… (read part 1 if you haven’t yet) And, in the continued research, I discovered that there are dozens of various statues and monuments to the man, especially in South Carolina. Schools, streets, and a city are named for him. Because of his military prowess, a ship was named after him in WWII.

I want to give an insider explanation about one aspect of this argument – Civil War Monuments are not there to celebrate American History. They are there to celebrate Confederate History and Confederate leaders – notice that there are very few Confederate leader monuments north of the Mason-Dixon line.

At this point, I am still not offering my opinion as to the rightness or wrongness of these existing, but I wanted to clarify that the argument that this is about “American” history is not necessarily true.

The Civil War was certainly part of our history, but these monuments are there to celebrate the Confederacy and her leadership, not the US and hers – and typically in competition with the other.

These were people who declared themselves independent from their federal government and tried to establish what they thought was a more perfect union that the Union at that time. They fought for State’s Rights; sadly, the main State’s Right they were fighting to defend was racial slavery – The “right” (shudder to use that word here) to own another human being as property. How could any reasoning human being have ever thought that was ok? I don’t know…

Side note – I do think that the nearest equivalent we have today is abortion. For mostly financial reasons, we determine that one human being is not worthy to have life, liberty, etc. It is an industry built around something morally wicked that we are not willing to expel because of what it would cost us individually and culturally…

But most cultures in history have thought slavery (and killing children) was acceptable at some point. We aren’t talking about the most common biblical kind of slavery – what we would call indentured servitude – largely the choice of the servant.

This is what is known as Southern Antebellum (meaning “before the war”) Slavery, and it was almost exclusively racial.   The culture of the South before the Civil War was almost entirely dependent on slavery.

Wade Hampton, for example, found that it was nearly impossible to turn a profit on his farms without free labor.

For those who do not know first hand, “Southern,” is a thing, and it’s not all or even primarily about racism.  “Southern” exists independent of racism.

Southern heritage is a real thing… and, like every other aspect of history, not an all good nor all bad thing. There is Southern cuisine, southern style, and southern art. There are certainly Southern courtesies and ethics. As an insider, I will tell you that the role of racism in “southern” anything has lost a lot of ground in the last few generations (and I assume consistently since the evil of Antebellum Racial Slavery was ended).

Even in the deep South, in a white-only situation, I rarely hear any kind of racially offensive humor or openly racist remarks… and I would admit it if the opposite were true – because it was when I was younger.

As a teenager, racially charged jokes were still common when there were only white kids around. Few of those kids probably had any serious racist sentiment in their hearts, but they thought they could get a laugh with a joke about a different race. However, even that has become very rare. I honestly cannot remember the last time I heard someone tell such a joke or use a slang term for any other race than Caucasians, not counting media.

How awful, ironic and hypocritical that Southern Hospitality is a thing. It really still is.  Driving across the country, I can begin to feel the sense of being welcomed and wanted – and engaged with by everyone from the gas station attendant to anyone you ask for help… I love that aspect of the South.  I think hospitality is a pure gold and is a beautiful thing!

But, what if my African American friends don’t experience that?  That is a hateful tragedy.  I am realizing now that some aspects of Southern Hospitality haven’t been for everyone.  I hate that.

Do you feel unwanted and unwelcome?  I pray that is by a tiny minority of people – I would pray that anyone of any race or color attending my church would experience extreme levels of hospitality.

The highest level of injustice would be that I experience that Southern hospitality every bit as much from black people as white people!

I know there are plenty of people who have every reason to expect a sense of hatred and dismissal when they engage with white people, though.  I have some friends good enough to tell me about their experiences with openly, unashamed racist people.  Apparently essentially every African American has experiences of this kind. It so infuriates me that it helps me understand the levels of anger felt by those who experience it… God knows racists of this breed are real and truly intentional racist behavior is a reality still… but I have never it seen as an adult in front of me.

I have never heard anyone brag about committing such an act.   But they certainly happen. They should never happen. That level of hatred and dismissal of another human is un-defendable.

What I do still hear regularly is “unintentional” racism. Things are said or done that reveal an ethno-centric tendency. It is HARD for us to see outside of our own instinctive ways of understanding things. (People ask all kinds of ridiculous questions about our adopted children – they don’t intend to be offensive , and they may even intend to be encouraging or seeking understanding).

Example – a common response I am hearing from those around me about re-naming our local “Robert E Lee” High School is “It doesn’t matter to me what we call it – it just isn’t a big deal…”

Notice that the person is making the effort to be conciliatory, but are still ethno-centric.  Their attitude may seem right and might be at the personal level, but sounds like it implies that the issue can be ignored or dismissed as “not a big deal.”

Perhaps to them, at the personal level, it isn’t a big deal, but it may be a very big deal to someone whose history doesn’t include a “grand Civil War General”, but a slave of that General.

They may not be at all dismissing the argument, but if an issue is a big deal to you, then it can easily feel dismissive.  See how that is unintentional ethno-centism?

I hope everyone can be patient and graceful with “well-meaning” human frailties in which even when the spirit is willing, the habit, ignorance, blindness, flesh is weak.

So, with all of that in mind… we are to the actual topic, I think.

Do we rename our schools? Do we take down the monuments?  Change the name of streets?

I think there was a day in which that answer was “no”. We were a literate enough and complicated enough culture to have the conversation in a healthy way and less likely to unnecessarily offend.

We (I admit that I am not sure who “we” is in this sentence. It seems that writings from the past and debates, like the debates about the Declaring of Independence or even slavery, indicate that people used to be able to have deep, complex, respectful conversations and even disagreements about things. But, were those all educated, well-off white people I am referring to? Did things like slavery give them the hours to do that instead of work? Even this is complex) could talk about the way people are complex. This isn’t new. One of the things I love about the Bible, for example, is that almost anyone who gets any press at all has at least a part of their lives revealed as dark, sinful, and reprehensible!

Abraham’s family all had a serious issue with dishonesty. They had a nasty tendency to lie their way out of problems, or at least to attempt to do so.

Many of the patriarchs were idol worshipers for at least some part of their lives; they could be unreasonable, easily misdirected and worse!

Of course, famously, King David managed to break pretty much all of the Ten Commandments in just a few months.

In the New Testament, the disciples were clueless at the best of times and deniers at the worst.

It is part of how we can know these were real people who behaved like real people and whose lives were complex – like real people.

People are complex? Read more (**** link to come)


I think that it might seem strange for me to publish the articles series that I started yesterday about Confederate Monuments without commenting on the protests. Those were scheduled a few weeks ago to publish at this time, and I was concerned that something new would be at the forefront by the time they posted(welcome to our media culture)… and I was right.  So, I am trying to apply some thoughts and hopefully increase some awareness about the current NFL – centered protest movement.

Some of those principles will apply here for sure, too, so this is an overall

I take no personal issue when people protest something; that is for sure… No matter what they protest and how they do it. What and how someone protests is about them, not me.

However, I sure appreciate some things about some protests more than others.

  1. I sure appreciate when the protest is non-violent and is unlikely to cause damage to people’s lives.
  2. I appreciate when those protesting are extremely clear about what they are protesting.
  3. I also understand that a protest has to make people uncomfortable and must draw attention to itself or it might as well not happen. This is something that people who are uncomfortable with a protest need to keep in mind.   Protests are meant to cost you something so that you sit up and pay attention!

For example, we are about to celebrate the 500th anniversary of one of the most important protests of all times – the Protestor Reformation (aka Protestant Reformation) … in itself, it was non-violent (though many of the responses to it weren’t).

It was super clear – at least at the beginning. Luther posted the exact issues that he was wanting to reform.

So, I also am not very troubled by the current NFL protests, but based on what I listed as what I appreciate, I have some ideas that I think would help us all in regards to it.

  1. It is nonviolent and is unlikely to cause actual damage to anyone. I appreciate that. It is likely to cost owners and the NFL billions in lost revenue, but those are private individuals and they will have to decide how to handle it.

Playing football is a job and a privilege – not a right. It is certainly legal for the players to protest and it would be legal for the league to enforce its own rules if it wants to, or for owners to implement their own rights as owners.

If an owner decides that the protests are hurting his/her business too much and decides to forbid the protests, or create consequences for them, that is appropriate too. If one of Alethia’s counselors decided to protest in a way that cost us clients, I would be sound in my decision to remove them from my team. I am not impacting their freedom of speech – they can still protest, if legal. They just cannot protest as a member of my team of counselors.

That brings up an issue that is worth mentioning:

Freedom of anything doesn’t mean the freedom from any consequences for practicing that freedom! If you are going to practice your freedom of speech, others will practice their freedom of speech in disagreement. How absurd to practice freedom of speech and then ask (or force) everyone to stay silent in response to your protest! A protest is meant to be an invitation to join the conversation or the conflict in a new way.

So, if you are going to protest, then of course you will get pushback and conflict… again, that is the nature of a protest. Remember how you want to make people uncomfortable or cost them something? So, to complain about what people SAY about you in your protest is pretty silly.

However, protests can be about moral issues that transcend even issues of legality. If you are willing to break the law in order to protest, then consequences can go beyond just words. Depending on how serious you are about your protest, you may need to be prepared to die for it.

  1. My main concern with the current protest is that I think the protesters are not being very clear about what exactly they are protesting and that is leading to a lot of confusion and unnecessary anger.

I know this essentially started with an individual, but I don’t know that he is or was in any way, a spokesperson

for a protest movement.  Spokespersons are

powerful agents of clarity.

A quick glance online says that the current protest is against #1 police brutality, #2 Donald Trump, #3 social and racial injustice, #4 the treatment of black Americans, #5 the flag and the nation it represents, #6 the anthem itself and the man who wrote it… and that it isn’t a protest at all, but a show of unity. And that is from only 5 websites!

I can see that some of those are similar, but I think a more effective protest would be clearer as to what they want to accomplish. I think that lack of clarity of message is what has created distraction from the value of the protest.  It has led some people to think that the protest is about the military, or NFL leadership or just a hatred for America.

I cannot support anything that dishonors the work of soldiers or professional responders as a group, so I need to know what I am responding to and at the beginning of the article, I didn’t know. Here is a prediction: some people will respond to this article as to what “the real reason” people knelt this last Sunday at the games… but they won’t agree as to what that was.

So, what if I sympathize with #3 & 4 above, but not #5 & 6? Should I support the protest or resist it?

If more people knew that kneeling was meant to model a soldier kneeling next to a wounded comrade (see article below), then kneeling as a response to the anthem might not seem as offensive to American Patriots.

For example, it was intriguing to learn that the reason Kaepernick (the recent-first to sit in protest during the anthem) switched from sitting on the bench to kneeling was because of a conversation with a soldier/NFL player (Nate Boyer).   Did you know about that?  I sure didn’t until starting to research for this article.  They decided that sitting was rude to soldiers but kneeling was a statement of support for soldiers but not support for the country that oppresses people (this is paraphrase, but very true to the original statements I found, see article below)…

It seems that they imagined the kneeling being similar to a soldier kneeling by a fallen or injured comrade.

This is what I mean about having a clear message, and/or a clear spokesperson.  I think if people understood the motive and message of the kneeling (if that is accurate), there would be MUCH less (unnecessary) offense taken.

Most of us are not willing to support anything that comes across as insulting to our military.  My opinion is that we should find ways to avoid that… and anything that seems to insult the Anthem is often connected to them.   Anytime insult to the military could be inferred, a protest must tread lightly and clearly (have I said that yet?)

I would love if there were a way for this protest movement to distance itself from even seeming insulting to our military men and women.  I think it could do that with even just a clear explanation for WHY they are kneeling (rather than other things).  It might be better done at another time during the platform that athletes have in the US in order to avoid that connection if it isn’t intended (and apparently it isn’t.)

Anyway, I think that point is made.

I agree that there are still systemic and unashamed racial issues that can be improved upon – even though things are and have been improving.  So, we need to experience some discomfort in order to be reminded of the need to change (ask any of us therapists).  Ask any African American man and he will have accounts of facing it… and it must stop!  

Please, God.

So, I appreciate the attention to the general issue, while I offer the feedback above to make it more valuable for the target audience.

As Christians, we come from a protest movement as Jesus Christ came to fulfill a covenant and usher in a new one. 

This is the good news.  Jesus came to save us from so much, and thinking we are somehow more special than anyone else is one of those things.  Our need for a savior unites us in ways that nothing else divisive can compare.  Christians, let us not be so distracted by whether we agree with the way someone protests during a sporting event or a national anthem.  Look past our own discomfort to their hurt… AND defend the appreciation of those who put their lives on the line for us, too.  Peacemakers can do that.

This was a helpful article for some of this (obviously, I looked at a handful of others, but I am uncomfortable linking to them for various reasons): http://elitedaily.com/news/politics/actually-nfl-players-protesting-national-anthem/2080704/)


Taking/tearing down Confederate Monuments

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” The Apostle Paul, Romans 12:18 & 21

Hopefully the verse above makes it clear that I am writing this to Bible – believing Christians.  If you have no respect for the Bible, I don’t have any thought that this article will impact you.

If you do, you might should check out my thoughts on the correct understanding of the biblical theology of race before diving into these applications.

I am not sure what order these thoughts should come in, and they may end up not in any order at all, but just in the order they came to my mind. I try to organize my thoughts well, but this topic has thoughts bouncing around in my head like a pinball game. I may not be competent to organize them well. Please excuse when I interrupt myself, I am sure it will be frequent.

I am committed to writing this stuff even if no one ever reads it. The new way of talking about serious aspects of life and culture with a Meme must be Screwtape’s dream come true. I refuse to engage in discussions of true significance without placing enough value on it to actually engage with it.

In the US today (and by the time this is published, this may be such old news that it is barely worth reading – but more on the “culture of crisis” at the end of this article) there is a cultural crisis about removing memorials and monuments that honor the Confederate leaders from the American Civil War.

I want you to know where I am coming from and so you can evaluate my own prejudices as you read this:

I am a “child of the South” – meaning “product of”. Though born in Michigan, where my father was in school, my family has a long heritage of being “Southern.” Though initiating in Scotland, most lines of my family were solidly in South Carolina or Alabama, etc. 150 years ago… what is called the “Deep South”.

I joke that I didn’t know that “Damn Yankee” was two words until I was in my 20’s. This isn’t true, since I never once heard the phrase “damn Yankee” except in the context of this joke. (Man, there are a lot of Southern things like this, there is a lot of jaw, jaw, jaw but I think the majority of modern Southerners just go about daily life with little consideration to any of what I am writing about until someone else brings it up.)

In my lineage is one “Wade Hampton” who was a confederate cavalry general. I was raised on stories of his heroism, kindness and generosity to his men and unsubstantiated accounts of his slaves defending his property against federal troops at some point (I have no idea of any accuracy in this, but I know it happened sometimes, but is often pure myth).

In fact, I was told he was the only man to ever own more than 1000 slaves – the only man in America to do so, I also cannot verify if he was the largest slave owner. This was not told with pride, but enough shame to ALWAYS be followed with the above story of his slaves defense of the property. It was also ALWAYS followed with a reference to that idea that he was kind to his slaves (no idea if this was true) and that he was known to be a violent man to other white men if he felt his honor was challenged (that he killed some number of white men in duels including beating one to death with an axe handle – again, no idea if any of this is true.) I do know that he was a Civil War Confederate Cavalry General.

I imagine part of why I have never researched him before is because I didn’t want to find out that none of the good aspects of this are true, or that worse was…

So, I Google-stalked Wade and uncovered that he had, as a legislator, opposed the division of the Union. He was wounded multiple times with saber, shot and shrapnel. His fiery temper, at least toward other white men, seems accurate, since he apparently nearly got into a fight with a Union general when Hampton surrendered. Though he apparently gave “tacit” support to the KKK in his region, he was not know to have active involvement with them. It sounds like he did openly support and was supported by the “Red Shirts” – a murderous and violent group dedicating to suppressing the black vote in South Carolina. Nothing about his treatment of slaves or their role in Sherman burning his property. (my family hates Sherman, by the way). A lot about his valor in battle, brilliant battle-field work and leadership.

Not to make light, but all I think of with “Red Shirts” is the poor guy who always transported to the surface of a planet with Kirk and Spock and always bought the farm when they did.

Side note – I think one of the challenges for someone from the South in all of this is, when you read Civil War history, the general honor that these men held each other, their opponents, is evident. They saw each other (with some obvious exceptions) as honorable men. I think it is a little sad that we cannot do the same anymore. We have lost the ability to see our own foes, even enemies, as honorable. I will have to give more thought to this in time.

Where did we lose that? It was still there in WWI mostly, I think. WWII, is that where we lost it – I know it was still there, but perhaps less evident or at least much less common. Maybe the degree and frequency of war atrocities in WWII are what cost us the generalized sense of holding our opponents in respect. Maybe we just became too pragmatic. This will be a good coffee conversation with my historian friends.

It turns out that the “Red Shirts” thankfully no longer exist – except as a branch of the “League of the South” – yet another ridiculous hate group made up of a few thousand people (7,678 likes on FB – Justin Bieber has 78,823,347 likes; Elmo has 5,663,499) who are dedicated to “free and independent Southern republic – which apparently would be a pretty small place. I am not going into it here, but I am annoyed by how much attention these hate groups get at times like these.

If there were 100,000 members of hate groups (3-8,000 KKK at the highest estimates **) they would represent .03% of our population (6,000 is .002%). I know we have to stand up against immoral hatred whenever we can, but these guys really should be allowed to vanish into history with a whimper.

More about “The South” next


** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan

** http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/07/us/klan-numbers/index.html

Suicide in the Bible


Does the Bible deal with the tough issues?  It does.  Christianity is neither merely a religion nor outdated.

People despair.  People struggle with mental illness.  People get trapped in the belief that there are only two choices – a long tortuous death or a quick release… but the problem is that there are almost always more than two choices.


This sermon is near to my heart as we open up the Bible to understand the awful tragedy of suicide.   I hope it encourages you and gives you strength to face life and to help others do the same.

I think this will be valuable to anyone with teens or preteens.   You can find out more at http://www.alethiacounseling.com.

Is the end of the world coming Saturday?

Well, I suppose… maybe.

I am sorry that the tone of this will, at times, be a little tongue-in-cheek.  As a rational Christian skeptic, I have a hard time taking faddish, panicky social media input very seriously.

The 2nd coming of Christ and the “Day of the Lord” concepts are very real and very serious and one of the things I long for.  As biblical and theological concepts, I take them super-seriously.  I fodder for memes and radical youtube videos, I can get pretty sarcastic.

Plus, since it is Wednesday, I guess I better publish this pretty quickly, if so.

However, I give little credence to most of the reasons that are being given for 9/23/17 being the date that represents the “Day of The Lord” or “The Rapture” or whichever day you might think is next.

It (whatever “it” might be exactly) might happen Saturday, but I am still planning to be prepared to preach Sunday.

As you examine all of the evidence that is thrown against the wall, please make sure and check basic facts before adding them as weight to one side or another.

Examples: The Temple To Ba’al going up in New York.

The facts seem to be that after Muslim terrorist destroyed an ancient temple in the region of Palmyra, Syria, archeologists in London and New York decided to erect a replica of the archway from that temple.

It seems that the Syrian building itself had been used a Church and as a Mosque over the years, before recently being destroyed.

It also seems that the New York project was scrapped, but the London one was built over a year ago. About a year ago, according to Snopes, the London one was on exhibit for a while in New York.

Clearly a reconstructed temple, even an ancient Ba’al temple (or Bel, according to some) that was finished a year ago probably has little impact on this Saturday as a significant day.

Secondly, evaluate the significance of the events in light of actual scripture.

Remember that there is nothing meaningful about the Gregorian calendar in regards to the Bible. The Bible is a distinctly Jewish book for which the canon was closed before 400 AD.   The Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582. So the numbers 9,23, or 2017 aren’t likely to have special meaning from Jewish or early Christian prophecy, for example.

That being said, the Festival (Feast) of Trumpets has always been a significant time period when talking of the second coming for various reasons.   It is perhaps the only feast that hasn’t had a clear connection in the work of Christ, so it is, in some ways, still waiting to be fulfilled. And, of course, the first event of the second coming is a sounding trumpet.

This year, it looks like the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) is likely to be near 9/23. Most websites are placing it 9/21-9/22. The 23rd is going to be the Sabbath between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is the Sabbath of “returning” – taken from the instruction of Hosea 14:2 – to return to the Lord. Yom Kippur is the “Sabbath of Sabbaths” – the 10th day of the 7th month. On this day, the Jewish faith asks God for the forgiveness of sins.

These dates are certainly interesting… and they happen every year and have for , thousands of years. Will the eventual date be in this time period? I think it likely, personally. This year? Maybe. Does this year have any advantage over other years? Not much that I can see.  It would sure be cool!  I am hoping.

So, ignore any references to the Gregorian calendar. Look to the Jewish calendar instead. Intriguing, but not much more, in my mind.

So, what about Rev 12?

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.” Rev 12:1-2

According to some, this is going to be fulfilled astronomically (or actually, since it is what it is, “astrologically” on Saturday.

Well, maybe… kind of.

According to some, Virgo (remember, is a part of the Hellenist Zodiac, not an ancient Jewish one. The Jews later took on aspects of the Hellenist Zodiac, but the Bible does not reference it in any clear way, if at all. In fact, all through the Hebrew Scriptures, people are warned about the dangers of looking for something to worship in the heavens.)

Ok, anyway, Leo will be above Virgo. Leo has (according to astrologers, not astronomers) 9 stars in it and 3 planets. This adds up to 12. Leo is not going to be right above Virgo. If you are looking for something that looks like a crown of 12 stars, forget it.

Also, the sun will move through Virgo (this happens every year – and it why these are the signs of the Zodiac in the first place).

The moon will be beneath Virgo (this happens for 2-3 days every month). Keep in mind that this picture is the constellation “Virgo”.


Where exactly her feet are is a little unclear to me, but (am I going to say this?) I guess we will trust the Astrologists that it is supposed to look like this:




Or this:  


Or maybe this:



The feet aren’t too clear to me, but I am sure they are to God.

So, even if this works out

But also, Jupiter is supposed to be near this time. So, there’s that.

By the way, the last time this happened was 2005. It happens about every 12 years like this.

Sorry. Even in the biblical situation, it is tough for me to take Greek Zodiac stuff seriously.

Is this even what John intended?

Well, since the woman (notice that it is “woman” and not “virgin”) in this passage is pretty likely to be a representation of Israel (remember the dreams of Joseph? 12 stars, moon, sun?) and her giving birth to a son is likely to be John seeing the Messiah fulfillment playing out… in Jesus… Israel giving birth to the promised Christ.

But does the next section sound like a continuation of Astrology?

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev 12:3-9

If this is a passage about astrological signs, then how does Draco play into the stars on the 23rd? Or maybe this is a creative, revelatory way to tell the narrative of the Messiah come to save the world.

It could possibly be both, that happens in prophecy, but again, I am certainly not convinced. I think this is that narrative and likely not meant to be connected to the Greek Zodiac. By the way, I cannot, by any stretch, see any reason why Jupiter being in the vicinity of Virgo would have anything to do the Revelation 12 vision.

I think making the connection to Jupiter is stereotypical Astrological claptrap. Find something, give it false significance and then be amazed at how uncommon this mixture of events is – these arbitrarily connected events, mind you.

What about things from Newspaper headlines?

Crazy Tyrant likely to disrupt the world?




These are not special to our day nor our era. They only seem to be worse because of the attention they get.

Tyrants. Not news. Proof of the continuing failure of humanism, but not a new problem.

Remember how these stars and planets lined up in 2005? Well, that was also the worst year for hurricanes, not 2017 (at least not yet) with 15 hurricanes!

The 1960’s saw the two worst Earthquakes in history.

If you define racism by the USA terms and make it a black-white thing (there has been much more deadly racism in the world, but just looking at the US examples), the post-Civil War era was filled with terror and murder. Look up 1919 and racism, if you want a tough one. Civil Rights, Jim Crow, much less Antebellum Slavery itself! I think we have seen worse expressions of racism.

Plus, with the exceptions of earthquakes, these aren’t listed as signs anyway.

It is always dangerous to think that the cataclysms of our own time are worse than those of the past. Often, they aren’t at all. We are just ignorant.

Finally, if you are a Christian… please keep this little tidbit in mind… the Day of the Lord, no matter what shape it takes is Good news!

Hello? If you are a Christian, no more doubts… the fulfillment of all we have worked and waited for? Please never again respond to the possibility of prophetic fulfillment with anything other than excitement and joy. Prophecy is there to give us comfort, not panic. Prepare reasonably for the future, but don’t fear the finality of it.  This is about Jesus, after all.

Will Jesus come back or the tribulation start or a rapture happen on Saturday? If it proves the prophecies of John correct, I hope so.

Even so, Lord, come quickly!

Now, I gotta get back to finishing a sermon before Sunday! Starting on Judges, BTW.  You will be able to find them at our church website soon.


There were multiple commands from God to the Jews not to intermarry with the Canaanites and other tribes they were conquering in the Promised Land.

“You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods.” Dt 7:3-4

First off, though many of these people would be the offspring of Canaan, in some cases, like the Edomites and Assyrians, they would be other offspring of Shem! They wouldn’t even be a different race. I personally don’t think race was the main issue. The Persians (modern day Iranians) are descendants of Ishmael – another son of Abraham. Can these concerns be primarily about race? I don’t think so.

The evidence is in the passages themselves.

These instructions are found in Exodus 34, Joshua 23, and I Kings 11. Each time, the command is very implicitly connected to the warning that these people will turn them to other gods (except maybe in Joshua where it is still implied). The main concern in these passages seems to be that intermarriage with these other peoples will lead people away from Him!

This has a New Testament equivalent, too. Consider:

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 2 Cor 6:14-15

Paul warns that key relationships, like marriage, can be dangerous for living out the Christian life if entered into with a non-believer. Consider the ramifications for the intimacy of the marriage if THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in a person’s life is not shared with the spouse.

So, what does the Bible say to New Testament Christians about marrying people of a different “race”? I think that the answer is: marry another Christian; I see nothing in the Bible that a New Testament Christian could apply that would limit what “race” a person chooses to enter into a marriage covenant with (and it seems like that was never the real issue).

If people want to make an argument about races not intermarrying, fine (I guess)… but I would say that they cannot use the Bible at all to do so.

11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Col 3:11)


Are Ham, Shem & Japheth all welcome to the Cross?

Here is the cool surprise I told you about related to the Shem, Ham and Japheth concepts. In the middle of the Book – The Acts of the Apostles, there is an intriguing series of conversions… 3 of them to be precise.

In Acts 8:26-40, we see the miraculous (and seemingly non-sequitur) account of Philip the

Evangelist being led into the presence of a traveling Ethiopian (and what an Ethiopian, too – a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians! He was an African, just to be clear – and an exceptional example of an African!



In Acts 9:1-18, we experience the conversion of Paul. Paul is a Jew; a descendant of Abraham – and an exceptional one:

“…If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:5


circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,


a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” (Phil 3:4-7)

In Acts 10:1-48, we are privy to the conversion of Cornelius, a Roman , and his whole family. He is a member of the Italian cohort – a child of Rome!

In other words, in Acts 8-10, Luke specifically recalls that in his research, he heard a very clear account of a descendent of Ham, a descendant of Shem and a descendant of Japheth all saved by the power of the gospel… and all three very defined by their nationality! And yet, the message of Jesus Christ and their faith in Him made them brothers.

This is the theology of race.

We may (or may not) be divided by nationality, race, economic status, etc… but we are all brothers under Christ. He is the elder brother and we are all the younger siblings by adoption – equal in the Kingdom as princes and princesses.

Proper Christian theology is that there is no superiority among races. None is superior to the other. Jew or Greek, Asian, African, Caucasian, Latin… when it comes to value and dignity, we are all created in the image of the same God.

My view on the Christian Response:

Theology is truth that naturally leads to a response – worship or ministry.

I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of calling in which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (Ephesians 4:1-3)

“Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:11-13).

Let us always seek to love one another. Prioritize faith and identity in Jesus Christ over any other source for identity. Other things may be descriptors, but only Jesus Christ can define us.

I am not saying the “race” (though I dislike that word, I mean the concept of race) does not exist. It exists; skin color exists; cultural differences exist; they are real and they are very important.

In order to love someone well, it is vital to care about and seek to understand their context and their narrative and their heart.

All I intend to say is that important as race is – or historical heritage – even family – or any other thing, the thing that defines us is what we believe about God.

When I recently taught this material across a few weeks to a very diverse staff at the Mentoring Alliance here in Tyler, one of the African American staff said that at some level, he had always felt like he was a member of the White Man’s Religion.  He was amazed to find out that his view was completely off!  (If any argument was to be made, and it was for many years, Christianity is the Jewish person’s religion! – thankfully, God desires His gospel to reach all people and that His gospel transform them into professional ministers of grace and reconciliation!

Now, I accede the last words to another author – one of the most brilliant authors of all times, whose words will transcend race:

If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us.

(And the final stake in the heart of any “Christian” racial supremacist:)

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not lovehis brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. – The Apostle John.

In the US in 2017, we are facing a crisis that stems from our poor theology of race – it has to do with the removal of monuments of different people in history.  How should Christians engage in this conversation?

I pretty much never comment on the photos I take from the internet (I try to always use them in good taste and as I think the original artist would intend)… but I wanted to comment on the last one with the man hugging the trooper.  That is a member of the “Free Hugs Project” by Ken E. Nwadike Jr.  I know pretty much nothing about him and therefore cannot therefore don’t know if I can recommend him, but I like his idea of fighting the anger and hatred with a simple act of love and affection.

How might these biblical and theological understandings begin to impact our cultural issues, like Confederate Monuments, etc?