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Giving Good Gifts

Half-baked thoughts: I believe people are essentially bad, but not without hope. How/why would I believe that "nonsense" when many could just point to the Billy Graham's or Bader Ginsberg's of the world as examples of how spectacularly good people can be -- if we would only think and act rightly? I guess I believe it because God appears to have said as much in Matthew 7:11: "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" This makes sense to me because I have three suspicions about what is thought of as good today. See if they make sense to you...(1) good always seems to involve two or more persons. When someone does something that is *only* good for themselves, to the detriment of others, we call that bad/evil.(2) our good does not outlive us. It needs other people to appreciate and sustain it. Otherwise, it becomes neglected, corrupted, forgott…

Standing in the Shadow of Babel Today

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Remember the story of the tower of Babel?  (Genesis 11:1-9). Consider it in light of our 2020. The post-flood nations of the world were living in the aftermath of a cataclysmic world event. They saw social distance and disunity as problems threatening their survival. So they began constructing a solution to bring them all together as one. God's response to this grand unification project? He decided instead to confuse them until they couldn't understand each other anymore. Sound familiar?Maybe you are like I was and are quite disturbed by this story. Something doesn't seem quite right or fair. Is God threatened by our unity? Is He scared we might actually outgrow Him? Overcome Him? And didn't Jesus pray for unity? Do Jesus and God disagree like rival candidates vying for our devotion? Is there an eternal Facebook war between the members of the Trinity?Simply, no. The problem arises (pun!) from a faulty understanding of unity. One that begins with us.The Unity God Does No…

To My Beleaguered Friends

A friend recently posted about not posting about our contentious historical moment(s) because of our contentious historical response(s). Follow me? Yes, it was not without some irony, but good wisdom had prevailed upon him. A mutual friend of ours warned it was probably a fools errand to expect any response other than the usual extreme vacillation of praise and rebuke the internet does so, um, well these days. Would that we all have wise friends like this. Who among us hasn't wrestled with the pressure to pronounce a kind of final judgement on all the idiots bumbling about in Covid-land? I know I have -- only to be cautioned into circumspection by my loving wife, by a friend who smells of smoke from his last run-in with rage posting, and my God who is exceedingly patient to listen. Slow to anger and speak. Indeed, it always seems to be the right time to share encouragement in Christ. And so in that spirit, I feel no twinge of guilt in sharing with you the thoughts I gave my friend…

What if they forget about God?

Ever wonder why Christians don't ask God to dash our enemy's children against the rocks? Or why we don’t cut off our own hands? Or gouge out our eyes? Even though these verses are found in the Bible?
One reason is because we are warned against a practice called proof texting -- the practice of constructing an entire theology from single isolated verses. We are taught instead to take the whole counsel of Scripture into consideration. Doing so helps protect us from serious error. We learn that Christ assumes our offense. The children sleep soundly. Our hands and eyes remain intact.
In a similar way, we should also be careful when tempted to judge someone's eternity based on single moments of failure; or even a prolonged season with a disease that robs its victims of their memory, identity, and rationality. Dementia presents a litany of difficulties for us to contend with. Sometimes these include concerns over our loved one's salvation. We wonder about it when they behave …