One Dweeb’s Opinion of all Those Groups Out There

Apparently, the cool thing nowadays is to belong to groups. This may have been a cool thing in previous days, too. I don’t know. I’ve never been “cool.”

I believe the term “dweeb” was invented for guys like me. Definitely not a nerd, didn’t get algebra.

There are so many groups it’s ridiculous. Every person with a hobby has a group to join about their hobby. Every job has a career group to join. Every possible thing you can hate in the world has a group of people who hate it.

People who eat vegetables have a group. I don’t even, I mean, you eat vegetables. Great. Good for you. Why do you need a group?

Perhaps I shall create a group for people who don’t belong to any group because they think groups are stupid. I shall call it the Non-Grouping Group. Meetings are the second Wednesday of the sixth week of the thirteenth month of the year 1098287.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter giving you the latest non-events of our non-group.

It’s possible I’m just missing the boat on this one. I guess I don’t feel a need to have 1,387 other people approve of my hobby in order to make it through another day.

I think the whole need for groups derives from the downfall of the family unit. It used to be people could survive in the world because they knew they had a “group” who had their back already. I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist.

Perhaps belonging to a group bucks up your self-esteem. “See, there’s this whole group of people who enjoy playing Pink Floyd songs backwards on a harmonica. I’m not weird.”

No, you are weird, you just managed to find 1,387 other people who are just as weird as you. There are 7 billion people in the world. 7 Billion. Nice group you have there.

I’m not really going anywhere with this. I’ve tried several times to make a biblical point out of this. It didn’t work.

I know, the Church, is a group, too. I know. It’s nice to have a group of like-minded folk around you. I get it. I just don’t get why every single detail of a person’s life has to have a group identity. Something is not right about that.

I bet the Antichrist will have a group. Probably a diet plan too. And a Antichrist Diet Plan Group for that matter.

Anyway, again, don’t forget to sign up for my non-group group for people who are confident in themselves enough to not have to have a group approve of every action they partake of in a day. You can sign up at the link below.

 

(There is no link. See, it was a joke. There is no group. You don’t need a group of people to approve of your non-groupness. You can just non-group and carry on. God loves you.)

Zeal for Country or Zeal for Christ: You Pick

One of Christ’s disciples is Simon Zelotes. “Zelotes” is not his last name. It’s a designation that Simon was a Zealot.

The Zealots were a branch of Jews that were, well, zealous. They were zealous about two things:

  1. Hyper-conformity to Jewish law
  2. Hyper-hatred of Roman oppression

Zealots were sometimes referred to as The Sicarii. A sicae was a kind of sword that they hid under their cloaks to bring out and surprise attack Jews who weren’t being Jewish enough and perhaps a roaming Roman.

Zealots were greatly distressed by the Roman gymnasium and the theater. They thought these were horrible influences on Jewish culture and violations of God’s law.

They rebelled against Roman rule and hoped to overthrow the Roman government. They felt any means justified the end, as long as “the end” was Roman defeat. This didn’t work. They were the main branch of Jews who inspired Rome to destroy Jerusalem in 70ad.

Many modern American Christians have much in common with the Jewish Zealots under the Roman Empire.

Many American Christians view their country as being stolen by immoral people. Many weep and howl against the influences of Hollywood and the “liberal media.” Many are moved with anger, often demonstrated by hostility. Although most are not carrying swords, nor killing anyone yet, I can see it being justified soon. The supposed love for Christianity is expressed by hatred toward its perceived enemies. Anger has become a virtue.

Here’s the amazing thing about Simon the Zealot. While being all hot and bothered about Rome, Simon met Christ. Simon followed Christ and never returned to fighting.

Perhaps when Jesus said, “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my disciples fight,” He had Simon the Zealot in mind. Simon put down his sword and followed Christ.

However worked up you may be about your poor America being taken from you, you are in no way more moved than a Zealot. Yet Simon the Zealot left it for Christ.

I encourage you to let go of America. There is nothing on this planet worth more than Christ. Sell all you have to get the pearl of great price. America is not that pearl.

If you must be zealous, than be biblically zealous:

be zealous of good works
be zealous of spiritual gifts
be zealous to repent
be zealous of God’s house
be zealous to give money to suffering Christians

In God We Trust?

Four out of five US currency bills in circulation have traces of cocaine on them. This isn’t one of those Facebook fear-mongering statistics either, it’s verified by Snopes.com! If Snopes says it’s real: IT’S REAL!

The main reason for this is that cocaine is a very fine powder and sticks to everything. It’s also because people use cocaine.

Our dollar bills have “In God we trust” on them along with cocaine. I love the irony.

Congress decided to put “In God we trust” on our currency in 1957. I recently read a fascinating account of 1950’s patriotic Christianity, which traced this phrase along with “under God” in the pledge (added in 1954), back to Republicans trying to defeat FDR’s New Deal.

The book is called One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse. It’s a fascinating glimpse into American Christianity and the glory days of Christianity in the 1950’s. Or at least the glory days of white Christianity in the 1950’s.

People who lived in the 50’s have fond memories of the time. Or at least white people who lived in the 50’s have fond memories. They often wish we could go back to when white Christians were on top of the heap.

People tend to forget that the 60’s followed the 50’s. There was a reason for this. Much of the Christianity of the 50’s was fake. It was surface, which lead many of the kids living in the hypocrisy to rebel like crazy in the 60’s.

Many Christians opposed using “under God” in the pledge and putting “in God we trust” on the currency. They had a point. I would have been on their side.

It was proposed to Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 to put “In God we trust” on newly minted $10 and $20 gold coins. Roosevelt said,

“My own firm conviction is that such a motto on coins not only does no good, but positive harm and is in effect, irreverence, which comes close to sacrilege.”

Many of the same Christians who think we should have Ten Commandments monuments that say “thou shalt not use the Lord’s name in vain,” supported putting “in God we trust” on our soon to be cocaine infused currency!

The urge to make our faith normative for people who do not share our faith will never work. Symbolic Christianity is worse than no Christianity. It really is. Because Symbolic Christianity gives people false assurance and, more importantly, is hypocrisy, which is one of the main irritants of God.

Israel had Symbolic Judaism. They had corrupt government with awful kings, yet the people maintained their symbolic faith until God wiped them out because He couldn’t stomach fake religion anymore.

I’m all for the separation of church and state. I’m for keeping the state out of the church and keeping the church out of the state. It’s like mixing fire and water. The Church’s fire will always be quenched by the flood of the state.

Christianity is about winning souls; not running states.

Why Books About Following Jesus Annoy Me (and a few exceptions)

I finished reading a book about following Christ. It was weird.

There was nothing inherently wrong with the book. Everything was fairly standard.

It just didn’t make any sense.

Most of the chapters told you some verses and then a handful of examples of people who “applied” those verses. The result of applying the verses was one of the following:

–their church grew phenomenally
–they saved tons of people
–they saved one person, but that was OK, because that one person saved tons of people
–they made tons of money but gave some of it to someone who saved tons of people
–they were burned at the stake

Most of the book was about how successful you’ll become by following Christ. It was all very happy and cheery. Oh sure, there was mention of people suffering persecution in China, but that was an afterthought.

The last chapter was about picking up your cross. It contained many examples of Christians being killed in other countries. So, picking up the cross consists of going to another country and being killed.

I know who the author of this book is. I’ve met him. You’ve heard of the place he works. Life has gone really well for him. He lives a nice suburban lifestyle. This is the kind of book I’d expect of him.

There are few books about following Christ that actually help you follow Christ. Most are as contradictory and odd as this one. They always take the edge off. They’ll mention the downside, but most of their stories contradict the downside.

The best way to learn to follow Christ is to read what Christ said and go do that. Don’t let comfortable authors tell you how to follow Christ. They won’t call you as far as Christ does.

Start with Matthew 5-7, then move on to the rest. Let the mind of Christ dwell in you. Know his Word and then follow it. Don’t worry about how many people you save; just follow Him.

There are some books that are exceptions:

Martin Lloyd-Jones “Studies on the Sermon on the Mount” is a phenomenal exception. “The Fact of Christ” by Carnegie Simpson. “The Cost of Discipleship” by Bonhoeffer. “The Moral Glory of Jesus” by J. G. Bellett are a few. They’re out there; they’re just hard to find, and most of the authors have been dead for about 100 years!

7 Thoughts About Abortion

There have been some videos about various folk from Planned Parenthood talking about selling baby parts and various other disturbing things. It is revealing. It is not entirely shocking, knowing the mentality of those who support such things.

I have some thoughts on the subject, you are not obligated to agree, but it’s where my thoughts are.

  1. Birth control was the first step to abortion.
    I have sympathy for the stand the Catholic Church has taken against birth control. There’s no way around it: birth control was the first step to our abortion culture. Kids are a huge responsibility and are rather inconvenient. I am grateful for birth control, in all honesty. My wife practically gets pregnant if she bumps into me in the hallway. The reason I have three kids is because I didn’t want four. But all of this is based on convenience and I do not know for sure where God stands on this issue, but I know what it has lead to.
  2. Economics and babies.
    The old take on the situation is that having lots of kids used to be a good thing because they could help work on the farm. But when we got all citified, kids became a liability, not an asset. I have some trouble accepting this view. Seems to me more mouths to feed is a liability no matter when or where. It takes many years before a kid can produce enough to “earn their keep.” This whole mentality, I think, is the real problem. Viewing kids as assets or liabilities is a bad thing. What about the handicapped kids? No way they will be a money making venture. Do we just keep kids that make us money? If your primary view of kids is economic, you are missing something. This economic view of kids has also lead to our abortion culture.
  3. Abortion is not new.
    Abortion and infanticide (killing babies) has been a historical occurrence. The Bible contains people groups who killed their babies. The Roman Empire of the Apostle’s day widely did abortion. The methods they used were absolutely disgusting. Even if abortion were illegal, people would still do it. The primary reason people want to kill kids is economic. Christianity is the only viable option to get people off worldliness. As long as you want the world’s stuff, kids will get in your way.
  4. Spewing vitriol solves little
    I think it is a good thing these videos have come to light. It shows the mentality of the groups who accept abortion. I have no problem with people spreading them. What do we do about it though? The only answer I can think of that would make a difference would be spreading the Gospel. The Gospel delivers people from evil. There is no other answer. Ranting and raving merely makes women considering abortion scared of you. It is better, always, to go do something to help, than it is to just talk. I encourage people to go find a place to help these women in trouble. Give of yourself to a real person, don’t just rest your virtue on how angrily you speak. The wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.
  5. Government won’t help
    Our government makes lots of money off the abortion crowd. They won’t get rid of it. These scandalous videos will be forgotten. Even if we cut funding to Planned Parenthood, abortions will continue. Changing hearts is the answer, not trusting princes. This is much more vague of a solution, it won’t stir people up. Causes, anger, and physical outcomes (voting, funding, amendments, etc) get people riled up; not slow, methodical, non-angry, sacrificial love. But guess which one the Bible recommends for every problem? The slow, sacrificial method.
  6. Abortion is evil. The world is evil.
    Abortion is inevitable on this planet. I hate to break it to you. Sin happens because sinners are real. And oh, incidentally, there’s lots of sinners. People do bad things. Many people are outraged at abortion and yet have horrendous relationships with their own kids. It’s always best to take evil and be humble. Examine your own heart. If kids are that precious to you, do your kids know this?! Do you act like they are precious? It’s easier to get outraged at someone else who is “worse than you,” than it is for you to do what is right. Watch your own heart.
  7. Babies go to heaven.
    To me, this is an amazing thing. All those aborted lives, in my understanding of Scripture (babies go to heaven), are in heaven. This is far from making abortion a good thing. Abortion is evil. It just is. It is only by muddying logic that it can be represented as good. Since aborted babies are nowhere near the age of accountability, they have had no choice at all, they are innocent. They will be in heaven. Most aborted babies, if born, would not have ended up there. This, again, does not make abortion OK, but it is somewhat consoling.

Pastors and Stand-Up Comedians

Stand-up comedian, Chris Rock, said:

I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.

In their political views?

Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

Jerry Seinfeld also recently said:

“I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC.’ I’ll give you an example: My daughter’s 14. My wife says to her, ‘Well, you know, in the next couple years, I think maybe you’re going to want to be hanging around the city more on the weekends, so you can see boys.’ You know what my daughter says? She says, ‘That’s sexist.’ They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist’; ‘That’s sexist’; ‘That’s prejudice.’ They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Christians, who claim that the PC culture is persecution, might want to rethink the charge. PC culture is just really dumb.

The people who are most hurt by PC rules, and restrictions on freedom of speech, are on the ends of the spectrum. Most comedians are known for pushing the boundaries. For telling jokes that make us uncomfortable, often demonstrated by our laughing.

Comedians who tell off-color jokes will be knocked out.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who speak about holy things. Thus the restrictions on the freedom to express religious opinions.

Pastors and stand-up comics have a lot in common, sometimes even on purpose. We’re both looking for reactions from people. We’re both trying to shock you. We both depend upon spoken language to accomplish our goals. Both get pounded on by hyper-sensitive types.

This is one reason why I am against censorship. Yes, it would be nice to get rid of porn and nasty stuff on the airwaves/cablewaves, but they’ll also knock out the end I’m on.

I’d rather allow freedom and let both sides duke it out. Yes, this means coexisting with evil, but the Bible implies that reality.

People have lost their sense of humor. Both secular and religious people are hyper-sensitive. It makes sense that secular people would be–they are defending themselves and their own ideas.

Christians, however, should be the least sensitive people on the planet. Maybe that didn’t sound right! We should be sensitive to other people’s pain, but we should not be hyper-sensitive about being offended.

The Bible is pretty clear about what to expect in life, it doesn’t sugarcoat things. We know that, in the end, our side loses down here. Paul said if you were to avoid sinners, you’d have to leave the world itself.

We are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world; we have no charge to keep the world unspotted from the world.

If eternity is what the Bible says it is (eternal), and God is truly who we have our faith in, I really do believe that calmness would be the logical outflow.

Relax. Stop being offended by words. Put your assurance in better things. Set your affections on things above. Seek first the Kingdom. Place your treasure in heaven where no one can mess with it.

When we do these things, calm and peace result. Hyper-sensitivity is proof of no faith. There is little faith on secular college campuses, thus there is plenty of hyper-sensitive people. That’s how it works.

Don’t turn the church into that.

Fatherly “Wisdom” and 5 Ways to Think Better

Lately we’ve been getting moles in our basement window wells. I remember one other time we had one of these moles, but this summer we’ve had at least four.

Yesterday there were two in one window well and one was allegedly eating a toad, if my daughter’s word is to be trusted. “It was disgusting.” She told me.

“It’s the circle of life, my friend,” were my words of fatherly wisdom.

How a mole eating a toad is a circle of life, I do not know. It seems rather linear to me, particularly for the toad.

Guess I should watch The Lion King and work that one out.

It’s amazing how much of my “fatherly wisdom” makes absolutely no sense. Since my kids attend public schools, it wasn’t til last year one was able to think enough to doubt one of my answers.

I generally respond as their teachers do, “Shush, here, watch a movie.”

My father is the one who taught me “fatherly wisdom.” Now that I am older I have come to realize how much of his fatherly wisdom was also completely inane.

Me: Dad, why is that light there?
My Dad: In case of night.

But my father was not a dumb man. He was a smart man and he was funny. He’d make stuff up. It just came to him. It just comes to me. We can’t help it.

I do this as a service to my children. I want to teach them critical thinking skills. What better way to do that than to make them entirely unsure whether they are getting a straight answer?

Gullibility is a disastrous thing. Notice all the verses in the Bible about paying attention: think, watch, be sober, be vigilant, walk circumspectly, etc. We are constantly hearing lies. Are we smart enough to catch them?

Christians should be known as the world’s best critical thinkers. It is part of our basic beliefs that one of our chief enemies, Satan, is a liar. We’re told that the church has deceivers going about to deceive. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing. That even our own heart is deceptive.

Despite all this, we seem to take everyone’s word for everything.

We follow a Savior who calls Himself “the Truth.” Yet we constantly chuck it and fall for lies.

I don’t know how to get Christians to think better. Part of it is a work of the Spirit, being given the mind of Christ (the Truth). Yet some of it is our responsibility, otherwise He wouldn’t tell us all the time to be sober, vigilant, watching, thinking. Here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t believe everyone, especially people you don’t know, and especially people you don’t know on the internet! “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.That’s from the Bible.
  2. Double check. Before spreading that thing you saw, make sure it’s actually real. Snopes.com is a good place to start, although you might want to double check them too. Get your news from several sources.
  3. When reading Christian writing: always check Scripture references! Do they say what the author said it says? Does the context agree? Know the Bible so well you’ll be able to tell upon hearing whether you’re getting the Bible or not. Do not let someone else determine your knowledge of God!
  4. Read books about stuff. Expand your knowledge. Read some science and history. The more of this you know, the less you’ll be taken for a ride by a huckster.
  5. Don’t trust yourself. I know you think you remember things correctly, but you don’t. I don’t either. We get confused. Say “I don’t know” and then go do the work to know. Stay humble. Be teachable. Think. Learn.

My dad trained me to think twice before accepting what I hear. I thank him over and over for this. Or I would anyway, but he’s dead now. I am passing on the tradition to my children.

My children, who once believed that an unbalanced washing machine was a monster in the basement who once ate their dad, are learning to think.

If nothing else, this is a real nice spin to put on the fact that I have no idea how to answer their questions.

Further Reading:

The blessing of Cynicism
Love and Conspiracy Theories
Love Believes all things?

Count It All Joy When You Suffer!

Spiritual growth, growing into the perfect man Christ Jesus, is the main point of life after conversion.

Most profound and lasting growth only happens one way: through suffering.

Some play around with Christianity until it gets hard. The sun comes out and dries them up.

Others find a pseudo-Christianity that promises them health and wealth. But this only works for those who like their head in the sand. Life just doesn’t work that way.

The temptation of believers who want to grow, is to force growth in an unnatural way.

We get impatient. We approach spiritual growth like any other subject–give me the syllabus and let me get to work!

Others who fear work, either because it’s hard or because they were taught that spiritual work is bad, sit back and do nothing.

Spiritual growth does require work on our part. You’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it.

But the work isn’t what causes the majority of the growth. Pain, suffering, and tribulation cause most growth.

All the work you do in learning the Bible, learning self-denial and discipline, all you do to focus on Christ, is merely preparation for when the pain comes.

Pain reveals whether or not you’ve done the homework.

Tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope. Bible study wasn’t in this process. Bible study doesn’t create growth.

Tribulation is the test. The final exam. Bible study was the homework.

There are many who assume that since they know the Bible, they are mature. But this isn’t necessarily so.

What you do with suffering and pain reveals your maturity level. Tribulation will reveal whether you know a book, or whether you know the Author.

Welcome pain. Pain is your friend. Pain is helping you grow into Christ.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Atheists Are Closer to Heaven than Many Church-Goers

“Hypocrite!” is the usual slander non-church people fling at church people. There is ample reason for this. The primary reason is that most church people are hypocrites.

People don’t like hypocrites. In fact, God doesn’t like hypocrites.

Many Christians flip out some sort of “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” platitude to excuse their hypocrisy. I don’t think God is pleased with this attitude. It doesn’t cut it with people either, incidentally. It just sounds arrogant and stupid.

The answer to hypocrisy is: STOP BEING A HYPOCRITE!

It’s really that simple. A hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does another. The answer to this is: DO WHAT YOU SAY! This is one reason why the Bible continually tells us to keep our mouths shut. This is also an effective way to end hypocrisy.

Atheists are closer to salvation than many church people.

Atheists are at least being honest. Atheists have decided there is no God and act accordingly. They have chosen their side and are not afraid to admit where they’re at. This is a much better place to be in than the guy who acts like there is no God but keeps saying he believes there is one.

Lukewarm people get spit out. God prefers us hot or cold. Hot or cold people have the best shot at heaven.

James tells us that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. Going to church a few times, doing some religious platitudes, and then going and living in sin is a recipe for disaster. Hell is filled with people who attended church “regularly.”

This is the great danger of religion–giving you a form of faith while skipping actual faith. It’s why Jesus railed on the Jewish religion of His day. His railings began, “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”

The pharisees crucified Christ in a lawful manner. While killing the Son of God, they obeyed all their religious scruples. Amazing.

I believe that God would rather have you go live in sin whole hog, than live in sin and drag His name there with you. God would rather have you make up your mind and go for it.

This probably seems hard to believe based on typical Christian doctrine, but it is biblical if you’re willing to see it.

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

Don’t play games with God. I think, based on the Bible, this is God’s preference for people:

  1. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved
  2. Deny God and live in sin
  3. Live in sin, but play with religion

If you want sin, God would rather have you go for sin than play a game with Him. Be honest. Pick your path. Don’t be double-minded. Choose you this day whom you will serve. Then go serve it with all your heart.

Christianity is No Opium for the Masses

As atheists get the guts to stand up for not believing in God, they appear to also have a need to mock those who still believe in God. Which is fine. Whatever.

But one of the things they keep saying shows their ignorance of reality. Here is a quote from Robert Heinlein. I’m not sure he’s as much an atheist as an agnostic, but he is still against religion and makes my point well.

History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.

His view of religion has been copied by many people. “Religion is a crutch” is almost a catchphrase now. Intellectual heavyweights such as Jesse “The Mind” Ventura copied Heinlein’s sentiments at one point.

“Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.”

Probably the origin of these ideas was back with Karl Marx who allegedly said “religion is the opium of the masses.”

The gist of these thoughts is that religion makes life easier. People use it as a drug to get through life because they aren’t man enough to face it head-on. Religion somehow makes life easier, more manageable, and is sought by people who want to avoid reality.

This, I believe, shows a massive ignorance of true religion, or rather, a massive ignorance of real Christianity.

I think, religion in general, is rather well summed up by these quotes. Even much of modern Christianity would fit the bill, and I’d agree. Such as Jesse Ventura’s full quote:

“Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people’s business. I live by the golden rule: Treat others as you’d want them to treat you. The religious right wants to tell people how to live.”

I would actually agree with Mr. Ventura’s full thought.

But if one were to examine true Christianity (no doubt up for debate what that is) he would find a people whose lives are in many ways more difficult and more reality-based than most non-religious people’s lives.

Christianity makes you face your sin. Christians are forced to deal with their real selves, not the figment of their imaginations, nor their view of self after humanism’s steroidal self-esteem indoctrination.

Christianity hits you with reality all over the place. We are to weep with those who weep, which means not only do we deal with our weakness, we are to deal with other people’s weaknesses. We are not just to sympathize, but also to bear one another’s burdens.

If this were tried, it would be found to be no opium at all.

Jesus Christ, the man of sorrow acquainted with grief, taught self-denial, giving all to help those with nothing. This is the essence of the Gospel itself. Jesus did not appear to be high on life while suffering on the cross. The cross is the essence of Christian living. We are living sacrifices, dying daily.

Non-believers need not worry about Judgment Day, giving an account for everything done in the body. They can just buy the stuff they want and not have to sacrifice for the good of someone else. They can eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow they melt into oblivion.

Religion may be a crutch, it may be a drug for many. But Christianity, when tried and done, is no easy thing. It is no easy way out. “If there is no resurrection,” Paul said, “we are of all men most miserable.”

Doesn’t sound like the easy way out to me, nor have I found it to be in experience.

Spiritual Survival Tip

My family has been watching a survival show this summer. It’s cool and survivaly.

After one episode where a guy traps a mouse and eats it, my son wanted to build a trap, too. I told him I was not interested in killing animals for no reason, but I gave him a couple survival books I have that showed how traps were made.

The odds of him actually doing one and catching an animal are slim to none. Trust me.

In one of my books I found the trap section and read a list of recommendations for trapping animals.

–snare birds in their nests
–put a minnow on a fish-hook by shore and let a bird get caught
–jam a sharp stick into hollow trees
–set snares on game trails

and so on. This list concluded a chapter on making traps and hunting animals. The very last option given in this list concluding the chapter is this:

If you are still without food after experimenting with these methods, set the woods or grassland on fire and wait for the game to break through.

That, my friends, is hilarious. If all else fails: light the woods on fire. I can see me sitting in the charred ruins of a forest with still no meat and now no shelter. Although I am warm.

“Light the woods on fire” is a move of desperation. “Do not use this method except as a last resort” the book says. I made sure to let my son know that before starting the yard on fire, just come in and get a sandwich.

You have to admire the guy who lights the woods on fire in a desperate struggle to get food. This guy is all in. How badly do you want food? Enough to light the woods on fire?

The Bible talks about spiritual life and the necessity for spiritual food for spiritual growth. How badly do you want to grow spiritually? Do you know you are in a pretty rough spiritual survival situation on earth?

You really have to make the time and find the energy to survive spiritually. What are you willing to do to get spiritual food? Are you willing to light the woods on fire to get it?! (Metaphorically speaking, of course)

I think this is what Jesus meant when He said that stuff about giving away your money and hating your family to follow Him. He’s telling you to light your woods on fire.

People read Jesus’ words and think, “That’s not practical! That makes no sense!” It doesn’t make sense to those who have no real need to get what Jesus wants them to get.

But it makes perfect sense if you’re desperate for spiritual food. Follow Jesus: light your woods on fire!

Desire the Sincere Milk of the Word

Over my years of writing, my wife has edited much of my stuff. Not the blog, don’t blame bad editing here on my wife. That’s all me.

My wife is an English major. She was known as the “Grammar Queen” at one point in her life. She has told me about Passive Voice ever since first reading something I wrote.

Although I wanted her to fix my errors, I somehow didn’t expect her to find any. When she did, I got annoyed. I didn’t listen to her points about writing in the Active Voice, instead I got mad at her.

“How many things have you gotten published?” was my trump card. I’ve had many things published. She has had none. Ha. Take that grammar know-it-all type person.

I didn’t want to understand what she was saying. I didn’t want correction. Nope, I wanted to be told how perfect my writing already was. Anything other than that I will reject with much animosity.

My writing was bad for a long time simply because I dismissed the instructions and got offended.

God is a giant Editor of your life. He has a way of pointing out error, of telling us what we should be doing, which is never quite what we are doing.

The Bible, written to reprove, correct, and instruct us, has lots of stuff in it that you can be offended by. We are good at being offended. We hear an offensive verse and immediately get huffy and dismiss it.

We have no desire to understand what God meant. We have no desire to know the God behind the command, no desire to hear Him out and see the sense of His words. Instead we find ways to theologically dismiss His commands, just like the scribes and Pharisees trying to crucify Christ in a lawful manner.

As we dismiss His correction we continue to live horrible lives. The world around us is dismissing God’s commands about wives submitting to husbands, children honoring parents, esteeming others better than yourself, self-denial, and so on.

Observing the world proves that dismissing God’s instructions is a bad idea.

Why is the Church following the world? Are we going to get offended too, or will we do the work to understand what God is talking about? If we know that God is good, why do we view so much of what He said as bad?

My writing didn’t get better when I got offended at my editor. Our lives won’t get better if we get offended at our Creator.

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

Milk of the “word” is interesting. “Word” is the Greek word, logikos. The only other place it’s used in the New Testament is Romans 12:1 and is translated “reasonable.” To desire the sincere milk of the word means to desire to understand, to know the reason, find the rationale of what God says.

Desire to know what God is talking about. As a new born baby, scream your head off until you understand what God is saying. Get the milk of reason. Figure it out. Resist the urge to dismiss something because you are offended. You live by this word. Understand it and understand the Author.

Adverbs and God

Although it may not be obvious, I try to get better at writing. I will read a couple books on writing every year and I’m always a sucker for “5 Ways to Write Better” blog posts that authors create.

One main reason why I blog regularly is to practice writing and communicating.

A rule of writing I have seen frequently is “avoid using adverbs.”

adverbs

Adverbs are words that describe verbs. Good writing skips adverbs and uses stronger verbs. For instance:

She loudly put the book down.

is better said

She slammed the book down.

Most adverbs could be eliminated by using a stronger verb. I’ve had this rule beaten into my head since most writing advice will bring it up. I may not do it, but I at least know the rule, which is half the battle.

Adverbs are the enemy. Adverbs are bad. Avoid adverbs. This is the first thing my brain brings up when hearing the word “adverb.” Which is why it struck me the other day when I read this quote:

God loveth adverbs

Are you suggesting that God is a bad writer? What giveth?

It’s an old Puritan quote. As far as I know, the idea behind it is that God wants to know how we do things, not just whether we did it.

I Corinthians 13 seems an easy passage to back that up. You can give all your goods to feed the poor, but if you didn’t give it lovingly (adverb), it profits you nothing.

Being alive in this present world? Not the main issue. Living soberly, righteously, and godly is the big issue.

The adverbs have it. Maybe God could have used stronger verbs? I don’t know. I hesitate being His editor.

Values–You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think it Means What You Think it Means

I got a B in Philosophy in college. The reason for that is because I got a B in everything in college, except History, where I got A’s.

I do not claim to be a philosopher or one who knows all the ins and outs of philosophy, but I’ve read quite a bit of it and find it interesting.

It’s amazing how much Christian lingo is not biblical but is rather the result of accepting human philosophy. The Apostle Paul even warned us about this:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

If you follow Christ you cannot follow human wisdom at the same time.

I heard a thing about Nietzsche’s philosophy the other day. Although you may not know Nietzsche, of perhaps you only know him because he played for the Packers, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard some of his philosophy.

“God is dead” was said by Nietzsche. He also said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” which I first saw on the back of a t-shirt for a high school running team.

Nietzsche was an atheist who was convinced there was no God and thus, no morality. He was especially opposed to Christianity. Definitely anti-Christ.

It is interesting how Christians have taken one of his MAIN WORDS in his philosophy and adopted it for our own. The word is “values.” Nietzsche, who didn’t think there was morality, no right and wrong, thought people should do things based on what they value.

Nietzsche’s big idea was “will to power.” He said,

“My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (–its will to power:) and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement (“union”) with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power. And the process goes on”

You have things you value, so you go get them. Others want the same things and the powerful will gets it. It’s better to be the masters than the slaves. Nietzsche’s philosophy has driven some of the most awful governments in our history, culminating in the Third Reich. Nietzsche was the philosopher to mention the “superman” concept that Hitler went nuts with.

Modern culture has followed Nietzsche’s philosophy. People don’t talk about sin anymore. You can’t judge someone’s behavior as right and wrong. The closest we get to morality is talking about “values.”

Christianity has followed this as well. “Family Values” was a large theme of the “Religious Right.” We talk of Judaeo-Christian values. Even the self-esteem movement, based on you valuing yourself highly, has become the root of much Christian self-help, health and wealth, doctrine.

The Bible does talk about things having value, the blood of Christ has untold value, but it never uses this word in relation to morality. The Bible speaks like this

evil deeds vs. good deeds
righteousness vs. unrighteousness
light vs. dark
sin vs. faithful obedience
right vs. wrong

God does not base His judgments on what you value. The Law, which explains His righteousness, is not based on what people value. What you value matters very little.

Even your supposed “family values” pale in comparison with, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

There is one part of all creation that God values more than all else and that is His Son. If you value Christ, you line up with His righteousness, morality, and revelation of right and wrong. Nothing else competes.

Call righteousness and sin what they are. Don’t fall for the world’s philosophy that chalks it all up to personal value, whatever works for you. That is of the devil.

Nietzsche was wrong. He valued the wrong stuff. He has now fallen silent before the living God. He has met Him who is of Supreme Value and Nietzsche is nothing in comparison.

Have Faith as a Child While Putting Off Childish Things

Kids are a hoot. And annoying. And sometimes both at the same time.

When I was a kid I lacked the confidence to be as annoying as I could have been. I now have more confidence.

The Bible refers to Believers as children a number of times. Sometimes in a good way, other times in a bad way.

Jesus tells us to have the faith of a child.
Paul says that when he became a man he put away childish things.

So, Bible, which is it: be like a kid or don’t be?

Kids have many good qualities and they correlate to what we consider to be “childlike faith.”

–trust
–unyielding confidence
–hero-worship
–they feel free to ask questions
–they desire to learn
–they think about things and aren’t afraid to express their observations

When we take all these things and relate them to God, I think you have childlike faith. A trusting worship of God that wants to know more and feels free to ask for more.

At the same time, kids can be awful human beings, and these are the things I think Paul is telling us to avoid:

–youthful lust
–no consideration of future results
–reliance on what makes them feel happy
–immediate whininess when they don’t get their way
–willful disobedience
–selfish “mine” attitude

When we do these things, we express all the things that God detests about human nature. It is nothing more than an inflated view of self and a desire to do what makes self happy. I believe these are the things that Paul put off.

Unfortunately, many Christians put off the wrong list!

Many Christians invent theologies to explain why fulfilling their lusts is good. They ignore verses about mourning and concentrate on all the happy feeling verses. We make self-centeredness sound good by talking about a “personal relationship with Jesus” (which can be fine but often sounds more like self-centeredness).

Meanwhile, we cease asking questions and desiring to learn. We trust what people tell us rather than what God said. We worship people or creation more than the Creator. We turn childlike faith into an infantile, immaturity with a spiritual veneer.

Being like a child is good when it’s good and bad when it’s bad. Make sure you know which is which!

2 Outcomes of Bad Stuff

Bad stuff happens to everyone. Even Joel Osteen has bad days. He’ll never tell you about them, but he does.

My daughter has had a string of bad days lately. She had spinal fusion surgery last Thursday and is still in the hospital as I write this. We are hoping she comes home today, but you know how those things go.

Even when she comes home, she’s still going to have lots of pain and bad stuff to overcome.

I am always intrigued by bad stuff. I’m a pessimist. I enjoy bad things. I’m not really happy unless there’s something horrible going on.

Bad things fascinate me. I’ve been through some bad things and I always try to learn from them and watch the process of how they change me. It’s pretty cool. It’s one of the big reasons I like a bad thing.

The Bible says that God tests our faith. Tests can be good things, or at least what our flesh would consider good. Hollywood shows us what happens to people when they get what they dreamed for, when they get fame and fortune. That’s just as much a test as being poor and miserable.

For the most part though, we tend to view tests as bad stuff that happens to us. When bad things happen, one of two things occur:

1) Faith is strengthened
2) Faith is weakened

Either we draw nigh to God, or we drift away. Watching young people go through bad stuff is intriguing. Many kids profess faith, but in all honesty, have no idea what it really means. Once they get hit with bad stuff, then you find out.

Many young adults, thinking faith makes everything happy, get disillusioned when something bad happens instead. If they’ve been taught that faith makes everything happy, you can expect their faith to weaken.

But if a young person has been told that faith is about God’s Word, centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all its promises of future glory, faith has a shot at getting stronger.

As we grow, we see more and more how short life is and how pointless existence is. There is nothing permanent. Each day has its own outrage, soon forgotten by tomorrow’s outrage. Nothing lasts, and, in the end, you die a miserable death and it’s over.

IF we live for heaven, bad stuff on earth strengthens faith.
IF we live for earth, bad stuff on earth weakens faith.

When things fall apart, what happens to your faith? I pray it is strengthened.