Category Archives: General Observations

Just things I see that make me think.

Five Things I Expect from a Sermon

Not long ago my wife and I visited a particular church for the first time. I don’t want to tell you where it was or who did the preaching because what I’m about to write is not flattering. And should I tell you where we went, you might think what we experienced was the norm, when it might have not been.

Believe me, I know what it is like to be judged by one poorly delivered sermon. Heck, I’ve even been misjudged by an expertly delivered and totally biblical sermon! Therefore, I don’t want to disparage a pastor after hearing him only once.

However, what I expect from a preacher is rarely delivered these days. Honestly, it’s like every time a new preacher steps up to the pulpit, the voice of the Dread Pirate Roberts whispers in my ear, “Get used to disappointment.”

What I typically receive is a topical sermon based on a topical series that starts with a text and only comes back to it when mentioning the sermon title.

Sadly, what I have grown accustomed to are “how to” sermons loosely based on biblical principles but often drawn from Scripture verses taken out of context.

But what is it that I expect? Not much, just five simple things.

  1. WHAT I EXPECT… are sermons that exegete the Holy Word of God, even without artistic and often unnecessary alliterations.
  2. WHAT I EXPECT… is a preacher who will take the Bible, read it, explain it, then make application, not the other way around.
  3. WHAT I EXPECT… is to be wowed and amazed by the wonderous, Holy Spirit-inspired, inerrant Word of God, not the delivery of the one tasked to preach it.
  4. WHAT I EXPECT… is a sermon that treats passages from the Bible as revealed Scripture, not just supporting references.
  5. WHAT I EXPECT… is nothing more and nothing less than what we read of in the book of Nehemiah. There we read of when Ezra built a “pulpit” of wood (a raised place from which to be heard) and, along with a few others, opened up the long-forgotten Law of God and read it to an attentive, standing crowd.

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

Nehemiah 8:8 KJV

If the above verse isn’t clear enough, the CSB renders it, “They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.”

When you add application to the above formula, that’s when you get good preaching.

That’s what I expect.

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Filed under General Observations, Preaching

Would Someone Help Me Understand?

Lately something has been on my mind. It’s not something that’s openly in the news or often talked about, yet it’s everywhere you look, if you’re looking.

Please don’t get offended or triggered by what I’m about to ask, just help me with it. Call me ignorant, if you’d like, but ignorance is only a lack of information or understanding, and there is nothing wrong with that – unless it’s willful.

Here’s the question:

Why is transitioning to look like the stereotypical appearance of the gender to which you’re transitioning not an affirmation of the very stereotypes with which you disagree?

    You see, I’ve been around long enough to remember life before yesterday, even before Obama. In a not-too-distant past Barbie was condemned for her looks because she seemed to exhibit what culture deemed “feminine.”

    I can remember when the supposed male-dominated culture’s idea of female looks included long hair, makeup, dresses, high heels, extended lashes, bras, silk stockings, and a certain sway of the hips when walking. If all done right and in the correct proportions, a man could look at that package and say, “Man! What a woman!”

    Oh, but then came the biker chicks, the tomboys, and all the “butch” females who railed against the stereotype. Looking “female” was about being whatever you felt and not limited to what culture expected. Girls didn’t have to wear dresses and makeup; they could have short hair, wear wife-beater shirts, and still prefer the opposite sex.

    Yet, what do we see today? Biological males who claim to female that can only be satisfied if they change their appearance into the epitome of the stereotype to which actual women of the past rebelled!

    Why can’t a man who wants to be a woman still be a woman yet look like a man? Why can’t a woman who wants to be a man retain her feminine appearance while assuming all the roles of the male of the species? Why does transitioning necessitate the changing of appearance when appearance is only supposed to be skin deep?

    Seriously, help me understand, because I really don’t get it.

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    Filed under Culture Wars, General Observations, self-worth

    Goodbye, Middle Georgia

    The Last Night

    It’s really hard to believe it, but tonight is the last night I will be sleeping as a resident of Georgia. Tomorrow is the day we load up the U-Haul and head back to Tennessee.

    Gone will be the quiet, star-canopied nights when I would sit on the steps of the back porch with my little dog and listen to nothing, except the sound of crickets, coyotes, or a cow somewhere across the way.

    Tonight will be the last time I look at that old church lit up in the distance, the church I had no desire to leave.

    Lots of Water

    If you think of our time here like the old metaphor, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since we moved here in 2019. I mean, what better way to start a pastorate than be faced with an unprecedented pandemic? What fun!

    But over the last three years we have had the wonderful opportunity to meet many sweet people, not just through the church I pastored, but out in the community. To begin with, there was the old black man that worked the morning shift at McDonald’s. He was the most enthusiastic person I think I’ve ever met!

    Back in 2020 I started painting. That led to meeting many friends down at the farmer’s market in Sandersville. Honestly, I’m really going to miss seeing those folk on Saturday mornings. For over 2 years I sat through hot and cold, even when I didn’t expect to sell much, just to hang out with and encourage them. And, on top of that, one never knew who you’d meet that was just passing through.

    Covid took its toll, of course, and we lost a few friends, some very close.

    My mother came down with pancreatic cancer while here, yet she rarely missed a church service, unlike most of the rest of the congregation. I held her hand and sang “Amazing Grace” as I watched her life slip away. She just stared at me the whole time. I’ll always wonder what, if anything, she was thinking.

    Goodbye to the Culture

    Funny thing, growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I thought I lived in the South. Well, I was evidently mistaken. I wasn’t Southern enough to put up with gnats, enjoy pineapple sandwiches, or own a truck (even though I really wanted one).

    Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot down here that was wonderful and refreshing, but on the other hand, some of the things that annoyed me back in Tennessee were only made worse down here.

    For example, where I was from a church was rarely more than one hundred years old. Down here their age regularly exceeds two centuries. Unfortunately, so do the family influences. Nothing is done quickly, and nothing is done without the approval of a select few (and that does not include the pastor). There is no hope of ever becoming a local if you just learned about kaolin and never picked cotton.

    Back to Pavement

    So, after tomorrow, it’s back to the fast-paced, bumper-to-bumper life of the blacktopped world. No more dirt roads. No more small-town limited government. No more knowing your sheriff or praying in public, even before a football game.

    Next week it will be the 4 or 6-lane highways, the world’s fastest internet, 4 or 5 local television stations, a major newspaper, tons of restaurants, gang shootings, murder, drugs, and routines that sap away one’s life.

    But that’s the way it’s got to be, Georgia. We had our good times, but we weren’t meant to last.

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    Filed under America, community, General Observations

    Perfection Not Required

    Jesus Said…

    “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

    “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13

    The Perfect Candidate

    Imagine that instead of the temple, a Pharisee and a publican walked into a pastoral search committee meeting.  They walk in, introduce themselves, and compare resumes.

    pharisee and publicanWhich one do you think would be offered the position? I believe it would be the one who meets the average preconception of what every Christian fit for service should be. I believe the Pharisee, the one with the perfect resume and appearance, would be the first considered.

    But God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses REAL people. Unfortunately, there are many men and women in the church who feel inferior and useless because of their sinful and broken pasts. They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church.  They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed in the past, but want to be forgiven and start new.  

    Genesis of Dysfunction

    A while back I read through the book of Genesis in a couple of sittings.  Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective.  This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were!  There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer look tame!

    Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems.  At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes.  Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…

    Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field.  When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But Leah replied to her, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband?  Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?

    Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”  When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”  So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB

    Check this out…

    • Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.
    • Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.
    • Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.
    • Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.

    And there’s more!

    • Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.
    • The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.

    It just goes on and on.  Messed up, I am telling you! MESSED UP!

    Nevertheless,

    God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  How is this even possible?  

    If God can use Abraham and his family – with all their problems – to bless the nations, then He can use ANYBODY!


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    Filed under Abortion, abuse, Christian Living, Do not judge, Faith, General Observations, legalism, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, World View

    I Went to Pakistan (Part 5): Toilets Without Paper

    There must be a list somewhere in the blogosphere that keeps a record of the least-covered or strangest topics. If there is, I am almost certain toilets would be at the top of the list – or should I say bottom? See what I did there? HA!

    Well, before you flush this post, let me get to the point: I think the Pakistanis have the right idea when it comes to toilet hygiene. And considering the fact that 99% of all eateries there would never place on a “restaurant report card,” much less pass, that’s saying something!

    So, what’s so special about the toilets in Pakistan? The spray nozzles!

    You see, the only thing they use toilet paper for in Pakistan is drying your tush, not wiping it. And when you use the toilet paper, you don’t flush it, either; you put it in the trash.

    When I was first told what to expect, that I wouldn’t be flushing my toilet paper, it disgusted me! My immediate response was imagining stinking, poopy paper beside me in some trash can. But in reality, it was nothing like that. Thank the Lord!

    Actually, beside every toilet – unless you go to where people only have a hole in the ground – is a spray nozzle attached to a long, metal hose. In most cases, it is attached to the wall beside the toilet paper, but not always. Sometimes there was no paper, only a nozzle.

    An “executive” restroom in Pakistan

    At first it was a little awkward. I mean, it was like taking the spray nozzle from your kitchen sink to your behind. But let me tell you, I got used to it really quickly!

    Just the other day I saw a commercial for a particular toilet paper brand, the one that uses animated bears. It talked about how that specific brand of paper had ridges that left you cleaner . . . cleaner than the competition, that is.

    But tell me, how to we call something we’ve simply wiped with dry paper “clean”? Does that really make sense? When you wash your hands, do you simply rub them with a dry paper towel until nothing shows on the paper? Would you call that CLEAN?

    All this leads me to another thought, one that might not be the safest to contemplate. How did our societies develop such different ways of summing up number two? Europe and Japan are far closer to this way of cleaning one’s rear end than America is. Why? Is there a toilet paper cabal? A cardboard tube syndicate?

    So, what’s the moral of this story? How can we benefit from what we’ve learned?

    Don’t assume your way is the always the best way. Somebody may nozzle more than you. See what I did there? Know/nozzle … HA! I crack myself up! Ahh! I did it again!

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    Filed under Countries, General Observations, Life Lessons, Pakistan

    I Went to Pakistan (Part 4): Roads

    I love to drive, and I love to drive fast. As a matter of fact, every automobile I’ve owned (with only a few exceptions) has been taken up to 100mph at least once. It’s just a thing I do.

    Have you ever driven on a freshly paved road? Remember when in the movie “Cars” they drove around on a freshly re-paved road and loved it? That’s the kind of driving surface that cries out for speed! I love it.

    And then there was Pakistan.

    Rough Roads

    Honestly, the roads in Pakistan were not as bad as some others on which I’ve driven (or ridden). The roads in Zimbabwe were pretty darn rough. They were so rough that guys would sit on the side of the road with air compressors and offer to air up your tires for a dollar. The roads were so bad that your tires would lose pressure!

    Then there are also the roads where I live in middle Georgia. The paved roads are just fine; it’s the DIRT roads that are sometimes a challenge. There are a lot of dirt roads in middle Georgia.

    However, in Pakistan the roads, on average, were not capable of sustaining any kind of speed. The only time that was possible was when one traveled on the main highway between major cities. That was as nice as a modern American highway.

    Rule-less Roads

    But it wasn’t the roughness or the smoothness of the Pakistani roads that stuck in my mind. No, what contributed to my PTSD was the fact that there are NO RULES!

    Oh, I know what you are probably thinking. You think that I’m overreacting. You think that it’s only because I’m used to the rules of the road in my own country, that there are rules, but I was not culturally sensitive to them.

    And you would be wrong. Sorry.

    Look, the only – and I mean ONLY – rule I observed over the many hours my life was put in danger was that there were two directions. In other words, when you want to go somewhere in Pakistan, you go in that direction. When you are going in that direction, you and all the other people traveling in that direction are to use only one side of the road. All the people going in a different direction are to use the other side of the road. That’s it!

    Oh, wait… I just thought of another one. My bad.

    The only other rule has to do with who has the right of way. It’s pretty simple, though. The bigger the vehicle is the more right of way it has. It’s called the “Get out of the way or die!” rule.

    Only Guidelines

    Now, remind me … did I say that there were essentially only two rules of the road in Pakistan? I’m sorry for misleading you. Actually, there are no rules – they are only guidelines.

    Remember how I said that you only need to stay on one side of the road? That’s not entirely true. You know those lines we have in the middle of roads that separate lanes? Not in Pakistan. No, all you have is a road. YOU decide where it is on the road you want to be, depending on who is in front of you.

    Here in America, we have rules regarding when it is safe to pass another vehicle. One of the rules of which you might be familiar is “never pass when there is a double yellow line.” Not in Pakistan. When someone is slowing you down, just pass them … even if traffic is coming in the opposite direction. I mean, they will move over into the dirt when they see you coming, so do what you need to do!

    Something Strange

    But there is something strange about the differences between Pakistani driving and, let’s say, the way people drive in a large American city.

    For example, when I drive through cities like Nashville, Chattanooga, Augusta, and Atlanta, what I see are multiple lanes of organized and heavily regulated traffic. Here there are clearly delineated lanes, traffic lights and signs, and even plenty of law enforcement to keep a watch on things.

    Pakistan vs. Atlanta, GA

    When I traveled on the roads of Pakistan, there were no lines, no regulations, very little law enforcement, and hardly any street/traffic lights or signs.

    Yet, the whole time I was in Pakistan – no joke – I never witnessed a single accident. Not one!

    THAT should make a person question a lot of things, right?

    Travel down any American highway and you will see accidents all the time. Even in the most orderly and regulated settings, somebody is going to do something stupid and crash. And even if you don’t witness cars having a wreck, let somebody cut another person off and you WILL see fingers raised and maybe a little road rage.

    Travel in Pakistan and you will see people weaving in and out, cutting others off, driving aggressively and pushing themselves into flow, yet you will never see anyone flipping another off or hear anyone yelling obscenities. No, what you will see is mutual respect, acceptance, understanding, and this attitude of “it’s just the way things are, so don’t get your panties in a wad.”

    With all our rules, American drivers are less mature than those with no rules or regulations. Strange.

    A Powerful Lesson

    So, I think there is a powerful lesson to learn from all this talk about traffic. It has to do with the rules and regulations that are constantly pushed upon us and down our throats.

    It’s not only America, but in most all Western nations there is this idea that the government knows best. They treat all us citizens as children, not adults, who need to have our hands held through every facet of life, especially when driving.

    One of the greatest examples of this is the traffic camera. Because the government (local and otherwise) cannot trust us to drive responsibly, they put of cameras that check our speed, watch us at intersections, and generally track us wherever we go. It’s like, “I’m giving you rules to show you what you’re allowed to do, but I’m not going to trust you to make the right decisions.”

    People who are treated like children will act like children.

    But in Pakistan, where there are literally no lines, no lanes, no signs, no lights, and no cameras, the ones treated like responsible adults act like responsible adults – and even in the most dangerous traffic don’t have wrecks.

    So, consider the following scriptures. One is from the Old Testament, while the other is from the New Testament (quoting the one from the OT).

    But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. – Jeremiah 31:33
    For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: – Hebrews 8:10

    Where legalism exists, the one subject to the rules and regulations rarely makes the issues of right and wrong a matter of the heart. No, the primary response to legalism is the temptation to push the limits and/or rebel against the authority. This is why so many people who grow up in overly strict religious environments go hog wild when they get out on their own.

    Yet, when people are taught what is right and wrong and eventually trusted to make the right decisions as responsible, mature adults, the “law in the heart” guides even when the cameras are missing.

    Your thoughts?

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    Filed under America, Christian Maturity, General Observations, legalism, Pakistan, places

    The Real Problem with the Problem of Evil

    An Old Debate

    One of the most common reasons for denying the existence of God is the problem of evil in the world. Just ask any group of atheists to give their top ten reasons for unbelief and surely one will claim as number one, “If there is a God, then why is there so much evil in the world?” For many, this is the pièce de résistance of rebuttals. How could a good God be real and allow all the suffering in the world to continue unabated – assuming He is even good? The eighteenth century philosopher, David Hume described the problem this way in Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, 1779:

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?” (Stackhouse 1998, 11)

    So, the “problem of evil,” and its source, has been an issue of philosophical debate for centuries.  The existence of evil in the world, along with unanswered questions, has even become evidence enough for some to embrace atheism.  Therefore, because so many philosophers and theologians have tried for ages to reconcile the existence of God with the existence of evil, I dare say that nothing I write will be new.  But, if anyone were to challenge my belief in God, along with my faith in Jesus Christ, with the argument that the problem of evil constitutes proof God does not exist, then I would possibly respond with arguments based on the following thought:

    Without the existence of God, there should be no evil to be a problem, and that’s the real problem with “the Problem of Evil.”

    Evil? What Is It?

    What exactly is “evil?” Now, that may sound like an absurd kind of question to ask, but if the existence of evil is the evidence that is supposed to expose my faith as a fraud, at best, or even a lie, then what is it?  Is it something tangible? Is it metaphysical? Is it theoretical? What is it, exactly? Does it have any particular form? How can it be distinguished from what is called good? On what do the atheists and agnostics base their definition of this thing called “evil?”

    Amazingly, the answers are not all the same, nor in some cases even grounded in reality. However, it is imperative to understand that we must define this God-killer, because its definition will determine our conclusions and help to clarify our assumptions.

    When C. S. Lewis was an atheist, for example, his “argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.” (Lewis 1989) There he had it, or so he thought. God could not exist because so much evil exists. But how did he arrive at “this idea of just and unjust?” Lewis said, “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” (Lewis 1989) “Tell me,” I would say, “what is evil, and how do you recognize it when you see it?

    The Adjective

    To start, evil must be understood to be an adjective. Evil is a description of something that is not good. Evil is not a thing. The word “evil” only describes the thing, the thought, and the action. Technically, “evil” does not exist, only what it describes.

    Some people say that they cannot believe in God because why or how could a good God, if He was perfect, create evil? They think of evil as something that must have not existed until God made it. But evil “isn’t a kind of molecule or a virus…infecting or affecting everything it encounters.  There was no time when God said, ‘Let there be evil,’ and there was evil.” (Stackhouse 1998)  As John G. Stackhouse put it, “evil becomes a noun only in the abstract.” Additionally, in his book Can God Be Trusted, Stackhouse says of evil:

    “An action can be evil, or an event can be evil, or a quality can be evil, or a being can be evil. And we can lump all these particular evils together in our minds and come up with a category ‘evil.’ We can even go on to discuss it as if it were a particular thing, so long as we do not forget that we are always dealing with a category or group of particular evil things, not a thing itself.” (Stackhouse 1998, 31)

    So then, if evil is a description, how is it that we come to use the adjective, or as Lewis put it, the “crooked line,” without first having some idea of what is a “straight” one?  Defining what is good is as important as defining evil. To know what is evil, we must first have some assumption as to what is not evil.

    The crazy thing is that if God does not exist, and man is nothing more than a collection of random matter, both good and evil are purely relative – their existence is based purely on one’s perspective.  So, in other words, the one who says that there is no God, based on the existence of evil, is literally basing his belief on pure opinion, not on anything objective. Therefore, in order to bring an accusation against the goodness of God, one must have a base line. What is the standard by which we determine what is good and what is evil?

    The Standard

    Some use Man as the baseline. They compare God to the standard set by what is thought to be good behavior in this world. They rationalize that if God is real, at least according to monotheistic dogma, He must be all-powerful, perfectly good, and the supreme example of love, kindness, and providential care. Because it is preached that God is a better Father than earthly fathers, Mark Twain took it upon himself to write:

    The best minds will tell you that when a man has begotten a child he is morally bound to tenderly care for it…[yet], God’s treatment of his earthly children, every day and every night, is the exact opposite of that, yet those minds warmly justify those crimes…when he commits them.” (Tonie Doe Media 2007)

    So then, according to Twain, God could not exist because if He did, He would act consistent with our understanding of what a good and loving earthly father would do.  In other words, if God cannot, in all His perfection, behave better toward His children than the most common man, His credentials are therefore revoked, and He must cease to exist.  However, this is so illogical.

    Who are we to say that God, if He is perfect, and we are imperfect, ever treats His children poorly? Do the protesting cries of a toddler who has had poison taken from his grasp carry more weight than the decision of the earthly father to take it away? How, then, are we to automatically assume that the infantile tendencies of finite man are wiser than the infinitely Mature?

    Using Man as a baseline for what is good and evil is pure arrogance.

    Whose Line Is It?

    In reality, the problem of evil is really a problem for the atheist. He, who denies the existence of a Creator and accepts only the realities of evil in the world, essentially has nothing about which to complain.  Everything should be just fine and dandy, but it’s not.  The atheist knows that evil things happen to both good and bad people.

    He sees the hurt, feels the pain, and begs for justice. The reality of evil in the world causes men to cry out for justice; for things to be made right. This is a problem, though, because knowing that a crooked line is not straight hints at the fact that a Line-drawer exists.

    The Followers’ Fault

    Others take a different approach. They claim that God does not exist except in the evil intentions of his followers to control others through guilt. They claim that God is just a fabrication of priests to keep mankind from behaving “naturally.”

    They say that nature is good, and if anything, God is evil for trying to get man to behave contrary to the very way he was created to behave. One guru said, “It seems that for those who worship God, the opposite to God is not that which is ‘evil,’ but that which is natural.” He said of animals, comparing them to men, “They don’t worship God, they don’t go to church, they don’t have any theology.  They don’t have any feeling of guilt, they are simply natural.” (Osho 2009)  In other words, if there is evil in the world, it is because our belief in God has inflicted it.

    The Majority Response

    But for the majority of the hurting world, pain is real, loss is real, and evil is manifested daily.  Many see the things that happen to innocent people, especially children, and wonder, “If there is a loving God, why doesn’t he do anything about this?

    These people, many of which hold on to hope as long as they can, finally succumb to their doubts and conclude that the only way to explain away the pain is to admit that it is just part of life, part of the natural world, part of what makes us human; alone, in our quest to make life easier, free of pain, free from evil; alone, without God.

    These are the ones, I believe, that lure more away from the faith than any Darwinist.  They are the ones who have seen evil face-to-face and cannot fathom a God who would allow it to continue.  And because their experiences are so painful and tragic, the devout are left speechless and without explanation. Ellie Wiesel is a good example.

    Wiesel’s Observation

    Wiesel was a teenager when he saw his family murdered in the Nazi death camps.  But it was only after witnessing one particular act of horror – the slow, hanging death of a young boy – that he turned away from his faith in God.

    In the book Night, his Nobel prize-winning autobiography, Wiesel said he heard a man behind him ask, “Where is God now?” As he stood there, being forced to stare into a pitiful, wide-eyed, swollen face of a dying child, a voice within replied, “Where is He? Here He is – He is hanging here on the gallows…” (Wiesel 1982) Because there was no justification, even in the big scheme of things, Ellie Wiesel’s God died with the executed boy.

    But as sad as it is, without God, who can say what happened to that boy was any worse than the slaughter of an animal?  Are we not all just animals – some more evolved than others?

    The Real Problem

    To me, the problem of evil is not a problem for the believer to explain, but one for the non-believer.  Aside from the theological arguments about the character of God, without God, to turn Hume’s question around, “whence then is evil?

    Without God, evil is relative to one’s desires and personal pleasure.  Does it really even matter whether or not God could do anything about evil in the world when the whole question is moot if He didn’t exist?

    With God, evil is defined as that which is against His law, that which stands opposed to His standards, and that which describes all who take pleasure in such rebellion. Without God, evil is just a matter of opinion.

    That is the real “problem of evil.”


    Works Cited

    Lewis, C. S. “Atheism.” In The Quotable Lewis, by C. S. Lewis, 59. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1989.

    Osho. The God Conspiracy: the path from superstition to superconsciousness. New York: Osho Media International, 2009.

    Stackhouse, John G. Can God Be Trusted. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

    Tonie Doe Media. In The Atheist’s Bible, 129. New York: Harper Collins, 2007.

    Wiesel, Ellie. Night. New York: Bantam Books, 1982.

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    Filed under Apologetics, Culture Wars, Faith, General Observations, Life/Death, Struggles and Trials

    10 Tips for Having a GREAT Monday, EVERY Monday!

    Good Morning!

    This morning I was blessed to wake up to the smell toast, sausage, and eggs. To that I added the aroma of fresh-ground coffee. After that, I went outside to see if any rain had gotten into my car through the blanket I’d shut in the driver-side door because the window wouldn’t roll up. I petted George, got dressed after a hot shower, and let my wife drive me to the office.

    Monday’s are normally my day off. However, because of some things going on this Friday, I felt it better to make this a work day. But that’s OK! It’s still a great day! I’m actually looking forward to completing the list in front of me!

    But not everyone knows how to have a great Monday. Therefore, just for you, I’m sharing 10 tips that will help you have a great Monday, not only today, but EVERY Monday 😉

    10 Tips for Having a GREAT Monday!

    1. Wake up. Yeah, I know this might sound like a given, but some people have the habit of sleeping through the whole day just to avoid it. Don’t do it! Wake up! Seize it, brutha!
    2. Don’t check the news, Facebook, or Twitter till at least lunchtime. Listen, I am an information junkie, even a smartphone addict, so I understand the hankering to tap those colorful little icons – just don’t do it today (Monday). If war has broken out, you will find out through other means; you don’t need to click on Fox or CNN or Yahoo News. If you got comments and likes in the middle of the night, don’t worry – Facebook will keep them on ice for you.
      The only things you need to check before 7 a.m. are watches eBay that might sell cheap in the next few minutes and WordPress stats.
    3. Pray before you pee. I’m serious about this, folks. If you get out of bed and go to your earthly throne room first, it won’t be long before you forget about checking in with the Heavenly Throne room. Even if you have to tell Jesus: “Lord, I want to thank you for another day to serve you and bring you glory, but I will talk with you about some other stuff just after I get through in the bathroom,” do that. I’d rather you acknowledge your creator first than forget to thank the One who gave you Monday.
    4. Eat whatever you want for breakfast. I mean, hey, it’s Monday…just eat something and get on with it. You already have enough stuff on you plate to make you dread Monday, so why not make Monday-morning breakfast something to which you look forward? Pancakes, Fruity Pebbles, donuts, cake, pie, pizza, chocolate gravy and biscuits, cookies, waffles, and pure sugar are all legitimate options. Just make sure you include coffee.
    5. Read your Bible. Look, even if you don’t want to sit down with your leather-bound KJV or your plastic-covered NIV, find some way to consume the Bread of Life before your day gets going – you’re already going to be eating enough junk.
    6. Wake up to a catchy song for your alarm. If you have a smart phone that wakes you up, and if you can set your alarm to be a song, download Gloria Estefan’s “Conga” and shake your body out of the bed. It works! seriously!
    7. Tell your spouse you love her/him before you leave the house. Believe me, it makes for a better Monday… or Tuesday… or Wednesday… etc.
    8. Plan a God hunt. What is a God hunt, you ask? Determine that even though Monday’s can be depressing, determine to look for God working in some way. Make a game of it! See if you can beat last Monday’s record.
    9. Don’t forget to brush your teeth. Bad breath will guarantee a bad day. Wishing you’d remembered to brush your teeth will aggravate you all day. So, don’t forget.
    10. Don’t dress in the dark. Yes, if you want to have a GREAT Monday, make sure your clothes match before you head out for the day. Either that, or ask your spouse how you look.

    BONUS: Don’t let your wife ask you how she looks; there is no way to have a good day once that happens.

    There you have it! Hope these tips help!

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    Filed under General Observations, Humor, wisdom

    Love Is Love?

    What does it mean when you say “Love Is Love“?

    Before you try to answer that, let’s change the words. Let’s see if the same way of defining love works with other stuff.

    • Rock is Rock.
    • Lamb is Lamb.
    • Bob is Bob.
    • Cola is Cola.
    • Dirt is Dirt.
    • Poison is Poison.
    • Hate is Hate.

    As you can see, the words above are not as easy to define by stating that one is what it is. To say that a rock is a rock is to say a diamond is a piece of driveway gravel. To say that dirt is dirt is to equate what my flowers are growing in with stuff people dig up to smear politicians.

    Is every Bob the same as every other Bob?

    Is Coke really as nasty as the generic stuff?

    Is a stuffed lamb in a toy store the same as the living, breathing, pooping animal capable of growing wool?

    If “hate is hate,” then is it as equally immoral to hate the act of murder or cottage cheese that same as I hate my neighbor?

    LOVE IS LOVE tells us nothing! all it does is confuse and belittle, elevate what is not the real thing, and degrade what is priceless.

    LOVE IS LOVE tells us nothing! All it does is confuse and belittle, elevate what is not the real thing, and degrade what is priceless.

    A.C. Baker

    Then What IS Love?

    Is there no standard for what love is supposed to be? Is self-love the same as sacrificial love? Stating that “love is love” doesn’t even clarify whether or not love is a verb or a noun?

    That is why the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle John to write: “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16).

    What love is supposed to be is directly related to the nature of God.

    God is the standard. God is the Definer.

    Love without God in the equation is a scary, vague, unstable, dangerous, self-serving, undefinable, always-changing emotional term that can be used to justify anything (which can be verified by doing a Google search of “Love Is Love” memes).

    Poison isn’t just poison, but love without God is a poison that blinds the heart. – Ephesians 4:17-19

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    Filed under Culture Wars, General Observations, God, Love of God

    You Might Be a Fool If…

    April 1st

    Happy April Fools Day!…or, happy Atheists Day!…whichever you prefer.

    You know, even though atheists think we are being smug and “snarky” by quoting Psalm 14:1, I believe the one who insists there is no God really is a fool.

    But what I think matters little in the scheme of things. What matters is what God thinks.

    That is why I came up with this list.

    Defining a Fool

    What is a fool?  Believe it or not, Scripture lists several characteristics of a foolish person. The following is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start.

    So, why not do this Jeff Foxworthy-style?  

    You might be a fool if…

    1. You are always right in your own eyes (Proverbs 12:15).
    2. You despise instruction (Proverbs 1:7; 15:5).
    3. You are unteachable (Proverbs 17:10; 23:9; 26:11)
    4. You’re always running your mouth, getting into trouble (Proverbs 18:6-7; 29:11).
    5. You are always trying to find yourself (Proverbs 18:2).
    6. You make fun of sin (Proverbs 14:9).
    7. You’re always meddling in other people’s business (Proverbs 20:3).
    8. You are a shame and a burden to your parents (Proverbs 17:25).
    9. You deny the obvious because the truth is inconvenient (Romans 1:18-22).
    10. You deny Jesus because you think the cross is foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18).

    Don’t be a fool.

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    Filed under Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, Preaching