A Message In Search Of Messengers

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The popular interpretation of “the separation of church and state” is 100% bogus as my fellow blogger Bill points out here.

billover70

For a number of years now, many folks have been fretting over the word, “God”. That’s with a capital G. They seem to feel oppressed, offended and relegated to second class citizenship if they hear it or see it written. This is especially true if the expression emanates from anyone remotely connected with a governmental entity. This would include people like city councilmen, public school educators and politicians. To those so obsessed, the use of that word, or any term suggesting something like a prayer, is almost a disqualification from office.

The basis of this angst is the clause, “wall of separation between church and state”. Some people believe it to be contained in the US Constitution. That is not so. The original Constitution does tell us that no religious test shall ever be required of anyone who holds office in the federal government. Further, the First Amendment states that…

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The Dog ate my Homework

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The dog ate my homework is the old cliché, ready-made excuse for not having homework done and ready to hand in. I’m not sure how often the excuse is used these days by school children but it sure is trotted out by the administration and it’s minions frequently enough.

Dog Ate My Homework

For example; the IRS under Lois Lerner targeted Tea Party groups with special scrutiny in a thinly veiled conspiracy to persecute the administration’s enemies. When President Obama found out he was publicly outraged and promised to get to the bottom of it. Blame was eventually placed on underlings and Ms. Lerner got to slip under the radar, thus escaping culpability and personal responsibility.

The investigation continued because few really believed that some low-level IRS bureaucrat in Cincinnati cooked up and executed the scheme.

So, as part of the investigation access to Ms. Lerner’s emails were demanded and guess what happened? Yes, the dog ate the emails. It happens don’t you know said the new spokesperson for the President, Josh Earnest.

Yes, the emails have all mysteriously disappeared in a computer crash just like the crashes a typical pc owner might have, except we’re talking about the IRS here and by law are to be stored in a permanent system.

So, in a story already riddled with lies, half-truths and stone walling no thinking person believes the latest dog ate my homework concoction.

Consider:

A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies. (Proverbs 14:5 ESV)

The Proverb is clear enough. Character is revealed through speech. The Proverb describes what a faithful witness does not do as well as what to watch out for-the false witness that breathes out lies.

It is the last part of the Proverb that concerns me the most. The vast majority of American people, so it seems, are oblivious to the lies or do not care that the “most transparent administration ever”” is being defined by falsehood, intentional deception, and feigned outrage whenever they get caught red-handed.

It’s been said we get the kind of government we deserve and since we voted the administration in, twice, we are reaping what we have sown for a long, long, time.

 

My dad taught me to throw a baseball

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I don’t usually feel sorry for President Obama but I confess I did just a little when he threw out a first pitch a few weeks ago.

It was pitiful and frankly, quite girly.

It reminded me of my little league days. If a boy threw a baseball like a girl living it down would have taken years if ever. If you’ve seen the movie Sandlot you know exactly what I mean.

I remember well my dad coming home from work and while mom made supper he and I would play catch. Learning to “zing” the baseball was part of the training. I can still hear dad saying, “not like that, like this” because this is how boys throw!

It was the same for all the boys in the hood I grew up in, working class Catholic and Lutherans mostly and yeah, they all got along quite well.

We all had fathers in the home and most were WW2 veterans and most loved baseball as well as their sons and most wanted to raise them right.

They spent time with their sons, working hard to give them a life most of them did not have because they were children of the Depression.

No, it was not a perfect time but certainly traditional family values were more the norm than they are now.

I learned more than how to throw a baseball from my dad.

I learned the importance of work, having a job, and commitment, commitment to my mom when she had a nervous breakdown. Dad never wavered although he was plenty frustrated.

Their wedding vows meant something and in later years dad was a rock in a very difficult situation.

I do not underestimate his example in my life and maybe that’s why I had a tinge of sympathy for the President when he threw out that baseball. His father was a Kenyan leftist radical and his influence on his son is all too apparent.

Thanks dad for teaching me to throw a baseball.

Social Media Wisdom from an Apostle

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Many moons ago my business communications professor made the interesting observation that when you send a message (letter or email which was in its infancy) not only does that message need to be received but it also has to be interpreted by the receiver in the way it was intended by the sender.

The professor was speaking of a business environment where the accuracy of messages sent and received was of paramount importance and the misinterpretation of a message could mean disaster.

At the time FB did not exist nor did TW or any of the other social media venues where messaging is nearly constant. I often wonder what my professor would have had to say about the social media phenomena and what guidance he would give a user of social media. I’m sure he would have complied a list of social etiquette guidelines for us to memorize understanding that corporations often do monitor what their employees post on social media.

Why you may ask?

Because an employee represents the company he or she works for and as a representative of that company a post can say much about the kind of employee the poster is.

It is the same for the Christian. Whether we like it or not we are judged by our words (communications) and as ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20a) there is a need to take that seriously.

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Consider Colossians 4:6:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. ( ESV)

The context has to do with being a positive witness to the outside world; that is, those that do not know Christ as Savior and Lord.

Paul says (and it comes across as a command) that our speech needs to be gracious meaning among other things that when we speak we ought to think of ourselves as influences (salt) and speak or post with wisdom.

Colossians 4:6 is an application of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:13-16, especially verse 13.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 15:13-16, ESV)

Salt is used as a preservative and for seasoning. Jesus’ meaning was that a Christian should seek to be a positive influence in the world for good. Taken with Colossians 4:6 it means that we should wisely use social media for good and at the very least do the gospel no harm with what we post or even “like.”

The Bible has much to say about communications and in my next post I’ll discuss why we often do not use social media for good.

 

 

Truth is Unconstitutional

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Another guest blog today from a thoughtful and articulate gentleman.

billover70

Retirement has provided time to read things for myself instead of knowing little more about our country’s history  than what can be found in school books, and what other people have said. It turns out that those efforts to satisfy personal curiosity have led to an understanding of Thomas Jefferson’s warning:

“A nation that expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of society, expects what never was and never will be”…. By ignorance, of course, he meant the absence of knowledge.

Please allow the offering of an example that has an application to current events.

As most are probably aware, folks with certain spiritual persuasions are often vociferously reminded that public expressions of those beliefs must be constrained in the public square and definitely withheld from the minds of our youth in their public education.

Now let’s suppose that a public official was invited to present an address…

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Anger Abounds in the Heart of Fools

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Guest blog from a friend and seminary student.

Thr3 Times Denied

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As I begin this series, I would like to open it with a word of prayer:

Father, may you wash us again this day by your Word – may you convict our hearts that our minds may be set and renewed by the faithfulness of your Word proclaimed; that we might walk unto it as a lamp unto our feet, as a guide to life, for Your Word is utterly sufficient. Cause us to bask deeply in the richness of your mercies revealed to us – yet also Your firm truths. These truths are hard, yet nonetheless, utterly beautiful and transformative if we humble ourselves. Allow Your Spirit to move, as only it can, causing faithfulness and repentance among God’s people. It is in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

The scriptures account to several mannerisms by which one can be labeled a fool. A fool willingly forsakes the marriage covenant…

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Defining Emotions

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As a certified biblical counselor (ACBC) I am often confronted with the power of emotion and the havoc that emotion can play in a person’s life.

In the past week I’ve seen this played out numerous times. The case of Eliot Rodgers and the massacre he perpetrated comes to mind first.

We live in a highly therapeutic  culture that takes an evolutionary, non-cognitive view of emotions especially at the popular level. This explanation of the non-cognitive view is found  in Pastor Brian Borgman’s Faith and Feelings book.

Emotions? Cognitive or not cognitive?

Emotions? Cognitive or not cognitive?

The non-cognitive view is generally an evolutionary perspective that sees emotions as a physiological change in feeling ( e.g. sweaty palms, racing heart, euphoria), which is claimed by the person experiencing the change (fear, happiness, etc.) In other words we are subject to our emotions and not ultimately  responsible for them. They are something that happens to us, physically and chemically. We cry and feel sadness. We feel anxiety because our hearts race.

The non-cognitive view is the prevailing view in our therapeutic culture and frankly, it’s the prevailing view in many evangelical churches. It means, among things that emotions are sovereign and that humans are nothing more than a “bag of chemicals” to use counselor Elyse Fitzpatrick’s phrase.

The other view of emotions is the cognitive view. Again, here is Borgman with an explanation:

The cognitive view of the emotions sees the emotions as based on beliefs, standards, judgments, evaluations, concerns and thoughts. The emotions and reason are interdependent. The emotions are not simply impulses; they are indicators of what we value and what we believe…The  emotions reflect and express the inner man, the heart, the soul, the mind.

Borgman’s explanation of what emotions are is the biblical explanation. The contrast between the non-cognitive view and the cognitive view could not be sharper especially when we realize we are responsible for our emotions! The old “I can’t help how I feel” simply does not line up with  Scriptural teaching.

It should be quite clear that if emotions influence motives and conduct then we had better be able to do something about controlling them. And Christians should look to the Scriptures as to how to do that.

Borgman concludes, “the emotions are more than feelings; they tell us what we value and what we believe, producing desires and inclinations that affect our behavior.”

If this was not true then the apostle Paul’s words below would not make any sense at all:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)

For more on the cognitive view of emotions follow the link to an op ed by David Brooks in the NYT. His comments on human nature are helpful.