Monday, July 31, 2006


Trivia question. Who is the biggest imbecile in the history of television? If you guessed "Dad," you are correct. The Father is trashed by our culture more than any other person, and especially by the TV writers, producers, and directors—just think Homer Simpson, Archie Bunker, and worse. As a result, boys grow up not understanding their role in society. Men either become tentative or wipe out with regards to God’s design for their lives. Nowhere does this social faux pax manifest itself then in the obtaining of the life’s mate. Scripture gives the Dad the major role in this very important decision.

Remember that 1 Thessalonians 4:4 says that everyone is to know how to obtain a life’s mate. This implies a way to learn. The way could be well described as by patriarchal authority. The man leaves father and mother to cleave to his wife (Gen. 2:24), so the male side of the equation takes the initiative. The father of the daughter welcomes the enterprise, placing himself in between the man and his daughter to protect her physically, spiritually, and emotionally (1 Corinthians 7:36-38).

The locus classicus to model the way to acquire a life’s mate is Genesis 24. Here is a text of sixty-seven verses telling solely the story of Isaac’s obtaining of Rebekah as his wife. This chapter should not be seen as typological of the believers relationship with Christ. Nothing in the passage would have one think this to be its purpose. God gave us this long narrative to give us the principles required to succeed at honoring God in this. Isaac, likely a thirty plus year old at this time, is completely passive. This is not to say that the son cannot be working together with his father in this process. A son should be close to his dad. In Proverbs 5-7, this often overlooked aspect, the relationship of a son to his parents, is the most important feature of honoring God in the obtaining of a wife. A son should be learning from dad regularly (Deut. 6). We don’t see mom involved at all in Genesis 24. The chapter starts with: "And Abraham was old. . . ." and the next verse says: "And Abraham said. . . ." Abraham recruited the services of his eldest servant to aid him in this endeavor. I like to say that Fathers can network in this process, using other trusted men to help find the right wife for his son. Since the right wife is said to be more valuable than rubies (Proverbs 31:10), networking would be more than well worth it.

Applicable passages show the Dad preeminent in the obtaining of his son’s wife. In Genesis 2, God the Father created Eve, essentially choosing her for Adam. In John 10, the Father gives the Son His bride (v. 29). Rebekah’s brother stood in for her father in the way of protection (Gen. 24:29) as did the Shulamite’s brothers (S. Sol. 8:8,9). Jacob’s sons expected greater protection of their sister Dinah in the tragedy of the Shechemites (Gen. 34). The Father gives his daughter away in the marriage ceremony because God has given him authority over his virgin daughter (1 Cor. 7:36-38). The protective role of authority does not eradicate the opinion of the daughter, even as Rebekah was given a say in her marriage to Isaac (Gen. 24:58).

Shakespeare popularized the erosion of the parental role in the choice of a life’s mate. Several of his plays portrayed the parents as morons with little common sense. Many also identify overweening fathers who choose based on caste or wealthy or class, regardless of character or personality. Romantic novels told fictional story after story of self-centered, monster parents who make their choice for personal advancement. None of these fit the Biblical model, but are often used as examples of the superiority of dating. Surely among those without discernment, unscrupulous parents have made grave errors in this regard. Dating has not historically been given the same treatment. The narrators of dating have grossly exaggerated dating success, making most young people to look like geniuses in this regard. They have not chronicled the vast numbers of failures with their consequential destruction—teenage pregnancies, loss of purity, divorce, and unhappy marriages.

And then perhaps as damaging as any result of dating is the removal of this male role. Dads’ are neither responsible for dispensing wisdom to sons or protection of their daughters. When women do get a husband, they are more likely to get less of a man, because their mate has not been given even the skills and know-how necessary to accomplish this God-ordained task. The Dad may just be one of the nearly extinct species of life on earth. Shall we start a campaign to save the Father?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Your Online Marriage Service part IV

Warning: This will not be effective for those who do not desire to please God. I say this, in part, because people like to know how something will benefit them. They want to hear that their lives will be improved in some way. Well, it will help you. Count on it. I could list those ways, but you’ll still be missing the big, big picture if that’s all this is about to you.

In my very informed opinion, the greatest obstruction to honoring God in obtaining a life’s mate is how great dating feels. Dating gratifies fleshly lust and feeds pride. It makes a boy or man feel more important, more powerful, and admired. It makes a girl or woman feel prettier, wanted, and more significant. However, 1 Thessalonians 4:5a says, "Not in the lust of concupiscence," that is, not in the feeling of desire. God forbids this if we are to please Him.

Many of these feelings are natural and they are caused by those chemicals called hormones. The hormones are intended for marriage. I like to say that hormones shouldn’t be choosing our spouse. Hormones are easily fooled. Hormones aren’t smart. This is described in Proverbs 7:7: "[I] beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding." Proverbs 6:26 pictures it well too: "For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread." You can actually watch the IQ of this young man drop right before your eyes. He gets as stupid as a piece of bread. Is anything more stupid? We used bread as carp bait. Uh-huh. Very stupid. These feelings dumb us down to some of the most stupid decisions in life. The qualities that make a great life’s mate have less to do with how we feel when sitting right next to her than what we know about her character, spirit, energy, skillfulness, and attitude. Is he or she positive and happy? Is he or she disciplined? Is he or she selfless? These are traits not easily discerned when we are blinded by our feelings.

We like to make our own choices. We don’t want someone making them for us. Dating lets us make our own choice. We feel proud about our choice. We think we know better. We don’t think we’ll make mistakes. We think that we are smarter than our God-ordained authority. However, unless we make our choices like God wants, we won’t consistently make good ones. And we surely don’t want to make a bad decision in the most important area of our life, who we’re going to marry.

The "Gentiles which know not God" (1 Thess. 4:5b) get their mates by dating. They like it. It’s fun. And what it does as well is to create all sorts of distractions and impediments to what is really important in life. Much attention is placed on style and fashion. Instead of doing as well in class, seduction skills are honed—how they talk and walk. The whole process becomes a competition in which a successful seduction is called a "score." Boys score by using the right words said in a particular way, buying the correct gifts, being very attentive, and planning the appropriate activities. Much of what is on television and in movies constitutes preparation for "successful" dating. The writers, directors, and producers of these shows don’t care if the people watching are wrongly influenced by their work. They want people to watch, and this is a theme that is very popular, so they keep offering it, perpetuating and increasing the problem. The parents and especially the father are essentially bypassed in this process. In most shows about this theme, the dad is the biggest imbecile in the universe, even though Scripturally he is the most important person to ensure the best decision.

A large portion of modern music has parts of dating as a theme. The musicians are telling people, especially young people, what their audience wants. They are speaking directly to them about their feelings in this dating process. The composition of the music, the melody, harmony, and especially the rhythm feeds erotic senses of the listener, guiding them toward self-gratification. They call it love in most cases, even though it is lust, which further breaks down discernment. Love itself becomes a victim in this, because few know what it means any more. A very high percentage of young women admit that music contributed greatly to losing their virginity. And this was all a part of this thing called dating.

Dating also naturally defrauds, stealing things from those to whom they belong. Dating steals the heart of a daughter from her father and her future life’s mate. It takes away many opportunities to serve God with loss testimony. It swindles the potential skills the either a man or woman could have developed if he had kept his attention on them, instead of dating.

If we are to honor God in acquiring our life’s mate, we will not succeed in that goal by means of dating. Dating is the world’s way, invented by the world. The characteristics of dating are those warned against in the most applicable passages of Scripture. If we go about utilizing dating as our means, we know we will not please God because God has told us not to do it as the Gentiles which know not God. And as a result of the defrauding, God will avenge (1 Thess. 4:6b). The believer belongs to God, is bought with the price of the Lord’s death and sacrificially shed blood. He has been redeemed to God. And God will avenge the holy priesthood who will defile himself and the Lord’s church by means of the uncleanness (1 Thess. 4:7) he has embraced in dating.

You may despise this. People who want to date often will. But look at verse 8: "He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit." So despise away, but you are only despising God, and that is not going to do any good. And this relates to the Holy Spirit, because you will grieve and quench the Holy Spirit by doing this the world’s way.

Next time we will start looking further into God’s way in this.

Monday, July 24, 2006


UP? Yes. But also at this blog, because although I'm on the road for two weeks, I'll try to add to this online marriage series. I am preaching at two events in two different churches sandwiching a family vacation.

Friday, July 21, 2006

My Online Marriage Service III

Gary Marangi managed to lead the Bills to eight straight losses in 1976 despite the presence of NFL rushing champion OJ Simpson. In eleven games he completed 82 out of 232, 35.3 completion percentage, for 998 yards with seven touchdowns and 16 interceptions. This is considered to be the worst quarterbacking in the history of professional football. Ryan Leaf was almost as bad in 1998 at San Diego with his 2 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, but Marangi was altogether the worst. What if I said to you, don't throw a football like Marangi. You would know what I meant now. What if I said, "Don't acquire a life's mate "in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God" (1 Thess. 4:5). You would need to know how the Gentiles do it, which know not God. They do it in the feeling of desire.

Scripture presents a way to obtain a life's mate. God tells us to know it. This implies learning it. Of course, there must be a way, which there is. And it isn't like the world does it. Our Judeo-Christian culture essentially followed a Scriptural model with occasional battles against sinful lust. If one were to take the Biblical pattern, laying out the key components in a list, and compared that list to what occurs when dating is practiced, one would find that the Godly pattern is contradicted on every major point by dating. Dating is the way of "the Gentiles which know not God." That doesn't mean that Christians can't or haven't relied on the Gentile method. This is why the warning. God doesn't want Christians acquiring a wife or husband like the world does. Dating has been that way.

We haven't yet looked to the Bible to find out God's way. For the time being, however, let's call that method courtship, betrothal, or arranged marriage. In the early history of the U. S., the whole country mainly acquired a life's partner through courtship. That pattern continued through the 18th and 19th centuries. Not until the late 19th century and early 20th century did dating become a method utilized. Christians opposed it. Then more and more did this become the pattern until finally the situation reversed itself. A majority dated and a minority courted. Until finally almost everyone dated and almost no one courted.

As a response to the changes and then consequential problems, men started preaching versions of Christian dating. With dating so diametrically opposed to God's way, Christians will certainly compromise Scriptural standards with dating. They may abstain from fornication (although most don't---conservatively, over 75% lose their virginity during their teenage years), but they will not keep from violating other Scriptural teaching. Colossians 3:5 lists the sins that are committed leading up to fornication, all of them prohibited: "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Does dating tend away from covetousness, evil desires, or inordinate affections? Dating asks for these, almost begs for these. God didn't intend for two people of the opposite sex to spend a great deal of time in close proximity without those two having certain desires which are intended only for marriage. In other words, only married people, or at least betrothed, are to date.

But for the time being, to stick to the text of 1 Thessalonians 4, God prohibits acquiring our life's mate like the world does. Then it says in v. 6, "That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. " In this process of obtaining a life's mate, no one should defraud anyone. To defraud is "to deprive by obtaining something wrongfully without the consent of the owner." Lots of people can have something taken from them in dating. Either the female or the male can have his purity taken by the other. If they don't marry, then the future life's mate has been defrauded of something that belongs to him or her. And the father can have something taken from him, especially based on 1 Corinthians 7:36-38:
36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. 38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

The text says: "No man defraud his brother." The brother gets defrauded and that brother could certainly be the father. The girl or lady first belongs to the father. That's why the whole giving the daughter away at weddings. He is actually supposed to be giving her away, not just something symbolic. Most daughters are already taken before they ever walk the aisle. This should signal something to you about what's wrong with dating.

And we shall find out more later, Lord-willing. Consider this, though. The Lord is the avenger of those who defraud a brother in this matter. God is very concered about what we do.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More My Online Marriage Service

I was looking at my yahoo homepage and they featured a celebrity question. About 5,000 of us peasants answered one about education asked by, hmmmmmm, I think it was Oprah or someone like that. The readers chose the winning reply. And on that question, the winner got 41% of the vote. That's a lot considering the numbers with every post a potential vote-getter. The winner said the answer was (drumroll) "parents." He was a teacher himself who saw that parenting was the key in education. A no-brainer? Yes. But as a country we don't act or vote like it. Don't get me off on this one because this blog isn't about that. Who you marry will affect parenting, which influences children, which impacts their education. I believe that how we choose our mates more greatly affects all of this more than any single factor. I could take you through the problems it causes, but why not just start by asking what God wants. He does want something in this. We can see that in the text we began with in my last post, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.

If you were Paul and you had started and then been with a church for three weeks and then you wrote them your first letter and you had just a handful of things you wanted to tell them, would one of the topics be how to find a mate? Paul thought this was important enough to spend a significant percentage of his epistle on it. He writes in vv. 3, 4, "This is the will of God . . . that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour." You might say, "Possess his vessel is kind of a funny way to say it." Right. The preeminent lexicon for NT Greek, BDAG, gives as it's number one meaning of the Greek word translated "possess": "To gain possession of, procure for oneself, acquire, get." BDAG paraphrases: "Take a wife for himself." We don't normally speak of taking possession of our own bodies. That would be a very unusual sense of the word "acquire." He is speaking to the men, whether the single men or their fathers, and telling them that they need to learn how to obtain their life's mate. Well, the fathers didn't need another one, but they would have a lot to do with acquiring the one for their son (not speaking of any son in particular).

Using the word "vessel" puts an emphasis on the body. 1 Peter 3:7 states: "Giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel." The wife is mainly physically weaker, and if she isn't, then Houston, we've got a problem. I've seen a few cases where the wife could beat up her husband, and it's not pretty (the abused husband crowd, please hold off on your letters). Close behind the body of the woman (no woman in particular) is her emotions. The woman is characteristically emotionally more fragile as well (you know you are tip-toeing when you use two long adverbs in a row; it's weak writing, folks). Paul begs these Thessalonian believers to get a Scriptural understanding on how to acquire a life's mate.

Do any of you think this is important? You could never tell by television, radio, newspaper, and magazine ads that this was a big deal. Not. How much hair care product, cologne, perfume, candy, restaurant, fuel, car, and clothing money is spent every year because of how people find their mates today? What do you think a major theme of television show, movies, and books is? What do you think high school and college aged people are thinking about the most? I remember attending a make-out session and a high school football game broke-out. Hardly anyone was watching the game. I call it the mating ritual. Watch the two peacocks strutting with outstretched feathers. They are not only not watching the game, but they also have a hard time doing their homework or listening to their teachers, and their parents; well, we have a failure to communicate.

Is that how it is supposed to be done? Not at all. That is all actually what the very next verse (v. 5) says not to do: "Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God." Whatever the way is, it is not to be in the lust of concupiscence. And you know what that is, so let's move on. Well maybe we'll look at it, but only for those in the Western Hemiphere. We could understand that last phrase as "the feeling of desire." In other words, our hormones are not to be choosing our life's mate. Good thing that isn't happening. Ooops. That's right. It is. I still do have certain lyrics that will pop into my mind, and I only use this illustratively, mind you, but "the look of love is in your eyes, the look which I can't descriiiiiiiiiibe." We are not to choose a life's mate based on feelings. That's the whole plan with dating.

Did I say dating?!?! That's where I'll start next time.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


You probably know your history, but you may not have known that FDR married within the family. Yes, he married a Roosevelt. Her name was Eleanor Roosevelt. You say, "Well, yes, after marriage." No, before marriage. The saga of the Roosevelt's in America begins with the arrival of Claes Martenszen van Rosenvelt in the 1600's. But this story really belongs to Teddy (TR) and FDR. The two presidents were 5th cousins, and came from different branches of this prolific family. TR was part of the Oyster Bay clan, while FDR came from the Hyde Park branch. Their families weren't particularly close, although they did move in the same New York social circles.

TR blazed a political path as he became governor of New York, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, vice president, and then president. TR wanted his son to continue his political trailblazing, but the young Teddy Jr. was unable to do so. Along came FDR and while he belonged to a different political party, he followed TR's example almost to the letter (governor of New York, Assistant Naval Secretary and then president). But instead of bringing the families closer together, it actually drove a wedge between them. FDR was always considered a lightweight by the Oyster Bay side. Eleanor Roosevelt (an Oyster Bay Roosevelt who married her Hyde Park cousin) was a bridge between the two groups. She was the daughter of TR's departed brother, so TR stood in as dad in the Eleanor-FDR nuptial. The rest is a four term presidency.

Every citizen of the United States every day still feels the effects of this marriage. Without the clout of the Oyster Park Roosevelts, FDR would never have become president. So we could say, "Sure, marriage is really important." But how about this? What does God say about it? Or, how does one honor God in obtaining a life's partner? Does the Bible say anything about what God wants us to do? Yes, the God Who knows us better than we know ourselves does say something about finding the right one to marry.

I am convinced that the place God outlines what He wants is 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8:

1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concu- piscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

Regarding the importance, look at vv. 1-3a. Paul begs, exhorts, and commands. He calls on the authority of Jesus Christ. He describes this as a necessity ("ought") and something that pleases God. He says it will make these Thessalonian believers abound more and more. Paul had spent a part of his only three weeks with them ("ye have received") talking about this. This is "the will of God," therefore, one area in which you can know for sure you are in the will of God. What he teaches will sanctify them---leave them still able to be used of God. This way will tend towards pre-marital abstinence ("abstain from fornication").

If God wants us to know how, then that implies a way. God has a definite way. If we are to know anything, we must learn. God has a way to possess our vessel (obtain a wife or husband) that will leave us sanctified and that will honor God. We should assume that way is in Scripture. It is. God would not have told us to know it if He did not tell us what it was. We should find out the passages that teach His way and learn them. If we learn them, we will know them. If we know them, then we can obey them. If we obey them, we can still be useable to God (sanctification) and also honor God (more than just obedience). Believers care to be used of God and to honor God. Unbelievers care only about pleasing themselves. If you care whether God will use you and whether you might honor God, then this is for you. If you don't care about these, then you aren't likely to learn, know, and obey the way God prescribes anyway. And why should you? You are living only for your self. If you want to live for God, then this is the way you'll get it done.

You ask, "What is the way?" I'll tell you this week. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 10, 2006


What is Truth will be back with more sympathetic to satirical, from substantive to soothing. Be sure to read the very last post. No comments posted until Saturday. Now go out and do the Scriptural thing.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What Dad Expects When He Returns

"And when I get back, I'm going to be inspecting what you've done." These were the last words the four brothers---oldest to youngest, Ralph, Phil, Robert, and Ronnie---heard before their father left on a long trip. For while he was gone, he gave them them a list of things to do, one complete copy for each. All total he had twenty-nine responsibilities he expected done. As the four looked at these, they could see that some of the jobs would take less time to finish and others were obviously larger tasks to fulfill. Dad emphasized that he wanted all twenty-nine completed before he got back.

After their father was gone and out of sight, Ronnie walked inside to lie on his bed and take a nap. Robert took his copy and sat at the kitchen table to read them again. Phil suggested to all of them that there really were five of the twenty-nine that were crucial as far as he could see and that some of them were less necessary than the others. Ralph insisted that he had spent more time with their father than the other three, and that their dad really did want for them to finish all twenty-nine and that they should all take them seriously. He read his list and started working right away, encouraging the other three to get busy immediately fulfilling their father's will. Ronnie didn't say anything; he just slept. Robert smiled, smirked, and then just wagged his head at his brother's words. Phil informed Ralph that there was no way their dad would expect them to do everything, and that the safe approach would be to widdle the list down to the five most important. Robert responded, "Yes!" when he heard this idea, but he felt a little conviction by Ralph's example. He hated feeling like this, but he didn't want to change either. He kept remembering the words of Phil and that made him feel better about not obeying his father's list.

When Ronnie woke up he was "juiced" about Phil's idea and laughed when he heard what Ralph was going to do. "It's not like dad's going to kick us out of the family. We didn't have to earn our way in anyway." They all smiled at that. Security was great! Robert had spent so much time reading his copy that he had it almost memorized. He quoted large portions and could tell his brothers were impressed, even Ralph. He already knew that he could talk on and on about each one on the list, disecting each of them grammatically.

While Ralph was busy working away to complete the father's will, Phil told the other two that Ralph was laboring so intensely only in order to impress the father and to show up his three brothers. They nodded in agreement and even threw out some well-worded ridicule that really made the three laugh. "Daddy's Pet!" "Papa's Prude!" "Little Ralph Fauntleroy!" Phil rewarded them with an affirming glance. He said Ralph also intended to put them on a "guilt trip." Phil sounded so intelligent in his evalution, so they all smiled and agreed. Given their situation, some of these twenty-nine weren't going to be very fun at all, and they all knew that dad would surely want them to enjoy themselves. Could anyone say that father didn't want them to have a good time? Ralph was the real reason they felt bad about their lack of work for dad, anyways. And Phil regularly assured them of that.

Robert laid out his ingenious plan of "majoring on the majors" and then only getting to the minors if any of them felt like it, but nobody had to. He called the minors, liberties. Nobody should feel guilty if they didn't do the minors and no one especially should judge anyone for not getting some of them done. When they looked at their new short list, they loved it. They knew it was a list that they could get done and truly enjoy without a burden. One special, major rule that Ronnie suggested, to the glee of the other two, was that no one would confront anyone for not finishing or even doing those jobs on the list of minors. All three nodded in affirmative at this great addition. The only one whom they really attacked was Ralph. He deserved it for being so sensitive to dad's words. If Ralph was really close to dad, he wouldn't feel as though he had to perform as he did. He could just feel free, like they did. Sometimes they made sure Ralph could hear their mockery, and when he inquired, they guaranteed him they were only kidding and that everything they said was meant in good humor.

So they began to work on the father's list, really their new revision of it that suited their lifestyles. Many of them were getting done because Ralph was working so hard. He loved his dad and knew his dad meant business when he said he wanted all of them done. Some jobs weren't being completed because the other three had decided they just were not that important. Ralph tried to tell them, but they would always shut him up with charges of judgmentalism. They knew the dad's fundamentals and those were something around which all four could unify; how dare Ralph restrict them with his fastidious conformity! Nobody was going to make them feel guilty. There's was a gracious father who would reward them for having the kind of heart that they were sure they had.

Time passed and eventually their father returned. As he neared the house he could see that a majority of his list was finished, but not all of it. All told, eight of the twenty-nine didn't get done by the sons. Ralph did a little of all of them and tried to get all of them done himself, and they all would have been completed if they all had been faithful. Their father wasn't happy about Ronnie, Robert, and especially Phil. Phil had been the worst influence of the three with his dangerous teaching. The father reminded them that the greatest of the four was he who would do the least of his commandments. None of what he told them was optional. If they loved him, none would have been grievous to do. And for his faithful service, to Ralph he said, "Well done."

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I sat in front of my clean table cloth and ordered the pho (pronounced "fu," short "u" sound), Vietnamese soup. I looked to my right, noticed the large white soup spoons, the paper encased chopsticks, the bright red hot sauce, the yellow, liquidy fish sauce, and a finger smudge on the window. Windex. I had the thought of windex and a before-and-after view of the greasy print. I smiled at the thought, and then wiped the crazy grin off my face in case anyone was watching. The restaurant was full of customers, a veritable UN convention of ethnicity, however, heavy on the Viet. I thought about pho for a moment---big white bowl of rice vermicelli, thinly sliced stewing beef swimming in hot fish, coriander, and beef stock, accompanied by a garnish of bean sprouts, basil leaves, lime wedges, and hot, green chilis. In my minds eye I saw the steam rising into my nostrils, and felt the warm moisture clearing my sinuses, giving me a sauna moment.

I snapped back to reality and realized that no one had come with any food. I checked my watch and almost thirty minutes had elapsed since the waitress left. I took a large drink of water and wondered if I was a little dehydrated, so I took another long swig and set the glass down. I looked at the ice and the glistening water two-thirds of the way down. I asked myself if this glass was clean and thought of other customers with their mouths touching the rim, but I quickly blocked this out after flinching from revulsion.

I glanced down at my watch one more time and a few more minutes had passed, so I looked around at the waitresses bringing trays of food to other customers. I mouthed silently, "This isn't good service." It felt good to say it. I turned left to see if anyone could see me, and then entertained the bizarre idea that I was actually in a whole different dimension of space and time at another restaraunt entirely, maybe some other planet. I laughed out loud. A few people looked over, dispelling the whole other dimension theory. My lips formed a "no." I was talking to myself. Kind of crazy. Well, as long as nobody really knows. Nobody knows that I say things like this, well, to myself. I smiled again. No one knows. Then, God knows. He does. He actually knows what I'm thinking. But then, where is my soup? That's what I'm here for.

A waitress passed close enough to get her attention, so I spoke. "Maam. Maam." "Yes, sir." I looked up at her and noticed that she could do without some of the make-up. "I ordered my soup quite awhile ago. Do you know how much longer before I get it?" "Well sir, I hope you don't mind me saying so...." I could see one silver tooth wedged between crooked yellow ones in the part between her lips as she talked. "...but we thought you would understand. We didn't bring you any pho...." I noticed she pronounced it with the correct Vietnamese accent. "....but we really did want to in our hearts. All of us, in our hearts believed in it, wanted to do it, so we thought you would understand. Should I bring you your bill?" I nodded yes.

I did understand because it was something that I had heard quite a few times. God only judged us by our hearts. How could I do any different? I mean I wanted some soup, but now that I knew her heart, I couldn't expect any kind of external requirement, could I? God, after all, was getting this kind of heart-felt non-performance from us all the time. If I just paid for my pho, well the pho in their hearts, then I could feel what God was feeling and that could help me grow. I was still hungry, but the growth kind of made it worth it to me. As I reached for my billfold, feeling the pain from the tendonitis in my right shoulder as I pryed it out of my back pocket, I was happy their hearts were in it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

An Apologetic for Men's Skirts

I've said in a moment of calm and thoughtfulness, "Put a skirt on him!" I, of course, in that tranquil demeanor that I often manifest, spoke of a lack of masculinity, and I am here to inform you that I want to take it all back. I'm starting to see the light, and I am teetering toward, or perhaps better, prancing closer to the male skirt or dress. Now know that I'm not talking about a woman's skirt or dress, but a male one. No article of clothing is uniquely designed for a man or a woman. And I've been told recently that dictatorial male chauvenists hungry to keep power kept women out of pants. I haven't seen many of them, and I should know why, but maybe I don't anymore, because I don't think it matters how you dress, as long as you can tell the difference.

And I can, well, except for that time that I was sitting in a Vietnamese restaurant in Oakland, and looked over my chopsticks at the next table, and on the other side from one beautiful lady was a woman with a crewcut. I mentally grimaced. Then the gorgeous creature turned around and she was a man with long, thick, breck-girl, jet-black hair. I mentally sickened. Then last week I took rapid transit into San Francisco to pass out gospel tracts at the Gay Pride festivities. Their celebration includes dozens of booths selling food, magazines, paraphernalia, and men's skirts. Yes. You exclaim, "Men's Skirts?!?!" I ambivantly reply, "Yes, and what of it? They weren't woman's skirts." They were uniquely male skirts, you see. And plenty of men with another man by his side were wearing a male skirt. And I could tell that they were both men. Well, I would have known if they were men if they had even worn women's skirts. Some sort of detection ability reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, I have. Several of these men in skirts did remind me of an old Fred Flinstone cartoon, where Fred was dressed in drag. It didn't take rocket science, folks; not even Barney for that matter. But the men in San Francisco were scooping up these skirts like former President Clinton at an intern convention.

But I digress. I announce to all men (microphone feedback). You are (even more feedback) free to wear dresses! (Stunned silence) All of you John Waynes, Teddy Roosevelts, and Lyle Alzados? Go get your dresses. (Pin drop) Only one stipulation: (Light Murmur) It must be a male skirt or dress! (Cheers) Why? In the Bible in Deuterononomy 22:5, God said this:
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
At this time, I want to break to give you some vital and important fashion history. Men and women at that time, when Deuteronomy was written, both wore robes. They had not yet invented lycra or blue suede shoes. The sewing machine was not right around the corner. They (hush) had male robes and female robes. So do you know what that means? That means that today we get to wear the same kind of clothes as each other! That's what that mainly means. Yes! And if it doesn't mean that, it means: Don't be a transvestite! (This latter interpretation provided so that your bases will be covered.) (You're welcome.) But what it really means to you men is: Go out and get a male dress or skirt!

Now what it doesn't mean is: Women go put on pants. Why? You've already done that (giggle). Emilia Bloomer started you down that path, followed by Rosie the Riveter, and then the bell bottom. Pants are now female dress. Don't even worry about wearing "woman's pants." That doesn't mean anything anyway, unless you are debating some unsophisticated, neanderthal who wants to keep you in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. Then you need to tell him (it) that you get women's pants in the women's department and everyone knows that they are different than men's. Did you ever see a man try to put on a pair of woman's pants? (ILOL [infinite lots of laughs]) They're shaped different. "You mean women?" No silly (three stooges poke in both eyes), the pants are shaped different. They make them different for women. "Yer kiddin!?!" Yes, Einstein. Everyone knows that women's pants are different than men's. "They're tighter?!?" (three stooges cuff on both ears) Yes!! I mean, No!! See what you've done; you've got me all confused now. They aren't tight. Well, you can get them tight, but you can get them loose too. I'm really through talking to you anyway. This really isn't a forum for people from the looney fringe. Women are already wearing pants, so Deuteronomy 22:5 means, "Men wear male skirts."

Nuff said.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Big Bang and the Big One

I like to say that I believe in the Big Bang, just that it hasn't happened yet. 2 Peter 3:10, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." That, my friends, is the Big Bang. The Designer spoke into an organized existence, sustained, and then took His hands off of it. Colossians 1:16, 17, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."

Scientists tell us that the atom is held together by some "strong nuclear force." They don't know what it is. We do. The "Him" of "by him all things consist" is Jesus. He holds the world together--global warming or not, ozone layer depletion or not, carbon emissions or not. They say that is why the atom is so hard to split. When He takes His sustaining hand off of everything, everything will become like an atomic bomb. Revelation 20:11 says, "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." No place for anyone except the saved after the Lord takes His hand off of what He created.

So the Big Bang hasn't happened. Another figment of imagination foisted on humanity is the Big One. I read a children's book to my daughters, one of their favorites about a huge Raggedy Ann called Big One. This Big One though is the universal church. Universal church is an oxymoron. Nothing universal assembles. Well, never has there been a Big One. As Dr. Richard Weeks, the man with the world's biggest personal library of Baptist history, would say: "The big nebulous invisible something-or-other." The theory of the universal church has caused as much damage, in my opinion, as any false doctrine. Sometime I'll tell you why. However, we do know that a one world church is coming, just like the Big Bang is coming. That's right, the Big One is coming.

And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? 5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. 8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:4-8)

The false prophet will lead the whole world in the worship of the beast in a one world religion. It's coming, and the imaginary Big One is just getting them ready.