Shunning Green Pastures

Study Where You Can

rotundaLast night I was sitting in the rotunda of our county courthouse. No, I was not in trouble – this time. I was just there waiting on my daughter as she was practicing with a group of other kids for upcoming mock trial competition. (If you don’t know what that is, it’s a bunch of high school students from different schools who compete against each other in “mock” trials in court).

Anyway, because her practices usually take at least a couple of hours, I always take something to study. I mean, if I’m going to have to be there, I might as well make use of my time, right? So, this time I took with me my Bible and volume one of a series of commentaries on the book of John by the late Dr. James Montgomery Boice. You see, I’m am beginning a sermon series through the book of John this next Sunday.

So, outside in the rotunda, where I actually found a leather chair in a relatively quite spot, I read the following passage from Dr. Boice’s book. Here’s a little teaser for ya’ – I had to stand up after reading it and raise my hands, with tears in my eyes, and say aloud, “Hallelujah!”

Did you know that a sheep will not eat or drink when it is lying down? Most people have never heard this. But it is a fact, and it gives special meaning to the phrase, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” If a sheep is lying down, even in the greenest of pastures and even with the most tender morsel of grass within an inch of its nose, the sheep will not eat the grass. Instead, if it is hungry, it will scramble to its feet, bend over, and then eat the morsel that was much easier to reach before. Thus, when the psalm tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, makes us to lie down in green pastures, it means that he is able to satisfiy us so completely that we cannot possibly yearn for anything more. – James Montgomery Boice. The Gospel of John, Volume 1: The Coming of the Light, p.41.

What did you think about that?

Greener Pastures?

So, what got me so excited there in the rotunda of the county courthouse? Reading a truth that had never crossed my mind before: Jesus wants to make me not even care about green pastures!

That’s right! When Jesus satisfies our souls, nothing else can compare, not even the best offers of the world; more prestigious position; the more attractive temptation; etc.

When we are totally satisfied with Jesus, He can lead us to the greenest pastures and have us so fulfilled in Him that we can lay down and never take a bite! For that matter, when our souls are completely nourished with Him, the desire to seek greener pastures doesn’t even cross our minds; it’s not even appealing!

Oh, hallelujah, my friends! Satisfy your hunger with the Bread of Life; quench your deepest thirst with the Water of Life. Find your satisfaction in the abundant life of Christ and greener pastures won’t even be appetizing.

With Jesus satisfies your soul, you can be content in whatever field you’re led.

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Netanyahu and Purim

My Stand

Let me be very honest…very honest. For that matter, let me be so honest that some of you reading this will want to unsubscribe, write a hateful comment, or even threaten bodily harm (which is not uncommon nowadays with those who supposedly celebrate free-thinking and tolerance).

I stand with Israel. That’s right, I stand with Israel.

No, it does not mean that I agree with everything Israel’s government does. No, it does not mean that I am happy that Israel’s Prime Minister denies Jesus Christ. But what it does mean is that I stand with the one nation in the middle east which is not tied to a bunch of fanatics who want to cut my head off, burn me alive, or rape my wife and children in front of me until I renounce Christianity and embrace Islam – and then cut my head off.

Hate me, yell at me, curse me, or whatever; I don’t care. You can take the side of Hamas, the Ayatollah’s, Hitler, or Haman of old, but I will stand with Israel.

Bibi’s Speech

Last night the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, made a speech to the joint houses of Congress in the capital building in Washington, D.C. Our president chose to act like a teenager who’d been “dissed” and avoided the speech, along with his staff and a lot of Democrats. However, others were there, including a truly-deserving Nobel Prize winner, award-winning author and holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel. (All I could do was cry when I read his book, Night)

So many have taken the opportunity to condemn Netanyahu for coming to America and speaking. They have called his speech “worthless” and “political,” even dismissing it as ineffective for not even making a dent in the current negotiations that the Vietnam veteran and French-serenading John Kerry is currently conducting with Iran.

Big deal.

What Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech proved was that he does not trust his current enemy to behave any differently than any number of previous enemies, including one who signed a 1938 agreement in Munich which was supposed to bring “peace in our time.” As a matter of fact, he sees this attempt to appease a border-thirsty, caliphate-seeking nation as nothing more than starting the countdown clock toward nuclear war.

Another prime minister who spoke to congress three times, Winston Churchill, was laughed to scorn by the leaders of Europe and America when he suggested a future treaty signer was nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Who was proven to be correct?

Purim

It amazes me that in such a short time so many people forget what happened in the concentrations camps. It amazes me even more that there are idiots and psychopaths who deny the holocaust happened. But it did, and it wasn’t the first time, either.

In the 4 century BC, another leader within another Persian empire, a man named Haman, sought to utterly destroy the Jews. Long before the Ayatollahs of Iran came on the scene, even before Nazi Germany, this ticked off noblemen decided to pursue a plan to kill the Jews in one day. By God’s grace a young woman named Esther,  who later became queen of Persia, was raised up “for such a time as this” to deliver her people. In one day the tables turned and the Jews were allowed, by another declaration, to defend themselves – which they did.

One of the most brilliant things Prime Minister Netanyahu did was link the intents of an ancient Persian anti-Semite with the intents of modern Persian anti-Semites: the leaders of Iran. How many other countries in the world today have been battling for survival for over 4,000 years? How many times will we have to go down this road before we understand that those who say they want to destroy Israel aren’t joking?

Tonight I will also celebrate the festival of Purim. No, there will be no feast or gifts exchanged (except at a birthday party for my daughter we are also going to), but I will tell the story of Esther and her people’s miraculous deliverance from destruction. I will also pray that more leaders will have the wisdom and foresight Esther’s uncle, Mordechai.

Somebody needs to call the free people of the world to stand with courage, to stand with Israel, and to stand against those who seek her destruction…for such a time is now.

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The Abomidable Snow Monkey

Pardon me, but this post is a test of WordPress’ upgraded smartphone app. 

The snow came suddenly, along with the frigid air that chilled my blood. But nothing could cause me to freeze in fear than a face-to-face encounter with the mythical, yet now all-too-real, Abomidable Snow Monkey. 

I had been in my study studying, which is what I always swear I’m doing when I leave the estrogenated atmosphere of home for a few hours, when I finally had to break away from the parchments (wouldn’t you love to diagram a sentence like this?). So, up from my chair I arose, away from my desk I stepped, eventually exiting the mine in which I readily dig for wisdom. Into the cold I went, at first greeted with a refreshing breath of refreshingly refreshing cold air, then shocked with a chilling terror – the Abomidable Monkey. 



There it was, backdropped by a hillside of tombstones, proof that fur and fear can inhabit the same flanneled square foot. What was I to do but slowly raise my iPhone and take a creative picture?

He/it stared. I stared back with nary a word. Then, like a couple of drifting snow flakes, we softly walked away, as if snow flakes could walk. 

I will never forget that snowy day. And I’ll never again lay a wet with snow monkey on my office chair, either. 

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Honey Maid Fatalism?

Yesterday evening, just before I was about to head on over to the church, my wife saw a commercial on the television she had on while she was doing taxes for a client. She said, “Did you hear what that commercial just said?”

“No, what commercial?”

OK, before I go any further, before any of you get too judgmental, my wife is an accountant and this is income tax season – she barely has time for sleep and is doing tax work every available minute. Therefore, even up to 30 minutes before time to leave for evening services at church, my wife – the pastor’s wife – was still sitting in front of two computer screens and listening to a television for background noise. 

“There was a commercial from Honey Maid (they make graham crackers),” she said. “Here, I’ll just rewind it…watch this…”

Evidently this commercial is not new, but would anyone with any sense like to explain to me what I just watched? Does this not in any way concern any of you? What in the world does it mean when you say, “What makes us wholesome never will”?

Some of you (you know who you are) don’t understand why this commercial upsets me. After all, it’s only a reflection of the pagan, post-Christian culture in which we live, right? “It is what it is,” some might say, “so just move on.” But this commercial DOES anger me! As a matter of fact, it does more than anger me – in breaks my heart. Let me tell you why.

First, it condones divorce, even going so far as to making it a positive for the children involved. In the first few words we hear a father say how that he never thought he’s get a divorce, but now he sees it as just that many more people to love the kids. Really? That’s akin to stating, “Hey, divorce ain’t that bad, just look at how happy the kids are!”

Second, it promotes brokenness. Yes, I said it “promotes” it. Even though this commercial is linked to a larger advertising campaign, #NotBroken, that aspires to celebrate the diverse landscape of the modern family unit, it’s actually celebrating brokenness as an inherent virtue. There is nothing in this commercial that promotes wholeness, is there? There’s nothing in this commercial that calls for the support of intact, nuclear families, is there? No, only the celebration that families come in all shapes, sizes, colors, AND sexual orientations.

Third, it’s fatalistic and hopeless. The money quote from the commercial is, “What makes us wholesome never will.” In other words, whatever it was that we as a culture ever thought was normal and healthy, forget it – we will never be “wholesome,” for there is no such thing…except for Honey Maid crackers.

But, supposedly, this is our culture. Mondelez International senior marketing director Gary Osifchin said of their add campaign, “[W]e’re holding a mirror up to America and celebrating all-American families. We’re on a journey here where we are very much showing America who they are. … It’s reality.[Source] Maybe so, but it’s not by God’s design.

We’ve given up on promoting nuclear families; now we’re celebrating the pieces left over from a nuclear blast, and supposedly the kids are happier for it.

 

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Birds and Bees 2.0

The following is fiction, but based on a sad, tragic reality: children are growing up in a culture with no norms, no absolutes, and no foundations but the shifting sands of desire. The “birds and the bees” are not what they used to be.

Here’s a helpful link should you get confused with gender-related terms: CLICK HERE.


Teigan’s Story

Teigan was getting ready to leave school, when at that moment, just as soon as she exited the gender-neutral bathroom, she saw what looked to be a cis gender female with a large belly. Looking down at her own sun dress, she thought to herself, “I wonder if I could look like that?”

Teigan was just like any other gender-fluid child; gender was whatever the mood of the day dictated. Although born a male, Teigan’s parents refused to impose any stereotypical roles; they encouraged role experimentation and never referred to him as “son,” only “child.” Therefore, if Teigan wanted to wear a nice dress out to dinner with her parents, then her parents would select the most appropriate ribbon for her hair. If Teigan wanted to play ball with the other boys, he would put on his Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt and jeans and head out to the park. Teigan’s gender preferences were as fluid as water in a mountain stream, changing direction with every obstacle and shift in terrain.

Thinking of the cis female (a female who identifies as a woman/has a feminine gender identity) h- saw earlier at school, Teigan was excited to ask h- parents the question all adults dread: “Where do babies come from?” You see, there were times when Teigan wanted to be a mommy, just like the cis female h- had seen earlier. But it was the particulars of “how” that confused h-.

According to Facebook, there are over 58 different genders one could select when signing up for a new account, and Teigan knew there was no way h- could choose just one. Teigan was not a just a boy or a girl, h- was whatever h- felt that day…and that posed a problem. You see, Teigan had noticed that the only genders with large bellies (the ones with child) were typically cis females, along with the occasional gender questioning or FTM. In most cases, the one with the large belly never fluctuated gender like Teigan did. “How, then,” Teigan wondered, “could I get a big belly to show off my dress, but then wear blue jeans later with the cis boys?”

Teigan had gotten gold stars for paying attention in h- sex education classes. H- had learned all about how tadpoles and eggs become something called a parasite, or fetus… but h- was still confused. The time had come to ask his parents.

“Dad, Papa, where do babies come from, and how can I have one?” Teigan asked.

Teigan’s father’s eyes shot over at his husband’s with a look of “what do we say?” Dad sat down his latte and replied, “Papa will tell you all about it.” Papa, realizing his husband would only end up acting like a wife if he refused, agreed to give Teigan a thumbnail sketch of the new “birds and bees,” or as it’s understood today, “Birds and Bees 2.0.”

Papa began: “You see, Teigan, when a loving couple wants to have a baby, depending on their gender, sexual orientation, or surgeries that may have been performed, they might go to bed and hold each other really close. At that point, when they get really, really close, a baby is made.” Papa continued: “For others, they just go to bed and wake up the next morning, after which they decide to go have a baby made for them.”

Teigan, still a little confused, then asked, “But how can I get a big belly and have a baby, too?” With excitement, Teigan added: “It would be fun to waddle around like the cis female I saw at school – I think she was a teacher – and wear a big, pretty dress! If I fall in love and get really close can I get a big belly and have a baby, too?”

“I’m sorry, Teigan, but we haven’t evolved that far…yet,” Teigan’s other father, Dad, said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what Mrs. Clinton can do.”

Heartbroken, little Teigan began to cry. As the tears began to wash away h- sparkly blush, h- whimpered, “But I want to have a belly like those cis females who are always cis females.”

“Maybe someday,” said Papa. “Yes, maybe someday,” said Dad.

“In the meantime,” Papa asked with a smile, “why don’t we go get some ice cream?”

Awesome!” exclaimed Teigan. “What should I wear?”


My Thoughts

When I was a child, a long time ago, my dad told me the “facts of life,” which included the “birds and bees” info. Included in that awkward lecture, however, were references back to the book of Genesis, where we are told God made “male and female,” not cis male and cis female. It was certainly a simpler time.

What are we doing to our children? What kind of harvest are we going to reap after sowing such seeds of confusion? Are all the options we’re creating in order to satisfy and coddle a morally bankrupt and confused generation going to strengthen familial bonds? Will the term family even survive the next generation?

God’s Thoughts

And [Jesus] answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made [them] at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh‘? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” – Matthew 19:4-6 NKJV

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, Defining Marriage, Humor, Relationships and Family

Wednesday Monkey

It has been a while, and a few of you have been asking, so I figured I shouldn’t waste an opportunity for Mr. Monkey to play in the snow.

The only problem? I had to get out in the snow with him – and get snowed on.

So, here it is…totally unscheduled and impromtuitiously made…a new Monday Monkey video…

…on a Wednesday.

Oh, and that’s my school bus in the background. Think I’ll be driving it tomorrow? Are you kidding?! This is the South!

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I’m a Word Farmer

“A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompense of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him.” – Proverbs 12:14

Word Farming

It should come as no shock to anyone that I use words on a daily basis. I talk, write, sing, preach, teach, and even give dating advice to second-graders on my school bus (but that’s a different story).

Image credit: Wikimedia.org

I am a word farmer, and my mouth could be compared to one of those big machine-thingys (non-farmer terminology) that spreads seed across a field. From morning till evening I am like a John Deere pulling a seed drill (farmer terminology), planting row after row of something that should grow.

The hope is that whatever I am planting will produce a good harvest. And if I am planting good seed, then I will be satisfied with the “good fruit.”

Don’t Work, Don’t Eat

But it is important that we pay attention to the negative side of this, not just  the “fruitful” positive. The New Living Translation of Proverbs 12:14 reads, “Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards.

What happens when we don’t plant? What happens when we don’t work? What happens when the farmer parks his tractor, sleeps late, and watches television all day? Plants don’t grow, no one is satisfied, and grown men end up watching the Lifetime Channel.

Rewards are the result of effort; harvests are the result of planting. To be satisfied with good from the fruit of your mouth, you’ve got to plant seed. If you don’t work, you don’t eat.

Just be careful of the seed you plant, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.” – Isa 3:10-11 ESV

This post was originally written for Proverbial Thought, 10/2012.

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