Trending

The word “trending” has gone through an interesting metamorphosis in the social media generation.  Used to be, something was “trending up” or “trending down,” depending on whether one was discussing (respectively) butter or margarine, cauliflower or broccoli rabe.

Now things are just “trending.”   It is as though the quality of an item or topic is irrelevant; all that matters is that people are talking about it.  It’s the new version of “no publicity is bad publicity,” I guess.

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Who is my brother?

One of my Facebook “friends” (actually a complete stranger to me — social media makes for odd relationships) posted the following last week: “Don’t you dare tell me who I can call my brothers and sisters in Christ!  That is way above your pay grade!”

I was tempted to respond, “Is it above yours?”

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You are what you eat

Perhaps you have heard of “food deserts.”  The term refers to places where people have limited (or less) access to grocery stores and other sources of healthy food.  Now there are “food swamps” — that is, where food is plentiful, just not nourishing.  Food swamps feature lots of gas stations, fast-food joints, and other places that promote obesity and bad eating habits.  No farmer’s markets or kale smoothie shops, though.

Studies differ with regard to whether proximity to grocery stores is actually an indicator of general health.  (They sell Snickers bars at Publix, you know.)  But there’s certainly a case to be made that the food’s quality may be as much a factor as its availability.

“Food” is relative — whether the food is carnal or spiritual.  We can pat ourselves on the back all we want for “going to church” or even “reading the Bible.”  But if we are not nourishing our spirits, what good is any of it?  A preacher who does not “preach the word” (2 Timothy 2:2), substituting human philosophy and personal opinions, may be doing more harm than good.  Reading for five minutes just to say you did it, without an eye for application or contextual understanding, may be feed a sense of “fullness” that is completely misleading.

With that in mind, consider the following spiritual nutrition tips:

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What costume do you wear?

I will be honest with you — I don’t get Halloween.  I mean no disrespect to those who consider it their favorite holiday, and I know there are some who do.  I don’t think every child in a mask is a Satanist.  In the devil’s world there are plenty of legitimate bogeymen to chase; I see no need to imagine any extra ones.

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The Beastly Human

It is no wonder that a society that tells its citizens constantly that they are no better than the animals — indeed, no different from them — winds up seeing those same citizens act like animals.  Why wouldn’t they? How could we reasonably expect anything else?

As Christians, we hope and expect humans to rise above the animal world. Animals can be trained, after all.  Why not humans?  But culture wins over holiness, time after time. And thus we see headline after headline, proclaiming in grotesque detail how degraded a culture bereft of God can become.

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Map

My good friend Brad Sullivan showed me the road to the preacher getaway to which I have made extensive reference recently in this space.  But I needed to leave the event early, so I drove home alone.  And I got lost.  As in, I didn’t know which road to get on, what direction to go, or even where to find a decent WiFi signal so my phone could educate me properly.

I needed a map. 

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Gather

When a bunch of preachers gather in a single area, they tend strongly to discuss the things of the Spirit.  Perhaps that is simply to “fit in.”  Perhaps it is to demonstrate our credibility in spiritual matters. Perhaps it is simply because it is what everyone else is doing.  In any case, we look more like preachers when preachers are the only ones in the room.

That can be a result of hypocrisy, and in some instances it probably is.  Maybe some are just going through the motions to blend in with people they admire.  Maybe that’s what I do.  But I like to believe, …

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Mega-Monstrosity

Full disclosure: I am the last person you should go to for reliable information on the lottery.  I deliberately avoid these stories — not because I want to limit my exposure to temptations of the flesh, but rather because I detest stupidity and because I wish to expect the best out of my fellow Americans.

That said, the figure $1.5 billion grabs the attention of even the most callous of ‘net-surfers.  So I poked around a bit. 

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Enslaved no longer

“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.’ ” — John 8:34-36

 

Sinners do not properly understand the principle of being enslaved to sin. They know nothing other than slavery. They have found contentment and even joy in slavery. They have convinced themselves that sin is the inevitable and preferred state of mankind. By committing themselves to slavery, though, they are prohibiting themselves from living the life that they were, in the most literal of senses, born to live.

 

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Simplicity

Simplicity, as pointed out to me recently by Bro. Ed Bragwell, is the opposite of duplicity.  Yet again, Hal slaps himself in the face and wonders how something so obviously true and practical escaped his notice for 52 years.

“The simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” is addressed in 2 Corinthians 11:3. 

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Companions

I spent the better part of the week at what Taylor delights in calling “preacher camp” while she and Tracie were riding out the hurricane.  Yes, I feel a bit guilty about that.  What can I say?  They made me go, and they wouldn’t let me come home early.  They had Elvis movies to watch.

But I’m glad I went.  I met a few dozen preachers.  I sat at the feet of qualified and motivated instructors.  I grew as a preacher and a Christian.  Almost as importantly, I got ample fodder for articles such as this one.  Stay tuned.

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A proper cause for boasting

Like the rest of us, Paul had plenty of opportunities for boasting if he were inclined to seek them. He lists some of them in Philippians 3:5-6. Circumcised. Descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Devout follower of Jehovah God for his entire life. A spotless reputation for righteousness among all who knew him. Such things were, in fact, used by many Jewish Christians to distance themselves morally and spiritually from others, particularly Gentiles.

But Paul abandoned such things.

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The truth we know

Enough, already.

Enough judging a man in his 50s for an isolated incident, or even several of them, that may or may not have happened when he was a teenager.

Enough judging a woman for daring to have a smile on her face at some point in time when the most important thing in her life is her allegations of being assaulted.

Enough giving credence to everyone who supports our own preconceived values and principles.  Enough dismissing and/or excoriating everyone who opposes them.

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Are you suffering from MIsophonia? Call 1-800-GetOverIt

If you are driven to distraction by the noise people make when they are eating, chewing gum, or just plain breathing, you may have misophonia — which is an actual mental condition, according to the ever-reliable internet.

You also may be a human being.

The distinction between the two seems to be a capacity for toleration. 

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Unitaskers

Alton Brown, my favorite foodie, has a real attitude about what he calls “unitaskers” — that is, kitchen implements that serve only one function.  Strawberry slicers, rice cookers, countertop rotisseries, basically anything sold on late-night television — scrap them all.  The only unitasker you should have in your kitchen, he says, is a fire extinguisher.

It is the exception to the unitasker rule that I would like to address here. 

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Serve

Whenever I hear about a restaurant or other establishment that refuses to serve police officers, I always want to ask, “Do you expect them to serve you?”  After all, their service requires them to (at least potentially) put their very lives on the line for you.  The worst that can happen to you by serving them is getting a rotten tip.

It just seems reasonable.  When people put themselves out for you, you should be inclined to do the same for them. 

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Love Lifted Me!

Peter was an experienced fisherman. He had no doubt experienced many troubling waters in his life. But this particular storm was placed in context when he and the other disciples saw Jesus walking on the water. Peter had enough faith to recognize the Lord’s voice, and enough confidence to ask if he could walk out on the water to meet Him — and to do so when Jesus gave him permission. 

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Videos

OK, Hal has been watching videos on Facebook again.  Someone unplug his modem before he turns into one of those people who is always linking to clips of baby goats and puppies.  Anyway, this one was of a driver and would-be Sonic customer who seemed to have confused the concepts of drive-in and drive-thru.  

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