Category Archives: Love

Osama bin Laden 1957-2011

I confess, I rejoiced to hear of the death of Osama bin Laden. I felt like “high-fiving” anyone within reach.  Then I began reading blogs from my fellow disciples and kinda feeling guilty, especially when they quoted Ezekiel 18:23[i] and 33:11[ii]. Then I started reading those passages in context and realized that the Holy Spirit was saying that the real pleasure would have resulted from his turning back from his evil ways and his death to the old man of sin.

I felt a little better when I read Psalm 58:10, 11 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; / He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. / And men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; / Surely there is a God who judges on earth!”

There is no doubt Osama had to die.  He relinquished his right to life by taking the lives of thousands of innocents. But O how I wish we could have sought his heart as doggedly as we sought his head!  How wonderful to have given him life before his death! What a day of rejoicing that would have been! But like so many depraved murderers before him, he remained unrepentant for his heinous crimes. I’m glad he’s gone.

Congratulations to the incredibly brave team that took him out. I understand that many months of careful, exacting planning and training preceded the mission. That provoked the inevitable missionary reaction: Doesn’t it stand to reason that no less is required of us in the Kingdom as we seek the souls of the Islamic world? Where are our well-trained, equipped and courageous teams? Where is our strategy? Where is our passionate and urgent sense of cause?

The Muslims of the Middle East have long memories of so-called “Christian” violence and oppression. Hatred from those memories spawned Osama and his ilk. Many will willingly fill the vacuum of his leadership fueled by the same hatred.  The only way to stop the process is to permeate their culture with bombs of love and missiles of peace. Fortunately we serve a God defined by love who gave Himself as the Prince of Peace.

At long last, let’s give our Muslim friends reasons to love us instead of loathe us.


[i] Ezekiel 18:23“Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”

[ii] Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘ As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’”

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Filed under Attributes of God, Christlikeness, Culture Wars, Current Events, Evangelism, Good & Evil, Holy Spirit, Islam, Jesus Christ, Judge, Kingdom Growth, Love, Middle East, Missions/Evangelism, Peace

The Tucson Memorial: Some Thoughts

Here are a few thoughts on the memorial held this evening for the victims of the shootings in Tucson.

1.       Wasn’t that “Native American Blessing” weird?  The bloke who gave it was not even a Native American…he was descended from the Yaquis of Mexico!  If he wasn’t a professor at the University, he probably wouldn’t have been on the program.

2.       I thought President Obama gave the finest speech I have heard from him so far (and he does love to give speeches).  It was exactly what we needed to hear.  It was thoughtful, sympathetic, conciliatory, uniting and comforting.

3.       It was uplifting to hear Scripture read by the Attorney General and the Secretary for Homeland Security.  They read with courage and conviction at a time when our nation drifts toward secularism.  Even the President, who is not known for his personal exercise of faith, referred at least twice to Scripture.

4.       How about that Daniel Hernandez?  Without notes or any sign of stage fright this articulate young man made some very thoughtful comments and renounced the title of Hero…handing that appellation to others he felt deserved it more.  I was impressed!

5.       I was surprised at the tone of the memorial.  It seemed more like a pep rally but, as one commentator suggested, maybe this is what was needed.  Nevertheless, I was angered by those who kept screaming even after the rest of the audience had become quiet.  What makes them think we are as much in love with their voice as they obviously are?

6.       I hope this brings to an end the incredibly stupid finger-pointing and mud-slinging employed by political opportunists.  I must say, however, that I am not holding my breath.

7.       I was moved by the brief sketches of those who were killed given by the President.  It was a personal touch that gave us all a little insight into the always extraordinary lives of ordinary people.

8.       The sketch of one precious little girl, Christina Taylor Green who would remind her mother, “We are so blessed. We have the best life,” brought me to tears.

As Mr. Obama said, may we work toward “…forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.”

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Filed under Blessings, Community, Current Events, Faith, Good & Evil, Life, Love, Prayer, Religion, Scripture, Theism, Unity

Arizona Anguish

In the aftermath of the horrible tragedy in Tucson, we in the U.S. are taking another look at ourselves and our conduct.  This shooting is another in a series of multiple murders occurring in public places.  We are attempting to surface and analyze factors which might have contributed to such horrible bloodshed.  It seems to this writer these incidents have at least two common ingredients:

1.       Some deranged nut has decided to make his point by killing innocent people then, in some cases, committing suicide.

2.       Very often their erratic, potentially violent and aberrant behavior has been revealed in their public ranting and raving on the internet and in other forums.

Otherwise, commonalities are hard to find.

Some have pointed to the obvious decline of civility – especially among politicians and particularly during campaigns (where the mud-slinging is equivalent to excavating the Panama Canal) — as a cause.  They have specified rancorous debates in Congress where one member actually dares to interrupt another – even the President of the United States!

I find this amusing.  Our congress is actually much more sedate than the British or Australian legislative bodies.  If you don’t believe me, listen in to public debates and speeches (even by the Prime Ministers) in the English or Australian Parliaments.  So far, these have not provoked anything worse than name-calling.  Nasty campaigns and rowdy debates may be reprehensible, but there’s no evidence they morph into massacres.

As of this writing, citizens of the United States are in mourning for the senseless loss of life in our country.  How to avoid similar tragedies in the future will be the subject of many future discussions and investigations.  In the meantime, what can we do?

1.       Our leaders/public figures/politicians/celebrities can be more circumspect and take responsibility for their conduct.  Unfortunately thousands, like sheep, look to them as trend-setters and examples, for good or ill.

2.       We can be sensitive to warning signs in our neighbors, family, co-workers and fellow-students.  Parents, counselors and teachers need to take erratic behavior and threats of violence seriously.  So often the shooters are lonely, marginalized people who need help we can give or get for them.  And, for goodness sake, keep guns out of the hands of the obviously mentally disturbed.

3.       Finally, and most important of all – those who claim to follow Christ can live as our Master dictates: loving our God, loving our neighbors and treating others as we wish to be treated.  There are enough of us to make a major positive difference.

In the meantime, as you pray, be sure to lift up the precious families and victims of the Arizona heartbreak to the Father.

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Date Night

My wife, visiting granddaughter and I just finished watching the much-heralded motion picture, Date Night starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey on our cable service.   Okay, we’re cheap.  It was rated PG13 which means that it may be inappropriate for children younger than 13 and even that should involve parental guidance.  Well, I am in my late 60’s and it was certainly inappropriate for me.  But then again, I have morals.

When did this culture decide that comedy had to be filthy?  This could have been an adventure in hilarity without the continual obscenities and references to male and female genitalia, anal sex, masturbation, group sex and prostitution.  These were not sexual innuendos, they were explicit references.  We tried to fast-forward through the sullied parts but it was so replete with smut that we were not completely successful.

Nothing in the trailers and interviews hinted at such shenanigans so we were unprepared for the dirty bits.  Shame on those responsible for this bit of cultural decadence and shame on me for not checking with some of the numerous Christian motion picture review sites!  I looked at them after watching the movie and realized the information that could have kept me from wasting my time and money with this crude mess was there for the reading.

While I was on the review sites, I decided to look up Eat, Pray, Love.  Thankfully, I now have enough information about this motion picture to Eat my own food, Pray to my one, almighty God and love my wife and family.  However, if you want to follow the antics of a self-centered, narcissistic, amoral person who deserts her devoted husband to “find herself,” this little gem is for you.

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Filed under Adultery, Culture Wars, Good & Evil, Infidelity, Life, Love, Love and Marriage, Meaning of Life, morality, Motion Pictures, Prayer, sex

The Imperative of Edification

Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification (Romans 15:2)

So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church (1 Corinthians 14:12).

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation Let all things be done for edification (1 Corinthians 14:26).

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).

…love edifies (I Corinthians 8:1).

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase (Acts 9:31).

The Greek word translated “edify” (oikodomeo) implies “building up.”  As used in the writings of Paul and Luke, it simply means that we help each other grow spiritually in the things we say and do.  This is not a mere suggestion, it is an imperative.

If I understand the above passages, in all of our interactions edification must be paramount.  Whether it is an assembly, Bible class, business meeting, a potluck, a conversation over coffee, an encounter on the street, grocery store…wherever…the goal is to build up one another, to encourage spiritual growth.

We have lost sight of this in so many ways…to our detriment.  Is edification the goal when we file into our assemblies?  Do we file out edified?  Too often we leave our assemblies having listened to an irrelevant sermon, sung to the backs of those in front of us and communed with no one in particular.  It is even worse where the use of loud musical instruments makes singing to one another impossible.  Could that be why we are commanded simply to sing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)?

Edification is an act of love.  It gives grace, produces peace, respect for our God, peace and comfort.  Churches where edification is paramount “increase.”

Edification is imperative.  “Let all things be done for edification.”  Those of us concerned with restoring primitive Christianity must add edification to the list.

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Ridicule is Ridiculous

RidiculeIt is one thing to reject and another to ridicule.  Rejection of an exposed belief system or opinion is expected.  Put an idea on the market place and it is only logical that there will be a mixture of acceptance and rejection by those who follow such markets.  But ridicule is quite another thing.  Ridicule takes rejection to the level of insult.

I am a messenger of the gospel of Christ.  It is my job, my passion to place the good news of reconciliation of Creator and created in the public square and let people have a chance to accept it or reject it.  I think that’s what Jesus did.  In the past, that included a bit of ridicule of those ideas I deemed to be worthy of it.  Upon reflection, however, I can’t recall a single time when ridicule accomplished anything but a cheer from those “on my side.”  I am persuaded that ridicule is not only counterproductive but downright ungodly (I Peter 3:15; Galatians 6:1; Philippians 4:5; 2 Timothy 2:25; Titus 3:2; Colossians 4:5-6; Ephesians 4:29).

These days I am out of the business of garnering cheers from anyone.  I just want to lovingly and respectfully tell it like it is (or seems to be at the moment) and let people take it or leave it.  If they leave it, we might, with mutual consent; move to discussion where persuasion might result in acceptance.  In the business of persuasion, ridicule accomplishes the exact opposite of what I am trying to achieve.

Ridicule is pejorative, not persuasive.  One who changes his opinion or belief system because of ridicule has shamefully succumbed to peer pressure.  That poor, cowardly sheep has been caught up in the groupthink of the sneering mob.  As someone named Philip Guedalla has observed: any stigma will do to beat a dogma.

These days, I want to walk away from a discussion with four goals accomplished.

  1. I want to do my best to persuade the other person of the truth of God, His Christ and His word.
  2. I want to achieve a better understanding of the other person’s point of view.
  3. I want to adjust my own position if I am wrong.
  4. I want to part as friends.

Ridicule results in no persuasion, no understanding, no personal growth and the end of friendship.

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Thoughts on Turning Sixty-Seven

old-man1I entered my 68th year last month. My 91-year-old father might disagree but I guess I am now “old.” I find old age fascinating on several levels. It is, for example, in old age that you wish you had taken better care of your young self. The aches, pains and other afflictions are not pleasant. To realize that you have been categorized as “old” is not particularly good for the ego. Neither is the realization that you are no longer (if you really ever were) attractive to young women. These days, if they smile approvingly at you, it is because you remind them of a loved and respected father, grandfather or great-uncle (get that straight and it will help keep you out of a lot of trouble and embarrassment!).

These are the routine parts of old manhood. But, what I am writing about is something rather unexpected. It is the insight I’ve gained because

I have lived long enough,

read enough books,

encountered enough problems,

misunderstood enough,

experienced enough reversals of fortune,

loved enough people,

lived through enough crises,

eaten enough crow,

had enough experiences – positive and negative…

…to realize the arrogance of my youth. Not necessarily an obvious, exterior, obnoxious, puffed-up know-it-all arrogance. But rather that which rises out of misplaced self-confidence, academic knowledge and an assurance that one has found authentic truth.

I was thinking today about an encounter I had back in the late seventies with a man who held an opinion (more of a belief) that I considered downright wrong…maybe even ungodly. I thought, how can he believe that when Scripture says this? I knew the experiences that influenced his opinion, but I also knew what the Scripture said. Now, at a comparable age with my own collection of experiences, I see what he was saying and why.

In my dotage I find myself considering, accommodating, tolerating and investigating ideas I would have rejected out-of-hand in my youth. I find myself believing things I never would have contemplated in my younger years. Now, older, sadder and wiser, I shudder at past positions taken, claims made, assurances given, defenses offered and explanations proffered. Today I am finally ready to reason more than react. Arrogance has been consumed by humiliation.

In our culture, older people tend to be marginalized and that’s a shameful waste. We are considered out-of-touch, hopelessly behind the learning curve and set in our ways. And, that sad assessment may be true for some of us. But I find myself more curious, more open-minded, more tolerant and receptive to new ideas than my youthful self.

Why did I have to get old to get reasonable? How much more productive and peaceful life would have been if wisdom did not depend on experience! Could I please try it again and this time with what I’ve learned? Oh the joyful thought of youthful living guided by age’s wisdom!

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