King Solomon Versus the Hair Band Poison

King Solomon:

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief (Ecclesiastes 1:18, New International Version).

Poison:

Yeah sometimes I wish I didn’t know now
The things I didn’t know then

Yes, the body of Christ is composed from every nation under the sun, and from folks who grew up with all kinds of different music. 🙂

Poison’s “Something to Believe In” (which includes the line at 4:59 in):

Failure to Communicate

Video snapshotWeeks ago I heard Guns N’ Roses’ “Civil War” again, which starts off with this famous quote from Cool Hand Luke:

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don’t like it any more than you men.

In this Hollywood case, it is a tyranical, evil prison warden who is saying it to rationalize mistreating a prisoner (played by Paul Newman). However, I cannot help but think that, replacing an evil man with a good God, it can be used to illustrate some biblical truth.

  1. Between God and man, there is a failure to communicate
  2. The issue is on man’s side, not God’s, because…
  3. Some men you just can’t reach
  4. God ultimately gives men what they want
  5. God takes no pleasure in given men what they deserve

(Of course, in this case I am using “man” and “men” in its traditional form, representing humans regardless of gender.)

With the first one, I hope I don’t have to prove it. From the moment Eve first trusted the devil more than our Lord, that failure to communicate has been pretty obvious. As for the problem being on our side (versus God’s), here is an interesting example from just before the first Christian martyr, Stephen, gets stoned:

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you (Acts 7:51, English Standard Version).

Throughout history, it hasn’t been for a lack of effort on our Lord’s part that men haven’t heard…it’s because we resist. Today, we have even less excuse, because the Ultimate form of communication came:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Yet, there is still a failure to communicate.

Not enough evidence for you? The first chapter or Romans may be the slam-dunk about those who refuse to listen:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them (Romans 1:18-19).

Basically, the truth is plain. We choose to ignore it.

Now, how about “God ultimately gives men what they want”? Romans 1 gives us a view of this too:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen (Romans 1:24-25).

Two more times in that chapter the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to talk about God giving men up…giving men what they want.

Which, if it is outside God’s will, is not good for us. Horribly bad, actually.

Ultimately, in the end, those who truly want to be with the Most High will be, and those who don’t won’t. Their choice. (As is said, “Choose wisely.”) God does not force anyone to be damned or to be saved.

Okay, what about the last one? Does our Lord enjoy giving bad men what they deserve?

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live (Ezekiel 18:32).

Absolutely not…and if you think about it…why would He have gone through with so costly a plan (as sending His Son to die for us) if He got a kick out of righteous punishment of sinners? “For God so loved the world” and all (see John 3:16)…

The cruel warden in Cool Hand Look is a not a fair symbol for God, but the problems he had with Paul Newman’s character is the problem God has with us. The difference is that God is good and the communication breakdown (Led Zeppelin anyone?) is completely on our side.

Let us not be like so many throughout history and today. Let us listen and live.

P.S. In case you are interested, here is the song that that brought these thoughts to mind:

Don’t Stop Looking at the Clouds

Closer view of light on fluffy clouds

There was a period in my adulthood where I stopped looking at the clouds. I do not know for sure, but I think it was the stress of a previous job that led to it. Of course, allowing it to do so was my choice, whether or not I realized it.

Life still has its stresses, sometimes as bad (if not worse) than that period. I refuse to stop looking at the clouds again.

God blessed me with these tonight…

Vew of light on fluffy clouds

Rainbows and Skittles

Rainbow in HonoluluWork has brought me to Honolulu multiple times this year, and I type this in a Hawaii Prince Hotel room.

You feel horrible for me, don’t you? 🙂

One thing I love about Hawaii is how often I see rainbows (thanks to sporadic rain showers). The photo in the top left of this article is from this morning, taken as I walked back from a quick swim at the Ala Moana Beach Park. Last week I posted the image directly below on Facebook and kidded that “driving to work in Hawaii is always rainbows and Skittles!”:

Rainbow on the way to work in Honolulu

And, as luck would have it, yesterday I could confirm the same going the other direction with, “It’s all rainbows and Skittles in Hawaii on the drive home too!”:

Rainbow in Honolulu during the drive home

But, none of the pictures I’ve shared so far were the first rainbow that stood out during my Hawaii visits in 2016. Instead, going to the local Costco to get a Hawaiian shirt (on the advice of locals), this greeted me in its parking lot:

Rainbow seen from Costco parking lot

Amazing, eh?!

“Always rainbows and skittles” probably seems a little childish or naive, but it hit me this morning that life is full of rainbows, if only we keep our eyes open for them. To and from work I can focus on the horrible traffic lights and people driving erratically, or…

Ditto with life. With 24 hour cable news, social media, and other forms of information overload we can be engulfed by negative news and miss the fact that no matter how dark the world is…

God’s rainbows break through.

Yes, I am being euphemistic here. 🙂

We’ve done a lot to darken the world, but evil never completely overcomes good. For me, the most sure rainbows are children. Their laughs are infective and their smiles are balm for my soul. However, life’s rainbows aren’t just children, and if I were to start listing all of them this post would become ridiculously long.

Stop staring at the ground in front of you or at the troubles around you and always watch for rainbows. When you see one, be sure to tell someone else! I did that this morning with an older couple and you should have seen the smiles on their face when they stopped, looked behind, and saw it.

Smiles that were another rainbow for me.

P.S. The Lord has also blessed me by having a home where rainbows frequent the horizon:

Rainbow seen from backyard

 

Video of the Week

The video of the week this time is for Father’s Day 2016…my good friend David Britt singing “A Father’s Prayer”:

And yes, I know I don’t do a video a week. 🙂

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

“The Great Question” About Our Faith

Andrew Klavan begins his “The Great Question” with…

Islamism is the great evil of our age, and the great question of our age is whether this foulness is the natural child of Islam itself or a cancer on its body.

Given the continual, regular atrocities done in the name of Islam (but that we are always told have nothing to do with the “religion of peace”)…

Islamic symbolThis seems an especially apropos query.

Are the terrorist acts of self-proclaimed Muslims an evil aberration or a natural extension of Islam and its holy book? Were the millions purged in Russia and China in the 20th century a natural child of communism? Is the corruption and complete breakdown of the economy in Venezuala (and resulting chaos) a natural result of socialism?

Was the Inquisition a natural extension of Christianity? How about other evil done in the name of Christ the last 2,000 years?

A very wise man said, “We become like the god we worship.”

And everybody worships a god, whether they realize it or not. I’ll unhesitatingly choose Jesus over Allah, Lenin (or Stalin), Mao, or Chavez (or his weaker replacement Maduro). There is no foulness in Christ nor in the pure faith He founded with His blood on the cross.

Can you say the same of ______? When its followers “become like the god [they] worship,” is the result more love and life or more corruption and carnage?

Another “question of our age” I suppose…

Orlando (Jesus Wept)

Jesus wept.

The shortest verse in the Bible (John 11:35) seems especially apropos given the carnage in Orlando. Those two words remind us that the sinless Son of God deeply cares about the pain we feel. In context, Christ knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, yet…

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled (John 11:33, English Standard Version).

And…

Woman weepingJesus wept.

There are friends…brothers…sisters…mothers…fathers…children…

Weeping in Orlando.

Jesus weeps with them.

So should we.

Avoid politics. Avoid finger pointing. Avoid judging.

There is plenty of time in the future to do all that where appropriate.

For now, we should just have the heart of Christ…

And weep…

While looking forward to the day when God…

…will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

God’s Love Causes Goodness

Another great quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain:

But God’s love, far from being caused by the goodness in an object, causes all the goodness an object has, loving it first into existence and then into real, though derivative, loveability. God is Goodness. He can give good, but cannot need or get it.

Disbelief Versus Unbelief

Skeptical womanYesterday I ran into a link to an article I think every Christian, especially budding theologians, should read:

“Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America”

Contrary to what some might argue, doctrine is important. For instance, Jesus is the Son of God; if you do not believe that, you are not a Christian and are not saved. However, I would posit that, by sheer volume, most Christian doctrine is neither as clear nor as important as “Jesus is the Son of God.” That is not the same as saying it is unimportant (although some of it isn’t), but doctrines to place in your “castle keep,” that are a “hill to die on,” etcetera are few compared to the total.

Which leads to the article:

Regretfully, the term “skeptic” today is being used by many who adopt that label for themselves in a misleading way. To many, it is falsely equated with the term “rationalist.” The dictionary meaning of the term indicates that a skeptic is one who raises doubts. Thus the word is meant to reflect nonbelief rather than disbelief. But when we look at those who trumpet that they are skeptics towards claims of anomalies, we find disbelievers and debunkers rather than those who express uncertainty or doubt. The public “skeptics” of today present us with answers rather than questions.

It is important to distinguish between disbelief and nonbelief– between believing a sentence is false and merely not believing it true. Disbelief is a case of belief; to believe a sentence false is to believe the negation of the sentence true.

With everything in life, especially that which we cannot confirm with our five senses, we should be skeptical. As the article notes, however, skepticism is not the same as disbelief; it is nonbelief. An atheist should be skeptical of the claims of Christianity, because they are incredible! Having said that, and continuing with Marcello Truzzi’s post, they also would be wise to consider these words from James H. Hyslop: [Read more…]

“Be Nice”

"Be nice. Jesus said so."Augie and I were out getting mom birthday cards and gifts…and at the Hallmark Store I couldn’t help but purchase what is pictured here.

Now, Michelle liked it so much that instead of it ending up in my office, it’s in her hutch. 🙂

But, how biblically correct is it?

Well, I suppose it all depends on how you define “nice.” Searching for “Jesus ‘be nice'” on Google, the top three hits were:

Two vote down and one votes up, but says it is not enough…

My Mac’s dictionary’s first definition of nice is: [Read more…]

LGBT and the Church

Jesus loves you blocksA friend of mine on Facebook linked to this article:

“Homosexuality: We Need A Posture Shift”

You should read the whole thing to ensure you aren’t basing your opinion on my post, but it starts off with:

Jesus’ radical love toward the marginalized and outcast is shocking. Not just that he loved, but how he loved them. Jesus rarely started a relationship with the law, and he never offered his “stance” on political issues. He usually began the relationship with love and always showed acceptance, especially with those rejected by the religious elite. And this has massive Jesus-shaped implications for how Christians have (mis-)treated the unchurched LGBT community.

From there it uses a centurion and a tax collector (Matthew) as examples of how we should treat LGBT people. He wraps up with:

Religious people always got upset whenever Jesus befriended people who they thought were terrible sinners. If you’re a Christian who is trying hard to love LGBT people, and if this ticks off a lot of religious people, perhaps even those really close to you, then take comfort. You’re in good company. Jesus knows exactly how you feel.

After reading his article, what are your thoughts? These were mine (which I added as a comment): [Read more…]

“Nonsense Remains Nonsense Even When We Talk it About God”

The Problem of Pain book coverI started C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain today on a flight to Honolulu. Now, before you get envious, it is for work. However, I sill stipulate that there are far worse places and things to do for work. 🙂

In either case, it is yet another thought-provoking work by him, and I am sure it will generate a good number of posts here on Traditores…this being the first. Getting on with that…

How many of you have ever heard someone ask, “Can God create a rock so large He cannot lift it?”

To them, hopefully with kindness in your heart and voice, you can respond:

[God’s] Omnipotence means the power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to him, but not nonsense. There is no limit to His power. If you chose to say “God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,” you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words “God can.” It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but non-entities. It is no more possible for God than the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.

It is easy to see how this quote from chapter two applies to the rock question, but we humans fall afoul of this far more often than we realize; whether as believers building a self-contradictory systematic theology, or non-believers rationalizing our rejection of the Divine through an intrinsically impossible standard for an acceptable God.

Nonsense remains nonsense.

May These Sad Words Never Be Said of You

Wooden cross in hand with BibleAs I continue through a very painful part of Scripture (where we generally hear about how unfaithful the kings of Israel and Judah were), I ran into something I hope will never be said of you (or me):

[Jehoram] was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings (2 Chronicles 21:20, English Standard Version, emphasis mine).

May your time on this world cause the opposite reaction, and may you and your loved ones meet together again with Jesus in eternity.

I Am Ordinary


Ordinary.

I’ll never walk with God like Enoch.
I’ll never be as righteous as Noah.
I’ll never match the meekness of Moses.
I’ll never show the fearlessness of Daniel.
I’ll never develop a heart like David.
I’ll never attain the wisdom of Solomon.
I’ll never have a voice in the widnerness like John.
I’ll never turn back as whole-heartedly as Peter.
I’ll never teach theology like Paul.
I’ll never know love like John.

Until.

The cry of command.
The voice of an archangel.
The sound of the trumpet of God.

Then.

I’ll be quite extraordinary.

When Your Death Shows God’s Favor

Men carrying casketI’m reading through the Bible again this year and a couple weeks ago I ran into an interesting section. My instinct is to consider God having a person die early is a bad sign…e.g. Ananias and Sapphira (see Acts 5). Basically, early death by God’s decree = bad.

To quickly catch you up for a clear exception to that rule we’ve got Jeroboam, who, after God made him king of Israel, deciding it would be good to make sure his subjects didn’t head to the Lord’s temple to worship: [Read more…]