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'Winging It

    by Stan Smith

May 25, 2022

Have you heard that one? "What's my motivation?" It usually comes from an actor playing a part and wants to know better how to play the part, so asks the director, "What's my motivation?" because knowing why you do something helps you to do it better, more authentically. In Romans 12, Paul beseeches his readers (where "beseech" is more of a command than a plea) to "present your bodies as a living sacrifice." Now, you have to admit, that's quite a command. You see, a "sacrifice" is not small. It is costly. (A "sacrifice"…  ( Click for more )

May 18, 2022

One of my very favorite stories in the Old Testament is found in 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat (whose name alone is funny to me) was the king of Judah. He was a good king, endeavoring to follow God. In this story, Jehoshaphat gets news of a "great multitude" assembling against him for war. It didn't look good. Jehoshaphat was no fool. The text says that "Jehoshaphat was afraid ..." Normal, understandable response. It goes on to say "... and set his face to seek the LORD." Not the normal response, but an excellent one. As the story goes, Jehoshaphat…  ( Click for more )

I remember once sitting with a fellow who was an agnostic but wanted to know the Gospel. So I gladly shared it with him as carefully and clearly as I could. "We're all sinners, guilty of Cosmic Treason against God, and we all deserve eternal punishment. But Christ died on our behalf so we could be saved from that punishment. If you put your faith in Him for that salvation, you can live with Him for eternity." Something like that. "Well," he said, "I'm working on it." Working on it? What does that mean? In a recently overheard conversation, I…  ( Click for more )

As I said when I started this story, most everyone knows the story of Jonah and the Whale1. Even unbelievers have heard that one. Indeed, that whole "fish" thing is what really throws people off, believers and unbelievers alike. It gets in the way. It is a distraction at best and a point of contention at worst. Why? Well, because it's not normal. It's miraculous. I mean, even if it is actually true (as I would contend) that Jonah really was swallowed by some sea creature and spit up on the land three days later, it would be a one-of-a-kind event (you know, like the…  ( Click for more )

This third entry is more a bit of conjecture. Don't take it as any more than that. But I thought it was interesting conjecture. Look at the account of Jonah preaching in Ninevah. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them (Doesn'" target="_blank">Jonah 3:4-5).Doesn't that seem odd? I mean, it appears that Jonah spent a day preaching and Ninevah instantly…  ( Click for more )

Okay, so we have a prophet of God who decides to run. Bad option, right? Not a good thing. Have you ever done that? Oh, of course not the whole "sail to Tarshish but get eaten by a fish on the way" thing. I mean where you don't do what you know God wants you to do. Ever done that? One thing we all know about that: bad choice. God wants something from us, and we stand in His way. Not a safe place to be. And the guilt is incredible. God could have accomplished something, but I refused. Really, really not good. Fortunately for us, we don't have such a poor God. He's…  ( Click for more )

April 13, 2022

It's an odd thing. When I was growing up we all knew the story of Jonah and the Fish. (Yeah, that's right. We were told at the outset that "this was no whale". Fish.) We knew it. We saw the connection of "in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights" and Jesus in the grave for that time. Yeah, yeah, okay. Fun story and all. But did it really mean anything? I mean, did you get anything out of it? It is, after all, a bit of a strange story, even without the whole fish-swallowing-a-man component. First you have a prophet who figures the best…  ( Click for more )

April 6, 2022

Awhile ago I got a phone call from a former coworker who had moved out of state. "Hi," she said. "I have a question that you might be able to answer. When dogs die, do they go to heaven? You see, if my dog isn't with me in heaven, I don't want to go." She, of course, was suffering from a fundamental failure to comprehend heaven. But she exhibited the classic understanding of what heaven is all about: "Heaven is fundamentally about my ultimate happiness." And she got me to thinking about Heaven. Heaven means different things to different people.…  ( Click for more )

March 30, 2022
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, It is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple. For He will hide me in His shelter in the…  ( Click for more )
March 23, 2022

You know the most common complaint about God, right? To the critic it's the theist's Achilles heel. To the believer it's the one real sticking point. The most devout believer can encounter events in life that cause this to rise and trip them up. It is everywhere. The complaint? "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" Did you ever think about the wrong-headedness of such a question? I mean, that question is way out in left field, so to speak. Now, when I suggest this, I would guess that many people would say, "Yeah! It's not that God allows…  ( Click for more )

March 16, 2022

Now, I know that everyone loves to read stuff about marriage advice from Scripture. Okay, maybe not. Still, I'm reading through Peter's epistles and found something interesting. Since we want a Christian worldview (rather than imposing a worldly worldview on Christianity), I'd like to examine a passage of Scripture for exegesis -- proper understanding. Now, keep in mind that the passage is likely controversial, so that's a double purpose of this exercise. I'd like to examine the text for what it says (exegesis) rather than what our world or even ourselves might like it to say (eisegesis). …  ( Click for more )

March 9, 2022

I've noticed that among those who claim to follow the Word of God there appears to be two categories. Oh, sure, there is the third category -- those who discard God's Word -- but I'm talking about those who don't. These two categories would be those who allow the Word to shape their world and those who allow their world to shape the Word. It is undeniable that there are difficulties with Scripture. For instance, it was written in foreign languages long since dead. What does it mean when it says what it says? Take, as an example, the description of the ephod for the priests…  ( Click for more )

March 2, 2022

In my experience there is very little that can get people as upset as quickly as giving unwanted advice. Telling husbands to love their wives isn't likely going to be well received. Telling wives to submit to their husbands is absolutely not going to be well received. These kinds of things just aren't very popular today. Of course, we're not shooting for popular, are we? If Live as if is aiming at telling Christians how to live as if they are Christians and the primary source for that advice is the Bible, then we're just going to have to go with that, like it or not. So, once more…  ( Click for more )

February 23, 2022

When I was young we enjoyed our family hi-fi. That was short for high fidelity, of course. We used it to play records, radio, that sort of thing. A high fidelity stereo, you see, was better than a mere radio because this device would reproduce the qualities and conditions of the music with exact correspondence. The question, then, is how that would look for a faithful wife, a "high fidelity" wife. Because, while we all know that husbands can be unfaithful, it is not limited to them. And any godly wife would definitely aim to be a faithful wife. The first thing we…  ( Click for more )

February 16, 2022

Okay, remember, "fidelity" means "correspondence with quality or condition". "Marital fidelity", then, would mean sexual fidelity (obviously) since the marriage bed is to be held in honor, but it means so much more. Here, let's put that another way. Part of the quality and conditions of marriage includes sexual fidelity (as opposed to either sexual immorality or adultery -- Hebrews 13:4). Thus, marital fidelity would clearly include sexual fidelity as part of the quality and conditions of marriage. But the real question that would naturally follow…  ( Click for more )

February 9, 2022

We all know what "infidelity" is, right? That means that you're cheating (sexually) on your spouse. But ... is that right? According to the, fidelity refers to "faithfulness to obligations, duties, or observances" or "exact correspondence with fact or with a given quality, condition, or event." Fidelity, then, certainly refers to faithfulness, but goes far beyond not cheating on your wife. A faithful spouse would be a spouse who faithfully meets all obligations and duties. Surely that includes sexual obligations, but it goes…  ( Click for more )

February 2, 2022

In the classic Miracle on 34th Street, Maureen O'Hara's Doris finally comes to believe in Santa Claus. Natalie Wood's Susan, her inquiring daughter, wonders about this change. So Doris warmly shares this bit of wisdom with Susan: "Faith is believing in things ... when common sense tells you not to." Then there's that wise character from All in the Family, Archie Bunker. About faith he says, "It ain't supposed to make sense; it's faith. Faith is something that you believe that nobody in his right mind would believe." For some reason, it seems, nearly…  ( Click for more )

We all know that Christmas and Christ are too easily separated these days. Has been for some time. It's about "the season", a "feeling in the air", a "sense of good will", a family thing. It's lights and decorations and trees and presents. It's good deeds and all that good stuff. It's "What can I get?" and all that bad stuff. And every Christian knows to some extent that we need to work to keep Christ in Christmas. You may go to the extreme of skipping gifts and decorations (good luck with that) or just work at keeping Him central in all your…  ( Click for more )

January 19, 2022

In the classical (or liturgical) churches there is a season known as "Advent". It is the classical Christmas season. But it's much more than "Christmas". You've seen, I'm quite sure, Advent calendars. They cover several weeks, not just one day, you see. "Advent" comes from the Latin, adventus – "The coming". That's the idea. And the idea of Advent (rather than just "Christmas") is the entire coming-of-Christ concept.

I have a problem with Christmas. Always have. Christmas, you see, has always been so cluttered with…  ( Click for more )

January 12, 2022

I hate Santa Claus. Oh, that's probably too harsh. But the images we're given and the concepts we're taught surrounding this fictional character are just ... well ... wrong. You know, for instance, that he has a "Naughty and Nice" list. What happens to the naughty? Well, they're supposed to get a lump of coal in their stocking, but no one gets a lump of coal. In a recent car commercial I saw Santa Claus is examining two lines of luxury cars -- one red and the other white -- which are being loaded onto vehicles for delivery. The white ones go to the "Nice"…  ( Click for more )

January 5, 2022

It's Wednesday. Surely today you can enjoy a hymn! Beneath The Cross Of Jesus Elizabeth Clephane Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand, The shadow of a mighty Rock within a weary land; A home within the wilderness, a rest along the way From the burning of the noonday heat and the burden of the day. Upon that cross of Jesus, mine eye can sometimes see The very dying form of One who suffered there for me; And from my smitten heart with tears two wonders I confess - The wonders of His glorious love and my own worthlessness. I take, O cross, thy shadow…  ( Click for more )

December 29, 2021

Okay, the previous hymn was rather stuffy, perhaps, although I loved it myself. How about a "more contemporary" hymn? I'd Rather Have Jesus I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I'd rather be His than have riches untold; I'd rather have Jesus than houses or land, I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hand: Refrain Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sin's dread sway! I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today. I'd rather have Jesus than men's applause, I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause; I'd rather have Jesus…  ( Click for more )

December 22, 2021

I was thinking the other day about the dichotomy of an atheist Thanksgiving. I mean, sure, they use the phrase, "I'm thankful for ...", but to whom are they thankful? It is possible to list things for which they are grateful, but little thought is given beyond that list. It occurred to me, however, that there is often something missing at Thanksgiving for all of us. What's missing at Thanksgiving? For a sizable number of Americans, Thanksgiving Day is "Turkey Day". It's a day to enjoy a lot of food, gather with friends and family, watch an inordinate amount…  ( Click for more )

December 15, 2021

You may not be aware of this, but I really love the hymns. Here's one I like a lot. It's an oldie, to be sure, and a lot of you may not have ever heard it. It's painful to sing (because it's in the classical style using archaic language) and it's painful to examine (because it's about the suffering of Christ), but, please, give it a chance. I think you'll find it valuable to examine. O Sacred Head, Now Wounded Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153) O Sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down, Now scornfully surrounded with thorns Thy only crown, How…  ( Click for more )

December 8, 2021

A hymn we've all heard: Nearer, My God, to Thee Sarah F. Adams Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee, E'en tho' it be a cross that raiseth me; Still all my song shall be, "Nearer my God to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!" Tho' like the wanderer, the sun gone down, Darkness be over me, my rest a stone, Yet in my dreams I'll be Nearer my God to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee! There let the way appear, steps unto heav'n; All that Thou sendest me, in mercy giv'n - Angels to beckon me Nearer my God to Thee, Nearer,…  ( Click for more )

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