Category Archives: General Observations

Just things I see that make me think.

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 General Observations, Life Lessons, Countries, 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

Oh Look! It’s a…

Good morning, friends! It’s Friday!

(cue the OLD Rebecca Black song – the remake is vulgar and sick).

Like I said in a previous post, I am not writing as much due to a lot of other responsibilities and the deadline I’m facing for my degree. However, as I was waking up this morning a thought crossed my mind that I thought I would share with you.

But be warned: this may trigger somebody.


Humans and Animals

I am not an atheist nor an evolutionist. On the other hand, I am keenly aware that many, many are. And what I have heard from so many of them is that humans are no different than any other animal. Am I wrong? Is that not what they say?

Now, to a certain degree I would agree with them. And I would hope that they would have a good explanation for things like altruistic love, self-awareness, higher purpose, and the fact that 99.9% of us don’t eat our young.

But there is something more basic that we all do, creationist and atheist alike… We check our puppies and kittens the same way. Keep reading.

Puppies and Kittens

It doesn’t have to be just dogs and cats; it could be a whole zoo full of critters. The point I am going to make is that whatever it is, when we first pick them up, we almost always ask a basic, fundamental question: Is it a boy or a girl?

Photo by bill emrich on Pexels.com

Granted, the way you check chickens and snakes might be different, but when it comes to most animals, especially little dogs and kittens, you pick them up, lift their tail or look at their belly, and search for a puppy pencil (penis).

If you don’t see anything protruding, you say, “It’s a little girl!” If you see a lipstick case, you say, “Oh, look! It’s a boy!

Modern Puppies and Kittens

The problem we are having now is that any time we pick up the little yard animals to check if they are boys or girls (male or female), we are running the risk of being sued by the kennel.

You see, even though you pick up a puppy and may immediately see the lid off the lipstick, assuming that puppy is a boy is an act of violence – you are attacking it with your pronouns. Fact is, regardless the genitalia, we have no way of knowing how that puppy or kitten identifies. We must wait until it squats or hikes its leg before we fill out its papers.

Further complicating things, there’s the issue of breeding. How many times have we simply assumed that putting a “male” and “female” whatever into a box would result in a litter of look-a-likes? Fact is, many of those times we did this with our German Shepherds and didn’t get a “match,” the problem might have been an offended, pronoun-assaulted hound with unrecognized identity issues!

Animals, or Not?

So, that brings me back full circle to the Creationist/Atheist comment. Are we animals, or not? If so, if we are no different from the rest of the cast of “Lion King,” singing “The Circle of Life” as we accept our fate as feline food, then why all the confusion? Why not just call it when you see it?

Personally, I think we are more than simply animals, just as I believe we were created in the image of God, similar in many ways, but distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom.

It’s just that either way – made in God’s image as male and female or nothing more than bipedal, hunting/gathering apes – there’s little basis for kennel to be co-ed.

Those are my thoughts for this Friday. Have a great weekend!

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Filed under animals, Culture Wars, General Observations, nature, politics

When Less is More (becoming less white)

When it Bubbles it Foams

Who doesn’t love a good, cold Coca-Cola (or as we say down here in the South – where it was invented – Coke), especially on a hot day beside the pool, after some yard work, or a good workout at the gym? Wow, not that many hands, I see. Hmm.

OK, I get it, Coke is a fun addition to a meal, especially in a big foam cup from a Sonic Drive-In, but it’s not the most thirst-quenching beverage, nor the most healthy. Yet, it’s a multi-billion-dollar powerhouse. And when it comes to their brand image, I’m sure heads could roll if some petty little inconsequential white employee was allowed to make a fool of the execs in Atlanta.

So, when a story began to bubble up about employee training that included a slide presentation suggesting we all be “less white,” the media and the company began to foam, and for different reasons entirely.

You Want Me to be LESS White?

Now, when I Googled the story about the training in question, the first thing that popped up was a Snope’s article decrying the “opponents of critical race theory and diversity training” claiming they had “no real evidence.” Typical.

A screengrab from Snopes.com

However, the non-evidence produced by Karlyn Borysenko (or as Snopes describes her, “a prominent online opponent of critical race theory and many aspects of corporate diversity training“), that of a leaked photo of the slides, clearly confirms what she has reported. And what is that, exactly?

We should all try be be “less white.”

If Less, then More

I am going to skip ahead and pass over the opportunity to discuss the reasons why every person of less pigment should be grossly offended by the obvious inferences. Yes, I am going to choose to tone back the offended victim feelings and look at this from a different perspective.

I’m not that great in math, but let me propose an analogy. Let’s just say we have 100 dollars in hand (which would be nice, wouldn’t it?). How much money would you have in your hand if I reached out and took 99? You’d only have $1 in hand, correct?

Now, what if I had $100 in my hand and kindly, graciously, and typical of WAPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) gave your friend Scratchy $10 when he asked for money to get gas to see his dying grandmother? I would have “less” than $100, wouldn’t I? I would only have $90, but it would be far more than your pitiful, lonely dollar bill, correct?

Both of us would have less, but my “less” would be more than your “less” by far.

Considering the inferences are legit, and if I’m not any of the the negative stereotypes suggested in the leaked slides, then I need to have some of those qualities in order to have LESS of them.

Creating a Monster!

So, I need to be “less” than what I’m not. Therefore, I need to become a total monster of a jerk (I’m avoiding using other descriptors for the sake of propriety) in order to find room to lessen my “whiteness.”

First, I need to become oppressive. How do I do that? Slavery has been outlawed, so I don’t have anyone to beat with a whip (I need to get a whip). I don’t have enough money nor manpower to take over anyone else’s property, so I don’t know how I can force them to dig up the gold in their back yard. I’ll have to think about this one.

Second, I need to become supremely arrogant. OK, that I can do. I mean, I am smarter than those who don’t look like me. The only reason I’m not a wonderful, godly scientist like George Washington Carver; a legal brain like Justice Clarence Thomas; a political genius like Dr. Thomas Sowell; or a musician like B. B. King, is because I have all my servants do my work and study for me. I guess I could do more for myself.

Third, I need to become certain that everything I do and believe is right. I need to be absolutely certain that my way of worship is better than others’. I need to be really confident in all my decisions regarding finances, marriage, family, ministry, etc. That way all I will need to do in order to qualify as “less white” is doubt myself every once in a while.

Next, I need to become defensive and get offended at every time someone accuses me of something just because of the color (or lack thereof) of my skin. Then, who knows? Maybe I’ll write a humorous and slightly sarcastic article, yell at the dog for looking at me funny, or join up with some group who wears black, lifts their fists, and wants to be paid for their great great great great grandfather’s troubles. Then all I’ll have to do is tune it down a little and be loved by all!

The fiph ting I need tuh do is come more da ignorunt. Penceforth i’d b’n upin my noledge wid edumacation. Buh now I gotta go in da re … re … reversssss … reversal, yeah, that’s it! and become stoopid sow I kan be less stupider. Oh, wait, were they simply suggesting that I become more informed? Well, duh, wen u ignorant ju eggspect?

The last two things, well, that’s a different story. I don’t have to become more prideful to become more humble; I’m always too prideful, and that has nothing to do with whether I’m white or not. It’s always a struggle to be humble in all things. Unfortunately, God has a way of breaking down our pride.

And when it comes to listening, if I hadn’t been listening, I wouldn’t be writing this, today. If I had not been listening, I would not have become indignant with the insinuations that people of my color are horrible people by nature. If I had NOT been listening, I would have never noticed how a training like the one at Coca-Cola is as racist as anything from the KKK.

I tell you what, how about we all pass on the Coke, drink Perrier, and continue to treat people based on the “content of their heart, not the color of their skin”?

Nothing less.

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, politics, self-worth

The Humble Grail

Within the wristwatch-wearing community – those who wear timepieces, not computers – there is a term which describes the watch (or watches) you someday hope to own. These watches, often expensive and/or rare, are called “grails.”

A few watches immediately come to mind when we think of “grails.”

Grand Seiko Snowflake Dial
  • Rolex Submariner ($15,000 avg.)
  • Omega Speedmaster ($5,000 avg.)
  • The Grand Seiko “Snowflake” ($6k-$7k avg.)
  • Rolex Datejust ($6k – $15k and more…a lot more)
  • Tudor Black Bay 58 ($4,000 avg.)

Grail watches, depending on a person’s dreams and aspirations, vary greatly. However, what is typically the same is that they are difficult to obtain and often prohibitively expensive. And we’re not even talking about upper-end luxury watches that can cost over $100,000.

But not all grails are expensive. Some are simply rare. For example, those who collect Timex watches have different models they would love to obtain. My first Timex grail was a 1967 Marlin “dot-dash.” I picked one up for $67 off eBay, but only after I lost a bid on another a few weeks before. Other collectors dream of that perfect vintage Timex dive watch.

Just recently I was thrilled to obtain a grail. For months I had been going to farmer’s markets and posting paintings online, all to generate enough money to buy a Seiko SRPE 55. When the last painting sold brought in what I needed, online shopping I a-went! Like a Knight of the Round Table with a key to the gate, I charged the virtual castle and captured the Japanese-made legend.

But let me point out a few things before you think I spent ten thousand dollars on something. First, the watch I bought, the Seiko SRPE 55, cost me less than $200. It could have cost me $275+, but I shopped around and got the best deal. Also, every dime I spent on the purchase of this watch was earned from selling my paintings, prints, and an old Timex or two.

One reason I wanted this watch was because how similar it was to the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 41 and 36, watches costing around $3,000. The Tudor could be considered a true grail watch for me, but I can’t justify spending that much. Therefore, when I saw the striking similarity between the Seiko and the Tudor, my decision was made. And, I didn’t have to save for 10 years to make the purchase!

My Seiko between the Tudor Black Bay 41 and 36

Are there any other grails I want to buy one day? Honestly, not at this time (no pun intended, but it works).

Right now, my main goal is to finish my doctoral assignments, prepare sermons, visit people, and be a husband, dad, grandfather, and son. As I find old Timex pieces to add to my collection, I will take them home, clean them up, and work on my watch servicing skills. But what I am not going to do is dream about a watch that could pay for a trip to the Holy Land!

That brings me to my final though about grails: Do people ever think about the futility of what they are seeking?

From where to the term “grail” originate? Well, it comes from the word used to describe the cup from which Jesus shared the wine with His disciples at the Last Supper. That cup is often referred to as the “Holy Grail.”

You’ve probably seen other things besides watches referred to as the “holy grail” of one thing or another. It’s a term meant to describe something as the ultimate, most-elusive prize to be had. This stems all the way back to when legends described the cup Jesus used as one made of gold, encrusted with precious stones, and even capable of mystical powers.

But what was the “holy grail”? Would it not have been a simple cup made of wood, stone, or clay? Most certainly it was simple, lacked ornamentation, and had no other significance other than that it was handled by the Word made flesh, the Creator of time.

What made the grail “holy” was that was set apart unto a holy work. Other than that, it was humble. A humble grail.

So, that brings me back full circle to watches. Why do we have “grail” watches? In reality, just like the elusive Holy Grail of old, how many fortunes are lost in pursuit of something glittery, shiny, hand (of man) crafted, with no inherent power other than the ability to do what it was designed to do?

It seems very ironic to me that we want those glittery cups and not the humble one. We lust after the opulence of the Tudors and scoff at the utilitarian simplicity and dependability of the lowly Timex.

Even more ironic is that the very “grail” for which the Indian Jones’ of the world search is the very same cup (metaphorically speaking) that Jesus asked, “If it be Thy will, let this cup pass from me.” He knew what it was going to cost Him, but He wasn’t purchasing it for Himself; it was meant to be a gift for those who could NEVER afford to purchase it.

Therefore, what makes the grail precious? It’s monetary value? The gold and jewels? The intricate, fine-crafted details? Or could you be satisfied with something simple?

To be honest, the most precious watches in my collection, those for which no price could buy them away from me, are those which my wife and daughters gave me as gifts. They are irreplaceable, even if they only cost $20.

I’m wearing a $30 Timex MK1 Steel on a canvas strap now, and I really like this watch! But I’m going to swap it out for my new Seiko before I leave the house.

I wonder what Jesus would wear.


Your thoughts and comments mean a lot to me, so let me know what you think 😊

Have a blessed day and start to your week.

Anthony

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Filed under General Observations, watches