Saturday, November 24, 2012

On Black Friday

For years, the day after Thanksgiving meant “shopping.” For me, it meant “football and stay away from the mall.” Then, the stores started opening earlier. And then ridiculously earlier. Now, “Black Friday” begins on Thanksgiving Thursday. I think it’s gone too far.

The problem is not capitalism, as some would argue. The solution is not government intervention or a socialistic economic system. The market does a great job dealing with supply and demand. The problem is not money. Despite the teaching of some, being rich is not inherently wrong. It’s not even necessarily wrong to be one of the 1%.

The problem is people.

Business decisions made by people and shopping decisions made by people play their roles in supply and demand. The market, which is morally neutral, works. But, if people made the decision “I won’t shop on Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving is about celebrating who God is and what He has done,” the stores couldn’t stay open (no demand). If businesses (run by people) said “We’re going to honor Thanksgiving and keep our doors shut until Friday,” the shopper would have no place to shop (no supply).

Frankly, we shouldn't be surprised that people will look for “the deal” and that stores will offer “the deal”. The market is amoral. The principles of Free Enterprise work no matter the day.

But as a Christian, I want to show people (kids, grand kids  and whomever else might notice) that some things are more important than “a deal” or “making money.” I have no problem with people choosing to shop on Friday. But wouldn't it be great if enough people stood up and said “No thanks. It might cost me some money, but I am not going to shop on Thanksgiving. In fact, I’ll wait until x o’clock Friday to shop so that I’m not using Thursday to get ready for Friday.” Wouldn't it be great if some businesses decided to sacrifice some profit by choosing to stay closed until a reasonable hour Friday to honor the holiday and to allow their employees to celebrate?

These decisions aren't initially driven by supply and demand. They start with someone choosing to follow what they believe is right, not what makes the most sense economically. But if enough people on either side make the decision, the market would follow.  

Be the oddball. Shopper, stay out of the stores until a reasonable time Friday, even if that means you won’t get “the” deal.  Business owner, keep your doors closed until a reasonable hour Friday.

Yeah, I know I’m posting this a few days too late, but maybe we can start thinking about it for next year.

Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. Don’t let it become about shopping and “deals”. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus who came to die for our sins that whoever believes in Him receives eternal life by the grace of God. Don’t let it be about “stuff.” No matter if you and I alone follow this path, practice sacrifice for a higher purpose. It’s worth it. You might even choose to sacrifice and give to others in need instead of spending money on "stuff", but that’s food for another post.

Happy Thanksgiving  –  Merry Christmas. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Sky is Falling, We’re Turning Communist, and Other Post-Election Goodies

Obama won the 2012 presidential election. That made some people happy and some less happy. I’m in the second group. But, this blog isn't about Obama, Romney, Ron Paul, or anyone else. I’m writing about how we can respond.

Here’s what I can say with certainty: I have no idea exactly what will happen during the next four years. Well, that’s not true. I have some ideas, and many I do not believe are good. But the 2012 election is behind us, and the fact is that Obama is our President. So, how do we respond?

“The Sky is Falling”

I seriously doubt the world will come to an end because Obama was elected. I write as a Christian, as one who believes the truth of Scripture. Truth that says God controls who rises into power (e.g., John 19:10-11, Dan. 4:25, Isa. 13:17). In the United States, He works through the ballot box (we have input). But Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

If you are pro-Obama, you won’t ask this next question. But if you are anti-Obama or “Obama neutral”, you may naturally ask, “Why did God permit this man into office?” Here’s what I can say with certainty: I have no idea (you must admit I’m consistent). But I know of several possibilities! It could be that he is the man America “needs” to build our country (although, to be honest, I have a hard time believing this). It could be that he is the man America “deserves” as a consequence of any-of-a-hundred cultural sins. It could be that God is judging America. It could be that God is pushing Christians in America to get off their duffs, to quit chasing the American dream as their primary purpose, and to instead pursue kingdom purposes. (I’m not saying we ignore the American dream, just move it into “second place”.) Regardless, we should seek the welfare of the city (county, parish, state, country) as we live an even-more secular culture, just as Israel was commanded to do when they were taken by the Babylonians (Jer. 29:7).

Life might well be harder during the next four years. Life for Christians in particular might become harder during the next four years. Only time will tell with any certainty. But whether life gets harder or not, God doesn't change. And, frankly, God says he uses trials to grow us (e.g., James 1:2-4), although I’d prefer to grow without trials J. As a believer, I need to “live by faith” even in a messy world (Gal. 2:20). It might not be easy, but am I willing to trust God no matter what?

We’re turning Communist / Socialist / Martian

Frankly, it won’t surprise me if in the not-too-distant future, our culture looks more like post-modern Europe than many of us want. I hope that’s not the case, but it looks likely. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Obama really wants us as a socialist country (I’m not interested in commentary on whether he does or not – I’m simply stating it for the sake of argument). He is not the sole cause; maybe not even the primary cause. He’s just the latest step. For example, welfare came into being to “help those in need”. However, it created dependence, not independence, and it’s been around a long time. Our culture has largely lost the “if you don’t work, you don’t eat” (I am not lumping people who legitimately need help in this discussion) and the “help equip those who need help to stand on their own two feet” ethics. For a host of reasons, we've developed a culture that practices yome. (Yome = “You-owe-me”. A secretary from my engineering days taught me this word). Only time will tell if we continue along this path or change as a culture.

Communist? No, but not impossible. Although the philosophy of “communism” must have a socialistic economic system, not all socialism must be communistic. This one I call, “Overreaction”.

But no matter what, God is still God. I am still called to be faithful to Him and walk in faith.

What should we do?

Pray a lot (1 Tim. 2:1-3).
Respect the office, even if you don’t respect the man.
Get your hands dirty. Instead of saying “they shouldn't ” (whomever “they” are or what “they” shouldn't be doing), get involved with others. Educate people one-on-one. Help them see how to work and the value of work. You get the idea!
Read Economics For Dummies (or something similar) to learn or relearn basic economics (of course, some of you already know it well. You are exempt J.) I think too many of us don’t understand the basics.
Don’t believe everything you see, hear, or read (maybe believe nothing). For example, I've seen a host of half-baked videos that distort facts, but people pass them along as truth. Check the facts, check the facts, and then check the facts.
Stop diatribes on Facebook and other venues. Your fans already believe you; your “enemies” won’t be convinced. Don’t pass on ad hominem attacks, half-truths, and anything else that inflames. Pass on “the truth and nothing but the truth”. If you pass on opinion, identify it as such. Offer positive  suggestions about how to get involved.
Do get involved in the political process. Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Try to influence politicians, but…
Remember, a believer's true citizenship is in heaven and we are primarily ambassadors here. So, while influencing the culture, do so in a Christ-like way and serve Him first and foremost. This kingdom may fade; His never will.

I don’t know exactly what will happen in the next four years. Obama is my president, just as Bush was my president before him. Doesn't matter which (if either) I support. Things might improve; they might deteriorate. I have my suspicions. Either way, take a deep breath, trust God, get involved, and live with kingdom purposes in view.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Things I Won't Miss After the Election

Probably should have written this months ago. Such is life!

Every presidential election matters. As American citizens, we have both the privilege and responsibility to express our views via the ballot box. In this political process, we have the privilege of disagreeing with one another. Depending on our individual world views, these differences can be significant!

What bothers me most about our disagreements – and what I will absolutely not miss after the election – is how we disagree. Too many of our disagreements include name calling, ad-hominem attacks, statements taken out of contest, sound-bite statements against our opponents, propagating statements without checking the truth of those statements, propagating those same statements even after discovering the truth, blitzing the social media with all kinds of “noise”, and so on. It happens with the candidates themselves (see, “Debates, any of them”) on down to the man in the street.

It bothers me most when Christians do the same thing. We should be different in our approach. We forget (apparently), or choose to ignore, that “love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44) and “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21) applies even to our political “enemies”. I've seen too much of the opposite, where we act just like the world in the way we attack the other side (whether attacking from a Republican, Democratic, or Independent perspective).

Dean Merrill wrote in his book Sinners in the hands of an Angry Church: “You cannot shout people into holiness. It just does not work.” The same applies to political views – you (and I) cannot shout people into changing their views.

Some will (and some already have) incorrectly conclude from my comments that I think Christians ought to be passive, or that my theology doesn't allow thinking correctly about political issues. Both views are wrong. Should we be frustrated, even angry, at some of the actions and platforms that candidates hold (whether in office or running for office)? Absolutely! Should we try to influence the political process? Absolutely. Should we try to hold wrong-doers accountable? Again, absolutely. Should we be bold? Yes! Should we speak our convictions? Yes!

But I do think we need to check how we respond. Whether I like a particular incumbent is immaterial. If the incumbent has not personally earned my respect (in my oh-so-humble opinion), the office has (or should). The Bible commands us to pray for our leaders, not just the leaders we like (1 Tim. 2:1-3), a command Paul wrote while Nero “served” as emperor. Peter wrote, also during Nero’s reign, to “honor the King” (1 Pet. 2:17), even though Nero was in no way a godly or moral man.

So, what should we do if we disagree?

  • Pray. A lot.
  •  Fact check before passing on “facts”.
  • Check context before passing on quotes. Don’t pass on quotes taken out of context.
  • Choose not to pass on anything whose primary purpose is to inflame.
  • Don’t rationalize our actions with words like “I’m mad”, or “They’re an idiot”. Both might be true, but that shouldn't drive how we act (if you’re married, does the “I’m mad” or “you’re an idiot” approach work with your spouse? Thought not!)
  • Address specific issues with facts to support your thoughts.
  •  Use social media wisely – don’t bury people with “stuff”.
  • If you are a believer, remember your demeanor should reflect Jesus. (I can hear now, though, the argument, “Jesus was pretty harsh with the money changers, so I’m okay.” The problem with this comparison is that Jesus’ harshest words were towards the religious leaders of the day for leading their people down the wrong path, not towards the political leaders or for political issues).
  • Listen to the viewpoints of our opponent. We don’t have to agree, but we can be courteous. We might even learn something! I asked an Obama-supporter why she supported him. But, I preceded the request by telling her I simply wanted to learn; that I would not use her words against her. I think she replied because I treated her with respect, even though we disagree.
  • Don’t resort to name-calling. The gap is huge between “This is a lie" (or appears to be a lie)” and “He is a liar”.
  • Finally, ask yourself – is this how I want to be treated?

I suspect I’ll get shot at by some. Again. But I want Christians to think on a higher plain. Jesus’ kingdom purposes should trump my political views. Representing Jesus should direct how I respond, not my flesh (Did you know Paul included “hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, and dissensions” in his list of “the deeds of the flesh”, Gal. 5:20?). Remember we serve as an ambassador of our real home (1 Cor. 5:20, Phil. 3:20) therefore, represent that kingdom well as we work in this kingdom.

For me, this is the test: Based on reading my Facebook posts, reading my blogs, hearing my discussions with others, and watching me in the public arena, would an outside observer say, “He spoke the truth in love”? Or would he say something else? I hope the first is true.

Stand firm; raise issues; address error. But do it in love. How we dissent is at least as important as that we dissent. And if you do it in love, you’ll confound your foes – they won’t know how to respond (Rom. 12:20). J

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Myth of Sexual Purity

Did I pull you in with the title?

It’s not really a myth. It’s just too rare. No surprise, we live in a highly sexualized culture where problems like pornography, pre-marital sex, and a culture sliding away from sexual morality all tug hard against purity.  

Does it matter? Is purity possible?

Imagine an ideal world. No one gives in to sexual temptation. Everyone enjoys sex within the boundaries of marriage, as God designed (yes, I know this is a Pollyanna view, but let me dream). What would happen?

The multi-billion dollar porn industry dries up.
Prostitution disappears.
Sex trafficking ceases.
No babies born outside of wedlock.
With fewer single-parent homes, poverty rates in America decrease.
Abortion rates drop drastically.
Guilt from sexual sin never rears its head.
Marriages become stronger.


Back to reality. The truth is, sexual temptation tugs constantly, and many yield– including a high percentage of practicing believers. We won’t fully see the above results this side of Jesus’ reign on earth when He returns. But until then, we can put a small dent in the problem, one person at a time.

That raises two obvious questions: (1) Can we experience purity, and (2) Do we want to experience purity?

The first question is simple to answer. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16). The language here is strong! The biblical answer is, we can. Of course, getting from theory (“we can”) to practice (“we do”) isn't easy, but the truth that we can remains unchanged.

The second question is tougher. Many times when we yield to temptation, we do so because we want to. A friend once said, “If sin weren't fun, no one would do it.” So, I must decide if I want sexual purity to characterize my life and my individual choices. On paper, this seems easy, but on a moment-by-moment basis, it often isn't. Sometimes we want the wrong thing. Like any aspect of my Christian life, the desire to follow Jesus is stronger at some times than others

So, let’s assume believe purity is possible and we want it. But what is “it”?

Too often we limit the definition to what we don’t do. We use words like “flee immorality” or “no sex outside marriage”. Both statements are absolutely true, but they give only part of the answer. Purity is so much more than what we don’t do. Usually (always?) when God says “Thou shalt not”, he also says, “Thou shalt do this instead.” This holds for sexual purity. After commanding us to “flee immorality”, He commands us to“glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:18-20).

Here’s how I tie “thou shalt not” and “thou shalt do this instead” into a definition of purity:

I experience purity to the degree that I make godly choices
Ø  by avoiding all inappropriate sexual activity;
Ø  by enjoying appropriate expressions of my gender;
Ø  by enjoying appropriate relations with the opposite sex;
Ø  by honoring God, myself, and the other person with my heart, mind, eyes, and actions.

Yeah, I know it’s long. The abridged version is “I experience purity to the degree that I make godly choices.” And, to keep this blog from turning into a book, I can do no more than highlight each piece of the definition.

Sexual activity involves more than intercourse. It includes any activity that, taken to its logical or desired end results in orgasm; any intentional touching of sex organs (even through clothing); any “eyeballing” of someone; or any sexual fantasizing.

Inappropriate sexual activity happens when anything or anyone other than our spouse gets our engine started. Avoiding this is the “thou shalt not.” Everything else is “thou shalt do this instead.”

Enjoying appropriate expressions of my gender recognizes God made us sexual beings. Being male is part of who I am. We have freedom to be “manly men” and “girly girls”, so long as we don’t cross the line into what’s  inappropriate. Use your imagination!

Enjoying appropriate relations with the opposite sex simply means we can enjoy being with the opposite sex as long as we recognize boundaries. “Appropriate” with my my wife differs from “appropriate” with my secretary or my wife’s friends or my neighbor. It means unmarried people can enjoy dating with appropriate touch within the “don’t get your engine started” limit.

Honoring God recognizes that God is always glorified when I choose to follow Him in faith and live His way – in this case, following His way for sex. Always.

Honoring myself recognizes that I am the temple of the Holy Spirit and that I am living as the person God desires me to be.

Honoring the other person recognizes that other person is created in God’s image, and is not an object for my pleasure. Even if “the person” is only a picture, video, or fantasy. It recognizes that the other is someone who may become (or already is!) someone else’s spouse. Honoring the other person recognizes that God gave “rules” for sex to protect each person and to provide maximum possible joy with one another. In other words, I treat the other person like the person God designed them to be.

With my heart, mind, eyes, and actions simply means sexual purity involves my entire being. All of me.

So there you have it – sexual purity in a thousand words (give or take). Of course, I could say much more, especially about practical steps to experience this purity, about how to handle slips (a nice word for “sin”), and so on. For now, all I can do is challenge us to believe purity is possible, to encourage us to want it, and to broaden our idea of what purity looks like. I hope I've helped on any of these three levels.

I’ll close with some shameless self-promotion – If you want more information in general, have any specific questions, or want information about me presenting a sexual purity workshop for your church, men’s group, or school, e-mail me at or message me on Facebook.

Monday, October 1, 2012

How to Help the Wrong Candidate: Vote Third Party or Don't Vote!

Two problems can influence the coming elections. Okay, I know there are more than two, but only two that I’ll address in this blog! One is voting for a third-party candidate; the other is not voting at all.

In 1992, Bill Clinton defeated George H. W. Bush for President of the United States. Clinton won 370 electoral votes to Bush’s 168. Interestingly, however, he took only 43% of the popular vote, winning the popular vote by a plurality, not a majority. Bush took 37.5% of the popular vote, and third party candidate H. Ross Perot took 18.9%. Perot, however, did not win a single state and therefore did not carry a single electoral vote.

Electoral vote
States carried
32 + DC
Popular vote

Perot effectively split the conservative vote. I’m not saying Bush would have won if Perot had not been on the ballot because I have no way of knowing how (or if) those 19.7 million voters who voted for Perot would have voted. Nor am I making any moral evaluation of any of these three candidates. I’m simply using this election to illustrate that the problem with third-party candidates is that they rarely have enough support to carry the day and win the office. So, when we vote third party, we effectively vote for the candidate we least want to win. Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say the candidates from the two primary parties are Smith and Jones. One is more liberal; one is more conservative. You as the voter tend to be either more liberal or more conservative, so given just these two candidates, you would likely vote for the one that more aligns with your views. But the election is muddled – Candidate Fankhauser is also on the ballot. You are convinced Fankhauser better represents your views. Fankhauser could lean towards either the liberal side or the conservative side – the argument doesn't change. So, rather than use the labels liberal / conservative , right / left, democrat / republican, I will use the labels north / south simply to show that the candidates tend to be opposites in their overall views.

The ballot has Smith (North), Jones (South) and Fankhauser (also South). You are convinced Smith (North) is by far the worst of the three candidates. However, you are also convinced that Jones (South) is not the best candidate. You are convinced that Fankhauser (South) is the best candidate for any number of reasons. Maybe he is more southern than Jones (or less); maybe he alone holds to a particular view important to you. However, no poll shows Fankhauser having even a ghost of a chance of winning. However, he can carry some votes of those with a southern view. Effectively, he takes votes away from Jones, helping Smith (north). If ten people vote, 4 for Smith, 3 for Jones and 3 for Fankhauser, Smith (north) wins, even though the southern view captured more votes. And if I’m Smith, I love the idea of Fankhauser being on the ballot! (By the way, I realize that some of those who voted for Fankhauser might have leaned more to the north, and would vote for Smith and not Jones had Fankhauser not been on the ballot. But usually a third-party candidate negatively impacts one side far more than the other).

I can hear some teeth gnashing, because you may conclude (rightly) that I think it is better to vote for Jones, even though I think Fankhauser is the better candidate. Shouldn't we vote our conscience? Shouldn't we vote for the one we think is the best candidate?

The answer is yes… and no. Support your preferred candidate through the process, but if it is obvious he (or she) has no real chance of winning, it is sometimes the better option to vote against the worst candidate (in this case, Smith) than for my preferred candidate  by voting for the candidate that at least has a shot of carrying the day. No vote is ever wasted (i.e., we should express our opinion in the ballot box), but sometimes a vote can be ineffective. If keeping Smith out of office is a primary goal, then voting for Jones more effectively moves toward that goal. If I am okay with Smith in office, or if I believe Jones is equally bad, then voting for third-party Fankhauser poses no problem. That is rarely the case, however.

My point in all this is to vote effectively. Sadly, sometimes the vote truly does boil down to a lesser of two evils. Neither candidate is ideal. But often splitting a vote by voting for a third-party candidate who has no hope effectively puts the greater of two evils in office.

And that brings me to the second problem: not voting at all. If I really believe that both candidates are bad, and I choose to stay home and not vote, I again am effectively helping the greater of the two evils. In this case, only Smith and Jones are on the ballot. Let’s look at two scenarios: (1) I don’t like either candidate, but I am more concerned about Smith getting into office than Jones. I choose to vote for Jones, effectively cancelling out one vote for Smith, making it just a bit tougher for him (or her) to win. (2) I don’t like either candidate, so I don’t vote. Therefore, the vote that I cancelled in the first scenario stands uncontested, making it easier for Smith to win. Not voting helps the “more evil” candidate.

Here’s the bottom line. We should vote, and we should vote our conscience. However, as part of that “conscience” I need to include thinking about the effect of my vote. By not voting or by voting for a third party candidate who has no chance, I effectively help the candidate I consider “more evil”.

I have carefully avoided specific candidates, parties, or offices. The logic of my position is independent of those issues. If I am more liberal and the third party splits the liberal vote or if I am more conservative and the third party splits the conservative vote, the logical outcome is the same. The split vote helps the other side. Vote wisely!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How old is this old (???) earth?

“And now for something completely different!” This post and my last few posts have this in common: They are both written by me. And that’s about it!

It seems the question of creation and the age of the earth pops up with great regularity. Friends have posted blogs about it (I guess I’m adding to that list); books (new and old) address it; pastors speak about it; schools teach it (well, most teach evolution, which still addresses origins). Some Christians talk about it, some with great fervor.

Let’s back up from the age issue, though, and look at what I think is the core issue. Philosophically, the battle boils down to this: Is the earth and its creatures created or did they come about purely by natural forces and processes? Am I, as a human, created in the image of God or am I a glorified primate? The question here of where man came from outweighs the question of when he came. I think we must think about creation and the “age” issue on two levels. One is apologetics; the other is the text.

Before I continue, I must give three disclaimers:
  (1)    I am not saying the “young earth” view is necessarily wrong. You’ll see why I say this in the next section.
  (2)    I do not believe theistic evolution provides a valid explanation of origins (theistic evolution typically says God set the initial conditions (pre big-bang) and then allowed evolution to proceed, knowing it would eventually produce humanity).
  (3)    I am not advocating we ignore the biblical text.


When talking with an unbeliever or someone who hasn’t looked carefully at the issue of origins, we will almost always lose our audience if we introduce “young earth” too early in the discussion. Why? They are indoctrinated with the idea that the earth is old. Most science classes teach an ancient universe. And if young earth is even addressed in educational settings, it is usually ridiculed. So, our audience holds as true that the universe is old. Frequently, they turn us off as soon as we mention “young earth.”

In addition, if we hold a young earth view, we face a credibility issue. Most of us are no more than amateur scientists, if that. But, if we hold a young earth view, we must argue that every field of science is wrong where it touches on any aspect of origins. This includes astronomy, physics, geology, radiometric dating, biology, paleontology, and others. Might they be wrong? Yes (I won’t argue one way or the other here), but most of us do not have the background to evaluate the “party line” of the sciences, the critique of “the party line” or the critique of the critiques! Most of us have some knowledge of the basics, but we must rely on third parties to form our opinions. So, when we say “science is wrong,” the logical response (often unspoken) is, “you’re not a scientist – how do you know”? This issue is particularly relevant when we talk with someone who does have a background in science!

So, where can we start?

“Given that”

I heard this at a conference a few years back, and it makes so much sense. “Given that the universe is old, do we have evidence of design?” By saying this, I am not saying that the universe is old; I’m simply sidestepping for now the issue to get to more central issues: creation and the existence of the creator. Using the “given that” approach simply says, “I’ll grant you your point for the sake of argument. Even if your point is true, we still have evidence that supports creation. Let’s look at it.”

And the evidence does exist. Specified complexity (such as the “programming” of DNA). The fine-tuning of the universe. Irreducible complexity (such as cellular “motors”). The rapid expansion of the so-called Cambrian explosion (significant increase in genetic information in a short period of geological time). The limits of the change mutations can actually cause within an organism. These are not simply “God of the gaps” explanations (i.e., “we can’t explain it, therefore God did it”). Rather, they are “arguments to the best explanation” (i.e., parallel phenomena such as computer programming are the result of intelligent, creative action).

I fear too many people (aka, high school and college age kids) lose confidence in the Bible because we don’t arm them well enough with the “apologetic” answers. I want them – and us – to have confidence that science and faith are not mutually exclusive. And I want them to have confidence in the Bible.

The Text

If you know me, you also know I hold a high view of the Bible. I firmly believe it is our ultimate authority. So, in a discussion of origins, I cannot ignore the text! In the few words I have left, let me give four thoughts about the Genesis account:

  (1)    The facts of science and the Bible must agree. However, the interpretation of one, the other, or both might be wrong.
  (2)    The argument that says disagreement with an interpretation means you deny the inerrancy of Scripture is a false dichotomy. I found eight different approaches to Genesis One from writers who affirm the inerrancy of Scripture but interpret the passages differently (this group does not include theistic evolutionary approaches, although some theistic evolutionists such as Bruce Waltke hold to inerrancy). Not all such interpretations are equally strong, but the issue is interpretation, not inerrancy.
  (3)    The writer of Genesis (whom I believe to be Moses) wrote to an agrarian, non-scientific culture roughly 1500 years before Christ. What did he intend to communicate to the original audience? “Given that” we might disagree on the details of the Creation, we can agree that the text tells of the existence and nature of God, that He is the creator, that objects and creatures worshipped by both Egyptian and Canaanite cultures are created, that man is uniquely created in God’s image, that through the sin of the first created man, Adam, sin entered the world, and so on. These principles do not rise or fall based on the age of the creation.
  (4)    By all means, come to a conclusion about the interpretation of the text. Discuss it with others, but be gracious with those who interpret it differently – especially in public settings.

How old is this old (or not-so-old) earth? If you noticed, I didn’t answer the question. I have my convictions, but I’m not going to give them here. If you take a guess, some of you will be right and some of you will be wrong. Wrestle with the answer to the age of the earth; come to a conclusion about the age; but keep the main thing the main thing: that God created, not when He created.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Connecting with "Them" (a spin off from "The roasting of Chick-fil-A")

The crowd didn’t look like “my” crowd. Different clothes; different hair; different adjectives falling from their lips with great regularity; different topics of conversation. I won’t tell you where I was, because that’s not the point (it was no place inappropriate, that much I’ll say). But while there, the thought popped in my head, “If I were given a microphone and told to talk to this crowd, how could I ever bridge the gap between their world, which is much different than mine, and the gospel?”

How can we connect with, respond to, treat, and talk to “them”?

“Them” is anyone different than us. The crowd at the above event. The gay couple in the apartment upstairs.  The homeless man pushing his shopping cart down the street. The hooker on the corner. The cultural “untouchable” at the bottom of the social caste. The unmarried mom on welfare with a bunch of kids. The “undocumented immigrant” living down the street (and please don’t throw rocks at me for not calling them “illegal aliens” My point is to bring a face to mind, not stir a political issue).  The classmate who “parties”. The neighbor who supports “that” candidate or platform. The thief in jail. The liberal family member (or the conservative family member, depending on your bent).

In Jesus’ day, “them” included people like tax collectors, immoral women, lepers, Samaritans. “Them” looks different in different times and different cultures, but “them” always exist. So, how can we respond to, connect with, treat, and talk to “them”?

Let me offer six ideas (okay, I know I’m a math and science nerd who likes lists).

First, develop your convictions about our world. We shouldn’t start a conversation here, but we do need to know what we believe and why we believe it. I hold biblical marriage unites one man and one woman for life. As such, I think gay marriage runs counter to God’s design. That is my conviction, based on the Scriptures. When I talk to the gay couple in the apartment upstairs, I may refrain from saying anything, but I need to know what I believe so I can listen wisely. (By the way, I’m only using the gay marriage example because the idea for this post arose as I was thinking about the Chick-Fil-A issue, not because I’m a one-issue writer).

Second, humanize them. Here’s what I mean: I need to keep the “Pharisee in me” from getting out. I cannot become like the one who prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11). Do not view them as projects or by a label. “Them” are people, not just gay, or homeless, or poor, or …. “Them” are people made in the likeness of God (James 1:10). Like me, they have strengths and needs. Like me, they struggle with sin issues. Like me, they are imperfect. I need to remember that, like me, they need God’s grace. Like me, they are part of the world that God so loved (John 3:16). I’m not better than “them”.

Third, know that we have good news that “them” need to hear. The gospel message – justification by faith alone in Jesus alone – applies to any and all. The promise of “abundant life” (quality of life, by the way, not a promise of heath-and-wealth) applies to any and all who have trusted Christ. Since all of us “fall short of the glory of God”, none of us deserves grace. Those of us who have tasted grace have the greatest message in the world to present to “them.”

Fourth, show compassion first, not judgment. Someone once said he knew all the Bible verses about his lifestyle. Christians had thumped him with them repeatedly. But he said he started to respond to the words of Christ only after someone showed him the love of Christ. Compassion doesn’t mean we condone what others are doing (any more than we should condone our own sin), and it is faulty logic that leads someone from “You are opposed to gay marriage” to “therefore, you hate gay people.” Instead, compassion means we accept them as people with needs. Compassion looks like the tired but true cliché, “hate the sin, love the sinner”. And this compassion isn’t optional (Col. 3:12). Be good news, and then at the right time, tell the good news.

Fifth, as a friend of mine worded it, “get your hands dirty.” It is easy to write about “them” in my office; it is something else to associate with “them” in their world. Jesus did it. How many times is He reprimanded for spending time with tax collectors and sinners (e.g., Luke 5:30)? Peter did it (Acts 10). Paul did it and encouraged it (1 Cor. 5:10). Be the hands of Jesus in “them’s” world.  Get involved. (How, you might ask? Several books give practical ideas for involvement – e-mail me at and I’ll send you more information. Or, find someone who is already involved and tag along. Or, look for agencies in your community and ask them how you can help.)

Sixth, while getting your hands dirty, listen and be teachable. Being teachable doesn’t mean I will (necessarily) change my theology or my convictions about a particular topic, although I might. I may discover I’ve been wrong about something or overlooked something (using Scripture as the standard, of course). Even if I am right, listening and being teachable makes me step into the world of “them” and better understand them. I don’t have to agree with “them” to understand and empathize with them, but I do have to listen.

So, back to the story in the opening paragraph. As the evening wore on, several bridges came to mind (whether I would have the courage to actually speak had the opportunity actually come up is another issue!!). The beauty of the gospel is that it fits their world and their needs. The difficulty of presenting the gospel lies in empathizing with their world, finding a point of connection with “them”, and getting my hands dirty.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Roasting of Chick-fil-A (Part 2): What do I stand for?

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matt. 7:3, NIV)

I believe the Bible clearly defines marriage as one man uniting for life with one woman (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:4-5, Eph. 5:31). However, if I am honest, I must recognize that our culture accepts, the Bible speaks of, and too many Christians participate in practices in addition to “gay marriage” that don’t line up with this definition. Practices like divorce, sex outside of marriage, cohabitation, polygamy. I cannot “throw rocks” at one practice that doesn’t fit the definition if I “wink” at others. What do we do with this stuff?

Before I try to answer the question (in 1,000 words or less), let me give two broad disclaimers. First, the Bible tells us to “speak the truth in love” and to love “in deed and truth.” This post focuses on “the truth” side of the equation, as did my earlier post on marriage. We often tend to fall on one side or the other of “truth in love.” Sometimes we focus so much on truth we forget about love; sometimes we focus so much on love we dilute (or ignore) truth. But, we must think right before we can act right (or, to sound really intellectual, orthodoxy precedes orthopraxy), thus my reason for focusing on “truth.” It bothers me when Christians use harsh tones and harsh words when defending their views; it equally bothers me when Christians say things like, “it’s not up to me to say if it is right or wrong”. As believers, we must understand what is biblically right, wrong, or “gray”.

That leads to the second disclaimer: What we believe the Bible teaches as right or wrong does not, in itself, define how we treat people. That’s the love side. Jesus did not start his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well with the words “You are practicing sexual impurity. Therefore, you are going to hell.” He eventually got to the point of her lifestyle, but only after developing a relationship (John 4:1-30). Truth in love. Grace and truth. He did not “hate” her because she lived immorally. Similarly, in today’s world, it is bad logic to conclude that if I hold the traditional view of marriage, I hate anyone whose lifestyle differs from that view, whether gay or otherwise. But how we treat such people is stuff for a future post.

So, back to the question. Let me oh-so-briefly touch on the four practices that run counter to the one-man one-woman view of marriage. All four undermine traditional marriage, the Bible mentions all four, and the last three are widely practiced in our culture and among Christians.

Polygamy. Polygamy is not (yet) legal in this country, but people often use polygamy in the Bible as evidence that marriage need not be limited to one man united to one woman. The Bible records history – warts and all – without always commenting about the rightness of those events. That the Bible records occurrences of polygamy does not imply the rightness of polygamy; it simply records what happened. Second, with the exception of the (likely) rare case of Levirate Marriage (Deut. 25:5-10), polygamy never appears in a positive light in the Bible. Every record of polygamy paints a picture of a messy family. Kings in particular were commanded not to take many wives (Deut. 17:17). When they did, trouble ensued (e.g., 1 Kings 11:3). Third, the Bible mentions only a handful of polygamous relationships (a dozen or so). Most marriages in biblical times united one man with only one woman. Polygamy serves as an example that people did not always honor the one-man, one-woman standard, but it does not serve as a positive exception to that standard.

Divorce.  Divorce is rampant in our culture. For every two new marriages granted, one divorce is granted (which isn’t quite the same things as “half of all marriages end in divorce”). “No-Fault” divorce made divorce easy. And divorce creates all kinds of fallout within families. Granted, divorce is not unique to our culture and our era; even in Jesus’ day, questions arose about when divorce was valid. What did Jesus say about? “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.” Time doesn’t permit addressing any biblical exceptions permitting divorce, but as a whole, the Bible frowns on it. The ease of divorce in our culture certainly hurts the case for marriage.

Sex, sex, and more sex.  The so-called sexual revolution of the sixties changed the way our culture views sex outside of marriage. Now premarital sex is largely considered normal. In fact, one resource reports over 90% of dating men or women between the ages of 18 and 25 are sexually active. Multiple studies reveal a high percentage of men – married or not – access pornography regularly. Sex, designed by God as an act of intimacy between husband and wife (“and they shall become one flesh”) now serves only as something “we just do” in relationships. Too many no longer “flee” immorality; we “pursue” it. The prevalence of sex outside of marriage certainly hurts the case for marriage.

Couples living together (cohabitation). The woman Jesus encountered at the well lived with someone “not her husband.” Not widely practiced in biblical times, it is widely practiced today. Couples who live together do so for a variety of reasons. Some fear marriage because they have too few solid role models; some believe (in spite of contrary statistical evidence) living together provides a test of compatibility. Living together does require commitment, but of a different kind and a lesser degree than marriage. Cohabitation certainly undermines the case for marriage.

If by holding to the traditional view of marriage I only mean I am against gay marriage, I am missing much of the picture. To be consistent, I must also recognize these other aberrations against traditional marriage. But divorce, pre-marital sex, and cohabitation are largely accepted by our culture (and too-much accepted within our churches), so we don’t see a cultural backlash against them. We’ve knocked many pillars out from under traditional marriage; gay marriage is but one problem. It simply draws fire whereas the other issues do not. Perhaps they should.

I do not hate gays, any more that I hate divorcees, those who give in to sexual sin, or those who live together. What I stand for is God’s ideal, for marriage, for strong families, for purity.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Roasting of Chick-fil-A (Part 1): Am I really a bigot?

Someone recently called me a bigot – repeatedly – because I hold the same views about marriage as those espoused by Chick-fil-A executive Don Cathy. Am I really a bigot just because we disagree about an important issue?

Here’s the problem (ok, here’s just one of many problems related to this issue). If I hold an incorrect and belittling view about a person or a group of people because of an error in my thinking, then I could well be a bigot. The dictionary uses words like “prejudice, hatred, intolerance” when defining the word “bigot”. But, if I hold a correct view based on what is right and wrong, then I am not a bigot. The question then becomes. "What is the standard to decide right and wrong?" And that answer is not simple. We accept what culture says is right or wrong, what our conscience says is right or wrong, what some outside source says is right or wrong, or some combination of these. And since we will not all agree on the standard, we certainly shouldn’t expect to agree on the answer!

Personally, I accept the Bible (an “outside source”) as my standard of right and wrong. Some people will reject my conclusions at this point because they do not accept the Bible. That’s okay – my point here is not to convince someone about the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible. And some may accept the Bible but disagree with my interpretation. That’s okay, too. I’m willing to listen to other interpretations, but be aware that I came to my conclusions after a lot of study over a lot of years!

Let me jump back a few generations. In the not-too-distant past in America, you would often hear “Racially mixed marriages are wrong”, particularly marriages between whites and blacks. Are the statements “Gay marriage is wrong” and “Racially mixed marriages are wrong” functionally equivalent? If the second statement reflects prejudice and bigotry, does the first as well?

To answer this, let’s see what the Bible says. In three different passages, we find a definition of marriage. The author of Genesis, after describing the creation of the man and the woman, says this: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24, NIV).  Later, Jesus responds to a question from the Pharisees about divorce with this challenge:  “Haven’t you read … that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matt. 19:4-5). And when Paul describes marriage, he quotes Genesis:  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Eph. 5:31, NIV). Both Jesus and Paul viewed the Genesis description of marriage as the standard and the ideal. Each of these three references clearly says a male (singular) and a female (singular) unite in marriage and become one flesh.

Now, let’s go back to the two questions. A racially mixed marriage does not contradict this description of marriage in any way. The race of the male and female is not addressed in these passages at all. Nowhere does the Bible teach the inferiority of any race. In fact, the equality of races among Christians is explicitly stated when Paul says “There is neither Jew nor Gentile … for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 2:28, NIV). If I hold the view that racially mixed marriage is morally wrong, even if I am completely convinced of the truth of this view, I am basing my beliefs on the erroneous view that races are not equal despite the teachings of the Bible. I should very well be labeled a “bigot”.

But the second case differs greatly. In the case of gay marriage, something does not, in fact, fit the description. The sexes of the two partners are clearly defined in the passages! “A man” (male) unites with “his wife” (female). In this case, I am basing my belief that gay marriage is wrong on what I understand the Bible says about marriage. At this point, we are left with four options: (1) reject or ignore what the Bible says (and, if you are a Bible-rejecter, we’ll have a difficult time coming to agreement on the issue of gay marriage!), (2) redefine what the Bible says based on culture, (3) change our understanding of the text after careful study reveals we’ve interpreted it incorrectly, or (4) accept what the Bible says, convinced we’ve interpreted it correctly. I think this last option fits my understanding of marriage. I believe in the traditional view of marriage – the uniting of one man and one woman. If you think the Bible teaches otherwise, I am willing to listen. But don’t try to sway me with emotions, opinions, or generalities. If I am wrong, show me from the text.

Sometimes, we must draw a line in the sand and say “this line marks the difference between right and wrong!” I do not hold my view despite the teachings of the Bible but because of the teachings of the Bible. Since I believe the Bible is inspired by God, I believe it defines the ultimate standard for right and wrong. I should not therefore be labeled a bigot – especially by other Christians. Name-calling does nothing to advance a discussion.

Keep in mind that holding this view says nothing about how I should respond to gay people (I should treat them in love), how our government should respond to the issue, or the wisdom of the “where and when” I (or anyone else) should state these views about marriage– that is the stuff of other posts. I am simply defining what I believe about marriage and why I hold that belief. And, just like the Chick-fil-A executive, I have the right to hold this view and state my views, especially in a country based on religious freedom, freedom of speech and “tolerance”.

I can hear a thousand questions in response to this post, such as: Aren’t there exceptions in the Bible? What about polygamy? What about the beliefs of those who don’t believe in the Scriptures? How should we treat gay people? Don’t they deserve to be happy? How should I respond to those with whom I disagree? Should we “impose” biblical standards on our culture? Shouldn’t I be more tolerant of other views? What about other situations that don’t seem to fit the biblical definition of marriage, such as divorce or cohabitation?

All great questions (he says modestly about his own post). I don’t have space to answer here, but I will! Watch for “The Roasting of Chik-fil-A (Part 2)”!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

For Whom Should I Vote?

Let me disappoint you early. I am writing neither a diatribe against any candidate (incumbent or otherwise) nor a letter of support for any candidate. Instead, I want to think a bit about how and why we should vote (and yes, I believe every Christian eligible to vote should vote).

First, beware of three lines of faulty logic about voting (I’m sure there are more):

(1)    “I am not going to vote because…” I’ve heard Christians give two different reasons for this conclusion. First some say,” we are “only passing through this world, so it really doesn’t matter”. Second, some say, all the candidates are “evil” so they would only be voting for the lesser of two evils. Here’s the problem with these conclusions. While it is true we are “only passing through”, we should still be good stewards of this world while we are here. None of us knows when Jesus is returning, so we need to care for our world as if He is not returning soon. I want my grandchildren to enjoy the same freedoms I enjoyed. And it may be true that we perceive our choice as “the lesser of two evils”. The error in choosing not to vote if I perceive all my choices as bad is that I have indirectly cast a vote for the greater of two evils. If I vote for the “lesser” I at least offset a vote someone else cast for “the greater” of the two evils. I must admit that sometimes I have voted against Candidate A more so than for Candidate B. So, in my oh-so-humble opinion, neither reason to forgo voting holds up logically.

(2)    “My vote doesn’t count.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this. And in many elections, that may be the case, but sometimes a single vote does matter!  In 2011, a coin flip decided the winner of a council seat for the small town of Rock Hall, MD, after two candidates tied in the election. In 2004, only 133 votes separated the winner and loser of the Washington gubernatorial election – roughly four votes per county. The ballots were counted three times. The first and second count showed one candidate the winner; the second recount resulted in the other candidate being declared the winner. So, your vote might not make a difference, but then again, it might! (Want to see more close election results? Visit

(3)    “The government will / should _______” (you fill in the blank). I’m not sure where the thinking originated about the government giving money and I don’t know why anyone would think a government-run program will be fiscally sound. As I write this, the national debt nears $16 trillion dollars – or over fifty thousand dollars per citizen. They government spends more each year than it takes in, meaning, the deficit is getting larger. Try that with your personal checking account! The vast majority of federal revenues come from taxes – money out of our pocket. You might argue, “Raise corporate taxes!” – but that just takes money out of our pockets indirectly – the corporation must pass on its costs to the end-user. The bottom line is this, no government can supply “free” anything; the only money it can spend comes from revenues it takes. I’m not denying we have problems like poverty, college education costs, medical care, and a host of other issues that need to be addressed (which I won’t address here). Just don’t get sucked in to the line that “the government will provide / fix” because to do so, it must take from its citizens before it can “give” anything.

Second, remember that as Christians, we have dual citizenship – and our primary address is not this world. While we are to be a good stewards of this world, our greater purpose is to be “ambassadors for Christ”, representing and promoting God’s purposes first and foremost. Back in the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan asked the question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” I would change the question today to “does our country (city, county / parish, state) promote morality, justice, mercy (defined biblically) more than four years ago?” I’ll admit different people will define and weigh aspects of morality, justice, and mercy differently, so I’ll leave the terms vague for my purposes here. Ask, does the candidate promote biblical principles, even if he or she doesn’t know they are “biblical” (Prov. 16:12)? Keep in mind, someone who is not a believer can still promote biblical principles and someone who is a believer can promote non-biblical issues. And the primary issue should not be pocketbooks or tax rates.

Third, Paul write “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1–2). I think a “quiet and tranquil life” includes the freedom to practice our faith without interference. On a grander scale, is the government keeping its nose out of places it should not be? Again, I’ll leave this undefined here, but, government bureaucracy tends to be less efficient and compassionate than other means for those tasks outside the government’s legitimate roles.

So, vote – even if you feel your best options is for “the lesser of two evils”. Even if you don’t think your vote matters. Vote for the candidate that best promotes morality, justice, and mercy – based on his or her track record, not based on campaign promises. Vote for the candidate whose policies best promote the freedom to practice our faith. Take advantage of the privilege we have to influence who occupies governmental seats, with a view towards kingdom purposes. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Kony 2012 - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I must confess – I really don’t have “good, bad, and ugly” to write about, but I thought the title might get a few more people to read this. My motives are not pure! Maybe that’s the ugly part. Let me say up front – this is not an evaluation of the Kony2012 campaign (but please, don't stop reading!). Instead, I want to reflect on some ideas prompted in my thinking by the campaign.

First, we live in a very messy world. A world largely ruled by unbelievers. A world with many evil people. A world that will not experience full healing until the return of Jesus. Kony is but one man in a long list of cruel men in Africa who have ruled or created havoc across the continent (think of people like Idi Amin, Muammar Gaddafi, Robert Mugabe, Félicien Kabuga).[1] In fact, Kony may not even be the worst figure in recent African history![2] In saying this, I am not denying the horrors that have occurred at the hands of Kony and his people.  Abducting 66,000 children since 1986, and committing who-knows-what horrors certainly qualifies him as heinous and worthy of justice (although I must admit, I’m a little uneasy about what “justice” at the hands of a Ugandan and/or Congolese army looks like). However, we must not think the battle is done should Kony be eliminated. He is only one of many problems we must face.
Second, the makers of the Kony 2012 video make two statements (well more than two, but only two that I’ll mention) about Kony worth noting: “Nobody knows him”, and he’s “not important enough” to garner U.S. attention. The first statement is generally true (I’ll come back to the second later) – few people knew about Kony. But that is likely true of the vast majority of “international villains”. Of the four names I listed above, you probably knew the first two, fewer of you knew the third, and I suspect very few knew the fourth! (By the way, Kabuga is “accused of bankrolling the Rwandan genocide, inciting bloodshed through his radio station and even supplying the machetes and hoes used in the massacres… of more than 800,000 Rwandan men, women and children in 100 days.”[3]) I decided to look up a “World’s Most Wanted List”, a list once headed by Osama bin Laden. Not surprisingly, the internet provided several such lists; the most recent that I read listed Kony as number seven, Kabuga as number six[4]. I knew only one of the remaining eight names, and that is only because of his association with bin Laden. So, saying that most people did not know about Kony is true, but that should not surprise anyone, nor should it necessarily serve as an indictment against anyone. Sadly, we live in a world with too many bad-actors to keep up with them all.
Third, how rapidly the video went “viral” demonstrates how easily we can stir passion about an issue. But, passion must be balanced with knowledge. I am reminded of how often things get spread that, upon some investigation, turn out to be fraudulent, out-of-date, or incorrect on some level. In fact, “” and other websites exist to help us discover the “real”, the “false” and the “partially true”.  So, we should absolutely stir and act on passion, but we must do our homework first. Check the information before passing it on. Make sure as best you can that it is solid and current. For example, where is Kony now – Uganda or someplace else, as best as we can determine? Is “International Children” a solid agency? Whether they are or not does not change my point here that we should check them out, as we should any agency we don’t know. I am willing to bet that the vast majority of people who passed the video on knew little or nothing about them.
Fourth, I heard many respond to critics of the project with the sentiment “doing something is better than doing nothing”. Sadly, that is not always the case! For example, giving money to a need is sometimes helpful, but sometimes counterproductive. Simply giving money away may develop a sense of entitlement in the recipient and may not really solve the core problem (see, “Welfare System, United States”).  I am not saying we should not give money to causes, but we need to give money, training, equipment because it helps, not just because it makes us feel better to do “something.” Doing a “right” something is the key. True compassionate care focuses on the needs of others,
Fifth, the campaign should make us evaluate how we expend our energy and resources. I should be generous with my time, money, and talents, but I’m limited in what I can do. The world has far more needs than any one person or any one ministry can address. How do I decide what to address, what is “most” important? What is most important: Justice against Kony? Or against Kabuga? Or against the abortion doctor down the street who takes who-knows-how-many lives? Or against the Mexican drug cartels just across the border? Or compassion for the homeless man in the shelter? Or mercy for the remote village that desperately needs a water well? There is no right or wrong answer – all these needs, and more, are important. How you prioritize them shows something about the passion God has given you. And remember to be gracious to those whose priorities and passion are different in kind or intensity than yours!
Sixth, the video forces us to think about when America as a nation should insert herself into the affairs of another country. The Kony video asserted Kony “wasn’t important enough” to garner U.S. attention. I’m not sure that is a fair statement. Fundamentally, should the U.S. actively pursue every evil actor in the world? Opinions about when the government should get involved run from never getting involved outside of the United States to getting involved on every front. Most of us lie someplace between those extremes, and we won’t always agree. I suspect that some of the same people who say we should help pursue Kony are the same people who argue we should not have done xxxx (you fill in the blank).  
I hope Kony is brought to justice. I hope the campaign challenges us to think “outside the box”. Whether or not we agree with it individually, I hope it forces us to carefully think about our own convictions. And I hope each of us acts upon the convictions we hold, for the glory of God.

    [1] I’m not singling out Africa, per se. I mention it simply because it is Kony’s turf. Obviously, countries on other continents have faced (or are facing) the same sort of cruelties!

     [2] For more on recent African history, read Martin Meredithe, The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence (New York: Public Affairs,Inc.,2005)

     [3] See footnote four below