Signs do not always make for Actions

I so enjoy following this blogger. He doesn’t shy away from the tough questions and always leads us back to Jesus. I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I do.

More Enigma Than Dogma


Even a “No Sign” Sign is a sign, however ironic it may be.

Joe Hoover, a Jesuit playwright, actor, editor and author writes a provocative piece in Image Journal titled, Spiritual Exercises in Jayville – a rambling essay that manages to touch nerves and speak softly to our cultural condition. Using the fictional anywhere USA town of Jayville, Hoover imagines what it means to be spiritual in tumultuous times.

Hoover alludes to an observation Charles Taylor made back in the 90’s:

Our age makes higher demands for solidarity and benevolence on people today than ever before… Never before have people been asked to stretch out so far, so consistently, so systematically, so as a matter of course, to the stranger outside the gates.

However, Taylor goes on to observe that “this kind of philanthropy may be capricious, subject to the whims of trends and what makes people feel good…

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Wear four masks!

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For the past year I have sadly watched as Christian people fight over whether or not we should wear masks. I have prayed for insight to share on this issue. Finally, a simple word came:

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

Matthew 5:41

This is found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

In Jesus’ day a Roman soldier could walk up to pretty much anyone and require that person carry the soldier’s gear for one mile. The person had to comply, but the soldier couldn’t require the person to carry his gear farther than one mile.

Imagine you are going about your day, shopping for dinner and going to pick up your repaired ox cart from the wheelwrights. A soldier comes up to you and demands that you carry his gear. He is going in the exact opposite direction that you were headed, and he’ll probably help himself to some of the food you just purchased that’s in your basket. Now supper is going to be very late and the ox cart will have to be picked up tomorrow, since the wheelwright will be closed by the time you can make it back. This will set back everything you planned for tomorrow, too! And on top of that, Jesus asks that you carry this guys gear for two miles, which means a four-mile round-trip jaunt for you.

I gather that Jesus is saying, follow the rules of the government, even if they are very inconvenient and feel downright invasive of your civil rights. Not only follow them, but go out of your way to bless your enemy by doing more than is required of you.

The only exceptions I could find in the Bible (after a very quick perusal) that allowed for disobeying authorities were when rulers asked people to worship them instead of God, and when rulers required people to stop sharing the Gospel.

So should I as a Christian wear a mask? If my government says so, yes!

And now that it is recommended that we wear two masks,

Maybe even four!

(OK, that may be a little silly, but two is an excellent idea!)

Is Science Real?

Lately I see a lot of yard signs in my neighborhood that say, “In this house we believe that:” among other things, “Science is Real.” That got me thinking, what is science and is it real?

The word, “science,” comes from a Latin word that means, “know.” And Mirriam-Webster also defines, “science,” as, “the state of knowing knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.” So then are these yard signs saying that my neighbors believe that knowledge is real? I agree with them, if that’s the case. I too think that it is possible to know things. But, no, I don’t think their signs mean that knowledge is real.

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines science this way: “Science, [is] any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation. In general, a science involves a pursuit of knowledge covering general truths or the operations of fundamental laws.”

I believe this is what my neighbors mean when their signs say, “Science is Real.” So science is the observations of our world and the analysis of those observations. That sounds good.

But who is doing the observations and analyzing the data to come up with this real understanding of the world?

Humans.

And we all know, for real, that humans are fallible. Sometimes people purposely make untrue observations or come up with untrue analysis because they want to create their own truth about the world. But even when people are trying their best to make unbiased observations and analyses, mistakes will happen because, people are, well, fallible.

So is science real, is it the truth about the world we see around us?

Because science is based on fallible humans’ observations and analyses, I find it truly illogical to make the blanket statement that all science is real.

However, if carefully and honestly done, I believe that science can help us understand the world around us.

But how will we know if the science conducted is real? Is the truth?

To know if the findings of scientific study are real, they must be measured against a known truth. Because humans are fallible, we can’t use our own standards to measure the truth of a scientific finding. So what can we use? There is only one perfect standard that I know of, the God who created all of this that we are trying to understand.

Therefore, if a scientific finding concurs with what God has already said is true about the world, then yes, that science is real. If the science conflicts with a biblical truth, then no, the science is not real, be it because of purposeful manipulation, or accidental misunderstanding.

Remember, science is fallible human’s best attempt at understanding the world that a perfect God created.

So do I believe science is real? If it does not agree with God, then, no, the science is just vain imaginings. But if it agrees with God, then, yes, the science is real.

From Honored to Horrified

While reading in Exodus 1 – 3 today about the horror of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt, the truth that the Israelites originally were invited into Egypt as honored guests, really struck me.

“So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed.”

Genesis 47:11 NIV

Often we see in the Old Testament that peoples were enslaved because of bad behavior, but the Bible doesn’t ever even hint at disobedience being the cause for the Israelites’ bondage. It simply says this:

Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.

Exodus 1:8‭-‬9‭, ‬11 NIV

If you find yourself in a place of oppression not brought on by anything sinful that you have done, keep looking to God. Remember that even in their oppression, the Israelites were blessed:

But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites

Exodus 1:12 NIV

God is concerned about you.

So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

Exodus 2:25 NIV

And He will eventually rescue you.

That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians.

Exodus 14:30a

Why did God allow the Israelites to suffer so horribly for 400 years? The Bible never specifically says. But maybe it has something to do with this declaration in the New Testament:

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Roman’s 5:3-5

So should we find ourselves suffering even when we are doing things the right way, we can claim this promise of hope. Remember, God promises to use everything to bless us if we love Him.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.

Romans 8:28

If you are in bondage because of something you did, just agree with God that it was wrong and accept His forgiveness because of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. Then claim the promise of hope in the above verses for yourself, too!

Is Spain the United States’ mother?

Some friends of mine, who are missionaries in Granada, Spain, recently sent a video, encouraging me to go on a virtual prayer walk for their ministry. As I “walked” through the streets of Granada, I ended up doing just as much praying for the United States as I did for Granada. Here’s why…

It was after Granada, the last Moorish outpost on the Iberian peninsula, was conquered by Spain, that Queen Isabella finally bankrolled Christopher Columbus’s journey to find a new trade route to China and India.

Spain, while historically Catholic, is also a very secular country, meaning that most people in Spain don’t view life through a spiritual lens. My concern for the United States is that Christians are trying to do what Queen Isabella did, forcefully remove all opposition to Christianity. She meant well, but did she really create the Christian country she dreamed of?

Jesus didn’t bother with calling out the political leaders of his day, or their policies. As a matter of fact, he encouraged Christians to not only to adhere to some egregious policies but to go above and beyond them (see Matthew 5:39-48).

Yes, we are supposed to uphold truth, but our focus should be the truth of the gospel. We are not to get involved in civilian affairs (2 Timothy 2-4), i.e. things of this earth that are not of true heavenly concern.

They will know we are Christians by our love (John 13:35). Our true religion is to look after orphans and widows and to not be stained by the world (James 1:27). God has shown us what He expects: to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

As Americans, we are in a democracy, so we should vote to see the increase of God’s laws over the land. But this is not our final home. Our main focus should be on the eternal souls of our neighbors, not ourselves and what we think are our rights. Remember, as Christians we have no rights, per the example of Christ: Jesus laid down his very life while being unjustly accused. That is what brought us our salvation. Now He asks us to follow in His footsteps — to lay down our lives, that He might save others as they see Him in us.

I pray that Granada would become a place of Christian fervor of the kind that overflows with the true love of Christ. May it be a shining example to the world, and especially the New World.