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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Stating the Obvious

Here's a short list for you: Matt 15:19; Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 6:9-13, 18; 1 Cor 5:9-11; 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Thess 4:3-5; Eph 5:3-5; 1 Tim 1:10; Rev 2:14, 20; Rev 21:8; Rev 22:15. You can look them up or you can point at them and see what they say or you can just wait for it, right? There is a common theme. And since many argue things like "There aren't enough references to that to make it an issue," I would hope that this list shows how this topic does indeed have enough references to make it an issue.

We can debate all sorts of topics in and out of the church on the subject of morality. What is and what isn't? We can go to the specific -- "Is oral sex a sin? Anal? How about a woman on her period?" We can go more broadly -- "Is homosexuality a sin or just homosexual behavior? Or neither?" We can really string it out -- "Is it always a sin to lie, or if we are, say, protecting people from the Nazis, is it okay to lie?" Always testing the boundaries. Is this okay? That? We're afraid, it seems, of getting to heaven and finding out that, doggone it, we gave up too much for God. But the topic of that list (and more) is not one of these kinds of debates. No one can dodge this one. Scripture is abundantly clear. Sexual immorality is a big deal in biblical terms.

You'd think we'd know this. You'd think it would be obvious. You'd think that we could see it on a daily basis on our billboards and televisions and our entertainment and our computers. You'd think that we could hear it in our conversations and our radios. You'd think that the #MeToo thing and the rising tide of LGBT forces demanding you surrender your faith to their demands would raise awareness that sexual immorality is a big problem. You'd think that the decline of marriage and the increase in single parent homes and the rise of sexually-transmitted diseases would declare it to the heavens. Sexual immorality is a big thing. Paul writes, "Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body" (1 Cor 6:18), but we still insist on indulging -- maybe physically, certainly mentally. As it turns out, as believers, we do it adulterously against our Bridegroom. We tell Him, "You are not enough." To our shame.

The Bible considers all manner of sexual behavior to be sin. The only God-approved sex is marital sex. Anything else -- physically or mentally -- is "sexual immorality." And not in a good way.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Coming and Going

Two people meet on the street. They walk with each other a short way, exchange pleasantries, and go on their merry ways. Were they in agreement? Well, they were in the same place at the same time, so they must have been ... right?

It's interesting how many times we do this in Christian circles. "I believe in Jesus." "Oh, really! So do I!" So we walk down the street together and exchange pleasantries. As it turns out, when we get to the next corner, we're parting ways because we aren't at all in agreement in the end. Why? How does that happen?

There is a standard of truth. That truth has a starting point and an ending point. If we come from a different starting point or go to a different ending point, the fact that we intersect for a moment is no reason to assume we're in agreement, even remotely. We see this in Christian circles. Here we are, standing in agreement, that we're Christians; we're followers of Christ. But are we, or are we just at an intersecting point of two lines? You have to ask where it comes from and where it is going to find out. Jesus warned about false prophets (Matt 7:15). He warned that false christs and false prophets would rise and lead people astray (Mark 13:22). So we shouldn't be surprised that there might be some false christians -- followers of a false christ. To find out, you need to draw a line -- to see where Christ came from and where Christ is going.

So where does the true Christ come from? He was "with God" and "was God" (John 1:1). Not a mere man. He didn't come to express His opinions or preach His own message; He came in His Father's name (John 5:43) -- sent by the Father (John 8:16) -- charged by His Father (John 10:18) to say what the Father told Him (John 8:28). He came to earth to die for our sins (1 Cor 15:3) and rise again to give us new life (Rom 6:4). He redeemed us (Gal 3:13) by paying for our sins with His blood (1 John 1:7) to appease God's wrath (Rom 3:23-25;1 John 2:2). There's a start. If that's not where your Jesus came from, we are talking about different Jesus's when we both say, "I follow Jesus."

Where is the true Christ going? He said He was going to His Father (John 14:2-3). God's will has been that all things would be united in Christ (Eph 1:9-10). He is "seated at the right hand of God" (Heb 12:2) with all authority (Matt 28:18). He came to display the glory of God (John 1:14; John 11:40) -- to glorify God (John 14:8-9; John 17:4). His direction has always been the glory of God. If that is not the direction of the Jesus you follow, we're talking about different Jesus's when we both say, "I follow Jesus."

There are other Jesus's out there. They share the name, but they're not the same Jesus. There is a Jesus who came because He loved us so much He just couldn't help it. There is a Jesus who came to solve world hunger and sickness. There is a Jesus who came not to die for sin, but to just demonstrate that God wins. There is a Jesus whose aim is to make our lives better, whose primary goal is to make bad people into good people, who winks at sin and embraces everyone. There are lots of versions of "Christ" out there. As Jesus promised, there is only one and the others are false christs.

Two people meet on the street. "I'm a Christian; I follow Christ." "Oh, good! I'm a Christian and I follow Christ." That's all well and good, but it's entirely possible that the Christ one is following is a false christ who came from somewhere Christ did not and is going somewhere Christ is not and following that christ is a bad idea. The intersection of the two based on the name is nice, but one is salvation and one is fatal. It's important to know which is which.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Enough

Psalm 73 is a common complaint. Asaph wrote it (Is that a name or a title?). In it, he complains about the wicked. They always seem to get ahead. They prosper (Psa 73:3), get fat (Psa 73:4), live prideful lives (Psa 73:6), and no one calls them out (Psa 73:10). They even malign God (Psa 73:11) and get away with it. It really bothered Asaph (Psa 73:16). Then "I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end" (Psa 73:17).

Asaph's response isn't quite what we're used to. Well, sure, he's confident of their final outcome (Psa 73:18-19), but his final answer is not really what you'd expect. Here is the famous, "Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You" (Psa 73:25), but that's not his final answer. He's satisfied that justice will be served (Psa 73:27), but that's not his final answer. Instead, he writes, "For me it is good to be near God." Asaph's answer to the problem that the rich get richer and the wicked seem to prosper while good people suffer is "For me it is good to be near God." It isn't "They'll get theirs" and it isn't "We'll win out in the end" even though both are true. To him, God is enough.

It's the same thing we see from Jeremiah. His hope was gone, his endurance had perished (Lam 3:18), and he was at the end.
“The LORD is my portion, therefore I will hope in Him." (Lam 3:24)
Same answer. God is enough. Not revenge, justice, preservation, prosperity. Just God.

You get the same kind of response from those three Jewish boys at the mouth of a hot Babylonian oven. "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (Dan 3:17-18). In other words, "God might save us from this, but we don't serve Him because of what He does for us. We worship Him for who He is." Or, "For us, it is good to be near God."

This is, at its core, the fundamental problem with the Prosperity Gospel. "I'm in this for what I can get." At that, it is no gospel, as demonstrated by the fact that not everyone who hangs on that theology prospers. We are saved by declaring Jesus as Lord, not be acquiescing to let Him do nice things for us. In so doing, we obtain the best, but that "best" is Him and Him alone. Can you say that? Can you agree that "for me it is good to be near God," and that's enough? If not, you're missing the best and looking at an idol.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

News Weekly - 11/16/18

The Standard Double Standard
So, last week Hoyt Hutchinson of Alabama knifed a "Baby Trump" balloon in protest of Trump's visit to Alabama. The nation was outraged at the clear hatred and vandalism. Oh, wait, not quite. As it turns out, supporters started a GoFundMe page and have raised (at this story) over $30,000 to pay for his legal fees (the aim was $6,000) and another one intending to "FREE HOYT" raised an additional $12,000. Now, you know that if it had been a Bernie balloon or, heaven forbid, an AOC balloon or the like, the outcry would have been universal and those currently trying to pay this man's way out of jail would be paying to keep that person in for life. Stinkin' vandal. Because double standards are the standard these days.

Update
Turns out the balloon was a Trump protest and the knife-wielder was a pro-Trump guy. Still stands. When the left breaks the law and excuses it because it was against the right or if the right breaks the law and excuses it because it was against the left, the double standard prevails. I oppose double standards.

Free For All
Elizabeth Warren's "Medicare for All" plan -- that nifty $52 trillion package -- apparently is intended to include free taxpayer-funded health care for illegal immigrants. I include this in my weakly report not because I think it's significant (sure, it's significant), but because I'm surprised it's news. Illegal immigrants already have access to free health care. Well, considering the price tag for everyone else, perhaps "free" is the wrong term ...

Flooding the Market
GLAAD is the organization that seeks to ensure universal acceptance of all things "LGBT." Convinced that the LGBTQ population has jumped from 2.5% to 20%, they are "calling on the industry to ensure that 20 percent of series regular characters on primetime scripted broadcast series are LGBTQ by 2025." I'm wondering when Christians will begin to face the fact that our world is not accepting of your biblical views and David (Psa 101:3; Psa 119:37) was a lot wiser than many of us are today. How long will we continue to feed our minds with Satan's lies and consider it "entertainment"?

Wholesome TV -- an Oxymoron
Some conservatives today, especially Christian conservatives, are concerned about Disney's tumble into our society's moral collapse. Disney has drunk the koolaid, so to speak. They put a gay couple in an animated children's series and made Elsa into a lesbian for Frozen 2, just to give some recent examples. So it shouldn't come as a surprise, as Disney launches their new Disney+ that they feel the need to warn customers that classic animations like 1941's Dumbo or 1955's Lady and the Tramp offer "outdated cultural depictions." Of the classic 1946 Song of the South they assured us we would likely never see it again. In a world cut loose from traditional morality and tossed feet first into a morass of "easily offended," we really shouldn't expect any less.

Tax the Wealthy (as defined by the other wealthy)
Elizabeth Warren is in the top 1% of America's wealthy. They tell me that she is worth about $8 million. Joe Biden is worth more ($9 million), but she is #2 in the current gaggle of Democrats, wealthier even than Bernie ($2 million). So, of course, she's demanding a wealth tax that will pay for ... well ... everything. As long as mere millionaires don't have to contribute.

To add to the fray, AOC and Bernie unveiled their next step, a plan to spend $180 billion to retrofit and repair public housing "with the goal of eliminating all carbon emissions." The rest of us will have to (emphasize the "have to") pay for it ourselves, I guess. Luckily there are billions of dollars available in billionaires' bank accounts. (And why is AOC siding with the rich old white man? Isn't he, by definition, a racist sexist capitalist?)

Almost Not News
Reportedly Hillary Clinton called a suicide hotline to "place an order."

Must be true; I read it on the Internet.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Temporary Shelter

We humans have a strange sense of priorities. We are typically our own first cause. That's just human. But we are dedicated to the here and now, this immediate life. We live in what we know to be mortal shells with a limited lifespan and we do all we can to try to gain the most pleasure from it with very little apparent regard for the bigger picture -- eternity.

The Bible describes us as pottery (Isa 29:16; Rom 9:21) The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecc 3:11), but that this life is a vapor (James 4:14), a shadow (1 Chr 29:15). David wrote,
O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! (Psa 39:4-5)
"Life is short." We have t-shirts that begin with that fact. So where do we go from there? We'll stick in something immediate -- "... so eat dessert first" -- or foolish, like the acronym, "YOLO," for "you only live once" by which we mean "so be as stupid as you want to be." (Why does YOLO never mean "You only live once, so do the hard things, do the best things, do the eternal things"?) Even in our recognition of the fleeting nature of life we embrace the temporary over the eternal.

So we -- even Christians -- live our lives largely in the temporary. We're most concerned about things that won't last and most animated about the short-term. It's politics or making money or fame or "stuff." We work hard for that which we cannot keep and refuse to sacrifice to gain that which we cannot lose. We consider it an affront that God would allow people to die, as if God owes it to us to enlarge the immediate and diminish the infinite. We Christians know that life is short and eternity is ours and still we muddle about working the immediate and complaining about missed meals like the Israelites in the desert.

Brethren, these things ought not be. We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20), strangers and exiles on earth (Heb 11:13). We're eternal people suited in temporary shelters to do God's work until He calls us home. Shouldn't we be taking a broader view? Shouldn't we be living with longer aims? Sure, we need some things to be here doing what God wants us to do, but He has assured us He'll provide that (Php 4:19). Why are we so caught up in the here and now? How could we ask things like, "Should I give to the church or get out of debt?" We are children of God given eternal life and too often all we see is the here and now. We need to look beyond.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col 3:2)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Hate or Not

We who read our Bibles as if they mean something understand that one sexual sin included in Scripture is the sin of homosexual behavior. And alarm bells go off. People load their "weapons" and prepare to fire. "It's hate!" they shout. "Bigot!" they fire. Some might even threaten legal action or get together a committee to see about outlawing such hate speech.

Why? What about that statement is hate? Why does my view that the Bible clearly calls X a sin get labeled as "hate"? I didn't suggest doing anything about it. I'm not suggesting we need to rally and drive them from the streets or some such nonsense. I think that the best place someone in the sin of homosexual behavior to be would be in my church. I'm not in favor of excluding or tormenting them. Oh, I won't participate in their sin, but I wouldn't want to encourage a bank robber to rob banks or give a burglar pointers on breaking and entering while I consider their behaviors sin, too. They want me to give them what they want; I want to give them what they need. Why is it hate? (And why am I "hateful" but you're not hateful for hating me for it?)

Part of the reason that many classify it as hate, to be sure, is the shameful response some Christians have to the declaration that it is sin. "Yes! It's sin! Let's beat the devil out of them!" As if something like that can be done. Family and friends spurn friends and family because they're engaged in "that" sin while not doing the same for other, just as obvious sins. "Oh, you're sleeping with your girlfriend. Well, then, invite her over for dinner, too." "Oh, you cheated on your taxes? Well, come over and show me how." But it appears as if too many self-proclaimed Christians don't sin much themselves but are in the business of pulling specks out of other people's eyes and do so with vicious vigor. So that would be considered "hate" even by me. The goal of the Gospel is not to make bad people better; it's to make dead people alive. A more moral person will still end up in hell if he or she doesn't have a relationship with Christ. Better laws don't fix the problem.

So why do I continue to point out that the Bible clearly calls "that sin" a sin? (I put "that sin" in quotes because this isn't just about homosexual behavior. A lot of things fall in the "that sin" category.) I am not hoping to make them stop doing that. I am concerned that they might not be aware of the jeopardy they are in. Now, frankly, I can't save them from that jeopardy. I suppose, if they claim to be a Christian, I have an obligation to avoid them (1 Cor 5:9-13), but the goal there is restoration, not punishment or banishment (Gal 6:1). But my concern for those who don't know Christ is not to make them into better people. My concern is that they would come to know the One who actually can fix their problem, and I'm not talking here about "that sin"; I'm talking about all sin. And that is not hate. Unless "hoping for their very best" is classified as "hate." But, of course, I wouldn't be surprised if it was. We live in a mixed up world.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Learning to Love

What is this thing called "love"? We all know, but ... do we? For some it's sex. Like the Christian worship song that says that heaven came down like a wet, sloppy kiss. Love has some physical, romantic aspects. Of course, on the periphery of our minds we know that's not true. We love pizza, but that doesn't include kisses. For many, "love" includes this "embrace everything" concept where if you love someone you just take them as they are and encourage them in whatever they want to do. You know, tolerant and embracing. But that seems obviously problematic when what they want to do is kill a group of kids at an elementary school or take a knife to their wrists. So, we kind of buzz about the edges of love, confident we know what it is while rejecting at some point everything we think it is.

I heard a comedienne talking about how self-help gurus say you have to learn to love yourself. She thought that was really hard. I mean, who, really, loves themselves? So Whitney Houston sang, "The greatest love of all is learning to love yourself." We read, "Love one another as you love yourself" and we give ourselves a pass because, hey, it's hard to love yourself. "I don't really love myself much, so don't expect me to love you much." Because for most of us "love" is "warm thoughts." If you are going to love yourself, you have to have warm thoughts about yourself and, frankly, almost all of us have those moments when we don't even like ourselves.

So I found it interesting that I found a different definition of love in the Bible. Oh, sure, we all know that 1 Corinthians 13 version. That doesn't actually define it, but it gives a nice list of some of love's characteristics. And we know that John wrote that God is love (1 John 4:8), but that's problematic because it doesn't mean that love is God, and while it means that God defines love, we're still left without a clear definition. So I came across this. I've read it many times before, but it struck me this time that it was actually a clear description of what Scripture sees as love.
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. (Eph 5:28-30)
Paul is saying here that men should love their wives as they love their own bodies. Someone might well raise an objection, "But we don't love ourselves." To which Paul responds, "Yes ... you do." How? Paul says that we love ourselves by nourishing and cherishing our own bodies. And there, dear reader, is perhaps one of the clearest definitions I've ever found for love.

Nourish and cherish -- that's Paul's idea of love. His word translated as "nourish" refers to being fed or fattened. It literally means "stiffened" and includes the idea of training and bringing to maturity. The word for "cherish" is derived from the verb "to warm" and carries the image of incubating chicks. In his language, Paul suggests that loving ourselves is seen in the fact that we feed and clothe ourselves. Paul points out the fact that we are always loving ourselves -- seeking what is best for ourselves. Even the one contemplating suicide is thinking "This is the best thing I can do."

In truth, we don't need to learn to love ourselves. It is innate. It is built in. All Paul is asking of husbands is that we take that built-in desire for our own best interests turn it toward our wives, seeking their own best interests. All God is commanding is that, in the same way that we take good care of ourselves, we would take good care of others (Matt 22:39). We've managed to attach all manner of add-ons to "love." It's a warm feeling, and extension of "like." It's sex or it's family or it's desire. It embraces the loved one even if the loved one is heading in the worst possible direction. None of this fits with "nourishes and cherishes." None of it fits with seeking the best for the other. And we all have the built-in grasp of it in our own built-in nature to seek our own best interest. Now, just turn that around to others. Easy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Prior Commitment

"I'm sorry. I appreciate the invitation, but I have a prior commitment." We all understand that. When we commit to something, subsequent commitments will be a problem. The same is true in our thinking.

From the early days of Israel on into the 19th century anyone who read Genesis 1 came to no other conclusion but that the world was created in 6 24-hour periods. There are such explicit statements there, like "the morning and the evening were the first day" (Gen 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). Then factor in what God said in Exodus 20.
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exo 20:8-11)
Israel was commanded to honor the 7th day of the week as the Sabbath on the basis that God made the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th. Sure seems clear.

If I had written this in the year 100, 1000, or 1800 there would not have been a question. That's exactly what the text was saying. No longer. We have debate among believers all over the place ranging from, "I think you might be mistaken" to "If you believe that you're an idiot at best and a heretic at worst." From both sides. Why? Well, the notion that God made the universe in 6 days would run afoul of Science's position that the universe is billions and billions of years old. Science will tell you without hint of refutation that the universe is some 14 billion years old and the Earth is something a little more than 4 billion years old. So much for Scripture.

Of course, we (believers) don't conclude, "So much for Scripture." We exhibit our prior commitment to Science and reevaluate Scripture. One of the earlier versions of this was what is known as the "Gap Theory." The argument posits that there is a gap between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2. At one point He created the heavens and the Earth (Gen 1:1) and at a later point it was "without form and void" (Gen 1:2). Apparently something happened between the two. Could have been a long time. Could have been billions of years. Who knows? Something happened and God did a second Creation that is outlined in Genesis 1:3-31. Clear enough. Although it is without any substance. After that one came the "Day-Age Theory." Sure, sure, the text says it was six days, but, look, if you examine Hebrew you'll find where the word for "day" can also be understood to be an undefined amount of time. Maybe a day; maybe an entire era or age. Could be. In this view, each "day" in Genesis 1 is an undetermined amount of time in which God goes about creating all that is. And now we have billions of years front-loaded into our Genesis narrative. given either the Gap Theory or the Day-Age Theory, the presumed error of Scripture where it collides with Science's Age of the Earth is solved.

Why do we do this? It is not from a prior commitment to Scripture. It only occurs when we have a prior commitment to Science. (I write it with a capital S for that reason.) We don't stand first on Scripture and then say, "Hmmm, look at that ... science doesn't agree. I wonder where science went wrong." That would be a commitment to Scripture over Science. (It should be noted that the age of the Earth is premised upon the theory of deposition of horizontal strata in rocks. How do we know that is correct? Well, we don't. It is simply assumed.)

My aim here is not to urge that you jettison science when it contradicts Scripture. I don't think that's the first, best course of action. But science is not God and science is not infallible ... by definition. Science is full of theories that are examined and tossed or affirmed, but never infallibly. Science is not omniscient. Further, it is not unbiased. It is human-driven which includes an anti-God bias (Rom 8:7) and a deceitful heart (Jer 17:9) and damaged mind (Eph 4:17). We have all sorts of prior commitments -- modern morality, preferred sexual partners, human philosophy, money, power, the approval of others. Lots of prior commitments. The question is whether or not we will allow them to supersede our commitment to God and His truth. Which is your prior commitment?

Monday, November 11, 2019

Confidence, Man

You know what a con man is, right? The word is a shortened form of "confidence." The way it works is someone gains your confidence and then takes you in and steals from you. A con man.

Confidence. It's fleeting at times. I, for instance, am confident in what appears in the pages of the Bible. When it appears straightforward and clear, I think it's straightforward and clear. I think it's God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16-17) and, therefore, completely reliable. So Jesus says, "No man comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6) and I think, using hunches, opinion, devious meanderings, and other methods, that it means "No man comes to the Father but by Me." So I confidently proclaim it and there is no end of folks willing to correct my grievous error.

Obviously I need to stop having confidence in God's Word, or, rather, in my ability to understand it. It's not clear. It's elusive, tied up in changing worlds and lost languages and nuances that, frankly, no longer even apply. Sure, those people thought they knew what it meant when it said it is an abomination for man to lie with a man as with a woman, but they were wrong and so are the rest of us. We need to have confidence, but not in the readability of the Bible. We need to place it elsewhere. In men.

It is folly, it seems, to read the Bible for what it says. The only way to evaluate the Bible is to figure out what to think before you read it and then figure out how to read it so it matches what you already think. If you think it means something that the Church has historically understood it to mean or, worse, what the Reformers thought it meant, clearly you need to rethink it. "There is none good; no, not one" cannot mean there is none good. It actually means "There are lots of good people; look around you!" If you understand texts like Romans 1:26-27 to say that homosexual behavior is not okay with God, you're not grasping the language. If you think that 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says that those who make a practice of homosexual behavior will not inherit the kingdom of God, you simply don't understand the culture of the time. If you think that when Genesis says that God created humans as male and female (Gen 1:27), it means that humans are male or female, you're simply fabricating ideas out of thin air. If you see "a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5; Eph 5:31) as a definition of marriage, you're just stuck in the historical, traditional view of marriage and your overlaying your own beliefs on the Bible. If you have the audacity to think that God actually made the heavens and the earth and all that in them is in six days, you just don't know Science. Science says it is not so, so the Bible can't mean that. Oh, and if you see, heaven forbid, in every reference Jesus makes to "eternal fire" (Matt 25:41), a "fiery furnace" (Matt 13:41-42), "unquenchable fire" where "the worm does not die" (Mark 9:43, 48-49) and the like a reference to some sort of eternal hell, you just don't know much, do you?

No, no, do not put your confidence in the plain, straightforward words or the simple meanings of Scripture. Look away from the obvious. You need to put your confidence in people who can explain all that away for you and give you a worldview that matches the rest of the world around you. You might be tempted to think, "Hey, doesn't the Bible warn us not to love the world or the things in the world? Doesn't it say that the world's thinking is not from the Father?" (1 John 2:15-16). Well, yes, it does, but surely you can see the error in your thinking. Didn't we just say you need to stop taking the Bible at its word? So, stop. Put your confidence in Man, not in what men have written (Eph 5:6). Trust me. They'll be glad to have you beside them if you'll only toe their line. It's a matter of confidence, man.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Where to Stand

We live in troubling times. Our world is telling us that our Bible is not reliable, that our religion is a delusion, that our faith is pointless. Self-identified Christians tell us that all of Christendom has been wrong since the beginning on issues like the sin of homosexual behavior or the sufficiency of Scripture. We are, more and more, being told that we are "on the wrong side of history." And in more and more places they're saying it with threats, laws, and legal actions. We here in America don't really face any serious persecution like they do in other lands yet, but Jesus said that being reviled and falsely accused is persecution (Matt 5:10-11) and we're certainly there. And it looks a lot like it's a precipice we're on rather than a momentary difficulty (2 Cor 4:17).

Christians I've talked to tell me they're worried. "If things keep going as they are, I can't see how Christianity can survive." Certainly a troubling thought, but I suspect it's premature. You see, Jesus said, "I will build My Church" (Matt 16:18). That doesn't sound a like a Church that can fail. So where can we stand with some sense of safety? A repeated theme we see in the Bible is two little words: "Fear not." So how do we do that? How do we "rejoice evermore" (1 Thess 5:16)? How do we "not be anxious about anything" and "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds" (Php 4:6-7)? Is there a safe place to stand?

Yes. We have promises. We have God's promise, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb 13:5). We have the assurance that "my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Php 4:19). We can be sure that "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Rom 8:37). The Word tells us that He "is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us" (Eph 3:20).

Now, let's be honest here. We have this promise that He won't forsake us, but do you ever feel forsaken? We know that He will supply our needs, but do we feel like He doesn't sometimes? We are "more than conquerors," but doesn't it feel like we're losing sometimes? Just how real is His power in us? These promises and more are marvelous and absolutely sufficient, but sometimes ... sometimes ... it just doesn't feel like it.

So you need to ask yourself, who will you believe? Will you believe your sight or walk by faith? Will you believe the waves and the wind, or look to the Savior? Who are you going to trust? I would suggest that a God who cannot fail to do right, who cannot fail to love, who promises all this and more is more reliable than our feelings. It is better to stand on His promises based on His heart than to trust in your own feelings. Then the peace of God which passes understanding can guard your hearts and minds. The world intends it for evil; God intends it for good. That's where we can stand.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

News Weakly - 11/9/19

Hard to Follow
I don't know if it's me or just the insane world in which we live, but I didn't get this story at all. Advice columnist E. Jean Caroll is suing President Trump not for sexual assault, but for denying it. Now, that seems odd. And a bit unfair. If "she" (whoever "she" is) accuses "him" (pick one, anyone) of sexual assault and he admits it, she's exonerated. If he denies it, she sues him for damaging her reputation and she's exonerated. Either way he loses and she wins. What's up with that? But she wisely brought her suit in New York, a state that seems to hate the president, so I don't think it will go well for him, fair or not.

Who's Paying for This?
Okay, so it is a human right to be given a "living wage." Fine. We don't exactly know what that is and I can guarantee you that their will be large unintended consequences, but, okay. So now Bank of America has decided to boost the company's minimum by early 2020. How generous. Of course you know where banks make their money, right? I mean, it's you, the customer, the investor, the depositor, those getting loans. So ... who's going to pay for this increase? It won't be "super-rich bankers." Do the math.

Art Imitates Life
Emma Watson is a well-known actress and activist, and now she has "come out." No, she's not gay; she's "self-partnered." She doesn't like the term "single," so she's calling herself "self-partnered" as if "partnered" can be done by one. Like the equally nonsensical "I am my own best friend," the concept illustrates how disconnected we've become with reality and with society (which also requires more than one).

Filed Under "California ... Again"
Back in 2014 California passed Prop 47, a measure intended to reduce penalties for some crimes. Like, shoplifting. If you don't shoplift more than $950 worth of goods, you won't be arrested or prosecuted. Who would have guessed? Turns out when you remove the law about shoplifting, shoplifting increases. Go figure! I mean, surely, if people are basically good, this wouldn't happen, would it?

Remind You of Another Story?
This is weird. God annihilated the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone for "grave sins" (Gen 18:20) which included "sexual immorality" and "pursuing unnatural desires" (Jude 1:7), pride and abominations (Ezek 16:50), and refusing to aid the poor and needy amidst their great wealth (Ezek 16:49). Las Vegas calls itself "Sin City," is famous for its sexual immorality, and has outlawed homeless from sleeping in public areas. I'm starting to see parallels here. You might want to rethink your next visit to Vegas.

Make Up Your Mind
The news item's opening line is, "A woman in California has been arrested and charged with murder after she delivered a stillborn baby with toxic levels of methamphetamine in his system." Now, I'm willing to forego further comment on the "his system" in that line even though we all know it's child abuse to determine a baby's gender from its biology, but what's up with the rest of it? She was charged with murder? How is that possible?? It was stillborn. It was never a person. It was never a baby. It was mere tissue until the moment of its birth ... right? Come on, folks. Make up your mind. An unborn child is a human life or it is not. You can't have it both ways.

(The Babylon Bee agrees with me. No kidding.)

Friday, November 08, 2019

Countercultural

Since we are told not to love the world (1 John 2:15) and that the world will oppose us because it opposes Christ (John 15:18), it stands to reason that some, perhaps a lot, of Christianity will be countercultural. It will run against the grain of the world's point of view. And, to the extent that we've bought into the world's point of view, it will also run against the grain of our own ideas. This is an example.

In his epistle to the church at Ephesus Paul explains about how we should become "imitators of God" and "walk in love as Christ loved us" (Eph 5:1). Now, there is a lot to it -- things to avoid and the like -- but the one that I found interesting is this one.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Eph 5:11)
It's pretty straightforward. The "unfruitful works of darkness" aren't hard to imagine, although I would like to point out that it doesn't require "the evil works." "Unfruitful" is enough to avoid them. That would obviously include the evil works of darkness, but also the worthless, the pointless, the frivolous works as well. But the other thing that is abundantly clear here is what to do instead. "Instead expose them." Different translations put different words there for "expose." The King James says "reprove," for instance. Same thing. The word is ἐλέγχω -- "elegchō" -- and means to convict, refute, correct, find fault. "Expose" works here particularly because of the context where Paul goes on to say, "When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible" (Eph 5:13). So that's the idea.

It is clear what it means, but it is equally clear that we don't like it. Not one bit. Not in today's world. Not in today's culture. No, no, here's what we know: just keep your mouth shut. Do not expose sin. Don't correct sin. Don't talk about it. What we need to be is non-judgmental. Actually, that's not enough today. We've redefined "tolerant" from "allowing for differences" to "embracing sin." Sure, you may have thought X was sin, but today you're supposed to be encouraging and enabling and accepting. Certainly not convicting, refuting, correcting, or exposing it. This has become so drummed into us these days that lots of Christians think it's the way it should be. So I'm pointing out here that Paul disagrees.

Jesus said, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault" (Matt 18:15) (followed by a whole procedure to continue the process). Paul wrote, "If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness" (Gal 6:1). Again and again we are told not to ignore or embrace sin, but to expose and oppose it. Biblically, if we care about each other, if we are bearing one another's burdens, if we love each other, we must be exposing sin. It is commanded. When we refuse to do so, it's sin. When we do so without love, it's sin. But to fail to correct that which harms a fellow believer because we "don't want to be judgmental" is both a refusal to obey and a refusal to love. Since our aim is to love and not to sin, if we have that mindset that we should not confront sin but just keep quiet, perhaps we need to change our thinking to align with Scripture rather than the alternative (Eph 4:22-24).

Thursday, November 07, 2019

The Homosexual Debate

I've done some of this before, so I'm pretty sure some of my readers are gearing up to do battle with me regarding the clear statements from Scripture about how homosexual behavior is sin. Relax. I'm not going there. I've often spent no small amount of time discussing words and their changing meanings, often into oblivion. Words like "marriage". Nope, not going there this time, either. This time it's someplace a little different.

I was reading along in 1 Corinthians and came across the well-known text:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9-11 NASB)
Some of that is without dispute. Like "fornicators" and "adulterers" and "swindlers" do not inherit the kingdom of God. No question. There's no question because Paul makes it clear "Such were some of you," which simply goes to show that we can have been involved in sin (because, after all, there is none of us who have not been) and still be washed, sanctified, and justified. That is, we may have been thieves (for instance), but that doesn't have to be our final condition; we can be saved ... and inherit the kingdom. Good news.

And, of course, the "homosexual" thing is without dispute. Some argue that it refers to some sort of religious homosexual thing, not "loving relationships," but that's problematic since Paul specifies religious sin under "idolaters" and the language doesn't support that version. It's interesting that Paul's choice of words here, "arsenokoitēs," doesn't appear anywhere in ancient Greek until this one. It appears as if Paul himself might have coined the term. It is a reflection of the Old Testament phrase, a male who lies with a male as one lies with a female (Lev 18:22). Oh, the word is clear, even if it occurs only twice in the New Testament. But, again, that's not my point.

As I was looking at this stuff, I found an interesting anomaly. The NASB, KJV, and many others have that word in there between "adulterers" and "homosexuals." The word is "effeminate" here in the New American Standard. But in the ESV it isn't in there. The ESV simply lists, "the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality" in verse 9. Why did they skip that word? I looked at the Greek and there is a word there. The word is "malakos" and it means "soft". Huh. So I had to dig into it a bit more. According to a note I found in the ESV, they eliminated the word because the translators believed it referred to the "female" part of the homosexual behavior. The NET Bible says, "passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals." The LITV lists "male prostitutes" and "homosexuals." The older Darby translation includes "those who make women of themselves" and "those who abuse themselves with men." So, they are saying, it refers to the "receiver" (malakos) and the "giver" (arsenokoitēs) in homosexual sexual activity.

I don't know. Some translators disagree. They argue that it is a warning against the effeminate. Commentator Albert Barnes says, "It denotes those who give themselves up to a soft, luxurious, and indolent way of living" (in which case it isn't just males). That is, it's clear that it's not about "effeminate" as our current culture would use it -- "swishy" guys or crossdressers or the androgynous males. It's not about wearing skinny jeans. It's not a man that has feminine characteristics. That might be a problem, but that's not what's in view here. It might be the passive participant of a homosexual act, but it is not as likely in my view. I think it's about men who are not acting as men. We are commanded to "act like men" (1 Cor 16:13). It suggests courage and strength. It suggests responsibility and action. It means to be alert, to stand firm in the faith, to be strong. (Actually, that's all from the 1 Cor 16 reference.) It means fighting when fighting is necessary (Eph 6:10-18; James 4:7). It means fleeing when fleeing is necessary (1 Cor 10:14; 1 Tim 6:9-11; 2 Tim 2:22).

Our sexually perverse society has scrambled our perceptions. To be fair, our perceptions have long been scrambled. Historians trace it all the way back to the beginning of the Industrial Age when husbands spent a great deal of time away from home working in factories to support their families, leaving women in charge. Women were most present in church and, as might be expected, ended up "redecorating" churches, so to speak. They made them more "gentle," more "sensitive," more emotional. There is no shortage of writings and websites on the subject. Regardless of whether or not you agree that such a thing has occurred, statistically the ratio of men to women in church on any given Sunday is about 60% women to 40% men. Something has gone wrong with men. Clearly Christian men today are not acting like men. We have a problem with effeminacy in the church, and most consider it a good thing. "Get in touch with your feminine side." "Be more tender, more emotive." We're supposed to avoid the "testosterone problem." We are not supposed to act like men. And then throw in the sin and confusion of our sexually perverse society.

I started this with the provocative title of "The Homosexual Debate" and the touchy text of 1 Corinthians 6. I don't want you to come away with either. I want you to consider whether or not you men are acting like men and whether you women are encouraging them to do so because, after all, it's a command.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Moral Outrage

You can't be part of this society without noticing that there seems to be a sharp increase these days in moral outrage. Because Chick-fil-A's president is personally opposed to gay marriage, all sorts of outrage has been levied against a business that displays no prejudice against gay marriage. Because a pastor preached a sermon to his church about how God made male and female and nothing else, outrage requires that the church be shamed and beaten in public (so to speak). You get the idea.

Our moral outrage is inconsistent. A white cop kills a black man and we're outraged at the overt racism. A black cop kills a black man and we're outraged at the overt racism. Oh, wait ... no, it doesn't make sense, but that's what the public does. Some African-American girls are assaulted by some teenagers of Indian descent and we're outraged at their acting out whiteness. Black-on-black murder and abuse? Let's not really talk about that. Which is more outrageous -- the boy who wants to transition to be a girl but his parents won't let him or the boy that does not want to transition to be a girl but his mother is trying to do it anyway? We're outraged, but we're all over the place with it. We're outraged if Christians hold views we don't like but defend Moslems for holding the same views. We're all over the place with our outrage.

The problem, of course, is that we don't share a common morality so we can't resolve our moral problems. In today's world we deny Objective Morality. It doesn't exist. Maybe it's God. Maybe it's Science. Maybe it's just Me. Maybe a combination. But it is not absolute. Morality is what "I" make it where "I" refers to "me" or "us" or "each individual as it occurs." So we arrive at strange places like "Inclusivity is an ultimate good and we will exclude those who are not inclusive" or "Moral people are not judgmental people and we will judge those who are judgmental." "Every white person is a racist" is morally sound to one and an utter lie to another. Freedom of religion is a right to be discarded even though the Constitution defends it while "I identify as a different gender (and what that gender is may not even have a name)" is to be morally applauded but "I question that conclusion" is not merely discussion, but wrong, wrong, wrong. It is good to declare yourself "gay" or "transgender" but evil to suggest you might have been wrong. You can identify as a different gender but not a different race. All of these and more, as a function of relativistic morality, become insurmountable because to surmount something is to get on top of it and we can't define what it is, let alone where the top is. Without definition -- good/bad, right/wrong -- it is not possible to get down to the basics and figure things out. These conflicts cannot be resolved without an arbitrator, and we've managed to remove the Ultimate Arbitrator.

We're used to relativism. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." We all know that. "One man's junk is another man's treasure." Yeah, sure. "What I believe is right or wrong is not necessarily so" we never really say, but that's where we are. We've decided that X is good and Y is bad and, even though we've simply decided it without any genuine basis, we feel it is our right and even obligation to impose that on others. And if someone says, "But, I am subject to God's rules," we are outraged. Because the one solid absolute moral rule today is "What I want" and you have no right to infringe on that. As a result, of course, we operate on one hand in a realm of rules while, on the other hand, they are rules without objective or even rational basis. We are a "moral society" untethered from morality and quite sure we know a good thing when we see it. And it's not working too well for us.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

The Lawyer for the Accused

One thing that almost everyone agrees on about President Trump is his mindless tweeting. His advocates have suggested taking away his phone, terminating his Twitter account, or doing something to just get him to stop making all these largely offensive and inappropriate tweets in the night. Someone needs to get him to just shut up at times.

In a similar vein, perhaps God needs a better lawyer. You know, the kind that sits next to Him and urges Him, "Don't answer that." The kind that tells Him to rest on His right not to speak. Certainly not about that subject and absolutely not in that way. But God doesn't have that lawyer and we're stuck with the things He says about Himself. Try some examples.
Thus says the LORD of hosts, "I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." (1 Sam 15:2-3)
Well, now, that seems pretty harsh. So we apply our 21st century morality and our carefully thought out moral relativism and our certainty that this cannot be a good thing and try, as hard as we can, to get God off the hook. Maybe it never happened and the Israelites of the day made it up or maybe it was a reference to a small group of Amalekites and not an actual genocide. (Note: Saul did not kill all the Amalekites and relatives of Agag, the king of the Amalekites, came up in later events (Est 9:24) to harass Israel. It was not a genocide.) Maybe Samuel misunderstood or maybe it's just a lie. Surely God would never say something like this. And God's lawyer shakes his head in frustration. "Don't answer that. You just need to keep quiet."

In Isaiah we read, "But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand" (Isa 64:8). So it gets a little sticky when Paul tells us, "Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?" (Rom 9:21). Now, hang on a minute. God makes some of us for honorable use and others for dishonorable use? Solomon pipes in with, "The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble" (Pro 16:4). "Hey, hey!" God's lawyer would protest. "Strike that from the record. You can't say that."

There is no doubt that the worst sin ever perpetrated in the history of the world was the unjust murder of the Son of God. On this we read that Jesus was "delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23), that "there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place" (Acts 4:27-28). Wait ... hold it. Are you saying that God planned the worst sin in history and God predestined that it happen? "I'm sorry, folks," the lawyer is surely saying, "we have no comment. My client is clearly disturbed by events and we'll have to wait until He feels better to continue this."

So God lays out claims about His character and those claims sometimes don't line up with our popular ideas or our moral judgments and we have a problem. Some decide to pass judgment on Him. (Note: I put links in there to let you know that some are doing it and not to endorse their arguments. Some Christians don't know that this is going on.) Some explain that you can't trust the Bible to tell you what God is like. Some decide to try to get Him off the hook. "Oh, no He didn't mean that. Let me tell you how He actually aligns with our popular ideas and our moral values." (I read one debate between a believer and an unbeliever about the morality of God where the believer argued, "The Bible cannot be taken literally." Not helping.)

The simple fact is we don't get to do this. We don't get to judge God. We don't get to evaluate His choices and determine whether or not He was right or moral in them. We don't get to argue with Him about what He does or if it's okay. I once heard a Christian say after a difficult event in life, "If God was behind what happened to me, I'm going to have a problem with God." We don't get to do that. God is God. He is the Creator. He is the Master. He is the Lord. It all belongs to Him and what He does isn't only good; it defines good.

The problem is called "theodicy" and we do need to keep answering the questions, but in the final analysis we don't get to pass judgment on God. It is not rational to say, "If God is like the Bible says He is, I want nothing to do with Him." We don't get to evaluate whether or not He is good or just or true. He defines these things. So what we need to do is think His thoughts after Him, correct our views when we fail to do so. Sometimes we misunderstand what He said and we need to fix that. Sometimes we thoroughly understand what He said and we need to realign our thinking to His revealed character. We do need to "contend for the faith" (Jude 1:3) and be "prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15), but not for God's well-being. He's got this. The confusion is on our end. We don't need to defend Him, just agree with Him.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Eisegesis and Exegesis

Years ago the Huffington Post offered an article titled "What Was the Real Sin of Sodom?" Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, PhD, explained that "anti-gay Christians actually have it backwards." The sin of Sodom wasn't same-sex acts, silly Christians. "The real sin of Sodom was radical inhospitality," a sin he says "anti-gay Christians" are guilty of today. Well, that clears that up. I guess we'll have to change all those references in the King James Bible (and the law books) that refer to "sodomy" and "sodomites," eh? Or, at least, redefine them to mean "inhospitality."

The grounds for this change is in the word "to know." Most people have heard the idea that "to know in a biblical sense" means to have sex, but it also means ... "to know" in a normal sense. So, when the men of Sodom ("both young and old, all people to the last man") surrounded Lot's house and demanded "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them" (Gen 19:4-5), they didn't mean "to know them" biblically. They just wanted to get to know the fellows. And when Lot offered them his daughters 3 verses later claiming "I have two daughters who have not known any man," he was using it in that same sexual sense we thought of before but not in the social sense that verse 5 meant. Or something like that.

So, what do we know? Well, in Genesis 18 God and two angels visit Abraham (Gen 18:1-2). Abraham was hospitable (Gen 18:3-8). (Seriously hospitable.) At some point God wondered whether to tell Abraham what they were up to (Gen 18:17) and then did. "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know" (Gen 18:20-21). Okay, so we're talking about "very grave" sin. In fact, it frightened Abraham. He queries God with "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" (Gen 18:25). And God assures him He will. So the angels went down to Sodom and Lot was very hospitable (Gen 19:1-3). And then came "the incident." So eager were these men of Sodom to get to know these angels that even after they blinded the men, the men kept groping for the door (Gen 19:11). This desire to know these angels was apparently the trigger point, the final straw, as it were. They told Lot to get out of town before they completely destroyed it (Gen 19:12-15). And you know the outcome. If only those guys had offered the angels a cookie or a cup of coffee or something God wouldn't have had to rain down fire and brimstone and annihilate everyone in the place.

This is what passes for reasoned exegesis from a reverend with a PhD. Oddly, the notion that God rained down fire on a population because they weren't hospitable is okay, but the idea that He might have done it for sexual sin is not. I would think that our "reasonable" reverend would be dismayed that God would do that for inhospitality. But, no, as long as the homosexual community gets a pass, it's okay. So we ignore the text as it is written, where "to know" is used in practically adjoining sentences to mean two different things and argue that wanting to know someone just in terms of getting to know them is the equivalent of "radical inhospitality" and worthy of destruction. We latch onto the parallel offered in Ezekiel where "the guilt of your sister Sodom" is described in terms of having "pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy" (Ezek 16:49). "See?" we say, "It was their failure to help the poor and needy" when nothing in the text about the event suggests that was the "very grave" sin of Sodom. Certainly that was sin and that was part of it, but why do we ignore Jude's explanation that Sodom and Gomorrah "indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire" and, "as an example," underwent "a punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 1:7)? Inhospitality? Really? Ezekiel agrees that a failure to help people with what they had was bad, but Jude argues it was this "sexual immorality," this pursuit of "unnatural desire" that was the reason for the fire.

So those who would like to deny the references in Scripture that argue that homosexual behavior is a sin will perform this kind of eisegesis. Eisegesis is the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one's own ideas. Exegesis is the critical interpretation of the biblical text to discover its intended meaning. So the question here is not "What does the reverend think?" because that's eisegesis. The question is "What does the text say?" If the problem is that the people of Sodom failed to welcome strangers and the text says that they tried very hard to get to know them, it seems really confused. If Genesis says God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for being inhospitable and Jude says it was for sexual immorality and pursing unnatural desire, either it is both or we have a problem. Given that the phrase "unnatural desire" ("strange flesh" in King James) has always been understood (way back to Josephus and Philo) to mean homosexual behavior, "contrary to nature" (Rom 1:26-27), either we have never had the Holy Spirit doing what Christ said He would do (John 16:13) or we have another case of a "scholar" with an agenda reading into the text rather than out of it. As for me, the real confusion occurs when I hear skeptics argue that the real sin of Sodom was inhospitality and that they're okay with that. I can't seem to find anything in Scripture that lists "Didn't offer them a meal and a place to sleep for the night" as an "abomination." Guess I missed that one.

It's eisegesis when you conclude "Evolution took place over 6 time periods according to Genesis" because it's not in there and is only a product of trying to merge Scripture with Science. It's eisegesis when they say, "There are lots of Gods and we will become one someday, too" because it's not in there and is only a product of trying to merge Scripture with the Book of Mormon. It is eisegesis to argue that the sin of Sodom (and surrounding cities) was inhospitality and absolutely not homosexual behavior, because it's not in there and is only a product of trying to defend the behavior today. All sorts of competitors for "the Word of God."

Sunday, November 03, 2019

The Great Commission

Christians know the "Great Commission." That's our own term. We know it means to share the Gospel with others, right? Well, no, that's not right.

The Great Commission is found in Matthew 28.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt 28:18-20)
Pretty clear. Yes, "share the Gospel" is absolutely in there, but it isn't the only thing. It's not even the biggest thing. The Great Commission requires going -- "Go, therefore." The Great Commission requires making disciples, a process that begins with sharing the Gospel but does not by any means end there. The Great Commission requires baptism. If you lead someone to Christ and they don't get baptized, the Great Commission was not accomplished. The Great Commission requires teaching. Extensive teaching. Teaching all that Jesus taught. This is a lifelong task. And we've got that "Share the Gospel" part clear in our minds (even if we're not always very good at it), but we are woefully short on everything else in that commission from Christ.

This is important, but it's not my primary point here. Two things are. First, notice the source of the command. "All authority has been given to Me." The "therefore" in the next sentence means, "On the basis of Me and My authority,, I am telling you to go ..." This Great Commission is not a divine suggestion. It's a command from the Master of all things in heaven and earth. The other item is the operating environment. "I am with you always." Now that ought to be a fear and a comfort. A fear if we're not being obedient. "You know, Christ is here. Why aren't you doing what He said?" A comfort as you go about doing the task of going, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching. He's here. It's not you; it's Him. You're not the effective one; He is. You're not the final arbiter of success; He is.

We are commanded to carry out an admittedly difficult commission from the Lord of All. Go, make disciples, baptize, and teach. Repeat. Again. Over and over. It's huge. And He's here, so it's necessary. But, oh, the joy and satisfaction of operating in His power and His guidance doing His work! It's never a bad idea to serve the Savior. Nothing can be more fulfilling.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

News Weakly - 11/2/19

Today's Double-Standard
Our current culture says, "If we find your views offensive, we are perfectly within our rights and even applauded if we choose to refuse to do business with you. If you refuse to do business with us for the same reason, expect a legal battle that, according to recent history, you will lose."

Internal Consistency
Okay, I'm not a Catholic and I'm not in favor of Catholicism, so this isn't about them. It's about religion in general and consistency. Apparently Joe Biden attended a Catholic church in South Carolina recently and was denied communion. Joe isn't talking about it, but the guy that actually did it said it was because "Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church" and Biden's stance on abortion (he's for it) is not "one with God, each other and the Church." Biden simply said, "I'm a practicing Catholic. I practice my faith, but I've never let my religious beliefs, which I accept based on Church doctrine ... impose ... on other people." Because not killing babies does not impose on people ... oh, wait ... yes it does! I applaud the Catholic church in question for its consistency, an increasingly rare trait these days (as illustrated by Biden).

Assuming the Obscure
Sometimes we see the obvious and say, "Duh! Clearly this is what's going on." Sometimes ... we don't. Take this report from researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). They examined the method of depth perception by certain spiders and figured out a way to mimic it to give depth perception to robots or people. Interesting! It was interesting in how those spiders can do it and interesting how the scientists adapted it. What was bizarre was their conclusions. The writer of the piece started with, "For all our technological advances, nothing beats evolution when it comes to research and development." The researcher said, "Evolution has produced a wide variety of optical configurations and vision systems that are tailored to different purposes." We're talking a level of complexity and processing that exceeds our full comprehension and they're thinking, "This stuff just happens by accident." Or, as I've been told, "Just because it looks designed doesn't mean it is." Or is it? The obvious conclusion eludes Science ("Puny god.").

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means
Nell Irvin Painter wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times about an assault at a New Jersey high school football game. The victims were four African-American middle school girls. The perpetrators were two 17-year-old boys. And, no, they weren't white. They were of Indian descent. Painter threw out the race of the criminals and wrote, "While it’s tempting to see the reported ethnicity of the boys suspected in the assault as complicating the story and raising questions about whether the assault should be thought of as racist, I look at it through a different lens. Instead of asking what the boys' reported racial identity tells us about the nature of the attack, we should see the boys as enacting American whiteness through anti-black assault in a very traditional way." That is, if anyone acts in a racist way, it is because they are "enacting whiteness." Acting out with "anti-blackness" means "acting white." By the way, how does she get here? "It may be less useful to look to clues like complexion, and more to the performance of identity." It's blowback from "how I identify" very, very loosely applied. That and Critical Race Theory that defines racism as "white."

Here's What We Know
As former president Obama praises Justin Trudeau for taking on "big issues like climate change" and teenagers strike because we're not doing enough about it, researchers from the University of Chicago are running simulations that suggest that an increase in Antarctic sea ice could end with an ice age. Something has caused the Earth to "periodically cycle in and out of ice ages." According to Malte Jansen, University of Chicago assistant professor, "We are pretty confident that the carbon balance between the atmosphere and ocean must have changed, but we don't quite know how or why." But .. but ... I thought we were all quite clear on this. You know, global warming, human-caused global climate change, the end of the world as we know it. No?

Consistent Inconsistency
Well known atheist Sam Harris (Salon refers to him as "notorious") wrote the book, "The Moral Landscape" that explains why science should decide morality and not God. In keeping with that idea, he went on record explaining that African-Americans are intellectually inferior to white Americans because of genetics. Nice. Last week he sat down with Nick Bilton of Vanity Fair to explain that there is no free will.

Let's see ... no free will (so you can't choose right or wrong anyway), no God, science decides what is moral, and science is sure that blacks are inferior. Voilà! We have no god and racism is moral. Makes sense, right? And theists argue that there is no basis for morality without the existence of God. Ha! (I pray for Sam Harris.)

Consistent Inconsistency II
A high school principal in Florida was removed from duty after refusing to acknowledge that the Holocaust was a "factual, historical event." (Note: He wasn't fired as the news headlines are claiming; he was reassigned .. as the news stories explain.) The reason he gave was, "Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened" and that he had to be "politically neutral." An educator that decides to teach only what is believed by everyone and will not allow what is not universally believed is not exactly the best choice for an educator and, I'm sure, doesn't actually live that way.

Good News
We were worried about Bernie Sanders' plan for "Medicare-for-all" that they estimated would cost up to $40 trillion. Killer. Luckily, Elizabeth Warren has come up with her own plan that won't cost a penny over $52 trillion over the next 10 years. Now that's an improvement. Okay, I know it sounds bad, but she plans to give $11 trillion back to American families, so that's good, right? I don't think so. It's paid for by federal and state spending, a myriad of " taxes on employers, financial transactions, the ultra-wealthy and large corporations and some savings elsewhere." Oh, no, don't worry, none of those will be passed on to you, the employee or the customer. Trust me.

Good News/Bad News
So, Christians are excited. Their guy in the White House now has a celebrated televangelist pastor on his staff -- Paula White. That's good news, right? To me it is good news like "Trump elected" was good news. Not at all. This year White transferred pastoral leadership of her New Destiny Christian Center church to her son while she moved to "apostolic overseer" role. She has endured "all the tests that God had allowed" including divorce, an alleged affair with Benny Hinn, addiction to medication, and a church staff split. Because she's a good Christian pastor, so we're happy about her taking up with President Trump. You know, except for, like Scripture.

Identity Politics
In an inspiring story a maverick motorcyclist who identifies as a bicyclist set a world record in the qualifying race for the World Road Cycling League. He broke the earlier 100-mile record of 3 hours and 13 minutes by finishing in under an hour. The world applauds this trans-vehicle rider with "Huffy" painted on the side of his motorcycle for his bravery to stand against the unfair "binary bicyclist or not" bigots.

Must be true; I read it on the Internet.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Disposable

I'm amazed at our new disposable world. Sure, there's a lot of small things. We have disposable cups and disposable plates and disposable lighters and disposable diapers and disposable razors. Lots of smaller stuff, but also bigger things. It just wasn't that long ago that we had to have our televisions repaired rather than simply replaced. There used to be more computer repair shops because they were too expensive to replace if it wasn't necessary. And it's moving forward. More and more stuff ends up disposable, it seems.

It would be interesting to consider what our culture considers valuable based on what they consider worth keeping. Fix it or toss it? That might be an indicator. Take friendships, for instance. We think they're valuable. Or not? Given the advent of smartphones and the Internet, one has to wonder. As "connected" as we claim they've made us, it seems odd to find a group of "friends" in a gathering who are completely ignoring one another in favor of their electronics. And when friendships are wired through a remote device like a phone, we're suddenly free to be thoroughly despicable to our "friends." Seems like friendship is largely disposable. But maybe that's not too new. The way we execute it today is.

Americans are almost religiously fervent about rights. We think they're so important that we'll fight to protect them -- kill, even -- and we'll even manufacture some of our own (like "the human right to a living wage" whatever that means). But as ardent as we are about rights, we're just as easily ready to jettison them, at least for others, when allowing them is too inconvenient. Freedom of religion? Absolutely! Right to bear arms? Sure! Unless we don't want you to have it. Then it's disposable.

We've arrived at the point that children are disposable. Certainly the youngest. Sometimes it's because they're "malfunctioning" -- Down Syndrome or the like. Other times it's because they're inconvenient. Inconvenient. "Umm, no thanks. Maybe another time. Kill this one." More recently we've expanded this. Seven states, Washington D.C., and Maine in 2020 have legalized disposable adults. If life is too difficult, we can simply toss them. The only difference, apparently, between the babies and the adults is the adults get a say in it. In either case, it would appear that life isn't really that valuable to our society.

I don't think anyone would disagree that an item we once held in high regard -- worth fighting for and fixing at any cost -- but no longer do is marriage. Once considered a permanent relationship except in extreme cases is no longer that important. Redefine it. Reevaluate it. Toss it if it's inconvenient. Too much work. They say nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce. (The statistic is misleading, by the way.) Disposable marriages.

Or how about religion? Singers, preachers, and other big names in Christianity loudly jettison their faith when it violates their views. Joe Biden was recently refused Communion in the Catholic Church because of his stand on abortion. (They're against it; he's for it.) He claims he's a practicing Catholic. Because religion is important, vital, really up there on the list of priorities ... unless it's too much work, not worth keeping. Disposable religion. Even God is disposable to many (most?). I mean, when He's offering something good, He's in. But when He calls for something harsh, unpleasant, or hard, maybe not. A lot of people are practical atheists, claiming theism while living as if He's not there at all. We make God Himself disposable.

It doesn't look very pretty, in fact. So much of what should be valuable to us is largely not worth maintaining, working on, or retaining. If the going gets tough, the tough throw it out and find something new. We are in a hugely disposable society without even seeming to notice that before long we will show up on the list of things that are disposable.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

In the Beginning

Someone once said that the most offensive verse in the whole Bible was Genesis 1:1.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1)
That's not so bad, right? Well, not until you see the whole ramifications. God started it. God made it. God owns it. As Creator, God even has the right to determine what the purpose is for everything ... over against many of our own declarations on that subject for various things. God has all the rights to it, where "it" refers to all that is. And we just won't stand for that.

So we make everything about our favorite substitute for God -- ourselves. All things begin and end with us. We seek first to glorify ourselves. We sing songs about the greatest love being loving ourselves. Even our altruism (disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others) is actually driven by a sense of "Doing nice things for others makes me feel good."

Worse, we tend to make our efforts with God aimed at ourselves. We want worship services to make us feel good. We sing songs that we like, largely about how we feel about God. Many song services in many churches these days are aimed at harnessing our feelings rather than glorifying God. Many worship leaders consider the congregation before they consider the Audience -- God. We fail to make disciples or bear one another's burdens or love one another because it's just too much work for us.

Let me make a suggestion: It's not about us. God didn't make us for our sake. He didn't save us for our sake. Worship is not intended to make us feel good. Hebrews describes Jesus as "the author and perfecter of faith" (Heb 12:2). All that exists comes from Him, through Him, and to Him for His glory (Rom 11:36). He is the originator, the sustainer, and the ultimate point of it all. And here we are making it more about us than Him.

I'll be honest; this isn't an easy thing. It goes against human nature. A truly selfless individual is nearly impossible to find. We are wired to seek our own interests first. And not in a good way (Php 2:3-4). So maybe we need to go back to the beginning -- Him. Maybe we need to remember the origin -- Him. Maybe we need to call to mind the One who sustains it all ... and I mean all. Maybe we need to think about where everything is aimed -- His glory. Often. Repeatedly. With assistance from others. Lest we risk keeping ourselves as our own best gods.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Why We Can't Win

Greta Thunberg gave her emotional speech to the United Nations with her own "How dare you?" and "We are watching you," but didn't explain what she wanted them to do. Oh, maybe something like "Cut global carbon emissions by more than 65% before 2025" or something like it. "But," I want to ask, "How???" She's not saying. She's just demanding. "No justice, no peace," they chanted not because the case had not been tried, but because it didn't get ruled the way they wanted it to be ruled. That is, "We define justice and you either go along or face war." Of course, since we can't really be sure what that definition is from moment to moment -- "Okay, so you want this guy released for doing what you want that guy executed for? I'm not following." -- so we can expect war at any moment. And you ... you dirty, rotten Christians. Standing on the Bible about "God created male and female" like that means something about humans and gender or "A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" like that defines marriage or something. What's wrong with you? You shouldn't be allowed to believe that stuff and we intend to bring legal action. Oh, sure, we buy into the First Amendment ... just not for you.

We can't win. You know that, don't you? You can present to Greta and her cronies all the science and data and facts and evidence and problems and alternate solutions and it just won't matter. "She's a 16-year-old girl for pity sake. You're going to insult her? Lots of kids feel like she does." True, but that just means that lots of kids are unclear on the concept. But you can't win that one because facts aren't the issue; feelings are.

We can't win. "What are you; a hater? Are you opposed to love? What makes you think you know what God thinks anyway? Leave it to us; we do." Facts, Scripture, reasoning, logic, all of that is pointless here. Hang onto that stuff and you will find yourself on the "wrong side of history" not because you're wrong, but because they aren't concerned with facts; they're concerned about feelings.

The perception is often "Liberals operate on feelings but conservatives operate on facts." Maybe. Probably not. Because the problem isn't "liberal" or "conservative." At least, not biblically. The problem is what Scripture calls "the futility of the mind" (Rom 1:21; Eph 4:17). Sin rots the brain. The more sin that is indulged produces more rot. Some parts are actually non-functional in the Natural Man (1 Cor 2:14). Offering good arguments, actual evidence, and coherent reasons are all well and good -- and we should -- but we're not dealing with actual intellectual problems. We're dealing with sin-sick minds, and appealing to the best of them won't get very far when the best of them are corrupted, deceived, blinded. When the world operates on insatiable sensuality (Eph 4:19) and we're trying to push rational thinking, don't count on that going well.

The good news is we don't have to. We aren't expecting to turn hearts and minds. That's God's job. We're expected to "give a reason for the hope that lies within us" (1 Peter 3:15), to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 1:3). The results are in God's hands. That's the job of the Holy Spirit. So, no, we can't win. But God can.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Looking Good

We have a number of problems in our world. Always have. Currently we face crises like political problems and an environmental apocalypse and mass shootings and hatred in terms of race, sexuality, etc. ... or not, depending on your perception. No matter how you view it, though, we certainly face problems these days.

For each problem we have solutions or, at least, actions we've come up with to mitigate them. Vote for someone on "our side" and we can ease the political problems. Stop using plastic bags and the environmental apocalypse moves one step further away. Control or even eliminate guns and children won't be killed in bulk in schools. Penalize those who are "haters" and hate will abate.

Unfortunately, most of our solutions are optics -- they're intended to make you feel better because it looks like we're doing something. As my (trite) examples demonstrate above, we really don't have solutions. But that won't fly. That doesn't improve our mood. So we try to look good at solving problems with heart-warming approaches. As our youth demand these days, "Do something." Well, dears, we are. Are we doing what you want? Probably not. Are we solving the problems? Surely not. But we're looking good trying. And that should make us all feel better.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Monogamy

When we use the word today, we mean "one sex partner at a time." What we fail to grasp is how far that is from the meaning of the word.

The word comes from the Latin monogamia which was derived from the Greek word of the same construction. It is a two-part word. The "mono" refers (obviously) to "one" and the "gamy" refers to "marriage." Monogamy, then, refers to "married to one." We actually know this. We understand "bigamy" ("bi" = "two") means "married to two people" and "polygamy" ("poly" = "many") means "married to more than one." In neither of these two cases does anyone think in terms of "having sex with two" or "having sex with many." We understand that it means "married." We just ... forget in the case of "monogamy."

Why is that? Well, I'd assume that it's partly because of our general floccinaucinihilipilification of marriage in general. (I had to throw that word in there. It means "the estimation of something as valueless.") We have, over the past 60 years, worked hard to diminish "marriage" until it is mostly meaningless. In 1900 the divorce rate was 0.7 per 1,000 people. In 1960 (actually down from a rash of divorces after World War II) the rate was 2.2 per 1,000 people. In 1967 "no-fault divorce" came home to roost and by 1970 the rate was at 3.5 and by 1980 it was at 5.2 per 1,000 people. It is interesting to note that, on one hand, the divorce rate had dropped to 3.4, but that can be misleading since marriage rates have plummeted so greatly. From 1900 to 1998 they were between 8.5 and 12 marriages per 1,000 people, but by 2012 it was down to 6.8 per 1,000 people. Obviously with marriage at an all-time low, divorces would drop significantly as well. Factor in the growing demand for "let me be me" thinking -- "me first" ideology -- and the embrace of contraception (providing for sex without consequences and a diminishing of reproduction as part of the definition of marriage) and the approval of "no-fault divorce" alongside the devaluation of marriage entirely as shown in the marriage rates, it would stand to reason marriage has lost its meaning. By "meaning" I don't just mean its definition. I mean its significance, importance, value, solidity, everything that goes into what marriage means.

When California was debating the first "no-fault divorce" laws, they feared it would allow men to walk out more freely than before. As it turns out, 80% of divorces are filed by women. Years ago I read that in 1980 for every 600 men that initiated the divorce 1 wife would initiate the divorce. In 1990 that statistic was 12:1 ... where for every one man who initiated it 12 women would initiate it. The numbers may not be the same, but the principle is. Where "sacrifice for the greater good" was once a virtue, now it's "my own good." The decline of the "stay-at-home mom" to the two-income family makes more women self-sustaining without a husband to help. And marriage bleeds a bit more.

"What difference would it make to you if they legalized gay marriage?" was always the question put to me. It was not an adequate question. We've shifted "monogamy" -- married to one person for life -- to "married to one person at a time" to "having sex with one person at a time." Marriage is devalued to a minimum. Now they're fighting for the next step that those rotten LGBTQ folks neglected -- removing the stigma of "consensual non-monogamy." Because "If it feels good, do it" has replaced marriage, monogamy, self-sacrifice, and more. Because "what I want to do" defines what is good. Sexual morality used to be subject to values like virtue, sacrifice, and the welfare of others, but no more. And when "if it feels good, do it" becomes the ultimate moral good, you can expect "kill someone if I feel like it" or "you owe me a living wage" or the like to follow right on its heels. Like we're seeing today.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

When I Die By and By

Paul wrote, "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Php 1:21). How does that work?

Many Christians don't understand the second part. I mean, isn't the whole point of life not to die? It's a reflex, a natural thing. We all have the self-preservation instinct. So "to die is gain" seems like nonsense.

In truth, to believers that should be the most understandable. Jesus said that if we are forgiven much we love much (Luke 7:47). So if we are the forgiven, we should love Him dearly. And if we love Him dearly, where else would we long to be than in His presence? If you could go to heaven with the promise of happiness and comfort and well-being and no more sadness, but were told that Jesus wouldn't be there, would you do it? Christians would say, "No!" So to die is gain. No longer suffering from the flesh (Rom 7:24). Always in His presence. Soaking up the love that cannot be known (Eph 3:19). Absolute perfection.

So, why is it that Paul, in that Philippians passage, opts to live rather than die (Php 1:21-26)? Why is it that we aren't saved and immediately whisked away to be with Him? Because to live "means fruitful labor" (Php 1:22). To live means participating in God's work. To live means keeping His commandments (John 14:15). To live means making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them all that Jesus taught (Matt 28:19-20). "To remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account" (Php 1:24). Because the believer living the Christian life gives "ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus" (Php 1:26).

We aren't here as a test. We aren't here as a torment. We are here because, being here, we can be part of God's work, we can be Christ's body, we can participate in His plans. We can, by service to Him, worship Him (Rom 12:1).

And that's the problem, isn't it? Most of us think, "To die is gain? I don't want to die." But that "I don't want to die" is not "so that I can do more for Christ." It's more at "I've got a lot more stuff I want to do for me before I go." Wood, hay, and straw (1 Cor 3:11-15). Wouldn't it be better to long to go but enjoy doing His work for His glory in the meantime? Win-win.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

News Weakly - 10/26/19

This is what inclusivity looks like
Chick-fil-A is closing its first restaurant opened in the UK just six months after it opened. Why? The protests over "the company's opposition to same-sex marriage." Mind you, the company has no position on same-sex marriage. The owner has his personal position, but it is not a company position. Mind you, Chick-fil-A has never turned away a same-sex couple from any of their stores. Ever. So which is the more inclusive group? Chick-fil-A which will serve anyone in the friendliest manner possible or the LGBTQ organizations that declare "You are not welcome anywhere in the UK"? If you answer the latter, you are using "inclusive" in a way that doesn't fit the definition.

Worst President Ever
"House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) chastised House Republicans on Monday night for retaliating against his efforts to impeach President Trump rather than assisting in the process." Because in politics the only good Republican/Democrat is the one that agrees with the Democrats/Republicans. What kind of nonsense is this? Did he and Pelosi really think they would agree with the Democrats on this?

Schiff labeled Trump "the most dangerous and unethical president in American history." I am on record for opposing Trump for president, but, seriously, Mr. Schiff, the most dangerous and unethical in history? Worse than Warren Harding and his graft, secret oil deals, and Teapot Dome scandal? Worse than Andrew Johnson who opposed the 14th Amendment? Worse than Richard Nixon who was forced to resign for his illegal activities? Worse than James Buchanan who failed so badly in derailing a civil war that it has been referred to as "Buchanan's War"? Even USA Today reports that Trump is the third worst president of all time. "The president I hate the most" would be reasonable and truthful.

Ambulance Control
In Oslo, Norway, an armed man stole an ambulance and hit several people with it. The injured included a woman, her twins in a stroller, and two others. Police don't know if it was terror related, but the parliament is moving quickly to establish some strict laws regarding who can own and who can operate an ambulance in order to prevent further incidents like this.

Update
The school security guard that was fired for asking a student to stop calling him the N-word was rehired. That's better.

Just a Fun Story
A 9-year-old Minnesota boy entered a 5K race. He didn't finish it. Instead, he accidentally followed the 10K route. In that race he did quite well, finishing in just over 48 minutes, one minute before the 40-year-old man who came in second place. Nice. (On a side note, the story I read said that the boy ran his first 1K race at 18 months. Really?)

Gender Insanity
Jeffrey Younger is a father who has been trying to protect his 7-year-old son, James, from being castrated. The boys mother has been seeking to transition him into a female with puberty blockers, chemical castration, and cross-sex hormones. On Monday a jury in Dallas ruled against Mr. Younger on an 11-to-1 vote. Mr Younger argued that his ex-wife was transitioning James against the boy's will. Jeffrey will be forbidden to refer to James as a boy or take him around people who do not affirm that he is a girl and would be required to affirm James as a girl and to take a class on transgenderism. Mr. Younger said he was not opposed to the transition; he was opposed to imposing it on a 7-year-old. (Also of interest: the mother admitted that the boys were not biologically related to her. They were the product of in-vitro fertilization using a donated egg.) On Wednesday the judge ruled that the jury's rule of Sole Managing Conservatorship by the mother over James would be a joint conservatorship instead, so the father will be included in the medical decisions for James.

Doing this to a 7-year-old seems crazy. Doing it to a 7-year-old that doesn't want it is unconscionable. Apparently the mother decided James was a girl when he was 3 because he picked a toy from McDonald's that was usually for girls. Proof? No, insanity.

A Useful Tool
Kanye West released his new album, "Jesus is King." That's on top of his "Sunday Service" gig. Mind you, not all Christians are pleased about it, but I'm hopeful .. where my hope is in God. "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice" (Php 1:18).

Cruelty to Animals
The house passed a bill that would make animal abuse a federal offense. Torturing babies to death is still a mother's right.