When Compromise Isn’t Possible

We all have to compromise at times, don’t we? I don’t know anyone who gets his or her way all the time, anyhow.

And nobody is right all the time, either. Right?

Probably. But with one extremely important exception. We may not always understand God’s ways–why He allows certain things to take place, including the martyring of so many of His children–but if we believe in Him, we believe He’s always right. He doesn’t make mistakes, and He doesn’t compromise.

And that fact sometimes seems pretty extreme to non-believers. After all, aren’t there many roads to God? Don’t they all lead to the same place? Aren’t Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and all the other world religions equally valid?

Not if you believe the Bible. Especially where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It’s not us “intolerant Christians” who came up with the idea that other religions are worthless; we’re just quoting the man we believe to be the Son of God. The one who died for our sins and rose from death to give us eternal life.

If we study the Bible, we can’t miss some of the issues there’s no room for compromising over. The one at the top is there is no God except Jehovah. Allah isn’t the God of the Bible, regardless of what countless sincere Muslims (and a host of non-Muslims) believe.

Another issue is homosexuality. Of course, the Bible also takes a strong stand against other forms of immorality–any type of promiscuity, including sex outside of marriage. But regardless of how some Christians act–and consequently what many people mistakenly believe–the Bible doesn’t tell us to hate homosexuals. Indeed, even if we considered them “enemies,” which we shouldn’t do, Jesus told us to love our enemies.

Even though the Bible doesn’t speak about abortion as such, it speaks of people as being created in God’s image. It talks about keeping the body a proper dwelling place for God’s holy spirit. It tells about the way God knows the most intricate parts of our beings, including our formation in our mothers’ wombs.

No wonder we take “Do not kill” as a no-compromise issue regarding abortion.

I realize that not everyone reading this post is a Christian, and some of you may strongly–vehemently–disagree with some or all of what I’ve written. Feel free to leave a comment. But keep in mind that even though I must compromise about some areas of life, the things I’ve talked about today are not things I can compromise about.


kindle-coverRosa No-Name is the coming-of-age prequel to Roger’s first young adult novel, Found in Translation. It will be releasing sometime within the next couple of months. If you want to learn more about it, check Roger’s website or join the Rosa No-Name Tribe group on Facebook. That may qualify you to receive a free ARC (advanced review copy).

 


NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

What I Don’t Understand about the Bible

I recently had lunch with a good friend. Although we see one another at church frequently, rarely do we get to sit down together and actually talk. I imagine most of you can relate to that regarding someone.

As we discussed a variety of topics–marriage, work, finances, cars–we just naturally started talking about church and the various opinions people–even other Christians–have about the Bible.

I explained that my well-educated pastor father had been pretty liberal by our church’s standards, even though at one point years ago he had served for a while as its interim pastor. I hasten to add that of the number of people there who still speak to me lovingly of “Pastor Ben,” no one has ever complained to me about his theology. My parents believed strongly in the Baptist concept of “priesthood of the Believer”; every Christian  should be free to interpret the Bible in whatever way God leads.

So, for example, if I choose to go along with my parents’ beliefs that the seven days of Creation were seven periods of time rather than literal twenty-four hour days, I can do that without fear of criticism.

We also discussed things like the impossibility of ever having a completely accurate translation of the Bible, because that would necessitate an indisputably accurate translation of each word within both the current and the overall context. And we agreed that–although God inspired every word in the Bible–that doesn’t mean He dictated it to the person who wrote it down. If that had happened, why wouldn’t the whole Bible be written in one single, unmistakable style? The very fact that it had so many authors over such a long period of time and yet still tells one unified story goes far beyond amazing.

My friend told me about some of the Bible-related things he’s interested in researching, and I think that’s great. He’s a highly intelligent man, and he won’t chase a rabbit that scrambles away in the least from what the Bible clearly says.

But I couldn’t keep from thinking about a Friday night Bible study I used to attend. We went through whatever passage we were studying that night verse by verse, word by word, almost letter by letter. Our leader was very good, but the process was tedious. It was during those Friday nights that I reached a significant conclusion.

I don’t understand everything about the Bible and I never will. (Neither will anyone else.) But I believe it with all my heart. At the same time, I already understand how to live the Christian life God wants me to live. My failures as a Christian aren’t the result of my failure to understand more, but my failure to apply what I already understand to my daily life.

More power to those who feel called to study and to learn.

Me, I’ll just keep praying for God to help me become more loving and more self-sacrificing. And less critical and less sure of myself. If God wants me to understand a particular part of the Bible I’m currently fuzzy about, I believe He’ll lead me to it. And He’ll help me to see how understanding it will help me to live a more Christlike life.

What about you? Are you a Bible reader? Are you a Bible student? Do you think there’s such a thing as too much learning when it comes to the Bible? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Encountering the Ark

Have you ever been driving down the road and seen a truck hauling a humongous yacht on its way to some fortunate buyer? Definitely a “wide load.”

dsc_2039You’ll never see a life-sized replica of Noah’s ark coming down the road, though. It’s FAR too huge. Better to build it in place, and that’s what the Answers in Genesis people did in Kentucky. And they built the Ark Encounter about forty-five minutes from their Creation Museum, which enables a single trip to Kentucky–about a ten-hour trip for us, including stops–to cover two extremely interesting and worthwhile visits.

arkbusThe parking lot at the Ark Encounter may not be as large as Disneyland’s, but it’s big. After buying tickets–we got ours online–visitors ride any of a number of buses to the site of the ark itself. What looked small at a distance looked humongous close up. Especially comparing it with the size of the people walking towards the entrance.

Every aspect of life aboard the ark has been carefully thought out and studied. Although the Bible doesn’t give specifics about how to cage and care for two of every kind of animal, how to provide food for what was then an unknown period of time, how to provide adequate lighting and air circulation inside–these are just some of the needs the designers of this ark had to figure out a reasonable solution for. One that would’ve been doable during biblical days.

A number of displays deal with the geological “proof” that the Great Flood actually happened, and evidence is presented to show that the earth is millions of years younger than most scientists believe. I can’t over-emphasize that the story of the ark is a study of how science and religion can work together when viewed from the proper perspective.

Let me share a few pictures and comments about the kinds of things visitors see at the Ark Encounter.

  • I said it’s big. It’s HUGE.

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  • Exhibits show the types of cages and pens that might have been used in Noah’s ark; a number show early species of various animal types:

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  • Various type of things needed to be stored on the ark: food (even food for picky eaters like koalas), lamp oil, water, and who knows what else

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  • Huge ramps connected the decks; the single door near the top had to be big enough to accommodate the largest animals

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  • The ark contains all kinds of exhibits

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  • Life-sized exhibits of living quarters and of Noah and his family at work and prayer

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  • Separate from the ark itself is an amazing fast-food restaurant, a petting zoo, and camel and donkey rides

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No way can I adequately represent the feel of visiting the Ark Encounter, but I hope these pictures will help you appreciate what a tremendous achievement this replica represents. And perhaps make you want to visit it yourself someday.

If you have questions about the ark or about anything else related to our trip, please leave a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Growing More Conservative (Final Part)

I believe more strongly than ever in the morality of the Bible. Any society that ignores biblical teachings about right and wrong will slip further and further into decay. How much further can we slide before God decides to wipe His hands of us?

I don’t hate homosexuals. Although I don’t understand them, I am not the least afraid of them. My wife and I attended a large gay expo in New York City a few years ago to visit a gay friend and see his dance group perform. He’s someone I enjoyed talking with and I didn’t feel the least uncomfortable being around. Does that sound like fear or hate?

But the Bible says that the practice of homosexuality is a sin. It lists a number of other sins, too. Anything that can be described as “my way” rather than “God’s way” is a sin.

What too many people ignore is the fact that God didn’t create a chart giving sins an acceptability rating. He doesn’t view one sin as more acceptable or less acceptable than another. Anything that separates us from Him is sinful–equally sinful.

Addictions like smoking, drugs, and alcohol abuse that “sinners” have a difficult time breaking their dependence on is bad enough. But how many sins do people not even want to resist and sometimes stubbornly insist on holding on to?

Any number of sexual sins fall into that category, including the practice of homosexuality.  And adultery. But so does overeating, something God has helped me to overcome. But not until I’d already developed diabetes.

The Bible refers to the one and only unforgivable sin–and the practice of homosexuality isn’t it. Neither is overeating.

Jesus commands Christians to love one another–and to love their enemies as well–with God’s kind of love. Sacrificial love. So they ought to love gay people just as they would anyone else.

Condemning homosexuals is–in my understanding–unbiblical. At the same time, Christians shouldn’t go against the Bible by accepting the practice of homosexuality as biblically acceptable.

I’d like to say more, but I’ll leave it at that. I’ve tried to make my points without being insensitive or offensive. But I can’t deny my conservative faith in the Bible any more than people who’re different from me will deny who they are.

Please don’t expect me to.

If you want to comment about this post, please do so respectfully–of both sides. God loves us equally.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

Growing More Conservative (Part Two)

Politics and religion are two other areas in which I’ve grown more conservative over the years.

I once wanted to be a high school civics teacher. I gave that idea up after attending my first political rally.

I’ve never lost my belief in or my appreciation for the Constitution, though. The older I get, the more I see its values being trampled at every level of government–from the Presidency down. The founders of this nation knew what they were doing, and they abided by the laws they’d established. They knew what would happen if the Constitution was ignored. I can only picture their tears of outrage if they were alive today to see how far we’ve fallen.

I used to be more moderate in my Christian beliefs. Although I’ve always believed that a true Christian should accept certain basic doctrines–the virgin birth, Jesus’ miracles, His death and resurrection, and His ascension back into Heaven–other things seemed less important

Like whether God created the world in seven earthly days or seven periods of time. And whether He created Adam outright or used evolution to build up to the first “real” man. And whether some biblical teachings related only to the culture of the day and not to today.

I’ve been sliding slowly but surely further into the conservative camp on those issues, too. If the Bible is true–and I believe it is–it must be accepted as true from cover to cover. No one has the ability to say that we should obey this, but ignore that.

So when Christ said that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life–the only door to God–He was saying that Christianity is the only true religion. I believe Jesus’ claim, and that makes me uber-conservative. So I have no choice but to reject the claim that all religions are equal.

If you want to comment about this post, please do so respectfully. God loves us even when we disagree with Him.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

I Cannot Live without Books

CannotLiveWithoutBooks

I think Thomas Jefferson said it for many of us when he said, “I cannot live without books.” He owned one of the most extensive private libraries in the United States and read every book he owned. Then he contributed his entire collection to get the University of Virginia library off to a good start. After that, he started building his own home library all over again. No wonder the souvenir shop at Jefferson’s home, Monticello, sells t-shirts with that saying on it.

I can still picture several of the children’s books I read at a very early age. And I’ll never forget favorites like Ben & Me and the multiple books in the Doctor Doolittle series. And later when I fell in love with Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Alice in Wonderland. As a preteen I started reading science fiction.

When my grandmother died, I had the pick of some of the books in her collection. Even though Tom Swift was out of fashion by then, he still fascinated me.

One of the most astounding things about my childhood and teen reading is the fact that I was never introduced to Charlotte’s Web or any of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series. Fortunately, adulthood has made up for those lacks.

In college I had to do so much reading for my classes that I didn’t have time to read for pleasure, but when I started teaching school and got involved in handling book orders for my students, I fell in love with some of the books they were reading. The Pigman is one of the most interesting of those.

As a senior in college, I’d taken a contemporary fiction class that introduced me to John Barth’s The Floating Opera. Little did I know I’d end up living and teaching in the town that book takes place in, much less the same neighborhood.

I had several favorite authors in my mid-adult years (in addition to John Barth). Especially James Michener, who lived in the area while writing Chesapeake. My ex- got to meet him (at his home at that!),  but at least she was able to introduce me to Mrs. Michener once while out shopping. Nice, but not the same.

I still own nearly all of his books. I have no desire to reread any of them, but I can’t bare to part with my collection, either.

Another favorite was Nevil Shute, who was best known for On the Beach and A Town Like Alice.

I’d be hard-pressed to tell you my favorite authors and books now. I have too many. Not only do we have three or four bookcases filled mostly with fiction, the one in the living room is double-stacked (i.e., one row in front of another).

You said it, Mr. Jefferson. I cannot live without books.

What are your favorites, past or present? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: I’ve only talked about fiction today. But the Bible is by far the most important book I’ve read and continue to read.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

My wife and I don’t subscribe to the local newspaper. Or to any newspaper, for that matter. Although Fox News is one of the default windows on each of our computers and I check it several times daily–as well as receiving breaking news in email–I tend to agree with something Paul Simon said a number of years back: “I get all the news I need from the weather report.

Why do I feel that way? Am I unconcerned about the world around me? Am I so immersed in thoughts of eternity in Heaven that I want to ignore what’s going on here on earth?

I don’t think so. Over the last three or four years, I’ve begun paying more attention both to politics and to events around the world than ever before.

But it’s so depressing. The names and places may change, but the evil taking place worldwide sounds the same as always. The Bible says, “There’s nothing new under the sun,” and I think that applies to the depravity of humankind as well as to numerous other things.

Jesus preached a gospel of love–love for God and for one’s fellowman. But the news makes me believe that the world in general hasn’t become one bit more civilized than it was in Jesus’ day.

I don’t recall many of the conversations I had with my mother, but this one stands out. I was probably an upper teen when I said, “Why do people even have children nowadays with so much evil in the world?”

Her response was something like “Don’t you trust that everything is still in God’s hands?”

That’s been what’s kept me from turning into a total pessimist.

Back in the days when folk music was popular (1960s, as I recall), I played a lot of it, including what were called “Negro spirituals.” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” was one of my favorites, and it sums up what Christians ought to remind themselves of when they start feeling pessimistic about the state of the world.

And this verse from Philippians 4 in the Bible says it all: “Do not worry about anything. Pray instead about everything and don’t forget to thank God for His answers.” I don’t think God would object if we substitute the word “fret” for “worry” when the state of the world starts getting to us.

Does God have YOUR world in His hands? How about sharing with a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus–I think of it as “the novel the Devil hates”–released on November 25. Check it out on Amazon if you’re interested.

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Best regards,
Roger