Archive for December, 2015

Did Bush Really Keep us Safe?

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

When Donald Trump said that the 9/11 attacks occurred on George W. Bush’s watch, George’s brother Jeb Bush defended his brother by saying, “He kept us safe?” Did he really? We weren’t very safe on 9/11. Neither President Bush nor President Clinton kept us safe.

Also, I’ve never understood the logic of our payback. We lost 2,996 innocent civilian lives on 9/11. So, we decided to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. In those wars, we suffered: 6,700 more American soldiers’ deaths (mostly from our finest young men who would otherwise had full lives ahead of them); 1,173 Civilian contractor deaths; 52,000 soldiers wounded; 68,000 civilian wounded; and, 300,000 troops returning with significant mental health problems. We managed to kill maybe 390,000 Iraqi and Afghan soldiers and innocent civilians.

So, to make up for the 2,996 people we lost, we were willing to sacrifice an additional 7,800 deaths and some 400,000 wounded. Somehow this is supposed to give us a feeling of victory since the other side lost more–390,000 deaths and countless wounded.

When I was a kid I watched to nightly news every night, and I actually thought that we were winning the war in Vietnam because our enemies’ casualties were always more than our own.  Little did I know that we were actually losing the war and would surrender in the end.

Since when is it a victory to sustain the loss of an additional 400K casualties to avenge the loss of 2,996, and spend $1 trillion dollars in the process?

What Does “Brother” Mean?

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

When we see the word “brother” (or “sister”) in the Scriptures, we need to be careful. “Brother” can, of course, mean a naturally born brother–having the same father and mother.

Or it can mean (natural) half-brother, or step-brother–having the same mother or father, but not both.” For example, in Matthew 13:55, which reads, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?” In this case, Jesus was a half-brother to James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, because Joseph was the father of Jesus’ “brothers” but Joseph wasn’t Jesus’s father (even though Mary was the mother of all of these sons).

We’re not sure, but “brother” may also be used sometimes in the scriptures as meaning “of the same clan, or tribe”–like a cousin.

However, brother can also mean a “brother” in the faith, in the church, or in the assembly.

So, we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions. We can’t assume that brother means a naturally born brother–having the same father and mother. So, did Moses and Aaron have the same father and mother? In Exodus 4:14 says, God asks Moses, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite?” If they were natural brothers, then why did He have to qualify his identification with “the Levite”? We can’t be sure.

Jude 1:1 says, “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James …” So were Jude and James natural brothers? Probably so, but again we can’t be certain. If so, there are apparently more than one (different) James referenced in the Scriptures, and we still can’t be certain which one it is.

I Paid Willie’s Taxes

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

You have probably heard those advertisements on TV for agencies that will help you negotiate a debt forgiveness plan with the IRS. If you don’t pay your taxes, you can pay these guys so you don’t have to pay the IRS as much. Of course, when someone does this, the tax burden falls onto the honest law-abiding taxpayers.

Willie Nelson did a similar thing, and he reduced his tax burden from $16 million down to only $6 million. So, for all of us who do pay our taxes, we can say, “I paid Willie’s taxes.” I wonder if he appreciates it. And, I wonder what he bought with my money.

It’s funny–I thought that if you didn’t pay your taxes, you’d go to jail. Maybe I’ve been believing that myth all these years.

“… give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)

Significant Words in the Bible

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

A simple word study of the Bible reveals many truths, such as the number the number of times that words are used. Below are the most frequently used significant words in the Bible (after weeding out all of the pronouns, conjunctions, and articles):

The word “God” is used 4293 times in the Bible. We can add some 7365 occurrences of the word “Lord,” which usually refer to God. So we can say that the most frequently used word in the Bible is “God.” In addition, the second person of the godhead, “Jesus” or “Christ” (1476), is also referenced as our “blood” (415) “sacrifice” (242). This, of course, includes references for “Jesus Christ” only in the New Testament, since He was unnamed in the Old Testament. We selfishly tend to think that life is all about us, but it is first and foremost about God. He is supreme.

The word “man” is used 2747 times. When we add “people” (2271), “men” (1860), and “women” (401), we can say that the word “mankind” is the second most frequently used word in the Bible. In our fallen state, we can only look to God for mercy and grace.

Next are all of the words that refer to “Israel” (2509), including: “land” (1641), “Judah” (756), “Jerusalem” (956), and “Jews” (341). God began His plan of redemption by first choosing the nation of Israel as His own.

Then there are all the words that we think of when we think of “family” (76), including: “children” (1727), “child” (203), “father” or “fathers (1528), “brother” (395), and “mother” (271). God has adopted us believers into His family.

“Heaven” (644) or “kingdom” (384) is God’s dwelling place for us in eternity. Believers are assured of eternal “life” (550) and “peace” (470).

The attributes of God include “holiness” or “holy” (714), “power” or “strength” (673), “glory” (480), “love” (333), “righteousness” (284), “truth” (263), “mercy (352), and “grace” (180).

Our response to God is to “believe” (146) and have “faith” (242) in Jesus Christ, His Son.

Terrorism by Another Name

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

In a recent Democratic presidential debate, all three candidates came down hard on terrorism:

Hillary Clinton said that terrorism shows “the total disregard for human life.”

Martin O’Malley noted that “All lives matter,” adding that he shared “the goal of protecting human life.”

Bernie Sanders noted how awful it is “that we should allow children to be sexually assaulted and kidnapped.”

All three of these pro-choice candidates are hypocritical because abortion is just terrorism by another name. Abortion shows the total disregard for human life. Don’t unborn lives matter? How can we claim to protect human life when we kill one million of our own children each year? As horrible as the crimes of sexual assault and kidnapping of children are, is it a lesser crime to snuff out a child’s innocent life? How is the murder of a victim of terrorism worse than that of an innocent child?

The Good Shepherd and His sheep.

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

John 10:1-21, Jesus identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd of His sheep, as well as the gate to the sheep pen. The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out of the pen. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. A believer knows Christ, because the Holy Spirit has revealed Him to him.

But they will never follow a stranger. In fact, they will run away from a stranger because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. A believer has the discernment to recognize false prophets.

In verse 9, Jesus says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

In verse 11, He says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Verse 14: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—-just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Verse 16: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” This refers to the church, made of both Jew and Gentile believers.

Verse 17: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” Christ willingly lay down his life for his sheep, and He was resurrected–conquering death for us.

Witnessing For Christ

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

John 9 gives us the story of the witness of the healed blind man. It teaches us about witnessing, and it contains some great Bible quotes. In verses 6, Christ healed a man who had been blind since birth. Then the people asked him how he received his sight, and in verse 11, he simply replied honestly, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

They asked where Jesus had gone, and he again just replied honestly, “I don’t know.”

Then they brought the man to the Pharisees who also asked him how he had received, and again his reply was simple and honest: “He put mud on my eyes and I washed, and now I see.”

Verse 24 says, “A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. ‘Give glory to God by telling the truth,’ they said. ‘We know this man is a sinner.'” The man replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

He didn’t try to judge anyone, or add any opinions or conjectures. He just told what he knew.

When they asked him a third time in verse 27, he did get a little bit sarcastic, but still honestly: “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

Verse 28 says, “Then they hurled insults at him and said, ‘You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.’
The man answered, ‘Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.'”

Then they threw the man out, but Jesus found him and asked him in verse 35, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

The man asked, “Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

Then in verse 38, the man said, “’Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.”

Verse 39-41: “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.’ Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, ‘What? Are we blind too?’ Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.'”

This is all it means to be a witness of Christ: Just tell what you know about him, plainly and honestly. God the Holy Spirit will take it from there.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

In John 8:48-59, the Pharisees conducted some interesting questioning of Jesus. In verse 48-52a, they asked Him if he was demon-possessed, he said that he was not, and they concluded that he was. Then, in verse 52b-53, they say, “Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” Jesus’ answer in verses 54-59 was that He was the Son of God. In verse 58, He says, “Before Abraham was born, I am!”

What He was saying was this: They asked, “Who do you think you are?” Jesus answered, “I am God.” He said, “Before Abraham was born, I Am!” I am the great “I Am,” identifying with God in Exodus 3:14: God said to Moses, “I Am who I Am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I Am has sent me to you.’”

I’ve always thought this was a little funny. What a way to lose an argument! You ask “Who do you think you are?” and the reply is “I Am God.”

Governing by Nations — Not by Worlds

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

In the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, God gave us the institution of nations as a means of governing. The Bible mentions the words “nation” or “nations” some 677 times, sometimes further clarifying or subdividing nations by “tribe” or “language,” which could be argued to justify republics such as the United States, with lower levels of government such as states, counties, and cities. However, the Bible doesn’t call for global one-world governments, except during the Millennium when the whole world will be justly governed by Christ.

Some nations would find natural separations from others on the basis of language (as with the Tower of Babel), some on the basis of bloodline and faith (as with Israel), and others on things such as ethnicity, heritage, economy, etc. Once a nation was established, as separate from other nations, it was autonomous, and free to establish its own laws for governing its people–its own people. One nation’s laws might be considered to be unjust by another nation, but that’s OK–it’s sort of why we have different nations. The point is to allow each nation to govern its own people autonomously, regardless of how other nations feel about it. Each nation is to stay within its own border and not try to force its laws or morals on another nation. That other nation has its own governing for enforcing its laws.

Now, we don’t live in a perfect world. Sometimes one nation does decide to encroach upon another nation. Sometimes due to famine and/or over-population, they can no longer feed their own people, so they to invade another nation for its natural resources. Other times, a nation just gets selfish and wants to expand its territory, so they attack another nation. Sometimes they even try to justify their actions by claiming that the conquered people would be better off with their government, morals, etc. than they would be with the government and morals that they had chosen for themselves. When this happens, the attacking nation is considered the aggressor, and the right thing for the nation being attacked is to fight the aggressor back with all its might, winning a decisive victory by inflicting the greatest possible death and destruction upon the enemy while sustaining the minimal number of casualties.

Sometimes one nation might choose to temporarily become allies with another nation to help it resist an invader. Also, in times of need, one nation might have pity on another nation and choose to help in times of need, such as humanitarian crises. Then, when the crisis is averted, they go back to the way things were before, with each nation again governing itself. And many nations find it mutually advantageous to conduct free trade across international borders, such as when one nation has resources that another lacks.

During World War II, when Germany, Italy, and Japan joined forces to expand their territory toward the goal of ruling the world, thankfully the U.S. and its allies did the right thing to join forces to defeat the aggressors. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, a U.S. ally, the U.S. was perfectly within its rights to assist Kuwait in forcing Hussein’s withdrawal from Kuwait, and restoring freedom for that country. However, when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, justifying it on the basis of suspected WMDs and U.N. resolutions, we were the aggressor, and that was wrong. When we decided to be “nation builders,” and extend our form of government to Iraq and other nations, that was wrong.

So, by definition, what the Bible does not condone is anything resembling a one-world government, like the United Nations. We won’t have a global government until Christ returns.

So where does this leave us today?

– We should withdraw from the Middle East. It’s a place of never-ending warring factions and civil wars among extremist religious sects, and any casualty sustained by the U.S. in a war that we’re not willing to win is a travesty. I remember as a young child studying the Seven Years’ War in history class. I couldn’t imagine a war lasting that long. After all, we were in World War II for only about half that long. Now we’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for over 14 years. We’ve stopped winning wars and turned to “ending” them, only to start another one. We haven’t won a war since World War II. We “ended” the Korean War in a stalemate. President Ford “ended” the Vietnam War after wasting 57,000 lives for political means and we surrendered South Vietnam back to the North Vietnamese Army. We “ended” the war in Iraq and it’s in worse shape than when we got there. And the war in Afghanistan seems never-ending. I’ve got an idea: Let’s win a war–leave it all on the battle field.

– We should put no boots on the ground in Syria. However, it’s already starting–with “advisors,” like in Vietnam and other places. Before you know it, we’ll displace another one million troops and sustain hundreds of thousands of more casualties, most of them less than twenty years old, with sons and daughters, and moms, and dads back home who will wonder what their loved ones suffered for–and we’ll also spend another trillion dollars. Than what happens after that? After having sorted through the Shiites, the Sunnis, and the Shias, and switching enemies between Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS (there are about 200 known terrorist organizations), we’ll find ourselves in yet another war being killed with our own weapons again.

– Since we should not interfere with the affairs of other nations when we’re not wanted, we have no business telling Iran that it can’t have nuclear weapons. If Israel considers this a threat, then they can deal with it, and they’re pretty good at taking care of themselves. Now, if Iran, or any other nation, attacks us, with or without nuclear weapons, that’s when we can wipe them off the face of the earth, but not before.

– Don’t worry about coalitions. If we need to go to war to defend our freedom, then go to war quickly and decisively. If we really have the best military in the world, we can speedily bring about victory, using nuclear weapons if possible.

– Think of it this way: Suppose one nation had a law that everyone had to wear black clothing, and another nation had a law that everyone had to wear white clothing. Would either nation be justified in attacking the other one because they’re wearing the wrong color of clothes? Or suppose, in a more realistic scenario, there was a nation that had laws against killing unborn children. That’s fine. They have their laws, and we have ours. Would the U.S. think that the other nation was justified to invade us to stop abortion?

It’s not my way–it’s God’s way. If you want to call God an isolationist, that’s OK.

News Flash (“Nothing to see here”)

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

I watched the news last night (12/03/15), Channel 8 in Dallas. Here’s what I learned:

– Remember the kid who got drunk, killed four people, and got probation because of “affluenza” (so rich that his parents never taught him right from wrong)? He failed to report to his parole officer, and he and his mom are missing. (If they find him, what’s the penalty for a second case of affluenza–double-secret probation?)

– There’s a refugee family from Syria that some people don’t want in the state.

– An out-of-control NFL fan was treated too roughly by some security guards.

– People can’t believe that terrorism struck in San Bernardino, CA.

– There’s an Amber Alert for two kids that are with their parents, and CPS is hot on their trail.

– Someone flew a drone that hit AT&T stadium (and then fell harmlessly to the ground).

– Republicans don’t like Obamacare.

– Someone could be forging signatures on a petition to curb noisy wedding events in a Dallas neighborhood.

– Someone stole a guy’s dog.

– Another dog owner either burned his dog or the dog turned the stove on by itself.

– Dallas roads have potholes.

– Kids can get hurt playing sports, and doctors think they can treat them.

– Someone stole a guy’s small train (the kind you might see at an amusement park).

– We have the strongest El Nino in 45 years, and El Nino years are wetter and colder than normal. As an example, the normal precipitation in December is 1.7″. In El Nino years, it’s 4.0″. But in strong El Nino years, it’s 2.5″. What’s wrong with this picture?