Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Influencing Our Culture

Last night I read a column on the editorial page of the Star-Telegram, written by a woman from Missouri (I think).  She was basically smearing Rick Warren for his views on homosexual marriage.  The whole tone of the article rankled me.  You would think I would learn (but I haven't) that those who preach the loudest about "tolerance" are the most intolerant of all.

She accused Warren of being barbaric and bigoted in his views.  Here is where a distinct line is drawn between people of faith and those who are not -- and neither side seems to get the other's.  People of faith base what they believe in a standard that is not theirs.  It comes from Scripture, which we believe to be from God Himself.  There are many things in Scripture that I would, in my fleshly nature, prefer to ignore.  But I can't.  My Father has called me to something different.  So, I have not arbitrarily decided what I am going to believe.  It is pretty objective.

People of the world, on the other hand, base their beliefs on a moving target.  Right now, Darwinism pretty much rules the day when it comes to believing why we are here.  This belief has led to our current devaluing of human life.  But that is what people of the world choose to believe.  They also base their beliefs on the moving target of Hollywood "experts on all issues because we can read a script" opinions.  So what is "in" this decade may be "out" next decade.

Finally, they base their beliefs on the media.  Again, a volatile moving target.  For the last 25 years or so, it has been extremely biased to the left -- perhaps as a reaction to the distrust established during Watergate.  There exists today an obvious bias against traditional morals, and Christianity in general.  This has had a profound effect on non-believers' belief systems.

So what are we of faith to do?  I do not think we are going to promote our cause by publicly lambasting folks.  That is what they expect, and they turn a deaf ear.  Plus, it usually is not within the context of love.  So are we to compromise?  Of course not!  But we can speak the truth IN LOVE.  How do we do that?  By offering friendship to the very people who oppose us.  By SHOWING them, though Christlike living, that we really do care (I am assuming that we do).

I know this is getting kind of long, but I want to say one more thing:  How serious is the homosexual marriage issue?  I am waffling right now.  Obviously I oppose it, but it seems inevitable, in today's political environment, that it will eventually happen.  So here is my take right now (I reserve the right to change my opinion).  There are many things that are legal in a free society -- even though they are not morally right.  We as Christians have never been called to be the morality police for a whole earthly society.  What we ARE called to be is different.  Light.  Salt. Leaven.  Working and influencing quietly.  Showing, through the peace in our lives, the way to the Prince of Peace.  Calling them into a DIFFERENT Kingdom.

Early Christians lived in a culture that was MUCH more vile than ours.  People who compare our current society to the Roman Empire (I have been guilty of doing that) need to read more about it.  But Christians didn't change that society by starting The Moral Majority or a voting bloc.  They did it by contacting people with the "aroma of Christ."  Eventually this lead to the conversion of Constantine, who then passed an edict declaring the Roman Empire to be "Christian."  Ever since, the Christian faith has moved away from being what it was originally intended to be.  We have come to think that we should "be in charge" -- even though Jesus said, "Not so with you" (Matthew 20: 25-28).   

Whew!  Here is wishing all of you a wonderful 2009.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!                  

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thanks Jerry

Another Cowboy season bites the dust.  Let's see -- that makes 12 seasons in a row without even a playoff victory.

Who is to blame for this mess?  Wade Phillips?  He certainly has to take his share of the blame.  Tony Romo?  Not really.  I think he will prove to be a good player who is not as good as touted -- but that's not his fault.  T. O. and the rest of the misfits?  They certainly didn't help team chemistry.  No, let the fault fall squarely where it should. 

19 years ago, Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys.  At that time, he was harshly critical of the previous owners and coaches because the Cowboys had not delivered a Super Bowl for 11 years, or a playoff win for 5.  His words suggested that such a record made them deserving of national humiliation.  Well, Mr. Jones, it has now been 12 years without a playoff win, and 14 years without a Super Bowl.  Are we to judge you by the same criteria you judged your predecessors?  At least they had an organization that was respected.

I think the fans of the Cowboys are partly to blame too.  Why?  For continuing to support this mess.  What motivation does Smiley have to change when he sells out every game?  Every year, like a snake-oil salesman, he sells the public a bill of goods -- but doesn't deliver.  And every year, the public buys it.  I get so tired of hearing "Cowsheep" (as Randy Galloway calls the Cowboy fandom) say, "Well no one wants to win more than Jerry."  I would agree with that -- to a point.  Jerry wants to win -- if it can be done Jerry's way.  He wants to win with HIM receiving all the credit for building the team.  We all think back to the 3 Super Bowl victories he delivered.  Let's be perfectly honest:  Those were teams built by Jimmy Johnson.  And maybe even Jimmy gets more credit than he is due.  Take away the Hershel Walker trade -- and would those teams have been so great?  I don't think so.  So if anyone deserves credit for the three Super Bowl victories -- maybe it is Minnesota.

So, Cowboy fans:  Accept the fact that this team is a sinking ship so long as Jerry Jones insists on running it.  He has turned a DIE-HARD life-long fan into a guy who watches with passing interest -- and sometimes even hopes they lose.  

Tom Landry and Tex Shramm:  We miss you!      

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good News

"Good Morning America" is showing some of the most heart-warming segments this week.  Yesterday it was about a man with 4 children -- one of whom has severe autism, and the man was going to be laid off from his job.  Another man stepped forward and asked them to lay him off instead.  So here he is -- at Christmas, looking for work and collecting his unemployment check. 

But he seemed to be SO at peace with himself.  When asked why he did it, he said that this man was his friend, and it was just the right thing to do.   And the family he helped -- oh, the gratitude!  One of the children, a girl about 10 years old, called him her hero and said it is the best Christmas present she will ever have.   

There are still so many examples of good people doing good things.  We just don't hear much about them.  It is to a large degree OUR fault.  We, as media consumers, would rather hear about economic doom-and-gloom forecasts and how many affairs some Hollywood diva has had.

But it makes us more cynical.  You ask the average person if conditions / morals are getting better or worse, and they will immediately say, "Oh, worse."  Really?  I can think of a couple of issues where it is getting worse (gay marriage seems to be more acceptable).  Abortion is still too common, but even more liberal people's views on it are changing.  And teens today are at least more aware of the need for abstinence than they were when I was growing up.  

And racism?  Maybe we are just blinded to how immoral that was / is.  And that from the "moral" 50s!  In a couple of weeks, we will swear in a black president.  I would say morally we have come a long way on this one.

So, let's get our chins up!  People as a whole are still good.  Life is still rich.  And we are blessed.  Let this be a joyous Christmas for you and your family.   

Monday, December 22, 2008

Such Faith!

I know some people think I am an alarmist when it comes to Islam.  I guess if I could read some good news about it -- for instance if the religious leaders would come out condemning terrorism -- I might change my mind.

Saudi Arabia is supposedly one of our greatest allies in the Islamic world.  Yet they are totally intolerance of Christianity in that country.  Following are excerpts from a story I read in The Voice of the Martyrs magazine:  

Last August, a Muslim cleric in an eastern province of Saudi Arabia killed his sister, 26-year-old Fatima Al-Mutairi, after she proclaimed her faith to her family.  Before he killed her, Fatima's brother locked her in her room for four hours.  During that time she wrote a final letter and posted a poem on the Internet.  A portion of that poem is as follows:


. . . There are tears on my cheek, and Oh! the heart is sad
To those who become Christians, how you are so cruel!
And the Messiah says, "Blessed are the Persecuted"
And we for the sake of Christ all things bear
What is it to you that we are infidels?
You do not enter our graves, as if with us buried
Enough -- your swords do not concern me, not evil nor disgrace
Your threats do not trouble me, and we are not afraid
And by God, I am unto death a Christian -- Verily . . .
. . . As to my last words, I pray to the Lord of the worlds
Jesus the Messiah, the Light of Clear Guidance
That He change notions, and set the scales of justice aright
And that He spread Love among you, Oh Muslims

--Fatima 2008 

A faith like that makes me feel small.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Incredible Thought

Last night in our men's class, we were talking about how God can only use us when we are broken and surrendered to Him.  We talked about John 15, where Jesus speaks of Himself as the Vine -- and us as the branches.  We bear HIS fruit -- as we allow Him to again live His life through us.

Sometimes we can talk about a concept so much that it becomes too common.  Maybe we have done that with the idea of Jesus "living in us."

Then we read another verse that I have read many times through the years.  But it struck me with renewed meaning last night.  Here it is:  

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promised, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  2 Peter 1: 3-4

Participate in the divine nature?  That is an incredible thought!  That God would invite me to do that?  WOW! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tiger's Caddie and the NFL All-Pro Team

I really like to keep my blog geared toward more spiritual things.  It seems like lately I have written a lot about sports and news.  I really just deal with whatever is on my mind as I sit before my computer.  So, today?  More sports.

Have you heard about what Tiger Woods' caddie, Steve Williams, said about Phil Michelson in an interview in Australia (maybe it was New Zealand)?  I can't repeat some of what he said, but he spoke very disparagingly about him.  The one comment that I found especially interesting was when he said that Phil didn't show respect to him.  What does that mean?  Phil is a professional golfer!  Steve Williams is a caddie!  Did he mean Phil treats him rudely?  Or that he hasn't "buddied-up" to him?

This guy makes over a million dollars a year to get to walk next to the greatest golfer perhaps in history over beautiful landscapes.  He gets 1st-class treatment at every tour stop -- treated like a celebrity.  And he is going to publicly rip one of the premier golfers of our day?  I think either Tiger needs to fire him -- as good as he has been for Tiger, or the PGA needs to suspend him.

The NFL All-Pro team was announced yesterday.  There is some sanity that has returned.  Half the Cowboy team did not make it this year.  Five Cowboys were named to the Pro Bowl. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, nose tackle Jay Ratliff, tight end Jason Witten, guard Leonard Davis and center Andre Gurode were selected.  The only other one who might should have made it is Brandon James.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

News and Commentary

So Carolyn Kennedy is going to run for Hillary Clinton's senatorial spot in New York.  I have never known a time in my life when a Kennedy wasn't in office.  But that family has sure had its share of tragedy, too.  If I was her, I think I would stay away from the public.

I don't claim to understand everything about the U.S. automakers.  And I don't mean my comments to be taking sides one way or another.  In fact, I hope they rally and once again are able to provide great cars that will knock the other world auto makers for a loop.

This is somewhat tongue-in-cheek:  I saw where the Arlington GM plant is going to shut down for a month -- but the workers will receive their wages.  They (the media) are acting like this is a bad thing?  I wish my elders would offer that to me:)

The plant does this every year, I think I read. And I am sure they have it figured out that in the slow season, they save money by not being open -- even as they pay the workers their wages. It just SEEMS odd at this particular time.

I guess you have all seen the shoe-throwing incident at Bush's new conference in Iraq.  As a letter to the editor pointed out in today's paper, this is a sign of good things in Iraq.  Do you think anyone would have done that if Saddam Hussien were still in power?  It is a sign that democracy is changing that country -- and freedom of speech is catching on.   

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sports Recap

Last night as we left home for our evening worship service, the temperature was 75.  This morning, it is 23.  Welcome to Texas!

We had our open house for the church yesterday afternoon.  I don't know how many people came, but it was a really nice event.  Beverly does such an incredible job preparing for that.  I am so proud of her.  She is a wonderful hostess.  I told her last night:  Everything she touches turns to gold.

We watched the Heisman Trophy Presentation Saturday night.  All three candidates this year seem to be outstanding human beings.  I think Sam Bradford won because OU has simply timed everything well this year.  If I were voting, he would have been 3rd out of the three choices.  

Imagine:  Of the three candidates, there were two juniors and a sophomore!  Last year a sophomore won (Tebow) and this year another sophomore won.  That is the only times in Heisman history.   

I wonder if any of the three are going to jump into the draft?  McCoy has said he is coming back -- and to a Texas team that SHOULD be better than this year's.  Bradford's OU team is going to be hit hard by senior grads.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Tebow go pro.     

Last night's Cowboy game was a defensive slugfest.  Both quarterbacks are probably wondering why they didn't pursue another line of work this morning.  Romo is still having trouble sailing passes, but he hung in like a champ last night.  But who were the "studs."  MY two "All-Pros" -- Jason Whitten and Demarcus Ware.  I told Beverly that Ware must weigh around 280 (I'm guessing), but the guy looks like there isn't an ounce of fat on him. 

Things don't get much easier for the Cowboys if they are to make the playoffs.  They face a TOUGH defense on Saturday night in Baltimore (9-5).  Then they finish up against the always-tough division rival Philadelphia Eagles.  They really cannot drop either game.  

Is it just me or does Jerry Jones look like a total doofus when they show him on the sidelines at the end of a game?  He just throws all dignity out the window.  (Sorry, JJ fans)   

Friday, December 12, 2008

Problems in Big D and Illinois

(Sniffle, sniffle)  "He's my quarterback, man."  (sniffle, sniffle)  

I'm feeling somewhat vindicated this morning.  When the pretend-general manager of the Dallas Cowboys (of Pac-Man Jones fame) signed T. O. a couple of years ago, I said he would wreck the team.  That's what he did in San Francisco and Philadelphia.  Many told me that T. O was a changed man.  Well, he's has been somewhat in remission for two years.  Oh, there have been occasional small hints of his past behavior, but nothing big. 

So now we hear that T. oW. (Team Wrecker) has gotten Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton worked up with this idea that Tony Romo and Jason Whitten have private meetings to draw up plans for themselves -- excluding the wide receivers.  They have gone to Jason Garrett (offensive coordinator) with their "complaint." 

Statistics prove differently.  The receiver who has the most passes thrown his way is (drum roll, please) -- T. O.  Of course since he drops so many, the actual number he catches are about half of what are thrown his way.  Whitten is next -- but he actually catches a much higher percentage.  I know, many of them are shorter routes -- but some of them are also in heavy traffic.

(sniffle, sniffle)  "He's my quarterback, man."  Another QB thrown under the bus.

Pretend-GM Jones needs to turn this team over to a real GM.  His circus act has caused me to totally lose interest in what was once the most envied professional sports team anywhere.  He has been selling us a bill of bad goods (no pun intended) for 10 years or more.  And people buy into it every year.

The governor of Illinois sure makes Rick Perry look good, doesn't he.  That guy has some serious problems.  It is amazing to me how people want to automatically try to connect Obama with the scandal -- even though the Illinois governor called him all kinds of bleeped cuss words in a taped phone conversation -- and even ackowledged that Obama would be of no help to him in his "plan."

When is this vicious cycle going to stop?  It seems like it got really bad when Clinton was president and the Republicans went after his impeachment.  So the Democrats have been trying to get paybacks against Bush for 8 years.  And now the Republicans are going after Obama before he even gets in office.  I think talk radio fuels a lot of it.       


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Paradox of Death

I am conducting a graveside service today at 10.  The temperature MIGHT rise to 32 by then.  Pray that my mouth will still work.  I tend to sound like a drunk when it gets cold.

The man we will be remembering died at 97.  His story is interesting.  He was a long time member of the Decatur Church, and was a bachelor -- until he was 67!  He then married a widow -- and they were married for 20 years.  He was her caretaker when she became ill.

I remember thinking this when my granddad died at 99-1/2:  In a way it is sad when people live to such an age.  They outlive almost all of their friends and acquaintances.  With so many things they have lived through and so much to share, they are often left to die alone -- or, if lucky, with a handful of relatives to attend their memorials.

Life is full of such paradoxes.  But there is One who doesn't forget us.  "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."    

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Herod the Great

This morning my prayer group met at our house because I had DVR'd a show on the National Geographic Channel about the discover of Herod the Great's tomb.  The show visited several of his engineering marvels (Masada, Caesarea, the Temple in Jerusalem), but centered on Herodium -- where he built a fortress palace, as well as his burial site.

I found these some of the most fascinating places in our trip to Israel.  Herod was a paranoid individual -- always afraid that someone was out to kill him.  So he had his wife and two sons killed, as well as countless others he considered to be threats.  He is perhaps best known for the murder of the babies when he heard that a king had been born in Bethlehem (probably about 30 male children would have been killed).

One fact I find interesting is Herod feared there would be no one to mourn  his death.  So as he lay on his death bed, he had 1,000 people arrested in Nazareth, and gave the order that they be killed upon word of his death.  That way, he felt there would be mourning.  Fortunately the order was not carried out.

For all his lunacy, Herod was an engineering genius.  He still baffles experts today as to how he did what he did.         

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Merry Christmas!

News flash:  Oprah announces she has fallen off the diet wagon.  She has again gained back her weight.  This will allow her to co-write another best-selling diet book.  (Forgive me.  I know my cynicism comes out on things like this).

How many times will people follow a story like this?  All the millions that people spend on diet books and diet pills, etc.  It comes down to the "less-more" diet.  Eat less and exercise more.

Does it bother you to hear a traditional Christmas tune having secular words sung to it?  This morning, I heard a commercial for a kids' movie.  The words?  "We wish you a happy holiday.  We wish you a happy holiday.  We wish you a happy holiday, and a happy new year."  Wow.  They're certainly all about "happy."

Then there was a commercial that was sung to the tune of "Noel."  No more "born is the King of Israel."  No, now it's used to sell some product.
I am sad that in my religious tradition, we have been more aligned with the secular world when it comes to Christmas.  We do the Santa Clause thing, but not the Jesus thing -- because we can't know for sure when He was born.  It almost seems like we were proud of knowing that the date of His birth is not known -- and this is how we show it.  Yet, most people who have celebrated Christmas as the birth of Jesus knew that too.

So it seems inconsistent for us to be upset that traditional Christmas songs have been stripped of their religious meaning.  But for the last 20 years or so, that has been different for me. Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation -- God breaking into this world as a man.  And I want to stand with all those who want to recognize that.

What's happening in our country is so interesting.  The Jews can celebrate Hanukkah.  The Moslems can celebrate Ramadan.  Even Kwanza is talked about in schools.  But we Christians are accused of being totally insensitive and intolerant to call this season Christmas.  I'm going to need someone to explain this to me.

I love to go to a store where the employees have been told to say, "Happy Holidays."  I respond with a joyful, "Merry Christmas."  And they smile at me, and say almost undercover, "Merry Christmas to you, too."  Folks, it reminds me of the Russia I was told about when I was a kid!

Am I over-reacting?       

Monday, December 08, 2008

Armchair Quarterbacking

The Cowboys choked big time in Pittsburgh yesterday.  Perhaps the worst play came from Cowboy Kingdom idol, Tony Romo.  Tony is a good guy, and perhaps has exceeded anyone's expectations.  But he has a long way to go to being lumped in with Staubach and Aikman.

And what's with "the Barbarian"?  He can't play in the most crucial game of the season because his little toe hurts?  

I've said it before, and I'll say it again (I know I'm no expert on the subject, but it is my blog:)  This team has TWO Pro-Bowlers -- Jason Whitten and DeMarcus Ware (Romo MIGHT make it as a backup).    

Once again the BCS took a whippin', as No. 1 Alabama got thumped by Tim Teebo and Florida.  Now I have to make a choice:  Do I root for Big 12 champion OU (which is very distasteful for me) or a team I have never liked -- Florida?  Right now I am leaning toward Florida.  I like Teebo.  I must admit:  Sam Bradford seems like a classy guy, too.  While I admire Bob Stoops for his coaching ability, I don't like him.  I think he takes too many pot shots at Mack Brown.

Sign that things can't be too bad:  People hiring airplanes to fly over arch-rivals' games towing banners.  OU fans hired one to fly over Austin last week,  telling Mack Brown to quit crying.  I wonder if OU would have had that same attitude if the Big 12 had chosen Texas over them for the championship game?  Then last weekend, a Texas fan hired a plane to fly over the Big 12 championship game with a banner that said something like, "Loser Bowl:  Both teams lost to Texas."

I was hoping to see Texas play Alabama in a BCS bowl game.  Again, this seems fruity to me, but why is Texas (at #3) playing a #10 ranked team, Ohio State?

COME ON, OBAMA!  BRING US A PLAYOFF!  High schools do it.  Other divisions of the NCAA  do it.  America wants it!    

Friday, December 05, 2008

Challenging (Good) Week

This has been a challenging (in a good way) week for me.  This Sunday morning, I am beginning a quarter's study (13 weeks) on how we got the Bible.  This will deal with the history of the text, but also with different English translations.  I've never taught anything remotely similar to this, but I feel like it is something Christians need to be better aware of -- with the skepticism that is within our culture.  People hear about "The DaVinci Code" (a work of fiction) and things like that, and believe it to be true.  

Then there is The Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel.  I like some of the shows on them.  But any time they deal with Christianity, they get the most liberal, fringe scholars they can find to explain things.  They make "The Gospel of Thomas" out to be THE authoritative words of Jesus -- while casting dispersions on Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  

So, I am challenged by this study.

Then, my Sunday morning sermon series will be from the Gospel of Luke.  Again, I have never preached through Luke before.  I have preached the parables -- and most of them are in Luke.  But I love when, as a church, we can journey with Jesus for an extended period of time.  I already anticipate Luke 4 (Jesus' mission statement) -- which has changed my view of Jesus to a large degree.  And of course, my favorite chapter in the Bible -- Luke 15, the story of the Prodigal Son / Loving Father /Elder Brother.

Add to that:  On Sunday nights we are studying Elisha -- another subject I have never preached before.  And the passage before me this week is really difficult.  

This is part of the reason I love what I do so much!     

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Narrative Identities

Yesterday I was reading an article in the latest issue of Christianity Today.  It is entitled, "The Advent of Humility:  Jesus is the Reason to Stop Concentrating on Ourselves," by Tim Keller.  

I have read the following paragraph over and over -- its simple truth drawing me in:

There are two basic narrative identities at work among professing Christians.  The first is what I will call the moral-performance narrative identity.  These are people who in their heart of hearts say, "I obey; therefore I am accepted by God."  The second is what I will call the grace narrative identity.  This basic operating principle is, "I am accepted by God through Christ; therefore I obey."  

For too many years, I operated under the moral-performance narrative.  During those times, my spiritual life was dry, going through the motions and unmotivated.  In more recent years I have accepted the grace narrative identity.  As a result, I believe the fruit in my life to be more genuine, and the peace and presence of God much more obvious.  

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Be Careful What You Pray For

The stock market tanked yesterday on news that we have "officially" been in a recession since last fall.  I admit ignorance as to how the market works, but why was this considered news?  I would think that these financial "experts" would have already known that.

One of my daily prayers is that God will do WHATEVER it takes to make me like Jesus. I ask Him to cut out of my life anything that does not resemble His Son. I know as I pray it that such a prayer can result in pain. Tozer discussed this in today's devo:

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. --Hebrews 12:11

If God has singled you out to be a special object of His grace you may expect Him to honor you with stricter discipline and greater suffering than less favored ones are called upon to endure....

If God sets out to make you an unusual Christian He is not likely to be as gentle as He is usually pictured by the popular teachers. A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful.

To do His supreme work of grace within you He will take from your heart everything you love most. Everything you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most precious treasures used to be. That Incredible Christian, pp. 122-124

So I am reminded today: Be careful what you pray for!  But I will continue to pray for radical transformation in my life.

Monday, December 01, 2008

"Unethical" National Championship and Ethics

A huge thank-you goes out to my daughter-in-law, Kayci, for updating my blog picture.  It has been a joy to Beverly and me to have our family with us for the last week.

Oklahoma jumps Texas (who beat OU by 10 points) to represent the Big 12 South in next week's conference championship game. So the number 2 (or 3, depending on the poll) team in the country will be snubbed in national championship talk, while 7-4 Missouri plays for a conference championship. Go figure. Why not just take the two top teams in the conference and let them play each other?


Here is hoping that Colt McCoy wins the Heisman.

The results of a recent survey on high school aged students' ethics was published over the weekend. The findings show that 30% of students have stolen from a store in the last year. 64% have cheated on a test. 36% have used the internet to plagiarize an assignment. And get this: 93% said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, with 77% saying that "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."

I am not reporting this to say that the current group of teens is worse than in the past. I don't know what similar polls would have shown from when I was a teenager, for instance.  I would guess cheating was a problem then as well.  And while we didn't plagiarize from the internet (Al Gore hadn't invented it yet), I know that plagiarism was not uncommon.  

However, there is one area that baffles me. In my own experience in recent years with premarital counseling, I have been amazed how many young people think there is nothing immoral about living together before marriage. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since movies and TV present it as the norm.