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.