Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Of Billy Graham, Justice Thomas, and the Barna Group - Important Lessons to Learn

Just heard the news this morning that Billy Graham entered the portals of heaven yesterday.  What an incredible legacy that man has left behind.  Perhaps no other person, since the time of the Apostle Paul, has had such an impact upon the world for Christ.  Every continent, with the exception of Antarctica, has been touched with the message that flowed from the heart of Billy Graham.  Men and women of influence across the globe sought his wisdom and advice.  Few of us will forget the powerful message he delivered at the national day of remembrance for the victims of 9-11.  I remember seeing him totter up those steps, but once he was in the pulpit, the fire of heaven flowed through him.  Just as there was only one Apostle Paul, I believe there will be only one Billy Graham.  He was God's man for the time in which he lived.  The world will miss his voice, but heaven is celebrating the homecoming of a giant of faith.  Thank you, Billy Graham, for the legacy you have left behind. 


Over the weekend I was privileged to hear portions of the speech that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made at the Library of Congress.  (www.patriotpost.us/articles/54241-thomas-issues-his-cultural-ruling). Three thoughts grabbed my attention.  First, he said, "At some point, we're going to be fatigued with everybody being the victim."  Think about that statement for just a few moments.  We are victims of race.  We are victims of gender.  We are victims of sexual choice.  We are even victims of religious preferences.  It seems that everyone is going around carrying the wounds of victimhood.  We report people who cause us to have negative feelings.  We crawl into our "safe spaces" where no one can touch us.  I believe what Justice Thomas was saying is that as long as we are all victims, there will never be any healing.  And healing begins when we can sit down and have a civil conversation about ideas without feeling offended.  Such conversations are a rarity in our age. 


Second, Justice Thomas expressed great concern over the intensity of the confirmation for both judges and other political appointments.  He said, "This is not the Roman Colosseum.  We're not gladiators.  And I think we're going to lose some of our best people who choose not to go through the ordeal.  They don't want to have to fight the lion in order to be a judge or to be in government.  And I think it's our own fault for allowing this to happen."  Yes, there needs to vetting for the offices of judges and other governmental leaders, but it seems that the vetting process today is almost like a witch-hunt. 


And, third, Justice Thomas quoted from his grandfather: "Old Man Can't is dead.  I helped bury him."  I heard my grandfather say the same thing to me many times, especially when I expressed why something could not be done.  We tend to give up too easily today.  Things are too hard, so "I quit" becomes our escape.  Perhaps we need to resurrect that thought from our grandparents' generation.  As believers we know that nothing is too difficult for God.  And since God is for us then we should remove those words - "I can't" - from our vocabulary.  Instead we should proclaim, "With God's help, I can..." 


I close today with referencing a new study that the Barna Group has produced.  You can find this study at www.barna.com/research/gen-z-questions-answered.  I found this article an important one.  Gen Z is identified as those born between the years 1999 to 2015, so this group is now between the ages of 3 and 19.  The Barna Group worked with teens aged 13 to 18 for this study.  "One of the main findings from the study is that the problem of evil is a major barrier to faith for non-Christian teens (29%).  Other reasons nonbelievers provide as common barriers to faith include "Christians are hypocrites" (23%), "I believe science refutes too much of the Bible" (20%), "I don't believe in fairy tales" (19%), "there are too many injustices in the history of Christianity" (15%), "I used to go to church but it's just not important to me anymore" (12%), "I had a bad experience at church / with a Christian" (6%). 


"When it comes to church specifically, non-Christians and self-identified Christians have different reasons for why they believe it is unimportant.  Among those who say attending church is not important to them, three out of five Christian teens say "I find God elsewhere" (61%), while about the same proportion of non-Christians says "church is not relevant to me personally" (64%). 


"One of the biggest and most surprising shifts is that family is not a major priority for Gen Z.  For instance, personal achievement, whether educational or professional (43%), and hobbies and pastimes (42%) are more central to Gen Z's identity than family background / upbringing (34%).  ... Another interesting finding is that two-thirds of Gen Z want to finish their education (66%), start a career (66%) and become financially independent (65%) by age 30, while only one in five wants to get married by then (20%).  However, they do still seem to value their family's authority or insight: When asked who they most look up to as a role model, half say their parents and one in seven says another family member."


Friends, this is a very important study.  Gen Z includes my grandchildren and their peers.  What is truly important to them?  What does faith mean to them?  Can they articulate clearly what they believe?  These are questions leaders within the Church need to be asking.  This is that generation the Church needs to be investing its best people and its resources into not only helping them to understand the significance of the Gospel, but of how they can grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. 


Friends, God is still on the throne.  He is still "in charge."  All may not be well with the world, but I can say, "It is well with my soul."  I trust you can say that as well.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Some Good News, Israel and Iran, and Blaming God - Stories of the Week

I want to begin this week with some good news.  It seems that those stories don't occur as often as they should.  The article titled, "Torte Reform? CA Baker Wins First-Ever Case", can be found at the Family Research Council website - www.frc.org.  "Here are three words you don't usually see in the same sentence: 'religious liberty' and 'California.'  But thanks to Superior Court Judge David Lampe, that's exactly what one Christian is celebrating in a battle over religious freedom and wedding cakes.  For the first time ever, a court ruled in favor of the baker, Cathy Miller, for turning down an order for a same-sex wedding because her faith 'will not allow me to participate in things that I feel are wrong.'


"Facing the loss of her bakery, she and the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund fought back.  Although the odds were stacked against her, the law was not.  In a powerful rebuke of the status quo, Judge Lampe rejected the Left's argument that personal offense trumps conscience.  The right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment outweighs` the State's interest in ensuring a freely accessible marketplace,' Lampe wrote.  'The right of freedom of thought guaranteed by the First Amendment includes the right to speak, and the right to refrain from speaking.  Sometimes the most profound protest is silence.'


"Obviously, he explained, no one can refuse to sell something to a customer out of prejudice.  But, he reminds everyone: 'The difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked.  The State is not petitioning the court to order defendents to sell cake.  The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and create cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of marital union her religion forbids... Such an order would be the stuff of tyranny.'  What's more, he points out, Cathy - like the Kleins, Jack Phillips, and Barronelle Stutzman - not only offered the women something from her display case, but 'provided for an alternative means for potential customers to receive the product they desire through the services of another talent' by recommending another bakery."


Remember, this is a decision from a California judge!  A judge who upholds the integrity of the Constitution, no less.   A judge who is not swayed by the mass hysteria of our culture.  A judge who was able to look at all the facts objectively.  May there be more judges like him who are willing to stand up for the freedoms offered in the First Amendment.  We need more judges like David Lampe within our judicial system. 


Over the weekend tensions increased in the Middle East.  An Iranian made drone launched from inside Syria, was shot down over Israeli airspace.  Israeli fighter jets were scrambled and destroyed the base from which the drone had been sent.  On the return flight a Syrian missile shot down one of the Israeli warplanes, but it was able to crash land within Israeli territory.  In an article published by the World Israel News (WIN), Steve Leibowitz writes, "The decision by Iran to send a drone into Israeli airspace and the subsequent punishing air strikes by Israel targeting Iranian military facilities in Syria on Saturday amounted to a marked escalation in Iranian-Israeli confrontation.  Indeed, it was the first direct military clash between the two nations, enemies since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.  But neither side appears to want a full-scale war right now. 


"Middle East analyst Amotz Asa-El told WIN, 'There is every reason to suspect that this drone was a premeditated act on the part of Iran.  They want a confrontation in order to distract from their own domestic problems, including the acute economic chaos resulting in the recent upheaval and now the women's protests.  A confrontation with Israel is a good distraction.  Strategically, Iran is committed to "imperial Persian expansion," and that includes an overland corridor stretching from the Iranian border to the Syrian and Lebanese coasts.  Israel's strategic interest is simply to keep the enemy far from the borders,' Asa-El said.


"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it this way: 'Israel wants peace, but we will continue to defend ourselves with determination against any attack on us and against any attempt by Iran to entrench itself militarily in Syria or anywhere else.  Our policy is absolutely clear: Israel will defend itself against any attempt to harm our sovereignty.'"


I am working on a message that I will be preaching later this spring from Ezekiel.  As one focuses upon those nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39, it hardly escapes one attention that three of those nations cited by Ezekiel are presently within Syria: Iran, Russia, and Turkey.  Is this just a coincidence?  Or is this part of God's strategic plan?  We know that the ultimate goal of the Iranians is the complete destruction of the State of Israel.  Could the war that Ezekiel saw in his vision over twenty-six centuries ago be on the brink of becoming a reality?  If it is then we know how that war will end for the text of Ezekiel 39 makes that very clear.  Please don't take your eyes off what is happening in the Middle East.  It truly is the key to understanding God's plans.


Next, I read a very interesting article from the Christian Post, written by Michael Gryboski, and titled, "Millennials Who Attended Evangelical Protestant Schools More Likely to Marry, Have Children: Study.:  You can find this article at www.christianpost.com/news/millennials-who-attended-evangelical-protestant-schools-more-likely-marry-have-children-study-215814.  Allow me to quote from this article:  "Generation X and the millennial-aged adults who attended evangelical Protestant schools are more likely to get married and have children than their peers who attended public schools, according to a recent study.  In research conducted by the Canada-based think tank Cardus that was released Tuesday (January 30), found that among young adults aged 24-39, 'EP schoolers are more likely to be married, and less likely to cohabit.  By guiding graduates toward traditional marriage and family, evangelical Protestant schools may set up structural constraints and opportunities that encourage evangelical religious orientations and practices,' explained the report.  The report also found that young adults educated at evangelical Protestant schools are more likely to read the Bible, attend worship, and pray that those who attended public schools."


One does not have to question the validity of these results.  All one has to do is to look at what is happening within the modern school system.  It is not important that our children understand their math tables, but it is important that our children understand that they don't have to be a boy or girl - they can be whatever gender they desire, and that desire can change from day to day.  It is not important that our children understand the religious and historical framework upon which our nation was established.  But it is important that our children understand that our Founding Fathers were white, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, Islamophobic men.  Is it any wonder that our children are growing up confused as to what truth really is?  Is it any wonder that they are turning away from the Church because even the church has watered down truth?


I need to share one final article that really got the blood-pressure to rise even higher.  The article was posted on The Patriot Post website: www.patriotpost.us/articles/54055-eve-the-first-number-metoo.
The article was written by Thomas Gallatin on February 9.  "This story highlights a classic example of how leftist feminist ideology attacks straw men by unabashedly distorting the facts.  An article was recently published in The Forward and provocatively titled, 'The First Story in the Bible Was the First Case of #MeToo.'  Written by Tamara Kolton, who identifies herself as a '47-year-old rabbi and psychologist,' she asserts that God perpetrated 'the first sexual assault of a woman.'  She writes, 'The founding myth of Judeo-Christian religion, the story of Eve, granted generations of men permission to violate women.  It teaches us that women are liars and sinners.  Even if 'She' is telling the truth, she deserved it.  God told her not to eat that apple, or wear that skirt, or go out after dark, or be pretty, or desirous, or in that bar or on that street or in that car or born a girl.'"


Have you ever heard anything so blasphemous as to accuse God for the attacks upon women, in fact, to accuse God of initiating that first assault upon a woman?  But this happens whenever a person casts aside the belief in an inerrant, inspired, authoritative Word of God written through the power and influence of the Spirit of God.  The Bible just becomes a series of myths and legends that have no moral authority at all.  So, the #MeToo movement is all because of God's assault upon Eve there in the Garden.  All I can say to Rabbi Kolton and to her kind is "Wow!  You actually believe that!"  How sad!


Friends, can it be much longer until the trumpet blows?  I see how clearly the pieces are coming into better focus.  It is time to "look up" because "our redemption soon draws near."  Amen! 



Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Where Has Common Sense Gone?

And the battle for gender identity continues.  Just this morning I received an article written by the staff at the Family Research Council (www.frc.org) that was titled, "Intolerance in Full Swing at School Dance."  The article begins: "Kids see plenty of offensive things at school - but when did fathers become one of them?  Ask New York's Department of Education.  As far as its officials are concerned, nothing can damage a child more than hosting a special event for dads.  And now, with the state's 'gender nonconforming' guidelines on the books, they can put plenty of traditions on the chopping block - including one Staten Island school's father-daughter dance.


"Principal Sophie Scamaredella informed parents that the event had been called off, because - after all - they 'have a gender neutral policy [to adhere] to...'  Families across the area are irate.  The event was already the picture of inclusivity, now that moms or other mentors could join.  That didn't matter to Scamardella.  In her mind (and the mind of most liberals), the worst thing schools can do is let kids in on the secret that some students have men for fathers - a shocking concept, I'm sure, to the modern human race."


Friends, this is political correctness at its most ugly.  It seems to me to be just another step by public schools to state that parents are not allowed to be part of their child's educational process.  "Parents, butt out...we know better than you do what is best for your child."  Is it any wonder that home-schooling and parochial education are soaring? 


Then, last week, this article was featured on The Daily Signal website.  It was written by Ryan T. Anderson and was titled, "Transgender Ideology Hurts Kids."  You can find the article at www.dailysignal.com.  This was an excellent article filled with solid information.  Let me quote just a portion of the article: "Properly understanding sex, gender, gender identity, and gender dysphoria will continue to be pressing concerns in 2018.  A proper understanding is a prerequisite for properly forming people in the truth and properly ministering to people in need.  As new gender ideologies are promoted throughout America, their lies will impact not only those who suffer from gender dysphoria, but all children who need to mature in their self-understanding as a boy or girl, man or woman, a potential husband or wife, father or mother.


"In 2007, Boston Children's Hospital 'became the first major program in the United States to focus on transgender children and adolescents,' as its website brags.  A decade later, more than 45 pediatric gender clinics have opened their doors to our nation's children.  Parents are told that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones may be the only way to prevent their children from committing suicide.


"Never mind that the best studies of gender dysphoria show that between 80 and 95 percent of children who express a discordant gender identity will come to identify with their bodily sex if natural development is allowed to proceed.  Never mind that 'transitioning' treatment has not been shown to reduce the extraordinarily high rate of suicide attempts among people who identify as transgender (41 percent, compared with 4.6 percent of the general population).  Never mind that people who have had transition surgery are 19 times more likely to die by suicide.


"These statistics should be enough to halt the headlong rush into 'transitioning' and prompt us to find more effective ways to prevent these tragic outcomes.  Most of all, we shouldn't be encouraging children to 'transition,' or making heroes and role models of those who have done so.


The author's conclusion was this: "We should be tolerant - indeed, loving - toward those who struggle with their gender identify, but also be aware of the harm done to the common good, particularly to children, when transgender identity is normalized."


There is no question that we live in an age of gender confusion and marital confusion.  Can little boys play with dolls?  Yes, of course they can.  If they do, does that mean that secretly they want to be a girl?  Probably not!  Can little girls play with trucks?  Yes, of course they can.  If they do, does that mean that secretly they want to be a boy?  Probably not!  In both instances they are just experiencing one of the phases of growing up.  What they are doing is normal.  I remember playing "dolls" with my two younger sisters and they would then play "cowboys" with my brother and me - and I think we all turned out to be pretty normal.  My parents never panicked thinking that what we were doing was abnormal. 


Where is the common sense we need to have with regard to the whole issue of gender identity?  We know from statistics that the consequences of "transitioning" especially among children is severe.  So, why would we continue to press this issue?  I believe it is simply another attack by Satan upon the family to fracture it completely.  Confusion is Satan's trademark; it is never God's.  So, in those areas of culture today where we see confusion - like in the area of gender identity and same-sex marriage, just to name two - we can know that Satan is working behind the scenes to promote his agenda, which is an anti-God agenda.  It is time to get back to the Truth of the Word of God.  This has to be our anchor!  This has to be our foundation!  This is where we can be safe within our world of confusion.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Signs of the Times - They Just Keeping Exploding

I just wanted to begin this week's blog with a follow-up to last week's writings which focused on the rise of robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI).  This week, Jan Markell, in an article titled, "We Are Summoning Up Demons," and published at the Olive Tree Views website (www.olivetreeviews.org), writes of the troubling threat of AI.  Let me just share a couple of paragraphs from Jan's article.


"We're all aware of the biblical prophecy found in Daniel 12:4 that knowledge will increase in the last days.  But machines smarter than people?  Surely God would never allow that to happen.  He created mankind in His image and He didn't create them to be superseded by computer chips. That is not stopping man from trying!


"In 1948 there was a milestone event as it concerns 'signs of the times.'  That was the re-birth of Israel 70 years ago.  Are we in the generation of a more current sign that could involve end-time technology, the 'image of the beast,' 'mark of the beast', etc?  Could this wave of technology be as relevant as the stirring of the dry bones?  We look at that 1948 happening in a rear-view mirror.  Technology is a 21st century fulfillment. 


"Young people are particularly drawn to artificial intelligence.  Some will tell you that they can get an answer more quickly from Google or Alexa than they can from God.  Who needs God in an age of artificial intelligence?  Who needs an invisible God?  And Google or Alexa may tell you what you want to hear in Technicolor, 3-D, and instantaneously!"


Friends, science-fiction is no longer fiction; it is becoming a reality.  Will God allow His creation to be governed by artificial intelligence and robots?  We certainly see some evidence of robotic activity, especially with the description of the image of the beast as described in Revelation 13.  But, I do believe we are getting closer to that point where the coming of the Lord is very near.


I had been watching the movement of a bill through the Senate known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 2311).  The house had approved a similar bill earlier this fall.  The purpose of the bill was to ban abortions after five-months when research showed that an unborn child was capable of experiencing pain.  It just would seem that this would be the right thing to do - to give protection to an unborn child when he/she reached that stage of development when they were capable of feeling pain.  But that was not the thinking of the United States Senate who last week voted 51-46 against sending this bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote.  There was a need for 60 votes in order to overturn a possible filibuster.  According to the Family Research Council's report, "The Senate's failure to pass the bill keeps the United States in league with only seven other nations in the world, including China, North Korea, and Vietnam, that perform elective abortions after five months.  President Trump, who addressed attendees of this year's March for Life, expressed disappointment with the outcome of the Senate vote.  'We must defend those who cannot defend themselves.  I urge the Senate to reconsider its decision and pass legislation that will celebrate, cherish, and protect life,' he said in a statement released by the White House."  You can read the entire article at www.fraction.org/get.cfm?i=WA18A47&f=WU18A01.


And so the wanton slaughter of unborn children continues.  It appears that the hearts of so many of our leaders are hardened toward the unborn.  I believe that someday they will stand before the judgment bar of God and have to give an accounting for the murder of these innocent babies.  America has sold its soul for convenience.  It is for that reason that God's judgment will fall upon this land.


Finally, I want to share with you another article from the folks at Family Research Council.  This article is titled, "Atheist Group Seeks Bible Study 'Secrets'".  You can find the article at www.fraction.org/get.cfm?I=WA18A48&f=WU18A01.  "The latest dust-up over the mention of religion in the public square involves Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, whose big crime is attending a Bible study with other members of President Trump's cabinet.  The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), whose feathers are ruffled over this, is purportedly concerned about staffers being 'coerced' into the Bible study, or public funds being spent on it.  Secretary Carson got that out of the way up front, writing on his Facebook page: 'First of all, taxpayer funds are not used to support the ministry, ... And secondly, no staff are involved in the Bible study.'  He continued: 'I refuse to be intimidated by anti-religious groups into relinquishing my spirituality or religious beliefs [...] One of the principles of our nation's founding is freedom of religion.  I will not stop being a Christian while in service to this country [...]  In fact, it is my faith that helps me serve the nation even better.'  Secretary Carson also drew a lesson from the history of the Cold War between the U.S. and former Soviet Union: 'Joseph Stalin, the Russian tyrant who said the United States could be destroyed from within by eroding three things: our patriotism, our morality, and our spirituality [...]  These things are currently under severe attack.  We the people must decide who we are and what we stand for.'  Amen."


I, for one, am grateful that some of our nation's leadership are in the Word and on their knees for our nation.  We would do well to follow their example.  The article concludes with a strong statement that should awaken us from our slumber: "But the larger issue and more important issue at play here is that some people and groups simply can't stand the idea of a visible Christian presence in our country.  They oppose any public display of Christianity or prayer, offering various attempts to legally justify their opposition, most often that such displays 'establish' a religion (they don't).  Their ultimate goal is to either drive Christians from government or at minimum force them to hide their faith so that the net result is the same - government devoid of godly men and women."


Friends, I don't have to tell you that our country is under attack.  Its moral structure is nearly destroyed.  Its foundation of patriotism has been assaulted and the history of our nation is now being rewritten thus making the intent of those who came here so many years ago for freedoms that they were missing in Europe being seen as something evil, not something beneficial.  And, its spiritual foundation has also been attacked with Christians being vilified by the main stream media and the liberal left.  It is time for us to hold strong to what we believe.  This is why I teach two apologetics classes at my church.  This is why our church teaches its young people the reality of a Christian worldview.  They need a foundation - we all need a foundation. 


As the darkness of our culture intensifies, how we need the light of truth to shine more brightly. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

When Is Science Fiction Not So Science Fiction?

Some of us are old enough to remember watching science-fiction movies when we were kids growing up.  In those movies robots would take over the world - and it was usually in a very negative way.  But, a few remaining humans would come to the rescue and save the world.


Well, I thought of some of those movies as I read an article that was sent to me a few days ago.  It was written by the Head of Daimier Benz, one of the largest auto manufacturers in the world.  The title of the article is "Artificial Intelligence (AI) is Changing the World at an Exponential Rate."  Allow me to share just a few of the thoughts from this article. 


"In a recent interview, the Head of Daimier  Benz (Mercedes Benz) said their competitors are no longer other car companies, but Tesla (obviously), and now Google, Apple, Amazon 'et al' are.  Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.  Uber is just a software tool, they don't own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world.  Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don't own any properties. 


"Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world.  In the U.S., young lawyers already can't get jobs.  Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans.  So, if you study law, stop immediately.  There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.


"Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 times more accurate than human nurses.  Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans.  In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans."  That last sentence shocked me.  When a computer becomes more intelligent than a human, have we crossed that threshold where machines now are in charge of the world? 


"Health innovations: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year.  There are companies who will build a medical device (called the 'Tricoder' from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample, and you can breath into it.  It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease.  It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medical analysis, nearly for free.  Goodbye, medical establishment. 


"3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years.  In the same time, it became 100 times faster.  All major shoe companies have already started 3D printing shoes.  Some common spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports.  The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to keep in the past.  At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities.  You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoes at home.  In China, they already 3D printed and built a complete 6-story office building.  By 2027, 10% of everything that's being produced will be 3D printed."  Wow! 


The writer continues, "Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years.  There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time."


Friends, this is the world in which we are now living.  We are on the very edge of a world that will pride itself in being "de-personalized."  I no longer need a face-to-face with my personal physician because a computer will analyze my condition and recommend a prescription for me.  I will not even have to travel to a local pharmacy because Amazon will deliver that prescription right to my front door via a drone.  I no longer have to go to the grocery store.  I merely log in, place my order, and a drone will drop my purchases off at my front door.  I can do all my classes through a smart phone so I will not need to attend a real school.  In the end we will all become like little hermits, each confined to his/her own cave. 


But, is this what we really want?  The Bible describes the need for relationships.  The purpose of the local church is to cultivate personal relationships.  Discipleship involves personal relationships.  Jesus Christ wants to enter into a personal relationship with you.  A depersonalized world is not something that God orchestrates.  Yet we seem to be moving in that direction.  I ask myself this question: "When will God say, 'Enough is enough!'"  When will we have crossed that line drawn in the sand by God?  And just where is that line?  Those are questions for which I have no answer.  But I am wondering if we are not approaching the point where those at Babel were before God stepped in to confuse their languages. 


These are indeed very interesting days.  Yet, I believe they are also very deadly days.  As I shared with a group of men early this morning, I am so grateful that God is in control.  Nothing is happening without His permissive hand being upon it.  And it will all lead to the celebration of the return of the King.  Hallelujah!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Are You a "Bad Guy?"

Do you ever feel like you are the bad guy?  No, you don't wear a black hat.  No, you do not threaten your children.  In fact, you treat your children with love and are an encouragement to them.  You pay your taxes - not always without grumbling, but you pay them nonetheless.  You respect your neighbor's property.  You respect those in authority over you.  Yet, somehow you get the feeling that you are the bad guy? 


Well, according to some "experts" if you are a white, Anglo-Saxon, heterosexual male, then you are the bad guy.  I had one of the men in my Wednesday morning Leadership-Discipleship Group share the following article with me.  It was titled, "Ohio State course reprimands while heterosexual masculinity."  The article was written by Amanda Tidwell.  It was published by "The College Fix."  Allow me to share some excerpts from the article:


"A class taught this spring at Ohio State University will review a parade of reasons why white heterosexual masculinity is allegedly problematic, tackling the topic from the constructs of racial issues, bullying, pop culture, societal expectations and much more, according to its syllabus. 


"The course, 'Be a Man!  Masculinities, Race and Nation,' includes a variety of readings to that end, including its required textbook, "Dude, You're a Fag!" by C.J. Pascoe, which analyzes masculinity as not only a gendered process, but sexual one."  (Other books were cited as being used, but I am embarrassed to even list those titles). 


"The course is ultimately presented as a study in 'feminist masculinity' that seeks to explain how ideas about masculinity 'simultaneously harm yet privilege' men, the syllabus states.  It also aims to explain how 'beliefs regarding masculinity serve to justify certain kinds of violence by men against others, and violence against particular groups of men.' 


"The course was created and is taught by Jonathan Branfman.  Branfman is a doctoral candidate in Ohio State's Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a recent recipient of a 2017-18 Presidential Fellowship, the most prestigious award given to students by the OSU Graduate School, according to the department's website. 


"Branfman is also author of the new children's book 'You Be You!" intended for 7- to 12-year-olds that gives parents a 'simple and accessible way' to introduce children to gender and sexual identity 'in hopes of decreasing stigmas associated with the LGBTQ community,' the Lantern campus newspaper reports."


Okay, at least according to one professor at Ohio State University, I am a "bad guy" because I am a white heterosexual male.  That "badness" has nothing to do with who I am as a person.  It has nothing to do with what I believe about anything.  If I take this course will I be enabled to get over my "badness?" 


Allow me to share a second article, written by Todd Starnes this past January 10.  It can be found at www.townhall.com/columnists/toddstarnes/2018/01/10/universitys-white-racism-course-sounds-like-blame-the-white-guy-101.  "Students at Florida Gulf Coast University can take all sorts of enriching classes - from gender studies to social justice.  But a class on white racism is causing all sorts of campus chaos and charges of reverse racism.  The university calls it 'White Racism.'  But I call it, 'Blame the White Man 101.'


The class, taught  by Professor Ted Thornhill, 'will interrogate the concept of race; examine the racist ideologies, laws, policies, and practices that have operated for hundreds of years to maintain white racial domination over those racialized as non-white.'  The New York Daily News reports students will also have the opportunity 'to discuss ways to challenge white racism and white supremacy toward promoting an anti-racist society where whiteness is not tied to greater life chances.'"


It seems to me that the premise behind this class is that it is "bad" to be white.  I read of another university professor who challenges her students to imagine that they were not white - what would they be thinking?  But, I have to admit that it is hard for me to do that because I am white.  I am a male.  I am a heterosexual male.  And, to make the problem even more intense, I am a conservative, Bible-believing Christian.  According to many, I am the classic example of the "perfect bad guy." 


Friends, it seems to be that we are bordered on the edges of insanity these days.  You see, whether a person is good or bad is not dependent upon his skin color.  It is not dependent upon a person's gender.  According to the Bible a person's ultimate goodness or badness is totally dependent upon that person's relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  The prophet Isaiah says that all our good deeds are as filthy rags before the holiness of God (Isaiah 64:6).  The Apostle Paul says that our salvation is not dependent upon our good works (Ephesians 2:8-9). 


I wonder how Ohio State University and Florida Gulf Coast University would react if someone were to ask them about a class on "The Final Solution to Man's Ultimate Problem - Sin."  I am guessing there would not be any takers.   

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Life Has Value Because of God

Last week I received an article, written by Todd Starnes, that aroused my anger once again.  The article was published at Townhall and was titled, "Shocking! College Student Argues in Favor of Killing Newborn Babies."  (www.townhall.com/columhnists/toddstarnes/2018/01/06/shocking-college-student-argues-in-favor-of-killing-newborn-babies.)


Allow me to share a portion of this article with you.  "From the University of Tennessee-Knoxville comes word of a shocking video of a student arguing in favor of infanticide - killing babies up to two-years-old.  The video was filmed by Students for Life of America on the campus of Tennessee's flagship taxpayer-funded university.  'The idea that someone could support infanticide is incredibly disturbing.  Yet, it reflects the kinds of attitudes our staff members and students can face on a daily basis on high school and college campuses,' Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins said. 


"Brenna Lewis, SLA's Appalachian regional coordinator, recorded one of the encounters in early December with a young man who said he had no problem with aborting two-year old babies.  'The face of the matter is without communication, we have no way of knowing if you are sentient or not,' the unidentified student said.  'It's no different than this tree.  It's alive, but is it sentient?  I don't know.  I cannot communicate with it.'


"But what if the baby is two-years old?  'Can the two year old talk to me?  In some instances I'm fairly certain that is,' the student said.  'But generally speaking the child still has the inability to communicate.  And until we determine that as such at what point does sentience become an issue.  We can't really debate whether or not that is the situation or not.'"


Now, as shocking as that thought is, here is what really angered me.  "In 2015 the Washington Times reported on a controversy surrounding a statement allegedly written by a Princeton University professor on his faculty page: 'Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time.  So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.  That doesn't mean that it is not almost always a terrible thing to do.  It is, but that is because most infants are loved and cherished by their parents, and to kill an infant is usually to do a great wrong to its parents."


The prevailing philosophy behind such thoughts is utilitarianism.  Life has value only if it can contribute to the betterment and advancement of society.  If we legally allow for the murder of a child within the womb because it has insignificance, then why not the murder of a child who, aside from the love he/she might receive from his/her parents and other extended family, certainly has communicated no significance to the larger social structure.  He cannot communicate with clarity of speech.  She cannot create.  Why should the precious resources of earth be used to feed and cloth someone who has yet to contribute anything productive to society?  This is the heartbeat of utilitarianism. 


But, why stop there?  What about those who are elderly and can no longer contribute to society as they once did?  Why should they be allowed to continue to live?  Perhaps we should allow for their murder as well.  Why should we continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide medical treatment or nursing care for someone who is just a "has-been" and can no longer be productive?  If all we have is the spirit of utilitarianism, then those questions must be answered in the affirmative. 


But, babies do have value.  Two-year olds do have value.  Those in the nursing homes across America do have value.  They have value in the eyes of God.  There was and is a special purpose for their being here.  This month where we remember one of the worst decisions the United States Supreme Court has ever made - Roe v. Wad, in January 1973.  We remember a certain passage of Scripture that reinforces the value of all in the eyes of God.  It is Psalm 139:13-16 where we read these words: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My name was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."


What an incredible text!  You and I have been wonderfully made by God.  Perfect we are not!  Some of us have poor eyesight.  Some of us have poor hearing.  Some of us have congenital diseases that prevent a normalcy of life.  But, you are as God has designed you to be!  You are special.  And God has a purpose for you.  Sometimes we know that purpose.  Samson knew what his purpose was.  The man born blind discovered what his purpose was.  You will discover what your purpose is.  God created you to be more than a mere servant of society.  God created you to be an instrument to receive God's blessings and an instrument through whom God's blessings can flow to others. 


Jesus spoke of our significance when He said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart form the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31).  I am so special that God knows the number of hairs on my head!  By the way, He has to subtract a few from that count each morning.  But if God is concerned about your hairs, don't you think that He is also very concerned about every aspect of who you are?  Of course He is! 


For the utilitarian philosopher to say that it is okay to kill a two-year old because she is not sentient certainly is not what Jesus would say.  All life has value.  That utilitarian student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville simply has it wrong.  The Princeton University Professor simply has it wrong.  Jesus Christ has it right.