Monthly Archives: November 2017

Of Babies And Sled Dogs…Both Are Innocent!

But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Luke 18:16).

Tramadol is prescribed to treat moderate pain. Prescribed to people that is. But when dogs in the Iditarod tested positive for the pain killer, well…it caused quite a stir!

The Iditarod is a 1,000-mile race through Alaska that ends in Nome in March. Sixteen dogs, and a “musher” who drives the sled, compete in this challenging race. And, during the race, the dogs are drug tested at 3 different locations.

Some say it was the “musher,” Dallas Seavey. But friends and competitors defended Dallas, saying he would never jeopardize his dogs or the sport. Also, the place in the race where the dogs were drugged made no sense strategically. Some say anti-sledding animal rights groups are to blame. Even fans are under suspicion, as there are opportunities along the race to pet and give treats to the dogs.

The truth is, we will probably never know. But one thing is clear; no one is accusing the dogs! Why? Dogs don’t dope themselves.

So, consider this: if we immediately assume the dogs are innocent, why do many Christians fall victim to a theological lie about sinful babies?

Considering children, Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to “such as these” (Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16). Furthermore, we must become like little children to enter the Kingdom. Does it make sense to say, “become guilty, sinful, and totally depraved… like these little sinners” in order to enter heaven?

Sin falls into two categories: 1) Knowing what to do and not doing it (James 4:17), and 2) Doing what we shouldn’t (lawlessness) (1 John 3:4). Babies, therefore, cannot sin. Moreover, they can’t die in sin as happens with all who do not believe (John 8:24).

And, if guilty of sin, how could a baby be reconciled to God?
We must believe (Mark 16:16); what does an infant believe?
We must repent (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30); can an infant change their minds/lives?
We must confess Jesus with our mouths (Romans 10:9-10); what can an infant say?
We must be immersed for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38); what sins does the infant need washed away (Acts 22:16)?

But babies grow up. And when they do, they will make choices. And in those choices, knowing right from wrong, they will fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

When their sin separates them from a holy God, they will have to make another choice: be saved by the grace of a loving God, or refuse the mercy of a just God. Unlike dogs, people can, eventually, choose. We don’t blame dogs in a doping scandal and we don’t look to infants to reconcile sinfulness. Mush!

Faith Like A Fake Truffle?

Thievery, knockoffs, and sabatoge…welcome to the treacherous world of truffles. It is, truly, a shady business.

Of course, truffles grow 3 feet under ground in forested areas, so it has always been “shady.” But something truly shady is going on – fake truffles! And they are causing a stir.

Truffles are big business. Italian truffles fetch around $3,000 per pound. Some White Truffles recently went for $120,000 at auction!

But the truffle industry is facing its biggest challenge ever – Chinese knockoffs. You see, Chinese truffles don’t really have a smell or taste so they aren’t worth much. But Chinese farmers have learned a trick to cash in on the truffle craze – mix their truffles in with expensive Italian ones!

First, they artificially color the truffles. Then, they place them in with the more pungent Italian truffles. That way, they take on the look, smell, and flavor of the expensive truffles.

On close examination, fakes are discovered. But often it is too late. Buyers pay big money only to be duped by the counterfeits.

I can’t help but think of a parable Jesus told about wheat and tares growing next to each other (Matthew 13:24-20). The workers wanted to pull up the tares, but they would have torn up wheat as well. Rather, the master said to wait until both were fully grown; then they could easily separate them.

Just by hanging out at church,  “Christians” might seem authentic. Read about Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8 for a good example. They may sound Christian, act Christian, and look Christian.

But a more thorough examination is coming. And counterfeit Christians can’t hide among true disciples on that day. You can’t “fake it till you make it” with God.

No Christian is more valuable than another. There are no lesser Christians who will squeak into heaven. There are no fake Christians who will sneak into heaven either.

Only those who are truly known by Christ will enter into the Kingdom. Each of us should examine ourselves and ask, “Is my faith authentic? Or am I just hiding among Christians, hoping to blend in?”

Practice “Divestiture Aversion” With Your Soul!

Richard Thaler, professor at the Booth School of Business, won the Nobel Prize for Economics this year. Thaler is known for his work on the “endowment effect.” Basically, It is the principle that people have a “divestiture aversion.” Or, in other words, people are unwilling to sell, or ascribe more value to things, merely because they already own them.

He and his colleagues ran an experiment in which they gave half the students in a class a mug for 22 cents. Then they told them to sell their mug to the other students if they wanted. Most would not sell, or they attributed a higher value than 22 cents to the mug they had just bought.

I heard a great interview the other day about the application of this theory: Bruce Springsteen tickets. Springsteen was playing, for a limited time, a 960-seat theater on Broadway. Tickets sold-out fast. A man, who got two tickets at face value ($400), was being interviewed about them.

The interviewer told the man tickets had gone for as much as $4,000, but the man wanted to keep the tickets and go to the show! He asked, “would you pay $4,000 for tickets?” “Of course not” was the quick reply. But, by keeping the tickets, that is exactly what he was doing, “buying” tickets and not getting $4,000 dollars.

Now, most of us would say, “that’s crazy, SELL!” But that is where endowment theory kicks in. You see, you don’t own them; he does.

Jesus once asked, ““For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” Do you have a price for your soul? Would the pursuit of physical “happiness” cause you to sell? Less pain? Fame? Nothing is worth a soul.

Most of us could stand to get rid of some stuff. But no price is worth an eternal soul. That’s where a little divestiture aversion goes a long way!

At least one person would not sell tickets to see Bruce, at any price. Shouldn’t we refuse to sell tickets to be with Jesus forever?

Banning Bowed Heads Is Not The Answer

“It is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer. Coach Small’s conduct is unconstitutional because he endorses and promotes his religion when acting in his official capacity as a school district employee.”

Those were the words written in a complaint by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) attorney, Christopher Line. They were a direct attack on East Coweta County, GA High School football coach John Small. The complaint resulted in the School District banning all coaches and employees from: “joining hands, bowing their heads, taking a knee or committing another act that otherwise manifests approval with the students’ religious experience.”

His crime? He bowed his head while the kids led a prayer. That’s all.

There are many terrible and confusing things going on in our country today. It is sad that many people don’t feel safe at concerts, churches, and in their homes. There are real problems with terrorism, mass-shootings, and violence.

What is the solution? How will we leave this world better for our children? Stop showing respect during prayers? Really?

Yes, I know the words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Is Coach Small Congress? Is he establishing a specific religion? Is he forcing others to bow their heads because he has?

Is there any serious individual who thinks that a respectfully bowed head is sending kids a bad message? As one mother responded, “What kind of leader would you rather have than somebody [who] would pray for their children, for your children, [and] for all of our children?” It just makes sense.

What if he had taken a knee in protest to their prayer? Ah, the irony!

Eventually, “every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance” (Isaiah 45:23). Bowing our heads when someone prays is not only a sign of respect, but it just makes sense. More bowed heads would produce more “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law” (Galatians 5:23).