God

The Little State That Could…

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Originally blogged in 2012. I started to make a new blog concerning recent events in Israel, however, I then remembered that I had written this during the 2012 debacle. There are a few points that are specific to that particular year, but in general, this post is relevant and is exactly what I would say today. 
If only the Civil War was the only misconception that the left has had in the last day week month decade really, really long time…But alas, it is not.  

In a land far far away situated between Canada and Mexico, the people are split on their alliance, who they support in the war between Hamas and Israel (Trust me, it’s not over.) I have seen too many posts to respond to concerning Israel “stealing” land from the Palestinians. My twitter feed has exploded with derogatory comments, and that is why I decided to write this post.  

Although typing up a basic response (basic for me tends to be a book) and exercising my mad copy/paste skills in each post was incredibly tempting, I decided to write this blog post to address my beliefs and factual backing for what I feel is some of the greatest misconceptions concerning Israel out there today. 

“How would you feel if someone stole your land??? Those poor Palestinians!” 

My gut reaction to statements like the above is to respond to this with, “Really, you’re NOT going to side with God’s people?”. Bus alas, I have always felt that my moral beliefs should be understood by the atheists as well. Even though I feel strongly that a “moral law” is written on the hearts of men BY God, I try to approach my explanations in a way that can’t be construed as being “bible thumping.”

Now…We COULD go all the way back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Promised Land. The 40 years of wondering in the desert. The history of Jerusalem. The Establishment of the Jewish Monarchy. The Roman Rule, Arab Rule, Ottoman Rule, etc. But for the sake of our sanity, and a goal of keeping this a “blog post” and not a “book,” I’ll keep it short (er)…

Here is my somewhat sporadic, yet condensed, history rant: 

So let’s travel back in time to the 1920’s – 1960’s and deal with those land thieves once and for all. When Israel stole the land from the Palestinians British…Just kidding. They didn’t steal anything. BEFORE the State of Israel was declared, the land was territory of Britain. It became British territory through the Sykes-Picot Agreement (or Asia Minor). They called for it to be shared between the Arab Palestinians and the Jewish Palestinians (Since they recognized both), actually the word “Palestine” was given by the Europeans to name the region (“region,” people, “region!”). The Jewish community, known at that time as the Jewish Palestinians, gave a thumbs up to the concept, the Palestinian Arabs gave a thumbs down. Why is it that we forget about British Imperialism after the whole fall of the Ottoman empire?

So, back to the middle of the 1920’s. The British divided the land, giving the Jews west of the Jordan river, and the Arab Palestinians what we now call Jordan. Then came the whole “We want ALL the land, lets push those Jews into the sea” idea. So, they started the war games trying to drive the Jews out, and they still haven’t ended, nor will they anytime soon. The Brits turned a blind eye to the chaos that they could no longer control, and the Jews decided that it was time to fight back and protect the land given to them.

Then the British turned the states back over to the UN (Adoption remorse?). BUT, upon receiving yet another offer to have both a Jewish Palestinian state AND an Arab Palestinian state the Arabs said, “no, we want all of the land that is both East & West of the Jordan river.” Too bad…so sad Well…isn’t this a pickle.

Since the Sinai Peninsula was traded to Egypt for peace, and Jordan was originally going to be within the Israeli borders, technically the most accurate way to describe the actions of that time period would be to say that ISRAEL is the one with whom had land “stolen” from them. There were NO Palestinian borders. None. Zip. Ninguno. Geen. It was a region. How do you steal land from the Arabs when land is GIVEN by the British to the Jews? Because they wanted it? Are we 5? It’s like when your Mom puts out a platter of cookies, just because you lick a cookie then put it back on the platter doesn’t mean the cookie is actually yours. It wasn’t their time to play “claim that territory,” because the British had already claimed it, and then GAVE it to whom they chose.

SO, throughout this time the Jews PURCHASED more land from the Palestinians, the Palestinians were removed from the land. No, not by the Israelis, but by the Arab countries that wanted to invade Israel. They said “flee so that we may bring our peaceful religion’s war machines into position!” Ok…maybe they didn’t use that exact verbiage, but you get the point.

Throughout all of the wars, including the one between 1948-49 the Jewish Palestinians ended with a slightly larger state than what the UN had proposed. BUT, by the time we hit the 1960’s the Arab Palestinians had control of 85% of the Palestine territory, compared to the 75% they had been given.

Bum bum bum…The Six Day War.

The Six Day War was for the exact same premise as all of the previous wars between the Arabs and the Israelis. The Arabs rejected, and STILL reject Israel. The Egyptians had used United Nations troops from the Sinai Peninsula to block shipping to Israel’s port of Eilat. This was an act of war, and the Arab nations have NEVER denied that it wants Israel OFF the map. They don’t want peace.

It’s simple: They don’t want Israel to exist.

During the Six Day War Israel fought Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia…etc (The Arab Republic) And they win. (Somebody had their spinach…and you know…GOD…) Jewish people had control of the Sinai Desert. If you haven’t seen a map…that’s a large chunk. Israel (being the last shred of good in the Middle East) told the ready to flee Palestinian Arabs to stay in hopes of educating and finally finding peace between the two nations of people. Then in the 1980’s Israel gave the Sinai Desert to Egypt in an act of peace.

But from the beginning of the wars, up through current day, the Arab Palestinians have had ONE goal:

“Our aim is the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, we aim at the destruction of the State of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel.” – President Nasser of Egypt in 1965

“We will not accept any coexistence with Israel…Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel . The war with Israel is in effect since 1948.” – Nasser in 1967 

“This is our chance Arabs, to deal Israel a mortal blow of annihilation, to blot out its entire presence in our holy land” Cairo Radio

Oh, but they weren’t just filling their “burn book” with Israel…

“Millions of Arabs are … preparing to blow up all of America’s interests, all of America’s installations, and your entire existence, America.” Cairo Radio

So, you can be angry at America, and angry at the Brits, but the facts are, it was British territory, and it was GIVEN. Israelis are not thieves, in fact, they have given land to promote peace, and any of the land gained during the wars was because they WON the land during a war NOT started by them. But the problem isn’t the offers, the problem isn’t the lack of peace, and the problem isn’t Israel.

The problem is that the countries surrounding Israel want her gone.

The problem is that while Israel wants peace, Jihadist don’t know of such a thing as peace.

The problem is that while Israelis wants “coexistence,” terrorists want to drag their family members lifeless bodies through the streets.

During this time, Iraq proclaimed that “Israel was an error which must be rectified.” Palestinians stated that “it is either us or the Israelis,” and Syria declared that it was time to “explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland,”etc. So from THOSE quotes alone we can clearly see a reason for a bad case of sellers remorse on behalf of the Palestinians. So while the Palestinian militant movement of Hamas is dragging bodies through streets and committing war crimes both by aiming at civilian locations, and hiding behind their own civilians, you’ll have to excuse me while I look at you with puzzled amazement when you proclaim your support of Hamas…Or better yet, your condemnation of Israel.

Israel tries their hardest to avoid civilians. They were even warning them with phone calls, roof knocking, and even dropping leaflets over Gaza warning them to “avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives.” Of course there are civilian casualties of war…But one side is doing their best to avoid as many as possible, and the other is meticulously planning them out.

Egyptian President Morsi backed Hamas and stated that Israel needed to end the aggression. Mr. Morsi is a high-ranking member with the Muslim Brotherhood and has an open door policy with the White House, what we fail to see is that the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and Hamas are basically sister terrorist organizations. They’ve all vocalized their deeply rooted hatred for Israel, including the Muslim Brotherhood…and yet our President supports them. Why haven’t we cut off economic funds???

Hamas is a progeny of the Muslim Brotherhood. When the Muslim Brotherhood says “jump”, Hamas says “how high?”. Of course Morsi had the power to create a “ceasefire,” he’s had it all along, and Israel has no urge to continue fighting. Hamas backs off, Israel backs off.

But hold off on your “peace celebrations.” For Israel hating Morsi to encourage a “ceasefire” tells us that deeper, more sinister plans against Israel are lying in anxious wait. We can’t possibly be ignorant enough to believe that he has had an instantaneous change of heart concerning Israel. The Morsi government has turned a blind eye towards the killing of Christians, and now are bringing in a new level of dictatorship. Egypt is about to get very bloody. So, right AFTER the “ceasefire” Morsi comes out with his sickle and hammer ideology…Sounds legit.

Islamic theocracies…They redefine the word “brutal”.

Back to the point…I ask that you put yourself in the shoes of Israel. Let’s say you purchase a house. While unpacking your dishes and settling in, suddenly a rock comes crashing through your window with a note:

“Dear Israel Jones Family,

We hate you and hope you die. We want to demolish your home, preferably with you in it, and build a pool, maybe even a mini bar with ackawi dip and smooth cardamom coffee equipped with straws long enough to accommodate our Burqa wearing women…You know…If we decide they can have coffee. So, we have weapons and will be violently attacking your home, and probably trying to vaporize your children.

Sincerely, All of your neighbors, Including the people who sold you your garage.”

Would you not defend yourself? Israel has been taking numerous attacks over the years, rockets, warnings and brutality. But when Israel defends itself we give a “stand down” order?

I support Israel. I support her because God told me to. I support her because it’s LOGICAL. I support her because she is the one shred of decency left in the Middle East. I’m ashamed that 51% of my nation turned their back on her by voting in a President that supports her enemies.

Alright, I’ll finally get to the end of this post. But just know that if you’re dealing with Hamas sympathizers, you are not alone. We live in an America where a dictator gets a majority vote, and the people support terrorists and brutality in the Middle East while preaching on “peace.” There is more of this to come. How do I know this? Because “God said so”…

MB

 

Candy & Cosmic Inflation

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Last weekend I went to the movies with my nephews to see Mr. Peabody & Sherman. It was ridiculously adorable, and an all-around feel good movie. My nephew and I were standing in line to get snacks and I told him to pick out a piece of candy. He immediately pointed to the Starburst, and I, knowing that the Starburst in this particular theater have been hard in the past, thought that was a bad idea and didn’t like the choking hazard. The conversation went as follows:

Me: “Oh buddy, why don’t we pick out something else?”

C (6): “But I want the Starburst…”

Me: “Well, they’re not like normal Starburst, they don’t taste very good here. But they have Skittles, and they have the special yummy Wild Berry Skittles here, but pick out what you want…”

C: “Skittles!! But then later we can go to the store and get yummy Starburst, right?”

Me: “Yep!”

Yep, I lied. The Starburst probably tasted just like regular old Starburst, but I didn’t want to make him feel like he wasn’t a big boy, and I didn’t want to dampen his Birthday spirits and tell him “no” without giving a good reason. So, I manipulated his craving by making the object of his interest seem undesirable, and I overemphasized the positives of the snack I wanted him to have; however, he was not aware of my intentions, he thought it was all his idea to buy the Skittles.

Judge me if you must.

In the world of Science, Atheism is a Skittle, while Creationism a Starburst. (Yeah, you can quote me on that.)

Kelly Oxford and Seth Rogen took their genius to Twitter last weekend. If you don’t know who they are, basically they are two elitist actors that have siphoned your wallet for years and are now astounded by your idiocy. They are hilariously entertained by your tiny little brains that reject science. My first inclination when I hear such infinite knowledge of the universe, while claiming there is no such thing as infinite knowledge, is to drop everything and run to the defense of faith. But in a surprising plot twist, I will instead drop everything and run to the defense of science.

Below are points that articulate why I believe Atheists are actually the group that is actively rejecting science, and the below points have absolutely nothing to do with the Bible. -

Christianity and science are not enemies.

This week a major scientific discovery took place and the atheist community is bouncing off the walls in excitement over the coming melt down of the Christian belief system. One commenter actually proclaiming, “I can’t wait for the implosion in the Christian church upon full absorption of the evidence”, another boldly proclaims that this discovery is on par with the top 3 discoveries ever made. Yet, thus far, my faith is not in need of the bomb squad just yet. Their Neanderthal-esque fist pounding is indicative of what they actually find more important, disproving a god they don’t believe in is far more important to them than the existence of new scientific findings.

So what’s the discovery?! Scientists believe they have found proof of Cosmic Inflation, which would substantiate the Big Bang theory. Now, I’m not a scientist, nor are many of the individuals taking to Facebook and Twitter to falsely label people of faith as ignorant. I don’t have all the answers, nor do I have the ability to hold my own in a debate with Richard Dawkins. But I can, with confidence, declare one thing: The Big Bang, even proven, still wouldn’t account for the beginning of matter. Many atheists don’t realize that this is what it comes down to. That’s also why many scientists who don’t believe in God still have respect for those that do.

Thomas Aquinas eluded to the idea that reason begets faith; however, unfortunately that is opposite of today’s church in many aspects. Maybe if this were reversed we wouldn’t see as many “Christians” leaving the faith once they leave the house. His point was timeless in that it wasn’t dependent upon scientific discoveries to substantiate it. The nature of causality: Something cannot come from nothing, regression to infinity via efficient causes is not possible, with no cause there is no effect, a first cause must beget all others, so a supernatural cause exists. Now this is debated by those who ask the very logical question, “What caused God?”…. Now I would say that, while logical, asking such a question is similar to asking, “how many feet does a cookie smell like”. It’s a category fallacy to assume that the smell of a cookie can be measured by feet, it’s a category fallacy to assume that an uncausable being can be held to the standards of a causable creation. His nature alone is beyond our comprehension, and for that matter, causality.

Basically, we have no answer. A) You could call me a fool for saying that an uncausable being caused the universe in all its intricacies, because something cannot come from nothing. Or B) You can exhaust all possible causes for the beginning of the universe and still never find the initial cause. Both of which are a form of belief. I’m not refusing to acknowledge the scientific findings, I’m simply choosing, just as you, a presupposition by which we’ve adapted before we look at all the facts, none of which will ever be able to explain every detail.

So I walk into the kitchen and find a pan of brownies and ask, “how were these made?”, after a considerable amount of research I find the bowl with traces of left over brownie dough, I don’t then proclaim to the world that I have proof that no one went to the store and bought the brownie mix. I’ve already heard rebuttals from young earth creationists, as well as Christians that believe in evolution, and I personally like to absorb it all in before coming to my own conclusions. But I’ll say with confidence that recent findings still leave us wondering how the brownie mix got into the kitchen. Heck, where did the space for the kitchen come from?

We are not infinite beings.

As my favorite apologist Ravi Zacharias notes, to claim infinite knowledge of the creation of the world, while claiming that there is no one being with infinite knowledge, is to take the antithetical position of rationalism. There you sit, with your presuppositions, as I have mine, trying to build your argument in the sand and then convince me that it’s more equipped to withstand a stiff wind than mine because you painted bricks on the cardboard walls. Some point out that no peer reviewed published papers have been published on creationism, yet many creationists themselves have had peer reviewed published papers. If lack of peer review published papers make the theory irrefutably futile, then those that believe it are irrefutably ignorant; by proxy, anything they have published is lacking in credibility. But that just isn’t the case, because many on both sides of the debate are brilliant scientists who have simply chosen one of two unproved theories, yet are still highly regarded in the scientific community.

Assuming that one scientist claiming absolute knowledge of the unproven (evolution) is somehow a work of genius, while another scientist is some sort of a “dreamer” for refusing to claim infinite knowledge is irresponsible.

You can post all the links you want that talk about the “cold hard facts that disprove creationism”, and guess what, they are presupposed viewpoints that still aren’t substantiated. Incredibly brilliant atheists that I hold in high regard still say that there are many unanswered questions, even after this recent discovery. There are many agnostic scientists that claim neither faith nor the great abyss of emptiness, and that’s because while they may not believe in my God, they continue to seek the truth and not some canned version that gives them the excuse they need to dismiss the idea that there is a god. I’m not saying that the evolutionists don’t have their facts, they have theirs just as the creationists have theirs, but much of it comes down to interpretation.

SIDE NOTE: You can believe in Micro Evolution even if  you don’t agree with Macro Evolution.

They’re labeling individuals with much higher IQ’s than themselves as ignoramuses. This never ends well.

I wonder if the new atheists could tell Galileo that he’s a fact-less moron, or tell James Joule that his contributions to the first law of thermodynamics is a joke due to his belief in God, or look astrophysicist Arthur Eddington in the eyes and mock his work in the theory of relativity due to his religious inclinations. Oh to be Einstein, questioning the possibility of a higher being and not even realizing how brainless your silly scientific approach makes you. Speaking of Einstein, even while questioning the possibility of a higher being, he was also the first (correct me if I’m wrong) to even mention the idea of Cosmic Inflation. Or how about Oxford Professor Dr. John Lennox, a brilliant Creationist. Or Physicist Dr. Russell Humphreys, or Wayne Frair, who only has a Ph. D. in biochemical taxonomy….I’m sure that Kelly Oxford would have the upper hand in a debate with him, right?

But see, instead of accepting the idea that both sides of the debate are finding legitimate proof for their claims, they would rather point and call names. Because that’s super scientific. They need to manipulate you into believing that Skittles are the superior treat and that the Starburst taste poorly, and when you believe it without researching the facts, what do you end up looking like? A gullible six year old.

So, as Christians we shouldn’t be dropping our bibles in disgust, or attacking new findings, we should be absorbing them. The more unique and detailed we find this world to be, the more it points to the original cause. And atheists should be more accepting of the idea that there are indeed Christians out there that rejoice in scientific findings, as well as know the long list of errors that have accompanied those findings years later. All in all, neither of us have concrete answers, but when I look at the brilliance in the intricate design of something as simple as an eyeball, I’m pointed to the existence of God. 

Let’s break the snooze button…

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Most mornings I can be found hitting the snooze button with great enthusiasm, and when I say enthusiasm I mean that I slam it, bury it under pillows, borderline on breaking it. It seems impossible to wake up, so impossible that it usually takes me 3-4 proper “enthusiastic” hits to the snooze button to do so.

Then yesterday morning happened….

Unlike those other mornings, I forgot to set that burdensome alarm the night before. Springing out of bed with only 20 minutes to get ready, throwing on whatever clothes looked decent. I lacked the need for any additional snooze sessions, the time on the clock was so alarming that I sprang into action immediately. It was not hard getting out of bed, it was not difficult finding the energy. My hair was in what some would call a 2 minute bun of desperation, but for the sake of my feelings we’ll refer to my look as Bohemian Chic…

Suddenly while I was driving to work in my silent car (refer to this blog post), it dawned on me…Why was it so easy to get out of bed today? How come I was bright eyed and ready to face the world without any additional snooze button usage?

Simple answer – The moment called for urgency.

I think that sometimes we see the moral decay of our world and we hit the snooze button, we continue to slumber in ignorance while the world around us crumbles in the hands of evil. I realized that the 10 extra minutes on my snooze button was not unlike the 10 extra years on our communities snooze buttons. On our countries snooze button. On the worlds snooze button.

When will the day come that we spring out of bed in urgency? When will we get tired of being in a slumber, ignorant and complacent to the things dragging us down. You may say “but I complained about Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga on Facebook! Therefore, I’m not asleep!”, or “I went to church on Sunday, I’m not in a slumber!”, or maybe “I pray for the Middle East, I’m not oblivious!”…But is that being awake? Is that your action when in urgency?

The horrified views of Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga are justifiable, just like they were with Madonna and Cher. Not only are they actively teaching young girls and women that objectifying oneself is “power”, but they are also teaching young boys and men that women really are just objects. That’s how evil works, it teaches you to become and accept the opposite of what Christ designed for you to be. I won’t go into too much detail on the subject because I already have in previous blog posts, please check out the following posts on women being “treasured”:

(Click to view post) Women, A National Treasure – What do we want our daughters to learn? What do we want our sisters to learn? Where do men belong in the fight for treasured women?

(Click to view post) Equality or Depravity – Has our fight for equality actually made us implode?

Recently I’ve seen the news filled with senseless killings, Christians being slaughtered in Egypt, immorality and objectification being disguised as women’s rights and power, etc. and as I’ve said before, we as Christians have failed in taking a stand. If our human nature and what we celebrate takes precedence over what we KNOW is right, the latter rarely wins.

So, Christians…How strong is the sense of urgency? Are you going to hit the snooze button again, or are you awake? Are you still going to give your money to the “artists” teaching your daughter not to respect herself? Are you still going to watch the shows that teach your son that women are just objects? Are you going to sit silent while teenage boys thrill kill elderly veterans, or are you going to figure out WHY our nation has lost respect for fellow human beings?

You don’t appreciate what the VMA’s allowed? Don’t watch them, don’t watch MTV.

You don’t like the message that the main stream radio stations send to your kids? Don’t listen to them.

You don’t like the sexual innuendoes in that show? Don’t have them on your TV.

“Well, this show isn’t appropriate, but it’s SO funny!” – How many of us have been there?

“This song is really catchy! Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus etc. they’re all just harmless ear worms.” – Say that to the staggering number of teen pregnancies, abortions, sexually active teens, etc…It has been proven that music induces physiological, emotional, behavioral and cognitive responses. It can affect your mood, hence the use of therapeutic music when you see the Dentist, ride an elevator, or when you’re on hold for long periods of time. They’ve even done studies that show it can influence your purchasing behavior in stores. Or how about when you’re watching a movie, imagine watching it without the background music…It changes the entire mood, it manipulates the senses.

As Plato said: “Music is concerned with harmony and rhythm, so that you may speak of a melody or figure having good rhythm or good harmony-the term is correct enough; but to speak metaphorically of a melody or figure having a “good colour,” as the masters of choruses do, is not allowable, although you can speak of the melodies or figures of the brave and the coward, praising the one and censuring the other.  And not to be tedious, let us say that the figures and melodies which are expressive of virtue of soul or body, or of images of virtue, are without exception good, and those which are expressive of vice are the reverse of good.

So, to put it mildly, it was a warning to beware of musical innovation that sets out to challenge and change society to the negative.

 

Every generation often mirrors its music, there is no denying this, ESPECIALLY in a world where every type of music is readily available at all times. What we do in life is our responsibility to own, but using that as an excuse to continue listening to trash that aids in the nose dive of Western Civilization is irresponsible.

It is time for us to wake up with a sense of urgency. Our #1 goal should be to reach the lost and share the Gospel, to be IN the world, not OF the world…Aren’t you tired of hitting the snooze button? Aren’t you tired of being able to quote that hilarious movie word for word but still don’t know the order of the books in the bible? We aren’t perfect, and we will fail sometimes, but I know that I need to work on my sense of urgency…Do you?

I’ll end this with a brilliant quote from Ravi Zacharias:

In the 1950s kids lost their innocence.

They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term —the generation gap.

In the 1960s, kids lost their authority.
It was a decade of protest—church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.

In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self. Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion….It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference.

In the 1980s, kids lost their hope.
Stripped of innocence, authority and love and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future.

In the 1990s kids lost their power to reason. Less and less were they taught the very basics of language, truth, and logic and they grew up with the irrationality of a postmodern world.

In the new millennium, kids woke up and found out that somewhere in the midst of all this change, they had lost their imagination. Violence and perversion entertained them till none could talk of killing innocents since none was innocent anymore.”

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Integrity vs. Steroids

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God

Politics

Baseball

I try to look for the balance between subjects that I – as a Christian – should be vocal about. More often than not, I dig to the core of the subject and find the God given moral code still dictates the difference between right and wrong, even in the smallest of subjects. When deciding where God belongs, we tend to treat right and wrong questions like they are a choice of favorite color, void of any right or wrong answer. Although I occasionally lack disciplined delicateness in my delivery of opinion, I don’t often find a good reason for a Christian not to have an opinion in everyday matters; if in fact their opinion is rooted in morals.

I encourage other Christians to speak out as well! Tom Minnery wrote in the book Why You Can’t Stay Silent: A Biblical Mandate to Shape Our Culture:

“The fact is, when hearts are changed by the gospel, sometimes those hearts begin to beat in new rhythms. These are the people who, renewed in Christ, begin to see with fresh eyes what is wrong, because the gospel has taught them what is right. They are the ones who cannot ignore what is happening around them, the ones who stand up and say, ‘Somebody has to do something!”

This is where you are now saying “but baseball…really…that’s a bit of a stretch”…You might be right, let’s take a look. Baseball might not be everyone’s forte, but since it is mine, I’m going to speak out about the recent steroid debacle.

The game of baseball – America’s pastime – is loved by many. I don’t take the score of my team as seriously as I take the game of baseball itself. As Jacques Barzun said, “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball!”. In Apologies to Thucydides – Understanding History as Culture and Vice Versa, Marshall Sahlins writes:

“Perhaps we have underestimated sport the way we underestimate talk about the weather, as the integument of an otherwise divided and only imagined community. Tygiel notes DeLillo’s musing on this score: “Isn’t it possible that this midcentury moment [i.e., Bobby Thomson’s homer] enters the skin more lastingly than the vast shaping strategies of eminent leaders, generals steely in their sunglasses—the mapped visions that pierce our dreams?””

(NOTE: I’m not proclaiming alliance with all of Marshall Sahlins views, just noting a point worthy of discussion.)
 
Sports in general do not come close in rank of importance when compared to war, catastrophes, Presidential elections, etc., still though, pertinent moments of joy or sorrow in the world of baseball have left lasting impressions that bend the mind in a more memorable way. The shot heard round the world, the first time Jackie Robinson played in the MLB in 1947, or the game tying hit from David Freeze in 2011…These pivotal moments are there to stay in our minds.
 

Growing up, the most honorable man I knew was my Grandpa, he never won a purple heart, he never rushed into a burning building, and he never beat the career stats of Roger Maris. But he was a man of integrity, his compass between right and wrong was always facing true North. Every time I went to his house I would find myself walking through his music room to view the framed bat, ball, baseball card, and letters from teams that confirmed the talents that gained him a spot in the minor league HOF.

He may not have been Stan Musial, but he is my Stan Musial.

Though his career was cut short due to injuries, he was a true baseball purest. He had respect for the one sport that – for the most part – had remained the same since its beginnings. That is probably why my family has a love of the game that goes beyond the love of the players. As Yogi Berra said: “You can’t make up no trick plays” in the game of baseball. As the greats have noted time and time again, you can’t delay the clock, you can’t fake a play…There is an air of accountability and vulnerability in baseball that can’t be erased by time; you have to give the batter a chance, or you have to give him a base…either choice leaves you in inescapable vulnerability.

We encourage kids to strive for success, to be fair, and to live their lives with integrity. But those same kids who have dreams of becoming the next Pujols are now pressured into using steroids just to gain a name. Why do we know names like Hank Greenberg, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, etc? Because they achieved the impossible, they pushed the game to the limits by using pure talent. Sure, “chemically enhancing” ones game has been around forever, but not to the level it is today.

A little known fact is that Babe Ruth once tried to up his game by injecting himself with sheep testosterone, after missing a few games for “stomach cramps” he returned to playing the game naturally. Although people would like to point out the past attempts, we can factually state that today’s technology in the Performance Enhancement Drug development is far – FAR – beyond anything accessible before the 1980’s.

After Billy Hamilton had his final at bat in 1901, he had played 1591 games, had 1690 runs, 937 stolen bases, .455 on base %, and a .344 batting average. He did all of this without the use of performance enhancement drugs. He may not lead every category, and he may not be the best baseball player of all time, but what he did is nothing short of a gift. To be in the stands during that time and witness a God given gift – tuned and developed through hard work and dedication – was a gift in and of itself. And now to have players chemically enhancing themselves to outdo natural talent is appalling. Not only is it unfair, it is showing young fans all over the US that God given talent can be created in a lab and that chemically created talent deserves the same respect.

When Christy Mathewson played ball from 1900-1916. His nickname was “The Christian Gentleman” due to his devout Christian faith, he actually wouldn’t even pitch on Sundays. He is listed in the top 10 pitchers of all time, he was also the first to pitch the screwball. He lived with integrity on and off the field, his place in history was put there because of a God given talent, not a shot of steroids. For him to be knocked out of the top 10 by a pitcher playing without integrity would be the wrong message to send to aspiring kids everywhere.

Before 1998 Babe Ruth and Roger Maris were the only two players in history to have more than 60 homeruns in a year. After 1998 – within the next 3 years – Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry bonds had “accomplished” SEVEN times what only TWO men had accomplished in the history of baseball. The frequency of such events removes the wonder and excitement when those rare anomalies are legitimate.

I personally want my nephew to strive to be like Christy Mathewson, not Ryan Braun or Mark McGwire. I want him to look at the game of baseball and at his Faith and know that integrity will take you places. How do we encourage integrity when cheap antics get your name pushed up in the record books?

I am a diehard fan of the Cardinals, everyone that knows me is aware of the fact that I’m a fan of the name on the front of the jersey, not just the back. It is because of this that I support strict punishment and frequent testing on ball players, even if they are on my own team. Forgive the man, but rejoice in justice. Be a fan of baseball, not just a fan of a popular player. Support integrity.

There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time.  I owe him my best.” – Joe Demaggio

Kids don’t put baseballs and bats in glass cases or up on walls because those baseballs and bats are somehow superior in ability to other baseballs and bats, they put them in their glass cases and on their walls because of the hands that used them. Remember that when you defend a players poor attitude and actions.

“Players that are guilty of taking steroids are not only cheaters, you are cowards. … Show our kids that you’re man enough to face authority, tell the truth and face the consequences. Instead, you hide behind the skirts of your union, and with the help of management and your lawyers you’ve made every effort to resist facing the public today.” — Donald Hooton, father of a high school baseball player who committed suicide in 2003 after steroid use.

The more we allow steroid use to be a means of success, the more we will encourage youth to take unhealthy and disappointing steps to gain their dreams. My Grandpa may have made his way to a list with the greats of baseball if life had gone differently, or he may have been another run of the mill player, but I am proud to say that I am more proud of his integrity than I could ever be in his ability to play. THAT is where we should place value. You want to change the culture of professional sports? That’s how you do it.

Baseball is not life, don’t get me wrong….Though labeled a fanatic, I still live in reality. So many productive metaphors have come from baseball – “Keep your eye on the ball!”, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”, “It’s not over till it’s over”, etc…Please don’t encourage “If at first you don’t succeed, cheat.”… Because THAT does spill over into life, and unfortunately it’s another failing attribute running ramped in today’s society where hard work and dedication have been replaced with shortcuts and complacency.  

“Christy Mathewson brought something to baseball no one else had ever given the game. He handed the game a certain touch of class, an indefinable lift in culture, brains, and personality.” – Grantland Rice

Now that’s a legacy.

– MB

The Death of America?

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Jeremiah. 18:7-10: “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” 

Despite the urge I have to jump into Calvinism and Anti-Calvinism arguments, I wanted rather to reflect upon an oft mused topic… That of the “Hand of God” on America. Upon whether that has been or is the case, and, if either of those is true, upon how close we are to losing His hand of grace on our nation.

God states that, unequivocally, He is the one who causes nations to rise up, and, if they do not do the good that He asks and expects them to do, causes them to be torn down. Not many Christians would dispute the idea that God did indeed bless the founding of our great nation… A nation like no other. In which mankind would be afforded freedom like as in no other nation, other than perhaps Israel, the freedom to worship God without interference from government. Despite desperately long odds, Americans fought for her freedom, penned into history the greatest (perhaps inspired) Constitution, and set about screwing things up almost from the word ‘go.’

To begin with, many of the writers of founding documents (and even before official freedom had been gained) owned slaves. Whether or not they abided by the proper treatment of slaves, owned slaves in order to afford those particular slaves a better life than other potential owners may have afforded, or just didn’t know better is important. But critical to this post is simply the fact that they did own slaves… An undeniable black eye in the eyes of people… But what about in the eyes of God? The short argument, under which I’ll offer no other proof than the actual establishment of the U.S.A., is that he allowed for the establishment and didn’t condemn the birth of the country… Omnipotence has it’s advantages and His sovereign will is so frequently masqued and nothing more than confused by the wisdom of men, that the only absolutely true statement is that it happened because it was allowed to happen.

Much like many other religious people, early American Christians claimed land and people by force – Falsely believing that God would have them forcibly capture and convert. As if anything other than the free choice of choosing Christ could ever be an act worthy of divine blessing. Again, the very hand of God is at the very least not against the nation…

The murderous wild west, mob bosses, workers suppressed, Government scandals, free love, the 60’s Sex drugs rock-n-roll, “God is dead”, abortion… Yet we stand. Draw a more specific conclusion if you must, but the absence of divine destruction is, on some level, evidence of divine intervention. It’s been said that God answers prayers, “Yes, No, or Wait.” Well if answered prayer offers blessings, other than God giving you what you ask for to teach you a lesson, (still a blessing) which is not the case, then it would seem to be more likely than not that His hand has been and indeed is on us.

More important than any ensuing argument for or against is the fact that it is His prerogative to cause the rising and falling of nations. One would have to imagine that if His hand is on us, as a nation, that in order for it to remain there, we must change as a nation. “…and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” Individual responsibility aside (for now), it seems to be the responsibility of the nation to not do evil and to obey God in order for Him to even consider continuing ‘the good’ He originally intended. He says He will reconsider the good He had intended to do for it.

So then who specifically is responsible for keeping up our side of the bargain? The president? The Congress? State and local legislature? I submit the answer is both more and less complicated than all that. As of right now and for who knows how much longer, the U.S. Government is the people! Why do politicians campaign? Because it’s the people who elect! We bemoan the decisions of our elected officials, all the bad decisions that they make we don’t approve of, then… we reelect them! It’s our fault. All of it! If I’m in good standing with the bank and they come repo my house, I’m at the bank like NOW with a lawyer and a bad attitude! Why, then, when our country is being redefined and restructured even as I write this blog are we not at the absolute least on the phone in such numbers as to shut down the switchboard?! And on a way more fundamental level, why are we not emaciated from fasting with callouses on our knees from beseeching God, begging for forgiveness, and asking Him “Show me how to be your hands! Your feet! Show me what to say to a world that so desperately needs a Savior but doesn’t even acknowledge there is one! Lord, USE me! Empower me! Open the eyes and hearts of every single person who so much as crosses my path!” Instead, as a whole, we silently prepare a self righteous response to the critics, mingled with truth but the thrust of which is rooted in human wisdom and understanding! And we continue to ‘eat, drink, and be merry.”

Whether or not God’s hand of favor is on us one thing is for certain: Our demise, if we refuse to turn our lives over to God, is certain. For whatever is done outside of faith is sin. And without faith it is impossible to please God. Is there any way under heaven that our human efforts can possibly persuade a perfect and sovereign God to change His mind over what He has already promised He would do? No.

The buck stops here. I have failed you and you have failed me. And together we have failed God. We are a collective Jonah, hiding under the certainty that our message will be poorly received, laughed at, ridiculed. We are afraid that we will have no response to the critics. On some level, we are also and forever afraid of what we may have to give up. I urge you… Consider what you may be giving up by being unwilling to give anything up!

It’s never too late. Ninivah was saved at the eleventh hour – after the proclamation had already been given. “40 days!” Was her allotted time. Yet God tarried because they repented. It may be that the end is near. It may not depend on us at all. King David was told “the child will surely die,” and despite a prolonged fast and desparate prayers, the child did indeed die. But David didn’t know the eventual outcome and neither do we.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of sitting and wondering how long God will tarry. I believe He may relent. May… If in the end He does not, at least I will have the peace of mind that comes from preparing not just for a potentially God fearing nation with many more years of the opportunity to spread God’s message of hope, but for an eternity in his presence with as few regrets from this day forward as possible.

How about you?

~Tim~