"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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Porn: The Secret Cancer


If you think you’re safe from the cancer of pornography, think again! You may not be attracted to this spiritual, mental and emotional contagion, but someone close to you may be secretly struggling with it, or completely consumed by it.

For Christians, it is the “Secret Cancer” because of the shame carried with it. As physical cancer often shows no symptoms at first, porn addiction quietly takes over lives—mostly those of men and boys—changing them from the inside, and grieving the Holy Spirit of God(Ephesians 4:30), which extinguishes any spiritual fire they may have once possessed.

Wives and mothers often discover their men’s and boy’s porn addiction by accident, when they happen upon a concealed stash, or pictures stored on their computer. Usually, upon such a horrid discovery, she connects the dots between behavior changes and the secret images. When found out, guys often get defensive, or consumed with shame, vowing to quit pursuing porn, but addicts lie, whether it is a chemical addiction, porn addiction, or any other compulsive, dependent behavior.

Please realize the fact that no amount of moralizing or chastisement will change addictive behavior. While the above linked article, and lots of related content, will help understand and deal with those addicted to porn, you will find no easy solutions; only God’s conviction and transforming power will heal the cancer of porn.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Westboro Baptists—Problem Children, or Impostors?

If you’re reading this hoping for some fiery condemnation or defense, you may as well skip to the next item. God alone is the Judge, and Jesus is our only defense.

Westboro Baptists are far from the only ones who try to take upon themselves God’s sole responsibility for judging the world’s sin. They simply shout what many others whisper among themselves. If such pseudo-judges claim to be Christians, they must blatantly ignore Jesus’ prohibition on judging others. And if they claim to be Biblical literalists, and try to condemn others to perdition, they are liars and hypocrites of the first order. Please note that I am not accusing anyone of actually deserving those commonly thrown-around epithets. Again, that’s God’s business, not mine.

Are right-wing, religious fundamentalists the only people guilty of judgmental behavior? Hardly! Anyone who tries to criminalize or condemn for “hate crimes,” those who disagree with them are just as wrong.

Even though I consider such judgmental behavior reprehensible—especially when done in Christ’s name—unlike God, I have no insight on their true motivation. I only pray such people would first remove the lumber from their own eyes before trying to do surgery on others’ eyes.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Clean Hands?

Psalms 18:16-20 NASB  He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.  (17)  He delivered me from my strong enemy, And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.  (18)  They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the LORD was my stay.  (19)  He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.  (20)  The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

When I first read this, the author, King David, seemed to be bragging about his righteousness and clean hands. I thought, “Doesn’t this guy have a high opinion of himself.” Then I reread verses sixteen through nineteen, and it set my thinking on a different course.

The man after God’s own heart wrote from his own experiences and relationship with his Shepherd, but he also wrote for me, and everyone else who longs for the Holy Spirit’s refreshing water and green pastures.

Verse sixteen speaks of Jesus, sent from on high, who drew me out of sinful humanity for His own purposes.

Verse seventeen tells of my sin, and its author Satan, whom I couldn’t have resisted if I’d wanted to.

Verse eighteen mentions one of my particularly weak days. Maybe I hadn’t read and meditated on my Bible passage, or I skipped my time in prayer, so a temptation that usually wouldn’t have bothered me really got to me. But I glanced to my computer monitor’s bottom edge, saw my stick-on label with Ephesians 4:30, and decided I really didn’t want to sadden my Best Forever Friend.

Verse nineteen assures me that my Shepherd will deliver me to a “broad place,” where the deceiver will not corner me because my Shepherd will protect me, and I will have a way out. Why would my Shepherd favor me so? Because for some reason I can’t imagine, He delights in me.

That brings me to the troublesome, verse twenty. What at first seemed like bragging is in fact a testimony of God’s righteousness, imputed to King David through faith in Messiah’s perfectly righteous blood. Of course, the long-dead king didn’t know the details of Jesus’ passion and death, but as a prophet, he wrote what God told him. King David wasn’t stupid, or short of memory. He well knew of his own sin, that in his own power he had nothing to offer the perfectly righteous and holy God. Yet, by faith, he accepted Messiah’s deposit of righteousness to his own eternal account.

What a precious promise this gives to me, personally. I can trust my Messiah, because He delights in me.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Corporate Churches?

For a while now, I’ve watched the controversy between brethren who support maintaining 505(c)-3 status for churches and church support organizations, and those brethren who don’t. As usual, I can see both sides of the issue.

In favor of church non-profit tax status is the legal accountability it creates—enough red tape to dissuade most ministers from doing something completely stupid or immoral. Another “Pro” argument is those little slips they get to send out at tax time, proclaiming to the IRS, and the itemizing taxpayer, how well they did their religious duty of tithing. And third … uh … I can’t think of another supporting argument.

Those against non-profit tax status for churches stress the local church’s uncompromising autonomy; the church answers only to God, and it’s no one else’s business what the body gives to support the church, or how much the church receives in support. That argument actually has some Scriptural support. The context for Matthew 6:1-4 does not apply to tithing, but I believe the same principle applies.

The second, and I believe the most revealing, reason for the church not to maintain 501(c)- status is the effect it has on the givers’ motivation. Would they tithe if they didn’t receive that all-important tax deduction? Church pastors and administrators are scared silly that they wouldn’t. Is that fear based on their lack of confidence in their petitioners, or their lack of faith in God? I happen to believe God will prosper those who remain faithful to Christ’s commandments.

And third, preachers who have the non-profit fear factor fixed in the backs of their minds can’t preach what God’s Holy Spirit speaks to them, without dancing carefully around politically incorrect issues. In this age of the government’s exponential escalation of interference with anyone who disagrees with their ideologies, the pulpit’s freedom is more important than at any time since the American Revolution.

Will the church stand for its freedom to proclaim what we believe? For God’s truth? Or will we allow the State’s bureaucrats to tell us what we can and can’t proclaim? At this pivotal time in history, we can’t afford to abdicate our responsibility to stand for the truth, as we’ve done so often before.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Homage to Hiroshima

An excellent program of Herbie Hancock’s music ended with his performance at Hiroshima’s atomic bomb remembrance. During that mournful performance, Hancock apologized for the horrific, destructive act we perpetrated against the innocent people of Japan. The August 6, 1945 a nuclear attack on Hiroshima, and the following day on Nagasaki, instantly killed between 100,000 and 120,000 people, with the final death toll reaching about 185,000. Words fail to adequately describe the scope of that tragedy, and debate still rages concerning America’s justification for using atomic bombs against cities.
            Some say the Japanese had it coming, after their unprovoked, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, where 2,335 American servicemen and sixty-eight civilians were killed. As an act of vengeance, 185,000 versus 2,403 is decidedly unbalanced, but those who think of the Japanese atomic holocaust as vengeance are absolutely wrong.
            America’s use of the A-bombs prevented many times more deaths, both military and civilian, than were lost in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When Japan surrendered in August of 1945, America and her Allies were in the process of executing Operation Olympic and Operation Coronet, the combined invasion of the Japanese home islands. Some casualty predictions for Japanese military and civilians ran into the multiple millions, while Allied casualties were predicted to greatly exceed one million servicemen.
          As both Japan and Germany intended world-domination, what would have happened if they had succeeded in defeating the Allies? Would they have amicably sliced up the world’s real estate between themselves? Never! By the time they finished punching it out, billions would have died around the world, and the winner would have been the most brutal of the lot.
            For perspective, estimates of German military and civilian losses due to Allied strategic bombing in World War II number a half-million, far more than Japan lost to the A-bomb attacks. The German deaths were just as tragic, but due to the wide circulation of grisly photos, the Japanese deaths seem more horrific. Few America-bashers criminalize the U.S. for dropping nearly 657,000 tons of high explosives on German cities. Why, then, are they so adamant about demonizing our government for killing fewer Japanese.
            No one could argue the rightness of using nuclear bombs on cities, but right or wrong is not the point. Human governments are always wrong because they are all institutions comprising degenerate human beings. Socialism versus capitalism versus monarchy versus feudalism versus tribal warlords; all such arguments are moot.
            World peace is at best a dream, and more realistically, a myth, without God’s regenerative intervention. Fallen humanity’s default “solution” for disputes is war, and we would rather blast each other to smithereens than submit to God’s plan of salvation.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Here’s Mud In Your Eyes

Jesus used a variety of methods when healing people, employing whatever resource was at hand. In John chapter nine, Jesus spat on a bit of dirt, mixed it into mud, and anointed the blind man’s eyes with it. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t easily let some stranger rub mud in my eyes, especially if he made it from his own spittle. Obviously, even to a blind man, Jesus was pretty special. Maybe it was his tone of voice, or his spirit was that easily discerned, but it was not his appearance or his warm smile.

This story illustrates the two kinds of blindness: First, physical blindness was certainly a handicap in Jesus’ time, as they hadn’t developed the adaptive technologies we have today.

The most profound blindness, though, is spiritual blindness, and all human beings are born with it. Visually blind people know they are missing a sense that most others possess, because sighted people talk and act based on what they see. Spiritually blind people, however, seldom receive that kind of verbal cues from Christ-followers. For them to realize their blindness, they need to “see,” by our talk, but mostly by our actions, the spiritual sight that believers take for granted. That includes positive, redemptive speech, and loving actions—even toward those who are hard to love.

Obedience Is Mandatory

One key element in this story is what the blind man did after the ocular mud bath. Though he couldn’t yet see, he obeyed Jesus’ command to go wash in the pool of Siloam, and he came back seeing. Many believers fail to understand the conditional nature of God’s promises; for every promise, there is an “if,” either stated or implied, that becomes our personal responsibility.

Another key element here is, when Jesus finally introduced himself to the man he’d healed, that newly sighted man bowed down to worship him. Significantly, when the man worshiped him, Jesus didn’t tell him to stop. Rather, he accepted the man’s worship, as a clear statement of his divine identity. Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, was the only man who ever lived that could rightly accept human worship. In fact, human worship is due him.

We Christ-followers were healed of our spiritual blindness, but do we act like it? Do we talk like it? And do we worship our Savior and Healer every minute of our lives by our actions and words?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It Takes A (Secular Humanist) Village

Warm and fuzzy ideas abound. They make us feel good about ourselves, and our “Village.” But too often “fuzzy” ideas are just that, dictated by sentiment or emotion, rather than by reason.

The “It Takes A Village” doctrine is a perfect example of a nice-sound idea that has death and corruption at its root. The “Village” that proponents want to raise our children is, in fact, a government with no respect for God, or parents’ God-given responsibility to raise their children under the Lord’s nurture and admonition. This governmental “Village” bases all its policies on their belief that all children are evolved equal, leaving the Creator God completely out of the picture.

It takes such a village to raise children with no respect for authority, morality, responsibility, or life, and that’s exactly what we’re getting.

Natural, Beautiful, and Just So … Right

How can we deny young people the God-given experience of Sex, just because they’re not married?Given their compulsive, hormone-driven urges, that prohibition is at least insensitive, and often downright cruel.

Our kids hear that rationale every day of their young lives. Why, then, are we so surprised when they become sexually active while they’re still kids?

Okay, confession time: At that age I wanted to dive into sexual experience, so badly that I could (figuratively) taste it. Was my Catholic rearing the reason I waited? Was my young character so well developed that I knew abstinence was the best choice?

Yeah, right! In fact, I was scared of rejection. If I had thought my advances wouldn’t have been spurned, no religious rules would have held me back.

Same goes for adults’ horror stories of sexual involvement gone wrong, of heartache, the pain of infidelity, VD. At sixteen I was invincible, immune to all the drawbacks of early sex. “Doing It” was all that mattered. How well I remember.

Does that mean our kids must necessarily follow the same path? While we parents can’t make their decisions for them, we have options available to help alleviate the hormone-flood’s damage. And they don’t include lecturing, sermonizing, or even Health Ed. class.

Steps to Peace with Sex

Sexual promiscuity’s least common denominator—ask your kids to explain the concept—is their lack of security in your love. When kids, especially daughters, know without a shadow of doubt that Mom and Dad love them, no matter what, they don’t need to prove to themselves that they are loveable.

What we parents must remember, though, is that proving our love for them necessarily begins with living our love for each other. The occasional, emotional discussion aside, when Mom and Dad bicker and show disrespect for one another, abuse each other verbally or physically, or just chill the family atmosphere through emotional detachment, the kids take that as a slap in their faces. At their young ages, even without having attended Positive Parenting classes, they naturally understand what parental discord means to them: Mom and Dad don’t love us enough to get along with each other.

Sounds simplistic, but even when(not if) we make parenting mistakes, their certainty, their security, their peace, in our love, gives them a firm foundation for accepting, and reciprocating, God’s love for them. And once they respect and submit to God’s loving authority, they’ll more likely respect and submit to your loving authority.

Now, Not Later!

“We have a few things to work out with each other,” is a popular response to this message. Translated, it says, “The kids can wait, we’re not ready to love each other.”

We’ve all heard the proverb, “No decision is a ‘No’ decision,” and your kids understand that full well. Marital discord is most often based in what you perceive as your personal rights versus those of your spouse. Yet, your kids have the prior right to live in a loving home. If you aren’t willing to give up some of your “rights,” which usually aren’t true rights at all, your kids will seek love elsewhere, before they understand what love really means.

Frankly, sex most often fills the gap. So, don’t expect your kids to “be good,” when you aren’t doing your primary job of loving one another more than yourself.

But, what about single parents?

God hates divorce. But because we are faulty human beings, divorce happens. Does God have a “Plan B” for those of us whose marriage failed? Yes!

If we willingly admit that “the marriage” didn’t fail, and that we did, confess our sinful part in the divorce, and sincerely repent before God, His grace covers even the broken lives that result from divorce.

The children damaged by our willful behavior that produced the divorce are another matter. While we were busy thinking of ourselves, our kids took every bitter word, every attack, every vengeful response, quite personally. Chances are, they feel as though they were responsible for all the fighting, despite all your assurances otherwise.

Yes, it’s damage control time. Since you’ve sinned against both them and God, regaining their trust and love depends on responding to your disastrous experience in a godly way. You’d be surprised how well children, even young children, understand confession and asking for forgiveness.

Once you’re single again, for your kids’ sake, you have to model godly behavior, especially in subsequent relationships. Sleeping around demonstrates to them the “right” way to establish relationships, so they’ll follow suit. “Do as I say … “ doesn’t cut it!

Yes, it’s hard. Yes, you want sex worse than ever. Yes, you’re so desperate for a loving relationship that you’ll do anything to get one. But your kids are watching, and learning, and when the test comes, they’ll follow your example with flying colors.

Your relationship with yourself, and with God, works much the same way as a marriage relationship. You must prove your love and respect for yourself and God, to prove your love and respect for them. Only then, will they have a snowball’s chance in … well, you know what I mean.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Encouragement From Psalm 108

Psalm 108:10-13
10 Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
11 Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go out, O God, with our armies.
12 Oh grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the salvation of man!
13 With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.

This portion of Psalm 108 spoke to me from Today’s Bible reading. The Psalmist expresses my thoughts in verses 10 and 11, as at times I feel like God has rejected me, yet I still pray with King David, “Oh grant me help against my fear, for vain is the salvation of man!”

Father, give me the faith to boldly proclaim King David’s victory declaration, “With God I shall do valiantly,” the work You gave me.


Happy Mother’s Life

By federal edict, once a year we commemorate the profound role mothers play in our lives. We corporately thank them for the exhaustive—and exhausting—work they expend, loving not only their children, but all the key people in their lives, with a love more akin to God’s love than any natural affection. Their action-love works to nurture, protect, and provide for their loved-ones without any guarantee of thanks, let alone reciprocation.

Parenting is more a life-style than a job, and does not end with the empty nest. Godly parents will stand up for their kids with their waning strength, and their last breaths will express godly love for their children, young or old.

More than on any past Mother’s Day, today’s permissive society forces single mothers, single fathers and single grandparents into fulfilling the child-rearing duties that God assigned to the parental team. Yet, Father God is able and willing to open the single mother’s or father’s arms and heart, multiplying their capacity like Jesus did the loaves and fishes.

I pray that our Heavenly Father will, in the same way, multiply your love for Him and those He placed in your life. And may your love glorify Him through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.File:Lion cub with mother.jpg

Monday, May 06, 2013

Beagles Discover the Outdoors

I’m not into “touching,” kid and dog videos because I don’t much like being emotionally manipulated, but this is the exception. These dogs have spent their entire lives in laboratory kennels, and this captures their first exposure—ever—to the outdoors. I was predictably touched.

Compassion is one thing, but "animal rights" activism is quite another.  If PETA had their way, there'd be no animal ownership, and our human rights would be subordinate to animal rights. I do sympathize with part of their motivation, though, as too many people view their ownership of animals as license for abuse, unable or unwilling to empathize with with their physical and emotional pain. If that cruel behavior were directed at humans, the abusers would be labeled as sociopaths. We arrogant human beings think animals are "lower life forms," unable to think or feel as we do. Yet, they have faculties we humans can't imagine, let alone understand. God put them on Earth with us, to complement and help us in our stewardship of His creation, not as targets for our rage and sadism.

I've been going through the Bible in a year (not yet halfway through), and even though I understand what God was trying to get across to humanity under the Old Covenant, I have a hard time with the animal sacrifice and genocide God commanded his people to carry out. Because of our humanistic sensibilities, God's methods of dealing with the sin problem offend us. But humanism doesn't take into account the gross evils man has, and is, perpetrating because of our inherent rebelliousness. We self-righteously judge God when circumstances turn against us, like ants who are unable to grasp the simplest aspects of human thought or motivation, shaking their fists(if ants had fists) at people walking across "their" lawn.

The only alternative to this chronic discontent is to trust God, which goes directly against human nature. We understand that domestic animals trust us and feel great affection toward us, even though they can't understand our higher thought processes. Why, then, can we not grasp the simplicity of loving and trusting God through Jesus, our Christ and Savior?


How Far We’ve Come

I’m about to blatantly plagiarize an article from Phrases dot org that I found to be quite revealing. Actually, plagiarize is a bit strong, as I’m also posting a link to the article. The phrase’s change in meaning since our founding fathers used it illuminates the underlying reason for our current government’s

Common sense


Good practical sense. The natural intelligence that is believed to be available to all rational people.


Common sense - Tom PaineThomas Paine published a pamphlet entitled Common Sense in January 1776. It called for America to become independent of Britain and a copy of the original is considered a treasure of the US Library of Congress, being one of the wellsprings of the thinking that founded the country. Common sense, that is, a plain practical 'get on with the job' philosophy is part of the American psyche.

Paine is sometimes thought to be American but in fact emigrated to the USA after living the majority of his life in the archetypally English country town of Thetford, Norfolk. Despite his radical views he considered himself English and the pamphlet's author was simply identified as "An Englishman". Nor, as is also sometimes believed, did he invent the term 'common sense', which had been in use in his native land long before Paine's day.

In the original 14th century meaning of the term, 'common sense' was a sense like our other senses. It was an internal feeling that was regarded as the common bond that united all the other human senses, the 'five wits' as they were known, and was something akin to what we now call 'heart'.

By the 16th century, the meaning had changed to be more like our present day meaning, that is, 'the plain wisdom that everyone possesses'. George Joye used the expression in Apology for William Tindale, 1535:

I am suer T[indale] is not so farre besydis his comon sencis as to saye the dead bodye hereth Cristis voyce.

[Note: 'apology' then meant 'defence against attack'/'justification of one's views', and was commonly used in the titles of scholarly disputes.]

The one thing that is usually said about common sense is that it isn't as common as it ought to be. This little gag was made as early as 1726, by the political writer Nicholas Amhurst in the satirical text The Secret History of the University of Oxford:

There is not (said a shrewd wag) a more uncommon thing in the world than common sense.

Thomas Paine - Common SenseBy the time that Paine began writing in the 1770s, the term 'common sense' had migrated a little more and was widely used to mean 'primary truth', that is, the unquestionable beliefs that all people receive from their experience of being alive. Richard Price defined the term in Review of the Principal Questions in Morals, 1758:

Common sense, the faculty of self-evident truths.

Paine's work influenced many political and moral thinkers at the beginning of the American Revolution and he was personally acquainted with most of them; in England, these included the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the artist William Blake and in America, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

When the authors of the US Declaration of Independence began with the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident...", their meaning was 'we believe this declaration to be common sense'.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Pray For Forgiveness …

… but first, pray for forgiveness!

Sound redundant? Not at all. Jesus, when His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, included this, “and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.”  (Matthew 6:12)
        Every honest person realizes they are not perfect, even if, to hear them relate to others, you couldn’t imagine them ever admitting it. Completely aside from any Biblical statements to that effect, if we’ve ever—that means, EVER!—disobeyed, lied, gossiped, stolen(including borrowing without returning), struck out in anger(verbally or physically), hurt someone without repenting and asking their forgiveness, held a grudge … fill the blank:_________________ … we need forgiveness.
        There, was that so hard? Now we have to look at the second half of Jesus’ instruction in prayer: As we also forgive our debtors. As = in the same manner. We = me, you, everyone. Also = assuming we’ve first done it ourselves. Forgiven = absolved of responsibility. Our = Let’s make it personal, folks! Debtors = those who owe us something, anything! That includes an apology, a favor, money(yes, that’s in God’s Word too), even the obligation to live up to our expectations.
        Now, for the benefit of anyone who got this far and still doesn’t get it: If we want God to forgive sins, we MUST FIRST do the same for others!

God’s Grace Helps
        This teaching is for those who have just tasted of the heavenly gift, become sharers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good Word of God and the works of power of the coming age (Hebrews 6:4-5)—in other words, newly saved—God is willing to bear with you for awhile, until you come to your senses and seek His mind in everything. But in saying that, I must confess to presuming on His grace often and blatantly. I live to repent, however, by the very grace that I’ve taken for granted.

Oh, praise God for His steadfast love and faithfulness.
His mercy endures forever!