Legalists Leave Trails of Collateral Damage
There’s a tale about a British woman saying she’d lost her religion, and now feels she gained a lot from turning her back on God (because her family was nothing but a bunch of hypocritical legalists). The story made me sad. Sad for the woman. Sad for her family’s misunderstanding of the church. Sad for what this says about the way people view Christianity (even those – especially those, who call themselves “Christian”).
My concerned melancholy emerged almost immediately, when she said, “I grew up surrounded by religion. Summer Christian camp was the highlight of the year, a massive social event.” With an emphasis on “religion as social event”, I knew there’d be trouble ahead. Unfortunately, it’s a far more common story than we care to admit.
Life on one’s own, with no one from your family (nor even close friends) to hold you accountable, makes it difficult to walk rightly. These stories are disheartening; particularly those of a mother undermining her child’s faith by claiming to be a Christian, yet ignoring her child’s deepest needs. Parents, always keep close to your heart the fact that God disciplines His children with love. As parents we should lovingly guide our kids while cautioning them about the spiritual dangers of the world. Thankfully our heavenly Father doesn’t ignore us.
Replacing Bureaucratic Medicine
I’m not a doctor and I’ve never peddled insurance, so I don’t pretend to have solutions for complex challenges within the fields of medicine and indemnification. What I do know is that it appears as though almost every voter gets upset about how the US government addresses the issue of paying for medical treatment.
Is it time to attempt a serious NGO (non-governmental organization) solution? Volunteers and not-for-profits currently provide aide around the world, but there doesn’t seem to be a major effort to do this in America. Could citizens, in a grassroots effort, directly accomplish what the civil bureaucracy, in a centralized effort, appears unable to accomplish?
I’ve heard tell of what some call a “classic example” – the surgical center of Oklahoma. They apparently accept no insurance, no government funding, no government programs, and work on a “cash only” basis. Statistics reportedly are on par with (if not above) industry standards, with their prices 50% less. If true, this, indeed, is a “classic example” of what industry – and perhaps the people of the church – will do if the government is simply moved out of the way.
The Bent of Bias Brings Bigotry
From CNN: “On the left, gesturing angrily, is a right-wing demonstrator sporting black clothes, sunglasses and a shaved head. On the right, staring right back at him, is a 16-year-old Girl Scout.”
This is an intriguing story, to be sure. It’s also instructive for showing how political propaganda leads so many people to cry “bias” when reading the news. The neo-Nazi is described as “right-wing”. The young Scout is described as a “peaceful resistance counter-protester”. Ironically, in other news stories over the years the Scouts have been described as “right-wing”. While the neo-Nazi does stand for unrighteousness, his movement is actually emblematic of this generation’s leftwing neo-Fascism. Therefore, could a conservative reader feel that this article was written by an unbiased reporter? Not a chance.
To Be @%#$&! Honest
This study (concluding that foul-mouths are more honest than demure people) confuses terms. Being direct, unfiltered, and blunt doesn’t equate with being honest. Nor does being refined, delicate, and precise necessarily mean being dishonest. Honestly!
Government Run Pagan Indoctrination Centers
A is for atheism. B is for big-government. C is for communism. D is for democrat. E is for evolution. F is for… well, we better be careful here.
Things Pastors Consider When Exegeting
A question posed to preacher friends: Is there significance to the use of “father-in-law” with reference to Jethro in Exodus 18? The word’s rare – the overwhelming majority of uses are in this chapter, and it seems the word’s used emphatically, far more than normal identification of Jethro as Moses’ father-in-law seems to require. The only hint seen among commentators is that it might be used to give an air of formality to the encounter, as though Moses is entertaining a diplomatic presence from another nation. This seems reasonable, but what are other thoughts?
Some reply by simply agreeing that it’s an interesting question, saying, “I see why you could think that.” It’s mentioned every time his name is mentioned. Why keep repeating it, unless trying to emphasize it? Especially when commentators such as Cassuto, Childs, Stuart, and Calvin tend in this direction.
Others turn to numerology noting that Cassuto sees “Jethro” seven times in the text and “Moses’ father-in-law” thirteen times in text. He thinks there’s likely intentionality with these summing to 20, and then deducing that 2×10=20, so he believes the text probably points toward the coming Decalogue.
Some respond with questions, such as: Does using “father-in-law” add any extra authority to Jethro? After all, the term is used in chapters three and four. Although, it seems unlikely to denote extra authority (it feels added just as a formality) – it’s like an official title.
Some dive deep into word studies because it’s interesting that cognates of this Hebrew word suggest “circumciser” as a translation (the bride’s father would sometimes perform the circumcision). This, taken in conjunction with the earlier story about Zipporah and the “bridegroom of blood”, plus the added emphatic presence of Moses’ two sons in the narrative, does start to feel as though something’s going on.
If the Septuagint’s checked, the Greek word used to translate the term in question (GAMBROS) seems to mean any relation by marriage. For instance, in Genesis 19, Lot’s told to take his GAMBROI with him when fleeing the city. Incidentally, ISBE doesn’t offer much help.
Some examine the question from a cultural perspective. If “Jethro” was a fairly common name, the added designation of father-in-law serves to distinguish him from other men with the name Jethro. It’s then repeated in the way a last name accompanies a first. Maybe the author’s using the Jethro character as a model in-law, holding him up as the epitome. The repetition would drive that modeling point home. This is merely food for thought. There’s some variability and confusion with this name. So, per chance, it’s purely a naming function.
Perhaps it’s meant to highlight that Jethro wasn’t an Israelite. Especially coming on the heels of verse four saying, “My father’s God was my helper.” Jethro’s father didn’t share this same God, because he’s not Moses’ Abrahamic-blood-relative father. He is now, however, his Abrahamic-covenant-relative father-in-law. This seems to be a potentially good path to gospel proclamation from the passage, as it nicely sets up verse eleven, “Now I know the Lord is greater than all other gods.” I’ve not yet preached this passage, but when I do I’ll spend time exploring this avenue.
This is a bit academic for the blog, but I hope it’s helpful.
God bless you. I hope you have a joyous day with abundant blessings to all.
The blog above was first published on the original version of this website. Since then the site has been completely reformatted and upgraded. With this change, the blogs needed to be re-uploaded to correct corruptions that occurred with the transition in 2023. While doing this, some additional information was added at the conclusion of many of the older blogs in a “postscript” section that might not have appeared in the first draft that was published on the first website. Think of this new content as “bonus material”.
“I wish you were as right about what you’re saying as you are passionate while being wrong.”
Life tip shared by a longtime friend:
“If something big happens, in a bad or traumatic way: Take a deep breath and wait six hours before posting it. Give it time to settle, maybe the world doesn’t need your thoughts written in a bad moment. Maybe it doesn’t need to know them all.”
“Cleanliness is indeed next to godliness.” – John Wesley
Children of the Same God?
A friend posted a link about Pope Fascist saying all people are “children” of the same God, adding these comments, “Wow! Pope Francis’ behavior here has the power to change the world! Amazing!”
The thought I offered in response:
This is commendable, to a point. All humans are God’s creatures, created in God’s image no less! However, in the Bible there’s a special covenant relationship with God that’s in view when discussing people as God’s children. In Acts 17 the Apostle Paul does quote the Cilician Stoic philosopher Aratus, saying that we’re all ‘God’s offspring’. Yet, notice Paul does this in the context of calling the non-believers to repentance so that they’ll have salvation in Christ. Perhaps the pope made this same call to repentance, but if so, this is sadly not reflected in the news article.
Ending with a Few Short Bonus Items
This article about three common idols in churches was a pretty good read at the time. We do need to keep our primary focus on Jesus rather than on places, events, and looks to the future (or past). However, the article feels as though it comes from a simpler time, when all that most believers had to worry about were “three false idols” within the church.
All the woke garbage that’s ascended during the past few years isn’t entirely new. As proof, I had this pop up as a “memory” from social media past:
Someone wrote, “I have to point this out, in light of the Baltimore Orioles Adam Jones case, and Tom Brady’s relationship with President Donald Trump, plus all the skilled wide receivers (and tight end) being white on the New England Patriots. I mean, I love Boston fans; they have great passion, but I’m just saying – it looks funny.”
I responded with a note of sarcasm, writing, “Let’s look at the other city in this story, the ignored nefarious part of the story. Cal Ripken Jr – white. Johnny Unitas – white. Michael Phelps – white. Jim Palmer – white. Boog Powell – white. Earl Weaver – white. Todd Heap – white. Joe Flacco – white. Bert Jones – white. Even Rod Thorn – white guy. Hmm. Very suspicious.”
To this I received the reply, “Ray Lewis black. Frank Robinson black. Ed Reed black. John Mackey black.”
So, I ended with, “Ty Law – black. Vice Wilfork – black. Troy Brown – black. Andre Tippet – black. Bill Russell – black. Paul Pierce – black. Robert Parrish – black. Sam Jones – black. Ray Allen – black. Nate Archibald – black. David Ortiz – black. Mo Vaughn – black. Jim Rice – black. And Willie O’Ree – black.”
The false accusations of so-called “racism” behind every bush have got to stop.
In love. That’s all for now.
Many blessings to you,
Pastor Troy Skinner