that those who do believe that faith is a gift have answers for the dilemmas caused by such a position. How is our choice not eliminated? (Clearly we have to choose.) How does this not make us robots? Do we not have to place our faith in Christ to be saved? And if God provides faith for some and not for others, how does that not make God a monster? You have to answer those kinds of things if you hold that God gives faith. And if you hold that He doesn't, you have to answer why Scripture says He does. There is no easy way out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Question of Intent

There are a lot of good biblical texts to dwell on, to stand by, to live on. "God loved the world in this way; He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Always popular. "But God, rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:4-7). See? You could dwell on a passage like that for a long, long time. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:17-19). So many wonderful components -- the old is passed, being new, that God reconciles us to Himself, being forgiven, sharing that with others -- so much good stuff.

One that "leads the pack" for me is not likely one that comes up often in your mind. I practically live here.
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Gen 50:20)
"Really," I can hear some say, "there? Why?"

We can all likely agree that one of the very best is Romans 8:28. The comfort that God causes all things to work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose is hard to overstate. But ... we often seem to handle this one with care. We qualify it. "God works it for good for those who are called, not for those who are not called." Or something like it. Often if we're handed this verse in the midst of a difficulty, we will simply set it aside until we can feel better. We also seem to think of it as God's "Plan B". "Well, God had good plans for good things for me, but people or something else got in the way and now God has to figure out how to use this for good because He didn't originally intend this."

That's why I live on Genesis 50:20. This text takes into account the bad and the good. In this passage Joseph's unkind brothers who intended to kill him but relented and "merely" sold him into slavery are begging him not to do them harm (the harm they clearly think they deserve). Joseph calms their fears. "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good." Notice how this does two things. On one hand, it clearly acknowledges and affirms evil. It isn't a rosy, "God will work everything out" kind of theme. There is no question; they intended evil. It doesn't let them off the hook. It doesn't say, "That's okay; you didn't mean to be bad." It says they actually did. On the other hand, it clearly acknowledges God. He knew of their plan. He superintended their plan. He used their evil to produce His good. Think about that! He used their evil to produce His good! He could have prevented them from doing it at all. I'm quite certain that the reason they did not kill him in the first place was God's intervention. He could have prevented it all. He did in the case of Abimelech (Gen 20:6). So this wasn't God's "Plan B." This was God's intent. And His intent was for good.

I need to know that. Always. When people intend evil against me, I need to know that God intends good. When bad things happen, I need to know that God isn't "mopping up", but that He always had this in hand. When unpleasant times come -- and they always will -- I need to know that God is planning good in it -- always. No Plan B. No cleaning up a mess. No quick action on God's part where He manages to pull success from the jaws of defeat. It is always in His plan even while there are always evil intentions. Evil is not absolved. But God is not surprised. That's the kind of God that provides me hope in difficult times.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Destined for Greatness

For reasons that, frankly, elude me somewhat, the topic of predestination is often a hot one, and not in terms of popularity. It is often a point of heated contention. I'm not at all sure why. Perhaps it's the suggestion that it eliminates free will (which it does not). I would prefer to think that it wasn't simply from the old "I will be like the Most High" problem that all sinners face. I don't think it is. But the principle is undeniably biblical. Jeremiah said he was appointed as a prophet "from the womb" (Jer 1:5). Jesus said, "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt 22:14). Paul assured us that God causes all things to work together for good according to His purpose that "those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom 8:28-30). Paul assured the Ephesians that "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4) and "He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:5). According to Peter, Jesus was "delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23) and the early Christians understood that Herod and Pilate, the Gentiles and the Jews were acting according to "whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place" when they crucified Jesus (Acts 4:27-28). It is an unavoidable, recurring biblical theme. Even the word that we translate "the church" -- ekklēsia -- means literally "the called out ones" because we are the called and chosen.

It isn't popular among Christians and I'm not at all sure why. Perhaps it's because we're not sure why we are predestined. The popular position is that it's speaking of salvation, and that is clearly a part of it, but not the only part. Scripture is clear that predestination is the beginning, the middle, and the end. The plan "before the ages began" (Titus 1:1-3) (predestination) was for Christ to live a perfect life, be betrayed by Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:22), and be executed for our sins (Acts 4:27-28) so that those whose names were written in the book before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8) could be reconciled to Him through adoption to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph 1:5-6). His work is to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29), where our being "predestined" is the forerunner to our eventually being glorified (Rom 8:29-30).

This is too magnificent for me to minimize. In this scenario God plans from before time that He will save, chooses in advance who that will be, provides the ways and means to accomplish it, and finally justifies and glorifies those whom He chose from before the foundation of the world. Where's the boasting? Where's the room for pride? Where's the possibility of "Look what I did!"? It doesn't exist. No place for "I'm someone special." All we have is "I'm someone chosen" through nothing in ourselves. And what He chose us for! To be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29). To be holy and blameless (Eph 1:4). To be adopted as sons (Eph 1:5). To be to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph 1:5)! "We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Cor 4:7). We have been predestined for greatness not because of anything in us, but because of Him who calls and Him who saves and Him who transforms and keeps us. Why would that not be a popular Christian topic?

Monday, February 25, 2019

Obstruction

It was "Sanctity of Life Sunday" and we touched on abortion and such at church. You know, mention it, pray about it, that sort of thing. One guy in the small group session prayed about it. In his prayer he spoke of the possibility that one of those children killed before they were born could have been the person that God would have used to change the world.

I had to think about that. I know people who are burdened with guilt because they had an opportunity to share Christ with so-and-so and they didn't and they were afraid that so-and-so could end up in Hell because they didn't share. Is that the case? Is God counting on me to share the Gospel with "that" person and if I don't they won't be saved?

The question goes beyond that, then. We are commanded to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:17). We are told, "You do not have, because you do not ask." (James 4:2). Prayer is important. So ... what if I don't? What if, say, I fail to pray for the salvation of a loved one or for the healing of a brother in Christ or for a particular gift (1 Cor 14:1)? Is God not able to save that person or heal that brother or provide that gift because I failed to pray?

Is that how God works? "Oh, my," He might end up saying, "I would have saved that person if only Bill had done his task of sharing the Gospel with them. He didn't. They aren't." Is He limited by our obedience (or lack thereof)? Is He blocked from acting if we don't pray, especially as He intends? We know Scripture says that Jesus couldn't heal where He wasn't recognized.
Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household." And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:4-6)
Doesn't that say that He couldn't heal because they lacked the faith?

You call it as you see it. I don't read that text that way. I understand it to say that it would not have been the best thing to do miracles in that place when they were skeptics. I understand the "could not" to mean "because He always did what was best and that would not have been best." Why? I am convinced that "Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps" (Psa 135:6). That means that if He intends to save Jill and the believer nearest to her fails to tell her about Jesus, He can still get the job done. That means that if He wants to heal Jim, He can heal Jim even if no one asks for it. That means that if the Spirit wants to give Emily the gift of encouragement, He can do so even if she never asks. I believe I am commanded to share the Gospel and pray and obey and all that and if I fail to do so I am sinning, but I don't believe that it follows that I am blocking God from accomplishing His will by doing so. He will do what He will do. To me, the sheer arrogance required to think that the Master of the Universe is dependent on me to accomplish His grand plans seems completely ludicrous.

If that's the case, why do it? Why witness, pray, or obey? Not because of consequences, for sure. We are saved by grace and forgiven, so I'm not going to Hell for failing to do what I'm told to do. But the question seems silly. Why do those things? If I am a Christ-follower, indwelt by the Spirit, with God at work in me to will and to do His good pleasure, how could I not aim to do those things? If I love God, how could I not pursue that which pleases Him? I mean, there is the trivial "loss of rewards" to consider. And there is the magnificent opportunity to be the tool that God uses at this point in time to accomplish His work. Who wouldn't want that?

There are very good reasons to share the Gospel, to pray, to obey. I do not believe that "If you don't you will obstruct God's work" is one of them. Conversely, believers who have no interest in obeying Christ by sharing the Gospel, making disciples, praying, or the rest might have a bigger problem than preventing God from accomplishing His will. They may have a heart problem -- not much concerned about Christ -- and maybe even a health problem -- dead in sin. I still don't believe that God is in submission to Man.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Worship

Jesus told the woman at the well, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24). Jesus didn't speak in capitals, but my Bible doesn't capitalize "spirit" in that sentence, suggesting that the translators did not understand Jesus to be talking about the Spirit. The language, then, leads us to believe that Jesus is talking about the human spirit, not the divine. True worship, according to Christ, is not geographically located. (That was the woman's question. "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship" (John 4:20).) True worship, then, is not located at church or, as some would argue, in the midst of nature. True worship has two components, neither of which is location. These are "spirit" and "truth."

"Truth" is pretty self-explanatory. False worship doesn't work. Moreover, worship must contain truth. A worship song that encourages us because when Jesus died He "thought of me above all" is not "truth." It's not like that's limited to contemporary worship. When Alfred Ackley answered how we can know He Lives, he said, "He lives within my heart." As if that's the final arbiter of truth. When the hymn asks how it can be "that Thou my God shouldst die for me?", we must reply "It can't be" because if God died He would cease to be God and we would cease to be ... at all. Some of these can be fixed. "How can it be that Thou my Lord didst die for me?" is fine, for instance. The point is that truth is what needs to be present. It is a critical element of worship.

What about "spirit"? Jesus said, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). We can see the two -- God's Spirit and the human spirit. The text argues that this is referring to the human spirit, but we also know that we only have a fully functioning human spirit if it is made alive by the Spirit, so they are linked but distinct. The human spirit is in view here, then, and that refers to our deepest part -- the heart. Those who worship God must do so from the heart. That would include love and it would include emotion. True worship would include a passion for Christ because of His infinite worth and because of our great love for God.

The thing is we often tend toward one or the other of these two. Some of us tend toward the "truth" side, yearning for theological accuracy and doctrinal clarity. More, of course, tend toward the "spirit" side, seeing worship as an emotional experience between me and God. Both actually make sense, but both are actually short-sighted. Jesus said both were required. Jesus said it's a matter of heart and head. The version of worship that Jesus addresses here is an emotional response to the truth of the worthiness of God. "Because these things are true about God, we must respond this way." Both.

Music is a form of magic, in a sense. It has the capacity to move you emotionally without engaging the mind. It's easy, then, to use music to produce an emotional response in people without regard to truth. Jesus warns against it. On the other hand, it's easy to call on "truth" as the final arbiter of "worship." Seems ... reasonable. It is reasonable, but it is incomplete. We need, as followers of Christ, to worship Him in spirit and to worship Him in truth -- heart and head. A warm response to God without truth is not what Jesus calls for. Right thinking about God without a heart response is not what Jesus calls for. Those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

News Weakly - 2/23/19

This Is What It Comes To
Colin Kaepernick et. al. still protests the American flag and the national anthem because of racism in America. Fine. Whatever. So what, right? Well, here's "so what". An 11-year-old boy in Florida was arrested after becoming disruptive and resisting arrest after he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Why did he refuse? Because the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance are racist. And so are all the school staff. Thanks, Colin.

Almost as upsetting to me is the media approach. Every story I saw on this said something like, "Florida boy arrested after refusing to stand for Pledge of Allegiance." Really? Well, perhaps literally, but not actually. The school does not require participation in the pledge and the student was not arrested for refusing to participate. "This arrest was based on the student’s choice to disrupt the classroom, make threats and resisting the officer’s efforts to leave the classroom." The disruption followed the refusal, so "after refusing" is correct, but it would have been just as correct to say, "The Florida boy was arrested after crossing the street to come to school." The public will make this about overbearing Americans (who are obviously racist because this boy is black), not about the illegal activities of the boy. Thanks, news media.

Well Played, Mitch
You've heard about the Democrats' "Green New Deal" plan offered up by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) in the House and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts in the Senate. The goal is to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, create millions of good jobs in the process, alter infrastructure to meet sustainability goals, secure "clean air and water; climate and community resiliency; healthy food; access to nature; and a sustainable environment," and promote justice by stopping oppression (past, present, and future) of indigenous, minority, and migrant communities along with the poor, women, and youth. (What that last item has to do with "green" eludes me.) AOC has suggested the termination of air travel, but her bill doesn't mention it and calls for high-speed rail and zero-emission vehicles. The bill would eliminate 80% of the existing power production to be replaced with 100% renewable energy. There are questions about cows, since about a third of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture including cows, but they took that out of their documentation. The plan guarantees "a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States." (Again, "green"?) The bill doesn't include it, but the party would like to cut military spending by at least half and close overseas military bases. Reports are that most of the Democratic candidates for president in 2020 are in favor of the plan.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says she won't bring it to a vote in its current form but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will bring the plan to a vote on the Senate floor. So it's utterly ironic that Senator Markey is complaining that they hope to bring the bill to a vote. It will certainly require those Democrats who lean to the Socialism side to raise their hands or disqualify themselves from being regarded as honest. We'll see what happens.

We Need a New Word
John Wayne, as it turns out, was racist and homophobic. This according to a 1971 Playboy interview in which he stated his belief in "white supremacy" and his belief that homosexual behavior was "perverted." And, of course, the Twitterverse goes wild, oddly enough spewing massive hate about what they consider massive hate.

I need a new word. I'm tired of "homophobic" that is used every time someone expresses the belief that homosexual behavior is wrong. The term means either the fear ("phobic") of homosexuals (or, perhaps, fear of being one yourself) or the hatred of homosexuals (although nothing in the word works that way). John Wayne expressing the same moral belief that the vast majority of Americans would have expressed at that time is neither fear of nor hatred for those who commit the acts. You'll need to come up with a new term ... like, maybe, "anti-sin" or something. I'll take that.

A Crimp In Their Style
Apparently the Trump administration is going to launch a "worldwide effort to end the criminalization of homosexuality." Given the current position of the media and other left that simply assumes, "If Trump did it, it's bad," this has got to be tough. "Yes! We favor the decriminalization of homosexuality. Oh, wait! Trump's administration is pushing for it? No! We're against it because he's for it. No, hang on ..." I would guess that the conservative Christians still holding out hope that Trump is a Christian might face a similar dilemma. "Yeah! Trump's a Christian, so decriminalizing homosexuality is good! Oh, hang on. No ... oh, boy."

Not the Bee
It's my own fault. I like to give out an occasional "fake news" story from the Babylon Bee. Pretty sure you'll think this is one of those. It's not. The First Annual Christian Witches Convention is taking place in April in Salem, Massachusetts. No kidding. Declaring that Jesus was a sorcerer and the Bible is a book of magic, a "born witch" who runs "the Covenant of Christian Witches Mystery School" hopes to encourage more Christians to practice witchcraft and other practices forbidden by Scripture (e.g. Gal 5:18-21). No kidding. And not very funny.

Sorry, CNN, Your Bias is Showing
"Don't get your news from Fox; they're biased." That's what they tell me. I respond, "And you think CNN is not?" Turns out, CNN is ... big time. This was exposed this week when CNN hired a political conservative to head the network's coverage of the 2020 Presidential Campaign. CNN staffers were "demoralized" by it. Why? Because she's conservative ... and they're not. A blatant admission of bias. Mind you, I don't believe any media outlet is unbiased. I am just amazed that there are those who think such an outlet exists.

Vermont Ups the Ante
Not to be outdone by New York's new "kill the babies" law, Vermont has passed their own version. In an effort to make sure that women for perpetuity can kill their babies if they want, they've voted to pass H57 which gives the right to abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy for any reason. Specifically in the text in order to remove all doubt, the bill explicitly says, "A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus shall not have independent rights under Vermont law." Federal law says that anyone who causes the death of a child in utero is guilty of murder (called the "Laci and Conner's Law"). Most states will charge someone with murder if they kill a mother and double homicide if her unborn child dies, too. Not Vermont. Not New York. They hold to the "magical birth canal" theory in which the transit through the birth canal endows rights not previously given ... although some are arguing for post-partum abortion as well. "Let it be born and then we'll decide if we're going to kill it or not." Followed immediately with "Let's see what they do in life and then decide if we're going to kill it or not." No? Why not?