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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Evangelicals for Trump, Atheists for Clinton

Notional Christians: The Big Election Story in 2016 -- "Religion played a significant role in the election, from the activity of dozens of national religious leaders, to the importance of various faith-related issues, to the high level of turnout among key segments of faith-driven voters."

On November 15th, I referred to an article that painted with a big brush -- the lesser educated supported Trump. Well, one might paint with an equally big brush to suggest the atheists supported Clinton (that’s sort of true, but generalizations can be misleading). To be more specific in our understanding, consider reading the above linked article.
Evangelicals emerged as one of Donald Trump’s most ardent bases of support. Nearly four out of five (79%) voted for Trump, compared to 18 percent siding with Hillary Clinton, providing the Republican candidate with better than a four-to-one margin. Non-evangelical born again Christians also gave the President-elect a comfortable margin, 56 percent to 35 percent. The remaining Christian-leaning segment, the notional Christians, essentially split their vote, providing Trump with a scant two-point preference (49% to 47%).
Among the non-Christian groups, Clinton was the clear preference. When it comes to the voters who associated with a non-Christian faith, 71 percent selected her while only 20 percent backed Trump. Skeptics also preferred Clinton but by a smaller margin (60% to 27%).

Monday, December 05, 2016

Neither Do I Condemn Thee

“Neither shalt thou commit adultery.” (Deuteronomy 5:18) “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. (Deuteronomy 22:22; cf. v. 24 “...ye shall stone them with stones that they die.”)

Many Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem loved the law and hated Jesus. They sought to underscore their perspective that his teachings were contrary to the law they loved. John 8:3-11 describes an incident of a woman taken in adultery. She sinned. She broke the law. The scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus in order to hear what He would say and see what He would do. They condemned the woman, but by their actions condemned themselves as well. When we consider this woman and her situation, we perceive:
  • Her sin was apparent – “this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.”
  • Her judgment was certain – “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?”
  • Her accusers were aloof – “This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.”
  • Her judge was just – “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
  • Her accusers were confounded – “they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience…”
  • Her judge was compassionate – “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?”
  • Her sin was forgiven – “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
The record is forthright that the woman was guilty of the sin of adultery. It is unquestionable that the law prescribed death for this crime. The text also masterfully unmasks the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. They doted on the law, but disregarded its application. If “this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act,” then there was a man who should have been brought as well. He escaped the shame and was excused from judgment. The law required “they shall both of them die.” But the correct application of the law was not their primary intent. They were detached from the woman and her case, and focused on what Jesus would do. They tempted him. If they could catch him in an error regarding the law, they could accuse him of wrongdoing. That’s what this was about, first and foremost.

The “judge and jury” responded in a way the scribes and Pharisees could not have guessed. His words and actions vindicate the law, condemn the false actions of the religious leaders, and grace to the adulterous woman – all in a way that leaves no loose end for the scribes and Pharisees to unravel. Jesus did not contradict the just claims of the law. His initial lack of response and final answer, rather, left the woman without accusers. Rather than casting stones they – convicted by their consciences – walked away from the proceedings, leaving the woman alone with Jesus. “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” Deuteronomy 17:6 (Cf. also Deuteronomy 19:15)

Under the Law there must be agreement between two or three witnesses. Now there are no witnesses! When Jesus asked the woman whether there were any accusers, she answered, “No man, Lord.” Whom the men would not accuse, neither did the Lord. He came not to condemn. We are already condemned. We need no help with that. He came to save. That we cannot do ourselves. (Cf. John 3:17-18) O what gracious words are these! -- “Neither do I condemn thee.”

Christ did not find fault with the law. He did not ignore the woman’s guilt. While the woman’s sin was covered with grace and forgiven, it was not excused. She was to “go, and sin no more.” This statement acknowledges the sin and reproves and calls for repentance. No, Christ did not find fault with the law. He did not ignore the woman’s guilt. But in Christ law and grace are fully embraced and fulfilled. Through the propitiation provided by his blood, God “might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Cf. Romans 3:23-26)

It is appointed that men must die. The wages of sin is death. But, like the adulterous woman, by the grace of God – and only by grace – we walk away from death, our sins forgiven.

“Neither do I condemn thee,”–
O words of wondrous grace;
Thy sins were borne upon the cross,
Believe, and go in peace.

“Neither do I condemn thee,”–
I came not to condemn;
I came from God to save thee,
And turn thee from thy sin.”

Chorus:
“Neither do I condemn thee,”
O sing it o’er and o’er;
“Neither do I condemn thee,
Go and sin no more.”
(James McGranahan, 1885)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Hero Pit Bull, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Speaking God's Grace

Excerpts from “Christians Speak of God’s Grace, Not of Their Works” by Daniel E. Parks, October 30, 2016

Paul the apostle exhorts Christians “Let your speech always be with grace …” (Colossians  4:6)...some professing Christians speak otherwise, as though saying “My speech will be of my works.” 

  • Some say “I found the Lord.”  Others say “I was lost, but the Lord found me” (Luke 15:3-6; Luke 19:10).
  • Some say “I accepted Christ.”  Others say “Christ accepted me, and then drew me to Himself” (Ephesians 1:6; Jeremiah 31:3).
  • Some say “I let Jesus come into my heart.”  Others say “God removed my old stony heart, and replaced it with a new and living heart, and then occupied it as its ruler” (Ezekiel 36:26ff).
  • Some say “I was saved because I chose the Lord.”  Others say “I was saved because the Lord chose me” (2 Thessalonians 2:13f).
  • Some say “I made Jesus my personal Savior.”  Others say “God made Jesus to be the Savior of His people, and Jesus gave to them repentance and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).
  • Some say “Let me tell you what I have done for God.”  Others say “Behold what Jesus has done for me!” (Luke 8:39; Mark 5:19ff).
  • Many at the Final Judgment will say “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” – but Jesus will reply “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” (Matthew 7:22f).  Others say “I hope to hear Jesus say to me at that day, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matthew 25:34).


Friday, December 02, 2016

Should women wear dresses to worship?

Should women wear dresses or skirts to worship (as opposed to pants)? This may not interest many of you, but it was discussed on a blog I read. I thought I'd bring the question to my blog and see if any reader would comment.

Should women wear dresses to church? Is it wrong for women to wear pants to church? How much of this is tradition and how much is scripture?
  • Is women wearing pants a "wearing what pertains to a man" issue? (Deuteronomy 22:5 - The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.) Are pants designed for women man's clothing? Are pants inherently man's clothing? If this is a "cross-dressing" issue, isn't it wrong all the time and not just at church services? (Are Scotsmen who wear kilts violating Deuteronomy 22:5? Thought I'd throw that in for good measure.)
  • Is women wearing pants possibly a modesty issue? (i.e., are dresses inherently more modest than pants?)
  • Is women wearing pants possibly an issue of casual versus formal dress (i.e., are dresses inherently more formal than pants)? If so, is wearing "casual" clothes to worship a scriptural issue?
What scriptures guide us in this matter? Most agree that there is a scriptural principle for dressing modestly, while often disagreeing on the exact application of how to obtain that. If pants "drawing attention to the crotch" is a modesty issue (as some say), is it also so for men? Do dresses draw attention in other ways? Are pants for either men or women mentioned as attire in the Bible?

Does the law being done away have any effect on its use in discussing this issue? Is Deuteronomy 22:5 a ceremonial law or moral law or possibly both?

What does the Bible say about specific clothing? What is the first mention? With many things we find an important principle when first mentioned in the Bible. The first mention of clothing or attire is in Genesis chapter 3. Obviously the fig leaves were not acceptable, but what about what God clothed them with? Genesis 3:21: "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them." One thing I notice is that the same word is used for that with which God clothed both Adam and Eve. Did He violate His own principle? Have we created new rules that He did not?

What are your thoughts? Thanks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"Post-Truth"

Writes Amy B. Wang in the Washington Post, “It’s official: Truth is dead. Facts are passe.” Oxford Dictionaries has selected “post-truth” as 2016's international word of the year.

“The dictionary defines ‘post-truth’ as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.” But, according to author Amy Wang, “In this case, the ‘post-’ prefix doesn't mean ‘after’ so much as it implies an atmosphere in which a notion is irrelevant...”

According to Wang and Oxford, the Brexit referendum in England and Clinton-Trump presidential election in the U.S. caused “usage of the adjective to skyrocket.”

In our complex society that often rejects the idea of objective truth, it is commendable to think that some folks regret we have arrived ‘post-truth’. The rejection of objective truth has led us to this state of affairs. Yet, all do not agree on a solution. Where there is much ‘post-truth’ and ‘false-news’ a number of folks arrive at the solution of censorship. The government or the elite should decide what is ‘truth’ and limit expressions outside of their truth.

Is this the solution? No. The better solution is more speech -- free speech -- which allows the truth the opportunity to win out in the conflict of ideas. What we need is not censorship, but for people to be taught to think and become responsible for their acts and the consequences thereof.

For us who are Christians, may we be reminded that we should “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).” “...believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God (1 John 4:1).” We should search the Scriptures, whether what we think is in them and to know whether those things are so. This usage of “strong meat” exercises our senses “to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)

Ultimately, truth is found in the person of Jesus Christ. (John 1:17; John 5:39; John 14:6; Ephesians 4:21)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Traveling through Texas - Ambiguous Appellations

Whacky Texas county and place names

When you arrive in Burleson, you won't be in Burleson County. You'll have to go to Caldwell to be there. But if you want to be in Caldwell County, you'll need to go to Lockhart! Texas is a big place, and we have our "normal" names, where city and county names match -- like Goliad in Goliad County, Nacogdoches in Nacogdoches County and Refugio in Refugio County, or Brownwood in Brown County, Floydada in Floyd County and Jacksboro in Jack County. On the other hand, we failed many times to get the right city in the right county! For examples:
  • Athens is a city in Henderson County, Texas, while Henderson is in Rusk County, and Rusk is in Cherokee County.
  • Beaumont is in Jefferson County, while Jefferson is in Marion County, and Marion is in Guadalupe County.
  • Bellville is in Austin County, while Austin in Travis County, and Travis is in Falls County.
  • Brownsville is Cameron County, while Cameron is in Milam County, and Milam is in Sabine County.
  • Lockhart is in Caldwell County, while Caldwell is in Burleson County, and Burleson is in Johnson County.
  • Ozona is in Crockett County, while Crockett is in Houston County, and Houston is in Harris County.
  • Plains is in Yoakum County, while Yoakum is in Lavaca County, and Lavaca (now Port Lavaca) is in Calhoun County.
  • Sonora is in Sutton County, while Sutton is in Robertson County, and Robertson is in Jasper County.
  • Woodville is in Tyler County, while Tyler in Smith County, and Smith is in Wood County.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ride a fast horse, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

"Speak the truth, but ride a fast horse." -- Old West Texas cowboy saying often used by Jim Hightower

"The recession won't be over until we raise a generation that knows how to live on what they've got." -- Dave Ramsey

"Sin makes you stupid. It causes you to become blind to the consequences that always follow your fall." -- Brad Whitt

"If men had concocted this story they surely would not have designed the ancestry of the LORD JESUS CHRIST to have come through such a convoluted and checkered parentage." -- Mike McInnis

"I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ at his judgment seat, you will think you have had enough." -- John Brown, addressing young preachers

"I cannot tell how the truth may be; I tell the tale as 'twas told to me." -- Sir Walter Scott