Keeping Up Appearances

Keeping up appearances is only a façade, a covering that hides the struggle and anguish of one’s loneliness and shame underneath. It’s not always easy to address, but it must be given attention. The attention one must give, however, is not a wall to keep out others, but a door opened when Jesus comes knocking.

The Reason for the Season

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In the minds of many folk at this time of the year, there is significance to the December 25th date. It does not matter if you tell them the Scriptures do not speak of any special-remembrance to the date of the Lord’s birth. What matters to them is that “the reason for the season” is a time to remember the Lord’s birth, coupled with gift-giving.

Perhaps we can resist that and be accurate in doing so, or we can take a different approach and move (teach) people from where they are to where they should (or could) be in their own understanding. This is my approach.

The text of this article comes from Matthew 27:27-31, Jesus was mocked by those who sought His death. I readily admit there is nothing in the text of Matthew 27:27-31 that lends itself to the Christmas season, but that is my point. Though I will speak against the “reason for the season” approach that most take, my primary focus is in telling others why Jesus came and the humiliation He suffered for having done nothing wrong, not even a single thing!

Jesus walked on the earth teaching the Father’s command to a people (the nation of Israel) steeped in rebellion to His revealed word. The Israelite nation would have, and did, reject the notion they were in rebellion to the Almighty’s exhortations as revealed in Scripture. Yet, Jesus, time and time again pointed out and demonstrated that is exactly what was occurring with them. More than that, though He pointed out their rebellion, it was only a part of His message. The other part was that He (Jesus) was the fulfillment of prophetic Scripture declarations. For instance, He said: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18, ESV).

This was more than the people of the nation wanted to hear, especially the religious leaders. Consequently, the leaders set themselves to be against Jesus. There were opportunities get Him, but they could not pull it off. Finally, they were able to arrest Him and put Him on trial. They did not realize that this was all a part of God’s plan. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him (Acts 13:27).

Jesus stood before Rome’s governmental representative in the text of Matthew 27:27-31. The people in that court-setting looked at Jesus and with disdain mocked Him as they rejected His mission and message. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head (Matthew 27:28-30).

Jesus came to this earth to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), but the lost did not recognize their very-bad-standing in the Lord’s presence. Consequently, they rejected Him and His message. Because they failed to understand and most of the people living to day have failed to understand – the reason for the season is lost on everyone. What is the reason for the season? The reason for this season and every season of the calendar year is for the Christian to live and preach Jesus.

Here you have it.  RT

 

A Confused Christian Community on Campus

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David Lipscomb College or, as it is known today, David Lipscomb University, in their student on-line “paper” “Lumination Network” has an article “in recognition of National Coming Out Day.”

Reflect on this for just a moment, a Christian university that supposedly stands for the moral foundations of the Lord allows students to come out in support of “National Coming Out Day”, an effort to buttress or reinforce the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. Is this acceptance of the behavior? It appears to be exactly that.

It is reported this is “about freedom to be who you are” on this Nashville campus. Student Aria Bartley said, “There’s a difference between acceptance and supporting, and although not everyone is going to be supportive, this is about learning to accept everyone for who they are.”

Does she realize what she is saying? The behavior of the transgender and homosexual community – does the Lord support and accept them.

Consider:

For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due (Rom. 1:26-27, ASV).

One can’t read the above passage and conclude the Lord accepts and supports the behavioral lifestyle that is contrary to His will. One can’t accept it unless one’s thinking is clouded with the ways of the world.

Perhaps those who came out to support the LGBT day simply wanted to educate others, at least this is what was said: “The students had conversations with the student body and sought to educate outsiders on what it means to be a part of the LGBT community to anybody who stopped by the community gathering around the Bison.

I am curious about what would be said. Would the education be with regard to what the Lord teaches, or would it be the desires of a secular, progressive and atheistic world? I suspect the latter. That will be too bad for those who accept and support people who live contrary to the Lord’s will. His standard of holiness will not be compromised by any without there being accountability on the ultimate “coming out” day, otherwise known as Judgment Day.

What a sad day when the Lipscomb handbook speaks about standing up for “biblical standards of sexual morality” but then has a staff member (Dr. Paul Prill) as an unofficial advocate for the community as they “come out”.

Those who struggle with the immoral behavior need support and education to change their way of thinking from the ways of this world to the ways of the Lord. There are a great many people in this world who would willingly support and help those who bend their knees before the Lord and ask to be forgiven. Jesus said to all, “Come unto me…take my yoke…my burden is light…”

The Lord’s burden is much lighter to carry than one’s own. RT

 

 

The Straw Man That Was Not

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The following article (https://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2014/07/02/obama-george-w-bush-quinnipiac-poll-reagan-clinton/11985837/) generated a discussion that was strange.

There was nothing in relation to this link that I said except “Hmmm.” I made no argument concerning the content, made no remarks concerning agreement or disagreement; in fact, I said nothing about it.

Someone did, though.

One brother typed, “Fake News.”

An interesting remark, since it came from the USAToday website.

I replied to that: “Then USAToday is Fake News”

He replied: “The article is fake news. 1st is outdated. 2nd. Its sampled from a very small minority. 3rd. A similar poll has Trump as the worst (same circumstances applied).”

Note that he called it “fake news.” To speak of something as “fake” is to say that it is not real, not true, thus false. Yet, nothing in what he said gives indication of anything false. It is “outdated” does not say that it is false, “sampled from a very small minority” does not say that it is false or untrue and Trump has worse numbers also does not say that something written within is false or untrue.

I replied to this: “dated is not fake, your denying notwithstanding. The sampling can be criticized if you like, but if it’s the norm for such actions, then you not liking it means nothing. Perhaps Trump is worse, I don’t know. I don’t follow or reverence him like some do with others.”

What did he say to this?

“Ron Thomas thats a strawman argument. You posit that I dont like the results and then criticize the assertion. You have no idea if I like the results or not. I simply stated that the message of the article is false. Misleading at best. To gather 35 ultra conservatives and ask them who is the worse president ever is prejudicial and you know it. It produces fake results, making this article fake news.

Notice what I said above. There is no argument from me in anything I said to this point, neither did I say anything about his liking or not liking. My remark about “your denying not withstanding” was not a comment on his liking or disliking the contents of the article, only that he wrongly attributed “fake news” status to the article. He said, moreover, that my reply to him was a “strawman argument.” Go back and see what I said – I said nothing that can be construed as an argument, not even a syllable’s worth. He said the article is false, which means the data used in the content of the article is nothing but lies (at worse), untrue otherwise because “to gather 35 ultra conservatives” alters the results.

35 ultra conservatives? I don’t remember reading anything about the sampling being conservative, to say nothing of ultra conservative.

To what he said, I replied: “Do you even know what a ‘straw man’ argument is? What about the article that is fake/false? It was a report in 2014 of a survey of popularity concerning presidents. Do you know if there are 35 ultra conservatives who thus judged? If your assertion is right, then I agree it is unbalanced. But do you see ‘ultra conservatives’ in the piece, or even ‘republican’? If not, then why assert?”

For the benefit of understanding, here is a definition from a Logic Textbook: “It is argument by caricature. It avoids dealing with the real issue by changing the opposition’s view” (Come Let Us Reason Together, p. 101).

The one who replied to what I posted asserted I made an argument (when I made none), then tried to tag me with this fallacy, the fallacy of setting up a straw man. Here is another source: “The Fallacy of “straw man” is changing or exaggerating an opponent’s position or argument to make it easier to refute” (The Fallacy Detective, p. 68).

With these two definitions in mind, see if what I said to him, to this point, is a straw man. Did I change anything he said or exaggerate his position? I simply considered the words he used.

He did not like what I said, he replied: “still attacking my intelligence huh? Thats called an ad hom fallacy. Smh. My statements stand. You disagree. Carry on.”

Now, I am “attacking his intelligence”? More than that he said I am doing it “still.” Wow!

I called into question, only, his use of the term “straw man” – this is not questioning his intelligence, not even close! Amazing!

Then he says I used an ad hominem reply to him. From the same two sources, here is the definition of ad hominem: “This is argument by character assassination. ‘reject whatever he says because he is a bad person’” (Reason, p. 93); “attacking an opponent’s character, or his motives for believing something, instead of disproving his argument” (Fallacy, p. 47).

In all that I said to this point, is there any character assassination, an ad hominem attack? No reasonable person will agree with his interpretation of what I wrote.

So, I replied: “Ken, you used the term, but you did not properly apply the term, so I asked. Shake your head if you like. You assert ‘ultra conservative’, so I asked for evidence, shake your head if you like. You said I insulted your intelligence by asking you a question and then said, ‘I spoke against the man’ (the meaning of the Latin term), when you give no evidence I spoke against you as a man. Shake your head if you like. Others will have to read and discern.”

The brother in the Lord replied to me, “Accusing me of incorrectly using the term is another attack upon me. (Ad hom). I in fact did use the term (strawman) properly”.

Be sure to note the authoritative source definitions and his use of the terms to see if there is a match.

Moreover, he said, “You posited an argument, (actually an assertion) that I do not like ‘sampling’ as a way of polling, and consequently implied that I do not like the results. It is a strawman argument because I have never said nor asserted that I do not like “sampling” as a way of polling, nor have I implied that I do not like the results.”

Again, go back and see what I said; you will notice I said nothing of the sort. He said, “nor have I implied that I do not like the results” and compare with his remark below when he said “the poll is skewed.”

Here is his point in this discussion: “You set up a strawman…and proceeded to knock it down. Further your comments contributed nothing to my original statement that it is fake news. The message of the article is that Obama is the worse president since WWII. And that is a lie. The poll is skewed, the article is misleading, and it is the epitome of the definition of ‘fake news’.”

From this, I brought my part in the discussion to a close: “Ken, this conversation is going nowhere. Others will have to read and judge.”

It is clear to me, from this discussion, the brother does not know what an argument is in a debate context. In posting a news-link, I made no argument. In posting a news-link, the piece online was simply a survey of opinions, not a substantive story that made a case for or against a person.

There was nothing I posted at the outset that can be in any way construed as an argument. I did not assert a single thing, I did not say premise one is the case, premise two is the case, therefore the conclusion stands (a formal deductive argument in debate). I did nothing of this sort. He perceived I said something when I said nothing.

Neither does he know the meaning of the terms he used, though he said he does. If he does know the meaning, then he terribly misused the terms in discussion. I did not speak against the man, I only question his use of the terms he used – which is NOT “attacking the man.”

Is this brother a partisan political apologist? Perhaps.

 

A Morality Test the Community Would Fail

One will hear people in the public sector of the community speak about morality in such a way there is no doubt about the moral standard used to judge an action wrong.

For instance, “Appearing alongside a deacon and other religious leaders at a Capitol Hill news conference on Tuesday, Booker said that in a ‘moral moment,’ one is called to either fight against ‘evil’ or be ‘complicit’ in it”.

Why was this a moral matter? Because it was asserted the Judge Kavenough of the DC Court of Appeal would role back voting rights, gay rights, civil rights, reproductive rights and access to healthcare. What was the evidence for this hysterical moment of the Senator from New Jersey? To complicate his unhinged remark, he referred to a portion of Psalm 23, “we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death” attributing the words to Abraham (see link above). It appears some fellow senators are distancing themselves from him and also mocking him.

It appears the senator knows little of his own moral code except it be politically based. Moreover, there is no chance he could defend his moral code in public dispute as being anything objective, transcendent and obligatory on any other person – except to compel others to submit by force of arms or the Law. As Dr. Robert Price would argue, emptily I might say, this is a social contract that some few people (elitists) would compel on others.

In Ohio, a text was put on administrative leave because in her classroom she gave the students a moral test. Parents were outraged.

With regard to the report and two of the questions, I understand why some parents might have seen this as troubling. One question read: “Using both a condom and a pill, a brother and a sister decide that they want to sleep with each other — just once, to see what it would be like.” The student was asked if this was OK or Not OK, with varied options in-between.

Is it okay? Not a chance! Yet, many in the community would fail this simple test because, like Senator Booker, their moral compass is fluid, it’s based on what many others are saying. Even if one thought it to be wrong, on what basis would the one who thinks it to be wrong say that it’s wrong?

Here is another question that stirred some of the parents: “Sarah’s dog has four puppies. She can only find a home for two of them, so she kills the other two with a stone to the head.”

Okay, I get it. It is troubling to have to consider a question like this, whether it is okay or not okay or somewhere in-between. I am sure, however, some of those who would be troubled by this question are the same as those who support killing innocent children in the womb! Consider the following link.

Some liberals consider this not wrong at all – so why the outrage with killing puppies?

I will tell you why. From the Lord’s perspective, the value of a human life is far greater than the value of an animal, but animals should not be abused in any sort of way. The Lord created them for man’s use, not abuse. What rights do animals have? There is nothing in animals that are associated with inherent rights, or the ethical principles of freedom associated with right and wrong. Animals are amoral.

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. (Proverbs 12:10, ASV). Notice the word “righteous.” A righteous man will take care of his animals, his livestock; he will care for them in a way that allows their life longevity and productivity. The word righteous, however, can’t be properly understood outside the ways of God. When used and defined by man, the definition is like a piece of driftwood on the waters, going back and forth until water-logged and sinks.

Many in our community would fail a moral test, even those who consider themselves well-informed on such matters. RT

What was Peter thinking?

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Why did he think it was okay to take Jesus aside and try to prevent Him from going to Jerusalem? From Peter’s perspective this was not the only option available for the “Christ of God”? Before we criticize Peter, ask yourself the same two questions.

What in the world am I thinking when I place myself at the head of the ship I am navigating in this world? “I don’t do that!” Really? Consider, then, whether or not you cast all your anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7), have you done so? If so, do you believe He is the solution to those worries, and are you patient enough to allow His solutions to be yours?

Why do we think it’s okay to say to Jesus (and anyone else) that I truly have the love of Jesus in my heart even if my actions might allow someone to wonder whether this is so or not? We know that we should attend with the saints, but I am very sleepy, and I only got three hours of sleep last night because of ______ (fill in the blank); Jesus understands. We know we need to be on guard against Satan, he is an adversarial lawyer and seeks to devour us. We justify our approach that nothing is going to happen as we watch this television program full of violence, sex and misbehavior – it’s only fictional. We fail (on purpose?) to give thought or remember the programming we watch infiltrates minds and sows’ seeds.

What was Peter thinking? Whatever it was, the Lord put Peter’s thinking in the proper place when he said to him, in the presence of all, “Get behind me Satan!”

The point is that Peter was not thinking clearly, and neither are we along these same lines.

Does God Hear?

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It is a wonder of the heart: does God hear my prayer? Does He hear when I am wallowing in my sin, consumed by the aggressive tones and deeds of Satan? Does He hear when my heart aches for a loved one who passed? Does He hear when I begin to walk the valley where much suffering is experienced? These questions and many more can be (and are) asked. So, what about it?

Notice the following translations: ASV: He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. Brenton’s Translation of Greek Old Testament: He that turns away his ear from hearing the law, even he has made his prayer abominable. ESV: If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. Jewish Publication Society: He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

The key to answering the question “Does God hear?” is in the phrase “turneth away.” In other words, when a person does not have any interest in hearing and obeying the Lord, that person has turned away from the Lord. In such an approach, the answer can only be “No, the Lord does not hear that person’s prayer.” There is no chance I am wrong on this because the verse states it plainly. In John 9:31 and 1 Peter 3:10-12 it is repeated.

If this is so, then how can I get the Lord to hear me when I call. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13, ESV).

Isn’t this kind of harsh? Not at all. We can’t dictate the life we choose to live and then expect the Giver of life to grant us His blessings in our rejection of His course of life offered.

Words of Wisdom (Proverbs 10:6)

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Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked (KJV). The English translation of the Greek Old Testament reads this way, The blessing of the Lord is upon the head of the just: but untimely grief shall cover the mouth of the ungodly (Brenton). Another English reading goes like this: Blessings are upon the head of the righteous; but the mouth of the wicked concealeth violence (Jewish Publication Society Translation). The thought seems clear enough, which is those who are righteous will be blessed, but those who are in rebellion have hidden within a violent, conniving heart. None of this escapes the Lord. Proverbs 15:26, The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD, but gracious words are pure (ESV). The one who loves the Lord and obeys, the Lord blesses him. The one who looks on the Lord and turns away has nowhere to go to hide from the Lord. RT

“You are the Christ of God!”

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For the benefit of clarity, the word “Christ” means anointed. Thus, to speak of Jesus as the “Christ of God,” is to speak of Him as the anointed (chosen) of God. When Peter declared to Jesus and others around him that he (Peter) believes Jesus is the Christ of God, he had come to recognize what God promised through Moses, David and Isaiah was before him as he looked at Jesus. Jesus was pleased with his answer (Matthew 16:16-17). Many of us can answer similarly, but with the academic answer, does our life reflect the answer made as it did with Peter? To say, as Peter did, that Jesus is the Christ of God is to speak something that is in the heart of emotions, not just in the mind of knowledge. Without the latter the former wanders all over the place; without the former, the latter is sterile information. Perhaps you are desperately trying to have both. Many of us are trying to do the same. Stay the course, allow Jesus to be the Captain of your soul, the one you call Lord (cf. Hebrews 5:8-9; Luke 6:46). Doing so means, at the end of the day, you will arrive at your destination. RT

Unscriptural Songs—He Lives

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     This is the second song on the list I have that is considered unscriptural. In what way is it unscriptural? The unscriptural phrase is alleged to be “You ask me how I know he lives: he lives within my heart.” I candidly ask, what in the world is wrong with this? Does not Colossians 3:16 teach this sentiment when Paul writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (NKJV). Yes, there is more to the idea of knowing Jesus lives than that He only lives within one’s heart. Jesus is a historical figure; the New Testament is a historical document. The historical figure and the historical document can be investigated (as it has been through the centuries) whereby one can know, not only believe, that Jesus is the Christ of God. That said, is it really a troublesome thing for a person to speak in a favorable way about Jesus living within the heart of the believer? If you have been around for any length of time as a Christian, then you know well that some people are very academic-oriented, and some are not. Some who are overly academic-oriented want to be exactly right; others who are not so academically-oriented still want to know that which they believe, that which they are doing and in that which they are participating is right (I am not speaking, not even a little bit, about people’s intellectual ability to understand deeper things, or to be less academic and more emotional).

“I serve a risen Savior…” is based on knowledge of God’s word. “…the day of His appearing will come at last” is based on knowledge of God’s word. “Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus the King” is based on the knowledge of God’s word. Thus, when one says he (she) knows Jesus lives because He lives within the heart, one is saying this based on knowing God’s word. RT