Category Archives: Communicate

How to Grow Stronger in the Race of Life

I’ve never been guilty of taking Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 4:8 as a commandment against exercise; I’ve only ever been too lazy to get the physical exercise I needed. I can get away without running for a while if I get busy, but among the other ways that I grow closer to God and further from myself, running holds a particular significance. Along with praying, reading the Word, and writing, running is one way that I get with God and lay down my burdens.

(Featured photo: we spent our Flag Day enjoying our freedom to do meaningful work and produce something worthwhile. We will be seeing corn and canteloupe soon!)

Paul describes the Christian life as a race, one we are to run with patience, looking to Jesus who endured the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2). We focus on being carefree and unburdened, but this race requires us to take a burden upon ourselves.

To grow stronger in this race called life- Run Burdened

Building strength and endurance requires weight or resistance. After a long absence from running, I decided to combine running with calisthenics and light barbells that I carried while running. A little bit of added weight feels like a ton, until your body gets used to it. But if you can persist, running burdened helps you to be even stronger and faster without the weights when it comes time to compete. There is a benefit to running burdened.

For me, running allows me to lay down my burdens- worries, stress, tension. But before long, I’m picking up other burdens, more beneficial to be borne.

A family member in need, a loved one in the hospital, the state of our community, state, or nation. A lot of meditating on purpose, calling, and mission in life. Something that is beyond a cosmic wish list I hope God will fill for me.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

We’re not promised to run carefree, we can only try to run while carrying the right kind and amount of weight- the Lord’s yoke, easy and light, will teach us of Him.

Some personal burdens are hard to shake, but I can’t stop running.
There are lots of grave needs, close to home and far away, but I can’t stop running.
In the physical or the spiritual sense, if you run burdened, you will grow stronger.

It’ll Take a Lot More Than Crying “Hate” to Make a Difference

It isn’t surprising that a group that shares the same ideology as the Charleston mass murderer agrees with his grievances. They are as full of hate as he is.

Equally as unsurprising is that there are groups dedicated to spreading hatred for others who are different from them. Such groups have existed for centuries and have varied in size and impact. In the US, thankfully, such groups have remained relatively ineffective in their efforts other than to gather people of the same ideology. Others, like the old Weather Underground, experienced marginal success, detonating a bomb inside the NYPD. Still others, like the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, made a huge impact at their inception and today have some adherents that talk about the good ol’ days.

Some deadly. All hateful.

The Southern Policy Law Center has a list of over 700 groups classified as domestic hate groups (and many of not most actually are). Bernie Sanders cited the list from the Senate floor in support of his claim that right-wing racist groups have increased and indicated that it is a sign of “how far we yet have to go in order to create a nonracist society.””

Hate should be decried and condemned at every turn. Absent the commission of a crime, however, hatred is only the absence of virtue. And if our society doesn’t work on uplifting decency and enlivening common virtues, then there won’t be any moral ground on which to condemn hate.

Sure, we can play the game of who’s hate is worse relative to someone else’s hate. It’s pretty common to hear individuals say, “I know I’m bad about (fill in the blank), but so-and-so is much worse than I am.” No political or ideological group would concede such a point because each and every one of them has their own predetermined, single solution to problems for which there are no single, simple solutions. And each shouts its own solution at the top of its lungs in an endless echo chamber.

image via cnn.com.
Charleston Unity Walk, our better virtues rising above the fray. Image via cnn.com.

You can’t lie and expect truth to win the day.
You can’t build a bullying culture and expect to end bullying in schools.
You can’t cry out for peace while rioting.
You can’t expect equality when you excoriate people who have different views from you.

Relativism and moral equivalence are cancers on our society, as fewer and fewer people acknowledge any shred of absolute truth (truth which I believe is found in the Bible).

If you’re like me, you pay attention to what is being said in the wake of tragedies like the Charleston mass murder, and you start to find the commentary maddening via circular logic, abundant strawmen, distractions and distortions. That’s because all you’re seeing is Fido chasing his tail. The only way to rise above is to get above the fray and hold on to enduring truths that espouse moral decency and virtues.

H/T to @redsteeze for turning me on to the tweet and article at the beginning of the post. For a great post on the virtues that are causing the victims’ families and the community of Charleston to rise above the fray, read his post here:

The Cultural Injustice of Death on Demand

The disregard for human life in this day and age is breath-taking. It seems that a generation has come that feels there’s honor in controlling the circumstances of death and power in controlling the death of others. I’m referring to the increasing rise and acceptance of euthanasia, which is the younger sister of the much more mature practice of abortion. The culture has embraced death on demand.

Euthanasia and abortion doctors are a special kind of parasites, profiting from taking life from the most vulnerable in society at their most desperate point in life. And it seems that they get to make the decisions about who lives and dies with no third-party, disinterested decision-maker involved. Consider that in Tennessee, from 2000 until now, there has been no requirement for a doctor to provide for informed consent from women seeking abortions. No explanation necessary, according to the law. According to this article in the New Yorker, in Belgium, a death doc carried out euthanasia with no contact made to living family members, and no apparent opinion gained outside of his impression of his victim.

Europe has been the cultural hotbed of such liberal, humanistic, “enlightened” policies, under the guise of “the patient knows best,” and, “Who am I to decide for another person, how they should live or die?” Thus, there it is simply a matter of choice. Like abortion here in the US. One option among many. But which option do the death docs profit from? Which option are they most likely to promote?

It has just gotten to the point where anything resembling authority outside of self is completely rejected. And power over death is the ultimate self-empowerment. Too bad that it is a power reserved for God alone, the One whose Lordship is most spurned today. But is it really self-empowerment when there is such potential for deception and coercion from someone who is going to profit from your death? Is it really autonomy if the options for happiness and fulfillment apart from dying are covered up?

Sympathizing with the desire to die, while understandable as a human emotion, really should have no place in making medical and psychiatric decisions. On that note, as a mental health professional, playing into one’s desire to die is cruel and antithetical to the purpose of improving mental health. Life-long depression as a reason for euthanasia? The potential for psychiatric distress due to having a baby as a reason for abortion?

We have to live our lives and speak truth in such a way that others want to take part in what we have and to understand what makes us who we are.

In decades past, I would feel safe saying that a majority of people in the US would think these sentiments are ludicrous, but today, I’m not so sure. There is some comfort in knowing that, according to Gallup, 51% of Americans feel that abortion should only be legal in certain circumstances, and of that number, 36% believe it should be legal only in few circumstances. While only 19% believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, 44% of the sample asked considers themselves pro-life.

It is pitiful that we even need to measure such statistics, but the reason we do is because death on demand was accepted by the culture, then the government, long ago. I hope we never get to the point where these questions have to be asked about euthanasia, the way we have to ask them about abortion. If we the people aren’t careful, we will let the culture get away from us again. Merchants of death, by reason of the lies they tell, somehow are able to turn their consumers into the biggest cheerleaders for the goods they sell.

So we have to live our lives and speak truth in such a way that others want to take part in what we have and to understand what makes us who we are. We pro-life folks haven’t escaped tragedy and hardship our entire lives, but we have understood through suffering that life is worth living and worth fighting for. Can we pass that on to someone else today?

Making Men that Make a Difference

We’re losing a generation to the lies of the culture.

In spite of what the culture wants you to believe, each boy is not a rapist waiting to emerge if he doesn’t get some form of re-education.

The redefining of boyhood and manhood is another of the prevailing culture’s attempts to destroy anything that reflects the glory of God. Like the Nazis burning books or ISIS destroying the old symbols, society wants to purge the world of anything resembling Christ, because it reminds an increasingly godless culture of the once (and still) prosperous existence of those whose faith is in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Boys being driven, aggressive, reckless, competitive, inquisitive, brash, and disruptive, are not subjects to be retrained. They are forces to be channelled. If the (mis)characterization of Jesus as a long-haired, quiet, effeminate, tolerant, passive were true, then God would have just made all of us women. The nature of men is not a curse to be exorcised, it is a reflection of God in the likeness of sinful flesh. The family and the church are meant to mold raw masculinity into usefulness by the Word and the Holy Spirit. Manhood is a tool in the hands of the Master, not a scourge.

When our boys and men get up, bang their chests, grit their teeth on the bulkhead of the Good Ol’ Gospel Ship, then disembark with the Sword of the Spirit in their mouths to storm the god-forsaken beaches of this world, it is going to be an offensive, dangerous blow to the kingdom Satan is running on earth and all the ones who are trapped in it.

Men will not be confused about who they are a la “Caitlin” Jenner.

Men will be confident in their roles and abilities as fathers, sons, husbands, ministers, fighters, leaders, and prophets.

Children and women will prosper under the biblical pattern for family. It’ll be disruptive at first, because as men have previously abdicated their role, the rest of the family has adjusted to fill the vacuum. As men now resume their roles, the rest of the family has to snap back into place. There can’t be multiple heads of the home, only one.

We’ll be labeled old-fashioned, masogynistic, patriarchal, oppressive, homophobic, but these are meaningless words meant to beat us down and intimidate us into a political correct vision of manhood. This war we fight is a war of words and ideas- “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God”- so we have to fight against the words that invoke harmful stereotypes of what a man “should” be.

In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.- George Orwell

Honestly, I’m sick and tired of the lies we all keep believing, that put us in fear of how our boys will turn out if they aren’t domesticated, defanged, and deluded into being something they were never created to be. Think our country is starved for leadership? That’s because our country is deprived of strong men who know power and restraint through a living relationship with God his Creator. It’s because our families are weak and our churches powerless; our religion is a vain show that is emptied of significance.

However, I am hopeful. I am raising two men, and I think that between you and me, we can get out the word about these lies, and the lying liars that tell them, so that more men can be raised up that can change the world.

WWJD? Jesus Wouldn’t Play Identity Politics

Jesus isn’t interested in our notion of identity politics. Plenty in the media, however, are extremely interested in identity politics and love to pull Jesus into it.

Jesus had a practice of destroying the high-and-mighty who loved to label themselves with prestigious labels. He took down identity groups spectacularly. The Pharisees were “whited sepulchres,” ornate on the outside, but dead on the inside. Samaritans were “dogs.” Nazareth had little faith so that few miracles were done. To the Jews that sought to take His life in John 5, He said, “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life…” You THINK you have eternal life, He said. But check again- you aren’t as holy as you think you are.

However, Paul, a self-proclaimed Pharisee of Pharisees, was hand picked by Christ to be an apostle. The Samaritan woman whose daughter was sick unto death received based on her faith. The few who sought healing in Nazareth were healed. Men like Nicodemus and Joseph, Jewish teachers, found favor and did great kindness to Jesus.

Jesus loves people. He cares not for movements and identity groups. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He had no time for self-righteous people. But He stopped at nothing for the sick and the broken individuals who wanted healing and salvation- “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”

The tweets at the top of the page are examples of how people with well-known names are assuming to know the reaction Jesus would have to the plight of certain identity groups today. Identity groups engaging in identity politics. Comments by Howard Dean recently indicate that “Jesus would have been left of the modern Democratic Party.” I’m just a bit sick of people who have yet to demonstrate faith in Jesus trying to define what Jesus would do.

Jesus would have words of criticism for every identity group out there today. And a good percentage, He would reject outright.

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (‭Romans‬ ‭10‬:‭3‬ KJV)

So the big-ticket test of Christianity is how we would/should treat gays and lesbians. How would Jesus treat them?

Well, to the LGBT movement, I believe He would say, “You seek after something that you wish to deny everyone else- the freedom to live your life the way you want to live it. You want the freedom to marry without judgement, but you can’t stand for someone else to live and operate their business as they see fit without judgement. Hypocrites! Aside from that, you seek to legitimize a lifestyle I have never sanctioned or approved of, a lifestyle that is an abomination to me. Turn away and repent before you find yourself in judgement!”

To a gay man or lesbian woman, what would He say? To those who have no desire to change and follow Him, not much. The scriptures never show Jesus berating someone who chooses to walk away. But to those who hear the Master’s call, He would say, “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”

The big mistake today is society assumes the desire we Christians have to abstain from an ungodly movement means we are against individuals who live ungodly lifestyles. It is a divisive and deceptive position, the goal of which is to marginalize the church and redefine Christianity. People trying criticizing Christianity based on invoking “what would Jesus do” toward entire identity groups are not trying to help Christianity, they are trying to destroy it. In fact, they are reducing “Christian” to an identity label rather than a description of someone who adheres to a set of absolute beliefs that refuses many, many behaviors in society while holding out hope for everyone to change.

These identity politic pundits will not pratice their own “live and let live” sermon. They will not be satisfied letting Christians live by their individual consciences. They will not respect the beliefs of a majority of the nation’s population. They will keep on maligning the name of Jesus and condemning His faithful. We shouldn’t be surprised. Perilous times are upon us. But thanks be to God who causes us to triumph in Christ.

The Most Important Lesson to Learn from the Debates Over Pro-life Bills in Tennessee

(TN State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) wears baby feet lapel pin “In honor of those children that will be saved after our actions today in the legislature, and in memory of those who were denied their first breath…” via Facebook)

I am staunchly pro-life. As such, I’m thrilled that the Tennessee legislature passed two bills that will significantly impact women and unborn babies in Tennessee and from surrounding states.

Since 2000, there has been no waiting period and no informed consent requirement for abortion facilities to abide by. Makes for quick but very dirty work, allowing same-day abortions with no doctor involvement prior to the abortion. Since 2003, there has been no requirement for inspection and licensing of abortion facilities. Some facilities submitted voluntarily, but others did not. Again, makes for very cost-efficient operation if you have no quality or sanitary standard that you have to operate under.

As of yesterday, these commonsense protections have been passed in the legislature and will soon be signed by the Governor. This will put us on our way to destroying Tennessee’s reputation as an abortion destination. These are steps that are welcomed and that we should be proud of as pro-life Tennesseans.

I have to address something, however, that is extremely important to the pro-life movement. In the political arena especially, stupid things are said by (hopefully) well-meaning people, things that do nothing to advance a just cause and even serve to hurt innocent people.

Opposition to the pro-life bills I’ve described have seized on comments from Rep. Sheila Butt, who stated that rape and incest is rarely verifiable. The statement containing these words was made in response to a proposed amendment to the waiting period/informed consent bill that would have allowed exceptions for rape and incest. There are two problems with such a statement:

  • First of all, abortion takes the life of an innocent person regardless of the circumstances of conception. THAT is the issue. The veracity of rape and incest claims has nothing to do with this fact. Proven or not proven, the occurrence of rape or incest does not revoke the personhood of the unborn child. It does not change the fact that a child at 20 weeks en utero feels the pain of the scalpel used to dismember him. Protection for the life of the child is the purpose, and that is why rape and incest exceptions are unacceptable.

  • Secondly, having worked with victims of child sexual abuse and rape as a mental health professional, it is extremely disrespectful and potentially harmful to make such a statement. The opposition wants us to think women never lie about being raped, which is itself a lie. However, that does not mean there is an epidemic of women lying about being raped. Additionally, there are very reliable ways to gather forensic evidence of a rape, both through physical examination and specially conducted victim interviews. Rep. Butt being a woman doesn’t make such a claim any more right or reliable than if the comment came from a man. I’m afraid some women in politics don’t realize that to be true.

The worst consequence of such statements is that they take the focus off of where it needs to be, which is on the fact that abortion has taken millions of lives in the past 40 or so years that it has been legal. Abortion has been justified in the minds of so many people, bolstered by lies that a fetus is merely a clump of “pregnancy tissue,” not a living human being. The second contributing lie that has caused so much damage is that abortion is completely innocuous, poses no short- or long-term threats, and rids the woman of an obstacle to her ongoing success in life.

These are the lies that need to be debunked, and we will have to do so over and over again, with as many people as we can, before the culture actually starts to absorb the message that life is precious again. I am persuaded of better things, and these new laws give me further hope. In these times when stupidity spreads faster than wildfire on social media, let us keep the news of better things at the forefront and not be distracted.

Some Thoughts on Healthcare

In the news today, Florida is hitting back at the Federal Government for applying strong-arm tactics to force medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

Meanwhile, this article was published concerning how Alabama should’t expand Medicaid under Obamacare, with some really good reasons why.

Furthermore, in my home state of Tennessee, Insure TN, Gov. Haslam’s deal to bring the fed dollars in as a subsidy to buy insurance or as a special insurance plan for those making less than 138% of the poverty level, has failed to make it out of committee twice based on the fact that everyone knows that Obamacare is the reason for it:

In criticizing the debate over making the Bible the state book of Tennessee, Rep. Craig Fitzhugh said this:

If we are serious about emulating Christ, we’d be healing the sick instead of debating whether the state should buy into the federal government’s health insurance business.

In addition, Christ never preached that charity be mandated through taxes. The liberal painting of taxes and welfare being based on “WWJD” is a guilt trip and a misreading of Christ’s teachings.

And though Christ wasn’t concerned with bad policy, but we should be. Obamacare kicked thousands off of their previous insurance and forced them to buy at the exchanges. It has raised costs. It has caused doctors to be lost. And while everyone says they are debating “healthcare,” what they are really debating is how to pay for it. Which would be much simpler if healthcare was cheaper. Can we figure out a way to make that happen?