Who Should a Christian Vote for President?

Who Should a Christian Vote for President

Who Should a Christian Vote for President?

There is no one right answer to the question who should a Christian vote for President of the United States?  That said, there is a good way to prayfully answer this question.  And, I will give you my answer for who I’m voting for. 

Like it or not, we have two political parties in the U.S.  Although I may like aspects of the Independent or Libertarian parties, they do not, in fact, elect the President.  Only two parties, the Democrats and Republicans elect the President and major offices.  If this changes, I’ll be glad to change; but for now these are the options we got. 

First, the Dems.  As a Christian it is hard to find the rationale for voting Democrat in any State or National election.  There may be some exceptions for individual local candidates.  However, for Congress, the Senate, and the President there is hardly a Biblical basis for voting Democrat.  I know some people have familiar and traditional ties to the party.  But parties change.  And when a party blatantly departs from Biblical standards, then as a Christian you must depart from that party.  One individual candidate may have their own personal views, but as a party at large, there are certain principles they expose.  This is the party platform.  And usually a party votes in line with the platform.  As a Christian I believe it is a matter of priorities.  I believe moral issues trump economic and social issues.  The Democratic partly supports abortion and planned parenthood.  They support gay marriage.  Therefore, as a Christian, I cannot support the Dems.

Next, the GOP.  There is no Christian party.  The GOP is not a Christian party.  But the GOP is less diabolical than then Dems.  The Republican party does not support abortion or planned parenthood.  The GOP supports traditional marriage.  (See page 31)  That’s enough for me.  Sure we can talk about the economy and Constitutional issues.  Sure we can talk about Big Government or Small Government.  We can talk about Federal versus State control.  But again, as a Christian our priorities should be for freedom of worship, and the sanctity of life.  It’s hard to profess devotion to Christ and say the economy is the most important issue.  I think Jesus would disagree.  It’s also hard to say that one party is more benevolent to the poor or underserved.  Both parties, regardless of what they say, are committed to maintaining their political power and control.  They are not motivated to helping those in need, but only convincing those in need to vote for them. 

As a Christian I must vote for the lesser of two evils.  Right now that is for the Republicans.  So I will vote for whomever the GOP nominate.  If the GOP were to change, then I may change.  And perhaps not vote at all, or vote for another party.  As of now, we still do have some clear differences on moral principles, and so this makes it an easy decision.  Notice, I do not vote out of tradition, or self-interest, or family ties.  My grandparents were democrats.  My parents were for much of their lives too.  But this is not how God wants me to decide to vote.  And nor should you. 

Some Christians argue that we should not try to use the Bible or Jesus as justification for voting.  They say Jesus wasn’t political.  This is nonsense.  Being a Christian means following the Bible, learning from it, and doing our best to live it out.  Voting is part of how we live out our life here in this country.  Jesus had a lot to say about stewardship.  And we must be good stewards of the freedom we have been given while we still have the choice.  Someday our freedoms may be gone.  And voting haphazardly or out of fear is not being a good steward.  As Christians we must vote for leaders who believe in and follow Scripture.  If there are none, then we must vote for leaders who do not clearly violate Scripture.  It’s really that simple.  Christians should not make it more confusing, or get entangled in the morass of issues.  And right now, thankfully, we do have a few leaders who believe in and follow Scripture.  We should vote for them.  Period. 

The guys running for President who are Christians and claim to believe in and follow Scripture are Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz.  There may be a couple more, like Ben Carson and Scott Walker, but in my opinion they are ‘maybes.’  We can judge someone by their fruit.  And, in my opinion, all the other guys have lackluster fruit which makes them largely indistinguishable as a committed Christian.  There’s just not enough evidence to clearly say they’d be convicted of being a true follower of Christ.  I could be wrong about the rest of the field, but we are only electing one, so these three are followers of Jesus and the clear choice:  Huckabee, Jindal and Cruz.  So I hope the Republicans nominate one of them.  So if you’re in a battleground state, please vote for one of these three.  That will help the Republicans nominate a Christian who would most likely make more Biblical decisions.  And that’s a good thing.  And more importantly, having a true Christian in the highest office in our land is much better than having a non-Christian as president. 

This stuff matters.  If you think it doesn’t, then revisit the recent gay marriage Supreme Court decision by Obama appointed judges.  And if I hear one more fellow believer in defense saying we need to pray for our President, I’m going to ask them why they didn’t pray before they voted for President.

 

Why Josh Duggar Really Should Matter to You

Josh Duggar Ashley Madison

Josh Duggar’s Ashley Madison Scandal

Let’s get the controversy started by first saying when it comes to recently discovered adultery vis a vis adult hookup sites for Josh Duggar I personally don’t care.  I don’t want to know about his use of the internet to explore his fantasies.  I don’t want to know how many times he cheated on his wife.  I don’t care when and where and how he did what with whom.  I don’t care. 

What I do care about is how some Christians are responding.  Some are shocked.  Some are appalled by the hypocrisy.  Some are saddened by the sin and deception.  Some are empathetic to his wife and kids.  But many just seem to be weighing in on the story itself because it is juicy gossip.  Like an R rated movie, we are morbidly attracted to watching vice from a safe distance.  As the ugly details come to light, we want to watch as it reeks havoc among the cornucopia of kids.  It’s like throwing an iphone at an amish daycare.  Aha, now they’ve done it.  They’re all infected now. 

And some seem to relish the “I told you so” moment when another Christian hypocrite is exposed.  It’s a special pastime for those hurt by the church to gleefully savor the comeuppance moment.  Yes, they’re having a moment.  And we’re supposed to sit back and watch them squirm?  What a sick preoccupation with pain?  And is that all this is?  They get there due, and good riddance?

I think the whole thing is immature.  And yet, at some level, we are all immature.  We still think it’s about sin.  It’s not about sin.  Sin is an old story.  The same story retold for each successive generation.  Everyone on the planet gets to experience how miserable it is here.  And for some who ‘pretend’ it’s not miserable because they keep themselves from sin, we like it when they eventually do succumb to its gravity.  Well, how depressing folks.  Our world is doomed, held captive by sin.  Thanks for reminding me.  We’re all stuck in the muck and mire.  And for many that’s the end of the story. 

Josh Duggar Ashley Madison

What surprises me is that even for many Christians that’s the end of the story too.  They seem to stop there in misery.  But that’s not the whole story!  They’re forgetting the best part.  They’re commensurating they’re misery, by not letting anyone be left out.  When in reality, they’re the ones being left out—of the amazingly cool second half.  They’re so focused on being trapped inside the devil’s dungeon, they’re forgetting about the hero who has come to set us all free!  It’s like they stop the movie when the evil hordes have taken over.  Don’t they also want to watch as the hero regroups his army, conquers all, and sets everything right?  Because it’s an awesome story!  The greatest ever told, and we get to be part of it!

It’s a matter of perspective.  And I personally understand that those in pain have a real hard time seeing anything other than pain.  They take pad answers as insulting and insensitive to their pain.  I get that.  But the question is:  Do you love your pain so much you don’t want to be healed?  And would you deny healing to others?  When people are offended, many times they are actually denying themselves healing.  And yes, this means they don’t really want others to be healed either.  Yeah, I said it.  I know that’s gonna offend some folks, but it’s the truth.  It’s easy to feel like a victim.  It’s easy to justify our disappointment when we can blame it on someone else.  But are you stopping there?  Are you quitting your quest?  You got hurt.  So now you’re camping out in hurtville?  Hanging out building idols to your favorite hurts? 

I know what it means to be hurt.  But I ain’t stopping there.  I want to complete my quest.  The hero came to my hole and stretched out His hand.  He helped me up.  And I’m going with Him on His adventure.  I’m not going back to that stinkin’ hole.  And when I see someone else still stuck in their hole, I don’t laugh, or say they deserve it, or even just ignore them.  I tell them Jesus is here to help them out.  That is what real Christianity is about.  That’s what real followers of Jesus do.  They help people out of sin pits.  They call everyone to follow Christ in His epic battle. 

Yes, this world is a battle ground.  But the reality is those of us who follow Christ are actually on the victory march now.  It’s not completed yet, but we’ve already begun.  And yes, many times it doesn’t feel like we are headed towards paradise, walking through victory, praising God.  I get that.  Sometimes it sucks.  And it smells horrible.  And it’s tiring.  But that’s faith my friends.  If it were easy everyone would do it.  But it’s not easy.  Jesus said wide is the way to destruction, but narrow is the way to life, and only a few find it.  If we don’t look closely we could miss the way to life.  It’s easy to get distracted by the craziness of this world, and lose sight of Christ leading the way.  It’s easy to get hurt and stuck in the muck.  But our battle now is to keep our eyes on Jesus, and help others to do the same. 

Our job is not to get distracted by hypocrisy via Josh Duggar, or TV preachers or politicians, or anyone else.  We need to see what’s really going on here.  We need to look past the pain, not accept the doom of sin, and see the Savior strong and capable who is leading us out of this mess into His glorious kingdom.  This is our quest saints.  We are His people.  We are on His mission.  Let’s live like it.  Let’s talk like it.  Let’s ignore the pot-stirrers like it.  Let’s help some of our less mature, more easily distracted family members learn to change the conversation from shock to salvation.  Less about exposing hypocrisy and more about desiring holiness.  Less about falling and more about grace. 

Let’s change the conversation.  Let our response be prayers of mercy for anyone who’s fallen.  Let us all humble ourselves and pray for one another.  Let us boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is able to save us from this life of sin.  Let us all commit to following Jesus without mumbling, gossiping and complaining.  When another brother or sister falls, let us seek to gently restore.  And may our response of Grace be so clear that it covers over the din of naysayers.  This stuff really matters.  This is real Christianity.  Josh Duggar is just another guy who fell.  Our response matters.  We should care about our response.  The Savior has called us, and He is watching.  If that’s not enough reason to care, then nothing is. 

 

I Love Alcohol

I love alcohol

Yep alcohol tastes good to me–beer, wine, mixed drinks, even shots.  Well ok, maybe straight liquor doesn’t taste like a summer’s dream; but the point is I like to drink all sorts of fermented things.  Cause nothing beats a cold beer on a hot day, or a glass of red wine with a juicy steak.  I’m smitten.  However, my fondness of spirited consumption has proven too much for me.  Drunkenness is not really fun, and the hangover especially, is a bitch.  So I can drink just a little and be fine right.  Nope.  Unfortunately, I don’t always stop at just a little.  At times I’ve indulged and born the worst of its weight.

So the last few years I cut way back.  And recently decided to give up adult beverages completely.  I’d like to give some trendy reason to offer like an athlete needing to train, or a movie star needs to stay sober (not sure that’s keeping with recent trends though).  Admittedly my reason for totaling the tea is just that I don’t handle the juice well.  I wish I did, but there’s the truth.  Some guys just don’t drink socially and still be social.  They drink to get drunk, and unfortunately I found myself doing just that.

I’m no saint or social do gooder.  I don’t really care if others drink or not.  Sure there’s harmful social side-effects we can all see; but I believe in freedom more than prohibition.  But inherit with freedom is responsibility.  And despite the industry admonitions to drink responsibly, most don’t, including me.  Guess I thought I was different.  I hoped able to enjoy the bubbly without the bad behavior which often accompanies inebriation.  But I was kidding myself.  And others saw it.

I’d like to say I’m now stocking a dry pantry out of devotion to Christ.  That I’m fasting from certain pleasures to deny myself as Jesus denied himself and instead took up the Cross.  Honestly though I’m not.  Mostly I realized my family needs me engaged.  They need my presence, wits, and love focused on them, and not selfishly spent on my cold one.  You can’t go drinking with your wife and kids and convince them that’s love.  It’s not.

So there’s my naked soul, warts and all, bared in hopes it offers you some courage to deny yourself drink or food which may be causing harm.  We can always justify obliging our vices, but it takes grit to fight those urges.  And many do, including myself.  So if you’ve got a propensity to gluten, I get it.  But there is a way for you to live free of those chains.  Support groups help.  The right friends or family members can help.  And Jesus definitely helps the most.  This is one ride you don’t want to lone ranger.  And thankfully, you don’t have to.  So seek help.  Seek Christ.  And you can live a better life.  No intoxication needed.

Song of Hope

Song of Hope

Even when you draw me to the fight,
And even through the long and darkest night,
I know that you are by my side,
And I am yours.

Now I know the freedom in your grace,
And you give me the strength to run this race,
And as I put my gaze upon your face,
I’ve got joy.

There’s no doubt this world is not my home,
And sometimes I do feel that I’m alone,
But then I put my hand inside of yours,
And I am loved.

Now you’re the hope of all that I believe,
And my life becomes a dying seed,
That you can grow to bring about your plan,
For you are good.

And now I look to your kingdom’s light above,
A heavingly home filled with your great love,
And soon I’ll see you standing face to face,
For you’re my prize.

And I can tell the whole world this is true,
I take up my cross and follow you,
There’s no one to ever take your place,
For you are mine.

Even if I don’t see what this means,
I now trust in your good will for me,
You’ve got plans that I could never dream,
For you’re my king.

Is David Barton a Fraud?

David Barton Original Intent

David Barton, an outspoken American Christian historian, his written much on the subject of U.S. Constitutional intent, and the original purpose of the Founding Fathers.  Because Barton’s views are largely Judeo Christian, his opponents criticize him severely, doing their best to discredit Barton as a religious quack who simply misinterprets history.

But history is changed all the time by those who write it.  And to think of History as some ultimate immutable truth we must discover if we should attain an elevated existence is humanistic utopian nonsense.  History is only constant to the extent that we realize it is people who don’t change.  And we are incapable of it if you believe the Bible.  Because it is only through God’s wisdom that a path to paradise emerges.  And it is clearly written for all to see, if only they choose to read it.

So the question I ask here is why?  Why do some who claim to be open-minded scholars who seek to broaden our understanding of history and society get so angry when many people like and follow Barton’s interpretation of history?  Is it because Barton’s interpretations are wrong?  Is it because Barton’s interpretations are dangerous?  Or, is it because Barton’s interpretations are not theirs?  The answer depends upon who you are.

Barton’s criticizers are generally secularists who prefer a Godless interpretation of history, and a society crafted solely by humanistic philosophy.  And anyone who attempts to shed light on the prominent role of religion in society, and specifically here America’s founding, is anathema to their tastes.  They simply hate recognition of religion’s benefits, and revile those who do.

The irony here, is that these same “tolerant” progressives are fundamentally and dogmatically opposed to a Judea Christian education and world-view.  They are tolerant of only their own preferences, and certainly not tolerant of others, and especially not the Biblically inspired.  Further their sin-laced preferences have warped their addict-like thinking so they crave only the secular and godless banter typical of the blinded.  Any talk of Natural Law or Original Intent and they cringe for distaste of a holy residue.  They simply ignore or deny any righteous reflection in nature or society because it reminds them there is a supreme God who demands justice.  And they attempt to crucify any ambassador of light who might temporarily suspend their dark charade.

One of the devastating side-effects of sin is that it makes frauds of those who purport to be enlightened by further entrenching them in a fatalistic demagoguery.  It is the blindness of our fallen world which prevents people from recognizing that their desire for truth has lead them into their own dungeon of doom.  A doom they unfortunately embrace, while accosting the real truth that is there to help them and set them free.  It is the timeless story of God’s salvation in Christ which sheds light on our sin and separation, and makes the path to redemption clear for all to see.  And it is unique in history, that the Founders of this United States did, indeed, recognize and revere this solemn Grace, and sought to infuse it into our new Nation.  Did they do it perfectly?  No.  But at least they tried.  And that is more courageous than most of us, especially the naysayer frauds who attack Barton.

It is a 100% historical fact that people see only what they want to see.  Some see lies, deception and hypocrisy.  But, I want to see God’s loving design in nature and society, and give credence to a tradition that reminds me so.  And more, I champion all those, especially David Barton, who so eloquently encourage us to follow the time-honored precepts of Nature’s God.

And, while respecting the right of others to disagree, I encourage all to recognize and accept God’s Blessing of Salvation in Jesus Christ, and live as His fully devoted disciple both individually and as members of society; because, it is only having the desire to submit to God’s authority can we as a society best maintain order, decency, civility, and ultimately flourish.

Those who criticize Barton, while not my enemies, sit in the council of the scornful, and I shall not be among them.  I stand with those who acknowledge God and pray for His forgiveness and favor.  I stand with those brave companions in the Faith, like Barton, who brightly shine the light of the Gospel of Truth for the world to see.  And that my friends is a history worth living.

Are You Taking the Bait to Criticize the Duggars?

Duggars Hypocrites

I’m not talking to the non Christian hate mongers.  I’m talking to self-identified followers of Christ.  I’m simply asking to reflect upon your gut-level response if you are condemning the Duggars for their recently revealed family scandal.  Because I believe that many times, and especially in this case, some Christians are indeed just taking the bait Satan himself engineered to bring division and shame, and worse yet, anger towards God.

The story, as you probably already know, revealed sexual misconduct by Josh Duggar, while he was about 14 years old, against a couple of his sisters and perhaps a few others.  Being a minor, his parents Jim Bob and Michelle took what they evidently believed were appropriate and responsible steps at discipline, accountability, and restoration in this matter for Josh and those victimized.  Now, without debating the merits of the actual measures taken, it is evident that Josh, his sisters, and the entire family has moved on, and are apparently relatively healthy today.

Sure, we don’t know the private pain and struggles which still may plague those involved; but, we do know that their Faith in Christ, belief in sound Christian teaching, and some counseling taken has resulted in largely good Spiritual fruit blooming evident in their lives.  That is not to say, that this incident produced Spiritual fruit, but that today they do seem to have good Spiritual fruit.  Now, this observation, is admittedly from a distance, for I know none of them, have never spoken to any of them, and only know what is presented publically via traditional and online media.  But, any healthy Christian can see fruit, or the lack thereof, in another Christian’s life.

Now what really concerns me here, is the lack of recognition that some Christians give to the good fruit readily attributable to the Duggars.  They don’t seem to see good fruit in their life at all, or at least little of it.  Some seem to see only scandal, scandal, and more scandal.  They see sin and hypocrisy.  They see reason to cry out in condemnation and disgust.  And this, I believe, is exactly what the enemy intended.  He’s probably very glad to see the hurt and angry reactions of many Christians.  He orchestrated a demonic plan to sow seeds of hatred among believers.  He hatched a plot to prick the wounds of many who could relive and be reminded of their own pain.  He is probably glad to have effectively found a way to continue tormenting many of God’s children.  And yes this is demonic.  It is evil.  And it is the design and counsel of Hell.

When Jesus said He was building His Father’s Kingdom here on earth now, and that the gates of Hell could not stand against it, He was saying His mission was to defeat the power of the Enemy which enslaves us in Spiritual darkness and wickedness, and that He was creating a way for us to be free and live in righteousness without Satan being able to stop it.  And, thankfully, Jesus was successful.  Yet, the enemy did not just give up, throw in the towel, and say “ok big J, you’ve won, I quit.”  He continues to this day to contrive schemes of death and destruction in God’s Kingdom on earth.  And because, Christ has not yet returned to judge all souls living and dead, the enemy still has some, albeit limited, power to kill, steal, and destroy, especially those souls still blinded in darkness.

The enemy never announces his plans on Twitter, but implements them under a shroud of secrecy and subterfuge.  This means he distracts and camouflages his evil intent.  Many times, and in this case especially, he uses religious hypocrisy to condemn and hurt God’s children using a twisted element of truth, often a rationale of justice.  When we feel that justice must be done, we reflect the creator’s sense of right and order.  But in this fallen world, under the effects of sin, the only justice sufficient is death to all those infected by sin.  So, we know justice is needed, but some are distracted by the injury, and forget that justice has already been provided in Jesus for those who accept Him as Lord and Savior, pledging their lives to His care.  Then God is able to extend mercy, and provide Christ as substitute for punishment.  So all the sentence of sin can be thrown at Christ, and we are able to walk away free and guiltless.  But this amazing Gospel is lost to some who simply are blinded by the injurious scandal that the Devil has paraded in front of their face.  And, probably unknowingly, these blinded Christians are perpetuating hate and shame instead of praising God for His victory and mercy.  And sadly these aggrieved Christians are agreeing with Satan’s verdict of guilt, standing in league with the demonic hordes.

Sound too severe?  Perhaps, but it is reality if you believe the Bible.  Paul said that we don’t contend with people so much as we contend, and even fight against, spiritual forces of wickedness, fallen angels or demons, and even Satan himself, who still roam at large on the earth.  It is these minions of evil that seek to stir up pain and hatred in God’s children, and especially His followers.  It is His mission to bring as much pain and suffering as possible to thwart God’s plan of redemption.  And, to the extent, we fall into his traps now, we participate or are influenced by his cohorts of doom.

So, perhaps this story is less about the facts, and what could’ve should’ve happened; and more about the present spiritual, yet very real, battle that is in fact happening right now.  We are engaged in a Holy war folks.  It is important we watch and pray, keeping and building ourselves up in the most Holy Faith where Jesus Christ is center and lifted high.  If we want the world to see Jesus and glorify God, perhaps we should repent of being pawns of darkness, played by the enemy, engaged in criticism or condemnation of the Duggars, or Christians in general, and speak words of life and encouragement such as “Yes bad happens, but Jesus is good, and He makes the Devil’s intended bad into God’s good.”  And that is Kingdom Gospel which stands forever, and even here and now, the gates of Hell cannot stop it.

So, for those in our community who have been injured in like manner or were the unjust victims of abuse, we know you’re hurting.  And we offer you prayer and encouragement in Christ.  When the enemy reminds you of pain, simply turn to Jesus and ask for His help and healing.  For those in our community who are enraged or outspokenly critical, now’s a good time to picture the Cross, and remember why Jesus died in the first place.  And for those who are just disappointed that another pointless scandal is being used to get media ratings and embarrass Christians, let’s remember that Jesus said we will be despised because of Him.  But we are also personally comforted by Him, in spite of whatever hailstorm the enemy digs up.

Finally, we can take joy knowing who wins in the end.  We may stumble and fall now, but God holds us in His Hands for good.  And soon will welcome us into His beautiful home together as one family.  So yes, some may scoff now, but it’s mostly just spurned on by the enemy.  But we know where he’s headed—to inevitable and inescapable doom and torment.  So we Christ followers have reason to be thankful and give God praise that soon all will be make right, and complete justice will be perfectly carried out both adequate and merciful.  As for the present, we don’t want to get sucked into a painful morass of judgement and criticism, even if it is scandalous.  It’s just a small distraction of this world for now; but soon, for those who hold true to the end, there will be a glorious celebration.  And that’s Good News worth talking about.

Should You Care About the Josh Duggar Scandal?

Josh Dugger Scandal

So Facebook’s been awash with the apparently shocking revelations that Josh Duggar, while a young teenager, molested a couple sisters, and perhaps more.  Today’s society thinks sexual pleasure is fine, just as long as it’s consensual, and in this case it was clearly not.  But I’m concerned about our response as Christians to the scandalous discovery of past sin.  Sure, any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and wife is sin.  This means we’ve all probably sinned sexually.  Jesus said even looking at a women in a licentious way is sin.  Guess we’ve all looked and lusted at some point, and are indeed guilty then.  Now, acting on thoughts is different because it affects and involves others; especially sexual sin because it creates victims.  And that does make it worse because the pain inside the victims could last for many years.

But why should we be so taken back by this story?  Kid messed up.  So, lots of kids have messed up.  And if this is so shocking Lord knows we’d faint to know the skeletons lurking inside our pew mates on Sunday.  Rather than going into hysteria about the trauma of abuse, why not focus on the redemption here?  The Duggar’s actually walked this out together as a family committed to a healthy path following the Savior’s lead as best they could.  Bad things happen, but Jesus heals and redeems.  And families are not always torn apart.  God’s forgiveness can be more powerful than the enemy’s strategy of lust, anger and revenge.  And in my opinion that’s praiseworthy.

My point is simply that most Christians have a completely wrong perspective on this story.  We tend to think that being a Christian means to be free from sin.  And theologically speaking this is true; but practical speaking it is nonsense.  Why do we see public Christians as perfect little people?  It’s ridiculous to think of them as anything but regular people.  I think it’s probably the enemy who promotes false ideas about our discipleship journey, convincing us that some people are perfect, just so we can be disappointed to find they are not.  And further, this is bait for the enemy to breed discord and disillusionment in our hearts, with the intention to distance us from God.

We should look at pastors, Christian leaders, and even public Christian personalities as just regular folks.  There’s no need for us to demand they live perfect lives in order for the Gospel to be proven true.  Or even for us to feel that at least someone gets it right.  That’s just not the Gospel at all.  That’s a ‘works ideology’ parading as holiness.  And it’s not a Grace-based humble walk with Christ.  When we compare ourselves to others, and judge their behavior or our behavior we’re distracted from Jesus, and the work He is doing in us today by the Holy Spirit.

So really, it’s no concern of ours to be distracted by such stories.  If any concern is merited, we should watch and pray.  Not watch others, but watch God, and watch ourselves, and pray for all members of the Body.  But gossip and judgement are not praying for our brothers, it’s preying on their failures and feeding our own sordid appetites.  Such vulture-like discussions should have no place in our community.  It’s really just a pathetic waste of time.

Sure, there are circumstances requiring involvement to the extent that it does personally affect us.  For example, when a Pastor commits adultery or embezzlement.  Elders need to bring change for the purpose of healing and restoration.  But, here in the Duggar’s case, this matter was dealt with in a very healthy way.  So it’s done.  It’s in the past.  And it is irrelevant now.

Further, the Duggars deserve praise for their commitment to raise and discipline their children in the fear of God.  If anything, this story (although it’s really none of our business anyway) should be an example of how a Christian family takes care of each other.  We should all aspire to act as they did, and even live as they do now.  Being so shocked that some Christian sinned is just stupid.  Look at the disciples.  Was Jesus wrong in picking them?  No, Jesus picks us, not because we are perfect already, but because He wants to heal us, restore us, and help us mature into fully devoted disciples.  And the Duggar family seems to be doing it right.  So, way to go Josh Duggar for making amends and moving forward.  You’re a regular dude, but you took responsibility then, and still you follow Christ now.  Way to go Duggar family for forgiving your brother and helping him grow.  Way to go for concealing the matter while implementing counsel and accountability.  May we all be so Christian as to follow their example.

Right now, some might say by being so soft I’m condoning his behavior.  I am not.  And, while not trying to make light of his behavior, I am trying to remind Christians that our behavior should be lighter on judgement and heavier on forgiveness.  I think the Duggars seemed to do that the best they could, and that’s a positive story on something the enemy meant for evil.

For more additional perspective on this story, and the best response (yours truly notwithstanding) worthy to read, check out Matt Walsh, ’cause he is right on!

Also, one from Todd Friel, who says it perfectly:  “If you think Josh is wicked, you should meet the rest of us!  That is why we are Christians!  We need forgiveness for being wretched, vile, wicked rebels.  If you are a rebel too, Jesus died for you!  Run to Jesus!  Join the wretched club.”

And finally, a great response from the Duggar’s themselves.

God bless!

How Should a Christian Vote?

How Should a Christian Vote?

How Should a Christian Vote?

I’m surprised at how many Christians don’t think about voting from a Christian perspective.  So I spell it out in this video.

First, elected officials are leaders.  So what kind of leader should we vote for?

Should we vote for a leader who knows and follows Jesus?

What does it mean when a leader is humbly submitted to God?

Do the decisions our Leaders make affect us?  And do their decisions reflect us?

Is it important that we consider voting for Leaders who fear God?

I answer all these questions in the video.

What the Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage Really Means for Christians

Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage

Many Christians don’t like the Gay Marriage issue to be a black and white denial or acceptance of true Biblical Christianity.  But, unfortunately, this issue keeps rising again like an ‘up or down vote’ forcing a Rubicon-like decision, that once crossed brings a marked finality to our discipleship journey.

Like the three Hebrew children being forced to bow down to an idol of bronze, we committed followers of Christ, may be soon forced into a holding camp of demagoguery awaiting sentencing by the secularists.  The irony of hypocrisy is reaching a new apex with the acceptance of the left to mean anything and everything except acceptance for Christianity.  And like it or not, we must soon choose whether we will be counted among Christ’s disciples.

I don’t like it, but there it is.  And God help me follow Him in spite of all who don’t.

In this foreboding speech Catholic scholar Robert P. George keenly lays out the significance of the forthcoming Supreme Court decision.  I include the video and transcript below.  Please listen or read, and most importantly prayerfully consider your walk with Christ.

The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship—heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.

Of course, one can still safely identify oneself as a “Catholic,” and even be seen going to mass. That is because the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call “political correctness” do not assume that identifying as “Catholic” or going to mass necessarily means that one actually believes what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.

And if one in fact does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them, one is safe—one can still be a comfortable Catholic. In other words, a tame Catholic, a Catholic who is ashamed of the Gospel—or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed—is still socially acceptable. But a Catholic who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed is in for a rough go—he or she must be prepared to take risks and make sacrifices. “If,” Jesus said, “anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” We American Catholics, having become comfortable, had forgotten, or ignored, that timeless Gospel truth. There will be no ignoring it now.

The question each of us today must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? And that question opens others: Am I prepared to pay the price that will be demanded if I refuse to be ashamed, if, in other words, I am prepared to give public witness to the massively politically incorrect truths of the Gospel, truths that the mandarins of an elite culture shaped by the dogmas of expressive individualism and me-generation liberalism do not wish to hear spoken? Or, put more simply, am I willing, or am I, in the end, unwilling, to take up my cross and follow Christ?

Powerful forces and currents in our society press us to be ashamed of the Gospel—ashamed of the good, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. These forces insist that the Church’s teachings are out of date, retrograde, insensitive, uncompassionate, illiberal, bigoted—even hateful. These currents bring pressure on all of us—and on young Catholics in particular—to yield to this insistence. They threaten us with consequences if we refuse to call what is good evil, and what is evil good. They command us to conform our thinking to their orthodoxy, or else say nothing at all.

Do you believe, as I believe, that every member of the human family, irrespective of age or size or stage of development or condition of dependency, is the bearer of inherent dignity and an equal right to life? Do you hold that the precious child in the womb, as a creature made in the very image and likeness of God, deserves respect and protection? Then, powerful people and institutions say, you are a misogynist—a hater of women, someone who poses a threat to people’s privacy, an enemy of women’s “reproductive freedom.” You ought to be ashamed!

Do you believe, as I believe, that the core social function of marriage is to unite a man and woman as husband and wife to be mother and father to children born of their union? Do you hold, as I hold, that the norms that shape marriage as a truly conjugal partnership are grounded in its procreative nature—its singular aptness for the project of child-rearing? Do you understand marriage as the uniquely comprehensive type of bond—comprehensive in that it unites spouses in a bodily way and not merely at the level of hearts and minds—that is oriented to and would naturally be fulfilled by their conceiving and rearing children together? Then these same forces say you are a homophobe, a bigot, someone who doesn’t believe in equality. You even represent a threat to people’s safety. You ought to be ashamed!

But, of course, what you believe, if you believe these things, is a crucial part of the Gospel. You believe the truth—in its fullness—about the dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage and sexual morality as proclaimed by the Church—our only secure source of understanding the Gospel message. So when you are invited to distance yourself from these teachings or go silent about them, when you are threatened with opprobrium or the loss of professional opportunities or social standing if you do not, you are being pressured to be ashamed of the Gospel—which means to give up faith in the Lordship of Christ and hope in the triumph of goodness, righteousness, and love in and through Him.

To be a witness to the Gospel today is to make oneself a marked man or woman. It is to expose oneself to scorn and reproach. To unashamedly proclaim the Gospel in its fullness is to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal aspirations and ambitions, the peace and tranquility one enjoys, one’s standing in polite society. One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships. It may produce familial discord and even alienation from family members. Yes, there are costs of discipleship—heavy costs.

There was a time, not long ago, when things were quite different. Of course, there have always been anti-Catholic currents in sectors of American society. And at certain times and in certain circumstances and places one paid a price for being a Catholic. But as the nation progressed, anti-Catholicism in many sectors dissipated and one could be a true and faithful Catholic without suffering significantly in terms of lost opportunities or standing in the community. Biblical and natural law beliefs about morality were culturally normative; they were not challenges to cultural norms. But those days are gone. What was once normative is now regarded as heretical—the moral and cultural equivalent of treason. And so, here we are.

You see, for us, as for our faithful Evangelical friends, it is now Good Friday. The memory of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem has faded. Yes, he had been greeted—and not long ago—by throngs of people waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David.” He rode into the Jerusalem of Europe and the Jerusalem of the Americas and was proclaimed Lord and King. But all that is now in the past. Friday has come. The love affair with Jesus and his Gospel and his Church is over. Elite sectors of the cultures of Europe and North America no longer welcome his message. “Away with him,” they shout. “Give us Barabbas!”

So for us there is no avoiding the question: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Am I unwilling to stand with Christ by proclaiming His truths? Oh, things were easy on Palm Sunday. Standing with Jesus and His truths was the in thing to do. Everybody was shouting “Hosanna.” But now it’s Friday, and the days of acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. Jesus is before Pilate. The crowds are shouting “crucify him.” The Lord is being led to Calvary. Jesus is being nailed to the cross.

And where are we? Where are you and I? Are we afraid to be known as his disciples? Are we ashamed of the Gospel?

Will we muster the strength, the courage, the faith to be like Mary the Mother of Jesus, and like John, the apostle whom Jesus loved, and stand faithfully at the foot of the cross? Or will we, like all the other disciples, flee in terror? Fearing to place in jeopardy the wealth we have piled up, the businesses we have built, the professional and social standing we have earned, the security and tranquility we enjoy, the opportunities for worldly advancement we cherish, the connections we have cultivated, the relationships we treasure, will we silently acquiesce to the destruction of innocent human lives or the demolition of marriage? Will we seek to “fit in,” to be accepted, to live comfortably in the new Babylon? If so, our silence will speak. Its words will be the words of Peter, warming himself by the fire: “Jesus the Nazarene? I tell you, I do not know the man.”

Perhaps I should make explicit what you have no doubt perceived as implicit in my remarks. The saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ includes, integrally, the teachings of His church on the profound and inherent dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage as a conjugal bond—a one-flesh union. The question of faith and fidelity that is put to us today is not in the form it was put to Peter—“surely you are you this man’s disciple”—it is, rather, do you stand for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife? These teachings are not the whole Gospel—Christianity requires much more than their affirmation. But they are integral to the Gospel—they are not optional or dispensable. To be an authentic witness to the Gospel is to proclaim these truths among the rest. The Gospel is, as St. John Paul the Great said, a Gospel of Life. And it is a Gospel of family life, too. And it is these integral dimensions of the Gospel that powerful cultural forces and currents today demand that we deny or suppress.

These forces tell us that our defeat in the causes of marriage and human life are inevitable. They warn us that we are on the “wrong side of history.” They insist that we will be judged by future generations the way we today judge those who championed racial injustice in the Jim Crow south. But history does not have sides. It is an impersonal and contingent sequence of events, events that are determined in decisive ways by human deliberation, judgment, choice, and action. The future of marriage and of countless human lives can and will be determined by our judgments and choices—our willingness or unwillingness to bear faithful witness, our acts of courage or cowardice. Nor is history, or future generations, a judge invested with god-like powers to decide, much less dictate, who was right and who was wrong. The idea of a “judgment of history” is secularism’s vain, meaningless, hopeless, and pathetic attempt to devise a substitute for what the great Abrahamic traditions of faith know is the final judgment of Almighty God. History is not God. God is God. History is not our judge. God is our judge.

One day we will give an account of all we have done and failed to do. Let no one suppose that we will make this accounting to some impersonal sequence of events possessing no more power to judge than a golden calf or a carved and painted totem pole. It is before God—the God of truth, the Lord of history—that we will stand. And as we tremble in His presence it will be no use for any of us to claim that we did everything in our power to put ourselves on “the right side of history.”

One thing alone will matter: Was I a faithful witness to the Gospel? Did I do everything in my power to place myself on the side of truth? The one whose only begotten Son tells us that he, and he alone, is “the way, the truth, and the life” will want to know from each of us whether we sought the truth with a pure and sincere heart, whether we sought to live by the truth authentically and with integrity, and—let me say this with maximum clarity—whether we stood up for the truth, speaking it out loud and in public, bearing the costs of discipleship that are inevitably imposed on faithful witnesses to truth by cultures that turn away from God and his law. Or were we ashamed of the Gospel?

The Gospel is true. The whole Gospel is true. Its teachings about life and marriage are true—even its hardest sayings, such as Christ’s clear teaching about the indissolubility of what God has united and about the adulterous nature of any sexual relation outside that bond.

If we deny truths of the Gospel, we really are like Peter, avowing that “I do not know the man.” If we go silent about them, we really are like the other apostles, fleeing in fear. But when we proclaim the truths of the Gospel, we really do stand at the foot of the cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus and John the disciple whom Jesus loved. We show by our faithfulness that we are not ashamed of the Gospel. We prove that we are truly Jesus’s disciples, willing to take up his cross and follow him—even to Calvary.

And we bear witness by our fidelity to the greatest truth of all, namely, that the story does not end at Golgotha. Evil and death do not triumph. Yes, it is Good Friday, but the one who became like us in all things but sin conquers death to redeem us from our transgressions and give us a full share in eternal life—the divine life of the most blessed Trinity. The cross cannot defeat him. The sepulcher cannot hold him. His heavenly Father will not abandon him. The psalm that begins in despair, Eloi, Eloi lama sabachtani, ends in hope and joy. Easter is coming. The crucified Christ will be raised from the dead. The chains of sin will be broken. “Oh death, where is thy victory? Oh death, where is thy sting?”

I grew up as a Catholic in a Protestant culture. The Protestants of my boyhood were what we today call Evangelicals. In those days, the religious differences between us seemed vast, though today the personal and spiritual bonds we have formed in bearing common witness to marriage and the sanctity of human life have relativized, though, of course, not eliminated, those differences. We now know that Evangelical Protestants are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ—separated from us in certain ways, to be sure, but bound together with us nevertheless in spiritual fellowship. Growing up, I admired the strength of their faith, and their willingness openly to profess it. And I loved their hymns. One of the most familiar ones contains a vital message for us Catholics today. You will recognize the first verse:

On a hill faraway, stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
I love that old cross, where the dearest and best,
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

And the chorus goes:
I will cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down.
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Yes, there’s the story. Christ must endure the sufferings of Good Friday to fulfill his salvific mission. But Easter is coming. And we, who cherish his cross, and are willing to bear his suffering and shame, will share in his glorious resurrection. We who cling to that old rugged cross will exchange it someday for a crown.

And then comes the next verse, and how perfectly it captures the attitude we must adopt, the stance we must take, the witness we must give, in these times of trial if we are to be true disciples of Jesus:

\To the old rugged cross, I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear,
Till he calls me someday, to my home far away,
Where forever his glory I’ll share.

Yes.

And I’ll cherish that old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down.
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Yes, for us Catholics and all who seek to be faithful, it’s Good Friday. We are no longer acceptable. We can no longer be comfortable. It is for us a time of trial, a time of testing by adversity. But lest we fail the test, as perhaps many will do, let us remember that Easter is coming. Jesus will vanquish sin and death. We will experience fear, just as the apostles did—that is inevitable. Like Jesus himself in Gethsemane, we would prefer not to drink this cup. We would much rather be acceptable Christians, comfortable Catholics. But our trust in him, our hope in his resurrection, our faith in the sovereignty of his heavenly Father can conquer fear. By the grace of Almighty God, Easter is indeed coming. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel. Never be ashamed of the Gospel.

Transcript of speech given by Robert P. George at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in May 2014 and republished in it’s entirely .

What to Do if You Meet an Abused Christian

What to do if you meet an abused christian

The other day, I was at my kids sporting event, and while watching the game, I met this lady and her husband who also had a child playing in the game.  The conversation moved from our kids to their schools to church.  While listening it became obvious to me that this couple were, in fact, Christians but they were hurting.  They bounce around from church to church never really joining into a community and especially not a small group.

Now right there, it would have been easy to just invite them to my church and my small group.  And the conversation would have probably ended quickly.  Many times, we as Christians, perhaps unconsciously, use this technique to get out of the conversation; and, sometimes that’s not all bad.  But, most often, we just throw an invite towards someone because we know they will put up their defenses, back away, and we can feel justified that we did our duty by passing out an invite for the week.

Unfortunately this pattern doesn’t usually do any good.  And my concern for this couple was focused on them, and not my performance.  I was more interested in what God might be doing in their life, helping them take the next positive step in their healing journey.  And towards that end, I decided it best just to listen and keep the conversation open.  So perhaps, next time, there will be more familiarity and hopefully trust.

The chances of this couple being serial killers or sex abusers is probably very slim.  Yes there were signs of past abuse and present codependency; but, many times God will bring someone across our path, not because he wants to set off alarm bells, or needs us to call DHS.  That would be, except in the most rare circumstances, the wrong thing to do.  Usually God just wants us to ‘be the body.’  And lend and ear or hand to a friend in need.  This means being a safe friend, or helping in a non-interventionalist practical way, and most-of-all probably just praying.

Paul said that some plant, some water, and some reap; but it’s the Holy Spirit that does the work.  And, in the case with this couple, the Holy Spirit is already working in their life.  But, God uses us as members of the same body to care for each other.  And when God reveals a hurting person to us, He probably just wants us to pray for them, and not add to their troubles.

Prayer changes things, and it changes people.  Prayer is watering the seeds of God’s Word in their life.  Prayer is an offensive weapon which breaks the power of the enemy.  And probably God would like you to be involved, in the background, praying and interceding for that person so He can bring healing and victory into their life.

So, next time you encounter a broken person, here’s a couple things to consider:  First, be ready to listen and see what’s going on with them.  Then, be open to how God may want you to ‘water the seeds’ in their life.  And finally, be willing to pray for them.  Maybe just that once, later that day.  Or maybe, on a consistent basis as He directs your heart.

My friends, calling the elder or Pastor to gossip about someone weird you just discovered is NOT acceptable.  But praying and being a friend as the Holy Spirit leads is revolutionary action, because we get to participate in God’s work now as He is setting captives free and healing the wounds of the broken.  This is our joyous service.  And this give the audience in Heaven cause to praise.

People are Complex Things

People are complex things

People are the most complex things.  I often watch nature shows, and almost inevitably I’m surprised by a new plant or animal I’ve never heard of or seen before.  And I’m amazed at the diversity and beauty in all that God has created.  Yet, when it comes to people, rather than being amazed I’m often confused and disappointed.  Perhaps it’s because I see so many people, including myself, living far beneath the potential God gave.  How can such a marvelous person be so wretched or off track?

Perhaps it’s because, we reflect our creator more than any other creature.  And we also reflect the fall more than all other creatures.  Since sin entered the world, things are not right; and people are the most obvious example of this.

Yet God has made a way to get things back to right.  Still he does not force things to be right.  He seems patient enough to allow us to choose whether we want to get on the path of right living or wrong living.  God literally gave us a choice, between life and death, and encourages us to choose life.  Yet, so often we choose death.  And why death?  Because it seems right at the time to us.  There is a path that seems right, but it is sinful, and in the end leads to death.

Many people don’t like having such a choice with only two paths.  The enemy of our souls mystifies the issue, and says it’s not fair to have such a hard choice.  Although it may feel that God is saying ‘take it or let it,’ he’s really just saying ‘here I am, come to me if you will.’  And some of us are willing.  And some of us are only willing at times.  But, the path of life is not a one-time choice, it is a daily choice.  And the winner’s circle is only for those to have consistently chosen life.

Yes we stumble, fall, and lose our way.  But God is ever present showing us how to get back up or turn around, and get path on the disciple’s road.
It feels like a long hard road, but really it’s gone in a flash.  Let’s remember how quickly our time here passes; and how many of us need grace to help us choose life.  Because a day will come soon when we no longer have the choice at all.  Whatever we’ve done we’ve done.  And now we are judged by it.  And this reflection helps me be more patient with people.  Because I know this path isn’t easy.  And anything I can do to help other’s see Jesus, helps me stay on the right path too.

When Just Saying God Loves You Isn’t Enough

When just saying God loves you isn't enough

There’s a time to speak and a time to be quiet. It’s time to speak when evil or lies or injustice is being promoted as the new community standard. But it’s also wise to be quiet and not stick our nose into other people’s lives.

But if invited, we should not be afraid to speak truth because we don’t want to offend. To love others is to speak at times, and other times not to speak. And knowing the difference has more to do with honoring God above people’s feelings. Loving people means speaking what God’s love really means, not just saying God loves you; because different people have very different ideas about what they think that means.

Yes, God loves you, and that’s where it starts. God also loves you enough to give you specific details about his ways and plans for your life. To leave out all those details doesn’t really describe how God loves you, it just offers a polite response to a sneeze. And sometimes that’s appropriate for the moment, but it’s almost always inadequate for a person’s whole life.

People need more than just a blessing tossed in their direction, they need the Gospel spoken into their life. So, speak when given the opportunity, because it may very well be their life at question, and not just the appropriateness of the timing.

Posting the Good Side

The Perfect Life or Cake

Today our baby girl is turning 1 year old.  And on her first birthday my wife set out to make the perfect triple layer cake covered in roses made of frosting.  This had something to do with making the day special for our girl.  And things went almost according to plan; but, my wife ran out of frosting with the cake 3/4 of the way covered.  So, heaven forbid, the perfect cake was lacking rose frosting on one side.

I suspect most women would agree that lacking full frosting coverage is cause for angst.  And as you might suspect alarm bells did go off, sirens were activated, and an emergency task force was assembled which basically consisted of me.  And further, instructions were given to said task force member to immediately dispatch to the closest grocery store to obtain more icing.

Well, as I am often so eager to help in such disaster relief missions, my mind instantly began building a launch checklist:  car keys, wallet, shoes, pants, etc.  But then, in mid stride, as God sometimes does, I felt His voice interrupting with a simple question:  “Is this really that important?”

Now if you’re still reading, you might be questioning whether that was really the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart?  And you would be right.  It was really me not wanting to set off on said errand.  But it sounds more Christian to change a few details to include God, does it not?

Well the truth is my wife just wanted things to be perfect, and I didn’t want to be bothered with such trifles.  So my idea was to just take a picture of the good side of the cake, and post that to facebook.  Then my wife could take credit for a perfect birthday cake, and I could dote on her in the comments.  That would solve it right?  No one else would know the difference.  And our little life would appear like the cake, perfectly presented to our ‘friends.’

I wonder how many times I have posted ‘just the good side?’  Probably so many that I would be embarrassed for sure.  I wonder what it would feel like to post the ‘other’ side?  Would it feel liberating?  Would I ruin my chances to run for office?  Would people appreciate or relate to my transparency?  Perhaps no one would even notice or care?  But I would know.  And God would know.  And that’s got to count for something.  In fact, God already knows all my sides, good, bad, and mediocre.  And He still loves me anyway, even unfinished.  He still wants me to mature as His disciple, but he probably doesn’t care how my cakes look.

So here’s the real cake, in all it’s unfinished, incomplete, and unsymmetrical disproportion.  Yes, it was still a very good tasting cake.  And, I believe even more enjoyable to just eat it imperfect.

Posting the Good Side

As a postscript to the story, my wife deserves credit for not getting herself all out of sorts over the cake.  (Perhaps I embellished a bit.)  Yes, she was tempted to do so, but instead she chose that we were going to have a fun birthday party regardless of some missing frosting.  And no, our little girl did not care.  Nor, in the end, did we.

So it felt good not to pick up extra cares today.  And to just live it, and be thankful for what we have.  There are many people who would love to just have some food to eat, let alone cake with frosting!  Guess I do feel a bit silly now, but that’s Christianity Americana.  How’s that for transparency?  Besides, they’ll be more birthdays and more chances to post up the perfect cake.