An Ode to Bacon

Bacon, the morning’s delight,
It satisfies, my appetite. Continue reading

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Broken People Can’t Help but Break Things

When I was younger my understanding of the gospel was that it was for law breakers. God had given his laws, people had knowingly broken them, and God sent his Son to pay the penalty for law breakers on the cross. This is all accurate, but it is incomplete. Now that I’m older and wiser, (though the wiser part is debatable), my understanding of sin and sinners has changed.

Sinners are indeed rule breakers, (I’m one of them), but even more so, sinners are broken. Sinners are people who don’t work properly. Their minds are broken, their hearts are sick, and their entire being is crippled as a result of the Fall of man, (Genesis 3). John Newton said in the hymn Amazing Grace that “I was blind, but now I see.” That wasn’t just a nice sentiment to throw into the song, it was perfectly on target with the Scriptures. Like an Iphone dropped from a twenty story building, sinners are broken.

Like Newton said, a non-Christian is blind. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,” (2 Corinthians 4:4). They cannot understand the things of God. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned,” (1 Corinthians 2:14). By their very nature they reject God, his law, and all the things God has given for their benefit, i.e. his Word, his Son, and his people, (just look at how the world treats the Church and the Jews). The non-Christian doesn’t do these things because they are jerks, but because they are naturally bent against God in their hearts. “For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires…The mind governed by the flesh is death…The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so,” (Romans 8:5-7, edited).

We live a world which has collectively lost its mind because the people living in the world, for the most part, are literally crazy. By their very nature they can’t think, feel, or love properly. Now up is called down. Wrong is declared right. What is depraved is applauded while what is good and sacred is condemned. All of this should cause the Christian to grieve, pray, and get angry. The world around us is being burned to the ground and the lost person doesn’t realize they are the ones holding the matches. But we must remember who we’re dealing with. Yes, the actions and belief systems of the lost are destructive and horrible, but they’re simply broken and enslaved to sin, the devil, and his will. They are slaves to the evil one.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind…,” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

The unsaved are law breakers, to be sure, and God will judge all accordingly, but the reason they are law breakers is because they are broken. Sin has made them crazy, blind, and enslaved, just as it did to us before Christ saved us. A non-Christian can no more keep from destroying themselves and the world around them than a forest fire can keep from burning down the home of Smoky the Bear.

So what, I hear you say? (Because I have very big ears and I can hear through the internet). So rather than view the lost merely as law breakers, view them as broken. Rather than view them with antagonism and anger, view them with compassion and pity. They need a Savior who can cause them to be born anew with a new mind and a new heart, (John 3). They need a Savior who can give them a new life which isn’t enslaved to sin and the devil, (Romans 6:5-8). View the unsaved, even as they destroy the world around them, with tremendous compassion and pity. They are, just as we were, lost and broken. We are no better, only redeemed and renewed by the grace of Jesus Christ. Pray for the broken. Reach out them and love them. Share the gospel. Be angry at their stupidity and insanity, but always remember that they are, by their very nature, ruined enslaved to sin and the devil. In many ways they cannot help themselves. They need the gospel. They need new life. They need deliverance, not only from the penalty of sin, (hell), but from the power and enslavement of sin which has ruined their hearts and minds.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” – John Newton.

In Response to Dallas

Dallas policeOn Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,

And cast a wishful eye,

To Canaan’s fair and happy land,

Where my possessions lie.

 

All o’er those wide extended plains

Shines one eternal day;

There God the Son forever reigns,

And scatters night away.

 

(Chorus) I am bound, I am bound,

I am bound for the promised land.

I am bound, I am bound,

I am bound for the promised land.

 

No chilling winds, nor poisonous breath

Can reach that healthful shore;

Sickness, sorrow, pain and death

Are felt and feared no more.

 

I am bound, I am bound,

I am bound for the promised land.

I am bound, I am bound,

I am bound for the promised land.

 

When shall I reach that happy place,

And be forever blessed?

When shall I see my Father’s face,

And in his bosom rest? (Repeat Chorus)

 

– Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

 

On Jordan’s Stormy Banks, hymn written by Samuel Stennett. Photo Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News / AP.

Abraham, the writer, talks to God

[Today’Abraham%20on%20the%20plains%20of%20Mamre%20(Grant%20Romney%20Clawson,%20(c)%20IRI)s blog features quotations from the THNSIWV Bible, i.e. The Travis Hendley, Not So Inspired  Writer’s Version, Genesis 18:20-33.]

And the Lord spoke to Abraham the writer and said, “Abraham, I’ve seen you slacking off on your writing. I want you to keep writing, blogging, and otherwise perfecting your craft as a writer. By the way, I’m about to wipe out Sodom.”

Abraham: “Whoa, stinks for Sodom. Would you mind rescuing Lot, my cousin?”

The Lord: “Yes, I’ll take care of Lot, but don’t change the subject. Get back to writing on a regular basis.”

Abraham: “But Lord, if there are only 30 people who read my blog, should I continue to write?” Continue reading

Things Parents Say to their Children, Part 1

For today’s reading enjoyment we are going to observe the language patterns of the North American parent. For those of you without children, just sit back and laugh at us.The following are statements regular stated by parents to children:

StopStop whatever it is you are doing.” – This is usually said when multiple children are involved with one another. You, as the parent don’t even have to be in the room or know what is going on, but you hear snickering, giggling, or fighting nearby. You’ve been around the block long enough to know those particular sounds are only going to lead to mischief or mayhem, so without even investigating the situation you say, in your sternest voice possible, “Please stop doing whatever it is you are doing.” Even though you don’t know the specifics of what’s going on, you KNOW it’s not going to end well and it needs to be put to a stop to immediately.

I don’t care what they did and who did it first.” This is usually announced by parents who have multiple children over the age of 5. Continue reading

Christians should be a bit nuts.

WillyWhat do you call someone who talks to themselves all the time? I’m not talking about asking yourself where you left your keys; we all do that. I mean someone who literally has full conversations with themselves as if they were not one individual, but two separate people. We usually call those people crazy.

Christians should be a bit nuts. We should be people who talk to ourselves on a regular basis. Why do I think so? Because the Bible tells me. So there.

In Psalm 42, the author talks to himself over and over again. What makes him do that? Is he crazy? Maybe not. The psalmist in verses 1-4 thirsts for God like a deer thirsts for cool waters. Whatever he is going through has brought him to the point where his tears have been his food and drink. He is in a dark place, spiritually. What’s worse is he can remember the mountain top. He can remember when he was close to God and life was going well. Now he is in a place of despair and emptiness.

So what does he do? He talks to himself. To you and I that may seem crazy, but in actuality what he is doing is perfectly sensible. He hears the voice of darkness and despair screaming in his ear that he is alone, that God has forsaken him. He could simply submit to those voices, or he could talk back to himself and remind himself of the truth.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God,” (Psalm 42:5-6).

The author begins talking to himself like a crazy person. But unlike a crazy person, he is speaking sense and truth to himself. Instead of being guided by his own emotions and fears, he reminds himself of truth. He says, “Hope in God. One day I will praise him for his deliverance and help.” The word “hope” could also be translated “wait” because the idea is not blind hoping God will show up, but a faithful expectation. It’s like waiting for payday when the bills are due. You are not hoping the check will arrive, you know the money is coming, it’s just a matter of getting to Friday to receive it.

The psalmist sinks back into despair in verses 9-10, which is actually pretty encouraging. It’s not that I delight in people suffering, but it’s nice to see authors of sacred scripture struggle with their emotions and doubts just like I do. The author is earnestly questioning God, even to the point of saying God has forgotten him and is allowing him to be tormented by his enemies who taunt the author, saying “Where is your God?”

You have heard those voices in the dark, haven’t you? Either from your own mind or from the voices of your enemies, we have heard those wicked taunts. “God is not there. God doesn’t love you. You’re screwed. This is hopeless. You have got to figure this out yourself. The Lord can’t or won’t help you.

So what do we do? We can either surrender to the voice of circumstance, fear, and doubt, or we can be a bit nuts. I hope you’ll join the psalmist in being a bit crazy and start talking to yourself, like so:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God,” (Psalm 42:11).

talk-to-myselfThe psalm ends with the author talking to himself, reminding him of the character of God, and telling himself to wait in faith. This is our challenge. When we feel like God doesn’t love us, we must tell ourselves Jesus gave his life for us, (Galatians 2:20). When we hear the voices say God is not in control, we must tell ourselves God works all things according to his will, (Ephesians 1:11). When we feel inadequate and small, we should remember Christ is our strength in our weakness, (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So I challenge you to lose your mind. Talk to yourself when you are overwhelmed with worry, doubt, and fear. Tell yourself the truth of God’s character. Remind yourself of God’s Word. Be a little crazy. You have to be in order to preserve your faith in God.

Courage

18_golden-statueBased on Daniel 3:8-30

The silence was immense. The three men had never known how something as simple as silence could be so heavy. They each stood there, with nothing but the weight of their own clothing, but the silence pulled down on their shoulders and their heads as if great black sandbags were tied to their hands. The silence lasted for less than a minute, but to those three it seemed more like an agonizing and endless wait.

And they waited.

The only sound in the room was the roaring of the fire. They had all heard fire before, its crackling warmth on a cold night or the welcoming smell of an oven full of baked bread, but this fire was different. This fire was angry. It bellowed at them like a great lion, hungry for its prey. It was over 50 paces away to their right, but even so they could feel its heat bearing down on them, aching to devour their skin, their hair, and their clothing, until nothing was left but ash. In the end the men would be indistinguishable from one another. Their families would not be able to claim them, nor bury them properly. They would simply fade into nothingness. Continue reading