Are You Planting Peach Trees?

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THOMAS DREIER TELLS the story of a an eighty-year-old man who was in the process of planting a young peach tree.

The old man’s neighbor asked, “Do you expect to eat peaches from that tree?”

“No,” he said.

“At my age I know I won’t.

But all my life I’ve enjoyed peaches–never from a tree I had planted myself.

I wouldn’t have had peaches if other men hadn’t done what I’m doing now.

I’m just trying to pay the other fellows who planted peach trees for me.”  (David Dunn, “Bread Upon The Waters,” Trying Giving Yourself Away, 1947, 22).

THOUGHT:  We are often unconscious of the fruits of our own thoughtfulness, and likewise of the thoughtfulness other saints have invested for our benefit, perhaps many years ago.

Shouldn’t we be planting peach trees for future generations (Eccl. 3:2; 1 Cor. 3:6; John 4:35-38)?

“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!”–Mike

2 Pet. 2:20

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“How quickly and effortlessly can we slide into a series of small decisions that land us in a tangled web from which there is no easy exit.”  Erwin Lutzer, “Conflict with Doubt,” Growing Through Conflict, 48

“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20; cf. Galatians 6:1a).

Are There No Moral Absolutes?

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MODERN RELATIVISTIC THINKING suggests that we have no rule or standard by which we can distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, or moral and immoral.

Hilary Putnam, a Harvard University professor, sums it up when he declares that moral and ethical judgments are “something that we ultimately judge by the ‘seat of our pants'” (Alan Crippen II, ed., “The Train Wreck of Truth and Knowledge,” Reclaiming the Culture, 59).  We must come to see that there is no possibility of a ‘foundation’ for ethics…” (Ibid), he asserts.

Is the professor correct–are morals and ethics based upon our own subjective opinions?  Are there no moral absolutes?

Consider for a moment the repercussions of Mr. Putnam’s philosophical extreme.  (NOTE: The following excerpts are very explicit):

  • “The pro-life groups are right about one thing:  the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make such a crucial moral difference.  We cannot coherently hold that it is all right to kill a fetus a week before birth, but as soon as the baby is born everything must be done to keep it alive.  The solution, however, is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine.  The solution is the very opposite: to abandon the idea that all human life if of equal worth” (Watkins, “Death What A Beautiful Choice,” The New Absolutes, 85).
  • “A principle at an elementary school in New Hampshire invited a homosexual men’s chorus to give a concert to the kids.  The choral members changed the words of familiar children’s songs to sing about boys loving boys and girls loving girls” (Mister Sandman, bring me a dream, make him the cutest that I’ve ever seen).  During the concert they asked the children to raise their hands if they have two mommies or two daddies living with them.  When parents heard about the concert after the fact, they confronted the principal, but she wrote them off, saying tha the concert was ‘part of a multicultural emphasis at school” (“Dial Deviant For Normal,” 145).
  • “Dr. John Money is professor emeritus of medical psychology and pediatrics at John Hopkins University and an influential voice in sex research.  In an interview with Paidika, a magazine that advocates civil rights for pedophiles, Dr. Money said: ‘If I were to see the case of a boy aged ten or eleven who’s intensely…attracted toward a man in his twenties or thirties, if the relationship is totally mutual, and the bonding is genuinely totally mutual, then I would not call it pathological in any way.”  Money believes that pedophilia is an orientation which cannot be changed or permanently suppressed” (Ibid, 148).

Observations:

  1. If there are no moral absolutes, then man becomes not the discoverer of truth–but the determiner of truth (Prov. 21:1; Judg. 17:6).  Contrast that with the revelation of Scripture: “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23).
  2. Moral relativism is patently false.  Truth is absolute–fixed (Rom. 2:8; John 18:37), it is attainable (John 8:32), it is understandable (Eph. 5:17; 2 Pet. 3:16), it is identifiable (John 17:17; 14:6; 16:13; 1 John 4:6), and it is consistent (Titus 1:2).
  3. If we have no objective criteria or standard by which to distinguish between right and wrong, then it is impossible to identify certain behavior as “sinful.”  Again, contrast this with Paul’s rebuke of governor Felix: “Now as he reasoned about righteousness (i.e., morality”–Moffit), self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you'” (Acts 24:25).

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isa. 5:20).

“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!”–Mike

 

 

INCARNATE for July 25

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But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Are You Getting Your Degree?

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SCRIPTURE URGES US to mature in our faith to the point that we can find wisdom and instruction during times of difficulty (cf. Rom. 5:3-5; 2 Cor. 12:10).

It’s a biblical approach (cf. 1 Pet. 1:6-7), but the tuition fees are expensive and the courses can be incredibly challenging.

The Psalmist wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (Psm. 119:67; cf. Rom. 8:28–emphasis mine, mb).

While we are inclined to ask God for ease and that He’ll deliver us from pain in all of its agonizing forms, He sometimes reminds us that the best life-education is earned and learned while attending UHK–the University of Hard Knocks (Prov. 17:3; Jas. 1:2-4, 12; 1 Pet. 4:12-19).   

So, what are some of the courses we must take in order to get our adversity degree (1 Pet. 5:10)?

PERSPECTIVE 101.  Paul taught, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).

Noted author, Robert Fulghum, once wrote:  “One of life’s best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem.  If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire—then you’ve got a problem.  Everything else is an inconvenience.  Life is inconvenient.  Life is lumpy.  A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump.  Once needs to learn the difference.

REALITY MANAGEMENT.  Jesus said, “It rains on the just and the unjust…” (Mat. 5:45).  Job said, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble…” (Job 14:1).

Everybody experiences pain.  None of us are exempt from tragedy and problems simply because we are children of God. If baptism served as an insurance policy against any form of harm or heartache, folks would accept Jesus for no other reason that to be spared such.

LIFE APPRECIATION.  The Psalmist asked rhetorically, “What man can live and not see death?  Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?” (Psm. 89:48; cf. Prov. 27:1; Heb. 9:27).

Death does not discriminate because of age.  Read the obituary column in your local newspaper.  People of all ages die–infants in the womb, innocent children, teens, young and middle-aged adults, and senior citizens all step into eternity on a daily basis.

We learn to be grateful and thankful for our life when we recognize that our time on earth is limited at best and that we have no promise of tomorrow (cf. Jas. 4:14; Psm. 39:4; 78:39; 90:10, 12).

“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!”–Mike