Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Truth of God’s Word Does Not Change

The Word of God does not change because your culture does. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Heaven and earth will one day pass away, but the truth of Jesus’ words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35)

  1. Marriage is between one man and one woman and is intended to last throughout this lifetime (Matt. 19:4-6).
  2. You are born male or female and that is indicated in your physical sex. It doesn’t change because you seem to have feelings that you believe correspond to another gender (Matt. 19:4-6, 1 Cor. 7:17)
  3. The human being comes into existence at conception, and is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27, Psalm 139:13-16). 
  4. Human persons are special and sacred. Human beings are not animals and animals are not human. Human beings are created in God’s own image. Human life is sacred from conception to grave.
  5. “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34, cf. 15:9) He doesn’t discriminate on the basis of citizenship, race, upbringing, sex or personal preferences. 
  6. Jesus will save anyone who comes to him in faith (John 3:16, 7:37, 1 Tim. 2:4-6, 2 Peter 3:9, Rev. 22:17).
  7. We are to treat one another the way each of us would want to be treated, not as we are being treated (Matt. 7:12). 
  8. We are to love our enemies, and this means political opponents and those who believe different religious doctrine, or philosophy. (Matt. 5:43-48)
  9. We are to be sexually pure. Pornography is wrong. Homosexual lust and activity is wrong (Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9). Adultery is wrong, even when it is only a fantasy (Matt. 5:27-30). Any sexual action outside of the sanctified union between man and wife is wrong. Always. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, Matt. 5:27-30, Eph. 5:3-5)
  10. Selfishness and greed are wrong. Refusal to share with those in need is a rejection of Jesus himself. (Matt. 25:31-46, Eph. 3:5, James 2:14-17, 5:1-6)
  11. God hates a violence in people (Psalm 11:5), which includes violent entertainment, and the love of weapons. Those who live by violence may well die violently (Matt. 26:52)
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American Freedom Revolution

Apropos for July 4th weekend.

deorl

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
-1st Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
-Evelyn Beatrice Hall paraphrasing Voltaire

“Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.”
-John Leland, “A Chronicle of His Time in Virginia,” The Writings of the Later Elder John Leland…

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Time, Eternity and Hell

Time permits change to occur.

“Time is a friend to no man.”

Ever feel like time is getting away from you, as if you haven’t accomplished what you thought you would by now?

“How did it get so late so soon?

It’s night before it’s afternoon.

December is here before it’s June.

My goodness how the time has flewn. (sic)

How did it get so late so soon?

Dr. Seuss

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote:

I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of goodwill. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

 (Letters from the Birmingham Jail)

How well do you use time? Are you trapped in the past? Are you waiting for the future? Do you make the most of the time you have today? The greatest thing you can do with the time you have is to change and become more like the person God created you to be. That means become like Christ.

As long as you have breath, you have time to change. It’s not too late. So, perhaps time is a friend to all who will take it seriously.

You and I fail. We make mistakes. We fall short of God’s glory and plan for our lives. However, we are creatures who live in time. In time everything changes constantly, which allows you and I to change too! Now, I don’t pretend to know what eternity will be like, whether there will be any perception of time at all is in question. However, it is difficult to consider how change could occur outside of time.

God is timeless, and God is unchanging. One of the primary attributes of the Self-Existent God is explained with the the Hebrew word aman, (the word Amen is related). It means true, reliable, permanent, and may also mean “believe” God is to be believed because he is trustworthy, faithful and true. 

Human beings are constantly changing because we are subject to time like everything in the created world. Heraclitus, a 5th Century BC Greek philosopher, famously said, “You cannot put your foot in the same river twice.” By this he meant that the current of the river is constantly moving, and everything is changing from moment to moment: water, mud, plants, fish. It is only by virtue of our capacity to perceive and think that we see things as stable. Again, Heraclitus stated that everything changes according to a process, plan or pattern, which he called “Logos”. 

Jesus is called the logos in John’s Gospel (see 1:1-5). Logos is the Greek term for “word”. The world moves according to God’s Word. There is an underlying plan, and Jesus Christ is the eternal embodiment of God’s thought and plan. You and I are changing, but we must choose to change according to the Lord’s plan.

If God had left Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they rebelled against him, the Lord would still have removed his presence, and the Garden would have become less and less a paradise, until it became as it has become, like the rest of earth. If Adam and Eve had been permitted to eat from the tree of Life after they had eaten from the forbidden tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. the result would have been that they, and we, would be petrified in a state of rebellion and separation from God forever.

Eternal Death

Imagine eternal existence apart from God, an unending experience of death. Some theologians hold that every human is in some way immortal and will live for eternity, either with God in heaven, or apart from God in hell. Each person will decide where the reside depending upon whether they choose to believe in and follow Christ, or reject him and follow their own self-will.

Only God Possesses Immortality

I am in agreement with other theologians and Bible interpreters who understand that human beings are inherently mortal. In fact, God alone possesses immortality as an intrinsic attribute of this being. 

“Now to the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17 & 6:16, ESV)

Death As Curse and Grace

By sending Adam and Eve out of Paradise and blocking the way to the Tree of Life with a flaming sword, the Lord provides us with a symbol of what fallen humanity lost, and an understanding that death is not merely another kind of life. Death is a curse, and it is a grace, an opportunity. If death is what we see, an end to this life, then there is also an end to sin, suffering and evil. Death is both a curse and a blessing because it means an end to the old fallen life, to corruption and sin and evil. To be sure, everyone will be judged for what they have and have not done in this life, and after a just penalty for sin is paid, an end to existence. 

Athanasius on Return to Non-existence 

“For the transgression of the commandment was making them turn back again according to their nature; and as they had at the beginning come into being out of non-existence, so were they now on the way to returning, through corruption, to non-existence again….  but it was equally monstrous that beings which once had shared the nature of the Word should perish and turn back again into non-existence through corruption.”

Destruction Means Annihilation

So, what about judgment and hell then? Are we making the case that non-believers merely die and that ends it? The Bible doesn’t support such an idea. Jesus taught that all of the dead will be raised: some to life, others to hell. 

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28–29, ESV)

Justice will be done. The unbelieving will pay the penalty for their own sin, but that is all. No eternal life in torment.

Eternal Life Is a Gift from God

God offers the gift of eternal life to everyone who will believe in Jesus Christ and receive it. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Death presents an opportunity because it ends the old, making way for the new. “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Eternal life comes from God alone, through Christ. “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:9–10)

You and I are not naturally immortal. However, when we believe in Jesus and keep his word we will transition from this life to the next without perceiving the horror of death. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death” (Romans 8:51). We have no reason to fear because Jesus defeated the devil, who had the power of death. 

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14–15, NIV)

John Stott on Hell

Why would God will to sustain the existence of those who reject him? Does this really bring him glory? I do not believe so. I fervently hope not. I am not alone. There is biblical evidence in support of the belief that the condemned will be ultimately destroyed, their existence blotted out forever. Revered theologian and Bible interpreter John RW Stott stated it this way.

“But will the final destiny of the impenitent be eternal conscious torment, ‘for ever and ever’, or will it be the total annihilation of their being?

… in order to answer this question, we need to survey the biblical material afresh and open our minds (not just our hearts) to the possibility that Scripture points in the direction of annihilation, and that ‘eternal conscious torment’ is a tradition which has to yield to the supreme authority of Scripture… If to kill is to deprive the body of life, hell would seem to be the deprivation of both physical and spiritual life, that is, an extinction of being… It cannot, I think, be replied that it is impossible to destroy human beings because they are immortal, for immortality—and therefore indestructibility—of the soul is a Greek not a biblical concept. According to Scripture only God possesses immortality himself (1 Tim. 1:17, 6:16); he reveals and gives it to us through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:10)…

I do not dogmatise about the position to which I have come. I hold it tentatively… the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment.”

Justice Requires an End

It is because I believe that eternal life is a gift not a right or an inherent part of human nature that I agree with Stott and others, like Edward Fudge who has made the point in a more dogmatic fashion. God alone is immortal. God cast Adam and Eve from the Garden to prevent eternal existence apart from him. The curse of death is the end of the life of rebellion. God is just. He will judge and repay those who reject his offer of forgiveness in Christ, exactly as their sins deserve, not more. Stott says, “I question whether ‘eternal conscious torment’ is compatible with the biblical revelation of divine justice,” and I would agree. In fact, I would add that it is antithetical to the nature of God as love.

Haven’t you ever considered how unjust it is to burn someone forever and ever in an indestructible body who has simply lived the typical self-centered life full of petty lusts, lies, cursing and anger? Haven’t you ever questioned the preacher who loudly proclaimed that a little white lie is the same as murder to God? Ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, even the most innocuous venal sins may be cause for someone to be separated from God, but that is because of the overriding sin of selfish pride that stands behind petty sins. Every sin is motivated by rebellion, unbelief, or  idolatry. The liar, and all the rest who proudly refuse to repent, will indeed be in hell. 

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelation 20:8). 

God is just. He is the one who laid down that punishment should be “eye for eye and tooth for tooth,” which is actually a limitation to the punishment that may be imposed for a crime. 

There is a human tendency to “pay them back and then some.” We think, “I’ll teach him to mess with me!” The result is the kind of injustice and foolishness in our culture and our courts today. Someone who is caught with a pound of marijuana may be serving the same sentence as those who have committed rape, armed robbery or murder. Our culture is ruled by adolescent emotionalism. Offending someone often results in gross overreaction. Someone cuts another person off in traffic and a road rage incident results in severe injury or murder. A baseball player flips his bat in one game and is beaned by a pitcher in another game; the same player repays the injury by sliding into an unrelated player, who repays him with a punch in the jaw. 

<Isaiah’s prophecy to his people might well apply to us today.

Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. My people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.” (Isaiah 3:12, NIV)>

In Deuteronomy the Law prohibited degrading or shaming someone with excessive punishment. 

“then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.” 

(Deuteronomy 25:2–3, ESV)

Jesus himself taught that in judgment people will be punished commensurate with their crimes. Additionally, the more truth a person knows, the more accountable they are to God.

The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47–48, NIV)

James warned: “Let not many of you become teachers, for we shall incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).

God is not like human beings. 

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)

God is just. God is love. Trust God to do what is right.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18, NIV)

This Is Our Time to Change

You do not get to go where you want or do whatever you want after death. You don’t get into heaven on your own terms. Those who go to hell aren’t going to a party with all of their drinking buddies.

We have this time on earth to decide to follow God or not. This is our time for change. Between now and the day of death, I have choices and changes to make. Time allows that to happen in a way eternity may not. The situation in which we find ourselves allows for mistakes to be made and grants us opportunity to recover from them. We may make a choice, then change our minds, which makes what the Bible calls repentance possible. Because of Christ we live in an economy of grace. God offers forgiveness for bad choices if we admit to being wrong. Thus, God allows us to repent of (turn away from) all our rebellion, and overcome all of our self-centeredness and unbelief before we face Him in judgment.

“He who conceals his sins will not prosper, but he who confesses and renounces them will find mercy” (Proverbs 28:19).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all righteousness” (1 John 1:9).

God Is Faithful and Just to Forgive

Please note, “God is faithful and just to forgive us”; that is not true because we deserve forgiveness, but because the Son of God received the just punishment our sins deserve when he suffered and died on the cross. God is faithful to his promise to save anyone who will call out to Jesus. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).  When I receive Christ, I receive his righteous life. God looks at me as though I had never sinned. 

“He who knew no sin became our sin that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

“For Christ died for sins, once for all, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us back to God, having been put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18, NASB). 

Robed In Righteousness 

Those who believe and receive this good news also receive the Holy Spirit. They are cleansed by Christ’s blood and robed in his righteousness. 

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10, NIV)

Restored to the Tree of Life

The result is, they are granted access once again to the Tree of Life. 

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14, NIV)

If we know Christ, death is a grace because it brings an end to this life of separation. If we do not, then it is the curse God promised it would be, permanently separating us from his presence and from eternal life.

Will You Change?

You live in the dimension of time, which permits you to change. Will you choose to do so? Change your thinking; change your ways. Put your faith completely in Jesus Christ and obey his teaching. Prepare now for eternal life with God in heaven. Do it while you still have time.

Trust no future, howe’er pleasant!

  Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act, act in the living present!

  Heart within, and God o’erhead!

    Lives of great men all remind us

  We can make our lives sublime,

And departing, leave behind us

  Footprints on the sands of time.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (A Psalm of Life)

What Is Love?

Apropos.

deorl

What is love? Valentine’s Day makes this a pertinent question.  My favorite writer on the subject didn’t get married until he was 58, and even then it was for charitable, not romantic, reasons. 

C. S. Lewis married Joy Gresham in a government office to provide her with British citizenship.  A few months later Joy was diagnosed with cancer, and her condition deteriorated rapidly.  Jack, as Lewis was known by his friends, chose to love and care for Joy.  The feeling between them grew, and nearly a year after the marriage of convenience there was a hospital wedding presided over by a clergyman from the Church of England.  “Till death do we part” was a potent reality.  Joy left the hospital to convalesce.  It was not until this point that she moved in with Jack.  God worked and Joy’s cancer went into remission.  Jack and Joy lived happily for three more…

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Fitness or Fatness Accumulates

Over time anything will accumulate: lint, dust, garbage, fat, money, skill, fitness.

I hit my mid-life crisis at 50, not 40. At the time I was nearing the big 5-0 mark I was also working with a small group of young teenagers, who had more energy than sense. I wanted to keep up with them. Additionally, I was experiencing what many in our country suffer with: back pain. These forces combined to convince me that I needed to get into shape. I had accumulated an excess of fat and a decline in health.

I got back to the gym, and I started running. I hate running. I ran, quite slowly at first, and not very far, but I kept it up. Fitness improved, and the accumulated extra fat disappeared. By the time I hit my 50th birthday I was at 7.5 % body fat. Not bad for an old guy.

However, this was not easy to maintain. I had been working out twice a day toward the end of my fitness plan, and my diet was strict. It was a healthy and sustainable diet, but there was no room for doughnuts and pie; in fact, I didn’t eat bread either. Why was I doing this again? Oh, yeah, energy, health, and vanity.

Now, here’s something they don’t tell you in the gym. Not everybody is happy when you get this fit. In fact, I have to say that I encountered not a little jealousy and resentment. I think some folks prefer a fat preacher. That way they aren’t convicted about their own lack of fitness and self-discipline. Did I mention that I believe there was vanity involved here, a bit of narcissism on my part. When you get that into your own body, it’s unavoidable. Then I injured myself. First, my shoulders, then I broke my clavicle, which I never had fixed.

All of these forces led to a dramatic decrease in both the quantity and quality of workouts. I stopped running. I compromised on my strict diet, still healthy but a doughnut here and a muffin there. Over time my fitness level declined, and my fat percentage went up to 19.5%. My skinny jeans didn’t fit any more. I know, I know, you’re probably glad about that. Why is this old guy wearing skinny jeans, anyhow? Hey, my waist was at 29; I was out to prove something. I had gotten into the best condition of my entire life. Now, I’m back to being a lumpy old guy.

Everything accumulates over time, and fitness is no exception. Today, I started running again. I never quit going to the gym: I just haven’t been serious since my injury. Don’t know that I’ll be able to lift like I used to, not without surgery. What I know is this: I need to get back in condition. I need to lose some flab. It’s not necessary to get back to 7.5% bodyfat, but I need to drop about 10% of what I’ve accumulated in order to be healthy.  I am meeting myself where I am, and I’ll keep going. I’ve returned to my diet, mostly. It’s going to take time, but if I stick with it, and fitness will accumulate, body fat will decrease, and I’ll be healthy again.

Children of Illegal Immigrants 

Question: did you decide who your parents would be? Did you decide where you would be born? Did your parents care for you? Is there anything they would not have done to make certain that you could not only survive but succeed?

President Trump has cancelled DACA, a remedy for the children of illegal immigrants put in place by President Obama. This would be catastrophic, except it does not go into effect for six months, providing Congress with an opportunity to give children of illegal immigrants a chance to remain in the United States legally.

Our nation has the right and responsibility to control its borders. Those who come here illegally are in violation of the United States sovereignty and laws. However, the motives of those individuals may be good. Certainly, their children, who have been raised as Americans, and who are contributing citizens, should not be deported to a country that they do not know.

So what do we do? We must follow rule of law, and although my compassion would dictate that we retain the children of illegal immigrants, I believe we must obey the law. That said, Congress now has the opportunity to change or make laws which would permit the children of illegal immigrants who are contributing citizens of this country to remain here legally. It is right and good that our lawmakers should do just that.

Several organizations have concluded that removal of the children of illegal immigrants would open up thousands of jobs for those who are here illegally. That may or may not be true; however, I want you to put yourself in the position of one of these children. Do you remember what life was like when you were five or eight years old? How much control did you have over your life as a child? Did you have any say about what your parents did with you, where they took you,  or where they put you in school?

Thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of children were brought into this country illegally by well-meaning parents. They have been raised as Americans; they are contributing citizens; they pay taxes. Except for official documents they are, in fact, Americans. Now, some have the idea that because their parents brought them here illegally these innocents should be sent back to a country that they have little or no memory of.  This is simply wrong.

I believe that we need to enforce our borders and control who enters this country. I believe that illegal immigration is wrong. I also believe that we need to have a clear path for those outside this country who long to come here to obtain citizenship. I believe that we need to provide opportunities for those who are willing to work in this country to work and pay taxes. We need to stop our present schizophrenic approach to immigration, wherein the US officially denies entry, but has various cities and counties that provide sanctuary for violators.

The answer to this mess is to fix our immigration laws. Give children of illegal immigrants the opportunity to remain here legally if they were brought here before they were capable of making any determination of their own, and if they are successfully pursuing an education, or are working a job and contributing to this country.

God is Sovereign, and Good

When tragedy strikes, such as Hurricane Harvey and the flooding in Houston, it may be cause for people to question God’s goodness, even his existence. Here are two good things that may come from such tragedy.

Tragedy teaches the world what is truly important.

Catastrophe is a powerful values clarification exercise.

I am too focused on mundane trivialities, convinced that my priorities are most important, consumed by consumerism, absorbed in my personal world and wearied by the exigencies of life. When tragedy strikes and I am forced to pay attention to more important matters. I empathize with the hurt and loss of others.

The Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans rightly cancelled their preseason game in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, so that Texans players could be with their families. JJ Watt has raised in excess of four million dollars for victims. Football and the rivalries we make so much of become meaningless in the face of disaster.

Tragedy makes us realize what is truly important: loving other people and caring for their needs along with–and even above–our own. When a disaster like Katrina or Harvey strikes, many of us realize that this life is not all there is, and we choose to live by faith in the God who promises eternal life. “…as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but what is unseen is eternal… So we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 4:18 & 5:7).

When a mass shooting happens we realize that good and evil are not just a matter of what we do and don’t like. We realize that there is something dramatically wrong with the world. And we have the opportunity to cry out for help and wisdom to the almighty, good and loving God from whom the world has turned. Each of us may turn back to this God. A faith revival could begin. What is your response to tragedy? Do you despair? Do you turn away in apathy indifference in an effort to preserve your own emotions? Do you blame God, complain to God, or do you cry out in faith, and act out in love?

Both nations that sought to take over the world during WWII believed that they were racially superior. In the wake of WWII the American attitude toward race was ripe for change. Enter Martin Luther King Jr. and the willingness not only to speak out and push for immediate change, but to suffer to see it through. The horrendous way civil rights protesters were treated was a tragedy, and many people were moved by it. However, the root of racism—a belief in the superiority of one’s own ethnic group— was cut when Hitler was defeated, and severed entirely when the empire of the rising sun was stopped. Intransigent racism continues to exist even today, but it is difficult to maintain the superiority of one’s own group when you have the example of between 35 and 60 million people dead as the result of that belief, when you have 6 million Jews who were murdered because of that belief.

The reality of a universal good and evil is well accepted today, even among atheists. That may well be due to the intense examples of evil we have witnessed since 911. It is extremely difficult to maintain that good and evil are completely relative when faced with suicide bombers, mass shooters and the chronic daily examples of murder, rape and senseless violence.

Now, I am not trying to convince you that everyone learns the lessons that tragedy teaches, or that everybody comes to the same conclusion. 911 may have helped to forge a consensus regarding the objective and universal existence of good and evil. In fact, 911 and the subsequent horrors we’ve witnessed may have already brought about the demise of postmodern relativism. However, the same event motivated the rise of the so-called new atheists and their spate of books aimed at extinguishing faith in God, especially monotheistic faith as exemplified by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So, not everyone arrives at the same conclusions when facing terrorism and tragedy. Some draw closer to God, some curse him, and some disbelieve in his existence. However, it is difficult remain truly agnostic in the wake of a Hurricane Harvey or Katrina or the 250,000 who died in the tsunami that struck Indonesia in 2004.

Some will question the goodness of God for bringing or permitting a disaster like Harvey. I saw a Tweet from one such skeptic who asked, “There are a lot of Christians in Texas, so any of you want to explain your god doing this? The Tweet is wrong on multiple levels:  is the guy blaming god, or seeking to disprove his existence, and why is he baiting Texas’ Christian population? Whatever his purpose, it is grossly insensitive to the suffering of many in South Texas. However, a reply from Trey Bedrick has a positive observation as a result of the compassionate responses of many people in our nation to this tragedy: “Yeah. I see my God bringing people together of every race to help one another in a time our country was on the verge of race wars.” How long this effect will last is unknown, but fighting over over hundred year old statues seems insignificant when people have lost everything.

Tragedy is an unavoidable values clarification exercise. I place this under the heading God Is Sovereign for good reason. God allows catastrophes to happen, or He may cause tragedy to discipline or punish. Unless you’re a genuine prophet, you cannot say why. You aren’t the judge. None of us—no human who has ever lived— would have the right to let evil take place just so people will realize what is important or affirm the reality of good and evil. God can. God has that right. Because he is God. I may question him, but it would be better to fear him, fall on my face before him and cry out for mercy, comfort and help in times of trouble.

Heroes are born from the womb of tragedy.

As we’ve seen, tragedy presents a test of what’s truly important,. Those who realize that what’s important is love, compassion, concern for other people, and who take the opportunity to do good and help those in an emergency, are heroes.

As I write this, heroes are everywhere in south Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the overwhelming deluge of rain that has flooded a large part of Houston. The so called Cajun Navy, a group of volunteers from Louisiana, brought their boats and have been rescuing people stranded by the flood. One man and his friends have focused on rescuing people’s pets. Pictures of heroes are posted on social media: a man, carrying children through waist deep water, another man carrying a woman and her baby, another with a rope and reaching out for others who are in danger of being swept along by flowing water. We have a friend, one of my former youth from FHBC days, named Charles Lauersdorf. He’s a marine who has been to Iraq five times. Charlie wanted to help, so he bought a boat and went down to Houston. One of his marine buddies volunteered to go and keep a watch for looters who were reported to be shooting at boats. These are two of many men went and are still down there.

Charlie posted the following on Fb while he was on his boat (Aug. 30, 2017):  “Having listened to thousands of calls for Rescue over the radio, I have YET to hear skin color used as a reference…. “Family of 4”, “two elderly people”, “3 women and 2 kids and 4 dogs and a bird”…but no skin color. Why not? Because it doesn’t effing matter! Rant over.”

One of Charlies marine buddies posted in response:  “Yeah, I liked it when we were all green.”

Tragedy reveals heroes, and heroes don’t rescue a skin color, they rescue a person (or in some cases an animal!). Can’t say the same for the race baiters and political opportunists who have shown their contempt for Texas in the wake of Harvey  Trump pledged a million dollars, other unlikely celebs like Miley Cyrus have stepped up to give huge sums. Don’t look to the media to determine who the heroes are. The real heroes sure aren’t marching in the streets, waving Nazi flags, and shouting about the supremacy of the white race,  nor are they wearing black, covering their faces like terrorists do, inciting and committing violence, rioting and chanting: “No Trump, no wall, no America at all!”