Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why I Oppose The Budget "Deal"

As I write this, US Representative Paul Ryan making appearances on TV and radio to explain, sell and defend the Ryan-Murray budget deal that was announced yesterday. Multiple groups immediately announced their opposition, including Heritage Action and Americans For Prosperity.

While I do not have anywhere near the influence of these groups, I do oppose the proposed deal. I oppose it for one reason, because I believe that this is an attempt by the two party "establishment" to get the budget issue dealt with long before the January deadline, so that they can move on to other issues, such as granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. (Just a side note, this is an issue now, because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would not allow the budget up for debate and discussion six months ago. We are talking about passing the budget for the current fiscal year, over two months into the fiscal year. And these are the people that some want to be in charge of our healthcare..)

That is not, however, the biggest reason that I oppose the "deal". I am opposed to this plan of action for one reason: it does practically nothing to control our runaway federal spending and reduce our national debt. Our national debt is approximately $17,300,000,000, or $17.3 trillion. The US government collected approximately $2,770,000,000 or $2.77 trillion dollars in revenue last fiscal year. If we stopped spending money on ANYTHING else besides retiring the debt, it would take us 6 years and 3 months. That is, of course, not accounting for the interest on the debt that would accrue during the 6 years.

Let us put this in terms to which most Americans can relate. John and Suzy Public are married. They have a combined income of $50,000 a year, and decide that they are ready to purchase a house. (Now, for the purpose of this example, I am using generalizations.) The couple contacts a bank or other mortgage lender to acquire approval for a loan. Given their income and credit score, they are told that they are approved for a loan of up to $150,000. That is, they can buy a house worth up to three years salary. The loan term is 30 years, during which they will re-pay the principal of the loan approximately 2 times at 5.25% interest, or 3 times that amount at 9.5% interest.

Now, let us go back to the government spending. Most of the spending of the US government is not being spent on houses, roads, bridges or other assets that could conceivably grow in value over the years. It goes to pay for food stamps. Corporate R&D subsidies, aka welfare. Payments to farmers to not grow crops. Cell phones. Medicaid. Medicare. Social Security. Salaries. Bullets. Fancy signs to re-name existing facilities in honor of someone. That is to say, it goes to expenses, not assets.

Basically, most of our federal spending is what individuals would put on a credit card, that is, it is un-secured debt that will only grow in cost as time passes. A nation may truly need to borrow money from time to time, in the event of war or massive national disaster. However, no rational, honest individual would believe that they could continue to borrow more and more money, spending 130% of their annual income as a steady, unchanging practice.

Because eventually, the bill will come due. We have the equivalent debt of TWO mortgages, and the hailed "deal" will add a THIRD over the next then years. The house of credit cards will eventually collapse, and financial destruction will be realized. National bankruptcy. Our dollar will be so devalued that Revelation 6:6 doesn't sound so outrageous: "Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "Two pounds of wheat for a day's wages, and six pounds of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"

Maybe another verse of Scripture is fitting for this topic, Proverbs 22:7, which says "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender." A fair amount of our Treasury bills that were issued to borrow the money for our debt are owned by foreign citizens, and even foreign governments. China is one of these nations. While some deny this, China is still seeking status as a world superpower. Recently, they have declared a section of the East China Sea as an "air defense zone", and is expecting all air traffic to identify itself to Chinese air defenses. From time to time, the Chi-Coms rattle their sabers about Taiwan, claiming that the island state is still part of China. Bigger still, they push as much as possible against our allies in the region, Japan, South Korea and Australia. So what?, you ask? Well, what if China were to tell the US, "We are going to send troops into South Korea tomorrow. If you take any action, we will dump our T-bills on the market and collapse your entire economy." As a nation, we are happily selling ourselves into slavery to other nations, corporations and ultra-rich individuals, like some crack addict who cannot conceive of life without an endless supply of his drug, in our case, wasteful spending.

But I believe that we are still missing the most important aspect of our situation. That is, we are neglecting to account for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Proverbs 13:22(a) tells us that "A good person leaves an inheritance for their children's children.." Instead of that, what are we leaving them? A massive, unsustainable debt that will eventually collapse. A series of chains that are controlled by our enemies and by the rich. We are selling THEIR productivity, rights and freedom so that WE can "eat, drink, and be merry", all as we kick the can of financial responsibility further down the proverbial road.

In a real sense, WE are making slaves of our own children. We are signing our grandchildren into slavery so that we don't have to make tough decisions. Even the Deist Thomas Jefferson saw this as an evil action, and a cause of great suffering. He said "It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world".

As a Christian, I cannot and will not place chains around my children's necks, nor allow any to be placed around mine. What about you? Will you continue to support the Washington DC status quo of deficit spending? Or will you stand up to the people who work for YOU and tell them "CUT SPENDING!"?

Friday, December 6, 2013

An open letter to Senator Thad Cochran

Senator Thad Cochran,

Today, I read with great sadness that you have decided to seek another term as one of the US Senators from the Great State of Mississippi. I had truly hoped that you would choose not to run, and to quietly retire out of public life.

As a productive, tax-paying citizen of Mississippi, I cannot and will not support you for any further public office. I am convinced that you are no longer worthy of the honor of serving me, my family, and my State.

Reviewing your actions, I do acknowledge that you have been on the right side of some issues, particularly some Senate confirmations. You did indeed vote against appointing Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. In addition, you voted against confirming Eric Holder as Attorney General, and Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of HHS.

Sadly, though, you have absolutely been on the wrong side of many Senate appointments. You voted to confirm both Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Bryer to the Supreme Court. I repeat, you allowed two of the Justices onto the Court who upheld the PPACA, which is the most destructive and damaging piece of legislation ever passed by Congress. On top of that, you approved both former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense and former Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State. I cannot help but wonder what your vote would have been if Holder or Sebelius were current or past members of the Senate.

Regarding legislation, you have failed in that regard too. Back in 2006, you voted to legalize medical slavery of the unborn under the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. While you did vote against PPACA, you recently voted for the second cloture motion, the one that opened the bill for amendment and allowed Harry Reid to strip the defunding language from the House legislation.

Also, it seems that you view your primary task in office to be the securing the return of our own monies back from the federal government. Whether it be earmarks, pork, or guaranteed bases in defense appropriations, you are well-known to be skilled in that area. However, I do not want my representatives to fight to bring my money back from DC, I want my representatives to fight tooth and nail to cut spending, reduce our national debt, and ultimately reduce the overall size and scope of our runaway government.

Regardless of your conservative ideals and principles when you first went to Washington DC, I believe that you have been corrupted by the mediocrity of the GOP establishment, the arrogance of the US Senate, and the overall detachment and elitism of DC.

A review of your time in DC and national politics is truly stunning:
Elected to House in '72.
Re-elected to House in '74.
Re-re elected to House in '76.
Elected to Senate in '78.
Re-elected to Senate in '84.
Re-re-elected in '90.
Re-re-re-elected in '96.
Re-re-re-re-elected in '02.
Re-re-re-re-re-elected in '08.
Now, you are seeking re-re-re-re-re-re-election in '14.

Frankly, the idea that out of three million citizens in our State, you are the only person worthy of representing us in the Senate is absolute hubris.

As I said earlier, I had hoped that your retirement would preclude this situation. But, as you have decided to enter the arena again, I have determined that I must do all within my ability to seek your defeat. I had already been inclined toward Chris McDaniel, but now will be actively promoting and supporting his campaign.

On the topic of the primary campaign, I urge you to keep the discussions and ads about ideas and issues, instead of personal vitriol and attacks.

To quote our President, let me be clear: I do not hate you. Indeed, I frequently pray for you, that you will seek to represent our State with dignity and honor, while protecting and defending our Constitution, promoting freedom and liberty, and living in obedience to our Savior and His word. I will continue to do so, as long as you hold office. I will continue to contact your office to register my position on issues, and as always, treat your staff with respect.

But you, sir, shall never receive my vote again. Should you prevail in the primary, my vote will be cast for another candidate.

Michael Dunger
Olive Branch

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"It's for the CHILDREN!"

Those on the Left of American politics absolutely love to use children as emotional tools and weapons in pushing their ideology. 

After the Sandy Hook shooting, President Obama floated this statement in his speech: "If there's even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that's visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try."

As a nation, our public schools produce very poor results. (While correlation does not always mean causation, there has been a clear pairing of the rise of federal involvement in schools and the decline of the effectiveness of public schools, all while the cost per student has risen.) Now, President Obama wants to expand our school systems to include public preschool care. All so the children can get the help and head start that they all need so desperately.

Of course, the biggest issue where children are weaponized is the topic of illegal immigration. Deportation is decried, because "we can't punish the children for the actions of the parents!" 

If that is the case, then we should set free every local, state and federal prisoner who has children!

Setting all that aside, the Leftists are only concerned about children when it agrees with their political agenda. The Left doesn't care about children when abortion is the topic. At that point, only the woman's rights, desires and voice are heard.

But the grand elephant in the room with this issue is the debt. The Left continues to desire to spend like drunken sailors that found a wallet with someone else's full collection of credit cards. Absolutely NO reduction of ANY federal program is even allowed for consideration. Apparently, the entire nation will collapse if we decide not to give people free cell phones. Or to pay farmers to NOT grow crops. All the while, we are rapidly approaching a $17 TRILLION dollar debt on a $3.5 trillion annual budget, and $2.8 trillion dollar annual income. That means that if we spent EVERY penny of tax income for the next six years, we STILL wouldn't pay off the national debt. Thomas Jefferson spoke about this almost 200 years ago: "it is incumbent on every generation to pay it’s own debts as it goes. a principle which, if acted on, would save one half the wars of the world;"

Our children, grand-children, great-grand-children and onward are being turned into slaves to pay for our current spending. We MUST end this insane policy of kicking the tough budget choices down the road, because the road is rapidly approaching a cliff which no amount of deals, wrangling or rhetoric will be able to overcome or avert.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Socialistic Welfare Is An Unbiblical Concept

I often see people on the Left side of the aisle use Jesus as a basis for state welfare. This always makes me laugh, as these same people are typically the ones who scream loudest about "separation of church and state" at the first public sign of Christianity by any elected official. It also makes me laugh because it reveals that while the person may know the name of Jesus, they do not know the Word of Jesus.

Yes, Jesus did tell the rich man in Mark 10:17-31 to go sell all he had, give the proceeds to the poor, and then follow Him. He said that to one individual, because He rightly saw that the rich man's trust and faith were in his wealth, not his God. Yes, He did say that this was common to those who had wealth, that they have trouble letting go of the material to take hold of the spiritual.

Yes, Jesus did indicate in Matthew 25:31-46 that He is very pleased with those who give food, water, shelter, care for the sick and imprisoned...that is, to those who are His brothers and sisters, especially "the least of these my brothers". He was speaking to individuals, not to governments.

Some might reply that our pooling resources as a local church body is no different than pooling our resources as a government. First, I would point out that church membership is, and always should be, voluntary. On top of that, giving to your church is up to you, your pastor doesn't take 10% of your check before you ever see it. Finally, Christians are instructed to practice charity, not welfare.

What is the difference, you ask? Simple. Charity is sharing your provisions with those who through no fault of their own do not have provisions. Or with those who have realized that their previous actions are wrong, and seek assistance to change. Welfare, however, is giving to anyone who asks, regardless of how they got into the situation, regardless of their repetition of this situation, or regardless of their admission or acknowledgement that their actions are producing bad results. For example, a single woman who has sexual relations outside of marriage and becomes pregnant, then realizes how her actions will have huge consequences for her life and for her child and asks for help to support her child and make better decisions is definitely someone worthy of Christian charity. But if this same woman comes back a year later in the same situation, charity requires that the situation be evaluated to determine how she repeated the wrong action and got back into the same situation. If she were to be assisted again, then the people assisting her would need to be much more diligent in helping her not only with monetary assistance, but also with personal guidance. And it should be stressed to her that if she were to repeat the action again, then there would be no further help for her. Welfare, however, continues to cut larger and larger checks to provide for her and her growing family. That is, as long as she doesn't marry any of the fathers. Because then, her State provided welfare would be cut off.

Still not convinced?  Do you remember Ruth? She came to the fields of Boaz to glean among the rows any of the harvest that was dropped or overlooked. As a matter of fact, the Law instructed Jews not to harvest to the full edges of their fields, and to allow the poor to glean. It did not, however, order them to fully harvest their field at their own expense and then give a percentage to the poor. The poor could have charity, but they had to work for their assistance.

Oh, but that's the Old Testament. Jesus did away with all that, right? Well, not actually. But consider Paul's instructions in 1 Timothy 5. Do not add any woman to the widow's roll who had family to provide for her, then, only if she was over the age of 60.

Or Paul's instructions in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12, which says: 
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother who walks irresponsibly and not according to the tradition received from us. For you yourselves know how you must imitate us: We were not irresponsible among you; we did not eat anyone’s food free of charge; instead, we labored and struggled, working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you. It is not that we don’t have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves an example to you so that you would imitate us. 10 In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 11 For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work of others.12 Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ that quietly working, they may eat their own food. 13 Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.

Christians are clearly, and repeatedly commanded, instructed, and ordered to help the needy, poor and less fortunate. To fellow Christians first, but also to those who might believe. Scripture repeatedly makes it clear that we are stewards of everything that God has given to us. Continuing to pay for people who misuse the assistance, come to expect it and eventually demand its continuance is not good stewardship. And being a bad steward is always condemned in Scripture.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

All Pink Is Not Pure

As I write this, there are only a few days left in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It seems that everywhere I look, I see someone wearing pink. Pink shoes. Pink shirts. Pink ribbons. Shirts with pink messages about breast cancer. October is the one month of the year that it is not only acceptable, but cool for macho He-Man types to wear pink.

But not all pink is pure.

One of the largest names in breast cancer fundraising is the Susan G. Komen foundation, often seen as Komen For The Cure or just SGK. Their name is practically synonymous with breast cancer.

However, they do not just raise money for breast cancer research. They also raise money for the purpose of providing free or low-cost mammograms to women who cannot afford them. I absolutely understand the reasoning for this, as early detection is key to lowering the mortality rate from breast cancer.

I do not, however, understand why their primary partner in this effort is Planned Parenthood (PP). PP offers a wide range of services, from true family planning to free contraceptives. That said, they are best known as the nation's largest abortion provider. Indeed, as of 2009, PP had performed 5.3 million abortions since the SCOTUS discovered a brand new "right" in 1973, the right to abort a pregnancy hidden in the right to privacy.

Let's set aside the possible link between breast cancer and miscarriages and/or abortions. Both sides have studies that prove their point, so let's take that off of the table.

SGK takes part of every dollar and gives it to PP. PP is supposed to take that money and use it exclusively for mammograms and breast exams. The fly in the ointment is this: there is a fancy word used to describe money, that word is "fungible". Basically, what it means is this: if you give PP a dollar, and they use a dollar to pay for an abortion, then your dollar might have paid for that abortion. Money goes in a big pot, and they pull out what they need to operate. So if you donate ANY money to SGK, PART of your money WILL be given to PP, and PART of that money WILL be used for providing abortions.

Let's make up an extreme example to clarify: What if the American Nazi Party announced a campaign of pink swastikas during October, and sold those for $5 for the purpose of raising money for their breast cancer medical research. Most people would immediately associate the American Nazi Party with the German Nazi Party, which killed over 6 million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Christians and other "undesirables" during WW2. No matter what good COULD come from the $5 donation, the entity trying to do the good has been judged (rightly so) to be an enemy of freedom and humanity. Thus, most reasonable rational people would choose to forgo any association.

I submit that as Christians, we have the same moral obligation to reject any association with SGK.

Sadly, the American Cancer Society also is partnered with Planned Parenthood as well.

Lest anyone suspect or accuse me of some kind of "war on women", my paternal grandmother was killed by breast cancer. I have three daughters who I pray are never touched by breast cancer. One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 5:19. I HATE breast cancer. I HATE the destruction that it wreaks in the lives of women that I know and have known. 

But I cannot and will not ally with a demon to battle another demon. Support breast cancer awareness. Support breast cancer research. Support breast cancer victims. Just keep your hands clean while you do it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

All a matter of time

At the end of his recounting of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, John states that he is only recording a fraction of the things that Jesus did during the three and a half years that John walked with Him as an apostle.

"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written." John 21:25

We might be tempted to simply attribute that statement to the sheer amount of time that John spent with Jesus. Based on the time frame of 3-1/2 years, that comes to:

42 months
180 weeks
1260 days
30,240 hours
1,814,400 minutes
108,864,000 seconds

That's a LOT of time! I can only imagine the number of people that Jesus met during that time. I can only guess how many meals He shared with the apostles and others. 

During His life, Jesus was fully God, while fully Man. He chose to be bound by the physical restraints of a human body. He could only be in one place, could only speak to one person at at time, could only do one thing at a time.

Now, He sits at the right hand of the Father, constantly making intercession for His saints.

Consider that for a moment...some surveys put the total number of Christians alive today at approximately 2.2 billion people. That number obviously includes people that identify as Christian, but have no personal relationship with Jesus. Taking half that number, Jesus was intimately aware of what happened to one billion people yesterday...adding that up, that means that He experienced:

24,000,000,000 hours yesterday
1,440,000,000,000 minutes yesterday
86,400,000,000,000 seconds yesterday

We couldn't record what Jesus did in one MINUTE yesterday!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Do recognize when God matures someone?

My family and I have been blessed to be members of a vibrant, growing, missional church for the past 16 years. During this time, we've seen many of our children's peers grow up to become missionaries and ministers in the Kingdom.

I sat and talked last night with one such man. He was an adolescent when I first met him, a typical teenager. He has since finished his BA and has his MDiv. As a matter of fact, he's teaching my NT Survey course at NOBTS's Mid-South Extension Center. During our discussion, we talked about hermeneutics and eschatology. As we talked about the variant camps of interpreting Revelation, I was struck by how much he had not only grown in knowledge, but God had matured him greatly. I had to mentally re-adjust my view of him a smidgen more, as the goofy teen had been replaced by a man of God.

The Bible records several instances of this happening:

Consider David, when he came to the battle front to check on his brothers. His older brothers scoffed at him and did not treat him with respect. Remember, though, at this point, David had already killed a lion AND a bear while defending Jesse's flocks.

What about Timothy? Lois and Eunice, who watched their grandson and son become a leader in the early church, had to accept him as such.

Then, remember how the people of Jesus' region received Him? "Isn't this the carpenter's son?" Luke 2:52 tells us how Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, but those around Him refused to see Him with clear eyes and to recognize Him for who He was, instead of who they viewed Him to be.

We must be careful to allow our views and opinions of those around us to grow and mature. The neighbor's idiot son could be the next Billy Graham or Adrian Rogers.

Even more so, we must continue to allow our view, opinion and understanding of Jesus to grow. He is not a good teacher. He is not a great man. He is God incarnate, the atoning sacrifice for those who confess and believe, and the grand example of how we should live in obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Two Birds With One Shot

I seem to have a gift for taking pieces of un-associated puzzles and fitting them together, and in that spirit, I offer the following:

The Obama administration demonizes guns at almost every chance. They don't like guns, they don't like citizens having guns, and don't like that we don't like them not liking us having guns. They have blocked the importation of several hundred thousand surplus M1 Carbines from South Korea that were used in the Korean War. They describe these guns as "military-grade", even though they were made 60 years ago, and haven't been in use for 40 years.

The Obama administration is also now hell-bent on getting us involved in the Syrian civil war. Setting aside the fact that most of the rebel groups are allied or associated with Al-Qaeda, they are Muslim extremists that are routinely massacring Christians and burning Christian churches.

However, how about this solution to both problems: We buy the surplus weapons from our (seriously) good friends and allies the South Koreans. We then donate those same "military-grade" weapons to the Syrian rebels for use. Tah-Dah! We've helped our allies and the rebels both! Plus, Obama won't have to worry about being (rightly) blamed for being anti-gun. Sorry, we can't import those guns anymore, we gave them to the Syrians!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Are you looking at Him?

The other night, my son cut his hand, so he and I spent several hours at the ER for his treatment. We watched TV, laughed and joked, and just generally had about as good a time as possible. Then came our turn for treatment. The doctor had to clean the wounds to prevent infection and sew up the damage.

But before he could do that, he needed to numb up my son's hand. When the doc pulled out a needle the size of a railroad spike, my son got very tense. When he started jabbing the needle in multiple places and injecting the anesthetic, my son tensed up even more and looked like he was going to bolt out of the room!

So I took his other hand in mine, turned his head to look toward me and made a show of breathing slowly and deeply. In only a few seconds, my son had relaxed, was looking only at me and was matching my breathing.

A common situation similar to this is during childbirth. The mother focuses on the father, who is speaking calmly to her, holding her hand and helping her focus on something besides the struggle in her life.

Peter knew a little about this type of situation. Jesus walks up to the boat, and Peter's mouth writes a check that he soon has to try to cash. Peter steps out of the boat, and walks toward Jesus...until Peter puts his attention on the storm, not the One who controls the storm. Peter sinks and cries out in desperation..until Jesus pulls Peter's focus back to HIM.

Our lives face these storms every day. Whether a cut hand, an arriving baby, a job loss or just a simple bad day at work...the storms will overwhelm us and distract us if we are not careful. Remember, our focus must always be on the One who has power over the storms. He will walk beside us and lead us through the storms! And we, as Christians, must make sure that we point those around us to Him too!

Monday, July 8, 2013

What IS Ministry?

I was having a conversation with @PartTime_YP the other day on Twitter. He commented that his pastor and church leadership basically viewed him as just a babysitter who had no experience doing "real ministry."

That got me to thinking about what would be the true definition OF ministry? Is it being able to preach? Is it being able to implement a multi-level strategy? Is it managing the staff of a church? Could it possibly be leading a choir, as in a Music Minister? Is ministry simply the obtainment of a seminary degree?

While considering this, I remembered a quote on leadership that @ToddAdkins shares frequently: When your people stop bringing you their problems, you've stopped leading them.

Based on my review of Scripture, here is the definition that I compiled for what ministry is:


Walking side by side with another human being as they go through the struggles, trials and triumphs of life as you lovingly speak biblical truth to their situations while consistently pointing them to the bloody cross, the empty tomb and fulfilled hope of salvation through Jesus Christ and encouraging them to follow Him in spirit, word and deed.

IF this description of ministry is accurate, then ANYONE can do ministry. You know more about the Bible than SOMEONE around you. You most likely know more about the Bible than a LOT of people around you.

I would love to hear your thoughts, what do YOU believe is the definition of "ministry"?

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Wiretap Rap

Yeah, we're tapping you,
That's wiretapping you.

Who you call?
Yeah, that's what we need to know!
Who you text?
Sure, that' what we need to know!

Cause we're tapping you,
That's wiretapping you.

Who you email?
Of course we need to know!
Who you Tweet?
Yeah, of course that too!

Cause we're tapping you.
That's wiretapping you.

Who you gave money to?
We interested, of course!
How you voted for?
Now we're listening close!

Cause we're tapping you,
That's wiretapping you.

Your liberty and privacy are all just fine,
Tyranny and oppression's what the crazies whine!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Contending Without Cause

Do not contend with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.
Proverbs 3:30

When I read this verse, I tend to think of it in terms of Exodus 21:24, "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." That is, if someone physically assaults you, you are able to defend yourself. But, a man of God should never be the aggressor without cause. However, not all contending is physical. How many times do we contend verbally with someone, regardless of which party began the dispute?

One of my theological contentions is that the New Testament does not introduce any new doctrine, it simply expands and explains that which was already been taught.

Peter speaks of this issue in his first letter. 1 Peter 3:9 says "Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless. for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing." In verse 20, Peter tells us to have "a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame."

The real point is this: if someone makes a false accusation against you, don't contend with them. If you are blameless, God knows the truth, and it honors Him when you do not revile them. Pray for them. Bless them. Your godly character will show that the statements are false. 

Never get in a mud wrestling contest with a pig, he's better and more experienced at it than you are, and besides, he LIKES getting dirty.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Where Are You Looking?

The other day, I re-Tweeted a post from the pastor of a large area church, who was sharing his excitement and burden to share the message that the Holy Spirit had given him for Sunday morning. I have heard him preach several times, know several members of his church and see him to be a very godly and energetic preacher of the Word.

About an hour later, I saw a notification in my Interactions feed that he was now following me!

Let's be honest for a moment. On Twitter, everyone WANTS followers. Some pay for them, some follow others just to be followed back, and some just take whomever decides to follow. But seeing "@ChrchCurmudgeon and 6 others followed you" will put a smile on your face! Especially when it's someone like the pastor I mentioned.

However, that still, small voice whispered into my heart "Are you more excited about him following you, or are you more excited about you following ME?" #OUCH

Jesus didn't tell Peter and Andrew "Come, follow each other, and you will become fishers of men." He said "follow ME, and I will make you fishers of men."

Now, I'm not cancelling my Twitter account, or suggesting that anyone else should. My point is simply this: Our greatest passion and excitement should and must come from the fact that the Creator of the universe has invited us to personally follow HIM.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Do You Treat The Bible Like Twitter?

I have a decent presence on Twitter, and receive interaction notifications almost every day. They typically say something like "@FairICBaptist followed you" or "@BackRowBaptist favorited one of your Tweets".

In case you are not on Twitter, when you see a Tweet that you like, you can "favorite" it so that you can find it again easily. It could be compared to bookmarking a verse in your Bible, so that you can read it again in the future. Psalm 119:11 tells us "Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You."

However, there is another option when you find a great Tweet. You can Re-Tweet it to YOUR followers. That is, you have a different circle of influence than the person who originally made the statement. The only way someone may hear that wisdom (or joke) is if you share it with them. Reading the Bible is the exact same. You may be the only way that your co-workers, neighbors or friends ever get biblical wisdom poured into their lives.

There are multiple verses that state this, but one of my favorites is my life-verse, Ezra 7:10 "For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel." In Psalm 51:13, David tells us "Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You."

So, are you being selfish with God's word, or are you sharing it? Remember, you may be the messenger God desires to use to speak Truth into someone's life.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Do you recognize His voice?

I have played bass guitar on and off since I was about 16. My step-father plays and got me hooked on the instrument. When I was single and in college, music was a major part of my life. I ran around with a local band, went to many, many concerts, and bought a new cassette or CD weekly.

My personal practice time was a large part of my daily routine. I had one of the old-style weighted metronomes like you see piano teachers use on TV or the movies. I would set the timing at 60 beats per minute and play scales. I would start at the top of the neck, play the scale forward, then play it in reverse until I came back to the root note. If I muted or missed a note, I would replay that scale until I got it right. Then, I'd move my hand down one fret and play the scale again. I repeated this process until I reached the bottom of the neck. At that point, I began moving back up the neck until I reached the top.

I then moved the metronome speed up one click to 64 BPM and repeated the entire process.

I then moved the metronome speed up one click to 72 BPM and repeated the entire process.

I then moved the metronome speed up one click to 76 BPM and repeated the entire process.

I continued this process until I reached the point at which I could not consistently play the notes properly and accurately.

This training exercise benefited me in three major ways. First, it forced me to work on my technique, so that I played the easy, slow notes with the same precision and skill as the harder, faster notes in a song. Second, the hours and hours of practice put callouses on my fingers that actually helped me play better.

The greatest benefit, however, was that I learned to identify individual notes by simply hearing them. Pick any note on the musical scale, and there are eight different ways to play them on a four string bass, if the neck is fretted to two octaves. An open E string, an E played on the 7th fret of the A string, an E played on the 2nd fret of the D string and an E played on the 9th fret of the G string all have a different feel. They are all the same note, but like shades of a primary color, they are clearly different to someone who spends time interacting with them.

While I don't read music, I could listen to a song on the radio and instantly pick up my bass and play along. I knew the sound of the bass guitar, and could also discern when a certain Canadian bassist was using foot pedals instead of playing his bass so that he could play keyboards with his hands. They sound close, but they are not the same.

Jesus talked about this too. In John 10:27, He says "MY sheep hear MY voice, and I know them, and they follow ME."

A Christian must spend time in prayer and in the Bible developing callouses. Learning to perfect our technique of relying on Christ and His Word as we interact with the world. And above all, learning to know HIS voice. False teachers, ear-ticklers and feel-good profits are everywhere, claiming to speak the Gospel.

We must know the difference, not only for our own benefit, but you cannot accurately point someone else to Jesus, if you are listening to an imitation.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Appropriate dress for a Christian woman

First of all, if you are not a Christian, you probably don't want to read this post. You won't understand the foundation from whence it proceeds. Additionally, hateful rants from non-Christians will be deleted. Respectful discussion from all is welcomed. Before you read this post, you might want to read my post to men The Christian Man's Guide To Viewing Pornography.

Imagine going with your alcoholic brother to an AA meeting...and you take a six pack of beer. Your logic? Well, HE has the drinking problem, not me. Likewise, imagine going to a Gamblers Anonymous with your sister...and betting on and following the track results on your smart phone. Both ideas are ludicrous, right? Why then, do Christian women dress in a revealing manner, firstly in public, but more importantly, at worship services?

Could it be that women do not understand the nature, depth and power of men's struggle with sexual sin? Or might it simply be a casual indifference to the struggle of others based upon their own sense of importance and personal rights?

Ladies, let me be plainspoken about men and sexual sin. Every man is tempted by sexual sin. Not a few, not some, not most. EVERY man is tempted. But not every man wrestles with sexual sin. A lot of men not only give in, they relish in sexual sin. Additionally, men who aren't Christians don't even VIEW sexual sin as sexual sin. But what does the Bible say about sexual sin? "But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints" Ephesians 5:3 Okay, that's what Paul told the Ephesians, but what did Jesus say? In Matthew 5:28, He said "But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

Possibly, you have heard it said that men are visually stimulated? It's the absolute truth. We are not only visually stimulated, we are virtual recorders. Lean forward in front of a man so that your blouse fall open. CLICK! He just took a mental photograph of you. Wear a skirt with a high hem line or one with a slit all the way up the leg. Walk by a man. CLICK! He just took a mental photograph of you. Wear a pair of pants so tight that someone can tell if the quarter in your back pocket is heads or tails. CLICK! Ladies, I'm sure you'd be shocked at how many times you are "captured" throughout your day.

I am sure there are some reading this who are thinking "Well, that's HIS problem. That's HIS sin. I have the right to dress however I feel like dressing. I have the right to feel good about myself, and dressing like this makes me feel good!" Parallel to earlier, what did Paul say? He told the Corinthians "Or do you know know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" What did Jesus say about causing others to stumble? "Whoever causes on of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea" Mark 9:42

Scripture is clear: it is a man's fault and responsibility if he commits lusts after a woman.

Scripture is clear: if a woman dresses in a way that leads her brother in Christ to sin, it is her fault and responsibility. Her sin has been ADDED to his, it does not negate or excuse his sin.

My sisters, PLEASE become aware of how your choice of dress affects your brothers. I'm not advocating burkas! But, your wardrobe choices should begin with the question "Does this honor and glorify God" and end with the question "Will this cause my brother to stumble?"

One of the Christian women that has dealt with this issue is Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Her interview with Leslie Basham in June of 2005 is a great read.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Discretionary Response

A man's discretion makes him slow to anger,
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.
Proverbs 19:11

Have you ever heard someone tell you that "I have a right to be mad!"  I have to admit, as an American, I see my own rights as being very important. All to often, I think of myself first and foremost in any situation.

However, that is not the attitude of Jesus Christ. Peter tells us about His response to offenses against Him. Choosing to overlook a transgression IS a response. And based on Scripture, it is the one that honors Christ and shows His light through you.

and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, 
He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
1 Peter 2:23

Before you think about your rights, remember the rights, position and worship that Jesus set aside to deliver you. Treat others with that love, so that you can honor His sacrifice.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Clean Your Cup!

Matthew 23:25-26

I have a coffee cup within reach most of the day when I am at work. Many times during my shift, I go tot the coffee machine and get a fresh cup of brew. And it tastes the same, time after time.

BUT, about once a week, I take my cup to the sink, and wash it out with soap and hot water. And that first cup tastes MUCH better!

Jesus tells us that our hearts are the same way. If we do not keep our sins scrubbed off, we build up layers of selfishness and pride. We become jaded to our sins, and bitter to those around us.

Keep your hands clean and your heart pure. Confess as soon as the Holy Spirit reveals sin in your life, so that you may be a source of fresh, clean Living Water to a thirsty, parched world around you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Noble Minded Men

Listen, for I (Wisdom) will speak noble things;
And the opening of my lips will reveal right things.
Proverbs 8:6

Now these (the men of Berea) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
Acts 17:11

We typically associate the term noble with nobility, that is, we associate it with royalty. However, it doesn't simply refer to something being elevated or above normal standards. Consider the title of a certain group of elements, specifically known as the "noble gases". These elements (Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon and Radon) have an extremely low rate of reactivity. This is a result of the fact that their outer electron shells are full. That is to say, they are satisfied. For another element to bond with a noble gas, one or more electrons have to first be stripped off. Some of what they are has to be relinquished before they can be changed.

Are we like the noble men of Berea or clinging to noble wisdom? Or are we discontent and seeking to be something else? Do we readily accept any new teaching, because we either don't know Scripture or because we don't bother to check what we've been told?

Paul told the Ephesians what happens when we mature in our faith and knowledge of Scripture in Ephesians 4:14. "As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming"

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fancy Comforters

"I have spread my couch with coverings,
With colored linens of Egypt."
Proverbs 7:16 (NASB)

This verse is in the middle of Chapter 7, which refers to a young, naive man being lead into temptation, sin and destruction by the adulteress woman.

The Hebrew word used for "coverings" is marbad, and is only used in one other verse. Proverbs 31:22, which says of the virtuous woman, "She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple".

Consider this: Egypt is typically symbolic not only of bondage, but of false security and wealth. The adulteress has chosen the riches and pleasures of the world, along with the bondage of sin. But the vitrtuous woman has chosen contentment and is satisfied with the work of her own hands.

Don't misunderstand me, this not only applies to women, but to men. Ever known someone who traded in a good, working car just because it was getting a little old? Or bought a new driver because all of their friends had one? A clothes horse that has to be dressed to the nines?

God never condems us for having what we need. However, we must ensure that we are content with meeting our needs and not chasing after the world's security and bondage.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Run, Forrest, Run

My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,

If you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,

Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.

Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;

Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:1-5

Ever reconsidered an interaction with another person and realized that you were in the wrong? Maybe even just in part, but that you have lied or misrepresented yourself? Maybe that you assumed wrongly about the actions of another or simply responded in anger, fear or jealousy?

Did you go back and seek to rectify the situation? Or did you just keep silent and hope that the other person would either not realize or confront you about what you did wrong? Solomon tells us that we should immediately seek to make amends with that person, and to free ourselves from the snare of our own actions.

Jesus tells us exactly the same thing in Matthew 5:21-26. In verses 23 & 24, He tells us Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Let us keep our hands clean and our feet clear of snares. Let us live in a way that honors Christ. Realizing that we will sin, but refusing to ignore or sweep our sins under the rug.