Our Nation's Flag at Half Mast

Our nation's flag is at half mast today — an action meant to recognize the useless violence upon the victims and families of the Las Vegas shooting.
These were innocents. Moms, Dads, Sons, Daughters, Brothers and Sisters murdered for - whatever the reason, it is no good reason.
Details are sparse at this early hour. We have no clue why or how a man was able to gather a collection of guns into a high rise hotel room where he killed fifty eight and injured another five hundred fifteen that we have knowledge of so far before turning the gun on himself.
Police, FBI and Homeland Security will investigate. They will do their best to find out why he did what he did, how he did what he did and what we might do to prevent such acts in the future.
For now all we can do is pray for those in the hospital and the families of those who have died. Our President, in a speech given shortly after the shootings, offered words of Bible and of comfort for the victims. He did one other thing - he ordered the flag representing our nation to be flown at half mast.
This is why refusal to stand at our national anthem is such a wicked thing. This is why it is not an issue of free speech or a statement of moral injustice. This is why Americans have reacted so negatively to the movement of disrespect.
This flag represents - us.
It represents those who have gone before us. Those who left home and loved ones to create a new home is this land. Those who dreamed of a new kind of government, one built on the principle that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Those who fought and died for that new government. Those who brought it into being. Those who forged the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
It represents the soldiers. Men and women who, for these two hundred forty-one years, have defended those principles. It represents the law enforcement personnel, the legislative, judicial and executive branches of our country who have made it to function.
More than that, it represents - us.
Common Americans who live and work right here - in the United States of America . Christians and non-Christians alike who get educated, get jobs, get married and raise kids, grow old, and die.
When we salute the flag we give honor not merely to the principles America was built upon but the people America is composed of.

Did the Devil Do it?

When my oldest son was very young he did something to get himself in trouble. After his discipline he grew agitated and told me he was mad at the devil for making him do that thing he was in trouble for. I responded by sternly as I recall telling him not blame the devil for that. He had done this thing all in his own. 

A couple of weeks ago I reached out to a preacher friend I knew was facing a trial. I merely said I was praying for him and expressed the sentiment "May God be glorified." He responded to me that people are too quick to give the devil credit for hardships. He believed trials were of God and he was determined only to acknowledge God in his trouble. 

So does the devil do anything or not? Is it God who sovereignly oversees all things so that even trouble is of the Lord?

The answer is yes and yes 
  • Yes, the devil does attack, harass, harangue, oppress and try to discourage us
  • Yes, the Lord oversees every facet, every aspect of our lives. Nothing happens except that: 
  • God knows, 
  • God allows and 
  • God uses it in His plan

Whether we see the devil in it or the Lord is most often a matter of perspective. It is generally, I think, healthier to attribute all things to God and to trust that He has our best at heart. But there are times when, for whatever reason, we best focus on Satan and give him a sober eye. 

I doubt we ever do well to criticize those who see some circumstance from the opposite perspective as we. Likely there is truth in both perspectives. We would do better to consider the other's perspective so we see the whole picture. 

Does Starbucks Write Religious Groups Out of Approved Charities?

I think that Christians are prone to a victim type mentality. We probably deserve it. For two thousand years this world has pretty much made victims of Christians. Whether it was from the Romans, the Catholics, the Protestants, or some other unfriendly power those who have held to the idea of seriously living like we believe the Bible teaches has been hunted down, tormented and very often killed. Though, in America, we have had comparative peace for the last couple of hundred years, we haven’t forgotten. By the way, this world has ever let us forget, there has always been a current of resistance to faith. Though persecution may not be incredibly violent for the two centuries, there has been plenty of offing, mocking and general finger pointing at believers. We have some reason to be fearful of the world’s position against Christianity.

That said, this victim mentality frequently leads Christians to misread, overemphasize and over react to world events we deem critical of our faith. An article in The Christian Post puts this into perspective concerning recent allegations by Christians towards coffee giant, Starbucks.[1]  Starbuck's CEO was reported to have said he did not want the business of people who supported traditional marriage. The article in The Christian Post clarifies, “Schultz never said or implied people who support traditional marriage should take their business elsewhere.”

Now I get to the point of my article. 
Our church hosts an annual ladies’ conference. In the past, I am talking about ten or more years, Starbucks has donated coffee to this conference. Until last year. When our ladies asked about getting coffee donated from the nearby Starbucks last year, they were told that their annual quota of donations was exhausted. This year the ladies approached the same Starbucks but did so much earlier in the year. They received the same reply, their donations of the year had been exhausted. 

Not to be discouraged, the ladies approached a newly opened Starbucks store. This time they were interrogated by the store manager as to the nature of the event. When it was revealed that it was for a local church event the store employee told our group that it is Starbuck’s policy not to donate to religious organizations. I have gone online and, at this point, have not been able to find such a policy. 

Maybe it is not the corporation's policy, but it was certainly this local store’s policy. They refuse to donate to our conference, even though they have in the past, specifically because we are a religious institution.

Are the Bible and the Spiderman Series Comparable?

A recent comment on my blog No Proof God Exists, Really?[1] (His comments are found in a version of this blog flipped to Flipboard[2] at this cite.)[3] says,

“Just because stories in a book exist does not make them true. By that logic, Spider-man exists just as much as god does.”

My answer to him is,  Your comparison is absurd. Spider man's author:
·       never claimed to be inspired,
·       never confirmed inspiration through fulfilled prophecy and
·       never corroborated his work through multiple witnesses.

To elaborate upon that I add, in every case these are true of the Bible.
·       Throughout the Old Testament the writers used statements such as “Thus saith the Lord.” They spoke not their own words but what God told them to speak.
·       The Bible is filled with prophecies, pronouncements declared before the fact. More than three quarters of those prophecies have been fulfilled, not partially, but exactly. The remaining prophecies have a future fulfillment to our day.
·       The Bible is not one book but a series of sixty-six books, written over a period of thousands of years by approximately forty different writers. Each book is individual and bears the character of the writer, yet presents a cohesive unity with the others.

The Bible is like no other book.
2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

[1] https://niume.com/post/234388
[2] https://flipboard.com/
[3] https://flipboard.com/@marvinmcken7kv5/baptist-theology-in-american-culture-uoce9638y

Madeline Albright a Muslim?

Did you see the AP article entitled, The Latest: Albright says she’ll register as a Muslim[1]? She claims, "I was raised Catholic, became Episcopalian & found out later my family was Jewish. I stand ready to register as Muslim in #solidarity."

Albright’s position of faith is wrong on so many levels!
I notice she never once says she is a Christian. To be raised a Catholic is something that has been done to you. To become an Episcopalian is not much different from moving from New York to New Jersey; nothing’s changed but your address. To find out later that your family is Jewish should be of no consequence, so was Jesus’. So was all of the first Christians. Christians, whether their families are Jewish or Gentile, are instructed to leave those cultures behind for the Biblical culture of a New Testament Christian church.

Now she stands ready to register as Muslim. This statement is truly telling. Was she merely registered Catholic or registered Episcopalian? At some point then did she register as Jewish?

Mrs. Albright needs to take the time to check into the Muslim system of belief. According to their religion when one converts and becomes a Muslim, to leave that faith is punishable by death. I don’t imagine that’s what she plans to “register” in to.

Ok, here is the real concern. Albright, like so many people today, assume that being religious, or having been baptized into a certain denomination, or attending a particular church or even believing a particular creed is what makes one a Christian. It does not.

There was once a man who came to Jesus with much the same misunderstanding.
John 3:1-18 (KJV)
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Nicodemus could not wrap his head around Jesus’ teaching of the new birth. How could he? Only those who have been born can know what it means to be born. Only those who have been born again can know what it means to be born again.

(Photo from pixabay.com)

[1] http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/01/26/latest-albright-says-shell-register-as-muslim.html

Is The Evidence of Christ’s Resurrection Really Proof?

Increasingly, opponents of the Christian faith deny, mock and disregard any evidences that the Bible is accurate and that Jesus Christ rose again from the grave. In a comment made to one of my recent posts,[1] where I asserted that there is more proof that Jesus rose from that grave than that Alexander the Great ever lived, someone said, “The author’s idea of proof must be different than mine.” The “idea of proof” ought to be universal. In fact, there are legally allowable evidences of proof that are (as far as I am aware) universally accepted in courts of law.

In the 1800’s Simon Greenleaf, a principle founder of the Harvard School of Law put the resurrection of Christ to the test using the rules of evidence administered by the Courts of Justice. More recently Robert Edwards[2] applied modern rules of evidence to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In his work Is Simon Greenleaf Still Relevant?[3] Edwards does a fantastic job of reviewing and explaining the work of Greenleaf and applying those modern rules.

I suggest that, before a person can rightfully reject the proofs of Christ resurrection, he or she must honestly consider those proofs. Besides Edwards’ work cited above, I also recommend the sincere soul should read Josh McDowell’s work, Evidence That Demands a Verdict.[4]

Our Nation's Flag at Half Mast

Our nation's flag is at half mast today — an action meant to recognize the useless violence upon the victims and families of the Las Ve...