Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stand Strong Pastors' Conference

I've been attending Slavic Gospel Association's 75th Anniversary Conference and Celebration and the related Stand Strong Pastors' Conference this week, hence my dearth of posts. I'll be putting up some highlights of the conferences later, but tonight I wanted to post these little tidbits from Moody Church pastor Dr. Erwin Lutzer, who keynoted a session, and Grace Community Church pastor/teacher Dr. John MacArthur, who had to send a video message due to recent surgery.

First, here's one of Dr. Lutzer's great comments . . .

"The point of conflict will always be the Cross."

And from Dr. MacArthur, addressing pastors who might be too worried about not having a "formal education" . . .

"You can't go wrong reading the Bible. You go wrong when you're "educated" by skeptics and heretics."

Again, these are only a couple of lines out of some wonderful sessions. Some of the best ones came from the guest Russian pastors, who were invited to teach American pastors what it's like to live under severe persecution. They experienced it under the communists. They know. And someday, American Christians might just be glad for the lessons.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Counting our Days

I am up early today doing some writing before heading into Chicago for the final day of our conference at Moody Church. While working on a newsletter article, I was looking for a good Scripture dealing with "years" to use, and came upon this much quoted, but often forgotten, gem of a verse . . .

As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away (Psalm 90:10).

True, isn't it? On the surface -- and especially for someone unfamiliar with Scripture stumbling upon a verse like this -- it seems rather hopeless. But it's not. It's intended to be a reminder that we are not infinite like our Creator. We are finite. Each of us only has a short time on this earth, to be used for good or for evil. In the natural course of our lives, we have an average of 70 years to live, but that's not set in stone for everyone. Some live less time, others live more. But in the end, we will all come to an end of this earthly sojourn and stand before the God who made us.

I am trying every day to learn the lesson of "redeeming the time." I've wasted plenty of it. Most of us do. Life isn't always "fun." There are plenty of heartaches and trials, all of them brought on by human sin in one form or another. But those who know the Lord have hope that others don't have. He is our Redeemer. He is our resurrection and our life. Because of Him, we can have hope for eternity, and assurance of eternal life in His presence. And rather than give us a sense of pride at our "status," we ought to be humbled. We don't deserve it.

It also ought to motivate us even more to be faithful ambassadors for Christ. We have no right to hoard our blessings, especially the gift of salvation. Others need to know that the same free gift is available to them if they will repent and place their trust in Christ, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead for our justification.

Time is running out for this world order. It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment. Barring physical death, Christ will one day return to earth and render judgment. It may be sooner than we think.

And that's worth considering and pondering as we count our days.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

James Taranto and Joe Biden

I always enjoy reading James Taranto, who writes the daily "Best of the Web" column in the Wall Street Journal's on line edition.

Today, he highlights the gaffe-prone Joe Biden, who -- in James' view -- might be on to something, i.e. if the Republicans end up retaking the House of Representatives, you can kiss the Obama agenda goodbye.

We can only hope.

P.S. I hope to be back to normal posting after next Wednesday. My schedule should slow down a bit then.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Dare You Call Us Fat?

It's almost conference time at my office, so my schedule is in shreds. That means not much time for a substantive post. However, I thought you'd find this little tidbit from the BBC interesting. It appears many obese people don't consider themselves to be fat.

I am not obese by any means, but I know I'm overweight and want it off of me. It passes understanding how someone could weigh nearly 500 pounds and hang three feet over each side of a chair and not realize they've got weight issues.

I am not saying that in mockery. I say that with sadness. My heart breaks for those who know they've got a problem and have battled it for years. Obesity has ripple effects in so many areas, not the least of which is health. If you eliminate medical or glandular causes, what is left is symptomatic of something psychological and/or spiritual. And it's ultimately deadly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Nanny State's Contempt

Well, well, well. So Energy Secretary Steven Chu thinks we're brats. Disagree with the leftist state about global warming, or extremist conservation ideas, and you're a bratty teenager.

I'm glad Secretary Chu made these comments, because they're a vivid demonstration of how the elitist left looks at the American public. We're all the great unwashed who don't know how to manage for ourselves. We need to be led around by the nose and told what to do, when to eat, when to sleep, when to think and what to think.

It makes me want to go home and turn my air conditioner down to 55 degrees. It makes me want to go buy a 1968 Cadillac or some other vehicle that gets eight miles to the gallon and generates a lot of exhaust. But I won't do it, because that would be bratty of me. It would feel great, but I'll restrain myself.

Instead, I'll just do the adult thing and vote to throw these faux-omniscient wiseacres out of office.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Reminder from Dore Gold

Former Israeli diplomat Dore Gold was featured in last week's issue of World Magazine, and one of his comments toward the end of the article caught my eye.

The article is about Israel potentially having to stand alone against Iran and the nuclear quest of the mad mullahs. Ambasssador Gold is indirectly quoted as saying, "Iran's openness to talks means little, referring to the Shiite doctrine of taqiyya, which means one can lie outwardly as long as he believes what is true in his heart (emphasis mine).

Hmmm. If that is indeed an Islamic doctrine, then how in the world can you take anything the Iranian government says seriously? For that matter, how can you ultimately believe any devout Muslim of that persuasion, especially if something pertaining to advancement of a political or religious agenda is at stake?

Our current political leadership might ought to take that into consideration.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Krauthammer on Obama and "Truth"

Dr. Charles Krauthammer is always an interesting read. Today, he discusses Obama's "truth telling" in light of the Joe Wilson "you lie" flap last week.

One of these days, I'll have to tell you what my late grandfather said about politicians. No doubt he was quoting Will Rogers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Seven Whatever . . .

I know that the blogs and talk shows have highlighted the outrageous ACORN story, but I think I need to throw a log on the fire too. Especially since both my senators here in Illinois voted to keep funding this corrupt bunch.

Below is the full list of those who voted to keep funding ACORN. Take note of them, and hopefully they'll all get the heave-ho when it comes election time.

Burris (D) from Illinois;
Casey (D) from Pennsylvania;
Durbin (D) from Illinois;
Gillibrand (D) from New York;
Leahy (D) from Vermont;
Sanders (I) from Vermont; and
Whitehouse (D) from Rhode Island.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The "Culture" in the Petri Dish Strikes Again

The entertainment news wires were atwitter today about the MTV video music awards this week. While the incident involving Kanye West took the headlines, I was personally more interested in something said by Madonna during the program.

Now, mind you . . . I certainly don't expect 1940s-style class and glamor from events such as this. Today, rather than exhibiting the behavior of ladies and gentlemen, one can generally expect all sorts of crass, crude, vulgar and profane behavior. But sometimes, even I am a bit surprised at how open and shameless some of these people can be, especially where children are concerned.

Madonna has certainly made the headlines for her adoptions of children from Africa. Celebrity adoptions seem to be the thing these days. Elton John was in the news today, in fact. He and his male lover apparently want to adopt a Ukrainian toddler (somehow, I don't think the Ukrainian government will allow such a thing. They haven't succumbed to political correctness yet). Anyway, back to Madonna. Below is a clip from the Fox News website article. The controversy being referenced was the incident with Kanye West, but I want you to pay close attention to what Madonna said . . .

The controversy certainly stole the spotlight from what was anticipated to be the show highlight — Madonna opening for Janet Jackson and her tribute to brother Michael.

The Queen of Pop did let us in a little secret however, she did go on a few "dates" with the late King of Pop and that she felt an overwhelming sense of guilt that she had "abandoned" him after hearing of his sudden passing. But on a (kind of) positive note, her sons aged nine and four are now "obsessed" with MJ.

"There is a lot of crotch grabbing and moon walking going on in my house," Madonna said.

Hmmm. Two boys aged nine and four. Lots of crotch-grabbing going on, imitating Michael Jackson. And Mommy apparently approves.

Somehow, I don't think this is a healthy "obsession." I need say no more, do I?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Want Some Fun?

Every time I take a hiatus from the blog, something pops in the news that begs comment, or at least some fun.

The outrage is thick over Congressman Joe Wilson's outburst during President Obama's speech on health care a few days ago. And I should say, it probably wasn't the brightest thing to have done. The media makes Republicans and conservatives look like jerks anyway. We shouldn't give them ammunition.

Anyway, I began thinking about how rare such outbursts are in Congress. I've often thought that some fireworks now and then might help shake things up. If you've ever watched the British House of Commons during Prime Minister's Questions on C-SPAN, they make our Representatives and Senators look like a bunch of bovines placidly chewing their cud out in the pasture. The MPs boo, hiss, guffaw, jeer and cheer, and occasionally even get escorted off the premises for rude and disorderly conduct.

Needless to say, I enjoy every minute of it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Brief Hiatus

I have a very intense schedule this week, so the blog will be on hiatus until this weekend at the latest.

In the meantime, I suggest checking out some of the other blogs I have linked over on the right. Lord willing, The Seventh Sola will resume by Monday at the latest.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Jimmy's Pipedream

Ah, the beknighted James E. Carter Jr. The pinata that keeps on giving us opportunities to whack it with a figurative stick.

Now look what he's up to. He tells us the Arabs/Palestinians are willing to consider absorbing Israel into one state.

Oh. How big of them. Isn't that just hunky-dory?

Earth to Carter. Ain't gonna happen. Now trot back to Plains where you belong and be quiet. You've done enough damage as it is.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

History We Shouldn't Forget

Lately, I've been reading through William Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." As I perused the early chapters about Adolf Hitler's ascendancy in Germany, I was struck by these excerpted passages . . .

The plan was deceptively simple and had the advantage of cloaking the seizure of absolute power in legality.

Before the [Reichstag] was the so-called Enabling Act—the Law for Removing the Distress of People and Reich, as it was officially called. Its five brief paragraphs took the power of legislation, including control of the Reich budget, approval of treaties with foreign states and the initiating of constitutional amendments, away from Parliament and handed it over to the Reich cabinet for a period of four years. Moreover, the act stipulated that the laws enacted by the cabinet were to be drafted by the Chancellor and 'might deviate from the constitution'. No wals were to 'affect the position of the Reichstag'—surely the cruelest joke of all—and the powers of the President remained 'undisturbed'.

Hitler reiterated these last two points in a speech of unexpected restraint to the deputies assembled in the ornate opera house, which had long specialized in the lighter operatic works and whose aisles were now lined with brown-shirted storm troopers, whose scarred bully faces indicated that no nonsense would be tolerated from the representatives of the people.

"The government [Hitler promised] will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures. Neither the existence of the Reichstag nor that of the Reichsrat is menaced. The position and rights of the President remained unaltered . . . The separate existence of the federal states will not be done away with. The rights of the churches will not be diminished and their relationship to the State will not be modified. The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one."

The fiery Nazi leader sounded quite moderate and almost modest; it was too early in the life of the Third Reich for even the opposition members to know full well the value of Hitler's promises . . .

The vote was soon taken: 441 for, and 84 (all Social Democrats) against. The Nazi deputies sprang to their feet shouting and stamping deliriously and then, joined by the storm troopers, burst into the Horst Wessel song, which would soon take its place alongside "Deutschland uber Alles" as one of the two national anthems.

Thus was parliamentary democracy finally interred in Germany.

. . . it was all done quite legally, though accompanied by terror. Parliament had turned over its constitutional authority to Hitler and thereby committed suicide, though its body continued on in an embalmed state to the very end of the Third Reich.

This is history recorded by someone who watched it happen. I think we all would do well to think about it again, lest it happen in our own time, and in our own country.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Indoctrinating Your Kids?

Sometimes it amazes me how brazen the Obama Administration is getting. Earlier this week, we learned of the National Endowment of the Arts wanting artists of all stripes to help propagandize the American public through their particular media (under the table, of course). Now it appears Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is getting into the act.

A clip from the Secretary's letter reads . . .

"In advance of this address, we would like to share the following resources: a menu of classroom activities for students in grades preK-6 and for students in grades 7-12. These are ideas developed by and for teachers to help engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education in their lives. We are also staging a student video contest on education. Details of the video contest will be available on our website www.ed.gov in the coming weeks."

In addition, according to columnist Joshua Rhett Miller, "Students in grades pre-K-6, for example, are encouraged to "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals."

Kind of reminds me of a whole lot of historical and literary references, including the little hellions in George Orwell's "1984" who betrayed their parents to Big Brother. No, we're not there yet, so spare me the outrage. But things like this can certainly help pave the way.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Some Thoughts on Youth Ministry

Guest Column by Eric Mock
Pastor, River's Edge Bible Fellowship
Pecatonica, Illinois

In the midst of difficult times, we often find ourselves praying to be spared from these trials. Yet it is in these times that our Lord God refines and purifies a people after His own possession and to His own glory. We must praise God for these challenging times, as in the midst of them we can see His hand at work in all of our lives. I have found the best antidote when I get tired is to add another ministry. In this case, we evaporate all opportunity to reflect on our own condition as we are immersed in service of our Lord. One of these ministries we added is a Bible study to teens that has captivated my heart.

We are in a difficult and confusing time in our country, and our response remains the same as it has been in recent years. It is to find ways to ease our pain, and please the senses. Rather than being confronted with the the depth of our own sin through trials, we seek therapy and consolation for our condition. The product of a post-modern thinking, we have an adult generation that arrives at church expecting an encouraging, light hearted message rather than an encounter with the Truth. One would expect that the product of such adult thinking is a generation of teens lost with no answer in sight. And this is absolutely the truth! Surrounded by broken homes, fractured marriages and hypocrisy there are no hand holds for them to grab onto in the journey towards maturity. Yet in this tragic situation God has raised up a generation of teens zealous for Truth, real Truth from people who really care about them and live this Truth in their lives. This generation, called by some a post Christian generation, are being raised up by God hungry for answers. I have thirty teens in a town of 2000 people that come every Sunday night to our home, not for pizza or video games, but to learn about the one True God and His Word, and experience godly fellowship. On Sunday morning these teens are taking pages of notes, pouring through their Bibles with every Scripture referenced. These teens are our modern day Bereans. Rather than passing off the job of working with the teens to those that will entertain, teach teens the Truth that they might be the witnesses to the adult lost and their communities. In the former Soviet Union, it is the teens who are in passionate service of our Lord in communities, in orphanages, to those in need and even to those parents under which they suffered years of abuse. I understand that 85% of those children claiming Christ at an early age in America walk away from their faith before leaving high school. This stands to our shame, as far too long we have been teaching religion rather than Biblical Truth and what it means to be truly saved through Christ, our living God and only hope.

I offer these words as a corrective in our day. Rather than constantly adapting churches to meet the needs of a therapeutic generation, let us boldly teach the Word of God, with conviction and love, to a generation that is ready to be ambassadors in the service of our Lord. These difficult times are producing a generation of teens raised up by God to be life changers! There is nothing wrong with the seed - broadcast it to the glory of God!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Even in the Darkest Places

A few years ago, a friend of mine and I were hiking through the Arkansas Ozarks when we decided to visit one of the many caves in the region. I've used shots from that hike on this blog before, but I don't think I used this specific one of the sun shining through the entrance to that particular cave.

The applications I use for these photos varies from time to time, and with passing events. Today, this particular one makes me think of the gathering darkness in this nation, and in the world at large. Yet, as dark as it is, nothing is capable of shutting out the light of the Lord.

And for that, I am thankful.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:5).