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May God bless President Trump –with an effective four years resulting in a more godly America and all the way to heaven.

The Wall
I expect President Trump will make headway with this. I’m guessing that at some point, Mexico will pitch in $100 in some indirect way and Trump will say mission accomplished.

Illegal immigrants
I expect that some will be sent home. More than with Obama.

Supreme Court Judge
I expect that he’ll pick a pro-life constitutional judge. This is my biggest hope for him.  I fear he’ll cave on this.

LGBT
I expect no real change in this, except perhaps giving them slightly more in the way of rights.  I haven’t heard about him talking about this. I’m guessing this is because he’s secretly liberal on this issue. I really don’t get why LGBT advocates are so afraid of him.

Race
I expect that Minorities will have few policy changes to complain about.
I expect that Trump will make statements that minorities will (reasonably) take issue with.
I expect that Trump will avoid making statements that black advocates will take issue with.
I don’t get why minority advocates are afraid of him.

Women
I expect that Women Advocates will have few policy changes to complain about.
I think it likely that Trump will avoid making statements that women’s advocates would take issue with.
But more bad history may crop up.
I understand why women’s advocates are afraid of him.

Muslims
I expect no change for those already here. I expect fewer Muslims will be allowed into our country.
I understand why Muslim advocates are afraid of him. I don’t expect registration to happen. This is contrary to what he said in the campaign.

Economy
I expect the economy to do well. Partially because it seems to be heading that way. Partially because of real changes he’ll make. Partially because of the impression that he’s good for business.

Clinton
I expect no legal moves against Hillary. This is definitely contrary to his statements.

Conflict of Interest
I expect the Trump’s Sons Running Trump’s Business will be a non-issue.

Twitter
I expect Trump will continuing to tweet. There will still be crazy tweets but they will be fewer. His tweets are effective for him and will continue to be so.

Obamacare
Tough one. I think it will be repealed and replaced with something very similar but different and not provably better. This is going to be a mess.

In Four Years
I’m guessing that Trump will be seen as a fairly successful and effective statesman. I’m guessing liberals will hate him, partially because of his success. He’s going to continue offending people but less so. I’m guessing he will run again, but a major controversy might prevent this. If he runs again, I’m thinking he will win.

Are there other issues I haven’t dealt with?
What do you disagree with?

It’s not a lie if it’s true.

By I can think of exceptions to this.

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Short answer: My conscience encourages it, but I don’t think everyone should.

I’ve previously posted some of these reasons as single statements, but I thought I’d put them all in one place.

Five Reasons I Wear A Tie To Church.

1. I think I look my best while wearing a tie.
I make no claims to handsomeness, but I have opinions as to what makes me look more or less good-looking. I think wearing a tie makes me more presentable. This may not be applicable for other guys.

I’m going to be with other Christians. I’m going to be focusing on God. Why not try to make myself as presentable as possible?

2. My wife likes it when I wear a tie.
Again, your mileage may vary. But pleasing my wife in this way is a reasonable goal with a number of positive results.

3. I see it as a respectful way to show reverence to God.
When you are worshiping, there are many ways to show honor to God in the way you dress. For me, wearing a tie is one of them.

4. I don’t want there to be nobody wearing a tie at church.
Sometimes I look around after a worship service and can’t find any other guys who are wearing a tie, on the platform or off. I think someone should hold down this fort. I want “guys wearing ties” to be somewhere on the spectrum of how men dress at my church. One reason for this is …

5. I’m thinking about the visitors.
Here is a real situation that I can imagine happening every Sunday somewhere around the country: A guy who hasn’t been to church in a long time decides to finally go to the church down the street that he’s heard has welcoming at it. But he’s also heard they are a little conservative, so he decides to wear a tie. And when he gets there, he feels out of place because he’s the only one.

Wouldn’t that be unfortunate?

Now, as I stated, I don’t think everyone should. Here’s why: It would make me nervous to walk around a church where every adult male was wearing a tie. It seems like that might make our church a little less approachable. A little too legalistic-looking.

But wouldn’t it be legalistic in a different way to suggest that no one should? Or if no one does?

As I was thinking about yesterday’s post, I was thinking about how different people respond to the loss of a good thing.

This I imagine is a topic where you can put people into two groups: Those who don’t like change and those who do.

The first kind wants the good thing to last forever. “I’m fine. Let’s just stay here.”

The second kind, those who embrace change (and here I’m guessing, because this really isn’t me) are people who stop liking a good thing before it’s taken away from them. They move to something they see as better, moving away from another good, because they’re not enjoying the good anymore. Or not enough to keep them there. Do I have that correct?

The returns have diminished so much, that it’s worth the risk of moving on in hopes that they find something with a better return.

And obviously this isn’t a hard line definitively splitting all humans into two disparate groups, but there is a continuum that people find themselves on.

If you’re a person who likes change, is this a good description of your approach?

Here’s the Statement: Every earthly good thing that you enjoy will fade away some day.

Here’s the Fleshing-Out-Of-The-Idea:

I’ve been thinking about the impermanence of earthly things that give me joy. Being a person who doesn’t like change, I’m not fond of this reality.

That Pastor you like will some day retire.
That child* who finds peace sitting in your lap will one day be too big for it.
That TV show you enjoy will one day stop.
The schedule that works out so perfectly will no longer work out.

Next truth: Clinging too hard to a joy-bringer that is going away actually reduces our joy.

So the reminder that joy-bringers are not permanent can help us see the wisdom of not putting too much of our hopes in them. So don’t!

But here is the good news.

1. God will provide you other blessing and joys when these fade away. Look forward to that.
2. We’re only talking about earthly good things here. The heavenly good things are eternal.

You know, things like God’s love. And for those who are saved, His Gospel. And Heaven itself.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Light with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – From James 1

* My son once made this statement (I think he heard it somewhere) that is true about all children: One day you will put down that child and never pick her up again.

Wow, that’s harsh. But there is such a thing as grand-children.

95pctfcg4

In early July I started posting statements about current events that almost all of us believe. My thought was this – while we disagree on much, it can be helpful to be reminded what we almost all agree on.

It has at times been difficult to find statements about what is going on in American that we can all concur with, and sometimes the agreed upon statements are so weak that it might be slightly distressing, but I was pleased with how many fairly strong statements I could come up with.

I’ll keep it going.

I’m posting them on Facebook and on Twitter.

I’d be interested in your thoughts and comments and suggestions and disagreements, but before you send corrections, you might want to look at my notes below.

Some Thoughts and Explanations of the “What 95% Of Us Believe.”

Axiom 1: Sometimes the 95% is wrong.
Given how many times in history a universally excepted idea has been shown to be incorrect, it would be foolish to think that for the first time in history, we have everything right.

Axiom 2. Many or most will believe a much stronger wording of the What95%Believes statement.
… But sometimes in order to meet the 95% threshold, I have to tone down the wording.
Part of my reason for writing these statements is to point out the unfortunateness of this. You might (correctly) call this a sad statement about our society (“We should all believe that more strongly!”), but don’t state that I’m incorrect if I haven’t posted it.

Axiom 3: While we may agree on the What95%Believes statement, we may strongly disagree about the implications of the statement.

You and another person might agree to a statement, but you might not agree to how this should affect our lives. People might agree to the statement, “It’s unfortunate that there are homeless people” but the actions people take as a result of believing this range from paying for a person’s lodging for a long time to nothing.

Doing nothing doesn’t imply that you don’t believe the statement.

Axiom 4: You might agree with the What95%Thinks statement, but be of the opinion that it should not be stated.
… and you might be wise in that assessment. For example, you might think that a parent shouldn’t have let their child play in the street, but the time when you’re consoling them in the hospital isn’t a good time to point this out.

Other times the hard statement should be overtly stated.

Axiom 5: It’s Never 100%

There might be very popular ideas, but there is always someone who disagrees with it. Almost everyone agrees with “You shouldn’t murder”, but (at least in practice) murderers disagree with this.

A Word About Scope
When I Say “What 95% of us Believe” – by “Us” I mean (1) people who have heard about the issue in the post and understand its basics, and (2) are Americans, with some definition of the word “American”.

And Three Disclaimers:
1. If at first glance you think you (or others) might disagree with one of the statements, ask yourself if there is a way of thinking about the statement that you could buy into.

2. When I say “95 percent”, I really mean “a very large majority”. The actual number may be 98, or 92, or 89.

3. I have statistics to back none of these “large majority” conjectures.

Taking action to work towards Reality X, and encouraging others to do likewise, is not the same as saying, “I don’t believe in God’s sovereignty over Reality X.”

It is good to ask this question often: “Is this what God wants me to be doing right now?”

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Okay, so let’s say you’ve been to your state fair quite a few times, and you’ve enjoyed it and heard people say good things about it, but you’d like to know how it stacks up to other state fairs,  because you’ve only been to your own.

So you google “Best State Fairs” and find a few sites. So you look at one from Country Living that lists their five favorites: Minnesota, Iowa, Texas, New York and Alaska.

And you’re glad to see your own State Fair there, but you think, maybe this is just the opinion of few writers (or maybe just one.)

So you look at another, and another and you start to get interested, because you keep seeing the same few state fairs. And maybe you’d like evidence that your state’s is better than the one in the famous musical that says “Our state fair is a great state fair. Don’t miss it, don’t even be late!”

So, you start keeping track: which sites are in which sites list of Best State Fairs.

You find 15 lists. And, eschewing the click-bait, you end up with this chart (ordered by most listed to least listed – see full chart here.)

MN IA TX OH NY CA AZ WI KY AK IN WA NC OR OK Big E GA IL FL KA SD MI WY ND DE NM NE MO CO
Site 14 13 13 12 12 11 11 9 7 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
New York Post 7 1 1 1 1 1 1
Country Living 5 1 1 1 1 1
Travel Channel 11 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Bustle 10 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Huffington 10 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Fodors 10 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Forbes 9 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Ask.com 10 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Family Vacation Critic 12 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
World Web 10 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Smart Asset 10 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1
Vacations Made Easy 20 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Samantha Brown 8 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
USA Today Ten Best 10 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
American Profile 8 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

 

The first thing you’re happy to note is that your state fair is listed the most times, once more than the State Fair from Fame and Song.

You also note:

— 30 State Fairs are listed at least once.
— 11 are only listed only once.
— 7 are listed at least ten times.
— The single site that doesn’t list Minnesota is odd to the point of being disregardable! Delaware? Really? And two State Fairs are from Oklahoma? And honestly you wonder if they put Iowa there out of some kind of irrational reverence to Rodgers and Hammerstein.

As you compile all of the data, you note, with some dismay, that one of the list that doesn’t choose Iowa has a link that no longer works, but you hope that anyone analyzing the data will believe you that the link really did work at one point. You know, since you’ve gone through all this effort.

In any case, you’re pleased that your hope that yours is in fact the best state fair was not unfounded. And you look forward to the next time you can enjoy cheese curds, talent shows and trolley rides there again.

Earlier this week, Pastor John posted an article – A Beginner’s Guide to Free Will which I think is very helpful. The second half of this article should be read by anyone before they get into a discussion or argument about Free Will.

In it, he gives three definitions of Free Will, one of which he thinks exists for all people, one of which exists only for Christians, and one of which he thinks does not exist for anyone.

If you talk to someone about Free Will, you should have mutual agreement about which type you’re talking about.

Just like if you’re ever talking to someone about Luck, you should agree about which type you’re talking about.

You can praise God without using the word ‘Praise’.

You should really take a walk on this lovely summer day.

The next time you feel a person (or group of people) is being unreasonable, think about this: Is it possible that you’re not really considering the issue from their point of view?

How To Visualize Your Prediction of How The General Election Will Affect Our Country’s Future

[As the reader, please just stipulate for the sake of this post that I am excellent at creating visual graphics.]

In this essay I will be presenting of a visualization of what I think about the presidential election and how it will affect America. Also how Donald Trump is different. I’m asking you to consider whether or not you agree. I think it’s likely that you will, assuming you’re a normal, well-adjusted voter.

Here we go.

Like most people, I’m a bit disillusioned about the political process. Generally speaking, I don’t hold out a lot of hope that any president will make that big of a difference in the grand scheme of the course of the nation.

So, for example, as a voter who generally chooses Republicans on my ballots, I do so with the hope that the Republican will win and the expectation that if he does, things will get better. But, and this is important, not necessarily a lot better.

So as you might imagine, like most sane conservatives, I was looking forward to Ted Cruz (or, you know, Rubio, or Kashich) getting the GOP nomination, and then the presidency. And assuming this happened, this is how I had pictured that future, probabilistically speaking.

Cruz

Looking at the picture you’ll see that I, like all humans, don’t know the future, and I can only make guesses. Perhaps Cruz would have been amazing and great strides of progress would have happened in the U.S. of A. Or perhaps he would have done poorly and things would have gotten worse. But I was laying odds that things would get better – probably slightly to moderately better.

But it looks like that isn’t going to happen now; Cruz is out of the picture and perhaps we’ll have Hillary Clinton as our next Commander In Chief. Here’s my guess as to how that might work out.

Clinton

So you can see that I had similar uncertainty, but I was expecting things to get moderately, or at least minimally worse in our great land.

Nota bene, if you primarily vote Democrat, you could just switch the colors (blue to red and red to blue) and the names and they would be pretty close to what you think.*

I mean, right? Wouldn’t you agree? I’m guessing yes – looking into the next four years, the normal, slightly cynical voters picture something like these pictures. And not just for this election, but as they picture the country with every presidential candidate since they’ve been old enough to vote. Every four years.

But … Trump. What do we do with Trump? What do we think will happen with Trump as our president?
How about this?

Trump

Yes, the outlook is different. It’s not going to be a little better or a little worse. The results are going to be more extreme. Much more extreme. There are a couple issues that are important to me that I agree with him on (at least as he states it now) and if he stands by those long-held convictions**, things might be golden. But I fear it’s much more likely that earth shattering, ground shaking insanity might emanate from a Trump White House and spring forth from sea to shining sea. (Yes, if you’re wondering, I did choose the color by taking a pixel sample of his hair)

What will happen? In 2018, will we be looking back fondly at the days of legislative gridlock? Will small and midsized nations be attacking us out of principle? Will comedians stop making jokes because the situation is simply not funny anymore? Will Donald ‘build a wall’ around our country’s heart so thick that we can’t be hurt by anyone, even those who love us most, and make Megyn Kelly pay for it?***

The question – Who knows what our status will be after four years of Trump? And sir, the answer: No one – least of all Trump, I fear. Thus I visualize the odds going off the chart towards the bad. But like I say, I’m not God. I don’t know the future.

Time will tell, my friends. Only time will tell.

* And yes, I did just google, “What does ‘nota bene’ mean?”
** Scare italics.

[So regarding guessing your thoughts about these matters, how’d I do? Was I close?]

All3

 

If you want to help your friend in his twenties, say something nice about him in front of the girl he likes.

If you want to help your friend in his forties, say something nice about him in front of his teenager.

1. If you don’t interact with people on Facebook, you’re not really on Facebook.

2. It’s okay to not be on Facebook.

 

 

Right now is a good time to ask yourself – would you rather be very rich and talented or happy and at peace?

conscience

A couple summers ago, our church heard a sermon from a guest speaker, Andy Naselli, a pastor and a professor at Bethlehem Seminary. He spoke on the topic of the conscience and what the Bible has to say about it. I admit, I was surprised that the Bible had anything to say about the conscience and found the sermon helpful, enlightening and intriguing.

This week, Andy released a book on this subject (with co-author J.D. Crowley) and, given the importance of this topic, I now find myself surprised that no one has written a book like this before. Why not?

It comes down to this: In any given Christian church, any given Christian family, or any given pair of Christian people, individuals find themselves regularly differing on what is right and wrong on any number of topics.

If you think of anyone you know – no matter how close your worldview and theology is to that person’s – I’m guessing you can easily think of an ethical matter where you disagree.

Ethical matters such as –
What kind of secular music should you listen to, if any?
How much alcohol should you drink?
How should you spend your money?
How much time should you spend on Facebook? Should you work on a Sunday? Which words are swear words that no Christian should ever utter? And on and on and on. And many of them regarding subjects that the Bible doesn’t directly touch on.

You listen to your conscience about how to decide what is wrong. Your Christian brother or sister listens to their conscience. Your consciences are certain to disagree at time. Sometimes we can live and let live with that disagreement between each other. But sometimes those disagreements cause conflict. And anger. And division. In your church and family.

Wouldn’t you like to know what the Bible has to say about how to handle those disagreements? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a resource which includes a full survey of all the Bible has to say about the conscience?

You can. Read the book!

Here are some other topics addressed in this important and necessary book:
• How should you interact with your own conscience?
• How is interacting with other cultures, especially when bringing the gospel to these cultures, affected by cultural differences in consciences?
• How are unbelievers affected by their consciences and how should you interact with them?
• What does Paul mean by “strong” and “weak” Christians and how should they relate with each other?
• What does it mean for a conscience to be seared, or clear, or defiled, or perfected, or purified or missing?

I encourage you to get a copy, read it and use it in pursuit of God’s glory and the good of others.

By the way, with the Facebook question, the correct answer is ‘no more than 11.75 minutes a day.’

gambling

As I’ve been communicating with people about Luck, as a result of conversations I’ve had about my three previous posts, no fewer than four people have mentioned the Vern Poythress book Chance and the Sovereignty of God.

So by the time I’d put up the third post, I’d read the first 100+ pages (I’ve since read more), and I’ll say this – It’s a Biblical, smart, helpful, informative and necessary book that I almost completely agree with.

I’ll also point out this: Mr. Poythress believes in chance. I should qualify- In the beginning of chapter nine he shows the two definitions of chance from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

1 a : something that happens unpredictably without discernible human intention or observable cause b : the assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings : luck.

He confirms his belief in the first definition: “The examples that we have previously discussed, from the Bible and from modern life, conform to this description”

But he rejects the second: “This definition includes the assumption that some events are “impersonal” and “purposeless” in an absolute sense. In other words, the definition implies that God is not involved and that he is not in control. Chance in this sense does not exist.” He later calls this Chance with a capital ‘C’.

I agree with all this. Indeed, I tried (and apparently failed) to make this clear in my previous posts.

But then he says something that I think is overly broad – “There is no such thing as luck.”

He doesn’t explain this statement or give any defense of it.* But he says this, I think, because he assumes, wrongly, that the meaning of luck associated with Capital C Chance is the only kind of luck and that it’s the only way that people refer to luck.

It’s regrettable that he didn’t look at the first definition of luck in that same dictionary, which is “the things that happen to a person because of chance : the accidental way things happen without being planned”.

This is luck associated with the first definition of chance – the one he agrees with. And I think this is what people mean when they say they were lucky. I would encourage anyone to check this out the next time they hear someone say they were lucky.

Specifically, ask them “By lucky, do you mean an assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings caused you the fortunate thing to happen, or do you refer to the accidental way things happened without being planned?”

I’m pretty sure they’ll more readily agree to the latter.

It comes down to this – as I said in my last luck post, you shouldn’t use Luck as a predictor or something you can manipulate. But if by luck, you mean the way lower-case-C chance (which Dr. Poythress says is a biblically reasonable concept) plays out in a person’s life, then you’re fine.

* Although later in Chapter 14, he discusses the misuse of luck and chance by means of gambling, superstition, and good luck charms. Again, I agree with his premise that these practices are foolish and often sinful.

Luck Post Intro
Luck 2 – Biblical Evidence
Luck 3 – Disclaimers and Final Thoughts

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