Viewing the World through God's Word

Month: July 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

Planned Parenthood: Let Justice Roll Down

O Preacher This video is damning.  And sickeningly distressing.

Planned Parenthood’s defense?  Deny doing anything illegal.  And defame the Center for Medical Progress by claiming the videos are “heavily edited”. 

Nothing illegal?  “First passed by Congress in 1976, the Hyde Amendment ensures that abortion is not covered in the comprehensive health care services provided by the federal government through Medicaid.  Congress has made some exceptions to the funding ban, which have varied over the years.  At present, the federal Medicaid program mandates abortion funding in cases of rape or incest, as well as when a pregnant woman’s life is endangered” (National Committee for a Human Life Amendment).

According to Fox News, roughly $5 million in tax money is given every year to Planned Parenthood.  Over the last ten years the organization has received more than $4 billion in state and federal aid.  Does it matter which accounting column the money is recorded in?  Obviously the money, one way or another, is used for abortions, despite their ludicrous protests.

But according to today’s “Wall Street Journal”, a bill to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding “isn’t expected to garner the 60 votes needed to advance, as nearly all Democrats object to it.  Its defeat, however, won’t end the effort to cut off federal money for Planned Parenthood.”  We’ll see.

Defame the Center for Medical Progress.   In her first live interview about the controversy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, said the organization has broken no laws and slammed the group that produced the videos, the Center for Medical Progress. 

“The folks behind this, in fact, are part of the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement that has been behind, you know, the bombing of clinics, the murder of doctors in their homes and in their churches,” she told ABC’s “This Week.” “And that’s what actually needs to be looked at.”  No defense but “not guilty” of lawbreaking.  Nothing about morality.  Nothing about the content of the videos.   And, of course, attack the folks who expose the atrocities.

To be fair, Planned Parenthood provides other services.  “About News” claims only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s  services are for abortions, while “97% includes testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, cancer screening and prevention, and pregnancy testing and prenatal services.”  According to an opinion column in “Bangor Daily  News” reducing Planned Parenthood’s funding “means poor women will go without breast and cervical cancer screening, HIV tests and sexually transmitted disease treatment. Punishing these women for political gain or to further a moral ideology — while doing it so deceptively — is wrong and hurtful.”  I thought Obamacare was supposed to take care of that.  And methinks a bit more “moral ideology” is sorely needed.

The church must be a prophetic voice.  That’s why I write about this again.  Not prophetic in terms of telling the future, but in terms of telling the truth of God’s Word.  Listen to the prophets . . .

” . . . learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).

“Woe to those . . . who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right” (Isaiah 5:22,23).

“No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil” (Isaiah 59:4).

“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24).

 There is no justice when . . .  900 innocent, unborn are slaughtered by Planned Parenthood every day (  There is no justice when accounting practices allow Planned Parenthood to use our tax dollars for abortion in violation of the Hyde Amendment—and our government turns its back.  There is no justice when aborted human body parts are trafficked and the whistle-blowers are attacked.  There is no justice when intelligent people look at ultra-sounds and refuse to acknowledge a human, unborn baby and a Planned Parenthood medical assistant looks at scattered body parts and exclaims, “It’s a boy!”  A boy.

 Speak!  If you haven’t yet, please consider contacting our two U.S. Senators from Florida and urge them to defund Planned Parenthood.  Remember our tax dollars help fund these depraved, murderous acts!

Senator Bill Nelson may be contacted via email at

And Senator Marco Rubio may be contacted at

May our Father have mercy and stop this slaughter!








Conversation with Consequences

O PreacherA brief, unexpected conversation can change your life.  It did the disciples’.  It does ours also. Here’s the first part of Mark’s report about the exchange . . .

And Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”  Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him (8:29,30).

Caesarea Philippi lay 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee.  A city populated by Syrians and Greeks, it had long been a center for idolatry and was now dominated by the Roman empire and Caesar-worship. 

“Who do people say I am?” was a natural, perhaps unexpected question.  For two years Jesus’ fame had spread through Galilee.  His miracles made people think he might be John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets raised back to life.  God’s power was obviously at work in him as it had been in them.

Today opinions have shifted a bit.  Jesus was a prophet (Islam).  Jesus was a god (one of the deities of the Hindu pantheon, for example, or a created supernatural being according to Arians/Jehovah’s Witnesses).  Jesus was a great moral teacher (generally held by secularists).  Jesus was/is the Son of God.  (Do they understand what they’re saying?)  For a look at how some famous and infamous answered,  go to

On this subject, I can’t ignore what C. S. Lewis famously wrote in response to the “great moral teacher” answer:  “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the devil of Hell. . . . You can shut Him up for a fool, CS.Lewisyou can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

“Who do you say I am?”  Awkward silence?  Disciples fascinated with their feet?  Or did Peter blurt it right out?  “You are the Christ.”  “Christ” is Greek for the Hebrew “Messiah.”  If this were a movie scene, a golden glow backed with heavenly harp music would surround the men.  For us, familiarity takes the edge off.  For Peter—did he really understand what he said?—it was breathtaking.  Centuries.  Pages of sacred prophecies.  Endless longings.  Desperate hope for downtrodden people.  “You are the Messiah.”

Mark, sparing words, records no reactions.  Did other disciples say, “I was just going to say that!”?  Or did their jaws drop?  Did Jesus nod, smile?  All we know is he charged them to keep it a secret.  He didn’t want more crowds and it wasn’t time to die.  After Peter spoke, did he cover his mouth and wonder, “Did I really say that?” 

Wait:  they’re all in for a greater shock.  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (8:31-33).

Messiah suffer, be rejected and killed?  No wonder Peter rebuked Jesus!  Months of miracles.  Pages of prophecies of Messiah’s reign.  Jesus himself announced he was bringing God’s kingdom near.  No way the King could suffer!  The Jewish authorities wouldn’t reject their Messiah!  Messiah killed was insane!

We  live later.  We understand he had to die and be raised.  Prophecies like Isaiah 53 are familiar.  In Jesus’ day the people were so oppressed by Rome and their lackeys and so desperate for Messiah’s David-like kingdom, Conqueror-prophecies drowned out Sufferer-prophecies.

Jesus’ didn’t mince words.  When Peter pulled him aside and rebuked him, Jesus rebuked him more harshly.  He called Peter Satan.  Accused Peter of thinking like a man not like God. 

 The conversation continued.  We won’t follow it now.  We’ll stop to highlight this point . . .

Here is the Great Divide of the Gospel.  Mark 1:1-8:26 reports the Son of God’s kingdom coming with power.  Jesus invaded Galilee with authority that sent demons screaming, cripples walking and the dead living.  From here on, Mark reports the Son of God’s kingdom coming with suffering.  A dizzying turn-around, with heavy implications for us.

Jesus’ question here is also the Great Divide of the Gospel for everyone.  “But what about you?  Who do you say I am?”  Earlier I said this conversation changed the disciples’ lives and changes ours.  And that change depends on how we answer Jesus’ question.

We know the right answer, right?  “You are the Christ.”  But this isn’t a school test—you know, parrot back the answer the teacher wants.  This isn’t about information; it’s about devotion.  It’s not about getting a grade; it’s about getting a life.

So here’s how we should do this . . . It’s just Jesus and you.  Not the church or your family or your friends.  You’re not at a concert or ball game.  You’re outside in God’s creation.  Just you and Jesus.  It’s unlike standing alone with anyone else—sacred because he’s there.  You can’t “spin” your answer because he sees your heart.  Looking you straight in the eyes, he asks, “Who do you say that I am?”

How do you answer?
Tell him!









Planned Parenthood: The Dark Side

O Preacher My stomach sickens and blood boils watching recent secret Planned Parenthood videos.  This one is the worst. 

Provided by The Center for Medical Progress and released this morning, I received it from Justin Taylor’s blog, “Between Two Worlds.”  More are expected to follow.

This isn’t meant for information only.  It’s meant to move us all to action.

 What might the Lord have us do?  Of course, pray.  Secondly, consider contacting our two U.S. Senators from Florida and urge them to defund Planned Parenthood.  Remember our tax dollars help fund these depraved, murderous acts!

Senator Bill Nelson may be contacted via email at

And Senator Marco Rubio may be contacted at

It will take just a few minutes.  And we will be obedient to the sobering words of Proverbs 24:11,12 . . .

Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
Does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it?
And will he not repay man according to his work?




Confederate Flag & the Cross

P.AllanWill furling the Confederate flag from State grounds improve race relations?

Pennsylvania’s Valley Forge Flag company explains why they’ll no longer produce the Stars and Bars:  “We hope this decision will show our support for those affected by the recent events in Charleston, and, in some small way, help to foster racial unity and tolerance in our country.”  Amazon, Google, Wal-Mart and others have followed.  Some southern states—South Carolina the prime example—have removed the flag from State property.

Symbols Clash.  Opponents see the flag as an emblem of slavery and racism.  Supporters say it represents the South’s heritage and culture, and it memorializes Confederate casualties of the 1861-1865 Civil War.

Symbols hold different meanings for different people.  For Christians, the cross represent Christ’s sacrificial death by which we sinners are reconciled to the holy God.  For non-Christians, the public cross represents Christians’ attempts to force their faith on everyone.  Shall all offensive-to-some symbols be removed from the public square?

I understand the Confederate flag can remind African-Americans of white supremacy.  If my grandfather had been hanged by the Ku Klux Klan under that flag, I would cringe every time I saw it wave.  However,  that same flag can remind us of racism’s horrors and drive us to never permit them again.  If a state decides to furl the flag, so be it.   Big merchandisers?  I think that’s a bit over the top.  Certainly individuals shouldn’t be despised nor disallowed the flag.

More can be said.  A good overview of the history, regionalism, economic interests, etc. of the Confederate flag is here—

Let me make just two points about this from a biblical worldview . . .

One, God created races.  Eliminate God as Creator, and we’re left with time+chance as race-source.  Then any race can claim supremacy according to their rating system.  But, if every race is God-created, a “supreme” race loses its footing.  Adam and Eve are Dad and Mom to us all.  After the Flood the grandchildren of Noah “spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations” (Genesis 10:1-5).

Racism, therefore, is man-made and sin against our Creator.  It’s not just a human issue or a source of social or economic contention.  It is an offense against the God who made us.  The old Sunday school song proclaims sound theological truth . . .

Jesus loves the little children,
all the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
they are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Two, Christ’s cross unites the colors.  Details were different then.  Racism wasn’t black/white but Gentile/Jew.  God’s solution wasn’t to take down a flag but nail up his Son.  The crucified Christ made the two one.  Peace wouldn’t come by a law but by the cross.  That would be the way to reconcile Jew and Gentile, black and white, to God.  And in that peace the two would become one new humanity, in which there would be “neither Jew nor Greek . . . neither slave nor free . . . no male and female” but “all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).  This overflowing passage requires careful reading . . .

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth
and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision”
(that done in the body by the hands of men)–
remember that at that time you were separate from Christ,
excluded from citizenship in Israel and
foreigners to the covenants of the promise,
without hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus
you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace,
who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.
His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,
and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross,
by which he put to death their hostility.
He came and preached peace to you who were far away
and peace to those who were near.
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens,
but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
In him the whole building is joined together
and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
And in him you to
o are being built together
to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:11-22).

Furling the Confederate flag is a small, symbolic step.  Politicians tend to take these as loudly as they can.  Maybe it will help.  But storing away a flag doesn’t change the reality of history, however one views it.  And pulling flags from the shelf can’t change the human heart.

Only God in Christ can do that.  And we are transformed when we who trust him understand that he died to make one new humanity in which identity isn’t determined by race, economics or sex,  but by the redeeming, saving work of Christ.

When blacks and whites are “brought near [to God] through the blood of Christ”, we are brought near to one another.  And then, standing shoulder to shoulder as family, the only flag flying over us is Christ.

 Christian Flag

Second Helping—Get It?

P.AllanHow blind we can be!  How slow to believe!  Especially regarding Jesus.

Jesus feeds 4000 (Mark 8:1-10).  During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said,  “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.  If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”  His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”  “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied.  He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so.  They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.  The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  About four thousand men were present. And having sent them away,  he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

First thing to say here is Mark didn’t get his news-notes jumbled.  This isn’t a rerun of 6:30-44.   It’s now six months later.  Number of people is different.  So is the food amount.  Not surprisingly, knowing Jesus, his compassion is the same (6:34; 8:2).  So why this “second helping” miracle?  We’ll see shortly.  Hint:  it has to do with slow learners (which, of course, can’t apply to you or me, right?).

The Pharisees test Jesus (Mark 8:11-13).  The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.  He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.”  Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

Back on the west side of Galilee Sea, Jesus gets questioned by Pharisees,  the strict, fundamentalist Jewish party. The “test” is fixed from the first.  These Pharisees are searching for evidence to support their already-made verdict—Jesus is demonic (3:22).  A miraculous sign, in their minds, will  prove Jesus a false prophet (see Deuteronomy 13:1-5).  Jesus refuses the test.  No sign on demand.  Jesus doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone.  So away he boats.

About these Pharisees:  are they slow learners?  No.  Their learning problem is more serious.  They’re unwilling learners.   And slow learning gets Jesus’ patience; unwilling learning gets Jesus gone.

Jesus drills his disciples (Mark 8:14-21).  The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.  “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”  They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”  Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied.  “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.”  He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

It’s the Comedy Cruise.  Jesus and the Twelve Bozos.  Sorry.  Not showing respect for apostles.  But, you have to admit these guys don’t sound like the  sharpest minds in the Middle East.  Jesus warns them against being influenced  by the Pharisees inflating evil (using the common Jewish metaphor of yeast as evil) and they think they’re in trouble for forgetting to bring bread!

Imagine Jesus’ reaction.  Scratching his head in amazement?  Smiling toward heaven while shaking his head and throwing up his hands?  Wondering how dim a few fishermen could possibly be?  But notice he doesn’t climb out of the boat and walk off.  Patience, Jesus.

Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied.  “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.”  He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

According to Mark’s report (from Peter), dead silence.   Only the sound of waves lapping the boat.  And twelve guys looking at each other, desperately hoping somebody will answer.

You get it?  No bread, even in the desert?  No problem.  Jesus can multiply it.  Or make it from nothing.   You’ll be satisfied.  And have more leftover than when you started.  You’ve got bigger fish to fry.








P.AllanI wondered last week while watching the news:  “Is the world becoming ungovernable?”

By “ungovernable” I mean, “Are the world’s governments becoming unable to rule in such a way that a reasonable number of people enjoy a reasonable amount of safety, security, justice and happiness?”

The question arose as I watched TV news cover the shooting deaths of four Marines and one Navy sailor by a young Muslim male in Chattanooga last week.  Let’s use that as a case study (though we could use the exploding Middle East, Iran’s nuclear threat, Putin’s Ukraine invasion, an expanding China, the illegal immigration travesty, racial conflict, the national debt and global economy and so on).

The terrorist (certainly terrorist-influenced) shot up two shopping center military offices.  Military was prohibited by regulation to carry firearms (though apparently one or two did).  The attacks occurred toward the end of Muslim Ramadan.  Weeks earlier ISIS (or another of those demonic groups) announced plans to attack U.S. military and their families.

Why weren’t military personnel better protected?  I get it:  123 such facilities around the country make better protection prohibitive . . . the enemy needs to “get lucky” only once to succeed . . . . it’s impossible to pin-point-predict where and when a terrorist will strike.  I get all that—but “all that” only pushes us closer to “Yes, the world is becoming ungovernable.”  No government agency adequately prepared.

Here are three additional reasons why I think “ungovernable” may be looming.

One, God’s wrath.  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of man, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth . . . For although they knew God (through creation), they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:18,21, ESV). 

Wrath.  The Greek word means “a divine upsurge of anger” against humans’ unrighteousness.  Humanity has “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25).  God, who made and sustains us, will not allow his name to be shamed.  Consequently, while he loves the world (John 3:16), he exercises “displeasure” (to put it mildly) in giving us over to the consequences of our own way.  And, because our way is unrighteousness and godless, things go from bad to worse.

Cumulative consequences of being “given over.”  Three times in Romans 1:24-32 Paul explains that God expresses his wrath by giving us over to or giving us up to. 

Therefore (since we exchanged God’s glory for images–1:23), God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves (1:24).  Rampant sexual immorality is a consequence of God’s wrath.

For this reason (because we exchanged God’s truth for a lie–1:25), God gave them up to dishonorable passions (1:26a).  Sexually-transmitted diseases are the consequence of God’s wrath.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done (1:28)—evil, envy, murder, maliciousness, insolent, inventors of evil, ruthless (to name just a few things that ought not be done).

God hasn’t “given us over to” these consequences one time, but progressively.  Therefore, as these moral and mental evils continue among us—and as world population increases—consequences snowball.  Things don’t just seem worse; things are worse.  We all suffer the increasingly cumulative consequences of God’s “giving us over to” wrath.  Therefore, governing becomes increasingly difficult.

The fallenness of human leaders.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  Leaders are no less sinful because they’re “famous.”  Presidents, senators, representatives, kings, ambassadors are no less fallen because they belong to “the political class.”

Often we shake our heads at government ineptness.  The problem runs deeper; it lies in the sinful human nature.  Gather a group of sin-fallen leaders (who may be intelligent and skilled) and their leadership will inevitably produce fallen results.

The King we need.  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:6,7). 

Isaiah predicted his birth.  John saw his coming.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:11-16).









  3. REASONS WHY–God’s wrath, cumulative consequences of given over (Rom. 1), fallenness of leaders






We need the King.  The world needs the King.  Not a king.  The King.  The King of all kings.  The One whose kingdom does not belong to this world (John 18:36a).  Why the need?  I’m not a prophet or historian; but from where I sit the world is becoming ungovernable.

Take the latest “lone wolf” terrorist attack in Chattanooga.   A 20-something Muslim young man gunned down four Marines and one Navy sailor at a recruiting office and an operations center.  “Soft targets” in shopping centers.  Military denied weapons from President Bill Clinton’s days.  Certainly when Clinton urged this regulation, it was for good reason.  Times have long-changed.  Radical Islamists for at least weeks have been calling for the deaths U.S. military men and women and their families.  Yet, as far as I know, the government did little, if anything, to protect them.  How long ago was the Fort Hood massacre?  How long does it take for the President and Congress to devise a plan and implement it?  This is one small, but grievous, reason why I think the world is becoming ungovernable.





The world needs the King.  Too long it’s been under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19).  John the apostle saw in his revelation the time when the whole world will be dominated by a king called  antichrist (Rev.  13:  ).  We don’t need a king.  We need the King.  The King of kings.








Dirty Woman, Dumb Man

P.AllanIn 1857 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled African-Americans were not U.S. citizens.  This encouraged whites to treat blacks as inferior and segregate them to the back of the bus and to their own schools, hospitals, cemeteries and churches.

In the 1st century, Jews considered Gentiles unclean “dogs” and avoided them.  But in today’s text, Mark reports Jesus intentionally going to Gentile cities.  Good for us!  If Jesus had been a Jewish supremacist, he’d have had nothing to do with us.

Jesus and the Dirty Woman (7:24-30). 

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.  In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet.  The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.  “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”  Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”  She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Jesus retreated 30 miles west to Tyre on the east coast of the Mediterranean (today’s Lebanon).  He couldn’t keep his whereabouts unknown.   Tyre people knew him, because months earlier they had crowded the sea to hear him teach and see him work miracles (3:8).

A Syrian-born Greek woman heard he was near, found him and on her knees begged him to drive a demon out of her daughter.  Jesus answered rudely:  “The children have to be fed first.  It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs” (CEV).   In other words, “Israel first.  It’d be wrong to give to dogs like you!”

The woman’s reply sounds as humble as Jesus’ sounded arrogant:   “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (CEV).

I suspect a moment’s silence hung in the air as Jesus looked into that mother’s heart.  Then:  “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.”  And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.”

Three lessons.   

First, Jesus wasn’t (and isn’t) bound by national, racial, gender or traditional barriers.  He goes to anyone at anytime, sometimes in the most startling ways.

Second, Jesus isn’t tame.  He called a needy mother a “dog”!  Commentators do mental gymnastics to soften the blow.  But Jesus—to test her faith?—hit the desperate woman full force.   Aren’t some responses we receive from Jesus hurtful at first?

Three, faith is a humble virtue.  So-called faith preachers “sell” faith like a reward to the highest bidder.  But this Syrian woman shines with true faith:  “You are the Lord.  If I’m a dog, so be it.  And if all you’ll give me is a crumb of your blessing, I’ll take it.”  Faith is admitting we have nothing to bring to Jesus but our need—and simply trusting him to love us well.

Jesus and the Dumb Man (7:31-37).

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.  There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.  After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.  He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”).  At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.  Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.  People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

The Decapolis, a league of ten cities east of Galilee, was mostly Gentile.  Jesus’ reputation preceded him: for many months the delivered Gerasene demonic had gossiped what Jesus had done for him (5:20a).  Unsurprisingly then, when Jesus shows up, people bring him a deaf and dumb man.  One wonders if they wanted entertainment or really cared about the poor guy.  No matter.  He wins in the end.

Jesus’ healing technique sounds like  a “faith healer’s” show (except for taking the man apart from the crowd!)  Jesus puts his fingers in the man’s ears.  Spits on his finger and touches the man’s tongue.  Looks up to heaven, sighs and says, “Be opened!”

At once the deaf man hears the crowd praising Jesus.  Immediately he praises Jesus to every person who’ll listen.

Three Lessons.  First, Jesus had (has) emotions.  He “sighed.”  The Greek can mean “complained” or “grumbled”.  Or it can mean “groan” out of deep concern.  The first would have Jesus complaining, “Not another one!  Let’s get it over with!”  The second, “I care so much for you, man of my creation.  Let me make you well!”  I suspect the second.   How could the Son of God’s love not love?

Second, Jesus touched the “ugly.”  One can imagine this man a big, dumb, silent ox.  Easily a butt of bad jokes.  Often ignored because he didn’t “work” right.  Jesus came.  He didn’t (doesn’t) heal from an ivory tower.  He touched.  Maybe that’s why we lay hands on the sick when we pray for them.

Three, Jesus’s kingdom authority reaches to all peoples.  Not just the healthy, the sick.  Not just the religious, the sinner.  Not just the valuable, the seemingly good for nothing.  “God chose what the world considers foolish to shame the wise” (1 Corinthians 1:27a, CEV). 

We who follow Jesus have a King who loves the dirty and the dumb who are humble enough to confess that they are!

The Messiah for Pariahs: <b>Jesus</b>, Friend of Sinners


O PreacherVirtually all world religions rest on rules.

Islam.  For example, according to the Islamic Supreme Council of America, “Islam . . . is firmly founded on the concept of ‘rule of law’ . . . Muslim citizens must adhere to Islamic law—Shariah. If a Muslim citizen commits a religious violation, he is judged according to Islamic law . . . The intent of Islamic law is not punitive, as much as corrective and reformative ”  (

According to Pew Research ( , Islam is the world’s second largest religion (23% of world population) behind Christianity (33% of world population).  By contrast, Judaism, also based on Law (Torah), accounts for 0.22% of the world’s population ( Adherents.html ). Hinduism (14%) and Buddhism (6%) both have their own distinctions, but also function according to rules and laws.  Even without mentioning smaller groups, that’s a lot of people caught up in rules-religions.  The Gospel is acutely different.

Gospel.That brings us to today’s Gospel report from Mark  chapter 7:1-23.

Jesus’ fame in Galilee now brings Pharisees with their scribes from Jerusalem to investigate him more closely (7:1).  They catch his disciples eating with ceremonially defiled hands.  This violates traditional Pharisaic rules of washing everything possibly made “unclean” by sinners, tax-collectors or encroaching  Gentiles (7:2-4).  Why, they want to know, does Jesus allow this (7:5)?  His answer is unexpected prosecution . . .

“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God),  then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that” (7:6-13).

Two critical points.  One, Jesus was not anti-law.  He condemned the Jewish Pharisees for letting go the commands of God.  Two, Jesus charged the Pharisees with vain worship of God, which he defined as replacing God’s commands with men’s traditions.  The Law allowed people to devote certain property to the LORD.  (“But no devoted thing that a man devotes to the LORD, of anything that he has, whether man or beast, or of his inherited field, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to the LORD–Leviticus 27:28).  But the Pharisees used it to keep someone else (in this case needy parents) from having it.   Men’s traditions over God’s commands equaled vain worship.

Four deficiencies.  Here, then, are four deficiencies of rules-religions we can deduce from Jesus words . . .

  1. We humans can easily manipulate the rules to serve our self-centered purposes.
  2. Rule-manipulation often results in our hurting someone else.
  3. Religious rule-keeping has no power to change our character.
  4. The root of human moral corruption isn’t outside us, but inside.

Gospel again.  To those last two deficiencies Jesus now turns . . .

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.'” After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.  “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?  For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”)  He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’  For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,  greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean'” (7:14-23).

Two further critical points.  One, Jesus’ answer to  the Pharisees implies that being “clean” or “unclean” before God isn’t a secondary issue.  He could have said, “Ceremonial defilement means nothing.  I won’t even talk about it.”  Rather, Jesus implicitly regarded the “cleanness” of our standing before God as critical.

Two, we are “unclean” before God because of what’s in us, not what touches us from outside—“evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.”  Who of us can claim we’ve never been “dirtied” inside by some of these “evils”?

So what is Mark, inspired by the Holy Spirit, telling us about the Gospel here?  That the kingdom of God Jesus proclaimed as near (1:15) is wholly “other” from our rules-religions, however commendable their aim.  Jesus, as John the Baptist announced, will “baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (1:8b).  As yet in Mark’s report and Jesus’ revelation, we have no details—no means, no methods—as to precisely how that kingdom comes nor what “baptize with the Spirit” means.

What we do know is that our defilement before God is serious . . . that rules-religions can’t resolve it because the dirt is inside not out . . . and that somehow the Gospel of the kingdom with the baptism of the Holy Spirit is good news about getting “clean.”

Islam isn’t the answer.

Judaism isn’t the answer.

Christian rules aren’t the answer.

Jesus is the answer.

Jesus_Christ_Image_147.jpg (22319 bytes)

Remarkable Abortion Commentary

O PreacherWhen’s the last time you heard abortion commentary like this on secular TV news?

Last evening Brit Hume, senior political analyst for Fox News, delivered this powerful commentary.  You can access it at the link below.  (Sorry, I couldn’t grab it any other way.  It’s worth going through the process, though.)

Whatever anyone thinks of Fox, let’s remember this was spoken in a secular setting and heard wherever Fox News is found.  The Lord sure has a way of getting his views out!

May he use Hume’s words and the sickening report of body-parts-trafficking to save more unborn lives made in His image!


Orcas, Horses and Babies

Bigger photo than usual to better see three of my grandchildren—Nicholas, Channing and Faith (clockwise from front).   Children are a precious gift from God, made in his image.  Therefore, human life—every one— is sacred.

I just finished reading Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford’s address to the U. S. Senate.  It’s available on video above and in text below (from Denny Burke’s blog—

His argument isn’t new, just especially timely given the recent alleged admission by Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, that PP sells aborted body parts for research  (  Abortion, of course, is the evil; trafficking in body parts just makes it more despicable.

I hope we’ll all listen and read and pray for God’s mercy on this nation, which surely lies under his wrath, and for God’s power to stop this ongoing slaughter.

Mr. President, I’d like to take just a moment to be able to speak about a subject that’s very, very difficult for me to speak about, and quite frankly difficult for a lot of Americans to talk about and hear about. It connects to all of us, in extremely personal ways. Let me set some context. Not long ago a group of animal rights activists gathered around a research facility, a research facility that was using animals for their testing. The activists gathered around the facility and chanted and has signs that they held up saying ‘it’s not science, it’s violence.’ And other signs that said ‘animal lives are their right, we have just begun to fight.’ As they protested to protect the lives of the animals that were being used in that facility for research.

Now, I understand their frustration there. But let me put it into context of some things that came out this week. We learned that this week an organization called Planned Parenthood is using children that are aborted and sending the bodies of those aborted children to research facilities, sometimes for sale, different body parts, to be used in research. These are not mice, these are not lab rats, these are children. Children that have gone through the process of a horrific abortion.

This morning in an Appropriations hearing, that the President and I both were in, we had extensive conversation about the rights of orca whales. And this protracted conversation went on and on, that many people were also connected to, about the rights of orca whales and the care for them. Then we had a protracted conversation about horse slaughter and how horses would be humanely put down. But in the middle of all that conversation happening today, there were children still being aborted with an instrument reaching into a mother, tearing apart a child but carefully protecting certain organs because those organs would be valuable to sell.

Now, the challenge that we have on this as a nation is, the argument is for that baby. That baby’s really not a baby, it’s just a fetus, it’s tissue. That’s not a human baby is what everyone is told. That’s just tissue and it’s up to the mom to determine what happens to that tissue. And then on the flip side of it moments later they take that tissue and then sell it because it’s human organs that are needed for research. You can’t say in one moment that’s not a human and then sell it for the next moment as a human organ and say now suddenly it is. It was a human all the way through. There was never a time that wasn’t a child, never a time that wasn’t a human, and it seems the ultimate irony to me that we spend time talking about humane treatment of animals being put down like in horse slaughter and we completely miss children being ripped apart in the womb and their body parts being sold.

So here’s how it happens. A mom comes into a facility, gives consent to have an abortion, makes that request. After that request is made, to some moms — and we don’t know exactly how they choose which moms — to some moms they then ask consent for their child after it’s aborted to be used for research purposes. From the video that was put out this week, they said that was actually comforting to some moms that they would know how traumatic the abortion is, at least some good would come out of it, that those body parts would then be used for research to hopefully save other children, which again comes back to this ultimate irony that we would literally tear one child apart in an abortion with the assumption that hopefully would help some other child in the future, missing out on the significance of the child that’s right there that could be helped by protecting their life.

And then the doctor in this particular video gives the details of how once they get that consent from the mom, they would be careful to reach in and actually crush the head of the child to kill the child in the womb so they could preserve the rest of the organs because the kidney has value, the liver has value, because the lungs have value, because the muscles in the legs have value. I would tell you that child has value. And that every single adult that can hear me right now was once 20 weeks old in the womb and we can look at each other and understand the difference between that child in the womb and any of us now is time. That’s a human being we’re talking about.

And it doesn’t bring me comfort to know that one child is torn apart so that maybe they can do research on the child’s organs to in some future moment help a different child. Not every woman is being asked that her aborted child would be used for research and we really don’t know the whys. Maybe they’re looking for particularly healthy moms. Maybe they’re looking for very mature, healthy babies. Maybe it’s a situation where a particular mom couldn’t afford to have the abortion procedure and so they swap off and say if you can’t afford to have the abortion procedure maybe we can cover the cost by then possibly selling some of these organs then. We don’t know. But I think maybe the question needs to be asked.

Why this Congress would spend time today debating horse slaughter and debating orca whales, but yet we’ve become so numb to children that the other debate doesn’t seem to come up. Maybe we need to start again as a nation, asking a basic question. If that’s a child, and in our Declaration [of Independence] we said every person that we believe is endowed by our Creator to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, maybe we need to ask as a nation again, do we really believe that?

Let’s start with some basic things. How about a child at 20 weeks that we know scientifically can feel pain? We cannot have their limbs ripped apart in an abortion. There are only seven countries in the world that allow that. We’re in a prime group like North Korea and China with nations that still allow abortions that late. We should ask that question again – is that really who we are as America? Maybe we need to ask the question again with Planned Parenthood, who we give half a billion dollars in funding to, maybe this is not a good idea. And other organizations that serve people all over the country who raise their funds separately, and don’t do it by federal funds. Maybe that’s a legitimate question that we need to ask?

Mr. President… we have hard questions to deal with as a Nation. Budget, regulations, future direction that we’re going. Why don’t we add to the list, do we really care about children or not? And on a day that we passed an education bill, before we pat ourselves on the back saying how much we care about children, let’s make sure we’re dealing with a compassion for children at every age, not just at certain ages. Have we really become this numb? How do we turn it around? With that I yield back.

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