Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Media Matters is Mad

Looks like Media Matters is a bit upset with Alan Dershowitz. Take a look at this story from WND.

Alan D. is a liberal who sometimes takes surprising departures from liberal orthodoxy, such as acknowledging that the Second Amendment to the Constitution means an individual right to own a firearm. Dershowitz recently took Media Matters to task for their allegedly unscrupulous tactics, especially their anti-Israel position.

And for that, Media Matters once again shows liberal tolerance for what it is—non-existant—even with one of their own.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bless the Beasts and the Children

Here we go again. Another tragic school shooting, this time at a small Ohio school.

When you read about this, you see what seems to be a pretty common theme. A kid who is an outcast. Bullied. Not the best situation at home, etc.

That could have been me in my school years, at least until high school. I was the smallest one in class, usually. I had the big vocabulary and glasses, and got picked on constantly. I got mad and sometimes wanted to fight back. But the difference for me was that I was a Christian, or at least at that time governed by Christian morals and ethics. I knew murder or seriously injuring someone was wrong, and wouldn't have done so. But society was also a bit different back then. Today, the same societal constraints and moral consensus that existed is gone. Today's generation is self-centered and narcissistic, and consumed with the desire for instant gratification. Mix unsupervised firearms into the mix, and we've got the potential (and in this case, reality) of a deadly meltdown.

The gun banners will use this for political reasons, as they always do. But no one wants to attempt to deal with the real problem—the breakdown of the family and the wholesale abandonment of a Judeo-Christian ethic. These kids see virtue get mocked, and the constant message they get from their sources of entertainment is "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die," or complete, hopeless nihilism. There is no hope now, or in the future, so why does doing the right thing matter? "People are in my way or keeping me back from what I want, so I will do whatever it takes to get them out of my way, even if it means killing them."

Some churches will call for "revival." But I am beginning to really dislike that term. "Revive" means something was once alive. Unsaved people are dead in their trespasses and sins. They need to hear the Gospel and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Once they have saving faith, they are then regenerated in their spirits and have fellowship with God. Then the discipleship process begins.

We can have "revival" in the church, which means believers re-dedicating and re-committing their lives to Christ, and recapturing their first love, which is the Lord. So maybe we need things in that order. Churches and individual Christians need to get their noses out of their mutual "bless me" clubs and get busy with sharing the Gospel—and making disciples. If we faithfully proclaim the Word of God and the Gospel, the Holy Spirit will do what only He can do and draw people to Himself. Then we will see a regenerated society.

But what about the kids like the alleged school shooter? We can ask a thousand questions. Why didn't someone see this coming? Why didn't someone take his Facebook posts seriously? Why didn't someone reach out to this kid with love and compassion, or did they?

All questions that I cannot answer. But today my heart breaks for this community, the victims, and yes, the alleged perpetrator. His life is now in broken shards because of what he has done. His life obviously was in broken shards before he ever got to the point of pulling the trigger.

Please join me in praying for a great move of God in that school, in that town, and in this country. The Lord Jesus is our only hope of restoration and putting things to rights.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rockefeller Republicans Are Still With Us

I can't help chuckle when I hear some of the media talking heads say there is no such thing as a Rockefeller Republican anymore. The term is linked with the late Nelson Rockefeller (relative of current Democratic West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller). He was a liberal Northeastern Republican, noted for several fun things, including flipping off people on camera and, um, where he allegedly died. But that's another story into which I'd rather not get.

I'm not generally a huge Wikipedia fan in terms of reliability, although it does have a tabloid-type appeal. It does have a lot of truth in there mixed with errors. However, this particular article on Rockefeller Republicanism is pretty good.

As you'll see, it's not that they've gone anywhere in the Republican Party. They've just morphed into a new name. They're now "moderate Republicans." In reality, they are liberal Republicans. They always vote with the Democrats when it counts.

I just wish they'd leave and join the Dems where they really belong, and quit troubling the waters of what is supposed to be the party of the conservative alternative.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Biblical God

I keep hearing "grace" Christians contrasted with "hellfire and brimstone" Christians. Listen well. God's wrath and justice are just as much a part of His character as His love, mercy and grace. Without all those immutable characteristics, the God you think you are worshipping is NOT the God of the Bible. It's a false God of your own construction.

Think about it. It's important. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Quake on the New Madrid

Since the New Madrid Fault lies close to my family's home origins in Arkansas, I'm always interested when things shake, rattle and roll down there.

KAIT has a good online report about the latest quake, centered roughly halfway between St. Louis and Memphis.

The San Andreas Fault out in California gets most of the attention because that's where most major quakes in the United States have happened in recent years. But the New Madrid pasted the country with the largest one on record in the lower 48 back in the early 1800s. It was estimated at 8.1 on the scale, causing the Mississippi River to flow backwards, creating Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee, and even reportedly making bells ring in Boston. In other words, it was a jim dandy.

The fault itself runs in a fairly straight line from southern Illinois to Marked Tree, Arkansas. There are numerous, smaller faults in the New Madrid system.

They don't think this particular quake is a precursor to a large one coming, although it is on the upper scale of the 200 some-odd quakes along the New Madrid every year. Even so, it got people's attention. And it should. A massive quake like 8.1 today in the Midwest and South would do horrendous damage due to the different kind of ground around here.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Could It Be . . . Satan?

Excuse me for not getting really excised about Rick Santorum's remarks about Satan and his malign influence on individuals, not to mention nations.

The news media and pols are all aflutter because Rick made some remarks on this subject to a church group. He said nothing at all that is outside mainstream biblical orthodoxy. As I have noted before, I have my share of important disagreements with Roman Catholicism, but this isn't one of them. The Catholic Church believes in a fallen angel known as Lucifer and Satan. So do Protestant evangelicals. On that, we are agreed.

If you were to ask American presidents in history, you just might find out that quite a few of them believed that Satan existed - a personal devil. Some might not, some might have viewed him more as a symbolic principle of evil, but others surely fell fully within orthodoxy on the subject.

But today, having such a belief is seen as disqualifying from public office, and a political candidate who has the temerity to believe such a thing belongs in the loony bin and not the Oval Office - if you believe the twaddle coming out of the media, certain Democrats and those who feed this frenzy.

I think its about time we trot out Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the tenets of Liberation Theology and just how it runs afoul of biblical orthodoxy. Perhaps its about time we start digging into some of the far-left's wacko, New-Agey beliefs. Let's throw reincarnation into the mix, along with agnosticism and atheism. I've heard of a few over the years believing in UFO encounters. Let's talk about it. Perhaps E.T. has a standing invitation to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom.

As you can probably tell, I'm very irked at this current move to force traditional Christians into a ghetto of crackpots separated from the American body politic. I think we'd better slap back, and slap back hard. This has nothing to do with turning the other cheek. This is a political battle that's being engaged, and the gauntlet has been thrown down. Let's pick it up and use it in dislocating a few jawbones.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Remembering Youthful Fun

We've had our share of serious subjects on The Seventh Sola of late. How about a bit of fun? Here's today's thoughts - given after a long day of doctor and ER visits with my mother. (Another story for another day, maybe).

How about that mean mammajamma of a bass pictured to the right. It's an Alembic 8-string bass with lighted fret indicators made in the mid-to-late 1970s for Greg Lake. It had almost a harpsichord-like sound to it, and can be heard prominently featured on Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Works, Volume 1" triple-LP from 1977. Sadly, the bass broke on a later tour and is now kaput, but it was cool while it lasted.

Second, how many of you out there my age (toward the tail end of the baby boom) remember some of the classic toys we had? Remember Mattel's "Thingmaker" with Plastigoop? It had a little cooker plate with metal molds where you'd make the creepy crawlies, and then you had to cool the plate in cold water after cooking. They even had an edible Plastigoop later on. Had lots of fun with it, but eventually the Naderites out there had it taken off the market because it was so "dangerous."

We had "Whizzers," which were spinning tops that had an internal gyro-type gizmo and a rubber wheel at the bottom of it. You'd spin the wheel as fast as you could in a half-arc on the ground then turn it loose. The top would spin quite a while with a whizzing sound.

We had Wheelos. We had Hoppity Hops. We had "Clackers," which were round, hard plastic balls tied together with string, and the trick was you had to move them up and down and clack them together without stopping. More great fun until they, too, were taken off the market by the nannies among us who were afraid we'd get concussions or put out eyes.

Then there were Lawn Jarts. The real ones. The metal kinds that you'd pitch into circles out in the yard. I guess a couple of people got impaled by them by accident, so that meant we had to make those illegal by federal law. By now, I'm getting so steamed I'm tempted to get myself a lead melting kit and some plastic wing-throwers to make my own. I hate nanny states. There is the issue of personal responsibility here. Somewhere.

I'm waiting for airbags on bicycles to become law, and for Swiss Army Knives to be restricted to age 21. Of course, BB guns must be removed from the market as the menaces to society that they are.

You should read "Harrison Bergeron," a short story by Kurt Vonnegut. It's about a society where everyone had to be equal to the point of ridiculousness. That was the subject more so than the nanny state, but it's just a different manifestation of the same virus.

And why did I have to turn a fun post into another polemic on out of control government and bureaucrats? Forget the last half of the post and just think of the first half.

Remember the fun we used to have, and lived through it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lott on Gun Control, Media Matters and Hypocrisy

Life just keeps on getting interestinger and interestinger. Or should I say politics?

Fox News has been reporting on the Daily Caller's investigation of the radical left-wing "Media Matters" organization, which purports to be a watchdog on conservative media and individuals because they see them as menaces that must be stopped. (ht Frank Turk at Pyromaniacs for that delicious line)

Today, economist John Lott wrote an excellent commentary on the hypocrisy of the organization and its leadership. Come to find out, founder David Brock allegedly has bodyguards packing heat. And why is this so interesting? Here's Mr. Lott to tell us . . .

According to Media Matters, laws letting law-abiding citizens carry concealed handguns for protection are "dangerous." They assert these citizens "endanger" police officers and "compromise public safety." And derisively refer to the “cult of victimhood,” where crime victims and defensive gun uses are pointed at to justify gun ownership. They claim that it is a“myth” that concealed handguns reduce crime and label those who disagree “extremist”.

Nor do they mention that there has been a total of 29 peer reviewed studies by economists and criminologists, 18 supporting the hypothesis that shall-issue laws reduce crime, 10 finding no significant effect on crime, and that just one claims that right-to-carry laws temporarily increases one type of violent crime, aggravated assault. Of course, Media Matters never mentions the published research finding that right-to-carry laws reduce murders of police officers

Ironically, for a media organization, neither Media Matters nor David Brock returned multiple calls from me about the Daily Caller story.

John Lott is the author of a great book called "More Guns, Less Crime," which caused hissy fits across the country and no doubt sent New York mayor Michael Bloomberg into paroxysms of rage. He's done a lot of research on this subject, and I would assume he's got a target on his back. But unlike his critics, Lott is not a hypocrite. 

Sola's note: I have no idea what Blogger has changed to mess up how fonts —both type and size — post on here. Any attempt to fix it just makes it worse. I wish they'd just leave things alone. It worked just fine the way it was.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Prayer and the Community

Jeremiah is often referred to as the "weeping prophet." He was so grieved over the sin of his people Israel, and the biblical Old Testament book attributed to him vividly illustrates the depth of his Spirit-driven mourning.

I've been thinking about doing a more in-depth study of Jeremiah, in part driven by conditions here in the United States. Our country is sinking deeper and deeper into a morass of evil and the future doesn't look promising. I don't expect an election cycle to deliver us, either. Our national problems go way beyond our political leaders. We have a crisis of the soul.

But do we as believers spend enough time on our knees before God about it? While Jeremiah certainly delivered plenty of "jeremiads" and harshly rebuking words from the Lord to the people, you also find a great heart of love in play. Look at this passage in particular . . .

Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the prophets and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. (This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the court officials, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying, Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 

Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD. 

For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart' (Jeremiah 29:1-13).

This was obviously written to the exiles of Israel in Babylon, prophesying the eventual return of God's people to their land after they had repented of their sins and humbled themselves. But a line jumped out at me in reading this passage—"Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you . . . and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare."

That resonates with a passage in the New Testament penned by the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit . . .

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time (2 Timothy 2:1-6). 

Both passages say basically the same thing to the people of God. We are to seek the welfare of the communities where the Lord has placed us. We are to pray for our communities. And it's not only for the welfare of the community. It's for our welfare. Yet the overarching purpose of these prayers is for the glory of God. We are to pray that lost people in our communities will be drawn by Him to saving faith as they hear the Gospel proclaimed. But our proclamation of the Gospel must not be an empty proclamation. We need to live it. They need to see the love of God on display to one another (so that they will know we are His disciples), and to people in the community at large who are not believers. 

To be clear, I am not pushing for what is known as a "social gospel." That was one of the huge failings of the mainline churches in the 50s and 60s. They became so community-minded that biblical truth got watered down and the true biblical Gospel didn't get preached. And as a result, the mainline churches began a steady downward spiral. 

Bible-preaching, Bible-believing evangelical churches run the same risk if we get out of biblical balance. We must be committed to doing good works, but if we really love our communities and love the Lord, we must be faithful of proclaiming biblical truth in love. You can feed all the hungry and clothe all the naked you can, and treat as many sick people as possible. But if you send them off into a Christless eternity after doing those good works, your labor has been in vain. Good works and the Gospel go hand in hand. 

But it all begins with remembering to pray. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Steve Hackett on Early Genesis

Time for a Genesis revisit, thanks to former guitarist Steve Hackett. In his personal blog over at his website, Steve talks about a new project he's working on where he once again will revisit new musical interpretations of songs with which he was involved while in Genesis (1971-1977). As with anything Steve does, I'm looking forward to a class act.

One thing I want to point out from Steve's blog that my friends will find interesting, as I've made the same statement in trying to explain my love for Genesis and its music (as an aside, ALL eras, not just the Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins eras—I take the band as a whole). This probably more applies to the earlier material when the band drew on literature and fantasy as inspiration for their adventurous music, but even in their later days, they weren't beyond blowing past the 3:30 pop music limits and doing a song that might run 10 minutes for the purpose of telling a story. Anyway, here's Steve on that special thing that made Genesis the band that they were (and continue to be) . . . 

I refuse to dismiss the band's early work as the musings of five earnest young men playing mainly to bearded students. I'm sure I saw women there!
Early Genesis had its own take on romance. It was a romance of place, of time and most importantly, of story. Drawing on direct experience is a great way to write a song, but it's not the only way. Fiction can transcend the limits of ourselves and through metaphor can also plunge deeper into that rich inner world we all long to access. Many songs from those early times were like little vignettes and came across as a kind of film for the ear and the inner eye.

I've often told my younger friends who are now musicians themselves to try and capture that "magic," of being able to see music and lyrics as "little vignettes (or movies in my words) - film for the ear and that all-important inner eye. It's like a movie in your head, with the music all part of what you are seeing. Each nuance, each odd time signature, each counter-point melody in the background that you don't notice the first listen through - it's all part of the experience. 

Indeed, it's so much farther beyond the American bandstand-type, "Hey,'s got a good beat and you can dance to it." Way, way farther. The music of Genesis then actually required you to muse and think—and imagine. 

And at that, I had best close this post. I'm about to say something uncharitable about Genesis' critics, and we can't have that, can we? 

P.S. While I am at it, let me also direct you to Steve's online store, where you can get his latest recordings, and keep a watcher in the sky eye open for new material. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Race Card Again

I generally don't put a whole lot of stock in so-called "celebrity gossip" sites. However, TMZ had a little clip this morning that I find pretty troubling if it's accurate.

I'm referring to this alleged series of statements by Samuel Jackson. It's not so much that he reportedly said he voted for President Obama because he's a black man, although that in and of itself is troubling enough if that's your sole reason for supporting someone for president.

It's the series of comments that follow that statement. So, swagger and attitude and being "scary" is going to help this country's problems? As an aside, I would agree that a Republican Congressman yelling out "you lie" at the president during an address to Congress was wrong. I'm sure you could find other examples of conservatives being ugly and try to use them as excuses for this or that. But you don't justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior. President Obama has had an abysmal presidency. I personally don't think the country can take another four years of him, but that has nothing to do with skin color. I'd no doubt feel the same if Ted Kennedy had been elected president, because they no doubt would have pursued much the same course.

I am tired of the race card. But rest assured, if President Obama does win a second term and follows Jackson's advice about being "scary" and showing an ugly, dictatorial, swaggering, in-your-face attitude, the country will not be helped and it will not heal. It will erupt in flames.

Maybe that's what some people really want.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Boehner Sabotaging Issa?

I've always been very uncomfortable with John Boehner as House Speaker. I do think the party could have done better by getting a more forceful, articulate person in that chair. In my view, he really has been too ready to compromise with the Administration.

Now comes this report from WND with questions about whether Boehner is sabotaging the Fast and Furious investigation behind the scenes.

Let's hope and pray not, and that Rep. Darrell Issa sticks to his guns, no pun intended. This is too big of a scandal to sweep under the rug.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Pastor Tom Chantry on the Elephant Room Controversy

If you're a frequent reader of Pyromaniacs (as I am) and keeping tabs with what goes on with the folks over at The Gospel Coalition, you no doubt have heard of the controversy over prosperity-gospel preacher T.D. Jakes. In addition to the PG views he holds, Jakes has also been held to scrutiny over whether or not he still denies the Trinity as do "Jesus-Only" or Oneness Pentecostals.

Today, a frequent and respected contributor at Pyromaniacs adds his thoughts to the controversy. His name is Pastor Tom Chantry, and this is a link to his blog> where he gives a post-mortem on the subject. 

Spread the word, and give a shout-out as well.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!

Since we seem to be in a celebratory spirit of things British this week, allow me to offer birthday greetings to the great novelist and journalist Charles Dickens. You can read the account of the celebrations in the UK by clicking this link to Yahoo news.

Dickens has always been a favorite author of mine, and Oliver Twist my favorite Dickens novel. That might surprise a few people. You'd think it would be the perennial favorite, "A Christmas Carol," which is, of course, classic. But the wonderful tale of the poor orphan boy who eventually rises above it all to find happiness has always moved me deeply, and I think it always will.

I can't think of anyone who writes with more forcefulness and emotional, moral outrage at poverty, injustice and society's response to it. So if you haven't already done so, go pick up a copy of Oliver Twist and begin reading.

While I am on the subject, if you're looking for a good video adaptation of the story, go for the BBC's several-hour 1988 version starring Ben Rodska as Oliver. It's excellent, and stayed largely true to the book, which is always important for me. I hate it when things get changed in the story by filmmakers. Drives me absolutely bonkers.

Sola's note: I should have put a link up about the BBC adaptation of Oliver Twist. And here it is from Amazon. Honorable mention should also go to the 1968 movie with Mark Lester in the Oliver role. I would have enjoyed that one much more had it not been a musical, and that's not to say some of the songs weren't good. I just don't like musicals in general. I'd rather just watch the story unfold.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Happy 60th to Elizabeth II

In Great Britain, they're readying all the celebrations for what will be Queen Elizabeth II's 60th year on the throne. Only three more years or so to beat Queen Victoria's record for length of reign.

This USA Today article is an excellent profile of the Queen's decades of service to her country.

Although I am a citizen of the U.S. by birth and not a UK citizen or resident, with a name like Griffith, you can no doubt tell I've got the heritage (specifically, Welsh). The Seventh Sola wishes to express warm congratulations to Queen Elizabeth for reaching such a milestone, and prays that God's riches blessings, wisdom and direction will be hers in the days ahead.

It is said that the Queen personally is a woman of devout Christian faith, although I know some of my conservative Christian brothers and sisters in England have taken issue with some of the bills that have become law through royal assent during her tenure—most specifically over abortion and homosexual rights. I have no desire to hash out the complexities of the unwritten British constitution, but I do know that the monarch must approve all bills before they become laws, and indeed may reject a bill, at least in theory. By practice, no monarch has done so since Queen Anne in 1707, with few exceptions. Queen Anne's veto was over quartering troops in Scotland.

There was a matter that arose a few years back when a private members' bill over the Iraq War did not receive royal assent, and therefore died in parliament. However, that issue was over a so-called prerogative power of the Crown, and as I understand it, the government at the time advised that royal assent not be granted. As the queen acted on the advice of ministers, it was considered a constitutional action. However, if the queen on her own decided to veto an act of parliament, there would no doubt be a constitutional crisis. For such a move to succeed, an overwhelming number of the British people would have to be calling for the queen to take such an action. And even then, there would be quite a row, to put it in the English way.

My hope is that the rest of Queen Elizabeth's reign will be peaceful, and that she will know in complete fullness the "peace that passes all understanding" for all who are truly grounded in Christ, through saving faith.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Who's the Real Fisherman?

Today I had a bit of an epiphany after hearing my pastor preach on Luke 5 this morning. I'm a bit ashamed to admit that it was an epiphany, because the lesson in the text is so obvious.

Actually, let me clarify that. There are many lessons that can be drawn from this particular passage in Luke. The insight I had was not part of my pastor's sermon, which in itself was an excellent, biblical message. My particular insight came to me while lying down for my afternoon nap. Okay, enough build-up. Let's get to the heart of what I want to tell you. Here's the passage in question:

Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. 

And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. 

And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men (Luke 5:1-10).

Okay, what did I draw from this short account from Luke the physician? Before telling you, I want you to have in mind our particular modern ways of "doing ministry" and related expectations. Think big crusades that cost lots of dollars, and big-name evangelists that manage to draw huge crowds and get their messages televised. Or, you can think the small town pastor who labors faithfully week after week. Or, you can think of each one of us, witnessing our faith with every opportunity and with lots of zeal. We get so dejected when no one responds, or so elated when boatloads of people come down the aisle.

But wait a minute.

Peter and his fellow fishermen had been out all night working as hard as they could. The Lord wasn't with them at the moment. No luck. But then the Lord shows up and does a little teaching. Then He asks Peter to take the boats out "for a catch." Peter's eyebrows no doubt go up as he wearily obeys the Master's command. Maybe secretly Peter mused under his breath, "I think we know a tad more about fishing than a carpenter." But that's me speculating, not Scripture. Gotta be careful with that.

Something amazing happens. The Lord goes with them. His blessing and power is obviously upholding their efforts, because their nets are bursting with fish. Even the boats are beginning to sink because they can't hold all of the catch! Then Peter is ashamed for his lack of faith in the word of the Lord.

Usually, that's the message we take away from that passage. Faith in God's promise. Or we know from that point on, Peter and his fellow disciples left angling behind and followed the Lord in His ministry travels. But there's more to be said.

As ministers and ministries, ALL of our efforts are in vain unless we recognize at the outset that the Lord is the One who does the drawing and the saving. In His generous grace, He uses us through the "foolishness of preaching" (1 Corinthians 1:21) to save those who believe. But He is really the One doing the fishing and the catching. As soon as we think it all depends on us, our cleverness, our gifted orations, our rapier wit, gift of gab and even Scripture-quoting ability, we are destined to bring back empty nets.

No minister or ministry is in greater danger than the one believing that they/it are indispensable to God.

So let's obey the Lord, joining Him in being "fishers of men" as He commanded. But remember, we're the junior partners. We're His servants. We're following His lead, and trusting in His peerless power and expertise in moving the human heart to a response of faith. It's not about us.

It's all about Him.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood

By now, I'm sure most have heard the uproar over the Susan G. Komen Foundation pulling its funding of Planned Parenthood, specifically for breast cancer screenings.

In so doing, the Komen Foundation has taken an unending blast of vitriol and heat from the left, Planned Parenthood and its backers. At first glance, it does seem like a curious thing to do if the dollars being given were strictly being used for breast cancer screenings. These screenings save lives, and poor women typically can't afford to have one done at the doctor's office or clinic.

I also heard from a left-leaning friend and former radio colleague that the Komen Foundation doesn't fund research adequately, and for that reason she always held the Foundation in some question. While my friend and I no doubt disagree over many political issues—including abortion rights—I do respect her very much. We had fun working together in radio all those years ago, so I can't just dismiss what she says out of hand. If it's true that research funding is limited, I'd like to know the reasons for it. This has not been a huge area of personal research for me, although I have given to the Komen Foundation from time to time anonymously. I have had loved ones suffer and eventually die from metastatic breast cancer. To put it mildly, it is not a fun way to go. It's horrible.

The difficulty here lies with Planned Parenthood itself, in my view. It's the nation's largest provider of what they call "reproductive health services." Right-to Life groups and others say it's the nation's largest provider of abortions, and I've seen the debate on that go back and forth for years, with Planned Parenthood saying abortions are only a part of what they do. I'll leave the dispute over the percentage of abortions aside for this discussion. Personally, I am troubled by the dubious background of the organization, founded by eugenics proponent Margaret Sanger. Google eugenics if you are not familiar with the term. One could argue that the Planned Parenthood of today is not the same organization as founded by Sanger, but I wrestle with doubts on that one. When you consider Sanger's attitude toward people of color, and realize that abortion is rampant among women in that ethnic group, it is chilling to think that anyone might have a motivation to encourage abortions instead of giving birth to a live, healthy baby. Whether it's purely from a profit motive, a secretly-held prejudice, or even well-intentioned motive to "help" women in a crisis (misguided in my view), it still chills my blood.

Donations to Planned Parenthood have surged since this story broke, and we have to see this as a politically-driven issue being fanned largely by abortion-rights advocates. The Komen Foundation has the right to fund what it chooses to fund. I think both sides need to ask themselves a serious question. Does attacking each other accomplish the stated objective of helping women in need, especially when the attacks result in funding losses for an organization that does genuine good? What's more important? Abortion or saving the lives of living women from a terrible, deadly disease?

I think it's food for thought. I stand on the side of life. For everyone.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Next Fad?

Today, I have to exercise my rather macabre sense of humor while still making a point of some kind.

Why the pix of the gullotine? I got to thinking about fads, actually.

Tattooing is the rage in America these days. Yesterday, there was an article posted about some body art convention. As you'll see from the linked Fox piece and video, some of it is really very grotesque.

So, my fertile mind began to wonder and wander. I asked, what is the next fad waiting for us around the corner now that tattoos are probably going to become passe in a while. We've had body piercing with nails, screws, poles, huge discs in drilled-out earlobes, etc. What could be the next wave of human self-expression and probable physical destruction?

I know! Self-amputation of selected body parts. I hope they don't take it as far as self-decapitation, but you never know. Some peoples' creativity knows no bounds.

By now, I assume that most of my readers know that I am being very tongue-in-cheek and more than a little sarcastic. I had someone ask me, "If it's not your body, why worry about it?"

I worry because of what is happening to the culture at large, and the human spirit/soul. We grow more and more pagan by the day, and more rebellious against God. The bent knee and humble supplication has become the clenched fist and shrill demand, or more likely, curse.

This will not be a very pleasant place to be in a few years' time. It's already becoming very uncomfortable. But then, this will be the time when the culture needs the love of God and the life-changing Gospel all the more. Will we as believers respond accordingly, or turn our noses up and hide in our enclaves?