Thursday, February 25, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About - - -

In 1995, Mr. Holland's Opus was a film produced featuring Richard Dreyfus. Dreyfus plays the role of Glenn Holland, a professional musician and composer who wants to compose a piece of orchestral music. Out of necessity, at age 30, he finds himself accepting a High School position of teaching music. Part of the storyline is that a Music Teacher is a marginalized faculty member in the faculty’s hierarchy. With all of the frustrations due to the marginalization by the faculty and the disinterest on the part of the students, he patiently persists to make a difference in the lives of the students. There is a point in the film when the Principal, who had been one of his few supporters,  takes him aside to inform him that she will be retiring. She has a special gift that she presents to him – a Compass. She wants him to know that she has respected him for one who had been a Moral Compass for the students. The Music Department will ultimately be eliminated by a new administration at the High School. The film concludes with former students with whom he has been a major influence return for his retirement and play their instruments to introduce a composition he has worked on throughout his lifetime – Mr. Holland’s Opus.

Amid the cultural malaise in which we find ourselves today, one voice that was consistent as a Moral Compass was Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Most reports about his life and legacy echo a similar truth about his legal commitment: “Justice Scalia was the proud possessor of a rigorously textual sense of legal reasoning…He was known, by friend and foe alike, as the promoter of a novel approach to judicial decision-making known as originalism. He insisted that Supreme Court decisions should be constrained by the plain meaning of texts and the original meaning of constitutional terminology.” He was a religious man who held to core values and beliefs. During a speech at the Knight’s of Columbus Meeting in Baton Rouge, LA, Justice Scalia stated: “If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world." He was obviously quoting from I Corinthians 4:9-13, “We have become a spectacle to the whole world...We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, but we are dishonored. To this very hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are vilified, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer gently. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.”

A possible change in perspective and judicial temperament is on the horizon. It has been reported in Washington Whispers (US News), 02-24-16: “On Wednesday, (President) Obama laid out his wish list for a Supreme Court nominee, writing in a post on SCOTUSblog that his ideal nominee should "approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand." (President) Obama also wrote that an ideal high court judge should view the law "not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times," a possible rebuttal against Scalia's doctrine of constitutional originalism.” The looming question is: Who has mislaid the moral compass? Why is this not the primary requirement for any nominee to SCOTUS? During the Eulogy for his father, Paul Scalia stated: “We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more. A man loved by many, scorned by others. A man known for great controversy, and for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth. It is He whom we proclaim. Jesus Christ, son of the father, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified, buried, risen, seated at the right hand of the Father. It is because of him. because of his life, death and resurrection that we do not mourn as those who have no hope…Scripture says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. And that sets a good course for our thoughts and our prayers here today. In effect, we look in three directions. To yesterday, in thanksgiving. To today, in petition. And into eternity, with hope.” 

Biblical Christians need to locate the Mislaid Moral Compass and reinstitute it in our lives, our homes, our churches, our nation and our culture. Will you assist in finding it and restoring it to its rightful place regardless of any personal cost to you? Consider these things with me!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About - - -

In a recent Blog, I wrote that “Marginalization” can occur by various means. A usual tactic is for Person A to promote a narrative about Person B, and doing so with relentless repetition. The reasons why this is a successful tactic range from lack of research skills by the reader or listener; gullibility; laziness; and/or blindly accepting and endorsing the person who speaks the loudest and who is reckless with intimidation, criticism and generalizations. There is little doubt that the culture is influencing the thinking of this day and time. It becomes mind-boggling (astonishing; bewildering; intellectually overwhelming) when one observes the trend towards a greater reality of one thinking their contribution will make a difference while it amounts to little more than a boondoggle (to do futile and unnecessary work; or - to deceive or attempt to deceive). The Church has become an example as it flounders with the thought that it remains the voice of influence and authority in terms of moral standards, principles and core values. It tries to address issues but it does so more from the cultural influences than it does from Biblical affirmations. The Church has slid down the proverbial slope of accommodation rather than “this is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). It’s difficult to hear that word and to follow its direction when consciences are seared, vision is dimmed and ears are plugged.

David Limbaugh has written a column entitled, “Evangelicals Are Not the Boogeyman” (February 16, 2016). He attempts to define what “evangelical” means in today’s culture and political climate. He states, “There are so many misconceptions about "evangelicals" from the definition of the word to the intentions of the people themselves, but the most damaging myth is that we evangelicals seek a theocracy for the United States of America, which couldn't be further from the truth.” He submits the following as his derived definition: “One respected dictionary defines it: Of, relating to, or being a Christian church believing in the Bible as the sole source of religious authority, in salvation only through conversion and spiritual regeneration, and in the necessity of public witness to faith." He goes on to suggest, “Many use the term loosely, as a synonym for protestant. More precisely, and in line with the dictionary definition, I'd say evangelicals are a subset of Protestants. They are Bible-believing individuals who believe in salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone. They believe that Christians are spiritually "born again," but only because the Bible says so, and not because they are snake-handling fanatics, as is sometimes assumed.”

Part of the above article draws certain conclusions, one of which is: “Historians have revised our history, and the conventional wisdom is that our liberties are owing to secular enlightenment influences. Christianity, they say, is intolerant, rigid and incompatible with freedom. To the contrary, Christianity undergirds, rather than undermines, our liberties. Christian precepts formed the intellectual underpinnings of American constitutional government. Even if French Enlightenment thinking had its run for a time, America experienced its "Great Awakening" around 1734, which was a nationwide Christian revival that re-energized America's spiritual flames and gave it a sense of unity. Its unique cultural identity was centered on Christian principles.” 

In 1734, Jonathan Edwards was a leading voice that addressed the need for and availability of the grace of God for all who desired it. One of his powerful sermons (1741) that brought many to see their need for God’s Grace was titled, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God.” It was based upon Deuteronomy 32:35, “In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” He began his sermon with these words: “In this verse the vengeance of God is threatened upon the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God's chosen people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, despite all of God's wonderful works towards them, remained without sense, having no discernment in them (Deuteronomy 32:28). After all the cultivations of Heaven, they brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as shown in verses 32 and 33.” The sermon brought about conviction and confession of sin as people cried out to God in repentance and seeking forgiveness. We need such a message and result today if America is to return to its foundational and spiritual roots. May God be merciful to all who will seek Him! Consider these things with me!

Thursday, February 11, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About - - -

The idea of marginalization (to relegate to the fringes; making someone or something to be out of the mainstream of involvement and/or discourse; make someone or something to seem unimportant or irrelevant) is a harsh but effective device in political rhetoric. It is designed to establish a narrative about a rival that will cause one to defend himself or herself as per the exaggerated or insignificant revelations gleaned from one’s past statements or relationships. The tactic is designed to utilize a statement or act that is out of a broader context and magnify it so that people will believe the worst about another person. There always seems to be a quest for and emphasis upon an individual’s negatives. By utilizing this tactic and strategy, it is believed one can achieve a more favorable personal result because of the comparison narrative that is being circulated.

The reality of marginalization is also present in Church and Religious matters. As in most situations in life, one will encounter the proverbial “pecking order” (a hierarchy of status seen among members of a group of people or animals). Some people, in order to obtain prestige or position, have to be in a special relationship with those who are part of the “pecking order.” They represent those who recommend and influence personnel placement, the ongoing agenda and the narrative to which one is expected to accept and promote. Anyone attempting to not kowtow to the “pecking order” whims and dictates will generally find himself marginalized within the broad context of the organization. Whether the narrative established about one is valid or exaggerated to emphasize negatives, is accepted in a carte blanche manner only because it originates with a voice in the “pecking order.” There was a man years ago who was seeking relocation into a better situation for himself and his family. He was not connected to the “pecking order” because of his own personal naiveté. He believed that the will of God was the goal and purpose – not the will of any man! When one in the “pecking order” received inquiry about him, it was opined that he was more of a “blunderbuss” (implying that his actions or way of doing things demonstrated his lack of subtlety and precision). Despite the fact that he had always served faithfully and well, he was “labeled” and some of the better opportunities never were afforded him.

The adage that states “You only have one opportunity to make a good first impression!” does have some merit for those who are influenced by the comments or recommendations of others. If the ideal was being pursued by the Church, there would be an appeal made to a Scriptural portrait of a narrative that should be the expectation for each professing Biblical Christian. One criterion for consideration would be I Corinthians 15:9-11, “For I am the least…and am unworthy…But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not in vain. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.” Another criterion is Micah 6:6-8, “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

The basis for ministry and Christian life evaluation does not flow from any structured “pecking order.” It must always be Scripturally based and in accordance with God’s standards and will. There is a Worship Hymn that should easily be the prayer and narrative of a Biblical Christian: 
In this quiet place with You, I bow before Your throne; 
I bare the deepest part of me To You and You alone. 
I keep no secrets for there is No thought You have not known. 
I bring my best and all the rest To You and lay them down.
          (The Refrain): 
With all my heart I want to love You Lord; 
And live my life each day to know You more. 
All that is in me is Yours completely, 
I'll serve You only with all my heart!” 
This is the Biblical Christian Antidote for Marginalization. Consider these things with me!

Monday, February 8, 2016


I Was Just Thing About - - -

If you were asked to prepare a biographical narrative about yourself, what would you write and what would you include? If you were going to be totally transparent, what self-analysis – both positive and negative - would you be willing to share? If you could see yourself as others see you, would you be willing to peal away the veneer in order for the real you to emerge, to be seen and to be understood? For most, this would be a painful experience and excursion. For others, the egotistical and subscriber to the power of positive thinking, it would be a moment for exuberance to let others know all about “I” and that which “I” have done and am doing!

Peggy Noonan wrote a column following the Iowa Caucus where she shares about the action and reaction of one of the self-indulgent candidates who suddenly had to face the reality of being a loser rather than being the winner he had boasted about since his foray into politics. She writes: “(The Candidate) was dinged by Iowa, but not by losing—loss happens. He dinged himself, perhaps significantly, with his subsequent reaction. He was robbed, we need a recount, he may sue. In politics—in life—you have to know how to lose. The presidency itself involves losing—the bill fails, the talks stall, your numbers plummet. You have to be supple, have some give. All political careers end in failure—you never get all you want and in the end you slink away or get thrown out. How to respond? You don’t whine, you don’t complain, you don’t act like a little rhymes-with-witch. You take it full in the face and keep walking. Anyone can win with style. A real champ knows how to lose.” Can a person who thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think and who seeks to intimidate, belittle and marginalize any or all of his challengers face the reality check that not everyone agrees with his self-image, vision of grandeur or personal greatness?

In the area of spiritual dimension, there are numerous illustrations where people allowed themselves to put limitations upon themselves. It was done to avoid the great challenges and issues of the day. They saw the world only humanly and ignored the spiritual enablement available to them. An illustration of this is recorded in Numbers 13 and 14. Moses has led the people from Egypt to Kadesh-Barnea, the threshold into The Promised Land. Before they proceed any further, the Lord has directed that Moses select a chief individual from each of the twelve tribes and have them spy out the land and bring back a report. They are selected and given an assignment (Numbers 13:17-20): “ “Go up into the Negev and go up into the hill country, and see what the land is, and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, and whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad, and whether the cities that they dwell in are camps or strongholds, and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not. Be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land.”

After forty days, the spies return with their report (Numbers 13:23-33). Ten of the spies report that the land is fruitful but the people there were great and they would not be able to conquer them and possess the land. When the people hear this report, they become upset with Moses and Aaron for leading them to a place of disaster. In the midst of the turmoil, two of the spies give an alternative view. The contrasting views are summarized in Numbers 13:30-33, “But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” The ten others said:  “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are…(it) is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height.” How did the ten spies view themselves?  Verse 33, they express: “We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” How do you view yourself before Jesus Christ who said (Matthew 28:18): "All authority (power) is given to me – Go!"? How do you acknowledge the Lord God in your life who has assured you (II Corinthians 12:9): “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”? Are you content with embracing a grasshopper status for yourself? Or, would you rather be identified with the confidence of Caleb (and the three friends in Daniel 3:17): “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us…and he will deliver us …”? Will you dare to break away from the grasshopper crowd (the majority) to confidently be part with those who courageously serve the Lord (the minority)?  Consider these things with me!

Thursday, February 4, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About - - -

Communication is supposed to be clear, precise and accurate. However, we live in a day where Twitter, Instagram, Snap and a host of other social media tools has reduced communication to a brief sentence and no more than 140 words. In the political world, how many politicians can answer a simple or basic question with a “Yes!” or “No!”? There is always some qualifying comment or statement that far exceeds a 140 word limitation. It accomplishes a primary function, (1) non-commitment, and (2) muddying the water sufficiently so that no one will be able to quote the person with any definitive accuracy.

It is not just politicians who have fallen into this vagueness and abbreviated communication. It is becoming more and more common in the area of religion. The Clergy uses their share of Buzz Words and phrases such as: Regulative Principle, Reformed Faith, Arminianism (Remonstrants), TULIP, etc. (It is understandable if the average layman is left scratching his head and wondering about what is being conveyed or intended by these words and phrases. Exegesis is the task of the Clergy whose duty is to clarify and hermeneutically amplify the Sacred Scriptures. There is considerable implication to the words spoken by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 14:9, “But in the church, I would rather speak five coherent words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a strange (unknown) tongue.” When the Apostle Paul wrote to the young Pastoral Student, he reminded him in I Timothy 4:12-16, “Let no one despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you…Be diligent in these matters and absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to your life and to your teaching. Persevere in these things, for by so doing you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” It will require study of the Scriptures and due diligence in its proclamation.

The presentation of the Gospel has also fallen into a simplistic quagmire in varying forms of presentation. In an effort to communicate in quickly and simply, there has been the development of Booklets that are supposed to be used as a tool that can accomplish the task of communicating the Gospel in three to five minutes. Some of these booklets are, The Four Spiritual Laws; The Bridge; Steps to Peace With God. They, and others, follow a format of four basic steps that can bring one to a place of decision. In an effort towards a more accurate approach, there was the development of Evangelism Explosion that bases its approach on two basic questions. Depending on the response to: (1) Have you come to a place in your life where you know for certain that if you died today you would go to heaven?, and (2) Suppose you did die today and God said to you, Why should I let you into my heaven, what would you say?, an elongated presentation of The Gospel is then presented. The effort to present The Gospel in a moderately simple format is the development of The Roman Road to Salvation. It is based upon five passages in the Book of Romans. (1) Romans 3:23, (2) Romans 6:23(a), (3) Romans 6:23(b), (4) Romans 5:8, and (5) Romans 10:9-10. The invitation to receive Jesus Christ as Savior is given in Romans 10:13, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” There is some structure to this presentation and one would be wise to receive instruction in terms of a smooth and cogent presentation of The Roman Road.

How is it with you and your personal knowledge of Scripture? Your answer needs to be more than The Lord’s Prayer, The Apostles’ Creed, The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. Those have a place in terms of the substance in one’s belief system but they are not a substitute for your personal study and knowledge of the Scriptures. The goal for one’s life should be similar to that expressed about the Bereans in Acts 17:11-12, “Now the Bereans were more noble-minded…for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if these teachings were true. As a result, many of them believed…” Study and know God’s Word. Consider these things with me!