Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Out of Commission for a While

This post will be my last for probably the rest of the week. I am being admitted to a local hospital tomorrow morning for surgical removal of a stubborn kidney stone. By God's grace, I've been able to pass these on my own over the past 25 years. This one is apparently too large to pass, or I am getting too old for the battle. Anyway, I would appreciate your prayers, and hopefully will resume posts next week.

For HIM,
Another Republican Scandal

If the GOP needed another scandal right now....

This breaking story with Senator Larry Craig is tragic, and sadly, just what the GOP deserves if it's going to wink the eye at traditional moral standards for political gain.

Larry Craig needs to resign. Now.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Price of Not Knowing

Over at TeamPyro, there has been an ongoing discussion of the posters created by Phil Johnson satirizing the Emergent Church movement. In this discussion, there have been views ranging from "spot on" to "sinful." Some of those angered by the posters seem to suggest that the views of the Emergent Church are being distorted, and the theological issues really aren't all that serious. I beg to differ.

In this brief post, I am not referencing those on the conservative end of the Emergent Church who seem to largely hold to orthodox doctrine (although I have issues with them also). This is aimed at the other end of the spectrum where they play fast and loose with core doctrinal matters. I shouldn't have to issue that disclaimer, but the EC has made a cottage industry out of obfuscating the discussion. They insist that we can't criticize because not all hold the same views. Ridiculous, of course, but I'll make the disclaimer anyway in an effort to avoid the yammering.

When the Lord Jesus was praying His High Priestly prayer in John 17, he stated to the Father . . . "Your word is truth." He also defined eternal life . . . “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." While there are many directions I could take in discussing some of the problems of Emergent theology, I believe this particular area above all lies at the heart of it. What is truth and how is truth known? More than that, what are the consequences of not knowing the truth?

Postmodernism denies that objective truth is knowable. The extremes of the Emergent movement do not merely try to reach out to postmoderns. The extremes of the Emergent movement actually buy into the lie that truth cannot ultimately be known. No one can really be certain. This includes Scripture. God's Word is really not the final authority with them.

Jesus said that eternal life was to know God the Father, and Himself, who was sent by the Father. As night follows day, if you don't know the only true God, or the Lord Jesus Christ whom He sent, then you don't have eternal life either. Jesus also said that the Word of God is truth. Scripture is the Holy Spirit-inspired, written Word of God. If you don't believe Scripture or recognize its final authority, then how can you believe in the Lord Himself? To deny His Word is to deny Him. To deny His Word is to call Him a liar.

Such views have eternal consequences. That is why this is such an important issue, and such an important debate. This is why we can't just "live and let live" when it comes to this stuff. The consequences are eternal.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A "Vacation" Post

I'd like to take a break from the heated, troublesome issues of the day for the time being. If you remember from a few posts ago, I said that I would be posting some photos from my recent trail hike to the Ozarks. Well, my friend who has the photos hasn't gotten them into computer format for me yet, so that particular post will have to come later, hopefully before the next couple of weeks have gone by. But until then, let me recommend a trip to Arkansas for anyone who likes beautiful scenery, clear water, good food and friendly people.

Arkansas has gotten a bum rap over the years, and the scandals of the Clinton Administration didn't help much. But there are other things in (or from) Arkansas besides Bill and Hillary Clinton. In fact, I personally am supporting former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee for president. But no, I must stop myself. No politics today.

Arkansas has a lot of variety in terms of landscape. The eastern half of the state is largely flat delta, muddy rivers, the land of cotton and rice fields, watermelon patches, cypress swamp and the like. It has its own particular type of beauty. But the western side of the state . . . ah yes. The fabulous Ozarks. If you wonder where many of the photos I post here on this blog are taken, that's where. Oh, there are a few photos that I took in the Missouri Ozarks such as Big Spring, but the sweeping vistas, sunrises, sunsets, forests, clear rivers and other shots are from the Arkansas Ozarks, specifically the Boston Mountains area around Harrison and Jasper.

For a really scenic drive, take Arkansas Highway 7 driving south, beginning from the northwest city of Harrison. Stay on Route 7 all the way south to Hot Springs. You'll want to pull over often and take pictures. Be careful driving, because the road is very crooked and steep in some sections. About 18 miles south of Harrison, you'll encounter the simply breathtaking Buffalo National River. One of the few remaining undammed, unpolluted, free-flowing streams left in the lower 48. Great for a whitewater paddle in the spring when there's lots of water, and great for a nice swim in the summer when it's 105 degrees in the shade with high humidity.

Heading on further south past Hot Springs (which to be honest, I really didn't care for too much -- it's got a seedy feel to it), and you'll be in the neighborhood of the Crater of Diamonds, the only open field diamond mine in the U.S. It's actually a public park, and visitors can keep any diamonds they find. Some of the diamonds there have been major finds.

I have a soft spot for Arkansas because it's where my family is originally from. I was born and raised in Illinois, but I spent so much time in the Land of Opportunity when I was growing up, and subsequently as an adult visiting family and vacationing, that Arkansas feels like home. In fact, I really feel more at home there than I do in Illinois. My childhood times in Arkansas were the only pleasant, carefree times I really had. I dreaded going home when vacations were over. Today, when the cares of life get to be too heavy, a few days in the quiet of the Ozarks is a great restorative. There is something about looking across the lake watching the sun set, hearing the waterfowl call, spending time in prayer, and feeling the gentle breeze through my receding hair that never fails to cheer my soul.

Some future day, I'll reminisce a bit more and try to explain why I find it so calming. But for now I'll close. Visit Arkansas someday and take a camera. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Is the EC Coming Unglued?

I very seldom do this, but I am going to post below a comment I left early this morning over at TeamPyro. What precipitated it was this. Phil Johnson had posted a couple more of his excellent satire posters on the Emergent Church, the news of which has spread around blogdom. Well, it seems TeamPyro has now been targeted to some degree. I was irritated enough to post this:

An observation here from someone suffering from a very painful kidney stone (again) at midnight Central Time. Somehow intense pain gives me curious insights (aside from general crabbiness).

From time to time, Rush Limbaugh takes phone calls on his radio program. Many are full of praise, while a few others are sharply critical. However, on occasion, Rush's finely-tuned sense of suspicion (shared by most long-time broadcast veterans) sounds the klaxon when taking some calls, and he immediately identifies them as "seminar callers," in other words, those who have been given talking points and are marshalled en masse to call the program to complain about something.

It seems to me that the word has spread like dengue fever through the EC ranks about these posters, and now growing numbers of them are "seminar posting" at this blog.

Secondly, although this has been hinted at, I'll stress it again. For the past several years -- at seminars, conferences, in radio programs, in sermons, in books, on blogs (including this one), in Sunday school classes, in countless bloody church splits across this country, in college classes, you name the forum -- no effort has been spared in clearly and soberly articulating grave concerns over the doctrine and practices of the Emergent Church movement. It's been done in both scholarly fashion and with a common man touch. It's been done in private and in public. Hours upon hours have been spent in the EC's favorite parlor game, namely dialogue, dialogue and even more dialogue. And it's largely been to no avail, at least with the key figures pushing this witches' brew poorly disguised as Christian theology.

So now satire is coming out in yet another valiant effort to pierce through stone deaf ears and clouded brains to make vitally important points that have been ignored thus far. It must be finally hitting close to home, because the squeals of protest are reaching banshee levels.

Perhaps when those who so vociferously defend the unbiblical begin actually listening and prayerfully considering what they are doing in light of the absolute authority of God's Word, then they can actually have a dialogue that accomplishes something. Until then, expect to continue to get whacked when you've got it coming.

Now, it is certainly possible that these complaining commenters are doing this of their own volition, but I am highly suspicious. I will watch with great interest to see if the number of complainers grows, and where they came from.

Yes, it will be very interesting indeed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Evangelicals Ordaining Gays?

Link to Original Column:

Gallegher Column

By Steve Gallegher

A very godly 81-year-old friend recently told me, "I predict that within 10 years my denomination will be ordaining homosexuals." This man, who has been a credentialed minister since 1954, said this after an AIDS-infected worship leader whom he knew stated on his deathbed, "You would be shocked at how many practicing homosexuals there are ministering in our denomination."

As disturbing as my friend's prediction might be, there are several reasons why he very well could be right.

First, the history of gay activism supports this trend. Homosexual activists have laid out a brilliant strategy to homosexualize America -- and the Christian Church. A number of liturgical denominations are already ordaining homosexuals -- they have now set their sights on more conservative churches (see graphic of "History of liturgical support of homosexuality," compliments of Pure Life Ministries).

The second reason that I could envision this happening is the ever-increasing worldliness that is pervading our churches. Many Christian leaders are regularly immersing themselves in the pagan values that permeate television airwaves. Sitcoms, documentaries and talk shows are all openly promoting the gay agenda. Continually subjecting oneself to such ungodly influences subtly and systematically diminishes one's convictions.

A poll conducted in March 2007 by Pew Forum Weekly seems to substantiate the erosion of godly convictions among evangelicals. For example, in 1987 they found that 73 percent of evangelicals polled agreed that school boards should have the right to fire homosexual teachers; that figure has now plummeted to 42 percent. What else could we attribute such a drastic change in attitudes to, if not to the fact that Christians are regularly tuned into the pro-gay message pandered by Hollywood and the media?

Another reason I believe we are quickly headed in the direction of seeing evangelical churches ordain homosexuals is because of our corporate loss of shame over sin in the Church. The number of ministers willing to assail sin in the pews and call their people to genuine repentance and holy living has greatly dwindled over the past 20 years. Even those in our congregations involved in the most abominable behavior are quickly assured that God's grace covers all their sin. Scripture tells us that, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil ..." (Proverbs 8:13) But to a large extent the enemy has effectively silenced that crucial safeguard amongst God's people.

Yet another piece of evidence that seems to support this startling prediction is that there are many with homosexual backgrounds in our churches already. We can all be grateful that most of these people are sincerely battling their way out of their past lifestyles. And yet I can tell you from much personal experience that there are many others who apparently want it both ways: they want the benefits of Christianity, but they don't want to part with their beloved same-sex sin.

Last, we are almost certainly approaching the day when ministers who publicly condemn homosexuality will face criminal prosecution. If preachers are already reluctant to denounce sin because it will make them less popular, how will they have the courage to do so when it could cost them their freedom? (Jeremiah 12:5)

If we don't begin immediately to take a stand for righteousness from our pulpits, it won't be long before the Church will be nearly indistinguishable from the pagan culture which surrounds us -- homosexuality and all.

Steve Gallagher is the founder and president of Pure Life Ministries. This article appears in the Summer 2007 issue of Unchained!, a publication of Pure Life Ministries, and is reprinted with permission.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Quick Comment on the Arellano Case

By now, I'm sure most of you have heard the squalling over the case of Elvira Arellano. If you don't remember, she's the illegal immigrant mother who has been hiding in a Chicago United Methodist Church to avoid deportation. This case goes beyond simply being here illegally. She is accused of using fraudulent documents in addition to her border violations. Ms. Arellano has been the cause celebre of the open borders crowd, and they are raising a hue and cry because Arellano has now been deported back to Mexico, leaving her 8-year-old son behind. She was arrested after she left her "sanctuary" church to attend some protests out in California.

This case isn't rocket science, and the demagoguery from her supporters is breathtaking. Ms. Arellano is an activist abusing our system and flouting our laws. If she cared so much about her son, she wouldn't have left him back here in the care of the church's pastor. She would have taken him with her, despite the fact that he is a U.S. citizen because he was born here (while mommy was here illegally).

This is a good example of why that loophole in our Constitution needs to be closed. Anyone born in this country should not be entitled to automatic citizenship IF they were the progeny of an illegal alien. This has been used to game the system long enough.

Another thing. The pastor of this church in Chicago should have been arrested immediately, and charged with aiding and abetting. In fact, this situation went on entirely too long. The Feds should have simply obtained a warrant and entered the church to arrest both Ms. Arellano AND the pastor. Churches are not -- and should not be -- sanctuaries for lawbreakers.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Superbad? That's Putting It Mildly

In today's "Life" section of USA Today, you will find a front page article on the new "teen comedy" Superbad. Here are a couple of excerpts from the article, actually bookends in that they're the opening and closing lines . . .

B-list cast? R-rating? Excessive vulgarity? No problem when you're Judd Apatow. (Note: Apatow is the director)

Next, this little gem of a quote from Apatow himself . . .

I'm just trying to make movies about how people really are . . . Most of my life is R-rated. I'm just glad it's working for people so I can keep making filthy little films.

It's great when a newspaper article and the direct quotes from the newsmakers actually make my case for me. Perhaps this is indeed the "way people really are" in Apatow's inner circle, but most people I know really have little desire to swim in a septic tank. The real clincher is his own admitted desire to make "filthy little films." That really says it all.

Finally, a word to parents. I note that this is being billed as a "teen" comedy. The last time I checked, underage kids living at home are under the authority of their parents. If you don't bother to step up to the plate and control what your children see (or listen to for that matter), you will be held accountable by the Lord for negligent parenting.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Apatow produced rather than directed this film. A minor point in light of the MAIN point of the post, but it bugged a commenter enough to twit me over it. So I stand corrected. So Apatow produces "dirty little films" instead of directing them. That really absolves him, doesn't it?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bishop Spong and the Aussies

This week, I was both interested and saddened to see the a news story from Australia about yet another controversy in the Anglican communion. Here is an excerpt of the story:

SYDNEY, Australia – The Rt. Rev. Peter Jensen, the Anglican archbishop of Sydney, has given an order to prohibit a liberal U.S. Episcopal priest from stepping into the pulpit of any of the churches in the diocese over a new book that one reviewer said “defaced the only portrait of Jesus that makes any real sense.”

Bishop John Shelby Spong, a retired priest and long-time supporter of female and gay priests, was reportedly being snubbed by Anglicans in Sydney who have accused him of ”gutting” the Christian faith in his latest book, entitled “Jesus for the Non-Religious.“

The bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, told The Australian newspaper it was a mistake for Australia's Anglican primate, Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane, to invite Spong to promote his book.

"The judgment of the primate (chief bishop) is, in our view, ill-advised," Forsyth said. "It is a mistake. It is the wrong thing to do."

In a review of Spong’s latest book, Mark Thompson, president of the conservative Anglican Church League in Sydney, wrote that despite all Spong’s ”grandiose” claims in the book, it “is really little more than the rehash of long-discarded critical theories and doubts which scholars resolved years ago.”

“Far from providing a program for the future, this book simply rehashes the unbelief of the past that has done nothing but diminish the impact of Christian witness in the West,” he wrote in Sydneyanglicans.net.

The local divisive episode, which is relatively small on the international scale, magnifies the unease and indignation among conservatives within the Anglican Communion who say their liberal U.S. counterparts are bringing the Church into disrepute.

First, I must tip my hat and say "kudos" to Rev. Jensen for his faithfulness to the Lord and willingness to defy his primate, Rev. Aspinall, over this very serious issue. Bishop Spong is a notorious heretic whose credentials should have been yanked years ago. The fact that Aspinall is willing to give this apostate a pulpit speaks volumes about him.

Second, I truly grieve for my Anglican/Episcopal brothers and sisters who themselves are grieving over the growing apostasy in their church. A number of them here in North America have withdrawn from under their liberal bishops here, and instead have chosen to place themselves under the authority of bishops in Africa who still believe the Bible is God's Word and is authoritative for Christian life, belief and practice. They and other biblical conservatives have been fighting to bring their churches back to a true biblical foundation.

Unfortunately, I am afraid it's too late for that unless God chooses to grant repentance and revival across the Anglican divide. There are times when God says, "come out of her, My people." I think that has become the only option today. The liberals are not repenting, and they'll keep pushing, pushing, pushing and pushing until they completely get their way. Things like this ought not to even BE arguments. The "debate" should have been shut down long ago and the apostates sent packing. Now the apostates have largely taken over.

It really is sad.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Idiots in Blossom

I don't know what it is about kidney stones, or more specifically, when I personally get one. It seems like the idiots come out of the woodwork, adding to my already considerable irritability. Today it's a Catholic bishop in Holland with the curious name of "Tiny" Muskins.

It seems the bishop wants Christians to start calling God "Allah" to mollify Muslims. According to Tiny, Allah is just another name for God, and God really doesn't care what people call him. Yeah. Right.

I don't even really know where to begin, as this statement is so breathtakingly stupid. The Vatican ought to get their defrocking machine in order, but that's doubtful. Besides, the Magisterium has several theological views they need to correct for the church in general, so some theologically/historically challenged bishop in Holland probably doesn't rate high on their attention scope. This bishop has also joined the condom brigade, if that tells you anything.

First, the God of the Bible is not now, nor has He ever been, Allah. Allah is an entirely different entity, with origins linked to the moon god worshipped historically in that part of the world. Second, God has always taken a very dim view to those who would identify Him as other than who He is. He especially takes a dim view of being linked with false gods and false religions. Third, there is entirely too much mollifying going on today anyway. Mollification and appeasement never works. In the end, it only makes things worse. What is needed is the bald, unadulterated truth of the Gospel, preached unapologetically by the followers of Jesus. If priests, pastors, or other would-be "teachers" can't bring themselves to be faithful Christian ministers, they need to resign their positions, turn in their credentials and go open a bait shop in some location distant enough that they can't hurt anybody.

There. I feel better now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Well, I'm Back, Sort Of

A quick weekend trip to the Buffalo River in Arkansas was just what the doctor ordered. The 105-degree temps made the cool, clear river waters all the more refreshing. I'll post some photos as soon as I can. But along with the enjoyment came a challenge that brought me back down to earth with a bang (or a groan).

I had intended to write a substantive post today, but I ended up spending the majority of the afternoon in the emergency room with a kidney stone (again). It hit me while still in Arkansas Sunday night. I put up with the pain all the way home, and tried to go in to the office today. The pain finally got unbearable before noon, so I headed to the hospital, where I spent the rest of the afternoon hooked up to an IV. They gave me shots of Dilaudid and a muscle relaxant, which took the edge off, and I finally returned home about 5 p.m. I got on line long enough to check email and scan the news, and to post this brief note. Now I am off to bed, where I hope I can get some sleep.

Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Emergent-See Posters

Once again, I must point you to my friends over at TeamPyro, more specifically, head Pyromaniac Phil Johnson's adjacent webpage. These are truly hysterical, and hit pretty close to home as good satire should do. Here's the link:

Emergent Posters

P.S. The Seventh Sola will be taking a posting break until August 15. See you back here, same bat time, same bat channel.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Marry Them Off Younger?

Gene Edward Veith has just published a brief article in the latest World Magazine called "Sex and the Evangelical Teen. The article is both disturbing and compelling. He reports that Christian parents need to wake up -- evangelical teenagers are just as sexually active as their non-Christian friends. Veith cites additional evidence that "evangelical teenagers on the whole may be more sexually immoral than non-Christians."

This is sad. But there's more. Mr. Veith proposes a possible solution after he argues that "adolescence is a modern invention. In the past, people married much younger, as soon as they were sexually ready." Veith continues, "A counter-cultural church may do well to encourage younger marriages. The young couple may still need the financial support of their parents and the social support of their fellow Christians. But this would be better than the current hypocrisy and guilt. And it would fulfill God's positive purpose for sexuality."

Gene Veith has a point, but I must also throw out a serious caution here. I can understand his fondness for earlier times when young people married early in light of 1 Corinthians 4:9. But today's young people are not raised to take on such a responsibility at an early age. Our whole system of education and child-rearing has instilled the mindset that adulthood doesn't begin until age 21. Therefore, I would hazard that most teenagers today are not psychologically equipped to enter into the adult relationship of marriage, to say nothing of the life skills they would need to support a family and raise their own children.

Another problem is that many, if not most, parents today want their kids out of the house as soon as possible. Families don't hang together today as they did in our agricultural past. It will take a major reversal of our national mindset plus an entire generation of children to straighten all of this out. Churches will need to get back to preaching biblical truth about the family, and parents will once again need to really prepare their children for adulthood and its attendant responsibilities. That can't be done overnight.

Also, keep in mind that much of our culture is decidedly uncomfortable with the idea of "children" having sex, and rightly so given the pedophilia epidemic. While Gene is right that "adolescence" is a modern invention, it is the prevailing mindset. If younger marriages are going to be encouraged, the concept will need to be clearly articulated so people aren't drawing the conclusion that you want to marry off 12-year-olds. Most 12-year-old boys aren't thinking about raising a family. They're thinking about their new X-Box or baseball game. When sex does come up, it's probably the prurient variety given today's evil culture. That also needs to be addressed.

My final caution is this. If a youth (or anyone else for that matter) marries solely just so they can have "legitimate" sex, we have a problem. There is much more to a marriage commitment than just the sexual component. If we urge kids to marry before they're equipped to handle it, we're asking for another whole host of problems. The fun they have in bed will take a very sudden downturn when the baby keeps them awake crying all night, or when teenage husbands and wives have their first spat over money.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I Told You So!

In the latest (August 4) issue of World Magazine, there is a review of the new movie "Chuck and Larry." It describes the movie as "unfunny and offensive," which isn't remarkable coming out of Hollywood. The film bashes Christians, also something that really doesn't surprise me. But then the following caught my eye . . .

"From the start, the film portrays everyone who isn't on board with same-sex marriage as hate-filled bigots who would also deny gays the right to work if given half a chance. And the nature versus nurture debate is settled with the never-seen-in-real-life behavior of Larry's flamboyantly homosexual 10-year-old son."

Did you catch that? A flamboyantly homosexual 10-year-old.

If you read my earlier post on the taboo eventually becoming accepted and encouraged, this will resonate with you. It should. Many of us have been concerned that it was only a matter of time before pedophilia became reclassified as normal and acceptable instead of criminal. This portrayal is just another nudge down the pink brick road. And I have another question. Why would any parent in their right mind want their child playing such a character?

It will only get worse.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Coming Dictatorship -- A Phantom?

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six (Revelation 13:16-18).

Dictatorship. What a loaded term, and what a term to get a violent argument going. While people on both sides of the political spectrum have warned at various times about the supposed dictatorial intents of presidents they dislike, for the most part if you reference a coming dictatorship in the United States, most people shrug you off or call you a conspiracy theorist.

Because politics these days are so polarized, it's difficult to call attention to the broader issues without your interlocutor zeroing in on the presidential campaign, the incumbent in office, or the nefarious dealings of Congress. When one party in power pushes through legislation that can be used toward a totalitarian system, you can't attack that specific idea without the party in power circling the wagons to protect their own. It's a shame.

There's something even more worrisome. There is another group of people -- including politicians -- who loudly scoff at the notion that a dictatorship even could happen here. I can remember the increasingly fatuous Senator Edward M. Kennedy bellowing at someone testifying before the Senate against gun control . . . "OUR government? Tyrannical?" He made it clear that he thought the very idea obscene. I think Kennedy has a lot to learn.

Setting the Stage

The truth is that the United States is an anomaly in world history. Our system of freedom is by no means guaranteed, and losing that freedom is more than likely something to come in degrees (It's already happening). Very often, well-meaning legislation or executive orders help set the stage for more draconian things to come. And it's always for a "good" reason.

Here are some Scriptures to ponder . . .

While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold (Matthew 24:12).

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).

Can you see a common theme here? Psalm 81 and Romans 1 both talk about God "giving over" individuals and nations because of their sin. Dr. John MacArthur believes America has reached that point, and I am inclined to agree. America grows more lawless by the day, and our government is consumed by individuals whose lust for power and greed has overarched their desire to really do good by the country. If our government is a reflection of the people, what does that tell you?

We have a major terrorist attack in the country, and right away we have to have new, far-reaching laws to supposedly give us more security. These laws chip away at our freedom, but we don't mind because they supposedly make us "safe." People have warned about the "cashless society" and the Mark of the Beast for eons. Well, our society is becoming more cashless, and biochipping is getting a foothold because of supposed security and convenience. Now the big scare is "identity theft," and of course, we'll have to add more regulations, laws and "security" factors to combat this scourge on society. Not that identity theft isn't a legitimate issue, but it's another natural progression toward dictatorship, and the foul fruit of a lawless society.

Banking regulations are increasingly onerous, because of the need to track terrorists and money launderers. It's all "good." It's all "well intentioned." But sadly, it's laying the foundation for something really horrible. While there are some who indeed have dictatorship at heart, most of those who propose these types of things really do think that they will make us more secure. They really don't know what lies ahead. They don't see how their "security" and "conveniences" will be used by more nefarious individuals down the road for their own evil ends. And once freedom is lost, it's very, very hard to get it back without bloodshed.

Of course, from a Christian perspective, we were warned about all of this in advance. We should be salt and light, both warning the culture and resisting the encroachment of this evil until the Lord finally calls us home, and then completely removes His restraint.

Crazy? I don't think so. All one has to do is watch, and the proof of this is quite evident. There have been enough examples in history, but who reads history anymore? And if biblical prophecy is unpalatable, I suppose I could use the mythological example of Cassandra. But why bother with mythology? God Himself blinds people in judgment according to His Word.

There is still a chance for repentance. But the clock is ticking.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Minneapolis and Politics

As an aside to John Piper's column below, I want to throw in my two-cents' worth on another angle of this story.

When watching this tragedy unfold with the rest of the nation the other night, I looked over at my mother and stepfather and said, "Well, it's only a matter of time before President Bush gets blamed for the bridge collapse. Just you watch."

Sure enough, not 48 hours had gone by before some of the lefty loon blogs and other newsmakers were waxing hysterical about how we didn't have enough money to fix the nation's bridges because of all the money we're spending in Iraq. Even worse things were said, of course, but this was enough. When these ravings were mentioned on the news, my mother and stepfather looked over at me and grinned, while all I could do was sit in my chair and sigh with prescient weariness. It's going to be a long, long, LONG election season. If I could sit it out in the Northwest Territories or Wake Island, I'd do it.

There is something really, really unseemly and base about using a national tragedy for political gain. There will be plenty of time down the road to play the blame game. In the meantime, I have a better idea. How about coming together to repair the damage, bury and mourn the dead, and most importantly of all, ask ourselves what God is trying to say to this nation.
Commentary on the Minneapolis Tragedy

Today, I want to post the following commentary by Pastor John Piper. Some serious food for thought.


35W Bridge Collapse

Putting My Daughter to Bed Two Hours after the Bridge Collapsed

By Pastor John Piper
August 1, 2007

At about 6 PM tonight the bridge of Interstate Highway 35W over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed. I am writing this about three hours after the bridge fell. The bridge is located within sight of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Most of us who minister at the church cross this bridge several times a week. At this point I don't know if any staff was on the bridge. Desiring God offices are about a mile from the bridge.

There are no firm facts at this point about the total number of injuries and fatalities. When we crossed the bridge Tuesday on our way out of town, there was extensive repair work happening on the surface of the bridge with single lane traffic. One speculates about the unusual stresses on the bridge with jackhammers and other surface replacement equipment. This was the fortieth anniversary of the bridge.

Tonight for our family devotions our appointed reading was Luke 13:1-9. It was not my choice. This is surely no coincidence. O that all of the Twin Cities, in shock at this major calamity, would hear what Jesus has to say about it from Luke 13:1-5. People came to Jesus with heart-wrenching news about the slaughter of worshippers by Pilate. Here is what he said.

"There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'"

Jesus implies that those who brought him this news thought he would say that those who died, deserved to die, and that those who didn't die did not deserve to die. That is not what he said. He said, everyone deserves to die. And if you and I don't repent, we too will perish. This is a stunning response. It only makes sense from a view of reality that is radically oriented on God.

All of us have sinned against God, not just against man. This is an outrage ten thousand times worse than the collapse of the 35W bridge. That any human is breathing at this minute on this planet is sheer mercy from God. God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on those who do not treasure him above all else. He causes the heart to beat and the lungs to work for millions of people who deserve his wrath. This a view of reality that desperately needs to be taught in our churches, so that we are prepared for the calamities of the world.

The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life for ever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind's attention and my heart's affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God's message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.

We prayed during our family devotions. Talitha (11 years old) and Noel and I prayed earnestly for the families affected by the calamity and for the others in our city. Talitha prayed "Please don't let anyone blame God for this but give thanks that they were saved." When I sat on her bed and tucked her in and blessed her and sang over her a few minutes ago, I said, "You know, Talitha, that was a good prayer, because when people 'blame' God for something, they are angry with him, and they are saying that he has done something wrong. That's what "blame" means: accuse somebody of wrongdoing. But you and I know that God did not do anything wrong. God always does what is wise. And you and I know that God could have held up that bridge with one hand." Talitha said, "With his pinky." "Yes," I said, "with his pinky. Which means that God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills."

Talitha said, "Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people of Minneapolis to fear him." "Yes, Talitha," I said, "I am sure that is one of the reasons God let the bridge fall." I sang to her the song I always sing,

"Come rest your head and nestle gently
And do not fear the dark of night.
Almighty God keeps watch intently,
And guards your life with all his might.
Doubt not his love, nor power to keep,
He never fails, nor does he sleep."

I said, "You know, Talitha, that is true whether you die in a bridge collapse, or in a car accident, or from cancer, or terrorism, or old age. God always keeps you, even when you die. So you don't need to be afraid, do you." "No," she shook her head. I leaned down and kissed her. "Good night. I love you."

Tonight across the Twin Cities families are wondering if they will ever kiss a loved one good night again. Some will not. I am praying that they will find Jesus Christ to be their Rock and Refuge in these agonizing hours of uncertainty and even loss.

The word "bridge" does not occur in the Bible. There may be two reasons. One is that God doesn't build bridges, he divides seas. The other is that usually his people must pass through the deadly currents of suffering and death, not simply ride over them. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you" (Isaiah 43:2). They may drown you. But I will be with you in life and death.

"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 . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-38)

Killed all day long. But not separated from Christ. We go through the river. Not over it. He went before us, crucified. He came out on the other side. He knows the way through. With him we will make it. That is the message we have for the precious sinners in the Twin Cities. He died for your sins. He rose again. He saves all who trust him. We die, but because of him, we do not die.

"Jesus said, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.'" (John 11:25)

Talitha is sleeping now. But one day she will die. I teach her this. I will not always be there to bless her. But Jesus is alive and is the same yesterday today and forever. He will be with her because she trusts him. And she will make it through the river.

Weeping with those who weep, and those who should,

Pastor John

Psalm 71:20 "You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Hilarious Team Pyro Thread

You've all got to check out today's TeamPyro post by Dan Phillips, along with the attendant comment thread. It's hysterical.

Here's the link: