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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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  Leave a Comment  
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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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Hate Speech—Some Implications


I have to admit— twenty years ago I did not see “cancel culture” coming. I did not see the US President being banned from a social media platform. I did not see censorship of books in print, of cartoons. But sadly, in the name of “protecting” the world from “hate speech,” that’s where we are. I suspect we have only begun to see the tip of the iceberg.

For instance, some may not realize that back in January the San Francisco School Board voted to change the names of 44 different schools. Fortunately the decision has been stalled, but the intent is to eliminate such school names as Abraham Lincoln High School, George Washington High School, Dianne Feinstein Elementary, Roosevelt Middle School, Jefferson Elementary and Alamo Elementary. When I saw those names I thought it an odd list. Here’s the explanation, according to CNN, including one that explains why the current sitting Democrat California US Senator is included:

Lincoln was chosen based on “his treatment of First Nation peoples,” teacher Jeremiah Jeffries told the San Francisco Chronicle in December 2020.
Washington and Jefferson were slaveowners.

Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor, was listed for reportedly ordering a Confederate flag to be replaced after it was torn down, according to the Sacramento Bee. (CNN)

This movement to expunge American history of names and statues and pictures of people associated in some way with what today’s culture has ruled harmful, is just beginning. The pictures of African-American business innovators, Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima, have been removed or changed on their product. Why? I guess because they don’t look like African-Americans of today.

And so goes the culture under the iron hand of “hate speech.” That’s why the Washington Redskins is now the Washington Football Team, and their once proud logo that depicted a fierce Indian wearing a headdress, has now become WFT printed in caps on the helmet.

Surprisingly logos such as Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers which also single out a specific group of people as representative of their respective team, have received no criticism. So, practically speaking, logos that identify minorities that have not received the “hate speech” label are OK . . . today. But tomorrow, that could change.

After all, if Diane Feinstein can be reelected to the Senate five times and receive “the most popular votes in any U.S. Senate election in history,” yet still have her name scrubbed from the name of an elementary school in her home state, then clearly the tide can turn on anyone at any time.

Perhaps the ridiculousness of this “hate speech” run amok is best seen in the censorship of six Dr. Seuss titles (they call it “self-censorship, but the media pressure spurred the action) and in the cancellation of a cartoon featuring a skunk, Pepe Le Pew.

The sad thing is, removing books like Huckleberry Finn and Uncle Tom’s Cabin from libraries because they contain the n___ word or because they depict slavery, means we are to deny a great chunk of history—not our own only, but also of the rest of the world. Certainly we should not glorify the stereotypes of old or the evils of the past, but acknowledging them seems vital. How can a people learn from their mistakes if we are never allowed to talk about them?

In addition, how are we to learn that people are not just all evil or all good—as if Abraham Lincoln, who signed into law the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery, was a wicked man because of some report that his treatment of Native Americans didn’t meet the 21st Century standards. Was he perfect? Of course not. But he has rightly been celebrated because of his stand against Southern secession and ultimately against slavery.

I haven’t even mentioned the change of rules in the US House of Representatives:

The 117th Congress altered the definition of “relative” to be gender-neutral and succinct. That change, in full:

(3) In clause 8(c)(3) of rule XXIII, strike “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, grandson, or granddaughter” and insert “parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling, first cousin, sibling’s child, spouse, parent-in-law, child-in-law, sibling-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, stepsibling, half-sibling, or grandchild” (WUSA9).

Or what about YouTube removing some 30,000 videos created by doctors and health workers who discussed reasons not to receive the Covid vaccine? Apparently it’s “hateful” to think for yourself today.

How many other businesses or books or historical figures will we lose along the way to the far, far left’s dream of a classless, sexless, “woke” society under their control?

Published in: on March 19, 2021 at 5:51 pm  Comments (5)  
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Hate Speech—What It Is


Years ago, I learned that not all speech was protected in the US by our First Amendment to the Constitution. The words as they are written sound as if they are. In fact a former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once asserted that the Constitution and the First Amendment are not just about protecting “free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” Here’s what the First Amendment actually says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (emphasis mine)

However, as time passed the Supreme Court pivoted a bit, believing there were abridgments, or curtailment of rights, in speech. The classic example that makes such perfect sense is that no one has a right to yell, “Fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. To do so could be harmful, so people don’t have that freedom.

The idea of “hate speech,” then, was first tied to the concept of harm—if someone said something to incite violence, that was hate speech.

But like so many things, the concept of hate speech expanded. According to an article at The Heritage Foundation by Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D.,

All this started to change with the rise of radical multiculturalism. Under its influence the ideas of hate speech and hate crimes were invented. Instead of worrying about the violent intent of individuals, hate speech advocates wanted to ban utterances, gestures, conduct, or writing that they deemed prejudicial against a protected individual or group.”The Origins Of Hate Speech

The article goes on to identify President Clinton’s broad-brush blame placed on “the loud and angry voices of hate” for the Oklahoma City bombing, as moving the needle from blaming the actual persons engaged in speech deemed hateful to blaming people who held political or moral beliefs that they shared with that individual.

A decade later, the idea of hate speech advanced further:

In 2009, the National Hispanic Media Coalition outlined its definition in a report. It specified four areas as hate speech: false facts, flawed argumentation, divisive language, and dehumanizing metaphors.

Hate speech was no longer about the explicit words of individuals meant to incite violence, but a general atmosphere of public opinion that could be construed to encourage violence against certain kinds of people.

With this expanded definition, then, social media platforms declared a discussion of election irregularities as “false facts” (what an oxymoron), and therefore felt justified in removing those posts and even blocking any number of people from using their site.

Sadly, we have moved so far along the line that a writer at the Washington Post concluded his article by saying, “All speech is not equal. And where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails.”

Ironically, his argument hinges on the idea that truth doesn’t always win out. We can’t just let people discuss ideas because they can be fooled. He cites some stats about middle schoolers and high schoolers to prove his point. Middle schoolers? High schoolers? Apparently his belief is that adults are just as easily fooled as they, though there was a marked increase in the ability of the older kids to discern lies.

Oddly, when I was of that middle school age, I had teachers who taught the class how to recognize loaded, slanted, negative words that were used to manipulate rather than to inform. We called it propaganda, and the USSR was the prime example of its use, though clearly anyone trying to sell something was apt to use loaded, slanted, and overly positive words to manipulate, too.

In fact, one of the reasons it’s important to know who is backing a particular article (the Washington Post vs the Heritage Foundation, for example) is to help recognize the direction of the slant those words might take.

Clearly, the move toward the use of “guardrails,” which is just a palatable way of saying censorship, is accelerating. The real issue today is, who gets to tell the rest of us where those “guardrails” are? In other words, who gets to censor our speech? Personally, I tend to think censoring someone is apt to make them angrier and less inclined to unite, rather than make them feel all peaceful and fuzzy and warm. Maybe that’s just me.

Featured photo by Stas Tsibro from Pexels

Hate Speech, An Introduction


I think the topic of “hate speech” is so significant, it needs a lengthy treatment, but I don’t think I can or should put it all into one post. First, some initial thoughts.

Hate speech fits into a wider contest of censorship, cancel culture, and the role of the press—at least it does here in the US.

Essentially the cat got out when journalists crossed a line and started calling President Trump a liar, right in their headlines of their newspapers, and then those words were quoted (or parroted) by the “legacy” broadcast media. Of course, this negative slant, not the unbiased reporting which has marked journalism over the years, fit in well with the social media bans on whatever they deemed “hate speech.”

We already had a growth in “cancel culture,” which had it’s roots in boycotts and other shaming tactics bent on hurting a company or a person financially. Initially these methods were used to foster change—such as South Africa ending apartheid. But the tool has become a sledge hammer designed more to punish than to correct.

What ironically ends up taking place is one side declares a party guilty of hate speech, then heaps hateful invective on them in a way that causes others to do the same. In other words, this atmosphere of cancel culture approves of hate speech that attacks hate speech.

Of course, the supposed goal of this process is to bring an end to ugly disagreements and disharmony. The answer is the same that the Soviet Union settled on: eliminate opposition by silencing people with opposing views. Then all can appear calm and unified.

Some may think this is an extreme way of describing what’s happening in Western culture, but it’s not. Silencing and censoring people start with small steps. The greatest surprise is that the social media giants have moved as quickly as they have.

When I first joined Facebook some ten years ago, I refused to create content on their site. As I read their agreement (well, skimmed it) I realized they were claiming the right over my work. They could use it or delete it at will. But they never actually ever did. Until now.

First, the Big Tech communication platform groups stopped acting like a platform and started acting like publishers. It was their opinion and theirs alone that decided what was “hate speech,” and would therefore be censored or not.

The greatest example of this was the successful squelching of the Hunter Biden/China story before the election. The New York Post, the fourth largest newspaper in the US, published a story about Hunter’s activities and the possibility that his father knew about what he was doing, but before many could share the story, the social media gurus labeled this fact-based story as “false,” and therefore hateful. Further, the legacy media outlets claimed, without any basis in fact, that the story was “Russian disinformation.”

In other words, people who wanted to repeat the story, to let others know what it said, were silenced, or at least restricted from passing the information along to a wide audience.

In many ways a similar treatment of the riots that erupted from BLM protests, was handled in the same way. Not completely because most people knew there was something going on. But when a reporter stands in front of a burning building and claims that the protests are “mostly peaceful,” there is a problem.

In other words, as I see it, there is a connection with “hate speech” labeling, cancel culture, and honest reporting. Now, apparently, “legacy media” outlets have no qualms about slanting their stories to meet their own particular biases. Or, more accurately, the biases of the owners and editors that run the show.

I honestly can’t remember how I found this video, but the point for this article is, this speaker is an “insider,” a journalist who knows what she’s talking about. The video is long, but I thought she was an interesting speaker and supported her claims with specific examples. I had intended to listen to a few minutes in order to get the gist of what she was saying, but ended up listening to the whole video.

More on hate speech another day.

Featured Photo by Lina Kivaka from Pexels

Take Courage. Fear Not.


I’ve discovered in the last ten years or so just how relevant the various books of prophecy are. Some of them seem as if they could have been written about contemporary America. So I was not surprised when I came upon a verse that speaks to many in today’s climate of . . . worry.

I don’t know how else to say it, but there are small businesses that have had to close their doors; people who have lost their jobs; others who are worried about finding the paper products they need, when they need them; people who are concerned about getting sick or wearing masks or getting a vaccine or not getting a vaccine.

Isaiah comes along in chapter 35 and says

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not. (vv 3-4a)

Interestingly, the passage starts out by announcing a reason for nature to be glad and to rejoice: “They will see the glory of the LORD/The majesty of our God.”

Essentially Isaiah is describing how things will be when Messiah comes again. He will set things right—bring His vengeance on those who deserve vengeance, save those who trust in Him, provide a “Highway of Holiness” to the redeemed, to enable gladness and joy to the ransomed of the LORD, to chase away sorrow and sighing.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it a relief, refreshing, to hear good news. Not only that, this passage reinforces the fact that God is in control, even when circumstances seem so far from what we imagined or hoped for.

For instance, I grew up in the era which taught that the US is a melting pot. We all have one thing in common: we have come from somewhere else, whether recently or in the distant past, and we have come together, blending our identities into Americans. It’s a wonderful ideal.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would see the day when students are taught “Critical Race Theory,” such that they had to identify which racial, religious, economic, gender, sexual preference oppressed group they belonged to. Those who could not, were part of the oppressors. In other words, these ideas are Marxist and they are the antithesis of the American ideal based on the creed that all people are created equal.

That idea is clearly one embedded in the Bible. God loves the whole world, for instance, and promised a blessing through Abraham for all the world. Paul specifically said all the divisions of ethnicity, gender, economics melted away at the foot of the cross. In the Church, made up of those who are reconciled to God through the sacrifice, the payment for sin, which Jesus provided, there are no distinctions.

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:21-24–emphasis mine)

So in the face of the many difficulties in 2020, our hope does not lie in a change in the calendar. I know a lot of people are talking about how they can’t wait to be done with 2020, as if the covid virus will disappear at midnight New Year’s Eve. Or jobs will suddenly come back and restaurants will miraculously open or racial tension will vanish or any number of other problems this year has uncovered, will suddenly be solved.

The change of calendar is not the answer, but the knowledge that Jesus, our Savior, will indeed come to reign as our King eternal, heaping gladness and joy on our heads and driving sorrow and sighing away, gives us a reason to take courage, to fear not.

God will handle the problems. He will set things right. It’s in the bank, a done deal. And we have His word on it.

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:17-18)

So now we can ask—are we in the company of those who have taken refuge in the promise of God? If so, Scripture gives us strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. Which means we can take courage. We can fear not.

Published in: on December 29, 2020 at 5:24 pm  Comments (2)  
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God Is In Control. Really, He Is


I just listened to a video from various citizens of Georgia who were witnessing to problems in the 2020 election. Despite so many people who have come forward, despite clear violations of state election laws, despite numerical impossibilities, despite verified anomalies such as more votes than registered voters in some counties, any number of court cases in the “contested states” have been thrown out for one reason or another. Though any number of state representatives seem convinced that there is “something to see” in regards to election fraud, so far no one with the authority to make a difference seems interested in a real study of what happened and how to make it right.

There have been hearings before legislative committees in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, too, all with the same result—some state legislators seem convinced, some people who listen to the testimony, as I have, are convinced that something happened. But no legal body with the authority to do anything has looked at the evidence.

That’s just the election, the latest of the twists and turns in 2020. Of course an ongoing issue in many states is the mandated “lock down” which state governors have implemented because of the increased number of people contracting the Chinese Communist Party Corona Virus.

The fight has become all about whether or not a governor can make these “temporary” mandates that last for nearly a year. The latest in California is that restaurants, which had been allowed to host outdoor dining by following a variety of protocols which required the businesses to buy appropriate equipment, such as outdoor lighting, tents, tables, all located at least six feet apart, suddenly, and without explanation, were no longer allowed outdoor dining. Couple this action with the restrictions on churches, which have now been declared unconstitutional, and government “servants” time and again being exposed as law-breakers of these very onerous laws.

Take, for instance, the incident in November when California Governor Newsom urged us on a Friday to avoid air travel, and if we did so, to self-quarantine. Then the following Monday, he and a dozen or so legislators boarded a plane and flew to Hawaii for a conference. “Rules for thee, and not for me,” is the way one YouTube critic puts it.

And of course all rules about mask wearing and social distancing were out the window during the Black Lives Matter protests and riots. Rules for thee if you don’t agree with me, I guess that one could be called.

But of course, the racial tensions of the summer are just one more area of 2020 madness. People robbing and looting and burning, all in the name of Black Lives Matter? And then the disparaging remarks and even threats against anyone saying all lives matter—as if black lives aren’t included in “all lives.” On the tail of these protests came the “de-fund the police” movement, and in cities that did so, an immediate and steep rise in crime.

But apparently, the message was really “black lives matter more.” That certainly seems to be the message of the critical race theory which seems to have found a foothold in some educational institutions. To the point that a high school boy in Nevada is suing a “tax-payer funded charter school” for “coercive, ideological indoctrination” in regard to this Marxist way of looking at people as either members of the oppressor group or the oppressed group.

And yet, I say, God is in control?

Aren’t the lists of things that tore society apart this year proof that God is NOT in control? It can feel that way. Especially when so many people were dying from the virus early on, when people who are hospitalized or are in a nursing home can have no visitors. Surely God is not behind all this.

Or is He?

Another way to ask the question is this: Is God sovereign? In other words, is He really the supreme ruler, the One ultimately in charge, the final authority? And if not God, then who? Satan? Would we ever say Satan has more authority than God? How about Mankind? You know, free will and all. But do we not have free will only because God gave it to us?

In fact, did He not say to Adam, eat whatever you want, just not this one thing which I’ve determined is not good for you. Because if it was good for him, God would surely have given it. So God, in his infinite wisdom and all knowing power, put one small restriction on Adam’s free will. Meaning, God was and is the ultimate authority, the Sovereign Who is in charge.

The patriarch Job struggled with the idea that God was in charge while terrible things happened to him and his family. Joseph may have struggled in the same way, though we have no record of it. What we do have is his great declaration that though his brothers had truly planned evil against him, and had carried it out, God took their actions and used them as a means to preserve and protect Joseph’s whole family.

James, the writer of the New Testament letter, addresses the issue, saying right from the start that believers should rejoice in trials because something greater than the trial itself would result.

Paul sums up the point in Romans, in a misunderstood verse:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren(8:28-29)

God causes. All things. Covid, riots, election fraud. For good.

The part that too many people miss is that the good God is doing in and through all things is to bring those of us who love Him into conformity to the image of His Son.

In other words, to refine gold, to shape it into a valuable ring, there’s a lot of heat and melting and separating out the impurities and hammering and pressing into the mold so that the ring will be just right.

God does that for us as individuals and He does it for His Church. I know He did so for Israel and other nations in the past, and since He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, I suspect He still works with nations today in the same way.

Published in: on December 28, 2020 at 5:04 pm  Comments (7)  
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What It Means To Love


The Bible gives us the greatest example of love that exists: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

God gave His only Son because He loved the very people that were spitting in His face. Not literally at first, but eventually that happened too.

The thing is, the Bible also gives pictures of this love throughout the Bible. The one perhaps best known is Abraham willing to offer his son as a sacrifice, not for another person but in obedience to God as an evidence of his love for Him.

Interestingly, there’s a kind of reverse illustration, too. Abraham’s grandson, Jacob actually had twelve sons, but he loved one more than all the others. The jealous brothers kidnapped him and sold him into slavery, then lied to their dad to make him think the teen had been killed by a wild animal.

Years later a famine hit the land, so ten of Jacob’s sons traveled to Egypt to purchase grain because they heard in all the region hit by the famine, Egypt still had a supply of grain available.

When they arrived, they came face to face with the brother they’d sold into slavery. He recognized them, but they did not recognize him. After all, he was dressed like an Egyptian, was obviously in charge of the grain selling operation, and communicated with them through a translator.

Long story short, Joseph, the despised and forsaken brother who became a ruler, challenged his brothers—if you want to buy and sell in Egypt, bring me your other brother, the one who stayed home with his dad. That was Benjamin, Joseph’s full-blood brother.

Not sure what Joseph’s intentions were. Maybe he wanted to see if the ten had become as hateful toward Benjamin as they had been toward him. In that case, he could actually rescue Benjamin from them. Or perhaps he wanted to know if they had repented of their evil and were changed men. In which case, he’d have the chance to include his family in his life again. There is the possibility that he was toying with the idea of revenge against the ten. The point is, Scripture doesn’t tell us what he was thinking.

What we do know is that Joseph’s brothers, all except one he kept on condition of their return with the younger brother, went back to their dad, with food but without one of their number. Jacob was distraught. He’d never gotten over losing Joseph, and now one of his older boys was held captive in Egypt, and would not be released unless Benjamin went with the guys on their next trip.

So he delayed. And delayed. At some point things were becoming desperate. The famine continued and the food ran out. His sons needed to go back to Egypt to get food.

But Jacob said, “My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should befall him on the journey you are taking, then you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.”

At that point Jacob didn’t love anyone but himself. He was not willing to sacrifice his son.

But he didn’t stay in that state of mind. After time, he came to realize the severity of their situation, and he gave permission for Benjamin to go.

The story ends with Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers and telling them to bring their father and their entire households to Egypt to live because there were still years left of the famine. They did, and he was reunited with his father.

Of course Jacob was not sacrificing his only son, and he wasn’t even sacrificing him. More like risking him. Sort of an “all in” decision. But I think that might be part of love. Going all in. It certainly was the way in which God showed His love for the world.

Published in: on November 10, 2020 at 5:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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