Bikini Atoll and Why Politicians Quote Scripture

Bikini Atoll was a quiet little island in the Pacific Ocean until America destroyed it with nuclear bomb tests.

What is little known is that people used to live on that island. 167 people lived there in 1946 when the US chose them as their target. Victorian-era missionaries had been through there before, so most of the residents of the island were “Christian.”

When the US showed up to tell them their island was to be toast, Commodore Wyatt gathered them all for a meeting right after church. The US had chosen a new home for them and needed them off of Bikini Atoll.

Wyatt chose Exodus 13:21 as his biblical text for his speech: “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night

“It was under the guidance of God that the United States of America had constructed its own great pillars of fire and smoke, which could and would be used as a weapon if in the future any nation attacked the peoples of God,” was one historian’s summary of Wyatt’s speech. It continued.

“To make sure that such pillars of fire and smoke worked properly in the service of the Lord, it was now necessary to test them. To test them on Bikini. You have been chosen to help America develop something created under God’s guidance for the good of mankind and to end all world wars.”

America then put them on a boat and dropped them off on a smaller, more desolate island where they lived off the dole. Then they destroyed Bikini Atoll.

Without getting into the morality of nuclear weapons, I want to focus on the use of Scripture. This government official knew the people were somewhat familiar with the Bible, so he used that to his own purposes. He quoted Scripture, not for their edification, but to get what he wanted.

There is a special place in hell reserved for people who use Scripture for selfish reasons.

Let this be a warning to all who are familiar with the Bible:

If a government official is quoting Scripture, be 95% sure that he/she is doing so to manipulate you into doing the will of the government.

This appears to be the only time government officials use Scripture in public. Don’t fall for it.

The Bible was written to edify and build up, not to manipulate people into doing your bidding. Be very careful when politicians quote the Bible. Something is up. The Antichrist will have biblical quotes all over his speeches. If I would be around when he speaks, I’d put good money on that.

The Church Needs More Humble, Mediocre People

Private John Haley fought in 28 battles and skirmishes in the Civil War between August 1862 and June 1865. He came through them all without a scratch. That is amazing!

He was once asked how he managed to do that. “He was content to attribute his own remarkable record to having ‘achieved successful mediocrity.'”

I love that!

I like the humility and, no doubt, some honesty! People striving to do heroic things in battle often just get shot! Guys content to do their job have higher odds of surviving. Yeah, you may not get the awards or the spotlight, but you just might stay alive!

I love this. One of the secrets to success in Civil War battles were vast numbers of guys just doing their job. Thousands marched together into thousands of entrenched troops. You don’t win battles by one guy standing out doing the whole thing. David and Goliath don’t cut it in Civil War battlefields.

We love to talk about being little David taking out big Goliath. We love the story of the hero who single-handedly does it all. Perhaps that’s why The Church fails so often.

The Church will only work if every member of the body humbly does their job. As long as we are driven by personalities and celebrities, guys out front doing everything for the rest of us, we’re going to implode.

Humble mediocrity, just doing your job, is what The Church needs. Less superstar Christians, more foot soldiers following their Commander’s orders.

Humble, service done without fanfare. It’s a thing of beauty.

Retreating Troops and 7 Thoughts About “Christian Persecution”

I am reading a book about the common soldiers’ experience of major American battles–Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima. Rather than giving the generals’ view, the author focuses on the grunt, what the warfare was in experience for the guys doing the dirty work.

What a horrible thing war is. In one section talking about guys who couldn’t take it and ran away, the author says:

Dread of the unknown turned these otherwise disciplined infantrymen into a stampeding horde, proving the old military rule of thumb that it is always the troops in the least immediate danger who turn and run first.

Never having been in battle, not knowing how I’d react, I will refrain from disparaging the retreating horde. But I will make some points about church based on this:

  1. Persecution is good for the Church. It weeds out the fakers. It lets people know if they really believe this Christianity stuff, or if they’re just there for the doughnuts.
  2. Why is it that those whining the most about how persecuted they are, are generally those doing the least? People who need to tell you how hard it is for them to be them, know that they are making up for lack of work with a multitude of words.
  3. Retreat is always easier than looking and heading forward. Guess where the Bible tells us to look? Forget what is behind, press forward. No retreat. “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
  4. The New Testament is very clear that Christianity done right leads to opposition, suffering, and trial. Don’t be surprised if the world hates you, it hated our Lord first. Suck it up.
  5. One thing that turns retreating troops around, is forward heading leadership. Our Commander is pushing forward. Follow Him. He wins the war, even while we lose the battle here.
  6. A good soldier of Jesus Christ does not entangle himself with the affairs of the world. Let go of this world, then there’s nothing anyone can do to hurt you anyway. Set your affections on things above. Treasure in heaven, people, treasure in heaven.
  7. Rejoice that your name is written in heaven, who cares what your name on earth is. This is the soldiers’ view–He fights for his commander, not for the history books. The man of the world runs, afraid for his life. The man of God puts on the armor and gets to work. Do the work, the Day of the Lord is just around the bend.

Faith Does Not Cancel Reality

I recently wrote a devotional for a group called The Back Row. It was about the “believe in yourself and you can do anything” line. Needless to say, I disagree with the line. I can believe in myself all day and there will be many things I cannot do.

Believing in yourself is fine if you are telling yourself you can do something you can actually do. For instance, if you are playing the piano in front of a group of people and you are nervous, it is appropriate to trust in your training and all your practice.

Unfortunately, what happens is we don’t practice and we don’t get training, and then we think that by believing, piano-playing skills will automatically show up.

Life doesn’t work that way. Modern education techniques tell kids they are smart and to believe in themselves in an effort to raise their performance in school. Recent studies show that our kids, while having some of the lowest test scores of any generation, at the same time have the best self-esteem about their smartness.

Many find this good. I find this evil, a lie, and of the devil.

OK, maybe not that bad, but it is dumb.

What is of the devil is when Christians use this same Jedi mind trick when it comes to our faith.

Christianity has borrowed, and possibly even invented, the idea that faith overcomes natural consequences.

Many Christians believe that, although they sin all the time, they are righteous. They believe that faith overcomes responsibility. Although I know I’m not righteous, I will believe I am, and thus God will have to accept me.

This is pretty close to foundational Christian doctrine at this point. God doesn’t see you, He only sees Christ’s righteousness in you. Is how I’ve heard it put.

Unfortunately for them, the Bible doesn’t say this. There is much deception on this issue by false teachers in the church today.

There are two verses in the Bible I’d like to point out that both begin with not being deceived. The reason why the writers of these verses said to not be deceived is because they knew there would be deception on this issue. Here are the two verses:

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

Paul and John both knew false teachers would play on this personal accountability issue. They knew many people would succumb to the false teaching that you don’t really have to be righteous. That faith somehow replaces reality.

If you live in sin, if there is no growth in you putting it off and doing righteousness instead, you are not saved. That is the clear teaching of 1 John and of the Bible.

Yeah, I know hardly anyone teaches this truth, but that doesn’t mean it’s not truth.

Faith does not cancel reality. You can’t suddenly play Mozart on the piano simply by believing, nor can you fool God into thinking you love Him, if love for Him is not a reality in your life.

Faith does not cancel reality. Faith in Christ gives you a new reality, a new life from above, one lived in righteousness, with fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

5 Deceptive Substitutes for Assurance of Salvation

Assurance of Salvation is a subject that gets weird quick. Everyone wants to feel that they are saved. Satan knows this too. Therefore, his desire is to make the unsaved feel saved, and the saved feel unsaved.

In order to “get assurance,” people can go several avenues. These avenues of assurance seem to fit quite nicely with denominational distinctions.

–Charismatic churches tend to emphasize a spiritual experience: speaking in tongues, healing, dreams and visions.
–Legalistic churches emphasize conformity to The Group and following the Group’s rules.
–Catholic, Lutheran and other old school churches emphasize baptism, communion, or some kind of required church approved hoop to jump through.
–The Health and Wealth Gospel churches emphasize riches.
–Easy Believism emphasizes whether you said The Prayer or not.

Interestingly enough, 1 John, a book written to give people assurance that they have eternal life, never mentions tongues, riches, baptism, group conformity, Sinner’s Prayers, or anything remotely close to these issues.

The Bible says assurance is based on Christlike character, summed up by LOVE. If sin is dying out in you and righteousness is taking over (you’re becoming like Christ), you can know you are saved.

So why do churches emphasize these other things?

Quite simply because they are easier! Most of them depend on one-time actions. If not one-time actions, then at least repeating actions. It’s all based on doing a thing. Very much like Israel’s assurance based on circumcision.

Biblical assurance is not based on doing a thing at some point, but on becoming like the person of Jesus Christ.

What’s easier: speaking in tongues or acting like Christ? Being dunked in water or knocking off sin? Becoming like a group of fallen people, or becoming like the perfect Son of God?

Satan wants you to feel assured. He wants you to base your assurance on anything other than becoming like Christ. Satan’s temptations of Christ were all about shortcuts to Christ’s end of getting the Kingdom.

Satan wants you to have a shortcut to assurance. Don’t take it. Take the long way and arrive at actual assurance, confidence, and blessed peace.

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.”

Time Tells Christians to “Shush!”

Two times in the last few months the world was supposed to end, yet here we are. Many experts predicted the St. Louis Cardinals would win the World Series, and they are now wrong. Our economic policy was supposed to create so many jobs, yet unemployment is fairly stable. Many people warned you that if you kept eating all that ice cream you would get sick and fat. Nope. Feeling good.

People think they know the future, yet humans are horrible at predictions.

I recently read a book about forecasting and how it’s pretty much hopeless. Yes, there are certain things that are more predictable than others, but in general, we have no idea what’s going to happen. And, the more we have invested in tomorrow, the more emotionally involved we are, the poorer we are at predicting.

However, this book also pointed out that when something happens tomorrow, your brain will tell you, “See! I knew that was going to happen! I told you that would happen!”

Actually, it didn’t, it just feels like it did because at some point, yeah, your brain probably flitted by the possibilities and one of them, inevitably, did happen. That’s a long way off from knowing what was going to happen. We think we’re better at predicting than we are.

Every day the internet is hot with some new outrage or scandal. People pontificate as to why this happened, or what this means for the future. Some famous person overdoses on drugs and we “knew this was going to happen” to them because of that one thing they said, or because it “always happens” to famous people.

See, that’s what you get! I told you so!

Yet we’re usually massively wrong.

Christians major in this stuff. We always know why disaster happens to people. We always know who is going to “get it.”

Job is in the Bible for a reason. Job’s friends thought they knew why Job’s life was falling apart. They knew if Job fessed up to his sin, his future would turn around. Job’s friends were wrong.

Christians make great Job’s friends. We know everything. We know why bad things happen to good people and to bad people.

Christians also have this amazing ability to take people at their word. Some guy says he accepted Christ as his Savior and we prop him up to speak to people and brag about our new convert. Four months later the guy is living in rampant evil and has turned on Christ and his Christian buddies.

What happened?

What happened is that we attempted to predict the future. Time has a way of bearing out facts. Salvation is more about today than what you said yesterday. Forget those things that are behind and press toward the mark. Yet we keep telling kids they are saved cuz of that one thing they did that one time.

A person has to be patient to work with time. Patience is a rare commodity. We have to get the story out, get our take written and published. We have to pontificate and then move on to the next scandal we predicted.

Impatience does two horrible things:

  1. It makes us unfairly judge people while keeping us self-righteous. We pat ourselves on the back that those bad things didn’t happen to us, now did they! We celebrate how those we disagreed with got what we told them they were going to get. We jump in throwing our judgments everywhere. Love? What’s that?
  2. It makes us too confident in what we know today. We assume our side is right and will skate through life free of turmoil, scandal, backsliding, apostasy, or whatever other evil thing we determine is for other people. We celebrate our stand, not realizing we’re standing on thin ice.

In general, people should shush. We don’t know what tomorrow brings. All your confident boasting can come back to bite ya. All our self-righteous judgments can be completely wrong. Pride goes before a fall. It’s not whether you start, but how you finish. Hold fast to the end.

We don’t know what we’re talking about when it comes to the future. Take care of your today, it has enough evil to deal with. If not dealt with properly today, it can drastically change your tomorrow.

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

Democrats, Republicans, and Finding Wisdom

I live in a house with two teenage girls and one almost teenage boy. That being the case, there are lots of arguments.

You cannot say a sentence in this house without someone arguing with you.

“Yes you can,” I can hear my daughter say.

In many cases, the arguer has no idea what they are talking about, which makes a guy wonder why they argue? Who cares? You don’t even know what was said.

Which leads me to believe that arguing isn’t always about what is said, but about who said it.

If my son says something, one, if not both, of his sisters feel compelled to argue. Their thinking must go like this:

Knowing how dumb my brother is, I can only assume he is wrong again. Clearly, this moron must be shown to be a moron, therefore, I MUST argue.

The issue isn’t really what was said, it’s more who said it.

The stupid thing about arguing is that it forces you to go as far away from the original point as possible to make your strongest case.

If the point is a position of a despised person or despised group of people, you will not only go as far away from that one point, but as far away from all their points.

I have seen this to be true in many areas.

Calvinists, who despise non-Calvinists, will immediately despise all that a non-Calvinist stands for. A non-Calvinist will not just disagree with one point of Calvinism, but with all points, immediately.

Republicans, who despise Democrats, will not just despise one point, but will run from all points of Democrats, and vice versa.

Young boys who despise girls, will despise anything a girl says and move as far away as possible from all girl-like points.

Any reasonable person who thinks about stuff, should concede that the other side might have some valid points. There are few exceptions to this rule.

If you think Democrats or Republicans have nailed every issue perfectly, you have some more thinking to do.

A person who immediately lines up in all cases with Democrats, does not do this because Democrats are right all the time, and they’ve carefully thought through all the issues. No, they march in lockstep with Democrats, because they despise Republicans!

Wisdom comes by ignoring the messenger and dealing with the message. Sometimes the message is wrong and needs refutation, which is fine. Sometimes the messenger is a moron, but actually has a point. Be careful.

The next time you feel the urge to flip out completely on someone, remember, they have a brain too, and it is possible they have used it while forming their beliefs.

If you have to refute everything they say, check your heart. You might just hate these people.

The Bible’s Opinion of Atheists

Atheism is the new cool thing. Coming out as Atheist shows that you’re all smart and daring and sciency. I get it.

In my mind, the Agnostic has a more reasonable stance than the Atheist. The Agnostic says he doesn’t know if there is a God. The Atheists knows, without a shadow of doubt, there isn’t a God.

This is a much more arrogant position. One that smacks of the Religious Fundamentalism many atheists fight so hard against.

I’m not too troubled by atheists. They rarely keep quiet about their atheism, which shows that even though they deny God, they can’t stop thinking about Him.

So, in my mind, there’s hope for them.

I don’t think the Christian should waste much time with atheists. Atheism, for most, is nothing more than an intellectual tantrum. Most will get over it in time. The more they are argued with, the more they will back into their corner. Life is a better teacher.

One reason why I believe we should let atheists be atheists, is that the Bible leaves them alone.

The Bible contains no passages that seek to prove the existence of God. The Bible assumes God and assumes people know there’s a God. The Bible does not defend the existence of its Author.

The Bible says God’s existence is obvious. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen,” Paul tells us in Romans 1. Paul says that humans have no excuse to not see God. No excuse. God is obvious.

So why do people miss God if He’s so obvious? According to Romans 1, people miss God because they want to sin. People who want to sin live for material things and deny the spiritual. As they go into their sin and their fixation on physical things, they become wise in their own eyes, while proving their foolishness.

Christians like to flop out the verse, “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” But we should be careful of terms here.

The word “fool” in the above quote from Psalm 14, is a rare usage of one of the Hebrew words for fool. In other words, most of the uses of “fool” in Proverbs and other places is another Hebrew word.

The fool that “says there is no God,” is actually a word that means wicked or vile person. The other Fool word means silly, fat and stupid.

The fool who says there is no God is the wicked guy, not just the silly, stupid guy. Yes, there is some overlap in definitions, but they are two different words, and the Psalmist uses the wicked word to describe this guy.

Wicked people deny that there is a God, primarily so they can do their wickedness.

This is where the irony enters, however. The wicked guy has to continue to tell himself and others there is no God, so he can appease his guilty conscience. He can’t shut up about denying God because his conscience continually reminds him of God and this forces him to deny God’s existence.

Knowing you are guilty is the first step toward salvation. Atheists are well on their way to salvation.

The one you have to worry about is the one who doesn’t even care enough to worry about whether there is a God. The guy who is God-unconscious is the one to worry about. The hard-hearted, doesn’t give a rip, guy.

Even more worrisome, the church is filled with these don’t give a rip guys. The church does a fine job of making God inconsequential and letting “believers” think their sin isn’t a big deal. These are called “Practical Atheists.” People who in practice live like there is no God. Atheists at least think enough about God to have to say He doesn’t exist.

I’m more worried about the average church-goer than the atheist, in all honesty. Jesus attacked religious people, not atheists.

For all the atheistic bloviating going on in our world today, it is obvious there are many troubled souls. They need to see grace and mercy, love and patience. What they don’t need is more reasons to reject the Bible’s message through Christian anger and hostility.

In the end, perhaps the best thing to do with the verbose atheist is to ignore their words, live the life of Christ, pray for them, and let life and the Holy Spirit finish the work He already began in them.

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