Happy Earth Day 2019

Embracing Diversity

Let’s face it, I have a wide variety of people who follow this blog. They range from the ultra-right-wing conservative branches of the political and religious spectrum to the left-wing, tree-hugging,  tofu-eating, god-hating leftist trolls who do nothing all day but listen for billy goats to cross their pitiful bridges. Obviously, I’m happy you’re here reading this, no matter who you are.

It may be strange to hear a conservative Christian say it, but I embrace this diversity! My arms are extended and waiting to offer hugs to anyone and everyone who would let me show love. I may not affirm how you choose to live, and I may disagree with what you believe, but at least I care about you.

That being said, I know someone is going to be offended by what I’m about to write. However, there’s always another day and another blog post that you can enjoy.

As the climate fluctuates, so do the posts of this blog 😉

Another Earth Day

A lot of melted glacial water has floated to the ocean since the first days of Earth Day celebrations. Predictions have come and gone, and yet the world is still flowing right along. A little warmer, maybe, but still here.

Early predictions from the first Earth Day in 1970 guaranteed that we would not be around until the year 2000. Some predictions had the world ending by 1985. AOC says we’ll be done for in 12 years.

Do I believe that the earth might be a little warmer than it was in 1970? I guess it could be. I mean, I haven’t really been checking the temperature every day since I was three years old. But what I do know, is that we still have four seasons every year. Just like it’s always been, seasons change, and so will the epochs of nature.

If global warming is truly a thing, do I believe that man is contributing to it? No, I don’t. It has been warmer, then it got colder (they called it the ice age). Then, for some reason, long before man used coal and gasoline-powered engines to industrialize the world, things got warmer! Man had nothing to do with it!

A Proper Perspective 

What I do believe is that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). He created both the earth and day, and night, and time, and matter, and us. This is His world, not ours; but we are to be good stewards of what He has given us to manage.

I do not believe it is the Christian thing to do to waste resources, t0 pollute the environment, to run crazy with all of our self-pleasing pursuits at the risk of damaging creation. God cares about his creation, which is why one day He will remove the curse that is upon it because of sin. However, because creation belongs to the Creator, it is not the creation that we should be worshiping; we should be celebrating the One who made it.

If kept in the proper perspective, World Earth Day could be a good thing. On the other hand, if all it is meant to be is an anti-capitalist, anti-God, celebration of a deified planet, one where humans are taught to be the scourge of the earth, rather than the epitome of creation, you can keep it!

In reality, I sort of feel like paraphrasing the apostle Paul when he was writing to the church at Corinth: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you” (1 Thessalonians 5:1).

Just take care of what God has given you, praise God for it, and leave the season changing to him (Daniel 2:21).

PS, here’s a great article for today by reporter John Stossel. 

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Filed under blogging, community, current events, General Observations, Global Warming, Weather, World View

Sri Lanka Weeps

The Christians in Sri Lanka weep as they mourn the loss of hundreds of precious lives, and pray for the wounded numbering in the hundreds more.

We weep with them. We mourn with them. We pray for the wounded.

But we rejoice in that the victory has already been won . . . The church will not be defeated . . . Jesus Christ has risen!

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning! – Psalm 30:5

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Countries, Culture Wars, current events, Prayer, Struggles and Trials

He Lives! He Lives!

We celebrate many holidays in this world, but one stands out among the rest…

Easter.

Now, I know that some of the more legalistic among us will label all the celebrations “moot” because of certain “pagan” links, like that to Ishtar and fertility rites. The unbelievers will laugh off this day with arrogant disdain (especially with it being April Fool’s Day).

But for the majority of Christians around the world, this day is a day to rejoice in the Son of God’s victory over the grave.

We are prone to celebrate many things, like who won a game, that new promotion, or a birthday. We throw parties when political candidates squeak out a win, or when that big contract gets signed. Some will even fire thousands of AK-47 rounds into the air while shouting “Allah Akbar!” at the top of their lungs. But nothing is more worth celebrating than Jesus keeping His word and rising from the dead to secure eternal life for those who trust in Him.

Today, as I stand before a congregation, I will attempt, in the power of the Spirit, to stir the imagination, to take us back in time, to recreate a fraction of the excitement that must have been felt when those who were convinced of defeat were shocked by the greatest come-from-below victory of all time.

Today, before all those present, whether in flesh or spirit, I will celebrate victory over sin, death, and hell. The Enemy has been defeated, his tools are obsolete, for Jesus died and rose again.

He Lives!

Click on the link to listen to my favorite Resurrection Day song, “Gone!” (sung by Teddy Huffam).

Also, here’s a group that’s new to me singing a medley of Easter-related songs (none of them about a bunny).

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Filed under salvation, Preaching, God, worship, Easter, Faith

Bunny Essentials?

 

Whilst shopping for dietary essentials like food, my attention was caught by what appeared to be a section dedicated to Easter items.

There I saw bunny ears, colored plastic eggs, stuffed bunnies, a few fuzzy rabbits, and a sign or two that read, “Bunny Crossing Hopping.” But what I did not expect to see was what has now become an “essential” in Easter bunny must-haves…

A crossbow.

Why? Seriously, why?

I know, none of this has anything to do with the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but even from a pagan perspective, why?

Essential? What part of bunny hopping and Easter egg hunts does a weapon play? Instead of “pin the tail on the donkey,” are we now teaching our biblically illiterate toddlers how to hurl a missile downrange?

What must needs be shot? IF the crossbow with two (count them, 2) arrows is essential, what is it that must be shot with a crossbow arrow and nothing else? I mean, the arrows are “essential,” or are they not? A shotgun with two (count them, 2) cartridges wouldn’t suffice?

Well, let’s be logical about this . . . If I were to go purchase some shotgun shells for hunting, odds are there would be some ducks printed on the box, if, of course, they were meant for duck hunting. If I were to go buy a deer rifle, and the company selling it wanted me to know it was great for the job, I might expect to see a deer somewhere in the packaging.

What do we see on the package of the “essential” crossbow and two (count’em, 2) arrows? The supposed Easter Bunny and a chicken.

Since when was it a thing to shoot the Easter Bunny??? And, more than that, who hunts chicken? You keep ’em in pens and wring their scrawny necks or just buy them already nugget-shaped.

Next thing we’ll be seeing are bear traps being sold as “Christmas Essentials.” I mean, there’s nothing more necessary to a wonderful Noel than catching that sneaky Chris Kringle coming down the chimney, right?

Oh, what fun!

I guess if you’re gonna have something resurrecting from the dead it’s ESSENTIAL you kill it first.

Got it. It all makes sense, now!

He was pierced for our transgressions with the bolt from a crossbow, then placed in a colored egg with some chocolate and jelly beans. 

I knew the “essential” truth of Easter was in there somewhere. Yep. 

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Filed under animals, Easter, General Observations

“What Is Good About Good Friday?”

“What Is Good About Good Friday?

The other day I heard a man,
A man of radio fame,
A man who wrote a book about God, Faith, and Reason.
It really doesn’t matter his name.

This man has degrees; he’s paid his dues.
I’m sure he could teach us some lessons.
But this worldly-wise man proved unwise indeed
When he posed the following question…

“What is good about Good Friday?”

It wasn’t a joke, please understand;
He genuinely wanted to know!
This educated doctor with millions of books sold
Was clueless on his radio show.

What is good about Good Friday?

The greatest crime committed by man…
A day which should be most infamous
Was the bait and switch that fooled the Devil
And set up the Day most glorious!

On that Friday God’s love was manifest
The greatest Love in history.
But this man with one question exposed his ignorance
When the Cross to him was a mystery.

-Anthony Baker

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Filed under Easter, Jesus, Love of God, poetry

Jesus Memes and the Comma-Challenged

imageIn a recent Facebook post a friend of a friend posted a meme created by John Fugelsang, the actor, Huffington Post contributor, and former co-host of America’s Funniest Home Videos (1998-99). The meme was posted in an effort to show how that Jesus Christ, if He were politically active in today’s America, would more likely be a liberal Democrat than a conservative Republican.

Mr. Fugelsang uses his meme (if he was actually the one who created it) to state ten assertions regarding who Jesus was and what He believed. For ease of reading and future commentary by me, I’ve listed them below (punctuation intact).

According to John Fugelsang (and, by extension, the friend of a friend on Facebook) Jesus was a:

  1. Radical nonviolent revolutionary
  2. Who hung around with lepers hookers and crooks;
  3. Wasn’t American and never spoke English;
  4. Was anti-wealth anti-death penalty anti-public prayer (M 6:5);
  5. But was never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control,
  6. Never called the poor lazy,
  7. Never justified torture,
  8. Never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes,
  9. Never asked a leper for a copay;
  10. And was a long-haired brown-skinned homeless community-organizing anit-slut-shaming Middle Eastern Jew.

Before I go any further, I must address Mr. Fugelsang’s punctuation. You see, I am not a grammar Nazi, nor am I a punctuation prodigy, but sometimes a point can better be made if one would pay attention to the proper use of commas. For example, without commas it could be inferred that Jesus hung around with the hooks and crooks which belonged to lepers. As for “anti-gay anti-death penalty anti-public prayer,” that simply makes my head hurt.

Now, to the ten assertions . . .

Radical nonviolent revolutionary.  First, how many radical non-violent revolutionaries are there? I guess they exist here and there, but are they really that common? I mean, once you put radical and revolutionary together, specifically with the qualifier of “liberal,” how many are not violent? Jeez! However, that’s only based upon my own observations, so I’m happy to be proven wrong.

However, the question that ought to be asked first is: “Was Jesus really a revolutionary?”  I don’t believe He was. For one thing, most revolutionaries are focused on bringing about change within a political system – Jesus’ purpose in coming had nothing to do with any political system. Then secondly, it is clear from Jesus’ own words that He did not come to change or do away with anything, only to fulfill it.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” – Matthew 5:17 KJV

[He] hung around with lepers, hookers, and crooks (punctuation added).  One of the biggest misconceptions about Jesus is that because He chose not to stone anyone for things like adultery (John 8:11) He must have had no problem with their actions. The problem with that assertion is that it totally avoids his command to “go and sin no more.” Yes, Jesus ate with the sinners, but that’s not to be construed that He “hung around” with them. Jesus came for a purpose, to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10), not to condone their lifestyles and avoid confrontation. No, Jesus ate with sinners so that they might be saved!

And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard [it], he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. – Mark 2:16-17 KJV

[He] wasn’t American and never spoke English. Except for the most die-hard KJV-only-ist, and one who might never have had even the most basic of history lessons, most would agree. This is pretty much a given. However, the assertion being made is that Jesus is thought of by conservatives as being pro-American and anti-everything else, and that is mostly untrue and unfair. Sure, there are some kooks who believe America is the New Jerusalem, but there are others out there, such as Louis Farrakhan, who believe aliens live in a spaceship and are circling Earth as we speak. Neither represents the majority, I hope.

Actually, the only think that we must be concerned with is whether or not our nation (whichever nation that is) is on the side of the Lord, for His Kingdom is not of this world.

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?” – Joshua 5:13-14 NLT

[He] was anti-wealth anti-death penalty anti-public prayer (M 6:5).  Oh boy. May I break this down into sub points? I mean, really, commas would have been helpful.

  1. Anti-wealth. I’d really like to know where Fugalsang got this. My guess is that he got it from passages like Luke 12:15 or Matthew 6:19-21. In the first Jesus warns us to guard against greed, while the second advises us to store up treasure in heaven, not down here where it can corrupt and/or be stolen. Even more, Fugalsang may be thinking of how Jesus is described as one having no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58), or that passage where Jesus says it’s easier for a camel than a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle (Mark 10:25).However, the fact is that it wasn’t wealth that Jesus had a problem with; it was greed, envy, selfishness, and faith in one’s own money and not in God.The reason Jesus spent more time with the poor than the wealthy was because the wealthy more often had hard hearts (much like today). The rich tend to put their faith in their possessions and positions more than in God, so why would they respect the One who divested Himself of the riches of heaven and humbled Himself, even to the death of the Cross (Philippians 2:8)?You see, Jesus wasn’t anti-wealth; He was concerned only with what men do with it (Matthew 25) and the condition of their hearts: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). For crying out loud, the Church is forever in debt to Christians who used their wealth (while remaining wealthy) to feed, clothe, house, and instruct the poor of the world. It was even a rich woman in Thyatira named Lydia who used her wealth to house the early Church in her town (Acts 16:14-40).
  2. Anti-death penalty. Again, this must be one of those derivations from John 8:11, the passage where Jesus rescued a woman caught in the act of adultery. The only problem is that this passage does not assert that Jesus disagreed with the law, but rather opposite. Jesus gave every opportunity for her accusers to carry out the death penalty which was prescribed by law, but none of them were able to stand without hypocrisy. Jesus knew they were trying to set Him up, not to mention the fact that there was an un-mentioned man involved. Jesus took the opportunity to take the Law beyond where it could go on its own and showed mercy and grace.
  3. Anti-public prayer (M 6:5). Seriously? First, you don’t abbreviate the book of Matthew with a capital “M”. I mean, there are other books in the Bible that start with “M,” such as Mark, Malachi, and Micah. I guess since we’re talking about Jesus we’re supposed to know the one to which he was referring.Secondly, to use Matthew 6:5 as a basis for condemning public prayer is to admit one has little understanding of context. The context in this passage of Scripture was one which dealt with pride and hypocrisy. Jesus was addressing those who did good deeds and prayed verbose prayers all for the purpose of being seen and praised by men. That is why He said of the hypocrites, “They have their reward.”

So, what is the assertion being made with this point? That people should not be allowed to pray in public? That freedom of speech should not include two Christian school football teams being allowed to use a public address system to say a prayer before a game? – Yes that just happened.

But was never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control.  The whole “anti-gay” thing has been argued over and over and much has been devoted to it, yet liberals will only hear what they want to hear; therefore, I will devote very little time to it in this essay. However, saying that because Jesus never mentioned abortion or birth control means these are non-issues and would have been no concern to Him is ludicrous. It would be just as easy to say that governments shouldn’t restrict unnecessary use of antibiotics because Jesus never mentioned Penicillin.

Let’s save some time and get straight to the big theological issue in the room: Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity, the Word of God made flesh, Emmanuel (“God with us” – Matt. 1:23). What was said about homosexuality in the Old Testament are actually the same position Jesus took, for He and the Father are One (John 1:1-2, 14; 17:11).  The only difference is that Jesus came to show that the strict requirements of the Law could only cause men to realize their own sinfulness in the light of Holy God, not save them. Jesus came to show God was merciful and wanted to graciously save men through putting their faith in Jesus. If you divest Jesus from His divinity then all you have is a crazy man who thought He was God and died for nothing.

As for birth control (speaking of contraception), there is no mention of it in the Bible, most likely because it was commonly understood that children were a gift from God (Gen. 4:1; 33:5) and the man with a “full quiver” was blessed (Psalm 127:5). With regard to abortion, it is God who gives life and considers us persons even before we are born (Psalm 139:13-14; Jeremiah 1:5), so I believe Jesus would have viewed elective abortion as murder. After all, it was Jesus’ own cousin, John the Baptist, who “leaped” in his mother’s womb when (Luke 1:41) when she greeted the pregnant Mary.

[He] never called the poor lazy. No, I don’t think He did. However, the Bible (the Word of God – See John 1) does say the following:

  • By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:19 ESV
  • For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 KJV

[He] never justified torture. That’s probably true – can’t argue with that. Of course, Jesus wasn’t a military leader who’s task it was to protect the lives of millions of his fellow citizens, either. Actually, Jesus was the One who gave His life so that others might live. Yet, He also said to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). We will all have to answer to God for our actions.

[He] never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes.  This is actually correct! Jesus never did fight for tax cuts for the wealthy. However, it is equally true that Jesus never fought to reduce taxes, either – even for the poor. In Matthew 22:17-21 Jesus made it perfectly clear that we are to pay taxes when taxes are due, and that even goes for the least of us. He said, “Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Later, speaking to average Christians, the Apostle Paul wrote:

And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks. Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.  – Romans 13:6-7 HCSB

[He] never asked a leper for a copay.  No, I don’t guess He ever did that, either; He just healed them. The last time I checked, neither Republicans nor Democrats are God (even though some think they are) and somebody has to pay somebody for adequate medical services (therefore, refer back to Romans 13:6-7…not just the rich should pay).

And finally, [Jesus] was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing, anti-slut-shaming middle eastern Jew.  Well, at least Mr. Fugelsang got the brown-skinned, homeless (technically speaking), anti-slut-shaming middle eastern Jew parts right. The rest, along with the usual lack of commas, he stereotypically got wrong.

Nazarenes (sometimes called Nazarites) were from Nazareth; Nazarites were those who took a vow not to cut their hair, drink wine, etc. Jesus never took a Nazarite vow. But, then again, Mr. Fugalsang is not a Bible scholar, only a political comedian who writes for the Huffpo and creates comma-challenged memes.

Funny how all of this would have been unneccessary if Mr. Fugalsang had actually read the Bible . . . and a grammar handbook.

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Filed under Abortion, America, Apologetics, Bible Study, Jesus, politics

Rescuing Discarded Valor

The Would-be Soldier

It was in the mid-70’s, when I was just a kid, that playing “army” was a thing I loved doing. I had green fatigues from an army surplus store, a WWII-era ammo belt, a canteen, and even a metal helmet to take out into the woods where I’d spend hours fighting imaginary Germans. Needless to say, going squirrel hunting in the mountains with my .22 cal. Marlin rifle offered a perfect opportunity for my imagination to take me to another place and time, to play the warrior in my mind.

Later, twice in the 90’s, I attempted to enlist in the military, but I was turned down twice, both times for a eye condition (glaucoma) that I never actually had. Funny thing, both my dad and my grandfather had volunteered for service, but they were turned down, too! But at least it was in our nature… we were Tennesseans, after all (aka “Volunteers”).

So, I’ve always had a part of me that wanted to be a soldier, a warrior, a hero, a patriot. Unfortunately/fortunately – it’s hard to tell – I never qualified to wear the uniform for real. That is why I have the utmost respect for our servicemen and servicewomen who voluntarily stand in the gap to defend our freedom, especially those who faced actual combat. not squirrels.

That brings me to the real reason for writing this, today: the memory of something I found as a kid while “dumpster diving.”

Discarded Valor

Back when I was younger, one of the things my dad and I did as a “hobby” was something called “dumpster diving.” All that means is that we would often scavenge through dumpsters full of trash, even walk through junk yards, to see what people would throw away. Believe it or not, people through away perfectly good stuff!

One day, for instance, my dad looked inside a dumpster not far from where he worked and found a bag of golf clubs. Yes, a whole bag of golf clubs. Only one of them was broken, which led us to conclude that whoever used them last gave up the sport after one last slice into the woods. Nevertheless, since we had never owned any clubs before, this gave my dad and me an opportunity to practically (although not intentionally) reenact the Three Stooges’ on a short course of nine holes.

But on another day, while waiting for my dad to get off work, after my mom had dropped me off at his shop, I went dumpster diving on my own. That day I found what I thought at the time to be totally cool – medals and pictures, including a Purple Heart in its box, all from the Vietnam War. These items fascinated me so much that I took them home and kept them for years. It wasn’t until later in life that I even considered the reason these items were in the trash.

Fast forward to today. This morning I sat once again with veterans from conflicts ranging from World War 2 to Operation Enduring Freedom. Every Wednesday that meet as a part of Operation Song, an outreach/therapy/ministry meant to help veterans cope by telling their stories through song. Click HERE to learn more.

Once again, listening to the stories of what our veterans have gone through, and not just those who saw combat, I was reminded how valuable they are, each one of them. Their sacrifice, manifested in so many ways, is worth remembering and honoring. And today that got me to thinking back to that purple heart I found in the dumpster nearly 40 years ago.

Who threw it away? Was it the soldier? A family member? Someone just cleaning out the trash from an abandoned apartment? Either way, no matter the reason, somebody, maybe even the veteran himself, failed to see the value in what they were tossing out. What it represented to them was nothing more than the left-overs from a TV dinner.

Rescue the Valor

 

A lot of soldiers, sailors, and marines feel that way about themselves. They feel like no one cares, like all they did and all they sacrificed is now worthless. But they are so wrong.

The last thing any service member or service member’s family needs to feel is that their sacrifice, whether in time or blood or both (including the tangible relics of their sacrifice) are worthless.

It’s past time that we start looking through the “dumpsters” for those discarded treasures. We need to reclaim them, along with their memories, and put them back in the places of honor they deserve.

We need to be about rescuing the valor that some have discarded. It NEVER loses value. 

If you’re a veteran, you have a song.

 

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