Category Archives: General Observations

Just things I see that make me think.

Scars To Your Subjectivity

I Heard a Song

Even though it’s been out for a while – like over a year – it was just a few months ago that I heard “Scars To Your Beautiful” for the first time while doing some channel surfing on the radio (actually, it was on my Amazon Prime music app, but let’s not get picky).

If you have never heard the song, or seen the official video featuring the artist, Alessia Cara, then take a moment and absorb the message… Then let’s talk.

OK, did you listen? Did you pay close attention to the lyrics, including the testimonies of the people featured in the video? What did you think?

Who Made Her the Beauty Judge?

First, I think it is terrible to bully people because of their looks. Despite what they say about sticks and stones, words hurt deeply. Therefore, I can sympathize with the message of the song, for I was made fun of when I was young. People, especially kids, can be cruel.

But, as I listened to the song in the car, something came to mind that made me pause the music (you can do that with Amazon Prime) and say to my daughter who was riding with me, “You do realize, don’t you, that this song makes absolutely no sense without God?”

“What do you mean,” Haley responded? Well, that’s not what she really said. Actually, she just turned in my direction, tilted her head down, lifted up her eyes and eyebrows, and mumbled out a “Hmmm?”

I then asked, “Who is this girl (the singer) to say someone is beautiful just the way she is? Who defines what is beautiful?”

Seriously, haven’t we always been told, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? Of course we have! So, if that is so, what is wrong with saying someone is ugly? What if I don’t behold beauty, but scary?

Alessia Cara sings the following in the chorus:

But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark
You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are
And you don’t have to change a thing
The world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

Honestly, I’m not trying to be funny, but what gives her the right to say those things? Why should anyone know she’s beautiful just the way she is? Why shouldn’t she or he have to change? For crying out loud, why should the whole world be expected to change its beauty standards to fit the self-proclaimed, totally subjective beauty definitions of an outwardly-odd human?

If we are nothing but space junk, the product of chance, and nothing any more special than naked apes, why should any of us think we are intrinsically beautiful? And what kind of hope is in the dark?

Intrinsic Beauty

Believe it or not, I talked about all this with my daughter while the song was paused. Then I said, “It’s because we are made in the image of God…because we were created by Him…because Jesus was willing to go to the cross for us so that we could be saved…because God loves us…

Each and every one of us is a unique masterpiece, intricately woven together, shaped by the Hand of the Master Artist of the universe. So, despite the critical eye of the beholder; despite the subjective, labeling trends that give definition to fleeting beauty; the One who made you, who loves you, and sees deep into your soul says, “You were worth the nails.”

That’s why you’re beautiful.

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Filed under General Observations, Love of God, self-worth

When you hear the sound of the trumpet…

Nearly seven years ago (Oct. 28, 2010) I wrote the following post. Now that a new school year is upon us – and now that I’m actually pastoring in Soddy Daisy, TN, it seems appropriate to be reminded of some some things that are as true today as they were back then.


Last night (10/28/2010) I had the honor to participate in an event of community prayer.  I was invited to speak by a student at Soddy Daisy High School.  If you don’t know what happened, a whole bunch of people gathered together in the park to celebrate our right and freedom to pray, even though it was recently mandated that prayer be stopped before football games.  This meeting was organized by students who decided enough was enough.

In my closing remarks (I spoke for 7 1/2 minutes) I brought up the story of Nehemiah, specifically a part in chapter 4, verse 20. Nehemiah, in response to threats from enemies intent on stopping them from rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, set people on the wall as lookouts.   Being that the wall was big and spread out, and being that there were few people, Nehemiah came up with a plan.  He said :

“The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us.” Nehemiah 4:19-20 NKJV

To me, and I am just little ol’ me, there should have been a lot more people present last night.  Why?  A trumpet was sounded for the body of Christ to come to the aid of not only Soddy Daisy, but for all of Hamilton County.  An attack on our freedoms, as both Christians and Americans, has come to our soil.  Why is it that our schedules and programs and our own sections of the wall are more important than stopping the enemy somewhere else?

Last night was your typical “Wednesday night prayer meeting” night.  Besides the fact that prayer is rarely the object of attention at a lot of these meetings, what would have been wrong with jumping in the church bus and heading to where the trumpet was sounding?  Where there may have been 500+ at this event last night, there should have been 1-2000.  Why were they not there? Because it was more important for local congregations to remain safe and snug in their own little sections of  “the wall.”  

Here was a prime example of LEGALISM in action, for many did not want to participate in an event that featured speakers who weren’t part of a particular denomination.  

Here was a prime example of LAZINESS, for it may have been difficult to get people together to go somewhere on a weeknight, especially if it wasn’t to Ryan’s (the local steak house) or the bowling alley.  

Here was a prime example of DENIAL, PRIDE, and APATHY, for there were others who did not attend because they either didn’t think there’s a problem, it wasn’t their idea, or they just really didn’t care.  Folks, what has been “typical” needs to be trashed.

This past Sunday I told my congregation that I would be in Soddy Daisy on Wednesday night because a trumpet had been sounded.  I went to stand in the gap with my brothers and sisters who cared enough to make a public stand against the tyranny of a few over the wishes of the people.  

In the future, when other trumpets sound,  I pray that the churches of our county and our country will rally together in defense of the few walls we have left in this nation… a nation that, for now, claims to be “under God.”

May our God truly fight for us, for we don’t seem to want to fight for ourselves.

…Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses. – Nehemiah 4:14

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Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Christian Unity, General Observations, Independent Baptist, legalism, Southern Baptist, World View

Focusing On Jesus, and the Art of Throwing Kicks and Punches

Physical Therapy

About a week and a half ago I hurt my foot – my Achilles tendon, to be precise. I was mowing grass with a push mower on this deity-forsaken hill (the front part of the same yard where I fell three years ago and tore my right rotator cuff) when I strained the tendon where it inserts into the right part of my right heel. The pain woke me up from my sleep.

And this is what the front yard looked like until someone else came and mowed it for me. Did you know the grass in Tennessee could grow to 30 feet?

Because I could barely walk, even with crutches, I had to go to the orthopedic doc to find out how bad I was hurt. Long story short, I ended up going to physical therapy to strengthen my ankle and receive treatment for the tendon. As of today, praise God, everything is going well and I’m back on my feet with little or no pain.

But I’m NEVER mowing that yard again! I’ll make my daughters do it!

Physical Observation

Well, as I was sitting with an ice pack on my foot, there was a woman across the room throwing a weighted ball onto a slanted trampoline. The object of this exercise was to strengthen her ankle and increase her balance.

Earlier, not long after I got to physical therapy, I, too, was doing something to strengthen my ankle and help with my balance. So, as I was waiting for the timer to go off so they could remove the ice pack, I had time to ponder something.

Martial Arts

I began a conversation with one of the physical therapists standing close by and asked a few questions similar to the following:

“Are you familiar with martial arts? Have you ever noticed how martial artists have great balance? Have you ever considered teaching people how to balance the way I learned?”

The physical therapist was not too familiar with what I was talking about, so I explained.

Amateur artist’s rendering of actual martial artist named Anthony.

“When I learned how to fight, I learned to keep my eyes focused on my opponent. I never looked down, or around, only at the person I was fighting, usually in his eyes. As long as I kept my eyes on the one I was fighting, straight ahead, I could kick, punch, do whatever, all the while keeping my balance.”

“That’s interesting,” the therapist replied.

And here’s the thing. In my therapy I had to stand on a soft cushion, putting all my weight on the heel of my right foot. As long as I focused on an object in front of me, I could stand there with no support on that one foot and never fall. As soon as I looked around or looked down at my foot, I would lose my balance.

And when I eat at Chinese restaurants I catch all the stray flies with my chopsticks.

Focusing On Jesus

If you are already a believer, and if you’re familiar with Peter and his stroll across the water, then you’ve probably already figured out most of what I’m about to say: When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we are less likely to fall.

However, I never thought about Peter when my foot was being iced; I just thought about Jesus. You see, I don’t get to ride in too many boats, and I’m not likely to get out of one once I’m in it. On the other hand, this old flesh gets distracted and falls every chance it gets, even when the ground is solid and flat.

Instead of glancing around at what’s going on in the world; instead of looking down and wincing at what causes me pain; instead of looking at the clock and wondering when it’s all going to end; maybe I should keep my eyes focused on my Heavenly Sensei (Jesus), bring this body under control, keep it in balance, and train it for the fight.

After all, I’d like to land a few more good ones on the Devil, wouldn’t you?

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Filed under Christian Maturity, fitness, General Observations

Charlie Gard Will Die. Shame On You.

I know that I have a lot of readers and friends in both England and the rest of Europe, so I feel bad for having to say this about their country and the continent, but shame on your leaders and your medical system!

The news came out today that the parents of Charlie Gard are giving up. Essentially, they’ve run out of time to get help for their little boy. Without doubt, yes, he will now die.

Whatever happened to compassion and the value of life? Oh, I know, so many would like to point fingers in all kinds of directions, especially at my country, America. But what is so important about a hospital’s ability to determine when someone will live or die, despite the parents’ wishes? Is there no Hippocratic oath in Europe?

Really, whether or not Charlie Gard would have lived or died from his disease, was it not the merciful, compassionate, and holy right of the parents to try whatever they could? Doctors in America – Harvard trained – were going to offer their services, but you denied release from the hospital.

Honestly, who made your hospital lawyers and your E.U. panels god?

Americans, THIS is what you get when you have a European-style healthcare system. When you turn over your rights to those who think they know better than you, believe me, they will try to prove it whenever they can.

From Facebook

Charlie Gard is going to die, but since his parents were doing the best they could to keep him alive, the death, in my opinion, is nothing less than murder. Charlie Gard was unjustly sentenced to death because all hope was deemed unworthy, and he did nothing wrong. His death sentence was an injustice enforced by the government of England and the self-righteous judges of the European Union.

Shame on you. You will answer to God for what you’ve done.

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Filed under current events, General Observations

Decaffeinated Christianity

In an effort to keep you entertained and encouraged, even though I’m too pressed for time to press a shirt or French press some coffee, here’s a re-run…a repeat…a re-heated cup of truth. (Oh, and don’t forget to check out ProverbialThought.com)


Like vs. Love

I like coffee, but I wouldn’t say I love it. My wife and kids, on the other hand, are worth dying for. I love them. I only like coffee. I’m not going to jump in front of a moving train to save an espresso.

But there are times when I like coffee more than I like my wife. Every once in a while I want a cup of coffee more than a kiss or a hug. I still love my wife, but she won’t fit into the French press.

Now, it must be said that I also like tea. Thanks to the influence of certain English folk, my tea consumption has increased a thousand fold! Yet, tea is not coffee. Sometimes I want coffee more than tea. Sometimes tea needs to leaf me alone. There’s a big difference between loose-leaf anything and some medium roast Jamaican Blue Mountain. That’s real coffee, and I really like it.

What is Real?

But wait! That raises a question. What is real coffee? What is the difference between freshly brewed coffee and let’s say, uh, freeze-dried instant? Both are real, aren’t they?

Fake coffee. Whoever still drinks that stuff on purpose should be psychologically evaluated. Coffee is only coffee if it comes about as the result of gently ground coffee beans being caressed by steaming hot water. Chicory is of the Devil.

Instant coffee. It comes packaged in a jar, but it is made from real coffee. It may not taste as good as fresh-brewed, but it’s real, nevertheless. The worst instant coffee is still better than dandelion tea, believe me.

Nasty coffee. Even the stuff you find in a gas station, an army mess tent, or a crazy relative’s thermos is still coffee. Coffee is coffee, even if it tastes like road tar.

“Unleaded.” What I don’t understand is decaffeinated coffee. Sure, it tastes the same to most people, but why would anyone want it? Without the caffeine coffee is…well…it’s just not coffee. It has the look and taste, but no umph, no kick, no power.

Powerless

Decaffeinated Christianity is the same way. It looks like the real thing. It smells like the real thing. It tastes like the real thing. For crying out loud, it even outsells full-strength, real Christianity 10 to 1! People love it! They wear t-shirts promoting their favorite brand. Yet, decaffeinated Christianity is no better than decaffeinated coffee without the Power.

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT

What are you drinking?

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, Uncategorized

I’ve Never Seen THAT Before!

What I Saw

I have been driving since I was 15, so that’s been nearly 35 years. On top of that, I have been a professional driver for the last 16 years, and during that time I’ve logged a lot of miles on back roads, highways, and interstates.

Needless to say, I have driven enough miles on enough roads to have seen a whole lot of things. But what I saw today was something that I had never seen before – ever. It was a big, green, plant-based elephant on the back of a flatbed trailer.

I didn’t have time to take a picture of it. There were two other people in the school bus we were transferring from one site to another. They saw it, too, but no picture was taken by them, either.

“Well, that’s the first time in my life I’ve ever seen something like that,” I said to the other two people on the bus. They felt the same way; they had never seen anything like that, either.

Then a thought came into my head…what if I were to tell people, “Hey! Guess what I saw, today! I saw a big, green elephant going down the highway!”? I could only imagine what they would say, “Really? Were you drinking and driving?

Then the one thought led to another.

What They Saw

As I was thinking about trying to explain how I literally saw a big, green, elephant of a bush rolling down the road, I was reminded of how hard it must have been for the disciples to explain seeing a dead man living again (i.e., Jesus).

Some people obviously didn’t want to believe them, and some even threatened them with imprisonment should they keep talking about the crucified Jesus supposedly living again. I mean, nobody had ever seen anything like that before, and there were no photographs to prove what they saw, either.

Yet, Peter and John saw what they saw, and touched Who they touched, and talked with Whom they talked, etc., etc., etc. So, they wouldn’t keep quiet.

So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:18-20 NLT

Then came another thought: Some people may not believe what I have experienced, nor the testimony of others who have seen and experienced the same thing, but which is more important…a giant shrub, or a Glorious Savior?

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Filed under animals, Christianity, Faith, General Observations, salvation

“The Shack” (My Review)

To Begin With

To begin with, let’s spell out what we know is true about God and His relationship to mankind. I mean, before I start talking about my impressions of a work of fiction – a movie – let’s talk reality, theologically speaking.

First, God is best understood as existing in trinity:

TRINITY (from Lat. trinitas).† An expression for the revelation of the one God (Deut. 6:4) in three “persons,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the trinity is a theoretical model intended to systematize various expressions in the Bible. The basis in Scripture on which it was built can be summarized as follows: there is only one God; each of the three divine persons is recognized to be God; God’s selfrevelation recognizes distinctions among these three persons in that there are interactions among them; and these distinctions are not just a matter of revelation (as received by humans) but are also eternally immanent in the Godhead.

Source: Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 1019.

Second, God has spoken and speaks to His children through the revealed and completed work of Scripture (the Bible). Therefore, what contradicts or stands in opposition to the Word of God is contrary to truth, therefore in error.

Third, God also speaks in a general sense through the works and workings of His creation (Romans 1:19-20).

Does God still speak to his children through dreams? I believe it is possible, for God can do anything He wishes, and He’s the same today as He was yesterday. However, does He speak through dreams and visions to His children in the same way which is recorded in the Bible? That’s debatable.

Fourth, God works in ways we can’t always understand…

For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV

Therefore, if He wanted to, there’re’so nothing to stop the Lord from giving a man a dream of being with the Godhead in a shack for a weekend, eating Divinely-prepared breakfasts and dinners, while not compromising what He has already revealed in the completed canon of Scripture. Has He ever done such a thing? I don’t know. But He could.

My Review

Look, I am not a professional film critic. I don’t know much about industry lingo. The best I can do is simply tell you what I think about what I saw.

Despite what many of my Christian brothers and sisters have said, I thought The Shack was a really good movie. I have never read the book on which the movie was based, so I don’t know how it compares. But what I do know is that what I watched did not contradict the overall truths about God as mentioned above. That’s the first big point.

What we have in The Shack is a story about a man who lost his youngest daughter to a terrible sex crime. The aftermath of the loss brought about bitterness, guilt, and questions of God’s character. In short, the lead character felt qualified to judge God.

Instead of being angry or disappointed with the lead character, Mack, we find out that God loved him and wanted to restore joy and wonder to his faith. Even more, God wanted Mack to trust Him. In The Shack we see a God who wants to restore relationships with His children, those who are His, but have strayed as a result of their pain.

There are certain elements in this movie that have been criticized unfairly. One of those is in the way God the Father (“Papa”) is portrayed for a good portion of the film as an older black woman. This alone has cause some to flip their lid. However, should one watch the movie he would find out that there was a practical, personal reason for God appearing as woman – Mack had an abusive father as a child, and it was always an older black lady who comforted him with godly wisdom and fresh-baked apple pie. When Mack asked Papa why He was a woman, she (God) replied: “After what you’ve been through, I didn’t think you could handle a father right now.” Later in the movie when Mack needed the leadership of a man, God assumed the role of a masculine male.

Essentially, no doctrine was compromised by the depictions of God the Father. The film told a story which reflected the same truths as depicted in Luke 13:34 and 15:20…God can be both a mother hen and a merciful father.

Believe it or not, Jesus was portrayed by a mid-30’s, Israeli-born Jewish man. The casting was perfect.

The Holy Spirit was portrayed by a young Asian woman. I didn’t get that one, but it really didn’t matter; if your going to put a physical appearance to the Spirit, an Asian girl is just as logical as an older black woman.

Honestly, before the movie started, I had in front of me a note pad ready to record every blatant heresy I was expecting to see. Yet, when the movie was over the pad was still bank. Frankly, there was only one line in the movie that caused me to pause it and have a quick discussion with my family…(NOTE: Discussion is the important key to watching any movie with one’s family.)…Papa responded to a question Mack asked about punishing people for their sins by saying: “I don’t punish…sin is its own punishment.” I understood the sentiment, but a quick word search on BlueLetterBible.com through some in some wrenches.

The important thing to remember is that the movie storyline clearly indicates Mack never actually, physically, went to the old shack. What we are left with is the question of whether or not God might choose to miraculously step in through a vision or dream and individually speak to a man in order to change his heart. But even that is not the main point of The Shack.

The main point of this movie is to show through admitted fiction that what we think we know about God might be wrong. Even though The Shack does do a good job of reinforcing a biblical description of the Godhead, especially relating to the question of pain and evil in the world, there is an element of danger: If we don’t point people to the Bible to read what God has written about Himself, only cause people to question their perceptions, then we are only left with more questions and more uncertainty.

In conclusion, there are many quality moments in this movie worthy of open discussion. As a Christian, I was certainly blessed by what I watched. My only concern is that, other than showing the main character and his family in the end worshipping together in a Christian church, there are too many loose ends: an unbeliever who watches is not given any distinct instructions on how to experience a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, only an affirmation that it’s OK to trust God, even in the bad times, because He is always good.

I would love to hear your feedback, so share your thoughts in a comment. 

 

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Faith, General Observations, God, Movie review