Carob: The food of repentance

Isaiah 1:20 provides a warning in the context of the more familiar phrase in verse 18 — “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow.”  If the nation would refuse to repent, God says, “you will be devoured by the sword.”  But one passage in the Midrash, a collection of rabbinic writings, translates it quite differently — “if you refuse and resist, carob pods you shall eat.”  James Moffatt apparently was quite impressed with this view of the text and rendered the verse accordingly in his translation, although every other Bible translation I could find reads essentially as the New American Standard Bible does.

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The Seven Blunders of the World

On March 20, 1925, an Anglican priest named Frederick Lewis Donaldson preached a sermon centering around what he called the “7 Deadly Social Evils.”  Through the help of what he called a “fair friend,” Mohandas Gandhi had the opportunity to reprint the list in his weekly newspaper.  A few weeks before the Mahatma’s assassination, he gave a handwritten copy of the list to his grandson, Arun Gandhi.  It was Arun Gandhi that brought the list to the world, publishing it after his grandfather’s death under the heading “Seven Blunders of the World.”

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Light bulb moment: Why my enemies hate me so much

Last week a video emerged from 2015 (the internet is forever — remember that, kids, the next time you Instagram a photo of yourself in a state and location you might regret later) of former Vice President Joe Biden commenting on his relationship with former Vice President Dick Cheney.  He called him a “decent man.”  “I actually like Dick Cheney, for real,” he said.  “I get on with him.”  Cheney, of course, has borne the brunt of the wrath of the opposition (and a fair portion of his own base) for the war in Iraq that his boss perpetrated.

I don’t care what you think about Biden, Cheney, Iraq, or any other particular element of this conversation.  I share this story merely to tell you about the light bulb that went off in my head upon reading some of the vitriol spewed forth against Mr. Biden from some of the people who, until five minutes ago, may have been looking at his 2020 presidential candidacy with an eye toward supporting it.

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Reason

Because I love torturing myself, I occasionally use social media to check on some of the Christians I have known in the past who have shown signs of faith slippage.  Invariably I find what I expect.  It’s a sickness.  I need to stop.

Anyway, one lovely young girl from our past got a tattoo on her foot awhile back.  It reads, “Everything happens for a reason.”  She has a beautiful baby girl now.  Never been married.  I doubt she sees the irony.

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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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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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A few words about erring brethren

One of the oddest parts of my brief exchange with Bro. Jesse Winn, to which I have made considerable reference over the last few weeks, was something he said about me personally.  In my experience, “about me personally” is a prepositional phrase that is hardly ever a good thing in the context of brethren debating doctrinal differences.  But this was an exception.

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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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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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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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Flag

A best-selling author in the Seattle area was curious why a Confederate battle flag was flying in her neighborhood — not a hotbed of the KKK, historically.  So she contacted the local paper, and they sent a reporter to investigate.

       Turns out, it was the Norwegian flag — which, if the wind is not blowing and you are of a mind to jump to conclusions, bears a vague resemblance to the notorious Southern Cross.

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