Hurricanes, Preparedness, and the Faithful Servant

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Hurricanes, Preparedness and The Faithful Servant

Today is Tuesday, September the fifth, and I have known of the impending Hurricane Irma since Sunday. I am a resident of Tampa Bay, Florida, so I’ve been watching the weather updates pretty closely. It will be another 3-4 days before we know the most likely path of the storm, and at least 5-6 days before it makes US landfall. By last night the Walmart was out of bottled water, and there were lines at the gas stations. As I walked through the buzzing aisles, I saw an earnestness in people’s eyes. I sensed, not quite desperation, but certainly fearfulness. Many are trying to leave Florida, wanting to escape the brunt of the wind and storm surge sure to accompany a direct hit. We checked flights out of Tampa this morning, and they are filling up fast. The cheap seats are already gone.

It has been 12 years since a major storm disrupted our idyllic, tropical way of life. But, as I write, the meteorological prognosticators are weaving their predictive models. They all seem to agree that Florida is prime target for Irma. But, where will it hit? Will it be Miami? The East Coast? Or, the Gulf perhaps… We cannot yet know, not for certain. The prudent thing to do is expect the worst- buy bottled water, gas up the vehicles, and dust off the generator if you have one. The Governor has already declared a state of emergency, but evacuations have not yet been ordered.

I believe in preparedness. Throughout the Proverbs, and, indeed the full testimony of scripture, the man who stores up for rainy days is commended. “A wise man thinks ahead; but a fool doesn’t, and even brags about it.” says Proverbs 13:16. It pays to have a plan, and something set aside for just in case. On the other hand, fools won’t do what’s right, even when it would make their lives easier. Case in point, I have seen an abundance of internet memes flouting the storm, hurricane playlists to listen to while the storm rages, and making fun of the people who are hurriedly running from store to store for the needed supplies. It’s mostly younger people who post this nonsense; many of whom are too green to know what real loss is. It sickens me, especially in light of what we are seeing in Houston.

Since, I believe in preparedness, rather than waiting for the last minute, I am calling for believers across this land to pray for Florida, and the entire Caribbean. Why wait? Preparedness is about acting in advance of an emergency, in order to situate oneself to best weather it. In this case, the pun is intended. Christians, please pray for us. Ask God for His mercy, to spare lives, and to provide Christian volunteers who will help us rebuild. Jesus said, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest fields.” I can tell you that after the storm there will be plenty of need for laborers in Florida. Please don’t put off praying for us.

I think there is a spiritual lesson in this. Jesus told a story about five foolish maidens and five wise maidens. The foolish maidens trimmed their lamps, but did not have the forethought to keep any extra lamp fuel on hand, should the need arise. But, the wise maidens had trimmed lamps, and enough oil to light the lamps much longer than they supposed they would need. Unfortunately, they did not have enough to share with the foolish maidens who ran out long before the party started. The wise maidens got to enjoy a nice party, but the foolish maidens were locked out in the dark. It happens that way sometimes.

Today, on the way home from picking up my daughter from school, I reminded her of the parable of the faithful servant. When the boss leaves the office, he expects business to go on as usual. He wants his employees to remain working as if he is there, standing over them, supervising their conduct. If he was to suddenly breeze back into the office, a few hours before quitting time, only to find his employees lollygagging it would not go well. If, on the other hand, the employees were diligent to their task, knowing that the boss was an austere man, it would be well for them. They would be rewarded for trying to please the boss. They would not be caught unawares.

Both of these stories come down to basic wisdom principles, and the basic desire of every christian- to please the Lord. It is wise to prepare in advance for situations that are out of our control. It is the faithful servant who anticipates the return of his master, and longs to be found doing what his master has commanded. When the Hurricane comes many will be without the basic necessities. Some will have enough for themselves. Far fewer will be have stockpiled enough to share with even their closest friends and neighbors.

I know that there will be Christian communities across the state of Florida who will mobilize and minister once the flood waters recede into the Atlantic. They will do much with little. They will love greatly their neighbors and labor earnestly on his behalf. God’s church will answer the call, and He will be given Glory. The ministry will border on the miraculous. But, it need not wait to begin. It can start right now. It can start with you, dear reader. So, I say again, please pray for Florida.

 

Capitalism and the Cross

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 The President’s doings are being broadly criticized, especially by lefties, much of whose commentary is dominating the 24 hr news channels. I am also seeing many Facebook posts, tweets, and appearances on late shows (such as Fallon and Colbert). The President’s perceived shortcomings seems to be all anyone can talk about, which is a shame when you recall that ISIS is still conquering, Syrians are still massacring each other, Planned Parenthood kills new victims daily, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement is still a thing. President Trump is not a partisan ideological conservative, but he is an experienced business man. Also, he has one of the most finely tuned BS detectors on the planet, especially when incomes from his detractors.  

Bernie Sanders

Compare him to aging and continually curmudgeonly Bernie Sanders and it’s like night and day.  His Emerging into the national spotlight, I argue, is one of the most surprising and least likely circumstances of the last election.  By now we are all familiar with the 72 year old, self labeled “democratic” socialist of whom comedian Andy Samberg remarked, ” Is it just me or does Bernie Sanders always seem like his flight is delayed? Guy’s a mess!”
I have read a few notes on Facebook about how Jesus would be for Obamacare, welfare, open borders, marriage equality and the like. According to some, Jesus would vote for Bernie Sanders. They argue that Socialism is the only economic system which comports with a christian worldview. If that is true, then I am monster of the highest order, because I busy mys of with building profitable businesse, and giving as little back to the government in the form of taxes as I can legally get away with. If Jesus is a Socialist, then I have been blinded to His true gospel for more than 15 years. That would be doubly embarrassing since I earned a degree in pastoral studies. In fact, I may have to doubt my very salvation.
Socialism 

Now, some of you may roll your eyes, imagining that I am exaggerating. “Oh, Dan,” you may think, “aren’t you being just a little too melodramatic.” And my response is, not at all. I take God’s word (that’s the Bible for those of you keeping score) seriously. And God’s Word (*nods to the score keepers, that’s Jesus) commanded His sheep to give to the poor, feed the hungry, care for the sick… that kind of thing. Maybe the best way to accomplish all of that is a system of economics, under-girded by government policies, which guarantees income equality, free access to doctors and medicine, and a “middle class” lifestyle for all. Call it Socialism or income redistribution, for those followers of Jesus who believe that way, its simply called the Gospel.
My faith, it seems, is perilously perched upon a razor’s edge, which would result in my shame and dismay, were it not for one comforting fact. That fact is the millions of conservative evangelicals who think and vote like me. And, herein lies the rub. Why do committed followers of Jesus, mostly self identifying as Evangelicals, vote along Moral Majority lines? (Ie Republicans). 

Did those mean, nasty, heartless conservatives co-opt America’s right leaning Christians, to consolidate political power and exploit the well meaning faith of those foolish enough to be snookered? Did they pull the greatest bait-and-switch, since the garden of Eden? Did they distract us with anti- entitlements blather and American exceptionalist bluster, thereby subverting the essence of the Gospel? Some say that is exactly what happned. They say the church started loving power, position, and comfort more than the true gospel, and the Republican party was all to happy to fill our itching ears with political promises. Maybe.
I would be getting nervous were it not for another fact, which makes me more comfortable with my political leanings and economic philosophies (and I am hesitant to say this as it is not terribly charitable, but it is true all the same) is the lifestyles and moral choices of the American Left. How can liberals, many of them godless atheists, dare to use our religious language to attempt to guilt the Right into doing it their way.  Because they think it will work. Seems pretty shameless to me. How can people who claim to be so committed to the good of the poor be so lazy, shiftless, distracted and unemployed? Because nobody they respect holds their entitled little feet to the hypocrite’s fire. How can those who claim, like Jesus, to be for the welfare of little children, also be for abortion? Why is it that those liberal Americans who claim to be against global poverty have never been on a mission trip? How can those who clamor for free healthcare also spend billions on recreational psycho-active drugs? Obviously I am painting with a pretty broad brush, for which I apologize. And, those descriptions will not all apply to all liberals. But, I am stuck with the palette I’ve been given, and these colors were not chosen by me. I’m working with the swatches they’ve given me. My brush strokes simply what I’ve observed among my peers.
Jesus

Now, to my liberal friends and readers, if I have not disqualified myself, I will attempt to lay out a 6 point treatise on the cross section of Christian morality and anti-socialism. In a later article, I will analyze selected quotes from Bernie Sanders, scrutinizing them, in context, through the lens of biblical morality. To you my dear liberal Christians, I will hold out the charity of Jesus, as I lay out my arguments, and I ask that you judge them based on the criteria of the scriptures. Please apply your own reason, open mindedness, and judge them on their merits. These are just principals, and they should not be construed so as to apply to all cases at all times. 

The real problem is, the Christian faith has so many facets that it is easy to focus on this or that issue, while neglecting others. Holding some up as more important than others is just what I would like to avoid.  Still, the ones I have chosen to touch on here are pertinent to this conversation.  So, we have to take them as they come to us, not as we wish them to be.

 I believe in open dialogue.  In the words of failed democratic candidate for president, Bernie Sanders, “I believe from the bottom of my heart that it is vitally important for those of us who hold different views to be able to engage in a civil discourse.” If, I am wrong, or misguided, I invite your thoughtful, winsome responses, so that I may be guided to the the truth. If you find my points persuasive and biblical, I invite you to abandon your former error and embrace Truth. I am not above being corrected when I have gone wrong, nor should anyone else be.
Principle #1.

 Don’t go in to debt or borrow. It is well known that the Law, Prophets, and Jesus exhorted believers to take special care of the vulnerable. What may be less known, and is certainly under taught in our churches, is that the Bible makes it clear that debt and credit are not to be among God’s people. If debt and lending practices were the only rubric by which to measure Christian morality, then our nation could not in anyway be associated with Christ. We are the worst. What’s even more troubling is that our pulpit preachers are virtually silent on the issue. That being said, over and over the scriptures counsel us to stay out of debt. “Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Now, since the Bible adjures us to stay out of debt, should we, as a nation, really be borrowing such heavy amounts? According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities we have to raise $229 Billion just to pay our interest on our debt. We owe 13 trillion dollars. See the breakdown of how that money is sent here. Does this seem like a wise course? Does this seem like a way to please God? Can we borrow from godless communists to pay welfare, food stamps, medicaid, etc, and simultaneously hold our heads up to God expecting his favor? Methinks not.
Principle #2. 

Welfare is not “rendering unto Caesar” Some socialist would remind us that Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, and render unto God that which belongs to God.” They think this means that the Federal government can demand from us any amount of taxes it pleases, and Christians should just lump it. However, a closer inspection of this passage, in its historical, political and social context might just change your mind. Jesus utters this famous phrase, in the midst of conflict with Pharisees who are trying to get him in trouble with Rome. They tried to trap him into saying something which would result in Him either losing face with the Jewish people or committing treason against the Empire. Jesus saying render unto Caesar is certainly a directive to paying your taxes, but it does not necessarily follow that Caesar can shake you down to his heart’s content. Remember that even Caesar is under the authority of God. In God’s economy, as established by Moses on Mt. Zion, there weren’t any taxes at all. So which is it? Pay all your money to Caesar, because his face is on it? Or, pay no taxes at all, because Deuteronomy makes no mention of them? Well, the latter certainly applies to the 47% of Americans who pay no taxes whatsoever. But, what about the rest of us? I think we can definitively put to bed that this scripture should be used to extort as much tax revenue as the Federal Govt decides. At a certain point, and I’m not sure where that is, the percentage will be so high that taxation becomes naked theft. And, I seem to recall somewhere that it says, “Thou shalt not steal”
Principle #3.

Scripture does not endorse funding laziness Some people legitimately need some help. There are those who are temporarily down on their luck, and I am glad we have a safety net. But, it is far too common that people get on the public doles for life. There are countless stories of people who have never worked, and yet they continue to eat, live, and watch cable. This is bad for the soul. Work is a gift from God which He expects us to avail ourselves of. Idleness makes room for sin. Go get a job. It’ll keep your nose clean and you’ll have something to contribute to your family. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”


Principle #4. 

A free ride undermines the “Poor in spirit” Jesus famously proclaimed that, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Spiritual poverty is a state which any human can enter into, regardless of what they have in the bank. It means to be awakened to the reality that spiritually speaking we have nothing to offer God. We must approach God with empty hands, unable to lay anything of value at His feet, because we do not possess anything in our natural man He would find acceptable. But, how does this intersect with our discussion? You may have heard of an “entitlement” mindset some people receiving Gov’t benefits often display. Having an entitlement mentality, which says, “I deserve this or that, so make sure I get it”, has no place among those who would be counted as the “poor in spirit”. How many of those receiving a free ride, in the form of U.S. Treasury check or SNAP card, from a nameless faceless bureaucrat, humbling turn their gaze heavenward in thankful repose to Almighty God? Or, is it much more likely that they begrudgingly cash the thing, wishing it were for a larger amount, while cursing their “damned bad luck”? It is difficult to be poor in spirit, when democrats and socialists are constantly ginning up your natural proclivity to class envy. God prefers that you “work with your hands, that which is good, so that you may have something to give to him who is needy.” Needy exclusively referred to an aged widow with no family to help her, a true orphan too young to work, and the severely crippled living off the largess of his neighbors.” Needy is not an able bodied, unemployed person.
Principle #5. 

Income Redistribution robs the “giver” of his ability to love the poor In a normal charity situation, the giver reaches into his pocket out of the goodness of his heart, in compassionate response to a known need. It is un-coerced, often spontaneous, generosity. In many cases the giver can look, with the loving regard, into the recipients eyes. In return, the recipient, unashamed and full of gratitude knows that the giver loves him. This is what Jesus experienced, and recommended, every time He did a loving act among the poor and vulnerable. It was personal, and that made it powerful. When the gov’t takes your money, and hands it to whosoever they see fit, that is not charity. It is not personal. It is not done from a generous or loving or compassionate heart, and therefore cannot be what Jesus had in mind. Taking from me, in the form of taxes, to give to someone I do not choose, care for, or even know is robbing me of the chance to do real charity from a real heart of love and compassion. It robs me of the chance to choose the person or need, and, independent from any say on my part, arbitrarily chooses what amount I must proffer. I am left with less of my own money to give to my church, charity of choice, or unexpected need one of my neighbors may stumble upon. The Good Samaritan, perhaps the seminal example of goodwill toward men, did his act in person, upon seeing a wounded person in need of care, out of regard for God and compassion on His creation. This is truly charity. Income redistribution has merely co-opted the language of charity, to try to shame Christians into going along with it quietly.
Principle 6.

Capitalism and the American Republic are not perfect, but they take sin seriously. The framers of the constitution were very aware of man’s proclivity to sin. They installed safeguards in the Federal system, and created 3 co-equal branches to share power and enforce checks and balances. They divided the congress into two houses, so the legislature had to make very certain it was in the interest of the states and the people being governed before a law could be enacted. By today’s standards we would say that the Founders were fanatics, paranoids, and kooks, for being so careful to keep one person (or branch, or state) from accruing too much power. But, they had had their fill of Tyrants, and would not be responsible for creating a system that produced any. Sin, they knew, would lead men to try and get and hoard as much as they could. It is in our nature. It is how animals survive. Capitalism is the perfect check against greed. Some of you are now quite certain that I have indeed lost my mind. But, allow me to explain. Capitalism says let the market decide how much a thing is worth. Here’s an example. If a gallon of gas it too expensive at one place then I will go someplace else. If it is too expensive, for me, at all place, then I will get a bike instead. If I can’t afford a bike, then I’ll take the bus. If the bus is too far, then I will move to a place within walking distance to my job. If I cannot get a job, then I will leave my community in search of a place with more options. In every case, the market and my personal situation dictated what I would do next. In the animal kingdom we call it “the environment” or “the ecosystem” and we think it is perfectly normal for them. If gazelles get scarce, the lion moves to where they are abundant. Simple. Capitalism does not reward laziness, neither does God. Scarcity encourages humans to work to get what they need. Even if that work is going out into the woods and foraging for nuts, berries and other wild edibles, biblically speaking, that is much more commendable than sitting around waiting for a handout. The New American Standard Bible puts it this way, “Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? Verse 10 is a specialized proverb within a proverb
Capitalism 

“A little sleep, a little slumber,

A little folding of the hands to rest”—
Your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man.”
Capitalism is not perfect, but it is superior to Socialism and I get to keep more freedoms. It is ideal for our society. Having given the former argument, and all of the shortcomings of the system, I conclude that I am not so much for capitalism as I am against anything else. Everyone may not benefit equally from the system, and that i just what we should expect if we believe in a sovereign God. He is not fair, and life is not fair. But, He does love you, and He will always do what it right. Embracing that truth will set you free from disappointment, envy, and a heart weighed down with the burden of covetousness. I want to end with a scripture that applies equally to Conservative and Liberals, the Right and the Left, the very Poor and the 1 percent. From the Holman Christian Standard Bible, “Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

It is not Christian to Discriminate Against Billionaires

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For a christian to sit in judgement of another, because he is rich or poor, is intolerable. Disliking someone because they have more or less than you is plainly wrong. For us christian’s, a person’s net worth shouldn’t effect how we see them. Why do we romanticize the poor? Even Christians do this. Its like, we automatically assume that the less fortunate are more righteous. This is nothing new. In the New Testament there is much said about the rich and poor.

James 2:8 says, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”a] you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it…12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

See, stop hating on the wealthy. It says right here, “if you show favoritism, you sin”. So, lets give those poor, misunderstood billionaires a fair shake. Stop sinning!

“That’s not what this verse is saying…”

Traditionally this scripture has been read as a warning against showing preferential treatment toward the rich. And, for good reason. James strictly forbids that just a few sentences before we come to this passage. In that culture, one of patron-patient, it would have been very tempting to show favoritism toward a rich person. After all, finding favor in the eyes of a rich person could really give you a leg up in the world. Indeed, not much has changed.  Our culture also glorifies wealth, but there is also an ugly aversion to it.

Some assume, prima facie, that all rich people alike are swindlers, gaining wealth at the expense of others. This is called discrimination. To be sure, there are immoral wealthy persons. To be sure, some have amassed fortunes at the expense of others. But today, with our interconnected world, the consumers have a much louder voice and disenfranchised workers have the ability to sue (in many cases). That’s to say nothing of unemployment benefits, and the social safety nets. A single negative tweet, Facebook post or google review can have far sweeping consequences for a business.  If a rich man is a cheat, you’ll likely hear someone crowing about it online.

There is no reason to assume God is not with a wealthy person

Now the tide has turned, in many ways. There is a demographic set, in our culture, that will sneer at you; if you have the trappings of wealth. They will automatically and without thought assume you are immoral; judging you by your car, home, clothes, purse and wrist watch. We all do it. That’s part of our social nature. But, making value judgments about a person’s character based off of outward appearances is supposed to be a no go for christians.

Do you think I take this to far?  Ask yourself, have I ever, even once, assumed a person was a good person because I saw them drive up in a Ferrari? Did I jump to the conclusion that he/she must be excessively charitable based off of seeing their Vacheron Constantin or Fendi Peekaboo Mini Studded Satchel Bag. (Yes, its a thing.) Probably not. Point taken, I hope.

Today we have politicians, like Bernie Sanders, and social engineers, like the Democrat Party, coaching us to deride the wealthy. Obama loved to say, “they aren’t paying their fair share.” Say what you want about Crooked Hilary, but she was not against wealth. (At least not in her own case).  In our culture there is an implicit sentiment that if you aren’t playing fair, you are bad. His slogan amounts to saying the wealthy are bad. He just says it slyly.  When Bernie speaks of billionaires his gruff voice takes on tone of sneering rejection. And, that’s just the subtext stuff.

The wealthy are unfairly categorized as immoral. It is this kind of castigation that is unseemly in a Republic, and down right sinful for a Christian. The fact is many millionaires and billionaires go to great lengths to give away their wealth. There are tax incentives, to be sure. (Look into the Rockefellers, to see a family who knows how to give away its fortune to avoid taxes. That said, John D Rockefeller reportedly loved the lord. He was quoted as saying “God gave me money”, and he did not apologize for it. He followed John Wesley’s principle of “gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”)

HTC Corporation’s Cher Wang is the richest person in Taiwan. She is a devout christian. The founder of Mary Kay products said, “God first, family second, career third.” She tells women in her company they have to keep balance, never losing sight of what really happens. These people know how good it feels to cash a big check. But, I can tell you from own (proportionately smaller) experience how good it feels to stroke a (proportionately) big check to your church or charity of choice. Look at all the billionaires who have given away huge sums, and even promising up to half their net worth upon their demise. These fact speak for themselves.

The more value one creates, or problems one solves, the more wealth one should expect to accumulate. It is so much fun to earn money, then give it away. It is so much fun to spend. It is so much fun to occupy one’s life creating value, providing a service or product, and meeting people’s material needs. It is so much fun to fund charities, participate in community organizations, and use those leadership skills gained from a lifetime of being in business. Who do you think builds those giant churches we all love to visit? It ain’t the poor.

Trump, Climate Change, and Settled Science

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Trump

There’s a lot in the news right now about President Trump withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Accords.  These Accords strip American’s of the sovereign right to self government, and further entrench our nation in one world government scenario, because our lawmakers would need to answer to a global council’s climate dictates.  (Under the accords, the tiny country of New Zealand was handed a bill for 1.4 Billion dollars because of its emissions. They only have 2 million workers in their entire country. Just imagine what bill would be owed by a country the size of the United States.) Of course, climate alarmism is designed to take a free people’s rights away. It is not about saving the planet. It is about power.

One story reporting on Trump’s withdrawal, has it that he incensed German Chancellor Angela Merkel by rebuffing her requests to endorse the Paris Accord. This is just the latest in a series of liberal attempts to make hay of President Trump’s commitment to keeping his campaign promises.  It seems the one thing our elected overlords cannot stand is a President who drains the swamp.

Many in government will tell you that these accords are largely symbolic, and won’t have that much effect, but are intended to help the US more fully sync with the world powers. Assuming that’s true, here are my questions.

  • If its true that this is largely symbolic, then why expect the president to sign it. Shouldn’t “One-Worlders” disregard the Paris Accords, preferring a treaty that pushes US into a more binding agreement?
  • If it really won’t have that much effect, then why go to the trouble of implementing the specifics the accords outline?  Shouldn’t environmentalists hold out for a more forceful agreement?

Climate Change

10,000 years ago the planet was emerging from an Ice Age.  Earth got warmer, greener, and became abundantly fruitful for many species of plants and animals.  Do you know who should be very thankful for global warming? Humans. That’s who.  We are a hearty species, but we do not flourish in Ice Age conditions.  We get sick when its cold. We need to consume more calories to keep our internal temperature steady, making competition even for the scant resources available all the fiercer.  We have to consume foods richer in Iron, Vitamin A and Vitamin D, since we’d receive less direct sunlight.

Global Warming has been great for humans.  Did you know that the earth is going through a period of significant greening, due to the increase in CO2 in our atmosphere.  “NASA.gov reports that for the last 35 years our planet has gotten greener.  Results showed that carbon dioxide fertilization explains 70 percent of the greening effect, said co-author of the study Ranga Myneni, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University. ‘The second most important driver is nitrogen, at 9 percent. So we see what an outsized role CO2 plays in this process’.”

It might be a tough pill to swallow, but more CO2 is good for plants. And, warmer climates are good for animals.  Climate alarmists are dismayed at the so called “weather weirding”, a term they have been forced to adopt since there has been no measurable increase in global temperatures for 19 years. (Ever notice how every bad weather pattern gets blamed on “climate change”, but none of them ever take the time to explain why.) But, a reasoned, logical approach exposes this for so much tree hugger paranoia. Common sense proponents take it at face value that the change in climate is a boon, not a bust.

We do not know the full implications of mankind’s influence on the climate, anymore than we can know the full implications of any of our personal decisions.  It is asinine to think otherwise. The Climate is changing, did change, and will continue to change, so long as there is a climate. Our weather isn’t weird, its just new.  When natural phenomena fail to behave as they usually do, there is no way to tell why.  We’ve only been trying to seriously measure meteorological phenomena for a century, but there are weather patterns which take hundreds of years to cycle.  How do we know that what’s happening in our weather isn’t perfectly normal for where we are in one of those cycles?

Settled Science

Dr. Michael Guillen has a “3-D” PhD, which means he had to satisfy the educational requirements in 3 separate fields to earn his doctorate.  His view on “settled science” runs counter to all of those who say that certain scientific golden cows are not to be trifled with.  He states that there is no such thing as settled science. Paraphrasing Einstein he reminded his listeners that, hundreds of experiments do not prove me right, but it only takes one experiment to prove me wrong.

The idea that our current understanding of the sciences is so concrete, impassive and complete that we should no longer question the prevailing wisdom is not only arrogant, it flaunts the scientific spirit.  The scientific method was developed to help us test our hypothesis, not to quash the interlocutor’s spirit of discovery.  We are not gods. We are not all knowing. We do not possess perfect knowledge, even regarding natural phenomena which we have tested and studied for generations. There is always an unseen, unknown element which effects the outcomes of even the most finely tuned experiment.  Tomorrow an experiment could be performed that would put the prevailing scientific theories out on their ears.

Conclusion

God is in control. He steers the heart of the kind wherever He wills. God’s creation is vast and it is somewhat in our hands to guard and guide. That’s part of the divine will.  But, God has never placed it in our hands to unwind immutable structures within the Creation. Our planet, God’s finest world (that we know of) is ours to govern, safe guard, and explore. There will always be those who wish to politicize truth, in the service of a human agenda, government program, or organization’s preferred interpretation.

As Christians we focus everything through the lens of the Bible, not of our interpretation of the Bible. When scripture and nature agree, we know our interpretations are valid. When they don’t, it is because of human error. My exhortation to you is to get involved in the sciences, politics, culture, PTAs, homeless shelters, start a business, and write literature. These different realms of human excellence need the influence and leadership of Christians living godly in Christ Jesus, devoted to God’s truth.

Drowning in Sea Change

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There is nothing new

History is a fickle mistress.  They say that time and tide waits for no man, but I say the tides were meant to be ridden.  Some people do seem uncannily adept at riding the waves of whatever happens the be hip and current at the time articulate moment. Then again some men having briefly crested the rising surf are sucked back under by the same surge that had lifted them. “That’s life,” goes the expression. Nobody ever said that it would be fair. Sink or swim, you cannot blame the water.

Every man’s life is similar in this regard it begins and it ends, and in between he experiences just what the world had always offered- laughter and love, work and toil, excitements and disappointments, friendships and enmity. As different as each man is from another, the two lives do swim through familiar currents. Life has its cycles, just like the tides which ebb and flow. 

It isn’t all chaos and caprice. We sometimes take for granted the repetitive nature of our lives, preferring to focus on the forward March of time. If we really look, though, we will notice that last week looks like this week and the seasons pass in their stride and return again. Life turns on itself and circles back around. The year’s count increases, but the years themselves seem to stack on top of each other without much noticeable differentiation.

It’s about time…

We believe in linear time, the fact that we are moving in a certain fixed direction. Some call that direction forward. Some call it progress. I just call it tomorrow.  It can’t be denied. But neither can the fact that as time moves toward tomorrow linearly, it also moves in a forward cycle.  

The ancients believed in cyclical time.  They observed the fixed structure of nature, seasons, sun, moon, and stars in eternal course racing. From this they inferred that time was a giant circle. We moderns laugh at this ideas, mostly because we choose to count years. 

The best way we have to measure time’s forward march is the lifespan.  Human’s get about 80 years on this planet; some get more and some get less.  These 80 years are broken up into four 20 year “generations”. That means about every 20 years there is a new generation, and an average human can expect to live through 4 of them.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  What if we moderns should amend our view of linear time? What if it isn’t a circle, or a straight line, but more like a corkscrew? Life seems to move forward, but does repeat familiar patterns of yesteryear.  Now, what if I told you every 80 years this generational pattern repeats itself, like the four seasons… winter becoming spring. As the eldest generation in the 4 part cycle dies off, it has more in common with the newest. As spring supplants winter, but still must endure cold nights and late April frosts, so to the “spring generation” must have intersecting commonality with the “winter” one which just passed.

Why does any of this have to do with me?

Sociology actually shows this to be a credible theory.  The book is called “The Fourth Turning”. According to the authors we are about halfway through the Fourth Turning. Fourth Turnings are characterized by movements, upheavals, political chaos, cutting edge advances, and faster than light social changes. They can lead to the start of great things or the utter collapse of existing structures. Either way they introduce new beginnings. Or, put directly, the new beginning of the same cycle, starting all over again.

For some mental reference as to the anxiety and population segmentation this might cause, imagine what it was like to live in the “roaring twenties”, as a member of the generation that had also lived through the turn of the century and World War I. It looked like a totally different world. Then imagine the imminent collapse of the stock market, and all the decadence, excesses and market frivolity dried up and blew away like so much chaff.  

Change is coming, and you had better be ready. It can come as a friend, or it can swim up and bite you. If you are ready with a hook or a net, you just won a fish dinner. If you don’t see him coming, he may just make a meal of you. 

The church has been facing special challenges these last 50 years. There have been revivals, but a great typhoon of atheism (and biblically illiterats pseudo-Christianity) has washed across the West. The world is a different place, and our place in it is jeapardized because we’ve failed to adapt.  It’s called a storm surge, when a hurricane pushes the seas miles past there normal bounds. In our culture we called it the sexual revolution, the hippie and yuppie movements, and Barack Obama.  

His elections happened toward the beginning of the Fourth Turning, representing the chaos and extreme social change portion of those cycle. Then came Trump, (whom many dubbed a “chaos candidate”) representing social mores once abandoned, and a return to law and order. Obama created Trump, but the cycles of Turnings wielded its influence over the moods of society which called both to prominence.

Characteristics of the Fourth Turning

  1. It is winter.  Nature is dark, pitiless, and austere. Only the strongest of the social stepping stones will remain, the others dying off together.  What it doesn’t kill off altogether it deals a crushing blow.
  2. Social order is failing, but demand for stability is rising. The old and passing standbys are found wanting and people turn to (what they think are) new (but are in fact really old) community safety and policing standards.
  3. It is a season of crisis, which leads to an unraveling of the fiercer kinds of personal independence, as people rediscover the values of cooperation, teamwork, and compliance with authentic authorities   In the first half of the Turning the old guard abandons and eschews its responsibility to protect the public, so the community clambers for strong leadership.
  4. It is a pivot point, where on societies turn to the next revolutionary order. There is great hope and great chaos. It will be the rise and fall of many economic, social, political, and national institutions.
  5. There will be winners and losers, victors and fallen.  As the prevailing order folds in on itself and eventually collapses, some will bet heavily on their forecasted future order. Some of those bets will pay off big, some will not, but those who bet on the prevailing order will lose miserably.

My place in time

In general I am optimistic about this Turning. I hate winter, and I’ve written before about how I feel my country slipping away. In my more somber moods I’ve wondered if betting on America is wise anylober, for maybe she is destined to slip quietly into the mists of time, unmourned and forgotten.  But this sense of regeneration that accompanies Fourth Turnings has me hopeful.

I want to know my place in time that I might better crest the swells it brings. A skillful sailor navigates squalls and doldrums, and I want to acquire the skill of living life well, whatever the time or tides may bring.  Knowing my place in time helps me understand my self, my community, prevailing sentiments, and even those who disagree with me.  Also, it grounds me in the great swirling ocean of time, reminding me that, just as some came before me, surely others will come after me. I am not a period at the end of the sentence, but rather a comma signaling what is to come.

There is a power and a responsibility that comes with knowing what others don’t. Men of vision are endowed with awareness and culpability.  In The Fourth Turning new leaders will emerge, and they will need advisors, and so on. An entirely different kind of society emerges, coffin like, from the decadent and decaying past. Those who can see it coming, prepare for its arrival, and capitalize on it’s eventual acceptance will be called futurists and impresarios.  Personally, I like the sound of that.

Sprinkle Chef, Liberals and Magical Thinking

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All liberals are science deniers. They practice magical thinking. They occupy a world ungoverned by God or natural laws, but rather human desires, compulsions, and psychosis. By sprinkling in some humanism and lots of carnal desire, they overcome the need for evidence and Truth. Human feelings are the end all be all. And not logic or even scientific scrutiny can convince them to the contrary. When a human ferociously and rabidly holds to an extremely far fetched belief, in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, it is insanity. That is a psychosis. It is magical thinking. 

Example 1. They deny what the biology, the DNA, the chromosomes, the genes, the hormones, the muscle composition, and the physical sexual accoutrements are clearly telling them. They are science deniers, pure and easy. It’s easy for them, because they have been conditioned to think magically about the world. They think that just because a biological male feels like a female, then he is a female. His feelings trump reality. Sprinkle some human emotion, and mix in a mental illness or two. Just like that he is a she! It’s magic. Presto-chango!

Example 2. In the old days it was widely held that hay bails generated rats and that rancid meat generated maggots. When a farmer stuck his pitchfork into the hay and rats came out, he just assumed rats came from hay. When they saw meat rotting, then days later maggots showed up, it was assumed maggots came from hay. My 8th grade public school science teacher gave us this little story, and then reminded us that life does not come from non-life. 

But, liberals do believe that life comes from non-life, they call it Darwinian evolution. Non organic molecules magically came together and life appeared. This line of thinking also leads them to atheism, because no being outside of Space, Time, Energy, and Information could possible be responsible for the existence of space,time, energy, and information. Sprinkle a little “time” and “in directed blind chance”. They just appear! It’s almost as if some magic was at work. Presto-chango!

Example 3. Some liberals are honest enough with themselves to admit they do believe in magic. They are stargazers, spiritists, wiccans, luciferians, and the like. They practice the dark arts, call on gods and demons, and ascribe to pantheistic, animistic “universe-as-god” religious motifs. Not only do they belice life comes from non life, like the Darwinists, but that non-life is actually alive in some sense. They hold that the creation is full of energy,  which can be tapped into and drawn upon. Some of them practice “main line” religions like Buddhism, Hinduism and Baha’i .  Even so called Christian denominations like Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians dabble with these magical constructs.  

These examples come from Satan, the true foe and master of lies. He is the original liberal, and not in the classical sense, but in the very real and active spirit of chaos, rebellion and haughtiness. His lies have permeated the world religions, secular and humanistic philosophies, and now the mainline denominations.  He sprinkles a little falsehood hear and there. And just like that Presto-chango a once vibrant church abandons God’s truth, and starts to die off and become just another liberal cabal. 

It’s just like magic…

God or Democrats?

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*Since we agree that taking people’s property without their consent is theft, and we know that many taxpayers feel they are being plundered, contrary to their wishes, to do determine whether or not excessive taxation, is in fact theft, we must answer the question, “what constitutes consent?”

*There are many definitions of consent under the law

*Our rights to personal property are universally recognized as sacrosanct. So, why do we allow ourselves to be stolen from? The Powerful abuse and exploit the weak. This is especially true of liberals, socialists, and others who generally go by the name of democrat.

*How much is too much taxation?

*When 47% don’t even pay any taxes at all, how can they be said to have skin in the game?

*Dems are greedy pigs, because all they think about is other people’s money

*let’s say a billionaore evicts a little old lady from her home in order to build luxury high rise apartments for the very rich, he is looked at as a cruel money hungry heartless thug. If a liberal takes away her house via imminent domain and then proceeds to build a Project, they expect to be thought of as glorious humanitarians. And yet, the result is the same. In either case, I’m sure the construction worker who builds the building, and probably couldnt care less which type it is, is greatful to have the work!

*Capitalism focuses on competing to offer the best service or product, whereas Socialism focuses on taking away from those who out perform.

*Capitalism serves the society out of a desire to excel and create wealth, whereas socialists sponge off of the most successful, which only hampers their ability to employ the poor. Socialism hampers the upward mobility of those on the bottom tiers, while hobbling the very economy drivers which have, miraculously ascended the success ladder.

God did not command that we give our money to the poor. Dems do. So, they must be more compassionate than God. They must know better than He does. He should probably get on board with their plans, because they are so much better at governing.

Americanized Christianity and “Personal Holiness”

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Every preacher I have ever know has taught personal holiness.  It means that individuals must do what is right in the eyes of God, in order to please.  Only if you are personally holy, will you live a godly life.  Okay, so far, so good.

Here’s where it gets murky.  We have superimposed the American ethic of rugged individualism onto the concept of personal holiness.  We get confused when a moral situation compels us to get our hands dirty.  We, like the Pharisees of old, can not find the line of being in the world but not of it.  And, it revolves around ego centrism.  We reason: how can it be right, if my conscience is hurt?  So, we assume that if it isn’t right for us, then it must not be a right action.

Has the concept of personal holiness poisoned the american christian’s conscience?  No, but it has become co-opted by the American ethic of individualism.  It’s clear to me that if we can not work together with people of dubious morals, to affect a righteous outcome, then it would seem so.  This inability to do so is putting the self first, and that is not christian.  Individualism is not a christian idea, but rather an american one.  One with clean hands may have to work side beside with another whose hands are dirty.

Take the  example of William Wilberforce.  He had to enlist people he knew to be vile and odious members of the British parliament, in order to get slavery abolished in the UK.  He did not put his own reputation up as the standard of right and wrong.  He risked his good name for a good cause.  He knew his true allegiance lied with saving Africans from slavery, even at the cost of working with unsavory characters.

So, how can we know what’s right, if we can’t even trust our own conscience?  We Christians should decry Trump’s misogynist comments, but work with him to make america great again!  I am often shocked at Trump, but very rarely have I been offended at him.

We have to admit that he isn’t a perfect guy.  We have to pray that God gets a hold of his heart.  We have to hope that he presides over this nation for four years of peace and prosperity.  

Christians should also be the first in line to gently guide President Trump back, if ever he errs.  We must be prepared to call him to repentance and sanity.  He ran on making America great again, but sometimes his tweets are a bit base.  That being said, when he puts America first there is none better than Trump at connecting with normal Americans.

My bottom line is that we cannot be so concerned with our own reputation that we do not risk it in the service of others.  Remember how Jesus ate with the sinners and tax collectors.

Gender, Sex, and Science

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Recent research by the CDC and Johns Hopkins conclude that there is no scientific reason to assume pro-transgender talking points or that gays are “born that way”. The gay agenda does not want this science getting out. The reasons should be crystal clear. Namely, all of their talking points are based on emotions, all the arguments against are based in science. Regardless, the agenda must press on.
Here’s the link to the research that proves, among other things: 

“The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings — the idea that people are ‘born that way’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.”

“Sexual orientation” in adolescents is “fluid over the life course for some people, with one study estimating that as many as 80 percent of male adolescents who report same-sex attractions no longer do so as adults.”

“Compared to heterosexuals, non-heterosexuals are about two to three times as likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse.”

“Gay”-identified people are “at an elevated risk for a variety of adverse health and mental health outcomes.”

“Gay”-identified people experience “nearly 2.5 times the risk of suicide.”

“The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex — that a person might be ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.”

“Studies comparing the brain structures of transgender and non-transgender individuals … do not provide any evidence for a neurobiological basis for cross-gender identification.”
Some questions for all Christian’s to wrestle with. 

What is a depraved mind? How does someone become gay? Why is Homosexuality a sin? Is it a greater sin? Did you know there is a Rabbi claims that God is transgender? What are God’s ideas on sex, gender norms, male and female identity, and why “Love is Love” is a lie. Who should be allowed at church? Should a bible believing Christian attend a gay wedding? Should you be sued for not wanting to violate your strongly held religious beliefs?

Satan hates sex. He hates it. Are you having trouble believing that? It smacks you in the face doesn’t it. Sex was a gift given to humanity by God. It is the one act wherein, humankind directly contributes to the ongoing creation in procreation. It also symbolically creates one flesh, thereby best reflecting the Divine nature. We are His image. During marital intercourse, we best express our image and likeness to God. It was sex, and procreation, that ultimately lead to his defeat by Jesus on Calvary.

So, yeah, Satan hates it. He really, really hates it. That’s why he has perverted it. In order to undermine the Divine image, and continue his mission of malice and destruction toward creation. He had to make it sex something dirty, to steal the sanctity of the act. He had to make it sex homosexual to rob one gender of the other, and remove the divine image from the act. He he’s to remove it from  the safety of the marriage relationship in order to make it dangerous and to plunder it of the psychological, emotional, and physical virtues found only in monogamous male-female marriage. And he had to make it public, cheapening it so it would lose its value. So, that’s why everywhere you look it sex, sex sex, and gay characters on TV, and adultery on the rise and 53 million abortions, and so on.

I grew up in central Ohio, and we had our pick of three great theme parks. They were Six Flags, Cedar Pointe, and King’s Island. Every year we’d pile into the family minivan and drive down to Cincinnati, for an exciting weekend of camping and roller coasters at King’s Island. One year my brother, Joey, begged our dad for a big plate of cheese fries. Dad protested, but ultimately Joey got the fries, with the stipulation that he eat them all. About halfway through the plate, he began to complain that his stomach ached. He asked to be allowed to throw away the rest of the cheese fries, but my dad was a stickler.

Joey ate until he was green and eventually barfed up most of what he’d crammed down. I guess he wasn’t fooling about the upset stomach. Needless to say we all felt badly, none more so than Joey. And, we all had to put up with his whining for the rest of the day. It was classic. Everybody paid the price that day, my dad, my brother, and me. It w
as too much grease, and too much starch. Eating like that will make you sick. Garbage in, garbage out.

Is it just me or is anybody else sick of all the gay stuff they expect us to tolerate. I mean, come on! It has invaded every story line. Even S.E. Hinton, author of the The Outsiders, is being shamed by the social justice crowd for saying her characters are not gay. Not content to force current gay based story lines on us, they also want to rewrite history with a gay agenda. I’m telling you this, right now people are starting to feel the belly ache from ingesting what isn’t good for them. Soon will come the retch.

Maybe you don’t mind shows like Game of Thrones, Ellen, Modern Family or Scandal. It’s just TV, right? We all admit it isn’t ideal that these programs have such lurid and debauched content, but “come on, it’s a great show.” I get it. I really do. Missing out on what the culture is talking about is not fun. How do we disengage from these cultural touchstones, but remain relevant and stay clued-in to what’s going on in the world? Being in the world, but not of it, is a real head scratcher.

But, why does everything have to be presented through the lens of an agenda? They have a plan. It is documented and it has been put into action. After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s is a book written in 1989, outlining exactly how to normalize homosexuality in the American mind. One of the authors, Kirk was a researcher in neuropsychiatry, and the other, Madsen, was a public relations consultant. Together they cooked up the winning strategy for their belief system, and it is all about subtlety. This book is the authoritative public relations manual for the gay lobby.

The authors suggest a three step process; desensitize – jamming – conversion. In the desensitize stage Kirk and Madsen advise gays to “live among straights, visibly, but as inoffensively as possible…[and] inundate them in a continuous flood of gay-related advertising, presented in the least offensive fashion possible”. Put simply, they just needed people to see them as openly gay, but inert. So, they presented themselves as the lovable, gay goofball. Revenge of the Nerds, anyone?

Next, in the jamming phase, gays have to be presented as the victims. This jams up so called “homohaters”, because it makes them look like and feel like bullies. It utilizes psychological warfare to create unpleasant associations in the mind of the “bigots”. Jamming conditions the “homohaters” to see themselves in the same light they see racists, misogynists, and other bigots. Since they would never want to be seen as a racist or a Nazi, after they have been successfully jammed, they will not want to be seen as anti-gay, either. In the film Philadelphia Tom Hanks portrays a gay man with AIDS who gets fired. He recruits a homophobic lawyer, played by Denzel Washington, to sue his former employers for wrongful termination. By the end of the film you are rooting for Hanks, and not even thinking about his gayness. Like Washington’s character you experienced a metamorphosis, realizing that Hank’s character is no different from you. He deserves justice, therefore he cannot be the bad guy. The film is a deft study in jamming.

Finally, in the conversion phase, the jamming is so fully rooted in the minds of Americans that their psychology begins to change. When done correctly, not only will the general population be tolerant of homosexuality, it will celebrate it. They have chosen to use something called Associative Conditioning to affect this outcome. Here’s how they do it with an example from their own advertising, “[Meet] Beauregard Smith–beer drinker, Good Ole Boy, pillar of the community, 100% American, and gay as a mongoose.” They take images with which you already have a positive stereotype, then overlay them on a clean cut, decent looking gay person. Now your brain positively associates the gay person with the positive stereotype you already had. It combines your feelings about Good Ole Boys and pillars of the community with your feelings about the clean cut gay person. Then they will replay this theme over and over in as many story lines, books, movies, and TV shows as they can. In the Jamming phase the target is shown a bigot being rejected by his crowd for his prejudice against gays, in Conversion the target is shown his crowd actually associating with gays in good fellowship.

Needless to say, it has been very effective. Does it surprise you to learn that this battlefield tactic was intentionally planned and carried out? Do you think Christians had better get strategic? As I’ve said before, we’ve ceded the ground of culture to the heathen. Now we wonder why there’s only trash on television. It’s because godly people aren’t making media anymore. The TV is doing a better job of secularizing the Christians than churches are of evangelizing them. You see your pastor one hour a week, but you watch TV up to 20 hours a week. He cannot possibly be expected to compete with that.

I’m going to ask you to do something it may not have occurred to you to do; Pray for Bruce Jenner. Just stop reading right now and say, “God, please bless Bruce, and bring him to the saving knowledge of Jesus. Bind the satan in his life, Lord, and loose sanity. Restore us. Restore to us the office of opinion sculptors. Let us reclaim the mantle of thought leader. Make us once again the best and brightest in business, publishing, popular culture, and the arts. Amen.”

We are manically obsessed with superficiality

I’d like to coin a new term, if I may. It is “Trans-mania”. It means the obsession with changing our outsides, in the vain hopes that it will produce inner peace. Let’s face facts, we are obsessed with altering our outsides. Americans join gyms, buy flattering clothes, get surgical procedures, and even mutilate their own genitals to produce a desired physique.

Consider the trans/gay debate from this angle, please. What if I told you the following: I knew from an early age I was born in the wrong body. I vividly remember looking at the perfect images of those other bodies and thinking, “That’s what I am. That’s how I am supposed to look”. I’ve always wanted to make the transition, and I even style my looks to match those I feel best represent my true self. I wear the clothes they wear, and it makes me feel more normal. I speak how they do, so I can feel right. For me it is either transition or suicide. I need this to be mentally stable. I want to formally declare my true identity. I was born the wrong species! I am not really human mentally, only physically. I have an alien brain, but was born in a human body. I am really an alien from the planet Kepler-186d. I should have tentacles not arms. I should have slimy secretions and cloaca, not skin and human genitalia.

What if I told you I was born in the wrong body, and felt that I should have been born an alien, and really truly expected you to take me seriously? would you be a bigot for rejecting that claim?

Do you see the problems here? Any human who really believes he is an alien, is clearly mistaken. Depending on the level of his attachment to that belief, and his proclivity to endangering himself or others, we would probably even put that person in an insane asylum. He would be medicated, put on suicide watch, and live out his days in a padded room. Why? Because he is insane.

So, why don’t we apply the same reasoning to humans who declare they were born the wrong gender? We think it is lunacy to believe a person was born the wrong species, so why do we, as a rationale society, accept that some are born into the wrong gender. It really is a mental illness. If we take their logic, their arguments, and their reasoning but express it as a desire to be an alien species, instead of a different gender, it sounds foolish. And it is foolish. It is foolish either way, gender or species.

Statistics show that plenty of patients, although not all, who have gotten gender reassignment surgery regret it later. The website SexChangeRegret.com documents some of the cases of so called Trans people, who had a negative emotional and psychological response to their gender reassignment. One such example is Walt Heyer. He underwent the reassignment procedure, but didn’t feel fulfilled afterwards. Slowly, he realized that God was right about gender, so he transitioned back to living and identifying as a male. The following is the story of Britain’s youngest sex swap patient to reverse her sex change treatment, having been profiled in none other than the UK Daily Mail.

Heyer writes, “After all the favorable publicity in the US about children “needing” sex change treatment, it’s refreshing to read that it is not “happily ever after.” This young person made the decision at age 16-17 to start the transition, and now regrets it only one year later. She has cancelled the operation scheduled for January and halted the hormone treatments. She (or he) confirms the point I [Walt Heyer] made in my book, Paper Genders. The brain hasn’t matured enough to make this decision until the person reaches their mid-20s. So why would we encourage anyone younger to undergo “treatments” with such long-term consequences?

The following is an excerpt from the Daily Mail article (Oct. 29, 2012):
“Although Ms Cooper underwent a thorough psychological assessment and counseling at Hull Royal Infirmary prior to starting her sex change therapy she has suffered such torment living as a women that she has tried to commit suicide twice. She told told the Sunday Mirror: ‘The hormones have made me feel up and down. One minute I feel moody and the next minute I feel really happy.’ She continues, ‘The night I tried to slash my wrists I’d downed a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and just thought about how alone I am, and how my decision has alienated my family and how I will have to become a boy again to resolve it.’”
You can read the entire article here, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2224753/Ria-Cooper-Britains-youngest-sex-change-patient-reverse-treatment.html#ixzz2AyFR0XCs
For a very thoroughgoing, evangelical approach on the subject, I recommend you visit sexchangeregret.com. It is based in love, and full of great resources. There is a wealth of information out there that the sex change industry doesn’t want you to know. Dr. Michael Brown writes at Charismanews.com about moral and cultural issues. He has three books that address the homosexual agenda, “gay Christianity” and sin in the church. This story from Belgium is absolutely tragic, a 44-year-old woman disappointed by her female-to-male surgery decided to die by euthanasia, feeling that the surgery had left her a monster. But the story behind the story is even more tragic.

Of course, if we simply believed the glowing reports in the media, you would think that everyone who has sex-change surgery is perfectly happy with the results. In keeping with that mentality, there’s a new term we are supposed to use—namely, gender-realignment surgery. This replaces the previous new term, sex-reassignment surgery, which replaced the more graphic term, sex-change surgery. And make no mistake about it: This is a radical surgery involving removing and changing perfectly healthy organs and body parts simply because the person is convinced in his or her mind that the parts shouldn’t be there.

In the case of Belgian Nathan Verhelst, born Nancy Verhelst, she was allowed to die by lethal injection on the grounds of “unbearable psychological suffering.” (It should be noted that one in 50 deaths in Belgium today is the result of euthanasia, but that’s yet another tragic story.)
As reported in Belgian news, Verhelst said after the surgery, “I was ready to celebrate my new birth. But when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with myself… my new breasts did not match my expectations and my new penis had symptoms of rejection. I do not want to be … a monster.”

All that is sad enough to read, but the story behind the story is worse still, pointing to the deeper issues involved in Verhelst’s life. Her mother rejected her from birth, having this to say after she received news of her daughter’s death: “When I first saw ‘Nancy,’ my dream was shattered. She was so ugly. I had a ghost birth. Her death does not bother me.” Have you read anything more cruel from a child’s own mother?

She continues, “For me, this chapter closed. Her death does not bother me. I feel no sorrow, no doubt or remorse. We never had a bond which could therefore not be broken.” Unfortunately, Nancy/Nathan struggled with this pain of rejection right until the time of her death, as the article reports: “Hours before his [sic] death Mr. Verhelst had spoken of how, as a child, he ‘was the girl that nobody wanted,’ describing how his mother had complained that she’d wished he’d been born a boy.”

Does it take a psychologist to recognize that this was the real root of Verhelst’s problems? That being rejected from birth by her own mother as “so ugly” and as a “ghost birth” and as not being the son her mother wanted was the real cause of her gender confusion? (I’m not saying this is always the case, but it was obviously the case here.) Walt Heyer is a man who lived through this himself, first with his grandmother dressing him up as girl when he was just a few years old (and praising him for his looks after dressing him up), then some years later suffering repeated sexual abuse at the hands of another man.

As a married man with children, Heyer concluded he really was a woman, going through years of hormone therapy and then having sex-change surgery and becoming “Laura”, an identity he kept for years, only to realize his deeper problems were never resolved. Not surprisingly, the sex-change doctor he saw also failed to explore Heyer’s other emotional and psychological issues. Eventually Heyer got off hormones, reversed what he could surgically and married another woman, launching the website SexChangeRegret.com.

A report on the website today states, “The Belgrade Center for Genital Reconstructive Surgery says that they have received 1,500 requests for reversal surgery.” Why is that? It’s because gender reassignment does not address the inner workings of the damaged human spirit. All it does it radically alter the appearance of the patient’s body. After the surgery, the patient sees what he wanted to see on his body, but is still left with negative psychological experiences. Then they lose all hope, because the thing on which they pinned all their hopes for happiness failed to satisfy.

It’s for reasons like these that the John Hopkins University Hospital, under the leadership of the famed psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh, discontinued sex-change surgery years ago. As McHugh observed (speaking of male-to-female surgery), “It is not obvious how this patient’s feeling that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body differs from the feeling of a patient with anorexia nervosa that she is obese despite her emaciated, cachectic state. We don’t do liposuction on anorexics. Why amputate the genitals of these poor men? Surely, the fault is in the mind not the member.”

Dr. McHugh co-authored a landmark study with Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh, was titled, “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” and was published by The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society. Yet whenever I and others suggest that we should invest our energies in getting into the deeper issues troubling these individuals—whatever their age, helping them from the inside out—we are reviled as being hateful and insensitive. Again, Dr. Michael Brown is useful to us here. His website is AskDrBrown.org.

As for McHugh, the university distinguished service professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins who also served on President George W. Bush’s presidential council on bioethics, he is reviled on transgender websites as being out of step with the times.

And if you wonder where all this is going, then just look at this news from Argentina: “A six-year-old girl, who was born a boy, has become the first transgender child in Argentina to have her new name officially changed on her identity documents.” Six years old! That’s a time when children can barely tell the difference between reality and fantasy, and yet this little boy, who identified as a girl since he started talking, is now legally (but, of course, not biologically) a girl.

What’s next? For believers, this much is clear, while having compassion on those who are struggling and pursuing divine strategies for their wholeness, we must celebrate male-female gender distinctions, recognizing the beauty and wisdom of Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Satan hates that there are two genders, and he hates that when they come together God’s image is amplified on the earth. It makes him sick to his wormy stomach. God is pleased by the diversity of his creation, bidding us to embrace the intrinsic masculinity and femininity he placed in our genes and spirits.

But, the world says, go ahead and swap out your parts for whatever parts you think would make you happy. But, it never does make them happy. In fact, may victims of the genital mutilating surgery known as “gender reidentification” choose suicide, despite having had the supposedly life changing operation. One such person was Nancy Verhelst/Nathan Verhelst, and her story is tragic.

The fact remains, no one should try to base their inner joy of off their outer appearance. Our looks will always fail us. Our bodies will never bring true joy. But, we are more than our bodies. We are always trying to feed our deep spiritual hunger, with external, often materialistic, things. It’s like putting E-87 ethane in a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and expecting it to perform at peak condition. FOOLISH! The outside material stuff cannot feed the hunger that comes from internal spiritual needs. So, why do we take such pains to make our outsides look a certain way?

The answer for some is that the material world is all they have. They don’t have healthy souls, and they are spiritually dead. The answer for others is that changing the outside is easier than doing the hard work of changing the inside. The outside can be changed with clothes, surgeries, diet and exercise, even makeup. That’s easy. The inward heart of a person can only be changed through God’s grace. Repentance, and turning away from sin, to please God. It’s hard. It’s not natural. It is contrary to everything the godless culture tells us will satisfy. It takes faith.

Ultimately, we don’t know what’s true about Bruce/Caitlin. I pray it is all a big media lie, one that he has believed and been ensnared by. I pray that Bruce, one of America’s greatest athletes,does not become the latest victim of “trans”-hype. Dr. Michael Brown, an expert who holds a Ph.D. from New York University and has researched and written a multitude of books on christian practice and homosexuality, says the American media are exploiting former Olympian Bruce Jenner. In fact, I think they exploit every celebrity suffering from same sex attraction, body dysmorphia, gender identity confusion, and the like.
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In his book,“A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been,” Dr. Michael Brown, calls the media’s behavior exploitation at best and sinister at worst. “I don’t know how much genuine compassion or courage is being shown here,” he said. “Real courage would be for us to work together to help this man without mutilating him.” Brown’s doctorate is in Near Eastern languages and literature. He is recognized as one of the leading Messianic Jewish scholars in the world today, founder and president of FIRE School of Ministry and host of the nationally syndicated daily talk radio show “The Line of Fire.”

He’s also written books such as “Can You Be Gay and Christian?” and Outlasting the Gay Revolution. I would consider these must reading for Christians who are struggling to understand what all the big deal is about what goes on in the bedroom. Glorifying gay culture is the business of the media and the sitcoms, whereas magnifying and extolling God’s ways (the ways of life) is the business of every christian. Does that make you uncomfortable? Shouldn’t we all just go along to get along? “Besides, “ you say to yourself, “as long as I teach my kids what’s right, it’ll be all good.” Sorry mom and dad, but you can’t compete with cable. You have to change the channel.

As many of you know, Jenner became an American hero after he won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics, earning the title the “world’s greatest athlete” and his image on a Wheaties box. To the younger generations, he is best known as the former husband of Kris Jenner and the stepfather of the Kardashian sisters in the reality TV show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” His sex-change program reportedly will be the subject of a reality show and is being widely praised by figures in the establishment media, some of whom are calling Jenner’s decision heroic. Then Jenner did an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer which aired in May 2015.

He said, he had a make body but a female brain. Silly me, I thought liberals and feminists argued that there was no difference between the sexes? Each gender is essentially the same, and males are just as good as females. And yet, they praise him for saying he has a female brain. Shocker. If I had a quarter for every occurrence of liberal

WND reported that in addition to his media supporters, he also has the endorsement of his family.
But David Kupelian, author of “The Marketing of Evil,” expressed concerns similar to Dr. Brown’s. “It’s very sad that legendary Olympian Bruce Jenner is trying to turn himself into a woman,” he said, “The desire to become the opposite gender, which usually involves the amputation of healthy body parts, is a psychological-spiritual problem that cries out for understanding and enlightened counseling, not surgical mutilation.” Kupelian said “transgender ‘transitioning,’ which is the latest madness infecting the American mind, is in fact so abnormal and unnatural that a staggeringly tragic 41 percent of all transgender individuals living in the United States have attempted to commit suicide, according to a 2010 study.” Dr. McHugh asks the rhetorical question, “would you give a patient suffering with anorexia diet pills?” The implication is that you shouldn’t cut off a man’s penis, even if he believes he is a woman, because that will not make him healthy, but sicker still.

Maybe this story is old news to you, and you ask why I’m bringing it up now. Well, gender issues are getting stickier, and I have a feeling the Jenner thing will blow up in a different way. My fear is that Bruce/Caitlin will fall into a deep depression, once the glitz and limelight fade. Right now it is feeding him, and keeping him stable, but once it is gone he too may fall prey to the twin tragedies of despair and discontent. Brown, who addresses in his books issues such as how Christians should respond to homosexuals who say they love the Lord and experience God’s power, said: “It’s absolutely tragic. It’s nothing to celebrate. God made him a man and he was a married man with children. Whatever his deep seated issues are, let’s try to help him from the inside out, not be mutilating him.” He has a legendary debate with so called gay christian, Matthew Vine. YouTube it. Totally worth the watch.

Jenner’s mother, Esther, said in a recent interview with Radar Online that she only recently learned of her son’s desire to be a woman. “We had a very long, long, long talk about it,” she said. “I am more proud of him for what he’s allowing himself to do. I am more proud of him now than when he stood on that podium and put the gold medal around his neck,” she said.

Dr. Brown believes the blame goes beyond whatever issues Jenner has. “The media are looking for another juicy story,” he said, noting the frenzy. “Some may simply want the next crazy, juicy story, and some may be moved by compassion, though I would say the compassion is misguided,” he said.

Another excellent source for Christians is Robert Gagnon at RobGagnon.Net. He may be the foremost evangelical scholar on the topic of church and homosexuality. He wrote “How Should Christian Respond to the Transgender Phenomenon” which is available in PDF format on the First Things online portal. To quickly summarize he states, “Gender dysphoria is the APA’s current description of the condition whereby someone perceives one’s ‘gender’ to be other than one’s birth or biological sex. The previous designation in the APA’s diagnostic manual [and in my view still preferable] is ‘gender identity disorder’ (GID).” Those words in brackets are his, not mine.

A review of more than 100 international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals showed “no robust scientific evidence” that surgery is effective in solving their emotional problems. And studies show many people who get the surgery later regret it. Brown sees politics at work. “It’s simply a reality that some have a radical agenda to deconstruct gender and male and female sex differences,” he said. “And they are acting on that agenda.”

While Dr. Brown, Heyer, and Most of us are too busy speculating about his “trans” identity. Maybe he really is confused, hurting, and considering living his life as a woman. This would be terrible. He will live the rest of his life as a mutilated man, masquerading as a female. And, God only knows the effect it will have on his sons, daughters, and the youth of our nation. God’s power will transform you, if you respond to it with loving, trusting obedience.

Now, just to show I can see both sides of the coin, let us contrast Jenner’s experience with that of a befuddled, non-celebrity Chinese person. According to the Daily Mail, a Chinese man, who is married to a woman, found out from a DNA test that he is genetically a chromosomal female. This came as a surprise to him, because he has male genitals, and has always believed himself to be male. Imagine his surprise when a routine doctor visit for stomach cramping, turned out to be PMS pain! This is not transmania, it is the result of taking it for granted that what you see is what you get.

I am sure this revelation rocked him to his core. How difficult it must be to discover something so outlandish. Our gender often plays a central role in how we see ourselves. Gender shapes our identities in ways more ways than we know. I can only pity this poor person, as he seeks to deal with the fallout of this new information. Whereas Jenner claims he has known for some time, this Chinese person had no idea. He looked like a he, so he felt like a he and behaved like a he. His chromosomes did not match his body parts. His mind did not match his chromosomes.

As a christian, I have a codified morality dealing with sexual ethics, given to me by holy scripture. The Bible dictates what is right and what is wrong, in every arena of human experience. I have a rock solid foundation, which is God’s Word, on which to build my own understanding of morality. God’s word is very specific about what it condemns and what it encourages. Because of this, I generally have “all the right answers” when it comes to Christian sexual morality. Sex before marriage, bestiality, pederasty, and homosexuality are some of the practices that are explicitly forbidden as sinful in God’s eyes. Take for example the fact that I know it is wrong for men to masquerade as women. Or, again, that it is wrong for a woman to marry another woman.

But this is totally novel. There are elements of this Chinese person’s experience that I have never before thought through. That’s why I am having such a difficult time rendering a value judgment about this. I am certainly empathetic with this person, his wife, and all the trouble which may befall them. It breaks my heart, because, by all accounts, these two tried to do everything the right way.
If a genetic female, who has male genitals and was raised believing he is male, marries a woman, is that person guilty of the sin of homosexuality? Certainly, he could not have known his attraction was “same sex”. I do not believe in “situational ethics”, but I do believe that the intent of a person’s heart does matter for something. If I follow traditional morality, that is to say biblical morality and the natural law, always doing the best I can with the information I have, and it still turns out wrong, at what point does it become a sin? How is fault assessed? But, sin is still sin. And this opens a much larger kingdom question, about the nature of what constitutes a sin. We won’t go there, here. Suffice to say, I’m at a loss.

I want to be crystal clear. I’m not one of these people who buys into the LGBTQ agenda. I stand firm in the knowledge that homosexual activity is a sin. Same sex attraction is not, but acting on deviant sexual urges is. I wouldn’t classify any non-marital sex act as deviant, but homosexual sex acts clearly defy the natural law. There is some kind of arrested development, coupled with neurological and hormonal dysfunctions that result in same sex attraction.

I’m not cold or calloused about this. People who are same sex attracted have my deepest sympathies. I do understand some people are born with same sex proclivities, but our urges do not negate the finality of God’s standards for human sexuality. I do not advocate for treating practicing homosexuals any differently than we would a God honoring christian resisting his/her unwanted same sex attraction. Except that the christian deserves greater honor for fighting the good fight, and the practicing homosexual deserves greater love.

There are some very fine churches who’ve turned their backs on the biblical teaching on human sexuality. They stand firm on theft, murder, lying, idolatry and the rest, but on sexuality they choose a more modern approach. Why is it that our society permits every tickling of the sexual urge? They don’t do this for any other category of sin. If you eat too much, we say “cut it out!” If you exercise or diet too much, we label it a disorder. If you talk too much, lie too much, sleep too much, or totally give into any other of your base urges, we condemn it. Not so when it comes to sex. I guess sex is the one thing or which you can’t get too much. I was never taught that, except by covert cultural means- the subtle manipulation subliminally placed in virtually every ad, magazine cover, and TV show.

That being said, I am left with some unresolved question, as pertains to our Chinese friend.
1. Is his an example of homosexuality at all? In other words, is it the sin of homosexuality, if it was not his intention to be involved in homosexuality? He couldn’t have possibly chosen it.
2. If His body is physically male, but he happens to have two X Chromosomes, is he male or female? I do believe that the chromosomes dictate the gender, not the person’s state of mind. His is a tough case, because he thought he was a man, lived as a man, felt like a man, and has the reproductive equipment of a man. Maybe there is something else to gender than DNA? Allowing this disallows the simplicity of black and white gender determinations, which I am loath to abandon.
3. If, we determine he is in fact a she, should she get a divorce? We do know, as was stated before, that it is wrong for a woman to be married to another woman.
4. If, she (formerly he) gets a divorce, is it acceptable for her to start seeing men now? This just feels weird to me. It seems more gay for him, now her, but presumably still having a penis, scrotum and testes to be dating genetic males.

In any event, it is all quite tragic. The unintended consequences of living in a fallen world do include genetic mayhem and physical distortions. These moral quandaries, and others, also result from living in a morally insane world. For me, the water gets very murky, the further in we wade, which is probably why most pastors wouldn’t touch this situation with a 10 foot pole. All I know for sure is God loves this Chinese person, and his wife. My heart’s desire is that God’s love will heal these two, and lead them into all truth. May the Spirit of Truth lead us all into God’s truth!

Who hates sex?

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Satan hates sex.  He hates it.  Are you having trouble believing that?  It smacks you in the face doesn’t it.  Sex was a gift given to humanity by God.  It is the one act wherein, humankind directly contributes to the ongoing creation in procreation.  It also symbolically creates one flesh, thereby best reflecting the Divine nature.  We are His image.  During marital intercourse, we best express our image and likeness to God.  It was sex, and procreation, that ultimately lead to his defeat by Jesus on Calvary.  

 

So, yeah, satan hates it.  He hates it.  That’s why he has perverted it.  In order to undermine the Divine image, and continue his mission of malice and destruction toward creation.  He had to make it dirty, to steal the sanctity of the act.  He had to make it homosexual to rob one gender of the other, and remove the divine image from the act.  He took it out of the safety of the marriage relationship to make it dangerous, to plunder it of the psychological, emotional, and physical virtues.  And he had to make it public, cheapening it so it would lose its value.  So, that’s why everywhere you look it sex, sex sex, and gay characters on tv, and adultery on the rise and 53 million abortions, and so on.

 

I grew up in central Ohio, and we had our pick of three great theme parks.  Every year we’d pile into the family minivan and drive down to Cincinnati, for an exciting weekend of camping and roller coasters at King’s Island.  One year my brother, Joey, begged dad for a big plate of cheese fries.  Dad protested, but ultimately Joey got the fries, with the stipulation that he eat them all.  About halfway through the plate, he began to complain that his stomach ached.  He asked to be allowed to throw away the rest of the cheese fries, but my dad was a stickler.

 

Joey ate until he was green and eventually barfed up most of what he’d crammed down.  I guess he wasn’t fooling about the upset stomach.  Needless to say we all felt badly, none more so than Joey.  And we all had to put up with his whining for the rest of the day.  It was classic.  Everybody paid the price that day, my dad, my brother, and me.  It as too much grease, and too much starch. Eating like that will make you sick.  Garbage in, garbage out.

 

Is it just me or is anybody else sick of all the gay stuff they expect us to tolerate.  I mean, come on!  It has invaded every story line.  Even S.E. Hinton, author of the The Outsiders, is being shamed by the social justice crowd for saying her characters are not gay.  Not content to force current gay based storylines on us, they also want to rewrite history with a gay agenda.  I’m telling you this, right now people are starting to feel the belly ache from ingesting what isn’t good for them.  Soon will come the retch.

 

Maybe you don’t mind shows like Game of Thrones, Ellen, Modern Family or Scandal.  It’s just TV, right?  We all admit it isn’t ideal that these programs have such lurid and debauched content, but “come on, it’s a great show.”  I get it.  I really do.  Missing out on what the culture is talking about is not fun.  How do we disengage from these cultural touchstones, but remain relevant and stay clued-in to what’s going on in the world?  Being in the world, but not of it, is a real headscratcher.  

 

It feels like you miss out, when you eschew these types of programs.  Believe me I know. It kills me not to be able to join in the discussion, when friends are talking about them.  I’m left out of a conversation, and that is a huge loss for me.  C’est la vie.  The christian life is also about sacrifice.  Living in a Godly Culture demands we sacrifice some things, godless things.  But the scriptures say,  “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).

 

whatever-is-true-noble-right-etc

Patience and Endurance: Colossians 1:9-12

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Part 1,

 

And Part two

 

And, lastly, the manuscript:

 

  Turn with me, please, to Colossians 1:9 and hold your finger there for a moment while I tell you about a legendary explorer named Ernest Henry Shackleton
Shackelton’s Antarctic Expedition:
>He had explored the Antarctic twice before, but wanted to transverse the Continent over land by way of the South Pole
>His plan was to sail through the Weddell Sea on one side, cross over the frozen tundra, and sail away from Antarctica through the Ross Sea, and on to New Zealand. Once again, they are on opposite sides of the continent. It would be a journey of 3,900 miles. To give you an idea how arduous this is, imagine crossing all of Europe by dog sled team, but all the countries are floating icebergs instead of fixed land masses. Oh yeah, and it stays dark for 6 months straight. And the temperature rarely rises above 10 degrees below zero.
>To fund his expedition he relied mostly on private donors, many of which were working class. There were wealthy patrons of course, and the British government did kick in some as well. Shackleton showed the uncanny ability to inspire the Spirit of adventure, and with it, generosity.
>He was unorthodox in many ways. His recruitment method is legend, with over 5000 applicants. He joined in with every grueling activity on the boat, leading by example. He even made the scientists and ranking officers participate in ships duties usually left for the grunts.
>And everything went great! Until the expedition began. World War 1 got into full gear, and the donation money began to dry up. This omen did not bode well…

Colossians 1: 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Paul is writing from prison. He was never a pastor of the Church at Colassae. In fact, he probably never even visited the church. We are told that in Colossians 2:1, and there is no mention of him ever being there. In the first verses Paul says that Epaphras planted the church, before coming to visit Paul in prison in Rome. This is a letter of encouragement to a new church, and to tell them he is praying for them.

Paul’s purpose in writing was to refute Gnostic doctrines that had gotten into the church. He wanted to reinforce Epaphras’ preaching that Jesus is preeminent. The supremacy of Jesus, as the flesh and blood manifestation of God was under attack, and Paul wished to bolster their faith.

Paul was never the leader of their church, but he was leading them. See there is a difference between a “leader” and leading. A leader is someone who has a title of a position. Leadership is what you are doing when you inspire others to follow. A leader can coerce abeyance, but people want to follow leadership. Personally, I would rather be leading, than be a “leader”. Every Christian is called to be leading others to Christ. That means living and speaking and inspiring so others see Jesus.

I’ve met with James, Roger. They have filled me in on a little bit of the history of your church. I’ve got to tell you, I’m impressed that this church has been able to survive so long without a pastor. Praise God, what a miracle. How you’ve managed is a testament to your willingness to stay committed. That’s called patience and perseverance.

Read again verse 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,

This church does not have a pastor. There is not one hear in possession of a formal title or head leadership position. But it is not leaderless, either. And that does not have to keep it from leading. As I said before, this church is composed of members of the body of Christ, and meant to be leading its community, its neighbors, co-workers, the culture, and on and on.

I asked James and Roger to share with me some of the struggles and felt needs of the church. I met Madeline as well. I think what I took away is that there isn’t a unifying vision for this church. Its hard to stay involved with an institution that doesn’t know what its purpose is. Yet, here you all are. Coming every Sunday to join with the fellowship and worship God together. So, in that you have found a purpose, even without a titled leader.

One day you will have a pastor. One day God will bring you someone who is a leading leader, a person with a title that also inspires you to follow. I hope that your next pastor has some of the qualities of Shackelton.

>They set sail from South Georgia Island on the beautiful spring day of December 5th, but by mid-January the ship was trapped in sea ice. Remember that in the southern hemisphere the seasons are flip-flopped. Early winter set in and the vessel was at the mercy of the sea ice floe. On February 24th, Shackelford realized they were stuck til spring so he order the abandonment of the ship’s routine and her conversion to a winter station.
> They camped all that time until 8 months later with the arrival of Spring 1915. As the sea ice began to break up it applied pressure to the ship. In October of that year the haul was punctured and it sank the next month. All the men made it to the lifeboats, and they were forced to camp on sea ice for the next 5 months. Finally on April 9th, 2016 they were able to safely land on Elephant Island. This was the first time in 497 days that any of them had stood on solid land.
>Miraculously no one died, and no one mutineed.

Please read again with me 10-12

Verse 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

Paul admonished his readers to live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him. This is a bumper sticker for the entire Christian life. What does it mean to be a Christian? Well, Jesus said Deny yourself, Take up your cross, and follow after me. Paul summarizes by saying “live a life worthy and please God”. Being like Jesus means living leadership. When he called the first disciples he did not say, “If you follow me I promise you wealth, ease and position. It will be first class accommodations, a great salary, benefits, and my retirement package is bar none.” What he said was, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

His character was His leadership. It credentialed Him. The authority of His command to ‘Follow me,” was instantly heeded. The bible does not say that Andrew, Peter, James and John called a committee meeting, put their heads together, hired all the best consultants, and then put it to a vote. It says, ‘They laid down their nets, and followed him.”
Wow. Just let that sink in. Jesus, was not a known and respected rabbi. He did not have his own synagogue or reputable yeshiva school. He wasn’t dressed in lavish robes or adorned with articles of wealth. He didn’t point the tip of a sword from aloft a conqueror’s stallion. He came armed only with His character, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the authority of His word.
What if they’d said no? What if they preferred to stay and fish? What if they had realized that incumbent to the call to become fishers of men they would be labeled outcasts, social deviants, and rabble-rousers? They would have missed out on the adventure of a lifetime. They would have cheated themselves out of verse 10b “bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God”.
Notice that Jesus did not call every person He met to become a disciple like the 12. That is because God wants godly fisherman, godly accountants, godly contractors, doctors, car mechanics and insurance salesmen. God call is specific to each person, and everyone is not given a title or position in the church. But everyone is given leadership to be exerted in your sphere of influence.

That’s why verse 11 says “11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,” because God will give you power to live by. As you navigate your life-working, raising a family, spending times with loved ones- God’s power will make you mighty. It will be there. It will be perfected in your weakness. And, as you endure His glorious might works through you, around you, and behind the scenes to orchestrate the intended result.

Life can feel long sometimes. Everything doesn’t always seem to be going our way. We might lose a job, have an argument with our spouse, watch a child wander from God. Maybe you live with a sense of quiet desperation. Take heart! God’s word says, “Be strengthened!” So, be strengthened. His strengthening make it so that you may have great endurance and patience! Somebody said, “I’ve been patient long enough! What about me?” I hear you.
Patience isn’t always my strong suit, especially when I’m really excited. Anticipation makes it harder to endure with patience. That’s kind of the point right? Patience means the more I want it, the more I have to be willing to wait on God. Its not really patience, if you don’t really care.

The people Paul wrote to were being beset on all sides by false doctrines. The pressure to relent was enormous. The false teachers applied immense influence, and besides the culture was steeped in the Gnostic belief system. It would have been so easy to compromise. The false teachers made the lie so convincing, and so close to the actual truth of the Gospel that many believers questioned whether or not they should accept the Gnostic version.
Our day in age is not so different. Our culture compels us to betray they true Gospel of Jesus with a kiss. Or to pay it lip service. Or to leave it at home, or in the church, or just keep it between you and God. The secular humanism we wade through every day wants nothing more than for Christians to accept that there are many ways to God and there is no “absolute truth”.

Hey, just because a Republican won the white house, does not mean that is going to change. Cultures do not change overnight, even though Presidents do. So, we have to push back. We have to patiently endure. Some of you may feel unqualified to reach the culture for Christ. You may avoid leadership. Listen, I have studied to be a pastor. I took the classed, and I earned a degree. Probably most of you have not. Who cares? Some of the godliest men I’ve ever known never carried a title. Guess what- The bible says in verse 12, “and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. “

You are qualified! Go did that! There’s no need to feel inadequate. He qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people. Part of that inheritance means leadership. Part of it means persecution and suffering in the world. Part of it means denying yourself and taking up your cross. But, all of it means participating in the Kingdom of light! Not having a pastor is no excuse for this church to stop leading. Therefore “Give Thanks!”

It’s Testimony time! I’m really asking now and please speak up. What is the most exciting thing that has happened at this church recently? Who here has been showing leadership? In what ways?
(Allow time for a discussion)
The last Verses are 13 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Praise God!

>Elephant Island was inhospitable and uninhabited. Shackleton knew he had to risk yet another over sea journey to a whaling station on South Georgia Island, the very place he began his expedition 16 months prior. If they were going to make it, a rescue would have to be mounted. So, he selected 5 men, and they packed enough rations for 4 weeks at sea. The intrepid quintet navigated through hurricane force winds to arrive on the wrong side of the Island. Rather than risk putting back out to see Shackelton chose to make the harrowing 32 mile trek on foot to the whaling station. It was him and one other man, leaving the 3 companions behind. No one had ever done this before, and all they had was 50 feet of rope, and a carpenter’s adze. In short, it was nothing short of madness and shear grit that saw them through.
>Immediately Shackelton arranged for pickup of his three companions on the other side of the island, and after 3 foiled attempts they successfully rescued the 22 men he’d left behind at Elephant Island. All told it took 4 1/2 months to rescue them, but on August 30 they were evacuated from the Island and taken to Valparaiso, Chile, there to receive a hero’s welcome.

What was so special about these men? Regular men would have abandoned hope, or been driven to madness. I don’t know how I would have fared in their place. We are talking about a degree of difficulty hear impossible to put into words. Could it be that Shackelton just got lucky with his crew? No! He recruited them with purpose, and totally scrutinized them. He was looking for a crew that belonged on such an expedition
This is the ad he put in the London Times: Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness. Constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in the case of success.” The only people who applied for the crew were the ones who really belonged on it. They were survivors, and they believed in the mission of the expedition.

By the way, I should have mentioned that Shackelton’s ship was called the Endurance, and his camp on the ice floes was call ‘Camp Patience”

Christianity and Capital Punishment

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That God is slow to wrath, is a hallmark of our religion. He is a God who wipes away your sins, and remember them no more. This is, perhaps, the attribute of the Christian God that most distinguishes Him from the impostors. God grants us His divine forbearance and prefers mercy over retribution! After all, “Love is patient, love is kind…”We are given to believe that God is the type of person who forgives, and he expects us to be the forgiving type. Shall I who owe so much to God, fail to forgive one who has trespassed against me in such a petty way? Banish the thought. If I am to be like God, I should forgive like God. How then can I simultaneously claim the legitimacy of the death penalty? Please read on!

I think every christian will have to wrestle with certain moral questions. The legitimacy of the death penalty, for me, is not one of them.

1. Sin equals death: In the beginning when Humankind was young, there was but one way to exercise evil. God had left all things good, save one small exception. God forbade the man to use his will in a way that contravenes His own. The biblical details are somewhat irrelevant, what’s important, for our purposes, is to keep in mind that Death came as a result of Humankind using its freewill to reject God. This from God’s own mouth, “In the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” In other words, “My ways are the ways of life; walk in them and continue in My blessing. Deviate from them, and there are naturally occurring consequences, built in to the very nature of reality.” In natural terms, you cannot jump of a bridge without suffering the consequence of plummeting to your hurt or demise. Likewise, you cannot step out of God’s will without experiencing the Death which accompanies that act of will.

Can you imagine the utterly debased state of a human soul, were it not afforded the release of death? Why, we would have unlimited time to grow wickeder and more perverted. That death is the true penalty of sin is a grace to us. It can be no other.

In short, sin equals death. First spiritual death, then emotional/psychological, and eventually biological. It is His grace to us. This is God’s idea, not mine.

2. God has commanded that some specific sins be met with death: Some Christians will argue, shrewdly, that only God has the authority to take life. They will say, it is not for man to mete out death, because “all life is sacred”. This has the ring of truth, and it certainly deliberately appropriates our christian framework to makes its point. Why then does God command certain deaths, at the hands of his servants, like when Moses lead through the Sinai? “Oh, that,” they invariably respond, “Well, in that case we have God actually handing down the sentence personally.” Ahh, well, that is rather unique then isn’t it?  Not so fast.

What if we actually believed that all the scriptures are God’s breathed word? What if we, for a moment, took seriously the idea that God codified his judgments (read: God actually handing down the sentence personally) within the civil and penal portions of the Torah? I actually take that view. God wrote us a lengthy letter, underscoring his personal opinions about the death penalty, and when to use it. Let me be as explicit as possible. I do believe that God commands Christians to execute some criminals. It is a command, not an option.

A cursory reading of the scripture reveals that there are a hierarchy of sins. On the earth, God has determined that some sins are deserving of more severe penalties than others. If you bear false witness, we may charge you a fine. If you injure a person’s body, we may beat you. If you maim another permanently, we can maim you in kind. If you kill, we are commanded by God to end your life. There are ascending penalties, each assigned to the act and each required by God. Remember these are not suggestions. God does not say, “Use your best discretion, these are just helpful hints. I trust your moral judgment.”

In God’s opinion, though not always within the scope of our limited moral understanding, some crimes merit death. It is God’s purview to take and give life. Sometimes he uses human agents. The Law is a set of scales, and the penalty must “balance out” the crime. This may be why we depict Justice as a blindfolded maiden holding a set of scales. God’s justice is not our justice, but “His ways are above our ways”.

We are not let of the hook, simply because we are born Gentiles. No one gets an easy pass from any part of scripture. The OT moral ordinances stand. They are not repealed. Paul says that the Law is perfect. Christians, specifically Jewish believers in Jesus, have not been formally released from implications of the Law. Even though they are expected to live by grace. In many places the New testament clearly refers the reader back to the Law. Jesus, certainly makes it plain when He says in Matthew 5:17, “I have not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Yes, Heaven and earth will pass away, but not one jot or tittle of the law shall pass away. (NASB) Whoever annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of Heaven.” And again, in the below bulleted points Paul says the law is perfect and holy
• Rom. 7:12 Wherefore the law [Torah] is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
• Rom. 7:14 For we know that the law [Torah] is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
• Rom. 7:22 For I delight in the law [Torah] of Elohim after the inward man…
• Rom. 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin [i.e., violation of the laws/Torah of YHWH, see 1 Jn. 3:4], that grace may abound? Elohim forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
• Rom. 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Elohim forbid: yea, we establishthe law. (Romans was written in about A.D. 56)
• 1 Tim. 1:8 But we know that the law [Torah] is good, if a man use it lawfully…

And, what about New Testament’s mentioning that the Government having the sword to punish evil doers? In Romans 13:5 it says, “3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for [a]good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.”

3.God commands the Israelites to commit, what some have labeled, genocide: Pacifist Christians are those who say there is no such things a just war. This is just a backwards way of saying, “War (or taking life in any way) is the worst sin.” Therefore, no Christian should take up arms for any cause, defend himself, join the army or police department. Now, is taking a single life really the worst sin? I say that it is not. Thankfully, a great portion of the Bible agrees with me. That there are greater evils than the taking of a single life, should be clear both from reason and scripture. Simply put, if the taking of a single life was the worst evil, than God would be in no position to demand His human agents do it. We have shown, in point 2, that God does indeed demand it from his human agents. From this we can conclude that, in many cases, not handing down a death penalty (when it is clearly due, and within the guidelines God gave us) is a worse evil.

This brings me to some points I think we can all think on.  At least, they will help us clarify our own positions, if not change our minds.

Some additional points to ponder.
5. God gave us tools to work with, the scriptures, tradition, our reason, and emotion. These help us navigate the murky moral morasses we find ourselves in. So, what do the church fathers and ancient rabbi’s say?
6. The Death Penalty is most certainly not forbidden. You will not read that anywhere in scripture, not even by implication.
7. There will never be a time when bloodshed concludes, so long as Humankind rules. We must have a last, best defense against human depravity, and that is the penalty of Death. It is a tool for us, to control wickedness and propound self governance. It is a grace.
8. The example of Jesus should be followed as a model of mercy towards individuals, but the Law is the perfect legislative code to govern groups/nations. If a man takes the life of your child, you forgive Him because the Word of God commands it. But, the state ought to execute him, because the Word of God commands it.
9. People of good faith and honest conscience can disagree on this issue. But, it is nobodies right to assume the posture of “final authority” on matters of doctrine. If you disagree with your pastor(or me) on minor points of debate, don’t turn your back on him.  He has the sames right to be wrong (sometimes) as you do!

The Temple, The Feast of Tabernacles, and a Woman Caught in Adultery

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No discussion of the woman in John 8 is complete without the contect provided by John 7:45-53. They go together. They are one story, even though they are separated into two chapters. John makes it clear to his readers that these events happened together, as a sequence. We miss it, because they are separated into two chapters and taught as distinct instances. This is how we make interpretive mistakes about the Woman, her sin, and the implications Jesus’ pardon might have for modern cultural questions; such as infidelity, capital punishment, adherence to a moral code, etc.

Lets first take time to read John 7:45-8:11 together, without gaps. Then we’ll break it down, and hit the finer points. Finally, we will draw some spiritual conclusions which we can apply to our own socio-historic position.

45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” 46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied. 47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

No one ever spoke like this man. That was true. It lets us know that some of Jesus’ words were resonating with the officers sent to arrest Him. Even if their hearts had been rock hard to God’s words, they would not have been able to lay a finger on Him. God extended His grace to these men, by making them able to hear and evaluate Jesus’ preaching. They returned to the rulers and the Pharisees to give an account of their failure to arrest Jesus. They do not come with pretense or guile. They do not appear to have been too afraid to arrest Jesus, after all these were grizzled, experienced soldiers. And, it is equally unlikely that they feared the crowds who had gathered around Jesus. So, why the’re failure to do their duty? They discovered something they hadn’t counted on, and simply needed to return to give a report about the amazing Word of God. Of course, behind their report about what they’ve seen and heard in the person of Jesus, they harbor questions about the identity of Jesus. Namely, “Why would the rulers, or anyone for that matter, want to have Jesus arrested?” Based on what they had just experienced, this didn’t add up.

Their report is not believed by the rulers or the Pharisees, with, perhaps, one notable exception (but we’ll discuss him in just a bit). The simple, dare I call it, faith, of the officers is immediately rebuffed and rejected by the Rulers. The Pharisees ask the officers and each other this question, “If Jesus was the messiah then why don’t any of us believe?” As if a consensus of the religious leadership is the only qualification for a messianic candidate. They actually misapply scripture, whether by simple mistake we do not know, to exclude Jesus from the running. They proclaim that if someone were to search the scriptures, by which they mean the Law, The Writings, and The Prophets, then you would find no mention of any prophet arising out of Galilee.
Let’s talk for a minute about Galilee. Careful consideration of the scriptures will yield no mention of a prophet coming out of Galilee, in that regards the Pharisees know their Bibles. However Isiah Chapter 9 says plainly,

“1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— 2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,”

The Pharisees, cloistered away and insulated from any inconvenient acts of God, cannot see the great light which now shines from Galilee of the Gentiles. They must have been aware of this passage. These are men who could quote the entirety of the scriptures from rote memory. This leaves us to answer a series of questions. Did they not know this prophecy? Or, did they simply reject that these verses are messianic in nature? Or, if they do admit that they are messianic, do they refuse to apply them to Jesus?

Let’s consider something else. This story takes place during the Feast of Tabernacles also called the Feast of Booths, which the Jews call Sukkot. Sukkot is one of 3 festivals in which the Jewish nation was commanded to come to the Temple in Jerusalem. It is a feast of joyousness and merrymaking and thanksgiving, because it coincides with the Autumn Harvest. So, everyone had plenty to be thankful for. It is a pilgrimage Holy day, commemorating when the Jews wandered in the Wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula for 40 years, living in tents or booths.

Throughout the feast, which would have been 8 days, the priests would light Giant Menorahs. The huge lamps resided in the court of the Women, just outside of the Temple proper. Some sources claim these Menorahs were in the range of 40 feet tall, and able to light up the entire temple mount at night. You can imagine the profound and thrilling effect this would have on the people. They had no street lights, no light pollution, no cars shining headlights… all they had were hand sized personal lamps. They were not used to being able to see well at night. But these great lamps, called Menorahs could hold approx. 15 liters of oil in each cup, effectively banishing the darkness and making Jerusalem a shining city set on a hill.

I believe the lighting of the Giant Menorahs was a prophetic action meant to turn the world to Jesus, the great light which shines out of Galilee of the gentiles. Isn’t that something? Here they are lighting menorahs in the court of the Women, and at exactly the same moments Jesus is sharing the light of God’s word in the court of the Women.

That makes it all the more dramatic that on the very first day after the feast concludes, they bring Him a woman caught in adultery, to the court of the woman in the temple, on one of the holiest days of the year. Can’t you see the juxtaposition? Holy temple, unholy act. Court of the women, women caught in adultery. Light of the Giant Menorahs keeping Jerusalem well lit at night, Jesus the Light of the world bringing God’s word to light up the hearts of those yet to believe. John 1:4-5 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
Let’s read John 8-vs11NIV, keeping in mind what we we’ve just discussed regarding the Feast of Tabernacles. This will help us gain some insights on some of the specific things which are happening here.

8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

It is the day after Sukkot, and there are still a great number of people in Jerusalem who haven’t left to go home yet. Remember that it is a pilgrimage Holy day, so there are Jews in town from all over the region. It’s awesome that God drew all these people from the far flung corners of Judaism, so they could hear and see Jesus all at once. What better opportunity could there have been for Jesus to preach the gospel to such a diverse array of the Jewish populace? As an added bonus, those who believed on him could go home to their villages, and tell all their family and friends about Jesus.

Now, those who were listening (the people who were part of the great crowd which Jesus was preaching to) were primed to hear Jesus, because they have just spent 8 solid days worshiping God, prophetically performing rituals meant to remind them about His provision for them.

The first question I have about these proceeding is this: What was the motivation of the Pharisees who had brought the woman caught in adultery? Did they have zeal for the law; desiring that the nation would be free of sin? Were they a band of woman hating busy bodies sticking their noses in where they didn’t belong? Were they friends of the husband who this woman had betrayed, seeking retribution for his damaged pride? Is this about Justice? No, they are using her as a pawn. Its exploitation, pure and simple.

They didn’t care about her sin or her soul. She was a convenient way to put Jesus on the spot. This is a shame culutre. This culture was about casting shame, and exposing publicly the weaknesses of your enemies. Honor and dishonor were closely guarded. If a religious Jew wanted to know something of his rabbi, he would ask in private, so the rabbi could save face if he did not know an answer. These rulers brought their concerns to Jesus publicly, as a way to shame him, or trick him into saying something detrimental to his cause. This would show his followers that he could not perform up to par, and disqualify him as legitimate prophet.

Jesus’ behavior seems kind of odd. He appears to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the woman, and the requests of the rulers to judge her. His body language says, what does this have to do with me? It reminds me of when two brothers come to Jesus, in Luke 12;14 arguing about the inheritance. One is not pleased with how it is divided up, and asks Jesus to tell the brother who got more to give him a larger share. Jesus replys, “Who made me a judge or arbiter over you?” In other words, I want nothing of your petty dispute, it is beneath me, and I am in no way responsible to settle this matter for you.

Many times over Jesus proclaimed that he was not sent, and it was not his intention, to abolish the Law or Prophets, but to fulfill them. In fact, he says heaven and earth shall pass away, before the Law will pass away. But, isn’t Jesus ignoring the Law, or refusing to keep it. Because the woman did the deed, she does deserve the penalty. Some people teach that Jesus came to re-interpret the OT, but I don’t believe that. God’s word does not need a modern interpretation. It means what it says. The problem was the actual meaning had been distorted by years of corruption, and Jesus was merely restoring the intention of what the Scriptures had meant in the first place.

Jesus knows they are not actually following the Law which Moses gave, because it mandated that both the man and woman be executed. He would actually be participating in their hypocrisy, if he allowed them to stone the woman without the man. For more on that particular law, you can read Deuteronomy 22:22 and Leviticus 20:10. Notice that Jesus does not extend her clemency, nor did he pronounce sentence upon her. He is uniquely interested in frustrating the Ruler’s attempts to corner him. He was not about to allow himself to get sucked into their game. He kept clean hands. They sought to put him into a lose-lose situation, but don’t you know that he is creative and wise enough to create a third way! He is wise enough to see the trap, avoid it, and in the process indict the entire lot of those hypocritical enough to be involved with such a sham trial.

Jesus created time and space for the raucous crowd to cool their passions. Notice that the older ones are the first to feel their own guilty consciences. I’ve noticed that older people have naturally cooler passions, they aren’t as impatient, hot under the collar, or overzealous. They are generally more level headed than the young, and less prone to being carried away. The older ones recognized right away that the standard Jesus presented was not one they could live up to. See the Pharisees thought they were putting Jesus on trial. The woman thought she was being put on trial. But, Jesus called each one to bear witness against his own sins, by their inability to be the first to stone the woman.

Look at the way the regard the woman. She is a means to an end. Folks, whenever you treat other human beings like scenery or like objects, then you are outside of God’s will for your life. Human kind is made in the image of God. We don’t have a right to spitefully use each other, or ignore one another, because this reduces the God given intrinsic value they ought to enjoy. The Pharisees treated this woman as a means to an end… a rather despicable end at that. If Jesus seems callous toward her, or uncaring, please know that is the farthest thing from the truth. The heart of Jesus overflows with love for those outcasts on the margins of society, but He also cares about doing things the right way.

Jesus doesn’t tell her, “No sweat, girl, adultery is cool with me.” He doesn’t discourse on the moral evil of capital punishment. He doesn’t deny that the Law is righteous. He doesn’t tell her it’s no big deal. He doesn’t deny that she did the deed, and deserved the penalty. He merely leaves it up to the Father to render justice, and when the angry mob goes home to contemplate its own shortcomings, he commands the woman to “Go, and sin no more”. Jesus reveals that the heart of God, because of his loving mercy, covenant kindness and fatherly affection, is that repentance would occur rather than judgment. God gives every opportunity to turn away from sin, thus avoiding the wrath that is to come. Isn’t that at the center of God’s attention, all throughout the Law and Prophets?

This week see if you can identify someone you’ve been treating like an object or scenery. Or, maybe you need to you need to forgive someone who wronged you. Remember that God has forgiven you so much. Is there someone you’ve been withholding love or forgiveness from? If so, you are in sin. You are the hypocrite. Let’s pray.

To Hell with Due Process, we’re the IRS!

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Plunder: a verb
1. to rob of goods or valuables by open force, as in war, hostile raids, brigandage, etc.:
to plunder a town.
2. to rob, despoil, or fleece: to plunder the public treasury.
3. to take wrongfully, as by pillage, robbery, or fraud: to plunder a piece of property.

When someone forcibly takes your property, either by exertion of strength, arms, or implied menace, without your consent we call it theft. Unless its liberals doing the stealing, and then we call it compassion. Actually, I think the current replacement buzzword is, “Wealth-Redistribution”. They think that just because it is a government robbing you, than that is okay. But, they don”t call it robbery. They call it taxation. They, like most of the rest of us, understand that when an individual robs you, it only benefits himself, and this is a crime. But, when the government robs you, it is written off as “okay” because it is supposed to go to benefit the common good. (It almost never happens that your tax monies actually go to the common good.)

If you ever want to know what the government is hiding, simply listen to the terms they use. Doctors and lawyers and all forms of bureaucrats use technical jargon, to throw you off the scent; or simply to retain power. Notice all the euphemisms the Government uses for theft. They might call it “doing your fair share” or “wealth redistribution” or “increased revenues” or “tax reform” or “balanced approach”. When you hear them say this, prepare to get hit in the wallet. These watchwords soothe and mollify the tax payers i.e. victims, making us feel better about losing more of our hard earned dollars. Whether I get robbed in an alley, or fleeced by the Revenue Agency, I’m still out whats mine. The results are exactly the same.

Tonight, if a burglar breaks into my home and absconds with my property, he is widely considered to be a scoundrel of the highest order, and he will in fact be a criminal. If, however, the president or the congress decides that I have not (in their own words) “paid my fair share” they can coerce me to render unto Caesar. In which case, I would be considered, by them, to be a scoundrel of the highest order. Or, if the debt collecting arm of the US Federal Government (the IRS) determines that I have not complied with even one of the 80,000plus pages of US tax code, they can ignore Habeus Corpus, enter my domicile or my checking account and take what they claim I have withheld. Notice that they jump right past the “due process of law” and “fair trial by jury” thing, which every other infraction of law is required to abide by. Just not the IRS.

Does this say something about our society? Does this speak volumes about the true concerns of our Government? I’m pretty sure that most Americans think fair trial, prior to sentencing, is still a pretty important protection. So, how is it that we find ourselves in this delicate position? Can you imagine if Visa had the power to go into your bank account and take what they liked, or walk into your house and “garnish” your property.

As the owner of a home and small business, I can personally attest that at every level some tax collector has their hand out. The city wants to charge you for a license to do business, and the State has its own version as well. The County has its assessor, which tabulates taxable value of your real property. The State too has its auditors. And, if this wasn’t bad enough, in the State of Florida we have what’s called a “Use Tax”, which gets you if you don’t pay sales tax when making a purchase online. This “Use Tax” is to be submitted every quarter, so all of you Amazon and E-bay customers better comply, or you’ll get a notice from an Auditor at the State Dept of Revenue. Trust me, I know…

All of this is perfectly legal, and some might argue the price of living in the most affluent, technologically advanced, and freest country on God’s green Earth. My question remains however, at what point does taxation become open theft? Is it 45%? 75%? Maybe 99%? At what point to we become “revenue slaves” toiling for our corporate and elected masters? Where Socialism and Communism are strongest you will find revenue slaves and total freeloaders. Where free market Capitalism is strongest you will find innovators and investors. Capitalism gives human the freedom and ability and dignity to take ownership of ones life.

If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this question: Have you ever worked a job where a certain task was not delegated to an individual. It was a team responsibility. Just something you were supposed to do, when you noticed it needed done? Maybe this is a chore around your house like, dishes, that isn’t specifically allocated to one person. It never gets done, does it? The chore sits there unfinished. The dishes stay in the sink, don’t they? That’s because when it is everyone job, it is nobody’s job. That’s why Socialism doesn’t work, because every job, in fact the whole society, becomes everyone’s job. No one person can be held responsible. No one person can experience the pride of a job well done.

As a side note, I’d like to mention that I do very much enjoy having paved roads, bridges, police and a military. Incidentally, I am not against all taxation. It might bear mentioning that we had all of those amazing things prior to the passage of the Income Tax, and subsequent creation of the IRS. I very much like Republican candidate for president, Dr. Ben Carson’s tax plan. In Fact, so does Steve Forbes, editor of Forbes Magazine He is said to be worth $430 Million dollars, has argued for the repeal of the 16th amendment to the US Constitution.

Do we need the IRS? We need them like we need another hole in the head

Protesting the Flag and the Pledge?

  1. The Pledge of Allegiance was designed by Statists in 1892, to coerce a more nationalist/communistic, socialist populace, according to the Cato Institute. It did not catch on nationally until after WWI, when victorious Americans were feeling a great swell of nationalist exuberance. Example: Prior to the Civil War a gentleman thought of himself as a Virginian or Pennsylvanian, and now he is more likely to think of himself as an “American”.
  2. There is nothing innately Christian about pledging allegiance to anything or anyone but Christ himself.
  3. NFL, NBA, MLB players are exercising their constitutionally guaranteed free speech and freedom of protest.
  4. Outraged sports fans should vote with their attention by tuning out, and with their dollars by not spending on team gear.
  5. Christians should exercise their free speech by witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus, and being good citizens.
  6. If the NFL/NBA/MLB suffers from loss of revenue, then they will change. Money is their goal, not politics and not entertainment.
  7. If Hollywood loses revenues, because stars and starlets can’t keep their gobs shut, then so be it. The free market will ensure that what makes money will continue to be what makes it to the screen.

For me personally, I do feel proud to recite the pledge. I do not think it makes me a socialist or a GOPer. It simply unites me to my countryman in a way that is, I think, good and natural. I am not naive. I know our nation has much to repent. But, I also know it has been used mightily of God, in our heyday.

In middle school, I realized that saying the pledge was not perfectly in sync with my Christian values. It made me feel like I was committing idolatry. This was uncomfortable for me. I stopped rising for the pledge. Truth be told, it more an act of youthful rebellion against ensconced tradition. It irked me that I had to rise and recite. I chaffed at that. This was not some deeply held religious belief, like say, Hasidic Jews refusing to join the IDF. I determined that America, and her flag, did not deserve my allegiance.

Today, I rise for the anthem, and sing it. I stand for the pledge and recite it. I love this country, “for which it stands.” But, I am aware of their origins and limitations. I do not conflate the armies of the US, with the heavenly host. And, I do not expect our political leaders to work miracles, solving all of our earthly woes- they are neither saints nor prophets. Only Jesus can do that.

Let’s pray for national repentance. Let’s pray the our Lord drains the swamp. Let us be devoted to one another in brotherly love, from sea to shining sea. Be a light. Add your purifying savor to the broth. Feed his sheep. This land is your land, after all. God gave it to you as a gift and a calling.