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

cartoon silhouette profiles of a man and woman


One doesn’t expect Bernie Sanders to understand Christian teachings; he’s not a Christian.  One does, on the other hand, expect Christopher Van Hollen to understand Christian teachings; he professes to be a Christian.  As the Senator from Maryland says, “There are lots of ways that people can pursue their god”.  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 Sanders, reject that the biblical God of Christianity is the one true God.  However, professing Christians, like 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’s not Mr. Vought in the article (nor any follower of Christ) who condemns them.  Instead, he (and others like him) lovingly share God’s Word with them.

When seeing someone who’s 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 adrift, the loving thing is to help put them on course.  If it’s true that Muslims stand condemned before God unless they repent, then Mr. Vought serves these neighbors by telling them so.  Pretending they’re 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 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 that there are at least two United States Senators who seem to have this backwards.  One would think.


Dishonest in Their Bones

Every time I think, “Can’t make this stuff up,” I then think, “Oh wait – it’s cable news.”  They again prove 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?

Stories such as this get one to thinking. https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/king-boycotting-nfl-anti-blackness-article-1.3225720  The NFL is lots of things.  Is being anti-black one of them?  Let’s look at the data.  A recent analysis reports that: African Americans are 13% of the USA 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’re likely similar.  So, there’s the data.  Each of us can now decide what we think it means.


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’s 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’s the only city with three in one season, it seems.”  “Several have two, not counting soccer, etc.”  “Chicago Bandits, Bliss, and Cubs in 2016.”  “Gainesville FL.”  “1980 Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, as I recall.”

My contribution was:  “Given the eclectic replies on this thread, it’s worth a shout-out to California’s Bay Area for a remarkable run of success at the college level in 1992.  Stanford won 7 team championships: 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).  Cal won 3 team championships: Men’s Water Polo, Men’s Rugby, and Mixed Taekwondo.  San Jose State won 1 team championship: Women’s Golf.  That’s eleven college titles in one year.  They’re not pros, and these aren’t big money sports, but it’s impressive. (Especially Stanford!)  Lots of proud parents in the Bay Area that year.


On the Subject of Sports

Chris Broussard said Michael Jordan faced only 9 Hall of Famers in his Finals appearances, LeBron James had 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?  How many of those Hall of Famers were on the roster of the Spurs, the Mavs, and the Warriors?  This is 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 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 doesn’t stack up to those who played during the “Jordan Era”.

The 90’s aren’t called the “Golden Age of Basketball” for nothing.  Try comparing the “James Era” list to this one: 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, (plus Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kevin McHale and others 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’m 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’s changed over the years.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t 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.


To Tell the Truth

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’ve been a heartening story.  However, sadly, it wasn’t true.  It was fake news.  The article echoes reports from previous years that have been debunked.  (Even by Snopes.com, for example).  I’m guessing the old false story’s been recycled using new slug line dates.  My first clue?  The annual religious procession of Arba’een occurs on a different date (in 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.  So be it.  I take every opportunity to share God’s Word, do my best to deliver sermons 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’d 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.


Shoutouts in Quad Formation

Shoutout to my former seminary professor, who had these fine words to say: “In revealing His divine name, the Lord says He’s both transcendent and imminent.  He’s the omnipotent God Who’s 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.)

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 another 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 isn’t ‘How do we find Jesus?’, but ‘How do we not find Jesus in the Old Testament?’” — Dr. Scott Redd

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

In a stream of consciousness mood, I add:  I always thought the law was “Opposites Attract”.


Many blessing to you,

Pastor Troy Skinner