Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ushering in 2015

Normally on New Year's Eve (or day), I just post a graphic of fireworks and wish New Year's greetings.

This year, I'd rather do a bit of pondering. It's been a very troubling year in many ways. I don't need to run down the list of tragedies and disasters. The media will drive us all crazy with those before the weekend is over. But it's worth asking the question: "What will 2015 hold for us all?"

For those of us who trust in the Lord Jesus as our Savior, our eternal destiny is assured although we do not know for certain what lies ahead as long as we are "under this sun." Many of us will prosper, while many others of us will face significant challenges. Some of us may not see 2016. I do know this. No matter what happens, "He is our peace," as Ephesians 2:14 states. I continue to "work out my salvation with fear and trembling." The older I get, the more cognizant I am of time, and that I don't want to waste any more of it. The fallen world we live in is assured to try and waste as much of our time as it can in terms of distraction. Our earthly bodies and old nature will continue to be at war with our new nature in Christ, and that is a state that will continue until we go to be with Him, or until we are changed at His return. I long for that more and more with each passing day.

For those who do not know the Lord as Savior, let this be your year. Let this be your night. You are not guaranteed another year, or even tomorrow. How many will be killed tonight on the highway on their way home drunk from New Year's celebrations? Not to be a New Year's Eve killjoy, but I'd rather people come out of it alive and well.

When all is said and done, Jesus is all that matters. He is our life. He is our peace. In Him we live, move, and have our being. We exist to serve Him, and to be His ambassadors. We are sent to offer the same Bread of Life, the same Living Water we have been so richly given. In Him all can have forgiveness of sin and life eternal. In Him—we can at last find hope and a meaning for our lives that makes sense beyond anything else. Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last.

So, think about it. Enjoy a happy and safe New Year's. And make this the year you come to know Him as your Lord and Savior. You'll have the rest of eternity for thanksgiving and rejoicing. Without a hangover.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Warfield on the Trinity

To kick off New Year's week, I am going to send a hat tip to Dan Phillips for posting this great summation of the doctrine of the Trinity (or put more accurately, discussion of the doctrine's presence in Scripture) from the pen of B.B. Warfield. It really is superb reading.

The Trinity is one of the most misunderstood Christian doctrines, and very hard for fallen man to grasp. When discussing this subject myself, I try to point out that God is a non-analogous being. He is unique. There is no one like Him. He is separate and distinct from His creation and dwells outside time. While our humanity might have a difficult time grasping the Triune God, we must take Him at His Word and as how He reveals Himself to be.

This brief article Dan posted is a great start.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Blessed Christmas to All!

Since the morning is half over, I realized that I'd better get a Christmas greeting up. Interestingly, I've been watching social media like Facebook and Twitter, and it seems people can't even give politics and nastiness a rest, even today. But we will.

The Seventh Sola wishes you all—with prayer—a Christmas filled with God's abundant blessings. And as you celebrate, remember the Reason for the Season. The Lord Jesus came to pay the price for the sins of His people. He did so, and gloriously rose again from the dead, and we wait for His certain return . . . in His good and proper time.

The Nativity art on the right is the kind that always grabs me. I wonder how many people notice the cross within the Star?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Harvard, Israel, and Sodastream

It figures that, before Christmas, we'd have to have at least one story to provoke significant annoyance, at least to me. This one involves Harvard University, and thankfully, this time the right thing was done.

Here is the story in question. It appears a few Palestinian "student activists" tried to get Israeli-made Sodastream machines removed from the university campus in a protest action. This time, the university's leadership found out and intervened, overruling lower-level officials' decision to boot Sodastream off campus. Among other points made, the university provost and president said that politics ought not to have any place when it comes to procurement for the university. In addition, in this dispute it seems only one side of the debate was heard—that of the "Palestinian student activists."

Sadly, it seems to me that many institutions of higher learning in the US only hear one side of any debate, and that is the hard to port side. Hopefully this is a tiny step toward redressing that imbalance. As an aside, I'd like to see university students spending more time studying and less time out picketing and protesting. You're in school to learn, not to agitate and waste your parents' money (or mine through taxes).

The "apartheid" slur frequently aimed at Israel gets very tiresome as well. Before you whack the only true democracy in the Middle East, ask a few Jewish or Christian folks what it's like to be "dhimmi" class in Islamic-ruled nations. It isn't fun.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Brief Study on Anger


I've been doing a little study on anger lately. Before the fall of man (or Lucifer before that happened), it was an emotion for which there was no occasion. It is an emotion that all of us as fallen mankind have, but more often than not is channeled in evil ways. For the Bible verses we can find on righteous anger, we have many others nailing the ugly side of anger. Here are just a few of them:
Ga 5:20 (Negative and condemned) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions..

Eph 4:26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger (red caution flag)
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Expected Christian living)
Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Red caution flag)
Col 3:8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. (Negative and condemned)
Jas 1:19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. (Red caution flag)
Jas 1:20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (VERY red caution flag)
Anger and malice are tied together. Add fits of pique in there. Revenge. Rubbing someone else's nose in it when they've managed to irritate you. Holding grudges. Refusal to forgive in the example of Christ. Forgiving on the surface but really holding on to the grudge deep down inside. I could probably go on for several pages, but I think the point is made. 
All of this is pretty ugly stuff, and my old nature has it gurgling around. Praying that in His grace and mercy, the deeds of the "old man" will be "put to death daily," and that I can reflect the kind, loving, merciful, patient, generous, long-suffering character of the Savior. Impossible without Him doing it within me.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Dust Up in Walnut Ridge, AR

This story was just too wild to pass up, although it's from 80 years ago. Dateline is Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. Source is the Times Dispatch, the local newspaper, and specifically in their "Yesteryears" column.

Apparently, a high school football game erupted into a melee. Don't know whether the five rivers in the area being at flood contributed, but it was a doozy from the newspaper account . . .

The Blytheville Chicks and the Walnut Ridge Bobcats met on Sexton Field last Friday afternoon to determine the football championship of northeast Arkansas. Walnut Ridge won all the money and all the fights, but Blytheville won the ball game, 6-0. During the game, fighting was in progress all over the park and the crowd on the east side of the field became entirely unmanageable and crowded onto the football field. J.P. Friend, who was charting the plays for Blytheville, was struck on the head with a Stilson wrench by a Walnut Ridge fan. Several stitches were required to close the wound. Friends said the trouble began when he appealed to an officer to keep the Walnut Ridge supporters from kicking him over each time he kneeled to write on the chart. After the game, a group of Walnut Ridge fans stormed the special train brought here from Blytheville, boarded several of the coaches, and when forced off threw rocks through the windows. The train was also showered with paper bags of flour. Because of flood conditions in northeast Arkansas, the special train bearing the team and fans had to be rerouted and arrived here in mid-afternoon. Because of the approaching darkness, a very abbreviated game was played.

The above account was followed by a final note from 80 years ago: "Billy Joe Sexton and Bobby Swindle went to Newport last Sunday."

As many of my readers know, the Walnut Ridge/Hoxie/Lindsay Switch/Minturn area is where my parents and grandparents lived and farmed for many years. I wish I had grown up there and someday dream of going back to stay. What a hoot! And thanks to the Times Dispatch for making my morning with a good chuckle.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Hillary: Empathy for Terrorists?

Looks like Hillary's at it again, making a gaffe that—temporarily at least—has the attention of some of the media. In a recent appearance, she said that "smart power" involves "empathizing" with America's enemies. You can read more about it here.

Let me settle this one from a theological perspective at the outset. This is one more example that political candidates probably should cease and desist from sounding like pastors. Most of them don't know theology from a hole in the ground. Of course, in this case, Hillary really is only reciting the basic liberal boilerplate that stems from their most fatal flaw—a belief that man is basically good. That is totally opposite from the biblical worldview that man is a fallen being in need of redemption from his sin. They think that the evils of the world stem from bad environment, lack of opportunities, not enough government spending, lack of equality, yada yada. No, the evils of the world stem from sin, and that only has ONE remedy. The Gospel. But we can't talk about that, can we?

When the Lord Jesus said to "love your enemies," he meant as individuals interacting with other individuals, and in the sense of wishing (and praying) for their ultimate good. If they are hungry and have need, feed them, etc. It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with a national government dealing with those who do evil, whether it's through criminal activity or an attacking military power—or a terrorist group. Romans 13 is a definitive passage of Scripture on this subject, and it makes clear that the state bears the sword for a reason. That is to restrain evildoers.

We don't need to "empathize" with attackers and killers. We need to restrain them and stop them, and if that means killing them to protect the public, so be it. That is the duty of the governments we the people elect. Whoever holds the presidency of the United States needs to understand that distinction. In Hillary's case, she's a pretty effective chameleon who will say what she needs to say.

One more thing. Don't believe those who say such statements sound the death knell for a Hillary presidential run or victory. When a country is under judgment, anything can happen. The nation has embraced sin whole hog, and it gets worse every day. The nation has embraced the notion of entitlement, and any politician of either party who feeds the entitlement trough will get elected. It cannot go on that way indefinitely, and we're about to find that out rather painfully.

Friday, December 05, 2014

O Holy Night - The Backstory

As he often does, pastor, author, and blogger Dan Phillips has shared something on his blog that needs much wider publicity. This concerns a much beloved Christmas song, in fact, my favorite if I had to pick one. "O Holy Night."

I won't steal the thunder, but read Dan's post and the original French lyrics to the song. And then ponder why they were altered.

Something else worth pondering. Most readers of this blog know that I am very much into apologetics and usually have an eagle-eye for unbiblical theology. The one stanza in "O Holy Night" flagged by Dan always made me question also, but I loved the song so much that I pushed it to the back of my mind.

That illustrates the power of music, especially in the wrong hands. Music can move and inspire, as well as deceive. I have to wonder how many popular hymns, choruses etc. would pass close biblical scrutiny. While many if not most would, some might well surprise us by failing the Bible test. Certainly, many songs that get aired on contemporary Christian radio have theological problems if examined closely.

As a musician, I can see that I can easily fall into the trap of not being discerning if something has a sharp hook and catchy chorus. It's much better to be in tune with the true Author and Composer of music and to reflect His truth rather than taking inspiration in the church from bad theology.

While I'm at it, I need to give another shameless plug for Dan's two books, The World-Tilting Gospel and his excellent study on Proverbs. You can find them at Amazon, and you can also ask your favorite Christian bookstore to order them.

Monday, December 01, 2014

More Tragic Irony in Ferguson



I want you to look closely at the photos above. A couple of days after Thanksgiving, I had hoped to move on from the Ferguson tragedy, but I can't quite let it go yet. Yesterday (and let me state, outside of the news, I have family and friends who live in the St. Louis area. I know it pretty well) there was news that the USA Communist Party sent their minions to Ferguson to hand out fliers. Of course, following their typical line, they're trying to stoke the fires of unrest for their own evil purposes. I think it needs to be said that the Democratic Party—once the home of staunch patriotic, pro-American, pro-capitalist Democrats like Scoop Jackson and John F. Kennedy—needs to have a cleansing of itself because so many of these far-left (call them communists because that's what they are) have co-opted the party. It started in the late 1960s, and it's only gotten worse since then.

Am I saying that the Democrats are communists? Not at all. Probably the majority are not. But they have allowed the far left to take control and drive the agenda, using false guilt as their billy club.

The second photo was taken at a "Ferguson" protest but not in Ferguson, Missouri. It was taken in Portland, Oregon. The Pacific Northwest is known as a pretty liberal area, but I think we can leave that aside. Honestly, I think the photo of a 12-year-old black child embracing a Caucasian police office could well be taken in many, many places across the country—even in Ferguson. Even in the South—where the stereotype is that racism is rampant and Jim Crow is still ruling.

I think that's one of the things that makes me the maddest about this whole affair, and the way it is handled in the media. I do not deny for one second that there are people who still harbor racist attitudes and behaviors. But we have come a LONG way from where we used to be. My family is from the South. My family—at least my mother and father, and grandparents on both sides—were Republicans in a generation where Republicans were not popular in the South. We were taught from childhood that prejudice and racism were wrong, and we were proud of our loving friendships with those whose melanin levels were darker than ours. Ironically, a NORTHERN uncle of mine tried to throw my mother out of her own car while he was visiting in Arkansas because my mother had the temerity to see a black friend of hers, stopped the car, and ran out to embrace her on the sidewalk. My father got our family up and left a diner in Missouri because they refused to serve a black family. So you see, the Southern stereotypes don't always fit.

I grew up in the North, but my values came from my Southern family. As a child, we knew a black family who taught us more about right attitudes than anyone else I have ever met. The patriarch of this family was named Johnnie. He told my mother once, "Miss Rea, when I look at you, I don't see black or white. I just see you." Oh, how we loved Johnnie and his dear wife, Annie. They modeled true Christian love and behavior. I learned so much from them. They personified what REPUBLICAN Dr. Martin Luther King preached. "Content of character, not color of skin."

Would to God that today's "civil rights leaders" would do the same thing. And to the little boy and police officer above? Keep loving, keep sympathizing, keep embracing, and keep modeling your example of the way things OUGHT to be. I'm proud of you. You both need to be the true civil rights leaders, and today's race-baiters and rabble-rousers whose income, power, and livelihood rests on keeping the fires stoked need to be put out to pasture.

It really all boils down to the command of our Lord Jesus. "Love one another." Do that, and you'll be amazed how much will work itself out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tragic Irony in Ferguson

As the Ferguson story has been covered to death, I only have brief comment on it. Last night, as the grand jury verdict was being released, TV news networks were showing live video on the ground. The scene to the right was something I caught immediately, only the particular video I saw had tear gas canisters being fired down the street with the holiday banner overhead.

Right after I saw this, I tweeted out an observation - both to my own followers' list as well as to a few folks in the media. The observation was stating the obvious—what a sad irony to have "Season's Greetings" glowing brightly with rioting and tear gas being fired in the background. Could anything possibly illustrate the sad situation in our country than this awful, sick image?

I can fault plenty of folks in this situation. The rioters, the media, politicians, the New Black Panthers, agitators, and the other usual suspects. However, I have to save the bulk of my ire for a few so-called "Reverends." Instead of preaching the Gospel, ministering the love of Christ, and calling for peace, they threw gasoline on the fire. Al Sharpton tops the list (no surprise there) but there are others. Loud mouths calling for everything but peace, healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

The Bible tells ministers of the Gospel that they will be held accountable by the Master. That ought to sober anyone who prefixes their name with "Reverend." Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Some of these "clergy" fall very far short in being peacemakers. And the Lord will indeed hold them accountable.

In the meantime, and as usual, pray for national repentance. The clock is ticking.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Predictable Deterioration

For today's post, I must give a hat tip to Dan Phillips over at the Pyromaniacs blog for making me aware of Doug Wilson excellent post examining some recent writings by Greg Boyd. If you remember, Boyd is known for embracing what is called "Open Theism," which is basically a denial of God's omniscience.

I've commented on Open Theism before, along with "Moral Government of God" theology, which pretty much embraces the same idea. As Doug's sharp rebuke shows, once you embrace such theology, the rest of your theology eventually travels on a downward spiral. It is amazing that Boyd could come up with the conclusion that Jesus believed that the Old Testament prophets' actions were evil. Simply amazing.

But that is what taking on a low view of Scripture does to you. A low view of Scripture leads to a low view of God, and a low view of God leads to worse heresy over time. Sad stuff. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiness and Biblical Tension

Today, I want to throw a hat tip to Frank Turk over at the Pyromaniacs blog. Today, he posted this short article on holiness, which I think is worth reading and pondering.

There is something holiness is, and something it is not. Biblically, those who belong to Christ are holy (set apart), and we are to be holy in our behavior. But the process of sanctification is just that—a process. And in evangelical Christian circles, these terms tend to get mixed and jumbled around. A lot. We are NOT saved by works. Period. Most of us say that in affirmation of what the Bible teaches. But in practicum, we act—and what often comes out of our mouths—indicates that we may harbor another belief in our hearts. And that is somehow our works must contribute to our salvation, and if we fail to do them, or do them enough, that will "keep us out of heaven."

For the redeemed, our good works are a PRODUCT of our salvation and faith in Christ, not the cause of it. If we claim to be redeemed and live like unbelievers, it's safe to say that our salvation is probably not genuine, as no one truly born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit would WANT to live life like that, in a way to grieve the Lord who purchased us with His own precious blood. But many seem unable to make the distinction in their understanding of salvation, grace, sanctification, imputed righteousness, etc.

Frank's article does a great job in helping to draw clear lines. I may add to it more here later on, as it's a very important subject to me in relating to my own loved ones who grew up in "holiness" circles. They say "saved by grace" but they're so focused on works that they cross the line into Pelagianism in practice. It's sad and it grieves the Lord. It diminishes the finished work of Christ on the cross. WE MUST get it right!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Beyond Tiresome: Official Napalm Throwers

If I wasn't saddened enough tonight at the state of the country, the issue of Ferguson, Missouri, had to come up again in the news since the decision of the grand jury is near over whether to indict a white police officer in the disputed shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown. The incident resulted in several nights of violence, looting, and rampaging. Before even all the facts were known, the usual suspects in the modern "civil rights "establishment were baying for the officer's head, despite evidence that Brown may have at the very least contributed to the escalation of the situation. That's why we have grand juries. To take testimony and get to the TRUTH.

But as they've been wont to do, the Administration of Barack Obama, most notably outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, seem bound and determined to throw gasoline on the fire instead of urging people to peace and calm. Yesterday, Holder compared the situation to the horrible lynch murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till back in the mid-1950s at the hands of a white mob. Very irresponsible, and there is no comparison to the two incidents that I can see. But let's wait for the grand jury to render its decision.

If there is enough evidence against the officer, let him be duly indicted and tried by a jury of his peers in a court of law. If there is not enough evidence, then he must be released. Our system DEMANDS that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Sadly, the Administration appears to want reverse lynchings to take place.

I am used to bomb and napalm throwers like "Reverends" Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. And of the two, Al's the worst. Maybe they might consider recalling their clergymen status and head into the situation preaching the Gospel, which might actually help CONVERT people to Christ and bring peace and reconciliation. But that doesn't draw the TV cameras and isn't quite as lucrative.

Dr. Martin Luther King would not be pleased with the situation today. He would be calling for calm, for peace, for healing, etc. He would be leading in prayer. Dr. Alveda King, his niece, seems to be to me more in the spirit of her late uncle than anyone else. I feel badly that Holder had to use Emmett Till as an example, because it diminishes what happened to that poor, innocent boy. There is no doubt whatsoever of Emmett's innocence or of the guilt of his murderers. In today's situation over Michael Brown, there is legitimate question.

All would do well to stop throwing gasoline on the fire, calm down, and let the justice system work as intended. And all of us need to pray for peace and healing. There are two grieving, hurting families here. And interested individuals/activist groups need to quit exploiting them for their own cynical gain.

Tiresome "Protests"

Before I comment, please read this news article from the Daily Caller about a group of young enviro-activists upset about the controversial Keystone Pipeline.

You'll note that I used the term "tiresome" in today's post title, and yesterday's post title. (And yes, before some wiseacre says it, you can call my blog tiresome if you like. Change the channel (smile). It seems like most things are tiresome to me these days. I am getting more cynical in age, and that may or may not be a good thing.

I've said it before, but I'll restate it. I am an environmentalist, although I hope and pray a rational one. I have to care about the environment because it's God's creation, and He charged mankind with being stewards of His creation. And we've done a pretty bad job of it in many cases. The pollution began with the Fall of Man, and creation will not be restored to its pre-Fall condition until the Millennial Reign. After that, we get a new Heaven and a new Earth. In the meantime, we try.

Having said that, I draw a distinction between true environmental stewardship, and faux-environmental activists who use concern over the environment to mask their real objective—larger and more intrusive, controlling government demanding more and more of your hard-earned money. There are also young skulls full of mush who find protesting something to be "cool," so they do it, without really understanding the issues about which they're carrying those signs and staging those sit ins.

All of this hoo-hah about the consequences of the Keystone Pipeline is just that. Hoo-hah. The Alaska Pipeline was just as controversial in its day, and rather than be a detriment to wildlife, its impact was negligible. But that seems to be a forgotten matter.

We say we want to get off dependency on Middle East oil. But we throw every roadblock in the way that we can to get off Middle-East oil. Never mind energy independence. Never mind thousands of new, good paying jobs for people who urgently need them. It would be interesting to me to conduct an experiment with the protesters, and see how long they'd put up with having to ride a bicycle or walk everywhere they go. We can let them use the railroad, but let's require them to use the old pump handle railcar. Elbow grease, not petroleum. Take away their phones, iPads, iPods, and other devices. No airplanes. (That includes Al Gore and his expensive jets, and the limousines that the high-profile, outspoken enviro-celebrities like to use in traveling around). Take away their televisions and everything else. Let 'em get back to nature and wear fig leaves. But no, they want that for us. I doubt if they want to change their lifestyle all that much except for a bit of recycling.

I am being a bit mocking and tongue-in-cheek, admittedly. But some of my annoyance has been ginned up through the years by some of the extremists (yes, extremists) on the wacko fringe who would prefer that more people die so "Mother Earth" can survive. Most of them on that fringe won't come out and say it that bluntly, but read between the lines and you can see they think that too many people are the problem. God told us to "be fruitful and multiply." I think the Creator knows what His planet can sustain better than they do. And I'll pass over the global warming nonsense, which I think has been pretty credibly shredded as time goes on. But never fear. It doesn't matter. When global warming/climate change is no longer a sustainable (pun intended) enterprise, they'll come up with another crisis that demands crisis action at the expense of our freedom and way of life.

Have industries and individuals polluted? Sure they have. When industries and individuals are caught truly polluting the environment, hold them accountable by all means. But a lot of progress has been made cleaning things up. More remains to be done, but I'm encouraged rather than discouraged. People who run industries and businesses have to breathe and eat too. Do you really think the people who run industries, farms, and businesses want to breathe poisoned air, eat poisoned food, and drink poisoned water? I think I can tell you that the majority do not. Yes, there will always be the thoughtless exceptions and "evil" corporations. They will be held accountable here on earth hopefully, and certainly in the higher court of Heaven.

In the end, let's be good stewards and protect the environment. But make abundantly sure that's REALLY what is happening, and that you're not supporting a Trojan Horse with another agenda in mind.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tiresome Theological Arguments

Jacob Arminius and John Calvin. Arminianism vs. Calvinism. In one form or another, it's debate that has raged for centuries, even going back to Luther and Augustine if you like. Really, these issues were already being argued in Bible times when the Apostles still walked the earth, as the New Testament shows.

The debate has yet to be settled, and we will not settle it here. It is little secret where my own viewpoints lie. I am on the Reformed side of the fence - a Calvinist if you will. Because of the never-ending arguing, I don't even like to use the terms "Calvinism" or "Arminianism." The reason is that as soon as you use the term, the presuppositions and barriers to communication get thrown up immediately, and discussion is fruitless. I forget who said it, but a wise person once said along the lines of "I dislike labels. All too often, labels are an excuse to avoid thinking." But we have to use language to communicate, and terms must be used to communicate ideas. So we're stuck with labels, and prayers we can make ourselves understood.

This post is brief, and not at all intended to begin a large treatise on defending Calvinism. Enough books have been written on this, and I don't need to add another. I'm writing to vent some frustration with what I think is an unfair distortion of the Calvinist point, "Perseverance of the saints." In some circles, this is called "Once Saved, Always Saved." While an accurate statement in and of itself, the caricatured interpretation given to it is irritating. Anyone who really bothers to study the position and the Scriptures that back it up ought to be able to see that it does NOT mean what its opponents often fling out there.

When perseverance of the saints is mentioned, the knee-jerk statement that gets tossed in our faces is "Well, I guess you think you can just go out and sin it up and it doesn't matter." That is ridiculous, and no one that I know in the Reformed camp believes such a thing. The point is—if someone IS truly saved and born again, having the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in them, such a person would not even WANT to live in such a fashion. That doesn't mean we will live in perfect obedience while we walk in these bodies of flesh. We can, will, and do stumble. And that did not take the Lord by surprise at all. Remember, He knows our lives from beginning to end. Nothing we do takes him by surprise. He knows every event in our lives even before we get there "under this sun." God dwells outside time. When He paid the price for the sins of His children, He paid for ALL of them. The Apostle John makes our status very plain. "Little children, I write these things that you may not sin. Yet if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Christ Jesus the righteous."

The Apostle Paul makes it plain what our attitude toward sin should be as believers. "Shall we sin that grace may abound? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?"

Let's be clear. If someone professing Jesus as their Savior blows off the Bible and insists that they can live in sin with impunity, their salvation is NOT genuine. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep my commandments." Obedience to commands does not save. Faith in Jesus Christ is what saves. We are justified by grace through faith, AND THAT NOT OF OURSELVES. IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS, SO THAT NO MAN MAY BOAST. (That's in Romans if you want to read it).

We live in an age of resurgent antinomianism, a serious error fought and refuted by the Apostles. Antinomianism is unbiblical. We as the children of the King are expected to live lives pleasing to Him because we love Him, and we are ambassadors of His in a fallen world.

Once saved, always saved. Yes. Saved by His power, kept by His power, and by His promise to "complete the work He began" in me. It is His work, and He gets all the glory. And I am forever thankful. If it depended on me to keep me saved, I might as well cash in the chips and head to the Lake of Fire now. But I depend on Him. And He never fails.

And I have absolutely NO desire to live a life that is displeasing to him. A holy life is the hallmark of a true, born again, saved believer. It is the goal. We grow in faith and holiness through the process of sanctification. The desire is there. If there is no desire for holiness and godly living, then we need to "examine ourselves to see if we're in the faith." There's another one of those pesky Scriptures by the Apostle Paul to deflate the caricature.

As tiresome as this particular subject gets, I am under no illusions. It will not end until Jesus returns. But tonight, I've gotten it off my chest.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Obama the Vengeful?

One of these days, I hope I have the time again to do some real writing on other subjects besides politics and global events. There are a lot of reflections on Scripture I'd love to do. However, that takes time, quiet, study—commodities of which I have very little these days.

On top of that, domestic events continue on their steady plunge to the abyss, and so I feel constrained to say what few in the media will, even conservative media, on the subject of Barack Obama.

Note: Before reading further, I must warn you. You'll see many of the same points I made in a post prior to the midterm elections. So be it. I think they are worth reiterating.

Most conservative talking heads and columnists repeat ad nauseum that Obama is naive, in over his head, lazy, feckless, etc. Even incompetent. They can't understand why, after receiving such a sound thrashing in the midterm elections, the president would poison the well by taking more "executive actions" (really, ruling by decree), and ignoring the Constitution. Amnesty for illegal immigration is the latest threat on which he'll follow through. The House will not impeach him, and even if they did, the Senate does not have the votes to convict. It would be a fruitless exercise. So he will do what he wants, knowing full well he's going to get away with it.

Most of the Democrats—having seemingly flushed their love of country and respect for the Constitution and intent of our Founders out the window for political gain, cheer loudly. (Note, if it was a Republican president doing this, they'd be calling for the electric chair) If I were them, I would think about it all again. This may well come back to bite them hard if enough of the country gets sufficiently enfuriated, and if other media outlets can pierce the Goebbels-like walls of protection the mainstream media have erected around Obama. You'd think the Gruber comments over health care (the stupid American voter) would cause a firestorm. They might have if the other networks reported on it. They're sweeping it under the rug.

All this said, conservatives and Republicans—get this. Now. Obama is not naive. He is not stupid. He is not incompetent. He is not in over his head. He knows exactly, precisely what he's doing. If you want to sum up the Obama presidency in one word, it is this: REVENGE!!!

He said from the very beginning that he intended to transform this country. He is. He is tearing apart what remains of our Founding Fathers' vision and historic American individualistic ethos stone by stone, brick by brick. Behind that shiny bright smile is loathing. He detests this country and its way of life. It's a mixture of the radical Marxism he picked up in his youth, and the resentment of the Third World for America's progress and abundance. He's heard from childhood upward that America is the cause of the world's problems, and too big for its britches. He intends to take it down a peg, and then some. He is intentionally creating so much havoc that it will be difficult if not impossible to fix what he's done. I pray for a divine miracle, but until the country at large repents, I don't see that happening soon.

That last point should not be ignored. When you have half, if not more, of the country enthralled by and dependent on the entitlement benefits they receive (and the Democrats know it), fixing the situation would require brute force. When you have a country descending into further and further unrighteousness in behavior, attitude, lewdness, vulgarity, selfishness, greed, hate, violence, Balkanization, and a host of other ills, the only outcome possible is a complete, total collapse. God still judges nations as well as individuals. His "Spirit will not always strive with man." Sooner or later, He says "Enough." We as a nation have built up a host of consequences, and the we will have to drink the cup of wine we made.

Is it too late? It may be. I pray not. And a whole lot of other people had better begin praying too.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ayatollah's Plan to Destroy Israel?

Um, No. Ain't Gonna Happen.

You have to hand it to Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei. He is brazen if not anything else. Over Twitter and other social media, the Iranian regime's Supreme Leader detailed his plan for the "global authorities" to get rid of the Jewish state. You can read about it here thanks to The Independent. Complete with questions and answers in a chart.

My first verbal reaction is that the Ayatollah is certifiably nuts. But that's too flip and glib. There is something far more sinister at work, even demonic. But I take comfort in this. To repeat an old Christian maxim, "I've read the back of the Book. I know who wins." And it won't be the Ayatollah.

Zechariah 12 speaks of a future time concerning Jerusalem and the people of Israel. In verse 3, it describes Jerusalem as a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it. The passage goes on to predict the swift, certain destruction of all who come against Israel. When you mess with Israel, you're messing with the apple of God's eye.

Does that mean one has to agree with every action taken by today's Israeli government? No. In fact, one thing clearly stated in Scripture is that when God brought Israel back to the land, He brought them back in unbelief. But the day is coming when . . . I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

But the weeping will only endure for a time and Israel will recognize her Messiah. I can assure you that Israel's Messiah will deal with the Ayatollah, and all other world leaders who plot Israel's destruction. Israel is indeed in for some very tough, hard, belt-tightening days. The "time of Jacob's trouble." But the promise of her deliverance is sure, and comes from the God who is completely sovereign over His universe.


Monday, November 03, 2014

Obama is Who He Is. Get It?

As the mid-terms approach tomorrow, we'll see if my gut feeling proves true. I don't believe the hype about a GOP landslide. The reasons are many—voter fraud, media opposition, RINO/moderate/liberal opposition to conservative GOP/Tea Party candidates even to the point of quietly helping the Democrats—dubious polling results, GOP ineptitude on messaging, infighting, etc. I'm just not buying the "wave." I hope I am wrong.

The one thing I find beyond frustrating is the refusal of many Republicans/conservatives to peg Obama for exactly what he is. Barack Obama is by far the most ideological president we have had in the modern era. Most presidents are forced to compromise to get things done. Not Obama. He sees EVERYTHING through the prism of his ideology, and he is every bit as zealous on his ideology as a Cold-War era communist apparatchik or party leader. His ideology prevents him from compromise, no matter how much he blames the other party for intransigence and refusal to broker. The GOP has tried to compromise with Obama, only to be met with a brick wall. Again, no matter what he SAYS in public, what he actually DOES is the hallmark.

Obama is a socialist/Marxist who is trying to fundamentally change America. He won't admit to socialism or Marxism, but the "fundamental change" is direct out of his own mouth. Anyone with open eyes can research his background, his mentors, his own statements, etc. to see what the president ultimately believes. And unlike other presidents who have preceded him, Obama really DOES NOT CARE what the electorate thinks. He will do what he wants, and to Hades with everyone else.

The late Republican president Richard Nixon wrote a book called "Leaders." By far, it is Nixon's best, assessing his personal experiences with every national leader since World War II and even some before WW 2. It is his analysis of Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Zhou EnLai, and Mao Tse Tung that is the most incisive. In his section on China, Nixon said that his experience had shown him that among the communist nations/idealogues, it was usually the wife/female in leadership who was the most red hot, zealous, and intense. This London Independent account of Nixon's encounter with Jiang Qing—Mao's wife—is not verbatim or as powerful as Nixon's book description. But it's a perfect description of a zealot.

Obama is not female. Before camera, he is calm, cool, collected, unflappable, etc. Capable of charming a snake or a harpy. He sounds moderate, reasonable. But when you look at what he actually does, he is as intransigent as it's possible to be. I wish everyone would understand it and call him out on it. I wish the electorate would get it.

And that brings me to my main point. This election—should the GOP actually come out ahead—will really change nothing. Unless the Senate changes the rules to provide for majority passage, and unless both Houses of Congress can assemble veto-proof majorities, nothing will change. Obama doesn't care about the consequences or the well being of the country. He will have his way or nothing. Don't look for him to compromise at all. Instead, he will mount an ideological war on Republicans with the willing aid of the media. And 2016 may well end up with a Democratic sweep of all branches. The GOP will get the blame for trying to fix what this man has done. What Obama has done to the country may well be unfixable without willingness by all Americans to sacrifice and pinch the belt. This culture so used to government handouts and largesse will probably not be willing to give up their checks. FDR knew it. Obama knows it. And if they get by with it, America as we know it is finished.

Sorry to be so bleak, but that is how I see it. I hope I am wrong. Praying for a divine miracle, and national repentance. Praying big time.

Devil's Island for Terrorists?

Hmmm. Reopen the notorious French prison colony known as "Devil's Island?" For Islamic terrorists. You can read about the proposal here at the London Daily Mail.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan is the politician who made the proposal, and it's causing a pretty big blowup. I am guessing that Devil's Island was much worse than the American Alcatraz Island off shore near San Francisco, but that can be argued at another time.

I find myself actually kind of liking the idea, although with some reservations. Our illustrious leader, Barack Obama, wants to close the U.S. detention center at Gitmo, even though we practically put the terrorists held there under eiderdown quilts. He would rather turn them loose than hold them accountable, and as predicted, a good number of the thugs have returned to the terrorist camp.

Mr. Dupont-Aignan insists that today's Devil's Island would be more humane. And this is where the devil is in the details, pun intended. Things must be done according to biblical principles as far as I am concerned, and even that proviso scares the godless left to death. They believe the lie that man is basically good, and therein lies the reason why all of their social ideas don't work. Regeneration through Christ is the key to reformed behavior, not environment. I believe in retributive justice. One ends up in prison as punishment, not for "correction." Correction comes only through a change in heart and attitude. If you don't want to end up in prison, don't be a criminal. Don't blow up airplanes, murder people, loot stores, burn homes down, rape people, steal money, and a host of other evils. It's really pretty simple. If you end up in prison, it's not going to be a pretty place to be.

I am not saying that excess in punishment is right. The punishment must always fit the crime, and there are always extenuating circumstances, and reasons to show mercy. That is one reason why only the wise ought to end up behind the judicial bench, and why "one size fits all" mandated sentences are not a good idea. But having said that, the current dominant idea behind criminal justice isn't working either. It's not working because it precedes from a mistaken premise.

I am not sure what the final answer ought to be. But it demands much more consideration and forethought than slogans and populist electioneering. And it demands a revisit of the ideas that have dominated criminal justice for years. AND it also demands a rethink of how the nation state conducts war. Not a war of conquest, but a war of defense. Even a war of defense demands victory, not compromise. The national standard used to be unconditional surrender. When we gave that up, we gave up making a final end of any conflict. The terrorists will continue their actions until the cost to commit the acts becomes too high. And with some of the more demonic driven, that will not be enough. That is when Romans 13 and the power of the government to bear the sword comes in.

Mull it over a while.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Apologies for Apologetics?

Light at the Tunnel's End?

No, I'm not really making apologies for Christian apologetics. This actually will be a little repeat of a case I've made before to try and bridge two vehement camps on the subject—evidentialists and presuppositionalists. If I have an apology, it's that so much energy gets wasted between the two camps arguing with each other that they miss great opportunities to compliment each other in reaching out to the lost.

To me, it is not an "either or" proposition. It's "both and." Let me explain.

The presuppositionalist believes that evidential arguments to support the Bible and Christian doctrine/thought are a waste of time. Man is dead in his trespasses and sins, and the "natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (1 Corinthians 2:14). So far, so good, and I agree. In fact, I believe most evidentialists agree. After all, that is the written Word of God. However, the Word of God also declares in Romans 1 how God has made Himself known through that which He has created, and that man is "without excuse." We also hear that "the heavens declare the glory of God." We also read that Paul, in Acts 18, spent time "persuading." We read that Jesus Himself used many "convincing proofs" after His resurrection, and that Luke the Physician spent plenty of time documenting those convincing proofs.

Where the evidentialist makes his/her mistake is assuming that piling up proofs and intellectual arguments ALONE are enough to persuade someone to repentance. The Holy Spirit ultimately works through His Word and in the human heart to bring regeneration to pass. The presuppositionalist makes his/her mistake in that God cannot and will not use evidence in this natural world as part of his overall means of declaring Himself, and that merely quoting Bible verses is enough to do with someone who rejects the Bible's authority.

Both apologetics camps need to cool the sniping at each other, and work together in complimentary fashion. The Gospel is the same, and the Lord is the same Lord. The goal is the same. How about it?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

And We Wonder Why?

Take a look at this Yahoo story about House Speaker John Boehner not being able to find anyone to sue the Obama Administration. The reason ostensibly is that law firms hired to begin the process are being threatened with loss of business by Democratic clients, so they drop the suit like a hot potato.

This story is symptomatic of so much that is um, messed up, to put it kindly, about our country. We have a Constitution. This Constitution is the Supreme Law of our land. It contains provisions for not only disputes between branches of government, but also for removal from office of any federal official who commits "high crimes and misdemeanors." It's called impeachment. Impeachment is not a criminal proceeding. It is a political proceeding. But as with much of the Constitution these days, it is ignored, even shunned.

The American people are rightly angry. President Obama's numbers are in the cesspool. Congress's numbers are in the cesspool. The American people in poll after poll express their feelings about illegal immigration, securing the border, their dislike of what Obamacare is doing (and wait till it actually goes entirely into force—you'll REALLY see an explosion of fury then), and a host of other matters. All the politicians talk. But no one acts. No one stands up for the people. Our current leadership is not trusted at home or abroad. The current Administration manages to find ways to help our enemies, yet spit in the faces of long-time friends and allies such as Israel. The U.S. has never been held in as much contempt as it is right now, and the responsibility ultimately lies with the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Or does it?

We the people created this mess by careless voting and inattention to issues. We can partially blame a leftist, compliant media for misinformation and bias, but in the end, we all have brains and the capability to do our own homework. We fault Congress good and plenty—both House and Senate—yet we return the same incumbents back to office in election after election. There is no doubt voter fraud involved, but voter fraud doesn't explain it all away. We the people deserve a good spanking ourselves for letting things get in this mess.

And if things are ever going to get fixed, it will have to start with we the people fixing ourselves. National repentance and less national self-centeredness. May God have mercy on us all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sundry Observations and Concerns

Okay. The photos I choose for posts don't always necessarily fit the subject matter. Yet in an oddball way, this one does. Here I am a few years back standing on the shore of Lake Superior northeast of Duluth, Minnesota. The feelings I had then were mixed. As the waves broke on the shoreline, you could feel an unsettling throb beneath your feet. A sign of the deceptive power of the lake when a storm rises. Think Edmund Fitzgerald and the wreck made famous by Gordon Lightfoot. I was thinking about all that while also admiring the natural beauty, the water-carved rocks, and crystal clear water.

What makes the photo fit is that our ship of state is near shipwreck. I am contemplating it with the same inner grimness. Think about a few items:

1. We have a deadly epidemic virus on U.S. shores for the first time. The Obama Administration misleads and bungles the issue, or APPEARS to bungle the issue. For political reasons rather than standard practice with communicable diseases. Throughout U.S. history, the government and/or local officials could declare a quarantine when necessary for public safety. For that matter, I can remember a time in my childhood where our family doctor threatened to quarantine the house when my oldest sister came down with hepatitis, and she refused to take the shots the doctor wanted to give her. The doctor had the authority to do it. Where has such authority gone? The Administration is pressuring governors to back off the quarantines they've imposed under their lawful authority. Why? It makes no rational sense, but there must be some political payoff in it in the Administration's mind. Sad when partisan advantage takes precedence over health.

2. We haven't even reached the mid-term elections yet, and already we have reports of voting machines casting votes for Democratic candidates even though the voter actually pressed the Republican slot. Tip of the iceburg for voter fraud? Maybe.

3. Back to the Ebola issue for a moment. One of the quarantined nurses is fighting her quarantine, threatening to sue the state if it is not lifted. An amazing stance for a health care worker and a professional. As I heard a commentator on Fox News say this afternoon, it's part of the overall malady infecting this generation. "Me first, and what I want. Screw you." That's the attitude on display in so many areas across our nation, and not just this. Selfishness has always been part of fallen humanity, but it's gone off the charts these days.

4. The Obama Administration continues to find ways to humiliate, insult, and compromise Israel—our most important ally in the Middle East. Because he refuses to cave into pressure to lay down and let terrorists have their way, some unnamed official in the Administration called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "chickens**t." Excuse me? This stuffed shirt wouldn't know the meaning of courage if it bit him in the gluteus maximus. Despite protestations to the contrary, I think Obama and his ilk would be happy if the Muslims overran Israel and drove her into the sea. They profess public support, yet behind the scenes try to tie Israel's hands in fighting those who want to destroy her, and leak insulting remarks like this. If I were Netanyahu, I'd make a direct call to the Oval Office and do a little reaming of my own. Then hang up. The God of Israel will protect her, and woe be to the nation that turns its back. That does not mean an American government has to agree with everything an Israeli government does. But in the main, we must stand with Israel, her right to exist, and her right to the land. God will judge all who curse Israel. Go ahead and disbelieve that if you like. But it's biblical truth, and you will find out.

5. The country in general. The Democrats have dug this country into a hole so deep I don't know if we'll be able to extricate ourselves. If the GOP gains power, the steps they will have to take will be so severe that the uninformed, low-information electorate will blame them, then put the Democrats back in power. That plan has been long in place. And the GOP leadership seems clueless. The GOP keeps trying to treat conservatives in the party like nuisance relatives or crazy aunts/uncles in the attic. They can't win without us, but they don't want us having any voice in policy or nominees. They give us wishy-washy nominees like Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, etc..and wonder why we lose. For conservatives who do win, the "moderates" end up voting with the Democrats when it counts, and that ensures the advance of the overall Democrat/leftist agenda. Two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back. It only appears to go backwards. In reality, the agenda advances.

I will never believe a true, movement conservative can't win. You find one who is smart, street-savvy, camera friendly, and fast on the cuff to respond to "gotcha" questions—one who can communicate and resonate at a gut level with Americans, and you'll have Reagan landslides.

Fixing the country also requires a deeper strategy than just winning elections. You've got to get conservatives in control of mainstream media, colleges, universities, primary and secondary education, newspapers, county boards, city councils, mayor's offices, and yes, COURTS. Both federal and state. Such courts need to take long-term, ridiculous principles such as "stare decisis" or "the decision stands," and throw out past rulings that are incompatible with our Constitution. Will undoing it all make a mess? Yes. But we'll have to endure a lot of mess to get things fixed. But from the ground up, the public needs to be educated. And a sense of self-reliance has to be infused into the American body politic, and to get people to see that receiving a government check puts them under the government yoke.

And that's just the way the leftists like it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Solidarity with Brothers and Sisters in Christ

By now, I'm sure many of my Internet-savvy and social media connected Christian brothers and sisters are familiar with the symbol to the right. It is being used by the ISIS/ISIL cowards and thugs to identify the innocent Christian men, women, and children they are systematically brutalizing across the Middle East.

The international Christian community has adopted this symbol—intended by the terrorists to be a "Scarlet A" symbol of shame—as a symbol of solidarity with their persecuted brothers and sisters. Many have added it to their social media websites, profile pictures, etc. I already have it embedded on my Twitter profile, but I haven't quite figured out how to do it on Facebook without losing other photos I want to remain. Photoshop is likely the answer.

My heart really breaks for what is going on right now. Outside of being driven by demon possession and deception (very possible), I can't imagine how the ISIS leadership actually thinks this brutality is going to work in the long run. People are beginning to really get tired of it, especially here in America, and now in Canada and Britain. As the Japanese Imperialists found out in World War II, once the "Sleeping Giant" is awakened, our collective wrath is terrible. ISIS is miscalculating very badly. They may well be satisfied with the current occupant of the White House, who seems intent on letting them have their way with a few air strikes ordered now and then for political cover. But that situation will not last forever. Elections change things.

Ayatollah Khomenei knew Ronald Reagan meant business when he took office from the inept Jimmy Carter. The 1981 hostages were released pretty quickly upon Reagan's ascension to power. It may well turn out that way again, and if I were ISIS, I would not count overmuch on what they've been told about America's cultural decline stopping us from acting against them. There is a moral and spiritual decline to be sure, but there are enough of us left in the patriotic, traditionalist variety to overcome and then act, with a vengeance. We have the military capability to destroy every last one of them. And if our backs are against the wall, we will find the political will to use that capability.

How can I make the above remarks as a Christian in ministry. Very simply. I can sincerely pray as a Christian for the repentance and individual salvation of the members of ISIS. No doubt the Christians they are persecuting, torturing, and imprisoning are witnessing the love of Christ to them. The Holy Spirit will work through His proclaimed Word on the human heart. Amen and Amen.

But the duty of a GOVERNMENT ordained to its power by God is to protect its people and to restrain evildoers, as Romans 13 makes very clear. That's what the power of the sword is for. And for icing on the cake, not only are governments to protect their people, an individual Christian is to protect their loved ones. This Christian will. I am an excellent shot and wouldn't hesitate. Keep that in mind. There are millions of us across America.

One final challenge. I keep hearing so much about these "moderate" imams and Islamic leaders in the West and around the world. I'm tired of hearing about it. I want to SEE it. In ACTION. Islamic ruled countries need to take action against these thugs, both militarily and through civilian law enforcement. Round them up. Jail them. Execute them if you must. Deal with it. Close their mosques. Cleanse the schools where they are learning this malevolent ideology. Prove to the West that you really are in solidarity with us.

If you are unwilling to do so, then that suggests you really agree at heart with what ISIS is doing. Reading the Quran at literal level and knowing the history of Muhammed and the subsequent caliphates, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that this represents real Quranic Islam more than the "moderates." You say it doesn't? Show us. Show us now.

It's not a perfect analogy, but you have liberal Christians and conservative Christians. You have Christians in name only, and you have genuine, practicing believers whose hearts and lives have been given to the Lord Jesus Christ. Liberal Christians have a low view of Scripture typically, ditch many of the core doctrines the church has believed for 2,000 years, even in some cases denying the Master who bought them. They wear the Christian label, but they are no more Christians than Hare Krishna devotees.

Conservatives tend to believe what the church has always believed, are orthodox on core doctrine, have a heart and love for the lost, and want to see people saved from their sins. They're motivated by love, not hate. You won't find us out murdering people and compelling them to faith. (And before you bring it up, yes, I know church history. Lots of things were done in the name of Jesus that He finds abhorrent, and those who did them in His name will be held accountable. I would even make the case that those who used the power of government to compel faith may not have even been regenerate. Personal saving faith and regeneration by the Holy Spirit makes one a true Christian, not some words babbled out by formula, or cultural upbringing.

Well, enough. I think you get what I'm trying to say. ISIS must be stopped, and the world's leaders had best get their derrieres in gear. But I pray for peace, believing miracles can happen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Open Letter to Pastors


Note: The letter below was originally published in the Lighthouse Trails newsletter. I am republishing it here with the kind permission of David and Deborah Dombroski. I concur with their conclusions. This is an issue that transcends denominationalism, and is much more important than disputes over secondary doctrine. The heart of the Gospel itself is increasingly at stake as evangelicalism trundles along toward ever more compromise, unbiblical ecumenism, and even apostasy. In my view, a false notion of what the church is and what the church is supposed to be/do is at the heart of many errors. The church assembly is not primarily for unbelievers, and worship is NOT about us, or what appeals to us. It's about God and giving Him the glory. 

By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails

Often times, people call our office asking what denomination we are. We realize that this is a probing question designed to find out more about us. The truth is, Lighthouse Trails Publishing has never been affiliated with any denomination. From the onset, nearly thirteen years ago, we have always endeavored to be connected with the body of believers scattered throughout the world who are very concerned, as we are, with the state of the church today. Many of our readers have told us they felt very alone and even ostracized in witnessing the apostasy in the churches today prior to their finding our website and realizing there were other Christians who saw what they did.

We know firsthand how it feels to be labeled troublemakers for having legitimate concerns about what is happening in the church today. We too have felt disillusioned as we have witnessed a gradual departure in the churches from the Word of God. Pulpits throughout the land, many of which formerly proclaimed the biblical Gospel of God’s saving grace through the sacrifice on the Cross now espouse an assortment of pseudo-gospel, pop-psychology, seeker-friendly, Purpose-Driven, emerging, New Age, mystical/contemplative spirituality that may be chicken soup for the soul but what God calls an abomination (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). It is no wonder that God in referring to the lukewarm warns that He is ready to “spew thee” out of His mouth” (Revelation 3:16). How much better it would have been if churches and their pastors had stuck with John 3:16!

Out of this frog’s slow-cooking kettle,  some emerged only to witness that a great many were staying in the pot. Many discerning believers now find they have become watchmen for the Lord, compelled by God to sound out a clear warning of the impending doom of the church. In fact, it appears that God  is presently calling out believers from various denominations to stand up and be counted among those who refuse to comply with the compromised experience-driven Christianity of today. Yes, God is calling out His own. If you love Jesus Christ and His Word and if you really want to serve Him, now is the time to be fully surrendered to the Lord without reservation. Whatever the cost. We are invited to the wedding feast, ready to meet our Savior, with wicks trimmed and lamps burning. Now is the time to make ready.

Nearly on a daily basis, we witness our very earth in what seems like birth pangs— be it nuclear threat, terrorism, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes—or violence, wars and rumors of war—while most people seem almost oblivious to what is happening (or may see something is amiss but do not turn to Scripture and Bible prophecy to understand the implications). Again, God is sounding out a warning to make ready.

Even now, while the reality of the Antichrist and a one-world religion is looming closer and closer all the time, preachers and teachers are sitting at their desks inking out sermons that discredit Bible prophecy.
If you are a pastor, let us remind you that you have a great responsibility. When we first began Lighthouse Trails Publishing, we contacted our pastor at that time, trying to encourage him to warn his congregation of the apostasy that was beginning to creep into the church back then. His reply was that he lives in a bubble and consequently sees no need to warn his congregation about anything as long as he keeps expounding the Word to them. Our reply to him was “youmay be in a bubble, but your congregation is not.” The question is this: if it is not the pastor’s job to warn his congregation of impending spiritual danger, whose job is it? In the Old Testament, the prophets referred to individuals with this kind of responsibility as watchmen or shepherds. The prophet Zechariah, for example, has much to say about the responsibilities of a shepherd in chapters 10 and 11. In referring to the spiritual condition of his day, he said:
For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled because there was no shepherd. (Zechariah 10:2)
Nothing could speak more succinctly of the condition of the church today. We never dreamed in all our years as Christians that there would ever be such blatant heresy as we see in the organized Christian church today. Years ago, we would never have imagined that anyone would be given the green light to stand in front of a congregation and deny the atonement of Jesus Christ. Yet this is exactly what is happening in the emerging/progressive/contemplative “church” as well as in some of our Bible colleges and seminaries. Many have fallen from a great height, and we should be mourning as God surely must be mourning.
If you are a pastor who feels that it is not your calling to warn your congregation, let us remind you that the closest New Testament equivalent to the Old Testament watchmen or shepherd’s is the position of a pastor. There is a time for speaking uplifting encouraging words of peace and comfort—but when ravenous wolves are about, is it not wiser to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2)?

WHAT IS THE TEST?

Sometimes we are asked, what is the criteria for deciding whether or not a doctrine or practice is biblical or validates criticism. Over the years, many  pastors, elders, and youth pastors have contacted us and told us we have no business in doing what we are doing. We have often thought after hearing this that what we would like to say in reply is, “If you pastors were doing it, people like us wouldn’t have to.” It has not been a pleasant task, but the church needs to be warned of the impending danger. If you have read our books, then you understand what we are talking about.

But getting back to the question, what is the test for deciding if a particular teaching or practice validates criticism? There is but one test that we have used consistently from the inception of Lighthouse Trails. The Book of Proverbs says: “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight (Proverbs 11:1).
And again from Proverbs: “Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good  (Proverbs 20:23).

It is interesting that Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, placed such emphasis on accurate scales. It is even more amazing that God would call false scales an abomination – amazing only until we realize that God is speaking of the spiritual—not just physical, scales here. So what we are looking for is a spiritual balancing scale—something that will reappear throughout the Bible—through the Old and New Testaments. There is such a scale, a consistent theme, which John refers to in his first epistle:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)
Some Bible commentators have believed that John was referring here to a particular sect who denied that Jesus Christ actually came in a human body. If that is all John meant, then this passage is of little relevance to us today, because you will scarcely find anyone who does not believe that Jesus as a historical figure was a man who walked the earth. But the name Jesus Christ in this passage is not a historical term; it is a name loaded with meaning —referring to Jesus as the Messiah, God come in the flesh, our Savior and Redeemer, who atoned for our sins. If we look at the context of 1 John 4, we can verify that this is what John is talking about because in it he says, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14). In other words, John is saying here, I am referring to the Jesus I wrote about in my gospel— the Word made flesh who in the beginning was with God and was God (see John, chapter 1).

This is the balancing scale we have been looking for. Just as all human history and our blessed hope hinges on what Jesus did on the Cross, so too we can weigh a doctrine or practice by whether or not it agrees with the fact that we are justified by faith alone through the atoning, redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. The question then is, does a particular doctrine or teaching agree with the Gospel the apostles all preached?

With this discerning tool in hand, if you stop to measure all of the world’s religions and systems, you will find that all of these are opposed to the Gospel. The natural man will not acknowledge the need for a Savior, consequently all of the world’s belief systems (except biblical Christianity) are works based—believing that it is possible to earn our way into Heaven or to become “Christ-like” through mysticism and “spiritual disciplines.” But the Gospel says it is not possible. John knew all too well the contrariness of the natural man and the world’s belief systems. That is why in the same chapter of his epistle, he offers another test:
[H]e that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6)
In other words, John is saying that when the world rejects you for sharing the Gospel, it is because the Spirit of truth in not in them. Whichever way you look at it, the Gospel is the fulcrum of our balance in discerning truth from error. When Lighthouse Trails Publishing began, this became, and has always been, our standard of truth and also the deciding factor as to whether something is significant enough to bring to the attention of our readers. We are careful not to get involved in issues in the church where the Gospel is not attacked or compromised; but when it is we are compelled to speak up— because as believers in Christ, we are called to defend the Gospel; and is that not the calling of pastors especially?

The Gospel is the most precious thing on God’s heart, and it is worthy of our defense and protection. Wouldn’t you like to be remembered as a man (or woman) after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13: 14)? If so, then defend the Gospel.

You may recall that in the Old Testament the Israelites took great pains in transporting the Ark of the Covenant. According to the instructions given by God to Moses (Exodus 25:13-15), the Ark was to be carried by staves (poles) on the shoulders of the Levites (1 Chronicles 15:15). However, in 1 Chronicles 13:7-10, contrary to Moses’ specific instructions, they put the Ark on a cart to be pulled by oxen. But the unexpected happened. When “Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled . . . the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him” (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). The Levites, who were the “pastors” of that day, were careless about following Moses’ instructions; and it ended up costing a life. The Ark of the Covenant was a type and foreshadowing of the Gospel. It was sprinkled with blood to symbolize Christ’s death on the Cross.

Today, similar to back then, so many pastors and Christian leaders have become careless about the Gospel. If you are one who has grown careless with the Gospel, isn’t it time to make some changes and return to following the instructions of the Lord?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Had Enough Yet?

This story isn't from a right wing website. It's from the New York Times. And the headline says quite enough. Obama trying to find an end-run around Congress in the event of a "nuclear deal" with Iran.

It seems every day brings a new scandal or new outrage from this Administration. A new way that the president tries to circumvent our Constitutional order. His popularity is at an all time low. Even African-American supporters were walking out on him during a recent campaign appearance in Maryland. You'd think he'd get the message, wouldn't you?

But he goes on, doggedly determined to do all that he can to throw as many monkey-wrenches into the country's operating machinery as he possibly can. More than that, he goes on doggedly determined to set as much of the world on fire as he possibly can, especially the Middle East, which is the last place in the world needing more gasoline thrown on an already raging inferno.

Our Constitution demands that any treaties must be confirmed by the United States Senate. It astounds me that Congress—both House and Senate, and even a Democratically controlled Senate—would be so willing to surrender its proper Constitutional powers and purviews. This will eventually come back to bite the Democrats hard.

That is, assuming the country survives.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Another Caution on Global "Religion"

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair
Yesterday, I posted on the rather outrageous push by the mayor of Houston to intimidate Christian pastors by subpoena. Today, I am going to take up a call made recently by former UK prime minister Tony Blair for "religious respect." You can read the BBC story here.

As usual, the devil is in the details. If we're talking about mutual "tolerance" and "respect" in the genuine sense of the word, great. However, if said "respect" really means censoring what faiths teach, then it's not so great.

The two separate stories are really related if you think about it. Houston's mayor wants to intimidate and censor pastors from preaching against homosexuality—something clearly condemned as sin by the Bible, which is the source of authority for the Christian faith. This is a clear violation of religious freedom and the U.S. Constitution. But the pressure for churches to shut up about homosexual sin is under the guise of "tolerance." It really means anything can be tolerated except biblical Christianity.

So when global or national politicians talk about tolerance and respect, let's question them very closely on what they really mean by those words. Religions by their very nature disagree about truth and ultimate meaning. And that's fine. People need to be able to discuss their differences, and the very essence of religions discussing their values is to persuade others. To be sure, there are some faiths that aren't really out in front sharing their beliefs in an evangelistic sense, but the ability to do so is at the heart of freedom of religion AND freedom of speech. Also included in those freedoms is the right not to believe, nor to be compelled to believe. If the government—national, state, local, or global bodies such as the UN—desire to compel religious believers into silence, then there is a problem. An enormous one. Especially in a Constitutional republic such as the United States, where freedom is written into our DNA.

We have unalienable rights granted to us by God. Let's not allow them to be stolen away from us in the name of "tolerance" and "respect."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Now It's Begun . . . in Houston

Dr. Russell D. Moore
Seems like it takes a whale of a story to motivate me to update the blog these days, and I apologize to my readers. Every time I think my schedule is slowing down to where I can do some writing, kaboom.

But this had to be addressed. In Houston, Texas, there is a controversy catching fire where the mayor of the town is trying to subpoena the sermons of churches who are biblically opposed to homosexuality. I didn't want to write anything until I had the story confirmed by a reliable source, and Dr. Russell Moore came to my rescue. I am posting his well-written column on the controversy here. He said it much better than I could have said—right on the money. More measured too, because I'm furious.

I will make one comment to try and illustrate the point. Let's take the "hot button" issue of homosexual behavior off the table and put in any other issue about which Christian churches might be concerned. Any other issue or sin addressed by the Bible—the Word of God. Shall we make speaking out on those issues illegal also? I think not.

I will not see the Bill of Rights or the ability of churches to worship, preach, and teach the Word of God flushed without a fight. The mayor of Houston may regret this one in the long run. She definitely will in eternity.

Friday, October 03, 2014

History? Whose History

Watching Fox News Channel tonight (specifically Megyn Kelly's show), I became aware of yet another flap going on out in Colorado—this one over history curriculum in schools. Keeping in mind the frequent left bias in mainstream media, here is the Washington Post's coverage of the story.

The gist of the argument is that the history curriculum put together by a private liberal arts college highlighted a leftist view of American history rather than a patriotic, or if not patriotic, at least a balanced view of events in American history. This isn't the first time there has been a fight over things like this, and quite frankly, I can understand why parents get up in arms over this stuff. The liberal left has had a chokehold on American education for decades, and the traditionalist/conservative viewpoint is often ignored, mocked, or given short shrift. School boards seem powerless to do anything about it, and in the event one or two school board members speak out, the full court press of the liberal machine goes into gear and tries to grind them into dust. In this Colorado case, the teachers even managed to gin up the students to walk out of school in protest.

Funnily enough, from what I can see, the folks (especially the school board member) who raised objections weren't asking for a solely conservative point of view. They were asking for balance in presentation, and that positives be taught along with perceived negatives. But that wasn't satisfactory for the regime. This must be squelched!

It appears a compromise was reached for now, so I hope that some good will come out of this. But there is a larger question I hope to address at some length later. And that is to review how things have gotten to the mess they have in this country, and how we have to address a couple of entire generations who have been educated and indoctrinated with the left's view of history and global geopolitics.

No doubt my tone above will raise challenges that I am advocating a conservative/traditionalist viewpoint only to be taught. Nope. Not in secular education. I want objectivity, balance, and fairness. I want TRUE academic freedom at the collegiate and post-graduate level. I want all sides of controversial issues aired fairly, factually, and objectively, and then for students to do their own study and arrive at their own conclusions. (Theology is a different matter. But that's another subject for another time.) Properly taught and guided, students will in general arrive at correct conclusions when presented with the facts.

I would also like a healthy sense of patriotism reintroduced. Patriotism is NOT radical nationalism—a false charge thrown by the left to silence its critics. The American experiment and the ideals around which our nation was founded are worthy ones. The system was by no means perfect, and our Founders realized the fallen nature of man. They built into the Constitutional system a way to remedy things, and for quite a while we managed to do so. That is until the left managed to worm its way into our educational system and jurisprudence.

Conservatives have often wondered why they often win at the ballot box but little seems to change. I have insisted for years that conservatives have not waged the battle where it needs to be waged the most. Getting politicians elected is one thing. But when you ignore the school boards, the college boards, university boards, superintendencies, law schools, teaching tracks, teacher's unions, and a host of related things, (AND NOT TO FORGET THE MEDIA—PRINT, RADIO, AND TELEVISION) you're striving after wind. The left is busy building its hive mind right under your feet. Winning a few elections changes nothing. The fight and rebuilding of the country has to begin from the ground up. Why am I so concerned about the secular educational system and especially the secondary/collegiate level? When you have someone like Ward Churchill or Bill Ayers hired as professors or instructors at major schools, and their radical viewpoints are not even challenged, something is wrong. The students that get churned out of these classrooms are filled with those viewpoints and they carry them out into society.

I have a lot to say on this. It's late, I'm tired, and this is probably written more disjointedly than I'd like. My headline says "History? Whose history?" In that, I recognize that history is told from many points of view. Ideally, an historian chronicles facts and tries to draw a picture of human events, and why they happened the way they happened. A good historian does not impose his or her biases on their work. I am afraid we have less historians at work these days and more propagandists. The American history of the far left is FAR different than the American history of the far right. There is a center left and center right view, as well as a general centrist view. If the reader is up to speed enough to detect where the writer/researcher/historian is coming from, you can at least have that in mind when you're reading. But historical facts are historical facts. The interpretation of those facts is where the fun comes in.

I think if education and history that's being taught ends up having a destructive impact on your country and the next generation, it's time to get concerned and to do something about it.

More later, God willing.