Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hillary? Against Yelling?

Now and then, a story pops up that just needs a little comment, if nothing else for hilarity's sake.

That's why this little blurb from CBS about Hillary Clinton and a heckler caught me up in the chuckles. You can read the whole story, which I linked, but the salient paragraph is this:

“Because we can’t move from crisis to crisis, we have to be willing to come together as citizens to focus on the kind of future we want,” she said. As the shouts grew louder from an upper section of bleachers, she added, “which doesn’t include yelling. It includes sitting down and talking.”
This from the one who yelled at Congress "What difference does it make?" when pressed about her involvement or lack thereof in Benghazi. This from one who has made confrontation and partisanship a hallmark of her personal style—including yelling. I think you'll find plenty of yelling from Hillary through the years. To be fair, some of the recipients of her raised voice might have had it coming (can you hear me, Bill?), but still. Seriously?

What media will challenge these statements from Hillary the next time she's in full attack mode against conservatives or Republicans? Probably not many.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Question Worth Asking

I do a lot of pondering, and it's increasing the older I get. Today on my drive into the office, I was contemplating the state of the world, and some things in my own personal life that are current challenges, and challenges I expect to have in the days ahead.

This train of thought continued as I arrived and began setting my day in order. In the course of all of my thinking, I found myself in a short prayer: "Lord, how long will it be before You come and take us out of all of this?" And shortly afterward, I had a twinge of conviction that led to this question:

"When we pray for the Lord's soon return, is it because we long to see Him, or is it because we just want to escape our circumstances?"

It's a question worth asking. The former is a must, and the latter is very human. However, the former ought to outweigh the latter. Sometimes, I am not sure that it does.

May the Lord change that in me. I want to see Him first and foremost. Everything else will work out.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Taking or Adding from Scripture

As you've no doubt noticed, Joel has had "writer's block" lately. My personal schedule has been so out of control lately that I simply haven't felt like blogging.

Be that as it may, a story surfaced this week that I thought needed wider attention. Check out this FNC story about the new biblical epic film about Noah and the flood.

The story reports a battle between the director and the studio. Somewhat surprisingly, the studio wants the story to stick close to the biblical text. The director wants to take liberty with the story and make the biblical flood the result of environmental naughtiness rather than sin against God. He demands the freedom to "interpret" the biblical account however he likes, making it mean something that is not meant in Scripture.

This underscores the problem when Hollywood and the Bible run smack into each other. It's one thing to take a story out of classic literature and take liberties with it for filming purposes (even though it drives me nuts and the authors of most books—given they're still alive to see what the filmmakers have done to their stories). But when we take the Bible and dare to portray it, we enter dangerous ground when we depart from what it says. Assuming one believes (as I do) that the Bible is God's written Word and revelation to mankind, and that it says what it means and means what it says, there are rather severe penalties attached by God toward anyone who would add or subtract from His Word. Check out the end of the book of Revelation for one such warning. There are others.

There is speculation on whether Noah will bomb at the box office and offend believers. I found it curious in the article that such offense shouldn't enter the concerns of the director. Very curious. I understand the muse of the artist, but if your work ends up being so outlandish no one wants to see or hear it, you've defeated your purpose. "Shock art" appeals to only a few. Remember the late Andres Serrano and his infamous "P*ss Christ" exhibit where a crucifix was dunked in Serrano's own urine? That was supposed to be "art." Serrano was also known for homoerotic photographs where the end of a bullwhip was sticking out someone's rectum. Grotesque? Absolutely. But hardly artistic.

Serrano is an example of when the human soul and spirit has rotted, and the only "art" that can be created is a twisted, vulgar representation of what God intended as a blessing and a symbol of loving union. Art at its highest form uplifts, encourages, portrays beauty, and glorifies God. It provokes thought, but hopefully the thought provoked points you in the right direction of truth.

I can't say that for a lot of art today. Oh, it's out there if you look. But the media and entertainment industry seem to want to focus on the offensive, perverse and grotesque. But what should we who believe do? Light a candle in the midst of the darkness.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Two Elizabeths, Two Royal Assents, and Trouble

by Dr. Peter Jones

Last week, on the plane back to the US from London, I wrote:

On June 3, 1953, sixty years ago, Queen Elizabeth gave her assent to the "Coronation Oath" administered by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which read:

Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law?

In July 2013, almost sixty years to the day from taking that vow, Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval to the government law legalizing homosexual marriage! So much for the "laws of God" and the "true profession of the Gospel." Politics oblige.

Though the Queen's imprimatur was a legal formality, it is powerfully symbolic. The final constitutional bulwark of the Christian faith meekly surrendered before an agenda to legalize homosexuality, a relationship that utterly rejects the image of God in man as revealed in Genesis 1:27: "God created man in his own image...male and female he created them." Around the same time, as if on cue, the same decision was made in the USA, in France and in New Zealand. The Bible warns us of the cultural implosion this overturning of the defining essence of human life will entail. 

A bright red double-decker London bus went by me yesterday with a large imposing sign on the side: Some people are gay: get over it.
The same city council refused to allow a response to be put up on its buses: Some people are ex-gay:  get over it.  Not only is the Lie proposed for all to see but any expression of the Truth is now officially silenced.

The UK Christians for whom I lectured (who have been involved in legal and public interventions to maintain in the culture the notions of the biblical worldview) have been forced to admit that "Christian Britain" seems finally to have disappeared. (In the US there is more optimism because of a greater sense of citizen power-but I think we have lost the soul of America.) We must now ask, "When is a culture finally "given over"? According to Paul, this occurs when the leading cultural institutions "exchange" their public confession of God as the Creator for interfaith divinized nature; when their worship of the immortal God is "exchanged" for the worship of mortal man and animals; and when their public legitimation of "natural" sexuality is "exchanged" for the promotion of "unnatural" sexual expressions (Rom 1:23, 25, 26). At that point, says Paul, "they are given over" (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). In Britain, culturally speaking, the God of the Bible is dead. Already in 2010 a respected British journalist, Melanie Phillips of the Daily Mail, published a 486-page book with the ominous title, The World Turned Upside-Down. The passage of the "gay marriage" bill was an exclamation point on the repudiation of the biblical worldview occurring in Britain and in the West in general for some time.

At the UK conference where I lectured this past week, under the title "Understanding the Times," there was general agreement among the Christian leaders in attendance that the various acts of opposition to Christianity by courts and the police were not accidental or anecdotal but rather indications of a more systematic silencing of the free expression of the Christian worldview in the once-"Christian" public square.

Must the goal of Christian action turn, perhaps, from a focus on "saving the culture" to a focus on saving the church? Infiltrated by cultural attitudes, the church often fails to understand and express the Christian cosmology presupposed in the Gospel. Specifically, those active in a biblically faithful Church need to call into being a remnant, equipped by the Spirit and the Word to embody and "make known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph 3:10).

Never in my lifetime has there been a more urgent need for like-minded Christians to formulate a theological and practical response adapted to the times in which we live, based particularly on the blueprint Paul gives of our situation in Romans 1. To those of you who are providentially reading this call: I invite you to a consultation/Think Tank next February 4-7, 2014 in Escondido, CA, sponsored by truthXchange, entitled "Shining As Lights: Telling the Truth in the Pagan Utopia.

Great things are not always achieved by masses. Sometimes a small dedicated band suffices-a remnant with a passion for God's glory to be seen in the earth in both word and deed.

Editor's Note: Dr. Jones' website can be seen at this link. Prayerfully consider what you can do to help. He's a great voice in the Christian Apologetics community.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Spring River: Beautiful and Dangerous

Today's story courtesy of - an online publication based in Imboden, Arkansas. Another subscription I'll need to get.

The photo is a shot taken after an elderly couple were backing their boat into the boat launch on Spring River at Imboden, located in the Ozark foothills. Spring River is a gorgeous stream fed by Mammoth Spring at the AR/MO border. The spring itself is enormous, 58 degree water year-round. The river is known for being a paddler's pleasure, great trout fishing, and lovely scenery in general.

The river can also be treacherous, as beautiful as that deceptively smooth, clear, aquamarine water can appear. I've been at that boat launch, and I had forgotten how quickly the river can drop off into deep holes. It's usually a good rule of thumb that if the water is deep blue/green, it's deep. Watch it. Couple that with current and the shock of very cold water, it wouldn't be hard to end up with a drowning.

This accident is especially heartbreaking. An elderly couple intending to spend a quiet day enjoying the river, and backing down a boat launch like they've probably done countless times. But for some reason—brake failure or human error—the truck, trailer and boat all end up backing into the river. The woman couldn't make it back to shore. The family is in our prayers.

Lesson of the episode: check, re-check and triple check. Life jackets, brakes, pulleys and winches. Better safe than sorry. And never take the river for granted. Any river.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

O'Reilly, Scripture, and "Killing Jesus"

I have to begin by saying that I have not yet read Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly's new book, "Killing Jesus." So I can't fairly give a whole lot of comment on what it says in its entirety. However, Bill has been doing the media circuit to publicize the book of late, including this interview. And it's on the basis of what he is quoted as saying in the interview that I'll make my comment.

There has always been a serious difference between the Catholic Church and conservative, evangelical Protestants such as myself on the authority of Scripture. And I think that's where Bill may run into trouble with a few when his book is read by them. You don't make statements such as "The Holy Spirit led me" to do a book like this, and then in the next breath, say that your book differs from biblical accounts because you "don't believe it happened that way based on evidence." The evidence Bill presents as evidence is debatable. He seems to forget that the biblical accounts of Jesus were recorded by eyewitnesses, or by those who knew directly those who had been eyewitnesses. I saw him argue last night that there couldn't have been anyone around to hear Jesus make his statements from the cross because the people were kept away.

Sorry, Scripture says otherwise. Not only did you have Roman guards there, you also had the Apostle John and Jesus' mother Mary on the scene. John was given verbal directives by the Lord on the care of Mary.

I could go on, but you get the idea. I'll take Scripture's account first. To deny it, you also have to deny the plenary inspiration of Scripture by the Holy Spirit, a Being in Whom Bill says he believes.

One more thing. He says this wasn't intended as a "religious" book. Any time you take up a major world religion and write about the most central figure in that religion, you're going to have to run headlong into the religious. When I say that, I am talking about religion by the most general definition. As evangelicals, we typically say that Christianity isn't a religion, it's a relationship. I would agree. But for purposes of communication to an unbelieving world, sometimes you have to use the labels.