Two Talents

Faith-based expressions of a Christian.

Archive for March 2010

The morality of health care

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Try as I might, I can’t ignore this political issue. Yet.

There are two moral positions to consider when it comes to so-called “Obamacare”; the universal, or nationalized (i.e. government controlled) health care law of the land. The first is the easy position, which is that there are people in this nation who do not have health insurance. To hold to a belief that such is their tough luck is not only decidedly un-Christian, it’s also immoral. After all, isn’t the moral position one of equality for all and not wanting people to either be unable to seek proper health care, or to be placed in a position of financial ruin if they do? Of course, it’s not as simple an argument as that, because some Americans have access to health insurance but choose to not obtain it. Those folks convolute the situation, but even if we ignore them we still find a substantial number of Americans who do not have health insurance due to legitimate reasons.

On the other side of the coin is the cost of insuring those who are without health insurance because of legitimate reasons. If the cost issue were nothing more than me losing an extra $10 from each paycheck it would be difficult for me to argue against it, given the morality equation involved. If, however, insuring those without imperils the nation at large we encounter the moral issue of whether it is right to help a few at the ultimate great expense of the many. And by “great expense” I mean something beyond personal financial consequence. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Shawn

March 26, 2010 at 4:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Less is more

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Bob Deffinbaugh wrote an article at called “When Less is More“. It is excellent. He uses the example of Gideon to make his points about misplaced faith. Let’s look at the scripture Deffinbaugh uses, which is Judges 6:36-40; 7:1-23.

36Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken,37behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.”

38And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water.

39Then Gideon said to God, “Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground.”

40God did so that night; for it was dry only on the fleece, and dew was on all the ground.

1Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley.2The LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’

3“Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.'” So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained.

4Then the LORD said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

5So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, “You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.”

6Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water.

7The LORD said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.”

8So the 300 men took the people’s provisions and their trumpets into their hands. And Gideon sent all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but retained the 300 men; and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

9Now the same night it came about that the LORD said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hands.

10“But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp,

11and you will hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened that you may go down against the camp.” So he went with Purah his servant down to the outposts of the army that was in the camp.

12Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.

13When Gideon came, behold, a man was relating a dream to his friend. And he said, “Behold, I had a dream; a loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came to the tent and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat.”

14His friend replied, “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand.”

15When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the LORD has given the camp of Midian into your hands.”

16He divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers.

17He said to them, “Look at me and do likewise. And behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do.

18“When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets all around the camp and say, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.'”

19So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and smashed the pitchers that were in their hands.20When the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and cried, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”

21Each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran, crying out as they fled.

22When they blew 300 trumpets, the LORD set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army; and the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the edge of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.

23The men of Israel were summoned from Naphtali and Asher and all Manasseh, and they pursued Midian. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shawn

March 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm


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I am trying to avoid politics but since this is the talk of the nation I’ll throw in my two cents worth. I have been opposed to the House, Senate and Obama versions of health care, and here are my reasons why.

  1. We are already deeply in debt, teetering on the verge of being crippled economically for a very long period of time (if we haven’t already reached the tipping point). These versions of health care “reform” are incredibly expensive. We simply cannot, under any circumstances, afford to add to our already enormous debt. And to vote on pending legislation before everyone with a vote has read it, before it can be debated and before the Congressional Budget Office has weighed in with cost analysis is irresponsible and harmful to our nation.
  2. They can term it what they want but until certain issues are addressed it is not true reform. One of those issues is tort reform. The cost of insurance against malpractice suits is ridiculous for doctors. This gets passed along to someone in the end because doctors and hospitals are not going to absorb it (you needn’t have a degree in Business Administration to grasp that costs are passed on to the consumer). Trial lawyers are in bed with the Democratic Party and they don’t want this, so neither do the Democrats. Howard Dean, of all people, has admitted to that. Trial lawyers benefit from a litigious society; the reverse is not true. It is past due that this matter be addressed and some sanity be enacted. Also, buying off Congress members in exchange for their votes (i.e. the “Louisiana Purchase”) is nothing short of graft, bribery and should result in all parties involved being indicted for corruption.
  3. The Obamacare plan won’t kick in fully until 2014. If it passes do you trust the government to keep their hands off of the money allocated to it until 2014? I don’t. And what if, for whatever reason(s), medical costs increase between now and 2014? In either case the plan will begin in the red. Further, even if the government did not touch the monies allocated for Obamacare and costs did not increase, I am entirely certain that the government will find a way to make this cost more than projected. Either the estimates will end up being off or they will simply screw it up, but it will end up being over budget. As proof I ask this question: Please provide me with one government program that has consistently stayed within its budget, and whose budget has not swelled yearly. No such government entity exists that I know of.
  4. I fear that nationalized health care will result in 2-3 huge companies that are the only providers of private insurance. Smaller companies will be bought out or go out of business. Unless there are intelligent regulations put in place to deal with them, having such a small number of mega insurance companies providing 100% of the private insurance is bad for the consumer.
  5. If costs for private insurance goes up, and it seems certain to, what is to stop employers from saying, “If we get rid of health insurance for our employees we will save a ton of money, and they can go on the public dole and still have insurance, so let’s get rid of it”? Frankly, if I’m in charge of the bottom line at a corporation, a university or a smaller business I would be foolish to not seriously consider this.
  6. Speaking of small businesses, there will be a penalty for not providing insurance. Employers large enough to absorb it might find that the penalty is less than the cost of providing insurance. Small business, however, has no such option. If I own a coffee shop, or a landscaping business, and I simply cannot afford to provide my employees with health care, and the penalty for that is equally steep, I’m left with little choice but to go out of business. Our government, and Democrats in particular, are forever making it more and more difficult for small businesses to survive, let alone prosper. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy; slay them at your own peril.
  7. Why do citizens in Canada and Great Britain, two nations with nationalized health care, come to the U.S. for certain procedures? Why do those nations have waiting lists for major procedures, like heart surgeries and joint replacements? Because some policy wonk who works for the government has deigned the pecking order of health care procedures, not medical professionals. The man who performs my eye exams at Wal-Mart told me that if during an exam he finds that I have a serious ocular health issue he can pick up the phone and have an appointment for me to see a specialist in 3 days, maximum. And if it were a life-threatening issue he could arrange for me to be in surgery in one or two days, tops. He told me that under a nationalized health care plan he would be forced to navigate procedural red tape that would only add to the time it took for me to be cared for. He’s a doctor, so I take him at his word.
  8. I suspect that many who are in favor of Obamacare do not have insurance. To them I say: If the legislation is not good for the country please don’t support it. Why would you imperil our nation and our children’s future just to get health care coverage? Please do not punish everyone just because you do not have health care insurance!
  9. Look, of those who are uninsured many (who knows the exact number) have it available to them but opt not to obtain it because of cost. If it would mean you could not pay your monthly rent or mortgage payment I understand. If, however, it would mean that you cannot live the lifestyle you wish to have (i.e. no Droid cell phone,  no cable Internet and no Dish TV) then you are being incredibly selfish, not to mention uncharitable. My wife and I scraped along for the first several years of our marriage, living paycheck to paycheck, hoping to eventually improve ourselves. We did ultimately do things like purchase a new car and a home, but only because we made sacrifices along the way. And when we were making sacrifices I wanted a cell phone, like everyone else I knew had. I wanted a home, like nearly everyone I knew had. I wanted a new car, like many people I knew had. I wanted for my wife to buy a new wardrobe, like some people I knew could. However, luxuries have to wait until you have established yourself financially. If that means having to live frugally for 10 years but having health insurance, so be it. Life isn’t always what we believe to be fair. Was the life of Jesus fair? No! So please do not feel that you are owed something that the rest of us worked for, just because our society deems it a right.
  10. This is an extension of #9, but I am separating it for emphasis. I worked in my career field for 15 years before we bought a home! I worked in my career field for 17 years before we bought a new car! I worked in my career field for 19 years before we had a second computer in the home. I worked in my career field for 19 years before I bought a second new car (5 years after the first one we’d bought), which replaced the truck I’d been driving for 16 years!! If you expect to have everything my wife and I worked for in short order, without a salary that would allow for it, you will just have to wait like we did. Do not dare to insist that I make your life as comfortable as you desire it to be just so you can have free health care.

I suppose I ranted more the further I went, but I feel strongly about this matter. The incredibly sad thing about this is that capable minds, with input from people who have expertise in the field, could fashion true health care reform that offered insurance to those who truly cannot afford it without punishing those who have it and are gainfully employed. But that’s not how our government works, and so it appears we will end up with a monstrosity that only drags us further into the abyss as a nation.

Written by Shawn

March 18, 2010 at 5:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

“And they took offense at Him”

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Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him.When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching. {Mark 6:1-6 NASB}

In a mere six verses several things jump off the page here. Firstly, it was Jesus’ hometown. Usually when someone returns to their hometown bearing some manner of fame they are greeted warmly. It’s a source of pride for the hometown that one of their own has obtained some sort of notoriety. That was not the case here. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shawn

March 17, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Our “respectable sins”

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Dinah is a blogger and has an insightful post about so-called “respectable sins” we Christians commit. In fact, her thoughts came from reading a book called “Respectable Sins” by Jerry Bridges. I encourage you to check it out. It will only take a couple of minutes to read but will hopefully cause you to consider the points made for much longer.

Written by Shawn

March 17, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Take your militancy elsewhere

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I avoid militants as much as I can, and by militants I mean dictators, despots, political zealots and so on. Within that list would also be found religious militants. Sadly, religious militants (who are almost always legalists) pollute the faith in a wide array of areas.

There exists one known as the Authorized Militant. This is the King James Only advocate who believes that the King James version of the bible (aka “Authorized Version”) is the only true and proper word of God in English. The most intense of this bunch claims it to be the only true and proper word of God in any language, with some even claiming it supersedes ancient Greek texts that differ from it. The most zealous among them also will claim that if you use another translation of the bible you are not saved. In my experiences with this crowd I have found them to not only be militant, but at least somewhat unhinged, angry, judgmental and puffed up with righteous grandeur. They engage in a jihad against any and all bible translations other than the Authorized Version. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shawn

March 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Christianity and politics

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There was much ballyhoo from the left about the religious beliefs of Bush 43, and of the bible studies that took place amongst some of his staff. The most paranoid proclaimed it dangerous and were threatened by such overt applications of faith. And a man named Ralph Reed led a Christian political operation that held hands with the GOP (sort of a modern “Moral Majority”) not all that long ago. Today we see more and more people who define themselves as fiscal conservatives, and not social conservatives, and they want no part of the bible in their politics.

It is worth asking,: as a Christian, what involvement am I to have in politics, beyond voting? Frank Turk isn’t enamored with the idea of combining the two. He calls conservative Hugh Hewitt to task for trying to do so. Of Hewitt, Turk writes:

And he comes back because he thinks that the ends of the church are the same as the ends of conservatism. It’s because he sees the church as a moral improvement society — something which only teaches the world something it couldn’t learn on its own.

This is why Hugh Hewitt gets my goat: he sees the church as a means to a political end. I find his views in that respect reprehensible.

Also at Pyromaniacs, Phil Johnson answers a question about Christians and their churches staying of politics:

Are you saying that Christians should never seek these political remedies, or that they are currently spending more time than they should seeking these remedies?

I keep saying that my main point is about how the church corporately should be spending her time and resources, not about what an individual who is vocationally (or avocationally) involved in politics should do.

To be clear:

  • I object to pastors who use their pulpits to organize voters rather than teach the Bible and proclaim the gospel.
  • I object to evangelical organizations (including certain Christian broadcasters, evangelical radio stations, the National Association of Evangelicals, various 501c3’s, and even some churches) who raise money for “ministry” and then all they ever talk about are political issues and headline news, while rarely (if ever) mentioning the gospel.
  • I object to the fact that when the average unbeliever today hears the word evangelical, he thinks of a voting bloc rather than anything spiritual.
  • I object to the fact that most evangelicals are overwhelmingly on the same page politically, but their movement is doctrinally so diverse that they can’t even agree what the gospel is.
  • I object to the fact that the average evangelical could not give a coherent, biblically sound summary of the gospel or a theologically accurate explanation of justification by faith—but they are more worried about an Obama presidency than they are about the disintegration of their own testimony.

Phil’s boss, John MacArthur, has an extensive study at his web site about Christians and government and, while I haven’t read it all, it seems to agree that it’s not a primary mission of ours to engage in politics. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shawn

March 15, 2010 at 4:48 am