Remembering a Whoop’n

A Whoop’n 

In case you are from a liberal society or background which prohibits whoop’ns, you might not know what I am talking about. Therefore, let me tell you what a “whoop’n” is.

A whoop’n (the abbreviated form of “whipping”) is a spanking, a tail thrashing, a belt to the rear, a switch’n, a “rod of instruction to the seat of discipline.”

Whoop’ns are not abuse. I survived many, and I’m thankful for every one my mom and dad gave me. They administered them in love.

Holy Wood Shed

The reason I am telling you all about “whoop’ns” is because God gave me one four years ago today. Yes, the Lord took me to His heavenly wood shed all because I acted like a hypocrite.

My daughter with Building 429

My daughter with Building 429

You see, four years ago a group called Building 429 came through town and I made of fool of myself in front of God and everybody, including my family and a bunch of guys who love Jesus. I judged them based on what they looked like – the very thing I preached and wrote against on this very website.

If you’d like to read the original story, just click on the link below. You’ll get a laugh out of it.

 “Recovering Legalist Meets Building 429″

But even though I learned a lesson, there are still times when I have to “check myself,” as my wife says. That’s why I call myself a “recovering” legalist.

BTW, they accepted my apology.

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Filed under clothing, legalism, Life Lessons, music

Legalistic Fasting

I thought I’d make today a “flashback Friday.” Back in 2011 I wrote about something that is on a lot of people’s minds right now…fasting. One point I was trying to make back then, and one that is still applicable, is this: fast if you will, but don’t be legalistic about it.

Another point I was trying to make is that we should not be guilted in to doing something that is not entirely biblical. Fasting might be a great thing, but do it according to biblical standards and don’t just take the word of someone promoting a new diet book.

Now, I’m not infallible, so I’d love your feedback. Leave a comment below.

“…if we are hungry enough for God we won’t need anyone to tell us when or how to fast.”

Don’t be legalistic about fasting.

There, I said it. It’s off my chest. I can sleep better, now.

You see, a lot of folks in the Christian community act no differently than the Muslim community during the month of Ramadan. They treat fasting as something necessary to gain favor with God. They think fasting is somehow required to be spiritual. I disagree.

Matthew 6:16 is a verse commonly used way out of context.  In that verse Jesus said, “when you fast.” It was not a command, but a prelude to a command. He said, “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance.” Jesus wasn’t commanding anyone to fast, only to not be like the hypocrites who make themselves look all pitiful.

When Jesus said “when,” He was speaking on the assumption that fasting was a common practice with those in the audience. However, we must be careful to take note that it was not a command to fast, nor one that gave instructions. All He said was that when you do fast, don’t be as one of those who seek attention from men.

Lest we forget, there is nothing that we can do to earn the favor of God. His grace is unmerited. His love is not based on the prerequisite of starving one’s self once a year, month, or week. There is nothing wrong with fasting, but there can be serious flaws with our intentions.

False Biblical Examples

It is evil to teach formulas for health, wealth, and happiness based on select passages of Scripture. A good example would be the Prayer of Jabez teaching that says, “Pray this prayer and you will be wealthy.” But examples of fasting in the Bible are also used for exploitation. The first one that comes to mind is the Daniel Fast.

If you remember, in the first chapter of the book of Daniel, Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.” Because of Daniel’s courageous stand, based on his faith in God and the dietary laws given to Moses, God chose to work a miracle and honor the Hebrew children, in turn bringing glory to Himself.

Sadly, there are those who look at what Daniel did and say, “Hey, if I just eat vegetables and water (because meat and wine are obviously evil), then I will be guaranteed health, wealth, and favor.” This is a classic example of misapplication.

True Biblical Examples

When I read the Bible, there are 3 things that seem to be common with true fasting: 1) Desperation, 2) Mourning, and 3) God’s glory. Nowhere do I see it taught that it should be used as a way to become a better person, a more spiritual saint, or a healthier individual. Nowhere do I see it taught that if one did not regularly fast, then that person should be considered spiritually inferior.

What I DO see are examples of people who, when faced with insurmountable trials, impending defeat, or crushing repentance, found food to be the least of their concerns. I think of David when he was praying for his dying son (2 Samuel 12:16 & 17). I think of Nehemiah when he heard of the broken wall (Nehemiah 1:4, 6).  I think of Queen Ester faced with the annihilation of her people (Ester 4:3). I think of Ezra, who, fearing the name of the LORD would be tainted, called the people to a fast before God (Ezra 8:22). These are the common examples.

Too often we take something from Scripture and cheapen it to the point that it becomes a simple 4 or 5-point how-to bestseller. In our slightly inconvenienced world we resort to claiming the only thing truly desperate people had at their disposal. We say, “if you do this, then that will happen.” More often than not, when people in the Bible fasted, it was not because they wanted to – they couldn’t do anything else.

Modern Legalists

Then there are those who like to flaunt the fact that they are disciplined and spiritual – the modern “hypocrite.” They look with derision upon the one who has not fasted once a week. They proudly proclaim “I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:12), when in reality their fasting is nothing more than a supposed means to a selfish end. Because of their judgmentalism, they force others to be like them. They create a law to which they hold all others accountable, while in the darkness the truly humble is beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

One Last Thing.

There is no denying that we probably do not fast enough. As a matter of fact, according to Jesus (Matthew 17:21), many a spiritual battle has been lost because of a lack of fasting and prayer. That is the key – prayer.

Fasting without prayer is nothing more than scheduled Anorexia. The whole point of fasting is to seek the face of God, laying all other allurements aside, such as food (even marital relations – 1 Cor. 7:5). It is not that we need to fast; we need God. If fasting is what it takes, then that is what we should do. But one thing is for sure, if we are hungry enough for God we won’t need anyone to tell us when or how to fast.

Let me know what you think. Do you fast? How long? Why? Results? 

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Filed under Food, God, legalism, worship

Ending Terror Through Job Placement

WARNING! The following post is full of political opinion and satire. 

Pontificating Pundit 

Marie-Harf-Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the U. S. State Department, knows what it will take to stop ISIS from continuing their head-removing ways. Yes, she is smarter than the rest of us, and she is ready to prove it.

In a recent interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on “Hardball” she said: “We need … to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups…” And what is one of the root causes?

…lack of opportunity for jobs…

Forget the fact that Osama bin Ladin was wealthy long before his cave-dwelling days. Forget the fact that most ISIS recruits from western nations actually leave jobs in order to fight. Completely forget the fact that no amount of earthly gain can compare to the hope of being martyred, thereby entering a paradise with scores of virgins to satisfy your eternal desires. No, jobs are the answer.

According to Marie Harf, if ISIS fighters only had places where they could earn a decent wage, enough to feed one’s harem and groom one’s goat, then there would be no need for them to wage holy war against civilization.

Jihadi Job Fair

So, just to be helpful, I found a website that listed 10 left-wing companies where liberals are encouraged to shop. These companies are considered beacons of progressiveness, ones that not only support every left-wing agenda, but also give nearly 100% of their political donations to Democrats. In other words, companies who love Marie Harf’s boss.

job fairIf job creation would stop terrorism, then I think the first ones to test the theory should be the progressive companies who support the thinkers in the State Department. The following are the 1o progressive companies listed on Liberals Unite: the 24-Hour News Magazine for Discerning Liberals and what I suggest they could offer the young liberals of ISIS.

  1. Levi Strauss & Co. – “In 2010 they were even awarded a GLAAD award for their positive depiction of the LGBT community in their advertising.” Really? Along with sprucing up ISIL’s style, I’m sure there are a few jihadists who would be GLAAD to take a stab at advertising.
  2. Costco – Billed as the “anti-Walmart” and a company that promotes “equal rights,” I’m sure they could offer plenty of jobs in retail to both men and women. We know how much those ISIS guys love working side-by-side with the opposite sex.
  3. Starbucks – This company, at least according to Liberals Unite, is also a huge supporter of gay marriage and LGBT rights. Think of all the jobs they could create! The last I heard, ISIS and the gay community were meeting regularly on roof tops. Anyone for a cafe grande with a view?
  4. Always – Not that women are allowed to work outside the home in any area ruled by ISIS, but what an opportunity for advancement! “Most recently they launched their ‘Like a Girl’ campaign which directly challenges the stereotype that girls are weak.” I’m sure thousands would leave the battlefield to work here!
  5. Sonic – Gotta love those hot dogs! Take off those combat boots and put on those skates!
  6. Microsoft – Since the “JV team” has proven their ability to capitalize on multimedia and is becoming more proficient with video production, I’m sure a few high-paying, high-tech jobs would stop ISIS from hacking military websites.
  7. Calvin Klein – Underwear. Sexy clothes for men. The applications should come in like a flood.
  8. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia – Every ISIS fighter loves a strong, female leader. Extremism would come to an end the moment decorating classes began.
  9. Heineken – Just because alcohol is forbidden, that doesn’t mean a good liberal Muslim wouldn’t want to brew a few. And this company is really big-time against global warming, so… I bet those guys in black get pretty hot out there. I bet they’d love to be combating global warming instead of killing infidels.
  10. Trader Joe’s – Never mind that ISIS fighters have blown up everything of cultural significance in their march to Rome, every good jihadist is environmentally conscious. They would be thrilled to wear an apron and sell cage-free eggs. Anything for the environment and a paycheck.

I know this isn’t funny, but sometimes I don’t know what else to do but laugh at the insanity of it all.

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Filed under current events, General Observations, politics

Grace Given, Not Lent

There are times when I feel I need to write about an issue, but have not prepared. This is one of those times.

Today is Ash Wednesday; it’s super cold outside; our Wednesday evening church services were cancelled due to weather; I don’t have to work tomorrow – because of weather; and a candle with a cedar wick is burning on my computer desk.

I think I will share my thoughts, in no particular order of importance, about Lent.


 

First, I am a Baptist (just not of the Reformed persuasion).

Never in my religious/denominational traditions have we ever celebrated Lent, much less Ash Wednesday. The only ashes that I ever got on me was from stoking a fire. So, I cannot speak with authority regarding Lent or mid-week ashes, only getting burned by a wood stove.

On the other hand, I do know a little about grace. It was by God’s grace that I was saved by faith, not by my own works, otherwise I’d have something of which to boast (Eph. 2:8). Mercy was something shown to me, unworthy as I was, by the grace of a loving God; it was a gift.

For thousands of years people did all kinds of things which pointed forward toward the day in which all sin would be nailed to a cross – the cross. When Jesus shed His blood on that cross, and then later rose from the grave, my sin was forgiven (should I accept the gift by faith) and Christ’s righteousness was imputed to me (Rom. 4:22-25).

Penance is no longer necessary, only praise.

Second, you do what you want.

Just because I don’t do the whole Lent and ash-on-my-forehead thing, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Back in my more legalistic days I would consider anyone who would go through all the motions of Ash Wednesday, the stations of the cross, or whatever, as…well…ungodly. Now I know better.

Many times we like doing things that cause us to be more focused on, to remember, or to celebrate an important event. If done with the right heart, nothing is wrong with that.

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth [it] unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard [it]. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” – Romans 14:5-6 KJV

Third, I will keep my fasting between God and myself.

Friends, I am not a scholar on par with Joel Osteen, but the best as I can tell, regular fasting was not as big a practice in the Bible as many think. Sure, people fasted, but have you ever considered the context each time it’s mentioned? For the most part, fasting was done as a response, not an obligatory (or otherwise) tradition. Most fasting was done in sorrow and with a heart of repentance, or as a product of mourning (2 Samuel 12:16-17). I certainly don’t remember any references suggesting fasting to lose weight (Rick Warren).

What’s more, Jesus Himself told us that when we do fast (for whatever reason), it should not be a public spectacle. On the contrary, Jesus told his disciples “when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast” (Matt. 6:16). So why put ash on one’s face?

Giving up things?

I guess what really gets me about the whole “fasting for Lent” thing is that Jesus gave His life for us so that we could have life, and life “more abundantly.” What makes people think that giving up something for a month, like chocolate or meat, is a true sign of spirituality? What makes one think it earns brownie points with God? Is that too simplistic a question?

You see, here’s the thing for me: Jesus wants us to present our bodies a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). That’s a year-round thing. I mean, seriously, what is giving up cheeseburgers for Lent in comparison to Christ humbling Himself and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8)? Do we think giving up cigarettes will impress Him?

God doesn’t need us to sacrifice a thing or two for a little while, only to return to it after Easter. God wants our praise, our worship, our obedience, and our love all year long.

Ash on my forehead?

Personally, since I already have a gold cross on my seminary class ring, I hope others will be able to tell to Whom I belong by something other than an ashen cross on my forehead. They should know I’m a Christian by the fruit I bear year-round, and by my love (John 13:35).

The rest of you can do what you want. If it makes you feel more devoted, go for it. If you feel more spiritual, have at it. Just make sure you wash your face before you lie down on my clean, white pillow case.

Oh, and could you please be so gracious to donate the food you don’t eat to your local Baptist food bank? We’ve lent a lot, already. ;-)

 

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Filed under current events, Easter, Food, General Observations, legalism, worship

How We Treat Animals Says Something About Us

The following was written a couple of years ago for my other blog, Proverbial Thought. Since then, I have seen animal cruelty increase in regularity. News reports of men beating, torturing, or even getting animals drunk – if they feed them at all – are more and more common. Even ISIS released a video of a man beating a cat to death for fun.

So, like always, the Truth and Wisdom of God’s Word is always relevant.


Wicked and Cruel

I will never forget a particular video I saw posted on YouTube. The owner of a large python purchased a fluffy, brown rabbit and brought it home. There, in his living room, he let this peaceful, tame rabbit meant to be a pet hop around while his sorry snake got closer and closer.

Snickering with anticipation, the owner of the snake filmed the unwary rabbit as it got accustomed to its new environment. Then, it happened – the python struck, coiled around the rabbit, and began its death squeeze. But what made me sick, as I am sure it did God, was when the snake’s owner got up close to the rabbit and laughed. He laughed because the rabbit cried.

There is a Difference

It is one thing to kill an animal for food, or even in self-defense. It is even understandable to kill animals when their populations get out of hand. But it is something totally different when a human is intentionally cruel to something helpless and trusting.

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. – Proverbs 12:10

This proverb says that “a righteous man regardeth (knows, cares about) the life” of his animal. In contrast, the wicked are cruel. But some may wonder, “What does it matter?” It matters to the one who values life.

“His Eye Is On the Sparrow…”

Nugget and me from a few years ago. We still look as good as then.

It might surprise people to know that God cares about the lives of animals. When Jonah was upset because God did not destroy Nineveh, God said unto him,

And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? – Jonah 4:11

Literally, the last words of God in the story of Jonah concerned the cattle of a pagan city. If God cared about these cattle, does it not stand to reason that He might disapprove of torturing pets? Remember, not a sparrow falls without Him knowing (Matt. 10:29).

This is the thing: let there be no mistake, if a human can find enjoyment in the suffering of helpless animals, then what is to keep him from harming helpless humans? Wickedness breeds wickedness.

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Filed under animals, Christian Living

50 Shades of the Same Lie

Movies

There was a time back in the day when I was not allowed to go to a movie theater. As a matter of fact, it was not until 1977 (I was 10 years-old) that I saw my first movie in a theater: Star Wars.

You see, the prevailing thought back then was that Hollywood movies were of the devil, sinful, ungodly, etc., and no Christian who claimed to be right with God would go pay money to see one. So much has changed since then, hasn’t it?

Really, even though I have seen my share of films since 1977, I am beginning to feel the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction. Not much is worth seeing anymore, and especially 50 Shades of Grey.

50 Shades

fifty shadesToday is opening day for a movie which is nothing more than filth, smut, prettied-up gutter scum, a proverbial loaded pistol with the hammer cocked aimed at the heart of marriages everywhere.

Like the name of this blog implies, I used to be a legalist, but I have moments of relapse. This might be one of those moments. If you call yourself a Christian and pay money to go see movie which glorifies everything immoral and feeds your own lustful flesh, you’re probably not right with God. I did say “probably.”

There is absolutely NO reason to allow yourself to be sucked into the vortex of public hype when you know what this movie is going to be about…

There are NO articles to read – it’s ALL pictures!

So, you do what you want, but God knows where you will be come showtime at your local theater. And then later, when you are trying to be intimate with your spouse (and that’s the ONLY one with whom you should be intimate!), God will know what’s going through your mind.

Reviews

Like I said, I’m not going to go see this mover or read the book; I’ve been scared enough because of other images my mind has recorded over the years. So, if you must know what 50 Shades is all about, my friend Chris Jordan posted a great article with links to all the info you will need.

“Black and White Thoughts on 50 Shades of Grey” by Chris Jordan

Remember:

“I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” – Job 31:1 KJV

“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, current events, Defining Marriage, Divorce, General Observations, Movie review

Valentinerie’s Song

Yesterday was my wife’s birthday; tomorrow will be Valentine’s Day. Is it any wonder her name is Valerie? Valerie sounds a lot better than Valentinerie, though.

Valentinerie. I think I’ll go down to the maternity ward tomorrow and pass that name around.

Anyway, I wrote Valentinerie…excuse me, Valerie…a song several years ago (You can be the judge of how much was truly autobiographical). When I couldn’t figure out how to film myself doing a music video, I went to work with marker, paper, Monkey, and iPhone.

Here is the chocolate-covered fruit of my labor (I said labor…I’ve really got to get down to that maternity ward tomorrow).

“Try Me”

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Just remember, the truest example of love is God’s love for us. May we love others with such extravagance (1 John 4:19-21).

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Filed under Love of God, Monday Monkey, music