Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Four-Season Harvest - Part II



As tempted as I am to make remarks on the current economic brouhaha, I am going to pass for this evening. I need to finish the post I promised on spiritual harvest. This is taken from a sermon I recently preached at Lansing Bible Church near Chicago.

Why is it that Christians preach the Gospel in hopes of gathering a great spiritual harvest? There are several facets to the biblical harvest, and we'll begin with the most obvious one.

THE HARVEST IS A COMMAND

We have our first marching orders with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19), given by Jesus Himself, commanding us to "go to all the world and preach the Gospel (or make disciples elsewhere in Scripture).

Before Jesus ascended, He also said the following . . .

It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:7-8). Here again, we are commanded to be witnesses on a global scale.

In 1 Corinthians 9, The Apostle Paul says he is under compulsion. "Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel." Preaching the Gospel is not merely optional. We know what Jesus said if we are ashamed of Him before men.

The world doesn’t get it. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:23 that we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Gentiles foolishness. God is well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. The Gospel is foolish to those who are perishing. But it doesn’t matter. In the midst of that scoffing multitude are those whom God plans to call to Himself. We are His ambassadors. We proclaim His Word, and He is faithful to act on the preaching of His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Who would have thought Paul himself would have come to faith? Ananias was probably quite frightened when the Lord told Him to preach to Paul. But Ananias obeyed and look what happened.

We don’t have to know how many are saved through our message. Is it nice to know? Sure. It’s a great encouragement. But when we begin getting into the numbers game, we open the door for trouble. More on that later.

THE HARVEST IS ALWAYS NIGH

Remember in John 4:35, Jesus spoke of the fields being white for harvest. The particular grain Jesus used as his example apparently resembled grey or white hair when it was ready to be gathered. He made it quite clear that for His harvest, He didn’t intend to wait four months to gather it. His harvest is ripe and ready for gathering now. As he spoke, the Samaritans had been summoned by the woman at the well, and as they came nearer, Jesus was able to use the example of a ripe harvest for the benefit of His disciples.

Colossians 4:5-6 tells us “conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so you will know how you should respond to each person." We know that the disciples proclaimed the Gospel wherever they went, with every opportunity that they had as led by the Lord. The whole book of Acts testifies to the zeal of the early disciples and apostles.

In 1 Corinthians 16, Paul found himself in Ephesus, and he said to pray for him, because a wide door for effective service had opened up to him, and there were many adversaries. Today, we still have wide open doors, and we still have many adversaries.

We know that times of despair often provide open doors for us to share the hope we have in Christ. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to give an account for the hope that is in us. Look at today’s turmoil. Don’t you think people are looking for answers? Look at today's economic turmoil. I can't help but think of the old Steely Dan song . . .

When Black Friday comes
 I'll stand down by the door
 And catch the grey men when they
 Dive from the fourteenth floor
 When Black Friday comes 
I'll collect everything I'm owed
 And before my friends find out
 I'll be on the road
 When Black Friday falls you know it's got to be 
Don't let it fall on me.

That actually happened during the stock market crash in 1929. This time around, the news wires reported this week that a man threw himself in front of a train overseas due to his losses. As believers, we know our ultimate hope is not in finances.

THE HARVEST IS URGENT

Back to the farming analogy for a moment. We know that the harvest period is critical for a farmer. He only has a limited amount of time to gather his crops before winter.

We know that the Lord is returning. No man knows the day or hour. He could come at any moment. And barring the Lord’s physical return to earth, each one of us is only a heartbeat away from eternity. And for unbelievers, once they’re dead its too late.

And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:16-21).

In Luke 13, Jesus used some current events to illustrate the urgent need to repent. Pilate had killed some Galileans, and 18 men were killed when a tower fell in Siloam. The Lord told His hearers that unless they repented, they would all likewise perish.

THE HARVEST IS A PRIVILEGE

Bible scholar A.T. Robertson had a really neat way to express this truth. “It is the prerogative of the Master to reap, but Jesus lets the disciples share His joy. We’re talking about John 4:36, after the passage about the fields being white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that He who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.

The Apostle Paul recognized the honor of sharing Christ, especially considering his background . . .

For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11* Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed (1 Corinthians 15:9).

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8)

In Luke 8:39, Jesus had instructions for the demoniac . . . Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you. So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

We also saw earlier the example of the Samaritans, and how the woman at the well was eager to tell others about Jesus. All the more remarkable because of the lifestyle this woman had lived, and the fact that both as a loose woman and as a Samaritan, she would been looked on as lower than low.

How effective it can be to share that simple testimony of what Jesus has done for us? Theologically deep study, messages and lessons certainly have their place. But so often, the Lord uses a simple personal testimony to point people toward the Gospel.

THE HARVEST IS GOD’S

God calls us to be faithful. He calls us to be ready to share our faith. He calls us to be ready with the Gospel. But doing the saving isn’t up to you. I can’t save anyone. You can’t save anyone. Only God Himself can do that. That’s why getting caught up in the numbers game can be so deadly. Numbers in and of themselves are not necessarily indicators of God’s blessing. Today's church-growth gurus ought to remember that.

The Apostle Paul knew it. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). We know from verse five that God is the one who gives the opportunity. We also know from verse nine that we are God’s fellow workers, and those who come to Him are His field and His building. Jesus said that He would build His church. He also makes it plain in John 6 that God is the one who does the drawing of the lost to Himself . . . No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. Some other Scriptures . . .

3 John 8 – We are fellow helpers to the truth.

Mark 16:20 – They went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the Word by the signs that followed.

John 6:39 – This is the will of Him who sent me, that of all He has given me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

Acts 13:48 – When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord, and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

God gets the glory for it all. Why He allows us to share in it, I can't say in toto. But I am glad that He allows us.

Where does it all finish? What is the denouement? It's pretty glorious.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever (Revelation 7:9-12).

Amen!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Four-Season Harvest


(See Acts 1:7-8, and Matthew 9:37-38)

In Scripture, planting, sowing and harvesting is frequently used to illustrate a point. The harvest is so identified with evangelism or soul winning that a whole host of classic hymns were written on the subject. Here are just a few:

Bringing in the Sheaves, Garnered Sheaves, Gather in the Sheaves, Gather the Grain, Harvest Bells, Harvest Time, Ho, Reapers of Life’s Harvest, Lo, the Golden Fields are Smiling, Lord of the Harvest, Hear, Reapers are Needed, Sow in the Morn Thy Seed, Sowing with Song and Prayer, What Shall the Harvest Be? Ye Sons of Earth, Prepare the Plow

The Lord Himself referenced the harvest in Matthew 9: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His harvest. In John 4:35, Jesus said: Do you not say, “there are yet four months, and then comes the harvest?” Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.”

Have you ever pondered why the imagery of harvest time was used so frequently? And I don’t mean just the obvious application. Those who have had a farming background will appreciate the hard, hard labor that goes into gathering a harvest. But those who have never farmed, worked a garden, or anything like that might have a hard time relating. But imagine what a pass we’d be in without agriculture. We think nothing of going to the grocery store for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk. What does it take to get those items to the store?

A farmer has to get all the seed together. He has to maintain all the equipment i.e. plows, tractors, combines. Sharpening the plow blades. Changing belts and fluids. Cleaning bins out. Plowing and disking the ground. Planting. Weeding. Spraying. And that's only part of it.

Imagine what all of that was like before farming was mechanized. Imagine trying to plow 40 or 50 acres of ground with a horse or mule, or worse yet, with a shovel or hand plow. I’ve actually worked a hand plow, and it’s not fun. In undeveloped countries, they still have to do it that way.

Praying for rain, and praying that it doesn’t frost or freeze. Praying that there isn’t too much rain, which will wash the seed right out of the ground. Or praying that it doesn’t flood before the harvest and ruin the crop. Preparing and praying for an abundant harvest. I haven’t done a survey to take percentages of how many farmers pray, but I’d guess quite a few. Their livelihoods depend on their harvest, and we also depend on the things they grow.

ALL OF THAT WORK FOR A SHORT SEASON OF JUST A FEW WEEKS. THEN IT’S PLANNING AGAIN FOR THE NEXT YEAR.

When it comes to the subject of missions or evangelism, although the harvest is a great way to illustrate the subject, we dare not think of evangelism only at certain times of the year. Indeed, the harvest that the Lord wants us to gather is year round, all four seasons. It’s indeed a unique harvest, and one that we ought to examine more closely. First, why harvest? We know that Holy Spirit draws people to Himself. He doesn’t need us to do it either. So why does He want us to go and gather?

More later.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?



Brief question for a post today. I'm really, really busy.

Doesn't it bother anyone else that Barney Frank, of all people, is co-leading this bank bailout business and having such a high national profile?

Suddenly, I feel very, very cold.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An Engineered Economic Crisis



I don't always agree with WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah, but I do agree with his assessment here. I know my amillennial friends will beg to differ, but that's okay.

In my humble opinion, this current economic contretemps is an engineered crisis for the purpose of gaining global economic control. That's the worst case scenario. In the best case, those who have the globalist agenda are very astute at taking advantage of genuine crises to advance their agendas. Look no further than David Rockefeller and his ilk to see what I mean.

If you look back at the 1929 stock market crash, many were ruined, but a few actually made money. Some even knew it was coming and reportedly bragged about their role in it. One result of the Great Depression was that the seeds of state socialism were planted in America. The U.S. government under FDR grabbed more and more control to supposedly get us out of the Depression. Some measures were supposed to be temporary. How many times does government get power and voluntarily gives it back?

Today, our lawmakers are being told in doomsday terms that unless they do as they're told, economic Armageddon will be nigh. I call it blackmail.

This won't be the first crisis, and it won't be the last. One thing is certain, though. Unless there is a miracle of major proportions, you can count on seeing your freedom -- economic and personal -- dwindle ever more as time marches on.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gandalf the Gay Blade



This article in today's London Daily Mail ought to open a few eyes.

Actor Ian McKellen is best known these days for playing Gandalf the Wizard in the Lord of the Rings films. Here in the States, he might not be quite as well known as a homosexual activist who has ripped the Book of Leviticus out of Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms. I'm not making that up.

Aside from what J.R.R. Tolkien might think of McKellen, or what God might think of McKellen for violating His Word, I have to wonder what parents here would think about homosexual actors propagandizing their children in school settings. To an innocent child's mind, if a beloved character such as Gandalf says gay is okay, then a moral quandary is set up.

When are parents finally going to get a gut full of this stuff and begin getting mad, AND begin reclaiming the authority that the state is asserting over their children?

Update: In the last line, I referenced parents reclaiming authority being usurped by the state. It's true that public education loves to bring in non-employee, yet notable figures to advocate for things like this. The state system indeed shares in the blame. But lest it be forgotten, note that the original Daily Mail article referenced a school calling itself a "Christian" school. If they're banging the gong for acceptance and approval of homosexuality, "apostate" would be a better choice of word.

Ozark Hazards



As noted before in previous posts, I love the Ozarks. Especially the Buffalo River country and Highway 7 between Harrison and Jasper, Arkansas.

However, as the photo shows, one must be careful driving around. This is a recent "cave off" or mudslide on 7 near Pelsor. Traffic is being detoured around it until they get it cleared off.

Wouldn't you just hate to be on the road when this happened? It's a long drop down.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chavez and Noriega -- An Object Lesson



Venezuelan would-be dictator Hugo Chavez manages to irritate quite a few people these days. He loves to tweak the United States, especially President Bush. He hob-nobs with Fidel Castro, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and anyone else known as enemies of America. Now he's inviting the Russians to make some mischief in the Western Hemisphere. A very interesting guy. As tempted as I am to make a really snide remark in his direction, I'll withhold it for the time being. Instead, I'll offer him a bit of friendly advice.

I would advise Mr. Chavez to remember what happened with another tinpot dictator who thought he could make trouble in our direction with impunity. His name is Manuel Noriega, former dictator of Panama. Mr. Noriega shook his fists in the air and beat on his chest one too many times. We deposed him and and planted his pockmarked derriere in a Florida prison.

Food for thought.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Martyrs and Murderers


In the latest issue of Israel My Glory magazine, Elwood McQuaid writes a must-read column. The issue has not yet been posted on their website, but I am sure you would enjoy the magazine if you subscribe to it. (I recommend it heartily).

In his article, Elwood discusses the murderousness of radical Islam, and the fundamental disconnect Western minds seem to have in dealing with it. Here are some excerpts, beginning with the goal of the Islamists . . .

It has been well documented that there is an identifiable clash of civilizations between the democracies and militant forces in Islam. The radical Islamist obsession is to create a global caliphate (Islamic empire) that will subjugate the Western democracies while obliterating the Jewish state.

Next, the culture of death versus the culture of life . . .

"As much as you love life, we love death," Muslim clerics teach; the same formula is found in a Palestinian textbook for second graders . . . Arabs did not invent suicide attacks, but they have produced a population pool willing to die in order to inflict damage greater than any in history. One cannot help but conclude that Muslim clerics do not exaggerate when they express contempt for life.

Justice Reid Wiener and Michael Sussman extensively analyzed the problem of inculcated shahid indoctrination of Palestinian children: "The idea of the shahid (martyr) has become so ingrained in Palestinian culture that it is a major theme in formal education, family values, religious practices, television broadcasting, posters, pre-suicide eulogies, trading cards, family celebrations, movies, music, games and summer camps."


How wide is the gulf? Here's more . . .

Muslim clerics consistently extol the rationale for suicide attacks and the glories of becoming a shahid. They in fact are at the basis of the appeal to kill oneself and the unsuspecting, in the name of religion, to win the spoils of martyrdom in paradise. Unlike what we are led to believe (by the Western media and governments) the root causes for jihadist militancy are not fostered by poverty and exasperation with deprivation or by the feeling of being kept down by "occupiers" and "aggressors." These symptoms could be alleviated by giving leaders an infusion of desire to improve the lot of their people. The primary aggravating factor is a religious premise that demands conquest and the liquidation or subjugation of all who are regarded as infidels -- thus the drive to establish a global Islamic caliphate ruled by a messiah-like potentate. Unfortunately, most Western politicians and diplomats fail to consider the depth of commitment to radical Islam that drives terrorists to kill and conquer. Such a gross lack of understanding encourages superficial attempts and solutions or appeasement that cannot possibly extract the hostility instilled through carefully cultivated hatred. Such incitement-breeding hatred confuses murder with martyrdom in the name of religion.

Elwood also makes the great point that a true martyr is a victim, not a perpetrator. If you want a true picture of martyrs, remember the Christians being fed to the lions in the Roman Coliseum. To picture someone like the 9-11 hijackers as martyrs is obscene.

I think Western culture had better wake up and realize what we're dealing with. It should start with our leaders, unless they've all become too brain dead to respond.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saudis, Islam and American School Infiltration?



Check out this story in Israel National News. It is a very troubling report on how Saudi-funded Islam is infiltrating the U.S. educational system.

I think people had better wake up, and soon. Only a few days ago, the British court system quietly began allowing Islamic Law to be used in the country's legal system. Don't think it could happen here? Think again.

When sitting United States Supreme Court justices publicly cite foreign laws to make rulings here instead of doing what they're sworn to do -- uphold the U.S. Constitution -- that ought to tell you something.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Steady Drumbeat of Church Egalitarianism



Over at WorldNetDaily, a story was posted this morning about a controversy that has arisen over the latest issue of Gospel Today. The rather provocative headline at WND referenced the magazine being sold under the counter "like pornography" in some Christian bookstores, most notably Southern Baptist bookstores. The SBC officially takes the position that female pastors are unbiblical, although the offshoot "Cooperative Baptist Fellowship" would try to argue the point. Here's a quote from the WND article . . .

Teresa Hairston, owner of Gospel Today, which describes itself as a magazine for the urban Christian community, told the Journal-Constitution she was shocked by the bookstore's decision.

"We weren't trying to pick a fight," Hairston said. "We just did a story on an emerging trend in a lot of churches."

Pastor Tamara Bennett, one of the featured pastors on the magazine cover, talks in the feature article about her perspective on women in ministry.

"God's assignment is that no souls are lost and all are saved," Bennett said. "Gender is not how God sees it. We are about winning souls, period."


Color me skeptical over whether Ms. Hairston is really "shocked, shocked!" over the bookstore's action (watch Casablanca for an explanation of "shocked, shocked!"). This issue has hardly been on the back burner, especially among conservative evangelical, non-charismatic churches. Mainline denominations have fought about it for years.

I have friends who take the egalitarian view of women in the church -- friends who no doubt get very irritated over my complimentarian (or traditional) viewpoint of the subject. But I must stand my ground on this regardless of who it irritates. I am not alone in my view, although these days we are a minority. It has nothing to do with keeping women barefoot and pregnant, as some might try to allege. It has everything to do with being biblical, and Scripture is quite clear on this subject. Those who advance the view that women are free to serve as pastors can be clever with their arguments, but they still run into the brick wall of Scripture. To arrive at an egalitarian position, they have to use cultural arguments rather than standard rules of biblical interpretation, and that in and of itself is a weakness in the position. The fact is that, when it comes to theology, Scriptural order transcends culture and man's viewpoints whether we like it or not.

Tamara Bennett's comment referenced above is a classic emotional "the end justifies the means" argument. "Winning souls, by golly. A whole host of souls are on their way to hell, and you're concerned over whether a woman dons a surplice."

Whenever I encounter arguments like this, I often think of the account given in 2 Samuel 6, when Uzzah reached out to grab hold of the Ark of the Covenant with the good intention of keeping it from falling. Poor Uzzah was struck dead on the spot because God said not to touch the Ark. Uzzah's good intentions didn't matter because in carrying out his good intention, he violated what God had said to do. There's an object lesson there if we're willing to listen to it.

While I don't think or intend to imply that people will be struck dead for having female pastors in this age of grace, the principle still applies. God has established the order He intends in the church, and no matter what the unsaved culture says about egalitarianism, God's order still stands. Men and women are indeed equal in terms of value to Him, but biblically fulfill different roles in the home and in the church.

When we begin disobeying the Lord in one area, it's generally not too long before we find other areas where Scripture is seen as outdated or out of touch with modern society. The Anglican Communion -- along with the United Church of Christ and other mainline churches -- is a classic example.

You can find clever ways to argue anything. Homosexuals in the pulpit or in the marriage bed. Redistribution of wealth. Jesus was a Marxist. Witnessing through "body art." Christian nudism. The list goes on. But, as always, the Word of God stands unchanging -- the final rule of faith and practice in the church.

As I said earlier, those who hold to my point of view are an increasing minority. That doesn't surprise me at all. Just as with the homosexual issue, the steady drumbeat from the media and intra-church agitators no doubt has been a factor. But I've never been all that concerned with being a minority if I believe I am in the right. There is enough solid, conservative, biblical scholarship on this subject out there to back me up.

Would I rather not have to make the argument? Of course. But arguments such as these have gone on for 2,000 years, and they won't cease until the Lord returns.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Entertainment Liberals. Why?



I've asked this before, but I'll ask it again. I have yet to hear a really good answer.

Why is it that most people in the entertainment industry -- be it music, stage or screen -- are liberal? Oh, there are conservatives here and there, but most of those aren't very vocal and probably don't dare to be. Otherwise, they'd be blacklisted.

Can't any of them think outside the box and dare go against the template?

I'd feel sorry for any up and coming young music band. The first hit single they had, they'd get all sorts of pressure to show up at the latest far-left cause/event. They'd be pushed to hand out condoms at their concerts, and to sign their name on the dotted line for whatever liberal candidate happened to be running. Most probably wouldn't even need the pressure. Like I said, they're in mind-numbed lockstep.

I'd like to hear a decent explanation.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ann Coulter on Obama, Dems and Religion

I'm too busy for a long post today, so enjoy this hilarious Ann Coulter column.

I've commented on this myself before. If you're going to quote Scripture and wax eloquent on religious matters, at least try to know what you're talking about.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Sexperts Don't Get It!


Sometimes so-called "experts" make comments so breathtaking they have to be pondered for a while to be believed. Note the excerpt below taken from a news story about kids making sexual purity pledges. Most recently, the Jonas Brothers were on the receiving end of sneers at the Mtv Awards show because they've publicly pledged to behave themselves until marriage. The "expert" here is guilty of damning by faint praise.

. . . [experts] laud the principle but say the problems arise when young Americans grow up, and are often ignorant of how to manage contraception and sexual health when they do decide to have sex.

"It is probably a nice thing that we have celebrities who are trying to be role models and model healthy behaviors," said Michael Reece, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University.

"But these abstinence pledges leave people completely unprepared, once they make the decision to become sexually active, and what happens is that we have a society that is sexually illiterate," Reece told Reuters.


Pledging abstinence leaves people unprepared? So the only way to prepare is by not being abstinent, or not pledging it? And behaving yourself will result in sexual illiteracy?

Interesting. Tell that to our Creator.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Young Evangelicals as Voters


This is the follow-up post to the news article about young evangelicals and Sarah Palin. The original lines from the story will be in italics, while my comments will be in normal type.

One point before I begin. My purpose here for this post is not to get into what defines an evangelical, except peripherally. I do have a decided viewpoint on that, but my intent here is to focus largely on the political philosophy. I'll be the first to point out that GOP doesn't stand for "God's Own Party." Republicans are capable of going off the reservation as much as anyone else. Christianity transcends politics, but for Christians, our faith ought to inform our politics. Aside from theology, I think both parties tend to forget our country's founding principles, which were drawn up by largely Christian men. And even those who weren't Christians at least still held to a largely Judeo-Christian worldview. But I digress. To the article . . .

The mood was darker on blogs and social networking sites that connect more center-left young evangelicals. There, McCain's choice has been greeted as a cynical political ploy, a depressing return to the culture wars and damaging to efforts to broaden the evangelical dialogue.

First, it is certainly possible McCain's choice was a cynical ploy, given his own problems with conservatives. But aside from that, I have a problem with the term "center-left" young evangelical, especially the "left" part. In fact, connecting "left" and "evangelical" almost gives me hives, when you consider where evangelicals have historically stood -- especially on the social issues. However, let's leave the theological aside for a moment and look at mere political philosophy.

Conservatives these days are traditionalists who value or revere America. We revere our rights and constitutional system as envisioned by our Founding Fathers. America was founded for a reason on certain principles that were intended to be unchanging. Even the Constitution was crafted in a manner to make it extremely difficult to change, although the Founders in their wisdom recognized that changes might be needed at times. Today's left doesn't view it that way, despite all their flag-waving. They're enamored with European socialism and secularism, and their vision of America would horrify America's Founders.

Something that today's "leftist evangelicals" either are ignorant of, or choose to ignore, is that America's system was founded on Judeo-Christian principles (thanks to David Barton for trying to get people to remember that through the Founders' own writings). Woven into those principles are healthy dollops of individual responsibility and the reward inherent in honest, hard work, AND the right to enjoy the fruit of one's labor.

These guys take a few statements from Jesus and distort them, trying to make the case that Jesus was a fan of Marxist collectivism. Ridiculous, of course. They forget the many other passages of Scripture that undergird what is known as the Protestant work ethic. The theology of some "leftist evangelicals" is even worse. To paraphrase Monty Python, "Brian McLaren . . . say no more, say no more!"

Leftist evangelicals find that the "culture wars" are "depressing?" What is that supposed to mean? Are we to abandon a prophetic voice in our culture? Are we to no longer call our culture to repentance? Are Christians to be silent when the culture embraces immorality? Do we want evangelical churches to end up like the Anglican Communion today? I hope not.

Now, more article.

"I think the jury is still out on young evangelicals," said Cameron Strang, editor of Relevant magazine, an influential publication for this group. "Both parties have the opportunity to address issues of deep concern for this voting bloc."

Strang, 32, has been courted by Democrat Barack Obama's campaign. He accepted an invitation to speak on a panel at the Democratic National Convention about the faith vote and attended Obama's acceptance speech.

Yet Strang said he's "more undecided than ever." He said he was encouraged by Democratic pledges to reduce the number of abortions, but now worries the party is using abortion as a wedge issue by running ads sharply contrasting Palin and Obama on abortion rights.

Strang said he's waiting for the Republicans to talk more about health care and the economy — and is both intrigued and unmoved by Palin.

"It's a great story, but I don't know what's changed," he said. "She's pro-life, but we already knew the ticket was pro-life. She really doesn't broaden the agenda."


Well, I am glad Mr. Strang seems to have problems with abortion. But I find it odd that he'd be concerned about those who point out the difference between Obama and Palin on the issue. He calls it a "wedge" issue. It's one thing if the party muckety mucks are cynically using it for political advantage, but if it is a genuine, sincerely held principle, then it is right and proper to draw the distinction.

In terms of health care and the economy, what do leftist evangelicals want? A nanny state? Government-controlled socialized medicine? State-owned and regulated enterprises? In other words, state socialism? If so, come out and admit it. Those are hardly biblical principles.

A Pew survey last fall showed under-30 white evangelicals are increasingly up for grabs politically: 40 percent identified as Republican, down 15 percent from 2005. Most who abandoned the GOP were becoming independents, not Democrats.

On the whole, evangelicals under 30 say Palin enthuses them because she's a fresh face with a compelling family story, a reputation as a reformer and a champion of conservative moral values.


As I noted earlier, GOP doesn't stand for God's Own Party. Here in my own state, I personally have voted for Democrats when they've been more conservative than the Republican running. It's also interesting to me that evangelicals under 30 seem to be more conservative than evangelicals over 30. That's sad. You're supposed to learn something as you age.

"Obama has had a lot of appeal for being new, fresh, cool and bringing change," said Alex Harris, an evangelical college freshman who co-founded the online activists' group Huck's Army to support Mike Huckabee. "Palin is fresh and new, but she is also rock solid on issues like abortion. A lot of young evangelicals would have a hard time supporting Obama" for his abortion rights stance. Palin's personal story — including a 17-year-old daughter pregnant out of wedlock — resonates with young evangelicals who have friends facing similar ordeals, Harris said.

Alex and Brett Harris, I am happy to say, refuse to drink the Kool-Aid on Obama. I hope they're able to enlighten many more among their age group.

Regardless of their political leanings, young evangelicals repeatedly mention the history Palin would write if elected the first female vice president. Obama's bid to become the country's first black president has struck a similar idealistic chord.

"For a lot of young evangelical women, it's exciting," said Colorado-based author Margaret Feinberg, an up-and-coming evangelical voice. "It speaks to young evangelical women who face a glass ceiling in our workplaces, but also the stained-glass ceiling of the church."


Here we encounter an area where politics says one thing and Scripture says another. Note the swipe here at "the stained glass ceiling." Read that to mean female pastors. The government is not the church. While there is nothing in Scripture keeping women out of political office, the Bible is plain enough on the subject of spiritual leadership within the church and the home.

On the other side of the evangelical political spectrum, there's worry that Palin's star turn will diminish months of work Obama backers have put into wooing young evangelicals.

Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, said young evangelicals in his circle fear that Palin's ascendancy signals a return to "old-school divide and conquer politics" and a narrow focus on abortion politics.

"There was a feeling that an era was coming to a close," said Pagitt, a leader in the emergent church, a diverse but hard-to-define movement that draws many young and creative evangelicals. "Now with a 44-year-old woman, there could be another half a lifetime of this."

Tony Jones, another emergent church leader, said it's too early to say that. "It's only been two weeks," he said.

"Although I think Palin will energize the conservative base, I don't think the Palin pick does anything for progressive evangelicals," said Jones, who caucused for Obama. "If anything, it tarnishes McCain's once stellar reputation as an independent-minded politician."


Ah, yes. We just KNEW the Emergent Tribe would have something to say in all of this, didn't we? "Progressive Evangelicals." Don't you just love that term?

"Old school divide and conquer politics." Politics is all about opposing philosophies and drawing distinctions. You can't discern your choices unless you know how they stand on things. Amos 3 talks about walking together and agreement. If I don't agree with you, I am not going to support you. If I think your position is ultimately harmful to my community, state or nation, I am going to vocally oppose you. Get over it.

When I say that, I am not talking about gutter politics and cheap shots. But to some of these guys, even voicing disagreement is below the belt. As soon as you disagree with Obama's camp, you get called "divisive" at best and "racist" at worst. Criticize the doctrinal position of an Emergent, and you get called "mean" (or worse).

Even pre-Palin, McCain campaign officials thought the 72-year-old Arizona senator would appeal to young evangelicals. Polls show white evangelicals under 30 are even more anti-abortion than their elders but also keenly interested in the environment and poverty.

McCain "cares about life, he cares about marriage," said Marlys Popma, the campaign's evangelical outreach director. "But he also feels the same way they do about creation care, about global poverty, that if we truly are a Judeo-Christian nation we have a responsibility."


I will be the first to agree that Christians ought to be good stewards of the environment. However, that does not mean that we ought to jump into the Greenpeace swamp and return to being cavemen. It does not mean we embrace global governance and its inherent state socialism. It does not mean that the solutions to these issues lie with government.

When it comes to poverty, it's always interested me that some societies flourish, while others remain in squalor. Why is that? Don't tell me it's because government doesn't do enough. If anything, government is often the first problem. What are the underlying philosophical positions of said society and its government? Will that not give us at least a small clue of what could be wrong? Let's examine that before we create another United Nations agency to suck up even more money and accomplish even less.

Popma said the campaign began a young evangelical task force that includes Stephanie Vogelzang, a 23-year-old Yale Divinity School student who approached the campaign to help. So far, Vogelzang said she's blogged and spoken at forums at Yale about the GOP ticket.

Jonathan Merritt said he contacted the McCain campaign before the Republican convention and offered to arrange a "star-studded" conference call with 35 young evangelicals. But Merritt, a 26-year-old Southern Baptist pastor active on environmental issues, said he got no response.

"The McCain campaign is really out to lunch when it comes to reaching young evangelicals," said Merritt, who added that Palin's questioning of man-made global warming concerns him.


I have news for Mr. Merritt. Sarah Palin isn't the only one who questions global warming. There are quite a few scientists and climatologists who have issues with the conventional wisdom on it as well. Not to mention that there are certain biblical statements on the planet and what will ultimately destroy it. Hint: so-called "manmade" global warming won't have anything to do with it. I could go on and on with this, but you get the idea. Let's conclude with some basic honesty.

I am a conservative. I tend to vote Republican although there have been exceptions. I make a strong effort to have my theology inform my politics, most notably in the social and economic sphere. Regardless of that, I think everyone can fall into the temptation of having partisan politics color their theology rather than the other way around. We're supposed to be Christians first.

Here in America, we the people ARE the government. Many individuals in other nations around the world don't have that blessing. They are slaves to their governments. Do we want that here? Did our Founding Fathers sacrifice so much just to have it all thrown away by a later generation?

We ought to think about that for a while.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dr. Al Mohler, Episcopalians and Marriage

In his column today, Dr. Al Mohler hits another one out of the park as he assesses the latest disappointing statement of Episcopal bishops on the subjects of homosexuality and homosexual marriage.

Once again, the bishops throw Scripture down the tubes, and in so doing, dig themselves deeper into judgment before the Throne of God.

Tomorrow: my comment on the Palin/Young Evangelicals story.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sarah Palin and Young Evangelicals

I want you to read this linked story about young evangelicals and their attitudes toward Governor Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential nominee. Read it carefully and ponder between the lines.

I'll have more to say on this later.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Great Comedy . . . and Object Lesson



This morning, I watched this wonderful film, You Can't Take It With You." Made in 1938 by the legendary Frank Capra, it stars Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore and Edward Arnold. While it's not a film noir -- my usual preferred style of classic film -- it's still a great movie. There are several uproariously funny moments in it, but the film is more than just a comedy. In it's own gentle way, it offers up a tremendous message, including celebrating traditional American values.

Not something we see too often out of Hollywood these days.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Journalists" Distort Palin Again!



Yesterday, as I scanned the various headlines related to Alaska Governor and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, I couldn't help but be aghast at the obvious attempts by the media to distort everything she says and does.

One case in point is the Associated Press. The headline they used in their story about Palin's interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson made it appear that she was open to war with Russia. When you read her remarks, that wasn't what she said at all. She clearly stated that if Georgia and Ukraine were NATO members, then the United States would be obligated to defend them as is required in the NATO charter. An attack on one is an attack on all.

But no, they had to sensationalize and blatantly mislead people. It's a bit like the "child and daisy" ad that the Democrats used against Barry Goldwater in 1964. Remember, the one with the concluding mushroom cloud? Only this time, instead of the Democrats doing it, the media is doing it.

Oh, wait. Most of the so-called "mainstream" media are liberal Democrats. Silly me. What am I thinking?

There are other examples I could cite, but I'm going to have to stop. You know, blood pressure.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Never Forget



. . . do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:4-5).

You might be wondering why I am quoting these words of the Lord Jesus on the anniversary of September 11. Here's why.

I think its appropriate to remember and mourn. It's appropriate to go after the ones responsible for the attack. But it's also more than appropriate to ponder what the Lord is trying to teach us when He allows things like this to happen.

It's easy to point fingers and decry our national sins. But on this day, let the finger pointing begin with ourselves as individuals. God is calling all people to repentance. None of us are more than a heartbeat away from eternity. No individuals are guaranteed a tomorrow, just as no nation-state is guaranteed a tomorrow, or an eternity.

We would do well to remember that on 9/11.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Taking the Cap off the Mtv Septic Tank



In case my previous post didn't draw enough ire for Mtv and their typical offensive, tasteless, truculent tripe, I've got an update for you.

In this article, it is reported that Mtv edited out the worst parts of British "comedian" Russell Brand's attacks on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. He wanted to tell a joke about Palin putting her teenage daughter in the electric chair for being a s**t, but got vetoed. Forgive me for not being overly appreciative, because it's obvious that neither Brand or Mtv is repentant for the offensive routine on the awards show. In fact, they've invited Brand back for next year because he helped drive their ratings up.

Speaking of electric chairs, here's one of the Illinois models:



Strap yourself in, Russell. Ride the lightning in high style.

Hey, it's only a joke.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

World: We Want Obama!

As my regular readers know, I try to avoid bumping posts -- even inconsequential ones. But this one I had to put up before I forgot about it.

This little BBC poll tells us -- if it is to be believed -- that the rest of the world wants Senator Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. I personally believe the poll is probably accurate. The problem is that I don't much care what France or Iran think about our election process or presidential candidates. Who asked?

No doubt this will have the globalists among us in paroxysms of delight. The Democrats will no doubt trumpet it like banshees.

For me? It makes me all the more determined NOT to vote for Obama, although I wouldn't vote for him anyway. I think we've come to a pretty pass in this country when we're letting the rest of the world pick our president. We fought a revolution and created the American way of doing things for a reason.

It's high time we remembered it.

Change? No Thank You!



No time this morning for something more substantive, but you can ponder a few of these matters today.

At the Mtv Awards (or whatever they call the stupid show), a British comedian waxed gross, vulgar and offensive toward GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. That in and of itself is nothing surprising, but it did get me thinking about a couple of fascinating questions.

First, why are most artists and entertainers liberals? They march in lockstep, robotic template with one another. There are a few conservatives in the entertainment industry, but they have to keep their heads low. And don't say that they're blacklisted. The limousine liberals in Hollywood think they own the term. But that's another subject altogether.

Second, the left has jumped on to Barack Obama's "change" mantra. Please tell me what is changing? The left has hawked the same old ideas for decades. They've been tried and they don't work. The only thing that gets conservatives in trouble is when they don't live up to conservative principles and try to out-left the left. Truly doing things in a truly conservative fashion would be change indeed. But Barack Obama isn't bringing change at all, at least in terms of trying really new ideas. Conservatism isn't new either. But one philosophy works, and the other one doesn't.

Third, do these artists, singers and movie stars think they're endearing themselves to middle America by being lewd, vulgar, and insulting? Do they think they're going to persuade middle America by mocking the values that they hold dear? I think not. And that means that the left will have to lie and disguise themselves to appeal to middle America. They'll only reveal their true colors once they get elected.

What else is new?

Monday, September 08, 2008

It Just Gets Grosser and Grosser . . .



Over at the Fox News website, I saw a link to a video clip of Brad Garrett, star of "Til Death," getting a prostate exam of all things. (And no, I didn't click and watch).

For the record, I think celebrities who want to raise awareness of cancer are doing a laudable thing. It began innocently enough, with simple public service announcements and the like. Then Katie Couric took the step to put her colonoscopy on the air. Now this. What's next? Watching Madonna getting a pelvic exam?

In my view, this begins to really border on the voyeuristic, if not worse. I don't think most people mind watching someone getting a blood test unless blood turns them ill. But showing someone getting their body cavities explored is a bit much, to put it mildly.

It really is grotesque.

Friday, September 05, 2008

David Limbaugh Hits One Out of the Park!

In his column today, David Limbaugh vividly shows the hypocrisy of the angry left when it comes to Alaska Governor and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

In fact, I'd say he really rubs their noses in it.

You go, David!!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Stratfor Analysis - Hilarious and Above All . . . True!



I hope Stratfor Intelligence (Strategic Forecasting) doesn't mind me using one of their graphics to give them a plug, but I'll take the chance.

I always enjoy reading their analysis, which is astute and incisive for the most part. I don't always agree with them, but their viewpoint is always worth pondering deeply. And on occasion, they hit the nail on the head in side-splitting fashion.

I've always viewed modern diplomacy with a jaundiced eye. In analyzing the current diplomatic front on the Russia/Georgia situation, below is what Stratfor had to say today. I would expand their remark to include most happenings at the United Nations and other diplomatic love ins around the world, with few exceptions . . .

We are now in the diplomatic phase of the Georgian war. The Russians, responding to Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia, invaded Georgia. Their troops remain in Georgia. No one outside of Georgia is prepared to do anything about it. No one wants to admit that they are doing nothing about it, so they hold meetings and then decide to do nothing about it. This is called diplomacy.

Brilliant. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Media Spoilers



Certain elements of the media have always irritated me. I say that as a media person, although I no longer work full time in broadcasting. I spent years in it, so I do have some knowledge of the subject.

Note this little AP story on Gov. Sarah Palin's acceptance speech this evening. As this was posted, Gov. Palin is still at least three hours away from even delivering the speech. In essence, the AP has stolen the thunder from her. But they're not alone. It seems most of the major media already tell you what's going to be said before it's said. They've managed to cow people into giving them advance copies of the text.

Long ago, whenever we would receive news releases, if they were in advance of an event, they would often be "embargoed." That means you don't publish them or air them until a certain time. The newspapers would squall sometimes, saying that it wasn't fair to them as radio stations could air immediately, but they had to wait until press time to put it out. I can understand that to some extent, but that's just the way it works. Television and radio are immediate. The advantage newspapers have is that they can go more in depth than you usually get in a network newscast. And by the by, that is one more incentive for another journalistic practice called "scooping." In other words, getting a story that no one else has.

All that aside, it's getting pretty ridiculous when a major wire service or network releases the most significant parts of a speech before it's even delivered. That's like committing the unforgivable sin of giving an unwarned "spoiler" in a movie review.

If I were a newsmaker, I would either not give out advance copies of a speech to the media, or I would embargo it until the last possible minute. Or if I was in a really bad mood, I'd give out a bogus copy of the speech and then say something entirely different once I got up on the podium.

But then, I'm a grouchy sort.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Phil Johnson on India's Christian Martyrs

Today's post by Phil Johnson over at TeamPyro is highly recommended. He is reporting on the horrible situation existing today in India, where Hindu radicals are killing and oppressing Christians with ever-increasing hatred.

So far, I have seen little news media coverage of this, which surprises me until I think about it a while. To the media and political elite of today, Christians are expendable.

Please be in prayer for our brothers and sisters in India.

Genesis, Where Are You?



Okay, guys. It's been nearly a year since I saw your reunion show in Chicago. I'm getting antsy. It's time for you to do something. The dearth of decent music out there makes it necessary.

Three man reunion. Five man reunion. Four man reunion. Whatever. Despite the fact that this picture is 30 years old, you're still not retirement age yet. If McCartney and the Stones can do it well into their 60s, so can you.

Besides, you know you really want to.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy Labor Day



As we enjoy the last weekend of summer, I can't help thinking about the American farmer. Yes, Labor Day celebrates all workers, and I don't intend to slight that for a moment. But the farmer is often forgotten, and farm families are entering perhaps the most important time of year with the oncoming harvest. I find it sad that the family farm seems to be going the way of the dinosaur, with corporate farms or even overseas operations having a huge impact. I hope and pray that trend reverses, and we can see a rebirth of the family farm. I am not a farmer, but my parents and grandparents (on both sides) were -- during the Great Depression, no less! And they plowed their fields with a horse and wagon. I have much for which to be thankful.

The Seventh Sola wishes one and all a very happy, restful Labor Day.