Therefore Having Gone

Therefore Having Gone

Tuesday, March 21, 2023


I am officially at the halfway point with my doctorate program. Three semesters down and one more to go before one year of labor on the dissertation. 

I have to admit that the semester I just finished was perhaps my least favorite. It wasn't that the teaching was subpar - my professors were both incredible. The topics were both interesting to me. The only problem was that one class - on world religions - was not particularly relevant to me and the other - on postmodernism, Critical Theory, and woke ideology - was depressing as all get out.

Starting in April, I have my two final classes: a preaching class and a hermeneutics class (a $5 word for study of Scripture). 

With my recent launch into the world of weekly preaching, these topics could not be any more relevant to my life, both now and into the foreseeable future. 

I am pumped. Amazon has delivered 7 of the 10 books I need over the last three days and I am wishing I had hours on end to devote to consuming them.

I entered this doctorate program because I felt God's leading, and He provided the How, so I didn't demand an explanation of  the Why. With each passing semester, I get closer to finding out what all this has been about. 

And I have a growing conviction that in the end, God's revealing of His Why is going to knock my socks off!

Monday, March 20, 2023


The after school hours of my childhood were spent at my parents' business. Long before Walmart and Target, they owned what used to be called a "5 & 10 department store". 

The building was a former movie theater and the balcony had been converted into an office. This space also served as a holding pen for me and my 3 brothers, at least until we were old enough to man a cash register. 

The railing of the balcony had been replaced with a half wall, which some of us could see over if we stood on our tiptoes. There were a couple of couches and a small black and white TV which fostered my love for the Three Stooges.  

We were unsupervised upstairs until my parents were free at 5 pm. The only rule was that we were not to be seen or heard by the customers on the floor below. 

Now and then - perhaps inspired by the Stooges - my brothers and I would get a little rambunctious. Elbowing would turn into wrestling and wrestling would morph into chasing, first across the floor and then across the furniture. Inevitably an argument would break out and we would forget ourselves ... and the rule.

Invariably, as the noise reached a crescendo, one brother would take notice and, horrified, call for an immediate timeout.  

We would dash to the half hall next to the open stairwell and look down below in dread.

Too late! Here comes Dad, his feet heavy on the steps, his belt gliding free of the loops around his waist as a sword pulled from its sheath. 

The belt was off! We knew in that moment we had completely overstepped the bounds and we were ashamed. And fearful.

"My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD, and do not loathe His rebuke; for the LORD disciplines the one He loves, as does a father the son in whom he delights."

This proverb (3:11-12) is quoted by the author of Hebrews as he discussed believers' occasional need for discipline when we slip into sin and wrongdoing. He reminds us that it is the loving father who disciplines his children. 

In Hebrews 12:10-11, he concludes: "Our fathers disciplined us for a short time as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who have been trained by it."

Proper discipline is meant to open the eyes. To produce a change of heart and a change in behavior. 

It's funny - I remember the horror of seeing my Dad take off his belt, but I don't remember him ever actually using it on us. 

He didn't take the discipline any further than he needed to in order to get the peace and righteousness he was after.

Sunday, March 19, 2023


In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."

It's not just "fool" and "raca", either. I believe the following are also prohibited by Jesus:

Moron, imbecile, cretin, dolt, numbskull, doofus, bozo, ignoramus, dodo, Half-wit, nit-wit, dimwit, idiot, buffoon, nimrod, dummy, dullard, simpleton, nutcase, knucklehead, dunderhead, bonehead, chucklehead, lunkhead, airhead, meathead, blockhead, dumbbell, birdbrain, lamebrain, pea brain, dumbo, dunce, goober, rube, chump, maroon, clown, mouth breather, and mental midget. 

If this were not a family-friendly blog, I could generate another 100 words to add to that list.

Why does English have so many ways to call someone stupid?

Regardless, we aren't supposed to be using any of them. 

Anger towards a brother or sister cannot cohabitate with love for God. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023


Here's a bad take on the importance of youth ministry within the church.

I once worked as a youth pastor under a senior minister who told me - to my face and on more than one occasion:

"I don't even know why we employ a youth pastor. After all, you work with ... what? Ten or maybe twenty percent of the congregation? And they are ten percent who DON'T PAY TITHES."

At least I knew exactly where I and the teens of the church stood with him!

This man had no filter on his mouth, obviously. 

I can't imagine another pastor on the planet saying what he said, but how many pastors think it? 

And, more generally, how often do we make ministry decisions based on the bottom line?

Friday, March 17, 2023


I wanted an AI art program to give me some original Easter images I could use on Facebook without worrying about copyright issues.

In the process, I discovered something. 

Attempting to coax AI into creating a non-bizarre image is exhausting.

After a while, I got a bit punchy and asked the AI to show me Jesus riding a giant bunny for Easter. All of the following images are based on that same prompt: 

I can't decide if AI needs a whole lot of further fine-tuning ... or psychoanalysis.

Thursday, March 16, 2023


"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."

Such is the warning from Jesus in Matthew 5:22, early in His Sermon on the Mount. 

Before now, I had never noticed something interesting about Jesus' condemnation of those who would call their fellow man a "fool".

Take a look at Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:17.

That's where Jesus rants at the Pharisees, "You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes it sacred?" This is the exact word from 5:22.

Either Jesus is a hypocrite --- or it is clear that it is not the word choice which is the issue, it is the heart behind it.

Some people really are fools, but only the God who sees into the heart is qualified to make that call. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


"Thinking out loud" tonight after finishing a long paper for one of my classes:

I heard a Christian podcaster talking about "axioms" the other day - how they are necessary, but should be limited. He was using the term in its technical sense: "a statement or proposition which is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true."

We all have axioms because so much of the "truth" we build our lives upon is, by nature, unproveable. 

So the believer has this among his axioms: "There is a God". 

I love apologetics and logical arguments and philosophical "proofs" for the existence of God. They have their place and serve a purpose. Still ... at the end of the day, we must admit there is no proof that God exists - at least not proof that is universally evident and accepted.

But here's the thing: The atheist is in the same boat. Among his axioms is this: "There is no God". 

That axiom is likewise unprovable. He must "take it on faith". 

And that's what an axiom is.

So this podcaster said his theology rested on just 3 axioms: 

1) God exists

2) God is good

3) Scripture comes from God

This seems pretty solid to me. Each axiom is necessary. And each is ultimately unproveable. 

They function as "givens". And that's what an axiom is. 

All other propositional truth claims can be built with these 3 axioms as the base.

So, for example: "If God is good and Scripture comes from Him, then Scripture is true."