Somehow I got to thinking about my freshman speech class. Back in the day we used a book by James McCroskey which focused on the idea of credibility, the degree to which listeners see a speaker to be believable and to which they accept the speaker’s message. McCroskey saw communication as a flow of rising and falling credibility; you could almost describe credibility as an account in which you deposit and withdraw.

As I did, I realized that the subject of credibility applies to biblical writers. Some people don’t view Old Testament writers as particularly credible, for example. These skeptics feel that the writers were merely conveying mythologies that explained certain happenings; by this view, what’s written may or may not have happened. All that matters is that the writers found the stories and writings to be useful for their purposes.

Many others today doubt Paul’s credibility. You hear people talk about valuing Jesus over Paul or saying things like “that was just Paul’s view.” For some, Paul’s writings are merely a historical curiosity, giving us a glimpse into the thoughts of a leader from the first century, but offering nothing of substance to the church of today. Maybe no one would express things in those exact terms, but it’s the idea that is conveyed to many.

I continue to have a high view of Scripture. I believe that God’s Spirit was at work in the compilation process of the text, as well as the preservation of that text. I think we have what we have for a reason. Because of that, I approach every text asking myself, “Why do we have this?”

There is a human element to the Bible. The Bible even presents some ideas that are nothing more than that, like the arguments presented by Job’s friends. But I also believe the Bible to be a highly credible witness (impeccably credible) to the things that God wants his people to know. We work with literary criticism, historical context, and numerous other tools as we deal with the text, but we never lose sight of the fact that this collection of books is much more than a human creation.

I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

Veterans and the church

Team Hill Airmen carry flag bundles during a flag-placing detail, Utah Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Bluffdale, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Team Hill Airmen carry flag bundles during a flag-placing detail, Utah Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Bluffdale, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Been watching Christians debate about the practice of honoring veterans. My thoughts have evolved over the years. Here are a few things as I currently see them:


  • I have to start with the fact that I view myself as a citizen of heaven, almost exclusively. I hold U.S. citizenship, would like to add Argentine citizenship to that, and view both of those as a formality. My true citizenship is in heaven.
  • I believe that the church is a new community made up of people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. To celebrate any one of those exclusively undermines that fact. (The 80 or so people I worshiped with on Sunday came from the United States, from Japan, from Germany, from Argentina, from Mexico, from Peru, from Ecuador, from South Korea, and possibly other countries. What unites us is our standing within the kingdom of God.)
  • I don’t trust the nations of this world. I see the celebration of country and the military as part of an ongoing recruitment process, not just to participate in the military, but to support the self-interests of the nation in general.
  • I don’t trust politicians. While many speak of the how the military protects freedoms, I think politicians have used the military for many other tasks, including taking away the freedoms of others.
  • I feel that many people in society deserve as much praise as veterans do. Veterans get these honors because it fits national interests, not because they are more deserving than school teachers, doctors, first responders, etc.
  • It is possible to express patriotism without lapsing into idolatry; it’s also common for nationalism to become worship of country. In my mind, it’s better to keep such celebrations separate from Christian worship because of that. Outsiders won’t always recognize the difference between the two.



  • I respect the intentions of those who have chosen to work in the military. Many do so out of a sense of service and sacrifice. They truly want to help others. We should honor that.
  • The church should be supportive of our communities and respectful toward the institutions in those communities.
  • Many veterans need the support of the church as they deal with issues stemming from their military careers. (For example: “In 2014, Veterans accounted for 18% of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults, while Veterans constituted 8.5% of the US population.” Veteran’s Administration) By showing them that we respect who they are and see value in their service, we open doors to ministering to these hurting people.

I’d prefer that our churches avoid celebrating patriotic days during our worship assemblies. But I’d also like to see us have times to honor service: service by military members and veterans, service by first responders, service by medical workers, service by educators, and other types of service.

Where do you stand on all of this?

Links To Go (November 14, 2017)


Don’t Leave Your Husband for Her

You stand at the edge of the cliff, friend. By the day’s end, you may fall into this woman’s embrace. If you do, it speaks not to your “love” for this woman, or to hers for you, or to your personal integrity in coming out as gay. No, friend. Adultery reveals disdain for your God. If your Christian best is only offering the obedience that the flesh allows, you trample on the blood of your Savior.

No longer talking

As Christians we must be different. We must be people who honour those made in the image of God, by speaking, listening and giving full attention just as our God does to us. If even having the phone on the table gives the wrong signal, let’s leave them aside. If having it buzz leaves us itching to look, lets practice turning them off, or leaving them in the car when we meet people.
In a world of dying conversation and disconnectedness, the church has something glorious to give (as well as the gospel!)—fellowship. Let’s make sure our churches are places not just of vertical connectedness, but of horizontal connectedness too, where real conversations are had, and real listening takes place.

Sean Parker: Facebook takes advantage of “vulnerability in human psychology”

“The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'” he said. “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in awhile, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever.”

Net States Rule the World; We Need to Recognize Their Power

Regardless of their differences in size and raison d’etre, net-states of all stripes share three key qualities: They exist largely online, enjoy international devotees, and advance belief-driven agendas that they pursue separate from, and at times, above, the law.

Facebook translates ‘good morning’ into ‘attack them’, leading to arrest

Facebook has apologised after an error in its machine-translation service saw Israeli police arrest a Palestinian man for posting “good morning” on his social media profile.

Use of Spanish declines among Latinos in major U.S. metros

More than 37 million Latinos in the U.S. speak Spanish at home, making it the country’s most common non-English language. But while the number of Latinos who speak Spanish at home continues to increase due to the overall growth of the Latino population, the share of Latinos who speak the language has declined over the past decade or so: 73% of Latinos spoke Spanish at home in 2015, down from 78% in 2006, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

Undoing the Dis-Education of Millennials

So, here are three ground rules for the rest of the semester.
1. The only “ism” I ever want to come out your mouth is a syllogism. If I catch you using an “ism” or its analogous “ist” — racist, classist, etc. — then you will not be permitted to continue speaking until you have first identified which “ism” you are guilty of at that very moment. You are not allowed to fault others for being biased or privileged until you have first identified and examined your own biases and privileges.
2. If I catch you this semester using the words “fair,” “diversity,” or “equality,” or a variation on those terms, and you do not stop immediately to explain what you mean, you will lose your privilege to express any further opinions in class until you first demonstrate that you understand three things about the view that you are criticizing.
3. If you ever begin a statement with the words “I feel,” before continuing you must cluck like a chicken or make some other suitable animal sound.

Injured Texas woman who refused treatment agrees after police promise her ‘Big Red’ soda

According to the Tyler Police Department, one of the paramedics at the scene said the woman had no life-threatening injuries, but still encouraged her to go to the hospital.
She refused and said, “All I want is a Big Red to drink and I will be fine.”That’s when one of the officers, Sergeant Noble, promised to buy her a Big Red if she went to the hospital. The comprise worked.
“I thought he was bluffing so that she would agree to go to the hospital,” a paramedic at the scene told Tyler police. “I could hardly believe it when Sergeant Noble arrived minutes later at the hospital with an ice cold Big Red for her.”

Visiting Cuba after Hurricane Irma

I was privileged to make a trip to Cuba last week, spending time with Tony Fernández there. I accompanied him on a trip to the province of Santa Clara, where we took aid to five churches that had been hit hard by Hurricane Irma. Each church received a gunny sack of corn meal, a gunny sack of beans, a gunny sack of yucca, 20 bags of crackers, and 2 boxes of bars of soap. At our last stop, a very poor rural community, we gave them some clothes that been donated (including a large donation from the Baptist church in Matanzas) as well as a few things I had brought (basic medicine, a small water purification system, and some toys).

Here are a few pictures from the trip to give you an idea of what we did:

We had a worship celebration at the farm on Sunday. There were 3 baptisms.

We had “dinner on the grounds” after the baptisms

The farm has been crucial for the church’s hurricane relief efforts. Here we are loading yucca into Tony’s van.

Corn meal, beans, yucca, crackers, bars of soap, clothes, and toys… that’s what the church in Matanzas had for their brothers who were hit by the hurricane.

If you can’t get roofing materials, old tractor tires will make a temporary fix.

Jesus Pablo, preacher in Quemado de Guines, along with his family. Those are crackers that a baker provided for the church to distribute.

Visiting with Pedro Eloy Ferrer and his family in Sagua La Grande. They lost the roof of the top floor of their house.

Delivering supplies to one of the churches in Remedios in the province of Santa Clara

Leaving supplies at another congregation in Remedios. The preacher there is named Tony, so there are two Tonys in this picture.

I was on a tourist visa, so I couldn’t carry much stuff. But a box of plastic tops made for nice gifts for the kids.

Members of the church in Buena Vista in Santa Clara province. We left them some clothes that were donated by a Baptist church in Matanzas.

Links To Go (October 31, 2017)

It’s Past Time to Rethink Modern Sexual Morality

The practical result of consent-focused morality is the sexualization of everything. With the line drawn at desire alone, there is no longer any space that’s sex-free. Work meetings or restaurants can be creative locations for steamy liaisons. Not even marriage or existing relationships stand as a firewall against potential hookups. The problem, of course, is that people don’t walk around broadcasting their desires. We don’t have a flashing “yes” or “no” that hovers over our heads. So someone has to make the ask. Someone has to make the move. Consent is determined by the request, and in a completely sexualized culture, the request can come at any time, anywhere, and from any person you encounter — regardless of the power imbalance or the propriety of the location.

Research Reveals the 5 Biggest Influencers on Your Child’s Spiritual Health

  1. The child regularly reads his/her Bible while growing up.
  2. The child regularly spends time in prayer growing up.
  3. The child regularly served in church while growing up.
  4. The child listens primarily to Christian music.
  5. The child participates in church mission trips and projects.

The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online

Their reasoning revealed a wide range of opinions about the nature of these threats and the most likely solutions required to resolve them. But the overarching and competing themes were clear: Those who do not think things will improve felt that humans mostly shape technology advances to their own, not-fully-noble purposes and that bad actors with bad motives will thwart the best efforts of technology innovators to remedy today’s problems.

Impostor syndrome

The big reason is that we’re all impostors. You’re not imagining that you’re an impostor, it’s likely that you are one.
Everyone who is doing important work is working on something that might not work. And it’s extremely likely that they’re also not the very best qualified person on the planet to be doing that work.

Confessions Of An Impostor

One of imposter syndrome’s frustrating ironies is that actual frauds rarely seem to experience this phenomenon. English philosopher Bertrand Russell put it more poetically: “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

Doctor’s orders: The case nominating Charcandrick West for Chiefs Man of the Year

That led to some email correspondence with the Shriners Hospital for Children — Shreveport, where Thomas Pressly diagnosed West with systemic juvenile arthritis and rescued him at 14 years old from hopeless weeks of the unknown while being virtually unable to move without suffering acute pain.
The grateful West has made it a point to give back and lend his support to the Arthritis Foundation in numerous ways, including last summer taking part in a video (“Body of Steel”) with 10-year-old Kansas Citian Jillian Reid to help raise awareness and funds.
He also is host to camps for kids on behalf of the Shreveport hospital, where he is seeking to create annual events.

Why Nerds and Nurses Are Taking Over the U.S. Economy

The fastest-growing jobs through 2026 belong to what one might call the Three Cs: care, computers, and clean energy. No occupation is projected to add more workers than personal-care aides, who perform non-medical duties for older Americans, such as bathing and cooking. Along with home-health aides, these two occupations are projected to create 1.1 million new jobs in the next decade. Remarkably, that’s 10 percent of the total 11.5 million jobs that the BLS expects the economy to add. Clean-energy workers, like solar-panel installers and wind-turbine technicians, are the only occupations that are expected to double by 2026. Mathematicians and statisticians round out the top-10 list.

A new American revolution is starting in New England—against Daylight Saving Time

If the purpose of time is indeed coordination, there should be fewer time zones and no time changes. I have proposed moving the continental United States to two time zones and ending seasonal time changes. Granted, this would mean even more dark hours in Maine, since it would be on the same time zone as Texas. But the world already de facto operates on fewer time zones. Plenty of conference calls feature people in London, New York, and San Francisco without too much trouble. And there’s evidence that people adapt their schedules to TV, not the sun.

Candidate falls for hoax, proposes drug-sniffing police bunnies

When asked about drugs at a Phoenixville mayoral forum, Republican nominee Dave Gautreau proposed that, if elected, he would look into getting drug-sniffing bunnies for the borough police department.