Monday, August 31, 2009
If you can, get a glimpse of USA Today’s “Life” section for Friday, August 28. The bulk of the section deals with upcoming flicks for the fall season, headlined by a lead with Rob Zombie, the director of the upcoming “Halloween II.” It’s the first of at least 14 “scary” films coming in the autumn (note: the lead section of the paper teases the “Life” section by noting the “gore” coming soon). The photo of Rob Zombie is pretty scary as it is.
As you page through this, you’ll see something that might shock fans of the “Spy Kids” movies. The article about the new Robin Williams flick, “World’s Greatest Dad,” says “it’s distasteful, and uneven, but it’s human." It goes on to describe young Daryl Sabara’s character (he was the little redhead in Spy Kids) as “startlingly good at tapping into his inner brat. Deep in the throes of a miserable adolescence, he is a mightily unpleasant teenager, with non-stop attitude and a foul mouth. He is also obsessed with sex in the crudest of ways.” Oh, joy. I’ll bet his Spy Kids fans can’t wait to see that! The review goes on to say, “At its worst, it’s exploitative and shocking in its treatment of an essentially taboo subject and its tragic aftermath.” Even more “oh, joy.”
On page 3D, you’ll see a clip about the Ang Lee film, “Taking Woodstock.” The photo used for the story gives a mild hint about the characters played by Demetri Martin and Paul Dano.
On page 4D, you’ll see a little clip for “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant.” I’ll let the clip speak for itself . . . “A young boy (Chris Massoglia) meets a mysterious man at a freak show who turns out to be a vampire. After spending time with the man, the boy realizes he’ll have to decide whether to live a normal life or join the Cirque du Freak — and become a bloodsucker.”
There’s much, much more here. I think you get the idea. The horror stuff makes 1931’s “Dracula,” starring Bela Lugosi look like Disneyland. The other, non-horror stuff is yet another example of the continuing debasement of the culture.
I find it especially sad that promising, talented young actors and actresses buy into the lie that you have to be crass, profane, vulgar, even blasphemous (excuse me, I mean “edgy”) to have an entertainment career. I’d love to be surprised someday by someone young standing up for wholesomeness and giving whoever didn’t like it a big razzberry.
Addendum 9/1/09: Now, USA Today is highlighting the fall television season. Featured prominently in the "Life" section today is ABC's "Modern Family," which features "two gay men and a baby."
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I've always thought Congresswoman Maxine Waters and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney were fairly ridiculous, but this takes the cake.
Heavens to Murgatroyd! If this woman is so enamored of Fidel Castro, then she needs to resign from Congress and move to Havana.
Addendum: While you're at it, have a look at this article by Jamie Glazov. Excellent analysis posted today (9/1/09).
Friday, August 28, 2009
I wish this story was a hoax. But it isn't.
Yes, it seems Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is pushing a bill to give President Obama the right to take over the internet in an "emergency." Very, very interesting, as Arte Johnson would say.
The Democrats are likely (in fact, I think they're laying the foundation now) to go after broadcasters. Add to that this thing with the Internet, plus Obama's wish for a national "day of service," which reminds me of the old Soviet subbotnik. My, my, my. It seems we are indeed in for challenging times in this country.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I'm used to the stupidity and arrogance of the United Nations, but every now and then their chutzpah still shocks.
According to this story out of CNSNEWS, the U.N. thinks your 5 to 8-year-old children need to be taught about onanism (if you don't know what that means, look it up).
And we thought Joycelyn Elders was long gone! Wrongo!
I think the U.N. needs to just shut up and go away.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Conservatives have long made the case that excessive government regulations are business killers. In that light, have a look at this World Magazine story written by Alisa Harris. Called "Ruled Out," the article chronicles the roadblocks encountered by a New York bar and grill that's been around since the 1930s. Onerous rules and regulations are slowly driving it out of business.
It's easy to blame the left for nonsense such as this, but it happens on conservative watches also. Typically, the government regulators will seize on one or two horrible incidents as justification for sweeping regulations that throttle small business to death. Is it by design? Is it because of our overly litigious society? Is it because we're bound and determined to make the United States into the new Soviet Union?
Whatever it is, it's ridiculous.
Monday, August 24, 2009
In this article from the Christian Post, Rev. Gerald Kieshnick, the head of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, expresses his concerns about the recent actions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) regarding homosexuality. In a greeting given to the ELCA churchwide assembly, Rev Kieshnick stated the following . . .
“The decisions by this assembly to grant non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and the affirmation of same-gender unions as pleasing to God will undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA. It will also negatively affect the relationships between our two church bodies.”
I am thankful that Rev. Kieshnick had the boldness to say this, although he could have been much more severe (and probably should have been).
I have a very hard time understanding why this even needs to be a source of debate in the professing church, no matter what the denominational stripe. Scripture is abundantly clear on this subject, and what the ELCA has done in essence is to thumb its collective nose at the God of the Bible.
I shudder to think of the divine discipline that awaits.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
This week, I received a very thought-provoking letter from Congressman Steve King, who was writing to help the National Pro-Life Alliance. Here's a clip from the letter:
When the Supreme Court handed down its now-infamous Roe vs. Wade decision, it did so based on a new, previously undefined "right of privacy" which it discovered in so-called "emanations" of "penubrae" of the Constitution.
Of course, as constitutional law it was a disaster.
But never once did the Supreme Court declare abortion itself to be a constitutional right. Instead, the Supreme Court said, "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins . . . the judiciary at this point in the development of man's knowledge is not in a position to speculate as to the answer."
Then the High Court made a key admission:
"If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case (i.e. the "Roe" who sought an abortion), of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment."
The fact is, the 14th Amendment couldn't be clearer:
. . . nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law."
Furthermore, the 14th Amendment says, "Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."
That's exactly what a Life at Conception Act would do.
Very, very interesting. In my view, this is exactly what ought to be done, and exactly something for which pro-life people ought to push.
I expect the left to squeal like stuck pigs over it, but that's just too bad, isn't it?
Let's go for it!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Today, I am resurrecting a post originally made on Monday, March 19, 2007, a few days after the conclusion of the Shepherd's Conference in California. The keynote speaker for this particular session was Dr. Steven Lawson, dealing with the need for a return to apostolic-type preaching in the church. My post is based on notes taken during the message.
In his excellent address, Dr. Lawson shared how there was once "thunder" as expositors preached from the Word of God. He sees two dangers going on today. First, there has been a wholesale devaluation of preaching in the church. Rather than solid exposition of God’s Word and biblical theology, we have entertainment and theatrics. The second danger is that preaching can be doctrinally or biblically correct, yet lifeless. A lecture with precision, but without power. Light without heat. Dead preaching toward dead sinners. And that danger can be even more subtle. It ranks up there with a congregation (and pastor) who believe yet have become listless.
Steve pointed out that there are 19 sermons or defenses in the book of Acts. Twenty-five percent of them are devoted to recording apostolic preaching. How important it is – apostolic expository preaching, and bringing back the thunder! There are four marks of it:
1. Bold, authoritative preaching
When you examine Peter’s first sermon in Acts, it mentions that he “took his stand” with the other apostles. Look at the Greek interpretation of “taking stand.” Each word shows the manner of Peter’s sermon. You need to show that you really believe what you are preaching, demanding to be heard. (Dr. Lawson was quick to point out that this didn’t necessarily mean screaming) Preachers need to quit hedging and saying that Scripture “seems” to say something. What does God say it IS? (Sola’s aside – that is certainly anathema to the Emergent Church. They don’t like authoritative anything. It’s not conversational)
Dr. Lawson went on to encourage the pastors to “stand firm, act like men, be strong!” He said there are too many pastors out there who are tripping over their pantyhose, beaten down by the feminization of the church and of society. He cited the late Dr. Adrian Rogers who said, “No one wants to kill preachers anymore.”
2. Text-driven preaching
It’s the authority of Scripture of which we are preaching and upholding. Being expositors. Examine anew how the New Testament writers cite Old Testament Scripture repeatedly. Peter, James, the Lord Jesus, Paul etc. In the Old Testament, look at how Ezra handled the long-neglected Word of God. Exposition begins with reading the Word, recognizing that it is God Himself who is speaking through it.
The final two marks are Christ centered preaching and heart piercing preaching, but for time's sake I (Solameanie) must abridge. The need to center on Christ ought to be a given, and the piercing of the heart is done by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Lawson then went into the practice of exposition itself, again looking at Peter’s sermon. Acts 2:21 speaks of how “all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” It’s the result of Scripture being proclaimed. After Scripture is read, explain it. That is the meaning of exposition. In verse 22, Peter begins to explain and he points right back to Christ. You consider the context, the language, the meaning to the original hearers. Communicating the Gospel and preaching with precision. Leaving NO room for any misunderstanding. You support your text by cross references. Peter shows us a pattern, and shows the counsel of God has clarity and authority. (Sola’s aside - Yes, my postmodern friends..CLARITY AND AUTHORITY) Verse 27 shows an intertrinitarian conversation. A good expositor will then follow up by expressing his own conviction forcefully. He will synthesize the text, boiling it down and driving home the bottom line conclusion.
Dr. Lawson concluded by adding a fifth mark- that of application. It’s vital and is the crescendo of the sermon, given in the imperative voice. Verse 37 of Acts 2 asks the question, “What shall we do?” Preaching must be directional for both the sinner and the saint. “This is what God requires of you.”
As I wrap up this series of posts, let me say again how much I enjoyed my time among these fine pastors and Bible scholars. And a big thank-you in the Lord to Dr. John MacArthur and the congregation of Grace Community Church. I trust more than 3,500 pastors, teachers, and layleaders went home as blessed and encouraged as I did. And remember, be sure to visit the Shepherd's Conference website, where you can actually get CDs or MP3s of all messages given there.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Although I have been teaching through Romans lately, I come across some side passages in Scripture that fascinate me (not to mention edification and comfort).
One of those passages is in Genesis 15, where God is making His unconditional covenant with Abraham in terms of the land of Israel . . .
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.“Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite" (Genesis 15:12-21).
One of the fascinating things about that passage that often gets overlooked is the prophetic element of it. Here, God not only made His covenant with Abraham, but also foretold what would eventually happen to Abraham's descendants due to their disobedience. They'd end up in slavery in Egypt, with the precise time given.
Abraham himself believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. He eventually died at a "good old age," never wavering in his faith and trust that God would do as He had promised in His time. I have to wonder if Abraham ever wondered about the future disobedience of his people. Did it bother him? Did it aggravate him? Or was his faith in God so great that he didn't worry about it, instead trusting that God would use even the disobedience of His people to accomplish His purpose. I think we know the answer to that question. Abraham's faith -- and that not of himself -- was indeed great.
And as always, what lessons are in that passage for us? What can we learn from both Abraham's faith, and Israel's disobedience? 1 Corinthians 10:6 tells us that these things happened for our examples.
May we not be too dense to get the lesson.
Friday, August 14, 2009
On the way home from my office today, I was struck by a very troubling comparison that came to my mind. It struck me so forcefully that I wanted to think about it a bit, then post on it this morning. I guess the thought was provoked by yet another jangle with an Emergent-type about the sufficiency of Scripture. (And when I say Emergent-type, I mean the extreme type, not the more conservative among them)
Most believers are aware of the biblical account of God's provision of manna for the children of Israel as they trekked in the wilderness. The book of Numbers tells it like this . . .
Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD and the fire died out. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them. The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people would go about and gather it and grind it between two millstones or beat it in the mortar, and boil it in the pot and make cakes with it; and its taste was as the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it. Now Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, each man at the doorway of his tent; and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly, and Moses was displeased (Numbers 11:1-10).
When all was said and done, those who squalled about the manna and gorged themselves sick on meat ended up being punished severely. They weren't satisfied with God's faithful provision of daily bread. They demanded something else. They were bored with manna.
I can't help thinking about those in the church today who are bored with God's Word, the Bible. God has provided the bread of life -- His Word -- to us. Scripture is sufficient as His revelation to mankind. For the believer, God's Word is illuminated by the indwelling Holy Spirit. He acts on His Word as His Word is proclaimed and studied. For the believer, the Word of God is our manna, provided by a faithful God to His children.
But many self-described Christians today aren't satisfied. They don't think what God has provided is enough. They demand more "authenticity." They want all sorts of touchy-feely, biblically dubious mystical practices, and a host of other extra-biblical things no matter what the source. They get spiritual inspiration even from unregenerate heretics. Give them anything but that tired, old Bible.
What results? The more biblically illiterate, the more open to deception they are. And there's more. Just like the children of Israel, who had to undergo severe discipline because they turned their noses up at what God provided, so today's self-described believers will undergo severe discipline because they're not satisfied with God's revelation to man as it is.
The Reformers had it just right. Faith alone, Scripture alone, Christ alone, Grace alone, and to God alone be the glory.
We would do well to remember that.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I've said before on this blog -- and elsewhere -- that I don't expect non-Christians to act like Christians. But I DO expect Christians to act like Christians.
Today, we have the latest Miley Cyrus controversy. It appears she did a little pole dance and some other suggestive moves during a recent performance.
If this was just another pop tartlet, I wouldn't say much. But Miley has made pretty vocal public declarations of her faith in Christ, as have some other celebrities who have expressed love for Christ, then go on to do something diametrically opposite of everything for which the Lord stands. This is quite a testimony for the One who shed His blood for our sins, isn't it?
Another point. Miley is only 16, which means she's under age and presumably under the control of her parents. God will hold parents accountable over how they train up their children, or fail to correct them. I'm saddened, but am praying for Miley and her family, that God will bring them to repentance and open their eyes to how this kills their testimonies.
Sadly, this is just another example in a very sorry trend, not just in the world of celebrity Christians, but the church in general. Not too long ago on a social networking site, a very well known Christian artist posted a statement telling Christians to shut the **** up, unless they were going to talk about nothing but the love of God. In other words, we want to pick and choose the aspects of God's character we like, but ignore the rest of them, such as His holiness, His wrath and His judgment.
Pole dancing. Cursing in public. Cursing from the pulpit. Fornication and adultery. And all done with pride.
Folks, this isn't Christianity. It's apostasy.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
I am old enough to remember when Mount St. Helens blew out in Washington State back in 1980. It was spectacular.
I've always been interested in volcanoes, but they were always things that blew in Hawaii or elsewhere. The volcanoes in the lower 48 had largely been silent prior to 1980, with the exception of Lassen Peak in California. That volcano had a series of eruptions beginning in 1914.
The other day, I was reading an account about some recent small earthquakes around Mt. Rainier in Washington State. The volcanologists don't seem too alarmed about it, but it started me thinking. If Rainier blows, it could be cataclysmic in terms of the effect on major cities in Washington. As with all the Cascade volcanoes, it's not a matter of if, but when, they will erupt.
Imagine all of them from Washington to California blowing their stacks at once, and then the Yellowstone Caldera in the Rockies deciding to have a belch. Would that be seen as divine judgment or would it be seen as a natural event?
Of course, such an event is unlikely to happen. But it could. Anything's possible. We're all just a natural disaster away from eternity.
That ought to be food for thought.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Life has been a veritable whirlwind for me of late. I feel like I've really been neglecting the blog, but don't know what to do about it. It doesn't look like things will settle down until the end of September.
Nonetheless, the world marches on. In lieu of a huge post by me today, I'd like to recommend this article in Human Events, which was written by Jed Babbin. He takes a good hard look at Saul Alinsky, who was one of President Barack Obama's mentors.
If you want to understand Obama and his acolytes, you need to understand Saul Alinsky. In addition, you need to understand Liberation Theology. The linked article on that was written by author, researcher and Christian apologist Ron Rhodes, a friend of ours and regular guest on our radio program. President Obama was steeped in Liberation Theology through Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his pastor for 20 years.
What are those "rules?" Here they are:
RULE 1: "Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have." Power is derived from 2 main sources - money and people. "Have-Nots" must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)
RULE 2: "Never go outside the expertise of your people." It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don't address the "real" issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)
RULE 3: "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy." Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)
RULE 4: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity's very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)
RULE 5: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon." There is no defense. It's irrational. It's infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)
RULE 6: "A good tactic is one your people enjoy." They'll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They're doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid "un-fun" activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)
RULE 7: "A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag." Don't become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)
RULE 8: "Keep the pressure on. Never let up." Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)
RULE 9: "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself." Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists' minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)
RULE 10: "If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive." Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management's wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)
RULE 11: "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative." Never let the enemy score points because you're caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)
RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)
People, wake up!
The more and more I watch Obama and the others around him who live by these "rules for radicals," and see the way they're trying to "fly the plane straight into the ground," I am convinced that they're trying to wreck this country on purpose. People like this have deep-seated hatred for America and everything it stands for, although with some it's hard to tell because they're slick orators with a broad smile. But these people have a volcanic anger bubbling under the surface. They see America as this cancer that oppresses, and they're out for revenge on the perceived oppressor.
But what about the Marxism, you might ask. That's the icing on the cake. These people dream of a Marxist utopia, and they really don't care how many lives they destroy to try to get there. They're out for power, and for the ability to control everyone else's lives down to the smallest minutiae. And if you object, you're an "enemy of the people."
And that's another laugh. I find it highly hilarious that Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their ilk are squalling so loudly about these "town hall" meetings. Especially Obama, the "community organizer," who taught Saul Alinsky's method of achieving social change. The hypocrisy is piled high and deep here, folks. It's a wonderful crusade when they yell, scream and cause all sorts of disruption for conservatives. But do it to them, and they squeal like stuck pigs.
And the pigs have lots of lipstick on.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Aside from the advice from my late father never to trust a man with a bow tie, you'll love this little blurb from Oregon. Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer ( D-OR) is proposing that a government GPS system be put in every car to track mobility, and that a tax be charged each motorist on miles driven.
Shouldn't that bother us us just a little? Ya think? Elections have consequences.
Next comes this little piece of advicefrom the American Psychological Association. They advise -- among other things -- that homosexuals ought not to be advised to try and change their sexual orientation. That's not a surprise given the political motivations of this group in recent years. But their advice to "change churches" is a new low.
How do you like that? Don't like what God's Word says? Well then, you just go find you a church and a preacher who will tell you only what you want to hear!
Where have we been warned about that before?
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Until now, I've said very little about the controversy over Barack Obama and his birth certificate. Generally, when the media begins trashing people for their views, I tend to sit up and take notice, giving a lot of latitude to the people the media wants to silence. Having said that, in the past I've been nearly taken in by some conspiracy theories, so my guard is generally up no matter how convincing something looks. As to Obama's birth certificate, I've said all along that if he'd just release the thing, the issue would probably go away. But I think he refuses to release it for a reason, and not necessarily because he doesn't have one, or was born on foreign soil. Not releasing it helps him make his opponents look like kooks.
However, there is one aspect of this entire flap that troubles me greatly. As an example, take a look at this story about Glenn Beck's comments regarding the "birthers," as they are called. Note especially the line about, "what are you going to do? Take him out of office? You can't do that!"
Oh, really? Why not, pray tell? THAT statement bothers me, because I hear similar statements by other people about this issue. And my concern has nothing to do with the actual "birther" issue itself. It has more to do with the attitude toward a clear constitutional requirement for the presidency. A president of the United States must be a natural born citizen. So are you telling me that the Constitution doesn't matter? It can just be ignored? If it really was proven that Obama's presidency violates the Constitution, are you telling me, "too bad?"
That ought to sound off klaxon horns loudly. If there is so little will to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, we might as well abandon any pretense of having kept a republic and organize a new monarchy as soon as we can get the crown made.
Monday, August 03, 2009
While members of Congress are getting ready to take their recess, expect the Democratic majority to come back home and try to hornswoggle the rest of us about health care reform. While they're getting ready to hornswoggle, you might look at this little clip from Great Britain.
Yet another example of why we don't want or need socialized medicine in the United States.
Yet another example of why we don't want or need socialized medicine in the United States.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Today, a bit of a diversion for The Seventh Sola. We're going to put a different twist on a well-known biblical incident — an incident that has always made me smile. And that's the different twist.
I'm talking about what arose between Abraham, Sarah and God before the birth of Isaac. You can find the story beginning in Genesis 18, then continuing in chapter 21. Here are the relevant excerpts, beginning in chapter 18 with the Lord promising the birth of Isaac to the elderly Abraham and Sarah . . .
He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?' “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
Next, the promise is fulfilled in chapter 21 . . .
Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.”
This account has always intrigued and amused me. Yet when you hear most sermons or lessons on these passages (at least the ones I've heard), they're most often focused on the sins of unbelief and doubting God. They seem to fail to see this exchange for what I think it is -- a twinkle in the eye of our loving God and Father.
Think about how you'd react if you were very old and you were told to expect the stork to show up at your door. You'd probably laugh too. And of course, Sarah was initially afraid when the Lord brought up her laughter. I wish the computer would allow me to play tones of voice, because I could clearly illustrate what I mean. When the Lord said, "no, but you did laugh," I don't believe for a moment it was with a tone that was outraged and angry at not being believed. When I read the Lord's words, I hear a chuckle. It was if He had said, "Oh, yeah you did, Sarah! Fess up, now. You did too laugh! I caught ya!"
I think this is confirmed by chapter 21, when Isaac is born. Look again at Sarah's words . . . “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” In Hebrew, Isaac means "he laughs." This really became the ultimate "inside joke," but the word "joke" isn't adequate for what I mean. It's more serious than a joke, but a lighthearted, loving, thankful, joyful combination of tease and praise.
I know that's a bit of eisegesis on my part, and I'm sure I'll stand corrected if I am mistaken. Now, let's contrast that a bit with another account of someone not believing the Lord at His word. This time, I'm talking about Zacharias, a priest and husband of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. An angel had just foretold the birth of John to the elderly priest, whose reaction was not unlike that of Sarah, but Zacharias wasn't laughing by all appearances . . .
Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. “And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time" (Luke 1:18-20).
I see a difference in this account. Zacharias was a priest. Someone who is a priest and knows God's Word ought to know better than to doubt a direct promise of God. Second, this was the birth of John, who was to prepare the way for the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel. The very miracle of Zacharias being struck dumb until John's birth sent an important message about the momentousness of the coming events. One of the things Scripture tells us is that teachers incur a stricter judgment. One can quibble about whether a priest was a teacher per se, but the long and short of it is that priests were supposed to know the Word of God. Having seen how God kept his previous promises to Abraham and Sarah, not to mention the rest of the Tanach (Old Testament), God would certainly not fail in His promise now.
The common thread in both accounts is that God keeps His word. And I find that very, very comforting in these days of unsettling change.
Sola's Note: In the past few days, I had the privilege of having lunch with Pastor Caleb Kolstad, a graduate of The Master's Seminary in California. We ended up sitting there talking for more than two hours, and it was great fellowship. I ran this idea by him, and he had some excellent observations. He believed that my observation of the difference in God's reaction to Sarah and Zacharias was right, but kindly suggested caution in being too eisegetical about His milder reaction to Sarah. Unbelief -- doubting God -- is sin. Zacharias was a teacher and teachers are recipients of stricter judgment. I agree wholeheartedly, and I am thankful to Caleb for his correction and caution.