Integrity Versus Situational-Ethics

We are going to pause our march through the book of Daniel and consider Integrity and Situational-Ethics. They are, by definition, antithetical to each other, because Integrity requires that we do the right thing all the time, while situational-ethics allows for doing what is expedient in each situation. Situational-ethics doesn’t acknowledge any higher-authority, so our question is “Are they mutually-exclusive?

The core tenet of Integrity is that there IS a higher-authority, and that there ARE rules we are required to follow. There are safety-rules at a shooting range for a reason – to keep everyone safe, and if a person doesn’t follow them, they will be evicted from the range.

Integrity, a standard of personal morality and ethics, is not relative to the situation you happen to find yourself in and doesn’t sell out to expediency. Its short supply is getting shorter – but without it, leadership is a facade.” — Denis Waitley

The core tenet of situational-ethics is that there is NOT a higher-authority, that YOU are the captain of your own ship, that YOU are the master of your own fate, and “if it feels good, do it“. That autonomy has been tantalizing humanity since the Garden of Eden. The serpent tempted Eve in Genesis 3:4 with “You will be like God, knowing good and evil“. We know how that turned out, because we have been living with the fallout ever since.

We find this commentary on the moral conditions in Israel during the time of the Judges; “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) If that isn’t a recipe for anarchy, I don’t know what is.

Situational Ethics: When you decide the moral goodness or evilness of something based on the situation.

Theologians and philosophers have been debating this topic for centuries, but being neither a theologian nor a philosopher, we are going to look at it from a Biblical perspective. Two particular questions come to my mind; 1) Is it ever okay to lie?, and 2) Is it ever okay to break the rules?

Is it ever okay to lie?
The root of the question goes back to the ninth Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The short version is “Tell the truth.” I can already hear the cogs whirring with the question “What if telling the truth jeopardizes the life or well-being of another person?” “Would be okay to lie to save another person?

To answer that question, we are going to go back into the Old Testament to Joshua 2:1-7;
2 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”

So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.”

3 So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.”

4 Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” 6 (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) 7 Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate. (Joshua 2:1-7)

The first thing we should notice is that Rahab told a WHOPPER of a lie, not some “little-white-lie“. If that lie isn’t a violation of the 9th Commandment, I don’t know what is, but what is said later in the Bible about this event, and about her?

Because of her actions, Rahab and her family were saved when the Jews conquered Jericho. She married into a Jewish family;
22 But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” 23 And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel. 24 But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. (Joshua 6:22-25)

Her son was Boaz. Boaz’ son was Obed. Obed’s son was Jesse, and Jesse’s son was David. (Ruth 4:18-22)

She became an ancestor of Jesus Christ: 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. (Matthew 1:5-6)

She was inducted into the “Faith Hall-of-Fame“: 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:30-31)

She was highlighted as an example of faith in action: Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? (James 2:25)

One question that has intrigued me for years is “Was Rahab an innkeeper who supplemented her income in the bedroom, or did she operate a whore-house and also have rooms for rent?” The ethics and morality of the spies is never questioned even though they sought shelter in her home, and while she is often referred to as “Rahab the harlot“, she is never characterized as an “immoralwoman“. It’s almost as if her line of work didn’t really matter, because her actions spoke for her true character.

From a historical perspective, young girls were trained to be housewives, to cook, clean, please their man, and raise children, NOT to work outside their home, and they usually married when they were young teens. A widow, who was too old to remarry and didn’t have any children to support her, was often forced to become a prostitute just to put food on the table. Did Rahab find herself in that situation due to no fault of her own? Her future daughter-in-law, Ruth, was a young widow.

A much more recent example of people lying to save other people is the heroic people who hid Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust. Integrity, or situational-ethics?

Is it ever okay to break the rules?
Think for a moment… Have you ever been told to do something that you knew was wrong, when disobedience might have serious consequences? Did you obey and do what you knew was wrong, and regret it later, or did you do what was right, knowing that you could live with yourself regardless of the consequences?

We noted two incidents in our previous session of Warriors for Life, one from Daniel 3, and the other from Acts 4, where men refused to obey a “lawful-order“, and in both cases, they were prepared to accept the temporal-consequences of their actions:

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

We find a striking-parallel to Daniel 3:16-18 in Acts 4:19-20. Peter and John had been arrested by the Jewish authorities after healing a lame man, and they were ordered not to preach anymore… 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

They owed their allegiance to a higher-authority – God, and while they were living under the authority of a temporal ruler, that ruler wasn’t their ultimate-authority.

WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?
We are going to venture into Matthew 12:1-8 to see what Jesus did when He was confronted about His refusal to “conform“.

12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”

3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

The incident that Jesus referred to is recounted in 1 Samuel 21:1-6.

We need to note that, while Jesus wasn’t questioning the Sabbath as it had been established by God, He was redirecting their focus back to why God instituted the Sabbath and questioning all their additional regulations. Where they thought that God hadn’t given enough regulations in His law, the Jewish religious leaders piled more on. They would be great bureaucrats in our government today, and if you think the CFR is bad now, just let them get their hands on it.

Imagine taking your kids to a playground and finding that there were fences around every piece of apparatus with a set of rules for each. Rather than just frolicking and playing, they would be constrained at every turn. I wouldn’t blame them for never wanting to go back to THAT non-play-ground.

The Old Testament does not prohibit plucking grain on the Sabbath in order to eat – the disciples were not farmers engaged in the work of harvesting, and it couldn’t even been considered gleaning, let alone reaping. They weren’t “working” by any definition. Jesus not only exonerated His disciples, He also claimed to be the Higher Authority.

We are going to rejoin Jesus in Matthew 12:9-14, when He healed a man on the Sabbath. Talk about stirring the pot, He kicked it into high-gear.

Healing on the Sabbath
9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.

11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. 14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

This was only one a many times Jesus healed people and did other mighty works on the Sabbath, and in most cases, He double-dog-dared the religious establishment to do something about it, but all they could do was huddle in their enclaves and plot how to get rid of Him.

How are WE going to do?
The ONLY person who never got it wrong was Jesus. Every other person has blown-it, myself included, and I have blown-it many times. We have ALL blown-it, and may blow-it many more times before we take our last breath, but another essential part of Integrity is admitting it when we blow-it. We can all learn from David’s example in 2 Samuel 12. After David knocked-up Bathsheba, the wife of one of his generals, and had her husband murdered, God sent Nathan the Prophet to confront him. We see a fuller-picture of David’s repentance in Psalm 51.

Our society is coming dangerously-close to being as described in Judges 21:25, and if we don’t want that to be our epitaph too, we must be people of, and with integrity. It may be flawed and stuttering, but if our society is to survive, let alone thrive, we are going to have to be the people who hold it together. To do less is to deny that we have anything left worth saving.

Sola Deo Gloria!

Facing Who We Really Are

WARNING: Sometimes TRUTH is UGLY, and if you can’t handle the truth in all of its raw-ugliness, you may not want to read past this point. Nothing is candy-coated or censored. You may wonder “Why am I writing this way?” These are things I can’t deny, and writing them out makes them visible. Plus, I can’t weasel my way out of it.

An integral part to our healing is facing who we really are, because until we face and acknowledge who we REALLY are, we can’t grow past those chains that are holding us back. Why? Do you have, or have you had, broken-relationships? I have had my “fair-share” and then some. Losing my middle daughter to cancer past year was a grim-reminder that I have been leaving carnage in my wake for over forty-years.

I thought I was “a pretty good guy“, but if you believe that lie, maybe you would like some real-estate I have for sale, which is as worthless as what I thought about myself. In reality, I have been a pretty self-centered-asshole for most of my adult life.

God, much to my chagrin, is answering my prayer for Him to clean-out those dark-recesses in my heart that aren’t pleasing to Him, and I don’t like what I am seeing. God has been opening doors to chambers that have been collecting-dust for over forty-years, chambers, chapters in my life, that I would rather forget. Be careful what you ask for, because you may not like what you get…

What if something I said to Connie shortly after we got married plagued her til the day she died and may have contributed to her demise? I had told her that “she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket“. Did what I said make her feel “unworthy“, “less-than-adequate“? Connie has been gone since October 22, 1997, so I can’t turn-back the calendar and take-back those words. Yes, I was an arrogant-asshole. What if I really DO have blood on my hands, Connie’s blood? Words can kill…

What happens when a “virtue” becomes a “vice“? I grew-up poor, so taking good care of what was MINE, was a “celebrated-virtue“, but there are times when clinging to tightly to what is MINE is SELFISH. We really wouldn’t NEED that riding-lawnmower when we moved, but we took it anyway because my wife had bought and paid for it. Add SELFISH to my growing rogues-gallery. That is another dusty-chamber that hasn’t seen the light of day for almost forty-years. Been there, done that, and not proud of it.

Another one that hit me like a freight-train several years later was PRIDE. Aren’t Christians immune to pride? Doesn’t the indwelling of the Holy Spirit make self-obsession impossible? I wish the answer was “YES“, but sadly the true answer is a resounding “NO“. We aren’t immune to pride. In a previous piece, “Who Is YOUR “god”?, I mentioned a couple of things from my own life…times when I was self-obsessed…times when I was PROUD. My life would have been so much easier if God had decisively struck pride from my life, but He hasn’t.

“I wasn’t consciously proud. Maybe most proud people aren’t conscious of how proud they really are. But I felt that I had arrived. In ways that now shock and embarrass me, I thought of myself as a grace graduate. I didn’t minister out of my own need… In ways that are hard for me to imagine now, I thought I had spiritually arrived. I had a scary self-assurance.” (Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling)

I remember an event from 1997 which shows just how deep my pride problem is. As I was leaving a 12-step meeting, a friend, who had been in many meetings with me, turned to me and said “Steve, you are the proudest person I have ever met.” Had he not inserted the “Steve“, I might have been able to wonder who he was talking to, but he left no doubt. Why was I PROUD? What did I have to be PROUD of? Was it because I was an ordained Elder in a conservative Presbyterian church? I was in a 12-step group…for sexual addiction. I had fallen to the lowest of the low…sexual addiction, and I was a porn addict on top of it. That wasn’t anything to be PROUD of, but PRIDE had obviously come through loud and clear from what I said in those meetings. I was stunned. I was a PROUD sinner.

What if the root-cause behind arrogance, pride, selfishness and self-centeredness is IDOLATRY? We are created to worship, and the problem is WHAT we worship. There is no such thing as an “atheist“, because even though atheists don’t acknowledge that there is a God, they have set themselves up as the “supreme-being” in place of God, so their “god” is themselves. I mentioned that pride is in direct opposition to God. Why? Because, when we are proud, we are telling God that we are more important than Him. If we are more important than God, we are placing ourselves in His place, and we are demoting the very God of the universe. We are making ourselves “god“. It is that plain and simple. God and pride don’t mix.

If you are beginning to wonder “Is this what it will be like to face God on the judgment-day?”, this is barely scratching the surface. God knows ALL the thoughts and attitudes BEHIND our words and actions, all those deep, dark, nooks and crannies that nobody else sees. In reality, we are far more polluted, far more sinful, than we have the capacity to realize. When Isaiah the prophet saw God in all His glory, he could only cry out:

“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)

Who we are isn’t just about what we say and do, but it is also about who we are on the inside, our thoughts and attitudes, because our words and actions arise from our thoughts and attitudes. I was just reminded – again – that I have no room to judge anyone else. I received a call recently from a friend who told me something I was a bit surprised by, but shouldn’t be, because I have done the same thing. Why should I expect her to be any “better” than me? Just because her boyfriend got in her panties doesn’t mean that I never wanted to when she was my neighbor. I would be lying if I said that getting in her panties never crossed my mind, because it did, more than once. She’s a pretty cute gal. After all, I AM a man, and I am not dead yet, but she was more like my little-sister than someone I could be involved with romantically or sexually.

If you are thinking that this all sounds pretty harsh, you may need to be reminded of what Jeremiah 17:9 says; “The hearts is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?”(NKJV)

Is a rapist, pedophile, murder or abortionist really more “corrupt” than people who don’t do those things, or is that level of corruption ingrained in all of us? The verdict from Jeremiah 17:9 is that we are totally-corrupt. The ONLY difference is God’s restraining-grace.

Sin is a disease, and like its physical-disease analogues, it can’t be treated until it is diagnosed. Sin is soul-cancer, and like other forms of cancer, it may reappear at other times and in other places. I have a history of skin-cancer, and even though I haven’t had a skin-cancer in over five years, I can’t let my guard down. I HAVE to get checked every year, just in case, and those check-ups have to be thorough and all-inclusive. If it can’t be seen, it can’t be checked, so I can’t be bashful around my dermatologist. Yes, even “those” places need to be checked, because skin-cancer has the nasty-habit of showing-up in the most “unlikely” places. God is our soul-doctor and He sees EVERYTHING, whether we like it or not, but we have to be open to Him revealing what He sees. We can’t work with Him on what we don’t know about.

Circling back to the beginning: An integral part to our healing is facing who we really are, because until we face and acknowledge who we REALLY are, we can’t grow past those chains that are holding us back. Our healing from the cancer of sin is a life-long process, known as “sanctification”. In God’s redemption-economy, we are “justified”, made right with God, when we come to faith in Christ, but that doesn’t mean that we instantly sin-free, because we aren’t. “Positional-righteousness” is instantaneous, but “personal-righteousness”, becoming more and more like Christ, is a life-long process which won’t be complete until we take our last breath.

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15) These words, written towards the end of Paul’s Apostolic ministry, were not reflecting back on his life before his conversion, but were based on his growing awareness of his own sinfulness. Paul, though an Apostle, had not “arrived”. As I look back on my own life, Paul was a “rank-amateur” by comparison. If he was “chief”, I am “pro-grade”, but with the “bad-news”, Paul gives us the GOOD NEWS, the GOSPEL; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”, which means that He came to save me, and to save you.

How serious are you about becoming more like Christ?

Are you willing to embark on what may become an uncomfortable-journey?

Sola Deo Gloria!


God loves us as we are, but He is never content with leaving us as we are. He always wants more for us than we want for ourselves, particularly as it relates to our growth in personal-holiness. One of God’s most “severe-mercies” is showing us who we REALLY are by ripping our “mask” off…

King David is a classic-example of one of God’s “unmaskings“:

You are that man!
Nathan Rebukes David
12 Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said,
There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.
2 “The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.
3 “But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb
Which he bought and nourished;
And it grew up together with him and his children.
It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom,
And was like a daughter to him.
4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man,
And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd,
To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him;
Rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

5 Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. 6 He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.”

7 Nathan then said to David, “You are that man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’” 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. 14 However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” 15 So Nathan went to his house. (2 Samuel 12:1-15)

David would have been content for his sin to be kept hidden, “swept under the rug“, his own “dirty little secret“, but God wasn’t going to allow that to continue. God sent Nathan the Prophet to confront David with his sin, to peal his “mask” off and show him who he REALLY was, and that “picture” wasn’t pretty.

How long did those four words, “You are that man“, reverberate in David’s head, and echo in the halls of his palace? God wasn’t going to allow him to just “put the past in the past, and move on” either, as our culture would encourage us to do. NO! The rest of his life would be plagued by troubles, by the repercussions of what he did. His son, Absalom, DID rebel against his father, and he DID rape his father’s concubines in public.

There was treachery and rebellion in David’s family for the rest of his life. Yes, there were real consequences, beginning with losing that baby, that plagued David until the day he died.

God WILL break us…
God WILL show us who we REALLY are. It isn’t a matter of “if“; it is a matter of “when“, “where” and “how” He will break us. It may be an easier process for some than for others, but that doesn’t mean that it will be “easy“. Peter got “broken“after he denied knowing Jesus. Paul got “broken” on the road to Damascus, because God couldn’t use them to do His work until they had come to the end of themselves. It wasn’t pleasant for either one, and neither has it been for me, but God does it for our own good and His glory. It is difficult. It is painful, but most of all, it is humbling, because we don’t want anyone else to know who we REALLY are.

I DIDN’T want to confess my sin to anyone in my church because I have a pretty good reputation which I didn’t want to spoil, but God didn’t leave me that choice, so on a recent Sunday, I “spilled the beans” to some of the officers. It was hard, but it was liberating. Owning-up to my past became more important than saving whatever reputation I have.

God is merciful and just, but even as He is merciful, His justice demands that we acknowledge and own our sins. If we keep short-accounts, confessing our sins as we commit them, God doesn’t need to call us into account for them, but if we stubbornly ignore, or even deny our sins, sometimes He has to “take us to the woodshed”. It is not that God is angry with us, He loves us too much to let us get too far “out of hand”.

We tend to think pretty highly of ourselves, particularly if we compare ourselves to the “heathens” around us. If you read through the Psalms, it is almost shocking how many times David says “in my integrity”, and how many times he brags about “loving God’s law”, yet 2 Samuel 11 reveals a very different side of him, the knivingadulterousmurderer, so God sent Nathan the Prophet to wake David up to who he REALLY was. I may not have been as bold and brash as David, but I sure knew how to play the self-righteous “victim-card”, but God knows me better than that. God knows WHO and HOW we REALLY are, so sometimes He sends us a “reality-check” to pop our bubble. My reality-check came from losing my middle daughter.

Losing my daughter, and seeing how completely she had “painted” me out of her life, forced me to confront by role in destroying our relationship, and it wasn’t “pretty”. This doesn’t absolve anyone else of their roles in destroying my relationship with her. It just gave ME a strong “reality-check”. Only God knows ALL the facts, and it is up to Him to call them into account for their actions.

Final thoughts…
It would be easy for me to be upset or mad at God, but this was long past-due. As with David, God called me into account for my good and His glory. I will be a better man for it.

Sola Deo Gloria!

Too Good To Be True?

Have you ever received news that was so incredible that it sounded “too good to be true“? Have you had times in your lives when it seemed that all you EVER got was bad-news, when you felt like the next “shoe” was going to drop at any minute? I certainly have, and after losing five people, including three family-members, in the last two years, frankly I was, and am dreading what this year will bring, particularly after finding out a few days ago that a dear friend has terminal-cancer. What next?

The children of Israel had had hundreds of years of bad-news. They had been treated decently in Egypt, as long as Joseph was alive, but once he was gone, all hell broke loose. They had become slaves, slaves of a long line of narcissistic Pharaohs who built their empires on the backs of slave-laborers. Then, Moses came along…

2 God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord; 3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them. 4 I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. 5 Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. 6 Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.’” 9 So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage. (Exodus 6:2-9)

What should have been music to their ears was ignored, because it sounded “too good to be true“. After all, the last time that trouble-maker came to town, rather than liberating them from Egypt, Moses had provoked Pharaoh to make their work even harder. Now, they even had to gather their own straw, rather than having it given to them to make bricks with. Their slave-drivers got even meaner and more cruel than ever before. Maybe it was time to run him out of town on a rail.

Now, it wasn’t that God didn’t intend to liberate the children of Israel from their bondage, that these were empty-promises, He didn’t intend to liberate them – YET. They did have to undergo more pain and suffering before God DID liberate them from bondage, but He eventually did.

We need to make note of the last phrase in the passage, “on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.” There are times when we should be skeptical of seeming “good-news“, and it’s not wrong to question whether it is legitimate or not. People over-promise and under-deliver all the time, which may have been where the phrases “Talk is cheap” and “Put you money where your mouth is” came from. I’m sure there have been plenty of times when I over-promised and under-delivered, but not God. He ALWAYS fulfills His promises, even if it isn’t when we want Him to.

God NEVER forgets a promise He made. Several thousand years elapsed between God’s first promise of a Redeemer in Genesis 3:15 and its fulfillment on Calvary’s hill, but it came “when the fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4-5), and many more promises followed that one, but nobody to whom a promise was given lived to see that promise fulfilled. God keeps a different “schedule” than we do, and it can be hard on us.

It is also hard believing the promise of Romans 8:28 when things are going from BAD to WORSE, but a promise is a promise, and if God makes it, it WILL come true. As I noted in “Romans 8:28 – What It DOESN’T Say”, we aren’t promised that the “good” will come in this life. It also doesn’t tell us what the “good” will be, just that “good” will come from even our worst experiences. God determines the “what” and “when”.

Final thoughts…
You may have heard “If it sounds “too good to be true”, it probably is”, because we have all seen things that claim to be “free”, but the “shipping and handling” are more than the item is worth, so it behooves us to be wary of the “fine-print”. Sometimes “no-news is good-news”, or, “a silent-phone is a happy-phone”, because we can’t get “bad-news” if we don’t get any news at all. I don’t mind at all when my phone is silent for a whole weeks.

There is ONE piece of good-news that really is GOOD-NEWS, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to save sinners, of which I am “pro-grade”, so if God can save me, He can save anyone. That is one piece of good-news that “you can take it to the bank”.

Sola Deo Gloria!


Sex Is The “Rip-Stitch”

Have you ever tried to open a stitched-top sack, such as a large dog-food sack, by starting at the wrong end of the stitching? It can be done, given enough time and patience, but that is not how that sack-stitch was meant to be undone. When you start at the right end of the stitch, that rip-stitch will come out in short-order, but when it is in place, the stitch is as strong as the sack.

God is the creator and designer of sex. Sex was His idea, not man’s, and no, Satan didn’t invent it. God created us as sexual-beings. We don’t “become” sexual-beings when we start learning about sex. We are conceived and born that way. It is, literally, part of our DNA. We don’t “become” a boy or a girl by someone saying “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl” when a baby is born. Those are simply declarations of fact. Baby girls are BORN with enough eggs in their ovaries to last five lifetimes. Baby boys are BORN with the ability to achieve an erection, because baby boys have been observed with erections in the womb. Ask any mom who allows her toddler-son to run around naked how she can tell when he needs to use the potty? He has an erection, a “piss-hard-on“, just like men do occasionally.

The Bible teaches us about sex, and no, it is NOT all negative. The Song of Solomon is part of the Bible, and the pastor who claims to preach and teach “the whole counsel of God” but refuses to preach or teach through SOS, including the “juicy-parts“, is lying to you. He is preaching and teaching the “socially-acceptable” parts of the Bible. SOS isn’t the only part of the Bible that teaches us about sex. The Bible is our “handbook” for life, including our sex-life.

God put a “fence” around the “playground” of our sexuality, but religious teachers have insisted on erecting more “fences” around certain parts of that “playground” to “protect” us from the parts they don’t think are “appropriate“. Shouldn’t we accept that God is the one who knows best what is good for us, and what we should or shouldn’t do? Is it any wonder that kids who have grown up in the church are ill-prepared for marriage and sex, when all they have been told is “don’t do that“?

Marriage is stitched-together with many stitches, similar to that sack-stitch, but there is one master-stitch which holds it all together, and that is sex. Sadly, in many marriages, sex has gotten squeezed-out by many other things, things that may still be good, but they aren’t really as critical. They are secondary-activities.

When I wrote “Priorities – Time” five years ago, I put sex as the #3 priority, right behind worship and couple-time, and I still believe that sex belongs at that priority-level. Why did I put SEX as your number 3 priority? Tim and Beverly LeHaye, who are noted Christian writers and counselors, called SEX The Act of Marriage” in a book by that same name. It is THAT important! The couple that prays together, plays together (has sex), stays together.

I have seen far too many marriages falter, and even dissolve, and the common-denominator was a non-existent sex-life. When one or both spouses decide that they are “too-busy” for sex, or just “not interested” in sex, the beginning of the end has arrived. It will just be a matter of time before the rest of the stitches give-way too. Think about how a rip in a garment starts – with one stitch that gave way. Unfortunately, I also speak from personal-experience.

Connie and I weathered a lot of storms together, but as long as we had a vibrant sex-life, we stuck together. Once our sex-life started unraveling, the end was in sight. Three times a week turned into twice a week, and became even more sporadic because of the situation in our family. In October 1997, she took her own life.

Sandy and I never really had a robust sex-life, but when sex became rare, and rarer, the end was in sight. It still took another seven essentially-sexless years before our marriage fell completely apart, but the seeds were sown many years before – when she started refusing sex. Once every two or three years is NOT enough, and that is what ours had deteriorated to.

I know a couple whose marriage is on the rocks, and it is a sexless-marriage, which means that it is no “marriage” at all. It is simply two people who share a common last-name and have a piece of paper, know as a “Marriage License“. One has no interest in sex, so that critical-tie is missing. The other has made noise about filing for divorce. Yes, they are both Christians.

How did sex become so critical to marriage? God created us that way. Period! God could have created humans to “mate” or “breed“, but He didn’t. He created humans for a lifetime of sexual-fidelity to their spouse. Sex unites us on far deeper levels than just the physical, if that wasn’t deep enough. Sex creates emotional, psychological, neurological, chemical and spiritual ties. Chemical? Yes, scientists have discovered that when two people have sex, certain chemical endorphins are shared between them – chemical-bonds, which is why “one-night-stands” take such a toll on both partners. They leave a part of themselves behind.

Sex is foundational to a successful marriage. The first couple – Adam and Eve, were commanded by God to “Be fruitful and multiply(Genesis 1:28), and when God instituted marriage, He said “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall BECOME ONE FLESH“. (Genesis 2:24) The picture of “one fleshIS sexual union. It doesn’t get any closer than that.

The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote: “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over he own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1st Corinthians 7:3-5) Sex is NOT an optional activity for when you both “feel like it” or are “in the mood“. Sex must become a high priority in your marriage. It doesn’t get any clearer than that…

Sex is NOT an “extracurricular-activity” for married couples. It is one of the “core-subjects“. Imagine an English-major in college that didn’t require any English or writing classes, but included such things as “underwater-basket-weaving” or “butterfly-watching“. Whatever degree was conferred at the end of that curriculum would be totally-worthless. A marriage without sex is NOT a marriage. It is simply a legal-contract-relationship.

What about “couples” that don’t consummate their marriage until weeks, or even months, after they got “married“? They are NOT married, even if they appear to be. They aren’t even “friends with benefits“, because at least “friends with benefits” have sex. Sex is the “benefit“. They are just “roommates“, even if they sleep in the same bed. Many states allow for annulling “marriages” that have not been consummated within a certain period of time. Why did they get “married” in the first-place? Did they just want to be friends and roommates, and the only “legitimate” way to do that was to get “married“?

Would the maker of a garment deliberately skip stitches once in a while? Of course not, because skipped-stitches are weak-points in the garment. If fact, they reinforce stress-points with extra stitching, even a bar-tack. So why, in something as vulnerable as marriage, do couples skip those vital-stitches which help hold their marriage together?

Final thoughts…
You may be wondering why I wrote ANOTHER article about sex, as if I have already covered the topic “thoroughly-enough“, but it has become sadly-obvious to me that people STILL aren’t “gettingit“. The evidence is that the divorce-rate among Christian couples still hovers around fifty-percent, which I believe would start falling if the church would return to teaching biblical-sexuality, instead of tip-toeing around it and being stuck with the fallout. Maybe divorces are easier to deal with than the hard, frank, biblical discussions about sex and sexuality. After all, nobody feels compelled to cover their children’s ears when divorce in mentioned, but the same can’t be said when the topic turns to sex. That’s an “adults-only” topic…

Another reason I wrote ANOTHER article about sex is because we need to get the conversation about sex going within the Christian community. Sex has been a “taboo” topic among Christians for many years, but why should non-Christians have a corner on good sex information? With the Bible as our “handbook” for life, Christians should be at the forefront in disseminating biblical sex information, not “also-rans“. One Christian commentator I follow on Twitter is being pretty frank in her discussions about sex, and it is making a lot of people queasy, but why? Aren’t Christians supposed to talk about sex?

Does talking about sex make YOU queasy?

Sola Deo Gloria!

Confronting Our Own Delusions

If you are anything like me, you wear a “mask“, 24/7/365, not only to hide you from others, but to hide the REAL you” from yourself. Nobody is truly WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). We are master-illusionists, which is built around the delusion that we are “better” than we actually are. We don’t WANT others to see and know us as we are. We only want them to see the “mask“.

Building a delusion…
Building a delusion is ridiculously-easy, but dismantling that delusion is painfully-difficult. To build a delusion, all you have to do is find someone who you think is “worse” than you, and suddenly, you have “bragging-rights“. If you are “better” at something, you must be a “better” person, or not…

So you think that you are a “modelemployee“? You are ALWAYS on-time, or better, early, to work. You NEVER take more than your allotted-time for breaks and lunch, and you NEVER go home early. The “proof of the pudding” is your time-sheet. Check it out! But, what about that “slacker“, who is ALWAYS late to work, frequently takes more time for breaks and lunch than allowed, and frequently goes home early? You wonder why the boss puts up with a “slacker“? That is, until you find out that the “slacker” produces more “widgets” than you do, and theirs always passes inspection, and yours…you struggle to produce the ones you do make, and you often have to rework many of them for them to pass inspection. The boss is more concerned about how many shippable “widgets” there are, than how long it took to make them. Sorry, but you lose! Who REALLY is the “model-employee“? That person consistently gets top-dollar on their raises, but you haven’t had a raise in over a year. Who will get the pink-slip first? Ruh-roh…

So you think that you are a “good” driver, because you haven’t had an accident in five years? What about the truck-driver who has 2.5 million accident-free-miles under his belt? You haven’t driven 2.5 million miles, let alone 2.5 million accident-free-miles. Tell me, who is the REAL pro“?

It is easy to build delusions around virtually any pursuit in life, because we can ALWAYS find someone “worse” to compare ourselves to. But, are we REALLY any better than them?

Confronting and dismantling our delusions…
The first step in confronting and dismantling our delusions is realizing that we have them, and that what we believe about ourselves is a lie, a carefully-fabricated cover-up. Oh, we can still hold on to our delusions, but to confront and dismantle them requires that we OWN them, that we acknowledge them, that we come to a deep realization that they ARE a lie.

The great “delusion-buster” is the fact that there is ALWAYS a “higher-standard“, but most of us don’t want that “standard” to confront and dismantle our delusions. Sometimes we are FORCED to confront and dismantle them, which is a good thing, even if it is hard and painful. God is the great “confronter“, and He uses various means to open our eyes to our delusions. One of God’s most severe, and painful mercies is forcing us to see ourselves as He sees us, not as we would like to see ourselves. Yes, He meets us where and as we are, but He doesn’t leave us where and as we were. He always has a higher-plan for our lives.

Like Father – Like Son“, was my first confrontation with the lies I had believed about myself, that I was a “better” man than my dad. I wasn’t! I don’t remember what triggered that confrontation, but it had come, and it hit me like a freight-train. My second confrontation came when I discovered that I had lost my middle daughter to cancer – eight months later, and that nobody had bothered to let me know about it. It was a huge slap in my face to see that her family had even scrubbed my name from her obituary, as if I had never existed. That wasn’t the first time they had tried to paint me out of the picture. Her mother’s original death certificate had stated that she was divorced…NOT. I had to ask myself “What is wrong with this picture?

I started reading “Tender Warrior“, by Stu Weber, shortly after I discovered that I had lost my daughter. While I will never hold up Stu as the perfect-example of a husband and father, and neither would he, with God’s help, he has opened my eyes to who I truly was as a husband and father. Again, I had been comparing myself to my dad, and I always came out on top. Yes, in many ways, I had done a better job of being a husband and father than my dad had, but I fell far-short of who I should have been. Was I as bad as my kids thought I was? No, I may even been worse than they realized.

David and Bathsheba…
After David had sex with Bathsheba and got her pregnant, he had her husband, Uriah, murdered. God sent Nathan the Prophet to David to confront him with what he had done. Nathan told him a story about two men, one rich, and the other, quite poor. Not wanting to kill one of his own lambs to feed a guest, the rich man stole the poor man’s lamb, killed it and fed it to his guest. After David pronounced a scathing-judgment on the rich man, Nathan said “You are that man”. (2 Samuel 11-12:23)

Imagine those four words, “You are that man”, echoing throughout the palace, and in David’s mind for weeks, maybe even months. He couldn’t just “forget it and move on”. Ongoing events were constant-reminders of one of the darkest periods in his life. Five minutes of pleasure brought a lifetime of pain.

When I ask “What is wrong with this picture?”, I have to admit that I am part of what is wrong with that picture. My own actions contributed to the reasons my kids don’t want anything to do with me. That doesn’t negate the actions of others that contributed to our estrangement, but I have to “own” my part.

David didn’t get off Scott-free after his confession. His baby died shortly thereafter, and that was only the beginning of his troubles. His son, Absalom, tried to usurp the throne, and while David was on the run, he raped his father’s concubines – in public. (2 Samuel 15-18)

I haven’t gotten off Scott-free either. I haven’t seen my kids in over twenty-one years, and I still carry the pictures they gave me just before Christmas 1997 in my wallet. I don’t have any newer pictures, other than the ones I have found online. It is too late to make amends to Carrie, my middle daughter, because she passed away in April 2018.

Some people have suggested that I put my past in the past and move-on, but God hasn’t seen fit to allow me to do that. Instead, He still sends periodic-reminders of my past, as if to say “You haven’t dealt with this yet.

While God doesn’t send Prophets to confront us any more, He has a myriad of other ways to get our attention. I wouldn’t even put it past Him to erect a billboard, but He usually uses less-dramatic means, like hitting us up-side the head with a 2X4, or with a freight-train.

Solomon hit the nail on the head three-thousand years ago, when he said:
“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.” (Proverbs 16:2)

Reasons to lose our delusions…
This is NOT to say that confronting, owning and dismantling our delusions is ever easy, because it isn’t. We have built-in defense-mechanisms that jealously guard our delusions, and if we have had them for quite a while, they have become a subconscious part of who we are.

The work necessary to lose our delusions may even be painfully-difficult. Mine has been, and is. Oh, how I would LOVE to go back to being the “good-guy” I thought I was, but I can’t, because those “masks” have already been ripped-off. So, I have to face the cold, hard, truth that I failed as a man, as a Christian, as a husband, and as a father. I was NOT the husband and father my wife and kids needed and deserved.

Living with a “mask” on is hard work, because we have to make sure our “mask” is “just-right” all the time. We can’t live authentic-lives while we are wearing a “mask”. We are always “putting on a show”, so when we finally lose our “mask”, we don’t have to pretend that we are “better” than we are. We can relax and be ourselves.

God always sees through our “mask”. He knows who we truly are, and for our own good, He wants us to know who we truly are. One of our most pervasive delusions is that we can “save” ourselves, that we can actually make ourselves right before God by our own efforts. Earlier, I mentioned that there is ALWAYS a higher-standard, and that is the Law of God, as revealed in Scripture. That higher-standard applies to all parts of our lives. If we think we can keep God’s Law perfectly, we need only answer one question: “Do I love God with my whole being, 24/7/365?” I dare say that we can’t love God with our whole being for one nanosecond, let alone 24/7/365.

Only one person has ever kept the Law of God perfectly, Jesus Christ, and He kept it perfectly for His entire life.

The Good News…
Amidst all the gloom and doom, there IS GOOD NEWS. While we can’t make ourselves right before God, we can BE made-right before God. We can’t do it ourselves, but Jesus Christ can do it for us. See, not only did Jesus Christ perfectly live the life we cannot live, He died the death that we deserve, and His perfect life and death were validated by His miraculous resurrection from the dead.

When we abandon our delusion of “self-salvation”, confess to God that we CAN’T save ourselves, and humbly ask Jesus Christ to BE our Savior, we are given what we could never earn, a right-standing before God. Then, we can quit pretending.

Will YOU believe and embrace the GOOD NEWS?

Sola Deo Gloria!


More Murder, More Mayhem, More Questions…

It seems that barely a day goes by when our news-feeds aren’t lit-up by news of the latest mass-shooting, but why aren’t we equally-concerned with the unabated epidemic of fatal traffic-crashes? How many people are permanently-maimed in traffic-crashes compared to those who are permanently-maimed by gunshot-wounds? Nobody is proposing that we ban all motor-vehicles…

My baby-brother is a semi-quadriplegic because of a motorcycle accident on a gravel road. What if that road had been paved instead of gravel? Wouldn’t it have been more cost-effective in the long-run to pave that road rather to pay his long-term medical-bills and his disability-compensation, but because of where that road is, out in the country, in rural Arkansas, it is a safe-bet that fifteen years later, it STILL isn’t paved? What is even more striking about his accident is that he was a volunteer firefighter and was responding to a call…

We are also faced with an opioid crisis. People are dying from drug-overdoses at an epidemic-rate. Newer, and stronger drugs, such as Fentanyl, are getting into our mass-distribution system which were never intended to be used outside a hospital or doctor-supervised environment. Enough Fentanyl to kill tens of millions of people has been seized at our southern border. Prescription and hospital-use-only drugs have found their way into uncontrolled-distribution channels. What is our government doing about that? Stopping it, or aiding and abetting it…

What about the epidemic of medical-malpractice and mistakes? Medical-malpractice and mistakes kills more people than all the other causes combined, with the exception of abortion, which is deliberate-medical-murder. Another younger brother was an inmate in a medical facility, hospital or rehab, for almost ELEVEN MONTHS. All because of a wound on his foot that wasn’t treated properly. The medical mistakes and malpractice he experienced over that last eleven months contributed to over NINE MONTHS of his most-recent medical-incarceration. Would you believe it if I told you that this whole mess started over seven years ago – with a spider-bite, that wasn’t treated properly and got infected? The antibiotics he was given to treat THAT infection destroyed both his kidneys and his liver, exacerbating all his other problems. And now, he’s gone, never to go home to his wife and daughter. Rest-in-peace Brother.

Was this skimpy, sub-standard care deliberate? Was he considered “unfit“, “unproductive“, and therefore “undesirable“, and thus “disposable“? Did the fact that he was no longer “fit for duty“, thus, no longer “useful“, factor into the treatment-decisions that were made on his behalf? There is no doubt that his medical-bills were over a million dollars. Did that make him “unworthy” of better care? Did what he had contributed to society over the previous thirty-years not “matter“?

We are fallen, sinful people, and we demonstrate just how fallen and sinful we are by our actions, or inaction. Failure to properly-treat a wound may be a death-sentence for the patient. Don’t medical care-givers know any better? Of course they do, but they don’t DO better. WHY???

Recently, a sick little boy in England was “allowed“, no, REQUIRED to die because his doctors said “There is no hope“, and a Court refused to allow his parents to take him to another country where care had been offered, at no cost to his parents. After he was taken off a ventilator, he continued breathing on his own, but then he suddenly died. WHY??? It is suspected that he was EXECUTED by “lethal-injection“. WHY??? Was he no longer “worthy” of living?

Have we come to the point in time when we are starting to see a plan, shown to us by the novelist Lois Lowry, in “The Giver“, starting to be implemented? The government would decide who was “allowed” to have children, and who would be involuntarily-sterilized. Have we come to the time when all the “unfit“, “unproductive“, “disabled” and “undesirables” will be “weeded-out” of our society? In “The Giver“, people who make “grave-mistakes” or are no longer “worthy” of taking up space in that society, are “released“, put-to-death by lethal-injection – murdered. Babies who aren’t “perfect” are likewise executed and their bodies thrown in the trash. In parts of Scandinavia, autism and Down’s Syndrome have been all but eliminated by ABORTION. Who will be the next targets of abortion or euthanasia? Is this kind of “utopia” all it is cracked-up to be? Is it really a “utopia“?

China had a “one-child” policy for many years in an attempt to slow-down their population-growth, but that often resulted in girl-babies being aborted, because, if couples could only have one child, they wanted a BOY. There was one “minor” problem with that policy, it created a society with a large surplus of men without enough women to go around. To put it simply – men couldn’t find wives because there weren’t enough women. The result was that their population started shrinking, creating a labor-shortage. What if they hadn’t used selective-abortion to control their population-growth? What if they had created a culture which values both boys and girls, keeping their “one-child” policy intact, but encouraging parents to keep that little girl instead of aborting her? Population growth would have still slowed down, but they wouldn’t been left with an exaggerated gender-imbalance. One “solution” created another problem…

Have you heard of Agenda 21? It is a United Nations (UN) initiative, adopted in 1992, to make Earth, its environment and and population “sustainable” again. They believe that will require that the Earth be DEPOPULATED by 95% – by 2030. How will they accomplish that goal? Who will be “allowed” to live? Who will make that decision?

I recently became aware of the “The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement“, whose motto is “May we live long and die out”. Their goal is “Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth’s biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense.

Did you notice the similarity of purpose of both Agenda 21 and TVHEM? Both are driven by crass environmentalism, and both seek to solve the “problem” by depopulating the Earth. Agenda 21 would do It by force, TVHEM voluntarily. Did God create the Earth for mankind, or did He create mankind for the Earth?

Are we getting closer than we realize to the implementation of this plan? Why else would a sixth-grader be given ten pages of rules to memorize their first day of school other than to create a compliant cog in the system? NO school “needs” ten pages of rules to create a safe, productive learning-environment, but to get them used to “following the rules” without question…

I am sure that, along with already being “disabled“, being the independent-thinker that I am, I am a prime-target for “elimination“, along with many others like me. My brother and I were pretty much “two peas in pod“. We thought a lot alike. There is no place in this globalist “utopia” for people who can think and analyze things for themselves. Only “compliant-subjects” stand a chance…

I hate to be an alarmist, but I call things the way I see them, and I DON’T like what I am seeing these days. Do you have serious questions about what is going on in our world today? I sure do…

Do You Need Help?

That question is music to my ears – sometimes, but at other times, I hate that question with a purple-passion. Say what? Yes, there are times when I legitimately want and need help, but there are times when I could use some help, but am loath to admit it.

I wrote “Tired Of Being “Tough”” in September of 2017 about my struggles with handling all the losses I had had in the previous several months. That is one time when I am very grateful that help IS available, because since I wrote and posted that piece, I have had several more traumatic-losses, which now brings the number of significant-losses in the last two years to five. The last loss was in April 2018, my middle daughter, but I didn’t find out about it until New Year’s Eve. I lost my brother in July 2018, after a long illness. That is a LOT of losses for one person to process and handle at the same time. I am still seeing a mental-health counselor once a quarter, and I am thankful that he is there for me.

We have all been in stores when we can’t seem to find ANYTHING, at least not what we are looking for. WalMart is infamous for rearranging their stores in a seemingly-random manner, and even if we have been in that same store a hundred times, there is always something we can’t find, and only store employees know where it is. That is when I don’t mind asking, or getting asked, if I need help.

I was in Staples a few months ago looking for a new desktop computer, and one of the employees was there to explain the differences between the various models they have, and make recommendations about which one would best suit my needs. A new computer will have to wait a while, because I have several more important issues to take care of first. Thank you very much!

I called Tire Kingdom a few days later about two tires for my vehicle. The store manager graciously helped me select the tires that would best suit my needs, based on his many years of experience in the tire business, and what he runs on his personal vehicles. His recommendations verified my own gut-feeling, so my new tires were shipped in from their warehouse, and installed a few days later. I also found out that my vehicle’s brake pads and rotors were worn-out, so I had to have them replaced. Thank you very much!

Thanks, but no-thanks…
There are also times when I DO need help, but I am too stubborn to admit it. Maybe, it’s more like, too PROUD to admit it. I have needed those tires for several weeks, but haven’t had the money to buy them, so I have kept putting it off. Now, it is crunch-time, because I just don’t trust them, particularly on the highway, any more. I made the mistake of admitting to one of my church’s deacons that I need two new tires but don’t have the money for them, so he offered help from the deacon’s fund. Thanks, but no-thanks!

2017 was a different story, because my refrigerator died suddenly in March, and I didn’t have any choice about accepting help to buy a new fridge because I didn’t have the money. I was able to maximize the help by getting my new fridge on sale. That helped me be a good steward of the resources God provided through my church.

In the early 90’s, my family and I were subsisting on my very-meager income – $200/week. We certainly would have qualified for food-stamps, but we were too self-sufficient (PROUD) to apply. My wife was the only person I have ever met who could pull something out of an “empty” pantry and an “empty” refrigerator and put a meal on the table for a family of six thirty-minutes later. We could have eaten “better” on food-stamps, but we never went hungry, thanks to her creative-genius in the kitchen. We thought that other people needed that help worse than we did. Thanks, but no-thanks!

Why was 2018 any different? I know that I wasn’t as frugal with my resources in the last year as I should have been, but, then again, I was counting on some income to help pay me extra expenses which never materialized. That left me in a bind as far as taking care of my own needs.

I have been taught to “own” and accept my choices and decisions, for better or for worse, and to deal, as best I can, with the outcomes. Maybe I am too stubborn, or maybe I am too proud, but I can’t accept financial-assistance to buy my tires. Thanks, but no-thanks!

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight
46 Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” 50 Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road. (Mark 10:46-52)

Bartimaeus couldn’t have descended much lower of the social-scale. He was blind, and a beggar. Only lepers were “below” him, and even servants and slaves “ranked” higher than him because they could at least work for their living. When he heard that Jesus was coming, out of desperation, with nothing to lose, and potentially everything to gain, he called-out to Jesus; “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus’ reputation had been spread far and wide, so Bartimaeus had probably heard many stories about His miraculous-healings. Would Jesus help him? Why did he throw aside his cloak when he was led to Jesus?

Do you detect a bit of “imagery” here?

50 Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”

What did Bartimaeus call Jesus when he made his request? “Rabbi” was the typical title for religious leaders, but Bartimaeus called Jesus “Rabboni“. “Rabboni” is Hebrew for “my master“, a recognition of and submission to Jesus’ authority. Who else called Jesus “Rabboni“?

Since Bartimaeus was claiming Jesus as his master, he may have not wanted to appear before Jesus dressed as he was. That cloak may have been all he owned, and was probably little more than a rag. There was no shame attached to nakedness in the Bible, other than the shame associated with extreme-poverty or enslavement, so Bartimaeus’ only “shame” would have been his poverty, symbolized by his tattered cloak.

God commanded Isaiah, in Isaiah 20, to prophesy barefoot and naked for three years against Egypt and Cush. When they were conquered by the Assyrians, they would be led-away as slaves, barefoot and naked. Isaiah’s nakedness symbolized how they would be treated when they were conquered. It was also to serve as a warning to Israel, which had, contrary to God’s command, made a defense-pact with Egypt and Cush. It was not “shameful” for Isaiah to prophesy naked, but they would be shamed in their captivity.

After Bartimaues made his request to Jesus, Jesus healed him immediately, saying; “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

Following Jesus, in gratitude for what He had done for him, was the natural-result of this incredible miracle. There are many other instances when Jesus healed people and they became His followers.

What about us?
We are constantly putting on a “show” for others, and ultimately for God, but why? We try to pretend that we have it all together, that we are self-sufficient, and that we have everything under control, and while we may fool the people around us, we can’t fool God. He sees us naked, as we are, stripped-bare of all of our pretenses, so why do we try to fool Him too?

Regardless of the resolution of my financial-situation, there is one person I, and you, need never be ashamed for asking for what we need – God. He already knows our needs before we ask Him, so why aren’t we willing to take our needs to Him? He won’t ever embarrass us, and He has far more resources than we can ever imagine. Yes, sometimes we need to be more like Bartimaeus, and less like stubborn-me, but we also need to have the wisdom to know when we REALLY need help, and accept it when we do.

Sola Deo Gloria!

Down To Earth

From his lofty cosmic-view in John 1:1-5, the Apostle John brings his Christology down to earth, that the eternal Word, very-God of very-God, the Creator and Sustainer of all there is, took upon Himself not only our human-flesh, but our very humanity. He became one of us. He is, at the same time, BOTH God and Man, and while each nature remains distinct from the other, they are perfectly-united in one Person, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ humanity did not reduce His deity, nor did His deity reduce His humanity. He was 100% God and 100% Man.

The Word Made Flesh
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:14-18)

Up to this point, we know that the Word was with God and that the Word was God; the “Word-God” We have also seen John refer to this Word-God as “He”. Now, for the first time, John identifies “him” as the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Yes, for it was none other than Jesus who became flesh and made His dwelling among us at the incarnation, it is of Jesus that the Hebrews author asserts, “and through whom also he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:2) which is parallel to John 1:3; there can be no doubt about whom it is that John is referring to here. It is Jesus who is the Son, having come to us from the Father.

Now that we are certain of just who John has been talking about, we can look at the attributes John mentions about Him, He was full of “grace and truth.” Notice the balance between those two; how many of us maintain that kind of balance between grace and truth when we are interacting with others? Some of us have a great deal of grace, so much so in fact, that we can overlook almost anything; we might even make the truth hard to find. Others are so strong on truth that we find ourselves pointing fingers at those around us, seldom displaying love or compassion or understanding.

The core of the Apostle John’s Christology is that Jesus Christ is both the Eternal Word, who he affirms as being our Creator, and a man, displaying all the hallmarks of being human. No one was closer to Jesus than John. John had spent over three years with Jesus. They were cousins, and Mary lived with John and his family after the crucifixion. While none of the stories of Jesus’ childhood made it into the Gospels, nobody knew more about Him, in His humanity, than His mother, Mary. John will go on to defend Jesus’ humanity against the heresies that were already raising their ugly-heads in the church by the time he wrote his first Epistle, 1st John. Notice his wording in 1st John 1:1-3:

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

Heard”, “seen”, “touched”, the three pillars of evidence which would have been decisive in a Court of Law. The Old Testament required that there be three witness in order to convict a person of murder. If John were testifying today of the humanity of Jesus, he would bring pictures, audio-recordings, and even video taken during His earthly ministry.

What is the significance of the Word becoming flesh?

What does it mean by “dwelt among us“? Why is this important?

How did Jesus reveal God’s glory?

Did grace exist before the Incarnation? Did truth exist before the Incarnation?

How could John the Baptist say “He existed before me” when he was older than Jesus?

How did Jesus model grace? How can we model grace?

What does “only begotten” mean?

Only begotten” is one of the great mysteries in the Bible, because it would imply, to us, that the Word had a beginning, however He could not have been Eternal if He had a beginning. It is our language and word-usage which trips us up, because, while the Old Testament is chock-full on genealogies, and Matthew’s Gospel begins with Jesus’ human genealogy, that cannot be the sense of how “begotten” is used in this passage. It would make more sense to us if “only begotten” had been rendered “unique“, because Jesus IS unique“. Nobody before or since has had His “uniqueness“.

How did Jesus reveal God in His person and work?

How could John the Baptist say “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’”?

Let’s not forget that John the Baptist was of the priestly-line of Aaron, so he was very-well versed in the Old Testament, and particularly in the prophesies concerning the coming Messiah. We see that in John 1:23, where he said “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” (from Isaiah 40:3) God had also revealed to him that he was the “prophet who was to come”, the forerunner of the Messiah, as revealed in Malachi 4:5-6.

John’s text continues as he mentions that John the Baptist testified concerning Jesus in verse 15, and then in 16-18 gives his own testimony about Him.

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:16-18)

John’s first statement is about the abundance of grace that we have received through relationship with Christ. Then, John expands on his statement, pointing out that while the Law was “given” grace and truth “came.” I think that’s worthy of a little thought, for as John has structured this, the Law is a rather top-down thing. The Law was handed down by God to Moses, and then from Moses to the people; the people could take it or leave it. They took it, and then for the most part, they left it; there was no relationship with Law, for Law just is. The result was that that very Law became their condemnation, not their salvation.

The author then contrasts Law and Grace by contrasting its authors. Moses was the great law-giver, but keeping the law never brought-about a righteous life. We have all experienced religious-legalism, and the Scribes, Pharisees and teachers of the law had raised religious-legalism to a fine art. The problem was that even if a person kept 99% of the law perfectly, they were still condemned by that 1% they didn’t get quite right. Another problem was that the law only exacted penalties for failure to keep it but it didn’t have any rewards for compliance. A person may have a perfect driving-record for twenty years, but when they finally get a speeding-ticket, their otherwise-perfect driving-record doesn’t diminish the penalties for that ticket. Even though my only speeding-ticket was over thirty years ago, that ticket, and that I paid it, is still on record somewhere in Illinois. I would never get inducted into the “Safe-driver Hall of Fame” because I don’t have a perfect driving-record.

That is where Grace comes in. God gives us what we don’t deserve, a right-relationship with Him, rather than what we DO deserve, eternal-punishment. Christ has the perfect record we could never attain, and through His perfect life, shed-blood and finished-work, God gives us what He earned for us. Grace goes far-beyond just keeping us out of Hell. Grace also gives us a place in God’s eternal kingdom, with all the rewards that go with that blessed state. I would get inducted into the “Safe-drive Hall of Fame” based on His perfect-record, not kept out based on my flawed-record.

And then, grace and truth came to them…

Grace and truth came to them in a person; they could talk and laugh and cry and walk together; there is relationship with grace and truth, for grace and truth become a part of who we are as human beings; there is no fear in grace and truth.

In the remainder of this text, John reveals to us that through Jesus, God can be known to Man, for Jesus is Himself God. Through Jesus, therefore, we can have relationship with God, the Creator of everything: Grace and Truth.

Would you like to know God?

Get to know Jesus. Would you like to know Jesus?

Get to know the Word who “became flesh and dwelt among us“.

You may wonder why I am relentless in my emphasis on Jesus’ humanity, which wasn’t doubted during His sojourn on earth. If fact, it wasn’t His humanity that was challenged, it was His claim to deity. He was crucified because He, obviously a man, claimed to be God. It wasn’t until after His ascension that the first challenges of His humanity came along. Greek Docetic and Gnostic philosophy, which demeaned the body and emphasized the spirit or soul, began to infiltrate the church. Debunking that heresy was the purpose of the opening verses of 1st John, which we looked at earlier. Even the church today is infested with “Docetism-lite”.

Why does it matter?
The penalty for rebellion against God was death (Genesis 2:17), so while Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God didn’t bring immediate physical-death, it DID bring spiritual-death, and physical-death would become a part of the human-experience. The only atonement for sin was a blood-sacrifice, death, so it took a perfect human-being’s death to atone for the sins of His people. It took a perfect “seed of the womanto “crush the serpent’s head” (Genesis 3:15). That perfect “seed of the woman” was Jesus.

That is why it matters that Jesus is fully-human, and why I have written and taught about it so much. His humanity is the basis for our salvation.

Beloved, this is really too simple for us to miss! Out of all of the knowledge that has come to humanity over the ages, this is all we need to know to receive forgiveness and eternal life; grab onto it and hold on tight, never let it go…

Sola Deo Gloria!

Anatomy Of A SAR Mission

That Others May Live!
(Motto of the National SAR School)

I spent a dozen years in Search and Rescue (SAR) in New Mexico, from 1981 til 1993. Even though I did many things, my primary specialties were communications and downed-aircraft location. During that time, I worked over two-hundred SAR missions, drove thousands of miles, criss-crossing the state, spent thousands of dollars on equipment and supplies, and spent countless hours on the road and in the field. Long-days and sleepless-nights were the norm, rather than the exception.

Before I tell you about one particularly-memorable mission I worked, we will look at what happens to get the ball rolling. Note that this information is specific to New Mexico, where I was, and as far as I know, it is still valid today. Because the New Mexico State Police is constitutionally-tasked with performing Search and Rescue, everything begins at the State Police District Headquarters in the district where the mission is located. Resources can be called in from anywhere in the state.

How it all begins…
Mission Initiator (MI): A specially-trained State Police Officer who has volunteered to perform that function and work with SAR coordinators and teams. Being an MI is in addition to the Officer’s normal NMSP duties.

Field Coordinator (FC): A specially-trained SAR member who has been trained in SAR mission management. FC’s and MI’s receive the same training, except that FC’s also undergo a year of OJT under other experienced FC’s. FC’s are volunteers, as are all SAR team members in New Mexico.

When the call comes into a District Headquarters, the on-duty MI is notified. The MI then requests that District call an on-call FC. Once the FC gets the details and assesses the situation, they start calling for resources, which usually begin with a communications and logistics team, if one is available. Other specialized-resources are called as-needed.

When things really got sticky, the FC was also able to call for search-assistance from the State Police chopper, if it was available, and when rescues got technical, Air Force Para-rescue resources, which trained at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.

Downed-aircraft missions…
I lost track of how many downed-aircraft missions I worked, but I was credited with three “finds“, one “save“, and two false-alarm “finds“, but none stands out in my mind more than that dark night in 1985, when we witnessed a miracle. Against all odds, the pilot survived an unsurvivable crash. That pilot was Mike Ryan, the famous stunt-driver and racer of anything that moves.

Mike was en-route back to California from the AOPA fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin when his plane dropped out of the sky into a deep canyon, southwest of Grants, New Mexico. As he came over the rim of the canyon, the sky dropped-out under him, plunking him unceremoniously in the bottom of the canyon. That we were able to find him – alive, and get him transported safely to a hospital was a miracle.

We rarely know enough about the people we search for and find to track them down later to see how they are doing, but Mike Ryan has a very-public internet-presence, so he was easy to find. The following is from a message I sent him a few months ago. I haven’t received any kind of response, so it is likely a painful-chapter in his life that he would rather not remember.

There were things I had to do, places I went, and things I saw while I was in SAR, that I would rather forget, but can’t – things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. That is part and parcel of what it means to be a “sheep dog“. Is it any wonder that many First Responders suffer from PTSD?

We all have painful chapters in our lives that we would rather forget or sweep under the carpet, but those are often the very things that have molded us into who we are today. Everyone LOVES to remember the “cherries“, but we HATE to remember the “pits“.

How We Found You…

Have you ever wondered how we found you in that God-forsaken canyon in New Mexico in 1985? Have you ever wondered why it took SO long for us to find you after you crashed? Wonder no more. I was there. My partner and I were the first two SAR team members to find and get to you at 0200 that morning. We were not the whole story, but we were part of it, and this is how you were found and rescued from that canyon. You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you.

I was reminiscing a few days ago about some of the “good-times” I had had in my life, trying to take my mind off all the crap that has happened in the last few years. I remember that you survived your crash because I had read you article in Reader’s Digest a few months later, so I decided to see what I could find about the crash, and if I could find the article. I didn’t find the article, but I found your website,, where you mentioned the crash in your bio. I sent you a message on your Facebook page, but then I noticed that it hadn’t been updated in over a year.

You were a sight for sore-eyes. You were a miracle, a rare survivor of the many plane crashes in New Mexico. During the twelve years I was in SAR, I also worked several fatal plane crashes. By 1985, when you went down, the NELT Team had developed and honed our skills and technology in radio-direction-finding to a fine science. We had formed in 1982 to fill the void in the SAR capability in New Mexico for finding aircraft crashes, and set the gold-standard for the rest of the nation to follow in aircraft-crash SAR.

Your rescue really was two miracles; that you survived, and that your ELT survived. Most of the time, if we found the plane’s ELT, it was smashed almost beyond-recognition. Yours still worked, and it was the key to us finding you.

The SARSAT program was still in its infancy in 1985, so there were only a few satellites in orbit and operating by then, which mean that we only got a satellite “hit” every four to five hours. By the time we got a decent “fix” from satellite data, you had already been down for close to twelve hours.

The next step in locating you was launching a CAP search aircraft from Albuquerque which was equipped with the necessary radio-receiver. Because it was already dark by then, they were not able to spot anything visually, so all they could do was give us approximate coordinates. Once the CAP aircraft had localized your approximate location, ground resources were dispatched from Albuquerque, Socorro and Los Alamos, equipped with special RDF equipment.

I was a member of that NELT Team. When we briefed in base-camp, we were divided up into two-person teams, and each team was given a sector to search. We didn’t have enough people for every team to have two members, so the New Mexico State Police Officer (MI) who was working with us volunteered to go with me.

As we drove the roads in our sector, I was listening to my ELT receiver and watching the signal-strength meter. It took us a while to get to the right spot on the road, but when the signal-strength meter pegged-out, I knew it was time for boots on the ground. There was a gate across the trail so we couldn’t drive in. We had to walk in. You weren’t very far from the road, maybe a quarter-mile, so it didn’t take long for us to get to you.

We were amazed that, by the time we got there, you had managed to extricate yourself from the wreckage, get a sleeping bag out of the baggage compartment and unroll it to lay on, and got the ELT out of its bracket, activate it, and place it on top of the wreckage, AND, you still had a sense of humor. I remember that you said something to the effect of “The scenery is beautiful, but the runway was a bit short.”

As soon as we knew that you were alive and safe, we vectored in additional resources to affect the actual rescue and transport you to the hospital. They put you into a Stokes litter and evacuated you from the area. By that time, the gate had been unlocked so the rescue team was able to bring a 4X4 pickup in to transport you to where they could meet the ambulance. That was the last I heard about your rescue until I read your article.

I have often wondered whether you ever recovered your plane from that canyon, and whether you were able to rebuild it? Did you get any good pictures of the area and the wreckage? I have never gone back there, and wouldn’t even know where to start looking. I worked over two-hundred SAR missions in that dozen years, so lots of details never got recorded in my memory-banks.

I don’t know whether you have been given this information before, but it you haven’t, I thought you might be interested in getting the pictured laid-out for you. That is my sole purpose in contacting you, not to gain any public-recognition.

Other missions…
Downed-aircraft missions were only a small fraction of the missions I worked during those years. They were usually the messiest, but were not the most critical. We we got a report of a missing child, we pulled out ALL the stops. One missing-child mission went for three days, and we even called in the National Guard to assist us in our search. It was in rough country just southeast of Gallup, New Mexico, and even though the weather was fairly decent, it was country that could even swallow-up an adult. We had over a hundred-thousand acres to search. He was found, safe and sound, mid-afternoon of the third day since he went missing.

Once in a great while, we had a “bastard” search, where the “missing-person” would turn-up in a local motel, safe and sound. Their spouse usually wasn’t too happy with that outcome. I worked one suicide in that twelve years. The young man had disposed of all of his belongings except for the clothes he was wearing, written a suicide-note, parked his car at a trail-head, and walked about a quarter-mile up the trail, before shedding all his clothes, putting them in a neat pile, and putting a plastic bag over his head with some kind of toxic-liquid. That was how searchers found him, buck-naked, and dead as a rock. That was a body-recovery mission, so there was not a “happy-ending”. That was one for the Medical Examiner.

We never closed-out a mission without some kind of resolution, either positive or negative. We did “suspend” a mission if the person wasn’t found in a reasonable period of time, but one person was found, alive, over two weeks after we suspended that mission, so we never said “never”. He was found on a rarely-used trail by two Volunteer Forest Service trail-patrollers. One tended him as best they could, while the other walked out to get help. We were glad to be able to send him to the hospital to recover, because dehydration and exposure had almost killed him, not to mention his other injuries.

Final thoughts…
If you have ever wondered what happens when a “missing-person” report comes in, this is typical of what happens in New Mexico, where Search and Rescue is highly-organized and well-managed. Otherwise, each jurisdiction has its own policies and procedures, and its own resources which are geared to the unique needs of the area. Colorado and Alaska also have highly-organized SAR response networks.

I hope this gives you some perspective on what happens when you dial 9-1-1 and report that your loved-one is missing. We are out there so you don’t have to be.

Steve McFarland – NMSAR 555
Graduate: National SAR School (USCG/USAF)
Team-leader: NM SAR Support Team (NMSARS)
Member: National ELT Location Team (NELT)
Assistant Director of Communications: NM Wing Civil Air Patrol (NMCAP)