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I used to think Jesus was obviously a conservative; if he were alive in the *)s, he would surely have been a Republican. Then, later, the I thought he was clearly a liberal, but probably would not have been a Democrat. I now know that, as Michael Worrell says, he transcends those silly labels. People try putting him into their tiny little boxes and claim him as their own, “one of us”…AND YOU CAN’T HAVE HIM! But if the grave couldn’t hold him, our little boxes are meaningless.

Theologically, Jesus was very conservative, fundamentalist, in fact. He said very clearly: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”* (Matthew 5:17–18) But he brought both a freedom to obedience to the law and a burden. The Pharisees (of which the Rich Young Ruler was probably one) followed the letter of the law, but ignored its spirit (see Matthew 23: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” The Pharisees even set aside money and property that might could be used to support their parents as “devoted to God”, so by the letter of the law, they didn’t have to part with it!

“You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Mark 7:9–13)

But though he upheld “the Law”, he went further, piercing the heart and explaining why he was the fulfillment or completion of the Law: Don’t murder, but if you have anger (hatred) in your heart for a brother, you are guilty of murder; Don’t commit adultery, but if you lust after a woman, you have committed adultery in your heart; oaths are unnecessary, if your yes doesn’t mean yes and your no doesn’t mean no, you’re a liar, and you will probably figure out a way to wriggle out of a contract. Eye for eye? No, turn the other cheek’ love your friends, hate your enemies? No, love your enemies.

Politically, Jesus had no thoughts or words, other than to give to the government what belongs to the government, and to God what is God’s. He doesn’t say what kind of government; he himself lived under a king, an emperor, Tiberius. He says nothing about the emperor, but does toss a mild epithet at “King” Herod: “At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.’

“He replied, ‘Go tell that fox, “I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.”’”

Finally, when he had the chance to declare himself a king and to establish a theocracy, standing before the representative of the most powerful empire on earth, Pontius Pilate, he simply tells him, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

In virtually every human political respect, Jesus is wholly other: Conservatives want him to be theirs, he is not; liberals claim him as one of them, he refuses; monarchists claim “the divine right of kings”, it does not exist; socialists want him to be the spokesman for liberation theology, he will not; even fascists and communists have sought his “approval” when it became politically necessary! ALL of these do a terrible disservice to the cause of the gospel when claiming Jesus as one of them; they set him against people he dearly loves and wishes to have fellowship with. He came to bring sinners to repentance, to save that which is lost, to call those lost, repentant people to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. You cannot carry a cross while holding a flag.

*italics mine…everything was accomplished on the cross. This does not mean the moral law became a thing of the past; only the ceremonial law, as the Jerusalem Council established.

No.

Well, I first Googled “Is Obama trying to undermine Trump overseas?” Other than this article in Politico, How Obama not so subtly undercuts Trump (Cool Trump bitchslap: “If I become so convinced that, ‘I’m always right,’” Obama said, “the logical conclusion of that often ends up being great cruelty and great violence.” GIGGITTY!) and an article on some hysterical GOP bonehead claiming Obama is running some kind of “shadow government” to undermine Trump (GOP rep: Obama running ‘shadow government’ to undermine Trump), I found nothing; so I deliberately added breitbart, infowars, wnd to my search parameters. Still nothing, although I did learn that, according to Alex Jones, the “Deep State” is going to kill Trump. Oh, my!

So, I can only conclude that the basic premise of your question is…questionable.

If you can provide evidence that Obama is trying to undermine Trump overseas, I will be more than happy to revisit the question; otherwise, I think it’s pretty obvious that what is happening is the endless repeat of the same old same old Trump pattern: Act like a schmuck; act surprised when it is reported that you acted like a schmuck; denounce all the people who noticed that you acted like a schmuck and did the reporting; then deny that you ever did or said whatever it was that was schmuck-ish, even if it’s on tape; and, finally, blame someone else for your own schmuck-ish-ness.

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No, but I would question the efficacy of a Christian listening to death metal. “Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. It typically employs heavily distorted and low-tuned guitars, played with techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, aggressive, powerful drumming featuring double kick or blast beat techniques, minor keys or atonality, abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes and chromatic chord progressions. The lyrical themes of death metal may invoke slasher film-stylized violence, religion (sometimes Satanism), occultismLovecraftian horror, nature, mysticism, mythology, philosophy, science fiction, and politics, and they may describe extreme acts, including mutilationdissectiontorturerapecannibalism, and necrophilia.” (Death metal – Wikipedia) EEEK! LOL! I would not consider this, necessarily, as a matter of salvation, but one of spiritual growth and maturity, sanctification.

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God tells us through the Apostle Paul, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4–9) (all emphases are mine)

If you can truly reconcile this exhortation with listening to songs about “slasher film-stylized violence, religion (sometimes Satanism), occultism, Lovecraftian horror, nature, mysticism, mythology, philosophy, science fiction, and politics…mutilation, dissection, torture, rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia”, well, you just go right on ahead. Be warned, however, that this would be like the physical equivalent of eating a steady diet of refined sugar, tubs of lard, pizza, cheeseburgers, milkshakes, fries, deep fried butter with powdered sugar on top, etc. Spiritually, you are basically handing the keys to the car over to demons; they may not “possess” you as a believer, but they will gang up on you and beat your ass bloody! You are “yoking or joining your mind” with the demonic; other than “why in God’s name would you want to do that?”, there is this: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them

and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they will be my people.”

2 Corinthians 6:14–16

“ ‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.’ The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?” 1 Corinthians 6:12–15

If you are comfortable saying, “Hey, Jesus, check out this cool song about rape!” and sharing it with him, fine. No, not fine…really.

Every true Christian is an ambassador of Jesus Christ; as such, an ambassador of Christ should never be rude to anyone, much less other Christians. What is considered “rude” should be clarified, however. A rebuke out of love, for example, is not rude, it is essential. I encourage anyone to read 2 Corinthians 5 for the complete context, bit go back to at least 4:13 to catch all the “sos”, “fors”, “sinces”, “thoughs”, and “therefores”, etc.! Anyway, I don’t think it would do too much damage to begin with verse 11 and go on to verse 21:

“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

We are to be aImage result for ambassadors for christmbassadors of Christ out of love, not pride or a judgmental spirit. Yes, we hate sin, we call it what it is, and we do not compromise simply to avoid “hurt feelings”. A great problem can arise, however, when people who find certain sins to be so noxious and disgusting transfer their personal feelings about them onto God, claiming they are right in line with his thinking. For example: the members of Westboro Baptist church. Make no mistake, God hates sin; according to scripture, homosexual acts are sinful, an abomination; to justify otherwise necessitates devising too many tortuous schemes and revisions of scripture and church history that are just not true to either. That discussion, however, is for another place. My concern, and I don’t think it would be arrogant to say it is God’s concern as well, is that the attitude of people like those at Westboro is so odious, self-righteous, and hypocritical, that they end up doing far more harm than good. In fact, I struggle to find anything at allthat is good about them! What makes them wrong?

It is a very simplistic, non-nuanced reading of Psalm 5:5, “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong;” Sounds simple, no? Well, no. First of all, look at the rest of the sentence, vs 6: “you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, LORD, detest.” Does God really destroy those who tell lies? If that were so literally, like God hates sinners literally, then few of us would be reading these words, plus, we have a president who would have been destroyed decades ago! These are figures of speech, phrases to reinforce to us how horrible sin is, not just because they piss God off or make us sick (“ooh, that’s just nasty!”), but because they harm us, they cause death and, ultimately, if there is no repentance, do bring destruction.

Second, it’s new word Friday! “One of the most plausible solutions is that the Bible writers are using a figure of speech called metonymy when they write that God hates sinners. Metonymy is defined as: ‘A figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another, to which it stands in a certain relation’ (Bullinger, 1898, p. 538). Bullinger further explains that metonymy can be ‘of cause,’ when the person acting can be put in place of the thing that is done (p. 539). For instance, in Luke 16:29, the text says: ‘They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.’ In reality, they did not have ‘Moses’ or the ‘prophets,’ but they did have their writings. The name Moses is a metonymy that stood for his writings, since he was the cause of the writings. In modern times, that would be like saying, ‘I hate Shakespeare.’ Would the person who said that mean that he hated Shakespeare’s personality? No. We understand he would be saying he does not like the writings of Shakespeare, with no comment on the playwright’s personality.

“If we apply that same figure of speech to the passages about God ‘hating sinners,’ we can see that the sinner is put in place of the sin. Thus, when God says He hates ‘a false witness who speaks lies’ (Proverbs 6:19), if metonymy is being used, then God hates the lies, and the one who is doing the lying (the cause) is put in place of the lies (the effect). It is interesting to see how clear this feature can be in other contexts. For instance, Proverbs 6:17 says that God hates ‘a lying tongue.’ Does that mean that God hates a physical tongue, made of muscle and body tissue? No. It means God hates the sin that a tongue can perform. In the same context, we learn that God hates ‘feet that are swift in running to evil’ (6:18). Again, does that mean that God hates physical feet? No. It simply means that God hates the sin that those feet can perform. It is interesting that while few, if any, would suggest that God hates physical tongues or actual feet, they would insist that God hates actual sinners and not the sin done by them.

“When studying the Bible, it is very important to keep in mind that the Bible writers often used figures of speech. When we look at the idea that God hates sin, but loves sinners, the figure of speech known as metonymy clears up the confusion. Just as God does not hate physical feet or tongues, He does not hate sinners. These nouns are put in the place of the things they cause—sin.” (Does God Hate Sinners?)

According to the 2 Corinthians passage above, we are to be about the ministry of reconciliation; the unmitigated hatred and self-righteousness of the people at Westboro and others like them run completely counter to this calling; they risk becoming as wicked as the people they rail against.

Elsewhere we are taught, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:13–17) If ever you hear a “Christian” doing anything without “gentleness and respect”, ignore him. He is either a false teacher or he is temporarily out of God’s will. I’d be very careful to pay them any heed.

Sadly, I think there are Christians in America who feel guilty for not being persecuted. For good or ill, blessing or curse, we live in a culture where our religious freedoms are guaranteed, so persecution is extremely rare here. What some people will do, then, is take the role of Judge upon themselves and mount a soapbox of sorts, rudely and crudely pronouncing all kinds of ridiculous judgments upon “fags”, Muslims, atheists, “sinners”! They eschew gentleness and respect, marking their territory as it were with cruelty and contempt. They ignore the Cross, the Lamb, and the Son who loved all of us so much that he,

“…being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:6–11

(All emphases mine)

First, Trump is president; whether he is “accepted” or not is irrelevant. I did not vote for him. He has demonstrated numerous times that he does not have my best interests at heart. By completely ignoring the concerns, desires, and needs of more than half the nation, he has demonstrated that he himself has not accepted all Americans as his constituency.

Consider all the following factors:

  1. Unemployment at its lowest since late 2000, 4.1%

2. This article is a bit dated (October, 2014), but I haven’t seen any different studies since then. “According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for non-management private-sector workers last month was $20.67, unchanged from August and 2.3% above the average wage a year earlier. That’s not much, especially when compared with the pre-Great Recession years of 2006 and 2007, when the average hourly wage often increased by around 4% year-over-year. (During the high-inflation years of the 1970s and early 1980s, average wages commonly jumped 8%, 9% or even more year-over-year.)

“But after adjusting for inflation, today’s average hourly wage has just about the same purchasing power as it did in 1979, following a long slide in the 1980s and early 1990s and bumpy, inconsistent growth since then. In fact, in real terms the average wage peaked more than 40 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 has the same purchasing power as $22.41 would today.” (For most workers, real wages have barely budged for decades)

“Adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage is worth less than 50 years ago: Despite periodic increases, the buying power of the federal minimum wage hasn’t kept up with inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data show that in 1968, the federal minimum was equivalent to $10.90 in 2015 dollars, nearly $4 higher than today’s rate.” (Adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage is worth less than 50 years ago)

3. The pay gap between company bigwigs and ordinary working stiffs: In 1965, it was 20–1; 1989, 59–1. Today, “CEOs at the largest U.S. firms now make 271 times more than the average worker, according to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute for 2016 salary numbers.” (emphasis mine) (What the CEOs of Google, CBS and others have in common: They make 271 times more than most people)

4. Our corporate tax rate, 35%, is the highest in the world. True. And irrelevant. “According to the Tax Foundation, the average top corporate rate is 22.5%, across 188 countries (including the U.S.). So, on the surface it would seem that our corporations are more heavily taxed, but that 35% is the statutory tax rate; “What the U.S. Government Accountability Office found in a 2016 study is that the effective tax rate — the amount paid in taxes relative to taxable income — is far lower. The study examined the tax years of 2006 through 2012. (Remember that this included the worst of the Great Recession, so total revenues were down, though that shouldn’t necessarily affect tax percentages.) Below is a graph of the results.

“In any one of these years, at least two-thirds (between 67% and 72%) of all active corporations had zero tax liability after credits. The peak came at the end of the recession, but in 2012, it was still 70.1%. Moreover, the low of 67% happened in 2006, beforethe financial meltdown set in.” (Trump’s Corporate Tax Slash Ignores How Little Companies Already Pay)

5. Corporate profit taxes

6. Corporate profits after tax

What have we got?

  1. The lowest unemployment rate in 7 years.
  2. Stagnant wages. Americans haven’t seen a real “raise” in 40 years.
  3. CEOs and executives, however, have increased earnings by “an order of magnitude”. In the same period average Americans got no raise, executive earnings rose 250%.
  4. Corporate taxes, while “high” on paper, are zero for 70%; it is much less than the statutory 35% for the rest.
  5. Taxes on corporate earnings (that are ever taxed) have dropped consistentlysince the 1950s, while at the same time…
  6. Corporate profits have consistently risen to record levels.

ALL of this is before the Republicans’ new tax plan: Record profits for corporations; record incomes for the wealthy; NO MATTER WHAT THE TAX RATE HAS BEEN, the rich have gotten unfathomable richer and corporations have earned unfathomable amounts of money (THREE men, not three percent, but THREE INDIVIDUAL MEN, now own more wealth than the bottom 161,000,000 people in America!).

My question, Republicans, is this: Exactly when are we supposed to see wages go up? Exactly when are we supposed to see the higher paying jobs? Exactly when is all that gelt going to start running over the edges of the cups of the wealthy, and “trickle down” to the lowly, average US who are working our asses off to earn rich people more money?

Donald Trump is THE president. He will be MY president when wages, real buying power for average Americans, rise to the same level as earnings and wealth for the top 1%. When the Burger King girl makes $40 an hour and lives in a decent house with the healthcare she and her family needs, Donald Trump will be my president.

The text confirms it, for one thing: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:35–37). Neither Mary’s virgin conception nor Elizabeth’s old age conception were impossible with God. Compare, for example, Jesus’ nearly identical words in his response to the rich young man (a ruler, probably a Pharisee or member of the Sanhedrin) who “went away sad, because he had great wealth” when Jesus told him to sell everything he owned and give it to the poor: “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matthew 19:23–26)

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Second, Jesus himself claimed that God was his Father, and not just in a “poetic” or metaphorical way. He made it so clear that he meant Abba Father (as in “Dad”) that the Jewish leaders considered his claim blasphemy: “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’ For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” John 5:16–18

Third, if God is not the Father of Jesus Christ, then Jesus is simply “another guy”; in fact, he is just another dead, long since rotted away, insane guy. He wasn’t a good teacher or a wise man, he was totally bonkers, out of his mind…a raving lunatic, along the lines of a man who might claim to be a pumpkin! i believe C.S. Lewis was correct in his summation:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Lewis’s trilemma – Wikipedia)

All scriptural emphases are mine.

“Lord Jesus, have mercy on me and bless this answer if it comports with your word and your will; correct me if I am wrong.”

Preface:

We are told in Micah 6:6-8,

“With what shall I come before the Lord

and bow down before the exalted God?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?

Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.”(emphasis mine)

Justice is for the victims of sin, crime, or injustice; mercy is for the perpetrators of sin, crime, or injustice. Humility before God is absolutely essential for all of us in all cases, because we will often fail to mete out justice, and we will often fail to act mercifully. Furthermore, we are to act justly; we don’t have to like it or love it, we just have to do it, but we are to LOVE mercy! We love to show mercy because we love the mercy that God has shown towards us. We walk in humility, navigating life and it’s pitfalls and traps, knowing that at any time we may be unjust or unmerciful, prayerfully pleading with God to check our motivations, desires, and actions.

Justice, the “law”, shows us our sin. In Romans, God tells us through Paul, “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” (1) We have the tendency to soft-pedal things like this, “Everybody does it. It’s ‘natural’, so don’t feel so bad”, “Who doesn’t covet?!” I have a friend who is a student in Russia. He got saved recently. One afternoon, I got a message from him: “I commit a sin”. Uh-oh… “I cheated on test today”. In our talking about it, in some ways, he was still trying to defend his cheating. I found that cheating (according to him) is common, “normal” in Russian universities, even bribery for good grades. There is a proverb, “You can’t fill the pocket with ‘Thank you’.” But then I asked him, “What was the very first thing you told me about this? “I commit a sin.” Why was that the first thing you thought? Because he knew in his heart it was wrong. He now understands.* What was the difference? Before his salvation, we had never discussed cheating, and he was perfectly fine with it. Why, all of a sudden, out of the blue, does he message me and confess, “I commit a sin”?! I submit that it is because he had a “heart transplant”. Ezekiel talks about a promise made in chapter 36:25–27, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (emphasis mine) This would have been unheard of to Ezekiel’s audience; the Holy Spirit dwelt in the Temple, where none but the high priest could go. He “came upon” people but then left. Having him dwell in us would have been pretty terrifying! But my friend now had this “heart of flesh”; the Holy Spirit lives inside him. It was this Spirit who convicted him.

Mercy shows us the way to safety, redemption, salvation. Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (2) “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Jesus, Matthew 5:7 Don’t be deceived, mercy acts, too, as John MacArthur says, ““Mercy is seeing a man without food and giving him food. Mercy is seeing a person begging for love and giving him love. Mercy is seeing someone lonely and giving him company. Mercy is meeting the need, not just feeling it.”

Humility is our “protection” from the effects of harshness in justice, and weakness in humility. “ ‘Walk humbly’ is a description of the heart’s attitude toward God. God’s people depend on Him rather than their own abilities (Micah 2:3). Instead of taking pride in what we bring to God, we humbly recognize that no amount of personal sacrifice can replace a heart committed to justice and love. Israel’s rhetorical questions had a three-part progression, and verse 8 contains a similar progression. The response of a godly heart is outward (do justice), inward (love mercy), and upward (walk humbly).” (What does it mean to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8)?) Is God humble? Absolutely! Jesus is the lamb that was slain “before the foundation of the earth”. Even in eternity, he had humbled himself before the Father: “Of course, it was at Bethlehem, leading right through to Calvary, that we see the humility of Christ most gloriously displayed. Nevertheless we can say that at the incarnation Jesus took humanity but not humility. Humility had been, and always will be, part of the divine character.

“Christ’s humanity made him hungry, thirsty and tired, but it did not change his character in any way. Neither did his humanity add any new personality traits to his divinity, such as humility.

“In short, Jesus is humility personified – is and always was. Admittedly, his humiliation began at Bethlehem and culminated at Calvary. But his humility went right back to eternity.” (Is God humble? | Evangelical Times) Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. If Jesus is humble, it is also a trait of the Father.

Both justice and mercy must come together in humility, like a three strand braid. Again in Romans, Paul testifies, “…He (God) did it (presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement) to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”(Romans 3:26). Amos 5:21–24 says, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” God pronounced this because the people were unmerciful: “Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins– you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate.” It was the act of mercy—Jesus’ sacrificial atonement in our place, that revealed God’s justice, the fact that the sin had to be atoned for. It is our mercy towards the weak and disenfranchised that demonstrates our justice. Julie Camarin sums up Romans 3:26 well: “Without Jesus, God cannot be both just and merciful.” (What Christians Need to Understand about Mercy)  Saint Thomas states, “Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution; [and] justice without mercy is cruelty.” (Super Matthaeum, Cap. V, l. 2.) “Thus, when the balance between mercy and justice is lost, the wicked either are allowed to go unpunished or are punished with brutality. Both things lead to social chaos and cause confusion in people’s minds. Indeed, failing to punish one who breaks divine or human laws weakens the notion of good and evil in people’s consciences and leads to moral relativism. For its part, cruelty in punishment makes justice odious to the people.” (http://www.tfp.org/mercy-without-justice-is-the-mother-of-dissolution-justice-without-mercy-is-cruelty/)

I give this long preface to pray that we approach this issue with justice, mercy, and humility. Too often, the modern evangelical church focuses a laser sharp, burning flame through the “justice” lens, but ignores the mercy and humility that must accompany it. When was the last time Christians in the US were accused of being too merciful or too humble? Like, never?

No, the alternative interpretations of Leviticus 18:22 are not plausible. But it’s really irrelevant in the entire context of God’s Word. God created Adam and Eve, man and woman, male and female. They were joined together by God himself in the first marriage. His very first commands were: “have dominion over creation,” and “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:26-28). In other words, they could have as much sex as they desired. now, aside from homosexuality, are there any other sexual practices that are indisputably sinful according to the Bible? Yep: Adultery. Incest. Bestiality. Any sexual relations outside of marriage. It is this last that is important. While it was not a capital crime in the Old Testament, it was a crime, like theft; the offense warranted a fine (see Exodus 22:16-17; Deuteronomy 22:28-29). In the New Testament, “fornication” means any sexual relations outside of marriage.

There was a group in the early Church called Judaizers. These were Pharisees who had become Christians. They felt that the Way, as it was known then, was just a new branch of Judaism; therefore, they believed new male gentile believers needed to be circumcised and all had to follow the Levitical law, including its dietary restrictions. A great argument arose, which was ultimately settled at the First Church Council in Jerusalem, presided over by James. What was the decision? “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. What is sexual immorality? “In the New Testament, the word most often translated ‘sexual immorality’ is porneia. This word is also translated as ‘whoredom,’ ‘fornication,’ and ‘idolatry.’ It means ‘a surrendering of sexual purity’, and it is primarily used of premarital sexual relations. From this Greek word we get the English word pornography, stemming from the concept of ‘selling off.’ Sexual immorality is the ‘selling off’ of sexual purity and involves any type of sexual expression outside the boundaries of a Biblically defined marriage relationship (Matthew 19:4–5).

“The connection between sexual immorality and idolatry is best understood in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:18, which says, ‘Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.’ The bodies of believers are the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Pagan idol worship often involved perverse and immoral sexual acts performed in the temple of a false god. When we use our physical bodies for immoral purposes, we are imitating pagan worship by profaning God’s holy temple with acts He calls detestable (1 Corinthians 6:9–11).” (What is sexual immorality?) Let Jesus Christ speak: “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality*, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:21–23) Ergo: Any sexual relationship, including between consenting adults, outside of marriage is SIN. In Revelation 22:14–15, we are told, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

This makes the passage from Matthew 19:4–5 above of paramount importance, because, just like the only righteous way for a straight person to enjoy sexual congress with a member of the opposite sex is through marriage, the only way a gay person could justify committing sexual acts with members of the same sex is to claim that holy marriage of same sex couples is acceptable to, indeed, sanctified by, God. But Jesus clearly defines Biblical marriage, “He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Thereforea man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”’”? Jesus may not have addressed homosexuality directly, but he definitely confirmed what the holy sacrament of marriage was. Elsewhere in the New Testament, Paul says that “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” (I Timothy 3:2), and “A deacon must be the husband of but one wife, a good manager of his children and of his own household” (I Timothy 3:8), also, “No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband…” (I Timothy 5:9), finally, “An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.” (Titus 1:6) Two men cannot become “one flesh”; two women cannot become “one flesh”. Neither can they “be fruitful and multiply.”

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We have seen that sex outside of marriage, even in the Old Testament, was not condoned by the Levitical Law. It was a crime. The injunctions against sex outside of marriage are further strengthened in the New Testament. Jesus himself condemned all sexual immorality and confirmed that holy marriage was between one man and one woman for life. The Apostle Paul further confirmed this.

NONE OF THIS gives a Christian the right, much less the “duty”, to express hatred towards homosexuals, any more than we would towards adulterers or the sexually promiscuous. God does not “hate fags”. Bullying, harassment, name-calling…any kind of cruelty or mean-spirited behavior is as detestable to God as every other sin. Christians today, and I would single out many evangelical conservatives, need to study the Word more. If they did, they would find this string of 7 things that are “detestable” (abominations) to God: “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” (6:17–19)

One final word: Ezekiel 16:49–50 clearly delineate the sins of Sodom: “She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” Arrogance, gluttony, and apathy; disregard of the poor and needy; pride and detestable practices rounded their sin out. Sounds to me a lot like a current president many in the evangelical community continue to support, perhaps because they are just like him. Yes, the men of Sodom did detestable things before God. Based on the Biblical account, homosexuality was clearly one of them; but for Christians to focus on that one sin at the cost of ignoring all the others is like a doctor treating a patient’s high blood pressure but ignoring his obesity, COPD, diabetes, and melanoma!

God has called us all to repentance. There are things we all have to deny in order to follow Jesus: wealth, power, our appetites, lying, cheating, stealing, and yes, our sexual desires. Even if God never “cures” a person of their desires, their lusts, if he will provide the strength and grace necessary for a “straight” person to deny their sexual desires, he will provide the same to people who are attracted to the same sex. “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others–and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:12

All emphasis in scriptures are mine.

*It is simply NOT POSSIBLE that Jesus would not have meant homosexual acts as well.

No, and it’s a con job no one believes. The Republicans know it, they just don’t care. The American people know it, but they also know that the Republicans in control…wait for it…just don’t care. Here’s a groovy little tidbit that hasn’t gotten hardly any attention on the telly: “That’s rich! Republicans suddenly believe that one percenters are barely struggling to be in the middle class, party officials revealed.

“On Thursday, House Republicans issued a fact sheet about their new tax cut plan that referred to Americans earning $450,000 a year as “low- and middle-income”— even though that income level would put those taxpayers in the top 0.5 percent of all individual Americans. [emphasis mine]

“The median household income in the United States is $59,039, after all.

“ ‘Did somebody make a mistake?’ laughed AFL-CIO Policy Director Damon Silvers when told of the income classifications by the GOP. ‘[Republicans] think that the income level of the top one percent is lower- and middle-class. This is a world where if you make less than $500,000, you don’t exist.’” House (Republicans claim an annual salary of $450,000 is middle class)

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Remember when Bush II coined the idiotic term “compassionate conservatism”? It was a tacit admission that conservatism as practiced in the US is not compassionate. It’s also an oxymoron. The present Republican party has come to terms with that and have completely dropped all pretense of compassion. Because…

They just don’t care.

We are born with free will, but it is not infinite. Our will is limited by physics, our environment, our abilities, etc. I may have the will to defy gravity, but gravity will always win. I may have the will to be an opera star, but if I am tone deaf, I’ll starve. Free will just means we are able to make choices within certain boundaries. Even when we can exercise our free will, we cannot always control the consequences—good or bad—of our choices.

I disagree that the existence of an omniscient God negates our free will. It is not true that “where there is foreknowledge, there can be no free will.” It could just as easily be argued that “if there are no ‘do-overs’, there is no free will.” If we are “stuck” with our choices, the future simply becomes the past that hasn’t happened yet!

It also doesn’t matter what you “believe”. I submit that if free will exists, it exists whether you believe it does or not; conversely, if it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t matter if you believe it does. Regardless, everyone lives as though it does exist!

I had an atheist/Objectivist friend once and we were discussing free will. I asked him if the mind was the same as the brain or were they separate. He was adamant that they were the same; to accept a mind apart from a physical brain would be tantamount to admitting that “something” existed outside the physical realm. Heresy! Ayn Rand would roll over in her grave!

So I asked him about our actions, our choices. He said that “every action is preceded by a thought (except for the autonomous nervous system, of course). If I move my hand, it is because my mind is telling it to move. Signals are being sent from my brain through my nerves down my arm to my hand and it moves.”

“Awesome! So what causes the thought?”

“A series of neurochemical reactions in the brain; like a chain reaction.”*

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“So, it’s like dominoes.”

“Exactly.”

“So, your ‘will’ pushes the ‘first’ domino?”

“Uhh…yes…”

“Then your ‘will’ is just another domino. If it’s all a purely physical construct, there are simply an infinite number of dominoes, but your SELF, your WILL doesn’t exist in infinity. Your will must exist outside the physical or it’s just another stage in the neurochemical reaction that ‘causes’ your choices, which are not really choices because you can’t be causing them. Your like a machine, a computer.”

“Well, I guess so…”

“Then there is no free will.”

The next day, I saw him. He said that he had to change his mind, that he was not just a machine or a computer, but…he would have to think about it before he could come up with a better solution.

(“Every thought you have causes neurochemical changes…” How Your Thoughts Change Your Brain, Cells, And Genes – The Best Brain Possible, my reference, not his. If it is a thought that causes the neurochemical change, then the thought must occur outside that physical process! As to the question, What comes first, the neurochemical event or the thought, the theories are all over the map!)

On “Piegate”

Posted: November 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

On one hand, it seems awfully petty. Who doesn’t use stock images these days? So she didn’t make that specific pie; she made one like it. If I bake a pie and a friend and I are looking through the food website where I got the recipe, if I run across a picture of the pie I baked, I might say, “Hey, I made that pie. it was awesome!” My friend would know that I wasn’t saying I made THAT pie that’s in the picture! Just that I made a pie from the same recipe.

On the other hand, I love to cook: when I am proud enough of something I have prepared to share it with others, I will take a picture of what I made and post it, I will not submit something out of a magazine or off a website or Google images!

The problem here is, even though this thing should be a non-issue, this administration has set its own self up for ridicule over crap like this because of its antipathy for the truth. Sanders continues to talk in press briefings about “the overwhelming support” Americans have for Trump and his “overwhelming victory” in the election. Sorry, but this is pure bull-sh*t! The emperor is butt naked and all his courtiers are just gushing, slobbering all over themselves telling him how magnificent his wardrobe is!

“There is beauty in truth, even if it’s painful. Those who lie, twist life so that it looks tasty to the lazy, brilliant to the ignorant, and powerful to the weak. But lies only strengthen our defects. They don’t teach anything, help anything, fix anything or cure anything. Nor do they develop one’s character, one’s mind, one’s heart or one’s soul.”
― José N. Harris