"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Choose Your Parents

          Popular wisdom says you can't choose your parents. Biblical wisdom says you can.
          Galatians 4:21-31 points out the obligation children have to conform to their parents' birthright. A slave's child is born into bondage. A freeman's child is born into freedom. This is the natural law of inheritance.
          But God gives each person the choice of which spiritual heritage he or she will claim. If we choose to live under the law, we are slaves to the law and to sin. If we choose to live under grace, we are slaves only to God and His covenant of grace.
          Everyone has violated some aspect of the law, and as slaves to the law we must suffer the consequences. But as slaves to God and His grace we are free of the law's bondage and its eternal consequences.
          Praise God that we can choose to be born anew of His Spirit!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Controversy, anyone?

          Robin Parrish, in his INFUSE Newsletter, said, "Some tv shows, movies, books, and other mediums build compelling stories out of blurring the line between dark and light, reveling in the world of gray." And that is true. Such blurring creates conflict, which is the stuff fiction--and history--is made of. Has there ever been a fictional story that didn't create conflict by the characters blurring that line? The difference in fiction between the temporal and the eternal worldviews is what message is left with the reader when such conflict is resolved.
          Robin also said, "My own novel asks how long one can be good who has been destined to be bad." I don't know if he was referring to Calvinist-style predestined, but that's the only context in which I can imagine one having been destined to be bad, and ones' goodness or badness isn't even part of that package.
          Whenever I hear teachers proclaiming five-point Calvinist, my mind starts doing weird things. They say I have nothing to do with my election for eternal life. My question is, how can I know that I am one of the elect?
          They say that by obeying the gospel I will receive the witness of the Spirit. My question is, after I obey the gospel, how can I know that the hope I feel is indeed of the Holy Spirit? The problem is, if I have never felt such witness, how can I know if a feeling is authentic?
          They say I will also know by the fruit I bear. My question is, since fruit can be counterfeited, how can I know if even that is authentic? Since God is faithful, wouldn't a Christian bear true Holy Spirit-fruit consistently? What I call the "fruit" of my life certainly isn't consistent, and most people with whom I've spoken claim a similar lack of consistency. Isn't it possible, then, that any or all of us are self-deluded, false believers?
          They say God's grace, through Jesus' blood, covers our human imperfections. That sounds like an excuse anyone, elect of God or not, could make.
          The whole TULIP thing assumes any human goodness is relative, and has no bearing on ones' election. But I'm not going to resolve that centuries-old controversy in this blog. If I come up with any answers to the above questions I'll blogg'em.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Noble Hypocrisy

          Oswald Chambers did it again. In today's devotion entitled Look Again and Consecrate, he highlighted our apparent need to complicate the simple life Jesus has given us for His glory. When we add "But ..." to our response to Him, we step out of His simple way, causing unintended complications to spoil the fundamental peace, joy and love that is our re-birthright.
          My history with Target is a perfect example of what happens when I insert "but" into my response. Rather than accepting my employment as a simple commission to join the team, my response was, "But consumer credit is out of control, and I don't want to be part of the problem by selling Target credit."
          Now I stand, shoulders bowed, under indictment for maintaining a rebellious attitude even while pretending to be Holy Joe. Noble hypocrisy is hypocrisy none the less.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


          Steven Spielberg is contracting to produce a mini-series on the Sci-Fi Channel about grieving people who discover they can contact their recently departed loved ones through a near death experience. Spielberg, being the gifted, cinematic illusionist he is, will no doubt present a superficially credible scenario that many gullible viewers will believe is the truth. How many of them will resolve to try glimpsing the afterlife for themselves? How many will discover to their eternal dismay that what seems possible on film is in fact quiet impossible?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


          It happens to most of us. We're bopping along, living the life, and something interrupts our stride. Stopped, we can't resist looking back to measure our progress--Mistake #1.
          Suddenly it appears that instead of running life's race, we've been running in place; others, later starters, have past us and are closer to the prize. So instead of starting the race anew we stand there kicking stones and watching others race past while we're going, "AW, SHUCKS ... 'TAINT WORTH IT!"--Mistake #2
          The great difference between us and those still running is simply that we've stopped to feel sorry for ourselves. Sure, some can run faster, and some have more stamina, but we're not loosing the race because they're better; we're loosing because we've stopped running.
          Not everyone can run fast. Not everyone can summon gobs of stamina. Those are physical limitations. But everyone can, if they won't quit, finish the race.
          Confession time: I'm naturally a quitter. I don't compete because I've never won. But despite what I feel, the truth is I've never won because I don't compete. My " 'TAINT WORTH IT!" statement goes something like this: "Oh, poor me. Everybody's better at (writing, praying, memorizing the Bible, resisting temptation ... fill in your own "poor me" copout), so why should I bother?"
          The answer is simple: I didn't chose this race; God did! And He didn't put me at the starting line only to stop along the way and kick stones. He didn't even put me in the race only to win; there's just one first-place, and He's already finished and collected His reward. God put me in this race to finish the best way I can, and by doing so, I win!
          I'm engaging in this peptalk for one reason: I've stopped writing, and I'm discouraged. Yet, I now realize God put me at the starting line with a gift for using words and a passion to communicate. If I run a distance but stop to kick stones I'm throwing His gift and His commission back in His face ... I'm kicking the stones directly at Him. If I stop before the Finish Line I'm staring Him in the eye and saying, "You're wrong, God! I can't do it."
          Is quitting the best I have in me? Is disobedience the legacy I want to leave? Since God put me in this race, I know the answer to those questions is a resounding, "NO!"

Monday, January 09, 2006


          While pop culture embraces sexual liberty as innocent fun, such promiscuity leads normally sensitive people into conflict and heartbreak. That's why God prohibits fornication; straight or gay, it's sin.
          Fictional literature requires conflict--sexual or otherwise--and sin produces conflict. Since God requires His people to set their minds on things above, does that prohibit our consumption of literature? No more than it prohibits our consumption of Bible stories that deal with sin.
          Of course BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN can't be compared with the Bible, but to the extent that they are honest storytelling the same principle applies to both. Does this mean I wink at depictions of homosexuality in the entertainment media? Not at all. Sitcoms portray gays as cute, funny, or artsy--anything but the flawed human beings they are. If Hollywood presented a balanced picture of homosexuals and their lifestyle I might spend some time watching it.
          Moral reprobation--gay or straight--is not funny, but that's not to say tasteful humor will never be involved in its portrayal.

Knowledge Is Power

          Sir Francis Bacon purportedly made this inane statement in 1597 in his essay, Religious Meditations. It is inane to the degree that it is a sweeping generalization, but since I cannot find the quote in said essay, my statement in itself is inane.
          God told us that knowledge puffs up, or makes proud, and pride weakens ones character in the same way that heat-treating, without tempering, makes a steel blade brittle. Meekness, in contrast, is the tempering attribute that, with power, produces both keenness and strength.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


          Want to make parents swell with pride in their offspring? Tell them the kid's a creative genius.
          Creativity is the one personal attribute that doesn't have to be proven, as it is thought to be mystical, ethereal, accepted by faith. You don't have to create anything to believe you're creative; throw glops of paint onto a canvass and supportive people will hold their mouths with astonishment over your--or an ape's--creativity. Objective onlookers, however, will most likely hold their mouths only from nausea.
          Poets are creative, eh? The more unstructured the verse, the more creative is the poet, right? And the more cryptic the meaning, the deeper is the poet's genius, for sure! That explains the term, "starving poet." John Q. Public isn't discriminating enough to appreciate--and buy--such a creative genius's stuff.
          Fiction authors need to be creative in conjuring their characters, settings, dialogs, stories, and even their unique voices, right? Since publishers consider maybe one out of a hundred submitted manuscripts, and from those considered, one out of a hundred gets published, and from those published, one out of a hundred sells enough to make a profit, and from those profitable novels, one out of a hundred becomes a best-seller ... where was I? Oh yes, since maybe one in a million submitted manuscripts demonstrates the secret combination of skill, creativity, perseverance and luck enough to make it through the publishing labyrinth to commercial success, where does that leave the 999,999 other writers? It leaves them with me, eking out a living at Target. Are they creative? Sure! But that obviously isn't enough to make great things happen.
          When God created the physical universe, He sort of winged it. Until it came time to create Adam. For man, God wanted a perfect pattern, and He didn't have to look beyond Himself for that perfection. Genesis 1:26-27 And God saith, `Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the heavens, and over cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that is creeping on the earth.' (27) And God prepareth the man in His image; in the image of God He prepared him, a male and a female He prepared them.
          So even God had to rely on something beyond creativity when the stakes were high. He looked to the only perfect pattern, the only structure worthy of emulation: Himself. In our creative endeavors, we must learn from God's example: Creativity is great, but come crunch time, the standards, the conventions, the rules won't let you down.