What’s Wrong With Socialism


On its face, socialism may seem to be a compassionate idea—a “no person left behind” idea. Some Christians even think it is Biblical. But is it?

Those favoring socialism may point to the first church—a group of Jews who responded to Peter’s sermon on Pentecost and put their faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us about that group of believers: they spent time together. They shared their stuff with each other, even to the point of selling stuff to help the people in need: “And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” (Acts 2:44-45)

Sounds like socialism, right?

Not really. This was not an economic plan instituted as a mandate. These were people with a common purpose taking care of one another voluntarily. We know this when Peter later addresses a couple who sold a house and brought part of the proceeds as a gift to the church. The problem was, they lied about the amount, claiming they had given the entire sum.

Before pronouncing judgment, Peter said, “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control?” (Acts 5:4a)

So nobody, not the government, certainly, and not the church, had mandated this principle of sharing. Rather God seems to lift up generosity, both from individuals and from church bodies. Paul, for example, praises the church in Philippi for sending him gifts from time to time. And Jesus Himself praised the poor widow for giving her last coin for the work in the temple.

In contrast to the instituted “sharing” of socialism, the Bible has much to say about the concepts behind capitalism.

  1. The one who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.
  2. The worker is worthy of his wages.
  3. Our money should be invested and grow.

I know the parable of the talents that Jesus told had spiritual implications, but first, like all parables, it was grounded in the physical. The story Jesus told was about servants investing their master’s money. Two succeeded, one did not. The guy who earned no money actually hadn’t made an investment, and it was for this reason that his master punished him. He didn’t judge him because he made a bad investment but that he didn’t even do the bare minimum—he didn’t even put the money in the bank.

Beyond these basics, there is a fundamental issue that we shouldn’t ignore: man’s sin nature. Because we have this tie to sin, this dead weight that pulls us away from God’s holiness, we will never have a perfect system of finance or government.

Therefore, the bottom line is that in socialism, people will take advantage. They will try to get something for free, something they don’t deserve, and something they don’t need. In capitalism, some people will be greedy; they try to take advantage of others and get more and more and more, beyond what they need.

Because I live in California, I’ve seen a little of what “socialism” can do. The obvious problems are people lying to get “benefits” from the state. A friend related how her family, when she was a child,  signed the kids up for free lunches at school, even they they were not in financial need. They just wanted the free stuff. There are many, many, many more examples I could cite.

Of course, there is the dis-incentive for dads to be in the home because single moms get money for each child they have when the dad is absent. It’s financially profitable for moms to be single moms. That has serious repercussions for how children are raised, the values they learn, they goals and aspirations they have, the ethics and morality they believe in.

On the other hand, the government locks you into a level of poverty that you can’t climb out of. For example, if you are part of the Medical program or the Cal Fresh (food stamps) you can only have a certain amount of money in the bank.

For instance, a neighbor who is part of the Cal Fresh program, was notified that they would lose their benefits. They had a vehicle stolen. They received money from the insurance company and were looking for a replacement vehicle. Before they found one, the government was at the door telling them they would no longer qualify for the food program unless they spent that insurance money by a certain time. So how does anyone save for, let’s say, a downpayment on a house or the first and last months’ rent or for a new car? They are essentially trapped at their level of poverty, unable to “get ahead.”

All that to say, socialism isn’t always beneficial even for the people receiving benefits.

Clearly the Bible points to people working and getting paid for their work. It points to both people and the Church being generous and helping those in need. But generosity is never mandated.

History only shows us failed socialist societies—the USSR, East Germany, Venezula, etc. Perhaps the failures are due to the authoritarian governments that implemented the socialist policies, but there’s also the possibility that authoritarianism is the natural result of socialism. If the government owns all the banks or oil companies or transportation entities, doesn’t that lend itself to authoritarian control?

But even if socialism “worked,” I don’t believe the utilitarian outcome will supercede the Biblical models and mandates. There’s more we could add to this discussion, obviously, but hopefully this will start us all thinking more about the trends some in our country would like us to go.

Published in: on April 21, 2022 at 1:06 pm  Comments (8)  
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Will Abortion Go Away?


The great news is that abortion, in all likelihood, will no longer be the law of the land in the US. Many Constitutional scholars believe that the US Supreme Court will decide now what the Court in 1973 should have decided: that there is no “right to privacy” granted by the Constitution, and therefore, there is no federal protection for abortion.

What conservatives might not realize—there is also no Constitutional prohibition of abortion laws either. Rather, it’s up to each state to decide what they want for their people.

Some states have already moved to put limitations on abortions, and undoubtedly others will as well if the “landmark” Roe v Wade ruling is overturned. But there are others that may take a stand for abortion that will, in essence, threaten the very lives of new born infants. I learned today that some states are crafting legislation that includes language referring to post-natal infants and the “right” to euthanize them up to a month after birth. This is nothing short of infanticide.

People who see nothing wrong with killing a baby are actually playing out the logical end to their belief that humans are nothing special. We are just animals, which some people kill because they are harmful or inconvenient or good to eat. Babies are the same, though perhaps short of the “good to eat” category. Not short of the, “we need your stem cells category,” however.

Further, in states like California there is already pressure on pregnancy crisis centers that advocate for alternatives to abortion (adoption, support for single moms), so it’s foreseeable that more will be done to disadvantage such a center while promoting a planned parenthood organization that actually is all about selling abortions and transgender procedures. (Yes, I recently learned that Planned Parenthood facilitates gender change as part of their “services.”)

If the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v Wade, as many think will happen, the fight over abortion will not be over. Rather the issue will now be decided, as far as the legality issue is concerned, at the state level. Some states may allow voters to decide. Others will pass laws in their legislatures. The point is, in red or blue or purple states, abortion will become a focal point.

And actually, real human lives hang in the balance.

To be sure, in some states abortions may increase. But in others, the very inconvenience of having to travel to a different state, may deter some young girls from getting abortions.

The key now is to prepare. Believers who understand that God forms every human being, that we are created in His image, that He regards each life as precious, must support those ideas with Scripture. This discussion should not be a he-said/she-said argument. Christians have God’s authoritative word to undergird our ideas.

Then, too, preparation must involve prayer. Every believer can pray. And we must come boldly before the throne of grace to find help for these crucial decisions. Pray that God will be glorified in each decision. Pray that He will work to bring an end to the violence against the unborn, and that He will protect the newly born in those places that might now target them. Pray that He opens the eyes of those who do not believe humans are uniquely made in the image of God. That would change a lot of hearts, I think. Pray that people on the fence will make a decision for life and not for death, since that’s actually what’s at stake.

Published in: on April 11, 2022 at 3:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Thank goodness 2020 is over”


https://www.insurancejournal.com/app/uploads/2011/04/high-gas-less-accidents.jpg

Last year at this time, about the most oft-repeated phrase was something along the lines of how we all were thankful that the “awful pandemic year” was finally over. Well, there was also the “awful politics year” people, so all in all most Americans were embracing 2021 as if it was a rescue dog.

Surprise! The 2021 year was worse than the first. More covid variants. More covid deaths. More upheaval in every aspect of our “new” political regime.

Now we have inflation we haven’t seen in nearly a half century. We have record high gas prices. We are again energy buyers, not sellers. And for all those who are “green conscious,” the oil we are bringing in from OPEC and from Russia, has not been produced in a clean way as US energy had been produced.

We’ve also seen record illegal immigration. We have broken faith with Afghans and had a Vietnam-like departure that stranded Americans and allies alike. We are not responding to the global threats from North Korea and their super rocket that can deliver a nuclear weapon anywhere in the world. China is making all kinds of steps toward Taiwan without our response. Russia is making threatening moves toward Ukraine and all we’ve done is issue a “strong warning” that we’ll respond with sanctions if they don’t settle down and leave Ukraine alone. In other words, all the nations opposed to democracy are stronger and bolder and less responsive to what the US government says.

Then there is the failed promises of a united country here at home. Besides the political divide, we are divided over mask mandates and vaccine mandates. People are threatened with losing their jobs or being kicked out of the military—in contradiction to candidate Biden’s own words that he would not insist on such mandates.

Schools have opened, closed, had teachers vote not to return after the holidays. I could go on, but the point of this post, believe it or not, is not to decry how bad things were in 2021.

Rather, as I see it, the real problem is that we Americans seemed convinced that a new year would automatically be a better year. That we had “reached bottom” with the first covid surge. We actually aren’t near “the bottom.”

The real bottom will come when God again judges the human race because we are a sinful people. He judged the world once and He has said in His word, that there will be a final judgment. That was true for Israel in a limited way. They turned away from God and He sent drought or war or disease to call them back to Himself. He sent them prophets to call them to repentance. Many prophets. And finally He sent His Son to give all the people of the world, then and now, a way of rescue from the coming judgment.

Today, I see things like the pandemic and “climate change” and racial tension and international upheaval as the same kinds of warnings God sent Israel. He wants us to bow the knee and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He has come and will come again. That we too can repent and be saved.

The question is, what are we going to do with God’s warnings? Are we going to ignore them and dive into 2022 with the assumption it will be a better year, just because? Are we going to wring our hands and worry ourselves into the grave because so many things are “out of control.”

In truth nothing is out of control. God, not we humans, has it all under control. Here in California a favorite covid saying was, “We’ve got this.” Like, all we have to do is mask up and get vaccinated, and we will be on top of covid. It will not defeat us! And then the Delta variant hit, followed by the Omocron surge. And boosters and new mandates and regulations and closures.

All of this, God knew from eternity past, before the foundation of the world. He has His purposes. I don’t pretend to know them all, but since He sent warnings to Israel through wars and famine and disease, and since Jesus Himself enumerated warnings about His final judgment in Matt. 24, I’m of the mindset that one of God’s reasons for allowing the covid years is to call us to repentance.

He said in Ezekiel,

“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he would turn from his ways and live?” (18:23)

Then a few verses later He again states

For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live!” (18:32)

No, our faith should not be in 2022, a better year. It should not be in our ability to over come, or in following mask mandates or in vaccine boosters, or in converting our savings to gold or in any of the other plans a number of people have for overcoming the problems that seem to be tearing our country, and even the world, apart.

Our hope is in the sure and finished work of Jesus Christ. It has never been in affordable gas prices or democracy or a government that isn’t as corrupt as others might be. When we understand that persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia and Vietnam and North Korea have just as much hope as American Christians can have, we will understand that our hope is not dependent upon our material conditions. Not on our safety; the approval of our family, neighbors, community, friends; the abundance of goods; the easy of services.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Refrain:
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand:
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

Published in: on January 5, 2022 at 1:01 pm  Comments (7)  
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Abortion: And Then There Is This


For years the issue of abortion has basically lain dormant. After all, Roe v Wade. That settled the issue, right?

Lots of people thought so, until President Trump appointed two conservative Justices to the Supreme Court—those who looked at law through a conservative or “strict constructionist” lens. Meaning they believe laws should be judged by their adherence to the Constitution as the Framers intended. No “living document” extrapolation or Justices legislating from the bench. Which, of course, is why President Biden has assigned a committee to look into expanding the number of Justices on the Court. From nine to thirteen, I think. Meaning he could appoint four liberal judges who would see the Constitution in the same light as the progressives do.

But all that is a side point, yet it explains why there has recently been some kickback against the Roe v Wade ruling in state legislatures, notably in Texas. As I understand it, Texas passed a law that made abortion only legal until the heartbeat of the baby could be detected, which generally is around the six-weeks mark. The pro-abortionists are up in arms.

There has been some effort to get Congress to pass a sweeping “abortion protection” law which would mean that states could no longer pass restrictions and that abortion would be legal at any point during a pregnancy, if a medical professional determines that a pregnancy would be harmful to the mother’s health, including her mental health. (in other words, a friend who is a nurse could say, I see you are dreading having a baby. For your mental health, you should get an abortion. This approach could also include aborting a baby because the parent wants a boy instead of a girl or vice versa.) So far, I don’t think that bill is getting any traction.

To be honest, I care most about what the Bible has to say about abortion, or more accurately, about the existence of life in the womb. Now, in the 21st Century, we have the science to know that life does in fact begin at conception. But apparently that isn’t enough for abortionists. They want this life to be viable, or valuable, or somehow meaningful. Expanded to its logical conclusion, that position would also mean that a child, teen, or adult who is not viable—the disabled, for instance—or valuable or living a life society concludes is meaningful, could one day be treated in the same way as the newly formed baby in a mother’s womb.

But again, what matters most is what the Bible says. And it says a lot. At least, more than most people think. Probably the most well-known passage is in Psalm 139 in which David said  in v 13, “For You created my innermost parts;/You wove me in my mother’s womb.”

There are at least 14 other such passages. Some are admittedly troubling, like Psalm 58:3-4: “The wicked have turned away from the womb;/These who speak lies go astray from birth./They have venom like the venom of a serpent;/Like a deaf cobra that stops up its ear.” So God knows wicked people even when they are in the womb. That certainly undermines the idea of “innocent children” or the popular modern idea that babies are “clean slates.”

On the flip side, a number of people in Scripture were called by God while in their mother’s womb. Samson, for instance, was called to be a Nazarite while he was in his mother’s womb, recorded for us in Judges 13:5. Isaiah also mentions more than once people, including himself, being formed in the womb. He culminated this point by saying he was also called from his mother’s womb: “The LORD called Me from the womb;/From the body of My mother He named Me.” (49:1b)

The list continues, including Jeremiah, the Apostle Paul, and an unnamed Psalmist who wrote Psalm 71:6, “I have leaned on you since my birth;/You are He who took me from my mother’s womb;/My praise is continually of You.”

But the greatest example, I believe, is John the Baptizer. Many Christians know that John’s mother, Elizabeth was an older woman, past the age of giving birth, yet God miraculously enabled her to get pregnant. She was six months along in her pregnancy, when a young relative of hers, named Mary, was also miraculously impregnated. Mary was a virgin and her Child was implanted in her womb by God.

When an angel told Mary this would take place, he also mentioned that Elizabeth, who was beyond child-bearing years was also pregnant. In fact she was entering her third trimester. Mary left her home and went to Elizabeth. Did she want verification? Did her parents send her to help out? We don’t know her motive for going, but she stayed there for three months, right up until the time that Elizabeth would have her baby.

But here are the important parts of this story. First, an angel told John’s dad, Zacharias, that John would be, much like Samson, special even before he was born:

your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb.  (Luke 1:13b-15, emphasis added)

So, here’s little unborn baby John, full of the Holy Spirit, and along comes Mary, barely pregnant.

she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit . . . . “behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. ” (vv 40b, 41 and 44)

I could be wrong here, but I suggest that the unborn John, full of the Holy Spirit, responded in joy to the little life growing inside Mary. In other words, a little life which had only just days earlier begun to form. It’s possible John was joyful because of Mary’s arrival. But clearly, the Holy Spirit within him made it clear that Mary wasn’t just another relative come to see his mom. This young woman was already special. And what made her different? She had a special life growing inside her. She was carrying the Son of God.

So here are two unborn children at two different stages of development. They were as valuable then as they would be after they were born. They both had to go through childhood and learn and grow before they entered into the ministries God had for them, one as the Baptizer, the other as the Savior. But clearly their formative years included those beginning moments inside their mothers wombs.

Christians don’t need to wonder what God says about the beginning of life. The Bible makes it clear.

Published in: on October 21, 2021 at 4:47 pm  Comments (5)  

Let’s Go, Brandon


I’m late to the game, I know. But a chant has grown in popularity at a number of sporting events, and it eventually became an occasion to mock. A rap song came about because of it—a song that apparently became #1 on Twitter. (Sorry, but I didn’t even know that there was a Twitter list of most popular songs. Until I heard about this one.)

cSome in the crowd of various baseball games chanted it, and so did a large segment of a crowd at a NASCAR race. The chant? F@#* Joe Biden. The chant can be heard as a news reporter interviewed the winning driver by the name of Brandon someone. Sorry, I didn’t catch his name. As the chant got louder and made it harder for the reporter to ask her questions and to hear Brandon’s answers, she editorialized and noted that the crowd was loudly saying “Let’s go, Brandon.” Which would actually make no sense since the young man had already won the race.

Many outlets realized that this reporter was not accurately reporting what the crowd was saying. Most took the tack that she was intentionally steering her listeners away from the truth—in essence lying about what was clearly a news-worthy story.

I have no way of knowing what was in her mind. But while many conservatives laugh and are clearly delighted by the negative sentiment aimed at the US President by this growing number of people in a crowd, I’m pretty horrified.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that President Biden and his policies are tearing apart the fabric of American society. I think he needs to be stopped, which is why I think the 2022 elections can’t come soon enough so that the Conservatives can gain control of Congress and stop the crazy from this government.

Think about it:

  • the on-going border crisis, with no end in sight
  • rising gas prices
  • the humiliating end to the war in Afghanistan, resulting in Americans and allies left behind 
  • inflation
  • outrageous efforts to pass “infrastructure” bills and voting “rights” bills
  • departing from energy independence and returning to buying (dirtier) coal and gas from other countries, including Russia
  • enemy nations developing weapons while our military is stripped and demoralized by teaching Critical Race Theory and forced vaccines
  • the supply-line crisis, in which a 100 ships at this writing are stacked up in harbors off the coast of California.

I could add the work force shortage, too, as business after business displays “Now hiring” signs. There is a shortage of truckers, warehouse workers, restaurant servers, grocery story personnel. You name it.  That list also does not include the government overreach which is trying to force every American, even the young and those with natural Covid immunity, to be vaccinated. 

Clearly, there are reasons Americans are unhappy with President Biden. I understand, and I share the feeling that this administration is likely the worst this country has ever seen. And yet . . .

I can’t help thinking that we are losing a great deal by showing such disrespect to the highest authority in our country. I understand that we have lost even the veneer of civility in our land, and certainly President Trump during his campaigns and his four years in office, did nothing to change that.

Nevertheless, I don’t think any of the faults of society at large or the sins of this President, the bad policies, the refusal to live by his oath of office and uphold the Constitution while refusing to do what an executive is supposed to do: see to it that the laws Congress passes are enacted—none of this gives Christians a right to blow past the stop sign of Scripture.

The Bible tells us to obey those in authority over us, and to “honor the king.” The Apostle Paul wrote those words when the “king” was the Roman Caesar who was persecuting Christians and who was living an immoral lifestyle.

If Christians in the first century were supposed to “honor” such a leader, aren’t we today in this 21st century democracy to also honor our President? That doesn’t mean we agree with him or stay silent about the wrongs he is responsible for. But any criticism we offer, I believe, should be respectful. If not to the man, certainly to the office. That’s what God’s word says. And that’s the highest authority any believer should have.

Published in: on October 20, 2021 at 5:04 pm  Comments (7)  
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Critical Race Theory And A Confession

The term Critical Race Theory has been bandied about for some time now. For those who may not be familiar with the term, here is a short video that gives the gist of the idea.

 

I have long thought that Critical Race Theory stands in contradiction to what Dr. Martin Luther King advocated, but I hadn’t heard it so clearly articulated before.  In short, Critical Race Theory is simply a part of a movement to create a cultural revolution in America, right before our eyes.

The shocking thing to me is that I recently have bought into some of this thinking without realizing it. Not about race, but about gender. Mostly I haven’t paid much attention to the whole transgender issue because it is so lacking in factual, scientific support. One thing the anti-God crowd says over and over is that we must believe in science. But when it comes to gender, these same people on the “progressive” left ignore biology in favor of feelings. Their hypocrisy and lack of common sense have made them easy to ignore, I have believed.

However, the feminist narrative which in some ways runs counter to transgender ideas, and has its own problems with science, has become its own kind of Critical Race Theory. Just without the race. That’s right. It’s Critical Gender Theory, essentially saying, Women good, Men bad. The oppressed are women, the oppressors are men. 

It’s another insidious way to divide human beings, and I realized I have bought into the ideas more than I realized. Recently I was reading in the book of Proverbs in which the author, believed to be Solomon, was passing along counsel to his son. Get wisdom, he says, and stay away from prostitutes:

And behold, a woman comes to meet him,

Dressed as a prostitute and cunning of heart.

She is boisterous and rebellious,

Her feet do not remain at home;

She is now in the streets, now in the public squares,

And lurks by every corner. (Proverbs 7:10-12)

My first thought was, I wonder what caused this woman to go the way of a prostitute. I mean, today girls are sold into the sex slave trade. They sometimes go the way of the prostitute because they’ve been abused. Some are on drugs and look to prostitution as the only way to get money to support their habit.

See what I was doing? This girl must first have been a victim before she became a prostitute. She is actually to be pitied and not viewed as rebellious as Scripture says.

OK, that’s a scary realization. The Bible doesn’t lie. While bad circumstances do affect people, those do not mitigate against rebellion.

So the feminist message that men have always and only oppressed women and the “progressive” left with the message that anyone white has and always will operate on the basis of race, both fly in the face of God’s Word.

The Bible says clearly that in God’s eyes there is no male or female, no Greek or Jew. At the cross of Jesus, all these differences are of no account. We are one body, united, without distinctions that would tear us apart or subjugate men over women or whites over those of other races.

These ideas that are being actively taught in our schools and are designed to overthrow the American culture built upon the values taught in Scripture, are beginning to take hold in all our institutions, including our churches. And sadly, I realize in some ways they have begun to take hold in me.

Maybe more than a confession, this is a warning. We’re all susceptible to the lies that Satan would have us believe to destroy God’s pictures of our relationship with Him.

He is our Father, so manhood and family are under attack. He is the head of the body, the church, and the unity of humans is under attack. On and on. These are Satan’s lies and we have to stand against, trusting instead in the truth God teaches in His word.

Published in: on June 14, 2021 at 5:17 pm  Comments (7)  
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Introduction: Hunger by Jill Williamson


I’m a fan of Jill Williamson’s writing. I haven’t read every single book she’s written, but close. In fact, I just bought her latest release, Hunger, the second book in the Thirst duology, prequels to her Safe Lands dystopian trilogy. This is one I’ve been especially eager to read. When news came out that she’d be releasing the book this April, I made a special effort to jump right in and get my copy ASAP.

Some might be skeptical, thinking if you’ve read one dystopian, you’ve read them all, but that’s not the case with these books that serve as prequels to Williamson’s Safe Lands trilogy. For one thing, the timing of the books about a virus—albeit, one in the water instead of one passed by human secretion—is eerily prescient. For another, Jill exposed the underbelly of human behavior in the midst of panic, painting pictures that are all too reminiscent of store shelves stripped of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, canned products, fresh fruits and vegetables, and more.

Of course, the over arching goal of these books aims to show what happened that brought about the circumstances in the Safe Lands books in which the majority of people lived in a walled section of the world, while a much smaller group lived more like survivalists apart from the majority. How did this happen? That’s the driving question behind Thirst and Hunger.

Here is the description of Hunger

In the wake of a pandemic, Eli and his friends find a thriving community that offers free housing, food, and thankfully, safe drinking water. But something is amiss. The residents spend most their time partying and attending concerts. No one seems concerned that the virus is still out there. When Eli tries to leave, he discovers a fence has been built to keep him, and everyone else, inside.

Hannah is tired of running. When she is conscripted to work in the hospital, she hopes she’s finally found a place to belong, but Admin’s disregard for a doctor’s pledge to “First do no harm” is unsettling.

As Hannah starts to wonder if she will ever be safe again, Eli clings to his hope for freedom. In a world filled with lies, can they learn to trust each other? Or will their hunger for safety trap them in a world that’s not so safe after all?

Clearly, Hunger is the Part 2 of this two-book explanation for the existence of the world a reader will discover in the Safe Lands trilogy. For those who have not read the Part 1—Thirst—I strongly encourage you to start there. The really good news is that the book is available on Kindle for $2.99. That’s a steal. This book is fast-paced and highly entertaining. No one should worry that they will arrive at a cliffhanger ending, though it’s evident at the conclusion of Thirst that there needs to be more story. (See “Fiction Friday: Thirst By Jill Williamson”). And of course, the other good thing is that “more story” has now arrived!

As a refresher

Jill Williamson is weird, which is probably why she writes science fiction and fantasy novels for teenagers. She grew up in Alaska with no electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of mosquitoes. Thankfully it was the land of the midnight sun, and she could stay up and read by the summer daylight that wouldn’t go away. But the winter months left little to do but daydream. Both hobbies set her up to be a writer.

Also Jill is a Whovian, a Photoshop addict, and a recovering fashion design assistant. Her debut novel, a medieval fantasy called By Darkness Hid, won an EPIC Award, a Christy Award, and was named a Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novel of 2009 by VOYA magazine. Jill has since published thirteen books.

Finally, she loves working with teenagers and encouraging them to respect their dreams. Jill speaks and gives writing workshops at libraries, schools, camps, and churches. She blogs for teen writers at http://www.goteenwriters.com. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two children, and a whole lot of deer. You can also visit her online at http://www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.

Jill is a prolific writer. Besides her Safe Lands dystopian books, she wrote a straight science fiction story about cloning called Replication, a young adult series suited for younger teens called The Mission League books, two co-authored (with her son) children’s stories in her RoboTales series, and several fantasy series. If you haven’t jumped on the Jill Williamson bandwagon yet, now is as good a time as any to dive in and find out what you’ve been missing.

Published in: on April 12, 2021 at 4:33 pm  Comments Off on Introduction: Hunger by Jill Williamson  
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Who Is Jesus?


I recently heard a speaker recount a situation in which a young adult was asked, Who is Jesus? The responder started some nebulous answer, then stalled out altogether. Simply, he didn’t have a clear answer. Was Jesus a religious figure, the founder of some new religion? Was He a good teacher who pointed people to a more loving way to live? Maybe He was nothing more than a cute baby that came into the world a long time ago so we could all have Christmas.

Just exactly who is Jesus? It’s an important question and one each person needs to be able to answer. Of course there are the answers skeptics give—a fairly unimportant first century Jewish rabbi whose followers turned into a cult figure people started to worship. Something along that line. It’s hard to deny that he did in fact live, though some atheists go so far as to ignore Biblical and extra-Biblical evidence to the contrary.

The people of His day actually struggle with the question, too. Who is this man? Some said He was a prophet, maybe Elijah. Herod wondered if He was John the Baptist come back to life. More than one person, though, thought He just might be the Messiah, the Christ of God.

After all, the Jews had been waiting and looking for this Promised King. They believed the Messiah would free them from pagan rule. The current pagan rule was Rome, though the Jews had been conquered and enslaved by various other nations. But at the time that Jesus came on the scene, it was the Romans they hoped He would defeat.

But to be honest, “they” didn’t all hope Jesus was the Messiah. In fact the contemporary Jewish leaders contended with Him at every turn. At one point they accused Him of doing miracles by the power of Satan. Ultimately they became so jealous of His following and so fearful they would lose their own positions of authority, they conspired to have Him killed. At that point, they actually didn’t care if He was the Messiah. Maybe they had even stopped believing that God would send a Messiah.

Certainly when Jesus was executed, when He hung on the cross, dying, I’d venture to guess that close to 100% of the people stopped believing that this Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, was God’s Messiah. I mean, how could you have a dead Messiah? How could He save anybody if He was dead?

What they all missed, even Jesus’s followers, was that the very act of dying was the means God chose for their salvation.

In many ways, it’s more surprising that the Jews missed it because their whole history was littered with sacrifice: Passover lambs for the life of the first born in every family; sacrifices for the sins of the people; scapegoats for the sins of the nation; a ram caught in a thicket as a substitute for Isaac. All through Jewish history, sacrifices to save. But along comes Jesus who dies, and they miss who He is, what He’s doing.

Actually, one of those hated Roman soldiers understood better. As Jesus asked God to forgive the men who were killing Him, or perhaps when the earth shook or the sky went dark in the middle of the afternoon, this centurion figured out that Jesus was not just a run-of-the-mill guy. “Surely, this was the Son of God,” he concluded.

What did he know about God? About His Son? Had he been in Jerusalem when Jesus caused the lame man to walk? Did he hear the rumors about Lazarus coming back to life? Or about Jesus multiplying a few loaves of bread and a couple fish so that He could feed 5000 people? We don’t know. But this Roman “pagan” was convinced, as Jesus breathed His last, that this Man was indeed the Son of God.

But that brings us back to the point that had the Jews stumped: how could Jesus save anybody if He was dead? Besides what we can see more clearly in hindsight—that Jesus in fact saved by dying—it was a realistic question. I mean, the Messiah was to be a king, to reign forever. So a dead man wouldn’t qualify, would he?

That part they got right.

Which is why Jesus didn’t stay dead.

As believers all over the world will joyously announce this coming Easter Sunday, He is risen. He is risen indeed! Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ of God, His very Son is risen and alive and will one day return to take His rightful throne.

Published in: on April 2, 2021 at 2:42 pm  Comments Off on Who Is Jesus?  
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Missing A Year


Since March of last year, I have felt sorry for high school and college students, especially those who were seniors.

It started when the NCAA—the governing body of college sports, canceled “March Madness,” the basketball tournament any number of players had worked hard all season to reach. If fact, some of those players had counted on performing well in the tournament in order to get a toe-hold into playing professional basketball. After all, how else did a player from a smaller school have a chance to be noticed by NBA scouts?

Of course, March Madness wasn’t the extent of what kids lost. Graduation would be another big zero, though kids had worked four long years in order to walk across a stage and receive their diploma, either as a high school graduate or a college graduate. I don’t know about elsewhere, but here in SoCal, there was no graduation. In fairness, the schools tried. At least some did. The one near me hung a big Congratulations banner across the street leading to the school. They held some sort of car ceremony, which I think gave the kids their diplomas. Later they had a students only graduation in their large football stadium. Not, I imagine, what these kids had dreamed about.

Well, actually, I don’t “imagine.” I know. The summer before I was to enter my senior year of high school, my family moved to Tanzania, East Africa. The school system was based on the British system, not American, with the various subjects I needed to graduate, and more so, to meet the requirements for entrance into college; and all the classes were in Swahili. There was no way I could finish high school there unless I took correspondence courses. This method of instruction from a distance was a lot like homeschooling, which had not yet become a thing, and a bit like remote learning, except I didn’t have a computer, which was also not yet a thing—at least not the home computers we know today.

Picture by Michael Jacobson

I had one advantage—my parents were both educators, so I had people I could ask if I needed help. But I didn’t have classmates, football games to attend, school clubs to be a part of, senior days or ditch days or graduation. I know what it feels like to look forward to something for years—I mean, I’d gone to my brother’s graduation, my sister’s graduation. and I had imagined my own. Which I never participated in.

For me, there was so much more that I gained, however. I mean, I was living in a different culture, experiencing a whole different world. I can’t begin to explain what all I learned, how my whole worldview changed because of that “not in school” year.

I hope the students of today will some time in their future look back and say that the Corid year was actually a good thing for them.

Here in California, if nothing else, it has removed them from the pressure of curriculum that many don’t subscribe to. The whole “critical race theory” instruction that is taking over schools is one example

Parents are also more aware of the course work their kids are being exposed to. They are more involved with their children and their learning. Families are closer and have shared experiences. I’ve heard of families instituting game nights when once they all scattered in their many different directions. In other words, the “missing year” doesn’t actually have to be missing. There might be a lot more benefits that we just haven’t uncovered yet. And one thing seems apparent: we probably aren’t going to take “going to school” for granted for some time. And that’s a good thing.

God has a way of turning tough things into purposeful things that can accomplish much.

Sort of like the events leading up to the first Easter. Things looked pretty dark for the people who believed Jesus was their Messiah. I mean, can it get any darker than to see the man you believe would save your nation, dying as a criminal on a Roman cross? Maybe they were thinking they had lost, not just a year, but three years, and all their hopes and dreams. But then Easter. And the days that followed. God took what seemed to be a tragedy and turned it into triumph. He has a way of doing that.

Published in: on March 26, 2021 at 4:57 pm  Comments (2)  
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Hate Speech And The Christian


A couple things seem clear for Christians. First, hate speech is not right for someone following Jesus Christ. I just heard earlier today from a black pastor who said in his younger days when he lived in Atlanta he was not allowed to attend a white church. The church actually split over the decision, and the whole experience affected his understanding of race relations and reconciliation. I’m referring to Dr. Tony Evans who spoke on race relations at the height of the BLM protests and riots. He’s also written a book on the subject. Here’s part of the description:

Oneness is hard achieve. Let the kingdom unity of Scripture point the way.

Today’s world is torn apart. Tension is everywhere. Brother is pitted against brother, sister against sister, citizen against citizen, even Christian against Christian. It’s so hard to find agreement—much less real harmony—in our polarized society. Can there be a way forward?

Tony Evans knows how elusive unity can be. As a black man who’s also a leader in white evangelicalism, he understands how hard it can be to bring these worlds together. Yet he’s convinced that the gospel provides a way for Christians to find oneness despite the things that divide us.

If you’ve never heard him speak, here’s a video I chose randomly. He’s Biblical.

All that to say, Christians of many races believe in the unity of believers that crosses racial and ethnic lines. Christians around the world understand that hate speech is against God’s plan. I mean, if a person believes the Bible, he’ll see right there in 1 John 4:21:

If someone says, “I love God,” and yet he hates his brother or sister, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother and sister whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

The second thing that should be clear is that we believers will soon become the target of those who accuse of hate speech, with the accusations will come the whole cancel culture pressure.

Why do I think this? If Christians are not to engage in hate speech, how is it that we will be accused of it?

We’ve already seen this. In a recent election, Christian business owners who supported voting for a heterosexual definition of marriage, were boycotted, and some were harassed. Since then, the concept of “hate speech” has only grown.

As long as Christians teach what the Bible does—that God created us in His image, but sin entered the world and marred His good creation; ever since, every human alive struggles with a sin nature that only Christ can take care of—we will be the target of hate speech. People who are deceiving themselves don’t like to be told they are sinners in need of a Savior. I even had one atheist who used to visit here some years ago, tell me that teaching children that they are sinners is akin to child abuse.

It’s not. It’s actually the most loving thing a person can do, on the par with a doctor telling a patient that he has cancer, but that there is a treatment that has 100% success rate. That doctor would be accused of malpractice if he “loved” his patient so much he didn’t want to give him the bad news about the cancer.

In the same way, Christians show our love for the broken and dying world by telling them the good news—which, of course, follows the bad news of our condition.

In reality, broken people know they are broken. They might not want to admit it. They may dress up their circumstances to look a if they are not broken, but they aren’t fooling anyone else. Just themselves. Their spouse, their kids, their boss, their fellow employees, even their good friends know the flaws and foibles. Because we try so desperately to hide our sin condition, someone needs to tell us the truth.

I just heard a program by Focus on the Family today which featured two guests who were both formerly in the transgender lifestyle. One man who had presented as a woman. One woman who had presented as a man. The woman said she finally came to understand her need to leave that life when, as a Christian seeking God, she read Psalm 139. Here are the pertinent verses:

For You created my innermost parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully formed in the depths of the earth;

She asked herself then, What have I done?

Praise God she and the male guest both “came to their senses,” much like the prodigal son in the Biblical parable, and returned to the life God had intended for them.

But how long will Christians be allowed to say things like God heals the broken gender-confused individual? We are on a course in which that statement will soon be considered hate speech.

The main thing, I think, is for Christians to do what Daniel did: when confronted with compromise, he made up his mind to do things God’s way. We today must make up our mind, and the sooner, the better. Are we going to continue preaching what the Bible says, or are we going to bow to the culture? Many Christians have already decided to follow the culture when it comes to child rearing. Many follow the culture in the matter of woman pastors. Where is our line in the sand, that point where we say, as the apostles said, We ought to obey God rather than man? At that point, we will likely be accused of hate speech.

Published in: on March 24, 2021 at 5:10 pm  Comments (14)  
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