All The Eggs In One Basket


As I read through the major and minor prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and so forth—one theme seems crystal clear. Whether God, through the prophets, was issuing warning, announcing judgment, or rebuking His people, the behavior that came up time and time again was that Israel was supposed to worship God only.

Sure, from time to time the prophets also talked about oppressing orphans and widows; not keeping the Sabbath; rulers, priests and false prophets leading the people astray; even the killing of their children in false worship.

The bottom line, however, was that all the ugly, sinful behavior the people engaged in, was linked to breaking the command to love God only. This passage from Deuteronomy spells things out pretty clearly:

“Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. (10:12-21)

In truth, all the elaboration and explanation shouldn’t have been necessary because God stated what He wanted in a very clear commandment which He placed first in the Ten Commandments:

‘I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.You shall have no other gods before Me.’ (Deut. 5:6-7)

No other gods. First, Scripture makes it clear that there ARE no other gods—only idols, false angels, pretend gods who wish to usurp God’s sovereign rule.

Despite God’s clear instruction, the people of Israel became enamored with the culture around them. The Egyptians, for instance, had all kinds of false gods. When, after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, God’s people reached the Promised Land, they found a number of other cultures who worshiped a different set of false gods, so they decided to add them to their pantheon.

But God had said, put your eggs all in one basket. Don’t trust Yahweh, the living God, and Baal and the Asherim and Molech, and Chemosh, or any of the other gods that the people around them worshiped.

Today we might be tempted to scoff a bit. After all, we are not superstitious. We do not worship the Sun or bow before a statue made of gold or wood or stone.

But truth be told, we in our sophisticated Western culture are not any different from those ancient Middle Easterners. We just hide what we’re doing. We say God is on the throne, but here in America, Sunday evening church services are almost non-existent because people who say they follow Christ are too busy with work or sports or family or some other leisure activity to give God one day in the week. He can have an hour Sunday morning, and maybe even two if we’re “really involved” in our church. But the whole day? Well, churches have made it easy for us by doing away with that Sunday evening service.

We say we love God, so we read our Bibles for fifteen minutes, maybe even a half hour a day. We might even get a devotional on our phone or tablet. But in contrast we watch TV for a couple hours, or play our computer games into the late night hours.

We privatize our religion and don’t let the Bible inform our views about Covid-19 or race or the Fourth of July. We are pretty OK with adopting the attitudes of our culture—our divided culture—about such things.

I know, because I’ve done all these things, and I could go on and on.

I’m not about to make a list of what I think we should or shouldn’t do. How we should vote or think or what we should say. Each person is different, and God moves in different ways in all our lives. But I do think we should love God more than these—whatever these is to us. We should give up stuff that stands in our way, that keeps us from loving God with all our mind, heart, strength. ‘Cause all our eggs belong in one basket.

Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

Published in: on June 30, 2020 at 4:35 pm  Comments (3)  
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Introducing The Author: Paul Regnier


Speculative author Paul Regnier may not be a household name. I haven’t seen a lot of interviews with him or followed a blog tour that featured him. He does have an active presence on social media in places like Facebook and Instagram, but for some reason—maybe because of the dwindling of active blogs—Paul doesn’t have a lot of “guest appearances.” Happily, Speculative Faith, where I write every Monday, has had him as a guest contributor.

But typically, when an author generates content, he’s more apt to talk about his book or writing or some other related topic. Most don’t talk about themselves much.

That’s OK because, as it happens, I know Paul personally. Until he moved, I was in two writing groups with him.

I first met Paul at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A mutual friend introduced us, with the idea that we might want to include him in our small group of speculative fiction writers.

Since then Paul has gone on to co-teach a youth workshop at Mount Hermon. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our group decided that he would be a good fit. He is a believer in Jesus Christ, a writer who loves various types of speculative fiction, a family man who, at the time, lived in the greater Los Angeles area, which is where all of us in the group live.

When Paul came into our little group of Christians writing speculative fiction, he was transitioning from screen writing to becoming a novelist. In fact, I think the first work of his that I read might have been a screen play.

I noticed a couple things in those early days. One, Paul had a great sense of humor. Some of the lines coming from the mouths of his characters had members of our group laughing out loud! Two, he was really, really good with dialogue. I mean, essentially dialogue is all that screen plays are. That and some stage direction to introduce scenes. (Obviously, I’m not a screen writer!)

At any rate, as Paul moved into the realm of novels, it was pretty clear that “work on your dialogue” was never going to be a critique any of us would offer.

Paul’s first publishing effort was a foray into self-publishing. The book came out before he had much of a social media platform, and I’m not sure it’s even still available. Let’s just say, he learned a lot through that experience.

From that first effort (fantasy, if I remember correctly) Paul moved on to Space Opera. He wrote the first book of his Space Drifters series, The Emerald Enigma, and after moving on from his agent, found a home for it at Enclave. He went on to complete that series, which became a trilogy, all with the same publisher.

Shortly after Paul joined the local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers to which I also belong, he and his wife decided to move. With two young children, they determined that there were better places to raise kids than Southern California (imagine!) Paul and his family now make their home in Treasure Valley, Idaho.

Believe it or not, that first original writing group still “meets” from time to time. We were doing the online meetings before the Covidvirus made so many turn to Zoom in order to “gather.”

After completing Space Drifters, Paul went on to write and self-publish the Paranormia books which I’ve introduced here at Spec Faith (here and here).

I’m a big fan of the way Paul tilts a genre by making humor as integral to the story as the adventure. I think it’s a gift—the sense of humor but also the ability to write it and to make it a part of his characters so that it doesn’t feel forced or contrived.

In the long run, besides knowing that Paul “is a technology junkie, drone pilot, photographer, web designer, drummer, Star Wars nerd, and a wannabe Narnian with a fascination for all things futuristic,” what matters the most to readers are the stories.

Maybe the Paranormia books, because of their unique blend of genres, will put Paul on the map and make him that household name so speculative readers will start looking for his books with regularity. I don’t know. I do know that he’s a talented writer, and he keeps getting better. I don’t think readers will be disappointed if they choose one of his books in their search for a new exciting series or a stand-alone novel.

Published in: on June 29, 2020 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hard Of Hearing


I don’t think any group of people illustrates better how those rejecting God simply refuse to hear God speak than do the people of Judah who Jeremiah prophesied to. Amazingly, God warned Jeremiah, who was apparently a young man when he started prophesying, that the people would not do what he was telling them to do. But still, God wanted him to keep on warning them.

So Jeremiah did. For decades.

He warned that if the people didn’t repent, God would bring an end to the nation just as He had sent Israel, their northern neighbor, into exile. God had Jeremiah give a number of object lessons to illustrate the things He wanted Judah to understand.

One was a potter and the clay he was using to make his pots. Another was a cloth belt he was to take and bury near the river. Of course, when God sent him back to reclaim it, it was ruined. God’s pronouncement followed:

‘This wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts and have gone after other gods to serve them and to bow down to them, let them be just like this waistband which is totally worthless. For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.’ (Jer. 13:10-11; emphasis mine)

Still, no one believed him.

Ripe_Figs_-_c._1773Even when the Babylonians came up against them and defeated them, carrying the leaders into exile, even when they removed the rightful king and set his uncle on the throne, even when they stripped the gold from the temple and pillaged everything of value, Judah still held fast to the idea that they’d prevail.

God had Jeremiah put before them two baskets of figs, one filled with good figs and the other with over-ripe ones that were worthless. Then he prophesied:

“Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans. 6 For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. (Jer. 24:5-7)

But those who remained in the land—Jeremiah, under God’s direction, said they were like the basket of bad figs and as such were worthless, fit only to be destroyed:

I will send the sword, the famine and the pestilence upon them until they are destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their forefathers. (Jer. 24:10)

At another time, Jeremiah put a wooden yoke on his neck and prophesied:

“It will be, that the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine and with pestilence,” declares the LORD, “until I have destroyed it by his hand. (Jer. 27:8)

But he was up against some false prophets and those “diviners, dreamers, soothsayers or sorcerers” were giving the people the opposite message. One of them took the yoke from Jeremiah and broke it in two. He falsely prophesied that in two years God would break the yoke of Babylon, that the exiles would be returned to Judah, that the temple vessels would be restored to them.

No, Jeremiah countered. That false prophet had just insured that the yoke Judah would wear, was made of iron. And then this:

“Listen now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This year you are going to die, because you have counseled rebellion against the LORD.’”

So Hananiah the prophet died in the same year in the seventh month. (Jer. 28:15b-17)

Yep, two months after breaking the wooden yoke, Hananiah died.

You’d think that would be convincing evidence that Jeremiah was the real deal, a prophet who spoke the words of the Lord. But no.

Jeremiah was arrested, an attempt was made to kill him, and he was accused repeatedly of treason. You see, he was begging the people to surrender. It was the only way they could be saved, he said, as God’s spokesman. If they would turn themselves over to the Babylonians, they’d come away with their lives.

As the days drew closer to the final exile, Jeremiah wrote to the first group of exiles and told them to make themselves at home because the exile would last for seventy years, but after that, they’d be restored to their land.

Judah ignored even this word of hope. In fact, when word came to Jerusalem about Jeremiah’s message, it was one of the bits of evidence against him that he was counseling treason.

God had him perform another object lesson. He bought a piece of land from his cousin, then had the deeds sealed up in a clay jar. The message was that when God restored the people to the land, they would once again thrive.

No matter. The people didn’t want to hear it. They’d closed their ears to the warning that they needed to repent or face destruction. Now they closed their ears to the promise of restoration.

The last we know of Jeremiah, after Jerusalem was destroyed and only the poorest of the poor remained, a group of people wanted to leave for Egypt. They asked Jeremiah whether that’s what they should do. He said he’d ask God. When he returned and told them that no, they should not go to Egypt, again they refused to listen. No matter that they’d given their word that whatever Jeremiah told them, that would be their decision. Instead they did just the opposite.

The people of Judah during this period are a real study of what it means to have hard hearts. They listened to those who said the things they wanted to hear, not to God’s word delivered in an unambiguous way by His prophet who had the credentials of one whose word came true.

But they didn’t want to hear THAT message—the one from God that told of the consequences for their sin, that talked about exile and repentance, about putting away their idols and ignoring the false prophets and the sorcerers. So they stopped their ears and went with the beautiful message of peace—the one that was completely NOT TRUE.

Seems to me our society is still refusing to listen to God’s warnings.

This article is an edited version of one originally published here in March, 2015.

Published in: on June 11, 2020 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Racial Divide, 2.0


Back in 2016 I wrote a post about the racial divide in America. The catalyst for my thoughts was completely different from those today.

American has continued to experience protests all over the country, and now protests have emerged all over the world because a white police officer and three others (one Asian, but I’m not sure of the ethnicity of the other two) were involved in the death of an African American accused of a misdemeanor. I covered the details of the tragedy in an earlier post.

What disturbs me beyond the needless, horrendous death of a man is the way the protests tear our nation apart. Granted, the violence, looting, and killing have subsided, but this whole event—from the death of the accused to the speeches made by the high profile media and sports types—cements the idea that racism is “part of our DNA.”

God doesn’t say that. In fact His word says just the opposite: There is no distinction; all have sinned; go into the whole world and preach the gospel; love, the perfect bond of unity; and many, many more such passages.

Of course, the primary concerns in the first century revolved around Jews and questions about including Gentiles—Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, you name it; basically anyone who was not a Jew—in the body of believers following Christ. While Scripture was written to people in the first century, it was written for all the rest of us, down through time, in every place.

So it’s not a stretch for us to read Paul’s statement in Colossians 3 “. . . there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all [believers, whom he is addressing]” and to conclude that there is no distinction between a Christian Italian, a Christian Swede, a Christian Kenyan, a Christian Mexican, a Christian Middle Easterner, a Christian from India, or a Christian from any other part of the world, from whatever ethnic or cultural background they have come out of.

The truth is, again from Scripture, that there will be people worshiping God in the new heaven and the new earth from every tribe and tongue and nation.

And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10)

I love the part about God having made us all into a kingdom. Not a kingdom for each of the tribes or tongues or nations. One kingdom. United, because we have one God and Father:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:4-6)

He is One and He has and is making us one. One body. One bride. One temple. One family. One nation. The Bible uses all these metaphors to describe the Church. Because, the simple fact is that what we have in common because of Christ is greater than any cultural difference or economic divide or language barrier.

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, (Eph. 2:14-19; all caps indicate a quote from the Old Testament while the italics are my emphasis.)

The Apostle Peter echoed this same message in his first letter: “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

One nation, not many. One race. One people.

Therein lies the unity of believers. The fracturing and the divide in the world and in our nation come as a part of the upheaval created by sin. The only real, complete, long-lasting solution, is a Savior who makes us one.

A Matter Of Right And Wrong


On top of two, nearly three, months of coronavirus issues—panic buying, stay-at-home orders, masks, social distancing, school and church closures, businesses closed down, many people losing their jobs, not to mention the nearly 2,000,000 people who have contracted the disease and the 109,000 or so who have died—the US has now been experiencing protests in various cities, many of which involved violence, looting, and burning.

The trigger issue was another death of an African-American at the hands of a police officer. While previous incidents have contained some measure of uncertainty regarding the justifiable use of force—and many have led to no criminal charges brought against the officers—this latest event appears, from video evidence of the incident, to be a more egregious example of inappropriate force used by police.

First, the officers, based on the 9-1-1 call, expected to find someone who was drunk and out of control. From all appearance, the accused, George Floyd, did not resist the police until he was instructed to enter the police vehicle. Even then he was not striking out at the officers but was not entering the vehicle with a struggle.

Second, the complaint against Mr. Floyd was made by a convenience store clerk who said he’d paid for his purchase with a counterfeit $20 bill—certainly not a violent crime.

Third, when the police removed Mr. Floyd from their car and place him face down on the street, kneeling on his back, legs, and neck, he told them repeatedly that he could not breath. He even asked if the cop kneeling on his neck would take his knee away. The cop said he would if Mr. Floyd would comply and get into the car. Mr. Floyd said, “I will.” The cop repeated the instruction, and Mr. Floyd answered that he couldn’t move—quite obviously because the three cops were pinning him in place.

Fourth, when Mr. Floyd at last lost consciousness and the cops called for medical attention, no one gave the man CPR.

The point here is this: the incident was not a matter of black and white; not even cops against African-Americans. Rather, these officers do not appear to know right from wrong. Who would hear a man say he can’t breath, to please release the pressure being applied (yes, at one point Mr. Floyd used the word please), to actually lose consciousness, and DO NOTHING?

Perhaps those officers were blinded by hatred or prejudice. Perhaps they were exerting their dominance just because they could. But does anyone, anywhere, think what they did was right? That it was justified?

At no time were their own lives in danger. Clearly they understood the complaint against this man was that he had committed a non-violent crime. In many states this offense would be a petty misdemeanor and would receive nothing more than a citation. Was he drunk? Hard to say from the video. Certainly the 9-1-1 caller identified him as drunk, so that’s what the police expected. Was he disorderly? Not really. Not until he was instructed to get into the police vehicle. Supposedly he said he was claustrophobic. The cops tried to force him inside, and something must have happened that the film didn’t capture, because the next piece of footage shows Mr. Floyd face down.

The cops, all three directly involved in applying force to Mr. Floyd, seem to have created a mountain over a molehill. Was this because Mr. Floyd was black? Or did they simply not know right from wrong?

Right from wrong includes assuming a person is guilty because of his skin color. But it also includes a lack of compassion when someone repeatedly says he can’t breath and it’s within your power to help him breath. It includes withholding medical attention when you are a trained person who can apply your knowledge and ability to save someone’s life. Anyone’s life.

I don’t care if the person is green or purple, it’s not right to ignore someone’s calls for help or to refuse medical attention. It’s not OK. It’s never OK.

Clearly, Los Angeles has had our own experiences of inappropriate police force against someone they were trying to arrest. A lot of changes have resulted, including tools and training to help officers use non-lethal means to bring a suspect under control.

But I have to wonder if the bottom line has been lost among our law enforcement personnel—people need to be treated as people.

Yes, I understand, some are violent and dangerous. One stat I read said that 87.6% of police shootings were a result of an act to defend either their own lives or the lives of fellow citizens. There are also people who are drug-crazed. There are even folks who are mentally ill. In other words, there are situations that must be dealt with using extreme measures.

But somehow, it seems the officers involved with Mr. Floyd, lost a sense of what was right and what was wrong. Clearly, right to defend lives; wrong to apply deadly force against a non-violent person accused of a minor crime.

This should have been an easy call. There was something the officers could do that was right—actually a number of things come to mind.

Of course all the riots, the looting, the violence that has taken place since this incident, claims the motives of the officers was race. Was it? Would they have treated someone of a different race in some other way? We don’t know, but it assumes these officers, and others around the country where the protests are occurring, have one standard of right for the majority of the people in the US and a different standard for African-Americans.

The claim is that the assumption has been proven by the numbers of blacks who have died in confrontations with police, the number of incidents when African-Americans have been stopped without cause, and so on. But none pf these assumptions address the bottom line issue: doing right instead of doing wrong.

Racism is not right, but neither is abuse or bullying or taking advantage of power or position. Certainly ignoring people in need of help is not right.

How did we become a nation that would not collectively rise and condemn behavior which so devalues another’s life that the individual actually dies as a result of that treatment?

Published in: on June 3, 2020 at 12:40 pm  Comments (2)  
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