Thursday, December 28, 2006

When Events Come in Like a Flood

This will indeed be a Christmas season to remember. I am certainly going to be processing it all for some time to come.

First, the passing of former president Gerald R. Ford. While Mr. Ford took positions on some issues further to the left than I'd like, I still respected him for doing his best to heal the country after the Watergate period. He conducted himself honorably while in office, stood for his principles, and most notably, conducted himself honorably AFTER leaving office. He continued what has been tradition for former presidents - not to be critical of or undermine their successors in office, and to be available to give counsel or serve when needed. Former president Jimmy Carter would do well to follow Mr. Ford's example from now on, but I am afraid he's too dense to take the hint. Anyway, Gerald Ford only had 2-1/2 years in office, but they were well served for the most part. I pray with all my heart that he knew Jesus as his Savior and is in the presence of Christ now.

Second, the passing of musician James Brown. I am certainly saddened by his death, which is doubly difficult for his family and friends coming right at Christmas. I am also saddened as I am uncertain of his walk with the Lord. As is usual with entertainers of his style, much is said about "singing and celebrating in Heaven." However, Mr. Brown's lifestyle didn't seem to quite jive with Christian conduct. He once said his music came from himself and God. I hate to say this, but God will not be authoring any song about being a human "sex machine." With Rev. Al Sharpton doing the funeral, I am even more in doubt. For those who are alive and remain, remember that God expects more than lip service faith. Saving faith produces fruit and a changed life. Musically, James Brown was not my cup of tea, but that has nothing to do with my comments. It's spiritual. If Rev. Sharpton does what he ought to do, he will remind people that they need to get right with God because they don't know when their time to die will come. Unfortunately, I have a hunch the reverend's "sermon" will be more political than anything else. There are many clergymen whose funeral messages indicate they believe unsaved people will be entering heaven. We hear it all the time. A pastor's role is certainly to bring comfort to the grieving, but it is also his duty to preach the Gospel and to prophetically rebuke sin. It does no one ultimately any good at all to see someone live a wild, non-Christian life and then assume "the saints go marching in." It doesn't work that way. What about James Brown's eternal destiny? Ultimately, that is in God's hands and He alone knows. I do know that He will not be mocked. And He will be just. No one will be in Hell who doesn't deserve to be there. No one deserves Heaven, of course. That's what Christ came to deal with through His shed blood on the cross. When someone has saving faith, that will be evident in their lives.

Third, the pending execution of Saddam Hussein. My prayer is for the salvation of Saddam's soul before they pull the lever. There will probably be plenty of rioting and bloodshed after the ex-dictator keeps his appointment with "Jack Ketch," but the sentence must be carried out. And the Vatican ought to shut up, quite frankly. I wish Rome had been as merciful when they were busy burning saints like John Hus at the stake.

Fourth, a local matter here in Illinois. The state wants to take away former governor George Ryan's pension due to his felony convictions. I am no fan of Mr. Ryan and believe he deserves to sit in the slammer for a while. But to take his pension penalizes his wife and family, who are not responsible for Mr. Ryan's wrongdoing. This is vengefulness on the part of the state's Democratic leadership, pure and simple.

Finally, things in the Middle East continue to percolate. I have often wondered if we are nearing the time for the fulfillment of the Oracle of Damascus in Isaiah 17. If Syria attacks Israel with missiles - especially missiles tipped with poison gas or other weapons of mass destruction - I expect Israel will destroy Damascus. In fact, they've already warned Syria about that potentiality. It wouldn't take much for the powderkeg to be ignited. As an aside, I don't believe the Rapture of the church absolutely has to happen first, either for the Damascus prophecy to be fulfilled or for the Gog and Magog (Russia) invasion of the Middle East. Something has to set the stage for the end-time "Man of Peace." Something so awful that the world will run to anyone who they think can bring peace at last. Even a false peace.

When I think about eschatology these days, I often ponder the words of the Apostle Peter regarding the future Day of the Lord . . . "Since all things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness . . . (2 Peter 3:11). Yes, I am aware that some theologians differentiate between the Rapture and the Day of the Lord, but I am talking in generalities for the time being. While I am premillennial in my eschatology, the Second Coming of our Lord ought to be something eagerly sought and anticipated by all believers. It is indeed the Blessed Hope of the Church. However, I am now hearing some pastors boast about never preaching on prophecy. They either don't understand it or they don't think it's relevant, which in and of itself is shocking coming from evangelicals. And the fruit this attitude bears is bitter.

Ever wonder why more and more Christians seem to be almost antinomian in their views of personal conduct and morality? Do they ever think about the Lord's promised return? How can they if they never hear about it in Sunday school or from the pulpits of their churches? In the Emergent Church extremes, one often hears about building the kingdom of God here on earth with little thought of Heaven (and no thought at all of Hell). Sounds like the 60s again, doesn't it?

Well, I am afraid the world is in for a big wake up call in the not too distant future. The church had better wake up before then. Big time.


Keith Johnson said...

Bad President (Paperback)
by Rosen, Pritchett, and Battles

From the Publisher:

"Bad President takes the "bad" format and puts it to the service of political satire. This is Bush and the gang cut down to size, the emperor not only without his clothes, but without his stage managers and news-spinners. The photos are surprisingly candid, the captions subversive, and with a good counter-punch, the humor is shored up by the "Sad Truths" on every third or fourth page, the real truths that remind readers of the maddening reality of the Bush administration.

Sure, there are lots of important books coming out now that highlight the follies and foibles of the Bushies, but Bad President has two key advantages: It takes only about 17 minutes to read. Very insightful book about our so-called Christian Killing machine Bush.

A must read,

SolaMeanie said...

Sounds like revenge for all the anti-Clinton books, doesn't it? If Bush was as bad as you think, you'd be in Gitmo, wouldn't you?