Search This Blog

Monday, March 28, 2022

Supreme Judge

At least there was a less of a charade in the process of hearings on whether Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson should serve on our Supreme Court. She will, in all likelihood, receive final approval to move forward. Senator Joe Manchin – a growing thorn in the side of his fellow Democrats – has indicated he will vote to support her nomination. No doubt a couple of Republicans will also.

Three things stood out to me. First, Ms. Jackson’s questionable treatment of several men with criminal records whose sentences were reduced. She defended her decisions, but the severity of the offense—particularly in child pornography cases—raised many eyebrows.

Second, her unwavering support of abortion. Of course, she would not even be a nominee for this court position were she not loyal to that cause. Her claim is that Roe v Wade (and a subsequent case or two) is “settled law.” The trouble with this argument is that previous court cases HAVE been overturned. New evidence may surface. New technologies may give added insight. And if the case for legalized abortion is so clearly established, why are MANY states regulating the issue with tighter restrictions? Ms. Brown cannot offend the pro-aborts. Period.

Third, her unwillingness to speak clearly on the definition of “a woman.” Anyone with insight clearly recognizes that this is the hottest button on the agenda today. Gender “identity."

In the discourse of the confirmation hearings, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee) was the one pressing the issue. In light of modernist discussions on men-who-claim-to-be-women competing in female sports, Senator Blackburn asked the nominee if she could "provide a definition for the word woman." (This issue may well come before the Supreme Court.)

The exchange went like this: "Can I provide a definition? No," Jackson responded. "I can't."

"You can't?" Blackburn replied.

"Not in this context. I'm not a biologist," Jackson told Senator Blackburn. (I’m not a biologist either but even I can give you a right answer on this.)

These are the kinds of issues that divide Americans. Even in the church. We Christians get “stuck” on biblical ideas like Genesis 2:18-25. Prior to those verses, we read in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (ESV)

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson frequently said she would make her legal decision based on “the law.” Black's Law Dictionary defines judicial activism as a "philosophy of judicial decision-making whereby judges allow their personal views about public policy, among other factors, to guide their decisions.” This muddies up “the law.”

It's hard to believe that all judges and justices are not “activists” to some degree. Their moral beliefs (or lack of same) will shape their decisions…IF they have convictions! You may think you’re only making a decision on “the law,” but…WHOSE law?

As the British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke wisely said, “There is but one law for all, namely, that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity — the law of nature, and of nations.“

The very liberal-leaning American Bar Association said this nominee would bring “impeccable” credentials to the job. They awarded her an “A+” rating. No surprise.

One more thing. Previous minority nominees for judicial appointments, including Janice Rogers Brown and Miguel Estrada, were blocked from court appointments because of their conservative views. Two current justices with conservative views (Kavanaugh and Barrett) would not have made it to the bench without sufficient support of Republican senators.

Get it? The game has changed. Politics now determines our “justice.”

The wakeup call is this: God is the ultimate, impartial, supreme judge. He plays politics with no one.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Monday, March 21, 2022

Are Fishsticks Really Fish?

A good number of Americans know that we are in a spiritual season we call Lent. During the Lenten season in my younger years, we always went to a Wednesday night service. It was a Lutheran thing to do. Frankly, I was never sure why we needed this extra church service.

Oddly, most “evangelical” churches to which I’ve belonged since my childhood do not make a big deal out of Lent. Catholics certainly do. And many “mainline” denominations do as well.

So what’s the big deal?

First, the basics. This word “lent” is derived from a Saxon term that meant “length.” In our northern hemisphere, spring brings longer days. See the connection?

Church history appears to show that even in apostolic times they often recognized a period of preparation before the Easter Celebration. The more formalized practice seems to have arrived at the time of the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. (I can almost assure you there were no such things as a Fat Tuesday or paczkis.)

This “period of preparation” came to be a time of dedicated reflection and repentance. One can readily see why this can have deep meaning for those who seriously grasp the weight of the sacrifice given by Jesus of Nazareth in our behalf. This Lenten period would culminate by remembering His crucifixion on what we call Good Friday.

So “sacrifice” seems to be a natural connection to Lent. Many people who engage in a Lenten practice will determine what they will “give up” (sacrifice) during this 40-day period. It is not just a self-control test. The serious player will put aside some form of natural desires to honor the greatest sacrifice made in their behalf at the cross where Jesus died.

Avoiding certain foods—even fasting—is among the most common Lenten withdrawal. Alcohol consumption is up there as well. Breaking media habits to spend time in personal reflection and meditation are wise moves any time of year, but particularly for Lenten celebrants.

Regrettably, the sacrificial efforts can be weakened in two ways. One, if it’s done as a religious performance without the true heart of contrition. And second, that which is given up becomes silly. Even ridiculous. Christianity Today published a list of what people put on Twitter as the most common things people “gave up for Lent.” Included were homework, single use plastic, men…and work. Now there’s real sacrifice!

Catholics in particular are noted for their commitment to eat fish on Fridays during Lent. (See the link below as to why.)

Jesus of Nazareth selected several fishermen as disciples. His initial call out included four of them: Andrew, Peter, James, and John. Bible students would know Jesus had an advantage over them. He KNEW where the fish were.We have two examples of Him telling the boys where to get a good catch.

The first is found in Luke 5:1-7. Jesus uses Simon Peter’s boat to sail out a little from the shore so the Master can speak to the crowds more easily. When He’s finished, He tells Peter to head into deeper water and drop the nets. Peter thinks he knows better, but does what Jesus asks. Voila! A huge catch of fish!

The scenario is somewhat repeated in John 31:1-13. The resurrected Christ is sitting on the shore with a warm fire while the disciples are fishing in the morning. They don’t know He’s there. Jesus calls out to them and instructs the expert fishermen to try their nets on the OTHER side of the boat. Once again, a fish feast!

I’ve been to a kibbutz in Israel a few times and had what they call “St. Peter’s fish.” It’s fine, just not my cup of seafood. I do admit to enjoying fishsticks. With tartar sauce, of course.

But I do wonder…are fishsticks really fish? If not, don’t tell me. I like to believe I’m eating healthy. Just like my Catholic friends on Lenten Fridays.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest: 

Monday, March 14, 2022

The List

I think I know what can lead people to depression. Their minds dwell on all the things to be unhappy about. And, no doubt, there is plenty.

In pondering my own “unhappiness” I decided to start a list. I titled it, “Things I’m unhappy about.” It wasn’t hard to get it started.

First, there’s this annoying Covid thing. I don’t know if I’ve ever had it. Maybe I have. I do know that annually I get a winter cold and it sticks around for a while. Coughing. Sneezing. The basics. I took cold meds to help sleep at night. I think it’s almost gone. Where DID this Covid junk come from anyway?? (I think I know. The word begins with “C.”)

Then there’s my car. The screen unit for my GPS, radio, backup camera, car temperature, and other stuff went blank in early February. The manufacturer (at the company named after the first book of the Bible) tells me they have NO idea when the replacement part will be here. Apparently, it’s not a shipping issue. It’s, well, something else. Not happy!

And look what’s happened to our gas prices? They’re over $5 a gallon in California. And we’re getting close to that in Illinois! Grrrrr.

I’m not pleased at all with a local pizza company named after a Roman leader. A week ago, my T-Mobile Tuesday app said this pizza joint was offering a “buy one-get one deal.” I stopped in and was told “we’re not participating in that.” Scowl.

It gets worse. About two years ago, we moved a majority of my retirement account to a more conservative approach. My “financial advisor” at our local C**** Bank suggested to keep a portion of the funds in a more risk/better reward account. I took his advice. Recently I was assigned a new advisor. The other guy left. And I discover that fellow NEVER MOVED the funds into any stocks or bonds account. I lost two years of investment. My head is hurting.

Speaking of having less money, what in the name of Foster Farms is going on with this ridiculous inflation rate? Worst in 40 years!!! I know. I was there! Who’s creating this financial shenanigan? This time, it isn’t Jimmy Carter!

Starbucks and I have been friends for years. But their new coffee prices have just about cured me of caffeine. Over $3 for a “grande black coffee.” I’ve decided I can get by with a smaller size! Count me among the irritated.

I’m also upset about immigration! How is it that hundreds of thousands of people continue to cross into our nation illegally via our southern borders? But you can’t come here from Canada unless you can prove you belong here!

And while I’m griping, I’m sick and tired of watching a parade of “light cheaters” that keep turning at intersections after their lane arrow turns read. Bad form!!!

Among the worst offenders are the liars and deceivers in Congress who tried to stick us with “The Women’s Healthcare Act.” This would permit death “doctors” to terminate a baby’s life even through the ninth month of development. Horrible. Fortunately, that measure did not pass.

And I’m just getting started!!

But wait! Every irritation of life I’ve mentioned pales in comparison to the suffering of the thousands upon thousands in Ukraine right now. The Evil Putin is a tortuous soul. His day will come.

And my woes have no standing in contrast to millions who have no food and live amidst drought conditions in Africa. Or earthquake devastated places like Haiti.

My physical challenges due to diabetes cannot compare to the cancer victims for whom we find ourselves praying. Or families who are grieving over a murdered family member. Or numerous other acts of injustice in our world.

I think it’s best if I reframe my mind and begin “counting my blessings.” My head and my heart will feel better. Perhaps better enough to reach out and help someone who really has it bad.

Psalm 34:8 reads, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (ESV)

I think I need to work on my blessings list.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest:

Monday, March 7, 2022

Three Letter Hot Buttons

Sex. Few, if any, three letter words are more charged than this. That’s why you see it on billboard and television ads. There is an attraction to find out what is being said, shown, or promoted.

In my youngest years (the 1950s) you would rarely hear the word discussed or said in any public fashion. Married couples on television had separate beds. Levels of intimacy were kept extremely safe. And private.

As everyone now knows, we took a serious left turn in the 1960s. Top 40 radio had ample songs directing one’s mind to sexual activity. I could name several, but why? And everything sexual became more graphic in every facet of “entertainment.” Obscene language is common everywhere today. And…sex talk.

I was an observer during “hippie culture days.” My upbringing had taught me enough to know that sexual liberation and the drug culture would not profit me in the long run. Back in the 60s, the term used for hookups was “free love.”

It was a nearly impossible battle for young guys to fight. These no-cost sexual relationships were happening everywhere. Couples moving in with one another. High school guys talking about their “victories.” College campuses became breeding grounds. And abortion clinics loved the business.

The “advanced” form of all this moved into the new century with what become known as the “hook-up culture.” No doubt intelligent women have figured out that it’s the guys who benefit from this. Just like they did in the 60s. The 70s…80s and 90s. It’s the male species whose bodies turn on at barely a moment’s notice when the scene gets hot. And just as quickly, the interest can easily fade once the appetite is satisfied.

So I’ve never really understood why women found the “hook-up culture” attractive. It’s as close to being used as, well, there really is no comparison. Living together takes it to a whole other level! In this scenario, the male has the benefit package he wants with virtually NO commitment. No wonder these guys stay away from jewelry stores.

Perhaps times are finally changing. A February 18th, 2022, article in questions, “Are We Getting Sick of Hook-up Culture?” Laura Pilcher writes, “Welcome to celibacy TikTok. In this emerging subsection of the app, spiritual-celibacy advocates explain sex as “energy transfers,” arguing that meaningless or casual sex doesn’t exist."

As to reasons for the change of thinking, it was said, “Some women are turning to celibacy after realizing ‘guys only want to use you for your body.’” I hope this didn’t come as a shock! Hello…!

I found good news in that these conversations are taking place in what has been termed a “sex recession” among younger millennials and Gen-Zers. Research shows these groups are having less casual or partnered sex than previous generations.

Here’s another not-so-surprising admission from Laura: “While the sexual-liberation movement—from the 1960s through the 1980s in the U.S.—portrayed sex as a means of empowerment for women, the realities of hookup culture have actually left many young people feeling disempowered. It’s easy to see why.” Yeah. It is.

Make no mistake. There is no TikTok pitch for celibacy (at least until marriage) because it’s the godly thing to do. Today the cutting back is just making sense in ways for people it did not before.

The apostle Paul wrote in his day about avoiding both sex—and marriage. He writes in 1 Corinthians 7, verse 1, “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” Then later in verses 8-9, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

Here’s the other three letter word that gets people hot: God!! Do His ways take all the fun out of life? Never. He’s just looking out for His kids. As we all should do.

Three letter words. Sex. God. They can both get you hot…and bothered.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest: