The Woodpecker on our Deck

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My wife likes to feed the birds that inhabit SE Wisconsin. Some are seasonal and some stay all year. We’re not bird watchers in the sense that we’d go out in the woods to see a rare bird but we do enjoy watching them gather around the feeder.

This past year we were treated and saw three varieties of birds that we’ve rarely seen-Nuthatches, Chickadees and a Downy Woodpecker who was large enough to chase the other two types away from the feeder.

Male Downy Woodpecker

Male Downy Woodpecker

I guess there are over 200 varieties of woodpeckers. Many are colorful and all are characterized by the long pointy beak that they use to peck away at the insects hidden in the wood of trees.

Readers of this blog know that at one time I was an agnostic, that is, a person who was not quite sure there was a God. This despite a Roman Catholic upbringing.

By the grace of God I never went “full atheist” to deny the possibility of God but on the other hand never took seriously the ramifications that if there was a God then life had meaning beyond the here and now.

The tether that held me to the notion that God was a possibility was Creation itself.

I was amazed by the stars in the sky. As a sport fisherman I was impressed with the varieties of fish that could be found in Wisconsin’s many lakes and rivers. So it was with the birds as well.

The birds intrigued me probably because that when I was in the 8th grade in Catholic School I had a nun who was in the Audubon Society. Rather than teach a straightforward science class (which hurt me in the public school later) she would teach us about birds and the environment (which in the end proved rather useful).

I remember for example, her explaining the contents of a barn owl’s stomach (I think it was a Barred Owl) and how God designed the barn owl to be a night hunter of rodents, rodents that left unchecked ruined crops and are in general a nuisance to people.

Pretty good camo scheme on this bird!

Pretty good camo scheme on this bird!

The key word that stuck was design. The barn owl like the woodpecker certainly has the appearance of design-a design with a specific purpose. The barn owl is a night hunter of rodents without the benefit of night vision goggles and the woodpecker with its unique beak was a hunter of insects that hid in the wood of trees. Perhaps I’m easily impressed but to me it speaks of a Creator who is into variety and creativity!

Evolutionists argue that the variety of birds we see simply evolved over long periods of time. The barn owl for example somehow “figured out” that night hunting for rodents was more productive that staying awake during the day like a hawk and then hunting. Or, in the case of the woodpecker, an extra long beak would evolve because somewhere along the evolutionary trail the woodpecker would “figure out” the best insects hide in the wood of a tree and a specialty tool would be required to ferret them out.

Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis likes to say that both sides of the debate have the same evidence they simply interpret that evidence differently. I would agree and I would argue  that it takes a certain amount of faith to believe that a woodpecker’s unique design was by chance over long periods of time. I think it takes far less faith to see intelligent design in the universe. I thank God for that tether of grace he sent me when I was an agnostic. Eventually, it would lead me to the real issue of what do I do with Jesus who was involved in the Creation.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17 ESV)

I know a lot of folks out there wonder about intelligent design and do not totally buy the faith of the evolutionists. That’s good as it was good for me. The real issue though is what do you do with Christ? If you are considering intelligent design you are considering a Creator. The passage I just cited challenges you to consider Christ. It’s good counsel.

Let’s Revisit the Crusades_God’s Battalions by Rodney Stark

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A reblog from my history blog.

History That Interests Me

I remember watching Hollywood’s epic production of the Kingdom of Heaven and wondering just how much was factual especially when it came to the much noted chivalry of Saladin. Was he really the very picture of the western knight in eastern garb and were the Templar’s as bad as the movie made them out to be?

If you saw the movie you might remember that Saladin, impressed with the bravery of Balian in his defense of Jerusalem allows the Christians to evacuate the city peaceably. This scene is supposed to be in contrast to the First Crusade when the crusaders massacred the Muslim inhabitants of the city (and they did). The message was and is the crusaders barbarous and the Muslims civilized.

The below scene is from the Director’s Cut of the movie and it features an apparition in the garb of a Knight Hospitaller who warns Bailian that a…

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Christmas Thoughts on Aging and Future Glory

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I remember my 40th birthday some 20 years ago. I was moping to be honest.

It was my last full year of playing\managing a soft ball team that I loved to do. The league we played in disbanded because the grounds were being turned over to soccer of all things. It was time to disband I guess.

But the other issue was my declining physical condition. I had always had trouble with both feet do to a congenital condition which even by 1993 had limited my abilities to play ball.

Had to hang up the spikes a long time ago.

Had to hang up the spikes a long time ago.

I remember turning 40 and being somewhat down realizing that the “writing on the wall” was in evidence and I was no longer a young man and having  some physical limitations was becoming an increasing reality.

Fast forward 20 years.

I’m now in ministry and as a job it’s a blessing for a lot of reasons but one is it’s fairly easy on my legs and feet. But having said that I am more aware than ever that all things being equal I’ve got maybe another 20 years before eternity.

That’s another 20 years of declining health. In fact as I write this I’m laid up with a bad knee that has osteo arthritis and probably a ligament tear. To top it off we’re in the middle of a major snowstorm and I have to reply on my son to come over and dig us out. It’s discouraging and it hurts my pride  to reply on others to do what I usually do when it snows.

We've seen worse but visibility was terrible near the lake.

We’ve seen worse but visibility was terrible near the lake.

I’m not whining mind you and I’m perfectly aware we have friends much worse off than we. Some have cancer and others have multiple problems that seem to be stacking up. Aging it seems is an equal opportunity employer and sooner or  later it catches us with everyone.

How is a Christian to view these things? What prevents the dark cloud of discouragement when one’s body no longer obeys?

I think there are many scriptural truths that apply, way too many for a blog post, but one that comes to mind is this one:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. [19] For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. [20] For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope [21] that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. [23] And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. [24] For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? [25] But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25 ESV)

I can identify with the groaning because I am groaning as part of the creation. But the question that comes to mind is what am I groaning about?

The easy answer is I’m groaning about my limitations and the associated pain. It’s not whining, just groaning because it hurts and it hurts to have to rely on others to do things I used to be able to do. And that’s fine and normal as far as it goes. It really only becomes a problem when we drift into self-pity because that’s like telling God “how could you let this happen to me” or ” “I don’t deserve this so my bitterness is justified.”

While I may be tempted toward those attitudes I have to consider what the Scripture says instead. Note what Paul says in verse 23.

He says we groan inwardly as we await the completion of Christ’s redemptive work in our bodies!

Now this is something quite different from just sitting around and groaning about aches and pains and limitations and slipping into bitterness and self-pity. This is a groaning of a different sort. It’s groaning because it seems the wait for the redemption of our bodies is just a bit too long and we are eager for it to happen.

This is a supernatural thought. On the surface it seems to be wishing for death and a release from the physical pains and while death does bring that release the verse promises much more than a release. It promises an actual redemption of the body, that is, a new body, that is free from corruption and decay.

In verse 24 Paul says “for in this hope we were saved” and in verse 25 he exhorts us to patience.

My problem is that I think too little on future glory and the redemption of a failing body and too much on present afflictions. That’s easy to do because I’m in the middle of that now and the tendency is to think “well, it’s not going to get any better” and it’s not, even though the doctors might “fix it” a little bit or at least reduce the pain but in the end the body will fall apart-guaranteed!

And that’s why Scripture exhorts us to make a decision to change focus because changing focus gives hope in the midst of suffering. It’s having faith in God’s promise that he will reverse the effects of the fall for those that trust Christ and eagerly await the redemption of our pitiful bodies. It also helps us live one day at a time worrying about today’s troubles today and just doing the best we can with whatever limitations that have been assigned by God.

jesus-birth

The baby born in a manger came to make things right. Yes, he came to redeem those that belong to him but he also came to restore a fallen creation to it’s former state of glory. And that includes a body that is increasingly aware of its limitations.

Thank God for the promise and thank God for Jesus and the hope he provides!

Go Duck Hunting Phil Robertson

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Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

Paul's main concern was for the purity of the church not the Corinthian culture as a whole.

Paul’s main concern was for the purity of the church not the Corinthian culture as a whole.

I could be wrong but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a church with the word “Corinth” in its name. It would be odd if there were such a church.

Corinth in the apostle Paul’s day was an immoral cesspool even by pagan standards and was well-known throughout the ancient world as such (and that is saying something).

The problems within Corinthian culture were also present within the Corinthian churches and the great apostle spent a large amount of ink trying to straighten them out and give them hope for change. In fact, Paul makes it a priority to point out that the sexual immorality within the church is actually worse than within the Corinthian culture:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.
(1 Corinthians 5:1 ESV)

Paul took sin seriously and he took it particularity seriously when it occurred among professing believers like the Corinthian churches. He took it so seriously that the man mentioned in 1 Corinthian 5:1 got booted from the church because he was unrepentant. Paul’s priority was the purity of the church and not the Corinthian culture. Paul relied on the Spirit of God to change individual sinners from the culture rather than trying to turn around the entire culture. Jesus came to save sinners who knew they were sinners and not sinners who denied the word “sin” in the first place. Our culture, by and large, does deny sin especially when it comes to sexual morality be it heterosexual or homosexual.

Phil Robertson of the popular A & E show Duck Dynasty was suspended (fired?) by A & E largely for paraphrasing 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and making a crude reference to the anatomy of women and what homosexuals  use the anatomy of other men for. The LGBT crowd was predictably “outraged” when Phil made the crude reference although he was certainly pointing out the obvious. They were further outraged when Phil paraphrased the above Scripture and mentioned the most politically incorrect term of all, sin.

Phil Robertson is on the right.

Phil Robertson is on the right.

Personally, I think it was only a matter of time before one of the Duck Dynasty stars said something politically incorrect and LGBT piranhas would smell blood and go in for the kill. The show was simply too popular, too wholesome and too funny without being filthy to remain a small target in a Corinthian culture that recognizes few if any boundaries.

Statements from official LGBT groups included words like “vile” and “unscientific” and “unchristian” which is a bit amusing given Paul’s rather blunt and straight forward words on the subject. Perhaps Paul was not a Christian?

Clearly A & E fears LGBT political correctness more than they value free speech. Bible-believing Christians need to recognize the playing field is not level nor fair. Robertson should have known and perhaps he did before he shared his biblically grounded opinion on homosexuality and sin. In fact, I rather suspect that Phil did know he was treading on politically incorrect ground. I further suspect that he’s not all that concerned about getting fired. In a related story it was reported he cancelled an interview with Barabara Walters (probably a set up) and went duck hunting instead. I suspect that Phil and family will do just fine without A & E.

Phil’s response to getting fired is really without apology. He admits to his own “Corinthian” lifestyle prior to Christ as well as what it means to Phil to follow Jesus now. He also points out that disagreeing with LGBT types is not the same as hating them, something that all the Bible-believing Christians I know would agree with it-a fact that is lost on the LGBT community who seek not just respect but endorsement of what they practice. Here’s Phil’s response to the hate filled responses he received from the LGBT:

“I myself am a product of the ’60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

Phil was not putting himself on a moral pedestal. In his response he says quite bluntly he was “Corinthian” until Jesus found him and he repented, thus having genuine hope. This is akin to the apostle Paul’s words in verse 11; “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Go duck hunting Phil and let the chips fall where they may.

Obama Crosses the Rubicon

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I believe that the founders of our country had a measure of genius and most of that came from being keen observers of the past. They were educated men with a grasp of history as well as students of government of states long ago that had passed into the dust bin of history. They also seemed to understand human nature quite well which compelled them to create a system of checks and balances to prevent one faction of government becoming too powerful and tyrannical.

I'm Thomas Jefferson and if I could I'd roll over in my grave.

I’m Thomas Jefferson and if I could I’d roll over in my grave.

Perhaps the government they studied most was that of ancient Rome.

Rome was a republic before it became an empire. It wasn’t a republic in the same sense the US is supposed to be a republic but it did have republican ideals in an early development form.

For example, the Roman Legions under the Republic (and later under the Empire) carried an Eagle Standard (Aquila). A small model of an eagle sat on top of the standard pole and right under that eagle was a small flag with the letters SPQR. The letters stood for the Senate and People of Rome.

245px-Vexilloid_of_the_Roman_Empire.svg

The Roman Republic was under the rule of a plurality of senators. The Romans had a distrust of kings having tossed out the last Etruscan one prior to the formation of the republic. To prevent the military from abuses the legions were controlled by consuls who had term limits and who had to be elected by the senators. It certainly was not a perfect system but it was unique compared to the despotic regimes to the east and barbarian warlords to the west and north of Rome. The uniqueness of  the system is why our founders found aspects of it quite attractive.

The Roman Republic died a slow death as powerful individuals (Marius, Sulla, Caesar) backed by the powerful Roman Legions hacked away (usually literally) at its ideals. This was the issue that got Julius Caesar killed. The Roman Senate rightly suspected that Caesar would make himself emperor after he had taken care of his last rival (Pompey) and crossed the  Rubicon River essentially daring the Senate to stop him.  We remember what followed as the Ides of March and Brutus’ betrayal but at the root was the distrust of one man becoming too popular and too powerful. Hence, Caesar was assassinated.

What followed was another nasty civil war in which Caesar’s nephew Octavius emerged the victor. Octavius became Augustus and the republic was dead forever. Augustus was followed by Tiberius, the infamous Caligula, Claudius and Nero who was the last of Caesar’s line.

Caligula has gone down in history as the insane tyrant. Scholars debate the degree of insanity. However, even by the loose Roman standards Caligula was a degenerate and that's saying something! One of the stories regarding Caligula and his disdain for the Roman Senate includes making the Senate honor his horse as a fellow senator.

Caligula has gone down in history as the insane tyrant. Scholars debate the degree of insanity. However, even by the loose Roman standards Caligula was a degenerate and that’s saying something! One of the stories regarding Caligula and his disdain for the Roman Senate includes making the Senate honor his horse as a fellow senator.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/abrahamlin101395.html#jpEcwTT79FjBSzIY.99

While Caesar’s line was extinguished other strong men emerged as the emperor became more and more supreme and the senate less and less important often serving as a mere rubber stamp for the emperor. The emperor had a Praetorian Guard while the Senate did not so to disagree with the emperor was to risk one’s life and property.

The founders of our republic knew all this and much more. They knew the temptation of power and they knew what tyranny looked like. They took great pains to mitigate human nature and lessen the risk of one faction of government dominating all the rest. The chief executive, the President, was to be a President and not a king and his power was to be limited by a congress while a watchful Supreme Court was to make sure the Constitution was the law of the land rather than a edict from a strong man.

While the system was not perfect it worked well enough until fairly recently when an unscrupulous cabal of progressives under President Obama sought to undermine the balance of power by over using executive orders.

The latest outrage is the hiring of John Podesta as counselor to President Obama. Politico puts it this way:

It also signals a more aggressive focus by the White House on using executive authority to circumvent Congress in the final three years of the administration.

The vehicle used to circumvent the check and balance of Congress (House and Senate) is executive authority. In other words, if the President says it, then it will be done. It’s Podesta’s job to counsel Obama and use that power.The rational put out to the American people will be, it will end the grid lock of a do nothing Congress. It’s a knock against the Republican House that wrestled control of the house from the Democrats in 2010 as Obamacare was roundly rejected. Podesta’s focus will be ramming that deeply flawed entitlement down the people’s throats come hell or high water.

In other words, Podesta is the power behind the throne (and the IRS and FBI could very well turn out to be the Praetorian Guard and used as enforcers. We’ve already seen glimpses of that!

It’s a naked power grab on top of any number naked power grabs by this administration. Why there hasn’t been more of an outcry in the House and Senate suggests that the majority are complicit in the undoing of our republic. Harry Reid, strong man in the Senate would be chief among the conspirators.

The people, by and large, seem largely ignorant or indifferent as to how our government is supposed to work. The Founders were not afraid of gridlock. They were afraid of power grabs and gridlock prevented that!

I suppose as long as the Bread and Circuses (entitlements) continue the majority will slumber through it all being more concerned about their free iPhones that their loss of liberty.

Abraham Lincoln in the midst of a bloody civil war said this in the Gettysburg Address: Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

It is perishing folks. It’s why I’m Tea Party.

Why a mom won’t take her children to a creationist zoo

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Why I won’t be going back to Bristol’s creationist zoo
A creationist zoo in Bristol will bewilder adults and potentially undermine children’s education

So read the title of an article in Great Britain’s The Guardian.

The gist of the article was to believe in creationism (as represented by the creationist zoo displays in Bristol) is to turn your back on a mountains of scientific evidence to the contrary. In this way the author believes that “religious fundamentalism and biblical literalism”” is dangerous because it potentially undermines children’s education.

The author appreciates freedom of speech and freedom of religion but concluded she would not revisit the zoo with her children presumably because she perceives the danger of believing in creationism is a significant detriment to their scientific education.

This poster is typical of the unkind and at times even hateful things hurled at creationists. We are considered backward and of having closed minds. As Ken Ham often says both sides have the same data. It's a matter of the interpretation of the data.

This poster is typical of the unkind and at times even hateful things hurled at creationists. We are considered backward and of having closed minds. As Ken Ham often says both sides have the same data. It’s a matter of the interpretation of the data.

The author’s name is Alice Roberts. Ms. Roberts is Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham (GB).

I first came across the article via a FB link posted by a British acquaintance with whom I share an interest in history. He posted it without comment so I’m not entirely sure as to why he posted it and I hate to assume motive.

But, I went to the link and it got me thinking about a number of things.

One, the article used words that mean different things to different people.

Creationism is one. For example the author may have meant she didn’t believe that God created everything and man all at the same time or she may have meant she did believe that God did create but used macroevolution to do so. Professing Christians in our own country have differing views on how God did it. She may have also meant that God had nothing to do with creation and may be an atheist herself. We don’t know because she did not define the term as to what she meant.

The same is true when she alludes to biblical literalism. To people who take the Bible seriously those terms can have shades of meaning. For example, I do not believe that trees actually clap their hands like it says in a Psalm. The Psalms are Hebrew poetry and it would be just weird to interpret that kind of literature in a literal way without recognizing the poetry.

She also makes reference to “fundamentalists” without defining what she means. I think she means one who takes the Bible literally but as I’ve already noted that can mean different things to different people. I would consider myself a fundamentalist when it comes to believing the fundamentals of the faith, that is, those doctrines that are both fundamental and foundational to Christian faith.

This is an issue we Christians have to face when we read articles like that in a  newspaper or magazine. Terminology is important and we need to remember we live in a world that does not speak the language or define terms like we would. Asking, what do you mean by that can be a helpful tool in trying to understand where a person is coming from.

Two, I thought the article was interesting since it gave the view of a professor that teaches science to the public. I think is helpful because as a creationist I want to know what a non-creationist thinks and believes and why, especially why. Ms. Roberts simply believes the evidence of macroevolution is overwhelming and that ends the discussion. That’s good to know from my point of view should I ever meet Ms. Roberts at a party (as unlikely as that is).

I did think she was preaching to the choir because there was a side bar link which stated 4 out 5 Britons reject creationism. This made me wonder who it was she was trying to convince that creationism is dangerous.  She did say she wanted to explain why she didn’t want her children to be exposed to the zoo so I suppose she wanted the 4 out 5 Britons who reject creationism to reject the zoo as well. That would be bad for business so perhaps her intent was to hurt the business. Another British friend once told me that The Guardian leans to the British left so hurting business may very well have been point just as it is in our country.

The article reminded me of trips with my son to the Milwaukee Museum when he was small. We went to the zoo knowing full well they had the famous timeline posters in the anthropology section that show man emerging from some kind of monkey with the differing stages of development until we arrive at Homo sapiens. I could fear that or deal with it and have a discussion. We did have the discussion (and most recently at a baseball game in a different context). The discussion was based on the fact that macro-evolution is still a theory because it lacks conclusive proof despite the opinions of people like Ms. Roberts who believe the theory to be a forgone conclusion. They must find that frustrating because others have a rather different theory from where we came from.

I also wondered that since she thought creationists were dangerous (because they are religious fundamentalists) what might she may be subtly suggesting. I do not think myself as dangerous because I believe God created the heavens and the earth but if enough people find that dangerous thinking in a free society one has to wonder how long freedom of speech and freedom of worship will be tolerated by those who think we are truly dangerous?

The professor suggested nothing threatening of the sort but I am keenly aware that it’s a hate crime to speak out against the sin of homosexuality in the neighboring Country of Canada. That is an ominous sign in a free country and political correctness is taking on troubling tones in our own country with many preaching that if someone is offended by anything at all then there should be a law preventing a perceived offender from offending. It’s nuts, but that’s the way it is going.

My third thought had to do with the author’s comment that she wanted her children to be able to think critically. To that I gave a hearty amen. Too often our American (and British) cultures suffer from a lack of critical thinking much to our detriment. In fact, I thought that universities were originally founded to become a marketplace of ideas where critical thinking would be much in evidence regardless of topic. That a professor of science would find creationist ideas so dangerous that she would not expose her children to them further suggests that she’s not so much about critical thinking as she seems to believe. One could easily walk away from the article thinking that maybe she would prefer censorship to protect her children from those dangerous creationists.

My son attended a private Christian High School. Both sides of the debate (Creation\Macro Evolution) were presented fairly. That’s the critical thinking Ms. Roberts seems to desire, yet apparently fears the debate because she finds it foolish given the mountains of evidence she claims to possess..

Deeming one side of the debate as dangerous and/or foolish is akin to demonizing your opponent or disrespecting a differing point of view by implying that a side is simply too stupid or blinded by religious fervor to rightly consider the facts. And while I am certain there are foolish creationists I’m equally sure there are arrogant professors of science with closed minds.

Ms. Roberts doesn’t seem to grasp the notion that everyone in the debate has the same facts but interpret those facts in different ways. The macro evolutionist presupposes some things just as the creationist presupposes some other things. Those presuppositions tend to drive the interpretation of the data.

Much could be said about the article itself and the presuppostionialism implied but that is not the take I want to discuss as much fun as that might be.

My fourth thought or group of thoughts has to do with what Christians call a testimony. In other words what does the journey look like when one becomes a Christian.

For example, we do not believe that being baptized in a church makes one a Christian anymore than being in a garage makes one a car. To become a Christian one must be born again as Jesus explains in John 3 and John 3 does not mean being baptized.

It also means one has to somehow overcome intellectual stumbling blocks that prevent a person from even wanting to become a Christian in the first place.

In my case, despite being raised in the Roman Catholic Church when I was young, I became an agnostic by my early twenties and into my thirties. An agnostic is someone who is not sure there is a God.

My stumbling block was the Bible in general, not the New Testament so much because whatever else I may have thought Jesus does comes off as a rather good fellow in the New Testament. No, my issue was more with the Old Testament and despite my limited knowledge I knew there were things in there that were rather hard to believe.

At some point a person has to come to grips with a talking snake and talking donkey and a big flood as well as time being frozen for a day as the Israelites destroy an enemy. My favorite argument as a friend tried to talk to me about Jesus was to distract him by talking about Noah and the flood.

I was like sure Bob, I hear you, but what about Noah, how did he get all those critters on that boat? Note the sarcasm and intellectual superiority on my part. I was like heh Bob you are an idiot if you believe that nonsense. That was insulting especially because Bob was not an idiot nor a wild-eyed fanatic.

Bob was a good sport and one day made reference to this passage below probably because he was sick of me insulting him.

[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” [14] And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” [15] He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” [16] Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” [17] And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” [20] Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20 ESV)

The passage simply speaks about Jesus’ identity. While I may have thought Jesus a pretty good guy that is a far cry from believing he is the Christ the son of the living God and then trusting in him for salvation.

Jesus apparently wants Peter to “get it” and says something rather remarkable and that is Peter didn’t figure out Jesus was the Messiah on his own but God the Father had to reveal it to Peter first. That very idea should be troubling to a non-believer because if the God of Scripture is truth then he has to reveal Jesus as Messiah to people prior to them figuring it out for themselves. To me that’s a whoa kind of thought and it occurred to me that I had it backwards.

The passage represented a crisis to me. Who was Jesus? Was he the good guy I thought he was or was he the Son of the God come to earth as Messiah, the Christ?

If he’s the Christ come to save sinners that has some serious follow-up to it!

That question is just a bit more important than how did Noah get all those critters on the ark or if monkeys morph into men over billions of years. Why?

Because, one’s eternal destiny is dependent on the answer. If you want to believe your ancestor was an ape I really don’t care. I’m more interested in what you think about your eternal destiny. Having solved that riddle I’d me more than willing to talk about monkeys morphing into men.

One can spend a great deal of time discussing the debate between creationists and the macro evolutionists but if we never discuss the issue of eternal consequence it’s pretty much a waste of time as far as I’m concerned.

This is why I did not specifically respond to my FB acquaintance. One he did not ask me for a response by asking a question or making a comment and two I don’t want to spend a lot of time discussing the presuppositionalism of both sides of the debate. There is more than one ministry out there that is far better at it than me and one of them is Answers in Genesis run by Ken Ham an Australian ex-pat now living in the US.

Answers in Genesis

How did depression lead to theft?

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My wife works for a major healthcare provider in our area. Recently, her employer received some unwelcome publicity.

A high level female employee was convicted of embezzling $1,000,000 from the employer as well as one count of identity theft although she messed with the records of 848 fellow employees. She faces 15 years in prison.

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It’s an interesting story on a number of levels including how this obviously intelligent woman was able, over a period of many years, steal so much money and effectively cover her tracks. She was caught because the company made a procedural change and not because the company had effective audit practices. That’s embarrassing.

As a biblical counselor the thing that interested me the most was the woman’s motive or reasons for the theft. Her’s was a position of some responsibility and while I do not know what her salary was I am assuming it was considerable and quite adequate for a comfortable lifestyle, yet she chose to steal $1,000,000. The question is why?

According to the print version of the  Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel she started to gamble after she had lost a prior job some 15 years past. Her stated reason was the gambling helped her deal with the depression resulting from the job loss.

She quickly became addicted to gambling and would frequently lose $10,000 per night on slot machines. I am not familiar with slot machines but that must represent some serious time being spent in order to lose that amount of money! When she felt the need to feed her gambling habit she began to steal more and more.

Since she was convicted it does seem that a measure of justice is being administered but having said that I’d be curious as to what the defense had to say given some of terminology used as to why she did what she did.

The first word is “depression.” She was depressed because she lost a job. To alleviate the sadness she began to gamble. The more she gambled the more she became addicted which is the second word used that sets off alarm bells to me.

In the world of psychology both terms, depression and addiction, are loaded terms. There are numerous labels attached to depression but basically they fall into two basic categories, 1) minor depressive disorder and 2) major depressive disorder. The difference is the number of symptoms observed or expressed.

A working definition of depression is: Depression is a persistent mood that is characterized by intense feelings of inadequacy, sadness, hopelessness, pessimism, apprehension, and a decreased interest in or ability to enjoy normal activity. This mood must last at least two weeks to be diagnosed as clinical depression.

I have no idea if the woman had been diagnosed as being clinically depressed after she lost that first job. If she was, then it probably worked to her favor in her trial because she would have had a medical label attached to her depression or in other words, a major depressive disorder.

The defense could postulate that the woman was sick with something when she was motivated to gamble and then to steal funds from her employer and co-workers, thus alleviating at least some of the personal responsibility.

The second word, “addiction” adds to the perception of sickness or disease.

A working definition of addiction is: Being given over to an undesirable habit to the point of dependence. Psychologists make a distinction between psychological and physical addiction. The most popular theory of addiction is the medical model which views the addiction as an illness with genetic or physical causes. Some psychologists reject this theory. They believe that addictions are psychological in origin.

The so-called medical model of addiction, that is, “an undesirable habit to the point of dependence” also tends to relieve the addict of some if not all responsibility for their actions. In the case of this woman had the defense tried this tactic they clearly failed because she was convicted and given a substantial sentence. However, this is often not the case because the medical model can be persuasive to an unsuspecting and sympathetic jury (which is why I’ll never be selected for a trial like this given my profession).

In other words what often happens is the perpetrator becomes the victim because they have a disease or sickness that explains their undesirable behavior.

The Scriptures would see the situation rather differently.  Scripturally speaking, an addiction is slavery to sin, a habit of the heart which is something a bit more than an undesirable behavior.

To become an addict a person pursues their selfish desires to the point of being enslaved by them. It may feel like they cannot help it but actually it is a decision or a series of decisions that add up to pursuing what they desire most. Whatever the addiction, there is a selfish desire of the heart at work. In the case of the woman she pursued the pleasure given to her by gambling, probably the emotional high given when one wins and the adrenalin rush one gets when risking something in a game of chance.

The Bible calls such behavior idolatry. It is the worship of self but self is not the controlling idol. In the woman’s case the controlling idol was pleasure and to get her pleasure she resorted to theft which in turn contributed to the further worship of the idol.

I suppose that this woman will get some kind of therapy in prison, something to convince her that theft is wrong to feed one’s bad habits. But that kind of therapy does not get to the root of her problem. Only Christ and the sufficiency found in him and his word can change the human heart and cure the worship disorder that she has.

And that’s the way I see it.

Christ can break the addiction cycle and set a person free from the slavery.

Christ can break the addiction cycle and set a person free from the slavery.

Definitions used in this blog post are from The Christian’s Guide to Psychological Terms by Marshall and Mary Asher