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.