“I have the right to doubt, am I using it?”

20140328-095300.jpgI listen to old-time radio all night, specifically 20th Century Radio. This morning, after my wife’s alarm unintentionally went off (doh!) and my youngest daughter (not considering it is two hours earlier here, doh!) texted, “Happy Thanksgiving,” Night Beat’s “Target for a Day” episode was playing. The main character, reporter Randy Stone, had been falsely accused by a competing paper’s gossip columnist of committing a murder that a another man was, midnight that day, to be executed for. The death row inmate’s wife completely believed the article and was going to kill Stone the very moment her husband’s life was ended. There is more to the plot, but given the recent Ferguson, Missouri situation (and the Trayvon Martin one before it), Stone’s monologue at the end seemed especially apropos and sage:

But by the same token, would you past the test? How good are you at telling the lie from the truth? Does the truth vary according to your personal convenience? Black one day, white the next?

The next time you read anything, ask yourself, “I have the right to doubt, am I using it?” Because it is too dangerous living in a world of misinformed people. There is a reason why the lie is the tyrant’s favorite death weapon. It’s killed more people since the world began than all the armies and automobiles put together.

The Bible, a much more reliable source of wisdom than a radio drama (or leaders, politicians, and the media with agendas), states this much more succinctly:

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment (John 7:24, English Standard Version).

Pray for the families and friends of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, but also pray that your judgment of those two young men…and those who ended their lives…is not “according to your personal convenience.” For…

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:2).

Are Your Ears Itchy?

Dog itching its earWhat is the saying? A lie can travel halfway around the world before truth gets its shoes on (or something like that)?

“How the ‘Jesus’ Wife’ Hoax Fell Apart”

(Subtitled “The media loved the 2012 tale from Harvard Divinity School.”)

What is the likelihood the truth will get the same press as the lie?

The entire article is worth reading, but this was especially interesting to me:

It is perhaps understandable that Ms. King would have been taken in when an anonymous owner presented her with some papyrus fragments for research. What is harder to understand was the rush by the media and others to embrace the idea that Jesus had a wife and that Christian beliefs have been mistaken for centuries. No evidence for Jesus having been married exists in any of the thousands of orthodox biblical writings dating to antiquity.

I think the author, Jerry Pattengale, is missing something obvious to us Christians thanks to “orthodox biblical writings dating to antiquity”:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:3, English Standard Version).

If you want to believe, God will find a way. If you don’t want to believe, you will find a way (and God will allow it).

“I can’t explain why we shouldn’t murder disabled children”

Baby cryingMatt Walsh’s blog post, "I can’t explain why we shouldn’t murder disabled children" caused quite a stir this week. This is not really something I want to submit on Christmas Eve, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget to post it and (come to think of it) it is apropos given we are about to celebrate the birth of a baby.

Please read Walsh’s entire article yourself (my excerpts cannot do it justice)…but about two thirds of the way into the piece he explains its genesis:

I say all of this because my initial intention was to sit down and write about the couple in Washington who just won a 50 million dollar "wrongful birth" settlement. Brock and Rhea Wuth sued a hospital because their son was born severely disabled. No, they were not alleging that the hospital caused the disability; they alleged that the hospital (and a lab testing facility) did not run the correct tests that would have detected the genetic defects while the child was still in the womb. Had they been given the correct tests, they would have known that the baby was "defective," and then killed it. Tragically, they were robbed of the opportunity to abort their son, so the hospital must pay for the son’s care — for the rest of his life.

I’m speechless. Continue reading “I can’t explain why we shouldn’t murder disabled children”

“Triumph of the Vulgarians”

A valuable article on the mainstreaming of vulgar language from Jonah Goldberg. Christians (including pastors) are also guilty of helping make obscene speech the norm and acceptable. Shame on us.

(And, with all due respect to those who disagree, Christians who claim foul language is okay are choosing to ignore and or misinterpret ample biblical evidence to the contrary.)

“Judge orders baker to serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs”

WhippingOminous words:

"While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers," ACLU staff attorney Amanda Goad said in a statement. "No one is asking Masterpiece’s owners to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple."

The rest of the article is available here. Basically, if you don’t want to use your artistic skills (translation: free speech) to implicitly endorse something you consider (and the church from day one has considered) sinful…too bad…something that is specifically mentioned in the First Amendment (religious freedom) is trumped by something that is never discussed in all of the Constitution (sexual preference).

This reminds me of a sermon I did called "Steppin’ Stone." In it I shared a similar case with a Christian photographer: Continue reading “Judge orders baker to serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs”

You’ll Get Your Chance

Pastor Louie Giglio (taken from the Passion City Church blog)[Before you read this article, please read "What I Think about Homosexuals and Homosexuality."]

Earlier today (January 10, 2013), Twitter lit-up because an Atlanta pastor, Louie Giglio, withdrew his acceptance of an invitation to present the benediction for the upcoming presidential inauguration. Considering what Addie Whisenant of the Presidential Inaugural Committee said, it may have been the equivalent of an employee resigning before being fired:

We were not aware of Pastor Giglio's past comments at the time of his selection and they don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration's vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.1

What were the remarks that set-off gay activists? Quite a few in a 54-minute sermon called "In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality"2 from around two decades ago. Describing it as preaching "rabidly anti-LGBT views," ThinkProgress LGBT appeared especially incensed that he suggested Christians needed to fight efforts that would lead "to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family."; that he clearly and unambiguously stated practicing homosexuality is a sin; that he asserted that it doesn't matter if homosexuality is genetic, it is still a choice; that he dared to reference and discuss on a verse that said practicing gays won't make it into heaven; and that he posited Jesus Christ is powerful enough to heal homosexuals from their sinful behavior.3 Continue reading You’ll Get Your Chance

A Christian’s Letter to Santa

Letter to SantaAfter typing the title to this article, "A Christian's Letter to Santa," it hit me that there are brothers in sisters in the body of Christ who would immediately assert, "A Christian would never write Santa" or even "A Christian would never celebrate Christmas." For instance, after posting a quick "Merry Christmas from the Antrim Church of Christ!" (followed by four applicable scriptures) on our Facebook page, one saint commented:

Is this the true church of Christ who celebrate xmas? Church of Christ does not do such thing.

Although he hasn't taken me up on my offer to discuss it, I do not question that an argument can be made for not celebrating a holiday whose date (and some customs) have pagan connections. Additionally, I do think that certain aspects of the American Santa Claus tradition are problematic…but I'm not going to potentially start any firestorm here. 🙂

Luckily, the Bible allows for differing views on the holiday: Continue reading A Christian’s Letter to Santa

America Demands a King

One Tuesday in November…

After Tuesday night’s election, there were various reactions to the results. Although it was actually before any polls closed, one example of a response is this tweet from someone I follow on Twitter (and who follows me):

Tweet about Christians compromising during an election

A US Veteran said he felt betrayed by people voting for Obama. I could say the same thing about Christians voting for Romney! #Compromise

I suspect most of us here would not agree with my Twitter friend (while respecting his right to come to a different conclusion than us). However, given his support for Obama, I was a little surprised when, early in the morning on Thursday after the election, he tweeted this:

Tweet about deserving what we get from the election

America! Since God has given you what you wanted, don’t be surprised when He gives you what YOU deserve!

I told him, “I’m getting a 1 Samuel 8 vibe…” and he responded, “Stop looking at my notes bro! Lol!” 🙂

Getting What We Want

Well, let’s go ahead and see what my Twitter friends notes say, and then chat more about what perspective we should have for this election. It’s a bit of a long read, but well worth it:

Continue reading America Demands a King

“Two rival religions? … The real struggle is between Christianity and Post-Christianity.”

A liberal telling a conservative...There is a very interesting article by Albert Mohler that is worth your time titled, “Two Rival Religions? Christianity and Post-Christianity.” Not only does it explain why it is near impossible to convince a liberal Christian of something outside their worldview, but it (in great respect) puts into words how secularism is itself a religion with holy writings, priests, and so on.  For instance:

Secular liberalism also identifies certain sins such as “homophobia” and sexism. As Kainz sees it, the secular scriptures fall into two broad categories: “Darwinist and scientistic writings championing materialist and naturalistic explanations for everything, including morals; and feminist writings exposing the ‘evil’ of patriarchy and tracing male exploitation of females throughout history up to the present.”

The priests and priestesses of secular liberalism constitute its “sacerdotal elite” and tend to be intellectuals who can present liberal values in the public square. Congregations where secular liberals gather include organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the National Organization of Women, and similar bodies. These groups “help supply a sense of affiliation and commonality for the religiously liberal.”

In some ways I’d like to copy the whole article for you :-), but instead of plagiarizing…please take time to read Dr. Mohler’s piece.

Teach Your Children Well

Bill Nye the Science Guy and a child with a verboten name…

This was a sermon I planned to preach last week…but postponed it when a difficult verse in Hebrews came up during the previous Wednesday’s Bible study…a verse that warranted a little more attention.

Although I do realize that some still disagree with me about how to apply Hebrews 6:4-6. 🙂

A boy named Hunter…

Either way, when it comes to social media, I probably follow Twitter most…and two tweets came through the same day that concerned me. One linked to an article about a deaf boy with a name that was problematic:

Hunter Spanjer says his name with a certain special hand gesture, but at just three and a half years old, he may have to change it.

“He’s deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy,” explained Hunter’s father, Brian Spanjer.

Grand Island’s “Weapons in Schools” Board Policy 8470 forbids “any instrument…that looks like a weapon,” But a three year-old’s hands?1

Although the school district ultimately relented…it wasn’t the foolishness of the policy (or its overly-strict application) that bothered me most. Instead…well, let me tell you why it disturbed me after we talk about what the second tweet pointed to.

Continue reading Teach Your Children Well

Going Gaga Over Christmas

(I wrote this in a particularly snarky frame of mind, so if you aren’t in a good mood or are a Yankees fan, please back away from the computer and save reading this for another time. :-))

A Very Gaga Holiday Album CoverI know I spend way too much money at Amazon MP3…but I’ve been addicted to music since I first started developing my own collection. (Prior to that my tastes were my father’s…basically adult contemporary. It’s still music I enjoy and have great respect for, but at some point…with a 70’s teen…Olivia Newton John and Englebert Humperdink had to give way to Kansas and Journey—after a short detour into The Village People. Come on, you gotta admit “Y.M.C.A” and “Macho Man” are catchy!)

Either way, I check out Amazon MP3 at least once every 24 hours to see what their MP3 Daily Deal is. More often than not it is a genre I have little interest in (it’s often indie coffee-house type stuff), but it does mean that during each visit Amazon’s whizz-bang computer gets a shot at enticing me to buy something else I don’t really need, and it knows from my buying history I’m a pretty big fan of Christmas music. (If you check out my “Christmas Album ‘Must Haves’ (2011 Version)” you’ll see I am a traditionalist…give me the old standards sung by people who could have been my grandparents or great-grandparents.) One recent time when their page refreshed Amazon MP3 shocked me by suggesting “A Very Gaga Holiday” by…well…that’s pretty obvious. 🙂

Why shocked? Continue reading Going Gaga Over Christmas

Too Big for Our Britches

Although having newer Nissans (under warranty) means Michelle and I generally take our cars to the dealer for service, I have a mechanic friend, Paul, who I trust completely when it comes to what should or shouldn't be done with our vehicles. If Paul were ever to suggest something that didn't make sense to me, I might ask him to explain, but I would do so as a student asking a teacher—and I would accept there are some areas where my existing knowledge comes up so short Paul might not be able to put it in lay enough terms for me. Of course, given enough time to grasp the foundations, I actually could understand anything Paul does.

If Paul were instead a theoretical physicist, it would be even more likely he'd have to tell me, "Hmmm…Alan…I don't think there is a way I can explain it so you can understand." And although scientists like Stephen Hawking have written some tremendous books to translate what is in their heads into words that we (the masses) can digest, the reality is that most of us get dumbfounded as soon as we see an equation with an unrecognizable symbol in it.

But again, given enough time to grasp the foundations, I could understand anything Hawking does.

In both cases, however, I am not egotistical enough to tell the real mechanic Paul, or the hypothetical theoretical physicist Paul, they are wrong on their subject matter unless I am sure I have competence in the topic we are discussing. I won't tell real Paul how he should fix a 1995 Subaru Outback, and I won't tell hypothetical Paul string theory is only good for hanging pixie-dust evolution fairies. Continue reading Too Big for Our Britches

Of Witches and Goblins and Big Black Cats

As many of you know, I avoid creating sermons for holidays—they seem so perfunctory and repetitive. That, and I'm rebellious and stubborn at heart, so having the calendar implicitly tell me I must do something makes me want to do it all the less.

Now Halloween, which is a couple weeks away, isn't a holiday where there would be a sermon expectation—other than in very conservative churches where they might expect a "Don't do it!" talk to help keep their children from falling into the temptation of celebrating the Devil's holiday—selling their soul for a bunch of unhealthy foodstuffs that modern liberals consider so evil that they are trying to tax it and ban it from schools.

Hmmm…has Alan just shown his hand…and is about to say that those who celebrate Halloween are celebrating with Satan?

You'll just have to wait and see. 🙂

Continue reading Of Witches and Goblins and Big Black Cats

Atheist Elementary School

One of the RSS feeds I follow is for a web site called Religion Dispatches. I will admit that I generally just read the short blurbs in the feed instead of going to the site—as a whole their pieces are on the liberal end of the spectrum and my traditional Christian hairline doesn't have much to spare. 🙂

And it did seem like the article, "Richard Dawkins' Atheist Academy of Unguided Truth" was going to be standard fare for Religion Dispatches. The title was enticing enough that I clicked through, and although I didn't want to try to read the whole thing on my iPhone I did run into this: Continue reading Atheist Elementary School

Verboten at 30,000 Feet

Famous Last Words

When someone is going to leave for a very long time…especially when that "long time" is death itself…we have a habit of putting great weight on their last words.

  • With some, perhaps it is an attempt at reconciliation before there is no more chance to right the wrong.
  • With others, perhaps it is an opportunity to impart some comfort before the guaranteed pain of separation.
  • Or maybe it's just one more occasion to let those you are leaving behind know just how much you love them.
  • Sometimes…however…it is the opportune time to share your last wishes…what you want those beholden to you to do after you go away…a dying man's request of sorts…

Great Commission

From Acts we know that Jesus spent 40 days appearing to his disciples "and speaking about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). We are going to look at His final words as recorded by Matthew. They may not be part of what He said just prior to his ascension, but they definitely seem like they might…and, regardless, the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to include them as the very end of his Gospel—which implies significance. Let's take a look at Matthew 28:16-20 together:

Continue reading Verboten at 30,000 Feet