Thank God For CNN

I knew that I shouldn’t watch it but I did anyway. My kids were in bed and the house was quiet and dark. The week ahead looked busy so this was likely the best opportunity I would have to see it. My gut told me that this would not end well. But I didn’t let that stop me.

That night, my wife and I sat down to watch a new show on CNN called Believer where each week Reza Aslan finds a new religion to be condescending toward. The episode we were about to watch focused on the relationship between Vodou and Christianity in the small country of Haiti.

The show didn’t disappoint. When it was over, I was disappointed. That’s because Christians were presented as religious crusaders for daring to build hospitals in the nation that is saturated in corruption and poverty. Vodou, on the other hand, was presented as grossly misunderstood. If you’re keeping score at home, the religion that motivates people to build hospitals is bad and the one that gets people to sacrifice pigs to demons is good. The last few minutes of the show looked like a commercial for Vodou.

This should come as no surprise from a network that spends millions of dollars producing and promoting documentaries in an effort to, “find the real Jesus.” In the CNN lexicon, “finding the real Jesus” is code for the Jesus of the Bible being fake. That’s right. The church has gotten it wrong for two thousand years now. Thankfully, CNN is here to tell us the truth.

We should be very quick to examine CNN’s version of the truth. This is, after all, the same network that likes to feed debate questions to presidential candidates of a certain party in order to help them to prepare beforehand. Truth, we should all know by now, isn’t so high on CNN’s list of priorities. It appears that trying to discredit Christianity is.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve noticed that CNN doesn’t take time out of its regular programming each year when Ramadan rolls around to, “find the real Mohammed.” You know, the rapist and child molester. Some of that could be out of fear. CNN probably doesn’t want the same fate that their counterparts at Charlie Hebdo suffered. To them, Christianity is a much easier target.

That’s because, in large part, Islam is built on the blood of the so called infidels. Christianity is grounded in and saturated with the blood of Jesus. In our world, acts of terror are much less offensive than God dying for the sins that we committed.

Islam is advanced by the sword. Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus told Peter to put away his sword (Matthew 26:52-53).

If anyone, even a bestselling author with his own show about religion on CNN, ever tells you that all religions are the same, you can be certain that they have no clue what they are talking about.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an appeal to boycott CNN. I watch CNN regularly and if you care about getting a glimpse into the secular worldview, I suggest that you do the same. Just know that you are being lied to.

But don’t let those lies get you down.

The book of Acts will help you to put CNN and their constant jabs at Christianity into perspective. Slander and persecution are the fertilizer from which the church grows. Acts is filled with accounts of the church being persecuted. And the persecution is much more intense than anything CNN has thrown the church’s way. But notice what happens after each instance of persecution. The church grows exponentially.

After the disciples are mocked and written off as drunks, three thousand people were added to the church (Acts 2).

After Stephen is martyred, Saul, the man who helped to make it happen, becomes a follower of Christ (Acts 7 – 9).

When Paul is kicked out of one region, he moves to another one and gospel growth follows (Acts 17).

And so on.

Christian, don’t let opposition, slander and media misrepresentations about your faith get you down. Be encouraged and know that it is from this that real growth comes. For a few decades now, some churches have tried to grow their numbers through gimmicks and give aways. At best, all those techniques ever do is draw a crowd. Real growth, or discipleship, comes when the church keeps its course through opposition.

CNN is no threat to the body of Jesus Christ. In reality, they are like a kid kicking over dandelions in the front yard. He thinks he’s getting rid of the weeds but all he’s really doing is making them spread.

So thank God for CNN.

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Be Careful How You Use The Word Uneducated

The word uneducated has been thrown around a lot over the past couple of days. It’s one of those words that can’t really be used in a nice way. We don’t say that children are uneducated. We just say that they’re in the process of getting their education. Usually, when we use the word uneducated, we’re trying to find a nice way to call people dumb. The only problem is that it’s not too nice. And it’s, well, an uneducated thing to say.

A while back I was driving my 1990-something automobile down a busy road at night when smoke suddenly started coming out from under the hood. I jumped out at a red light and tried to correct the issue. About a mile down the road, my 1990-something automobile reminded me that I don’t know anything about cars. The smoke got worse but I managed to guide the dying automobile into a church parking lot.

I got out and said a prayer.

And then I made a phone call.

The guys who came to help me don’t carry any initials after their names. They’ve never been asked to write a book about anything. They’ll probably never give a commencement address. I, on the other hand, have spent a lot of years in school. When I finish my current degree I will have spent almost as much time in school after high school graduation as I did before.

But standing next to that dead car of mine, guess who the uneducated one was.

Some of the most brilliant people I know have never been to college. Have you ever watched a carpenter work? A good one is one half Michelangelo and one half Mike Rowe. He’s an artist with dirt under his fingernails and blisters on his hands and drive in his heart. And he’s far from uneducated.

There are many times in my life when I don’t know what my next step should be. When I find myself in that situation, I don’t go looking for the guy with the most degrees. I go looking for the guy with the most wisdom. The two are not the same. Typically, the guy with the most wisdom has more gray hairs and wrinkles than he does degrees.

A while back someone asked me if it was a requirement for a pastor to go to seminary. For me, it was. I needed the discipline and rigor. But that’s not the case for all ministry leaders. Some of the best ones I know have educated themselves through interaction with other wise leaders and reading a lot. On the other hand, there are those pastors who can’t keep track of all of their degrees but who also couldn’t recognize the Holy Spirit from a graduation robe.

This is not to say that degrees and higher education do not matter. They do. If you’re getting surgery, you want the guy holding the scalpel to have tons and tons of initials after his name. A good, formal education is a necessity for some. But not for all.

We have to remember that we’re all different. We have different roles. And those different roles don’t make some better than others. Society needs doctors and carpenters. The best example for us is the Trinity where we see one God made up of three distinct yet equal persons. The Holy Spirit is no more or less God because he’s not the one who died on the cross.

No matter who came out on top in the election, I knew I wouldn’t be happy about the winner. I can’t remember the last time that I was happy with the outcome of an election. Maybe one day I will be. But I’ve never called in sick to work or asked for the day off from classes because I needed to cope with the bad news. There are a lot of highly educated people who did just that this week. I know a mechanic, a guy who some in our media would refer to as uneducated, who wasn’t too thrilled with this week’s election results either. But he went to work the next day.

It goes to show, there’s a difference between being uneducated and miseducated.

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Bad News

Just because the Olympics are over doesn’t mean that you can’t watch gymnastics on TV. All you have to do is turn on the news.

On Thursday morning I watched the folks on CNN contort themselves to make Hillary Clinton look better than she really is. It didn’t take too long until I finally had enough so I switched it over to Fox News. Over there they were doing backflips to try and explain away Donald Trump’s latest act of foolishness.

Christians are people of the truth. Being people of the truth in today’s climate requires quite a bit of work. If you care about finding out what’s going on in the world, you have to be your own editor.

That means that you can’t just listen to the people who only say nice things about your favorite candidate or political persuasion. If all they ever tell you is what you want to hear, you aren’t getting the full story. That’s the best case scenario. More than likely, you’re just being lied to.

A few years ago, I wrote for a small sports website. The website was owned by and named after a prominent athlete. Guess what the managing editor told us about the stories we wrote. Don’t say anything that could hurt the guy who signs the checks.

The major news networks are a lot like that. The only difference is that the checks are bigger and the people signing them are much more powerful and influential. That means that the major news network that pays it’s bills by attracting an audience of a certain political persuasion will not spend a lot of time covering a story that would make that certain political persuasion look bad.

That’s where your job as the editor comes in. You have to back up the stories you hear with your own research and facts you already know to be true. It’s not enough to believe something just because you wish it were true.

There is no doubt that CNN leans a bit to the left. But you don’t correct that by getting all of your news from www.billybobsconservitivehideout.tv. While we enjoy all of the benefits that come with having more access to information we have to remember the other side of that coin. More people have access to giving you their information. And they don’t care if it’s true or not. They just want your click. Or money. Or vote.

But you care more about the truth than any of those things.

As Christians, we should not only be concerned about the truthfulness of the information we receive but also the information we pass along. If our non-beliving friends on social media frequently find us posting articles about how Hillary and Donald spent the weekend playing cards with Tupac and Elvis, good luck trying to get them to believe you when you tell them about a man who was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and is coming back to earth.

If the truth matters, and it does, than we should make the effort to look for it rather than having some lesser version of it fed to us. And we should be careful not to put our name on something less than the truth.

“Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy.”

Joseph Pulitzer wrote those words on the wall of his newsroom.

Joseph Pulitzer died. Sadly, it appears as though his three word code of ethics for reporting the news died with him.

There are still shreds of accuracy left in journalism.

But you have to go looking for them because if reporters are too generous with their accuracy, it might not make the people who sign the checks too happy.

Be your own editor.

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What We Can Learn From Duke Lacrosse

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Sunday was the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Duke lacrosse rape case. On the evening of March 13, 2006, a house where some players on the team lived was the scene of a party involving a female dancer. Shortly after leaving the party, the dancer, Crystal Mangum alleged that three members of the team raped her.

Those three players, their families and Duke’s head lacrosse coach would spend the next year defending themselves in the court of public opinion. There were rallies on campus calling for the team to be disbanded. There were mobs protesting outside the home of the incident. There were even signs calling for the accused to be castrated. Due process did not matter. Innocent until proven guilty did not matter. All that mattered was the narrative. And boy, did this story fit the narrative.

The Duke players were white and came from families that were relatively well off. In the court of public opinion, that’s about the same as showing up in a real courtroom with the murder victim’s blood on your hands. Crystal Mangum was black and lacked the financial resources of the Duke lacrosse players.

Eventually, the truth came out. Crystal Magnum was lying. The prosecutor, Mike Nifong, was disbarred and spent a day in jail for tampering with evidence. The media and the scores of people they had influenced had all been had.

Sunday night’s episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series was devoted to the Duke Lacrosse case. As I watched it, two things came to mind. These are two very important things that we either need to learn or be reminded of ten years after the fact.

First, you can’t trust the media. In my part of the world, such a statement will get you a hearty amen. But it’s not just the talking heads at ABC or MSNBC that you can’t trust. You can’t trust Breitbart and Drudge either. Whether right or left of the political spectrum, every form of media in the country has an agenda. Everyone is biased. If you look hard enough, you might find one or two media outlets that are biased toward the truth but for the most part all you’ll find is one news outlet pushing for more government control of something and another one trying to get their candidate, who also happens to be their biggest financial backer, elected as president.

There was a time in this country when news outlets cared about truth. Editors would walk around their bureaus repeating, “Truth! Truth! Truth!” to their reporters. Not anymore. Now I think that they say something like, “Narrative! Narrative! Narrative!” or “Money! Money! Money!”

And you’re the one who pays for it. We have more news outlets today than ever. But now, more than ever, it’s your job to be the reporter. It’s not enough to simply consume the stories that fit your agenda. You have to look for the truth, even if the conclusions are uncomfortable for you or your favorite candidate. Otherwise, you’re worse off than the uninformed. You’re misinformed. Uninformed people are dangerous because they simply do not care. Misinformed people are even more dangerous because they care deeply and act passionately but without all of the facts. Don’t be either one.

The second lesson is more important because it has to do with our sons.

Use your imagination and put your son on the 2006 Duke lacrosse team. Sometime around March 20, you hear a report on the news about a Duke lacrosse party that led to the brutal sexual assault of a woman. The entire team is put on trial in the court of public opinion. This troubles you because the entire team includes your son. He assures you that you have nothing to worry about.

A short time after the incident, police have the alleged victim look at a photo line-up. Rather than showing her several of the usual suspects with Duke players mixed in, every photo they show her is a player on the Duke lacrosse team. No matter who Crystal Mangum chose, she was going to choose a Duke lacrosse player. At random, she chooses three. One of them is your son.

Within what seems like minutes, he and two of his teammates are on the cover of magazines being portrayed as rapists. The three players hold a press conference. You are standing behind them, with the other parents as the boys stand trial in the court of public opinion.

The first boy declares his innocence and talks about the unfairness of these false accusations. He tells the media that the truth will be revealed soon.

The second boy says essentially the same thing and thanks his family and teammates for standing by him.

And now it’s your son’s turn. As he steps to the microphone, your heart races. You wish that you could speak for him but you can’t. He steps to the microphone with more confidence than his teammates and calmly states his name.

“I am innocent of the charges brought against me. While I planned on attending the party that night I decided not to. I went to the movies instead. Here’s my ticket stub and receipt.”

Watching the Duke lacrosse story inspired me as a father. It inspired me to raise sons who decide to go to the movies once they hear about there being a stripper at the party they were going to. You may call that pie in the sky. It’s not. It should be a goal of ever parent.

Our kids will make dumb mistakes. And when they do, they need our discipline, grace, instruction and love. But the problem for many parents is that they wait until the mistake has already been made before they ever think about discipline, grace, instruction and love.

It’s not enough to raise great athletes who get into a good college and perhaps go pro. Rather than trying to build the next James, Curry or Manning, we should be more interested in developing the next Joseph.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. Genesis 39:6-10 (ESV)

Like the Duke lacrosse players, Joseph was falsely accused of sexual assault. However, justice was not served for him. He spent quite a bit of time in jail. But the truth didn’t stop being the truth. And Joseph didn’t stop being devoted to the truth.

Like any other parent, we would all be elated if we found out that our falsely accused sons were finally off the hook. But we should aim much higher than a mere not guilty verdict for our sons. We should aim for holiness.

When we do, like Joseph, things may not always work out the way that we would like in the court of public opinion. But there is a court that is much more important than that one. In the eyes of Jesus Christ, the righteous judge who knows no corruption, all that matters is truth and righteousness. Public opinion does not matter to him and it never will.

So as we go about the business of turning our sons into men, righteousness and truth should be what matters most to us.

There’s nothing you can do about a false accusation directed at your son. But there’s plenty you can do to disarm those false accusations. That work is done at the kitchen table where meals are eaten, at the bedside where prayers are given and on playing fields where instruction is given. Just make sure that how to effectively chase a ball isn’t the only instruction you ever give.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7 (ESV)

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Is Oscar A Racist?

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I went for a run early Thursday morning. My route took me through several areas of town that are mostly populated by black families. As I passed folks, some waved. Others laughed about it being so cold. No one, I repeat, no one said anything to me about how much they hoped that the day’s Oscar nominations included enough black people. But a few hours later, that’s what I read on my newsfeed.

I tried to sympathize with the people voicing their frustrations over the apparent snub of Straight Outta Compton. But I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, and it wasn’t that hard, I couldn’t make myself care. And I think that the people I passed on my morning run would say the same thing. The only ones who care about this sort of thing are the ones who are paid to care. Or, to be more blunt, the only ones who really care about the lack of black presence in Academy Award nominations are those in the media who are paid to get us all worked up about such nonsense.

Forgive me for being so insensitive but it’s movie awards. It’s not like we’re talking about the lack of diversity on the Democratic Presidential debate stage where we have a white crook, a white Santa Clause and a white guy that no one is voting for.

Racial tension has gotten so out of hand in this country that we can’t even enjoy movies without being reminded of how we’re not supposed to be enjoying movies or getting along. Long before the new Star Wars movie came out there were numerous reports that the film would promote the mass killing of white people. A few days before I took my family to see the movie, a media personality lectured the country on how the movie was racist because Darth Vader wore a black suit.

Maybe I was too busy enjoying the movie for what it is, but I didn’t see anything having to do with racism against whites or blacks in the movie.

If we’re ever going to get along with each other in this country, we have got to stop listening to the people in the media who keep reminding us that we’re not supposed to be getting along. It’s up to us to do this. If there’s one thing that people of all political persuasions can be sure of, it’s the fact that our elected officials do not care about seeing this happen. Some are more concerned with marching to the drum beat of their big money donors while others exploit, or even promote our division to gain more control.

In response to the Oscar nominations, Al Sharpton said, “Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher up you get the whiter it gets.” That doesn’t exactly sound like something Martin Luther King would say.

On the other side, conservatives have Ann Coulter who does a better job of promoting anger, the high blood pressure of her audience and, well, Ann Coulter than she does at promoting anything having to do with liberty.

Americans should stop listening to both of them. In their absence, we need to start having meals with each other. We need to take the time to get to know individuals, not the groups we believe them to represent. You need to get to know Jackie, not that black lady who you think probably, maybe perhaps could have voted for Obama. You need to develop a relationship with Ed, not the white dude who you think might be stockpiling weapons to kill black people with just because he has the audacity to drive a truck.

Racism is a problem in this country. But it’s not going to be fixed on Facebook, by a president or with Oscar nominations that we approve of. It will be improved in our neighborhoods. You know, the places where people don’t care about Oscar nominations. The places where people live next to one another. The places where, for the most part, people get along with one another despite what Al Sharpton and Ann Coulter have to say.

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Franklin Graham Is Wrong When It Comes To President Obama And Guns

Franklin Graham is wrong.

For the record, I’ve got no problem with Mr. Graham. He does a lot of good for a lot of people. But even good men aren’t immune from being wrong. This time Franklin Graham is wrong when it comes to President Obama and guns.

In a recent Facebook post directed at the president, Graham rightly pointed out that Obama was looking in the wrong place in regards to gun violence. Graham tells us that the human heart, not a gun, is the real culprit behind the violence we are seeing in our nation. I agree with him. If guns are outlawed, people with murder in their hearts will just find something else to do their killing with.

Graham went on to recommend a better remedy to the problem than the president’s Executive Orders, namely the gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, Franklin Graham and I are in agreement.

But here’s where we part ways.

“Your proposal will do nothing to stop the violence that is being glorified by Hollywood. Every night the networks, movie channels, and theaters are filled with programming that glamorizes gun violence—guns are used to shoot, to kill, and to splatter human blood all over screens across America. There needs to be legislation to curb this. I would propose starting with a heavy tax on the manufacturers of any film or game that graphically depicts violence. If violent films and games were taken off the shelves, I believe we would see a dramatic drop in gun violence over the next few years.”

If the real problem is the human heart, why should the government ban movies that glorify violence? And if the real remedy is the gospel of Jesus Christ, why are we so quick to run to the government for a supposed cure? Also, how should we define graphic violence and who gets to decide this?

The second amendment matters. It matters a lot. But so does the first amendment. That’s why it’s a bad idea for the federal government to establish a Do Not Cross Line for violence in media and then impose a heavy tax on any who dare to step over. The founders were not interested in protecting popular speech. Their aim was to protect all speech.

For far too long, we have had a love affair with big government. Even conservatives have fallen into this. Everyone, it seems, is a Don’t Tread On Me flag waving Libertarian until they want something from the government. And the government is always eager to step in to offer their help. But there’s usually a catch.

The loss of freedom.

That can show up when you go to the store to buy a gun or when you sit down to watch television. If the government stops you from doing one, the other is sure to follow.

When it comes to violence in media, we have to use a tool that has grown frightfully dusty in many minds. It’s called discernment. There is some violence that needs to be seen. Schindler’s List is violent but when I feel that my kids are old enough, I’m making them watch it. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is also violent and I’m never showing that to my kids. But I don’t need any help from the federal government as we walk through that process. I can manage just fine.

Progressives seem to think that all of our problems would be solved if the government would just do something about guns. I just watched quite a few of them applaud Whoopie Goldberg on The View when she suggested banning automatic weapons which, for the record, are not even available to the general public.

Many Conservatives believe that the government needs to do something about violent video games and movies in order to solve our social problems. Over 170 thousand of them clicked the like button on Mr. Graham’s Facebook post.

Both groups are showing their stripes and they look eerily similar. They are the red, white and blue stripes of big government.

We must remember that there will never be a perfect society here in our fallen world. But we can do our best to make it a free society. That can only happen when we hold our government accountable in matters such as balancing the budget and protecting us from enemies foreign and domestic.

But with regards to the movies you watch, the games you play and the guns you shoot, we’re all better off when the government minds its own business.

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In Defense Of War Room

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You know the guy. He’s the one who critiques the way that Stephen Curry, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, plays defense. And he has a few tips on how your mom could make her world famous sweet tea a little better. Oh, and he’s also the guy in class who asks questions that aren’t really questions but rather points of advice to the professor who has devoted the last 30 years of his life studying that particular topic.

You know the guy.

Well, that guy goes to the movies too. Most recently, he’s seen War Room, the Kendrick brothers’ latest film. And, guess what, he hates it.

I saw War Room last weekend. I’ve seen almost all of the movies the Kendricks have made. I haven’t walked away from one of those films thinking to myself, “Man, those Kendrick boys had better set aside some space on their shelf for an Oscar because that’s the greatest movie ever made.”

Their movies just aren’t my thing.

Neither are The Beatles. But I can still appreciate what they have brought to the table while switching to another station when they come on my radio. I think more Christians who like to play the part of the movie critic should take the same approach when it comes to the Kendricks and their movies.

Several years ago there was a guy who sporadically attended my church with his family. Eventually, he started coming regularly. One day he told me why. He had seen Courageous, another film by the Kendricks, and it inspired him to step up, be a man and lead his family.

What was I supposed to say to that?

“What a shame. You know the acting was bad and the writing was lazy in that movie. Meet me in my office tomorrow and we’ll watch The Matrix while sipping hot tea and discussing the finer points of cinematography. Your wife and kids will think me for it later. Trust me.”

I’m already hearing about married couples who are going on dates to see War Room and leaving the theater talking to each other about their marriage. Some of those couples haven’t been on a date or talked about their marriage since Hillary Clinton and her husband were running the country. If the Kendrick brothers do nothing else, they’ve made movies that married couples, friends and church groups go see together for a fun night of entertainment.

What’s wrong with that? Does every movie have to be Citizen Kane?

I’ve seen the movies and read the books that the self-appointed Christian art critics have put their stamp of approval on. They usually have two things in common. One, they’re boring. Two, no one else ever sees them.

War Room isn’t the greatest film ever made. But here’s the really cool thing about it. It’s better than the last movie the Kendricks made. And that one was better than the one before it. And while the Kendrick brothers have been doing what they do, other Christians have been making movies. Good movies. If you haven’t seen them yet, check out Mom’s Night Out and Believe Me. Both are funny and well done. And I dare say that neither one would exist if it weren’t for the Kendrick brothers leading the way.

There’s something funny about the critic. He likes to tell us what Stephen Curry did wrong but he doesn’t play the game himself. He knows how your mom’s sweet tea could be better but he gets tripped up on the boiling water stage. And he’s quick to jump in when everyone is piling on the latest piece of Christian art that fails to meet whatever the standards are for that day. But he’s not making his own.

A few days ago, I was watching my son practice soccer. He got in trouble. He was supposed to wait for the ball to get passed to his teammate and then get open for the ball to come to him. The problem with that plan was that the teammate was picking his nose. So my son ran over and stole the pass from his nose-picking teammate and started up the field. The coach blew the whistle and let my son have it. Later on, he did essentially the same thing. The coach stopped the drill and made my son pay the price.

After practice, I told my son that he had probably played his best soccer that day. He was confused. He didn’t really know why he had gotten into trouble. I told him that I would rather him get in trouble for being too active than for being lazy and sitting on the sidelines.

You never get yelled at on the sidelines. But you also never get to score.

Say what you want about the Kendrick brothers but at least they’re not on the sidelines. And as you say what you want about them, be careful, because while their particular brand of art might not reach your standards, it is still being used by God. So it just might be that the Kendricks really aren’t the ones you’re critiquing.

So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice. Acts 5:38-39 (ESV)

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The Most Offensive Show On Television

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Last weekend my sons discovered pure American art. Now, they are cultured. They are civilized. They are, dare I say, enlightened.

Last weekend, I introduced my sons to MacGyver.

They were pretty excited when I told them that we were going to watch MacGyver. They didn’t know why but that didn’t matter. The older you get, the more reasons and explanations you need to get excited. These boys are very young. That’s another way of saying that excitement still comes easy for them.

“Boys, we’re watching MacGyver.”

They gave me a weird look.

“What’s that?”

I struggled with the best way to answer that question. I’ve been asked a lot of tough questions. What are you doing out at this hour, sir? Are you on something? Did you lose a bet? You know, tough questions. But I’ve never been asked to explain MacGyver. I struggled with the best answer. Finally, it came to me.

“It’s a show about a guy who blows stuff up with paper clips.”

“Yes!”

My sons danced around as if they had just hit the lottery of television viewing.

Forty-five seconds into the pilot episode, I realized something about MacGyver. If it came on today, that show wouldn’t last, well, forty-five seconds. Here’s why.

  1. MacGyver is a man who solves problems. He solves problems without the aid of a government organization or a feminist. In that respect, MacGyver, if aired today, would be the most offensive show on television. It shouldn’t but this keeps me up at night. I just know that, because they’re all out of ideas, Hollywood will remake MacGyver. In the updated version, she’ll drive a Prius and use paper clips to prevent people from wasting energy.
  2. MacGyver looks kind of normal. An argument could be made that he has a mullet but other than that, MacGyver looks like your neighbor who likes to run marathons. Sure, he’s in good shape but he’s much too small for today’s hero. If you want to save people on TV theses days, you need to be 315 pounds with 0% body fat. And that’s just for the ladies.

On our first episode, MacGyver disarmed a bomb with, you guessed it, a paper clip. On the second episode, he took down a drug lord and his entire army with a few snakes and rice powder. My kids were hooked from that moment on.

I checked their book bags Monday morning to make sure that they weren’t packing any paper clips. Or snakes. They were clean, as best as I could tell.

When our MacGyver viewing was over, we did something else that puts us up there with only the elites of our time.

We played Monopoly.

Forty-five seconds into our game, it was pretty much over. One of my sons had already quit and was doing something to the toaster with a paper clip and a snake, another son was wondering why he had to pay a luxury tax and my wife was giving me that Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self look for telling my son, “Welcome to the Obama presidency.” Oh, and by the way, my wife, who also happens to be a math teacher, was beating us soundly. She somehow managed to own Boardwalk, Park Place and all of the railroads. Draw your own conclusions on this but she also happened to be the banker.

#GoldmanSachs

#blessed

At one point, the son who remained in the game landed on one of his mother’s properties and was quickly informed that he would be owing $1600 in rent. She made a deal with him to keep him in the game. Shortly after that, I landed on one of those same properties. My wife told me that she could help me out so that I could stay in the game.

I declined the offer and started making breakfast. I used a few eggs, a paper clip, some rice powder and an old battery.

I introduced my sons to MacGyver because I wanted them to see a television show that gives a somewhat positive portrayal of manhood. Sorry for my insensitivity but the cast of Teen Mom 2 just isn’t doing that. I mean, who would you rather have disarm a bomb in your kitchen?

Anyway, both of their experiences over the weekend will help to prepare my sons for manhood. Monopoly is a lot like life. It doesn’t always go your way and taxes come at you from out of nowhere. You can either cry about it, or you can look for a paper clip and work your way out of it. Sometimes, even the paper clip method won’t work. Plain and simple, you’re just beaten.

In that case, you just cut your losses and cook everyone some breakfast.

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God Bless America? No Thanks.

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When American presidents conclude their major speeches, they usually end with the same line. It goes something like this.

“God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.”

President Obama has gotten some heat from Christians for omitting that line from a few of his speeches. The line is a part of our history. It reminds us where we came from. It should be said, even if we know you don’t really mean it. Or so we are told.

As a Southern Baptist pastor who is a huge proponent of free speech, even the speech that I don’t like, I’m in favor of all of us retiring that phrase. No, I’m not calling for censorship. I just think that we should see the phrase for what it is.

Foolishness.

The foolishness has nothing to do with the mention of God or the belief that he blesses human endeavors. Instead, the foolishness is what exactly it is that we are asking him to bless.

You’ve probably already seen the undercover video of a Planned Parenthood executive discussing how her agency profits from the sell of body parts once belonging to the babies that they kill. At the time of this writing, members of our Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches have not been seen wearing sackcloth and ashes. My sincerest apologies if that happens between now and the publication of this post.

Also at the time of this writing, the mainstream news outlets have largely ignored the story. ABC News, for example, has stories on their website about a mom who is in trouble for making her twins hold sarcastic signs. There’s also a story about a transgendered teen struggling to cope with life in high school. So there’s that.

But nothing about your tax dollars being used to murder babies and sell their body parts. Again, forgive me if ABC News decides to do an exposé on Planned Parenthood between now and the time I publish this post.

Back to the main point.

God bless America.

Will you please bless our government sanctioned baby murdering?

Will you please bless us as we sell the livers and skulls of the babies we have killed so that we may live and not have to put up with taking care of another human life?

Will you please bless our total devotion to sex, even to the point that we will murder to avoid those pesky, ahem, mistakes that often come along as a result?

Please.

Here’s a better idea for a line the president can use when he finishes another one of is speeches.

“May God have mercy on America.”

Mercy, if you don’t know, is the withholding of what we rightfully deserve.

What would you say that we deserve for murdering millions of babies, selling their body parts and making Americans pay for it? You know, we’ve bombed other countries for much less and called it our patriotic duty. But we want God to somehow bless us?

Call me anti-American and please excuse me for sounding like the Bible thumper that I am but we deserve divine punishment.

Our country has murdered.

And profited from it.

And lied about it.

And then asked for God’s blessing on all of it.

That, it seems to me, is the American way. And the new American dream involves sexual climax at all costs while stopping at nothing to clean up the messy parts. So forgive me if I’m not jumping on the new American dream bandwagon.

You can tell a lot about people by what they get mad and fight about. In our country, people get mad about their so called rights to sex and marriage the way they want it and they fight when they’re not allowed to walk away from the responsibilities that come along with it. Many however, don’t do a whole lot of fighting when it comes time to speak up for those who have no voice.

But many are quick to speak up and ask for God’s blessing, even if they don’t much care for his standards.

Well, believe it or not, God hates murder. Even if you call it Planned Parenthood and give it a pretty logo and talk about all the good they allegedly do for the community. And God will not stand by as Americans continue to do all of it under the guise of his blessing.

God bless America? No thanks.

But God, please have mercy on America.

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How To Win A Debate (Even When You’re Wrong): Three Simple Steps

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Chances are that you’ll find yourself in a debate at some point. And you’ll want to win that debate. That’s the thing about disagreements, whether they come in the form of civilized discussions or all out arguments. Both sides want to win. Well, now you can. And you don’t have to go through the trouble of actually being right. Instead, just follow these simple steps.

1. Accuse your opponent of either being from or having ties to the south.

We all know what happened in the south years and years ago, don’t we? That’s right. The Dukes of Hazzard was filmed there. And that gives you all the opportunity you need to bludgeon your opponent.

Here’s how it works.

Opponent: “Yes, but Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the founding fathers were against a strong, centralized federal government and national banking system.”

You: “Interesting. Especially since Thomas Jefferson was from the south, had slaves, watched The Dukes of Hazzard and had the words Ain’t Skeered written on the front of his jacked up truck.”

Bam! You win.

Don’t be afraid to be creative. And if you can’t manage to link your opponent or his ideas to the southern states, just settle for the next most effective option.

Compare him to Hitler.

2. Quote the Bible.

Perhaps you don’t own or even believe in the Bible. Not to worry. That shouldn’t stop you from using it to prove your point. Here are a few examples.

Opponent: “I’m against murder because all people are created in the image of God.”

You: “Interesting. Are you also against boiling goats in their mother’s milk because you know that’s in the Bible too?”

Never mind things like context and genre. Never mind that you could use excerpts from To Kill A Mockingbird out of context to make Harper Lee look like a Grand Wizard of the Klan. Remember, you’re concerned with winning, not being right.

Here’s another approach to using the Bible to help you achieve your goals of world domination through argumentativeness.

Opponent: “I’m against gay marriage so I decided not to bake a cake for their wedding. I don’t hate anyone. I’m just holding to my beliefs.”

You: “Interesting. What about your customers who are gluttons?” (Author’s note: In case you haven’t noticed, it would be helpful if all of your responses began with the words interesting or actually. It makes you sound smarter.)

Bam! You win again. Always get to the gluttony option as quickly as possible. This way, you can make the Bible’s mention of gluttony a virtual free pass for any other sin.

3. Tell stories about Yuma, your _____________________ (fill in the blank with transgenderedundocumented worker or some other such descriptions) friend.

This is the easiest one, even if you don’t know a transgendered, undocumented working fellow named Yuma. The story is what matters here.

Opponent: “What do you think about judges losing their job for refusing to perform weddings for transgendered, undocumented workers?”

You: “Interesting. It’s funny that you should ask because I think about my friend Yuma, a transgendered, undocumented worker from the country of Yugostan. I think about his quest for love. And work. And I think about how much you hate him and want to destroy his dreams of a simple, happy, tax-payer funded, undocumented life with his three husbands. You should be ashamed.”

So the next time you find yourself in a heated discussion about a controversial topic, stick to these simple steps and you’re sure to win. You may even get your own television news show.

Or a job writing speeches for the president.

When making sure your voice is heard matters more than the truth, the possibilities are limitless.

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