Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SWAT Team, 1920s Style

These days, if someone carries a gun into a store and holds everyone hostage, the police will send out the SWAT team. It was not always so.

I remember the story of a man taking over the hardware store in Stafford, Kansas in the mid-1920s. The police did not have a SWAT team, of course, so they contacted a local man (whom we will call Mr. B) and asked if there was anything he could do. He told his son to come along (it was the son who later told me the story). Mr. B walked into the store and without a moment's hesitation walked right up to the man holding the gun and took it from him.

I would not try that now. What made it work was that everyone, including the gunman, knew the man with whom they were dealing. It is one thing to shoot a stranger. It is something else to shoot a neighbor you have known and respected all your life -- a man whose sons you know and care for. The people in a small town like Stafford in the 1920s, were held together by close relationships. We have lost that, and we cannot hire enough policemen to replace what the relationships accomplished.

By conventional logic, the next step in this article should be to urge everyone to maintain relationships so that we will all be able to help those in need. Of course we should do that, but doing so is a two-way street. Sadly, some people will not allow us to get close to them. They seem to want to keep their distance. These days, it seems that most people are adrift in an online world and have little willingness to engage people face to face. Many nominal church members rebuff friendships and then complain that the church is not friendly.

Let's try to get close to people so that we can help them. And let's be sure that we are allowing people to get close enough to help us. "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly" (Proverbs 18:24, KJV).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Garage Sales

My wife held a sale this past week week. Garage sales are always interesting. When I was a kid we never had one and we never went to one. I remember when I first heard about them. Cecil Hopper, a brother in the church, broke his hip. While he was recovering, people in the church gave him unwanted junk and he sold it. It gave him something to do as he sat around waiting for his hip to mend.

On another occasion, Rod Rockwell, our preacher at the time, was setting stuff out of his garage. He was just cleaning the garage. He had no intention of selling anything. People began to stop and bid on things he was planning to put in the garbage.

Garage sales are a lesson in values. What one person values another may despise. Human values are amazingly varied. That is why garage sales remind me of scripture.

"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food" (Isaiah 55:2, ESV).

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, ESV).

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19-20, ESV).

What do we value? Are we spending our effort seeking the seen things that will not last or the unseen things of eternity?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rid The World Of Scientists

I want to rid the world of scientists. One-hundred years ago German scientists developed mustard gas to kill their enemies. Later, scientists from the same place performed cruel experiments on people in death camps. In the 1940s scientists from the USA developed the bombs that killed more than 90,000 at Hiroshima and more than 60,000 at Nagasaki. More recently scientists developed Thalidomide, which caused thousands of children to be born with terrible birth-defects. In fact, in one way or another, scientists have been involved in every terrible thing that has happened in the world for centuries.

Is that logical? No, of course not.

There is good science as well as bad science. The fact that some scientists think wrongly and act immorally does not condemn all science or all scientists. But, since it has become so popular to lump all religion together and condemn it all, I thought that I would turn the same illogic on science for a moment.

As Christians, we do not and should not defend all religion. As Christians, we do not and should not defend everything done in the name of Christ. Many things have been done in Christ's name that are not according to his will, just as many things are done in the name of science that are not real science. Some enemies of Christ pretend to be his followers so that they can do more harm to his cause. Their real god may be their own bellies (Philippians 3:19), but they pretend faith in him to advance themselves.

That is a shame, but it will not cause a logically thinking person to reject true Christianity any more than the errors of some scientists will keep us from using helpful and legitimate technology.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Reprieve, Not Final Deliverance

I rejoice, as I am sure all faithful Christians do, that the Supreme Court has upheld the right of Christian employers to refuse to provide poison to murder innocent children. That our government would have ever attacked fundamental rights in this way beggars belief. It is good that we have received at least a little relief from this ungodly and unconstitutional violation of all that is right.

But, let's not get too excited. The decision was not as comprehensive and as clear as it should have been; and it was not unanimous. Given a few more years of voting our pocketbooks instead of our consciences and enough evil judges will be on the bench to overturn this decision. There are two things that Christians must do.

First, in casting our own votes we must always remember that the proper role of the governing authority is to carry out "God's wrath on the wrongdoer" (Rom 13:4). It is not his job to give us a job. It is his job to execute murderers and appropriately punish other wrongdoers. If we, because of financial promises that a candidate makes, choose to vote for moral reprobates, we are guilty. The person who gives consent to others engaged in wrongdoing becomes as guilty, in fact more guilty, than the actual wrongdoer (Rom 1:32).

Second, we need to realize that, even if the evil perversion of our government continues, and someday this ruling is overturned, we will none the less still have the obligation to do what is right. If they confiscate our property, we must, like the earliest Christians (Heb 10:34) accept this and go on doing what is right.

Four good decisions have been rendered by our nation's highest court over the last two weeks. These four, however, like all earthly decisions, are incomplete victories that may not last for long. The final victory over evil is not yet. It will not be obtained by order of any earthly body. But the final victory will come. Let us wait faithfully for it.