Why The Church Lacks Unity

Isaiah 53:6, a familiar verse, goes to the heart of why the Church lacks unity. 

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The picture here is of a flock of sheep that can hardly even be described as a flock any more because each sheep has chosen to go its own way and wandered off. They have become dispersed. They have no group cohesiveness. Each individual is left to fend for itself.

Why did these sheep do this? Oh, and lest we forget, why do we do this? For, as it says, we are like these sheep. The answer of course is sin — that’s what iniquity is. But how are we sinning? We sin when we turn to our own ways. 

This may be a difficult pill to swallow because we live in a society that celebrates the individual’s “right” to be and to do as each so chooses (literally turning to our own ways). As a culture we are taught to take pride in diversity, letting each person find their own fulfillment by being as much as they can be. The impact of these social values is that it has become “normal” and easy for each of us to seek our own best interests first and to perceive success, social order and group dynamics through the filter of what we personally prefer. 

Romans 8:5 describes this as walking according to the flesh and Ephesians 4:17 compares it to walking “as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds”.  But Ephesians 4:22-24 says we are to lay aside our old self, be renewed in the spirit of our minds and put on the new self. So, what does putting on the new self and walking according to the Spirit mean?

Isaiah says “the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all”. This of course is the Shepherd who was crucified, dead and buried, and then raised on the third day and seated at the right hand of the Father. But the Shepherd did not abandon his flock. He had prayed to the Father, “may they be one” (John 17:11; 21-22) and sent the Helper for this purpose (John 14:26; 15:26). 

Unity is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of our faith: We are in God, while at the same time God is in us. Being one in Christ can only be accomplished when we walk in his Spirit – when we live by faith. Jesus said if we love him we will keep his commands (John 14:15). One of his commands was, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24). What does that say about unity? 

Obviously, the Church can only find unity in Christ alone. We each must deny ourselves and in humility count others more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). We must love one another, which means many things, including patience, kindness, not envying or boasting or being proud, not being rude and not self-seeking. To love means not being easily angered, not keeping an account of wrongs, not taking pleasure in evil but rejoicing in the truth. Love is bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things. 

We’ve all heard that before (see 1 Corinthians 13). But to experience unity, we cannot simply be hearers of the word. We must be doers of the word (James 1:22). Putting love into action means forgiving, serving, encouraging, tolerating and being willing to work out our differences (see Matthew 18:15-17).   

The issue of unity in Christ is not about what I think or what you think. It’s about being “in Christ”. It’s about “keeping his commands”, but not in a religious, legalistic sense. It’s about being the body of Christ together and letting Christ be our Head. Our unity can only be in Christ as each of us submit to his headship. We can never hope to attain to unity through our own human efforts. Unity in Christ means he is in charge and we are not. 

If we truly believe that we have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:5-6) then we must agree with John the baptist when he said, “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30). 

Unity in the Church will happen when we let our wills decrease and let God’s will increase; when we can deny ourselves because we have learned that we are crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20).  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Heavenly Father, help us to release our pride to you and be humble followers of your Son. Help us to remain in your will and walk obediently in the counsel and fellowship of your Spirit. All glory, honor, praise and victory to you, in the name of Jesus. Amen.  

Posted in Unity | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


There was a time when I stopped going to church. For over ten years I gave up meeting with other Christians to worship (Hebrews 10:25). I had not lost my faith in Jesus, but I had been hurt by disappointment and abandonment. The powerful instructions of Matthew 18:15-18 had been ignored and brothers and sisters I had known for years just left our church without explanation.

I continued to go to that church as it declined, even after moving to a nearby city. But eventually there wasn’t enough to keep me coming. The church had become very small, most of the folks I had known had left, the worship music annoyed me and I had disagreements with the pastor. I had lost my faith in people, which took my focus off of God. Yet it is God alone on whom we are to place our hope and faith. Our expectations should not be based on human performance.

I wrote about not going to church at https://retiredday.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/3/. In my hurt and disappointment I felt justified, but in the ensuing years I have learned that God doesn’t want us to give up on each other. We are called to have patience in well-doing (Romans 2:7) and not to grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13). 

When we allow our disappointments and hurts to justify leaving the church we abrogate the authority of Scripture in our lives. That begins when we focus on the faults of other people for being responsible for problems in the church and then start grumbling about it. Finding fault and blaming others is not Biblical. It is just another human weakness that helps the enemy drive a wedge between believers.

When it comes to grumbling, we are likely tempted to think about the Israelites who grumbled against God and Moses in the wilderness. And we probably don’t think we are much like them. But grumbling in the church today can take many forms, such as complaining about changes or anything that doesn’t meet our approval. The deadly thing about grumbling is that it quickly becomes gossip, which spreads to rumor that stirs up ill feelings — none of which is based on truth or love, but rather on fear and blame.

Where is it written that we are justified in complaining when things don’t go our way? What does Jesus tell us about worrying? (hint: Matthew 6:27)  Casting our cares on him (Psalm 55:22) doesn’t mean grumbling with your neighbor. We are supposed to take it to the LORD in prayer “in all circumstances” and “at all times” (see Ephesians 6:16-18). As mentioned in the first paragraph, Matthew 18:15-18 instructs us to go and directly confront the person we have something against — not to grumble to other people about them — and certainly not to end a relationship without first attempting to restore it.         

Scripture repeatedly calls us to love one another. Look it up. That kind of love is supposed to be unconditional — without any conditions. To love one another we must be committed to one another, which means maintaining a relationship with one another. But God, knowing we are pretty thick-skulled, went beyond this single, generalized statement and spelled it out for us. 

Scripture directs us to put on (as a garment) the new self (Ephesians 4:24), created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. That entails such things as forgiveness, acceptance, forbearance, serving, teaching, healing, growing, submitting — all of which need the putting on of righteousness (e.g. Colossians 3:12-14 and Ephesians 4:32). But we are not limited by our own strength in doing these things. God enables us to do these things by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

How we live as children of God is not dependent upon our human abilities. In Christ we are new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). Ephesians 5:8-10 tells us, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true) and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” 

The Church is not just another human organization, it is uniquely spiritual. It’s not just people — it’s God in us and us in him. The church is the body of Christ and Christ is our Head (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:23). We are not our own. We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). That means we are not to act on own, but “in Christ” (e.g. Romans 6:3, Romans 8:1 and Romans 12:4-5).

John 17 records what is called the high priestly prayer of Jesus. In verse 11 Jesus prays, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” And again in verse 21 Jesus asks, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” I am greatly touched by this passage because my experience has shown me that Christians can sometimes display the total opposite of unity with one another. It is a testimony to God’s grace that he continues to favor his children, despite us not deserving it.

Jesus also tells us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Our obedience is required in order to make the answer to his prayer complete. For us to be one in Christ, we need to walk in the light as children of light (see Ephesians 5:8) which means to live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), which involves changing how we think about things (Romans 12:2) and being intentional in how we choose to act (2 Peter 1:5-8).

In Christ we are free (2 Corinthians 3:17) — free to clothe ourselves in godly traits (Colossians 3:12) …or not; free to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23) …or not; free to humble ourselves and submit ourselves before God and one another (James 4:7; Ephesians 5:21) …or not. Galatians 5:13 reminds us: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

So now, can we please walk together, help each other, grow in our faith together and stop grumbling?


Posted in Bible, Christian Attitudes, Unity | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Caravan Is Just Another Mob.

I’ve heard a sentiment that says the “caravan” that began in Honduras is “God bringing these people to us”, and that we as good Christians should welcome them and show them loving hospitality. But is God really bringing these people to the U.S.A.? Where should we look to make that determination?

Romans 13:1 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Yet the people in this caravan are refusing to be subject to any governing authority. They are a mob. 1 Peter 2:17 says to honor everyone, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor the Emperor (meaning your governing authority). The so-called caravan is honoring no one, but rather acting on its own demands. They are an invading mob.   

Every nation has its own governing authorities, and the jurisdiction of each is defined by its borders. Contrary to the globalist view that nationalism is evil and that we shouldn’t have borders, national borders are in accordance with God’s design. Deuteronomy 32:8 tells us God set the boundaries of the peoples. Acts 17:26 says he determined the boundaries of their dwelling place.

There is no doubt from Scripture that God is in authority over the nations. Isaiah 2:4 says, “He shall judge between nations.” Psalm 66:7 says, “His eyes keep watch on the nations; let not the rebellious exalt themselves.” Who are the rebellious? The mob, or those refusing to give succor to the mob? Those who disregard the authority of our laws or those who seek to enforce our laws? Nowhere does Scripture say we should be swayed by the rebellious, rather the authority of nations should be used to control the rebellious.

I’ve also heard a misguided sentiment that calls these caravaners “refugees”. So, what is a refugee? A refugee is someone who seeks escape from invasion, oppression or persecution. They’re not trying to go anywhere, but to simply get away and find refuge anywhere. Yet when the Hondurans crossed the border into Guatemala, they did not stop. They did not seek refuge. Their goal was to invade the U.S.A. Again, after crossing Guatemala, they forced their way across the border into Mexico. Again, they did not stop. They did not seek refuge. Their goal from the outset was to trek thousands of miles, across the entire length of Mexico, to forcefully migrate to the United States. 

Our nation has laws and procedures for accepting real refugees. But the so-called caravan doesn’t give a rip about our laws or procedures. And though they want to come here, it’s not because they love us or respect us. While waving the flags of their own home nations, they paint swastikas on the American flag and then burn it. Why would we want to let these people come into our country?

For those of us whose judgment isn’t clouded by false sentiment it is obvious just what kind of people make up this caravan. All along the way, more people are joining them, joining the parade that they hope will give them free access into our country and the benefits that await them here. When you look at pictures of this crowd, you see it is primarily made up of strong, healthy, young men. If they really want to better their lives, why don’t they march on their own governments and demand changes?

No doubt there are some truly needy people among the caravaners, but family groups are scarcely seen. A few innocents are being used as human shields by criminals, gangs, drug smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists from the middle east trying to blend in. None of them has been vetted. None of them is following our laws in order to legally enter our country.

And now a similar caravan has begun from San Salvador. One third of all San Salvadorans in the world already live in the United States. How much is enough? These caravans are an assault on our national sovereignty. And in our nation, sovereignty lies in the people — American citizens — not in people from other nations. We have the right and the obligation to protect ourselves. If we don’t stop this invasion, we are inviting more of the same. And if that happens, we will not be able to maintain the fabric of civil society. 

For more than a decade the average annual legal immigration to the United States has far exceeded one million. That tells me two things: 1) The United States of America is already generous in allowing immigrants from all over the world to come to our country legally; and 2) legal immigration is “doable”. For everyone who comes here respecting our laws, it’s a slap in the face when a mob caravan thinks it can just walk into our country without consequences.

For Christians and others whose compassion leads them to want to help poor and oppressed peoples all over the globe, there are many constructive avenues available for being involved in positive, loving efforts to improve the living conditions of real refugees. An open border policy isn’t one of them. 

Philosophically, this crisis is a reflection of the great divide between capitalism and socialism. The Bolshevik revolution took private property from the upper and middle classes and gave it to “the people”, who then ended up with nothing of their own. It was a great lie. Similarly, this ragtag caravan seeks to take for themselves what is ours. Americans have every right to enjoy what is theirs, share what they are willing to share, but not allow it to be taken from them.  

Christians are called to give of what they have to help others who do not have. That is called charity. It is up to each individual to give as they respond to God’s leading. But the demands and expectations of the “caravan” are not an invitation to Christian giving. They are not beggars, they are thieves, funded and provided with bus transportation by a political movement intent upon destabilizing American society.

Upon his release from prison and return to America, Pastor Brunson laid his hand on President Trump and asked that the Holy Spirit give him supernatural wisdom. I pray God answers that prayer, and soon. As the leader of our sovereign nation, it is up to President Trump to determine just how we will respond to this mob when they reach our border. May God have mercy.     

Posted in Illegal_Immigration, National Sovereignty | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Coming Storm

The view outside my window reminds me of how richly God has blessed our lives. The gentle morning sunlight paints a warm green over the texture of the surrounding trees, even as some leaves begin to put on their autumn colors. The scene speaks of life – life given to us by God. And in that life is hope – hope for the future, for renewal and regeneration, for healing and redemption.

My view causes me to breathe in deeply and savor that life and hope. My heart swells with joy and thankfulness. But I am also very aware of the “whiplash” syndrome that can yank the unsuspecting reveller from a mountaintop experience to a down and dirty attack of the enemy. We live in a real world with real problems.

This is the time of year when days get shorter and darker. Winds arise and bring us stormy weather. Here in California, we actually want it to rain. The parched earth needs the water. Still, compared to the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael, we have so much to be thankful for. Yet in recent times we have been unsettled by another sort of storm – a political storm with moral implications. If we want our nation to be safe from this coming storm, Christians need to vote.

One blessing we have is our freedom-guarding form of government. Every Bible-believing Christian has the responsibility to share in the job of self-governing by voting. That’s how our government is supposed to work. In Romans 13 we find some guiding principles of good government. In addition to the part about submitting to those in authority, verse 8 says, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Our Constitution was written from the perspective of a Biblical world view. While our form of government is secular, it was designed with a God-fearing citizenry in mind. We should not only be praying for our leaders, as in 1 Timothy 2:2, but our leaders should be equally concerned for us because they come from us. They are part of us. There should be no ruling class in America.

John Adams said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.”

Essentially, the founders of our nation had a Christian civilization in mind when they formed our government. We are a people who choose to freely worship God apart from government restraint. Thus the Constitution was designed for that purpose, even recognizing the freedom of those who choose not to worship at all.

We The People wanted to form a Christian nation of civil society, treating all citizens, with dignity, honor and respect, regardless of creed. But the approaching political storm threatens to devastate those values by a far greater destruction than any natural storm.

Today it is commonplace to see hooligans harass public figures at speaking engagements, in their homes, their offices, in public – even in restaurants with their family and friends. Rabble-rousers call for intimidation, confrontation, resistance and even violence. Politically motivated violence is on the rise. And now voices that once commanded respect are calling for the end of civility.

Seek the LORD diligently about this. Share your faith with those around you. Not only will new lives enter God’s kingdom, but our nation here on earth will be blessed by a growing Christian population. Christians also have a duty to vote. We do not let our light shine when we sit on the sidelines and let someone else make our civic decisions for us. Be free. Stay free. Vote.

Posted in Christian Attitudes, Government of the people, Politics, Righteousness in government | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


Lord God, I lift up to you my sisters and brothers in Christ. May your Spirit stir in their minds and hearts to take seriously their civil duty to vote in the coming mid-term elections. Amen.

Forces opposed to righteousness, morality, decency, honesty — literally everything the Bible teaches — are abusing our constitutional and traditional institutions in order to destroy the conservative and “outsider” popular will of the people, as reflected in the election of 2016.

The only thing standing in the way of the resistance movement which is working to destroy the God-given and constitutional freedoms of all Americans is our ability to vote, so that the will of the people is reflected by those we elect to represent our values. My fellow Christians, if you do not make the effort to vote in senators and representatives who will support President Trump’s agenda, it is almost guaranteed that the Democrats will succeed in destroying his presidency, and by so doing erase ALL the gains he has already made.

Do you want mob rule, the loss of religious freedom, more judicial activism in support of the LGBTQ agenda, open borders and unchecked ILLEGAL immigration, greater criminal drug and gang activity, abortions on demand paid by tax-payers, loss of your 2nd amendment rights, freedom of speech taken away and replaced by politically correct hate-speech laws, loss of national sovereignty to globalism? At minimum, that is what you risk if you do not vote.

I do not note these consequences as fear motivation. They are reality. It should be evident to anyone who has cared to pay attention to current events for the past several years. When questioned about the form of our government created by the Constitution when it was new, Benjamin Franklin said, “A republic, if you can keep it.” As citizens of a free republic, it is the responsibility and duty of each citizen to vote, so that the elected leaders accurately reflect the values of “We The People”.

I pray every day for God to move all godly citizens to vote. Trump was elected President and ever since, there has been a hate-motivated, lie-sustained effort to bring down him, his administration and in the process erase everything reflecting the will of the American people. I have asked God to do a miracle so that the Trump populist conservative movement would not be the victim of hateful, irrational, immoral, unconstitutional and even violent “resistance”. But I realize this isn’t really God’s responsibility. It’s ours. We cannot ask God to give us a miracle when we aren’t willing to do what our own form of government is based on: the vote, or as the Declaration of Independence says, “the consent of the governed”.

There has always been a lot of criticism of Donald Trump. He may have character flaws that some people find offensive. What person doesn’t? But think about this carefully: is such an offense so important to you that you would sacrifice the gains we have made in order to have someone in office who says all the right things in all the right ways (just as almost every successful politician has done forever) and yet not have the good judgment to do the right thing for the American people. Say what you will about Trump, but as an outsider, he has actually done a notable job of keeping promises he has made. And keeping those promises has created positive results.

Another distressing fact is that many of the criticisms of President Trump have been based on lies and distortions pushed by the media called the “fake news” by Trump. I just call them liars. Christians, especially, should know the truth and base their judgment on facts, not on perceptions steeped in angry hatred of the man. Despite all the hateful lies, Trump is not an atheist. He is a born-again Christian. Trump is not sexist. He has appointed more women to positions than any other President. Trump is not a racist. Growing numbers of minorities are discovering his policies are particularly effective in creating opportunities and recognition for them. Compare that to Obama’s record, which was that “people of color” suffered a great loss of income and opportunity during his presidency.

Trump is an American who is for Americans — all Americans. And under his leadership more Americans are finding their values are being increasingly respected by our government. It is critical for the America I grew up in to be preserved by supporting the Trump agenda. This respect is at risk because of the outrageous smear-job the Democrats are doing in opposition to the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The ugly, eleventh-hour personal attack on his reputation by an unsubstantiated accusation of attempted rape when Kavanaugh was 17 years old brings shame on what is supposed to be an honorable, constitutional process of the U.S. Senate.

We live in a day and age when group-think, emotional, screaming, rude demonstrations, name-calling, public accusations and the “court of public opinion” are put forth as being as meaningful as actual legal proceedings. That is a true SHAME. And lest you think I am just throwing out that word for effect, shame is something experienced as the consequence of SIN. Is that what we want of government? Or do we want righteous counsel?

Think twice before you decide to sit out this election. Do you want to live in a nation that reveres equal rights, due process of law and constitutional sovereignty, or do you prefer globalist socialism, group think and the presumption of guilt until innocence is proven?

Voting is something you can do for our country. How can we expect God to intervene in our affairs if we are unwilling to face our own responsibilities? You must vote. Another of our responsibilities is to pray for those in authority over us. And while we’re at it, let’s pray for those who do turn out to vote. Pray for their wisdom and righteous judgment. We want God to bless us. We also need to ask for his mercy and justice.

Posted in Christian Attitudes, Freedom, Politics, Vote | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You A Scientist?

Renowned scientific authority, Harrison Ford, recently addressed the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco saying, “stop giving power to people who don’t believe in science”.  And there you have the real story: Science isn’t something you are supposed to “believe in”, it is something that can be objectively and empirically proven, something that can be demonstrated so clearly that no “belief” is required. 

But that is not what Mr. Ford and his like-minded climate-change fanatics think of science. When they say, “Science is real” they mean the kind of political consensus that Al Gore believes in, holding to the politically correct position that human activity is changing earth’s climate. They and their cronies believe this to be true, therefore it is true. That’s their science. It’s a hoax. It’s a lie.

They say there is no debate among scientists. And when qualified scientists do not agree with their climate change dogma, they don’t call that scientific debate (which it is, in fact). They call it heresy, junk science, foolishness, ignorance. Yet they are the ones who refuse to look at the evidence objectively. 

The truth that Harrison Ford’s statement reveals is that climate control believers aren’t scientific at all. They are political. How do they seek to further their cause?  By the weight of evidence produced by scientific research? No. By political action. “Stop giving power to people who don’t believe in science” means “Don’t elect politicians who aren’t going to implement our political agenda”.

According to experts such as retired astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas, there is no credible evidence that would indicate that if all the “green” policies are implemented to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fuel consumption that mean temperatures would be affected by any more than 1 degree Celsius in one hundred years from now. That is because climate cycles are not anthropomorphic. Human efforts to fight climate change are a waste of resources that could better be used to improve the quality of life.

But that’s not what the Chicken Littles are all about. They want the average person on the street to be so afraid that the sky is falling that we will agree to greater taxation, greater regulation and the eventual loss of our personal freedoms to the new order of global socialism. People like Harrison Ford, and you too — if you believe this hoax — are nothing more than useful idiots, supporting a political agenda that wants to make us all slaves. 

I wish actors would stick to what they do best. I loved the Indiana Jones movies. But when it comes to science, Harrison Ford has no expertise. And in the realm of climate control, he’s all wet.  


Posted in Global Warming, political correctness, Science | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Meaning Of Life

I was inspired to write these thoughts after reading Sam Freeze’s post, The Meaning of Life: Life” at https://furtherapproximation.wordpress.com/2018/08/10/the-meaning-of-life-1-life/ 

To discuss the meaning of life is laudable. It means you’re thinking, and that’s important because not too many folks seem to be doing much thinking these days. But coming to a consensus on the meaning of life can be an elusive thing among numbers of people. This is because meaning is personal, or better said, individually significant. A good meal is by definition, good. But that will have different meanings to different individuals, depending on variables such as their desired cuisine, or if they are a dieter, a glutton, a parent or a child.

Meaning goes beyond mere definition and becomes so individualized that without our even realizing it, our very identity meshes with how each of us views the meaning of life. And as we mature, we weave this sense of meaning and identity together until it wraps us up and holds our understanding together in the framework of a world view.

At some point we apply logic to explain meaning as we see it, but logic itself does not produce meaning. Logic is merely a means to an end — the journey to a destination. And our journeys toward meaning have very specific starting points. Those are the basic assumptions we begin with, from which we chart our course to discover meaning. 

In one sense, it can be said that basic assumptions are arbitrary. They cannot be proven or disproven logically. They are simply a working hypothesis to begin with. But, common sense and good subjective judgment can still be helpful. We must try to be wise in our basic assumptions.  

At this point, if someone has already philosophically concluded that life is essentially devoid of  meaning, such as in Nihilism, then of course they are thinking it is meaningless to try to make wise basic assumptions. But for purposes of this discussion, I have already made the presumption that life does have meaning. That is my position. And once that presumption has been made, then we are ready to anticipate a basic assumption from which we can logically proceed toward the meaning of life.

Bill Teague was an acquaintance of mine in college. All I remember about Bill was that he was a trombone player and had a quiet, gentle disposition. I remember one thing he said to me. I had just told him I would probably be happy living the rest of my life as a hermit, and he said, “The only valid life is a shared life.” And ever since then, I’ve spent much time thinking about that basic assumption.

Even in the most abstract of ways, it is unrealistic to think of ourselves outside the context of relationships. I have always tended to be a loner, yet I accepted the fact that other people made the clothes I wear; other people grew and packed and shipped the food I eat; someone else made the building I live in, the streets I drive on, etc.  Yet even if I lived entirely by myself, I would still have to relate to the environment around me. I would be dependent upon plants and animals if there were no other humans. If there were no one else to talk to, would I even have a language? Without language, what form would ideas take? What is a thought if not a way to relate the self to the world around it?

Observing the process of childhood development in humans allows us to see the significance that relationships have in shedding light on the meaning of life. The scope of a tiny baby’s awareness is primarily on its own needs. Everything is about them. But as babies grow, they become less dependent and more autonomous. As we develop we become more able to relate to others, until eventually we are able to see ourselves in the context of our relationships. 

It is hard to deny that the meaning of life itself is tied into how we relate to one another. Even my own strong individualism is meaningless outside the context of how I relate to others.

As children mature, they progress from relationships with Mother and Father, to siblings and other relatives, to neighbors and friends, to communities and nations, and hopefully even to the whole of humanity. This is the observed natural progression of human relationships. Yet over all these relationships is one key relationship standing as a model for the rest, and laying out for us the meaning of life. That is our relationship to God. 

But a relationship with God can only give meaning to life if you know God is real. So perhaps the greatest question of all is how does the existence of God impact the meaning of life? Is the existence of God just an arbitrary assumption? Is God merely an invention of the human mind? What are the implications and consequences of either the existence or non-existence of God? What difference does that make when examining the meaning of life?

People have found different ways of giving meaning to life. Esthetic people may look to beauty.  Practical people may look to function. Intellectual people may look to structure. Victims to power; self-satisfying to pleasure; altruistic to service; ambitious to achievement. Whatever the specific way, they all establish their own hierarchy of values. And for most of human history, across different cultures, the gods of countless religions have been pointed to as the ultimate authorities over those hierarchies. 

That is because human beings have an innate sense that there is something supernatural beyond them. Today’s politically correct notion is that God is just a human construct and as such is an unnecessary consideration when discussing the meaning of life. However, I am a person who, in the process of seeking the meaning of life, made the basic assumption that God is real. So, for me, the meaning of life specifically comes from God, not from the pathways of my own theoretical reasoning.

Sadly, I realize that someone reading up to this point is no longer interested in what I have to say, because to them, God is no more meaningful than a fairy tale. I have encountered many so-called atheists (as well as agnostics and skeptics) who argue like Bertrand Russell that claiming God to be real is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. The weakness of this argument is that there is nothing at all extraordinary in saying God is real. 

In fact, the exact opposite is true. Saying God doesn’t exist is an extraordinary claim that in no way can be demonstrated. It is foolish to even try. Romans 1:19-20 (ESV) says, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world.” In other words, God’s existence is self-evident. Further, Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Those who deny his existence are without excuse.

I didn’t become a Christian and accept the Bible as the authoritative word of God until I was 31 years old. It was then that I discovered it is God who designs us for relationships. He creates us first to love him, then to love one another. In fact, it was because he loved us that he sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins, so that by receiving him as Lord and Savior sin would no longer separate us from fellowship with God, and we would enter into his kingdom as children of God.

The essence of the meaning of life is eternal life in Christ. And that is not the conclusion of a simpleton. There is no shortage of great Christian literature on the meaning of life. For those who consider themselves thinkers, read Nancy Pearcey’s book, Total Truth. It is an excellent example of scholarly thought on the meaning of life. In addition to her theological training, she was once an atheist and has studied philosophy in-depth.  



Posted in Philosophy, Relationships | Tagged , | 2 Comments


Most of us don’t like to think we can be fooled or manipulated into believing a lie. We go prepared to dig into the facts when we do such things as buying a car, buying insurance or finding the best way to invest our hard-earned money. And yet, how often do we still experience buyer’s remorse? The fact is that even the most clever of us is, from time to time, susceptible to falling for various scams that claim to be true.

Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

And that is what the media is all about: fooling as many people as they can. Their purpose is to advance a social agenda and world view, not by convincing people with facts, but by swaying people’s feelings. The way they go about it is to be as “entertaining” as possible, to be eye-catching and visceral as possible, and hook into the emotions of viewers. The proof of this is that once the media has convinced certain folks that what they are saying is true, they refuse to consider any other evidence that might prove them wrong.

This morning I was talking with one of my neighbors. We were both rolling our eyes about the rotten state of things in government, when I discovered she was rolling her eyes for the opposite reason I was rolling mine. She sees Trump as the problem. In her mind Trump is a horrible president and must be gotten rid of. But I love Trump. To me, the problem is the unrelenting efforts to destroy the Trump presidency, particularly by the unconstitutional abuse of power by those in the FBI, the Justice Dept. and Congress.

As almost all of these kinds of conversations go, it immediately came down to what we each thought about Trump. Beginning with Rudy Giuliani’s latest quote (“Truth isn’t truth.”) my neighbor illustrated her total disdain for the President by referring to “that time Trump mocked that poor disabled man” (New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski.) I could not recall hearing about such an incident and I reacted by saying I didn’t believe it. But when I got home I did a computer search to see if I could find out what she was talking about.

No wonder I hadn’t heard the story. It was featured on CNN and other so-called “fake news” outlets I never watch. Many years ago these outlets stopped using journalism, opting instead to use propaganda techniques to distort the news. Like TASS and Pravda of the USSR, CNN and its ilk don’t simply create fake news. They lie. They make things up. That’s called misinformation and disinformation. And the story of Trump mocking a handicapped reporter is a perfect example.

It happened in 2015, running up to the 2016 election. The story was planted in order to get people to hate trump, and it worked. To this day people still hate him because of that story. But it’s a lie. The people who believe this story (and the constant deluge of similar anti-Trump stories) have been fooled by the lying media and are being manipulated into supporting political alternatives that threaten their own best self interests.

So, what is the real story? What really happened? Can we separate the facts from our perceptions or how things appear? Or are we so emotionally convinced of our positions that we erect a wall between ourselves and reality? We’ve all heard about a wall designed to keep illegals and criminals out of our nation. But this is a different wall — a wall of group-think, of mob mentality — it’s really a wall against free thought. It seems to me that those things we are most convinced about should be the things we have most closely examined and tested to be true.

I found an informative and eye-opening article at https://www.catholics4trump.com/the-true-story-donald-trump-did-not-mock-a-reporters-disability/  “The True Story: Donald Trump Did Not Mock a Reporter’s Disability”. What Trump was mocking was the fact that the reporter who had said Trump lied about Arabs celebrating the destruction of the twin towers on 9/11 back-pedaled and tried to say he couldn’t remember what he had reported when it was shown that he was contradicting himself.

As Trump was role-playing this reporter at a rally, he waved his arms about in a manner to dramatize uncertainty and waffling. That’s what the dump Trump media latched onto, claiming he was supposedly mocking a “spastic” disorder. But two facts dispute that. First, Trump used similar arm movements when aping Senator Cruz and a general — neither of whom have physical disabilities. And second, Kovaleski’s disability is not characterized by flailing arm movements.

All videos I have seen of Serge Kovaleski show him speaking in such a way that it isn’t even apparent he has a disability.  Trump wasn’t mocking his disability. Trump was mocking the lousy, lying job he did as a journalist.

And this is the indictment against the so-called fake news. They are worse than mere partisans who would at least still have their nation’s best interests at heart. But as long as their main thrust is to resist Trump, they are not being journalists, but propagandists for global socialism. As long as the media continues their lying and deceiving, they are, as Trump has said, the enemy of the American People. Because in destroying the Trump presidency, they are destroying America by going beyond the constitution and mandates of the law.

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” One of the first things the Bible teaches us about being moral and religious is that we are not to tell lies. If our press and news outlets fail to be moral enough to at least tell the truth, how can we hope to remain free?  Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Isn’t the time long overdue that Americans ask themselves “What is the truth?” and examine all things in order to make that determination? Jesus tells us the devil is the father of lies, but that he — Jesus — is the only way, the truth and the life, through whom we may come to God the Father. Don’t you think it’s time you know the truth from a lie?



Posted in Morals, Politics, Trump, Truth | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Death Penalty And The Pope

The Pope has announced the new official position of the Catholic Church on the death penalty.  Calling it an attack on the inherent dignity of all humans, the Catholic Church now teaches that the death penalty is not an acceptable or appropriate punishment for murder. 

The Pope, and now the Catholic Church, see this as a moral issue — that it is a violation of a person’s humanity to take the life of a criminal convicted of a crime, regardless of how heinous the crime is. 

To a Catholic, church authority is God’s authority. When the Pope speaks as the vicar of Christ, it is as if God himself has commanded it. This is because, according to their catechism, the authority of Catholic teaching is not only the Bible, but their sacred church traditions, and their sacred Magisterium, which is the teaching of human leaders. From http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P77.HTM  I quote:

2051 The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.

Thus, to a proper Catholic, the authority of God is not only seen in God’s word (the Bible) but in their church traditions and in the official declarations of the Pope. This is important to understand, because not all Christians place church tradition or human teaching on equal footing with the authority of Scripture. Some of us believe Matthew 28:18 which tells us, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” 

We believe the authority of Christ, called the word (logos) in John 1:1, is enshrined in the Bible (the word of God). That is why the Bereans examined the Scriptures to make sure what Paul and Silas taught was true (Acts 17:11). Their authority was the Scriptures, not Paul and Silas. 

So, what troubles me about the Pope’s announcement is that it gives the impression that Christianity, per se, is against capital punishment. To me, the Bible clearly establishes the death penalty as the appropriate punishment in some cases. 

How often have we heard that the Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill”? On the face of it, that would make the death penalty wrong. But is that what the sixth commandment really says? Understanding Scripture from the perspective of giving it authority over our lives requires careful study of word meaning and usage, textual context and cultural and historical settings. Without such considerations, this commandment might be construed to mean we aren’t to kill anyone or anything (including plants) ever, at all. 

But the Hebrew word רָצַח (ratsach) doesn’t mean all forms of killing in general. It specifically refers to murder. So, God’s authoritative command is, “You shall not murder”.  In the Bible, murder is always morally reprehensible, while other forms of killing are not, such as killing in war and in cases of capital punishment. But that is Western Civilization’s old, traditional Biblical view. Now people really don’t care what the Bible says about the death penalty — even some Christians, it would seem. They are either ignorant of it altogether, or they distort the little they do know to fit popular opinion.

Even the crucifixion of Christ has been misrepresented by claims that Jesus was a victim of the death penalty. Missing the whole point that his sacrifice paid for our sins and made our salvation possible, the idea is put forth that the evil of his crucifixion was that he suffered from social injustice — the very thing we must fight to suppress. This is a gross perversion of the gospel.

But not all Americans are swayed either by Catholic dogma or Scriptural authority. Many consider the death penalty issue a matter to be solved by democracy (what policy do most people support?) or by utilitarianism (what would make most people happy?). The question of right or wrong is no longer one of moral absolutes but of moral relativism.

When any culture tries to define what is moral, they must have some authority as their basis. What makes that difficult in our day and age is that multiculturalism has not only given us conflicting authorities, but also an increasing trend towards anarchism and the rejection of authority altogether. 

Historically, the death penalty remained basically unquestioned until modern times. The argument that the death penalty should be abolished because it is as obsolete and irrelevant as the Old Testament is poorly thought through. True, the Old Testament is often used to support arguments in favor of capital punishment. However, the “Thou shalt not kill” argument against the death penalty also comes from the Old Testament — and poor translation at that. 

Bottom line, people in general no longer have the Biblical world view to differentiate between killing and murdering. And this distortion in thinking has even infected the Catholic Church and even evangelical denominations. Increasingly, arguments of morality distort Biblical teaching and appeal to the perceived authority of popular opinion (utilitarianism).   

In the U.S., support for the death penalty has fluctuated, though in general has maintained a majority over those who oppose it. See the Gallup poll data at https://news.gallup.com/poll/1606/Death-Penalty.aspx  

But when it comes to the moral question of whether something is right or wrong, I am not content with popular opinion polls. I believe that truth is absolute, not relative. If you believe that God created us and that we are accountable to his standards, then there can only be one ultimate authority for what is right and what is wrong. To me, that clearly must be scriptural authority. 

If you don’t believe in God or don’t believe he holds us accountable to his standards, then you will be comfortable with taking a vote to determine the morality of a thing. But if you are Catholic, you try to ride a three-way balancing act: Scripture, church tradition and what the Pope says.  Neither way leads to the truth. Only Jesus does.

Natural law, which formed the basis of American jurisprudence, says that the laws of Man should conform to God’s laws. For Catholics or others who are opposed to the death penalty on the basis that it attacks their human dignity, I ask you to examine this Jesus Christ whom you pretend to follow. Does he attack the dignity of unrepentant sinners when he metes out the penalty of death?

Matthew 10:34 — Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Revelation 19:1-16 — Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Posted in Christian Attitudes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Steps Or His Steps?

When we think of our Christian “walk”, we might be tempted to focus on how well we see ourselves doing. Are we doing everything we should be doing? Could we be doing more? Could we be doing better? 

While these are good self-assessment questions, consider for a moment what we are focusing on. We are looking at spiritual growth from the perspective of what we can do to foster it. Yet while this seems to make natural sense, let us not forget Paul’s observation: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:6 

By focusing on how well we are walking with the Lord, we are likely to see either our own successes or failures. In either case, we are looking at ourselves, when we should be looking at Jesus.  

But Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Thinking about “walking” with the Lord — or even in the Lord — gives some significance to our actual “steps”. Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” ~ Matthew 16:24

Two questions come to mind. First, if we are to deny ourselves, how can we defend focusing on our own steps? Second, if we are following Jesus Christ, are we not choosing to walk in his footsteps? 

The answer to both questions is the key to having a humble spirit. The Christian walk is simply a matter of placing our feet where Jesus has already gone. And the only way we can do that is by keeping our focus on Jesus.

Isaiah 48:17 — Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.

Isaiah 58:11 — And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Jeremiah 10:23 — I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

Psalm 32:8 — I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Psalm 37:23-24 — The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.

Psalm 48:14 — … this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.

Proverbs 3:5-6 — Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 16:9 — The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Lord, help us to take our eyes off ourselves and keep them fixed on you.


Posted in Christian Faith | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment