Voting for Corruption

 

Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them~ Isaiah 1:23 NIV

 I am an ardent fan of all things political.

 The Presidential elections are my favorite; it actually bums me out that they only roll around once every four years. I look forward to the presidential election season the way some women look forward to a fifty-percent off sale on Jimmy Choo shoes.

 I am a registered Independent and although I cheerfully admit to leaning conservative I am attentive to the goings-on on both sides of the political aisle. I will vote for any politician evidence reveals is a decent human being who can pass a drug test, possess a solid ethical compass and has a working knowledge of basic economic principles.

 This election has been a gloomy one for me. It has challenged my love of politics as well as my faith in the intelligence of the American electorate. Somehow the nation I love has succeeded in picking the two most tragic candidates in the history of our Republic. The out-and-out absurdity of these two choices for President baffles me to no end. My unending irritation over the Republican pick has caused me to say precious little about Hilary Clinton.

 Well, no more.

 Recent revelations have made me so insane with righteous outrage that I can no longer hold back my uncensored opinion on the dangers of a Clinton presidency.

 I will begin with the email controversy.

 It is an irrefutable fact that Hillary Clinton set-up a private email server in a bathroom. She committed this criminal act against the counsel of her staff, proving she is either hopelessly dimwitted or has zero interest in keeping classified information out of the hands of foreign governments. For the record, I do not believe that Hilary Clinton is dimwitted. Nor do I believe she was ignorant the law (as she claims), nor do I believe her emails are so desperately dull that no foreign power would ever be intent on reading them, as she stated in an interview with the comedian Jimmy Fallon. Hillary Clinton is an attorney who has worked at the highest levels of government for most of her life. She simply despises accountability, doesn’t care who she hurts and believes herself to be above the law.

 If the email debacle were the only example of flagrant corruption, I might be inclined to let it go, sadly that is not the case. In 1997 the Clintons created the Clinton Foundation, ostensibly for the purpose of raising money for do-gooder causes. In all fairness the foundation has raised a lot of money for various causes, many of them good. Exact numbers are tough to pin down but conservatively speaking millions have been given to help people around the world.

 That is a good thing.

 What is not a good thing is how Ms. Clinton used the foundation while she was Secretary of State. Credible allegations charge she used the foundation to line her own pockets by selling meetings (to the tune of $156 million) to individuals, corporations and foreign countries in exchange for donations to her foundation. Donors include the Prince of Bahrain who pledged $32 million to the Clinton foundation.

 Doubtless these folks were astute enough to get something in return for the money they paid. Naïve people have argued that there is no actual evidence she ever gave anyone a favor in exchange for a cash donation. Sadly, that unlikely scenario makes the whole situation worse rather than better. It means she and her aides were running some sort of a flimflam operation out of the office of the Secretary of State. Trust me: the crown prince was promised SOMETHING in exchange for 32 MILLION DOLLARS. No one in their right mind pays 32 million dollars simply to meet with someone. He had an ulterior motive and if he did not get what he paid for, he’s seriously furious.

 When her email server was exposed, she blamed her own ineptitude (like that is supposed to make any of us feel better), then she blamed her colleagues. When her colleagues declined to be hurled under that particular bus she blamed COLIN POWELL. Seriously, she blamed Colin Powell for her illegal server, that’s like me blaming the mailman for the sloppy condition of my front yard. When four Americans were killed in Libya she blamed an anti-Islamic video that few people had actually viewed for the disaster. When her husband sexually harassed women he worked with she blamed the women.

 I could go on forever.

 Hillary Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, was born in Michigan but raised in Saudi Arabia. She is the daughter of Muslim intellectuals who have dedicated their lives to spreading the Muslim faith. Abedin acted as the assistant editor for a radical Muslim publication for ten years. The scholarly journal Ms. Abedin edited openly promotes Sharia law, is anti-women’s rights, anti-Christian, anti-Israel and blamed America for the 9-11 attacks. The woman slated to be the next Whitehouse Chief of Staff has close ties to radical Islam. At the very least this fact proves Hillary Clinton does not have the good sense necessary to make her own staffing decisions.

 Any American who is not troubled by Hillary Clinton’s corruption and poor judgment is at least as dimwitted as she pretends to be.

   This is the most depressing election of my lifetime. A Clinton Presidency may very well be unavoidable. However, that doesn’t mean nothing can be done. Christians everywhere need to pray. It is not too late for God to intervene. He is in the business of miracles and we could certainly use one right now. Christians also need to vote— the congressional election is critical this year. If conservatives lose the house and senate and Clinton wins the Presidency all will truly be lost. The most openly corrupt person in the history of American politics will control everything.

 God help us all.

Who’s to Blame for the Blame Game?

 

I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want~ Romans 7:18-19 NASB

 I have concluded that our society has lost all connection to reason and common sense. Following is a small sampling of the evidence:

Any parent who has had a child who has been bullied will tell you that school counselors always tell the kid being bullied that they should feel compassion towards the one bullying them because the bully “has had a tough life”. A psychology professor at the University of Queensland made headlines with good news for cheaters. He asserts it is evolution and genetics, rather than morality or ethics that is ultimately responsible for a wandering eye.

 Last year ISIS recorded the brutal decapitations of twenty-one Coptic Christians. Secretary of State John Kerry cited lack of jobs and educational opportunities as the cause of the savagery. TLC has a show that follows the life of a teenage boy who wants to be, and is in the process of becoming, a girl. His parents blame fate for imprisoning their boy in the wrong body and say they support their son’s decision to pursue life as a female because they want their child to be “who ‘she’ really is” (what?).

 There’s more.

 It’s guns not the criminals who kill people blamed for gun violence. Schools and teachers- rather than parents and their children—are blamed for the poor academic performance of students. Fatty food and sugary soft drinks are often cited as the cause of health issues. Nobody blames the folks who eat the food and drink the sodas for the obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

 Video games, movies, television and rap music are routinely blamed for the degenerate conduct of millions of young people. No one ever talks about the parents who fork over their hard-earned cash so their kids can indulge themselves in sketchy entertainment choices or the kids who willingly and wantonly fill their minds with garbage.

 Every Christian with even a shred of rational thought left in their head ought to be concerned about how we got to this place as a society. This is a big deal. The tendency to blame is changing our society and the thinking has infiltrated Christian circles. We blame liberals for introducing worldly and heretical philosophies into the church. We blame the culture for normalizing abnormal sexual behaviors but little is said about the Christians who CHOOSE to believe the lies and embrace the behaviors.

 I am persuaded that our inclination to blame things rather than people is more of a spiritual issue than a societal one. At the root of this problem lies ignorance concerning the reality of human nature. Most churches have all but given-up on teaching the Christian doctrine that explains why people do the stuff they do. For those of you who are thinking about tuning me out (I know you’re out there) because I dropped the dreaded D-word (doctrine) hear me out. This is thought-provoking stuff.

 I promise.

 Years ago pastors and teachers in Evangelical churches became weary with teaching their congregations that human beings are inherently bad or born sinful, even though the teaching is found in many passages of Scripture, including: Psalm 51:5, Isaiah 64:6-7, Romans 5:12-14 and 1st Timothy 1:15-16. Understandably the teaching that people are born with a sinful nature made some folks feel bad and some Christian teachers concluded that making folks feel bad about themselves and their choices was keeping the church from reaching its full potential. So they dropped the doctrine of original sin like an ugly prom date and promptly moved on to cheerier topics.

 For decades many have accepted the deception that human beings are perfect little snowflakes. Buying into that deception means we also have to believe that any bad behavior on the part of our fellow humans or ourselves has to be the fault of outside forces rather than the fault of the person doing the sinning. So we blame mental illness, bad parenting, evolution, fate, food, the devil, coworkers, hormones, genetics or our spouse for our bad behavior. Nobody wants to face the unpleasant reality that we, rather than outside forces are usually the problem.

 It’s time for reformation of personal responsibility.

 The most successful societal reformations have all started with God’s people. It’s time for pastors to get back to the teaching of doctrine, including the doctrine of original sin, but it’s also time for individual Christians to become more aware of our own propensity to blame rather than take responsibility. Then we need to be an example and own up to our own issues.

 Change begins with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

They come intent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. They mock kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; by building earthen ramps they capture them~ Habakkuk 1:9-10 NIV

 Last Sunday morning I woke to the sad but not terribly shocking news that there was yet another terror-attack on American soil. This time forty-nine people were killed in an Orlando, Florida nightclub.

 There are no words for the sorrow I feel for those who lost someone they love in this senseless tragedy. My heart breaks for the family and friends of the victims who will undoubtedly continue to experience fallout from this tragedy for years to come. I pray that each one will find the peace that only Jesus can bring in the midst of their pain and loss.

 I watch a lot of news.

 So far this week I have heard analysts and legislators on both sides of the aisle blame the attack in Florida on guns, politics in the Middle East, homophobia, the sorry state of our mental healthcare system, loose gun laws, the shooter’s Dad, the internet for “radicalizing the shooter”, sexual repression, morality in America and the sin of “Islamaphobia”.

 Whatever that means.

On and on it goes.

 Sadly, everyone is working so hard to find an excuse for the inexcusable that nobody is asking the one question that really needs to be asked. What is the one common denominator nearly all extremists and their sympathizers share in common? No one asks, because truth-be-told no one wants to discuss the elephant in the room.

 Islam

 Every time a terrorist attack occurs anywhere in the world every ignoramus with access to a microphone or a keyboard rushes in to say “Islam is religion of peace”, and that a few bad apples have hijacked an otherwise wonderful religion. The implications are clear, anyone who dares to disagree with the notion that Islam is a peaceful religion is a racist hater. It has become a highly effective tool for shutting down the conversation.

 But is it true?

 Is Islam a religion of peace? It seems to me that it would be more accurate to say that Islam is religion of violence that has been hijacked by a whole lot of peaceful people who wish to transform Islam into something it is not- at the very core of it’s teaching.

 I do not hate Muslim people. Nor do I believe that the vast majority of Muslims are violent individuals. However, I have come to believe that the religion of Islam is a profoundly violent and tyrannical belief system that seeks to control and dominate every individual on this planet.

 Sharia is the heart and soul of Islam. The word Sharia means “way’ or “path” and is the body of law that flows out of the Quran. Sharia directs every facet of public life for Muslims and much of their private lives. The vast majority (two-thirds) of the worlds 1.6 billion Muslims believe that Sharia law ought to be the law of the land EVERYWHERE.

 Sharia teaches:

 The penalty for rejecting Islam is death~ Quran 9:29-31

Husbands are to beat disobedient wives~ Quran 4:34

Muslims are commanded to terrorize non-Muslims~ Quran 8:60

Men are superior to women and meant to rule over them~ Quran 4:34

Murdering innocents is a valid form of inspiring terror~ Quran 9:14, Quran 9:5

The penalty for homosexuality is death~ Quran 7:80-84

Torture is demanded for apostasy, adultery, and refusal to convert and during times of war~ Quran 24:2, Quran 22:19-22, Quran 9:73, Quran 5:33, Quran 8:12

 The worldview that develops as a result of Sharia translates into a living nightmare for non-Muslim’s residing in Muslim countries. Even in so-called “moderate” Muslim countries such as Pakistan “blasphemy” laws ensure that no non-Muslim has authentic freedom of speech, assembly or worship. Nor are non-Muslims ever really free from the threat of imprisonment, torture or death.

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan are responsible for the murders of at least two hundred Christians (including children) since 1994. Remember, Pakistan is a “moderate” Muslim country; their government is extraordinarily progressive in their treatment of non-Muslims compared to, say, Iran or Iraq.

 As Christians we should not fear or shun Muslims, nor should we ignore the reality of they believe or buy the lie that Islam is a religion of peace, because it’s not.

 Every Christian ought to be educating themselves on the basics of Islamic doctrine, so that we can effectively pray for the salvation of Muslim people. Muslim men and women need to know the love and spiritual freedom that only Jesus Christ can offer them. It’s our responsibility as believers in Jesus to reach them with that truth.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

When Feelings Run the Show

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long~ Psalm 25:4-5 NIV

 There was a time in the not-so-distant-past when facts mattered and feelings were considered immaterial to most discussions. Those days are in the rear-view. Few people care about facts anymore. Even in the very rare cases where logic and reason are allowed entrance onto the debate stage, the facts nearly always take a backseat to whatever emotion is driving the aforementioned argument.

 Feelings have become the god we worship.                        

 This truth is most clearly revealed in the whole transgender bathroom debate. The kerfuffle over who gets to pee where is not really about fairness; if it were, we would be done discussing it already. Nor is it about men dressed convincingly as women using women’s bathrooms.

 Like it or not, that sort of thing has been going on for as long as there have been bathrooms in public places and most folks have been none the wiser. Contrary what the LBGTQ community would have the world believe, conservatives do not routinely do “parts” checks or demand to see birth certificates at the doors of public toilets.

 The real issue at hand is a small minority of men who do not routinely dress as women who claim there are times when they suddenly “feel” like women and should therefore be treated like women. These men are demanding the right to enter women’s restrooms whenever that feeling happens to strike them. According their supporters the “needs” of those men outweigh the rights of everyone else.

 The notion that men ought to be permitted to use any restroom they wish based on something that simply cannot be proven (feelings) is clearly absurd and obviously rife with potential for abuse. However, the brave few left clinging to reason are losing this debate. Not because the truth isn’t evident or because the facts aren’t compelling; but rather because the debate is being framed around feelings rather than facts or common sense.

 Sadly, the proclivity to allow feelings to drive every argument is not restricted to men who wish to have access to women’s bathrooms. Feelings rule the day in all sorts of different situations and it seems everybody is hopping on the feelings bandwagon.

 Decisions are made, marriages dissolved, political opinions shaped, and votes cast. Not based on promises made, facts examined or the painstaking vetting of views, but rather on the basis of how we feel about those things. Commitment, character of the individual and reason all take a backseat to feelings.

 Feeling statements are oftentimes cleverly disguised as “I don’t think” declarations. Usually an “I don’t think” declaration will follow the delivery of an irrefutable, but unpleasant fact or the teaching of an exceptionally clear but hard Bible passage. The hearer will scrunch their brow, take a deep breath and state, in a very serious tone “I don’t think a loving God would ______________” or “I don’t think _______________ is actually true”. “I don’t think” declarations rarely involve any deep thought; rather they reveal the hearers’ feelings about the fact stated.

 When facts are ignored or dismissed as irrelevant, society quickly devolves into the messy muddle described in the book of Judges: in those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes~ Judges 21:25. The only discernable difference between our time and theirs is that we do have a king, we are led by feelings and feelings are proving to be more tyrannical than any human leader.

 The American public and even those in the Church have been conditioned over the course of several decades to buy the lies that a hurt feeling is every bit as serious as a broken bone and perception is reality. The truth is that hurt feelings do hurt. Sometimes they hurt a lot.

 However, a hurt feeling only causes permanent damage if we allow the hurt to take root and grow into bitterness. Perceptions are essentially just feelings with a fancy title and should never be treated as facts and it’s a dangerous form of lunacy to kowtow to anything as capricious as a feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happens When we Take Offense

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense~ Proverbs 19:11 NIV

It’s official.

 America has morphed into a bunch of whiners, wimps and politically correct crybabies.

 College students at Harvard University have reported feeling “ threatened” by the possibility of the presence of students whose views on abortion might differ from their own. Students were not actually exposed to opposing ideas on the topic. Nonetheless, the mere notion they might be exposed to a view they didn’t agree with was simply more than the little snow flakes could endure.

 These attitudes are not limited to the young. Full-grown adult and committed atheist, Patrick Greene is suing the senior Pastor of Abundant Life Fellowship in Corpus Christi, Texas. Mr. Greene asserts that a 230-foot cross being erected on church property is “offensive” and “tacky as he__ __”, and should therefore be removed. Greene is also suing two city officials for attending the crosses groundbreaking ceremony as private citizens.

It seems that everyone these days is “demanding an apology” from someone for something. At this writing various Muslim groups are demanding apologies from the makers of Lego, Chick-fil-A restaurants, Clint Eastwood and a bunch of cities in Texas. Bernie Sanders is demanding an apology from Hillary Clinton and Hillary Clinton is demanding one from Bernie Sanders. Pretty much, everyone thinks Trump should apologize for something he said or did. 

Sadly, Christian people are not immune from the madness engulfing the greater culture. Wounded Christians were out in droves this past week. They were diligently monitoring and scolding others for what they believed to be “insensitive” and “callous” April Fools day jokes.

 It’s not just silly hoaxes that God’s people find offensive these days. It is not unusual for Christians to leave or cease supporting their local church financially because they’ve determined that the Pastor’s preaching is not “sensitive” enough. Lifelong alliances and friendships are frequently tossed aside because one person hurt another’s feelings and they refuse to forgive or even discuss the subject with the other party. Discussions of doctrinal particulars are frequently forbidden at Bible studies because the subject of doctrine is considered too divisive.

Many  Pastors and Bible study leaders have simply given up teaching and preaching about “harsh” subjects such as abortion, homosexuality, adultery and divorce out of fear of offending or driving away church members. The doctrinal illiteracy that has infiltrated churches as a result of this silliness has caused many Bible studies to become little more than pools of collective ignorance.

Some Churches have scrapped doctrinal declarations of faith altogether. Embracing “Who We Are” statements in their place. These statements avoid making any pronouncements that might be considered unequivocal or offensive. One church in Seattle dropped all references to the Bible in their Who We Are Statement and instead chose to quote Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

 Many Christians admit to isolating themselves from other believers, because they have been hurt or felt offended by the words, actions or the “sensed” motives of others. Some have stopped attending weekly services altogether because they felt ignored or were offended by a Pastor or staff member. 

 This is simply not what Jesus envisioned for His people when He prayed that we would be one (John 17:11).

I fear we have lost our way and become a lot like the young adults we all love to mock on college campuses: a bunch of oversensitive, easily wounded, crybabies.

 This nonsense has eternal consequences. Church is no longer a place people go to find truth or get answers to life’s toughest questions. As a result unbelievers are often left to figure out life and eternity on their own. Typically,with less than spectacular results. It is noble to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others but not at the expense of tackling heaven and hell issues.

 We can stop the madness by making a habit of stepping back and praying for wisdom when we feel offended or hurt by others. We must understand that contrary to popular belief, our perceptions are not always reality.  We need the Holy Spirit, not our emotions to show us what is true in these situations. Even when our perceptions are correct and people have behaved in a way that is insensitive or callous, forgiveness, not offendedness is the God-honoring, life-giving answer.

 

 

 

 

How Christians Should Not Vote in This Election

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan~ Proverbs 29:2 ESV

 Our country has come to a place the founding fathers never imagined in their darkest of dreams. Unless the political winds shift quickly, this presidential election will likely be the strangest in our history. Bernie Sanders, self-confessed socialist/communist; and Donald Trump, reality television star/wealthy mogul, will be going toe-to-toe for the most powerful job in the world: President of the United States of America.

 Take a moment and let those words sink in. It’s unlikely either outcome will be pretty and neither can happen without the support of Christians.

 Our first option is the Senator who clearly lacks even a rudimentary understanding of how large economies work. Bernie’s fondest wish is to raise the tax rate on EVERYONE. We are told there is no need to worry because Bernie will reallocate all resources collected in a more “objective” and “equitable” fashion. Under his leadership the same government that is incapable of providing adequate medical care for military veterans (a relatively small percentage of the population) will be deciding who gets how much of pretty much everything.

 The alternative will be Trump, a full-grown adult with the temperament of a toddler. Donald was busy this week. He vowed to sue one of his rivals for producing a negative ad consisting entirely of video clips of his past statements. A day later he called the Pope “disgraceful” and said he was “going down” for criticizing his views on immigration. Trump stated repeatedly this week that he believes spiritual leaders do not have the right to criticize or correct what people believe. If that statement does not scare you, you have literally dismissed all rational thought.

 Many Christians intend to or have already voted for one of these two men. Many believe for whatever reason, that it is wrong to choose not to vote for anyone based on Christian principles. They have decided that Christian values should be consigned entirely to the private sphere of life. Those who support this view inevitably quote Luke 20:25 to justify their belief:

 Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s~ Jesus

 Context is key here. Jesus was not telling His followers they should never use biblical standards when considering a political issue or candidate. I suspect Jesus would have thought the idea that anyone should not apply biblical standards to any subject absurd.

 The question at hand in this passage was whether or not Jews were obligated to pay taxes to the Roman government. Period. Jesus was not telling his followers to abandon reason, so they could vote for some yahoo completely lacking in decency or sense just because they promise something the voter wants.

 In Matthew 22:37, Jesus tells his followers to love God with their intellect as well as their emotions. For that reason it is critical that Christians contemplate the character and conduct of a candidate when they consider whom to vote for. Anyone who promises to do a good thing that is not achievable or sustainable from a fiscal perspective is either dangerously ignorant or deliberately dishonest. He’s as bad as Trump who proudly tells the press he could shoot someone on the street and people would and should still follow him. Both should be rejected on the basis of character.

 It is critical we remember God promises that ALL people (Christian and non-Christian) will give account for all their choices, including those made in the voting booth (Romans 14:12, Hebrews 4:13).

 It’s time for Christians to get a firm grip on their feelings and stop wishing for more of the immediate change that helped propel us into this mess. We must accept the fact that the right candidate is not the person who proudly spouts vile, sinful things we sometimes think and shouldn’t. Nor is it the candidate who makes promises he cannot deliver without taking significant resources from the people who actually worked for those resources.

 The right man or woman is the person with enough humility to admit that the problems we have are too big for one person to fix alone. A true leader will be courageous enough to remind us that we all bear some responsibility for the mess we’re in, rather than tell us what our itching ears long to hear (2nd Timothy 4:3-4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it Always Wrong to Judge?

Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense~ Proverbs 10:13 NIV

 There was a time in the not-so-distant past when Christians were governed by a lot of rules. Many of those rules were unwritten but very real and recognized by all members of polite Christian society.

 The use of alcohol was strictly forbidden. Tobacco use was assumed to be a clear sign of obvious inner corruption. Tri-weekly church attendance was mandatory. Divorce was intolerable under any circumstances, even in situations where abuse was clearly evident. To be seen entering a movie theater resulted in a trip to the rumor mill. Only the vilest of heathens used salty language. Dress codes mattered; respectable men wore suits, hemlines were carefully monitored for modesty and women brazen enough to wear shorts were shunned.

Not all the rules were biblical.

Some were not even rational, a few were downright ridiculous. As a result the thing happened that always happens when individuals cease to be sensible and get carried away with rule making. For better or worse, the pendulum of popular opinion swung sharply in the opposite direction.

 It is no longer odd for Christians to drink alcohol or for churches, even evangelical churches, to serve alcohol at outreach events. Tobacco use is still frowned upon, not because it’s considered sinful or wrong, but because it’s unhealthy.

 Church attendance is no longer obligatory; in fact few Christians who identify themselves as committed believers even attend weekly services. Divorce for any and every reason is commonplace in the Church. Christians who choose NOT to attend even R-rated movies are sometimes considered a bit odd. In a few congregations, clothing is practically optional. And weirdest of all, it it is not unheard of for edgy young preachers to drop an F-bomb from the pulpit to make a point.

 All the old rules have been replaced with one new rule: THOU SHALL NOT JUDGE. Admittedly this is rule came about as a result of mostly silly, sometimes heartless, legalistic nitpicking about topics that have for the most part, never had any real relevance to Christianity whatsoever. Only an idiot would yearn for a return to the bad old days of unhinged legalism.

 Legalism is the brainchild of the devil, a perversion of the Christian concept of holiness. Legalism takes our eyes off of Jesus, and places our focus on the  outward behavior of others, rather than our own behavior, attitudes and internal spiritual development. Legalism breeds unhealthy spiritual self-confidence and sometimes even becomes a substitute for salvation.

 That said, not all judging is sinful. Some judging is beneficial and even biblical (1st Corinthians 5:12-13).

 There are two types of judgment. The first is when one imperfect human judges another imperfect human worthy of heaven, hell or the right to be cared for and loved based on behavior or outward appearances that may or may not be based on biblical truth. This sort of judgment is wrong, leads to hypocrisy (Matthew 23:1-5) and sets us up to be judged by the same standards (but not necessarily for the same sins) we set for others. The Pharisees judged in in this way and Jesus sharply condemned them for it (Matthew 7:1).  

 Christians are clearly not called to judge those outside the Church (1st Corinthians 5:12-13). The behavior of non-Christians is troubling to us at times. It is also none of our concern. Our responsibility towards the unsaved is to pray, show them the kindness of God and to present biblical truth. What they choose to do with all that is between them and God. He is the final judge.

 There is such a thing as healthy Christian judgment and it begins with regular and rigorous self-examination. We must be willing to look for sin in our own lives with the same zeal we normally reserve for others. But there is more to it than just that; we also have to keep ourselves open to the idea that we might be wrong about something we believe or do. Growing Christians are willing to entertain the notion that the thing or the attitude they have been holding onto as a “right” or as a “Christian freedom” might just be something that is holding back their growth and possibly leading others astray (1st Corinthians 10:23-33).

 We forget that Christians are called to judge one another, not in a condemning way, but out of concern for one another (1st Corinthians 5:11). If the Church is ever going to get healthy again, the people in it have got to stop getting angry every time someone says something that challenges their point-of-view on an attitude or behavior. It’s time to stop shouting, “You can’t judge anyone ever!” and start thinking about why we fear being judged or hearing a view that differs from our own.

 

 

 

 

   

 

What We Have to do to Solve the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you~ Proverbs 3:21-22a NIV

 The terrorist attacks that began last week in Paris did more than simply prove once and for all that the Middle East is not at all like Vegas. What happens there does not stay there. Their problems eventually become our problems.

 The Syrian refugee crisis is not a new issue, nor is it confined to Syria. Christians, Jews, Yazidis and some Muslims began fleeing Afghanistan and Iraq when ISIS gained a foothold in those countries after the United States military pulled out of Iraq in 2009. The Syrian conflict that began in 2011 enlarged ISIS territory and drastically increased the number of refugees seeking asylum. To date, at least twelve million men, women and children have sought protection from the carnage and genocide in the Middle East.

 The recent terrorist attacks have complicated the situation. Prior to the Paris attacks President Obama agreed to admit ten thousand refugees into the United States. When it was discovered that at least one of terrorists involved in the Paris attack entered France by posing as a Syrian refugee, the U.S. and other countries began rescinding offers of asylum. And now the fate of every Syrian refugee hangs in the balance.

 There are two positions regarding the refugees: some are compassionate, some are cautious. The cautious folks (many of them Christians) feel that allowing anyone from the Middle East into our country for any reason increases the risk of a terrorist attack on American soil. The cautious make the case that the economy is far from recovered, and refugees would put additional pressure on an already stressed system.

 They also point out that our government has an established record of incompetence when it comes to virtually every task imaginable. Most do not believe that the Obama administration should be trusted to adequately examine the backgrounds of thousands of people fleeing a war-torn country with little or no identification. Many coming from this perspective are willing to allow refugees into the country eventually. They just want some guarantees that the emigrants allowed in will be self-supporting and will not be entering under false pretenses to wreak havoc on American citizens.

 The compassionate folks (many of them Christians) believe that America is a big, generous country with many of resources. Therefore America ought to help whoever needs it. They believe that because the process to enter the U.S. takes eighteen to twenty-four months the risk of terrorists entering the country is relatively small.

 These folks point out that many, if not most of the refugees are Christians who face certain death if returned to their country of origin. The compassionate recognize the hard truth that any one of us could find ourselves in the same position as the refugees and ask what we would want done for us if we found ourselves in such a horrific place.

 Both the cautious and the compassionate have valid points. The refugees do need help, the United States should be a part of the solution, and at least some of the refugees likely pose a genuine threat to U.S. citizens. However, both the cautious and the compassionate entirely miss the larger issue.

 They forget that these refugees did not appear out of thin air. Cold-blooded adherents to a bloodthirsty death cult drove these people from their homes because they want to create a country of their own, a country where they make the rules. The religious whack-nuts responsible for the refugee crisis have enslaved countless innocents, beheaded Christians and Jews, thrown homosexuals from buildings, disfigured the faces of women and routinely rape boys and girls as young as eight. These animals cannot be reasoned with because they are, by their very nature, unreasonable beings.

 Finding a solution to the Syrian refugee crisis is going to require more than compassion or caution. It will require action on the part of Western nations, including the United States. The refugees need to be placed in safe zones (preferably in Europe) overseen by the United Nations while Western nations band together to accomplish the only truly humane option for these folks.

 We must annihilate ISIS and give the refugees their countries back. Sending refugees to Europe or bringing them to the U.S. appears to be a compassionate course of action but in actuality it only delays unraveling the real problem, which is the existence of ISIS.

 No one in his or her right mind WANTS our country to fight another war in the Middle East. Wars are expensive and there have been far too many fought on that real estate in recent years. That said, this is not a pointless war; it is a just war and it’s worth the cost. It’s time to act like grown-ups and deal with the reality we have, not the one we wish we had. ISIS and their ilk will not stop unless they are stopped. It is up to Western Nations to put an end to the madness before the poison spreads. What happens in the Middle East does not stay in the Middle East.

 

 

 

 

Wishing Doesn’t Make it Real

 Buy the truth and do not sell it— wisdom, instruction and insight as well~ Proverbs 23:23

 I have irrefutable proof that the lunacy of our age is increasing at an alarming rate. 

 The evidence arrived via a news story on the latest issue to vex an Illinois school district. The federal government is threatening to withhold six million dollars in funding from district schools. Officials ran afoul of the federal authorities when they announced the decision to refuse to allow a high school boy (who lives as a girl) to shower and change in the girl’s locker room.

 It would be tough to accuse this particular school district of discriminating against anyone. The boy is allowed to wear girls’ clothing. He is called by a female name of his own choosing and he plays basketball on the girls’ team. The boy has been given full access to all of the girl’s restrooms and the school paid for the construction of a private changing room for him, located inside the girls’ locker room.

 The district asserts that the decision to deny the boy further access to the girl’s locker room was made only after they received complaints from students and parents. Evidently a few regressive Neanderthals balked at the notion of permitting a boy (who is still has his boy parts) to shower and change alongside the girls.

 I chose this example not because I wanted to write a screed against transgender people, but rather because it illustrates an increasingly common scenario where someone has chosen to believe something that is demonstrably untrue and then demands that everyone else get on board with their game of make-believe.

 It is simply a fact that a man cannot be trapped inside a female body or vice-versa. Those scenarios make for great movies but are biological impossibilities. A man might wish desperately that he had been born a woman or a woman might wish she had been born a man. I have nothing but compassion for men and women who struggle with those feelings. I have no doubt that those feelings are real and very painful. However, wishing something were true cannot turn a feeling into a fact.

 This issue is not restricted to gender. Some suppose that identifying strongly with the struggles and customs of a particular race somehow transforms the reality of their ethnic heritage. Others have come to believe that feeling they are in an “unsafe” environment causes them to be in actual mortal danger. Some believe that being exposed to offensive words or ideas is a form of rape. Many wish college education were free and have decided that their wishes can magically alter economic reality. Countless people truly believe that their feelings determine what is real.

 It is typical for children to go through a phase where they believe something to be true that is clearly false (I had a child who insisted she really was Winnie-the-Pooh). How a parent chooses to deal with their child’s fantasies behind closed doors is their own business. However, it is clearly wrong for individuals, the media, church leaders, parents, schools or the federal government to force the rest of society to kowtow to the fanciful wishing of a small minority.

We all need to grow up at some point. One aspect of growing-up is facing realities we don’t like. White people cannot really be black. Words, even mean words are not a form of rape (and saying so belittles the horror of rape). Feeling unsafe does not necessarily mean you are in danger. Gender is not “fluid” and money does not appear out of thin air. These are all irrefutable truths that need to be confronted head on.

 Jesus says this about truth:

 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free~ John 8:32

 Jesus wants people to embrace truth, not because He’s mean but rather because He knows that embracing truth really does set us free. Jesus wants people everywhere to know and understand the truth about life, God and our own sinful state and how our sinfulness affects our view of reality. Truth frees sinful people from the self-imposed oppression that is a consequence of living life captive to our feelings.

 The most critical truth in this world is that God made us to be in relationship with Him. Relationship with God gives us the grace, strength and wisdom we need to live life as it really is, not the way we wish it was.

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Root of Our Problems

They rejected God’s decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.” 2nd Kings 17:15

 Last week I and millions of other Americans watched in horror as the news of the day unfolded. The story has become depressingly common. Another bloodbath at another school in another sleepy little town where no one ever dreamed anything that awful could happen.

 There were no actual surprises in the details. The killer was another socially stunted loner from a broken home with few friends or ties to his community. Gun hoarding, collecting war memorabilia and hating appear to have been his only hobbies.

 The only aspect of this story more foreseeable than the details of the killer’s life was the reaction from politicians and pundits. The accusations and calls for change commenced before the bodies were counted. The anti-gun guys predictably blamed easy access to guns. The pro-gun guys blamed a lack of armed guards on campus. Politicians insisted that more laws will solve everything and physiologists blamed the breakdown of our mental healthcare system.

 Everybody is talking but no one is asking the one question that really needs to be answered: Why is our society devolving at such a rapid pace?

 A mass shooting is technically defined as a shooting where four or more people are shot or wounded in a single attack. There was not a single reported mass shooting in America in the year 1915; in fact, mass shootings were practically unheard of prior to 1963. As of today, there have been 298 mass shootings this year. For those keeping count, that is more than one shooting a day so far in 2015.

 America is and has always been a country of gun owners. Statistics are unobtainable, but it seems safe to assume that more Americans owned guns in 1915 than in 2015. It’s also patently absurd to argue that it was somehow more difficult to acquire a gun a century ago than it is today.

 It is demonstrably true that our mental healthcare system is in serious trouble. Good counselors are tough to find and even tougher for many folks to afford. An obviously deranged lunatic can only be committed after he or she actually hurts someone. Doctors hand out prescriptions for medications no one truly understands with little follow-up on those taking powerful, mind-altering drugs. All that being said, it’s still fanciful to argue that the mental healthcare available a hundred years ago was somehow superior to the mental healthcare available today.

 Stricter laws sound like a reasonable no-hassle solution to our problems. But truth- be-told, there are already plenty of laws governing gun ownership. However, lawbreakers have a vexing habit of simply disregarding the existing laws and because past behavior is always the best predictor of future behavior; it’s fairly safe to assume criminals would simply ignore any new legislation.

 Blaming guns, laws or the mental healthcare system for shootings and other social problems is naïve and misguided. If we continue to blame things rather than people, we will commit societal suicide because we cannot solve problems we refuse to see.

 It is fashionable to blame guns, laws and shoddy healthcare for the problem of gun violence. It’s also intellectually lazy and irrational. If guns, laws or healthcare were the problem, the same problems would have existed a hundred years ago. The real problem lies squarely at the feet of the individuals in our society. Individual people build societies, and our society is generating an increasing number of individuals who have no conscience and who place zero value on human life.

 The problems began when we decided as a society that we could have morality without God or fixed standards of right and wrong. Gun violence is just one symptom of the societal breakdown that was triggered by our makeshift morality and the irrational social engineering that has followed.

 If as individuals we want real and lasting change, it is critical that we stop looking to politicians and pundits to solve our problems. Their well-intended “solutions” limit freedom and do nothing to solve the real problems.  

It’s time we start looking to God.