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Sunday, September 30, 2018

What Does God Know?

The claim of Christendom and Judaism before it has been that God knows ... everything. He knows all possibilities -- all contingencies -- but knows nothing contingently. That is, He knows all the "what ifs" but there are no questions about "what will be." He knows what was, what is, what will be. Without error. Without question. "Yeah, yeah, sure ... but why would you make such a claim?" Let's see if it's tradition or Scripture.

John wrote that "God is greater than our heart and knows all things" (1 John 3:20). That means ... all things. That's not just a whole lot of things or even most things. All things. In the book of Job we read that God is "perfect in knowledge" (Job 37:16). Perfect. Thus, God knows all things and He knows them perfectly. The psalmist says, "His understanding is infinite" (Psa 147:5).

It sounds comprehensive, sure, but what about humans? How well does He know us? Can He know what we will do (as the Open Theists deny)? In Acts we read that God "knows the heart" (Acts 15:8). Pretty clear, but Psalm 139 is full of answers here. Before you speak He knows it completely (Psa 139:4). He knows your ways (Psa 139:3). He knows your thoughts (Psa 139:2). "In Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them" (Psa 139:16). All the days. All the days that were formed for me. Prior to their occurrence. Complete and total knowledge of each and every human in advance.

God's Omniscience, then, is purely biblical and it is absolute and complete. Past, present, future, our world, ourselves, everything ... perfectly. Don't let anyone argue that away. Why? First, because it is clear in Scripture, but, second, because it's important.

If God is not Omniscient (I use the capital there because there are those who argue that God is omniscient while denying that He actually knows anything perfectly.) then we have a lot to fear. He promises, but will He deliver? If He is Omniscient He will. If not, you can't be sure. He gives us eternal life, but will we get it? If He is Omniscient we will. If not, you can't be sure. Here's an interesting thought. Kant argued that the basis for morality is found in the existence of an Absolute, Perfect Judge. Part of being that Judge entails Absolute, Perfect Knowledge. If God is not Omniscient, Justice is in question. In our lives as believers we are told that if we love Christ we will obey His commands (John 14:15). Obedience is a result of loving Him, but we can have absolute confidence in obeying Him because we have absolute confidence that He knows what is best ... because He is Omniscient. Nothing happens to us that He didn't see in advance. The world intends evil for us, but if God is Omniscient, we can be supremely confident that anything that happens to us occurs because God intends good (Gen 50:20).

What is Omniscience? Simply put, "God knows." But that's a big "knows." And we, His people, can delight in that every day in multiple ways. 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

News Weakly - 9/29/18

The Ambiguous "Dehumanizing Speech" Category
Twitter has announced a new policy. The policy will prohibit "content that dehumanizes others based on their membership in an identifiable group, even when the material does not include a direct target." Expanding on their "hateful conduct policy," it ought to make a big difference. If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale ...

What is "dehumanizing speech"? It is speech that denies or diminishes their humanity, like "comparing them to insects, demons, or bacteria." Pretty sure there is a wide swath of people who will be freely and acceptably "diminished" even with this new rule, just like the hateful conduct policy. As long as you're in the "it's okay to hate them" category, it won't apply. But you can be fairly confident that "This particular behavior is a sin" will be banned if that behavior is in the "approved" group. Just my guess. (Do you think I'm somewhat cynical?)

Good News, Bad News
Good news! Chelsea Clinton is a "deeply religious person." Bad news! Whatever it is, it isn't Christianity. Chelsea delcared that eliminating the legalized murder of children would be "unchristian to me." Clearly she's bought the line that "our ability to participate fully in our society, including economically, hinges on our ability to make choices for our bodies and our families" even if that means executing family members. But her "deeply religious" thinking encourages her to make the "moral choice" every day ... to be optimistic. Pray for Chelsea.

A French Surprise
A drunk man in Paris received the first fine from the new "anti-catcalling" law in France. He slapped a woman's behind and insulted her appearance. He got three months in jail and €300 (about $350 USD) fine. The new law can get you fined up to €750 (about $870 USD) for a wolf whistle.

The surprising part is not that the law was instigated by a woman, the "Gender Equality Minister," or that the judge that laid out the penalties was a woman. It is slightly surprising that France would have such a law, given their reputation as being so sexually immoral. What's really surprising is that they prosecuted someone for it. Here in the U.S. we're content to execute a man's reputation, career, possible future income, and worse without a trial. (How is it possible, given all the #MeToo activity in the last year, that Bill Cosby is the only one to have been tried?) The surprise in France is that they actually put the man in the courtroom. Bravo.

Another One Bites the Dust
Azusa Pacific University calls itself "a comprehensive, evangelical, Christian university." They made the news back in 2013 when a female professor who decided her true identity was as a man had to part company with them because she couldn't get transgender-related medical care. Well, it looks like "comprehensive, evangelical, [and] Christian" means something different to them than it does, say, to Scripture. They are now altering their Student Standards of Conduct to say that the Bible is wrong to prohibit same-sex relationships. And they created "a special LGBTI program"! Isn't that fabulous? They're still banning sex outside of marriage and retaining their "one man, one woman" definition of marriage, but if you want to fall in love with someone of the same gender, by all means, go right ahead!

My title above is my commentary. Of course, it's a California institution. I don't think it will be long before all "comprehensive, evangelical, Christian" institutions will be forced to give in or face the consequences. It's just too bad that this one gave in before there were consequences. They gave in on the biblical principle rather than under the duress of an anti-theist State.

Update: APU has come out with a statement that says that they are reinstating the original language of the Standards of Conduct and forbidding homosexual romantic relationships on campus. Good to know. And thanks for that update, Glenn.

Say Goodnight, Brett
Well, I'm sure you've all heard. Brett Kavanaugh is on hold. The president agreed to a week-long FBI investigation. That ought to fix it. The truth is an allegation made these days equates to guilty without being proven and the protest of innocence, even with corroboration of others, is simply proof of guilt.

I think the outcome is obvious. "No thanks, man. We don't need you. You have failed to meet our standard of living the perfect life." Now, of course, that's not fair ... at least, not entirely. Perfection isn't the standard; just perfect to the standard that they demand. If you're a president and have adulterous sex with an intern, that's okay. If you lie to Congress about it, people shouldn't judge. "Judge not!" is their cry. Mind you, it's not that they're opposed to sexual abuse. It's that they're against sexual abuse in certain situations. And the fact that this particular event, if it is true, took place 35 years ago (which doesn't make it better; just a long, long time ago) and no allegations since then have indicated a trend or constant condition doesn't mean we should forgive or allow for reform. "He did it (even if no court has proven him guilty) and he's out, out, out! We'll have no such sexual immorality on our watch (except, as we've already said, the sexual immorality we approve and embrace)." I don't know. It seems somewhat ... intolerant and judgmental for a crowd that decries intolerance and judgment.

Friday, September 28, 2018


Technically, the term "military drill" refers specifically to the mass marching of soldiers, but we know there is more to it than that. The military has "drills" and "exercises" all the time. They send their troops -- sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines -- through simulated events to practice, practice, practice. Why?

The idea is simple. If you can get them used to doing certain things in certain situations, when the real situations arise, they will do them without having to think about it. It's like "muscle memory." Muscle memory is not actual memory stored in muscle. It is a set of tasks that your body has done so frequently that you no longer have to think about it. Like touch typing or playing an instrument. Your brain stores these things in a different place than normal memory and they've discovered that people who lack memory can still retain these muscle responses without even knowing how or why.

This principle is important in the Christian life. In general terms, it's what we need when we encounter life's trials. If you repeatedly remind yourself of the truth that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love the Lord" (Rom 8:28), for instance, then when something not so pleasant occurs, you will have this automatic response built in. That kind of thing. It's actually biblical.
Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:14)
That's spiritual muscle memory. When our "powers of discernment" are "trained by constant practice," we are headed toward "mature." We are growing. We can much better "distinguish good from evil." Spiritual muscle memory. So when that true-sounding-but-not claim comes to your attention, you will know that it's not true before you're even sure why. Like the claim, "That was painful, so it must be bad." Seems plausible ... until you evaluate it in the light of God's Word. The idea, biblically, is that you will be fed the truth (Eph 4:11-16) and be given exercises to practice the truth so that, in the end, you will be perfected (James 1:2-4).

So I keep bringing up important biblical doctrines like the Sovereignty of God and the problem of sin and the glory of the Gospel. The day will come when I (and you) will need this information in a crisis. I want to have my "muscle memory" response to be God's rather than a failed sinful response. I want to build up those muscles in advance so when I need them I won't have to think about it so much. A different kind of body building. In my view, a much more useful drill than marching soldiers.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Proclaim Justice

In Matthew 12 Jesus is faced with a dilemma (Matt 12:9-14). He was in the synagogue on the Sabbath and a man with a withered hand came in. The accusers asked Him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" Jesus told them they thought it was. They would pull a sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath, wouldn't they? Aren't people more valuable? So He healed the man. And the Pharisees "went out and conspired against Him, how to destroy Him." Nice.

Jesus knew it and withdrew. He continued to heal but warned them to keep quiet about it. He did it "to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah" (Matt 12:17). What was spoken by Isaiah?
Behold, My servant whom I have chosen,
My beloved with whom My soul is well pleased.
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets;
A bruised reed He will not break,
And a smoldering wick He will not quench,
Until He brings justice to victory;
And in His name the Gentiles will hope. (Matt 12:18-21)
The quote/prophecy seems a little strange. Wasn't Jesus sent to be Israel's Messiah? What's all this about Gentiles? But pause for a moment and I think you'll find it's a little more unexpected. This text tells us at least one reason Christ came, and it isn't quite what we expected. Sure, to save people and to proclaim the good news and things like that, but look at what this text says. He came to "proclaim justice to the Gentiles." Wait ... justice? It says that His "endgame" so to speak was to bring justice to victory. There it is again. Justice? Because of this "In His name the Gentiles will hope." Because of justice.

Jesus came for many reasons. We get most of them. This one isn't as obvious to us. Jesus came to bring justice to victory. How? God is just. Justice must be served or God is not God. Jesus came, then, to serve justice. He didn't come to kindly let us off the hook. He didn't come to simply drop the charges against us. He didn't come (first) to give us grace (being given good that which we didn't earn) and mercy (not receiving the punishment we have earned) because both are antithetical to justice. In order to give grace and mercy, Christ had to first bring justice to victory. He did it by living a sinless life and dying for our sins.
Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom 3:21-26)
Christ came to demonstrate God's righteousness by appeasing His wrath ("propitiation") against our sin by paying the price ("redemption") Himself. As a result of bringing justice to victory, we are allowed faith in Jesus Christ, justification, and God's righteousness. Amazing grace!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Woe? Whoa!

I'm sure you've all read the texts from Matthew where Jesus pronounces "woe" on towns in Israel like Chorazin and Capernaum (Matt 11:21-24). They had His miracles performed in them and spurned Him. It was going to be worse for them than for other well-known sinful cities in the judgment.

The text brings up an interesting principle. "It will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you," He told them (Matt 11:22). "More tolerable"? It will be hell for both; what is "more tolerable"? It would appear, then, that there is lesser and greater sin that will receive lesser or greater punishment. All sin earns hell, but there will be more or less torment depending on the nature of the sin. Interesting principle. Our aim, of course, is salvation -- forgiveness based on faith in Christ. No hell. But Jesus considered it worthwhile to warn them that there is greater and lesser torment, so I suppose we should concur.

There is, in here, another point almost always missed. The previous paragraph referenced Jesus's words to Chorazin, but Jesus says something similar Capernaum. He assures them "You will descend to Hades," but goes on to say, "if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day" (Matt 11:23). Okay, we got it. Capernaum had the Son of God in their midst doing miracles in their faces and they missed it. Bad ... really bad. Got it. But what about Sodom? Did you see what He said? "If the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you," they wouldn't have been so harshly judged. They wouldn't have been so spectacularly annihilated by God. They would have repented. "Yes, okay," I can hear you saying, "so?" If God knew (and He did) that if Jesus had come to Sodom as He did to Capernaum and Sodom would have repented (and it would have), why didn't He do it?

To be honest, here, He doesn't say, so we cannot know. We can only surmise. It wasn't the right time for the Messiah. God had other plans. Things like this seem likely. But one thing ought to be clear. For whatever reasons (and whatever they are they are God's, so they are good), God did not intend to bring Sodom to repentance, or He would have. This kind of thing sounds really wrong, I know, but it's not unbiblical. John wrote that Jesus told Israel to believe and then "departed and hid Himself" (John 12:36). John said that He did it "so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled" (John 12:38). John says that only those to whom the arm of the Lord as been revealed can believe (John 12:38-39). John wrote "They could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 'He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them'" (John 12:39-40). John clearly has no problem suggesting that God blinds eyes and hardens hearts to prevent understanding.

The truth is no one can come to Christ unless it is granted him by the Father (John 6:65). The truth is God is willing to demonstrate His wrath and power on vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22). And the truth is that God is not obligated to save anyone ... at all. All of us have judiciously and carefully earned nothing but wrath, have personally earned the status of "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction." If God saved not one, He would have been perfectly just. Saving any is remarkable. Woe to Chorazin and Capernaum for failing to see His Son at work? Yes. Woe to Sodom for refusing to repent with lesser input? Yes. It serves to magnify God's grace and mercy to the "few" who are shown the narrow gate that leads to life (Matt 7:14). Bottom line -- is it okay with you of God does what He pleases with His creation?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Love a Little

Jesus was eating with Simon, the Pharisee, when a woman came in weeping, wet His feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with perfume. Simon assured himself that Jesus didn't know what kind of woman this was, but Jesus knew. He gave Simon a parable and a principle - "Her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little" (Luke 7:47).

In this event Jesus draws a correlation between love and forgiveness. And we think (and Jesus made the point) that it was about this very sinful woman. He spoke of her sins "which are many." We get it. So Jesus draws a ratio, so to speak, between how much she is forgiven and how much she loves. "He who is forgiven little loves little." Got it.

The story, to me, however, is not about this sinful woman. The question in the event wasn't the woman, but Simon's recognition of his own need. Jesus was essentially saying, "You love little, Simon, because you think you're forgiven little." So, porting this correlation over as a test, we can ask ourselves "How much do I love Christ?" If it is "little", we are saying "I wasn't forgiven very much." No, wait, we are saying, "I'm as self-righteous as Simon the Pharisee."

Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Now we have a metric for some sort of measurement. How well do I keep His commandments? "I am keen on obedience. I must love Him a lot." Or "Not so good. I must not love Him very much." Here's the thing. In His Great Commission, Jesus set another standard. We are to be "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you" (Matt 28:20). Connecting love to obedience, then, the call is for perfect obedience, so we are required to have great love for Christ. And there is this Luke passage that appears to be predicate our love on our recognition of the magnitude of our own sin that is forgiven. So we can ask ourselves "How much do I obey Christ?" as a measure of "How much do I love Christ?" And that is a product of "How much sin has been forgiven for me?" A little? Don't expect to obey much or love much.

The point, ultimately, is not that we will be forgiven varying amounts so we will love varying amounts. The point is that we are all sinners of great magnitude, short of the glory of God, in dire need of forgiveness. Recognize that, and you'll love God more. Notice that you're not particularly loving Christ much these days, and you can be pretty sure it's because of an elevated view of yourself. Now you know where to go to work on your faulty thinking. You're welcome.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Christian and Works

This is one of my question entries; it just may not look like it at first.

There is a lot of confusion on the topic of works and Christianity. If you ask most people, works are a major part of Christianity. To the casual observer, they are everything because, well, all religions are about "being good." To the more informed Christian, we know that we are saved by grace apart from works ... and, yet, we are constantly being told, by preachers and by Scripture, how we are supposed to live. We seem to handle that dichotomy well. "Not of works" and, yet, lots and lots of works. It is so confusing that many people grow up in the church not realizing that it's not about works even while they quote the "not of works" texts. Others recoil so strongly that they start their own cults of "not of works" to completely eliminate the problem ... in direct opposition to Scripture.

So, what do we know? We know that we are "by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph 2:8-9). Works do not produce salvation. Paul belabored that "not works but grace" message to the Galatians who were tempted to think otherwise (Gal 3:1-9) and the Ephesians (Eph 2:8-9) and the Romans (Rom 4:1-5) and ... well, you get the idea. Let's just say it was his repeated theme. We got it. Good. We also know that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). It is undeniable that the Bible in general and the New Testament in particular are full of commands about how we should live, what we should do, how we should think, and so forth. (If I need to offer you references to support that claim, I suspect you're not reading your Bible.) So we also know that works are important; they just don't cause salvation. How are they important? They demonstrate a changed heart (John 14:15). They serve the purpose of God in the world (Matt 5:16). They are the certain product of living faith (James 2:17).

So, here we are, down to my question from you. We know that we are not saved by works; we are saved by grace. We know, on the other hand, that works are vital to the Christian life, not in a causative way, but as a necessary result of a changed being. My question is how do we get that across? I ask because we're not doing it very well. We might focus on "saved by grace" and end up ignoring works. Or we might recognize "faith without works is dead" and end up focusing on works. How do we strike the proper balance here so we 1) don't think of works as saving and 2) don't think of works as beside the point? I think, if you look at Church history, you'll find this has always been a problem, so I'm not asking, "Definitively, how do we solve this for all time?" I'm asking if you have suggestions on how we can maintain that balance where salvation comes by grace through faith but grace through faith produces works, keeping the two in their proper place with their proper importance. It feels like we're in a boat and everyone leans to the "grace" side and we begin to tip, so we lean to the "works" side and we begin to tip, so ... I'm wondering if any of you have ideas on how to better express/address this.

Sunday, September 23, 2018


We know the word "gratuitous." It refers to "excess" or "unnecessary," like "That movie had too much gratuitous sex and violence." The dictionary lists a few definitions. The word originally meant simply "free," but the word has migrated a bit since then. Now it means "without apparent justification." The legal version means "without expecting a return value." You can see, I'm sure, the correlation with "free." No obligation on your part. The "gratuitous sex" was sex in the movie that the movie didn't require to tell the story, for instance.

So what about this one: "gratuitous love." What would constitute gratuitous love? For humans, we are obligated to love God and love one another. That eliminates, for the largest part, gratuitous love among humans. However, there is the possibility of gratuitous love for us when we consider loving that which is not required. For instance, "I love birds" is all well and good, but it is not commanded or required. An entomologist might love ants, but you and I are under no obligation to do the same. It is no crime or evil to take some ant spray to that line of invaders climbing into your pantry. That might be "gratuitous love" for someone.

What about God? Is there such a thing as gratuitous love with God? The question is a little reversed. What is God obligated to love? He loves Himself; to do otherwise would be idolatry. What else? Well, He loves us, of course. But is that obligatory? Is He required to do so? If He did not, would He be wrong? Most of us would answer in the affirmative, but that's because most of us are sinners in our thinking because God is not obligated to love His creation. We know this because there are times that He hates aspects of it (e.g., Psa 5:5; Psa 11:5-6; Prov 6:16-19; Rom 9:13). If God hates the wicked and "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23), it looks like we might be in trouble.

We all like the wonderful fact that God loves us (John 3:16). That's a good thing. What we generally don't keep in mind is that God is not obligated to love us. God's love for us is gratuitous. It is freely given without obligation or expectation. No obligation on God's part. We too often think that "Of course He loves us; He's supposed to." He is not. He does it freely. Considering what sinners we are, that is amazing love.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

News Weakly - 9/22/18

To Get to the UK, Turn Left
I thought California was crazy. Then I read this story from The Economist about how so many teenage girls are suffering from "sudden-onset gender dysphoria." The story reported, "In 2009, 41% of the adolescents referred to Britain's Gender Identity Development Service were female; in 2017, 69% were." Wait ... "Gender Identity Development Service"? Yes. Established in 1989, the UK has had a service in place to assist kids in changing their genders. Turns out California is just a crazy-wannabe. Oh, and the story? The suggestion is that "social and peer contagion" is driving more kids to "gender dysphoria." But we we knew that already, didn't we?

Dirty Rotten Money
McDonalds has "strong policies, procedures and training in place specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment." On top of that, they've disclosed a new initiative to evolve these policies to fight sexual harassment in their industry. Still, it is reported that "At least ten McDonald's employees have filed charges against the company." As a result, "McDonald's employees, emboldened by the #MeToo movement, are staging a one-day strike Tuesday at restaurants in 10 cities across the U.S."

Now, I have to say, I'm not fully understanding this. McDonalds employs something like 1.9 million employees, 10 of which have complained about sexual harassment. Now, let's not minimize sexual harassment, but I'm trying to figure out how that number is the kind of thing that would produce "the first multistate walkout protesting sexual harassment." Oh, wait ... that statement is "according to Fight for $15." Could it be that these workers would like to get hold of some of McDonald's money? Could it be that these employees are striking for a raise in the name of "sexual harassment"? Could it be "McDonalds has money that we want, so we would like to force them to give it to us"? If so, striking to stop sexual harassment (where it barely exists) when what is really in view is more money is what is known in the industry as "a lie."

Other People's Money
ESPN has reported that "Some members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame say they will not attend the yearly induction ceremony until they receive health insurance and an annual salary that includes a share of the league's revenue." The letter to the NFL was signed by 22 Hall of Fame members including folks like Joe Namath and Sarah White, the widow of Reggie White. Because if you've gotten rich playing a game to entertain folks, it is only reasonable that you continue to get rich when you're not anymore. They owe it to you (2 Thess 3:10). Just another "They've got money, so we want it" situation.

More Not News
Hold onto your hats. This is a doozy! Apparently Hillary Clinton doesn't like President Trump! No, really! She thinks he's "uncontrollable" (unlike she is, right?) and dangerous (like when she promised to remove religion from America?). Shocker, isn't it? I mean, seriously, why would this be classified as "news"?

The Perfect Candidate
Something different this time. I'm going to make a commentary and you see if you can tell which news item I'm talking about.

A psalmist asked, "If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" (Psa 130:3). Sounds harsh of God, I suppose, but ask anyone currently in the crosshairs of public opinion -- Trump, Kavanaugh, men, Christians, white people, etc. -- and I would suggest it would be the same for them. "If you, O public, should mark iniquities, who could stand?" As demonstrated by the "deaths" at the hands of the #MeToo movement and the Left's work to execute conservatives like Judge Moore and Brett Kavanaugh, the only "acceptable standard" is perfection ... absolute perfection. I wouldn't pass muster. Neither would you. (Hint: Neither do they. But, hey, they'll gladly burn to the ground anyone they don't like that doesn't either.)

Unfortunately for America, we've decided that "innocent until proven guilty" is dead and the public gets to decide who lives and who dies.

Friday, September 21, 2018


We all know that the Garden of Eden was paradise. No sin. No sadness. No error. Until, of course, that crafty serpent (Gen 3:1) came along. What was it that got us thrown under the bus?

It wasn't that the serpent was merely making suggestions. It wasn't that the serpent had some good ideas. It wasn't that God was a cosmic killjoy and the serpent was offering some new things. The problem started with "Did God actually say ...?" (Gen 3:1). It was followed by an outright assault. "You will not surely die" (Gen 3:4). "God's holding out on you." The argument and the offering seemed good to Eve and Adam in her wake, so here we are, under the curse.

Some people think that the serpent delivered on his promise. They got "the knowledge of good and evil" just like he said they would. They were "like God" in that sense. This is a mistaken notion. The truth is they did not lack the knowledge of good and evil. That's because "the knowledge of good" was whatever God said, and they had that. Conversely, "the knowledge of evil" was the opposite -- whatever God did not say, whatever God did not command, whatever God forbade. They knew, for instance, "evil" in the form of "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat" (Gen 2:17). They knew that. They had that knowledge. Satan, as it turned out, lied.

This prototype of the serpent's temptation of Eve in the garden is the template for all temptation. We use the term loosely, of course. "I'm tempted to eat another piece of cake." That sort of thing. But in terms of sin, temptation is always the same. 1) It is an assault on God. 2) It is a lie. Always.

We get confused sometimes. "Sin," we think, is "doing bad things." Sin is not. It is our assault on God. It is our rebellion against God. It is our insult to His glory. Always. And we don't need a snake for ours. "Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire" (James 1:14). We do this all on our own. The remedy, of course, should now be much clearer. It isn't "work harder" or "try harder". The problem is a heart problem. That is why Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15).

We can employ tools -- accountability, "keep out zones," etc. -- but what we need is a greater love for the Master, the kind of love that couldn't endure militating against Him. We are encouraged to memorize God's Word to prevent sin (Psa 119:11) because sin is always a lie, so God's Word gives us the truth. And we are indeed to flee sin (1 Cor 6:18; 1 Cor 10:14; 1 Tim 6:10-11) and resist Satan (James 4:7), but the direction we should go is toward Jesus rather than merely away from temptation. Always.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Argument

Hey, it's the Internet. Someone is wrong. And it's your job to hunt them down and correct them. Or so it would seem.

The Bible has an interesting take on this concept.
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)
"Oh, now, come on, Stan! Nothing in there about Internet arguments." True, but imagine what our exchanges would look like if we practiced this as a guideline.

There are three components here. The first -- the starting point -- is to be "quick to hear." Now, in today's world we have a term -- TL/DR. "Too Long/Didn't Read." (Was that too long?) We all seem to think that almost anything is too long, so we'll read the first paragraph to get the idea and respond. We won't analyze the text. We won't examine the meaning. We won't hear the arguments. We'll skim and shoot. "Instead," James is saying, "rather than being quick to fire off a response, how about being quick ... to hear?" How about listening to all that is said? How about examining their position, arguments, intent? I mean, isn't it a fundamentally sound idea that in order to properly explain what's wrong with another position you have to first understand it? How about hearing attitude, intent, motivation? How about paying attention before responding?

Second, be "slow to speak." That, obviously, doesn't mean "talk more slowly." That means weighing our words, our attitudes, our intentions, our ideas. Are we first motivated by love? Or is it "righteous indignation" or "I will be right" or some unconscious competition? Then, are we expressing ourselves in a way that can be understood? Are we addressing the real issue(s)? Are we guarding our tongues (Prov 15:4; Prov 18:21; James 1:26; 1 Peter 3:10)?

Third, or, perhaps, more at underlying it all, we are to be "slow to anger." James tells why this is: Man's anger doesn't produce God's righteousness. If we, as followers of Christ, want to produce God's righteousness in others, it would seem obvious that our anger is not the way to go about it.

Think of it. What would our Internet interactions look like if we were, you know, intending to follow these instructions from God? I'm pretty sure too many of mine haven't. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. And I'm not convinced that those times I've been not quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger have been the most effective interactions.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Two Minds

In Paul's epistle to the church at Ephesus, he talks about two kinds of minds. The first is the "Gentile mind," what Paul describes as the "futile mind" (Eph 4:17). Paul says this kind of mind is darkened in understanding and excluded from the life of God (Eph 4:18). This kind of mind produces callous sin predicated on sensuality "for the practice of every kind of impurity" (Eph 4:19). You understand, I hope, that Paul is not commending this.

So what is the other option?

The other mind is the "new self" (Eph 4:24), the renewed mind (Eph 4:23). This one is marked by a laying aside of the corrupted self (Eph 4:22). It is marked by righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph 4:24).

Paul goes on to explain what the behavior looks like for a person of this mind (Eph 4:25-32). I won't lay it all out for you. It is too large. It begins with truth and unity (Eph 4:25). It entails healed relationships with God and with each other as can only be imagined and accomplished by those who have set self aside. It's a new life, a "new self."

Here's the thing. Paul only offers two options here. There is the futile mind of the unsaved, and there is the renewed mind of the those in Christ. Both affect how we live, obviously in opposite directions. So you should figure out which is yours. But here's a big hint. Is your thinking like the rest of the world? Do you concur with the our world's system? It's that system that has the futile mind. If your thinking is not challenged, is not brought into question, is not actually in opposition to the "norm," the everyday, the general worldview, then there is good reason to think yours is the former mind, not the renewed mind. If you are evaluating values and truth and Scripture on purely natural means -- you know, "It can't mean that because that would go against our current philosophies" -- then you might just be in trouble. By definition the renewed mind is different. Is yours?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Look around. Things get crazy these days. Yes, I know, those darn liberals are out of control. The feminists and leftists and abortionists and ... you know, all "them" guys ... they're just not right. But even in Christendom it's wacky. There's a big-name, well-known, well-loved guy in Houston that assures Christians that they can live their best life now, that we're all supposed to be wealthy. There are "superstars" who tell us that God wants us all to be healthy and the only thing that is causing you not to be is your lack of faith. There are people who defend "gay Christian" in the sense of "practicing gay Christian" and Methodist "pro-life" ministers who assure us that John 10:10 is the reason why believers should be in favor of abortion. There are even folk who agree that the Bible is important ... then turn around and tell us the many ways that it's useless, undecipherable, and unreliable. It's insane, I tell you.

Did you know that the Bible talks about that? Writing to Christians, Paul warns that they could be "children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes" (Eph 4:14). That's what I'm describing, isn't it? "Carried about by every wind of doctrine," twisted "by human cunning," misled by "craftiness in deceitful schemes." In the church.

Interestingly, the verse I just quoted begins with "so that we may no longer be children ..." Ah, so there is a solution, a remedy, preventive measures. What?
[God] gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors/teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:11-13)
This is meaty. God has a plan. He provides people gifted with certain gifts to equip the saints. That's their job. That's their purpose. To what end? To equip them "for the work of service." Okay, so the saints are being equipped to serve, to minister. Why? "To the building up of the body of Christ." Alright. That's pretty straightforward. God gives us apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers whose primary purpose is to equip believers to serve with the aim to edify Christ's body -- believers as a group. How long are we supposed to operate this way? "Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God." Unity and knowledge. One faith and one Christ. When we arrive at that, we can ease up. When we become "a mature man" -- when we reach maturity. To what standard? "to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." Got it. Perfection. Like Christ.

It's all pretty clear. I don't think there's any confusion about the meaning, any hidden thoughts or obscure concepts. I don't think I said anything here that wasn't obvious in the text. So what's my point? Given the utter insanity we find around us these days in Christendom -- and it's not getting better; it's getting worse -- we should be asking why? Based on this text, God's people are being tossed to and fro by waves and winds of doctrine brought about by cunning and crafty liars. Why? Because we're not doing our jobs. The messengers (apostles) and forth-tellers (prophets) aren't doing their job. The evangelists aren't doing their job. And the pastor/teachers, especially, aren't doing their job. The point of the church is to build the saints, and to a large extent they aren't doing their job. As a result we -- the saints -- aren't being equipped, aren't ministering as we should. We aren't building the body. We aren't maturing. The author of Hebrews wrote, "Everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Heb 5:13-14). That's us. Not trained by practice, but tossed by winds and waves. We don't, for a large part, seem to get past milk because, in the Hebrews account, we're not accustomed to the Word.

We need to work, brothers and sisters. We need to call on our leaders to lead. We don't need "social justice" messages, clever stories from the pulpit, or hip music. We need the Word preached to us -- "Thus saith the Lord." We need to have God's truth detailed to us. We need to become accustomed to the Word with constant practice. We need preachers and teachers who will speak the truth in love so we can "grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" (Eph 4:15). We are a youth-driven culture. We are called to maturity. It's time to grow up.

Monday, September 17, 2018


We are humans. (I don't think that's a controversial statement.) We have a lot of things that are a product of us simply being humans. We are air breathers. We produce offspring in a particular way, different, say, than lizards or fish. And we are groupthinkers. What do I mean? We as a group (humor) tend to think of ourselves as groups.

Oh, we have a large variety of groups, most of us in many of them. There are "racial" groups (in scare quotes because aren't we the human race?) and gender groups and educational groups and family groups and job groups and national groups and religious groups. On and on it goes. You might identify as a middle class, white, Christian, American male or an upper class, black, Muslim, South African woman or ... well, you get the idea. And we break those down further, don't we? That first category example I listed included "Christian," sure, but what kind of Christian? Is he Catholic or Protestant, Orthodox or atheist (seriously, you will find a category of "atheist Christian," an entirely nonsensical concept)? Oh, Protestant? Okay. What kind of Protestant? Baptist, Anglican, Presbyterian ... well, you see how this goes. There are, according to some estimates, 33,000 Protestant denominations. (This page lists "about 22,000 denominations," but they are way too generous in their definition of "Christian," including "Buddhist believers in Christ," "gay/Lesbian homosexual tradition," Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses.) And we are ... one ... or more ... or less of them, apparently.

So, we tend to think of ourselves as part of a group and we are generally loyal to that group. And being associated with that group serves to identify you. "Oh, you're one of those, eh? So, you must think ..." Beyond that, this kind of "groupthink" is mandated. "So, you're a Democrat, eh? Oh, no? Well, then, you must be a Republican. No?? Well, then, you're Independent or something else and your vote just doesn't count." In America today in order to be useful at voting season you must be either Republican or Democrat. Everyone knows that if you don't vote Democrat/Republican, you are voting Republican/Democrat no matter how you vote. Mandatory.

Here's the problem. It just isn't so. It's just not true. I'll just use me as an example. I am white, so I am routinely pidgeon-holed as a racist. No evidence. No incidents. Just skin color. I'm male, so I'm sexist by definition. It doesn't matter if the conclusion is accurate; it is a given. I'm a Christian, which puts me in a particular category, but, worse, I read my Bible as if it actually means what it says, so now I'm a "fundamentalist," and not in a good way. That is, if you find a "fundamentalist Muslim" who reads his book for what it says and concludes that his job is to kill infidels, I'm that kind of fundamentalist. The thing is, I'm not. These things help you to peg me in my moral, political, social, economical, etc. views, but, as it turns out, they don't. I'm far more "center" in most of this stuff than most of you might suspect. But that doesn't matter. Truth doesn't matter. Because we are "groupthinkers" and you can take a cursory look at me and know right away what kind of loser I am. You'd be wrong, but you would think so.

That's not intended to be either a defense of me or a complaint about the false stereotyping. It is simply an illustration of all of us. Yes, even me. We tend to group people. "Oh, you're a ..." Then we categorize them. "That means that you believe ..." Then we embrace or castigate them. For the group, not for who they are. "Oh, you're a Christian? So am I! We're in this together." It doesn't matter that this particular Christian is an atheist and you are a theist. "Oh, you're a Republican? I'm a Democrat, you loser!" It doesn't matter that this Republican hasn't voted Republican for decades. And so it goes.

We think of ourselves in groups. We tend to embrace our own groups and discount the others. The groups of which we're a part tend to edge our own thinking in a particular direction just by proximity. Unfortunately, that just serves as a barrier to real relationship, because we are all, in fact, individuals. No two people think alike. No groups of people are 100% in uniformity. And our embrace or assault of others for their groups is a response to a lie with only a shade of truth. I apologize for the times I've done that to you. I hope not to do it in the future. Don't worry. I don't expect you to stop doing it. You're only human, right?

Sunday, September 16, 2018


It's the sound that often occurs when today's crowd looks at Internet cats. According to Wikipedia, "Images and videos of domestic cats make up some of the most viewed content on the web." It means warm and cute. And it sounds a lot like "awe" ... but it's not the same thing. We know "totally awesome, dude" these days. It's cool. It's hip. It's really nice. And, again, it's not the same thing.

What is "awe"? I looked at a few dictionaries because I wanted to be fair. Merriam-Webster's says, "an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime." The second definition is listed as "archaic" and defines it as "dread, terror." The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as "A feeling of respect or reverence mixed with dread and wonder, often inspired by something majestic or powerful." Again, the second definition is "archaic" and says, "The power to inspire dread." Then there was Collins English Dictionary. That one explains it as "the feeling of respect and amazement that you have when you are faced with something wonderful and often rather frightening." Oh, and then there's the archaic: "the power of inspiring intense fear or fearful reverence." Yes, folks, we have a winner. We have consensus. "Awe" includes "veneration" and "wonder" at majesty or power, but always with "dread." Always with dread.

Immediately, then, you discover the difference between "awww" and "awe." One is cute; the other is ... frightening. And our God is an awesome God.

We are told that "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov 9:10). A primary shortcoming of sinful humans is "There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom 3:18). Our common lack of fear of God bespeaks our foolishness and sin, not our warm relationship with God. We tend much more toward "awww" of God rather than genuine awe.

There are two primary reasons for this. The first, obviously, is that we don't have a clear notion of Who He is. Every biblical character that actually encountered God experienced fear -- usually abject terror. Not us. We know better. So we start with Man to determine God and, hey, he's not so scary. The other is less obvious but surely true. We have little notion of who we are. We're not that bad, right? Oh, sure, we're sinners. We've done bad things. But it's okay. They're not that bad and we're forgiven and it's alright. But, while we are forgiven if we know Christ, we are that bad. We just don't know it. So, God's not that big and we're not that bad, so we can see God with "awww" rather than awe and think they're the same.

Jesus said,
You say, "I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing," not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Rev 3:17-19)
Jesus said that those who are forgiven much love much and those who are not don't (Luke 7:47). So if we minimize God and maximize ourselves, we will fail to love as we should. Worse, any worship of less-than-God has a biblical word for it -- "idolatry."
Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).
God deserves to be revered, to be wondered at, to be seen as awesome in the ultimate. That includes fear. It's only reasonable.
You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you offspring of Israel! (Psa 22:23)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

News Weakly - 9/15/18

Look, I'm fine with this. This isn't a complaint. It is an observation. It was a first last weekend when all four guest-acting statues went to black actors at the 2018 Creative Arts Emmys. Touted as a sign of increasing diversity, I noticed that no one is saying, "Hey, wait a minute! A black sweep? Sounds racist to me." Trust me; if it had been all whites, we would have heard about it.

A What Competition?
They crowned a new Miss America this last week. Nia Imani Franklin was crowned Miss America 2019 in the first "no swimsuit" competition ever. Wait ... what kind of competition? A competition without swimsuits?? Oh, okay, I get it now. The competition did not include a swimsuit competition. I get it now. Of course, in today's society, I'm not entirely sure that there could not have been a "no swimsuit" competition.

More Dangerous Weapons
Some people go fishing ... you know, to catch fish. Other people go deer hunting. A guy I know went bow hunting but, apparently, didn't catch a single bow. Now we get news of a knife attack in France. Seven injured; four seriously. When will the government do something about these knives and their violent assaults?

In A Perfect World
Marian Avila fulfilled her dream of becoming a fashion model this week when she modeled for New York Fashion Week. It is a news item because Marian is a 21-year-old Spanish model with Down syndrome. Of course, in a perfect world she would have been aborted prior to birth because everyone knows Down syndrome babies are too much trouble to care for and cannot have a fulfilling life, what with all the cognitive impairments, special education programs and social ostracism. Apparently Marian didn't get the memo.

Religious Freedom
China would like to tell us that they allow religious freedom in their country. Reuters disagrees. The report is that Beijing has banned the largest underground church in the city and confiscated "illegal promotional materials" in their crackdown on underground churches. Why? The government demanded closed-circuit cameras; they refused. While "China's constitution guarantees religious freedom," China appears to disagree. Is this where we're headed? "Yes, our constitution guarantees religious freedom ... just not to you."

One Piece at a Time
California leads the way in a lot of areas, most of them leftist. Now they're on the verge of mandating corporate quotas for women. Specifically, Senate Bill 826 on Governor Brown's desk requires that all public companies must have at least one woman on their board of directors.

Now, of course, that seems ludicrous. They're aiming at bringing "gender equity to our corporate boards." In what world is one woman "gender equity"? Ludicrous. On the other hand, if the "free market" is our mode of operation, it would seem that the mandate of "one woman" would be a step toward dismantling it, since "free market" suggests that the enterprise should be allowed to determine how they do business, not the gender. But that's just one more of the things we once held dear but are now dismantling one piece at a time.

I Don't Even ... What??
The news item is about how San Francisco removed a 19th century racially offensive statue. Fine. Whatever. If we can, we should remove all that offends any, I guess. (Good luck with that.) It wasn't really that story that got my attention. It was a paragraph in the story that really caught my eye. "Earlier this year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to end the Columbus Day holiday and celebrate indigenous people and Italian Americans on the second Monday of October." Ummm, okay, wait ... what? I get it. People are offended that Columbus existed. People are upset with his supposed treatment of indigenous people. People in California want to celebrate indigenous people of California. Fine. I'm tracking here. But ... "Italian Americans"? Where did that come from? Why them? Why just them? I don't even have a clue here. I worry sometimes about the people in charge of San Francisco.

Unclear on the Concepts
A Methodist minister, self-identified as a "pro-life Christian", testified against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Part of her testimony from the official transcript:
Jesus directs us to advocate for a just society that allows people to live their lives to the fullest. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full.” In this passage, Jesus is not referring merely to personal salvation; He also intends for us to seek justice for the poor and the oppressed here on Earth. One such way of accomplishing this is by supporting policies to assist mothers, single parents, and low-income families both before and after babies are born. And this means supporting access to affordable birth control, because by permitting individuals to plan if, whether, and when to become pregnant, birth control allows us to live our fullest lives.
Another "Christian" unclear on the concept. By this logic, if murder gives us a fuller life, they ought to allow us to steal because we can live "the abundant life" if only we can steal what we need. And so on. It's amazing what "ordained" and "pro-life" and "Christian" has come to mean ... or not mean ... these days.

In Other News
This week NASA met with the president in an all-out effort to show him that the solar system does not revolve around him. NASA was confident of the outcome; I'm not as optimistic.

Must be true; I saw it on the Internet.

Friday, September 14, 2018

A Little Misunderstanding

It's interesting to me how some popular concepts get blown completely out of proportion, even for Christians, without examining them at all. We know, for instance, that cleanliness is next to godliness simply because, well, we do. It is certainly not because it's in Scripture. We are all quite certain that "The Lord helps those who helps themselves" has got to be in there somewhere. It's not. Love isn't love if it's not voluntary. Well ... maybe, but I'd like to know what passage in the Bible you pull that out of. Beyond these, even some of what is in there confuses us.

One of our favorites is "Judge not" (Matt 7:1). That's tops for a lot of people; even those who don't believe in the Bible. I mean, look, it's in the Bible; it's even Jesus speaking. So clearly He was teaching that we shouldn't judge. Now, whatever you do, do not examine the context of that verse. Do not look around at all. Because if you do you will find that it absolutely does not mean, "Don't look at others to see if what they're doing is right." Why do I say that? Well, first we know that Jesus is listed as the Judge. He will be judging. But more importantly the context is full of judging. "First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matt 7:5). If the point was "Don't judge," then seeing the speck in your brother's eye would be irrelevant. "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you" (Matt 7:6). Wait ... who is He calling "dogs" and "pigs"? Judgmental, isn't it? And we're supposed to know them (so we don't give them what's holy or pearls). "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits" (Matt 7:15-16). Great! Now we're fruit inspectors, too! See? This is not about not judging; this is about judging rightly.

One we really like is the obvious truth that God forgets our sins. You know that, right? "For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more" (Heb 8:12). Clear as day. (This is what's called "proof-texting".) So when we claim that God is Omniscient, we mean, "Well, except for the things that He's forgotten." And that is ludicrous. God is Omniscient. That means that He knows everything (John 16:30). So He cannot forget our sins. If He does, there are things we know that He doesn't. Nonsense. The text, as it turns out, does not say God forgets our sins. It says He doesn't remember them. Not the same thing. According to the dictionary, "remember" means "to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory; to think of again." We use it exactly this way if we say, "Remember me to your wife." The point is not whether or not it resides in memory; the point is whether or not it is being called up for examination. God won't bring it up again, but He doesn't forget.

Along the same lines, I heard someone talking about this one the other day. As we all know, God cannot look on sin. Why would we say that? Well, the Bible says it. "You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do You idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?" (Hab 1:13) Isn't it obvious? Be very careful here not to consider the idea too carefully. First, the text is about God idly looking at traitors and remaining silent. The complaint from Habakkuk is that God has been looking at sin and doing nothing about it. (If you read the rest of the book, you find out the prophet is wrong about God doing nothing about it.) The point here isn't God's inability to look at sin. But rationally speaking, the whole concept becomes ludicrous when you take Scripture into account. We know that we have the problem of doing "only evil continually" (Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21). We know that "no one does good, not even one" (Rom 3:12) Not even one. If God cannot look on sin, God is, in general, completely blind in terms of this world. That's just crazy! This is why the New American Standard (for instance) translates the verse in question, "You can not look on wickedness with favor. The NIV says, "You cannot tolerate wrongdoing." The idea is not "He can't see it." The intent is that He cannot approve, cannot absolve, cannot overlook it. He can't look at it and do nothing.

It's easy to get tripped up when we trot out a nice-sounding verse and make it our own without actually examining it or thinking it through. Usually you'll find that comparing Scripture to Scripture is a pretty effective means of preventing this kind of error. You know, having your "powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil" (Heb 5:14). Ignoring the problem, on the other hand, doesn't help. Believing you're fine just as you are is a mistake. We all have something new to learn, some error to correct, some work to do ... this side of heaven.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Don't Look Back

When God pulled Lot and his family out of Sodom, He told them, "Don't look back" (Gen 19:17). Lot's wife did. That didn't end well for her (Gen 19:26). Jesus warned, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). And that's not a good thing, either. "So what?" you might ask. "What has that to do with me?"

It is interesting and, frankly, a little baffling to me how so many Christians think about heaven. I was listening recently to a song by Downhere called My Last Amen. The singer talks about feeling something he had never felt but was sure was there or looking for a note in a song that was never there, likening it to the dawn that follows the night. What is that thing that he longs for that he never had seen or felt yet?
Every prayer I say (a little closer)
To my resting place (a little closer)
Where my final breath
is the beginning
To never needing
And I will find my last Amen.
He's talking about going home, to being with Christ, to never needing again.
I could swear I have two hearts
One to stay, one to depart
This sad, tragic kingdom

And it burns me down to the core
Because I know there's so much more
It's just a pale reflection
And it keeps me wanting
That mysterious thing
Like an outcast waiting to belong.
This is Paul's kind of language. "To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21). It is a yearning to both be here, sure, but to also be there with Christ in eternal bliss.

Christians know this. So why is it that we don't feel that way? Why is it that so many Christians are not at all keen on the idea of going home? I've heard them respond with revulsion or confusion. "You want to die?" I've heard them say, "I'm not sure I want to go to heaven. Seems like it will be boring sitting around on clouds and playing harps." One lady told me, "If my dog's not there, I don't want to go." And I'm confused. "Don't want to go"? What is that all about?

I think we've lost the sense of the heaven described in the Bible. I'm sure that's true. We've bought this "wings" and "angels" and "harps" and "clouds" without a single reason. But I'm quite sure that you know where to find better information than that. I don't think our primary problem is lousy information. I think our underlying problem is the same as Lot's wife or that guy who wasn't fit for the kingdom of God; we're looking back. "Yeah, yeah, heaven's great and all that ... but look what I have here! Stuff. Loved ones. Friends." The reason some of us want heaven is that all that talk about "no more tears" sounds really good when we've endured too many tears here. Some of us want heaven because that "eternal bliss" sounds just fine with us. But how many of us want heaven because "That's where my Jesus is"? How many of us are so focused on the end game, that final "marriage of the Lamb" where we are ultimately and finally united with Christ for an eternity of worship that we see staying here as a necessary delay of the best? Scripture tells us that this is the purpose for which we are built (Rom 11:36; Col 1:16). The completion of our lives occurs there in His presence. But we look back.

There is no other term for it. It's called "idolatry." It is placing something else -- and we can do it with almost anything at all -- before our Lord and Savior. That's why Jesus said that the one who looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God. What about us? What about you? Do you find your heart more closely bound to here and now or do you, like the song, find it aiming toward something you can't even fully explain, that final Amen in His presence? Don't look back. That won't end well for you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Social Gospel

What is the "Social Gospel"? It was once a movement, but has largely been taken over by the "Social Justice Warriors" (SJWs) who call themselves Christians and aim for ... "social justice" as a part of the Gospel. The "Social Gospel" attempts to apply Christian ethics to social problems such as poverty, slums, poor nutrition and education, alcoholism, crime, and war while diminishing any reference to ... you know ... the actual Gospel. Why would I say that? Well, let's see. Here's Paul's input on the Gospel.
(1) Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, (2) and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. (3) For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, (4) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (5) and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (6) Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (7) Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. (8) Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (9) For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (10) But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (11) Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Cor 15:1-11)
Eleven verses in which Paul lays out the entire "gospel I preached to you." I'm looking ... I'm looking. Nope. Not one reference to poverty, nutrition, crime, or war. I can only conclude it is not the Gospel.

Is it important that we do good works that God has laid out in advance? Yes, of course (Eph 2:10). Should we care about the poor, the widows and orphans, the needy, the oppressed, and more? Absolutely (James 1:27;! Let's just not confuse it with the Gospel. Because if all that other stuff is "the gospel," it is "another gospel," and we know what Paul taught about that (Gal 1:6-10).

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Born That Way

The phrase stands alone these days. I throw it out and you know exactly what I'm talking about. People who identify as homosexuals believe they do not choose it; they were "born that way." Is it true?

Well, yes ... yes it is. But, wait. If you don't get the whole thought, you don't get the point.

The Bible teaches that we are all "born that way." Gay? No. Sinners. David wrote, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psa 51:5). That's not an accusation against his mother; it's an admission that humans are born sinners. "The wicked," David wrote, "are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies" (Psa 58:3). From birth. So, were homosexuals born sinners? Yes. So were you. So was I. Our individual sins vary, but we all sin (Rom 3:23).

What's the point? The point is that "born that way" is irrelevant. It isn't an excuse. It isn't a good reason to continue in it. It doesn't make heterosexual immorality or homosexual immorality okay. It would be like a child born without arms and legs saying, "I was born this way and this is the way I will stay" even though there are ways to address those problems. Our birth condition isn't a good reason to continue in it. It is a declaration of guilt and a certification of absolute need.

Yes, we were all born that way, sinners in need of God's grace and mercy. We all have desperately wicked hearts (Jer 17:9). We're all dead in sin (Eph 2:1). We all need a clean heart (Psa 51:10). We all need to die with Christ and be raised with Him to new life (Rom 6:3-5). "Born that way" isn't justification; it is a desperate cry for help that only God can give. We -- none of us -- should let it lie at "born that way." What we need is new birth.

Monday, September 10, 2018

People, Not Politics

It's campaign season and you're bound to see them everywhere -- those campaign signs with their campaign slogans. Generally, they're supposed to mean something. Far too often I try to figure out what. So I saw a local one here the other day and the candidate's sign read, "People, not politics." What did that mean?

The candidate was an Independent, so "politics" are by general understanding is irrelevant. And you get the idea, I'm sure. "I care more about people than politics; I'll care more about you than politics." Yeah, yeah, we get it. But it got me to thinking (always dangerous), what is "politics" in this context?

Well, briefly, it is the political position of the given party. "We are the Y party. We believe in taking other people's money and giving it to others. We believe in power to the government because the government knows best. We believe in killing children and saving animals. Because we care about you." "We are the X party. We believe in freedom ... freedom to do as we please, freedom to not pay taxes, freedom to say what we want when we want without consequences. Because we care about you." Or possibly "We are the Z party. We believe in doing whatever we think is best at the moment which may change without notice and has little principle on which to stand. Because we care about you." And so it goes. The parties lay out their policies -- what we call their "planks" -- and if you agree with them, or at least enough of them, you join that party. And don't be fooled; you join some party, even if it's "Independent" or "Libertarian" or "Anarchy." Not being a member of a party is a set of policies with which you agree.

The question, then, is not "people versus politics," as it turns out. The question is do the policies of a party -- any party -- actually serve the people? Because we know two things. First, all parties have policies, even the unofficial parties. And all parties, official or unofficial, believe their policies are best for the people. They may be "best for me" because "I'm a person" or they may be "best for us" because "us" refers to "those who agree with me," but all of them believe they are serving the best interest.

Don't get tricked by the hype. Don't fall into the sound-bite trap. "Oh, look, this candidate cares more about people than politics." That simply means that this candidate has no accountability to standards and no concept of politics at all. We need to know where our candidates stand rather than some mushy "people" position without principles. And, more than that, we must always remember, "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes" (Psa 118:9).

Sunday, September 09, 2018


It's a theologian's word -- immutable. We know what it means, of course. It means that the mute button doesn't work. Okay, no. There is, as it turns out, no connection between "mute" and "immutable." Immutability is simply the inability to change. And of all the things we know, just about the only thing I know of that is truly unable to change is God.

Why would I (we) say that? Well, it wasn't originally our idea. God said, "I, the LORD, do not change" (Mal 3:6). This is a quote from God. God declares Himself immutable.

However, even without God's explicit word about Himself, we would have to conclude it's true. God by definition is the highest, the ultimate, the perfect. There is no imperfection in Him. There is no lack, no need, nothing more required. When He told Moses His name was "I Am That I Am" (Exo 3:14), He was declaring Himself the self-existent One -- the only one of His kind. So if God really is all that, what change could He do? Change means better or worse. If He were to change it would have to be to improve or to deteriorate. Obviously neither is possible. He already contains all perfections, so He can't get "perfecter" (since no such word or even concept exists). And a God who decays is no God. A God who is Omnipotent can't gain more power. A God who is Omniscient can't gain more knowledge. A God who is Omnipresent can't go somewhere He hasn't gone before. A God who is Sovereign cannot become more Sovereign.

This attribute of immutability gives us all kinds of benefits. His power, His knowledge, His presence, His policies, none of who He is can fail. None of what He is doing can fall short. When we are promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb 13:5), it's not the promise of a sure-to-fail human. It is the promise of an Immutable God. He will never, never, leave you or forsake you, where "never" is a reality rather than hyperbole. His essence does not change. His attributes do not change. His plans do not change. His promises do not change. Neither His love for His own nor His hatred for sin changes. His salvation does not change.

Solomon wrote, "My son, fear the LORD and the king. Do not associate with those who are given to change" (Prov 24:21). God is not "given to change." He deserves our trust and provides us with all that we need because He is not given to change. His immutability is our great source of confidence and peace.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

News Weakly - 9/8/18

Tell Me Again?
What they tell me is Science is king (or even god) and universities are bastions of Science, scholarly debate, and free inquiry. Tell me that again? That's not what I conclude when Brown University decides to censor its own study because it found that "social media and friends can influence teenagers to change their gender identity." I kid you not. The university has "heard from Brown community members expressing concerns that the conclusions of the study could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community." Really? Try that line elsewhere. "Community members are expressing concerns that the conclusions of the study could be used to discredit Evolution." Sure, that'll fly, right? No. Because in this case the perspectives of members of the transgender community trump science. I guess they got promoted to god now.

I'm Unclear
Back when that young team of soccer players were stuck in a cave, Elon Musk offered a little submarine to try to help. One of the actual rescuers on the site said it wouldn't help in this situation. Musk responded by calling him a paedophile. Now Musk has called him a "child rapist" in an email to a reporter. He offers no evidence; just accusation. So, I'm unclear on this. Does this qualify as slander or libel? Oh, and when will we see Musk in court for this? I'm waiting.

A Not-So-Hidden Agenda?
Brett Kavanaugh is in the midst of hearings as Supreme Court nominee. At the end of day one, Fred Guttenberg, a father of one of the shooting victims put out his hand to shake with Mr. Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh didn't. Oh, horrors!

Now, mind you, Guttenberg is on record as being opposed to Kavanaugh for Supreme Court because the judge is in favor of the 2nd Amendment ... you know, the Constitution ... which a Supreme Court justice is supposed to defend. Guttenberg has already declared publicly that Kavanaugh is a "risk to public safety." So, remind me, why would someone who is his enemy expect him to shake hands? Let me ask this a different way. What would make us think that Guttenberg's gesture was a genuine effort of reaching out to meet and greet the candidate rather than an attempt to twist his arm?

Color Me Surprised
You've heard, I assume, about the New York Times op-ed piece reportedly from a White House insider who is "part of the resistance inside the Trump administration." This person wrote, "We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous." That, of course, doesn't matter. What everyone is talking about -- what the New York Times decided to emphasize -- is the danger that Trump is to the nation. Fine. No one is surprised that mainstream media is radically and perpetually opposed to Trump.

The author of the piece said they were trying to thwart "Mr. Trump's more misguided impulses." Like this one -- the president is calling for the Justice Department to find out who wrote it. Mind you, no law was broken. Mind you, the author hoped for Trump to succeed. Mind you, the Justice Department is not the president's private investigation service for whatever he wants investigated. "And while you're at it, I want you to follow my wife around to make sure she's not cheating on me," would be wholly inappropriate. But, again, is anyone surprised that the president would respond this way? I'm certainly not.

Take That, Social Justice Warriors
First there was the Danvers Statement (1987). Then there was the Nashville Statement (2017). Now we have a new one -- the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel. Is it controversial? Sure. Correct? I think so. Out of an abundance of caution over the distractions that the SJW types are bringing calling for "Social justice!" as a basic Christian requirement (over against -- actually against -- the Gospel, making disciples, teaching others to obey all that Christ commanded, etc.), John MacArthur and more have issued this statement to explain the truth on the subject. As of the writing of this report, there are nearly 5,000 signers.

Social Justice Explained
On the same subject, the Babylon Bee helps explain what Social Justice is. This piece seems less tongue-in-cheek than most of their work.

Friday, September 07, 2018

The Impact of Language

When God wanted to break up the building of the tower of Babel, He did it by changing the language. Apparently, language is important.

I was reading a solid, biblical, well-respected website recently and came across an article that included a conversation that included this TLA (Three-Letter Acronym): SSA. What is SSA? Most of you know, but for those who don't, it refers to same-sex attraction. It's a currently popular term to refer to people of the homosexual persuasion who are, you know, sexually attracted to those of the same sex. It is more popular among conservative Christian groups, I suspect, than among the general populace of SSA folk. Many of these solid, biblical, well-respected Christians are discussing the problems of SSA for Christians in terms of fighting off the temptation and living for Christ without the sin. It comes across as sort of a sympathetic term. "Oh, you suffer from SSA? We are here to encourage you in your fight against it."

Here's the problem. The term, "same-sex attraction," carries with it a particular impact. It affects how you think. Think about it.

What do we mean by "same-sex attraction." Well, we mean "same-sex desire." Simple. We're talking about people who have a sexual desire for people of the same gender. We understand that. So why don't we say that? Is there a fundamental difference between "same-sex attraction" and "same-sex desire?" Yes, there is. In our language, "attraction" is something that happens to you and "desire" is something you do. You would never say that you experience gravity as a desire; it is an attraction. Magnetism is an attractive force, not a force of desire. Desire is "I want" and attraction is "a pull." Here, let's try this from another direction. Try the two terms in heterosexual terms. Does a guy desire a pretty girl, or does she simply attract him? A married man's claimed that he couldn't help cheating on his wife because of his attraction to another woman doesn't sound the same as the guy who couldn't help himself because of his desire for another woman.

Thus, by using the term, "attraction," we are inserting subconsciously the notion that they can't help it, that it is not in their control, that there is an excuse for it and nothing that can be done about it. We unconsciously buy the "born this way" principle without even giving it a thought. You see, this isn't something that happens to someone, heterosexual or homosexual. This is something they allow and even endorse. One might say, "I have these attractions and I'm trying not to" while another would say, "I have these desires and I'm trying not to." Which one is admitting responsibility?

The Bible isn't vague here. Temptations may come from a lot of places, "but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death" (James 1:14-15). Excusing a desire for sin with "attraction" rather than "my lust" is not going to address the issue. The issue isn't temptation or attraction. We've met the enemy, and it is us.

We have a problem. Not just the gays; all of us. We are sinners. Providing helpful excuses and comforting dodges to this problem does not address the problem. Using language that softens the impact softens the impact of a really big issue -- we are sinners. "Born that way" doesn't help. "I can't help it" isn't true. Despite the protests, what we do is a choice and using language that makes it easier for people to avoid that fact does not help.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Cultural Musings

No really deep things here; just some thoughts drifting through.

Anti-Social Media
I am really amazed these days at the reach of social media in general and Twitter in particular. It seems as if it is not possible for news outlets to write a news story on their own; they must include Twitter's response. It's disturbing, too. If you've ever looked at or read about Twitter stuff, it can be pretty nauseating. It is an outlet for the worst of the worst of us to express hate and evil freely and anonymously. It seems as if nothing can occur without someone being angry and/or abusive about it. It's as if no event can cross the newsfeed without someone threatening murder. Recently I saw the story of the actress who played a character in the latest Star Wars: The Last Jedi who had to eliminate her social media accounts because of the online bullying, hate, venom, and threats she was receiving for the role she played in the movie. That's just crazy.

When did anonymous, unbridled, untethered hate become a good thing? They call it "social media" but there is a lot of anti-social behavior going on there. But try to speak out against it or suggest some sort of controls and ... well ... social media will crucify you.

The Left End of the Pool
It appears that there are new rules on thinking that weren't there before. I will illustrate with a few questions. Is it possible to oppose sexism while encouraging women to consider men's weaknesses when they dress and act? Is it possible to oppose racism while pointing to the large problem of black-on-black crime? Is it possible to love people who identify as homosexual while still maintaining that the behavior is sin?

Today, the answer to all of the above is a resounding "No!!!" They tell us that men are responsible for their shortcomings (sexual harassment, rape, abuse, etc.) (and they are) and no one -- no one -- should have to give them another thought, the slightest support, the smallest concern (1 Cor 8:8-13). The simple recognition of so-called "black-on-black crime" is racist by its nature and any wish or urge to assist in such a problem is not welcome because it's racist. And, clearly, agreeing with biblical notions like "love your neighbor" and the clear presentation of homosexual activities as sin is hate, bigotry, homophobia. Well, they had better hope that's all it is, because if people are responsible for considering the weaknesses of others and if there are actual efforts that could be expended on decreasing crime perpetrated by people of color on their own people and if God was serious about excluding from His kingdom those who make a practice of homosexual acts and we exclude them all because of our cultural prejudices, it will not go well for us on Judgment Day.

No Standards At All
It's easy to track the changes in standards over time. In the late 19th century it was scandalous for women to show their ankles. In the mid-1950's into the '70's it wasn't right to show knee. I guess it could be said that it's a "higher standard," but that would only be in terms of literal altitude. Now a school district in California makes the news with its new school dress code. Alameda County requires, and I quote, "Clothing that covers genitals, buttocks, and areolae/nipples."

I think, "Did they actually have to make that a rule?" But, worse, as someone else pointed out, they now have "standards slightly below a 1970's era burlesque show." I mean, even Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie had to meet higher standards than that.

So, clearly, standards are changing. And not for the better. And here's the real problem. My wife went to Catholic school and she was telling me about her day. "We would roll those skirts up at the waist so we could make them a little shorter and roll our bobby socks down so we could show more ankle." That is, whatever the standard is of the day, it will be the line that is being pushed for that generation. Today's standard is literally such a very thin line that it's not hard to see where that will be pushed to.

There's another issue in play here. In a culture where nudity is normal -- say, the jungles of the Amazon or the like -- nudity has very little sexual weight. Like drinking wine in France because that was the drink at the table every day, it's not a big deal in those cultures. You would like to think that sex and nudity will not be a related issue in ours, but you know that's not the case. Walking the mall the other day, I saw signs at Victoria's Secret advertising their new lines. One is a perfume called "Tease," because "Remember, ladies, your constant job is to be a tease." The other is a line of bras entitled "Sexy Illusions," because it's all about "sexy," isn't it? Oh, no, with our hair-thin current dress standards and our ever-present "sex, sex, sex" mantra, this cannot end well.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018


In America the standard is "free speech." It's everywhere. Is Facebook wrong for throttling "free speech" for users or is it absolutely right for blocking what it deems "hate speech"? Should universities allow "free speech" on their campuses or should they be "safe spaces"? Should Christians be allowed to share the Gospel with whomever they want whenever they want or is it right for certain entities, government or not, to limit them? Is making a cake or flower arrangement for a "same-sex mirage" speech or not? What about, say, strippers or pornographers? Isn't that "free speech" and, therefore, protected? Lots of questions.

My aim here is not to answer any of them. My aim here is to ask a different one. And the question is not aimed at the general populace; it's aimed at Christians -- people who believe the Bible and wish to follow Christ. As for the rest of you, have a nice day. This won't be of any interest or use to you.

We, as Christians who are American, really like "free speech." It entirely circumvents the kind of thing that happened to the first century Christians who were ordered not to share the Gospel. "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). So we hang on tightly to the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion that we enjoy and chafe when they threaten it. I will point out, however, that neither is biblical. You won't find them in the Bible. We have commands to follow God (religion) and to share the Gospel (speech), but no indication that the governments in which we find ourselves must give us the right to do so. Like the Apostles, it is entirely possible that we could find ourselves obeying God against the law, biblically speaking.

Having settled the fact that the Bible does not set down our rights to free speech or religion, I need to ask a question. How dedicated are we to our current freedoms? Christians can get just as agitated as anyone else when they see their constitutional rights being violated. "Hey, that's our right!" But is that biblical? Consider Scripture on the subject. Paul wrote in a couple of places about our freedoms. "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean" (Rom 14:14). "All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up" (1 Cor 10:23). We are told that that which is not specifically forbidden or commanded in Scripture is a matter of individual conscience. That's the doctrine of Christian Liberty. And we rejoice. Probably prematurely. Because that is not the end of Paul's story. Not at all. Paul said, "Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor" (1 Cor 10:24). He said, "Take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak" (1 Cor 8:9). He instructed, "Let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother" (Rom 14:13). In one breath he spoke of our freedoms and in the next he balanced them against our obligations to others. "If your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy by what you eat the one for whom Christ died" (Rom 14:15).

There has been debate about what women wear and their responsibility for how men respond. One side says, "It's not their problem. They're free to dress and look like they want." The other side says, "Surely there is some culpability for knowingly enticing the response they don't want." And, of course, that kind of thinking is pure sexism. But that's in discussions with the world. Does Scripture say, "You should exercise your freedoms with impunity"? No. Scripture calls Christians to be willing to limit their rights and freedoms to that which is good for our neighbors. That is, the motivation is supposed to be love for others, not "what's mine." We may have the right to freedoms like free speech or wearing what you like. That's not in dispute here. But Christians are supposed to be more concerned about others than about themselves -- their personal freedoms and rights (Phil 2:3-4). When love becomes your driving motive, it changes what you do sometimes in the face of your rights and freedoms. Free speech? Sure. But just because you have the right doesn't make it right all the time. Not for Christians.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Too Late

We Christians are concerned that our children and others for whom we care know the truth, starting with the truth of Christ, of course, but beyond that as well. Look, if "you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" is true and we love people, why wouldn't we want them to know the truth?

Here's the problem. For many it's too late.

What do I mean? Well, we live in a fallen world with sin-sick minds (Rom 1:28) that need transformation (Rom 12:2). All humans start out as blinded (2 Cor 4:4) people with lying hearts (Jer 17:9). All of this can be overcome by Christ, but it doesn't generally happen if you're not aware of the problem. So, here we are, frogs sitting in a pot of water that is getting hotter slowly so we don't notice it and we think it's all perfectly normal. That is, the deck is stacked against the truth and we aren't even fully aware of the problem.

Take marriage, for instance. This whole concept has been so distorted for so long that if you present the actual, biblical view, genuine, Bible-believing Christians will take you to task for your foolishness ... at best. The Bible, for instance, does not consider arranged marriages the ultimate evil. On the other hand, Scripture is radically opposed to divorce. We don't know husbands' roles, wives' roles, parents' roles, or children's roles in all this. We are unclear on the concept of "one flesh" and think "we marry for love" and "out of love" is probably a sufficient reason to terminate it. The basic definition of "one man and one woman united for the purpose of supporting one another and raising godly offspring" is an offense to many Christians. Marriage is sacred, given and defined by God. In it He included purpose, gender roles, mutual support, mission -- it's all in there. But we believers are largely missing it. Factor in the truth that God intended marriage as a picture of the relationship of Christ to His Church, and we're completely lost. Ask yourself. If God's version of marriage is the image of Christ's relationship with the Church, how good of an image of that do our marriages portray? I think you'll agree that we're far too superficial in our view. The problem with "same-sex marriage" is not that they have a different view of marriage from us. It's that both sides are operating on the same basic view of marriage ... and it's not the biblical one. So, you want your kids to learn the truth, but, as it turns out, you're using the world's definition of marriage rather than the biblical one. How are they going to learn the truth?

Take sin, for instance. All of us Christians know what sin is, right? It's doing bad things -- things God forbids -- or failing to do good things -- things that God commands. See? We're smart enough to know about sins of omission and sins of commission. Except this doesn't even begin to cover the issue. Yes, it's what the world sees and, thus, we do, too. Sin is not the simple failure to obey. It is far, far worse. It is the subverting of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). It is the affront to the character of God. It is the open rebellion to the Creator. We don't have a Catholic school nun God who will whack our knuckles for infractions of the rules. We have the Sovereign Master of the Universe whose very nature is offended by our "I will be like the Most High." And it is from birth. "Doing bad things"? Not really close. Those "bad things" (whether omission or commission) are a product of a sinful heart and the remedy is not "do better." The remedy is either eternal death or "die with Christ."

Those are merely two examples. They are everywhere. So very much of our world has seeped into our perspectives that we don't even realize it. You will generally see it when you pick up your Bible and read and say, "Hey, wait, that's not right!" Because "'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isa 55:8-9). Because the minute we mistakenly think He's just like us in His views and values, we diminish Him. And if we're not aware of the distance between our world's thinking (and, consequently, often our own) and His, it is already too late to teach our kids and loved ones the truth.