Are you a man?

Years ago, when I was a little boy, I learned a most important lesson from my dad. I failed miserably times without number. On one occasion of my many failings, my dad kept his voice low (so mom would not hear) and tore into me. I was 17.

As much as I thought I was smart, I quickly learned I did not have what I thought I had. I was not a man.

What is a man? Is he a male who exercises and lifts weights (I do), but that does not make a man, not even close. Is he one who stands projecting an authoritative disposition? I learned hard lessons along this line also and I have seen many do this and fail to be a man. Is he young and strong and able to handle any threat that comes his way physically? Whatever value there is in that, that is not a man.

A man is one who is sure of his purpose, knows where he is going, how to get there and who to rely on to take him there. More than that, he is one who leads his family in the direction he is going (something that can be far more difficult that one realizes). That is the man I want to be and that is the man I intend on being. Mind you, I have had my struggles staying on the path set forth for me by the Lord. Knocked off, I tremble, but I get back on. What else can I do?

Paul said to the Corinthians, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13, ASV). We live in unsettled times. There are Christians who have voted for people who are currently in public office who are doing what they can to take away liberties belonging to citizens of this country.

Inch by inch.

There are Christians more aligned with a political party than they are the Lord’s virtuous ways. They would rather see one political party in office than vote for that other political party!

“I can’t stand them! They are not for the working man.”

“Oh, really? Though this is a lie, you would rather see innocent children killed in the womb because of this lie you’ve bought in to?”

Inch by inch.

Be strong, be a man.

HARD ON PREACHERS

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“What do you expect from your preacher?”

“Well, I expect him to preach twice on Sunday, teach a Bible class on Wednesday, spend five hours each day in the office, five days a week.”

“What kind of sermons do you want him to preach?”

“His sermons need to be of the type that encourages us in this dark and depressing world in which we are currently living. I am afraid that if he preaches too much negativity, he will drive people away.”

“What if he were to preach like Jeremiah preached?”

“Oh no! To do that is sure to drive some of our members away, and certainly those who come visiting from the community. Both will wonder if there is any good in this world! Preaching like Jeremiah may have its place, but too much of it is counter-productive to the growth of the church.”

“So, you think the Lord was mistaken when He had Jeremiah do what he did?”

“Not mistaken, but perhaps there could have been a better way.”

*****

What kind of preacher do you want? What kind of preacher does the Lord want? As a preacher there are many who interpret what he does to be a life of ease or, if not ease, not so much strain like ordinary people in life experience. The preacher does not work very much, some think; he works only an hour or two each day to put Bible class lessons together and prepare two sermons. Because he does not work that much, he has time to do many other things; perhaps he can coach youths in a sport, be a part of the local community in some outreach way, surely his hours in the evening are made able to us who might have to call on him to help us in times of trouble and anxiety; his family understands and, if they don’t, why are they so selfish?

How hard can all this be?

Maybe you don’t think this way. I hope that is the case. On the other hand, if you do, you can’t be more wrong. One of the best ways to get an appreciation for what a preacher does is to study the words and life of Jeremiah (and Paul). Jeremiah’s words (above) give a small indication of what a preacher must deal with. In Jeremiah 6, the Lord’s preacher (prophet) was called upon by the Lord to preach a message of warning to those who aligned themselves on the Lord’s side.

Though they aligned themselves on the Lord’s side, the Lord looked at their alignment and saw they were terribly out of alignment! Unfortunately for them, they deceived themselves into thinking all was well, so when Jeremiah preached the Lord’s warning of an invading army, they refused to accept the fact the Lord would send a heathen people against the city of David. The Lord’s patience ran out (Jer. 6:11).

The people of Jerusalem (and the surrounding area) had no time for the Lord’s preacher and message (6:10); the young and old were greedy for gain (6:13) and there is no wonder to this approach because the governmental leaders, the religious leaders, and people of affluence—it was all about what they could get; it mattered not at whose expense. The preachers and the priests of the religious community were especially called out by the Lord’s prophet. They proclaimed that all is well, when nothing was well at all. It was like they looked at the physical body, saw no wounds, then judged the body to be perfectly healthy. They looked at their community the same way. If there was physical sickness, they would yell, “Quarantine, Quarantine!” (Lev. 13-15), never thinking about the pitifully poor health tearing up their spiritual well-being. They were soon to find out the Lord’s remedy for the spiritually failed diagnosis.

But before they were to experience that, the Lord called them to come back to the old paths (6:16); they would find rest for their souls, their spiritual health would be much better because the Lord’s “balm of Gilead” would heal when applied to their heart (mind) and body, the Lord would protect them. They did not want to listen to the Lord’s watchman (6:17), so the Lord was going to apply a surgical procedure to the land and tend to matters how He wanted to; it was not going to go well for them (6:18-21).

This was the message of the Lord’s preacher to the City of David. Does that appear to be an easy message to carry? It doesn’t to me. The preacher is very much aware the message he preaches is going to affect the lives of so many; he knows the lives of the many affected, that their lives turn for the good; he also knows (as Jeremiah knew) that stubbornness and the slowness of response will turn out for them in such a way that it can only be interpreted as disastrous and heart-breaking. 

If a preacher is any good at what he does, he spends an inordinate amount of time in preparation to know the Lord’s word, gain an understanding of it, make application to it, then help others do the same. Years ago, while on the golf course in Illinois, a young man told me as he was in a Methodist Seminary his preparation for his class that quarter was to read a number of books. I asked him about the Bible as a text book. I was disappointed in his response. This Methodist Seminary student could help a person understand many things, but not the Bible.

In Jeremiah 6:13, the Lord was especially hard on the preachers. They dealt falsely because they had no knowledge of His will. Those who did have knowledge, they took that knowledge and used it for their own purposes. Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment (James 3:1). RT

Fear and Living Life

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Thrust of the article: fearing man without fearing the Lord is misplaced

Should We Fear?

Many things in life generate fear. Frequently, fear generated is associated with the unknown. Suppose a person has a clear vision about what is ahead. In that case, he or she can prepare themselves for the journey, anticipating unknown obstacles that might present themselves; the obstacles anticipated has more to do with a frame of mind than that which is known. On the other hand, if the journey is into the realm of the unknown, without preparation, the apprehension sometimes turns into fear.

Fear is controlling.

Do you remember when you were a little boy or girl and the anticipation of getting in trouble? I do. Many would do what they could to squirm out of the anticipated trouble, trying to avoid the blows (or punishment) applied to the rear end! The punishment was painful but being made a better person because of it is longer-lasting. This is not the case with many today. There is the fear of government when parents seek to discipline the children; the parents do not know what the government will do – if they do anything. When children learn of this, they (fear) control the parents.

The Lord talked about fear also. He said to His disciples, ” Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Matt. 10:28, UASV). This seems easier to understand than it is to apply. All we have in this world is our own experience; with these experiences, all we know is the life we live. The idea of not fearing for one’s life seems unnatural – and indeed it is. Yet, the Lord said His disciples are not to fear those in the flesh. The reason for this is apparent to the spiritually minded person. What is your life but a vapor in time? Our life seems to pass quickly by us, generating a sense of wonder at where the time has gone. Since we know this, the fear of man will do what for us? Not a thing!

On the other hand, the fear that is properly placed is seen in Acts 9:31, ” So the congregation throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

If only New Testament saints would live in accordance with this sentiment, would not the church grow? The church, in some locations, has not grown, so what does that say about the local New Testament church?

Maybe we need to fear the Lord more than we do! Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, ” Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences” (2 Cor. 5:11).

While many people fear the unknown, the unknown in the case in which I write, is very much known to us. What is there to fear? “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 Jn. 4:18). Those who are identified as Christians but are not living a holy life have everything to fear. They should fear greatly because the so-called unknown is NOT unknown. They know very well the Almighty before whom they will stand. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). Since we know these things, “How then should we live?”

Women and American Football

Opening Post on Facebook that generated the discussion: “If a girl can play in a boy sport, then reciprocity is in order.”

K: https://www.tacklesmartsports.com/girls-too/

I’m assuming you’re talking about Vanderbilt’s new kicker. If I’m wrong then totally disregard this. But if you are…

I have a few questions on this, and please understand I’m coming from a place of open conversation.

1. What constitutes American football as a solely male sport other than the fact that the majority of players over history are male? There are no official rules stating it is only for men. Tennis has opened up co-ed doubles and baseball has no restrictions on women playing, although we don’t see it. That being said…

2. If someone has the talent, skill, and stamina to be a participant in a sport that isn’t strictly just male, shouldn’t they be allowed to play if they qualify? If there are no restrictions on gender, and the person is good, they deserve a shot too, right? And if the participant has evaluated all risk factors and still wants to play, why stop them?

3. If the big deal is keeping sports gendered, then where are female options for football? If I had female options for football growing up, I would have loved it!! Why wouldn’t we be pushing for that instead of getting mad when someone takes their opportunity to play what they love? The article I linked is a reflection of this point.

Overall, if there aren’t official gender restrictions (which there aren’t), and someone has the talent to play (which they do), why get upset?

RT: Your assumption is correct. Let me answer each. 1) If the rules are open in one, let them be open in all. 2) If there are no restrictions with regard to gender, should there be? Consider women’s basketball. Should a male be allowed to play in their league? How about a male in track competition with a female? What about UFC events (a barbaric sport)? If one says no, why? 3) When I played football, rugby, wrestled, baseball (high school, college), females were not allowed to play with the males for two primary reasons: size and strength; she is vulnerable in the pile (I was a boy at one time not controlled by virtue). Just as there are anomalies in activities, anomalies are not rules, just out of the ordinary occurrences

K: Okay so let me just say from a personal standpoint, I agree some sports should have gender based off of physicality. I was on swim team, softball, volleyball, and other sports for years, and I understand that men and women have different physicalities, strengths, and weaknesses.

However, I think you would be surprised at just how many women can hold their own in “male-dominated” sports. One of my best friends was a catcher in a travel baseball team and an excellent one at that. I’ve played on co-ed volleyball teams where women could spike on men easily, even though those men could jump higher and hit harder and sometimes react faster. If we are going to go the extremist route and say “let them be open in all” when American football is not even officially closed in the first place, that’s a bit of an outlandish argument. But if we did do that, again, I think you would see that you’ve underestimated the athleticism of a lot of talented people.

In football you are correct, there are no restrictions in regards to gender. But football is multifaceted and many people exercise their talents. If sports are already sequestered off by gender in their official rules, then I’m all for keeping them that way. But you can’t gatekeep a sport that doesn’t have those restrictions in the first place. Or, you could offer gendered events and co-ed events, much like how tennis has been structured, but all recognized on a professional level. If you want to compete in a co-ed event and go toe to toe with those of a same and different gender, by all means. But that is just my proposed solution.

The problem you proposed in your 3rd point makes me very sad. A woman should not be afraid of “boys not controlled by virtue” in any situation, especially a sporting event. I think that’s sad that if I, as a girl, were to play in a co-ed sport, that I would have to worry about that. The problem you’ve proposed is in the hearts of men, not in the actions of women playing something they enjoy. So instead of barring women from a hobby/sport, let’s focus on fixing the hearts of the men around her.

Also I would like an answer to my previous question, but I’ll rephrase it. If we are so concerned about a girl playing a sport that is open to her on the pretense that it is male dominated, why are we not pushing for more options for women, especially in regards to football?

And this question too: If someone has the talent, skill, and ability to play a sport available to them, why get upset? Look at it like this: Baking is a female dominated hobby, right? But I don’t see anyone telling Paul Hollywood (one of the best bakers EVER) that he can’t. He has the skill. He has the talent. He has weighed out the risks and has made a responsible decision to go into that field. So we shouldn’t stop him, right?

Football is a male-dominated hobby, right? Sarah Fuller has the skill. She has the talent. She has weighed out the risks and made a responsible decision to go into that field. So we shouldn’t be stopping her, either.

RT: There is hardly an outlandish argument in what I said, and you know it. Athleticism is not the discussion, for it is clearly the case women and men both have it. If one can’t gate-keep, should a new rule be inserted for there to be a gate-keeper? If not, why? If there is a desire to have co-ed, no problem or resistance from me, but the wisdom of such is another matter. The sadness of your response to my 3rd point is that which permeates society and, this also, you know. You can fix a heart only if a heart wants to be fixed and women are not always virtuous in competitive battles.

The one question you want me to answer – I am not in position to answer. Was there not an effort some years ago to have women football (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_American_football)? Baking may be dominated by females, but the strength and athleticism of male/female plays no role; skill does. Participants are using food objects to make a product, not otherwise.

K: I think many, if not all, would agree that some sports that are officially ruled for reasons on athleticism or otherwise, should remain gendered. Thats why saying “open them all” is outlandish. You are jumping to the most extreme course of action to prove a point. Why not instead have a discourse on what sports could open up and approach it on a realistic spectrum and offer solutions rather than just jumping to the extreme?

There are committees on sports that do make official rules in regards to all aspects, even gender. The gate-keeper argument is for spectators. Who are we, as people who don’t actively play in the league or serve on a board etc. to have indignation towards a player because of gender where gender isn’t even an issue in the sport??

So Ron, as a preacher and a member of the Lord’s church, I know you hate sin. And I’m sure that there are some women who have abused their position in “competitive battles.” But I think its really sad to me that it seems like you are excusing behavior because “not all hearts can be fixed” and turning the situation onto a woman in that scenario.

Also your Wikipedia article said this: “Women primarily play on a semi-professional or amateur level in the United States. Very few high schools or colleges offer the sport solely for women and girls.”

So can you find me a more reliable source to back up a strong active push for women’s opportunities in football? Because the Wikipedia article provided even said there are very few.

And correct. Just as skill plays a big part in football and they’re using the ball (an object) to make a final product in their scoring.

RT: K, you used the word of moral-obligation “should.” With the use of that word, is society obligated to make a distinction between the sexes? If so, from where does this moral obligation come and what is it? If society is not morally obligated, then if what is good for one is also good for all, right?

I do not understand your remarks on gate-keeper. The committees that make official rules do so for what reason or reasons? 

If there are no rules to prevent, then it is open to those who want to take a chance. If this is your point, I understand that and never failed to see it. From the vantage point of one, that does not make the rule good or wise, and it most certainly is not restraining others who might want to take that so-called outlandish approach and go into other areas – all of this, again, you are fully aware.

K, you misread what I wrote, you go back and see if there is even a syllable of anything I said that justifies excusing behavior. Should I attribute to you being naïve that you think these things won’t happen? Moreover, True or False: A heart can’t be fixed if it has no desire to be fixed.

The reference I submitted was not an argument, only a reference to a sport. It conveys the effort of some to have women participation. If there is no sport in a locale, the reasons for that may be clear to some, not others.

Your analogy fails in comparing football with baking. We will have to allow others to see this. There is a difference between apples and oranges. 

Perhaps, since we are becoming long-winded, let us pare down our discussion to one point or question we can flesh out.

K: So instead of having an open conversation on what could open up and solutions, you are hanging on to me saying the word “should?” As a member of the church, I know where my morality and heart lie. When saying the word should, a majority hold the same belief as I do in regards to this. I can only speak for my personal belief of what should be. Which I have done.

Gatekeeping in its current connotation: When someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity. We have rules saying she can play. Who are you to say she shouldn’t. That is the point.

That is a trivial question. I’m not a sports board member. But they have the experience, intelligence, aptitude, and therefore the authority to make rules. If you don’t like football being open to women, take your opinion to them and ask them why they allow it. I’m sure they’d give you a much better response then I can.

Instead of saying “yeah, let’s not have boys who would do that to girls on teams” you instead went for the argument “you can’t fix people who don’t want to be” and “girls misuse power too.” Put some accountability on the mens’ shoulders instead of diverting. You can call me naive if you want, however many would be right there with me in saying men need consequences if they act out so women can be safe. Your statement is true. But don’t just leave it at that.

Well, the reference was given was to show the effort in womens football, and even the article claimed it was very little. It just showed the limited progress and proved the point we need to fight for more for our women.

I guess we will see differently on that one, but in my eyes, the two situations are very similar.

While you are entitled to your views Mr. Thomas, I’m sure Vanderbilt is very proud to have Miss Fuller as a kicker on their team.

She has talent. She has skill. She is a grown woman who can play in a nongenderrestricted sport, amd we should be supportive and excited that she gets the chance to pursue her passion, because not many girls are lucky enough to do that in football.

RT: This is an open conversation that has a trajectory you don’t like. Be that as it may, let me address the tone and words of your last post.

Wow! You use a word and take exception to me asking you about that word. You know your personal morality, but when the word “should” is used in communication, especially in secular society, Ms. Erin, I insist the moral-obligation needs to be set forth. You did not set it forth, you only declared or asserted it.

Since the word gate-keeper is one who control access, what prevents gate-keepers from opening access to other positions on the field? If they have the experience, intelligence, aptitude, to make rules, then the same qualities allow them to alter those rules in order to allow further access to their desired ends, and they “should” do so. If it is good for one sport and any position on the field, diamond, and court, it is good for all.

If my statement is true and men should not act out (“should” is used on purpose), then how do you expect them (females) to not suffer the consequences of a decision made? Penalize the men, kick them out of the game, put them in jail – what do you propose be done? If a man’s heart has no desire to change, will artificial restraints make him change?

Accountability? What kind of remark is that! Accountability has a legal ramification, a moral ramification and a consequential ramification. Accountability goes both ways and, again, there is not an ounce of truth in this remark “Put some accountability on the mens’ shoulders instead of diverting.”

Let the many be where you are at; it matters not where the many are, even on practical roads that lead to other ends. I am sure there are some at the university that are proud of this and many other things.

K: This makes me really sad, especially as a Christian. I have really tried to remain neutral, propose my solutions, and have an open discourse.

Mr. Thomas, its clear that instead of reaching a place of understanding that you just want to argue. You haven’t proposed a single solution, and that’s especially disappointing. The fact that you, an older Christian, let alone preacher in the faith, are so argumentative and belittling to fellow Christians on Facebook breaks my heart. I really truly tried to remain neutral and have a good conversation, but thats clearly off the table. God has blessed you with a position of responsibility in the church, and you did not exercise it well in this conversation. If I were not a member of the church, after your last comment it would not lead me to Christ.

The point that bothers me the most and really shocks me is that you have refused to say once throughout this entire thing that men should be held accountable. Instead you’ve let them slide under the pretense of “can’t fix all hearts,” “women do it to,” and “accountability goes both ways.” While all true statements, you have REFUSED to just say: “Yes men taking advantage is wrong. There should be consequences for those actions, in life and in sports.” If all men in the church flat out refuse to speak up for women, then it’s a sad day for the church indeed.

The problems you have can be taken up with the authorities on sports and rules, etc. Take it to them if this is such a deep seeded issue for you.

Sure we are not going to agree on this. I have tried to reach an understanding with you, but again, its clear you just want to dispute.

I do wish you would have proposed solutions to the problem instead of stoking flames to it and nitpicking terminology.

(And also little sidebar specific to football: you have not been to able to deny Sarah Fuller’s talent. I think that speaks volumes.)

I will be shaking the dust off my feet from this conversation, and will be removing you from Facebook. However, I will still pray for you and love you as my brother in Christ.

One final thing, Mr. Thomas. In the conversation I was pushing towards, I was hopeful that we would have reached a point of understanding on both sides. The conversation you made it to be left me with a profound sadness for you. I really truly pray that next time you can stand up and be a positive support for women, especially your sisters in Christ.

******************

RT: K, it is evident you had a desired response, and my response was not what you intended. You wanted to bring me to a conclusion and since I did not arrive at that conclusion, you accuse me of arguing.

You accuse me of justifying inappropriate behavior, diverting attention from the issue, belittling a fellow Christian, arguing, and not exercising well my position of responsibility – none of which is true, not even a little bit true. Since you have falsely accused me of so much wrong, I insist you demonstrate all of this. If you can’t or won’t, it will be known what you’ve done.

When my proposed solution is offered, and you know this, it was only different than your own; you don’t like it so you accuse me of many untoward remarks. I am an older Christian and I am a preacher, but you can’t find a single thing I said that is contrary to the spirit of Christ or was disparaging to you in any way. All you have is that my perspective is different than your own. Nothing more.

This discussion will have to be read by others and conclusions reached by the reader.

You are not neutral, K; you have not been throughout this discussion, but then, I was not expecting you to be. You’re an independent thinker and you wanted to make a case for your perspective. You did not persuade me. Others will have to read and conclude on their own with regard to the merits of your effort.

You said my last comment would not lead you to Christ. Very well, what in my last comment was not in the spirit of Christ or that is adversarial to the words/spirit of the Lord? Here are the last two comments I made, “Let the many be where you are at; it matters not where the many are, even on practical roads that lead to other ends. I am sure there are some at the university that are proud of this and many other things.”

K, do you know what a “straw man” is? If so, you built up a straw man. This angers me a great deal! Not only do you falsely accuse (or lie), but you add to it with this: “…you have REFUSED to just say: “Yes men taking advantage is wrong.”

I am glad this discussion is on social media; others will see what they need to see. I invite you, K, to cut/paste this discussion and submit it to elders anywhere and ask their opinions about the nature of my presentation to you.

Deep seeded? It’s no longer that I have a perspective, it’s that I have a deep seeded issue.

K, as you do a hit and run by unfriending me – have as you will. This conversation is posted on more than one medium. So, shake off the dust, pat yourself on the back and be sure to tell others you have slayed a preacher; this is what you desired to do, evidently.

As far as I am aware, she unfriended me on Facebook because of this conversation. What angered me most about this discussion was not her lack of substance (hit and miss), but that she lied continually in ascribing to me things that were not so; I called her on it, she refused to give attention to it. I post this for any and all to see a young woman with an agenda-driven position, not anything remotely close to an open dialogue.

The Bible?

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             It was early in the 19th century; a young Baptist preacher and his friend were on a preaching tour, that is, they were going from community to community to preach what they believed to be the Gospel of Christ. Both young men were preachers; one said to the other, “Brother Sewell, I am sorry to see you carry the Book with you to church. Young Sewell asked: ‘Why?’ His companion replied: ‘I am afraid the people will think we learned our sermons out of it.’ This was exactly what young Sewell had done” (Biographical Sketches of Gospel Preachers, H. Leo Boles, p. 181). 

What was “the Book”? It was the Bible.

From that time, Jesse Sewell set his mind in a more diligent fashion to see what “the Book” truly said; he was determined that from it only would he preach. This did not go without a response from the church of his heritage. They responded when they gathered: “The vote was put, about half a dozen of the forty members present voted to exclude him from the Baptist Church; the others did not vote. The announcement was made that he was excluded, and the assembly arose and left the house in confusion” (p. 183). One man wanted it to be said about Jesse Sewell that he was excluded from their fellowship because “it was for teaching heresy.”

Imagine that! Teaching heresy when one uses only the Bible from which to preach and teach!

I remember when I was much younger my mother saying something to me that was similar. It was her thinking, at the time, that I should not have learned to preach from the Bible, but that I should have been preaching what the Lord’s Spirit gave me, apart from the Bible. Evidently, she learned from others this way of thinking (she later rejected that way of thinking). Since that time, I have not come across too many people who think this way, though I have read of preachers who believed they were guided by the Holy Spirit to say what things they were saying, apart from what the Scriptures actually said.

When a person preaches from the Bible, there is going to be a response. A good many people will like it and like it very much. There will be many more, however, who stand opposed to one’s firm resolution to preach what the Scriptures teach. One does not have to look far, as in our socially conflicting society, to see that. Paul said of himself, For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith (Rom. 1:16-17). What did it get him? It got him much in the way of trouble! He was stoned, flogged, ostracized and incarcerated. Still, he would not change what he did, For I will not dare to speak of any things save those which Christ wrought through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed (15:18).

            There are many who say what Paul did, but as one looks around, all saying the same thing Paul did, there is still much confusion. Who and what are we to believe? It was John who wrote to the saints, Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). How can this be done? In Berea, the Scripture teaches us: Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so (Acts 17:11). The Bible is The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul: The testimony of Jehovah is sure, making wise the simple (Psa. 19:11). RT

TWO MEN HANGING

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Two men hanging on their respective crosses. Both hurling insults at Jesus. As their energy drained and life slipped away, they heard people on the ground talking aloud about the One between them. After much listening, one of the thieves had a change of heart; he tired and felt guilty about insulting the One between them whom, he gathered, was guilty of no wrong. More than that, he heard people assign divinity to him. He heard that himself when he walked freely. Now he is beside Him; he had seen and heard enough that his regrets came rushing to him like a tidal wave. The other thief kept hurling insults, but the one with a change of heart had heard enough nonsense. He forthrightly declares, “But the other answered, and rebuking him said, Dost thou not even fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:40-41, ASV).

LESSON: Extraordinary circumstances on that occasion do not warrant our approach to follow the same pattern. The Lord’s pattern is in John 3:3-5 (Acts 2:37-38), follow that pattern. RT

Love Jumps In

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In the earthly / material realm, LOVE and HATE are defined according to the way of thinking that belongs to this world. That means both words are fluid in meaning. In other words, how love is defined today may or may not correspond to how another generation defines it. The same with the word hate. The evidence for this is our current, corrupted society. A Google definition of hate speech reads this way: “abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation.”

Thus, to speak against the moral behavior of a person or a group is to manifest “hate”? This is Satan’s ploy to thwart God’s message in a world of increased wickedness; this illustrates the sentiment of Isaiah 5:20 (“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”).

Fortunately, the Lord does not use the definition of current society (or any society) to define what He means when He uses the words LOVE and HATE in specific contexts.

LOVE, in the context of response to the Lord is related to obeying His will. This makes sense because the word LOVE is seeking that which is best for oneself and others. Is not obeying the Father’s will an example of what is best for oneself and others? It is, and to say otherwise is not to know what love is in relation to its Source or Founder. When one refuses to apply the Father’s definition for their personal salvation, how can this be defined as love? It can’t!

The alternative to the Father’s definition is that which is of the world; how that can be defined as love has really manifested itself in peaceful sort of way, hasn’t it?! Think about it. If you know that you are about to die, would you not seek to save yourself from death? If so, whose standard will you seek to apply? Now, apply this to helping another person; they are drowning in the water in which they can’t swim, you throw them a lifeline or jump in the water to reach them.

A Christian who throws in the life-saving instrument (or jumps in) is showing love from a Source greater than himself. On the other hand, a person who is not a Christian, the source of their love is of their own making. What if their definition of love would change? In our world of selfishness, fluid definitions never work well. There is no anchoring quality wherein each can understand what is meant. With the Lord, His word means the same always and His love is the anchor of our soul in a floundering and fluid world. RT

Sex and No Surprise

PEW RESEARCH CENTER

Half of Christians say casual sex – defined in the survey as sex between consenting adults who are not in a committed romantic relationship – is sometimes or always acceptable. Six-in-ten Catholics (62%) take this view, as do 56% of Protestants in the historically Black tradition, 54% of mainline Protestants and 36% of evangelical Protestants. Among those who are religiously unaffiliated, meanwhile, the vast majority (84%) say casual sex is sometimes or always acceptable, including roughly nine-in-ten atheists (94%) and agnostics (95%) who say this (8.31.2020; http://www.pewresearch.org).

With such ways of thinking should we be surprised about our moral chaos in this country? Is it not the case the children learn to do what parents allow? This is not always the case, of course, but it frequently is. Sexual relationships outside of a God-ordained marriage is evil; it is evil because it is contrary to the holiness, the moral uprightness of the Almighty. It is not at all associated with righteousness and will be judged by the Lord at His day of reckoning.

The day of reckoning (judgment) will have all stand before the Judgment seat of Christ and the Lord will call out each name to see if that person’s name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10). If a person’s name is not inscribed, the Lord will say, Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:42, ASV). In the context of Matthew 25, the Lord is not giving attention to sexual immorality, but the principle of application, as stated in John 16:9, wherein some refused to believe Jesus is the Christ and change their lives to reflect that belief.

The parents allow this because they are themselves confused about what response they should make to the children when the children step outside the bounds of moral behavior. The parents listen to media sources (news broadcasts, television programing, songs on the radio, etc.) and allow this to be an influence on them – all at the same time denying this what they are doing! “We don’t want to impact the children with such a hard reply”, they think, “therefore let us smack their hands (so to speak) and welcome them back into the fold as if nothing they did was wrong.” If it was wrong, their punishment is lessened so scarring does not last long.

Because this is an approach to take, some in the judicial courts of our country, some in the congressional or legislative branches of our government soften the blow the Lord, initially, judged differently. As people we think of ourselves as wiser than the Lord.

Just so you will appreciate the seriousness of how the Lord looked on some behaviors, consider how the Lord responded to some behavioral acts under the authority of the Old Covenant to His civilized nation of priests. The death penalty was applied when there was conviction for striking or cursing one’s parents, blasphemy, breaking the sabbath, witchcraft, adultery, rape, sexual intimacy outside of marriage, incest, kidnapping, idolatry, being a false witness, murder (ISBE (revised), vol. 3, pp. 1052-53).

Perhaps some of these behaviors you think is not warranted for the death penalty; on what moral standard do you use judge this is the case? What was the point of such a hard response to these behaviors? “This had the twofold result of restraining evil and advancing the benefits of just [justice oriented] living within the human society” (Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 988).

To each Christian, let us be reminded, but like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). RT

Can you Prove?

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Imagine a conversation like the following to occur:

Tom: “I don’t believe God exists!”
Mike: “The Bible says He does.”
Tom: “Well, am I expected to accept the Bible as God’s word, when I don’t believe he exists?”
Mike: “Yes.”
Tom: “Prove to me he does!”

How would you go about doing this? Here is a suggested starting place: Hebrews 3:4, For every house is builded by some one; but he that built all things is God (ASV).
As you consider the passage, think about what it is saying. First, physical things are made by one that is greater than the thing (or things) made. Second, the planet on which we live is a material thing (within a physical universe). Third, it was God who built all things. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
Here is a logical argument from the above paragraph, an argument that is very old, but still very relevant. It goes like this: 1) Whatever begins to exist, has a cause for its existence (i.e. something or someone brought it into existence), 2) The universe began to exist (i.e., the physical/material universe was brought into existence), 3) Therefore, the universe has a cause (God). In formal logic, this is known as a valid (properly structured) argument. The first premise has two components, the first is an antecedent (whatever begins to exist) followed by the consequent (has a cause for its existence). If the antecedent is true, the consequent follows.

From the argument we learn of that which begins to exist has a cause. We know from science the material universe had a beginning. Without regard to what the Bible says on the matter of creation, let us note this scientific opinion, “According to the standard Big Bang model, the universe was born during a period of inflation that began about 13.8 billion years ago.” Evolutionary scientists have a great problem with the word born because it means “began to exist.” Thus, this material/physical universe must have a cause for its existence. Evolutionary scientists go from measuring or testing in the material realm into a leap of faith realm of “anything-but-God” religious belief.
In other words, they can offer no substantive counter to theistic reply of “God” as the cause of the material universe. What is offered is subject to ridicule and mockery; their “anything-but-God” religious belief becomes obvious.

You may not feel like you can adequately give attention to proving God’s existence but remember the Holy Spirit did give attention to the topic. When you think about fear associated with making the case for God’s existence, let there be no fear or apprehension. Reflect on the Holy Spirit’s words in Hebrews 3:4; remember that every house has its builder. RT

Godless Agenda

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In an evolutionary world, in the secular world in which we live – what roles do the males and females have? In such a world as this, the one who is stronger determines what roles each play. It can be no other way!

Survival of the fittest (or strongest).

Nature? What about nature? Nature allows certain things, but authorizes not a single thing. Nature is not authoritative in an evolutionary and secular world, except to say things left to themselves rundown, get old and rusty, decay. It’s neutral and has no stake in the game because, from the godless perspective, it cares not one single bit.

The strong eat (metaphorically or literal) all who get in the way.

There is no good reason for the female to be treated kindly, gently and with respect. What about children or the infirmed? If you say there is, what is that reason? Once you identify the reason or reasons, from what source of authority do they come? “It perpetuates life” you say. So? Does that or should that matter to a person in an evolutionary and secular world when might makes right?

Not even a little bit.

In an evolutionary and secular world might makes right; the only role that is king is the one who rules.

This is the world in which you live. It permeates Europe and the western world. It is beginning to get a hold in the United States. One political party is promoting it with their godless agenda.