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Let He Who Has Not Sinned Cast the First Stone

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There seems to be seething anger in the world today that seeks someone to attack. It is a world where there is little room for redemption or forgiveness. It’s a one-and-done trial. You have a visible sin, and it’s over. Like the gladiators with swords to the neck of their defeated opponent, they look to the coliseum masses for a verdict. The thumbs-down condemnation seems unanimous. There is no mercy to be had.


Maybe two years of being cooped up in our homes for fear of COVID has left us easily enraged by those we deem evil and deserving of our wrath. The media, eager to draw our attention to the mistakes and sins of others to improve ratings, use any “sinner” they can find to capture viewers and feed our appetite to have someone to hate. Whether it is a politician we dislike, a law enforcement officer who goes too far, a fellow citizen who dares try to defend his community, or even an offended Oscar-winning actor who slaps a comedian in front of millions of viewers, we may not want blood, but we do want to destroy their reputations.


Our country seems to be majoring in condemnation. Whether it’s former President Trump or President Biden, with a polarized electorate, the faithful followers do what they can to bring their opponent down. When an officer in a scary moment of confrontation makes the wrong decision and it is captured on video, we want his job-we want him convicted and locked up. When a citizen brings a gun to town to help protect his city from rioters and chaos reigns, there is no room for mercy. And when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, millions piled on to the outrage.


Maybe we are not as unique as we think. Two thousand years ago, a man named Jesus was led through a throng of adoring fans on his way to Jerusalem. They laid cloaks and palm branches on the ground before him with shouts of “Messiah” echoing for all to hear. But in less than a week, another crowd gathered before Pontius Pilot as his fate laid in the balance and demanded in one voice-“Crucify him!” And they did. He was nailed to a cross until he died.


That same man, when a woman who was caught in adultery was brought to him and he was asked to condemn her to be stoned to death as the law prescribed, gave an unexpected but powerful response. As the crowd gripped their stones ready to deliver the verdict the woman’s sin deserved, Jesus knelt down and seemingly drew images in the sand. With all eyes upon him, he said to an angry crowd, “Let him who has not sinned cast the first stone.” Within moments, stones could be heard dropping to the ground. No stones were thrown.


As we enter Passion Week, we are reminded of the powerful message and life of Jesus Christ. He ate with sinners, those in need of forgiveness and healing. He challenged the religious of his day to not focus on the speck of sin in the eyes of others but to deal with the planks in their own eyes.


As the Apostle Paul would remind us in his letter to Christians in Rome, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus came not to lead the perfect but to save the sinner. Our society likes to feed the illusion of perfection. Maybe that is why we get so upset when anyone dares break that illusion. We know privately that we fall short of even our own ideals. But publicly we dare not confess to such sin. Maybe that is why hiding in our homes exiting only with the cover of face masks to hide who we really seem somehow safe.


The COVID restrictions are coming down. The mask mandate is being made optional. We will soon be re-entering a new normal. Unfortunately, the anger and calls for condemnation are still there. Everyone has a cell phone ready to capture the “sins” of others. The private is now dangerously public. Videos of sin feed the social media and those captured moments never go away. Will Smith’s slap will be with us every Oscar season. He may not be in the Oscar audience for the next ten years, but the slap will be used to make sure we don’t forget.


Those willing to forgive may be ready to give Will Smith a second chance. After all, like me, we love many of his movies, and everyone deserves a second chance. But is a second chance enough? Like us, Will Smith will certainly sin again. He most certainly will not slap anyone else at an Oscars, but the media will be watching him for more proof of how far he has fallen.


To Will Smith and all of us, God sent His Son that rather than being limited to a second chance, God gave us grace. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sin. On Easter, Jesus rose again that we might by faith share with Him in eternal life and a loving relationship with God. The price for that gift of grace is to put down the stones we throw at others, to repent of our own sins of the past and those of the future, and to believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again through faith we might be forgiven and saved.


In His ministry, Jesus shared the story of the “Prodigal Son” who demanded his inheritance from his father and left only to squander his wealth and be left to a life of sin and want. When he decided to return to his father, repent of his sins, and offer to live as his servant, his father saw him coming and ran to him with open arms. I recently preached on the fact that, like the sinners we all are, we all have our own prodigal moments. This is the Easter God is inviting you to come back home to His loving arms. Is it time to come home?


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Dr. Terry Paulson is a PhD psychologist and author of The Optimism Advantage, They Shoot Managers Don't They, Speak Like a Pro, Meditations for the Trail, and The Dinner: The Political Conversation Your Mother Told You Never to Have. Since founding Paulson and Associates, Inc. in Agoura Hills, CA, Dr. Paulson has presented to such companies as IBM, 3M, Kaiser, Nationwide, SONY, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and hundreds of hospitals, government agencies, and associations. Dr. Paulson is a past president of both the Global Speakers Federation and the National Speakers Association. He’s been inducted into NSA’s CPAE Speakers Hall of Fame, an honor given to less than 230 speakers worldwide. Dr. Paulson is a long-time conservative Republican who has spoken to numerous Republican groups. He currently is a regular op-ed columnist for townhall.com and politicrossing.com. Terry brings knowledge, tasteful humor, and a passion for conservative principles to every presentation. Dr. Paulson graduated with honors from UCLA and received his PhD in psychology and an MA in theology from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology in Pasadena, CA.



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Guns

The Age of Rage

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Many Republicans are seething in response to Biden’s destructive agenda that has contributed to high inflation, ad exploding deficit, urban lawlessness, and an out-of-control Southern border. More and more Americans are eager to turn their anger into a November landslide against Democrats. They’re tired of the rampant lawlessness, the irresponsible DAs unwilling to prosecute criminals, and the deficit spending that has unleashed inflation impacting the lives of every American.

The recent leak about the reversal of Roe v. Wade has given woke extremists all they need to justify angry, even violent, demonstrations. The decision is not even final, but liberals are marching on the homes of conservative Supreme Court Justices. Some justices have moved from their homes to ensure the safety of their families.

The lockdowns and restrictions tied to the COVID pandemic have certainly added to the anger of many citizens. People watch shows that reinforce their own views. Such one-sided journalism helps justify violent actions. But let’s be clear. Viewers respond with high ratings from the steady stream of extremists. Rage is the “eye candy” that now attracts viewers. Yes, there are extreme views expressed on either side of our political divide, but the vast majority of rage and violence is coming from the left.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki has complained about threats and personal attacks, but Republicans point out that the party has not publicly shared the addresses of any Biden administration official’s home address.

After the leak of a potential Supreme Court reversal on Roe v. Wade, a pro-abortion protest in downtown Los Angeles turned into a violent clash with law enforcement after officers were called to disperse the increasingly disruptive crowds, resulting in the injury of at least one officer. What started as a small protest outside the city’s federal courthouse building, grew increasingly rowdy and disruptive. The protest grew despite promises from state officials and liberal lawmakers to codify the ability to access abortion in California.

A group called “Jane’s Revenge” claimed to be behind the attack on the offices of Wisconsin Family Action. The “warning” demanded that pro-life organizations disband in 30 days. They claimed, “We have run thin on patience for those who seek to strip us of what little autonomy we have left.” The group claimed that it had groups “all over the U.S.”

Columnist and pundit Victor Davis Hanson wrote, “Politics are resembling the violent last days of the Roman Republic. An illegal leak of a possible impending Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade that would allow state voters to set their own abortion laws has created a national hysteria. Never has a White House tacitly approved mobs of protesters showing up at Supreme Court justices’ homes to rant and bully them into altering their votes.”

Commenting on the angry demonstrations, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel said it well, “It is an attempt to replace the rule of law with the rule of mobs.” It’s the mobs that get the coverage, and that coverage encourages more attacks.

The rage hasn’t been limited to the abortion issue. In January, the leftist ShutDownDC group picketed outside Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) home in Virginia. Hawley said at the time, “Tonight while I was in Missouri, Antifa scumbags came to our place in DC and threatened my wife and newborn daughter, who can’t travel. They screamed threats, vandalized, and tried to pound open our door. Let me be clear: My family, and I will not be intimidated by leftwing violence.”

Since that threat, there have been seemingly a stream of violent attacks and murders. From the mowing down of innocent black citizens in Buffalo New York, to the ongoing carnage in inner-city Chicago, and to the attack on worshipers at the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, the violence is just expanding.

We may have ushered in the age of rage, but the vast majority of Americans do not want it to continue. It’s time we all demand an end to violence and stop legitimizing destructive demonstrations. The answer to hate speech is not violence or forced silence. The answer is more speech, more respectful, thoughtful, even passionate dialogue across our divide. Freedom and rights are only real when you extend and ensure those rights to those who openly disagree with you. Let freedom ring. Let’s return to disagreeing without being quite so disagreeable. Rage may get you on the news, but it doesn’t ensure the future of our republic. Demand more. Start being part of the answer by being responsible for your own actions.

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Life

Ignore Much of What Pundits Have to Say

Can we be confident in advice we receive from people who have not mastered what they teach?

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When the opportunity arose, I attended a lecture by one of the most well-known authors and speakers in America. I had previewed his CD and read two of his books prior to his lecture; in person, he lived up to my expectations. So, I was intrigued when a friend, involved with bringing this speaker to our area relayed a personal incident to me. 

Directly following the speaker’s presentation, my friend was responsible for driving him to the airport, and accompanying him until his flight departed. That summer afternoon, it was rainy and the skies were dark.

As it turned out, the author was a nervous flyer and took several drinks in the airport lounge prior to boarding the plane.  I found this incident to be amazing because I had so often heard him say things such as, “Everything in this universe is perfect.” It struck me that, in many ways, the speaker wasn’t practicing his philosophy. Nevertheless, all human beings have their faults and foibles and, as time passed, I forgot about the incident.

High-Priced Gurus

One morning, I had the occasion to pick up USA Today. In the lifestyle section, there was a feature on a relationship guru and author of international best-sellers on relationships. She had won the “Oscar” of infomercials, earning $24 million in a single year.  

In this published interview, the reporter asked her why we should listen to a relationship guru who had been married five times. Five times? I couldn’t believe it! She had wedded her fifth husband, some 11 years her junior, only a short time before producing her award-winning infomercial on having a successful relationship. 

In the infomercial, she is featured as having a loving relationship with her husband. Okay, but in no way does the infomercial tell us that he is her fifth husband and that she had married him three weeks ago.

Not Walking their Talk

I had a flash from the past: I recalled the story about the nervous flyer author. Yet, nothing prepared me for the revelations about the relationship guru, a self-proclaimed expert, using the slickest 21st-century marketing available to sell her information and products.  

She was well-versed in her subject matter. Upon hearing her advice, I recognized that it did seem sound. However, the larger issue is, “Can we be confident in the advice we receive from those who have not mastered what they teach, or who do not even remotely walk their talk?”

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