If at first discipline doesn't succeed, ... Try, Try Again!

Discipline fails oftentimes because the disciplinarians quit too early.  Junior is grounded because of bad grades, then he goes and sulks in his room, determined to do even worse the next test just to spite Mom and Dad.  Junior makes out on both fronts; he does do worse, and Mom and Dad get so frustrated that they quit grounding him because it “doesn’t work.”

It’s not supposed to work.  Not like that, anyway.

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Important

A school shooting was foiled this week in the Chicago area.  A former student crashed a graduation practice and opened fire when a police officer confronted him.  The officer returned fire, and the incident was quelled.

“Nobody important was injured in the shooting.”  That’s a quote from the article I read, posted on an unapologetically pro-police website.

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Abandon Faith! Three arguments, asked and answered

Following up with last week’s article in this space: The “sister” in Christ to whom I referred — the one who prompted the article regarding society’s idea of “sex education” vs. God’s idea — claims now to have lost her faith entirely.  Whether her views on this particular subject helped her along those lines are not, I could not say.

I asked her what was the specific cause of her apostasy, and she was glad to answer directly and respectfully.

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Requests

I always appreciate getting requests for articles and sermons.  I do not always follow through; sometimes I think the subject is best left alone, and sometimes I just forget.  Sorry.  But the requests themselves are a blessing, in my eyes.  One of the ongoing challenges in my position is coming up with new material.  If a subject is thrust upon me, it naturally comes with the benefit of having at least one person interested before I ever put pen to paper.  Nothing wrong with that.

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Abstaining from Sin: 100 percent effective 100 percent of the time

American efforts at sex education are ridiculed by many for a strong emphasis on abstinence.  “We know kids are going to have sex,” the argument goes, “so we should teach them a safer way.”  Whether this curriculum “works” or not is irrelevant in my view, as it avoids the central issue.  The problem is not kids getting pregnant or getting STDs; the problem is kids going to hell.

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Receiving Jesus

I was called on the carpet recently for using the term “receiving Jesus” — a term frequently used by those in the denominations to refer to finding grace, particularly in the absence of baptism or any other concrete act of obedience.  I then caught myself saying it twice in the very next sermon I preached, so I suppose the observation is valid.

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Walkouts

I have to admit, I am not a big fan of walkouts.  And I appear to be in the minority.  Everyone seems to be staging walkouts these days.  Generally, as I understand it, a walkout involves people abandoning their proper, useful activity such as school or work and spending their time instead telling people how righteous their cause is — as though school and work are not righteous causes themselves.

I’m not doubting the sincerity of the people involved, nor am I necessarily casting aspersions on their respective causes.  I’m just saying, it’s very convenient to pat yourself on the back for taking a day off.

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The Rules for Mercy

Those who follow women’s professional golf (and there’s bound to be one of you out there somewhere) are no doubt already acquainted with events regarding Lexi Thompson earlier this month.  She was two strokes up on the 12th hole of the final round at the ANA Inspiration tournament, which is a “major” for the ladies.  A rules official approached her and said she had incorrectly replaced her ball on the 17th hole the day before.  She placed her marker.  She picked up the ball.  She placed it about an inch away from its previous location.  That’s a two stroke penalty.  And it meant she signed an incorrect scorecard.  That’s another two strokes.  Suddenly she was two strokes behind, not two ahead.

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Read the signs!

Social media has given a voice to people who take great pleasure in being obnoxious.  Space fails to provide a comprehensive proof of this concept; for our purposes here, I will limit my frame of reference to those who take pictures of themselves doing precisely what a sign is instructing people not to do.  Walking on the grass, swimming, smoking, the situational prohibitions run the gamut.  And the existence of the sign more or less implies that the behavior is not necessarily unlawful; people are simply asked to choose a different time and/or place.

Nope.  “Look at me!  I’m a rebel!  I break rules!  No one can tell me what to do!”  As the saying goes, it’s all fun until someone gets eaten by an alligator.

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Easter

Our good friend Tenson Mangwinyana contacted me last week, saying he was going on the radio that night (our early afternoon) to discuss the topic of Easter.  He wanted to know if I had any relevant material on the subject.  I gave him what I had — in a nutshell, that Easter is a human creation with pagan origins; that  early Bibles such as the King James Version substituted “Easter” in Acts 12:4, knowing full well the word was “Passover”; that the early Christians celebrated every “Lord’s Day,” including what we call Easter Sunday, by communing with Him in His death at His table. 

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The Real "April Fool"

I was always a “better safe than sorry” kind of kid with regard to Biblical concepts.  For instance, Jesus said, “Swear not at all” in Matthew 5:34, so I wouldn’t say the word “swear.”  I’ve come to realize that isn’t the point of that passage; still, I can’t help cringing a bit when I hear someone say, “I swear to God.” 

I say that to bring up another passage from the Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew 5:22 reads, ‘But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

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Treason! (or maybe not)

Treason!  Treason!  The accusation rang loud and long in the palace of the queen, and it was the queen herself making the accusation.  She was suddenly facing an uprising from the priesthood — ironic, considering they were the spokesmen for righteousness and order, which had always translated to supporting the monarch instead of bringing the monarch down.  She was horrified that the people and their leaders would turn on the queen so rudely, suddenly, and ultimately with extreme violence.

As is generally the case, there are two sides to the story.

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Flying with a peacock

There are so many satire sites out there these days, it’s tough to take any bit of ridiculousness seriously — which is, I suppose, a good thing.  Anyway, I figured it was probably a gag when I saw United Airlines had denied a seat and ticket to a woman’s pet peacock, which she needed as an “emotional support animal.”

But no, this one appears to be legit.

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Bigger

The story goes that Yul Brynner, career flying after the success of The King and I and The Ten Commandments, was a bit annoyed at the upstart television actor named Steve McQueen that he had brought into the production of The Magnificent Seven.  McQueen had a habit of playing with his hat, wiping his brow, basically anything to get the audience’s eyes on him while he and Brynner were in a scene.

It went both ways, though.  Brynner, several inches shorter than McQueen, arranged for small piles of dirt to be nearby for him to stand on when acting with McQueen.  McQueen took delight in kicking the dirt piles over.  Ah, the famous camaraderie of thespians!

McQueen’s antics worked, it seems.  He became one of the biggest screen stars of the 1960s.  Brynner’s career, on the other hand, trended downward more and more.  My generation knows him as much as anything for those creepy lung cancer commercials he made just before he died.

Who is “bigger”?  Men have been fighting over that vague concept for centuries.  And women have their own version of the battle; they’re just not as likely to literally kill anyone in pursuit of the blue ribbon.  “We just tease her until she develops an eating disorder,” one female TV character once observed.

But life shouldn’t be a competition for Christians. Our reward is heavenly (Hebrews 11:16).  And heaven has no limit to its capacity.  “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).  So if someone isn’t bumping us out of line for heaven, why should we worry if he insists on being “bigger” in this life?  That’s his problem.  I don’t have to make it my problem.

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