Saturday, August 26, 2017

Fighting the Illogical Mood of the Moment

Recently, I began to recount some of the conversations I have had in my office over the last 5 years with students who are either apathetic or resistant in  their fellowship with God.

To be honest, it is the most important part of my job. Good honest conversations.... building a trust to where a kid feels free to tell me the truth......

I have had to practice the art of asking questions and choosing to 'lecture' in small amounts... at some point the glaze begins to grow... it makes me sad, frustrating, and fills me with urgent prayer. But during these times, I never feel more alive.

I have written on this many times...but even my writing seems to be impacting a smaller and smaller group of readers.... apologetics seems to be on the way out and living life based on a 'mood' is in. Logic is out and blind allegiance to an acceptance by the 'elites' of culture is in. Satan has done a good job of making truth seem old and outdated- there has never been a greater need for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The pomp and pressure of those who present themselves as the cultural elite offer much promise, but in reality, they only produce exclusive caste systems and cynicism. The ultimate fruit of intellectual oppression is a quest for power and the greatest use of that power is cynical, dream killing, skepticism.  Logging in hours and hours of cultural messaging through screen time hasn't helped.

As a parent, I have failed here too many times. How often I have gotten caught up in whether my child is hitting benchmarks of societal success, but spending too little time unraveling the lies of our culture. 

There is nothing sadder to me than a 15 or 16 year old kid who is so wooed by a virtual world that he rejects the real world of people who really matter and who really care. I continue to love them, pray harder than ever, but wonder if God will have to break them to make them.

I recorded an Os Guinness quote in 2010 about this: "Yes, there was brilliance (of the cultural elite), but its darker side was the empty rhetoric, the hypocritical poses, the shabby compromises. the betrayal of friends and causes, with some people fellow-traveling with the communists, and others more or less sleeping with fanaticism...The legacy of this kind of general mood became a more effective inoculation against the faith than any of the skeptics of a former time."

It makes me constantly aware that there is a growing class of students who need a new delivery system of the true message of hope. I mean- I still have a ton of traditionalists, the most common student in a Christian school. Traditionalists have a strong sense of right and wrong- they have a foundation of TRUTH.
But I am also increasingly living among those (especially the young- media savvy- who tend to think by sight and act by impulse) who judge truth not by objectivity, but degrees of plausibility.

Again, Guinness's weighs in on this....- "we have created a climate in which a thing's seeming to be true is often mistaken for its being true." or WORSE, they just accept what twitter and snap chat is telling them without any discernment.

And what is the means of this change? By changing the definition and standards of 'belief'.

We allow and even applaud people who believe or disbelieve on non-rational or psychological grounds. 

Ca you see what is wrong with the following statement?


What has become of logic?
Guinness has an analogy where we accept a person who is an atheist- not because they have weighed truth and fallacy- but simply because their father was a religious hypocrite who alienated the family from God as much as himself.

Unfortunately, we fall into this trap when we begin to elevate psychology over Scripture or only accept interpretation and application of Scripture as it fits the latest psychological models.

See how subtle it is? We agree with truth if the support structure is strong. But if the support structure is weak, it is harder to believe.

In today's world...."Coach your opinions with care and and, soon,  plausibility will upstage credibility"- this is a scary time in history!

The church is struggling with this culture.... she has a heart suffering from fibrillation - the rapid, irregular, and unsynchronized contraction of muscle fibers- 

------one spasmodic side is the Christian philosophers- who expound the theoretical- but seem to be impotent of gospel power....

 -------the other equally meaningless beat is the 'just give me Jesus' anti-intellectual crowd who throw out doctrine.

The Apostle Paul still helps us in this struggle.... He provides a framework for the fight. 

PAUL knows that the church is the pillar and bulwark of truth... not theory. 

Guinness: "Paul would have believed his faith was objectively true if he had been the last one convinced of it."

The truth of Christianity is NOT dependent on a strong church.. but a weak church hides TRUTH as it seems less credible, and a less credible church is a less plausible church. Again, there is a lot of teaching out there, but we have retreated from the fight and hope some smooth talking apologist will win the day.... but that is not how Jesus wants us to evangelize and disciple.

A huge roadblock in this mess is the frenzied pace of communication technology and global mobility. I haven't worn a watch since 2010 because of a Kenyan saying, "All westerners have watches... but Africans have time." Our fast paced, entertain me world has definitely impacted our approach to worship.

A culture of mobility plus convenience leads quite naturally not only to (drive-in food) and banks but also drive-in churches.

As our children see belief as a feeling of plausibility and relevance- as they are spun dizzy by infinite activity- as they are enticed by the promise of convenience- as they are distracted by new cool tools of transport of information tsunamis- they cannot understand that TRUTH is TRUE even if no one ascribes to it. 

'When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?' He won't, if we have lost what 'faith' means. What will He say when we respond "It just didn't 'seem' right... It didn't feel true"?

So we can clearly see a Satanic tactic: 'Subtle compromise works better than sudden captivity'.

Is there a route out? Is there hope?

I say yes- students are still YEARNING for love, meaning, security... they are becoming EXPERTS at seeing pretense.

Here are some keys:

We need to slow down- we need to read the WORD- chew it- meditate on it and mull it over- we need true WORSHIP to lift us out of the trivial pursuits and insulated hearts.

We need to commit to personal, messy, time consuming, small group, life on life...discipleship.

In short- we have loved things and ideas that have not loved us back. We live for pleasure while the King suffered and died. 

Culture makes godliness seem strange, but without truth... justification of life is meaningless- 

Our children need to see us forsaking our idols- because the idols will soon forsake them.

But we also need to train our children how to ask the right questions- make men justify their beliefs.... make them follow the consequences of their faith.....and we desire to see the Holy Spirit.. illumine the TRUTH.

I am still hopeful, the gospel is that good- but we can't sit back and hope it happens by osmosis.

Free Speech and Morality- Random Thoughts on CDA 230

There is a looming battle (already enjoined but will take center stage soon) which could make William Wilberforce's battle vs slavery for 20 years seem like an innocent game of charades.

Based on the money involved and rhetoric of the players, this will be a battle that will stretch the core of democratic ideals, personal liberty, and the protection of the most vulnerable and most valuable of our citizenry.

It is also a battle that will create strange bedfellows- both liberals and conservatives will split into bi-partisan positions that will be staked out on both sides of the argument.

In short, section 230 of the Communications Decency Act will be held up as a must save provision to protect free speech on the internet by some and many others will ask for a re-vision to restrict what has become a cover for child sex trafficking and other illegal activities. The 'headlines' and hypotheticals of each case will provide a range of emotional responses.....

Just in the current promotional material for both sides you have trigger pushing debates of whether we could lose Twitter or Facebook under the weight of lawsuits because of 3rd party posting along with the heart breaking tales of children who have been sold openly on the internet  without impunity.

I am going to make a statement about this that is true, but offers no resolution and then make a proposal that might be a course of action in tweaking the section to protect the innocent.


The Bill of Rights (1st 10 amendments) in our great Constitution has a a preliminary principle that is crucial in its interpretation and application. Sadly, it is a principal that has been lost in time.

We love and hold to these fundamental rights, that protect us........

Amendment 1 -Freedom of Religion, Speech and the Press.
Amendment 2 -Right to Bear Arms.
Amendment 3 -Housing of Soldiers.
Amendment 4 -Protection from unreasonable Search & Seizures.
Amendment 5 – Protection of rights to Life, Liberty & Property- due process
Amendment 6- Rights of the accused- speedy and public trial
Amendment 7- Right of trial by jury of peers
Amendment 8-  Freedom from excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments.
Amendment 9- Other fundamental rights, protected from governmental infringement
Amendment 10- Powers reserved to the states.

But the Constitution and the Bill of Rights should always be understood by the self-evident truths that birthed our quest for freedom in the first place.... expressed in the Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

When we apply the Bill of Rights without an acknowledgement to The Creator (with implied rights as the Supreme Governor) we lose the foundation and perspective of these rights.

A purely secular view of these rights creates unsustainable, philosophical, hypothetical, and ivory tower academic musings which eventually crumble under the weight of human presuppositions.

AND though this statement is true... it doesn't help us find a route out in this on-going debate regarding CDA 230.


The ability to find a compromise of protecting free speech and curtailing criminal activity that hurts people isn't easy. And I am not one to promote the slippery slope of eradicating liberty.

But I want to propose a direction that allows 'free speech' but discriminates between 'free' speech and 'speech for profit'. Is there a way to tweak CDA 230 that guts the money pump that keeps dangerous speech out in the open and always open for business?

The record profits being pulled in by sites like '' is the only reason these practices are being defended in the first place.

There is a right to free speech, but do we have a right to financial gain for such speech?

When it comes to the internet- make sure that the sites are allowed to profit from commercial advertising, but also put measures in place that they cannot collect revenue from the 'forums of free speech'.

If a sex trafficker wants to post a minor for sale, it would have to be a free posting that a site like could not collect a fee for advertising. I express this hideous example just for the sake of argument.

If a merchant wanted to buy advertising on a site, they would have to pay and the commerce could be curtailed by legal standards of trade that all 'merchandise' must meet.... including the protection of children.

I doubt we will ever see sin eradicated from the web because it will always prevail in the human heart. But I also say we never tire of making it hard to grow and we never encourage it.

By taking the profit out of it, we drive it into the dark internet, where bitcoins and other encryption practices will keep it alive.... but it doesn't have to thrive in the open while fat cats take the 5th in court and count their money on a journey to meet the very Creator who holds them accountable.

I know we live in a world of political impotence... but I do ask all congressmen of all parties to consider some action that keeps our nation on a path of righteousness and not greedy gain at the exploitation of others.....

The time to act is NOW.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Mystics Approach to Bass Fishing

Forgive the title!

I sometimes think of the pushback that some people must have to all of us loons who post selfies with fish pushed out to the camera to enhance the view. In a world that for generations has called all fisherman 'liars' this may be the last gasp effort to include the genetic need to embellish the story.

But very few, except hunters and anglers themselves, understand what that pose has meant- going all the way back to your grandfather and his black and whites of impossible stringers.


2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 

Bass fishing is one of the ultimate joys of walking by faith. Even though there are small moments of 'sight fishing' (that has its own exciting reward), there is a pure deep joy of having life bump your lure as it sinks into the unknown abyss.

As you are working the lure, you do receive 'information'- current, a sense of depth, rocks, branches.... but suddenly there is a tap.tap of life. It is exhilarating.

in mere minutes, the angler responds to that sometimes sublte 'hello' with a rather violent and explosive hookset that will result in 'game on' or the agony of defeat.


But that photo represents and even greater message- it is proof of victory. Bass fisherman in particular go through long lulls for sudden and swift battles to land the beast.

Years of experience and the expectations of competition can change the prolonged enjoyment of it all. In the past four or five years I have become better at using the rod and patience to enjoy the fight more than the landing.... but it is a core pleasure of the prize.


Psalm 24
[1] The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
[2] for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

It would take a poet to truly capture the majesty of fishing. Wind, waves, clouds, birds, sunrise, deer... even the design of the fish and their lateral lines and muscular agility.... how can you capture a beauty that resonates deep in your innermost being?

Emerson came close.... (from Nature)- a few lines have been paraphrased....

To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature....The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. 

Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration.I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods (on the water), is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, -- no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, -- my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, -- all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Creator circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, -- master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.

The greatest delight which the fields and waters minister, is the suggestion of an hidden relation between man and creation. I am not alone and unacknowledged. The creatures nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.

So next time you see me post a picture, smiling, and holding a bass..just know... it isn't narcissistic pride as it well looks like...

It is a poor expression of the worship and beauty of this rich experience that is more than therapy to me.

P.S.- I enjoy seeing your pictures and videos as well LOL

Saturday, August 05, 2017

The Rise of the Elites

Strange and turbulent times indeed.

I recently read a series of replies to an article by a college student who wrote about a living a life of faith and loving others who see the world in differing lights. I was super impressed with his tone and approach.

The comments were not so kind.... the attack of the elites came in a full frontal force of mockery and criticism.

The author of the article was accused of everything.... the general opinion (not all) was that he was racist, homophobic, oppressive, intolerant, uneducated, and hypocritical.

This correlates with a lot of what we are hearing on college campuses nationwide where traditional speech is being blocked, shouted down...even to the point of violence.

I wish I had time to fully explore how Francis Schaeffer accurately predicted this in his writings before his death in the early 80's.

One of his main points included analysis that there will be a rise of elites who fill the vacuum left when a society abandons absolutes. (How Should We Then Live? pg. 224).

There always seems to be a group of individuals who honestly believe that they care more and know more and so should control our lives. They take away our freedom for our own good.

Jesus Himself had to deal with elites .......

MARK 12:18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.

This account in Mark 12 is on Wednesday of the last week of Jesus’ life. The conspiracy that will lead to His arrest and crucifixion is growing. This chapter gives us snapshots of the conspirator’s tactics and attacks.
The Parable of the Tenants (vs. 1-11) provides the backdrop that people attacking God’s servants and killing them is a sad and consistent testimony of man.
He has already avoided the trap of the Pharisees and some of Herod’s representatives who wanted to paint him as a rebel against Rome (‘Render to Caesar’ vs. 13-17) and now he finds Himself confronted by the Sadducees.
 In my personal reading, I think it is easy to mischaracterize these ‘sects’ of Judaism and it is a mistake to lump them all together under one umbrella of faith.

PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES- The Elites of Biblical Times

Pharisees were everywhere. In the 400 year period between the Old Testament and New, the Pharisees grew in prestige and power. They roamed the streets, oppressing the people to follow all the mechanized dictates of their law. They had corrupted the Word of God by adding layer and layer of rules and regulations.
They used their teaching to indoctrinate the masses that God was pleased by their rule keeping. And as all religions of works do- created a spiritual class system of ‘compare and compete’. Pharisees were numerous, influential, and extremely proud and protective of their practices.
 The Sadducees were a minority. They were less visible, confining their sect to the Temple. They were strict constructionists… not accepting any text of authority beyond the five Books of Moses. They were the elites and in their aristocratic circles had found an ally in Rome.
Even though they were a minority, early historians comment that they were the most vile and ruthless in  fear and oppression. Pharisees were pragmatic and needed to get the participation of the people- Sadducees had the corner on the truth and did not care if anyone else followed- they had Roman firepower if they needed it.
Sadducees were most noted for their rejection of a resurrection because they could not find firm evidence for it in the Pentateuch AND they found the Pharisee’s fanciful speculation about it rather ridiculous.
It looks like the Sadducees are trying to kill two birds with one stone- take advantage of the Pharisee’s blunder (vs. 13-17 Questions “Render to Ceasar”) and show both Jesus and the Pharisees as ignorant of the true Word of Moses.
Paul wrote in I Corinthians: “we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.”
Intellectual elites tend to be engulfed in arrogance.
 Jesus’ response to their theoretical situation completely flies in the face of their self supposed superiority.
 “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” and again at the end of the passage, “You are quite wrong”.
To pile on, Jesus goes to Moses himself, to prove His assertion:
 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  He is not God of the dead, but of the living.
He uses their own proof text to destroy a hallmark of their twisted theology.
C.S. Lewis has the famous quote in his book, The Great Divorce,: 
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell chose it.”
As I walk the aisles of Barnes and Nobel, I see rows and rows of writers who in arrogance proclaim that either God is not there or He is not needed. They are modern day Sadducees who deny the resurrection and use their proof text of reason.
The antithesis to this is to cry out to God for a heart of humility, a yielded spirit, and a will that is open to His rule.
And I fear those who clinch their fist- bow up and live according to the facts as they see them. Men are not omniscient enough to be that sure. last reality... the adversarial wind of secular critics is not going away anytime soon. And I doubt you will ever WIN any arguments. The key is to follow the Lord's lead, love people, speak truth in love, and hope you win people in time.
  • Continue to challenge yourself to avoid the traps of intellectual elitism. Those who enter the kingdom of God do so in childlike trust and humility.
  • Don’t use your dogma to dominate others. This doesn’t mean you can’t take hard stands, but reason with others, winsomely persuade opposition, and diligently pray for those who resist. Hard to do on the internet.... take time with people.
  • Those who are MOST wrong are those who see no possibility of being wrong.
  • There are absolutes- even Jesus says the words, ‘You are wrong’.
  • That is the beauty of the gospel message- it is not about those who are right,  it takes care of the humble sinners who are wrong.