Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Goals for 2016

It’s that time of the year when people start making up resolutions for the new year. I don’t do resolutions, because I can never keep them. But I do have some goals for 2016. Goals are easier to keep because you can catch up after you get behind. Here are my goals (in no particular order):

Write a Book

It’s been a while since I’ve done any significant writing, but I intend to set aside more time for that in 2016. Just making it a goal while probably be enough to convince me to watch less Netflix and play fewer games, so that I can complete my task.

Ride a Bicycle 4,000 Miles

That’s nearly 500 miles more than I rode in 2015, but it’s doable, if I don’t injure myself again.

Ride a Bicycle to Church at least 10 Times

When you think about it, it is a little silly that I live less than 2 miles from church and I use my truck to cover that distance. I probably drain more energy from the battery starting the engine than is replaced in the length of time it takes me to get to church. I’m not ready to start riding my bicycle to every service, but 10 times would be 10 times the number of times I rode my bicycle to church in 2015.

Ride my Bicycle to Work at least Once

This is a little harder than riding to church, since the roads to work have heavier traffic and I’m usually at work before sunrise. I would, however, like to ride to work at least once, just for the challenge of it.

Complete a Bicycle Ride of at Least 50 Miles

My longest ride of 2015 was only 44 miles. Six more miles isn’t a huge deal, but having it as a goal will force me to consider going somewhere farther from home than I’ve ridden before.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

When I stepped on the scale for the last time in 2015, my weight was right where it needs to be. I want to keep it that way. It took effort in 2015 to get it there. You might think that with so many of my goals being related to cycling, maintaining my weight shouldn’t be a problem. That is somewhat true, but it is possible to exercise a great deal and gain fat. So, I’m making it a goal, as a reminder to myself that I need to focus on keeping the weight off.

To Win Someone to the Lord

While I shared the gospel with people in 2015, I saw no one make a profession of faith because of it. My goal is to do better than that in 2016.

And One I Will Not Mention

I have a goal in 2016 that I will not post online. I’m not even sure I can call it a goal, since I have no idea how to accomplish it. I know many things that haven’t worked. Perhaps it is just wishful thinking on my part, but we shall see.

What are your goals for the new year?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cool Church

We’re beginning to see a push for walkable cities. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a walkable city is one in which an automobile is not a requirement. You can walk (or ride a bicycle) to the store. You can walk to work. You can walk wherever you want to go. It turns out that walkable cities are healthier cities, which is due to residents being more active and because of better air quality. Walkable cities are less stressful. Apparently, they are also cool. Walkable cities have more young people than other cities.

The cool factor of walkable cities got me thinking. There are a number of churches that structure their worship services around being cool. The preacher is more likely to have a tattoo than to wear a suit. The music is new. Their praise team uses lighting that would make a rock band envious. They offer classes focused on things that interest young people. But for all that these churches are doing to look cool, I don’t recall seeing any that are trying to fit within the walkable city model. If walkable cities are attracting young people, then surely a church that wants to attract young people should be walkable. But what does that look like.

As with cities, walkability is often an afterthought for churches. Ask most pastors where we make a first impression with visitors and they’ll tell you it is in the parking lot. Can I find parking near the door? Where is the door? But if the parking lot is the answer, then we’ve bypassed walkability. Before people ask where they are going to park, they are first going to answer the question, “How do I get there?” For many church goers, the only good answer is to get in a car and drive.

Here in Dallas-Fort Worth, we have a bunch of megachurches. The largest, I suppose, is Fellowship Church in Grapevine. It is built on a frontage road in an industrial park, across a major highway from a very large mall. The closest residence to their front door is a mobile home 1.8 miles away and it would take 35 minutes to walk, or about 10 minutes to ride a bicycle. I see that as about as extremely non-walkable as a church is likely to get, even though it is one of those churches that attempts to be cool.

Many churches have walkable features by accident. Small and mid-size churches are often surrounded by residences. Our church has the added benefit of a bus stop on the north side of our property. But there are some things that are missing. For one thing, the pedestrian walkway on our property doesn’t connect to the sidewalk on the street. That doesn’t prevent walkers, but it is like going to someone’s house and finding leaves blocking their front door, because they always enter through the garage. It just isn’t very welcoming. Another thing our church is missing is bicycle racks. It isn’t that there isn’t a place to secure a bicycle. The cages over the air conditioners are quite secure and near an entrance, but a bicycle rack near the main entrance sends the message that bicycles are welcome.

But to be truly cool, a church needs to be located in a walkable area. That means that a young couple can wake up on Sunday morning in their apartment building. They ride the elevator down to the street below and instead of getting their car out of the garage, they walk a block or two to reach their church. If they go by bicycle, they might go even farther. After church, they walk to one of the restaurants nearby. Then they walk back home. Other than the inability to purchase land in a cool neighborhood, it seems like a smaller church will find it easier to be walkable than a large church. I imagine a church in a walkable area might meet in a storefront. Parking would be along the street or in nearby parking garages and public lots. Bicycle racks and bike sharing kiosks would be nearby.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Alone. I spend most of my time alone. There are a number of people who assume that I prefer to be alone. I do not. I was at a wedding and an acquaintance asked me, “Do you wish it were you up there?” I responded in the negative, at which time he said, “I suppose you probably decided what you want out of life some time ago.” I didn’t correct him, but he didn’t get it. My answer had nothing to do with a lifelong decision. When he asked the question, my mind went to the woman who as getting married that day. She was the type of woman that I know I would butt heads with daily. If the guy she was marrying wanted to put up with her, I was happy for him, but I wanted nothing of it. I haven’t found many women I thought would be an acceptable match. Those that I thought might be didn’t agree. So, I am alone.

There is more than one way to not be alone. When I go to church, I am not alone. When I visit someone, I am not alone. Sometimes, just getting out in my neighborhood, I encounter enough people that I’m not alone. But at the end of the day, when the church services are over, the visitors have gone home, and all the neighborhood dogs have been walked, I am alone. Just as some people struggle to find a place of solitude, I find myself wearied in the effort to find time to spend with others. The exhaustion overtakes me, and I once again find myself alone.

Things aren’t as enjoyable when you are alone. Time spent waiting when you are with someone is an opportunity to engage them in conversation, but when alone, it is just time spent doing nothing. Alone, one can see something and appreciate its beauty, but it requires another person to be able to express that beauty. One seldom finds a reason to laugh, when one is alone.

One of the things I’ve discovered is that being alone is out of my control. Oh, I could go visit some of my friends and they would let me in the door, but I know that they would reach the point of asking, “Why does he keep showing up?” much more quickly than I would tire of their company. That and there are differences in what I enjoy doing and what my friends enjoy doing. At some point, I end up alone.

Given the situation, I see a couple of realistic possibilities. I can sit at home alone, reminding myself that it isn’t as enjoyable to do things when you are alone. The other is that I can be alone while I’m doing stuff. Not everything. There are some things that are no fun at all to do alone. But if I’m going to be alone either way, there’s no point in not doing something because it is less fun to do alone. There is no point in waiting to do something with someone else, when there isn’t going to be someone else.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Let's Put the X Back in X-mas

X-mas was a term we didn’t use at our house. I remember asking my mother about it when I saw it on some wrapping paper she was using to wrap someone’s gift. She told me that some people use X because they don’t want to write “Christ” and she made it clear that leaving Christ out of “Christmas” was something I was never to do. Since that time, all this talk of leaving Christ out of Christmas has much more vitriol. Try saying “Happy Holidays” to someone and you can expect a lambasting on Facebook. When a manager at Walmart told a Marine that he would have to stand outside to collect Toys for Tots, the Internet lit up with people angry at Walmart. When I made the comment that Marines are trained to dress for the weather conditions, strangers began to call my intelligence into question. Another person, commenting on the same post, used a made up word to describe the people at Walmart that is a cross between a word meaning to have sexual intercourse and to have a mental disorder. These are among the people we see fighting to “keep Christ in Christmas.” Something isn’t right, so let’s put the X back in X-mas.

When you look at where the X of X-mas originated, you discover that the X is actually the Greek letter Chi. It is the first letter of the word Χριστός, which is translated at Christ in English. But it isn’t enough to say, “Let’s put Christ back in Christmas.” The X of X-mas represents something else that is far more important. When many people talk about putting Christ back in Christmas, they seem content to have the word “Christ” in the name and to sing about the birth of a baby and some wise men who visited him. For many people, “Christ” is just another name for Jesus. As you go about your Christmas celebration this year, you may attend a Christmas program in which the names of Jesus are carried in on banners. You’ll likely see “Christ” on one of those banners, but “Christ” is not a name. That is why it is so important to consider the X of X-mas.

You see, X can be used for other things. It is used to represent death. In comic strips, when you see a character with X’s where his eyes should be, you know he is dead. X can also represent a cross. Without the cross, Jesus is not the Christ. The Christ is not just some baby born under mysterious circumstances. The Christ is not just some king worshiped by wise men. The Christ is not some thin version of Santa Claus. The Christ is God, who came as man, lived a sinless life, took on our sin, died on the cross, and rose victorious over sin and the grave, so that he could give us eternal life. That is the X that we need to put back in X-mas.

The unfortunate thing is that this talk of keeping Christ in Christmas is often just an excuse to criticize others for being less righteous than what we are. “That store owner is evil because he has his employees say ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’ I’m going to show that I’m better than him by not shopping at his store.” Isn’t that what we are saying? But let’s put the X back in X-mas. The Bible tells us that Jesus loved that store owner so much that he died on the cross for that store owner. The Bible tells us that Jesus loved that store owner so much that he instituted a church and commissioned that church to teach others to carry the gospel to the whole world, so that store owner would have the opportunity to be saved. Clearly, nothing fulfills that commission quite like the words, “I’m not shopping at your store because you didn’t say, ‘Merry Christmas.’”

Even in our gift giving, I think we get it mixed up. We consider our gift giving and decide that it isn’t focused on Christ. Some have decided that they will give Jesus a bigger gift than anything they have under the tree. So, they see they have a $200 gift under the tree and they give $201 to their church’s benevolence fund. It isn’t bad to give to benevolence. When you go to church, you may well be sitting next to someone who is enjoying the warmth of the building, because they know they can’t afford to turn up the heat at home. But should we be basing what we give to Jesus on what we give to others? We owe him so much more and yet, it is also true that he is literally the person who has everything. What gift would be suitable for a person like that? A dollar more than our most expensive gift? I think not. What Jesus wants more than anything is fellowship with the people of the world. If you want to give Jesus a gift, put the X back in X-mas by sharing the gospel with people. Tell them that Jesus came to die for their sins. Don’t just pay some money so you feel like you are buying Jesus a gift. Tell the story of the cross. Let’s put the Cross back in X-mas.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The American Soldier Hasn't Done Enough

Within our society, we have certain groups of people that we revere more than others. Right up there at the top is the American soldier and the veterans, especially those who fought in a war. We revere policemen, who risk their lives on the streets each night as we sleep soundly in our beds. We revere firemen, who brave the flames. We revere teachers, who have committed themselves to teaching our youth. You need not look far on Facebook to see someone praising one of these people for their sacrifice. We see people highlighting our failings at supporting these people at the level we should and expressing a desire to help them before we help anyone else.

As the most revered of all of these, let us consider the American soldier, who has signed his life over to Uncle Sam, who may be called upon to die in order to protect American ideals. Of all the good things that a person might do, what could be better than sacrificing one’s life for the good of others? There is no doubt that we owe a great debt to the American soldier. And these others as well.

But as I think about all that these people have done for our country, there isn’t a one of them who has done enough to go to heaven. No American soldier, no policeman, no firefighter, no teacher. Not one of these much revered people have done enough good to go to heaven. That may anger some people. What audacity for me to say that the American soldier, of all people, isn’t worthy of heaven. But others will nod their head in agreement. Either way, it isn’t my desire to be critical of the American soldier or to say they don’t deserve far more than most of us. Yet, I say with certainty that I will enter into heaven and be welcomed like a man returning home after a long journey.

If you really think about it, that ought to make you angry. I’ve sacrificed far less than the American soldier, but I claim that I’m going while no American soldier has done enough to get there. I claim to have a home in a city so wealthy that there is a street paved with the finest gold, but there are American veterans who have no home. Not only that, I’m ungrateful for what I have. Do you realize that, without the American soldier, I might not have a home in heaven? This is true, because were it not for the American soldier protecting the right to preach, I might never have learned what is needed to gain entry into heaven. But not one of them has done enough to go to heaven. Does that make you angry?

There has been much talk about who deserves to live in the United States and who deserves our assistance. I’ll be the first to say, not me. I don’t deserve to be a citizen of the United States; I was born here. Perhaps my Native American ancestry gains me a few bonus points, but no child deserves to be born to the parents they’ve been born to. Some are born into abusive homes. They don’t deserve that. I was born to good parents in the greatest nation in the world. I don’t deserve that. And if I don’t deserve to be born where I was born, I certainly don’t deserve a home in heaven, but I have one.

Jesus came and died for me. I had no right to ask him to. I’ve done nothing to deserve it. I couldn’t even pay a night’s rent to stay in my home in heaven, but Jesus gave it to me anyway. To make it worse, I was his enemy. And as if that were not enough, I am ungrateful. I can’t even fully comprehend what the Lord did for me and what he has promised me, but I tend to take it for granted, as if it is the most natural thing in the world for me to have the title deed to a home built in a city with skyscrapers so tall you can stand on the top floor and see the blackness of space. I seldom stop to appreciate that I can talk to the ruler of the Universe any time I want.

He didn’t come to save the deserving, but the undeserving. He didn’t come to save the citizens of heaven, but the aliens. He didn’t come to save the wealthy, but the homeless. Even with all the great things they have done, no American soldier has ever done enough to go to heaven. No policeman. No fireman. No teacher. No pastor. No nun or priest. When you think of the splendor of heaven, it is not hard to see that we are incapable of doing enough. But that’s okay, because Jesus did it for us. God, became flesh and lived among us. He died on the cross and rose three days later. Nothing we can do will add up to the value of what he has offered us. If he lived by our values, he would turn us away. I am thankful that he does not. He offers eternal life to us who do not deserve it.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Terrorist In My Home

What are you willing to do for Jesus? That’s a question that I’ve heard many preachers ask during the last forty years. Of course, growing up in a preacher’s home, I quickly learned that the only correct answer is whatever he asks me to do. We agree that when Jesus said, “Take up your cross, daily, and follow me,” he was speaking of dying for him, or at least being willing to die for him. We agree that it is within his right to ask us to move to a foreign land, or take a job that doesn’t pay as well as we would like. He might call us to “labor unrewarded” as the song “So Send I You” suggests. But there in the back of our mind is that thought that we really hope he doesn’t. In time, when we haven’t heard his call to the foreign mission field or to pastor a church, we tell ourselves that he must have called us to something normal. Perhaps to give money to support others. “Whew! I was worried he was going to ask me to do something hard.”

But in recent days, I’ve been reminded of that call, “Take up your cross.” There is a fear that if we allow refugees into the US that we will allow terrorists in as well. That does seem to be a possibility and because of that, many have taken an us versus them mentality. “So,” they say, “if you’re in favor of bringing in the refugees, you’re willing to invite these people into your home.” The desire is to point out that since we aren’t willing to take the personal risk for ourselves and our family, then we shouldn’t be willing to let these people in. It has certainly given me much to think about.

As I consider this situation, what I am beginning to realize is that if I’m truly willing to do “whatever” for Jesus, then yes, the risk is worth it. I’m no more seeking a shortened life than anyone else and neither would I wish harm on my family and friends, but I have nothing to lose. What is the worst that could happen? They could kill me? They could torture me? I look at the way Stephen died, and imagine the pain of the stones striking him. Having been hit by a few small stones, it is a terrible way to die, but look what came of it. A radical Jewish terrorist named Saul heard him report that he saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God. That same Saul eventually accepted the gospel, became known as Paul, and wrote much of the New Testament.

Given a choice, it is difficult for me to decide whether I would rather die at an old age in my sleep, or to die like Stephen died. Of course, that isn’t likely to happen. If a terrorist were to get in, what is more likely is that they would strike a soft target. But even there, I can see how the Lord might use that. Imagine there is a Muslim family staying with a Christian family. They watch as the Christians pray and listen as they read their Bibles. They hear the gospel, but it has no meaning. Then the attack comes. A man claiming to be a refugee detonates a bomb, killing several Americans. The Muslim family expects the Christians to be angry with them, since that is the attitude that is on the news, but the Christians treat them with the same respect as they did before. It is at that point where the Muslim family sees the gospel in action. To take in a stranger in need is one thing, but to love your enemies is quite another.

We need only to look at the book of Job to see that the life of the righteous is in the hands of the Lord. Nothing can harm us without the Lord’s permission. But if that is what the Lord calls me to, I’m ready. Kill me and I will go to see my Lord. Let me live and I will tell you of Jesus, who died for your sins and mine. My death may encourage a sinner to accept Christ. The very worst that a terrorist can do to me is to give me the thing that I desire the most.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Gospel in Hard Times

Last Sunday, Dr. John David Smith reminded us that the gospel advances only in the face of hardship. The gospel is spreading in parts of the world where Christians face hardship, but in countries like the United States, where it is easy to be a Christian, it is on the decline. Why? What is it about hardship that causes Christianity to grow?

I can think of a few things that might cause this. For one thing, uncomfortable people are more willing to work. Suppose you wake up and hear it raining outside. The covers are nice and warm and there’s nothing requiring your attention. It would be so easy go back to sleep for a while. But suppose you wake up and feel droplets of water landing on your forehead. You can feel that the pillow is wet. Within moments, you are out of bed and looking for a bucket to catch the water. Discomfort causes us to take action.

But churches in the United States are often quite active while still not seeing many people saved. Hardship also provided contrast. I encounter many atheists who are antagonistic toward all religion. For some reason, they take it upon themselves to troll the Internet, arguing with anyone who posts something favorable to God. No argument will persuade them and they will make fun of any argument made. Though it is their sinful nature that causes them to make fun, I think many find it difficult to believe that Christians actually believe what we teach. Think about it. We teach that a man was born to a virgin, that he died, was buried and he rose three days later. We teach that he ascended into heaven and will someday return from heaven riding on a white horse. We teach that that those who put their trust in him will be raised from the dead, even if our bodies have turned to dust. In light of what we have been able to accomplish through medical technology, it sounds ludicrous. Since (in the eyes of the atheist) no sane, intelligent person would believe something like that and many Christians appear to be both sane and intelligent, it is logical to conclude that Christians are lying about what they believe. Hardship and suffering prove otherwise.

No sane, intelligent person would continue in a lie if that lie causes them suffering. People lie because they believe doing so will benefit them in some way. Sure, a person who is dying of cancer might speak of heaven because they don’t want their loved ones to mourn, but there is no benefit to lying if a man is about to kill you if you don’t renounce your faith. I’m sure Paul must have thought about that when he saw Stephen die. There was not benefit to Stephen to lie about seeing Jesus standing on the right hand of the Father. It only helped to seal his fate.

Another reason the gospel spreads in hardship is because the hardship is not limited to Christians. We see that with ISIS. Certainly, they desire to kill Christians, but they also desire to kill Jews, and anyone else who disagrees with them. They will even kill other Muslims. What sets Christians apart is the hope that we have, even in the face of an enemy that wishes to kill us. Those of other religions compare their own reaction to that of Christians and they realize that Christians have something special.

We don’t like to face hardship and we shouldn’t seek it out, but there are things about hardship that will open doors for us to win the lost that we do not have without it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Making Friends for Jesus

Have you ever stopped to think why you are friends with the people you are friends with? And why was it so much easier to make friends when you were in school than it is now? It is sad, but one of the reasons many Christians struggle with the idea of soul winning is because they don’t know any lost people. O, sure, they might know their lost neighbors (they might) or they might encounter a lost person working the checkout at a grocery store, but what are the chances of success with people who are barely more than strangers?

I’ve been thinking about the concept of repeated spontaneous contact. It seems that friendships are not particularly mysterious; we make friends with the people we spend time with. Those people you hung out with in the hall in college before class? It wasn’t hard to be friends with them. If you want to make friends, you need repeated spontaneous contact. But how do we do that?

Some people are looking into changes in the way we do housing to achieve this. Maybe there’s something there, but it seems a little drastic. Creating walkable communities is a good idea, but that isn’t a solution for sharing the gospel with the whole world (just to the rich folk in walkable communities). Also, people in rural communities have repeated spontaneous contact just because there are fewer stores and entertainment options.

People who are involved in church have repeated spontaneous contact. By “involved” I mean that they are working in some ministry or participating in something like choir. Just attending church won’t do it. But people in choir are friends, just because they see each other frequently. But again, that doesn’t translate well into preaching the gospel. We expect that the people involved in church have heard the gospel many times and the people we want to reach are those who have not. We need repeated spontaneous contact with people who are lost.

Public schools are a great place for that. Ironically, that is why many parents choose to homeschool or enroll their children in private schools. They don’t want their children associating with lost children and teachers. But even if it is just a few minutes waiting round to pick up the kids from practice, parents have opportunities for repeated spontaneous contact with teachers and other parents.

For those of us without children, or who have reached the stage where they have moved out on their own, spontaneous contact becomes much less repeated. The question becomes, what can we do to make it more frequent? I don’t have a good answer. I only know that I need one. I get out and ride my bicycle in my neighborhood. While I don’t really know many of my neighbors, there are several that I see out and about every evening. There’s a lady who walks her dogs that I’ve spoken to once or twice, but I couldn’t tell you her name. There’s a guy who rides his bicycle at about the same time as I do. One guy keeps telling me he’s going to ride with me, but he never has. It is repeated spontaneous contact and it is friendship of sorts, but not enough. We must find a way.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why I'm Not as Spiritual as You

October, that wonderful time of the year when people feel the need to post about how they’ve studied their Bible and come to the conclusion that they shouldn’t celebrate Halloween. I must not be studying my Bible enough or something, because I love Halloween.

While there are thing about Halloween that I don’t think Christians should be involved in, the same can be said of Christmas. In fact, I believe I can make the case for Christmas being the most wicked of all holidays. There are plenty of things to love about Halloween. For one, it happens in fall. Not in winter when the cold air keeps you inside. Not in spring, when everything is covered in mud. Not in summer, when the sun burns you to a crisp. Halloween is at a magical time of the year.

Halloween is the only holiday in which everyone goes and visits their neighbors. Think about that. There are preachers who stand in the pulpit every Sunday and say, “You should visit your neighbors.” Well, on Halloween, they do.

Halloween reminds us that we all die. Some people criticize Halloween because it is a “celebration of death.” I don’t think many people who celebrate Halloween would agree with that. For most people, it is just a time to dress up in silly costumes and eat candy. It’s a time to throw a party. But death is a part of it. Many of the costumes people chose are either of dead people or of bringers of death. Does that mean people are celebrating death? No, quite the opposite. Death is something that people fear. Halloween reminds us of our fear. Sometimes, it is good to remember our fears, so we can learn to overcome them.

Wouldn’t it be funny if we learned that the night Jesus walked on water was Halloween night? Of course, they wouldn’t have called it Halloween then, but it appears that Jesus wanted to scare his disciples and then use their fear to teach them. He knew they would think him a ghost when they saw him. He could have calmed the sea for them, without being near them. He could have walked far enough from their ship that they couldn’t see him. He could have gone by boat. But what he chose to do was scare them a little. It is good for us to experience fear in a situation that won’t cause us harm. Halloween does that for us.

I’m certain that I will persuade no one. My friends who post so much about the evils of Halloween will all think me a heathen. But I can’t help it. I love Halloween.

If your car's so great, why the need to show another vehicle?

Have you ever noticed how many bicycles appear in car commercials? Here is an example:

Of course, car commercials are fiction, often showing us cars doing things that we shouldn’t try doing with a car and would void our warranty if we did. But the goal of many car commercials is to sell this idea that, if you buy this particular car, life will be fun. You won’t have to mess with traffic. You’ll have three friends riding with you. You’ll be able to go places and do things that you couldn’t do without it. The image that sells that idea the most is…a bicycle.

The fact is, the car they show you in the commercials doesn’t exist. I don’t mean because it is loaded with all the options, but because you won’t find a car to give you the feeling of excitement that they promise in the ads. Not in the city anyway. Sure, you can load up your car with a bunch of friends and drive through downtown, but instead of looking at the city lit up at night, you’re busy watching for pedestrians, or for the traffic lights. You reach your destination and you aren’t walking on red carpet but paying the valet or searching for a parking garage that isn’t too far away. And then there’s the everyday use. Mostly, what you are doing is driving between stoplights and waiting, unless you get away from city traffic.

To get around reality, car marketers throw a bicycle or two into the commercial. We all know that bicycles are fun. If you see a car at a stoplight with a bicycle on top, you know the driver is either going to or coming from doing something fun. So what if he’s now just sitting there sucking up the exhaust fumes of the car in front of him? At some point in his life, he did something fun.

It seems to me that instead of buying these little cars, people ought to either drive a truck or buy a bicycle. Buying a bicycle is cheaper, but if you have the money, buy both.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Don't Be Tuckered Out

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. - Galatians 6:9-10

Galatians 6:9-10 is an interesting passage. It is translated as “let us not be weary in well doing,” but I don’t think that’s the way many people read it. Instead, they read it as, “let us not be weary of well doing.” Two little letters can make a world of difference. To be weary of well doing would mean we just don’t want to serve the Lord any more. We would rather go do other things, like go fishing, or attend a ball games, or whatever. But to be weary in well doing means that the well doing is what is wearing us out.

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve experienced that. Our church website has been down and the hosting company couldn’t figure out how to fix the problem. They closed the trouble ticket without fixing the problem, so I decided the best thing to do would be to try a different hosting company. Unfortunately, when I moved the data from one server to the other, some of our pages wouldn’t work. Since then, nearly every free hour I’ve had has been spent fixing the website. Do very much of that and it’ll wear you out. It wasn’t that I was weary of well doing, because I wanted to do what I was doing, but the work will wear you out.

But it seems a little strange when you read Galatians 6:10, because it says, “as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good.” It makes more sense when we realize that the word translated as “opportunity” is the word kairos, which could also be translated as “time.”

Here’s what I think Paul is saying: Stop wearing yourself out serving the Lord. If we’re following God’s leadership, things will get done in due time. So, let’s do what good we have the time to do, with priority being given to helping Christians, and trust that the Lord will take care of those things we don’t have time to do.

For me, this weekend, my plan was to make good use of the rain and stay home Friday and Saturday working on the website. It seemed like a God think, since I would’ve wanted to ride my bicycle, if it had been nice outside. I put in about sixteen hours on Friday working on the website. On Saturday, I worked from about four o’clock until eight o’clock in the morning before deciding to go to the grocery store for my normal shopping run. I would be quick and then go back to work. My plans changed when my truck wouldn’t start. A dead battery. I sent the truck off to get fixed, but then, without another vehicle, I rode my bicycle seventeen miles to pick it up. Though the situation was not of my choosing, it was a very enjoyable ride. Sometimes, the Lord gives you the rest you need, whether you want it or not.

So, unless you want to spend a ton of money on car repairs and doctor bills, don't wear yourself out doing good. Do what you can when you have time to do it, but realize that you can only take on so much. It is okay to say, “no.” We have a responsibility to do what we can, but only what we can. We must also rest.

Friday, October 16, 2015

7 Things You Should Do on a Bicycle in Fort Worth

Partly because I’ve grown bored with riding circles in my neighborhood and partly because I don’t like loading my bicycle into my truck so I can go for a ride, I’ve started looking for places I can go by hopping on bicycle and just going. It got me to thinking, what are some of the things in Fort Worth that it is better to do by bicycle than by car? Of course, there are plenty of things you can do on a bicycle, but many of those things could be more easily done by car. Who, for example, really wants to carry their groceries home with plastic bags hanging from the handlebars? What I’m interested in are those things that might give people reasons to oil the chain on a rusty old bike and air up the cracked rubber tires, because it’s that much better to do it by bike.

Explore the Trinity River

The Trinity River, with its branches and tributaries runs through the heart of Fort Worth. You can’t go from one side of the city to the other without crossing it at least once. You can see it by car, but many drivers cross over it can don’t realize they have. Of course, you can stop at one of the parks or rent a canoe. You can walk or jog along its edge. But if you really want to see all it has to offer, riding a bicycle along the Trinity Trails is your best option. But it isn’t without some risk. My house is four miles from the trail, as the crow flies, but I have to ride more than seven miles to avoid traffic and to deal with railroad tracks and streets that don’t connect.

Visit a Food Park

Once you reach the Trinity Trails, a bunch of opportunities open up. The Clearfork Food Park is located right along the trail. While you could drive your car and park a short distance from where they park the food trucks, why would you? There are plenty of other places you could drive to and eat, but having it right along the trail makes it a much more enjoyable experience if you ride your bicycle. Besides that, you don’t have to feel guilty about eating, since you will have burned a significant number of calories just getting there.

Visit the Stockyards

If you’ve been to the stockyards, you know that most people go by car. There is plenty of parking, if you’re willing to pay for it. But the stockyards is on the Trinity Trails. Quite literally, actually, since the trail runs under Exchange Street. When I went, I didn’t have to look for parking or pay to park. I’m certain that people have a few #baaw (bicycle against a wall) pictures of the Fort Worth Herd and my bicycle. I remember overhearing a woman talking about how tired her feet were. Mine weren’t, because I’d parked much closer to where I wanted to be.

Visit the Water Gardens

I have lived in Fort Worth for eighteen years, but I’ve rarely gone downtown, and though I’d heard about the Water Gardens, it wasn’t until I decided to ride there on a bicycle that I went. It isn’t that I mind the traffic so much as I don’t like parking. First, there’s the question of where you can park and how much you have to pay. I just didn’t care to mess with it. But on a bicycle, that’s not a problem. I followed the Trinity Trail until I reached the downtown area. It is legal to ride bicycles in the bus lanes, so mixing with traffic wasn’t a big problem. And then I was able to park my bicycle at one of the bike racks in front of the convention center, which is just a few yards from the Water Gardens. Much less stressful than parking pickup truck downtown.

Eat Lunch Downtown

Have I said I don’t like finding a place to park downtown? That discourages me from wanting to spend much time there. I remember going to Texas de Brazil with some of my coworkers. We parked at a meter north of the court house and walked to the restaurant, where the guy who drove had to get some more change before going back to his vehicle and feeding the meter. Though traveling by bicycle wasn’t an option for us that day, it would’ve been much more relaxing.

The Water Fall on Farmer’s Branch

A few years ago, people discovered that Fort Worth has a waterfall up near the Joint Reserve Base. The city began to build a trailhead that would allow people to park near it and walk to it, but they haven’t finished it. Some people squeeze past the Bridge Closed signs and walk anyway, but that’s illegal. To follow the Trinity Trail from the other direction is about a two mile walk. That’s not a very far walk, but it’s easier on a bicycle.

Meet the Mayor

While Mayor Betsy Price has made the effort to be accessible in various ways, the way she is known for is her rolling town hall meetings. If your desire is to meet the mayor, I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to do it than to hop on a bicycle and go for a ride. The mayor is an avid cyclist, but these meetings move at a pace most riders can handle.

I doubt that everyone will agree with this list, and for some, the possibility of doing some of these is out of the question because they’ve allowed their fitness to decline to the point that they can’t pedal that far, but there’s something about a bicycle that makes things better. By taking a few side roads and trails, a big city with lots of traffic becomes a much more relaxing place to be.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why Don't People Ride Bicycles?

I heard on the news this morning that Toyota has the goal of getting out of the gas powered automobile business in favor of electric vehicles. This is hardly earth shattering, since the date they have set is 2050. But they have a desire to reduce emissions of their vehicles. That is an admirable goal, but when it comes to reducing emissions, bicycles are the gold standard. To put it in terms of miles per gallon of gas, a bicycle has a mileage rate of about 1150 MPG. And if we were to put it in terms of money, people who get rid of their cars and travel primarily by bicycle save about $10,000 per year. So, why don’t more people ride bicycles?


As a person who loves to ride a bicycle, but has only ridden to work one time on a bicycle, I can say that one reason is the time required. It takes about thirty minutes for me to drive the fifteen miles to work. It would require about three times as much time for me to travel by bicycle. To reach work at my normal time, I would have to leave home an hour earlier. But on the other hand, it is less than two miles from my house to church and it is conceivable that I could reach church more quickly on my bicycle than by automobile.


Safety is a significant concern for bicyclists. Even though bicyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities of other vehicles on the roadways, a crash involving one of those big metal cages and a bicycle may result in a few scratches to the metal cage, but it may kill the bicyclist. Bicyclists who obey the traffic laws are much less likely to be injured than those who ride against traffic or fail to observe stop signs, but people who don’t feel safe on a bicycle will not ride a bicycle. This is why bicycling increases as cities add protected lanes and trails.

Lack of Physical Fitness

Some people say they are too old to ride a bicycle, but when you consider that there are people who are over 100 years old and still racing on bicycles, it isn’t age that is the problem. The real problem is that people are not physically able to ride a bicycle. In many cases, people don’t want to be physically able to ride a bicycle. Of course, if they would start riding, they would regain the physical ability to ride.

Lack of Skill

“It’s as easy as riding a bicycle.” And, “you never forget how to ride a bicycle.” I’m not sure anyone has put that to the test. There is some skill involved in riding a bicycle and depending on what kind of riding you are doing, there could a lot of skill involved. In some cities, public schools are teaching second graders to ride. Why second grade? In part because they are young enough that they won’t feel embarrassed about not already knowing how to ride. I suspect that some adults aren’t willing to try riding because they don’t want to admit their lack of skill.

Inability to Get From A to B

Tools like Google Maps, which will provide directions for bicyclists are a big help, but going somewhere on a bicycle isn’t as easy as going by car…or is it? From where I live in south Fort Worth, if I wanted to visit one of the local attractions, such as the stockyards, I could hop in a car, head that general direction of the freeway and I would find a sign directing me which exit to take to reach the stockyards. Even for minor attractions, I can pretty much follow the major roads and get to where I’m going. Things are different on a bicycle. For one thing, I want to avoid the major roads, so all those signs pointing me to the major roads do me no good. Minor roads aren’t connected. You can follow one that seems like it is going in the right direction, but then it will deadend at a railroad track, a freeway, or a river. In Fort Worth, we have trails that run along much of the river, so that is an advantage for bicycles. Once I get to that trail, I can reach the stockyards without messing with traffic. It would seem like a rural area, were it not for the skyscrapers that are visible above the trees. But you have to know which path to take. There are a few signs, but there are also paths that are unmarked.


Why you drive a car, you lock the doors and take the key with you, knowing that it will take some effort for someone to steal your vehicle. With a bicycle, security requires more effort. You have to find an immovable object. Sometimes, you’ll find a bike rack and more cities are requiring businesses to provide bike racks, but you also have to have special equipment to lock the bike to it. Of course you have to carry this equipment with you and the lighter it is the easier it is to cut with bolt cutters or wire cutters. But on the bright side, you can usually park your bicycle a few feet from where you are going.


This may fit with some of the others, but distance from point A to point B can be a major deterrent. Cities with less space between businesses and residences see higher number of cyclists. In cities where land is cheap and parking lots are plentiful, people are less likely to opt for riding a bicycle.

I don’t know if these are the only reasons people don’t ride bicycles, but cities that have removed some removed some of these barriers have seen an increase in the number of people riding bicycles. Bicycles will never be the dominant form of transportation, but life is much more enjoyable in places where people want to ride bicycles.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

These Unbaptized Muslims

General Custer was known as an Indian fighter. He died fighting. The story is told that he and his men found themselves surrounded by a large number of Indians. One of his men said, “General Custer, look at all those Indians we can kill!”

Though that attitude didn’t serve him well at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, it is the same attitude that David had when he face Goliath. “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

If not for the fact that David won his fight against Goliath, we would say, “That’s awfully foolish of him,” just as we would say it would be foolish for General Custer to be thinking about how many Indians he could kill when he was out numbered. But hasn’t our God called us to foolishness? “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise” (1 Cor. 1:27).

We’re facing our own Goliath right now in the form of Islam. To hear a lot of my friends talk, Islam is the scariest thing there ever was. We dare not let Muslim refugees into our country because they might be terrorists, plotting to blow something up. Even if they aren’t, they might be trying to force Sharia law on us. And if a kid puts a clock in a box and takes it to school, he’s to be feared.

So, let me ask you, Who are these unbaptized Muslims that they should defy the armies of the living God? If God is God, then we have no business being afraid of these guys. Why are we making decisions based on our fear? That’s what the children of Israel did. They left Egypt and looked over into the promised land, only to decide that they weren’t willing to face the giants. The Bible gives us story after story in which people were afraid instead of putting their trust in the Lord and things going badly. I don't recall one time when God blessed the spirit of fear rather than faith.

The Lord has called us to make disciples, beginning at home and going throughout the world. Not only has he told us to go, he has promised our success. We won’t reach everyone, but we will be witnesses throughout the world. He never promised the Muslims that they would be successful, and yet many people act as if he did. They fear that if Muslims come into our country that they will persuade our people to become Muslim. Should we not rather see this as an opportunity to preach the gospel to these Muslims? You can be sure that there is little opportunity for these people to hear the gospel in the countries they are fleeing. Can you imagine how difficult it would be for us to send a missionary into the areas occupied by ISIS? Just the mention of the gospel might be enough to get you killed.

Even though our freedoms are taking a hit right now, in the United States, we have freedom to share the gospel. Every Muslim that ISIS chases to our shores may be a threat, but they are also a potential convert. So, let me put it this way: If I were a government official charged with preventing terrorism, I would just as soon say that no Muslims are allowed. Of course, the Constitution wouldn’t allow me to say that, but it would make my job easier. But as a Christian, I want to say, send them by the boat load. Send them to my city. Send them to my doorstep. Send them and we’ll preach the gospel to them. Send them, so God can use us to turn these unbaptized Muslims into baptized Christian missionaries.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The President and Psalm 109:8

What do we do with Psalm 109? You may have seen posts on Facebook suggesting that we should pray for our President by praying Psalm 109:8, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” Of course, verse 9 gives us a clearer picture of what the psalmist means, “Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.” While it might seem funny to tell people that we’re praying Psalm 109:8 for our President, Psalm 109 is nothing to joke about. These are the words of a very downtrodden person, desiring the death of his enemies.

Some people, such as C.S. Lewis, have suggested that it is best to leave Psalm 109 and other similar psalms alone. That seems to be the wrong approach when you consider that Peter didn’t stay away from these psalms when he quoted the book of Psalms as saying, “Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his office let another take.” He saw it as the inspired word of God and so should we. He saw it as something to use for guidance and so should we. Even so, this is still a bitter curse against the psalmist’s enemies.

In Acts 1:20, when Peter referred to Psalm 109:8, he wasn’t praying it. Instead, he saw a similarity between it and what they had experienced with Judas. Judas was a man that they had loved and a man that Jesus loved and yet, Judas betrayed them. Peter didn’t have to pray that Judas would be judged for his actions, it had already happened and the punishment described in Psalms 109 had already been carried out. So, Peter had reason to believe that they should follow Psalm 109 a step farther and find someone to take Judas’ place.

People looking to pray Psalm 109 against people like our President have this idea that because he is doing stuff that is wrong, it is okay to curse him. Look at Psalm 109:4, 5. “For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer. And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.” It is not appropriate for us to pray like Psalm 109 if we don’t love the people we are praying for.

David loved the people he was praying for. Perhaps this was his son he was praying for. You recall that his son tried to take David’s throne by sitting around and telling people, that things would be better for them if someone other than David was king. David loved his son, but his son still fought against him. That puts Psalm 109 in a very different perspective. Instead of this being David looking for God to be the sword with which he smites his enemies, this might be something else completely.

Suppose you have a friend that you have been praying for and you have seen the Lord answer those prayers. You have seen the hand of God working in their life and there’s hedge around them like the hedge God placed around Job. But in spite of you praying for their protection, they turn against you. You plead with them, hoping to restore the relationship, but they are not moved. They lie to your other friends. They steal from you. Nothing you say convinces them. You are at the end of your rope. That is when you start praying like David in Psalm 109. “Lord, you remember how I asked you to protect my friend? Take it all back. Let Satan do whatever he wants to him. Let him lose his money. Let him lose his family. Let him lose his life.”

It is similar to what is said in 1 Corinthians 5:5. There are some people who should be delivered to Satan for destruction, in hopes that they will see the error of their ways and repent. If our desire for Barak Obama is simply to get him out of office, we have no business praying Psalm 109:8. I very much doubt the Lord will hear that prayer. But if out of our love for Barak Obama we seek to release him from the protection we’ve been asking the Lord for, that’s a different story. Our primary desire should be that Barak Obama repent of his sins and accept Jesus Christ. Of course, it makes no sense for us to pray for God’s protection to be removed if we haven’t been praying for him to be protected in the first place.

So, what do we do with Psalm 109? We follow it as the inspired Word of God, but before we start using it to pronounce curses on people, we need to do like David and love them first.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Double Standard

The picture shows what one of my favorite gifts of all time. It helped shape who I am today. I spent hours with this thing, running wires from one component to the next, first following the schematics in the book and then trying out different things. By the time I was working on similar project in college, I knew enough to teach some of the other students in the lab. What could I do with this thing? Well, I would make some lights turn on and off. I could make a radio. And yes, I could make a clock.

If you’ve been watching current events, you probably know where I’m going with this. A fourteen year-old kid took a prototype clock to school to show an engineering teacher, but the kid was arrested and suspended because another teacher thought it was a bomb. There have been mixed responses. Oddly enough, some of the same people who cried foul when a kid got in trouble for shaping a Pop-tart to look like a gun are saying, “It looks like a bomb to me; he should have been arrested.” Some are basing that on the fact that the boy is Muslim, but not all.

Here’s the thing. That 200 in 1 project set in the picture has enough components for a person to build a timing device for a bomb. Of course, that isn’t one of the projects in the book, because Radio Shack would’ve had to have sold it with some kind of explosive material. Of course, I never used the project set to build a bomb because bombs tend to go “Boom!” and I like having my fingers and head attached to my body.

I find it disturbing that a school would suspend a student for building a clock and bringing it to school. If we were to take 100 Electrical Engineers and we told each to make a clock, the would all have something that looked very similar to the one the kid built. All electronics projects look something like this until someone decides it needs to be refined into a product that can be sold. If we’re going to encourage students to take an interest in science and engineering, we’d better expect to see some projects that look like this.

When I was working with my 200 in 1 project set, I was fortunate to have a father who took an interest in what I was doing. But what about those students with absent fathers? Who are they going to turn to? Their teachers is who, but those teachers don’t make house calls. For the students to hear their teachers say, “Good job!” they have to take their projects to school. If that means they’re going to get arrested and suspended, that is no encouragement at all.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Will God Send People to Hell, If They've Never Heard the Gospel?

An atheist asked me, “So, the people in India, who don’t get the gospel, are doomed, because that’s part of [God’s] plan?” Though an atheist asked the question in an effort to shake my faith, it’s a question that many Christians have asked as well. What about those who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel?

Paul seems to address it in Romans 2. In Romans 2:12 he declares, “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” He goes on to say in Romans 2:13, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” He also explains that even the Gentiles do the things contained within the law, proving that the law of God is written in their hearts.

The lie of Satan is that if a person sins without knowing it is a sin, then they shouldn’t be held accountable. We get this idea that these people in India or Africa or South America or New York City or Fort Worth, Texas, who have never had an opportunity to hear the gospel shouldn’t go to hell, because they didn’t know. When we think that way, out thinking is all messed up. First, it isn’t the fact that we haven’t heard the gospel that makes us worthy of hell, it is the fact that we’ve sinned. Second, even the person who has never seen the Ten Commandments has enough law to realize they’ve broken the law.

Imagine a little Hindu child growing up in India. Whatever beliefs this child might have, he realizes that it is wrong to kill, to steal, and to lie. He knows that he should respect his parents. He also knows that he has stolen, lied, or been disrespectful to his parents.

Even atheists have documented some laws that they believe people should follow. Christopher Hitchens includes such things as “Do not condemn people on the basis of their ethnicity or their color.” And, “Despise those who use violence or the threat of it in sexual relations.” Also, “Hide your face and weep if you dare to harm a child.” Richard Dawkins included, “Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.” He also included, “In all things, strive to cause no harm.” And, “Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.”

I wonder how well they think they are doing with that. Of course, these guys have read the Bible, but I wonder if at the Great White Throne some of the books that will be opened to be used to judge these guys will be the books they wrote. “Here’s what you said people shouldn’t do. How well did you do with that?”

Whoever we are and wherever we live, we all know that we aren’t perfect. That is what will condemn people to hell, not the fact that they heard the gospel and rejected it. We’ve sometimes said, “No man deserves to hear the gospel twice until every man has heard the gospel once.” But that isn’t true. The truth is that none of us deserve to hear the gospel, at all. While it should burden us that there are people who have never heard the good news that Jesus died to pay the debt of their sins, there isn’t a single person who deserves to hear that message. We didn’t deserve to hear it either. That should cause us to share the gospel with even more people, but those who don’t hear are still without excuse, because it's the fact that they have broken God’s law that condemns them, not that they haven’t heard the gospel.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Youth Meeting With No Youth

Last week, I attended a youth meeting at which there were no youth. It was a church association meeting and the attendance was fairly good. There were elders who filled every position that the youth would’ve filled, so the meeting went so well that you wouldn’t even notice that there weren’t any youth present. I think it is worth noting that we met in a building that was once a two room school house, until the little farm schools were consolidated and the Missionary Baptists took possession of the building.

The more I think about that, the more it disturbs me. When I was a teenager, I was the president of that same youth organization, so I speak of it fondly. Since I was the only youth at our church that was the only “youth group” I had. That’s probably why local associations started having youth meetings in the first place. The association of churches could provide something for youth that a tiny church could not. Isn’t that why we have SOAR in the BMAA? No one BMAA church would put on something like that for their youth, but combined we can. For me, serving as president of the Youth in the Harvest and “giving parts” gave me experience that I cherish now. I would like to see all churches get their youth involved in something like that. But what I experienced last week highlights a problem that exists among churches.

A youth meeting is intended to minister to youth, is it not? The purpose of having officers isn’t to conduct business, but rather to give youth an opportunity to learn in an environment in which they can’t do too much damage. So, why were there officers there on a night when there were no youth present? It’s like a city bus that keeps running the route, even when there are no riders.

So often, Christians keep doing stuff because that’s the way it’s been done. If you do something enough, you can keep doing it after forgetting the original purpose. No youth will serve as president, so an adult fills the slot, then it happens with the treasurer, and then the secretary. Soon, adults are doing it all, and no one even notices that the youth didn’t show up. That isn’t far removed from what happens with meeting places. At one time, it made sense for a church building to be located near a few farms, because people had to walk to church. Now, it is a small thing for people to drive several miles to attend church.

When you think about it, the fact that churches and schools were once in the same building ought to tell us something when we consider how far children travel to school now. Those little farm schools were consolidated into schools that are in town, but there are many churches that are still trying to make a go of getting people to come to a building off on a side road somewhere. In some cases, the members are attached to the building or they are attached to the church. They’ll keep trying to make it work till the bitter end, even though they are in the same mission field as several other churches that teach similar doctrine. If we could start fresh, we would probably plant one church with one pastor near a school, rather than five churches with five pastors on rural roads.

I’m not in favor of just calling an end to something, but I do think we would be wise to consider the purpose behind some of the things we’ve been doing for a long time. It should shock us when we show up at a youth meeting and there are no youth there. The purpose is to teach youth, and there’s no reason why it can’t do that. But rather than adults filling in for the youth when they aren’t there, the absence of youth should tell the adults that they need to go find some youth. Perhaps we need five churches within a few miles of each other, but the decision should be based on the people those churches have an opportunity to reach, not on the desire to keep a building or to retain a church name.

The same goes for ministries within a church. Are we doing something just because that’s what we’ve always done or because that’s how someone taught us to do it? Or are we doing something because we can see how it is accomplishing a purpose in the lives of people. If what we do has no impact on people, something needs to change.

Friday, September 4, 2015

They Just Want Gum

Fourth grade. 1984. Wednesday. Sunshine. The day I got caught cheating. We had these desks with four legs and separate chairs. Not the kind where the books fit under the seat. I’d figured out that you could take the list of spelling words, hide it just inside the front and if you pushed back just enough, you could see the words as the teach called them out. I’d done it a couple times before, but this time I leaned back a little too far or something and she cause me looking. It really upset me when she caught me at it, because I really liked my teacher. I never cheated on a school test again.

Oddly enough, the Wednesday test was just a practice test. The real spelling test was on Friday each week. But the people who made spelled all the words right on Wednesday didn’t have to take the test on Friday and they got to chew gum in class on Friday morning. I cheated, just so I could chew gum. It seems like such a little thing now. My mother would’ve bought me gum, if I’d asked, but that wasn’t good enough. I wanted to be one of the people who got to chew gum in class, even if that meant cheating on the test.

As I look at this gay “marriage” thing, we may have a similar situation. Why did anyone have to cross paths with Kim Davis in Rowen County? There are other counties in Kentucky that were more than willing to issue marriage licenses. Why did anyone have to try to get a license in Kentucky? There were other states that had already legalized issuing licenses. But even before any state declared gay “marriage” legal, there was nothing preventing them from getting on a ship, going out into international waters and saying their vows in front of a ship’s captain. To the extent that two men or two women can get married, they would be no less married if they did that than if they received a license in Rowen County.

This has never been about “marriage.” There’s nothing that marriage gains any of these people. They’re already doing things the human body wasn’t designed to do and aside from some employment benefits that many companies had already decided to give them anyway, nothing changes. They say their vows, then go back to the same home and sleep in the same bed. But what they’re looking for is gum. Not just any gum, but gum from the teacher. What they want is official recognition, but just as I did, they’re cheating to get it.

See, there never has been such a thing as marriage between two men or two women. There never has been and there never will be. Oh, some people may call certain civil unions marriage, but “marriage” is just a word that we use to describe a concept. That concept is of a man from one family joining with a woman from another family to create a new family. It is impossible for two men or two women to have that. That knowledge makes them feel inferior. They know that they could go and find someone of the opposite gender to marry, but that’s not what they want. They want the recognition of marriage, without having to get married. Sure, they could say their vows in front of a ship’s captain, but once they came back to the United States, people would say, you aren’t really married. So, they cheat and work toward getting laws that require people to recognize their civil unions as marriage. It disturbs them that a County Clerk in Rowan County tells them that what they are doing isn’t real marriage, so they take her to court to get the judge to force her to recognize their civil unions as marriage. It shouldn’t matter to them. She’s just a clerk. She’s just a paper pusher. But it disturbs them because they know it’s true.

You can be certain that they will also be disturbed when churches continue to tell them that their civil unions are not real marriages. One of them will get saved and want to join a church. The pastor will say, “Sure, but you need to dissolve the relationship you’re in first.” So, the new convert will move out and file for divorce. The other person will be steaming mad, because the church doesn’t recognize their union as marriage. Cheating may get you what you think you want, but you’ll always end up questioning its true value.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I'm Politically Correct

politically correct
agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people

I’ll admit it, I’m politically correct. There’s this thing in politics right now where the politician comes out and uses crude language to talk about some group of people, in an effort to show that he is willing to say things that aren’t politically correct. There are people just eating it up. Which is ironic. But it’s made me think about what it means to be politically correct and what I’ve discovered is that I’m politically correct.

Let me give you example. I have some friends who are, let’s say, quite rotund. You might say quite round. Oh, let’s just call it what it is. They’re fat. I have some fat friends. I’ve been there myself. But I wouldn’t walk up to them and say, “How ya’ doing fatso?” If we have potluck at church and I see them with a plate piled high with food, I don’t go up to them and say, “Don’t you think you have too much?” No, I bite my lip, because it isn’t my desire to offend. It isn’t likely to change anything anyway.

For another example, I have friends who have gotten divorced. I don’t know what was going in their homes, but when I found out they were separated, I wanted to shake them pretty hard. “This is not the way it is supposed to be. Now get back together and straighten out this mess!” But hold my tongue. I don’t know that my saying what I want to say will do any good and I don’t want to ruin my friendship with them as well.

Then there’s politics. Many of my friends are pretty much right wing people. By their way of thinking, Obama can do nothing right, illegal immigration one of the worst problems our country faces, second only to the removal of God from schools. So, it is with care if I ever mention that I agree with something Obama did, or I try to correct something someone has said about illegal immigration, or I talk about the separation of church and state. That’s a big one. If you say “separation of church and state” in a right wing crowd, you’re going to offend someone.

So, I try to be politically correct. I’m not trying to be politically correct because I’m a left-winger among a bunch of right-wingers. Far from it. I try to be politically correct because offending people just causes them to raise a wall that removes all hope of having a meaningful discussion. People say that politically correctness is harming our country, but what they mean is that the other side (whoever that is) is trying not to offend some group that deserves to be offended. They never give any thought to their own political correctness. It seems to me that the real problem is bigotry. Again, both sides are quick to call the other bigots. The unfortunate thing is that they are both right; the other side are bigots, unwilling to work toward a common solution.

What’s wrong with being kind to each other? People like to talk about being kind, but their kindness is limited to the people they like. And they don’t like people who tell them they are wrong. They want people to be kind to them, and they’ll be kind to people who agree with them, but that kindness doesn’t extend to anyone else. So, yes, I’m politically correct, and I admit it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

My Plan For Illegal Immigration

What would I say if I were running for President? Not that it would do me any good to put my hat in the ring, but I look at that big long list of names and see their different ideas about things and I don’t know if I agree with them or not. I think some people choose one they like out of their favorite party and then look for ways to defend whatever nonsense their candidate is saying. And every one of them says nonsense part of the time.

I got into a discussion about illegal immigration. It started because some people in the Republican party have this idea that we don’t have to apply the 14th Amendment to the children of illegal immigrants. Ann Coulter has tried to say it doesn’t apply the Supreme Court ruled that it didn’t give citizenship to Indians. As true as that is, people at that time didn’t see Indians as people, so to apply that same rule to the children of illegal immigrants would require us to believe that they aren’t people because their parents are here illegally, but black people are people, even though their parents weren’t citizens. I can’t go for that. But if I ran for President and someone asked me what my plan for illegal immigration is, what would I say?

1. Close the Border

No plan will work if we continue to have people crossing the border without permission. Given our current state of affairs, something that resembles a fence may be called for on our southern border. Realistically, a physical fence will only make it more difficult to cross the border, no matter who you get to pay for it. People have shown their willingness to climb over and tunnel under. We can’t build a fence that will keep everyone out, but we may be able to increase the chances that law enforcement will catch the people who cross without permission.

2. Prioritize Prosecution

There must be justice. People have violated our laws by either crossing the border illegally or by overstaying their welcome. But when you consider that there are more than 11 million illegal immigrants, it is going to take a long time to work through all the cases. Some people have this idea that we can just round them up like cattle and herd them back across the border. I don’t know that you could do that with cattle, much less people who are smart enough to hide, but we must have due process or risk deporting people who shouldn’t be deported. That will take decades, so let’s prioritize the cases. If someone is involved with serious crime, they should be either sent to prison or deported. Then lesser crimes. Lastly, those people who are adding value to their communities.

3. Reward Work

Some people won’t like this, but I can’t get over the fact that there are more than 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. Some of those have been here for nearly all their lives. For some, the only home they remember is in the United States. It is true that some are a burden on our resources, but there are citizens who are also burdens on our resources. There are illegal immigrants who are benefiting our society, just as there are citizens benefiting our society. In some cases, there are illegal immigrants who are willing to work jobs that US citizens won’t take. They also pay taxes. Aside from being here illegally, they may be law abiding. We may be going to church with some of them. They may be our neighbors. They may be our friends. In those cases where these people are the kind of people who are good for our communities, instead of looking for a way to get rid of 11 million people, let’s reward those who benefit our communities. Instead of deporting all of them, let’s allow those who have been here for at least five years to plead guilty to being here illegally, with the understanding that they will serve 5,000 hours of community service before they may attempt to become a citizen. And then an addition 500 hours per year after that, until they either become a citizen or leave US soil.

4. Work Toward Eliminating the Need for a Border Fence

Have you thought about why we don’t need a fence between the United States and Canada? It isn’t that we don’t have border checkpoints, but there are farmers with land on the border who plow land on both sides of the border. You could be out hunting and step across the border into Canada without realizing it. But we don’t have a bunch of illegal immigrants from Canada, because it isn’t worth the risk. Some people do move from one to the other, but they do it legally, because they’re more likely to be able to get a job that way. But people flow over the Mexican border because the chance of a better life in the United States is much better than where they came from. So let’s look for ways to help these people find ways to get rid of corrupt government, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and whatever else they are fleeing for a better life. I don’t mean just throwing money at the problem, that wouldn’t help, but if the conditions in the countries south of here improve, fewer people will want to leave those countries and we’ll have less difficulty keeping out border closed.

I Can't Forgive Josh Duggar

I can’t forgive Josh Duggar. As you may know, Josh Duggar issued a statement admitting to viewing pornography and to marital infidelity. (The statement about pornography was later removed.) This was on the heels of the data from the Ashley Madison website revealing that Josh Duggar had paid a significant amount of money for access to the site. The news media and the pro-homosexuality crowd were quick to jump, saying, “And these are the people who criticize us for gay marriage.” Their quickness cause some people to question why they had singled him out when there are thousands of other people, and likely other second string celebrities who are in that data. It doesn’t a matter why they latched onto him so quickly, the fact is, they did. And who can blame them? Here is a Baptist who is going around telling people that their sin is wrong, while doing things that are equally sinful. We may say, “A Christian is just a sinner who has been forgiven,” but a lost person hears that and sees a double standard. It confuses those we are trying to reach with the gospel, but that’s not why I can’t forgive Josh Duggar.

That was the reason I didn’t want to forgive him, but not the reason I can’t. When saw his request for forgiveness but also saw lost people pointing out his hypocrisy, I wondered, do we really want to tell the world that their sin is bad, but it’s okay for Christians to sin, as long as they apologize when they get caught? It doesn’t seem like a thing to tell people, but Jesus was clear in Matthew 6:14-15 on the subject of forgiveness. God will only forgive us if we forgive others.

(As an aside, I think it’s interesting that in Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus tells them to fast in secret, not letting people know they are fasting. Wouldn’t it be great if when the world went looking for Christian secrets, instead of finding infidelity, they found a man kneeling in a prayer closet, fasting?)

But if God calls us to forgive, why can’t I forgive Josh Duggar? Because I have nothing to forgive him for. I suppose we could talk about the harm done to society and such, but he didn’t harm me. The Bible talks about forgiving men their trespasses. Jesus said that if a brother sins against you and comes and says, “I repent,” forgive him. Well, Josh Duggar has said the equivalent of “I repent,” but he didn’t sin against me, so I can’t forgive him.

So, who can forgive him? The scribes and Pharisees believed that God alone could forgive sins (Luke 5:21). There is truth to that, because we have no authority to tell God what sins he has to punish. Jesus revealed that he is God by proving his authority to forgive sin (Luke 5:24). But we don’t have that authority. If we did, we could heal people by forgiving them. Look what Jesus did in Luke 5. We seem to think that Jesus didn’t heal the man with palsy until he said, “Rise, take up they bed and walk,” but that’s not what it says. Jesus first said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” but the Pharisees told him he couldn’t do that. So, Jesus told the man to show them what had just happened. True forgiveness of sin removes the punishment of sin. Only Jesus, who carried our sins to the cross, can remove the punishment of sin, because he experienced that punishment for us.

To a lesser degree, there are people who can forgive Josh Duggar, though I cannot. His wife can forgive him for what he has done to her. His children can forgive him for what he has done to them. His church can forgive him. Will they? Should they? That depends on a number of things, none of which I have sufficient knowledge of to answer.

It’s a little bit like judging. People think that we are judging them if we tell them that what they are doing is wrong. But judgment involves determining the penalty for a person’s crime, not just deciding whether a crime has taken place. If someone admits they’ve done something, whether it is adultery, or homosexual acts, or taking a cookie from the cookie jar without permission, it isn’t judgement to say they did something wrong. But knowing that what they did is wrong doesn’t mean we have the authority to judge them. The penalty for stealing a cookie may be a spanking, but if it isn’t my kid or my cookie jar, it isn’t for me to decide.

I can’t forgive Josh Duggar, but I will encounter people who question why Christians are criticizing homosexuality while being unfaithful to their wives. When Christians do stuff like this, it muddies the water, but it happens. The lost world should be able to look at Christians and see something different, something strange, not just people who are more practiced at hiding their sin. If Josh Duggar is saved, then the Lord has already forgiven him, but that doesn’t mean things will be allowed to continue has they have been. We should have no reservations about using Josh Duggar’s activities as an example of sin. We should not defend those actions just because he says he is a Christian. Our message should be no different. Adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lying, stealing, etc. are sins and those who commit them are worthy of the flames of hell, but the blood of Jesus makes it possible for anyone who puts their trust in him to be forgiven. It is still sin if a Christian does it and them asking for forgiveness is no reason for me to say nothing about it, but the blood of Jesus still makes it possible for the Christian to be forgiven. And it is only the blood of Jesus that makes it possible. That’s why I can’t forgive Josh Duggar.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

An Uncomfortable Topic

The theme for this week has been adultery and pornography. We learned that former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle was taking a plea deal for his involvement with child pornography and having sex with minors. Then the Ashley Madison data breach resulted in us discovering that Josh Duggar has been involved in similar activity, though it isn’t clear whether his was criminal or not. I hadn’t heard of Josh Duggar or the Duggar family until a few weeks ago, when it was revealed that Josh Duggar had fondled some of his sisters. But this thing hits close to home, because the Duggar family looks very much like the families of some of my friends with a house full of kids, home schooled, strict beliefs about modesty, and Baptist. It’s the kind of family that I look at and think that I would have a hard time keeping to the standards that they maintain, but it feels like that, even if it is overkill, the strictness of the rules would prevent this nonsense. But just as the Law could get no one into heaven, rules don’t create righteousness. Rules give us a false sense of being able to hide sin.

This story reminds me of the story of Achan and how the children of Israel were defeated at Ai. They weren’t to take of the spoils of Jericho, but Achan did and hid it in his tent. When they went to take Ai, Ai sent them running like scared dogs. They cast lots to see who had caused the problem and the lot fell on Achan, which is much like what happened with the Ashley Madison data breach. We knew there were people using that site, but we didn’t know who. Now we know. Joshua called for Achan to confess what he had done and Achan did, just as Josh Duggar confessed what he had done, even before people went looking for evidence. Now, in Achan’s case, they stoned him and family. I don’t think we’ll see that happen with Josh Duggar, but just because he has apologized doesn’t mean that he will not and should not face consequences for his actions. When people can just apologize and not face consequences, it creates an attitude that they can do whatever they want, as long as they say, “I’m sorry.”

Part of what is disturbing about this is that it isn’t just one guy hiding something in a tent. We have some dirty little secrets in Christian circles. In all likelihood, there will be other Christians who will be exposed due to the Ashley Madison data breach. I don’t know that I want to go combing through the data, because I might find someone I know. Even if we don’t have people using a hookup website, every church of any significant size will have some people who are addicted to pornography. We know this, but there is a tendency to smile and say, “But Jesus forgives sin.” This is the same attitude that Paul talks about in Romans 6:1-23. Our goal shouldn’t be to show people how forgiving Jesus is, though he is very forgiving. Our goal should be to show the world that we’re different and we don’t have to sin any more. What good is Christianity if instead of freeing people from sin, it just forces them to hide their sin so they fit in?

I’m sure you know 2 Chronicles 7:14 by heart. People often quote that verse when they talk about all the evil that is going on in America. But the Lord isn’t talking about the gay brides or grooms who are suing Christian bakers for not designing a cake for their “weddings”. He’s talking about the Josh Duggars of this world and those of us who are like him. He was talking to Jews, but it can apply to Christians as well. Just like Achan, who hide his sin in his tent, the Lord is talking to Christians who go to church every Sunday, read the Bible, and talk about how sinful the world is, all while they are hiding the fact that they’ve been viewing pornography on their computers at home, that they’ve been reading erotic books, that they’ve been in an adulterous relationship, or beating their wives, or yelling at their children.

It is time for us to do some spiritual stoning (not physical, that will get you put in jail). In Joshua 7:6-9, we see Joshua doing what the Lord calls us to do in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Joshua knew he had a problem, but he didn’t know what it was, so he rent his clothes and sought the Lord’s face. It was only then that the Lord told Joshua how to figure out where the sin was. We also know we have a problem. It seems like Satan is winning, even though he shouldn’t be. Ai shouldn’t have won that first battle, but they did. But like Joshua, at first, we don’t really know who among us is causing the problem. If you go to church on Sunday, you won’t be able to look around the room and say, “That person is viewing pornography. That person is abusing his wife. That person is embezzling money.” We won’t know, because they’re hiding it in their tents. But if we seek the Lord’s face and ask for him to reveal the sin that is hidden within our churches, things will begin to show up. Perhaps it will be revealed in a similar way to how Josh Duggar was exposed. Perhaps it will be something else. And once it is revealed, we need to take action to remove the sin. It may be that we can do that without removing the sinner, but we may have to remove a few people from our churches. Only then can we claim the Lord’s promise to forgive our sin and heal our land.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Christians and Gay Cakes

Where do you draw the line? In recent months, we’ve heard stories of business owners with homosexual customers. They served them like they would any other customer, but then they came in and said, “We would like a cake for our wedding.” The business owners replied, “Gay marriage is against our beliefs, so we can’t do that.” Rather than just going down the street (or I should say, in addition to going down the street) to find someone who would supply the cake, the homosexual customers got mad and sued the business owners. Regardless of where the chips settle in court, where do we Christians draw the line on this?

Let’s suppose we design a cake. It is seven layers with white frosting. We put it in the window of the shop and a customer walks in and says, “I want a cake just like that.” Even though we intended it to be a wedding cake, we don’t know what they’re going to use it for, unless they tell us. It’s a little different if the cake has a man and a woman on top and they say, “I want a cake like that, but I want two men on top.” But is that enough for us to draw the line there? Is there a biblical principle that we would violate by putting two men on top of a wedding cake?

There’s an interesting scene in the Bible. Of course, we know that God hates idolatry and has killed people for worshiping idols. That’s what makes this scene so interesting. You recall the story of Naaman, who was a leper. After much persuasion, he bathed in the Jordon River and was healed. Most people begin to lose interest in the story at that point, but they might remember that Elisha’s servant tried to make a little money on the side of what the Lord had done and ended up with the leprosy. But in the midst of this, Naamon, who is now a believer speaks to Elisha in 2 Kings 5:17-19 and makes a vow to not worship gods other than the Lord, but he asks to be pardoned, because his duties to the king of Syria require him to go with the king to the house of Rimmon and bow before the idol. Elisha’s response: “Go in peace.”

It’s not the response we would expect. Elisha is the heir of the great prophet Elijah and we kind of want him to say, “You tell that king of yours that you aren’t doing that anymore and if he doesn’t like that, I’ll call down fire from heaven to destroy him.” Elisha is the guy for whom a bear killed children who cursed him. Instead, he says, “yalak shalowm”, go in peace. How very different that seems from what we see with Daniel and the three Hebrew children. The king said to bow, and they did not. When a law was passed to prevent Daniel from praying, he opened his window and prayed anyway.

How do we resolve the different ways these men of God reacted? At the heart of it is the gospel. The gospel message was not harmed by Naamon visiting the house of Rimmon with the king. If anything, because Naamon would have the opportunity to tell the king and those around him what had happened when he went to see the prophet of the Lord, people would not think that Naamon worshiped Rimmon. But if Daniel had stopped praying, he would have been sending the message that the king was more important than his God.

So, what of cakes, and floral arrangements? Let’s not go legalistic on this. There may be times when the best option is to refuse, but that may be a missed opportunity to share the gospel. Think about it. A couple comes into the shop for a wedding cake. Whether they are homo or hetero, that is an opportunity to begin talking to them about marriage and how the Lord views marriage. They may not have a different opinion of marriage when they leave and you may not have scared them into finding a different baker, but no homosexual couple should ever leave a Christian baker’s shop without knowing that the baker believes the Lord frowns on the choices they are making in life. But neither should they leave without knowing that Jesus died for their sins.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kicked Out For Not Tithing?

Who would’ve guessed that you could be kicked out of a church for not tithing? That seems to be the general sentiment of the comments concerning a news story titled 92-year-old Woman Kicked out of Church for Not Tithing. I really have no way of determining whether this was an appropriate action or not, so I won’t address that, but what I find interesting is so many people were quick to criticize the church for this action. Here are some examples:

Dennis A. Gauger - money grubbers, go to another church

Brenda Meggs Turner - That is why Jesus kicked the money changers out of the temple for charging people to worship. This is not God’s Church!!! Read your Bible people!!!

Carolyn Guffey Crain - She doesn’t need that Church’…..A real Bible believing Church would not do that ….

Colbey Newsom - Nonsense!!! No one should ever be kicked out of church..that’s prolly not a Christian church then

Natalie Tabor McPherson - I believe that pastor needs to be removed because he is not a man of God.

It goes on, and on. There are hundreds of these comments and most of them are critical of the church. But on the same day that I saw this story, I read 1 Corinthians 5:12-6:8. Paul is critical of the church at Corinth for taking each other in front of judges outside the church. He tells them to let the least esteemed in the church judge. But that isn’t to say that the least esteemed in the church are better able to judge than some of the other members. Paul is showing them the foolishness of letting people outside the church judge. Even though the least esteemed will also be among those who will judge the world, they aren’t capable of doing that yet. So why would you go to the people the least esteemed are going to judge for judgment? Instead, 1 Corinthians 6:5 suggests that they should find a person of wisdom who is a member of the church.

When I read the comments about that news story I think, “Who are these people to judge that church?” These are the people who are outside the church. Some are members of other churches and some may be Christians who haven’t been taught concerning church discipline, but it is foolishness for outsiders to pass judgment on that church without knowing the facts. The Bible calls for at least two witnesses to bring an accusation. At this point, we have only one.

The church was contacted by the news media and asked to respond, but they did not. Nor should they have. This is a matter of internal church discipline. It would be improper for a church to practice church discipline and then go tell the world about what they have done. At most, they could speak to what their bylaws require of their members and the process they use to remove a member from their roster. But they should not speak concerning this particular case and the news media would make every attempt to persuade them to talk about it. More than that, the news media would probably make them look bad when they didn’t.

I find it disturbing that so many people who appear to be church goers are so quick to jump on this church for removing this woman from their roster. Their reaction is a reminder that we have a big problem in churches. People treat churches like they are a restaurant. They go to church with the expectation that they will get fed from the word of God. They go with the idea that they need to do their duty to worship God. Churches, they believe, have an obligation to provide a mechanism by which they can worship God for about an hour on Sunday. But that type of worship has no significant difference from pagan idol worship. It that is all worship is, you could replace the teachings of Jesus with stories about Zeus, sing songs about Zeus, pray prayers in the name of Zeus, and it would all work out just fine.

So, let me ask you, would you want someone who worships Zeus, or Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster deciding what a church should do? Neither should we listen to those who claim to worship God but see no reason for a church to require its members to participate in the work of the church.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Target and the War on Gender

You’ve probably heard by now that Target is rethinking some of its in-store signage, removing gender based distinctions from toy aisles and children’s bedding. Men’s and women’s clothing will still be separated. It all seems to have started with a Tweet from Abi Bechtel about an aisle that Target labeled as “Building Sets/Girl’s Building Sets” rather than just labeling the aisle “Building Sets.” But now, my Facebook account is all lit up with posts from friends who are infuriated about what Target is doing. They see it as an affront to Christianity, akin to Bruce Jenner asking a church to let him speak from their pulpit.
I’m likely to upset a few of my friends by saying this, but I’m not convinced that this is a battle worth fighting. I don’t agree with self-described feminist Episcopalian Abi Bechtel, and I don’t like it that Target said, “We heard you” when they didn’t even ask me what I thought about it. But in the end, what can we hope to accomplish with this battle? If Target had just quietly removed the labels without issuing a press release would anyone have noticed?
Some people see this as taking the doctrine of Bruce Jenner and forcing it down Christian’s throats. Their view is that if we don’t take a stand against this then they’ll force other ungodly stuff on us. I understand that point of view, but what thing of value do we accomplish if we win this battle?
The only way I see to win this battle is to have enough clout to convince Target to reverse their decision. It started with a Tweet from Abi Bechtel and it was retweeted about 3,000 times, and there’s no telling how many times Target was contacted using other methods, giving them the impression that this mattered to their customers. If this is about keeping the customer happy, then it’s possible that a bunch of people complaining about their decision will result in a reversal. But it isn’t like we really need a sign to tell us that a pink package of Legos with a Disney princess on it is probably for girls and the others are probably for boys. So, what we would really accomplish is to send a message that says, “don’t mess with Christians.”
Now, let me ask you this: Have you ever seen someone accept Christ because Christians boycotted a store? Do you think that if we throw our weight around and convince Target to leave the signs alone that the executives that made the decision will say, “I see the error of my ways; I repent and I want to ask Jesus to save me?” Do you think that our successfully persuading Target to leave the signs alone will persuade Abi Bechtel or those who follow her that they are sinners and need to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior? I think not. So, why waste our time with this battle?
Target doesn’t claim to be a Christian organization, so it shouldn’t surprise us that they do things that aren’t what many Christians would like for them to do. You can buy Bibles and other Christian books at Target, but you can also buy a statue of Buddha. They aren’t trying to make a political statement with those things, they’re just stocking their shelves with the things their customers will buy. We would do well to consider that carefully, because Target’s customers are our friends and neighbors. Remember that skimpy two piece bathing suit that you saw on display at Target this spring? If you go look, you’ll probably see it in the summer vacation photos a friend posted on Facebook. You know those posts asking Target to change their signs? Go check your friends’ Tweets and you may see a few. The battle we ought to be fighting isn’t over how Target should label their signs. The battle we ought to be fighting is over the hearts and minds of our friends. If we get gender specific signs at Target but our friends go to hell, what have we won?