Nike and Colin.

I didn’t watch the NFL for almost the past two years.  I think I’ve watched one or two games total. The reason was because of the national anthem protests. As a point of clarification, I firmly believe these men have the right to protest, and I support their right to protest.  They have a right to protest, but Americans have a right not to support the company that refuses to discipline their employees for conduct detrimental to the brand, something that the NFL has lacked the guts to follow through on.  But I feel personally that their choice of time for these protests is inappropriate.  Again, I’m not saying they shouldn’t protest racial inequality, police brutality, or anything else they want to protest, I just feel it’s disrespectful to do so during the national anthem, and inappropriate to do so while in uniform on “company time.”

Imagine your spouse died, and I showed up to officiate the funeral. During the middle of the funeral I started railing against the evils of abortion, or human trafficking, or something like that.  You would be upset with me because that’s not why I’m there, and it would be inappropriate to do that during the funeral.

Imagine it’s your son’s sixth birthday party and you’ve hired someone to perform magic during the party, and in the middle of his magic act he decided to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet.  Inappropriate.

I didn’t hear anything about Colin Kaepernick for the past six months since the Super Bowl.  But the NFL is starting up,  and he’s back. And now evidently he’s become the focus of an ad campaign for Nike.  Some well-meaning people who dislike the protests have decided to burn their Nike purchases, and/or boycott the company.  Personally I feel that Nike’s record of using child labor is a much better reason not to use their products, though by reports they are attempting to curb this practice.  It’s hard for me to say I’m going to boycott Nike since I don’t really buy their products already.  Kind of like me boycotting Outback Steakhouse. I’ve never eaten there.  If I suddenly decide to boycott them, they wouldn’t notice.  And I don’t think I would boycott Nike anyway for this.  They made a corporate decision to display the face of someone I disagree with as their spokesman.  That is their right.

And when it comes down to it, has Colin Kaepernick done anything illegal or morally wrong?  Not really.  Disrespecting the flag isn’t covered in the Bible.  Respect for authority is, but there is disagreement among veterans, NFL owners, and government officials about  whether or not these protests actually constitute disrespect.  I would much rather save my outrage for things that really matter, like the 3000 babies that are murdered every day in US abortion clinics or the fact that Republicans (the “pro-life party”) have controlled all three branches of government (only four of the justices on the Supreme Court were appointed by Democrats) for the past two years, and yet the government is STILL giving over $500 million per year to Planned Parenthood, which does do some good things for people, but they also kill babies.   So no, I’m not worried about Colin.  I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

I’m tired of Colin Kaepernick.  I’m tired of racism.  But neither is going away anytime soon.

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As I sit in my office, I look out the window. Movement catches my eye. There is a wasp’s nest in the upper corner of my window on the other side of the glass. The wasps industriously move over the surface of the nest, tending to whatever they are doing. There are six wasps that I can see, but there are probably more.

These wasps cannot hurt me because they are incapable of getting through the glass. I know I should deal with them, and so I plan to buy some wasp spray and come back at night and destroy the nest so they can’t hurt anybody coming to our church. The only stinging that should be done here is by the Holy Spirit who pricks consciences and convicts of sin.

Two thoughts occur to me in relation to this. These wasps are like the problems in our lives that we face every day. Sometimes we can see the problem clearly, but because we are in no immediate danger, we do nothing about it. I have a sapling growing in the backyard of my new house that is about two feet high. It needs to be pulled because it’s right up against the house. If someone had pulled it when it was smaller, it would have been much easier. I gave it a tug this morning while mowing, and it didn’t budge. Problems are like that: if we don’t deal with them when they’re small, they become bigger and harder to uproot. I need to deal with these wasps before someone gets stung.

Secondly, it occurs to me that God is like the glass in this scenario. If we have trusted in Christ as Savior, nothing on earth can harm us without His permission. In the same way that the glass prevents the wasps from hurting me even though I can get within an inch of their nest, I need not fear what man can do to me, because God has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. The problems in my life cannot hurt me unless it is in His will that they do so. In that sense, I cannot be harmed outside of His will unless He fails, and He never will.

Romans 8:37 “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

Philippians 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

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My Jesus Fair

There’s a song called “My Jesus Fair” that we sang in church this morning. The first verse is:

My Jesus, fair, was pierced by thorns,
By thorns grown from the fall.
Thus He who gave the curse was torn
To end that curse for all.

I love the message of this song because it emphasizes God’s omniscient sacrifice for mankind on the Cross. The chorus says:
O love divine, O matchless grace-
That God should die for men!
With joyful grief I lift my praise,
Abhorring all my sin,
Adoring only Him.
Recently I was called to be the next pastor of the Rapids Street Baptist Church in Adel, Iowa. I have been a member of the Trinity Baptist Church of Westfield, Indiana for almost 13 years now. Today I said goodbye to many of my church family since this was our last Sunday at TBC. We are definitely looking forward with anticipation to the blessings and challenges that God has for us in Adel, but anytime we leave brothers and sisters behind, we experience “joyful grief” (as the song says).
As a believer I must go where God wants me to go. Because only in doing what He wants can I find joy and peace and meaning in my life, firmly in the Will of God.  As I told many people today, since we know Christ as Savior, in 100 years we will all be together again no matter what else happens.

Soli Deo gloria.

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I have had conversations recently with an elderly person who has dementia. This means that she frequently forgets basic information such as where she is, what year it is, and even sometimes who she is. This condition means that she does not believe people who remind her where she is, etc. Even if you manage to convince her of the truth of what you say, she very quickly forgets that she agreed with you, and goes back to believing it’s 40 years ago and asks where her husband is, who died over a decade ago.

It occurs to me that many people living today, both Christian and non-Christian alike, suffer from the same spiritual disease: they believe lies. The woman who believes that she is good enough to get to heaven on her own. The man who thinks he can cheat on his wife and get away with it forever. The teenager who thinks that life is not worth living. The person who believes that sin is preferable to th path that God wants them to walk.

Every choice we make, every word we say, every course of action we pursue should be processed by the question is this right? Is this what God wants me to do? And if the answer is anything but yes then we should think long and hard about whether or not we should do what we are about to do. If the answer is a definite no then it is the height of insanity to choose to do that which is bad for us.

A cactus is covered with spines. Most of us would shake our heads at someone who would willingly run into a cactus. Like a cactus spine, sin is never a good thing. To paraphrase Randy Alcorn’s “The Purity Principle” “sin is always stupid.” Every time you have the opportunity to do right or wrong and you choose wrong, it’s like you’re choosing to walk in a patch of cacti instead of a smooth path. And then you get upset when the spines hurt, make you bleed, and possibly even stop you from walking.

I tell people how they can be saved but they don’t believe what the Bible says. I tell them avoiding sin will give them a better future, but they deny the danger they are in. I beg them to stop the self-destructive cycle that they are in, but they just keep right on thinking that they know better than God does.

I think we all have a little bit of dementia.

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Afraid vs Prepared

In reading the activity on social media in the past several days after the most recent evil person decided to kill a bunch of people in Florida, I’ve heard one comment several times in several places. It’s some variant of the statement, “What are you gun lovers afraid of, that you need guns?”

I’m wondering if these people have ever been in a situation where someone with a gun wants to kill them (probably not) or have seen a movie or tv show where people encountered an evil person with a gun. Am I afraid of someone or something that causes me to own and carry guns? No.

I am not afraid of getting in a car accident. I am not planning on getting in a car accident. But if I do, I have insurance to protect me.

I am not afraid of dying and leaving my family without support. I am not planning on dying anytime soon. But if I do, I have insurance to protect them.

I am not afraid of losing my contacts while on vacation. I am not planning on losing my contacts. But if I do, I have brought an extra pair to replace them so I can see.

I am not afraid of my phone’s battery dying. I am not planning on my phone’s battery dying. But if it does, I have a battery recharger with me to recharge the battery.

You see, I don’t carry a gun because I’m afraid. I carry a gun because I want to be prepared.

Do I expect to ever get in a situation where I will need to use my gun? No. But if it should ever happen, I want to be as ready as possible to protect myself, my loved ones, and other innocent people.

I’m not afraid to protect those I love. I’m prepared.

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The Map Is Wrong

18 shootings

I have seen this map floating around on the internet stating that there have been 18 school shootings so far this year. Actually that map is misleading.

If we define a “School Shooting” as an incident where someone shoots random victims on school grounds (like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland), then there have only been three school shootings this year. That’s still three too many, but not the 18 pictured above. The “school shooting” in Maplewood, MN on that map was a police officer’s gun accidentally firing. The one in Arizona was a student committing suicide. Alone. Of the three shootings that were “school shootings”, the one in Louisiana saw nobody killed or even injured by gunfire.

That leaves us with two: Benton, Kentucky and Parkland, Florida.

Nineteen dead from these two shooters, and countless other people traumatized, some for life.

Here’s my idea:

1. Pass a law that if a person commits first degree murder on school property they automatically get the death penalty.
2. Get rid of the “gun free zones” policies entirely. Pass legislation stating that people who hold a license to carry a firearm may not be barred from carrying in any building.
3. Train teachers on a volunteer basis to handle firearms and train them to be prepared in the eventuality that they may be called on to defend their students. And have the taxpayers of their district buy them a firearm.

I firmly believe that these things would disincentivize shooters to the extent that school shootings would by and large go away. There would still be shootings, but with far fewer victims and the shooters would be held accountable via the death penalty.

So what do you all think?  I welcome honest opinions and real solutions, even ideas I disagree with, but comments with profanity or insults will not be allowed.

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Something Must Be Done

Something must be done.

We all agree on that. No more kids should die.

But how that should happen we all disagree sharply. Some of my friends believe that we need to tighten down on the mentally ill. Some believe that it is the fault of the gun manufacturers, the NRA, or lawmakers.

But I submit that the problem of murder has existed since the beginning of recorded history, with Cain and Abel. God is very clear in the Bible that murder is wrong, and yet we humans keep doing it. The problem with the idea of gun control is the premise that we need to make sure that guns don’t get into the hands of people who would use them to murder.

If it were possible to identify every person who is going to commit murder with a gun before they do it, I would be 100% on board with taking away those people’s right to own a gun. But it’s not possible.

And so we are left with the main problem. It’s the problem humans have been dealing with since the Garden: sin.

We could rephrase the question thusly: how do we keep people from sinning against each other? The answer is: we don’t. We witness about what God has done for us and what He can do for them. We show them that there’s a better way: the Way of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. That’s all of us. It’s only through the murderers like we witnessed this week in Florida do we see just how desperately wicked we humans can be. I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that the tragedy of Florida, Sandy Hook, and Columbine is massively eclipsed by the tragedy of the 60 million children that have been killed in abortion clinics all over the country since 1973. Their deaths are no less tragic. But back to the topic at hand: what to do about school shooters?

I believe God wants me to love my enemies, but He also wants me to protect my family. Doing that against armed assailants would be difficult if I didn’t have a gun myself.

The answer isn’t to get rid of the guns, but to fix the hearts of the people holding them. I pray for the hearts of the victims’ families. I pray they are comforted during this time of sorrow. But mostly I pray that they will find the peace that can only come through trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I also pray for the murderers; those who have killed and those who are even now planning the next school shooting. Lord, please turn their hearts to You.

Something must be done. And yet, something has already been done two thousand years ago on a hill just outside of Jerusalem. Never forget that God is in control, He has a plan, and He works in our situations to draw us closer to Him and to glorify Himself.

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