Thursday, October 1, 2015


I Was Just Thinking About - - -

Did you ever purchase a tool and then wonder how it could be used? Several years ago, a store had a special price on Grinders for the shop. It was one of those specials that would cause one regret if it was not purchased immediately. I purchased it and brought it to my shop area. My wife asked me the practical and proverbial questions: “Did you really need that now? What do you plan to do with it?” Thinking rather quickly for a response, I replied: “Well, I can sharpen your hedge shears for you!” The mistakes in that response was my use of “your” and “for you.” My second response was not an improvement over the first. I stated: “I can grind the axe for splitting some wood.” Since I was going quickly from bad to worse, I thought that if I could change the subject I might get over the hurdle of explanation. I guess I should add (since confession is supposed to be good for the soul) that procrastination delayed my getting around to “sharpen your hedge shears” and ironically, the “special priced” Grinder stopped running and there was a “no-return” policy on the sale item. I still have the non-functioning Grinder under my Work Bench and it allows me moments of contemplation of my intended purpose for it.

There is an interesting definition in the Urban Dictionary for one having an “ax to grind.” Their take on it is twofold: (1) “To have a grievance with someone, especially where one feels the need to seek damaging retribution and (2) The phrase probably originates from the act of sharpening an axe with a grinding wheel, with the intent (in this definition) to get revenge on someone by maiming or killing them.” The Free Dictionary lists two possible (less severe) idioms for the phrase, “an axe to grind”: (1) “to have a selfish reason for saying or doing something”; and (2) “to have a strong opinion about something that influences your actions.” I would suspect that at some point in life, to one degree or another, we have all exhibited moments when we displayed that we had “an axe to grind” with someone or about something. If, or more likely when those times occur, what is the cause and what is the proper response and reaction. In a day of extensive litigation and the growing number of lawyers, people resort to lawsuits as a means of retribution and/or resolve. One need only observe the various Judge and Court Room programs on television to draw a conclusion that many grievances that are being litigated are frivolous and baseless. It may have “soap opera” qualities for entertainment but it demonstrates that not every grievance with another person needs to result in courtroom drama.

It is sad to observe that within the visible Church and among professing Christians, there are occasions when the “axe to grind” begins to dominate relationships and fellowship. What guidelines should be prominent in the visible Church and among professing Christians? Some basic considerations are: (1) Ephesians 4:29-32, “Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” (2) Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry, yet do not sin. Do not let the sun set upon your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” And (3) I Corinthians 6:1-7, “If any of you has a grievance against another, how dare he go to law before the unrighteous instead of before the saints! Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! So if you need to settle everyday matters, do you appoint as judges those of no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Is there really no one among you wise enough to arbitrate between his brothers? Instead, one brother goes to law against another, and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you are thoroughly defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” Let your “axe grinder” become inoperable and place it in some obscure place. Begin to apply and live by Biblical Principles for all of your thoughts, words and deeds. Consider these things with me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I Was Just Thinking About - - -

There is an ongoing tension existing between people of principle and those whose scruples (a moral or ethical consideration or standard that acts as a restraining force or inhibits certain actions) are marginal. The tension is exacerbated by those in Media who believe the general public has more interest in the “gotcha” type question than they are about the beliefs and convictions of an individual. This becomes more pronounced when political aspirants announce their candidacy for a political office. Almost immediately, there is the desire of those with a muckraker orientation to delve into a person’s entire life with the brightest spotlight possible to disclose and exaggerate every foible (weakness or failing of character; slight flaw or defect). By doing so, they determine a person’s narrative and endeavor to define the person today on the basis of some comment or action from the distant past. It fails to recognize or allow for personal transformation and growth.

Recently, this became an issue when one candidate for the Presidency was asked whether or not a Muslim could hold the elective office of President of the United States. World Magazine has an Editorial under the heading of Campaign 2016 where D.C. Innes has written the following: “Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson had this in mind when he answered NBC’s Chuck Todd, who asked him on Meet the Press, ‘Should a president’s faith matter?’ Carson responded knowledgeably: ‘It depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter.’ The retired neurosurgeon was assuming that one’s faith governs one’s entire life, that it’s not compartmentalized and privatized." When addressing the abortion question, Mario Cuomo assured us in 1984 that his Roman Catholic faith was safely isolated from his service as governor of New York. In 1960, people were deeply concerned about Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kennedy’s Roman Catholic allegiances. Would the Pope be directing American public policy? Given the papacy’s political involvement over the last thousand years or so, it was a reasonable concern. Liberal Democrats today are concerned in the same way that if we elect a Bible-believing Christian, we will be electing Jesus.  But John F. Kennedy settled the matter with this famous assurance: ‘I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.’ This is the assurance Carson says he would want from a Muslim presidential candidate.”

It’s regrettable that the sentiment and personal conviction of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. does not govern the dialogue currently. He embellished a statement used by many others over the years when he stated: “I may not be the man I want to be; I may not be the man I ought to be; I may not be the man I could be; I may not be the man I truly can be; but praise God, I’m not the man I once was.” It was just a statement intended to resonate with his audience but one that was borne out of the reality that a person is something more than a body seeking an office. The totality of the individual recognizes that one is more than that because all are body, soul and spirit. We glean this totality of our being from a blessing given by the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 5:23-24, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your entire spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”

In politics there is a delicate balance between civil government and personal convictions. The Old Testament reminds us of both Moses and Joseph rising up to positions of political governing while never compromising their spiritual relationship or convictions regarding the Lord. This was also true of Daniel when he was carried off to Babylon. However, the line that must be drawn when the name of Jesus being uttered becomes one’s Rubicon. Peter made this abundantly clear in Acts 5:28-29 when the ruler’s demanded: “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name…Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us responsible for this man’s (Jesus’) blood.” But Peter and the other apostles replied: We must obey God rather than men.” May God give those seeking political office (and we the electorate) the spiritual courage and wisdom to be clear and precise regarding what we believe and why we believe it. Consider these things with me!

Monday, September 28, 2015


I Was Just Thinking About - - - 

What makes one’s psyche (the human soul, spirit, or mind) function and respond as it does? We live in a culture where freedom in lifestyle is championed and removal of reasonable behavioral barriers are altered, challenged or removed altogether. What is recidivism? It is “repeated or habitual relapse, as into crime.” The field of Psychiatry defines it as: “the chronic tendency toward repetition of criminal or antisocial behavior patterns.” Pew Research has done an extensive study titled: State of Recidivism - The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons. Their research states the following: “In 2008, the Pew Center on the States reported that incarceration levels had risen to a point where one in 100 American adults was behind bars. A second Pew study the following year added another disturbing dimension to the picture, revealing that one in 31 adults in the United States was either incarcerated or on probation or parole. ..One key element of the analysis is measuring recidivism, or the rate at which offenders return to prison…” 

Much data is based upon statistics released by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The most recent of those reports, which tracked offenders released  from state prison in 1994 (Published in 2002), concluded that a little more than half of released offenders (51.8 percent) were back in prison within three years, either for committing a new crime or for violating rules of their supervision…According to the survey results, 45.4 percent of people released from prison in 1999 and 43.3 percent of those sent home in 2004 were reincarcerated within three years, either for committing a new crime or for violating conditions governing their release…” The report is lengthy and the data extensive. In the current issue of World Magazine. Marvin Olasky conducts an interview with Heather Rice-Minus on Restorative Justice and Recidivism Rates. You can read the entire interview at: ( An interesting part of the interview deals with Risk Convergence. The interview dialogue is, The Question: “What is risk convergence?” The Response: “Over time the risk of a criminal committing another crime is going to converge with that of the general public: Risk convergence occurs at some point when they are no more likely to commit a new crime than Joe Shmo who has never committed a crime. We often ask people on job applications to say if they have had a conviction, felony, or even a misdemeanor—but we know from data that this person does not pose any greater risk after a certain point, because of the phenomenon of risk convergence…We advocate that people who have committed crimes, after receiving proportionate punishment, should be allowed back into the community.”

The whole idea of Recidivism is in terms of recovery and restoration of one who has committed a crime or some deeds of misbehavior. The statistics cover recidivism rates for alcoholics; drug addicts; predators; physical abusers; etc. What will allow for the greatest possibility of recovery and restoration of any individual who has become a “statistic”? The definition of Psyche includes reference to the human soul, spirit, or mind. Focus in this area allows for a spiritual entry point as a preventative of recidivism. The person needs to be changed from the inside outwards. The basics of this type of resolve include: Ii Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation - old things pass away and all things become new.” Romans 12:1-2 indicates their must be a shift in focus from a secular world and life view to the spiritual, “…Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” There will have to be a new commitment and safeguard as one implements Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” The road back is never easy but God’s grace is always able and sufficient to result in one’s recovery and restoration. Be encouraged and receive God's grace in your behalf.  Consider these things with me.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


I Was Just Thinking About - - - 

Anyone who even casually looks at our world and culture today can easily conclude we have lost our way. If we roll our mental clocks back seventy-five years to World War II, we can remember not only the atrocities of war by the Axis Governments of Germany, Japan and Italy. The cruelty and disregard of human life and dignity cannot be adequately defined except by use of the word evil. This same word, evil, is being employed to emphasize the carnage and effects of terrorism in the world. Currently, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees pressing their way across European borders seeking to escape the oppression of Islamic Terrorists and corrupt government. There is no adequate way to define the evil that is being perpetrated world-wide upon humanity.

The secular Dictionary definition has a long application for this small word that causes such great harm. Evil is defined as that which is “morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked…anything that causes injury or harm.” Biblical Dictionaries are detailed regarding evil but the most prevailing definition is: “God ordained what is right and any deviation from it is evil.” The most common term used in the Old Testament indicates evil is “perversion” with the verb idea: “to be bent or twisted.” Proverbs 11:21 indicates, “Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished, but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.” The plight of the evil and wicked person is summarized in Proverbs 24:19-20, “Do not fret because of evildoers Or be envious of the wicked; For there will be no future for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”

One of the more prolific editorial writers, Marvin Olasky, has written (to be published October 3, 2015 in World Magazine - All The Rage) about America’s Legacy. It is under the byline, Government: Welcome To The Center For The Babylonian Experiment. A portion of his comments state: “The American Experiment has had a great run. For two centuries we proclaimed liberty throughout the land to more and more of the inhabitants thereof. But now that our leaders have decided that the American Experiment has no limits, its continued success seems unlikely. Liberty for all religious faiths, yes. Hospitality for immigrants, yes. Racial equality, yes. But virtually absolute freedom for baby killers, adulterers, thieves, and liars goes too far…America’s founders hoped the president would function like a temporary monarch on a short leash, so he could not become a dictator. Senators would function as a meritocracy, short-leashed so they would not become feudal lords. The House would provide democratic representation, and other branches would keep it from becoming a mobocracy. If all governmental organs failed, a free press would tell the truth. Sadly, the power of the presidency has grown decade by decade since the 1930s. Now a president who cares little for the rule of law can have outsized influence—if he is unscrupulous enough to press his advantage, and if influential press organs ignore their function. That’s the situation we’ve been in since 2009: Barack Obama may be no more willing to lie than Richard Nixon or other predecessors, but he’s generally been able to get away with it…Once, American leaders were modest: Now, ours brag about dreams and drones. In response, some Christians are giving up, but Abraham Kuyper’s declaration is still true: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” 

Is God helpless? Has He become impotent? Does He no longer care about the world He created? We may not like the alternative He has in mind for a world and culture that has lost its way. A hint is: Genesis 6:5-7 (NLT), “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing.” That final day is rapidly approaching. Consider these things with me.

Monday, September 21, 2015


I Was Just Thinking About - - - - 

When I first entered Bible College, albeit reluctantly, one class assignment that I felt was useless was to read the Dictionary, at least five new words per week. For one who had to take a Remedial English course, I should not have been critical of the Dictionary assignment. One of the benefits was to realize how few words are used in human discourse. I began to read some editorials that necessitated consulting the dictionary to determine the intent and rationale for the use of particular vocabulary. Early on, I discovered the writing style of William F. Buckley was challenging in that regard. here were several skilled writers along the way whose vocabulary challenged further use of the Dictionary. Currently, George F. Will is gifted in the use of vocabulary to make a point. It was in an Opinion Column by him on September 18, 2015 where he made use of the word “vacuity” when analyzing the address of Pope Francis to the nation of Cuba and his subsequent visit to the United States.

We live in a time when political rhetoric abounds and ensuing meaningful action is scarce or dormant. Vacuity means: “without contents; vacancy; emptiness: absence of thought or intelligence; inanity; blankness:  a time or state of dullness, lacking in mental or physical action or productivity: absence or lack of something specified: something, such as a statement, saying, etc, that is inane or pointless.” George Will used this term to describe: “Pope Francis’ Fact-Free Flamboyance in an address given by the Pope to an audience at The Vatican.” George Will goes on to state: “Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill. And the earth is becoming “an immense pile of filth”? Hyperbole is a predictable precursor of yet another U.N. Climate Change Conference - the 21st since 1995. Fortunately, rhetorical exhibitionism increases as its effectiveness diminishes.”

Even though there is a degree of verbal sport in “fact-faulting” and “fault-finding” with that which others write or say, the visible Church of the Lord Jesus Christ falls short of representing God’s truth and principles that should be foundational as a world and life view. Confusion, distortion, hyperbole, hypocrisy and bloviation are too common. Many people in the visible Church get all fuzzy-minded and enamored by the outspoken person leading the Republican Polls. He makes claim that the Bible is his favorite book. When pressed about his favorite verse, he was unable to state it. He referenced something that he claimed to be his Bible verse is in the Book of Proverbs: “never bend to envy.” No one has been able to find any such reference. Trying to be charitable towards this candidate, they allow that the closest verses they could find were Proverbs 24:1-2, “Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.” As a result, the polling estimate for the upcoming primary vote in South Carolina finds that 33% of evangelicals are supportive of the current Number One Candidate. The support is determined by his outspokenness and forthrightness.

In the area of politics and politicians, what determining trait, characteristic and commitment should prevail among the so-called “evangelical” base? A person whom God seeks and through whom He will do His work is described in Proverbs 21:1-4, “In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.” Other passages speak of “the arrogant heart of the king” (Isaiah 10:12) will be punished. The “evangelical” base should be concerned with the execution of Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Enough of the “evangelical” vacuity. The “evangelical” base needs to become more serious about the serious God and His will, purpose and values. Consider these things with me.

Friday, September 18, 2015


I Was Just Thinking About – – –
When I was in my early teens, a close friend would invite me to go fishing at a place where he said we would come home with a boat load of fish. I had no idea where we were going but soon found out it was near Roslyn, Long Island, New York. The exact location of this fishing spot was supposed to be a “secret” so we would have this special spot to ourselves. The “secret” was that we were fishing in an area close to a Fish Hatchery where Flounder were being discharged into the Long Island Sound. Where we fished allowed us to have a catch of many Flounders. However, if we went into deeper water, we were better able to fish for and catch Flukes.
If you wonder about the difference between Flounders and Flukes, the basic description is that both are flat-sided fish and both inhabit mid-Atlantic waters. Yet fluke and flounder do not share every characteristic. While they look alike, there are differences. Flukes and Flounders are types of flatfish. That means that, while they started life swimming upright, during the larval stage, they lay on either their left or right side and the eye facing towards the bottom migrated to be top-facing. A careful observer can find more than a few differences between these flatfish Fluke and flounders are flat bottom-dwelling fish. They lie on one side and evolved their development such that one of their eyes migrates to the side that is up. Fluke is known as summer flounder because it is more abundant in warm weather. Flounder is sometimes called winter flounder to distinguish it from fluke.The position of the eyes is one of the major physical differences between fluke and flounder. Fluke is called the left eye fish and flounder is known as the right eye fish. The top side of flat fish are mottled and dark, making them blend in well on the ocean bottoms. And as they are bottom dwellers, this is a very good thing as they can surprise their unsuspecting prey. In order to catch either Flounders or Flukes, it was necessary to use a weighted line and to drag the line across the bottom. Once the fish was hooked, it made for an interesting time for reeling in the catch. It would jerk and flop. It would put up a tremendous struggle until it was brought into the boat. After being unhooked, it had to be placed into a container or sack because of its continuing flopping and jerking. The Fluke was larger and meatier than the Flounder but either one made for a delicious meal.
It occurs to me that there was an ancillary reason why Jesus’ first choices of disciples were fishermen. When He called them, He said: “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And at once they left their nets and followed Him…” (Mark 1:16-20). The disciples did not fish with poles, lines, weights and hooks. The subtle point being made is that the disciples would meet different kinds of people as they endeavored to fish for men. Some would put up a great struggle and offer considerable resistance, Others would be more compliant and cause the fishers of men some pause as to whether or not they had a willing person on their line and soon to be onboard their figurative boat. Illustrations abound of those who offered great resistance and who never were drawn in. Pilate as he washed his hands of those who were determined to crucify Jesus Christ. King Agrippa’s response to Paul (Acts 26:28): “Within so little time do you (think you can) persuade me to become a Christian?” The NLT: “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”
In some ways, people are similar to the Flounders and Flukes who instinctively offer great resistance and struggle. Sometimes they can snap the line or escape from the hook. The person who comes to Jesus Christ must surrender the instinctive resistance, flopping and jerking. It is a time for learning to be a compliant follower of Jesus Christ. Does this always quickly occur? No! Is it vital and necessary for surrender to occur? Yes! In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus said: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I Was Just Thinking About - - - 

There are a growing number of people in today’s world who no longer consider corporate worship as a necessity for their lives. Something is causing people to set aside the spiritual dimension and focus primarily on the physical. The preoccupation becomes either education, employment or recreation. An observation one can make is to drive around the town or city in which one resides and observe the activity around the various homes. In many instances, there will be no evidence that a person or family is preparing to go to Sunday School or Worship Services. When making these observations, it might be wise to make a note of the location of the home and whether or not children were present. This could then become a matter for individual and corporate prayer - and - a followup visit to the home and an assessment of any spiritual need or interest. Such a visit might even provide one with an opportunity for evangelism or helpful counseling.

The broader picture focuses on why people absent themselves from corporate worship. There are some major factors that contribute to one’s lack of interest in the visible Church. One factor is the length of the service and sermons that circle the runway several times before landing. In other words, the preaching that should be vibrant as the Word is proclaimed becomes stale and boring. Another factor is the music structured into the service. In order to be “contemporary”, there has been the introduction of Praise Teams/Bands. Some of them believe their task is to increase the level of volume to a deafening decibel level. This makes any song - either contemporary worship chorus or traditional hymn - unsingable. If the music suddenly stopped, no voice would be heard. It is an ignored fact. People may not say anything about it to anyone but they leave and will become reluctant to return to any church service. One other factor is the friendliness of the attendees. Not just a greeter at the door but a general sense of being in a place where one has a sense of belonging and oneness. A great hindrance can be in the seating arrangement of the “regulars” who attend. If one’s body language communicates “you’re sitting in my place”, the visitor will more than likely never return. 

Many will make the argument of worship music from Psalm 100:1-2 (NIV), “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Others will appeal to the Hallel Psalms 145 through 150 and how God should be approached with music, especially Psalm 150:3-5 (ESV), “Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” A good illustration and application for the intent of these Psalms would be either the Salvation Army Band and/or the Moody Bible Institute Orchestra and Chorus. In neither instance is there the deafening decibel factor or the non-discernible words that are being sung. In other words, one can enter in joyful worship and praise apart from the dominance of a praise team that is neither worshipful or praiseworthy.

The better picture we have of the intent for music in the worship experience is summarized in Colossians 3:15-16 (NIV), “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” This is also stated in Ephesians 5:18-20, “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As one worships in this manner, the words will always be discernible. They will also be useful to both encourage and edify each other. The Scripture never urges a “racket” but a “joyful sound” to the Lord. Consider these things with me!