I’ll Show You a Place High on a Desert Plain

cartoon silhouette profiles of a man and woman

One might not expect Bernie Sanders to understand Christian teachings, since he does not profess to be a Christian. One might, on the other hand, expect Christopher Van Hollen to understand Christian teachings since he does profess to be a Christian. As the Senator from Maryland says, “There are lots of ways that people can pursue their god”. Yes, this is true. We see evidence of this everyday as people pursue their self-made gods of politics, finances, and athletic teams. However, the point here is in reference to the one true God.

Non-Christians, like Sen. Sanders, most likely reject that the biblical God of Christianity is the one true God. However, professing Christians, like Sen. Van Hollen, should be able to proclaim and defend that the biblical God is the one true God. The Bible teaches that men and women who reject Jesus Christ as Savior and King stand condemned before God. It is not Mr. Vought in the article linked below (nor other followers of Christ) who condemns them. Instead, he (and others who profess to believe as he does) lovingly share God’s Word with them.

When seeing someone who is lost, the loving thing is to help them be found. When seeing someone in peril, the loving thing is to help lead them to security. When seeing someone is adrift, the loving thing is to help put them on course. If Muslims stand condemned before God unless they repent, if this is true, then Mr. Vought serves these neighbors by telling them so. Pretending that they are not condemned, if they truly do stand condemned, is to fail in serving these neighbors.

One would think that any nation would benefit from having more public servants who are willing to serve in truth and love. One would think. One would think that failure to serve one’s neighbor in truth and love would be disqualifying for anyone seeking to be a public servant. One would think. One would think that there are at least two United States Senators who seem to have this backwards. One would think.



One of the most liberal men I know wrote the following:

I don’t know how many die-hard Trump supporters you have in your family, among your friends (on and off social media) and in other parts of your life, but I have enough to be constantly amazed at the level of aggressive, total denial many of them still have about Trump — his lies, his behavior, broken campaign promises and other policy initiatives that are contrary to what he has said and who he claimed to be “fighting for,” and, of course, any and everything about the many-layered Russian/Putin connections. Clearly, there are more moderate Trump voters and elected Republicans who are exceptions to this, and who are, mostly, just being silent. But the ideological and media bubble around the true-believers seems to be very thick. One can only be thankful that they are a smaller fraction (even if still disturbing in number) than they seem to think they are.

Spotting his pure projection, I couldn’t help but point out:

What’s so sad is that the pro-Trump folks say the exact same thing in the reverse.


The adult daughter of a friend wrote an article affirming transgender identities in public schools.


The woman referenced in the article was subsequently bludgeoned by ad hominem attacks on a social media thread. She’s someone else whom I happen to know. So, I weighed in:

I applaud you, Emily, for publicly and articulately advocating your position on a significantly controversial issue. Amiable discourse and thoughtful expression of social views are far too rare in today’s cultural climate. So, thank you. I would like to perpetuate this friendly community dialog by way of presenting examples from various news sources.

= A woman named Carol Santa Fe is reported to be in love with a train station, even claiming to have a somewhat physical (sexual) relationship with the building. https://nypost.com/video/this-woman-married-a-train-station/

= A man named Gary Matthews reportedly believes he is a dog, wearing a dog collar, eating dog food from a bowl, and exhibiting other canine behaviors. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/pittsburgh-man-thinks-dog-boomer/story?id=20801512

= A married father of seven reportedly left his family in order to fulfill what he calls his true identity as a six-year-old girl. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3356084/I-ve-gone-child-Husband-father-seven-52-leaves-wife-kids-live-transgender-SIX-YEAR-OLD-girl-named-Stefonknee.html

= A woman named Nano reportedly says she is a cat trapped in the wrong body, hissing at dogs, avoiding water, and claiming to see better at night. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/12127067/woman-says-she-is-a-cat-trapped-in-the-wrong-body.html

Are these hoaxes? Who can say with certainty about these sorts of things? For the sake of argument, however, assume that all of these are not hoaxes. What should be the response of the community if these individuals lived in Frederick? They claim to feel joyful and whole, and there is no reported evidence that they are physically harming another living thing. Should they be left alone? Or should they be guided to receiving help to escape from what might be described as delusional thinking? What is the proper and loving response?

I leave these stories as food for thought. And I wrap up with three asides:

= 1- Some might suggest that it is best to avoid, in any argument, holding up the proven-to-be-politically-corrupt International Olympic Committee as a standard for what is right and wrong.

= 2- Recall the recent reports of Andraya Yearwood who was born a male but raced as a girl this year in high school, winning two track and field state titles in Connecticut. Was this right and fair? https://usatodayhss.com/2017/connecticut-transgender-sprinter-andraya-yearwood-wins-two-state-titles-amidst-controversy

= 3- Like you, I believe the quote attributed to Cindy Rose could be improved. (Cindy might even agree, herself). It would be better if it said, “Education should give a student the tools to accurately understand the world around them and arrive at true conclusions.”

God bless you, Emily. And keep tackling the tough questions.

Emily’s reply was to double down, “If it makes them happy and they are not a harm to themselves or others, I really don’t care.”

That’s the problem, isn’t it? We need to care about the mentally ill. However, it was an expected answer from her, given her publicly stated opinions. I simply ended the dialog by adding:

Let me say, if I ever start believing that my soul mate is a train station, or that I am not human but rather a dog/cat, or that I am a six-year-old girl, you have my permission to intervene and guide me toward receiving help. 🙂


Every time I think, “Can’t make this stuff up,” I then think, “Oh wait… it’s cable news.” They prove again that you can make this stuff up. Clown News Network is friendly with Mis-Stated News By Clowns. Of course, the clown networks would probably call their top competitor “Faked Or Xenophobic”. And then there’s the eyewitness guys… “Always Be Counterfeit”. Plus, Uncle Walter’s “Consistently Bull Stool”. (Hey, it’s a family show!) And the peacock’s “Never Been Correct”. That covers most of them, right?
Now really, how do they know how old these bones might be? https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/the-oldest-known-human-fossils-have-been-found-in-an-unusual-place/529452/

Stories such as this could get one to thinking. https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/king-boycotting-nfl-anti-blackness-article-1.3225720 The NFL is a lot of things. Is it possible being anti-black is one of them? Let’s look at the data. A recent analysis reports that: African Americans are 13% of the U.S. population. African-American coaches comprise 13% of all coaching positions in the NFL. African-American General Managers comprise 24% of all General Manager positions in the NFL. African-American players comprise 67% of the league’s players. This data is from a couple of seasons ago, therefore the numbers are probably a tad different now, but they are likely similar. So, there’s the data. Each of us can now decide what we think data means.


This is what friends are for. Friend says,“You know you’re having a bad day when you look for your glasses and they’re in your mouth.” I say, “Surprised you didn’t step on them with your foot being there.”

I like friends who make me laugh. One just did so. He said, “Basketball will be boring for the next few years.” Ha! Basketball will be boring for the next few years? You mean like it has been for the past few years?

A different friend put out this plea: “Stats geeks – has any city won three or more championships in the same season for different sports? i.e.: Stanley Cup, World Series, Super Bowl. Can’t seem to locate anything.”

The responses included: “Pennsylvania teams it is!” “Detroit is the only city with three in one season, it seems.” “Several have two, not counting soccer, etc.” “Chicago Bandits (NPF) Chicago Bliss (LFL) Chicago Cubs (MLB) all in 2016.” “Gainesville FL.” “1980 Pittsburgh Steelers Pirates and Penguins as I recall.”

My contribution was: “Given some of the eclectic replies on this thread, it’s probably worth a shout-out to the Bay Area of California for a rather remarkable run of success at the college level in 1992. The Stanford Cardinal won 7 team championships in 1992: Women’s Basketball, Women’s Swimming/Diving, Women’s Volleyball, Men’s Gymnastics, Men’s Indoor Tennis, Men’s Swimming/Diving, and Men’s Tennis (outdoor). The California Golden Bears won 3 team championships in 1992: Men’s Water Polo, Men’s Rugby, and Mixed Taekwondo. And the San Jose State Spartans won 1 team championship in 1992: Women’s Golf. That’s eleven college titles in one year. They’re not pros, and the list doesn’t include the big money sports, but it’s still pretty darn impressive. (Especially Stanford!) Lots of proud parents in the Bay Area that year.


While on the subject of sports: Chris Broussard once said that Michael Jordan only faced 9 Hall of Famers in his Finals appearances, LeBron James has faced 26.
But that makes me wonder: Does it count against LeBron that he turned so many guys into Hall of Famers by losing to them so many times? How many of those Hall of Famers were on the roster of the Spurs, the Mavs, and the Warriors? Truthfully, that was really just the point of a joke. A more serious comment is that there were more all-time great players spread throughout the league in the 90’s. Getting to the Finals was harder as Hall-of-Famers knocked Hall-of-Famers out in earlier rounds. Limiting the discussion to only competition faced in the Finals is too narrow.

Build a team of the best players in the league during the “James Era” and we’d likely be selecting from this list: LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Russell Westbrook. Absolutely great players. But it does not stack up to the all-time greats who played during the “Jordan Era”.

The 90’s aren’t called the “Golden Age of Basketball” for nothing. Look at the “James Era” list and then try comparing it to this list: Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Joe Dumars, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, Shawn Kemp, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Dennis Rodman, John Stockton, Isaiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, (and even guys like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kevin McHale and other greats who were still playing when the Bulls won the first of their two “three-peats”).

The defense rests its case. Since the defense has already rested, I am now limited to my closing statement. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury…

During Michael Jordan’s career he played against seven of the top-ten centers of all-time. SEVEN of ten. These include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patrick Ewing, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, and Bill Walton. The majority of these players were in the prime of their careers at the time. Jordan also played against five others that belong in any conversation about the best all-time centers in NBA history. These include Artis Gilmore, Bob McAdoo, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, and Robert Parish. And we haven’t even mentioned the under-rated Joe Barry Carroll, Bill Laimbeer, Maurice Lucas, Arvydas Sabonis, Jack Sikma, and Rik Smits. (By the way, Laimbeer and Sabonis are among the very best ever at long-range shooting for big men.) Clearly the game has changed over the years. Unfortunately, it has not changed for the better. Beyond any reasonable doubt, the top twelve players of today’s era would lose to the top twelve players from twenty-five years ago. Unless they played at their current ages, then it’s a toss-up. 🙂

While I’m on a roll… It’s like a running back near the end zone. When in the Red Zone some guys just have that little extra somethin’ that says “I will not be denied”. You see, Michael Jordan dared to fail miserably so that he could achieve greatly.


Headline: “20 Million Muslims March Against ISIS and Mainstream Media Completely Ignores It”. A friend complained that this story received no coverage. Well, this would have been a great, and heartening story. However, sadly, there was reason to believe it was not true. It was fake news. The article echoes reports from previous years that have since been debunked. (Even by Snopes.com, for example). I’m guessing that the old false story has been recycled using a new slug line dates. My first clue to this problem? The annual religious procession of Arba’een occurs on a different date (on a completely different month!) than when the article claims to have been written. Fake news abounds everywhere. 🙁 We must be vigilant. Assume everyone in media is lying about everything all the time, and adjust from there.

It’s interesting as I reflect upon churches where I’ve served in leadership over the years, as well as some former friends who professed to be Christian. The very first time I preached was in 2006. The message had lots to do with truth. I’ve since shared a number of messages that emphasize the truth. I think this is why I now have so many former friends, as well as places where I formerly served in leadership. Well, so be it. I take every opportunity to share God’s Word, do my best to deliver sermons full of impact, and leave the response of each person in the hands of our sovereign God.

Saw a meme that said: “God never promised a life without pain, struggles, and hardships.” I must clarify: Oh yes, He did. Just not this side of Heaven. 🙂

Kids these days have no idea; in my day we had to go outside and play! Or, at the very least, in my day, we actually had to click “next episode” on Netflix.


Shoutout to my former seminary professor, who had these fine words to say: “In revealing His divine name, the Lord says He is both transcendent and imminent. He is the omnipotent God Who is above all creation but Who also dwells with His people and even redeems them from the bondage of enslavement.” — Dr. Peter Lee (Oh captain my captain, very well-done sir.)

What the heck, here’s another seminary professor shoutout. Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn did great work on the pastoral theology of Westminster, titled “God’s Ambassadors”. Many are so very grateful for this scholar and his output.

Why play favorites? Here’s one more seminary professor shoutout. “For the Apostles and New Testament writers, the person of Jesus—the resurrected Christ—looms so largely in their interpretive, hermeneutical imagination that they cannot help but find Jesus throughout the Old Testament. For them, the question is not ‘How do we find Jesus?’, but ‘How do we not find Jesus in the Old Testament?’” — Dr. Scott Redd https://vimeo.com/159105253

And hello Dave Silvernail. 😊 (Consider this an Easter Egg. Let’s see how long before it’s found.)


In a stream of consciousness mood,

Pastor Troy Skinner

P.S. I always thought the law was: “Opposites Attract”.