The journey of a nerd who loves the Lord

Salutations.

Throughout the pandemic, our news media pushed poll after poll in front of our face. What do Americans think of the pandemic? What about the vaccine? What about Trump’s approach? What about Biden’s? Below are just a few polls I easily pulled up by looking through the news today.

  • Polls find most Republicans say 2020 election was stolen and roughly one-quarter embrace QAnon conspiracies
  • New poll shows election audit unpopular with Arizona voters
  • Poll: Half of voters support the border wall, matching record
  • POLL: Should employers be allowed to require covid vaccines for employment?

Now, I could write in-depth article on the subject of how polls are conducted. How the pollsters word the questions, and who they question can have a huge variance on the poll’s results. However, for the sake of my thoughts today, I wish to avoid that particular quagmire. For this discussion, let us suppose that polls are conducted in a fair manner.

With that said, my initial point here is that media outlets use polls often to push a narrative or a particular point. After all, America is a democracy, right? If 51% of Americans think a course action is right, then our government should legalize it! If 55% think another action falls short of expectations, we should change course!

The idea that we believe, as a group, that the majority is always right staggers me. We have countless examples from history where a majority group in a particular country supported political groups and actions that many of us consider absolutely abhorrent. Even in this country, a few decades ago, a majority of Americans would vote against abortion and gay marriage. Now, a majority would vote for it? Who is right? 

Progressives and liberals would argue that, as a race, we grown in wisdom over time. Therefore, the way that the majority votes today must inherently be a better direction. Yet conservatives would argue that we should be slow to let go of older ideas and ethics. Just because the majority recently flipped on a decision does not mean it is the right direction to go. After all, a majority of Germans supported Hitler’s rise to power.

Both approaches defy something we all know intuitively. The question of ethics, right versus wrong, does not change daily, annually or even every century. Murder has been and always shall be wrong. We believe slavery, once embraced by many in this country, has always been ethically corrupt; they simply had it wrong back then. 

The Bible warns us that true ethics comes from the One who gave us life. It goes so far as to suggest that without Him, nothing is good. Furthermore, unlike us, God does not change His mind every so often. He remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows,” 1 Chronicles 16:11-12

No ship can steer its own course without a map, and external, objective ways to measure where they are currently at. Back in the day, ships used landmarks and stars to determine their location. They then used maps to plot the course based on that information. Today, we try to move forward, as a society, without neither reference nor direction. The result we see today are masses who frequently change their mind on important issues.

The Bible makes it clear that with God we all stand condemned. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin are death and eternal separation from Him. It then gives us a course to steer by. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whomsoever believes on Him shall not parish but have everlasting life.” Once we put our faith in Him, we become ‘born again’ as the Spirit gives us a new heart. This new heart He gives will lead us in a more ethical direction as we seek to glorify Him in thanks for His sacrifice.

Do not be lead astray by the false prophets today who follow the majority. Follow the One, who stood against all of the powers and majorities of His day to die for your sins on a cross.  He will never leave you or forsake you, unlike today’s modern culture.

You Can’t Stop Hate

Recently, a gunman senselessly killed eight people in Atlanta, six of which were Asian-American. Crowds of people started protesting Asian racism. Politicians, including the president, denounced hate against Asians. They started working on new ‘hate laws’ to address this problem. But, is any of this truly effective? If not, what purpose does all of this serve? And, do we have any true option to combat racism and hate? I hope to explore these questions today.

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The Enemy of Good

As most of my friends know, I enjoy drawing from time to time. It is a hobby I have enjoyed since I was a wee little lad. In my early 20’s, I attempted to draw a full comic. Part way through the process, I became frustrated. My art never looked right. The composition was all over the place. A friend with a lot more experience looked everything over and gave me some advice. “Phil, don’t let perfection become the enemy of good.” Today, I feel our society could learn from that lesson.

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When Will We Learn?

Recently, RZIM released an independent investigation showing that Ravi Zacharias, leader of the ministry, engaged in serious sexual misconduct multiple times. This revelation shocked both believers and even his opponents, as Ravi’s reputation through life was nearly impeccable. I will not discuss the accusations or my thoughts on them in any great detail. However, for sake of my point, let us assume that the accusations are largely true. After all, the evidence presented certainly points in that direction, and RZIM, the ministry with the most to lose from this, confirms as much.

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Be A Light in Darkness

During the 2020 elections, Twitter and numerous other social media companies, took the unprecedented move to silence the sitting president of the United States, stating that he used the platform to spread lies. Furthermore, these alleged lies could possibly give motivation for others to take violent action.

As a result, many of my more conservative friends left these social platforms. I can certainly admire their conviction.  Whether or not we feel Trump’s views are true, we head into dangerous territory here. The idea of free speech carries within it an understanding that people will spread lies and unpopular lines of thought. An attack on free speech is an attack on our faith as this slippery slope usually results in limiting when and where we can talk about God. As Christians, we should work to defend free speech both in law, and in culture.

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The Wrong Tool

Salutations.

I have listened to numerous atheist arguments against the existence of God.  One argument, in particular, strikes me as the most illogical. Essentially, the argument states that God does not exist because we have no scientific evidence.  Furthermore, this argument extends to the idea that Christianity must be false, and those who believe in God can therefore be considered a bit crazy, and even dangerous.

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Keep Your Eyes On The Creator

Salutations.

Few would refute just how crazy and insane this year has treated us. COVID, and our reaction to its presence, has fundamentally changed our lives across the board. In the United States, we have also seen strong cultural shifts that continue to push our nation into darker directions. Like most, I made it a point to watch the news daily to find out about the latest developments, often spending an hour or more of what little free time I had. What was going on? What was going to happen next? How would it impact me?

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An Eternal Perspective

Click to watch or listen to a recording of this blog entry.

A number of years ago, I received word that a beloved relative found out she had terminal cancer. I reached out to her, and her husband answered. I asked if I could talk to her, and he told me he would check. He returned and said, “She’ll talk to you, but she asks that you do not talk about religion.”

The request did not surprise me. While I rarely spoke with her about my faith in God, the few occasions that I did revealed the deep differences we had on questions such as the very existence of a deity. 

I replied that I understood and would respect her request.

She got on the phone, and I asked her how she felt. We eventually began chatting about finances. However, at some point, she abruptly changed the subject.

“I don’t understand how a loving God can send people to Hell, simply because they chose the wrong faith. I have met monks with more faith than any Christian I met! It makes no sense!” She continued to rant about exactly how she felt about the Christian idea of God. Wishing to honor what I agreed to earlier, I let her do so without interruption.  When she finally came to an end of her stream of thought, I responded, “You bring up some important points.  Do you want an answer?”

She did not.

I can discuss these particular concerns with anyone who sincerely seeks answers. In fact, I have written several blog entries on these issues. However, as the saying goes, “the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.” People do not want to hear the answers, because they want to live their way without a true challenge to their world view.

Anger towards Christianity, and the truths that God laid out, is nothing new. I have heard many atheists and agnostics echo the same sentiment that my relative did. Their anger defies logic for two reasons.  First, if one believes that God does not exist, why do you feel such anger? Who has offended you? Certainly, no one feels angry at Santa Claus, even though we all know he does not truly exist. No one writes books upset about the theology of the tooth fairy.

Second, and more importantly, in pondering this argument, one must consider perspective.

A parent tells a child that they must take a trip to the dentist. The child has a cavity and it must be drilled. The child cries; she does not want to go. She can only think about the pain, and does not understand why her mother insists on taking her to such a horrific place. She yells. She screams. She says she hates her mother. She may even believe it.  

Yet, the mother acts out of love. She knows that the pain is necessary. As an older, wiser, mature adult, the mother understands that this will ultimately help her child enjoy her adult years with a full set of teeth intact. The mother has a different perspective. Unfortunately, due to the child’s youth and limited view, the daughter cannot understand the reason they must take the trip, no matter how the mother explains.

With this analogy, we must ask a question. Assuming that God exists, is it possible that He has a perspective different than our own? Could His ways differ from our ways? Could His understanding vary from ours? And may it feasibly be something that upsets us? Personally, I not only believe in the possibility, but would think it likely.  

And if you can accept that premise, than you can also understand the problem of arguing against God. It would be the height of stubborn pride to shake one’s fist in the air and declare that you will not follow God because you do not agree with His direction. The road to hell is paved by such hubris.

None of this necessarily proves the existence of God, and only provides a small argument in support off the Christian God. Such a discussion exceeds to scope of this article. However, I hope everyone can see that the argument to walk away from God simply because one struggles to understand His ways, in and of itself, lacks any real logic. 

Given that, it follows that the Bible says over and over again that we need humility to come before the Living God. We need to understand not only our place before Him, but our own brokenness, before we can even approach Him.  If we do, we will find hope, love and forgiveness waiting for us. For He is rich in mercy to all who seek His face. Yet His wrath awaits those who continue to spur His Son.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” – John 3.36

As always, thank you for reading.  Please leave your comments below, or hit me up on Twitter at jcservant.  Thank you and God bless you.

Face Masks and Abortions

Salutations.

Those who have read my blog for some time know that I describe myself as logical, yet creative person. I love to write, imagine and draw, but I also enjoy math, solving problems and thinking through things. I came to my faith mostly through logical deduction rather than some deep, emotional need. And I constantly review other alternatives, including the modern day narratives our society tries to sell us. I often find the disconnects in logic simply appalling. Today, I want to share a more modern example of such a concern as I compare our society’s reasons for mandated mask wearing during COVID-19 to its reasons supporting a woman’s right to abortions.

First, let us consider the reasons behind mandating masks. Politicians often focus on what the scientists say about the subject, so I started there. This write up by the University of California San Francisco cites numerous sources for its view endorsing the widespread use of masks in public. I found some very useful takeaways from this peer reviewed journal written by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. In short, we have plenty of evidence to suggest that masks help. However, the paper admits that scientists do not know if wearing masks helps a little or a lot. There remains much we do not understand about the virus, including exactly how it spreads. Yet, I found the comments in their conclusion most fascinating.

UNESCO states that “when human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm” (94). This is known as the “precautionary principle”. The World Charter for Nature, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1982, was the first international endorsement of the precautionary principle. It was implemented in an international treaty in the 1987 Montreal Protocol. The loss of life and economic destruction that has been seen already from COVID-19 is a “morally unacceptable harm”. The positive impact of public mask wearing on this is “scientifically plausible but uncertain”. This notion is reflected in Figure 1 – while researchers may reasonably disagree on the magnitude of transmissibility reduction and compliance, seemingly modest benefits can be massively beneficial in the aggregate due to the exponential character of the transmission process. Therefore, the action of ensuring widespread use of masks in the community should be taken, based on this principle (95)

I have seen many posts from people expressing disdain, and even anger over ‘anti-maskers.’ And following the logic above, it makes sense. The ‘anti-maskers’ argue that forcing them to ‘mask up’ infringes on their rights. They find the mask a hinderance, and uncomfortable. Yet others would argue that one’s rights, such as they are, end when they place others at risk. Or, more to the point, citizens have an obligation to take certain actions if it reduces the risk of sickness or death in others… even if it intrudes on their ‘rights,’ costs money (for the mask) or causes inconvenience and discomfort. In fact, we should take such precautions even if we remain unclear as to the exact benefit, as long as we have solid ‘scientifically plausible but uncertain’ chance to avoid harm.

In fact, our government has asked us to make much greater sacrifices in the name of public safety. They have closed businesses, stopped gatherings and even limited constitutionally protected rights in an effort to slow the spread and death. And, mind you, the evidence suggests that the correlation between these government mandated lockdowns and an effectual slowing of the spread is tenuous, at best. Yet, they argue that even if it’s a chance to save lives, we must sacrifice our careers, freedoms and even constitutionally protected rights to do so.

This brings me to the point of the ‘pro-life versus pro-choice’ debate.

A while back, I wrote an article articulating how one could not defend the ‘right to choice’ with logic. If you have not read it, I implore you to do so, as it will help flesh out some of my argument here. In short, we all agree that one should not kill an innocent life. We do not know exactly when life begins. Between doctors, scientists and politicians, there remains little agreement. Therefore, we should not allow abortions, despite concerns about a woman’s perceived ‘right to choose,’ because the greater right, the right of an innocent to life, takes precedent. And where there’s doubt and debate on the subject of when begins, we should err on the side of caution and life. Again, I draw our attention to the quote from the scientific paper mentioned earlier.

“…when human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm” (94). This is known as the “precautionary principle”

And this brings us back to the earlier arguments regarding masks and lockdowns. How is it, we live in a society and with a government that demands we sacrifice so much when it comes to protecting the population against a disease with a rather low death rate, but we allow a woman and doctor to terminate the life of an unborn child because it’s ‘her body, her choice’? Either life is worth hard choices and sacrifices to protect, or it is not.

Of course, these are not quite direct comparisons. On one hand, we have a naturally occurring disease that we have to take action to slow down. We cannot stop it. We are asked to sacrifice to slow the spread so our hospitals can effectively treat people to save as many as possible. We are throwing millions out of work and suspending constitutionally protected rights for months (or longer) to slow a disease that has claimed nearly a quarter of a million people in the USA.

Conversely, an unwanted pregnancy asks a woman to carry a fetus to term and go through the pains of childbirth. If left to nature, the vast majority of the 647k aborted pregnancies’ (2016 state per CDC) would have lead to healthy child births.

It seems to me that a huge disconnect in logic exists in our society where it justifies and enforce one effort to potentially save lives, while allowing Americans to terminate over 50 million potential lives (since 1970). One might argue we’re working to save those we know, for a fact, are alive versus protecting those who may not be considered a life. However, I would fall back on the ethical principle outlined above. If we are to be consistent, as a society, in how we protect life where gray area exists, we must have a stricter approach to abortion.

With that said, I do not expect such a change to ever occur in my lifetime. After all, without God, we all seek our own pleasure and our own ends. We protect abortion because we do not want to cost, pain and hardship that comes with the responsibility of having a child at an inopportune time. Yet, we will fiercely fight for tougher government mandates to protect us from pandemics because no one wants to die. Conversely, God asks that we lay down our selfish desires, pick up our cross and follow Him. The road is hard and long. Inside, we all know that the right choices in life often involve sacrifice. Eleven of the twelve died for simply stating the truth. Yet, He promises to walk with us every step of the way.

Do you agree or disagree? Feel free to leave comments below or hit me up on Twitter. Thank you and God bless you.

Under Attack

My study of theology started back in the eighties. I recall reading numerous materials that predicated the ‘end of times.’ They described how the church would come under attack by the government which would also force individuals to take the ‘mark of the beast.’ I have never claimed proficiency in the matter of interpreting Biblical prophecy. However, I have studied plenty of history, and one pattern I identified early on stands out in my mind today. When any government goes to grab more power from the people, it attacks the church.

Yet, here we are. In the year 2020, our American government is doing everything possible to tear down our churches in the name of ‘safety.’ Our cry, as Americans, changed from “Give me liberty or give me death” to “Give me safety from virus even if it cost me my liberty.” As part of this new, social contract, many states have focused closure orders and incredibly challenging orders on church organizations. As just a small example, I have included a clip here as John MacArthur reads what the state of California expects from churches there.

As he points out, following those guidelines would effectively kill their organization. And, indeed, many other similar church have already closed their doors permanently.

Now, followers of my blog know that I have never carried the banner of support for institutional churches. Modern churches fall well short of the ideals set in the New Testament. At the same time, most claim to have the ‘best model’ of church either implicitly or explicitly. I have many concerns about the model of church western society used for the last two millennium.

Yet, even I cannot ignore these blatant attacks by our government to shut them down. And, while governments such as China or North Korea make any such gatherings illegal, our government has taken a more sinister approach by enforcing closures and strict requirements over an obscene period of time in the name of ‘safety.’

Some would point out that the government applies such pressure to all organizations equally in its quest to ‘squish’ the virus, but that idea falls shorts when one reviews the facts. In the states with the tightest regulations for churches, organizations such as liquor stores, abortion clinics and home goods stores work with much easier requirements (if any). The governments serve court summons to any church that dares to defy their ‘health orders’ while allowing groups to organize and protest in large numbers in any manner they see fit.

To see my country blatantly grab and stubbornly hold onto the constitutionally protected rights of its citizens breaks my heart. This kind of action, performed in the name of ‘safety,’ is nothing new. Again, study history of other nations, and how they took freedoms from their people and other egregious actions (including murder and genocide.) Those leaders always had a great ‘reason’ for their actions to pacify the people of the time.

One of the books I read back in the 80’s foresaw this possibility, and reviewed a ‘back to the Bible’ secret as an answer to this challenge. When persecuted, Christians in the darker ages met in homes. In fact, the Christian churches in China and North Korea have seen unprecedented growth over the last few decades even as they quietly meet in each other’s houses. Governments find it much harder to hunt down followers when they do not have a huge building-shaped target with a cross at the top.

Sadly, most Christians will not consider such radical approaches. They have somehow bought into the lie that they must remain apart from their siblings in faith to ‘stay safe.’ (Compare this approach with the disciples’ in the Bible. Did they put safety over spiritual/church meetings and following Christ?) They ‘attend’ church once each week by watching a broadcast and move on with the rest of their life. And, in that regard, Satan wins a decisive victory.

While this may seem dark and depressing to most, I end this entry with a silver lining. While we bemoan the dark times where government represses churches, we should take note of another fact. When the church is persecuted, God acts. In our weakness, He is made strong. We have seen the most explosive growth and the biggest miracles when facing our darkest times. The blood of the martyrs fertilized the ground for generations of faithful followers to grow.

This is your time.