Father’s Day

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Who is dad? Let us consider on this Father’s Day who dad should be.

He is a man of Faith, that is, he is committed to the Lord Jesus and leads his family is the straight and narrow way. For a man who is a husband and father to not do this is to let his family down.

He is a man Assured of his direction in life. When much younger, many boys try to find their way in this world, what do they want to do, how will they make a living, by what philosophy will they live. This is something we all can relate to. Once he finds it, then lands safely on that directive path, he is assured where he is going and how to get there.

He is Thoughtful man. Not too much good can be said about a reactionary man, a person who reacts before thinking. There are times in life when one’s anger boils quickly, but it is during those times when slowness to respond is a matter of prudence and wisdom.

He is a Husband. When one thinks of Father’s Day, the children are to be the love-product of a father and mother, a man who loves and treats his wife as the Lord treats the church, loving and nourishing it.

He is a man who is Error-prone. With the positive qualities mentioned thus far, strange that I would include this negative characteristic, I suppose. Yet, it is very much true. Any man who truly knows himself knows he is a man of many failures. Because of this, going back to faith above, he relies on the Father of Glory to give him strength to carry on.

He is a man who is Reassuring. Just as the Father of Glory gives reassurance to him, so he is reassuring to those of his family that fail in their own responsibilities. More than that, however, he is reassuring with the many that he interacts, encouraging them, correcting them, being firm with them because he wants what is best for them, just as the Father of Glory does for humanity.

Tough to live up to? Not really when you think about the One to whom we must give an account—the Father of Glory. RT

Atheism to Christian

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House to House/Heart to Heart Reaches Charlie
 

I am pleased to introduce myself. I am Charles Lumpkins; feel free to call me Charles or Charlie. I have been on the faculty at Pennsylvania State University since 2006, teaching history-oriented courses in the Department of African American Studies and a writing-intensive history course in my home department, the School of Labor and Employment Relations … I entered the program after working twenty years as a professional librarian.

In spring 2017, a heated discussion ensued in my #AfricanAmericanStudies class over several social-cultural issues of the day. Three or four students said disparaging words about the Bible and Christianity. At that time, I had been a practicing #atheist for at least forty years, and I did not care what the three or four said. Yet I could tell they were uttering talking points out of ignorance. I believed if a person expressed a hatred of a #religion, then he or she should explain the #hatred by pointing to specifics in the sacred text of that religion. But what was worse, despite my upbringing as a Roman Catholic, I was ignorant of the Bible and unable to refer to specific passages in the Bible to correct the students’ misunderstanding.

I decided that I must attend a church Bible study group to learn what the Bible says. I thought of a nondenominational church one of my sisters recommended that had a Bible study group for adults that met on Sundays. I did not go to that church because the Sunday bus schedule was inconvenient. (I owned neither a car nor bicycle.)

More importantly, I felt overwhelmed by my wife Rita’s hospitalization in December 2016 and in March and August 2017. With each hospitalization, the doctors said she was near death. Of course, I used her illness as an excuse not to go to any Bible study. I was challenged to be a caregiver for Rita who became thoroughly exhausted from her ordeal. For several months, she used a four-wheel walker and a cane for mobility and had visiting physical and occupational therapists instruct her on adjusting to her new situation.

In September, I became embroiled in a running family argument over money matters between two of my sisters and one of my brothers and his social worker friend. My sisters abruptly stopped talking to me. Then I fell ill for several days with the flu in October. Being that sick was unusual for me. I felt something—maybe God—was telling me to get serious about attending a Bible study group. I no longer felt that Bible study was an academic exercise but a form of emotional or spiritual healing. I needed to get serious about attending a Bible study.

Early in November, I glanced at an issue of the #HousetoHouse periodical that the State College Church of Christ mailed to residents in my neighborhood. This time I read the issue and noticed the schedule of church worship services and Bible study groups. I decided to attend the Wednesday night Bible study in mid-November. The irony is that I had often walked by that church since I moved to the neighborhood in 2006 and never thought about attending Bible study there until I read that magazine issue.

The men and women in State College Church of Christ Bible study group were very welcoming and curious as to what brought me to the Bible study. I got involved in the study and asked numerous questions. I continued week after week with the study. In retrospect, the members of the group were very patient with me, knowing that I was spiritually a baby inside an adult who desperately wanted to become spiritually matured ASAP.

I became excited about the Bible, but I needed much guidance. In December I invited two married couples, Todd and Tricia and Kelley and Maria, to my apartment where Rita and I could have Bible study with them. I struggled emotionally, feeling awful that I had neglected God for over forty years—forty spiritually wasted years. I started attending Sunday morning worship service at the State College Church of Christ in late December and Sunday evening worship in January 2018. Then I made the plunge—no pun intended—to be baptized in February. By April, I began to participate in Sunday worship service by giving scripture readings and opening and closing prayers and later serving the Lord’s supper and collecting offerings. In time I assisted as a facilitator, not as a teacher, in Bible study sessions on Sundays at the church.

I believed I had to make up for the lost years. Nonetheless, God is patiently guiding me and making sure I pace myself.

Wisdom for New Preachers

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Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies

Karns Church of Christ

May 22nd, 2021

Commencement

What would I tell the graduates of the Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies as they have been prepared for a new journey in their lives?

BACKGROUND: I have served as a preacher in the Lord church since 1989; early on, as one who was self-taught. I served in the USAF, living in NM, Guam, Idaho, and various TDY’s, including Saudi Arabia (Desert Shield). I was an NCO in the Air Force and attended leadership training at the NCOLS (Non-Commissioned Officers Leadership School). After my honorable discharge (1 month shy of 11 years), I enrolled in the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions (1993-1995). I was a student at ETSOP just before I turned 33 years old. Life moves rapidly for each of us, now here I am ¾ of the way through my 60th year, 61 around the corner. Decisions of the past are forgotten, and new problems and challenges arrive; experience and wisdom lend a significant hand in helping address them. Hopefully, what I offer will help you minimize problems in your ministry.

From the perspective of a preacher and one who serves as an elder, let me appeal to you to consider the following:

  1. Never allow yourself to be perceived as a threat. Some people, unintentionally perhaps, begin a relationship with another (one or more than one) as a threat. Because of previous experiences, the attitude is adopted, “I am not going to be pushed around by you.” While there may be reasons for this sentiment, when others pick up on it, it immediately puts a gap of uncertainty between two parties. You will be wise to be mindful of this with both the males and females in all contexts. You are not there to change the congregation; you are there to serve them.
  2. Always defer when possible and always be gracious in the deference. When you can defer to the judgment of another, do it. Judgments are opinions; perhaps the judgment of another will work out perfectly, or maybe it won’t. If not, take the high road in your response to another’s judgment that did not work out. Your judgment, also an opinion, may not either.
  3. Earn your pay. Don’t allow the common mockery to be true (“Preachers only work three or four hours a week”). The brethren expect your time in the office to be reflected in your teaching and preaching. They will be able to tell whether you’re using your time wisely. Also, they are expecting you to reflect the life of Christ. If you fail Christ first, it is not long before this failure will be seen by the brethren. RECOMMENDATION: Bible reading 10 Old Testament chapters daily; 15 New Testament chapters daily. Not always easy, but worth the effort.  
  4. You’re not that smart! If you think you are, then a gap is put between you and others. Never compare your knowledge with another. It is expected you’ll be more knowledgeable than most, perhaps all, but if this “I know more than you” attitude presents itself, your time or connection with the brethren is soon over. Moreover, if you present this unseemly attitude, others will seek your fall.
  5. Bible knowledge does not always result in wisdom applied. There is no virtue, in and of itself, in knowing and quoting the Bible. There is much wisdom, however, in living a life of godliness (1 Peter 1:15-16; cf. Ephesians 5:17).
  6. The Lord, His church, your family, then you. The Lord is King of kings, and His church is the holy institution of the saved (Eph. 5:23); your family needs to be among the saved; if not, your effectiveness is minimized. Noah saved his family, but how many did Samuel or David save? After the Lord, your family is your priority. Allow no one to speak ill of your family, but as you defend them (if required), never forget the Lord’s church is His family, do not speak ill of any (Colossians 4:5-6). In your family and in the Lord’s family, be sure you take the crumbs, not the main course.
  7. You’re on a team, not the QB. If the brethren trust you, then you have earned the right to be regarded as a leader. Never forget you are on the Lord’s team, not your own. The Lord is the Head Coach, Quarter Back, and Upper Management. You are an equal in leadership with the elders of the congregation. They oversee the work of the congregation and the spiritual health of the members; your role in leadership is not minimized, only slightly different.
  8. I only lock my office when the saints meet to prevent wanderers from wandering about when not necessary, otherwise, I never lock my office but am an open book with the elders. While its possible there are private matters in your office that no others are to see, I trust those who have a key to the building. I want the elders to have a key to my office. I invite them to come in and look around when I am not in the office, look at my desk calendar, check up on my work. They may or may not do that, but knowing you are open to it allows them to take an extra step in the direction complete trust. If you are struggling with private failings, address them quickly. As required, allow your wife to help; if necessary, involve the elders. Embarrassing? Probably, but better than the alternative.
  9. Reputation and character. Reputation is what people think of you, character is what you are. People may oppose you and, in their opposition, some may lie about you. This was done to Jesus, expect no less. Be sure, however, their accusations are not true in the eyes of the Lord.
  10. People follow you; you had better be right! Because of your position, your knowledge, and your reputation; people tend to follow others they trust. Knowing this will help you. Because this is so, be sure you are right (1 Corinthians 11:1). If not, get things right with the Lord or Matthew 15:14 applies. Even if you are right, deflect all attention to the Lord, for you are following Him.
  11. Respond, don’t react. When you are startled, your response/reaction to what surprised may not be the same as when you “saw it coming.” In my mind there is a difference. To react is to respond without thinking, perhaps flying off the handle (so to speak). For some this is a standard operating procedure. People don’t want to be around those who react without thinking. When you respond, your response is more thoughtful; it can still be wrong, but it’s not a reaction. If you have a temper problem your struggles will be greater than one who does not have one.
  12. You don’t have career; you have a way of life. You are not preaching so you can reach retirement age, you are preaching so you can serve the Lord. If you lose sight of this, then who are you serving? This is not a criticism of retirement, but a criticism of focus.

Below are additional thoughts of respected men.  

  1. Don’t underestimate how people will view you. It is so very unfair, but preachers (and their families) are held to a different standard than any other member of the congregation including the Elders. Sometimes those opinions [from members of the church] will be shared with you, many times they will not, but they do have an impact on your effectiveness in your work. Be conscious of your social media postings and evaluate how they may be viewed by those in and out of the church. Your clothing, hobbies, expenses, social interaction, overall lifestyle will all be under the microscope. Just realize that and understand that ignoring that reality will do your work more harm than fighting the unfairness of it will help you (Charles Hill, elder, Lubeck Church of Christ, Parkersburg, WV).
  2. Show love in everything you do. You can do a lot of things wrong and if people know you are doing it out of love, they will forgive you; you can do things right but if they feel you are motivated by anything other than love, they will find ways to believe what you are doing is wrong. Love is NOT a feeling but an action and putting everyone else ahead of oneself requires a whole lot of discipline. Every successful evangelist I have ever known came off as loving and caring long before they were recognized as a speaker or preacher. I know of two who are excellent as teachers in one-on-one situations even though their speaking ability would have to be rated as sub-standard (speech impediment, organization of thoughts prior to talking (Don Chandler, former elder Lenoir City).
  3. One thing I have seen wrong with some preachers is their complaint, “That’s not what I am paid for.”  Menial tasks are sometimes meaningful tasks.  Also, while preachers are not “pastors,” their work will often be pastoring, in caring for the flock. You are right to warn about social media. It’s a trap that should be avoided (David Pharr, preacher/elder, Rock Hill, SC).  

Closing thoughts: There are many things to add to this list, but these are things I think might be helpful in starting out. I included the thoughts of men who serve or have served as elders. The elders where I live concur with these remarks. Ask another preacher, perhaps his list will be different. It might be different for you when you reach my age and experience in local work. In the end, be sure to live by 2 Peter 3:18 and 2 Timothy 2:24-26.

Chosen and Foreknowledge

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The foreknowledge of God is a difficult teaching of Scripture for one to have an accurate understanding. The meaning of the word is not difficult to understand, but how can God have foreknowledge, and, at the same time, people have free will? Does not the foreknowledge of God guarantee a person will do a certain thing if the Lord sees him do it in the future?

I appreciate the difficulty some people have with this, but I guess I never struggled with the same difficulty.

In 1 Peter 1:1-2, the Lord’s will makes clear those chosen to salvation are in relation to the foreknowledge of God. How does this work?

God sees as far in the future as man will have existence; He sees as far in the past as man had existence. However, God is not constrained by time; humanity measures many things by time, thus the clock on our walls and the days / weeks of the month. God is always in the present; that is why in Exodus 3 and John 8, the Lord was able to identify Himself as “I am,” not “I was” or “I will be.”

Foreknowledge with God is a perspective we have as we seek to understand His comprehensive knowledge with respect to all human history, behind and before us. Foreknowledge does not apply to God; with the Lord, He is already there. In the year 2525, if man is still alive, God is there now.

Even before one reads of the fall in Genesis 3, the Lord looked down through the history of man and saw how each and every person would respond to His will, including His invitation to respond to the Lord Jesus. He saw that you freely chose to obey His will when the Lord Jesus gave His invitation (as in Matthew 11:28-30). As the Lord looked and saw the choice you made, it can be properly said that He chose you for salvation (cf. Rom. 8:29). RT

How We Learn

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Subtitle: KNOWLEDGE IS GAINED

Amy Peikoff, Law Professor, posted on Parler (a social media platform, like Twitter), “[T]he things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g., men become builders by building and lyre-players by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts” (Aristotle: Nichomachean Ethics).

The words of the renown philosopher certainly have a ring of truth; experiences tell us as much. While learning come by experience, it also comes an additional way. Before something can be done, one must learn about that which he is going to build or play. In a similar way, before one knows how to administer justice, exercise a temperate disposition, and even be brave in some situations, he (and she) must know what these qualities of life are and how to implement them.

One’s ability to know comes from where? There are only two sources by which we come to know something. In the natural realm, we come to know things by experience with those material things in our world. A second source by which we come to know something is from outside of our human experience, that is, information comes to us from a Source greater than us. In the case of the Lord, this Source of information interacts with us in our material Universe.

In the natural realm, we come to know things because the Lord created within us the ability to think and discern, we pay attention to those material things we experience. In other words, the mind (brain) generates a logical analysis (or connection) to things in our material world which brings us to conclude this or that about it.

In biblical matters, we take a similar approach. No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me (John 6:44-45). The Lord expected those of His day to learn from what had been written, from a Source greater than the man who put pen to paper (Moses). We gain knowledge by learning and considering the connection between the words written by the One who spoke them and the relation to that which about which He spoke. In Acts 17:11, the truth-seekers in Berea were considered honorable because they compared what Paul spoke with what the Lord wrote.

Information (knowledge) comes from a teacher who teaches you, and you learn. Now it came to pass, while the multitude pressed upon him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5.1). It comes from objects that leave an impression on/with you. But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5.1-8). It comes by what a person reads. “…how that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:3-4). It comes from our response to experiences with objects. And amazement took hold on all, and they glorified God; and they were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to-day (Luke 5.26). It comes from the mind being creative and forming its own impressions. But Jesus perceiving their reasonings, answered and said unto them, Why reason ye in your hearts? (Luke 5.22).

Sometimes, the information we have is not properly analyzed or interpreted for it to be called knowledge, that is, something based on facts; instead, it’s an opinion based on a response to information seen, heard, or read. It’s up to each of us to do something with it; will we pursue to gain more information, or will we be satisfied with what little we learned? It was Paul who wrote about the Source of the knowledge he had, impressing upon the church at Ephesus this admonition, “Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

FALL INTO THE PIT

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Our political environment is very discouraging. Not only do we have in the WH an administration standing opposed to the Lord, but taking a more aggressive stand against the foundation of this country, built on the Judeo-Christian ethic, something liberals and progressives oppose.

Newsmax Magazine published a “sign of the times” piece (p. 66) in their March 2021 issue. In a survey of “1,000 pastors of evangelical and historically black churches” 90% said they believe “events do appear to be lining up” with what Jesus said in Matthew 24.

When the Lord returns, there are no signs. In the context of the Lord’s second coming, He said this, “But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Paul, giving attention to the same thing, wrote this, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2).

A thief does not let others know when he plans to invade and steal that which belong to you!

The section of Matthew 24 that deals with “signs of the times” concern the Lord’s destruction of Jerusalem, not His second coming. The disciples asked about signs, Jesus pointed them to that which He referred, something that would happen within the lifetime of those listening to Him. “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished” (24:34). What is “this generation”? This refers to the people to whom He spoke, not a generation that exists 2,000 years later!

We live in a religious time of uncertainty. Like Justice Taney who ruled in favor of keeping an ethnic people in slavery (he ruled they were not citizens of the United States), the infamous Democrat’s spirit exists in the hearts of many today, the slavery is only different. Because there are such people, Christians needs to shore up their faith, trusting in the Lord (cf. Pro. 3:5), and prepare for when He does come. He will not, however, gives signs to point to His coming.  

The Newsmax survey points to a lack of knowledge amongst the “1,000 pastors”.

Jesus said about the religious teachers of His day who presented themselves as knowing the will of the Lord, “Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit” (Matt. 15:14).

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.

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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.