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Saturday, June 25, 2022

News Weakly - 6/25/22

Break It Up; Nothing to See Here
The story is out. Biden daughter Ashley reportedly wrote in her diary about "probably not appropriate" showers with dad. She suggested they served to create her sex addiction. But, not to worry. "Believe the woman" is a variable that only applies to "those guys," not "our side." Soon to be moved to "misinformation."

You Always Act on What You Truly Believe
The EU is dedicated to fighting global climate change -- to make the necessary changes and take the necessary losses. Fight this problem at all costs. Well ... sort of. Because of a shortage of natural gas in Germany, they're firing up coal power. I mean, they can't afford an electricity shortage, right? What's next ... nuclear? Heaven forbid! Apparently "at all costs" isn't actually a comprehensive statement. "At all costs ... unless it gets too expensive."

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means
A Japanese court "ruled that Japan's ban on same-sex marriages does not violate the constitution." The story says, "Japan's constitution defines marriage as one between 'both sexes'." Do you see the problem? If marriage is defined as "between both sexes," then it cannot be a "ban on same-sex marriages" since "same-sex" does not meet the definition of "marriage." Which is what I've said all along. It's not that Japan is not allowing people of the same sex to marry. It is that marriage has a definition and "same-sex" isn't part of that.

Vive la Différence
The First Amendment says that the government cannot make laws "respecting an establishment of religion." That is, the government cannot determine a federal or state religion. So they outlawed prayer in school in the '60's and, more recently, tried to prevent Maine from using taxpayer funds to pay for attendance at religious schools. Here's the difference between establishing a state religion and using taxpayer funds for religious schools: "establishment." The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that a government that pays taxpayer money to private schools for public education can also pay taxpayer money to private religious schools for the same purpose. That is not "establishment." That is a refusal to discriminate against a school because it is religious. That is equal treatment. That's the difference.

I'd Get Fired for Doing This at Work
Attorney General Merrick Garland went to Ukraine this week to discuss Russian war crimes with his Ukraine counterpart. Odd. He did not pursue any prosecution of the thousands of rioters of 2020. He did not begin investigations to the crowds of illegal protesters outside of the homes of SCOTUS justices trying to coerce a ruling from them. He did not launch an inquiry into Jane's Revenge, the domestic terrorist group that has attacked more than 50 targets last month whose offense was simply standing for pregnant women and their unborn children and who has recently amped up their threats. In fact, there appears to be a long list of things he is not doing instead of offering help to Ukraine for Russian war crimes. I guess his priorities are clear.

Overreact Much?
In Belfast, Ireland, someone who attended a comedy show was so offended by a joke that they called the police ... and the police investigated. I have heard bad jokes before -- indeed, I've told enough myself -- but asking the police to investigate it as a crime? And they did? We are now pushing "the right not to be offended" way out of proportion.

It Warms Your Heart
Out of his deep and abiding compassion for the American people, President Biden has called on Congress to create a 3-month "federal tax holiday" on gas. Mind you, the current federal gas tax is $0.184 per gallon. The current average price of gas is $5.19 per gallon (and Californians could only wish it was that cheap), so I'm not really sure how far that will go to ease our pain at the pumps, but I'm sure his concern is sincere. Surely he's not just trying to buy better approval ratings by offering inconsequential assistance and hoping no one will notice.

Unrelated
British health officials will be offering vaccines to gay or bisexual men for monkeypox ... not because it's primarily a problem among that category ... or anything at all related to homosexual sex. Trust me. It's just random.

You Keep Using That Word
The Biden administration is proposing a "dramatic overhaul" of Title IX protections. Title IX was written 50 years ago before anyone thought of "sex" as either "sexual orientation" or anything different than "gender." We've come a long way, baby. "No discrimination on the basis of sex" has been expanded to "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." But we can't expect reason from any of this. The AP story, for instance, gave a graphic for the 19 states that have banned transgender students from playing sports. That, of course, is a lie. None have banned transgender students. Some have banned specifically biological men who identify as the female gender from women's sports because there is an actual, biological, physical difference, but "I identify" has overruled reality in too many minds. Especially now with examples like North Carolina, where the court has ruled that anyone can "correct" their birth certificate to match their gender identity without surgery. That is, full biological males will compete with full biological females because they "identify" as female, and that is neither reasonable nor safe. As the AP article rightly notes, "Nothing in the 1972 law explicitly addresses the topic," so "dramatic overhaul" is an accurate description. "A right, reasonable, and good thing" is not.

The Guillotine is Set
The Southern Baptist Convention has dropped their report on the sexual abuse in the SBC. Long lists of names of accused abusers, unanswered and unexamined, have been released along with the clear admission that this is a real mess. There will be "potential liabilities" and accusations and charges. Heads will roll. Unfortunately, godly people will suffer with the crud that actually perpetrated the abuse and cover-up. The falsely-accused will not escape any more than the rightly accused, and the SBC reputation will be more than tarnished. Some of that will be deserved, but some is due to our world's hatred for Christians and Christians' inability to keep their heads straight. Consequences are called for, repentance is demanded, transparency is required, and hurt and abused people need care. Will it happen? All in all, it does not bode well for the SBC, Christians, or Christ.

Then, Of Course, There's This ...
Without much comment from me, as you all know, the Supreme Court removed federal protection for killing babies in the womb. Note, first, it is not an abortion ban. Note, second, that it doesn't end abortion. Some states will; others will not. And we don't know just how far Congress will go to 1) take guns to keep kids from getting killed while 2) passing laws to keep your babies getting killed. We'll have to wait and see. (As a sidenote, I listened to Biden's blather on the ruling. So many lies and errors that I don't have the space or time to comment.)

Bee Brief
In honor of the latest news from the Supreme Court, the Bee offered two entries. First, the story of how Roe v. Wade was aborted in its 198th trimester. Then there was the heartfelt story of leaps of joy felt in millions of wombs across the nation. Sometimes the Bee is only partly satire.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Raise Your Standard

In 2011, "thousands of protesters rushed to the … Capitol Wednesday night, forcing their way through doors, crawling through windows and jamming corridors." Oh, the horrors! Another insurrection!! Republican lawmakers barely escaped the mob. Despite the obvious similarities to our more recent "insurrection" (that was not), this one was brought about by Democrats and the Left. They bused protesters in from out of state. The Democrats embraced the left-wing mob. Pelosi called it an "impressive show of democracy in action."

Proverbs says, "Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the LORD" (Prov 20:10). Primarily, I suppose, this is a warning to butchers and others that deal in weights and measures, right? Of course not. The concept is not "weights and measures," but double standards. "For one side we give you this determination of good or bad and for the other side you get a different standard. Thus, we are perfectly justified in being hateful, intolerant, judgmental, and even violent toward those who disagree with us; it's only those who disagree with us who are evil for doing the same toward us." This "unequal measures" gives you, "We are inclusive, so we will exclude you." It gives us, "It was brave and right to protest the outcome of the 2016 election but treasonous to do the same in 2020." It gives us, "Church gatherings are a hotbed of COVID, so we ban them, but BLM gatherings are not, so we protect and attend them." It gives us, "We who have long been regarded as immoral demand to be regarded as morally right, so you must not only change your moral position; you must jettison the religious basis for it." Most recently it gives us a radical terrorist group that threatens and burns pro-life crisis pregnancy centers accusing them of being violent and "harming the vulnerable." Meanwhile, the government continues a farcical "investigation" into an insurrection the FBI says did not take place while ignoring completely more than 50 attacks on houses of worship and pro-life crisis pregnancy centers.

Double standards. They are part of what we call "hypocrisy." "It's right for me but wrong for you." "I'm not wrong when I do it, but you are." Jane's Revenge is a pro-abortion domestic terrorist group calling for open warfare on pro-life people and organizations and that terrorism is good, but a Christian school teaching a Christian worldview to students who signed up for it needs to be changed. Double standards. Regardless of what we as individuals think of such things, God gives His own opinion. He calls it "an abomination." We don't want to be guilty of double standards ourselves. But if we are followers of Christ and He is our standard, we should be set. How about you? Your own standards, likely to be "double," or His?

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Common Sense

'Tis the season for political ads. I drove by one today that said he took the "common sense" approach. Wouldn't it be nice if that actually meant something today? What is "common sense" in today's culture? What "sense" do we share in "common"?

Well, obvious to all, if a fellow human being needs a fish and you have a fish, you should give it to him, right? Unless, of course, you'd prefer the obvious "teach him to fish and he'll eat for life." You'd think that the idea that less than 5% of the population engages in something makes it "not normal," but if you did, you'd be called a "hater." If Bob does something bad, is it common sense to shoot him in the head metaphorically or give him another chance? Can't tell by today's standards. Is it common sense to trust the media or to distrust the media? Do the people still "have the right to know," or do they only "have the right to know what we tell them"? If the media tells us "There is no story" and then, a year or two later, "We were wrong; that was a real story," is it "common sense" to drop that criminal activity off the radar or to pursue it? When we do a congressional investigation into a former president, do we investigate with people from both sides of the president (so to speak), or do we "stack the deck" with all "president haters" and expect to get the truth? That's "common sense"? In the song, Doin' What Comes Natur'lly, Irving Berlin wrote, "My tiny baby brother, who's never read a book, Knows one sex from the other, All he had to do was look." Silly people. By today's logic that makes no sense at all ... which makes no sense at all. Seriously, is it "common sense" to suggest that men can get pregnant simply because "she" decided she was a "he"? And we will lock anyone up (hopefully metaphorically, but ...) if they suggest that science tells us what sex people are. Common sense?

Scripture says, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no god'" (Psa 14:1). We read in Jeremiah that the heart is deceitful and desperately sick (Jer 17:9). Paul wrote, "The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers" (2 Cor 4:4), that humans as a race supress the truth about God and become futile in their thinking (Rom 1:19-21). I would suggest that "common sense" is a myth when we humans are, by nature, hostile to God (Rom 8:7) and do not -- cannot -- operate from a common basis without intervention from God. You'd think that common sense was common. I'd argue that the vast divergence in our world from anything approximating "common" would preclude the notion of common sense. But maybe, just maybe, that would only be an acceptable notion if we had common sense.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Other Guy

It was dubbed "the Mass Poor People's & Low-Wage Workers' Assembly and Moral March." (And may I say the name is too long ... and so is the acronym.) Poor people around the country gathered in Washington D.C. to protest being poor. No, that's not accurate. They were protesting not being looked after sufficiently. They have demands. Lots of them. You can read them here. It is true that there are poor people in this country (this world) and that people in general and in power don't seem very concerned about them. But if you read through their demands, you might find a common theme. The enemy ... is the people with money. And we want it now.

They want to take from the general population to "permanently expand welfare benefits, provide cash assistance programs, and guarantee adequate incomes" and "enacting a universal single payer national health care program." They want to harm the economy -- employers and customers -- by " raising the minimum wage to a living wage." They want the right to form unions because they don't trust the government or the employers to give them what they want. They want to damage landlords by "ending all evictions, cancelling past due rent and mortgage payments." And more. The running theme here is "Someone else has resources and we want the government to redirect them to us." Why? Because those other guys -- in this case the "rich ones" -- are the enemy and we want what we deem to be our rightful share.

I'm not writing this about poor vs rich. It's about "us" vs "them." It pops up in poor people. It pops up in rich people, where, to them, the poor people are the enemy. It pops up in race questions when "whites" are the problems and "people of color" want what's coming to them at the cost of the "whites." It shows in neighborhoods when "that different family" moves in and it shows in churches when "that different family" starts attending. Why is it so hard to "break into a church" -- to actually get connected? Because they are "us" and those who are not "us" are "them." Everyone has something that someone else wants and everyone is in some position or another in which they are the enemy. Often without even trying. Sometimes without even knowing it. People with different incomes, different countries, different skin tones, different sexes, different accents, and so on. I met a white girl who hated white folks because she grew up in a black community and was taught that white folks were the enemy. In her experience, "us" was the black community and those outside that community was "them," not even recognizing that she was white.

We have a term for it. It's "xenophobia" -- the fear of anything alien. It has been coerced by the science fiction aficionados, so it is mostly "fear of aliens from outer space," but the word references anyone or anything "different." We humans will slide in a host of other reasons for our hostility to "them" -- poverty, nationality, crime, racism, sexism, religion, whatever -- but the origin is this fundamental human need for community and its counterpart, the fear of that which is not my "community." Why are some white people racist? Because they're scared. Why are some black people racist? Same reason. (Look it up. "Racist" has a meaning, and it is NOT "white".) Why do poor people hate the rich? Why do rich white Americans hate those impoverished illegal aliens? Same reason. There is more, sure, but that's at the core. And until we -- humanity -- recognizes and deals with that problem, legislation to take from the rich and give to the poor will not only not solve poor peoples' problems; it will only make things worse ... for everyone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

You're On Your Own, Kid

I've noted an interesting thought pattern in a lot of Christians and I'm not at all sure they're aware of it.

In conversations with fellow believers about difficult circumstances and events in their lives, they seem to feel as if they're on their own. "Me against the world," so to speak. Relationship trials, economic problems, job difficulties, on and on ... all seem to be "up to me" and, therefore, too often outside of our ability to manage let alone fix. Parents encounter problems and ask, "What can you do?" Spouses collide with spouses and ask, "What can you do?" We look at our world around us slipping farther and farther from God's ideals and ask, "What can we do?"

Now we are Christians. We believe our bibles. We can even quote Jesus's, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb 13:5). We all love that "we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Rom 8:28). So many lovely promises of God's presence and His power in our lives. We affirm them ... and then operate as if we're on our own. Why is that?

I just wanted to tell you, fellow believer. You're not. In a conflict with a coworker or neighbor or spouse and don't know what to do? You're not in that alone. Struggling with making ends meet, with finding a spouse, with living with a lout? You're not in that alone. What to do with the kids? What to do with your life? What to do with your morning? You're not in that alone. Not only that, but He promises to work it out for good. Let me ask you this. If you knew that He was always present and always working, would it be easier, say, to forgive? To bear up? To keep on going? If you actually believed that God was who He says He is and is doing what He says He is doing, would that have practical implications for how you live your life, see your world, interact in everyday things? Do you? Does it? Something to consider.

Monday, June 20, 2022

The Problem of Rights

We are currently engaged in a great debate. Will we scratch the protective surface of the 2nd Amendment to protect children from guns or will we ignore the problem? This, of course, is how it is couched in the public square. It's what is called a "false dilemma." This is not what is really going on.

The original premise of this country was that there was a Creator and that this Creator endowed us with certain rights. The Founding Fathers believed the function of government was to "secure these rights." So they built a limited government with very strict checks and balances and wrote that into the Constitution. That was not good enough, so they added 10 amendments that we call "The Bill of Rights" to ensure that government didn't encroach on our God-given rights. The 10th Amendment is quite broad.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People.
You can see, I hope, that the scope of the federal government was intended to be extremely limited, leaving the bulk of governing to the States and the People. Enter the 21st century.

Back in the 1960's, they began the legal process of yanking God out of the public square. They gave it a high-sounding name -- "separation of church and government" -- and tied it to the First Amendment: The government cannot establish a national religion. (Note: there is a substantial difference between acknowledging a religion and establishing one.) In so doing, they banned religion in general, with a special view to Christianity, from the public square. We've come a long way from the 1960's. Having edged God out, it is a short walk to debunking " endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." If not endowed by their Creator, these rights become "alienable" and, if they admit we have them, it is only by the kindness of the present powers. The Bill of Rights warned government to keep their hands off. "These don't belong to you; they belong to the people by God's administration." Having dismembered that position, we've dismembered the concept of "rights." "Rights" are, now, "whatever I think they are" including the right not to be offended and the right not to feel scared because someone else owns a gun. (Those are not hyperbole; I've heard them publicly declared.)

"You're exaggerating," I hear some say. Yes. Maybe it's hyperbole. But if we have, say, the "inalienable right" to bear arms, why does the average Joe need to provide reasons that you will accept for him to own an AR-15? (I don't. I'm talking examples here.) The thinking is "You have the right to bear arms ... within limits ... as long as you can give me a reason I consider good enough to let you ... on an individual basis ... which is nearly zero." This is not the way a right endowed by a Creator works. And it's not merely the right to bear arms in question. The freedom of the press, free speech, the free exercise of religion, the right to due process, and the rights of the States or the People are all in question or already denied ... for starters. Let's ask the unborn how they feel about equal protection (14th Amendment). Oh, no, I forgot. Rights are not endowed by a Creator; they are endowed by the powers that be. Sorry, kids. And America in the 21st century edges away from democracy and closer to totalitarianism where the powers that be tell you what rights you do or don't have ... at this moment.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Father's Day, 2022

I have talked to people on the topic of "God the Father." A couple have told me, "I don't know what that means because I didn't have a good father figure." I think that's mistaken logic. We all know what a "good father" looks like even if we didn't have one. On the other hand, I did. Growing up, of course, I didn't realize it. I didn't know my dad was outstanding. He was my dad and I just figured he was like most other dads. Listening to people today, I've figured out he wasn't ordinary.

My dad took the family on family vacations. He loved that. We went camping and we went traveling. We traveled the country one summer touring all sorts of sights in a motorhome he bought so my mom would be comfortable traveling. It was him I learned "Husbands, love your wives" by observation. Thanks to my dad's penchant for vacations, I've been to most of the 50 states including Alaska as well as most of southern Canada at some time or another. That's an adventure and an education. He loved to fish but was very careful to include his sons in that pleasure. He didn't mind at all forgoing his own fishing experiencing to keep us fishing. He prepped the gear, baited the hooks, drove the boat (when necessary), netted the fish ... ad infinitum ... so we could be with him and enjoy what he enjoyed. He was keen on our spiritual education as well. We attended church every Sunday (and more) unless someone was sick. Then we'd have our own church service at home. We went to Christian school and he took me often to Christian Business Men's Committee (CBMC) breakfasts or Los Angeles's skid row in his various ministry efforts. He wasn't merely dedicated to these kinds of things; he intentionally shared that dedication with his children -- especially his sons. We never heard, "Wait 'til your father gets home" from Mom. She was the front line discipline. I don't recall my father ever spanking me, although I do remember several "What were you thinking?" episodes, a question I found amusing. "What makes you think I was thinking?" I never said that to him. Dad was known to bring people home who needed help. He was serious about his relationship with Christ, lived it out boldly in front of his family, and urged his kids to do the same.

My father is getting up in age, but I still respect him greatly, admire his dedication to Christ, and appreciate his lifelong example and love. Because of my father, I know what a good father looks like. I will be eternally grateful to my heavenly Father for the father He gave me.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

News Weakly - 6/18/22

Fair and Balanced
A pregnancy center in Buffalo was firebombed last week by a pro-abortion terrorist group called "Jane's Revenge." It wasn't the first. The Left has said ... nothing. The national media keeps us informed moment by moment of any gun violence or "anti-abortion" sentiments, but this happened last week and it was almost unremarked entirely. Clearly our national media (and our nation) cannot be termed "fair and balanced" or "without extreme prejudice."

That's Curious
This isn't particularly remarkable. A government panel has renamed Mount Doane in Yellowstone National Park to "First Peoples Mountain" because Doan was an army officer that led a Native American massacre. The kind of thing we've come to expect these days. Fine. In other news, they've decided to remove the Crazy Horse Memorial because Crazy Horse was known for raids, murders, and Custer's "Last Stand." Oh, wait ... no, that's not right. Crazy Horse remains a hero for his killing of white people, combatant and non. Strange sense of "justice" this country has these days. Oh, yeah ... only white people can be bad. In the meantime, God expressed His opinion of the nonsense. (That last was humor.)

Just Wondering
The report is out that says that the Great White shark population off the coast of California has increased more than 5 times between 2017 and 2021. I'm just wondering. Is that because of white supremacy, male sexism, or climate change? Maybe it's COVID, Trump's fault, or the Ukraine war? I can't keep up.

Equal Protection
A private school in North Carolina had a dress code that required girls to wear skirts. A federal appeals court has ruled that unconstitutional. Violates the 14th Amendment "equal protection" clause. Now, if they had required all students to wear jeans and jockstraps, it would have been well within the 14th Amendment. Everything equal, right? I, however, would argue that requiring people to dress in accordance with their gender is equal protection. But, hey, that's just me. Gender-based dress codes are right out. I wonder how many schools are in deep, deep trouble.

Cure for Monkeypox
Those geniuses over at the WHO have figured out an clever way to solve the monkeypox epidemic (if 2200 cases worldwide can be called that). The name is "inaccurate," "discriminatory" and "stigmatising." So, change the name. I'm thinking something like "Fred." Poof! Monkeypox is gone! Now all we have to do is figure out a cure for Fred. And I know a few Freds who need a cure. Seriously, the name is "discriminatory"? For whom? Monkeys?

Underrepresented
Pixar has given Buzz Lightyear a same-sex partner, apparently for the sake of educating our kids. (Some might say for grooming our kids, but that's so conspiratorial.) They did it to give the underrepresented LGBT folks representation. So ... if the question is representation, where is their religious character? (If proportional representation is in view, that would have to be more than one, wouldn't it?)

Biden Cares
We're looking at record prices for gasoline -- reaching prohibitive levels -- that hurt more than anyone the poorer among us. In an effort to relieve that problem, Biden is seeking to increase costs of fossil fuel operations in order to reduce methane pollution. I suspect, if he's successful, we shouldn't have to worry about prices much longer. We'll have to worry about how we'll continue to afford going to work and support our families ... in a "cleaner environment." Biden cares ... about the environment, perhaps, but not so much about the people he ostensibly serves.

A New Low
Through the 50's and 60's polls indicated that 98% of Americans believed in God. A religious if not Christian nation. Since 1967 it has dropped. It hit a low in 2014 at 86%, jumped up a bit in 2015 to 89%, and has steadily dropped until 2020 to our all-time low of 81%. Only 40% believe that "God can intervene on people's behalf." (It begs the question of what kind of "god" the other 60% believe in.) Younger people (18-29) (68%), college grads (78%), Democrats (72%), and ideological Liberals (72%) are less likely to believe in God. Republicans (92%) and married couples (88%) are much more likely. Tell me how liberalism and public education are good for us? (One of the oddest statistics was that 1% of those who don't believe in God attend religious services weekly. Why?)

Got to Beelieve
Have you heard the absolutely shocking news that science has tested positive for COVID? (Lest you've forgotten, Dr. Fauci famously declared, "I am the science.") Have you seen the latest in Supreme Court robes? Are you aware of the latest from biblical scholars who now believe that the "666" in Revelation refers to the price of gas in the end times?

Must be true; I read it on the Internet.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Unwanted Visitors

I have been hearing recently about the concept of generational curses. Generational curses are believed to be passed down from generation to generation. If you have ungodly patterns in your family, you're likely under a generational curse. If your father suffered from anger, he probably got it from his father and you likely got it from him -- a generational curse. The source of this kind of thinking is two-fold. First, it is unavoidably true that children often inherit the sins of their parents. You know, the problem of nurture. If you grow up with a constant example of alcoholism, it isn't outlandish that you might have a tendency toward alcoholism, as an example. But the second source is Scripture.
The LORD passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." (Exo 34:6-7)
Well, there you have it. God visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the 3rd and 4th generation. A generational curse. (Interestingly, most who talk about "generational curses" do not acknowledge that it is God who visits these things on subsequent generations.)

The concept is problematic. While it does say that God visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation (here and in Exo 20:5 and Num 14:18), Scripture also says that children are not punished for the sins of their fathers (Deut 24:16; Ezek 18:20). Jeremiah wrote, "Everyone shall die for his own iniquity" (Jer 31:30). So, no, God does not judge children by their parents' sins (nor vice versa). So what does it mean when it says God "visits iniquity" on people?

In the Exodus passage, God is clear. He visits iniquity on subsequent generations "of those who hate Me." That is, a condition of this visitation is that they hate God. So "visiting iniquity" can be understood by saying, "Those who hate God will continue the same sort of sins that they learned from their parents." That is, by hating God, they produced their own sin and earned their own judgment. It is similar to God's "wrath of abandonment." Romans 1:18-32 gives a clear demonstration of God's "wrath of abandonment," where He acts in wrath by withdrawing, not intervening. His first line of wrath is to give us up to more sin. At the same time, God provides a way of escape. By His grace, He offers repentance and absolution. In Leviticus God told Israel, "Those of you who are left shall rot away in your enemies' lands because of their iniquity, and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall rot away like them" (Lev 26:39). He goes on to say, "But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against Me, and also in walking contrary to Me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies -- if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land" (Lev 26:40-42).

I don't believe, then, in "generational curses" as the term is commonly used today. That simply blames our problems on the prior generation. "It's not my fault I'm like this; it's a generational curse." We are each responsible for our own sin and each able to repent and be healed by God's grace. We certainly do "inherit" sin from our parents, mostly by nurture, but those sins need not remain. Remember, God declared Himself to Moses, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." In fact, it is that God that is the fundamental component of the Gospel. "Yes, there is a really bad problem -- sin -- but there is a glorious solution!"

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Scripture - God's Word

It's a well-known passage.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)
You'd think it would have a bigger impact on Christians.

The text talks about "inspiration," but it's not the inspiration we think of. It's more of an "expiration" -- a breathing out. Exhaling. In Greek, it's theopneustos, where "theo" is "God" and "pneustos" is "breathed." One word, one kind of "inspired." Scripture is "God-breathed." As opposed to "man-made." The writers weren't "inspired" to write this stuff; it was "breathed into" them. Scripture is God's Word.

"You're so narrow-minded on this," I've been told. "God's Word is so much bigger than Scripture." Well, sure, on one hand, that's true. No one claims that Scripture is all that God has to say. But that's not the claim. The claim is that all that is said in Scripture is God's Word.

"Scripture" -- I keep using that word. Do we know what it means? The Greek here is simply graphē -- a "writing." All Scripture is written. Every time this word appears in the New Testament it is a reference to the "sacred texts," the "holy Writ." Not merely anything that is written. So what we have written down in Scripture is breathed out by God and is, therefore, as reliable as God.

It's odd to me to hear people say, "I believe that" and then deny it. They deny it when they say that it cannot be inerrant -- without error. They deny it when they say it is not sufficient. "Sufficient?" you might ask. Oh, yes. Look a the claim. It is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." "Teaching" gives us the knowledge of what is right. "Reproof" corrects us when we are wrong. "Correction" tells us how to get back to the right. And "training in righteousness" keeps us in what is right. So sufficient is this that it will make those who use it "complete, equipped for every good work." That which makes you complete and equips you for every good work is sufficient. When handled properly (2 Tim 2:15), it is absolutely sufficient for the task. Scripture doesn't require science or philosophy, higher morals or better ideas. It doesn't require your opinion. Taken as it is given, it is all that is needed. It is beyond accusation or evaluation, where we might be allowed to disallow some of it.

There is no other alternative here. You can believe what Scripture says about itself. It premises its claims to sufficiency on the sufficiency of God. It isn't the texts that are reliable; it is God, the One who breathed it. It isn't the words that are sufficient for godly thinking and living; it is God, the One who breathed them. It isn't the Bible that is inerrant; it is God who breathed it. If you claim that you believe the Bible and disregard what the Bible claims, you deceive yourself. Sadly, I'm pretty sure that every one of us at some point does just that, substituting personal preference for the simple truth of Scripture. To our own detriment.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Better Off Dead

My doctor experiences of late have included a psych eval. Okay, that's not accurate. They have all been asking whether or not their patients are depressed. It is clearly an "issued" questionnaire because they all have the same questions. I was recently told it comes from the healthcare insurance companies. Okay, fine. The last question is something like this: "Do you think you would be better off dead?" You're supposed to answer "Never" or "Sometimes" or "Often" kind of ways, but if you answer "sometimes," they clearly are thinking they might need to intervene.

I have a problem with that question. I can't answer it truthfully without getting myself in trouble. If I were to answer truthfully, the answer would be "all the time." "Uh, oh," some concerned folks will be saying, "he's suicidal." No, not in the least. Consider. Paul wrote, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Php 1:21). Gain? To die is gain?? That's what he said. Why? Paul had "the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better" (Php 1:23). He went through the same thought train in 2 Corinthians. There he talked about how our "earthly tent" is being torn down (2 Cor 5:1). "In this house we groan," he said, "longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven" (2 Cor 5:2). It is here that Paul makes his famous statement, "While we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord" (2 Cor 5:6). He says we "prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" (2 Cor 5:8).

In one of those questionnaires, I answered closer to the truth than usual. Yes, I sometimes think I'd be better off dead. But I explained to the doctor, "How could that not be true? If it is true that there is a hereafter, and that, in that hereafter, I can be certain to live in eternal joy and love without pain, suffering, or sadness, would it be sane to say I would not be better off dead?" Does that make me (and Paul and the "we" he references in 2 Corinthians) suicidal? Not in the least. Not by a long shot. Paul told the Corinthians, "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him" (2 Cor 5:9). Why would someone who thinks this way not be suicidal? Because we believe that we can be pleasing to Him in this life. Paul told the Philippians, "To remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith" (Php 1:24-25). Since my greatest joy is to be pleasing to Him, I will gladly remain until He calls me home. I think it will be so much better when He does, but I'm in no hurry to hasten the day because I'm not the issue here. He is. To be useful now and present with Him then is the best I can hope for. So, no suicide in my future. But I do look forward to that homecoming. I will be better off dead ... when He says so.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The Gift

God has a lot of gifts that He gives His children. There is love and grace, mercy and joy, provision and comfort ... oh, lots and lots. Recently I was going through Paul's second epistle to the church at Corinth and came across this well-known text. Talking about the "guy" (Paul himself) who had amazing revelations in a visit to heaven (2 Cor 12:3-6), he went on to say,
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. (2 Cor 12:7)
The famous "thorn in the flesh" thing. He's clear; it's a "messenger of Satan." He's absolutely clear that it was hard to bear (2 Cor 12:8). But, hang on a minute, what's that phrase again? "A thorn was given me in the flesh." Well, now, hang on. That doesn't sound right. "Given me"? That sounds like a gift, not an oppression. In fact, the word there is didōmi, meaning "to give." It is translated "bestow, minister, give, grant, yield." Jesus used it when He said, "No one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father" (John 6:65). Paul used it when he wrote, "It has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake" (Php 1:29). Oh! Oh! And there it is again! This "given" -- this "granted" -- includes "believe" and "suffer." It looks like Paul and Jesus and more are all saying that suffering like this is a gift.

Now, we know that can't be true, right? I mean, science has taught us that, for instance, spanking kids damages kids. Causing (or merely allowing) pain can never be good for you. Everyone knows that pain does not produce gain. Oh ... wait ... well, that's inconvenient, isn't it? It looks as if our own cultural thinking admits to the possibility that pain in life can actually produce positive results. And all of us understand "positive results" to be a "gift," a good thing. So ... maybe?

Turns out it's in a lot of places. Paul went on to say in that 2 Corinthians passage that he prayed for that thorn to be removed and God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." So Paul concluded, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:9-10). Sounds like he thought it was a good gift. James wrote, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4). Sounds like he thought it was a good gift. The author of Hebrews tells us, "For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives" (Heb 12:6). (I don't care what linguistic hoops you jump through; that "chastises" is not "hugs." It means "to scourge" or "whip.") This author goes on to say, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Heb 12:11). No soft-pedaling here. It is pain. But it is pain for a purpose; pain as a gift that produces "the peaceful fruit of righteousness."

Suffering is unpleasant. No dithering there. But suffering, like sorrow, can produce good (2 Cor 7:10). So Joseph could tell the brothers that sought to kill him and then sold him into slavery, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Gen 50:20). The difference between this kind of mindset and a brave person holding up in tough times is that this kind of mindset gives purpose to suffering rather than merely enduring it. This kind of viewpoint provides comfort and strength. Anything that pushes us closer to God, that urges more faith, that causes us to share a closer bond with our Savior who suffered so much, that turns our eyes from the temporal and toward the eternal, anything that does this sort of thing for us should be seen as a gift. In this we can give thanks in everything, even hard times, because God is always providing.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Body Integrity Identity Disorder

There is a mental problem called BIID -- Body Integrity Identity Disorder. It's rare, but it happens. It goes something like this. Someone becomes convinced that a particular body part is not "me," so they seek to have the limb amputated. They do not believe the body part in question is theirs, so they want it removed. Now, I know, that sounds a lot like transgender stuff. In fact, it is. But I'm not going there ... today.

Scripture tells us that God's original design in marriage was, "A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Gen 2:24). It wasn't a mere "Old Testament" concept. Jesus repeated it (Matt 19:5). Paul, too (Eph 5:31). It is an integral part of the standard, biblical (read "God-ordained") definition of marriage. We hear and understand "two become one" and we're fine with it.

So it baffles me when a Christian tells me, "We're getting a divorce." It baffles me from the perspective that God hates divorce (Mal 2:16). Now, I don't know about you, but it seems me that choosing to do something God hates and saying "I love God" is rather contradictory. Just as bad is this concept of "one flesh." We 21st century Americans (and so many others) appear to suffer in large part from BIID. We fail to recognize that this spouse is not a separate person, but is "bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh" (Gen 2:23) and we seek to simply hack it off. We think it will be better for us. We think we can do it without any pain. We think it's a simple legal procedure and we'll be happier ... by cutting off body parts. That's crazy!

Americans have begun to think of "til death do us part" as a triviality. Promises, they tell us, are made to be broken. If only it was that trivial. Christians are buying it as well. While the statistics are skewed, it is still disturbing how many Christian couples are getting divorces. We are "Christ-followers" ignoring the instructions about loving one another, dying to self, the image of Christ and the Church (Eph 5:32), commands to husbands and commands to wives, and all the while inviting unbelievers to blaspheme God. To me, it is tragic that so many people -- self-identified followers of Christ -- are rending themselves apart and thinking it's in their best interest. It isn't any better than BIID. It's much the same. But too many of us are behind it all the way.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

In the Ministry

We all know that Christians have a lot of their own language. We toss out "salvation" like it's a common word in everyone's vocabulary. We talk about "regeneration" and "sanctification" and "justification" like they're everyday concepts. We all use the word "love" without regard for what it means. It's what is known as "jargon," special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand. And it's fine as long as the people with whom we're using these terms all agree on what we mean by these terms.

One that we use often is the idea of "ministry." We have people we hire to be "ministers" and we understand that "the ministry" is not a concept as much as a profession. It's for a particular set of people in the faith who are particularly qualified and specially called to the task. So why does it not seem to trip anyone up when we read that the primary purpose of the church is "to equip the saints for the work of ministry" (Eph 4:12)? Many of us are likely saying, "Uh, Paul, you don't understand. That's not our job; that's the pastor's job." But clearly that's not what Paul thinks. Silly Paul. He thinks that "the saints" -- all who are in Christ -- will be doing "the work of ministry." Strange.

What does this "work of ministry" entail? It includes "building up the body of Christ" (Eph 4:12) with an aim to "the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (Eph 4:13). We are to end up no longer children, but "speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ" (Eph 4:15). "Yes," some are saying, "that's what we've been saying. That's not our job. That's the pastor's job. That's the deacons' job or the elders' job. That's not us!" But it is.

It is Sunday. Imagine if we went to church on Sunday with that kind of mindset. Imagine if we didn't go just to get a nice sermon and some good songs. What would it look like at church if we -- each and every one of us -- went to minister? I heard two ladies talking one Sunday. "Where's your daughter these days?" "Oh, she and her husband are going to a bigger church now. They didn't want to have to be involved with ministry." What if that was precisely why we went to church? What if we went to serve? That's really the word there. What if we went to edify others and build them up and equip them? What if we went to teach even if it isn't formal and to encourage and to engage? What if we went to give as much as we go to get? What if we went intentionally to minister to our ministers and serve our servers? I'd like to be at that church. I'd like to be a part of that ministry. Funny thing. That's what Paul should be normal rather than unusual. How about you?

Saturday, June 11, 2022

News Weakly - 6/11/22

"Hateful"
Last week alumnus Jim McGuire told the graduating class of River Valley High School in Caledonia, OH, "I also strongly suggest to make sure to choose a spouse on biblical principles, you know a male with a female and female with a male." The outrage was immediate. His remarks were "hateful." The man suggested that those who do what God says would be better off than if they don't, and that is "hateful." One Twitter user wrote, "He should take his ignorant views back to the 1950s." Umm, 1950's? Try 2008, when most of California voted to define marriage as one man and one woman. There was indeed hateful speech there, but it wasn't from Mr. McGuire, and the ignorance and hypocrisy of the public is showing.

Who's Bad?
The New York Times headline reads, "An Attempt at Inclusion Proves There Is More Work to Do" and the tagline was that some Tampa Bay Rays players undercut Pride Month by not wearing rainbow logos. Some "evil" Rays players stood by their beliefs rather than bowing to the LGBT. So they are not inclusive while the Times et al. is ... while rejecting anyone who doesn't agree with them. Inclusive. You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

In a Related Story
An Australian Federal Court has ordered Google to pay $515,000 to a former deputy premier who quit politics because of videos on You Tube. Australia does not allow free speech and will not allow Google or You Tube to allow people to exercise it. Seriously, I don't know the plan. You Tube will need to inspect every video for "truth" (as defined by the Australian government) before allowing it? This is what happens when expression of ideas become illegal ... like believing Scripture over LGBT values.

Don't Believe the Science!
A feminist in Norway is looking at 3 years in prison for tweeting that a guy who identifies as a girl cannot be a lesbian. She had the audacity to claim, "The fact is that men who claim to be women are only men who claim to be women." Is 3 years enough for believing the science?

Believe the Science?
As it turns out this story came out from PLOS One (a highly regarded medical journal) in 2019, but no one said a word. This study says that there is no gay gene. They are not "born this way." Another case of "Believe the science ... unless we tell you not to ... or just keep the science from you."

Passing the Buck
A family has sued Meta blaming their Instagram platform for their daughter's eating disorder and suicidal thoughts. If only they could have sued iPhone because there is no "Off" button. Or maybe sued someone else who was responsible for the care and protection of their pre-teen daughter. (She signed up for Instagram when she was 11 and the minimum age was 13. That's Instagram's fault?) If only. But I guess irresponsible parents suing themselves wouldn't work well. Besides, no one is going to believe that all this social media is actually bad for our kids.

Irresponsible
Do you know the difference between "not responsible" and "irresponsible"? A Missouri court has ruled that an automobile is responsible for a woman getting HPV having sex in the car, so the insurance has to pay $5.2 million. To be fair, they ruled that the vehicle's owner was responsible, but somehow the irresponsible (there's that word) owner is not responsible (there's the other one) and the car insurance company has to pay. At no point did anyone seem to rule that the two people having sex in the car were actually responsible because they were irresponsible, not "not responsible." And once again our nation via its court system is eliminating human responsibility for human error.

From the Babylon Fish
In light of last week's news that California could declare bees to be fish, the Babylon Bee offered the harrowing story of a child playing in a meadow who got stung by a fish.

I haven't been tracking too closely (because it really is a circus), but I hear that Miley Ccyrus will be performing the halftime show at the Jan. 6 committee hearings. On the Jan. 6 issue, polls suggest that people filling their gas tanks are starting to think those January 6 folk might have been onto something. Makes sense, I guess. The latest Powerball Lotto jackpot is up to 2 tanks of gas now. And Jimmy Carter is afraid that all these Biden comparisons could tarnish his presidential legacy.

Must be true; I read it on the Internet.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Evident

I'm sure if you read your bible at all you've seen this passage.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:19-23)
The text gives us two categories: the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of the Spirit." Interesting that it lists a lot more "works of the flesh" than "fruit of the Spirit." But the phrase that really caught my eye was "the works of the flesh are evident." Paul seems to say here, "We all know what the flesh produces. We can all see it for ourselves." Sometimes I wonder.

Years ago I was going through the membership class of a new church I had been attending. In the first meeting, we all introduced ourselves. One couple introduced themselves with different last names, told us when they planned to marry (6 months or so), and that they currently lived together. All cheery and "happy to be here." Apparently it was not evident to them that the first item on the "works of the flesh" list was sexual immorality. How many Christians do you know that are given to -- nay, proud of -- "fits of anger" when they tackle Twitter opponents, take on Facebook heretics, or take down Internet infidels? Rivalries, dissensions, and divisions among believers are often considered badges of honor. Are they evidently works of the flesh?

The real problem, of course, is not that we do these things. We all do these things. We are still flesh (Rom 7:14-15). As long as we are in this life, we will sin. The problem is when we indulge these things, enjoy these things, even defend them. The problem is when there is defiance, not repentance.

Jesus said that we speak and do what is in our hearts (Matt 15:18-20). The problem for us is not that we do works of the flesh. Those can be confessed, repented, and, as sanctification proceeds, diminished. The question, I guess, is just what kind of tree are you? Do you see "good fruit" or bad? Can you recognize in yourself fruit of the Spirit or is your life most marked by works of the flesh? Are you even aware of it? You should be. It is, as Paul says, evident.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Rejoice

We have a lot of commands in Scripture, and we get it. There are things we are supposed to do and things we are not supposed to do. So when we are commanded to "Flee immorality" (1 Cor 6:8) or "You shall not murder" (Exo 20:13), we get it. These are choices we're supposed to make. As it turns out, however, there are some difficult commands simply because we don't see them as choices.

One obvious example is the command to love. "Hang on," you might think, "what makes you think we can choose who we will love?" Well, it's not my opinion. God commanded it in the Old Testament (Lev 19:18). Jesus listed it as the highest command in the New Testament (Matt 22:37-38). Based solely on the "opinions" of God the Father and God the Son, I'd say it must be so. Apparently, then, we're misunderstanding "love" in this context. This "love" is not our "warm affection" concept; it's something else, something more. It is the constant desire for the best for the one you are loving. It is sacrificial and sometimes, even in our own version, "tough." So it is not a command to feel warmly toward others, but to consider others as more important than yourself and to seek their good, even over your own comfort.

A more difficult example, I think, is the command, "Rejoice!" Yes, that's a command. And not a small one. Israel was repeatedly commanded to "rejoice before the Lord your God" (e.g., Lev 23:40; Deut 12:18; Deut 27:7). In the New Testament, it's just as important. Jesus said, "Rejoice and be glad" (Matt 5:12). When? "When people insult you and persecute you" (Matt 5:11). Paul told the Philippians that he was bing "poured out as a drink offering" (Php 2:17) and told them, "You, too, rejoice in the same way" (Php 2:18). In fact, "rejoice" was a key phrase in that epistle. "Rejoice in the Lord," he told them (Php 3:1) and later, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" (Php 4:4). Sounds like Paul had a message he wanted them to get. He told the Thessalonians the same thing. "Rejoice always" (1 Thess 5:16). James wrote, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2-3). Apparently "rejoice" means something different than "feel happy," right? Maybe not so much if you consider what "happy" is. Happiness, the dictionary tells me, is "a state of well-being and contentment." It is the conviction that I am in a good place. And Paul said, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am" (Php 4:11). How? "Through Him who strengthens me" (Php 4:13). By looking at my circumstances from the perspective of the loving, wise, good God who "works all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph 1:11). If I can see all things as His work and His gift, then I can be "happy" even in discomfort. Paul saw a "thorn in the flesh" as a gift from God and was "well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake" (2 Cor 12:7-10). Rejoicing. Always.

I read recently that "rejoice" was a common greeting among believers back in those days. We use "hello" and "goodbye" and they used "rejoice." (Does anyone really know what "hello" even means anymore?) We are repeatedly commanded to rejoice. Always. Even in trials. That's possible only if we have a sovereign and loving God who knows what's best for us and always provides it. I would suggest that it doesn't come naturally and we could always use reminders. Maybe I'll take up that old traditional greeting, at least for fellow believers.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Integrity

Integrity is an interesting word. We all know what it means, but I bet you would have some difficulty explaining it. I think examining the word itself might shed some light. You can see, I think, a linguistic connection between "integrity" and "integer," right? "Integrity" has its roots in Latin (integritas) filtered through 15th century French (integrité) meaning "wholeness, completeness." "Integer" has its roots in Latin (integer -- go figure) meaning "whole, complete." I think I see a trend! We use "integer" in math to refer to a whole number. No fractions. No decimal points. No gradations. "One" is an integer and "one and a half" is not. So, in fact, the two words have essentially the same meaning. Integer means "whole" and integrity means "the state or quality of being undivided." So, to "integrate" is to take disparate things and make them one.

We think of integrity as a virtue, and generally it is, but it needn't be. If someone presents himself as a thief, for instance, and makes a constant habit of stealing, he has integrity. He has a firm adherence to a set of principles. But we generally think of someone with a firm adherence to a set of good principles. Integrity implies a sense of trustworthiness. If he says he'll do it, he'll do it. If she promises to be there, she'll be there. And, of course, much beyond that. Integrity would include the idea that sometimes, in adherence to said principles, the person with integrity will not get what he or she wants. The person with integrity may lose out in order to continue this "wholeness." Integrity means that sometimes we make sacrifices for the sake of principles.

Integrity ought to mark the Christian's life. The principles to which we adhere ought to be the biblical ones. And we ought to be willing to make personal sacrifices to retain that "one" -- to behave on the outside in the manner we believe to be right on the inside. Proverbs says, "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them" (Prov 11:3). It says, "The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him" (Prov 20:7). It says, "Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways" (Prov 28:6). After Satan assaulted Job, God commended Job to Satan. "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity" (Job 2:3). Integrity would mean that we believe that God is omnipotent and we trust Him for that. Integrity would mean that we believe God is working all things for good to those who love God (Rom 8:28) and our responses to "all things" reflect that belief. Integrity would require that we aim for godliness and right living at all costs since we are Christ-followers and "the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:6). If we say we'll do it, we should do it. If we say we must not, we must not. Even to our own detriment.

There are reasons that people don't come to Christ. Spiritually dead, not interested in repentance, rejecting the claims, and on and on. One of the reasons at the top of the list is Christian hypocrisy. We say one thing and live another. We cry "love one another" and fail to love. We reject sin in others and sin boldly. It is a big impediment to unbelievers. It is also a problem among fellow believers. If we are not trustworthy with each other, we cannot have unity. That is, failing to have integrity, we are not one. Failing to be Christians, we misrepresent Christ and are ... dis-integrated. What James calls "double-minded" (James 1:7-8). Perhaps that's why we often don't receive what we hope for from the Lord.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Banning Assault Weapons

"We need gun control," Biden, et al, declare. Or not. Radicals to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle ... with me. No one can deny that there are too many people being killed by people with guns. Simply going by facts, guns have a higher killing capacity at a longer range with a larger number of targets. I mean, rocks can kill, but how many can you kill before you get overpowered? A rock is not as powerful as a gun. There is a problem, and it needs to be addressed. We're all in agreement. Right up to there and no further.

The problem is we can't define ... anything. Are guns killing people or are people killing people? Do we need to change minds or the Constitution? Is it a personal problem or a societal problem? We can't even figure out just what an "assault weapon" is.

The range of definitions for "assault weapon" is broad. Some go low with "Any gun that can fire more than one projectile." That would include most guns, some shotguns, and even paintball guns. (Don't laugh. It has been tried.) At the other end it only includes those weapons that can be switched between automatic and semi-automatic -- called "select-fire" weapons. Okay, but automatic weapons are largely outlawed and heavily regulated and they're still wanting to outlaw "assault weapons," so that can't be it. Some mistakenly think that the famed "AR-15" stands for "Assault Rifle"-15, but the truth is the AR stands for "Armalite Rifle," so that's no help. And, as it turns out, far fewer gun deaths occur from "AR-15 style weapons" than from handguns ... or even "hands, fists, feet, etc." The only reasonable definition for "assault weapon" would have to be "any weapon that can be used for assault," but that would require a ban on baseball bats, knives, and SUVs to just name a few. As you can see, we're not getting any closer to a definition of the problem.

Some push for what they term "common sense gun control." I contend that "common sense" died in the early 21st century, but, okay, what is that? Ban military weapons for civilians and high-capacity magazines. Okay. Fine. The angry left says, "That's not enough!" and the loony right says, "They're just planning to take away our guns!" Both are wrong ... and not. You see, if we can't define "assault weapons" and we just go, without definition, and take away these assault weapons, what stops us from taking away those tomorrow? "First they come for our guns. Then they come for our knives." Silly? Sure ... but not entirely. (You know when they made Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they had no notion of extending protection to sexual orientation or gender identity.) "It's not enough"? Possibly. But without definition or even a nod to the fact that guns don't kill people, it becomes what we call "a dangerous precedent." And it illustrates that "common sense" is not common.

Look, you can make as many laws as you want. It won't stop lawbreakers from breaking them. If it makes you feel better, go ahead. Just don't complain to me when they outlaw your favorite pasttime. I'm okay with it; you may not be. You can go ahead and limit rights to a large degree. It won't stop angry people from taking lives. You can demand people be nicer to each other until the cows come home, but if people are not nicer inside, law enforcement won't make a difference. Just look at our "war on drugs." Jesus said, "What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander" (Matt 15:18-19). We can tack on "illegal use of a firearm" to that list. And all we're talking about is changing the tools evil hearts can use.

Monday, June 06, 2022

D-Day

On the morning of June 6, 1944, Allied forces landed some 156,000 troops on 5 beaches along a 50-mile stretch of France's Normandy region -- one of the largest amphibious assaults in history. Preparation took 6 months. Secrecy was a priority. Tactics included inflated armament and false information to lead the Nazis to believe the invasion would come at Pas-de-Calais instead of Normandy. The troops and equipment was loaded and the invading force set out. The invasion began at 6:30 AM.

Paratroopers were dropped the night before to capture advanced locations and confuse the Germans. Some worked; some did not. The plan for British, Canadian, and American forces were to capture 5 beachheads. Some worked; some did not. American losses at Omaha Beach exceeded 2,000 on the first day. Estimates are that 4,000 Allied troops died in the invasion. On the German side, confusion worked to the invaders' advantage. Rommel who commanded the region was on leave. Defenses he had ordered had not yet been placed. Calls to Berlin for assistance were delayed because they were afraid to wake the Fuhrer. And the element of surprise certainly produced the results they had hoped for. By June 11 the beaches were secured and more than 326,000 troops, 50,000 vehicles, and 100,000 tons of equipment were ashore.

Because of the courage and dedication, the invasion was a success. The tide had turned on the Nazi juggernaut. The end of the war was less than a year away. France was liberated, Germany invaded, and in May, 1945, Germany surrendered. Today we remember those who fought and those who died for freedom in Europe.

Sunday, June 05, 2022

Set Your Mind

Mass shootings. Gender dysphoria. Kidnappings. Pandemics. Murder. Hate. More shootings. "Bees are fish." "And, in other news ..." More of the same. It is disturbing. Watching the news is supposed to be enlightening -- "keeping informed" -- but they're finding that too many become too involved in too much media consumption between news outlets, Internet, and social media, increasing anxiety, depression, and anger. It's almost impossible to operate in this society without an overload of what we glibly call "news" (but what would be better described in our day as "propaganda"). They are not offering "just the facts." And they are not offering "balanced," either in opinion or in positive and negative content. "If it bleeds, it leads" is the rule. So we come away with a lot of information, almost all of it negative, and not all of it true.

What's a Christian to do? Sure, the world is going to operate in accord with "the prince of the power of the air." We shouldn't expect otherwise. But what are we to do? Well, let's see if we can find a biblical suggestion.
Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Php 4:8)
To be honest, try as I might, I can't fit the six o'clock news cycle into those categories these days.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col 3:1-2)
Isn't this a "suggestion" to give our mental attention to "things that are above" instead of our current world events? Certainly it doesn't preclude "keeping informed," but it does push us away from making the ongoing world our primary focus. And, given the unease that any newsfeed these days provides, God gives us His very own solution to anxiety.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Php 4:6-7)
We are not commanded to completely disengage from this world (John 17:15). We are to be in the world. We are just not supposed to be of the world (John 17:16). We are "sojourners" -- just passing through (1 Peter 2:11). This world is not our home. We have a better home and a better God and a better Savior. So, how would we go about remaining informed while dwelling only on those things "worthy of praise" and setting our minds on the things above rather the things on earth? How would our outlook change if we brought all of our concerns to God in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving? I would suspect we'd see far fewer angry or worried believers if we just followed our written instructions.

Saturday, June 04, 2022

News Weakly - 6/4/22

Clearly a Lie
Everyone knows that the Democratic Party is the party that supports black people, so this story can't be true. They say the White House is experiencing a "blaxit" (their term) where black White House staff are leaving in droves (or cars or whatever other transportation they can find). Complaining about "little support," 21+ have left or are leaving. It looks like the inverse of diversification. (I loved the line, "around 14% of current White House staffers identify as Black" like that's possible?)

More Mass Shootings
It feels, from the news cycle, that we're experiencing a "mass shooting" pandemic. They're everywhere. In South Carolina 10 people were "wounded in a mass shooting," one of 14 over the three day weekend. Oh, wait. Let's see. "Mass shooting." The definition varies, but it is typically "three or four deaths minimum." The federal government says at least four deaths. By that definition, there were no mass shootings over the holiday weekend. But, hey, there's no agenda here, right? No one is leading you on, right? You're certainly not gullible enough to buy all this "so many mass shootings!!!" nonsense ... right? Or, maybe they identify as mass shootings, so ...

What Could Go Wrong?
Canada, like so many other countries today, has a drug problem -- meth, opioids, cocaine, that sort of thing. So they're going to try a new tactic. They're going to temporarily decriminalize the possession of these drugs to destigmatize and allow them to approach law enforcement for help. Just for 3 years. Since people are basically good and don't want to be addicted to drugs, this should fix the problem ... right? I mean, what could go wrong?

And Why Not?
A California state court judge has ruled that bees can be legally classified as fish. The reasoning is that they want to classify some bees as endangered and there was no place for "bees" in the state Endangered Species Act. If a man can identify as a woman and White House staffers can "identify as Black," why not identify bees as fish? Makes perfect sense ... in a totally nonsensical way ... which hasn't bothered California for a long time, it seems.

Misinformation
CISA is the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency. They've determined that electronic voting machines in at least 16 states have software vulnerabilities. Which is NOT to say that any voting was tampered with ... or that the stolen election in 2020 was possibly stolen ... or any other obvious misinformation. Okay, look, let's just call this finding "misinformation" to start with just so we won't find ourselves, once again, discovering that what was declared misinformation previously turned out to be truth. "Oh, no; not again."

Didn't Get the Memo
Research published in Psychological Science says that androgens -- sex hormones such as testosterone -- play a role in the development of male-typical gender role behaviors. Now, we know that can't be true because gender is a social construct and this study suggests that it's a function of biology. Stupid science.

This Week's Bee
In the wake of Memorial Day, Democrats are proposing we replace Memorial Day with a day honoring all those who have been misgendered. That could be problematic, I suppose, because, despite attempts to add more genders, there still only appear to be 2 ... plus, maybe, 767 mental disorders. And in California news. Governor Newsom tested positive for COVID (no joke). He can't figure out how. He has been vaccinated and double-boosted, and all his servants wear masks. (Was that Newsom at the feed store buying Ivermectin?) We hope California enjoys the momentary peace as Newsom goes into isolation.

Must be true; I read it on the Internet.

Friday, June 03, 2022

Testing

In his second epistle to the church at Corinth, Paul urges them
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Cor 13:5)
There are a lot of Christians that don't much like that instruction. "Test myself? How am I supposed to do that?" Some say, "You can't know if you're in the faith." Others argue, "The only test is whether or not you have faith." But I would submit that Paul disagrees with both of those.

It's interesting that the examination is whether or not you are "in the faith." Not whether or not you have faith. Are you in "the faith"? What faith is that? I'd guess it is "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). The Christian faith. The faith handed down to us in the Word of God. In this use of the term, it appears that this "faith" is something outside of us. It is an entity, a belief system, a set of doctrines that we can either be "in" or be "out" of. It is independent of us. The faith delivered once for all. This isn't something we vote on or modify or correct. It's what we find and align ourselves with. That faith. The same faith that Jesus gave us. The same faith that Peter had. Are you in that faith?

As for "you can't know," John wrote his first epistle specifically so you can know (1 John 5:13), so let's set that notion aside first off. So what was the test Paul was commanding? He told them. "You seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you" (2 Cor 13:3). If you belong to Christ, there is a change, a transformation, an ongoing alteration of dead sinner to live saint. Jesus said, "If you love Me you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15) John wrote, "Whoever says 'I know Him' but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked" (1 John 2:4-6). Jesus said His disciples would be known by their love for one another (John 13:35). We are indeed saved by grace through faith apart from works (Eph 2:8-9), but we are saved for good works (Eph 2:10). If there are no changes that occur in your actions, attitudes, and outlook, it's called dead faith (James 2:17).

There has ever been this condition. Lots of people believe they are "in the faith." They'll assure you that they do a lot for the Lord but don't realize they never had a relationship with Him (Matt 7:21-23). Paul's instructions to the Corinthians was timely for us as well. "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves." We live in a day where "If he said he's a Christian, he is." We don't do ourselves or anyone else any favors by assuming "I identify as a Christian; therefore I am one." I will point out that the command is to "examine yourself," so while we might encourage others to do so, I am commanded to be sure I am in the faith, not you. Have you looked? We are commanded to examine ourselves to see if we're in the faith. We are provided the means of such an examination and assured we can know. Given the wiles of the devil, I'd hope it was something each of us would be dlligent to accomplish. Probably more than once.

Thursday, June 02, 2022

A Real Inconvenient Truth

In 2006 Al Gore trotted out his film, An Inconvenient Truth, all about climate crisis. He was serious, too, flying around in private jets and driving around in SUVs and living in a 5,000 square foot home that consumed 20 times the national average for a house while he sought to spread the alarm in speaking tours. That was a questionable "inconvenient truth." There is a real inconvenient truth.

According to God's Word, all humans are sinners. No, hang on, that's not sufficient. We are conceived in sin -- sinners from birth (Psa 51:5). We are sinners from the heart from our youngest age (Gen 8:21). Mr. Gore worried about anthropogenic global warming -- man-caused climate change. God said the planet was cursed because of man (Gen 8:21). Scripture says we are rotten in our character (Rom 3:10-12), rotten in our speech (Rom 3:13-14), rotten in our behavior (Rom 3:16-17), and rotten in our core (Rom 3:18). All of this sin rots our brains (Rom 1:28), making us incapable of recognizing our own rot (Jer 17:9) and incapable of grasping God's truth (1 Cor 2:14). We are, in our natural state, spiritually dead (Eph 2:1-3). Now that is an inconvenient truth.

There is a solution to this most serious problem. God sent His Son. God provides new birth (John 3:3; 1 John 5:1). God supplies saving repentance (2 Tim 2:24-25) and faith (Php 1:29; Acts 13:48). God forgives sin based on Christ's sacrifice (Rom 3:24-25; Rom 5:9; Eph 2:13; Col 1:20). As an outcome, the one who is born of God cannot make a practice of sin (1 John 3:9) and God saves all who are His (John 10:27-29). He forgives all their unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) and supplies them with Christ's righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). He saves and adopts (Eph 1:5) angry rebels (Rom 8:7) and blesses them with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3).

Here's the problem. Natural Man's sin condition makes it impossible for him to detect his sin condition. That takes divine intervention. Divine intervention is the only solution. Jesus said that the problem with bad people is not bad behavior, but bad character. They produce "bad fruit" because they are "bad trees" (Matt 7:17-19). Fixing bad behavior is not the answer; the problem is the bad character. The Bible says that sin touches us to the very core and we don't see it. That's why the Christian life is a life long renewing of the mind (Rom 12:2) and renewal by the Spirit (Titus 3:5). So if you are a Christian and you find in the pages of your Bible a constant affirmation of everything you've always believed to be true, you can be pretty sure you're not getting it. If you are not finding yourself constantly corrected by God's Word, you may not be grasping God's Word. And the solution is not to read it better. The solution is to repent ... if perhaps God should grant repentance. Otherwise this really is a majorly inconvenient truth.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

An Answer

I just came across this. Maybe it's the 24-hour news feed or maybe it's just really relevant, but this seems to be extremely applicable to our current events.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4)
"Umm ... okay," I can hear you saying, "what exactly does that have to do with current events?" Fair question. What's the big news? Twenty-one (plus, including the husband who died of a heart attack afterward) people died in Texas. It was swift. It was brutal. And the solution, they tell us, is gun control. Really? Gun control?? You're not serious, are you? I would argue that this text offers an actual solution. And, along the same lines, I would expect that our society would have a greater reluctance to this solution than to mere "gun control."

What's the solution here? First, "Fathers." Notice that Scripture places the onus on fathers. They are the ones held responsible for the kids. Now, that doesn't mean they are the only ones doing thet work there, but they are certainly involved and absolutely, ultimately responsible. In society, it is undeniable that fatherlessness tends to produce greater crime. It would appear that God knew that in advance. So, fathers, we are responsible for our kids.

Second, what must we avoid? "Do not provoke your children to anger." Interesting that this would be the big concern. Not "misbehaving" or "get along with others" or "be kind" (let alone "be yourself"). The big concern is angry children. Well, isn't that what we're seeing with these school shootings? I've heard about Salvador Ramos's grandmother raising him and his mother defending him. Where is his father? And why was he so angry? Anger is a critical issue in raising children.

Okay, so dads are responsible and anger is to be avoided, but what is the solution? "Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." "Bring them up" is a process. It takes time. It takes work. It is hands on. Literally "rear to maturity", which is a bit telling given that modern studies indicate that maturity is coming later and later. Bring them up in discipline and instruction. Oh, no. Not discipline. We won't do that. In some countries it is illegal. But they need to be tutored and rebuked, trained and taught. Practice, practice, practice. From birth to maturity. And not just any discipline or instruction. The discipline and instruction of the Lord. Godly discipline. Godly instruction. Not the world's instuction. Not the culture's discipline. The actual, objectively good version -- God's.

You go ahead and pass new laws to stop people from breaking laws. You go ahead and limit "assault weapons" -- weapons of any kind with which we can assault one another -- to just handguns ... which, as it turns out kill by far more people than "assault rifles." Make "no gun zones" and put up fences and lock doors. Do what you can. But the Maker says that fathers are responsible. The Creator says that we are to avoid growing angry children. God's Word says that they need discipline and instruction, and the right version is God's version. The solution to angry kids is fathers raising them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. I can't call on my country to do the right thing. I do call on Christians. Especially Christian fathers. Don't let yourself be guilty of failing your kids that way.

Side note
This isn't a blanket statement, but it is far broader than in prior times. I believe that parents today ought to be seriously concerned about sending their kids to schools that are openly hostile to Christ. Like I said, not all are, but there are far more now than in the past. Something to consider, dads, when considering your responsibility to bring up your children.