IT’S THE PEOPLE, STUPID!

James Carville coined the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid” way back in 1992.  Politicians glommed into that and have used it on and off since.  Today I’m borrowing it in paraphrase:

“IT’S THE PEOPLE, STUPID!

The nation is once again shocked at two more mass shootings, and the first words out of the politicians’ mouths are “Gun control.”  Make that the general population too.  Pity for the victims and families come in second.  Then everyone goes back to blaming guns.

I’ve never seen a gun get up and hop over to a grocery store or shopping mall and kill people.  It’s always people who do the shooting, so, logically, people are the problem.  Without reading the Bible and learning how much God loves you, the pain in your soul will never be comforted.  Without accepting Jesus as your savior and knowing that through Him you will spend eternity with Him in perfect bliss, the hopelessness in your heart will never be comforted.

Here’s the proof.  I’ve written several articles about guns over the year, but the following, Guns: A Root Cause Analysis posted on 10/4/17, shows proof that guns are not the problem.  It’s people.  The writer was pro-gun control.  She’s a statistician at a think tank and decided to research gun violence to prove her point.  She reluctantly concluded that she was wrong.  Only people solutions will solve the problem of people shooting each other.  She had no mention of God, but her data clearly show that…”It’s the people, stupid!”

Read the full article I posted almost four years ago below.

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Guns: A Root Cause Analysis

Jesus: It’s different now. If you have some savings, take them with you. If you have a pack, fill it and bring it. If you don’t have a sword, sell your coat and buy one.    Luke 22:36

Jesus: Put your sword back. People who live by the sword die by the sword.    Matthew 26:52

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  38 This is the first and great commandment.  39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.    Matthew 22:37-40

How do we reconcile the first two passages above?  Defending yourself is one thing, both individually and as a nation.  Having the means to protect yourself is one thing.  Owning and using weapons as a way of living is quite another.

I’ve had friends who earned black and brown belts in a variety of martial arts.  To a man and woman, they all had the same basic message for me: every good fighter avoids a fight at all costs.  You never know when you might be standing in front of that one person who’s going to hand you your ass.

Jesus was saying more or less the same thing, but more delicately, of course.  Be prepared for trouble, but don’t go looking for it.

Matthew 26:52 also needs to be taken in context.  Jesus wanted to be taken.  It was His job.  He had to be arrested, suffer, and die for our salvation.  That wasn’t the time for a sword fight, especially against trained troops.

So that leaves me in favor of gun ownership for home and self-defense.  If you look at my article from last Monday, Gun Violence, you’ll see two very important messages.  First, the solution is in changing our hearts as a nation.  Second, you can follow the link provided to a Washington Post article from 12/3/2015, which clearly demonstrates that overall gun deaths have declined over the last two decades, coinciding with an increase in gun ownership!  The only parts of the country with increases in gun deaths are those states – Illinois, most notably – with the strictest gun laws.

As for Matthew 22:37-40, well, that would pretty much solve everything, now wouldn’t it?

Below I’ve pasted in a complete article from msc.com, which does a great job of talking about FACTS, not hyperbole and politics.  When I taught corporate management classes, one mantra for solving problems and making the best decisions was “Think about WHAT’s right, not WHO’s right!”

It’s about fact-based discussions.  Following is a great one.  I’ve highlighted parts to help you skim the article.  I also kept the links to other articles, which I don’t all agree with.  I provide them for you to look at and analyze yourself in light of the December 2015 article cited at the top and the article below.

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Opinion | I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/opinion-i-used-to-think-gun-control-was-the-answer-my-research-told-me-otherwise/ar-AAsRR7y?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=iehp

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Leah Libresco is a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism site. She is the author of “Arriving at Amen.”

Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns.

I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.

When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an “assault weapon.” It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos.

As for silencers — they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer. Magazine limits were a little more promising, but a practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless.

As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them. I couldn’t even answer my most desperate question: If I had a friend who had guns in his home and a history of suicide attempts, was there anything I could do that would help?

However, the next-largest set of gun deaths — 1 in 5 — were young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides. These men were most likely to die at the hands of other young men, often related to gang loyalties or other street violence. And the last notable group of similar deaths was the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence. Far more people were killed in these ways than in mass-shooting incidents, but few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.

By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.

Instead, I found the most hope in more narrowly tailored interventions. Potential suicide victims, women menaced by their abusive partners and kids swept up in street vendettas are all in danger from guns, but they each require different protections.

Older men, who make up the largest share of gun suicides, need better access to people who could care for them and get them help. Women endangered by specific men need to be prioritized by police, who can enforce restraining orders prohibiting these men from buying and owning guns. Younger men at risk of violence need to be identified before they take a life or lose theirs and to be connected to mentors who can help them de-escalate conflicts.

Even the most data-driven practices, such as New Orleans’ plan to identify gang members for intervention based on previous arrests and weapons seizures, wind up more personal than most policies floated. The young men at risk can be identified by an algorithm, but they have to be disarmed one by one, personally — not en masse as though they were all interchangeable. A reduction in gun deaths is most likely to come from finding smaller chances for victories and expanding those solutions as much as possible. We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.

Read more:

The Post’s View: The worst kind of American exceptionalism

Chris Murphy: Mass shootings are an American problem. There’s an American solution.

Richard Glover: How Australia beat the gun lobby and passed gun control

The Post’s View: Gun control’s silver bullets

Charles C.W. Cooke: The right to bear arms isn’t up for debate

The Father

And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”  40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”    Luke 19:39-40

I spoke to our unborn first child every night before my wife and I went to sleep.  Every night I said the same thing.

“Hello.  This is your daddy.  I hope you’re doing well in there.  We can’t wat to finally meet you and see who you are.”

My wife finally went into labor, but things weren’t going too well.  She had to have an emergency Cesarean.  It went well for both mother and child.  I went to the nursery shortly after to see my new daughter.  She was wrapped in blankets with a cute, little stocking cap on her head.  She was fussing, so I leaned close to her and started talking to her.  Her fussing stopped, and she cocked her head listening.  She then relaxed and fell asleep, secure having heard my voice.

She had a dad-shaped “hole” in her life, which was filled when she heard my voice.  It calmed her…put her at peace.

Sadly, too many people have a God-shaped “hole” in their lives, their souls waiting to be filled.  They try to fill it with drugs, sex, and whatever else they can find.  With any mention of God banned from schools, with generations not attending churches, because most do not boldly preach God’s word, they don’t know where to find God.

And yet His voice is present.  Jesus said that if His disciples fail to preach, even the stones would cry out!

And they do!  Think about how all the geologic layers are identical all over the world.  No matter where, each geologic layer can be identified by its contents.  That would not be possible if not all formed at the same time during some global event – like Noah’s flood!

Think about how complex life really is.  Even the smallest cells in our bodies are incredibly complex.  That shear complexity screams intelligent design, God’s voice calling to our souls!

Let’s talk about our eyes.  Evolutionists say they and everything else happened by chance.  Some accidental proto-eyeball thing occurred in one animal – one – and eventually and became eyes.  But what about the optic nerve that sends the eye signal to the brain as well as the region in the brain that’s devoted to sight?  How is it that all three structures could accidently develop independently and connect?  That single system is so complex only intelligent design can account for it!

God’s voice is speaking to us through the rocks and through every living thing on earth.  He is the only, perfectly shaped entity that will fill the God-shaped hole in all our lives!  His voice is in the Bible and everything around us.  Listen!

Parenting

Bring up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it.

My favorite blogger, Caralyn Collar, a.k.a BeautyBeyondBones, was recently engaged.  She and her fiancé are looking forward to their wedding and then starting a family.  We’ve messaged each other a few times this week about parenting.  The biggest part of it is modeling good behavior to and around your children.

I’ve seen too many parents treat their kids more like annoying pets than their own flesh and blood.  Children should not be drug along like unwelcome baggage or shunted out of the way.  Let me give you some examples.

Our first daughter was a mere toddler when she started trying to be part of the “team.”  For example, she wanted to help doing the dishes after dinner.  I’d wash and dry while she stood on the counter by the cabinet with mom spotting her.  I’d hand her a dry dish, and she learned to put it in the right place.  It was something she clearly liked doing.  Sure…I could have finished that chore quicker without her help, but it was important to include her!

After my father died, my mom had to downsize from a huge, five-bedroom bungalow to something less expensive to maintain.  Cleaning it out was a lot of work, especially when we decided to rip out all the gold carpeting to show the wood floor beneath.  We dragged yard after yard out to the alley to be picked up over many hot summer days.  Once again, our daughter, still a toddler, wanted to help.

She wasn’t content with small scraps.  She went after the bigger pieces and struggled them to the alley as we guided and helped her just a bit.  She wasn’t a big help, obviously.  But we let her be part of the team!

It wasn’t all work.  My wife and I put a lot of effort into play too.  I’d be the “monster” under a big blanket on the living room floor.  The girls would try to sneak by without getting grabbed and yet hoping that they would!

Julie played dress up with them and show them…novel…ways to play with their Barbies.  They’d tie strings to them and have them “rappel” over the staircase railing on some adventure!  They eventually realized they could play that game from the second floor down the laundry chute to the basement.!

Almost every day I’d take them on a short bike ride in the morning before I took them to grandma’s and went to work.  Weekends we took longer rides, miles long.

We had the biggest house in the family and so usually hosted Thanksgiving and other holiday feasts.  We never had a kids’ table.  We figured the best way for them to learn what being an adult meant was to let them eat and interact with everyone at the same table.  They learned conversation and to ask questions.

The biggest things in parenting are inclusion and modeling the behavior you want them to grow into.  Your kids aren’t annoying pets unless you make them so.  They are God’s blessing upon your union, your marriage!

My Miracles

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers;  1 Peter 3:12

God gave me two miracles to come back from my Covid Pneumonia.  First is my wife who came every day and stayed with me throughout all visitor hours.  I was comatose all of January, but she would talk to me and massage my arms and legs.  She queried the doctors on my care with the help of her RN sister and a few other nursing friends.  She stood up for me when she and her friends told her that I need X when the doctor was wanting Y.  They were right every time!

She did this along with holding down a full-time job and making the house ready for my return.  She rearranged furniture to make it easier for me to get around the house.  All of it on her own!  I see her as my hero who sacrificed pieces of her self on this battlefield for my sake.  Her tenaciousness to protect and care for me was heroic and it cost her a lot.

So, she is my first miracle, a gift from God to be my wife and, recently, my protector.

The second miracle that unfolded was this.  She stepped out of the ICU one day for a short break to gather herself.  She was in the hall by the chapel when the hospital chaplain happened by.  He stopped and asked her why she was there.  She told him about me.  He asked her if she is a woman of faith.  She said yes.  Would she like him to pray with her?  Again, she said yes, and they prayed in the chapel.

The next morning my lungs were clear. Tests showed no scar tissue. They were as good as new!

Does prayer work?  I had my pastors and church family praying as well as people from work, some whom I hadn’t seen or talked to in years.  Perhaps the chaplain’s prayer with my wife put it over the edge.  All I know is that the great majority of people who are put on a ventilator don’t survive.  Yet, here I am, telling you my story!  All I can do is give glory to God for that miracle

God does not always say “yes”.  I’m just grateful He said it this time!

Eternity is Easy!

…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.    Galatians 2:16

I saw a fascinating documentary about the excavation of a newly found tomb in Sakkara Egypt.  The amount of work and expense that went into making it was staggering.  There was artwork, statues, mummified animals, and all other sorts of items the Egyptians put in their tombs.

The big surprise was that they were able to deduce from the hieroglyphics and inconsistencies in the artwork that there was a little hanky-panky going on.  It seems that the guy whose name was on the place stole it from his brother – maybe even killed him – to get himself this really choice tomb.

Why was so much money and energy spent on it?  Why did one guy steal it from his brother?  These were seen as portals to the afterlife.  In fact, the archeologists exploring it pointed out a door-like feature which was supposed to be the actual gateway between the spiritual and earthly realms through which the deceased could pass.  Great care was also taken to point out what a good guy the deceased was to make sure the god in question, Anubis I think, would allow him entry.

This is mankind’s greatest failure since the beginning.  From the Tower of Babel to Egypt to today people constantly are working to ensure their own salvation, their own portal into eternal life.  Even after learning about Jesus and His Gospel of salvation, people just couldn’t leave off earning salvation themselves.  The Gnostics came along with the idea that you needed to know hidden knowledge and “learn” your way into heaven.

Of course, it’s all nonsense!  We are saved by Jesus’ sacrifice.  Period.  The only effort we need expend is to simply accept it.  Jesus begs us to allow Him to pay for our sins, but so many still think it’s about living a good life or something else.

In response to Jesus’ loving care, we should live good lives.  We should be as kind and helpful and forgiving as we possibly can, but those things are not our passport into heaven.

Live a good life.  You’ll find that it has its own rewards on earth.  As for your reward in heaven?  Just say yes to Jesus!!

How to Thanksgiving

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.    Philippians 4:11-13

What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year?  Are you traveling?  Are you giving thanks with family or having a “Friendsgiving?”  Whatever you do, I wish you safe travels, full bellies, and full spirits!

But let’s extend Thanksgiving.  Let’s start this weekend to practice thanks to God in all we do.  Let’s act like we’re thankful instead of over-eating and falling asleep to a football game.

I wrote on November 17 about Getting Ready for Christmas.  I ask you to revisit that and think how you’ll start extending your Thanksgiving and make that your path into Christmas.

Are you content as St. Paul was?  Surely you must be, if you are eating well tomorrow!  Will you be content without the latest toy/gadget/must-have item?  Will you forego buying what is unnecessary in pursuit of elusive happiness or will you bask in the abundance God has already given you?  Will you be fighting the crowds in a self-centered chase of the material for yourself and family or will you remove yourself from the fray and show your children how to appreciate all we have?  Will you splurge the money God has given you or manage it as one of His wise stewards?

Will you give of yourself as did God the Father and God the Son?  Will you offer your step away from the traditional Christmas race as your return gift, your offering to the Christ child?

What better way to truly celebrate Thanksgiving than to merge it in humility with your Christmas celebration!  Make Christmas your Thanksgiving for Jesus!

That’s it, isn’t it?  Today is giving thanks for the material blessings that our heavenly Father certainly enjoys giving us.  Christmas should be our…

Spiritual Thanksgiving!  Christmas should be a focus on the spiritual, not the material.  Christmas should be humbly recognizing the sacrifice of Father and Son.  Christmas should be a demonstration of the contentment St. Paul preached.

Can you be content this Christmas?  Can you sacrifice your Christmas “habit” on the alter of Jesus’ love, a pleasing aroma to God to celebrate and say “Thank you!”

Circling the Drain

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”    John 16:33

I read several articles online last week that are very worrying, both individually and collectively.  I fear that America is ending its run as a democratically elected republic, a bastion of freedom, Christianity, and prosperity.  It’s a place where people still risk life and limb to enter.  I can’t help being concerned that their faith will soon be misplaced.  It can happen in my lifetime, and I’m no spring chicken!

For some context, I worked for a huge, global corporation for twelve years.  It was one of those too-big-to-fail entities.  I was proud to work there at the world headquarters and expected to retire from it.  Unfortunately, the defecation impacted the turbine in the early 2000’s.  I was laid off along with 9000 others worldwide.  There was a perfect storm of bad decisions and worse luck.  They entered bankruptcy and barely hung on.

If my former employer and other too-big-to-fail companies can either almost die and completely dry up and blow away, why can’t America?  After all, what is America but the sum of her businesses?  If we continue to make spectacularly bad decisions that betray our heritage and our relationship with God, why should we expect to survive intact for long?

The American Medical Association is reported as having issued a “document which pushes CRT and warns the word ‘vulnerable’ is offensive, while blasting individualism and pushing Marxism.”  When an American bedrock institution leaves its lane and starts promoting essentially anti-American political stances, we have a problem.  When it starts making galactically stupid comments like saying the word “vulnerable” is offensive…Washington, we have a problem!

They denounced individualism and decried merit-based advancement.  So…are they willing to be operated on by surgeons who are not the best and simply met a race or gender quota?

China has built targets on a missile range in a desert in the outline of US aircraft carriers and other US warships.  This in the wake of their threatening deployment of their air force close to Taiwan and warning us to keep out of their business.  The article says fears are mounting domestically that China is preparing for a direct conflict with the US.  From the article:

It appears to be a half-scale replica of a Nimitz-class carrier located on what analysts believe to be a military firing range, with a newly-built facility located nearby.

Satellite imagery uncovered the replica as tensions build between Washington and Beijing over the fate of Taiwan, dominance in the South China Sea, and trade.

I can’t help wondering of China would be saber-rattling of Trump were still president.  Yes, he was a loudmouthed ass, but he was an effective one.  Sleepy Joe, on the other hand, presents a great opportunity for any foreign power to challenge the US militarily.

Wokeness has infiltrated our military as evidenced be a recent shellacking of our Marines by the British Royal Marines.  How ready are we to engage China half a world away?

And consider that Russia is massing troops on the Ukraine border; 100,000 and counting.  Are Russia and Chine colluding to severely damage a faltering USA and White House?

Speaking of Biden, his administration recently revealed that it will rely on whistleblowers at companies to help it enforce it’s vaccine mandates and penalties.  From the article:

Joe Biden will have to rely on whistleblowers to identify workplaces that are violating his new vaccine mandates because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t have nearly enough workplace safety inspectors for the massive undertaking.

The mandate will go into effect January 4 and requires all private businesses and companies with at least 100 employees to impose mandatory COVID-19 vaccines on their workers or else subject them to weekly testing – at minimum – by that date.

Um…

Didn’t Hitler take that tack with his Hitler Youth in the 30’s?

What do we do with all this?  We pray!!

We need to rely on God to sustain and strengthen us in all challenges ahead.  We will all likely suffer to one degree or another as our freedoms erode and if armed conflict arises.  But we pray to God for His providence and His gifts of faith and hope that His children will ultimately be given victory in eternity.

Fear not.  Believe.  Pray.

Put Your Head Down

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.    Matthew 6:34

I was talking with my daughter about her hope to one day buy a house.  She likes looking at houses, but then she gets depressed, wondering if she’ll ever get there.  I told her not to worry about it.  Just start saving for your down payment and forget about houses for a while.  Save as much as you can and then take another look around in a year.  See how things look then.

I’ve been in sales most of my life.  In retail the numbers got erased every month; we started at zero.  Again.  I used to get nervous after a good month, wondering if I would do as well in this new month.  After some time, I realized I always had a good month…some better than others but none bad.

I learned to just put my head down and do the job.  Today.  After today, do it again tomorrow.  Don’t follow the numbers too closely so I don’t make myself crazy.  If I do a good job each hour, each day, by the time I lift my head and look around, everything has fallen into place.

When I got into industrial sales, the same rule worked as well there.  Checking my numbers weekly or even monthly would get me worked up instead of concentrating on just doing the job.  I resolved to not look at them but quarterly.  That turned out to be enough.  Again, outside forces aside, I always did well.  It still holds true today.

I learned to put my head down and just work.  Put my head down and not worry about tomorrow.  There is no profit in bringing in trouble from the future, especially when you consider that most of it never happens!

You can say the same about your walk in faith.  Don’t worry about forever.  Be glad that Jesus has that handled for you and live your life today.  Hold a door for someone.  Pay someone a sincere compliment.  Look for those good deeds God has prepared in advance for us to do as St. Paul wrote.

Put your head down to concentrate on today.  Keep the distractions away.  Only look up periodically to see how you’re doing, then get back to today and its problems…only!

The Curse of Emotion-Based Faith

And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.  42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ [n]doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.    Acts 2:40-42

This is the result of Peter’s sermon in Jerusalem on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples.  It was not a sermon of emotion but fact.  It was a sermon of condemnation, which Peter had been afraid to speak of since Jesus’ crucifixion.  He and the disciples were still afraid of what would happen to them as followers of Jesus, and rightly so.  They all suffered imprisonment and beatings, and tradition holds that only John died a natural death.  All the rest were martyred.

Peter’s sermon connected Jesus to King David and his prophecies.  He also condemned those who murdered Jesus.  He stood boldly in the middle of Jerusalem and preached God’s truth!

He did so passionately, but he did not appeal to emotion.  He appealed to facts and acceptance of guilt, also offering forgiveness through Jesus.

And therein lies the key to a fruitful witness of Jesus to all.

My daughter from Ohio came to visit us this past week.  I hadn’t seen her in three years due to COVID issues.  It was a great reunion!

She, my wife, and I had a relaxing breakfast at our favorite café and a nice, long conversation.  She’s more liberal than I am.  I enjoy talking to her about things we disagree on to challenge myself, to stretch my mind and perhaps come away better for it.  One topic is religion.  Many years ago, despite having been very fervent in her faith in her youth, she informed my wife and I that she didn’t believe in that shit anymore.  In the years since we have cried and prayed that she would somehow be drawn back to God and that He would enlighten us as to what we should do, how we should talk to her.

So Monday morning I brought Scripture into the discussion simply because it was the direction I’d go with anyone on the topic at hand.  She went along with me and eventually, without quite saying it, told us why she abandoned her faith.

It was Acquire the Fire and similar emotion-based strategies that churches take with their youth.  My daughter was excited to go, but she came away with a lot of self-doubt.  The emotional intensity started making her think she had to have a faith that felt like that all the time.  She knew it wasn’t sustainable.  She started thinking that maybe something was wrong with her or that she just didn’t have a faith good enough to cut it.

This reminds me of a Christian youth concert I attended with a pastor friend to hand out information on his church.  I could only stay in the arena for minutes at a time due to the decibels inside!  I would step in from a hall behind the nosebleed section, far from the stage.  Even there the waves of sound hit me in the chest with physical force!  I watched some teens violently swinging their heads around just as one sees at a heavy metal concert.  The lyrics were undiscernible.

There was nothing there to distinguish this concert from a secular one.  It was all hype!

Allow me an example in the adult arena; Promise Keepers.  It’s a similar event attracting men who want to be better husbands and fathers.  A friend at church was really after me to go with him to an upcoming event.  I finally asked him a question for which he had no answer.

“Randy, let me get this straight.  You want me to take an entire weekend away from my family to go to this thing where they’ll get me all jazzed up to the point where I make a solemn promise to…uh…spend more time with my family.  Is that about it?”

The question Acquire the Fire and Promise Keepers were trying to answer was how to be better Christians.  Their answer is flawed, because faith has nothing to do with emotion.  Getting people whipped into a frenzy does not produce faith.  At best, it becomes a short-lived approximation of faith that will whither and die at the first challenge.

Worse, when that happens it leaves the person doubtful of their faith and maybe even their worth.  It provides no instruction!

Therein lies the core of faith and living a God-pleasing life – instruction.  The only instruction that matters is God’s Word.  Peter used God’s Word on Pentecost when he taught the connection between David and Jesus, and the effect was profound!   Three thousand souls were saved that day.

I personally know of an atheist from Russia who came to the states on business.  Her hosts put her up in their daughter’s room.  She saw her white confirmation bible on the nightstand and started reading it.  Come morning, she had been up all night reading.  She asked how she too could become a Christian!

Instruction from God’s Word is the only way to come to faith and live the life God intends for us.

Ken Ham wrote a book several years ago called Already Gone.  He had a prominent survey company tackle the question of why the youth keep leaving their churches.  Their findings probably came as a shock to many.  The cause did not lie in lack of modern music.  It was not about whether the church was in tune with today’s culture.  It all came down to whether or not the church boldly taught what’s in the Bible.

One key point hit me strongly; those who had regularly attended Sunday School were more apt to drop out of church.

Just like my daughter!

God’s word has been dumbed down to children and youth with cartoons and bright colors and art projects.  It’s no wonder they leave when they take science classes that teach evolution and that there is no Intelligence behind the universe.  Comparing test tubes and archeology to cartoons and cutouts, who do you think will win?

Read your Bibles with your kids.  Learn God’s ways together.  Learn that faith does not come from emotion.  Rather, it is a bulwark against fickle emotion that challenges it!

Casting Stones

The New York post reported that Bill DeBlasio wants to remove the Thomas Jefferson statue from City Hall.  I’m sure you can guess why – wokeness.  Jefferson was a slave owner, reported to have even fathered at least one child with one of his slaves.

He had his faults.  No doubt.

His statue has stood in the New York City Hall for 187 years!  That’s fitting, because you’ll remember that New York was the country’s capitol before Washington DC was formed.  President Washington led a delegation of congressman from their first ever meeting to St. Paul’s chapel at today’s Ground Zero and led a prayer dedicating the country to God.

Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence and co-authored the Constitution.  If you have even the slightest bit of satisfaction from living in this – for now – free country, you owe Thomas Jefferson a debt of thanks.  DeBlasio and his ilk trying to erase him is nothing less than revisionist history which can only damage the country and our national heritage. Was he a perfect man?  By no means.

But then neither was St. Paul.  His gift to us is most of the New Testament and a legacy of how to follow Jesus.  But if DeBlasio were a priest, he might try to have Paul expunged from church history!

When He was still Saul, he persecuted and executed many Christians.  His mission in life was to destroy the new religious movement called The Way.  The Book of Acts records how he held the coats of those who stoned Stephen, the first recorded Christian martyr.

Even after several missionary journeys and risking everything for the sake of spreading Jesus’ Gospel, he was imperfect.  In the closing of his second letter to Timothy, a seemingly vindictive Paul takes time to write, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.”

Are these the words of a perfect man who had experienced the forgiveness of Jesus?  They don’t sound like it.  Maybe he mentioned Alexander as a warning to Timothy, but having spent much time together, I’m sure Timothy was very aware of Alexander.

Paul even admits his faults in his letter to the Romans:

For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

For me, Paul is holding himself up as an example of Jesus’ saving grace which can redeem even him.  I believe he wrote that in shame, willing to debase himself in order to show the power of the Gospel.

For all his murderous faults, should we condemn St. Paul to a woke prison for his faults?  It is better that we be thankful for all the good he did and take comfort that even his evil was no match for Jesus’ blood.  It is better that we see his life as a template to follow in goodness and a warning in things we should not do!

Likewise, we should be thankful that God gave our country our flawed Founding Fathers who were good enough to give us The United States of America.  Let us not condemn them for their flaws, for we have enough of our own to deal with.  We might argue we have never done anything as bad as they did, but we should then remember this warning from Scripture – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!

Without Jesus’ cleansing blood we would find ourselves writhing next to Jefferson and others in the hell we think they should occupy.

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.  Any takers?