Wednesday, July 30, 2014

SOME WORDS ON A WORRISOME ISSUE [From my often not-so-wise, in the opinion of many, point of view on things political.]

There are scores of present-day stories that could be told of people who have immigrated to the shores of America and who, through legal means and in a lawful manner, have become a productive and proud segment of our society. Their work ethic is often second to none and match the work habits of the hard working immigrants, turned citizens, of our past. Many present day legal immigrants and many who have already become Naturalized Citizens live next door to us and are productive, proud, tax paying citizens who LOVE America and put forth an effort to raise families and build a value system that does America, their new home, proud.

So, I believe it is "nigh on to impossible to paint with a broad brush" any conversation about our immigration problems and be accurate in the doing of it. The Conservative who loudly and angrily cries, "close the border, and if you don't, you're giving away American jobs," is shouting an over-statement to a serious problem. The Liberal who shouts just as angrily and just as loudly, "Open the border," and if you don't, the 'send me your huddled masses yearning to be free' statement, is a total lie,  is shouting an over-statement as well, IMHO. 

Both groups and statements may, in fact, be evidencing that ideology at least APPEARS to mean more to the adherents of those two positions than does solving the problem. Our immigration issue at present CANNOT be limited to such "broad strokes" that make it a one-dimensional idealogical issue. No one denies that the present chaos on the border, which may have come about because of ambiguous language being used by American politicians, has to be solved with some impunity involved for those who can be accurately defined as children. ["Impunity__exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action."]

It is also evident to me that Faith-based groups need to jump in with both feet to assist these children with little thought given to the politics of it all seeing it as a Kingdom opportunity for some real Kingdom ministry. But, just as I believe it would be a Constitutional violation for Conservatives to demand that our government declare that "Jesus is the only way" of salvation, I see it just as much a Constitutional violation for liberals to try to get the government to do "what Jesus would do" with regards to this issue, since not all Americans are Christians and our Constitution forbids the establishment of any religion. All this is a given, it seems to me.

But I also think we all would have to agree that there are legal aspects of immigration that stare us in the face on both the side of the nation FROM WHICH the immigrants [Emigration] are coming and the nation TO WHICH they are coming. [Immigration] Those legal aspects have to be noted and honored ON BOTH SIDES. [On our side Constitutionally.] If an immigrant kills a person in the country from which they come, and steals their money IN ORDER TO COME, [or a ton of lesser crimes] there is a problem. It needs to be handled legally. If they come as an immigrant to a nation and establish themselves as continual welfare recipients of the nation to which they've come, [or a ton of lesser issues] with no effort to be productive, there is a problem. It needs to be handled legally and constitutionally. 

You can see that there are more issues than sometimes meet the eye which simply do not lend themselves to simple black and white answers such as opening OR closing the border, period! And we simply cannot IGNORE the consequences of our actions pertaining to our borders by FAILING to build a LEGAL safety net.

So, Congress must be wise in passing new laws and regulations dealing with comprehensive immigration guidelines that can be consistently and constitutionally applied in every state of the union. The outcome of ANY AND ALL new immigration laws or rules must incorporate a sensible, yet expeditious, period of transition with a clear goal of how ANY new immigrant who is legally qualified, can become a new American citizen.  

“Amnesty for all” MAY NOT BE the best approach as we face the future of immigration reform.  However, amnesty "for those who have lived and worked" a significant part of their lives in the communities of America may be a sound approach given certain sound and sensible limitations. Selected amnesty may be a necessary part of the equation.

I don't know all the answers. I don't even know how to ask all the right questions yet. But I do know loud, angry, mean-spirited arguments on EITHER SIDE of the issue exacerbates the problem rather than moves toward solving it. [I'm assuming Christians would want to refrain from this kind of rhetoric regardless of political views.]

Paul B. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


This letter from Mathetes to Diognetus is an example of Christian apologetics written sometime between AD 130 to AD 190. The Greek writer and recipient are not otherwise known. But the word Mathetes does mean "a disciple of or student of" so it could have been written from a student to a teacher, Diognetus. But is is a masterful presentation of Christian living in that day. It should be true of this day as well. I first came on this through Paul Littleton's blog a few years back. It's as good today as then. Enjoy!

"Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. 

Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself."

Paul B.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Ambivalence----“Simultaneous attraction toward and repulsion from a person, object, or action.”

Ambiance----"A pervading atmosphere."

I read where John MacArthur once said were he able to parent his children over again he would put a major emphasis on helping them embrace a need for ambivalence. As seen above in the definition from Webster’s New American Dictionary, one would see that a good dose of understanding about ambivalence is needed for the living of life in general and dealing with some people specifically.

For example, I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about autobiographies. A life story undoubtedly has, it seems to me, the exaggeration part of it [which one can only hope would not be out and out lies] buried somewhere in the telling of the tale. How could any of us be the hero of our life story if all we told were the truth? [The point of biographies is to present the main character as something of a hero is it not?] So we shade an incident here, invent a rationale there, leave out a telling detail that changes everything were we to factually state it all.

As someone I read correctly said, I believe, "Is there anything less reliable than a memoir? Eichmann was following orders. Clinton did nothing wrong. Our life story written by us is our greatest fiction so we learn to take memoirs with a bucket of salt.”

While that statement may be a little over the top and, perhaps, smacks of cynicism, I have to confess, my ambivalence about it all causes me to be drawn to the grain of truth of the heroic in it while, at the same time, being attracted to the inside scoop a person gives about some of the shady type of things in that life. I really am ambivalent about autobiographies as you can see. It is that kind of ambivalence that is the pervading atmosphere of my mind and heart when I read many of the blogs on line, especially the comment sections.

No one appreciates the biblical materials more than I do. I’ve spent my life studying them, developing my understanding of them, systematizing them for the instruction of others, proclaiming them, and even defending them. I believe doctrine is terribly important.

I’m drawn to people also. In fact, if I understand things correctly, it is ONLY His Eternal Word and people from this earth that will grace us with a presence in heaven. Nothing else__that is here__will be there. Again, if I understand things correctly, my relationships with people IS the treasure I am to lay up in heaven. The sadness I see in the story of the Rich Fool who had barns and bunches of crops, is that NOTHING is said about his marriage, children, co-workers, or friendships. How poor he really was because people were NOT as important as anything else. You can see__I’m drawn to the Truth of Scripture and people__even those who write blogs defending that truth.

It is exactly at this point that ambivalence must be learned in my life. How bloggers can defend the “Truth” and at the same time often display, it seems to me at least, a total disregard for the feelings of those who will read their blog posts and write as if anyone who disagrees or questions what they have written is an idiot__or worse__is a mystery.

I’m usually drawn, as I said, to one side or other of those doctrinal issues being debated in blogdom whether it is concerning Calvinism’s TULIP or the Free-will of others, women preachers, or praying in tongues, whether baptism can be performed by any christian or only an authorized minister or representative and a myriad of other issues that are being debated via the internet. Yet, while drawn to one side or other on any issue, I have to confess to being just as repulsed at the attitude often exhibited toward people as seen in the comment sections of blogs by advocates on both sides of those issues.

I’ve seen on some blogs and comment sections written words by Christians that display anger, resentment, harshness, or maybe just simply personalities void of any tenderness, and certainly a display of a total lack of training in personal relationships. Then again, and I'm hoping it isn't, maybe it is just a lack of conscience in relating to people in genuine love and respect, all the while appearing to admire their own stand for the “Truth.”

The fact that the “Truth” is another name for a Person, and that this Person is by His example the heart and soul of our relating to other people, seems to be lost on some writing or commenting on some blogs. Whatever the driving force behind their disregard for people, I find that dubious sense of unsettledness [ambivalence] playing out in the recesses of my own being when I read their blogs and especially the comment sections.

So, I wind up battling my own demons of wanting to judge, correct, fix, confront those very people whose blogs I’m drawn to and would do so except I check my own motives. There I find another mixed bag. So I’m back to being ambivalent__about myself. So I sit down to think about it all__and write__and a post pops out about this need for ambivalence in life, for what it’s worth.

Maybe MacArthur was on to something. Maybe it will take the BEMA, where all hidden motives and purposes are brought to light and where the ability to love someone, and yet be repulsed by that same someone, will be brought into correct eternal balance. Maybe until then I’ll just have to learn to live with__ambivalence__loving people where they are__wherever that is. Even those people who write and comment on blogs.

Paul B.

Thursday, July 03, 2014


Some Christians do not believe an American flag should be on display in a church building. Some do not believe any nationalistic elements should ever be displayed when a congregation gathers to worship God because people from other nations, who are or are not believers, may be present. I understand the argument and even share some sentiment with it because of the danger of seeing Americanism become our focus, and worse, our object of worship. But I'm thinking there is a possibility of celebrating our nation's birthday without violating our principles. I wish to address that possibility in this post.

I still often experience a lump in the throat at the singing of the National anthem.The people of the armed services are heroes to me along with law enforcement and firefighters. The loyalty expressed by the Marine Corp, especially, causes admiration to well up inside me when I see it played out in movies or on television. The decorum at a military funeral brings that before mentioned lump, every time. As an American I resented the shabby treatment given to the Vietnam veterans and still do resent any less than honorable treatment of any veteran because I'm a grateful American citizen as I've said...several times...and mean it every time.

But I'm a Christian first. My sovereign allegiance is to my Lord. I  also believe there is only one way to have a relationship with the God of this universe. He created that Way in the giving of His Son, Who is Himself, the "Way, the Truth, the Life..." The gospel is the message of that Way and, consequently, my message for all people is the gospel, which, in my opinion, is the only eternal message of hope for any person or nation of peoples, including America,

You see, I don't believe America is a Christian nation any more than I believe music, businesses, organizations or companies can be Christian. Only the people who do them or run them can be Christian. It takes a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through faith for that to happen. So it isn't going to happen to a government, company or song for obvious reasons.

It is true that our nation was founded upon some solid Judeo/Christian principles that gave birth to a unique form of government. In fact, America is the only nation in history to be founded on the combination of Judeo AND Christian principles. America is, as I heard someone say, "an idea, as much as a nation." I agree! But "Christian" is not descriptive of nations.

To our Founding fathers the God of the Hebrew scriptures, as well as the Christian scriptures, is the God they looked to in drawing up our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Our founding fathers hammered those principles out using a belief in the God of the bible AND the God revealed in natural law. This led to an obvious belief in a value system based on absolutes instead of a changing variety. But that's different than being a Christian.

Many of our founding fathers were not Christian in the gospel sense. [Faith in Christ alone] They did, however, including those who didn't happen to be Christian, have a healthy respect for the God of law and nature and even the God of the bible as I said, and I'm glad.

You can see I do NOT believe America and Christian are synonymous. When I gather to worship with others on the Lord's day I celebrate Jesus and His Grace work of the Cross. I'm celebrating with any person who names Jesus as Lord regardless of their nationality or present national citizenship. We are, together, citizens of another country.

All that have a brief moment in a worship service where we, as Christians, thank God for America and for those who have sacrificed for her liberty and pray for her leaders, is for me at least, a legitimate expression for the gathered Body of Christ on the right occasions to be done in the best way possible. The fourth of July would be one of those I would think. 

Were I to lead a congregation on a Sunday close to or before the fourth of July to do what I've just suggested, I would want to make sure that what I've said in this post thus far, is very clear. To do that I probably would [and did in the past] list my top "nine points to remember" and place it in the hands of all worshippers that Sunday. Those nine points to remember would be.......

One----We worship the Living God through Christ today, NOT America.

Two----We ALL are citizens of two countries, wherever your earthly citizenship might be.

Three--As Christians, our ultimate allegiance is to our heavenly country and King Jesus.

Four---Most of us, generally speaking, are citizens of America and it's her birthday, so we say "Happy Birthday."

Five---We further honor our American citizenship with obedience to her laws where it is possible to do so without violation of the scriptures as we understand them.

.Six----We also honor those who have paid the price for this freedom we enjoy in America and the freedom we have to serve our Lord supremely.

Seven-We love to celebrate our nation's birthday but it isn't an act of worship.

Eight--We are commanded to pray for our nation, her leaders, and her problems and we do so.

Nine---But WE DO NOT BELIEVE THE GOSPEL has anything to do with being an American.

This is my personal effort to be true to the gospel and celebrate my American citizenship. 

I rejoice in both, but I will not make the mistake of thinking of them as synonymous .


Paul B.