My Brain on the Internet: The Decline of Hell, Trashing Art, The Naked Cowboy Does Church, and Jan Crouch Died

National Geographic has an article about the demise of hell. “Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans who believe in the fiery down under has dropped from 71 percent to 58 percent.” Belief in heaven is still very high, however. This is consistent with Christians overall ability to disregard anything negative in the Bible and yet fully support anything positive. In the end, what you believe to be real, determines absolutely nothing about what is real.

A new janitor at an art museum accidentally threw away a piece of modern art! The display, involving trash, was mistakenly identified as well, trash, and thrown out. Apparently the artist does not find humor in this, which seems about right. Being in janitorial services for about 10 years of my life, I say we hand over more of the world’s decision making to janitors. Lots of stuff needs cleaning up out there.

Hillsong Church in New York City recently had a women’s conference where a guy posing as “The Naked Cowboy” performed for the women. The Naked Cowboy is a New York street performer who, wearing briefs, a cowboy hat, and cowboy boots, appears to be naked behind his guitar. There was obvious concern expressed by many in the church. Well, apparently The Naked Cowboy is also concerned. First, he cites a trademark violation, that no one at Hillsong asked permission to borrow his trademarked shtick. Second, get this, this is unreal: in an official statement, The Naked Cowboy revealed that he is an ordained minister! He is outraged by this as well. His statement said, as “an Ordained Minister would NEVER attend church in the house of the Lord in his Trade Dress and is EXTREMELY offended by this activity due to his deep Christian beliefs and respect for the process of gathering in the name of Jesus Christ and in the presence of God to worship and praise the Holy Father.” O dear Lord, come quickly.

Trinity Broadcasting Network co founder, Jan Crouch, has died from a severe stroke. Even faith-healers die. She is currently giving an account for every deed done in the body, whether good or bad. crouch


How to Sound Intelligent: P-Hacking

Every week new studies get passed around Facebook and on morning news programs. Astounding discoveries that defy logic suddenly have scientific proof behind them.

Losing weight has nothing to do with diet and exercise; it’s all about sleep.

Coffee cures every disease known to man.

Smiling is better for you than exercise.

On and on they go. Odds are, next week new studies will cancel out the findings of the old studies.

Why is this? How can coffee or eggs be so good for you this week and so bad for you next week?

Largely this is due to a statistical term known as “p-hacking.”

Statistics can be used to prove anything. In an effort to curb that, statisticians have a variable that stats must fit into in order for them to be considered statistically significant.

Without going into the details, p-value was introduced to ensure that a result is actually real, not the result of chance.

In order to hit the accepted p-value of credibility, researchers do p-hacking until their results meet the required p-value.

This can be done by reducing or expanding the test size. Adding or subtracting different variables such as age, gender, size, what day the study was done on, etc.

Therefore, if you play with the variables enough you can conclude that coffee cures cancer. Another group of researchers can take the exact same data, do some p-hacking by changing variables, and use the same data to prove that coffee causes cancer.

Scientists and researchers don’t get money, attention, or tenure unless they come up with startling test results. Therefore, to keep making money, they p-hack their way to riches and notoriety.

And since all the money goes to the researchers with the most fascinating results, there is no money left for fact-checking.

Another factor in all this is that money comes from people who want certain results. Researchers know this going in. In order to get that money they must come up with acceptable results.

The notion that science is this unyielding quest for truth, throwing out error left and right, is becoming increasingly ridiculous to swallow.

Science is based on human observation. But the weakness of human observation is that human part. We’re tainted with sin, selfishness, pride, and greed. Even scientists who have studies proving there is no sin, only genetic predispositions, are tainted with sin.

Although science is currently riding high on a wave of adulation and happy thoughts, it is shooting itself in the foot.

But that’s OK, they will soon have a study telling us how feet cause cancer anyway.

Jeremiah 29 and the Fall of America

Lately, between the transgender bathroom flare up and Donald Trump, many Christians have given up on America and have officially concluded that we have lost.

I have seen several times in recent weeks, Christians pontificating that we are now living “in captivity.” The bad guys have won, we’ve lost our country. So what do we do now that we are official losers? How should we live in this captivity to the godless liberal evil around us?

I know, I know! Let’s ask Jeremiah! Jeremiah lived in captivity and gave instructions about how to live in captivity. Let’s do what he says.

Dutifully, our Christian leaders copy this tremendous insight, and now everyone and their mother is telling us to apply Jeremiah 29:7 to our American Christian lives.

And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

Oh, how wonderful! One guy said “seeking the peace” meant keeping yourself comfortable and praying for America. Another guy said “seeking peace” meant running for office and joining the school board.

I, with many other Christians, sit back and question the inability of people to interpret Scripture anymore. Let’s examine Jeremiah 29 a bit, shall we.

Jeremiah 29:4-7–Jerusalem is being surrounded by the Babylonians. In order to survive, Jeremiah tells people to give up and move to Babylon. While there, build houses, have kids, and seek the peace of the city. The city is Babylon. They moved. Is Jeremiah telling us to move to another country? If we are to stay here, how do we apply this? Do we move into our houses further? The equivalent for America would perhaps be moving to Iran or North Korea. Move into Iran, build a house and help Iran prosper. It’s not seeking the peace of your own city, but the city of your mortal foreign enemy. But applications I have seen emphasize staying in America and living peaceably in our houses, which is what we’ve already been doing. There is no actual equivalent to the situation in America here.

Jeremiah 29:8-9–The real issue is whether the Jews would listen to God’s prophet or listen to the false prophets. Jeremiah, speaking for God, says to move; the false prophets say to stay. So am I to stay in America or leave it? How do I know which side God is on? This is especially difficult since God has not said anything about America.

Jeremiah 29:10-14–the Babylonian captivity would last 70 years, then God will regather Jews to Israel. Will the American captivity last 70 years? Has God made a promise about the destiny of America? We like verse 12–God thinks of a peaceful end for for them–but where is this ever stated in relationship to America?

Jeremiah 29:16-19–God promises to send destruction by way of famine and pestilence to all Jews who stay behind and don’t move to Babylon. Are those telling me to join the school board suggesting that God will kill all those who don’t? Again, what is the equivalent to America?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Jeremiah 29 has absolutely nothing to do with the current situation in America.

If you want to know how to live in a foreign, hostile land, you don’t have to borrow Jeremiah’s context! The entire New Testament is written to strangers and pilgrims. It amazes me that people think that NOW we are losing in America! Last month we were OK, but now! Now we are in captivity!

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I have been removed from the kingdom of darkness and am now in the Kingdom of His Dear Son. I am a stranger and a pilgrim. I am a citizen of heaven. This world is not my home. We live for a better country.

Luke 9:57-62 says that following Christ means being detached from the things of this world, maybe even your family.

1 Peter 2:11-25 says that following Christ will mean all manner of bad things may happen to us, but we take the punches patiently and follow Christ, who patiently took the punches for us.

2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 tells us to come out from among them and be separate. We are not told to move in with them! Jeremiah 29 was an anomaly. The entire history of Israel was a story in being separate. Moses’ Law created separation between Israel and Gentiles. That’s why Jews were so infuriated with Jeremiah and his message of going to Babylon! It went against everything God had ever said to them. That’s why it was so offensive!

Pretty much every page of your New Testament will include something about not getting entangled with this world, being separate, setting affections on things above, looking at what is not seen as it is eternal, putting your treasure in heaven, mortify your members on the earth, deny self and take up the cross, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out growth, etc.

America is not your country.

If they want America, they can have it. I have a better country that no one can take from me. If they want my stuff, they can have it. If they want my coat, I give them my shirt too. The heathen fight over this world and its stuff. Believers belong to a new country and have better aspirations and eternal possessions. Fear not what man can do to the body.

I fear for Christians who take the very plain and oft-repeated message of Scripture and turn it into patriotic saber-rattling. We are selling our birthright for a bowl of pottage.

Persecution is to be expected. We are not of this world, therefore the world will hate you. If you follow Christ, you will be hated by the world. So, we don’t follow Christ because it’s too hard. Instead we join the world in fighting to obtain the world. This is a losing proposition.

Persecution has a way of weeding out pretenders and shoring up sound doctrine. Without being flippant and understanding the seriousness of the sentiment, American Christians need persecution. We have lost our way. Nothing will make us run to the shepherd and bishop of our souls than being surrounded by wolves.

My Brain on the Internet: Becket Bones, West Coast Rumble, and 20 Years of Marriage

Lest you think relics are a relic from the past: “A fragment of bone belonging to the murdered archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, has returned to England from Hungary for the first time in 800 years.” no healings reported yet, but there’s plenty of time for that.

Speaking of healings, West Coast Rumble is not the next WWE Pay Per View, but is the name of a new series of Charismatic revivals happening out West. Healings, visions, words from God, and holy laughter are all popping up and revival is set to sweep the land. It is being labeled as “the Third Great Awakening.” Which I believe is the 336th time the Third Great Awakening has been claimed. The movement is part of the New Apostolic Reformation, a militant branch of Pentecostalism. They are into dominionism–taking over America and potentially the world–as new apostles who claim to be visited by Jesus Himself. There is nothing new under the sun. This next wave of gibberish will crash onto the shore and be swept away again. Until the 337th Third Great Awakening. Be on guard. Walk circumspectly.

Yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary. One thing I like about my wife is that she doesn’t get all caught up in such stuff. I wanted to marry a woman who wasn’t all weird about stuff like that. I accomplished my goal! We did nothing for each other and it was lovely. Others judge me as being a horrible husband for not buying her stuff for a big anniversary. But the reality of the situation is that I hate weddings, thus I hated my wedding and I really don’t want to celebrate something I hate. Our relationship is built upon much more solid ground than some Hallmark card notion of romance. So, yeah, it’s cool we’ve been married for 20 years, but it’s just a number and just a date. Thanks wife for making marriage enjoyable, helpful, non-drama, low-key and yet entertaining. Here’s to more of the same.

Over the many hours of driving in the car together, my wife and I have heard many songs on the radio. Whenever the weirdest song possible comes on, I always hold my wife’s hand and say, “Ohhhh, it’s our song.” Here are some of “Our Songs.”

Rod Stewart sings about an unfaithful woman and how “someone like you, makes it hard to live without somebody else.” That’s terrible!

This is Pearl Jam’s anthem to stop domestic violence. An abused woman sticks with her husband because she can’t find a better man. How romantic!

This song is about a guy losing it and killing people. Love you, honey! Here’s to 20 more years!

If You are Fundraising and Want My Money, Here’s How to do It

“Our class is raising money to send to a guy in Africa who is inventing a new toilet system, do you want to give to it?” My daughter asked.

“Sure.” I said.

“OK, we’re selling suckers. There’s blueberry, mango, strawberry . . . .”

Oy. I hate fundraising stuff. I’m a generous guy. I give stuff away regularly. I’m a giver, not a taker.

Except when I deem that giving is stupid.

I gave my daughter $20. She then gave my son 20 suckers.

“No, no, no, no, no!” I said. “Why are you giving him suckers?”

“Because you gave me $20 and I know you won’t like them.”

I went on to explain that I gave $20 so she could have a clear $20 profit, no sucker cost subtracted. “I gave my money to support African toilet needs, not to support big, greedy, American sucker companies.”

I hate fundraising.

I remember someone trying to sell me a cheesecake for some trip somewhere doing something. “I don’t like cheesecake. Can’t I just give you $20?”

“We are selling cheesecake.”

“Yes, but I don’t want cheesecake and I’d rather just give you money so you get all the benefit from my money, plus you won’t have to deliver any cheesecake to me. It’s a win-win.”

“We are selling cheesecake. Would you like a pumpkin one?” They couldn’t see my point.

My daughter is going on a band trip next Spring to Disney World to march in a parade. She came home with fundraising ideas.

“You can do fundraising things if you want, but your mother and I aren’t going to do it for you, nor will you beg people at church. If you want to go on the trip, I suggest you get a job.”

She got a paper route and has already made all the money plus more. Knowing that she did the work, plus she doesn’t have to lose any money to Big Candy companies, I think the trip will be more rewarding.

I don’t mind helping, I just wish it could be more efficient. I also fail to see why we don’t make our kids work instead of beg.

Christians, for some reason, think begging for money is developing faith or something. I never understood that one. Faith would hear the words of Paul, “If a man does not work, neither should he eat.”

Here are two suggestions:

  1. ask for my money, don’t sell me junk.
  2. get a job.

A combination of the two would be most excellent. I don’t have a ton of money to give away, so I prefer to make what I do give away count. I like when there is an actual need rather than just laziness, and I like when my funds are not wasted on middlemen.

Also, Christian fundraising letters need to stop saying, “If you can’t send money, will you promise to pray for me? Your prayers are what I really need.” If prayers were truly what you “really need,” why do you ask for money first? We don’t believe in the power of prayer, everyone knows that. Why do we act like we do when we need other people’s money?

Please, let’s work together on this one and make Charity Great Again!

My Brain on the Internet: Online Baptisms, Major League Baseball and Seeker-Sensitive Churches, and My Piano Playing Daughter

Hardly anyone goes to The Church of Scotland anymore. Recent decline has forced church leaders to examine new ways of attracting adherents to their faith. The answer: online baptisms and Communion. Online baptisms? Really? I know the internet is all wet, but seriously? Perhaps their new slogan would be, “We put the app in bapptism.” Their new leader would be John the Apptist. OK, I’m done. I agree with the head of the Free Church of Scotland, which broke away from the state church in the 19th Century, “At best it is a cheap gimmick, at worst it comes across as yet another desperate attempt by a declining national church to shore up its numbers and justify its existence.”

Major League Baseball, in an effort to speed up games, is planning on moving the strike zone higher and just giving a batter first base on an intentional walk rather than throwing four pitches for balls. I don’t like this. The whole notion of speeding up the game is ridiculous. If we change the game to the extent we remove elements of actual game play, why not just skip the game? The game should be left alone. Remove half the commercials. This reminds me of seeker-sensitive churches–people don’t like doctrine and boring preaching, so we’ll eliminate doctrine and preaching! Great, and now you don’t have church.

My daughter, Elizabeth, played at a piano recital Sunday afternoon. She played a tough song and she never practiced it that much, so it wasn’t her best. The reason she didn’t practice it much is because she did well at Solo and Ensemble, qualifying to play at state where she did very well. The last ten months she has been playing her song for that many, many times. She has come a long way and I am proud of her for her dedication to practice and her growing confidence in performing in front of people. She even practiced the next day after the recital, even though she has a bit of a piano break now. She is awesome.

How to Sound Intelligent: Granville Sharp’s Rule

One of the best ways to dominate people theologically is to bust out your Greek knowledge.

“Wow,” your intellectual opponent thinks, “he knows Greek. I barely speaks English. I must concede the point.”

Actually, that has never happened in the history of doctrinal debates, but it’s a nice thought.

Anyway, pastors go to seminary, and in seminary they learn Greek. Greek is very hard. It costs a lot of money, time, and effort to learn Greek. You can’t fault us pastors for wanting to feel like we’re getting our money’s worth.

Humor us, let us be all Greeky at ya.

No, actually, some Greek knowledge is actually quite helpful. Let me give you some inside information about Greek that you can bust out into theological conversation from time to time and really impress people.

Allow me to introduce you to Granville Sharp. He was by all estimation a genius. He was instrumental in England to bring about the end of slavery there. He was often referred to as “the force behind Wilberforce.” He really was an incredible guy and you should know more about him. He was once encouraged to go into the ministry, but declined saying he was inadequate intellectually. Let that sink in.

Anyway, among many things he did besides starting a Bible society, rescuing a nation, and ending slavery, he also studied Greek. He came up with a rule about definite articles that goes something like this:

Granville Sharp’s rule states that when you have two nouns, which are not proper names (such as Cephas, or Paul, or Timothy), which are describing a person, and the two nouns are connected by the word “and,” and the first noun has the article (“the”) while the second does not, *both nouns are referring to the same person.

Basically, in Greek if there are two nouns and one definite article, the nouns go together as one. This plays into verses such as:

Titus 2:13–“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ is both God and Savior, only one definite article for God and Savior, meaning He is both.

2 Peter 1:1–“to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Same deal, Christ is God and Savior.

Many times the English skips definite articles when the Greek uses them, so you wouldn’t know this rule as an English reader. Greek puts definite articles in all over the place, to the extent that English would sound really bad.

Greek typically says things like “The ball was hit by the Jeff.” That just sounds dumb. So in English we would say, “The ball was hit by Jeff.” The excessive use of the definite article (which also agrees with its noun in gender making it easier to see what noun the article refers to more easily) makes Greek much more precise than English.

Another instance is in Ephesians 4:11–And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.”

How many gifts are listed? Four or five?

The correct answer is four: 1) apostles, 2) prophets, 3) evangelists, and 4) pastor teachers. Pastor teachers only has one definite article, therefore they refer to the same person.

So, next time you pontificate upon these verses, or hear someone else pontificate on them, you can smoothly say, “Ah yes, the Granville Sharps rule” and casually sip your coffee.

You are so cool.