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Give Legalism a Chance

Posted by jbharp on November 24, 2008

A few months ago I was dialoging with a group of men and I found myself verbally wishing Christian would give legalism a chance. I wish Christians would have respect for the Mosaic Law and New Testament Law. I wish Christians would find delight in the detailed specifics of God’s statutes. I wish Christians would appreciate how God reveals Himself in His words. Again, I wish Christians would give legalism a chance.


Legalism is strict conformity to a law or a moral code. With this in mind, I don’t understand why Christians feel the need to battle legalism…inasmuch to say that strictly following a moral code (God’s moral code) is a meaningless pursuit. Jesus did not come to destroy the law or to discourage conforming to the law. Yet many Christians seem eager to degrade and dismiss the law. This I don’t understand.


Generally, I think the “free-thinkers” (that’s what I’ll call them, even though neither word seems to be accurate in most cases) love to proclaim their freedom from the law. But I wonder if they even know the law of which they site they are free from. Here’s my confession…I don’t think I fully know or understand the laws in which I am free from.


Take for example the dietary laws described in the Old Testament. You may find a decent number of Christians who are familiar with them, but for the most part we eat as we please. Or the festival laws…many of which are simple commandments to remember what God has done for His people, but who even knows when these festivals occur?


Then consider the 10 laws, aka the 10 Commandments. Most Christians can recite these from memory and are glad to profess they are still relevant in their lives today. Although we Christian acknowledge that it is good to follow the 10 Commandments, we wouldn’t dare call such an act legalism. We couldn’t afford to make such a claim. I suspect due to the possibility of making such a statement would discourage Christians from following the 10. Yet many other laws are condemned as a proponent to a legalistic lifestyle.  


I hear the “L” word thrown around in the Christian world; bible studies, sermons, radio programs. And because it has been deemed as such an evil word, we all nod our head in agreement to whatever point is made (in my opinion, usually an invalid point).


I wonder if Christians (those living under the Grace of Jesus) would embrace God’s law, would we begin to share the thoughts expressed in Psalm 119? Why do we want to dismiss and run from the law? Shouldn’t we cling to God’s word and apply it to our life? Do we not see any value in conforming to a moral code? Please Christians…give legalism a chance.


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I met Dennis Prager!

Posted by jbharp on October 27, 2008

A few years ago I began listening to talk radio. Initially the constant gold investment commercials and the cracking a.m. airwaves provided no enjoyment…well they still don’t. I really only tuned in to find interesting characters to imitate for improv. But the discussions began to deeply captivate me. The political conversation became more fascinating and I was learning about the significance of a host of issues.

But the one show that I tuned into regularly (and still do) is the Dennis Prager Show. I listen to Dennis for three hours a day nearly every daysoaking up his thoughtful insights and wisdom. On his show he talks about everything in life…politics, religion, happiness. He once had an hour long show discussing and taking calls about the etiquette on eating while others wait to receive their food.

He is a religious Jew and was the primary reason for my interest in learning about Judaism. He has a great deal of respect toward Christians.

After missing him on visits he made to the state, last month I finally was able to meet Dennis in person. I was tipped off that he was speaking at Focus on the Family. Many of the things I heard him say that day I’ve heard before. But his main point was made in new way. God has called for separation. On the third day God separated the land and the water. It is good that everything is not mixed together into one, God intended it that way. In addition, God has called us to be holy just as He is holy (set apart, separated).

It was a thrill to hear Dennis in person and to shake his hand afterwards. Here are just a few things he has said over the years that are wise words: Seek clarity before agreement; A key to happiness is being grateful; and “So what? Jesus never ate a pretzel?” (His point being, just because Jesus didn’t do something doesn’t mean we can’t do it. That’s why God gave us reason and intellect).

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Back from the Dead

Posted by jbharp on October 13, 2008

About five months ago I was preparing to have a group of close friends over for a meal. It was a special meal that I have yet to write about but will…soon. Because it was a special occasion I decided to begin cleaning a few days prior, especially since I was running a race in Pueblothat morning. In the midst of cleaning I began one of my favorite chores…loading the dishwasher. This chore can be a unique, mind-challenging puzzle I call Dishwasher Tetris.


I gathered all the dishes I could find and begin. Every dirty dish sits in front of me so I can see what I’m up against. Then I go to work wedging in each plate, glass, and fork. ‘There’s too much on top…move some of the bowls to the bottom rack. Put the small plates nearly on top of each other. Turn half of the utensils up and half down.’ These are a few strategies I enact when cramming in the dishes. Most of the time I manage to fit everything in the dishwasher AND get the door closed. This time was no exception. Job complete as I dumped in the detergent, closed the door, pressed the start button, and heard hot water start to flow.


As I turned around to attend another chore, I spotted a lonely cup in the corner next to the refrigerator. I couldn’t believe I missed it, but I knew there was still room in the top rack…the plastic cups weren’t even squeezed together. So I managed it between the prongs for an overtime win against the dishwasher. Again I closed the door and pressed the start button, but this time there was no response. My dishwasher quit.


Over the last five months I’ve done a lot of washing dishes by hand. So has my roommate #1, my roommate #2, friends in my improv troupe, my mom, and my roommate’s mom. I kept debating whether I should call a repair main or just own up and replace the thing. I really had no idea why it quite. I just know that many hours were being spent over my sink.


It all changed this weekend. A friend asked me if my dishwasher was still broken but before I replied with a quick affirmative, I decide to check. I made sure the door was closed and pressed the button. JUBILATION! The dishwasher started. I don’t know why or how, but I’m grateful.


My dishwasher was dead, but now it is alive. At this moment, it is getting an extensive clean from a jetdry clean pack (costly little thing, but after five months of stagnant water the inside needed it). So a big…Welcome Back!!! More Tetris fun to be had.

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The Results of Consistency

Posted by jbharp on May 12, 2008

Yesterday I had a few opportunities to observe the usefulness of consistency and repetitiveness, of which I’m becoming more of a fan and fully advocate. Changing for the sake of change, a popular mantra it seems, really has no legitimacy. But on with my small stories…

1) A friend and I have been going to the gym three times a week for nearly a month. I don’t have much wiggle room in my schedule these days, so the only time available is early morning. I set my alarm for 10 minutes before six o’clock, which gives me enough time to dress and make a quick drive to be there by the top of the hour (save for once when I completely missed my alarm).

But yesterday, a Sunday morning, I didn’t have to wake until eight o’clock. However my internal clock has slowly been adjusted to sound at 6. Fortunately, I am blessed (sometimes is a curse though) with the ability to roll over and fall right back to sleep. The consistent early morning rises are becoming much easier and just in time for the summer. There’s nothing like a morning run as the sun is coming up (which I’ll be doing in the morning).

2) It is funny how much my dogs share my personality. While I’m getting ready in the morning, Charlie enjoys as much time of coziness as possibly on her old sleeping bag bed. Just like me she’s hitting the snooze as long as possible.

She distinctly knows the sound of my keys as it’s the last thing I grab before I leave. It’s her final alarm signaling her to get up and go outside. As long as I’m in normal clothes, and not running gear, she is aware of the routine (don’t let the doggie door hit you on the way out).

3) Finally, yesterday morning I taught in children’s church reviewing the Hebrew names of God and their meanings. We’ve been learning them for the entire semester covering 12 different names of God. During the review it was obvious the kids had been soaking it in. They knew when they were lonely there is Jehovah Shammah, God is always there. They knew when a bully was threatening them there is Jehovah Nissa, God is our Battle. And they knew that even when they stressed about math tests there is Jehovah Shalom, God is our Peace.

Now repetition can lead to good things as long as the disciplines themselves are good ones, like those above. Counter example…when my roommate decides to feed my dogs at 3 in the morning, they eventually come barking at me for food. We changed that habit.

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Last chance gone for conservatism

Posted by jbharp on February 7, 2008

The country’s choices have dwindled today with Mitt Romney suspending his campaign for the executive branch. Out of all the GOP contenders, I’ve grown to like Romney the most. I think he was the strongest candidate to implement and carry out ALL conservative values (social, economic, foreign affairs, ect).

His speech today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) highlighted many of the major issues our country faces. And he addressed them with fervor and wisdom. This made it all the more disheartening to hear the end of his address when he announced the suspension of his campaign.

We are now faced to accept John McCain as the next best conservative voice for the White House. And he doesn’t have the best record at this role. His conservative rating was 65 for 2006 (here’s more details). McCain is the now the front runner and undoubtedly will get the GOP nod. Let’s face it – the Huck-a-boom has turned into a Huck-a-bomb (yeah, I thought of that term myself).

Romney’s address today shows his admirable character. He recognizes that America is at war and furthering his campaign would be harmful to the country in this critical issue. By suspending his run, it is clear that Romney truly is more concerned for his country than himself. This is what Huckabee should have done two weeks ago. If he had, then the conservative voice in America might still have a nominee in the race to proudly stand behind – Mitt Romney.

My favorite line today from Romney’s speech is this, “The best ally peace has ever known, and will ever know, is a strong America!”

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“Special” Days

Posted by jbharp on January 3, 2008

Yesterday was Happy Mew Year for Cats. I celebrated in a number of ways. First I actually saw a cat yesterday, although I did not wish her a Happy Mew Year. But at least I did not let her play with my dog. That is the second way I observed the day, by not allowing my dogs to diminish the world of any cats. Finally, at improv practice I spent some time acting like a cat (inspired by a young girl at my church).

I know that it was Happy Mew Year because it says so on my calendar. I received it from my equality obsessed city organization. The calendar is full of cute and special days all year long. January 14 is National Clear off Your Desk Day. June 27 is Sunglasses Day. And September 10 is Swap Ideas Day.

There are two things about these “special” days that bother me. First is the space it takes up on my calendar. I have a fairly busy schedule and this 8.5×5.5 inch calendar is my method of organizing my events and looking ahead to see what’s on the horizon. So I often have events, reminders, and notes written on the majority of the boxes and in the margins. I need all the space I can get!!! A tentative camping/hiking trip is competing for space on August 2 with National Mustard Day. At least I used yellow on this day for my color coding method.

But I don’t mind having a special day noted on my calendar, as long as it truly is a special day. That it is a day of significance, meaning, worth, and a history to recognize.

It’s disturbing to think of people giving more honor and recognition on Chocolate Mint Day on February 19 than the previous day of President’s Day on February 18. And what a tragedy if some people will give more celebration to National Tap Dance day on May 25 than celebrating the service men and women of this country the following day of Memorial Day on May 26. The calendar gives equal recognition on December 18 to Bake Cookies Day as the recognition on December 25 to Christmas Day.

Well, I am glad to receive this handy little calendar from my work. I’m also thrilled they provide white-out.

Here’s a few more of the many “special” days on my calendar –
January 23 is National Pie Day – A day that is not to be confused with National Pi Day on March 14 (3.14).
March 22 is International Women’s Day – A day where no American Woman can be honored (not sure about men, though)
April 17 is Blah, Blah, Blah Day – A day when useless information is printed on my calendar.
August 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night – An evening to recognize the utter short comings of zucchini compared to a flaming bag of poo.
September 28 is Fish Tank Floorshow Night – A night for all cats to begin an inner journey of self realization that ends on Happy Mew Year.

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Thoughts about teeth, smiles and wisdom

Posted by jbharp on December 3, 2007

In an article about teeth a Rabbi says,

…the face of a person is considered public property and one should always smile at everyone. A sour face can damage the mood of others and we are never allowed to inflict damage to others.

I’m fortunate to have some reliable smiling people in my life…namely my fellow horses. But I better not catch anyone spray painting their faces with graffiti. I hate when public property is defaced with such nonsense.

The article goes on to talk about numbers (one of my favorite things).

According to mystical sources there are 32 paths of wisdom. So too there are 32 sources of wisdom within a person (found in the head) which are channeled to each one of the entire set of 32 adult teeth. The number 32 has the numerical value, gematria, of the Hebrew word lev, which means heart. This means that our 32 teeth represent what is in our heart.

I suppose this is where the name “wisdom teeth” comes from. Fortunately, I still have all 32 teeth in my noggin. Now I just have to figure out how to “channel the wisdom.” One thing is certain, I’ll never let my dentist pull my wisdom teeth out. They are public property after all.

Fortunately there are other thoughts on wisdom as opposed to the mystical sources. What better way to acquire wisdom than from the source of wisdom…God.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Prov 9.10

Knowing God would seem to make one smile more. So our teeth, in a way, do represent what is in our heart.

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Happy Rocktober

Posted by jbharp on October 15, 2007


The Colorado Rockies are heading to the World Series. This team is on a run.

If you’ve picked up the sports section or watched any sports coverage on tv recently, then you undoubtedly have been exposed to the Rockies. And more coverage is to come. This is a great team with good, wholesome guys enjoying America’s past-time.

Here’s a few stories about the Rockies…

Sweeping the D-Backs.

Giving to a Tulsa family.

Even a Jewish lesson.

A Sky Sox Presences.

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Escalators and soft shoes

Posted by jbharp on September 30, 2007

I read this story a few weeks ago. There is a mom who is upset at the trendy shoe Croc. Her 4-year old boy got his foot caught in an escalator while wearing the soft shoe and lost a toenail. After the mother learned of other incidents involving escalators and Crocs she says, “If I had known, those would never have been worn.”

I think she ended her investigation too early. Did she bother looking into all escalator incidents? I can’t believe that all of them involved a Croc shoe. So why is she not blaming the escalator manufacturer? Why does she not say, “If I had known there were accidents and injuries on escalators, I would have never stepped on one?”

Possibly because this would be a ridiculous statement. After all, accidents happen on stairs too. Yet it seems that we feel good about eliminating one threat to our lives that is relatively minor while we live in a delusions to more legitimate threats. The bottom line is that we can’t eliminate every single danger from our lives and live in a perfect risk free society. We need to learn how to take care of ourselves and we need people to teach us that.

I think this mom needs to realize her duty to protect her children. In this case she’s blaming a shoe because she failed to teach her child how to step off of an escalator. As a child I remember having a resounding fear as I approached the end of the escalator. There was an intensity in my mom’s voice when she instructed me to make sure my shoe laces weren’t caught. Then grasping on to my mom’s hand with every once of strength came the leap for life as we approached the end of the moving steps. I’m sure I was told that my leg could be ripped off by the escalator if I wasn’t careful (although that may have came from my brothers).

I’m not terrified of stepping off the escalators anymore. But a little dose of fear saved me from a hefty dose of pain…like losing a toe or leg.

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Cancer will not run unopposed in ’08

Posted by jbharp on September 20, 2007

This is an email I received from the Lance Armstrong Foundataion.

Be a part of this army – the LIVESTRONG ARMY.

In the 30 years since President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer, the disease has never drawn any significant political attention or opposition. Until now.

Today, thanks to the thousands of voices of the LIVESTRONG Army and the historic LIVESTRONG Presidential Cancer Forum held August 27-28, cancer has become part of the national dialogue.

At the two-day Forum, six presidential candidates pledged to renew the war on cancer and to make cancer a national priority. See what they said.

We must ensure our next President is focused on the cancer issue. He or she must be committed to our health and well-being and have the political will to do something about it.

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