How to Win an Argument

442px-Brooklyn_Museum_-_Argument_Irrésistible_-_Honoré_Daumier…without knowing anything!

Yes, you too can succeed in “reasoning” your way between anyone else’s logic by the use of these clever strategies.

For a suggested donation of $20, you can read the rest of this page without feeling guilty!

Strategy #1

Pass the buck – Tell them that since they can’t prove you wrong, then you must be right!

Strategy #2

Make it true – Argue that since you are obviously right, and everyone knows it, there is no point in arguing further.

Strategy #3

You have two choices – Tell them they must believe your view or something else totally outlandish. Do not allow for a third option.

Strategy #4

It must be so – Argue that for you to be wrong, you would have to change your whole worldview, so you must be right out of necessity.

Strategy #5

Appear reasonable – Argue that your position occupies the middle ground, so the other person is an extremist.

Strategy #6

Distract them – Argue some side issue that’s much easier to win. It’s much better than losing the big one.

Strategy #7

Barrage them – Make so many points that they can’t hope to respond to them all.

Strategy #8

Go for the throat – Prove that the other person is untrustworthy and cannot be believed. Variation: Do the same for their mother.

Strategy #9

Cherry pick – Find one time when your argument proved true. Base everything on that.

Strategy #10

Emotion – Make the conclusion of the other person’s position appear so unpleasant that no one would want it to be true.

Congratulations! Now you can be a winner without even knowing what you’re saying!

Read the Deuterocanon

There are many who follow a plan, often yearly, to read the 66 books of the  Protestant Bible. However, I find it also helpful and interesting to read books associated with and important to Christianity outside the Bible. This year, I’ve come up with a plan to read these books (very slowly) throughout the year.

I’ve chosen books from 2 categories. First are the Apocrypha or Deuterocanon recognized as Scriptural by the Catholic and/or Orthodox Christian faiths. Second are books highly regarded by early Christians. Some were even considered “canonical” by a bishop or two.

Even if not considered Scriptural, none of the books on this list have been rejected as heretical by any major Christian group and are usually considered helpful in understanding the history of Salvation.

Enjoy, modify, and feel free to pass it on.

Trustworthiness and the Multiple Intelligences


I was recently tasked with writing a series of six 10-15 minute devotionals on the topic of Trustworthiness using the six Multiple Intelligences. I would like to share the results of that project with you.

Day 1 – Spatial and Interpersonal intelligence

Give students 3 minutes to draw a sketch of what they think God physically looks like. Encourage the timid to give it a shot.
Have students take 30 seconds and describe to the person next to them what they think God looks like.
Now, have them turn to someone different and describe a person in their life that looks physically like their description of God.

We know that God the Father has not revealed himself with a physical body. We only have guesses of what Jesus looked like historically. The Holy Spirit appears as a dove or fire on some biblical occasions. Why, then, do we picture God the way that we do?

God is beyond our ability to understand or imagine, yet we relate to him. One way we relate to him is by developing an image in our minds of what he looks like. If we see God as trustworthy and timeless, maybe we picture a kind, bearded, old man. If we picture a cruel God, maybe we see a fiery gaze and a lightning bolt in-hand.

Close your eyes. Consider your image of what God looks like. All our imaginations of Him come infinitely short of the truth. Silently consider what God would want you to imagine about him. Consider how your picture of God has changed since you were in kindergarten. Consider what your picture of God might be in 10 years.

Finally, consider what others think of God when they see you. Most people know you’re a Christian. What picture do you give them?

Day 2 – Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence
Get two volunteers. Have them both stand by their desks. Request that one of the volunteers close his/her eyes and promise not to open them. Let everyone know that you and the other volunteer are going to talk to the blind person and “guide” them around the room verbally. Yours and the other volunteer’s advice may or may not be trustworthy. It will be up to the blind student to decide who to follow.

Go for it. Help the student make a lap of the room, being as trustworthy as you want to be. (If this goes really fast, you can do it 2-3 times with different kids.)

When the student lands safely back at her desk, let her open her eyes. Get her reflections on what happened.
1) Who did you decide to trust?
2) Were either of us completely trustworthy?
3) Even when we were trying to be helpful, how did we fail?
4) What kept us from being trustworthy? (A desire for some laughs?)

Open conversation up to the class.
5) Do our friends ever guide us through decisions?
6) How do we decide who we’re going to trust? Based on previous experience?
7) Do we have any other “voices” guiding us?
8) How do we silence the untrustworthy voices in our lives?

Day 3 – Musical and Existential intelligence
Watch (The Jungle Book scene of Kaa singing “Trust in Me”)

1) Before he even starts singing, what is Kaa (the snake) trying to convince Mowgli to do?
2) How does Kaa manipulate Mowgli by playing on his desires? (I can make sure you never have to leave the Jungle)
Mowgli knows he shouldn’t trust in Kaa, but he doesn’t appear to take the threat seriously enough. How is this similar to Adam and Eve’s temptation?
3) How is this similar to our own temptation?
4) Is it good to trust someone what we know will harm us? Can you describe a time that you did that?
5) The line “Trust in me…just in me” tells us what Kaa is actually saying. Make me a priority and ignore everything else. Who or what is the only thing that deserves this kind of trust? Why?

Day 4 – Linguistic
Today we learn some Hebrew!
Jeremiah 17:7 says (repetitively), “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD.” ESV

While the English says “trust” twice, there are two different Hebrew words here. The first word is batach (like “attack” with a “b”). It means to have confidence or to be bold because you feel safe.
So we are blessed when we can feel safe in the protection of the LORD and move forward with boldness.

The second work is mibtach (pronounced miv-ta-phlegm). It means to have hope that someone will protect or deliver you, so it is sometimes just translated as hope.
So we are blessed when we hope that God will deliver us.

We can see throughout the history of Israel and the Church that God often acts to save his people from physical harm. He was first known as the God who delivered the Hebrews from Egypt. Later He became identified as the God who saved the Jews from their exile. Now he is known as the God who became man to save humanity from their sin and darkness. In the future he will be known as the king who delivered his people from evil and established them forever.

1) What do we hope that Jesus will do in our normal, day-to-day lives?
2) What do we hope that Jesus will do ultimately?
3) What is a good way to determine how much you really trust in God’s protection?
4) Can you describe a moment when someone around you trusted God more than you did?
5) Do you need more boldness in your life? How can a lack of trust in God cause you to be timid?

Day 5 – Logical-mathematical
We’ll take a quick poll.
If you lost a wallet or purse that contained two hundred dollars, and it was found by a neighbor, do you think it would be returned with the money in it, or not?
Raise your hand if you think it would be returned.
When this question was asked to people all over the country, what do you think the percentage of people who said yes was?
Do you think the yesses were higher in Kansas?

When Gallup conducted this poll in 2008, the national average was 70% saying yes. Kansas was at 74%, not much higher.

1) The states with the highest and lowest numbers are actually right next to each other: Utah was 85% and Nevada was 60%. Why do you think this is the case? (Are Mormons and Las Vegas the only variables here, or is there something else?)
2) Why do you think that people, even in the least trustworthy states, still trust their neighbors more than half the time?
3) Is it sad that Kansas isn’t higher? Why do you think 1/4 of us don’t trust our neighbors?
4) How would your neighbors answer this question about you? Why do you think that’s the case?

Day 6 – Intrapersonal
Having discussed Trustworthiness for several weeks, we’re going to take this last day to think through what we need to do in our own lives. Please get out a blank piece of paper that you will keep for a while and write out your responses as we go along. (A sentence for each response should be appropriate.)

1) Can you think of any times in the last week that you weren’t perfectly honest? What should have been done differently?
2) What promises has God fulfilled in your life this school year?
3) How has God shown that he is committed and loyal to you?
4) Think of the areas in which you show loyalty (team, school, church, family). Which of these areas has been lacking recently? Why?
5) Who have you trusted that has let you down? Why do you think that happened?
6) Who has trusted you that you have let down? Why do you think that happened?
7) Finally, write something that you know about God that you are absolutely sure of.

(As time allows, invite willing students to share anything they wrote. You may encourage them to reflect on these questions in the future.)

Heaven’s Wisdom


The following is a sermon about James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a written for an audience that speaks English as a non-primary language.

If we’re going to study James, let’s start with the warning in 3:1 about people who want to be Bible teachers. We can learn that I should not desire to become a teacher, so we already know I am a disobedient child by saying any of this.

In this passagedivine light, James teaches us about the wisdom that comes from God. He first shows us what wisdom should not look like. Then he teaches what wisdom should look like.

The most simple way we show wisdom is by doing good works with humility. This means doing good things for others and trying not to let them know it was you. Make it your secret mission to good things for others.

Of course, it is better to do good works, even if other people do know it was you.

Now, James explains the world’s wisdom. The world says that it is wise to do only what is good for yourself. The world says that you must try to be better than everyone else. They say you should brag about your accomplishments.

This is not truly wise. James is teaching us that wisdom and humility work together. Telling others about the wonderful things we have done does not actually help us.

When I have a job interview, I tell the employer good things about myself. This is okay. However, many of us act like we are always in a job interview. It is not always important to talk about what we are good at. We should also admit our weaknesses.

Heaven’s wisdom does not act like this. The devil brags about his accomplishments. The people of the world have to “show off”.

The wisdom from Heaven is humble. It does not have to be seen. Its good actions are hidden and secret. God is the only one who knows what the truly wise have done.

Is it your main goal to do better than others? God did not tell you to be someone else. God told you to be you. He created you differently from anyone else. He has a plan and purpose that only you can fulfill.

My wife is a wonderful woman. She has been given certain gifts and strengths. However, God did not have us get married so that I would become more like her. The same way, God did not create my wife to be more like me. We are both to be more like the people God created us to be.

Wisdom is not about being better than others. Wisdom is about humbly being like Jesus.

If your goal is to be someone else, you will be quickly confused. You will actually do evil things you never planned on doing. Only following God’s purpose for your life makes it possible to do truly good deeds.

So, how do we make wise decisions? When you are faced with a difficult decision, you should think through a list of questions.

  1. Is it pure? – clean, undefiled, with no hint of doing wrong
  2. Is is peaceful? – causes peace
  3. Is it fair? – thinks about the needs of others, gentle
  4. Is it obedient? – allows you to obey others
  5. Is it full of mercy? – help you help others
  6. Is it full of good fruit? – helps you do other good deeds
  7. Is it clear? – a certain decision
  8. Does it not pretend? – does not hide

When a decision matches all of these qualifications, you can be sure it is the right one. Mark this verse and come back to it when you have challenging choices to face.

One difficult decision my family faced was whether my wife should quit her job a few years ago at the book store. We had to consider the rules of James 3:17. It was pure. It was peaceful; no one was hurt. It helped her meet the needs of our son. It didn’t affect our ability to be obedient. It was merciful to our family. It has the good results of helping us do more as a family. It was clear and sincere. We had to make financial adjustments, but it was a good move for our family.

James wants to make sure that we know how important peace is. When we try to have peace in our relationships and decisions, it will help us do what is right. We argue because of our own sinfulness. We fight outside ourselves because we are fighting inside ourselves.

We need peace inside so that we can have peaceful relationships. This comes by doing the good works God created us to do.

One of the rules for wise decisions was to make peace. When we want someone else’s life, we do not have peace. When we want their possessions, we do not have peace. We have arguments and fights.

What is the solution? We are supposed to ask God for what we want, rather than being jealous. We should come to him before being angry with someone else.

One question we quickly ask is, “Why doesn’t God give me what I want when I ask for it?” James tells us, sometimes we have bad reasons. Sometimes we are not trying to serve others. Sometimes we want to be sinful. God won’t give us what we want then.

God will meet our needs, and our first need is for his love.

Finally, James summarizes his teaching. Obey God. This simple idea is all we really need to know. When we obey God, we are confronting the devil. The devil must leave us when we are in God’s presence.

Come close to God. We do this by obeying and praying. Pray constantly about everything. Believe that God is always close. Know that he is giving us his wisdom.

The wisdom from heaven is humble, pure, and peaceful. These all come from constantly being in the presence of God. Come close to him.


Views on Suffering

Which religion or worldview has the best grasp on suffering? The various religions of the world all have proposed solutions to this issue. Here are some of their conclusions.

There is no reason or purpose for suffering. Likewise there is no end to suffering besides death.

From The Humanist Manifesto III
“Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.”

Atheists tend to seek the greater good over individual good. They propose to reduce suffering in this life, because it is the only one.

From The Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness (Buddha’s first sermon)
“This, monks, is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering; decay is suffering; death is suffering; presence of objects we hate is suffering; separation from objects we love is suffering; not to obtain what we desire is suffering. In brief … they are painful.

“This, monks, is the noble truth concerning the origin of suffering; verily it originates in that craving which causes the renewal of becomings, is accompanied by sensual delight, and weeks satisfaction now here, now there; that is to say, craving for pleasures, craving for becoming, craving for not becoming.”

Because of reincarnation, suffering does not even end at death.

The end of suffering comes from ending craving. This comes from obtaining knowledge of the religion, generosity, right speech, abstinence, self-sufficiency, effort, and mindfulness.

Life and death are suffering. Desire leads to suffering. Eliminating desire eliminates suffering.

(Similar to Buddhism)
Suffering in this life is a consequence of your disobedience in a previous life. The more you accept and are obedient in your current position in the world, the better off you will be in the next life. Ultimately, you hope to escape the wheel of rebirth and be united with the brahman (like “The Force”).

Sometimes we get caught up in the actions of the gods, and if that leads to suffering, it is a mysterious thing.

From The Bhagavad Gita
“If you think of him as being constantly born and constantly dying…you should not grieve. For certain is death for the born, and certain is birth for the dead; therefore over the inevitable you should not grieve.”

Suffering is an inevitable, uncontrollable part of life. Only by escaping reincarnation can you escape suffering.

From The Quran
“Do you think that you will enter Heaven, while you have not yet suffered similar afflictions which befell those who have passed away before you? Distress and affliction befell them, and they were made to suffer violent shaking, so that the Messenger and those who believed along with him cried out: “When will come the help of God?” Then they were told, ‘Behold! Surely the help of God is always nearby.’” (Chapter 2, Al-Baqara, verse 215)

With some similarity to Christianity, suffering is seen as a punishment for sin or as a test to remind us to be obedient to God.

From Canada and the World
“Many animist religions teach that humankind is doomed to pain and suffering. However, this can be stopped by following the correct rituals. These may involve the sacrificing of animals so that people can control their world.”

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.
Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause. (Isaiah 1:11, 13, 14, 16, 17 ESV)

Jews tend not to emphasize the afterlife, so like the atheist, they seek solutions to suffering primarily here-and-now. Social justice plays a prime role in their response.

In Christianity, we see that suffering is all-of-the-above. Suffering is the result of either sin, generally, or sin, specifically. People sometimes suffer specific consequences for specific sins. People suffer from “random cataclysm” because of the fallenness we have instituted in the world. Suffering in this life is not the final word.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:14-21 ESV)

It is through the suffering of Christ that we are saved. Likewise, his resurrection is a promise of our own. In suffering we are identified in Christ. In suffering we are unified with Christ. Christ’s promise of love and unity with Him is the final word.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:26, 28, 29, 32, 35-39 ESV)

Hopefully this helps as you consider the ideas the world has to offer and what we can experience in Christ.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 527 other followers