Friend of Sinners

Earlier this month we went on a road trip to Williamsburg Virginia to see Colonial Williamsburg as well as Jamestown and the battle fields at Yorktown. It was a long trip, just about 3,000 miles round trip as well as the driving while at our destination. Along for the ride were my wife Gail and my mom. Along the way we listened to a number of CDs as music helps me while driving. One song got me to thinking. It was “Jesus friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns. It fit well with the post I was writing about Luke 17:1-4 where Jesus admonishes us not to cause others to sin. The first verse and chorus are:

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away

We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing

Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see

The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me

Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded

A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided


Oh Jesus, friend of sinners

Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers

Let our hearts be led by mercy

Help us reach with open hearts and open doors

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours. Yeah…


I believe one of the main obstacles to people coming to Jesus is how Christians act. We are quick to point out the sins we see in others but too slow to show these same sinners the love of Jesus. As I slowly make my way through the Gospel of Luke one thing is very noticeable, Jesus hung around sinners. He ate with them. Almost the entire middle of Luke is the telling of what Jesus said to the Pharisees while dining with them.

One of Jesus’ disciples, Matthew, was a tax collector. In the first century being a tax collector was tantamount to being a thief. One of the arguments of the Pharisees was that Jesus associated with sinners. Yes Jesus judged their sins but Jesus also loved them and forgave them. Today we tend more to the judgmental than the forgiving.

What can we do? First and foremost is to be accepting of the person. Jesus called out the sinners and ministered to them. He did not dwell on their sins but on their salvation. He did not give up on sinners. Read how often He talked with the Pharisees. Second we need to make our churches open to sinners and welcome people into our churches. Make them feel at home. Remember that the new comer is just as we were once. If we spend more time loving others rather than pointing fingers, God’s church will grow. If we spend time pointing fingers then our churches will wither. Third we need to be out in the world proclaiming the love of Jesus. Jesus’ final command was for us to go to all the world proclaiming the Good News and baptizing all in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

One final thought not really connected with today’s message. On our trip to Williamsburg Gail and I were blessed to get to meet one of my fellow bloggers, John Paine with Veracity. John and his wife hosted a small dinner party for us and we spent a delightful evening of good food and good fellowship. Other than my friend Glenn, John is the first fellow blogger I have had the privilege to meat in the flesh. Once again, thanks John for a great evening.

Have a blessed day,


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Pay attention to yourselves!

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Luke 17:1-4

God gives parents and in fact every Christian one very important job, to raise up children in the ways of the Lord. We are commanded by Jesus in today’s verse not to cause children to sin. In fact Jesus tells us that “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” But we are also told to rebuke a brother’s sin but if that brother repents we are to forgive them. Then Jesus tells us that even if the brother continues to sin but also repents each time we are to forgive him each time. Even if he does this sin seven times a day. In this instance Jesus is not necessarily talking about a family relationship but a brother in Christ.

There is a lot in these four verses so let’s take things one by one. First, how can we cause children to sin? I think the main way is by our actions. Children are remarkable in picking up our habits. One thing they are really good at is doing what we do in the very worse place possible. Do you cuss? Then guess what, that bad word you use, it will be the one your five year old decided to impress when the pastor pays a visit.

Don’t think so then let me share something I did when I was five. Back in the 50’s one certain word was used to describe African Americans that was not and is not considered nice. In the South though white people used this word without thinking. Now both my parents worked and we had a young lady of color who babysat us and did minor household chores. One day I called her the “N” word, after all how could that word be bad, my dad and family used it. Well she told my dad and he told me that it was not a nice word and even though he used it he shouldn’t use it. Then dad made me apologize to her. Guess what? That word was stricken from my vocabulary.

But we can cause our kids to go wrong in other ways. If you cheat others, talk about others behind their backs, lie or take something that is not yours then you are teaching your kids to dishonor God, teaching them to sin. Jesus had a special place in His heart for children. So should we.

Next Jesus tells us that when a brother sins we are to rebuke them. Now too many Christians take this to mean they are to really go after the person who sinned. However, we are to do any rebuke with the love of Jesus. We also tend to forget that Jesus also tells us to forgive our brother when he repents. We tend to have an issue with the forgiving part. But what I find interesting is that Jesus tells us to forgive each time the person sins and repents. Jesus is telling us that our brothers and sisters can and will sin repeatedly but that even though they sin again we are to forgive them just as Jesus forgives. Jesus tells us to forgive seven times a day.

Now I know that it is hard to keep forgiving someone when they do the same thing over and over but then what Jesus asks us to do is rarely easy. I only have to look at my own life to realize that I am far from perfect and I do commit the same sins over and over. Now I may think my sins are minor compared to others but to a perfect God there is no minor sin only sin. So we are instructed to not cause others to sin but also to forgive others when they sin and repent. Tough to do but that is what we are supposed to do.

Have a blessed day,


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How Dark Were the Dark Ages?


A very interesting video from my friend Glenn’s blog. David

Originally posted on Thomistic Bent:

A good video from Prager U. I suggest starting reading Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Contra Geniltes.

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Theistic Evolution & Biblical Interpretation


My friend Glenn gives a great reason that Theistic evolution is a dead end.

Originally posted on Thomistic Bent:

Forms of theistic evolution seem to abound in Christian circles. Theistic evolution is a teaching that says that evolution was used by God to create mankind, even in evolution’s fullest sense of very gradual change through random mutations and natural selection.

To make theistic evolution work, Genesis 1 and 2 must be taken as some sort of figurative language, a theological passage teaching about mankind. The most common form I run into lately is that God picked one of the myriad of gradually-changing species and breathed a soul into it, thus creating Adam. In this sense, so we are told, Adam can be the first man, but there was a prior human-type being, even possibly the same specie, that did not have the image of God breathed into it. Such belief seems hard to visualize, considering the fact that human DNA has about three billion data bits, requiring an almost inconceivable number of gradual specie changes before…

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Evolution of thought

Recently I posted about whales and how evolution just cannot explain how a dog like animal could transform; evolve, into an aquatic animal such as a whale or orca. I received a comment asking me if I read anything except items that are anti evolution. I other words biology texts and other scientific literature. I answered that I had and gave examples. It seemed to me a good time to write how I went from a believer in evolution to a skeptic. For my longtime followers some of this is a repeat but I wanted to get this down in one place.

In the late 50’2 my parents bought a set of encyclopedias and a Time book on science that was lavishly illustrated. I think I may still have the Time book but the encyclopedia is long gone replaced by numerous others. These two purchases by my parents opened the world of science to a young boy, a love I have never lost. One article in particular caught my eye. It concerned the Miller–Urey experiment to recreate the conditions of the early earth and it was expected to show how life began. Reading that article back then it seemed that man would be creating life within a few years. Of course over 50 years later not only have we not created test-tube life but it seems we know believe the early atmosphere was not a very hospitable environment for life. Still I was hooked on science.

Once I got access to my elementary school library and was allowed in the nonfiction sections I read every book concerned with science. Then I started on the local city library branch and went through every book on science I could find. Oh, occasionally I branched out into history and biographies but science books were my favorite. From junior high on I took every science course offered. I even went to summer school the summer before the sixth grade to take a special course on science offered at the junior high’s new science lab. The only nonfiction I read then was science fiction. I loved Isaac Asimov both for his fiction but more so for the science article he wrote weekly and that were put together as collections. As soon as one came out in paperback I would buy it even though I had already read the hardbound book in the library.

Science nut would have been an apt description for me. But why not? In the sixties science was making great strides. We were in a race with the USSR to be the first nation to put men on the moon. President Kennedy had made a commitment for the US to send a man to the moon and return him safely buy the end of the decade. Then on July 20th 1969 Neil Armstrong put the first footprints on the lunar surface. I thought with science anything could happen.

I was a firm believer in evolution. It seems to me that my textbooks and all the reading I had done showed that evolution was a fact. I also saw no reason that evolution and my faith were in way way in conflict. After all couldn’t God uses evolution to carry out His plan? Of course He could. God can do anything.

Now, let’s flash forward to the 90’s. I find myself a father of two daughters and a son and we are attending a new church where eventually I am asked to teach adult Sunday school classes. Specifically I was asked to teach a class on apologetics. Apologetics, what in the world is apologetics and why in the world do Christians need to apologize about our faith? Of course today it seems the world constantly wants Christians to apologize about our faith but not so much back then. After reading up on apologetics I quickly found that the word apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, to give a defense of. This was the first time I had really delved into why I believed what I believe and how much evidence there if for the Christian faith. The evidence got me. Being a science nut I loved following the evidence and here all along was a mountain of evidence for my beliefs. I was hooked on apologetics.

However a lot of my Christian friends did not believe in evolution. In about 2000 I set out to show that evolution and the Bible were compatible. I had collected a lot of information about Christian apologetics but my recent information on evolution was limited to reading National Geographic and Discovery magazine articles as well as books by Stephen J. Gould. What I wanted to see was what was new in the field of evolution. Imagine my surprise when I looked at our middle child’s Middle school science book to see the very same illustrations and proofs of evolution that I read in my High school biology text almost 40 years ago.

There were the same picture of peppered moths and the archaeopteryx bones. Darwin’s finches and Haeckel’s embryos as well as the iconic drawing of the evolution from apelike creature to modern man. I thought that over 40 years later something new would have been added. The problem is that all the new information supported microevolution and nothing was there to support macroevolution. Just a quick definition of my terms. Microevolution is changes within a species but the species itself remains. For example, Darwin’s finches where the size of the beak changes but we still have a finch. Macroevolution is the change from one kind of animal to another. Where for example a land dwelling creature eventually changes into a whale or and apelike creature becomes a modern human all through a slow unguided process called natural selection. The sad part is the example of the peppered moth is not an example of evolution at all but just a change in the ratio of black and white moths.

Yes there was work on single celled organisms and the workings within a cell but once again what one started with was what one ended with. I could find nothing to tell me why macroevolution had seemingly stopped. Why did we not see new kinds of organisms coming into existence? Since man has appeared there just aren’t any new creatures coming into existence. I was getting nowhere on the evolution side so I decided to look at what the critics were saying. Maybe if I attacked the problem from their side I could make my case.

Then I really ran into a problem. There were real issues with what I had been taught all these years. I read that Haeckel’s embryos had been faked. I thought surely this could not be the case. After all they have been in text books for decades. Guess what I found? There were indeed faked and even one of my favorite authors Stephen J. Gould said so but since they taught a truth, that evolution was true; they were done for a good cause. Really, faked science is okay as long as the intentions are good. The peppered moths and finches did not show macroevolution and there is now some question if the archaeopteryx was an ancestor or a contemporary of modern birds.

Then there is the fossil record. Even Darwin recognized that the fossil record was a problem for his theory. If one reads chapter six “Difficulties on Theory” from Darwin’s book The Origin of Species we find problems Darwin identified. He puts these problems in four major categories which I will summarize. First, if species have descended from other species in a gradual manner, why do we not see innumerable transition forms?   Second, how can evolution account for the transitions of peculiar habits and structures of a new species when they are descended from a species with entirely different habits and structures? It is in this question that Darwin asks how evolution can account for the eye.   Third, can instincts be acquired and modified by natural selection?   Forth, how can evolution account for the fact that when different species are crossed the offspring are infertile, but varieties within a species are fertile?

I though surely after all this time we would have found the numerous transitional fossils. But no, after over 150 years of looking we still have a lack of these types of fossils. I found out that this is a problem recognized by Gould. Gould in his book The Structure of Evolutionary Theory said “Anatomy may fluctuate through time, but the last remnants of a species usually look pretty much like the first representatives… Paleontologists have always recognized   the   long-term stability of most species; we had become more than a bit ashamed by this strong and literal signal, for the dominant theory or our scientific culture told us to look for the opposite result of gradualism as the primary empirical expression of every   biologist’s favorite subject–evolution itself.” p. 749 You can find more quotes from Gould in my post Evolution – Science Trapped in the Nineteenth Century Part 2

Gould had proposed a modification to Darwin called punctuated equilibrium to account for the sudden appearance of new kinds of organisms such as happened during the Cambium explosion. He was met with fierce resistance. It seems that anything but what was handed down by Darwin is considered blasphemy.

Finally I came to the book Darwin’s Black Box written by Michael Behe which introduced me to the concept of irreducible complexity. That is that some parts of an organism in order to function has to have every part in place else it serves no useful purpose. An example from the mechanical world is a mousetrap. Without all its parts a mousetrap just will not trap mice. Two biological examples are the bacterium flagellum and the ability for blood to clot. I have gone into this in my series on evolution.

It seemed that the more I looked into evolution the more problems I found, Problems that either were ignored or glossed over with lame explanations or an appeal to the future. What I have found is that evolution is to be accepted as fact and not challenged. That is not science as I know it and love. Science is the search for answers; it is questioning the status quo and looking for the next breakthrough.

I started to read about intelligent design and found even more questions about evolution but I also found why a creator makes even more sense. While I always believed in the creator God and still do, my belief in evolution has been horribly shaken. Biologists have let believers in evolution down as they have given up the search for answers and are content to live in the past.

Somethings will never be known as there is just so much one can tell from disarticulated bones. To quote a sign in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, “All these ideas are controversial, because they are based on scientists’ interpretations of fossil bones that are often incomplete, or that have become distorted over millions of years. We may never have all the evidence needed to support these ideas.” The fossils we see displayed in museums are how someone thinks they should look. When I was a kid the brontosaurus was displayed with its legs on the side like a lizard. Today what was called a brontosaurus is displayed with the legs under it similar to an elephant. The bones did not change just the interpretation of how they should be displayed. The funny thing is they fit in both places. When we come to the popular conceptions of extent animals such as the Jurassic Park movies and the covers of magazines, we have no idea what colors they are or how fast they move or really how they looked with flesh on.

I doubt that this will change the mind of anyone who believes in evolution as the base belief for most is that there is no God. If there is no God then one needs an explanation for why everything is here. For those who wish to explore more check out my series on evolution and the arguments for God. I close with this observation, evolution can be true and God can still exist, there are many who hold both views. However, if evolution is false then God must exist. Today I believe evolution to be false and the evidence for God to be overwhelming, the universe shows all the attributes of design.

Have a blessed day,


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How Can We Tell If The Universe Has Design?


Another post from my friend Glenn’s blog.

Originally posted on Thomistic Bent:

This is another in a series of questions about Christianity from critics and skeptics.

Question: In most arguments from design, theuniverse is compared to a designed object. For example, Paley uses a watch to illustratedesign, since we all know watches are designed. What other universe is the proponent of Intelligent Designcomparing ourcurrentuniverse to so he can show design? We would need another universe that is designed or undersigned to compare this one so we can decide about design. With only one universe to evaluate, we can make no valid comparisons about design.

Answer: This question sets up a false dilemma. It is not true that we need another universe to compare ours. We can merely observe that everything that works toward an end has an intelligence behind it working toward that end. All things that are purposeless require no designer, a fact which many thoughtful atheists are quick to point…

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The Rich Man and Lazarus

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ” Luke 16:19-31

Today’s parable has a lot to teach us. First we have the rich man who had all the creature comforts he could ask for. He lacked nothing. But all his riches could not keep him from dying. Now we have him crying out to Abraham for relief from his torment. Moses tells the rich man that he got his reward on earth. Hum. Does that mean those of us who are well off are destined to a bad place when we die? No, but is does mean that when we have so much here in this life we can start to believe that everything we have is by our on hand and we have no need for God. We can spend time patting ourselves on the back for all we accomplished not ever giving thanks to God for our fortune.

What about the Lazarus? Are all the poor and sick automatically going to a better place? Again the answer is no. The poor and ill can blame others. They can blame God and never accept Him. But those less well-off can also be thankful for the little they do have. They often realize that what they do have on earth is only through God’s grace. That is why Lazarus is with Abraham, he was obedient to God even though he was poor and ill. The rich man however never gave thanks to God so because he rejected God in their life God rejected him in the next life.

Jesus also had another reason to tell the Pharisees this parable. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to warn the rich man’s brother of the fate that awaited them if they did not change their ways. Abraham tells the rich man that they had Moses and the prophets to warn them and all they need do is listen to them. Then he says something that will come true in a very short while. Abraham tells the rich man that even if someone came back from the dead will the brothers be convinced. Thousands of Jews alive when Jesus was resurrected refused to believe their own eyes and missed the biggest event in man’s history as well as a chance to be with God for all eternity.

For the Jewish people there was little doubt that the Messiah was to come at the time Jesus was here on earth. Daniel had given them the timeline. Their problem is that Jesus was not the Messiah they wanted. They were looking for a warrior who would free them from the Roman oppression. They were concerned with an earthly kingdom while Jesus was telling them about a heavenly kingdom. They wanted the here and now solved and Jesus was teaching about the next life. Finally they could not conceive that God’s anointed on would be put to death. The Jewish people wanted to defeat the Romans and Jesus came to defeat death.

Now a change of subject. I have used today’s verses as a rebuttal of a Jehovah’s Witness belief. It was a Saturday morning a few years back. As is my habit on Saturdays I was enjoying a mug of tea while reading the paper. I was sitting in my chair wearing pajamas and my robe when the doorbell rings. There at the door in a suit was a man in his thirties Bible and watchtower in hand. He starts in using the Bible to prove his points. One of which is that when we die we are in a non-conscious state, total unaware of anything. We do not even dream. In fact they believe that when we die we enter a state of unconscious non-existence. When the man came to this belief he stated it as I did at first that we are unconscious. It was at that point that I asked him to turn to today’s verses in his Bible and read the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man.

I ask him if that did not seem to say we are conscious in death. He answered that it was just a story and was not real. I countered with the fact that Jesus’’ parable while they may or may not have actually happened did in fact convey the truth and that Jesus could not lie. He did agree with my point but then insisted that he needed to bring an elder to answer my objections. Unfortunately that never happened. Every Christian needs to be able to defend why we believe what we believe. When the doorbell rings we should at least be ready to ask questions and move the unbeliever to the parts of the Bible that underpin our faith. Also, it is okay to say you don’t know but will get back to them with an answer.

Have a blessed day,


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