Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
God’s providence is an amazing thing. Pastors Anderson and Coleman both addressed issues I had been dealing with recently in Sunday School and the worship service sermon, respectively. Jon, in our discussion on the Westminster Confession of Faith, lectured about the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s illumination to our understanding of the message(s) of Scripture while Pastor Coleman treated us to an expository treatment of predestination, with Ephesians 1:5 as the primary text.
I wrestled with both aspects of truth a great deal throughout my own long journey down the Reformed path that led me to Westminster Presbyterian Church; neither topic, though plainly stated in and/ or deduced from Scripture, are easily understood absent the work of the Holy Spirit. So, I should not be surprised (should not be) when others do not immediately embrace the doctrinal truths we see so clearly before us. Still, the remaining corruption in my flesh erupts just enough to arouse my frustration nearly every time I discuss predestination (or God’s eternal decree) with others—primarily family members for some reason or another.
Just over two weeks ago my mama and step-father came out to the friendly confines of Covenanter Ranch in Iola to visit us. Actually, to be accurate, I should admit that they came to see Gracie Mae; Ashlee and I were incidental to the trip. Near the end of the visit, we began discussing eschatology which eventually led to God’s eternal decree, providence, and predestination. I am fairly certain I performed admirably as it relates to the degree of animation I exhibited—or lack there of, really. I kept my cool (for once) and simply referred to Scripture. I admitted that I can’t understand the concepts fully; however, I explained that I believe very strongly that the Bible is the Word of God and, as it states both God’s direction of all things and man’s responsibility for his actions, it must be true.
As I mentioned above, Jon’s discussion of the WCF touched upon the work of the Holy Spirit as an integral part of understanding—and accepting—the truths of Scripture. In addition, the Confession makes it clear that some parts of scripture, no matter how long or arduously we wrestle with them, may never been clearly revealed or understood.
‘All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.’ (WCF 1.7)
Pastor Coleman’s discourse spoke directly to the arguments my mama and step-father raised regarding predestination—primarily that it doesn’t seem fair nor loving. (Rest assured, they’ll soon have their own shiny new copy of the sermon on CD as soon as it is made available to me.) Yet, for all of my protestations that God is in fact loving—especially in His act of predestination—I missed the crucial evidence in the passage I cited until Pastor Coleman pointed it out in his sermon. You need only retrace your steps backward two words from verse 5 of Ephesians 1 and the proof is right there: ‘In love…’
All of this is to say that I find the combination of the two truths discussed above quite comforting and extremely liberating. There is no need for me to get frustrated nor agitated by another’s failure (or unwillingness) to understand certain passages of Scripture or similarly ‘difficult’ doctrinal positions. God’s Word will not return to Him void nor will the effective call of the Spirit be ultimately resisted. ‘All’ I am commanded to do is share the truth.
God does all of the heavy lifting.
Those who know me well--and those who have only met me once, really--know that I love playing practical jokes on folks. Here is an example of how you should NOT react when a joke is played on you. (Take a look at his shirt if you want to be even more embarrassed!)
Ron Paul 2nd in Palmetto Family Straw Poll , Columbia, SC
539 total ballots cast:
1st: 206 votes - Mike Huckabee
2nd: 179 votes - Ron Paul
3rd: 43 votes - Fred Thompson
4th: 29 votes - Sam Brownback
5th: 25 votes - Duncan Hunter
6th: 14 votes - Mitt Romney
7th: 12 votes - Daniel Gilbert
8th: 10 votes - John McCain
9th: 7 votes - Hugh Cort
10th: 5 votes - Rudy Giuliani
Beware The Sticky Revolution!!
'The income tax is bad because it has robbed you and me of the guarantee of privacy and the respect for our property that were given to us in Article IV of the Bill of Rights. This invasion is absolute and complete as far as the amount of tax that can be assessed is concerned. Please remember that under the Sixteenth Amendment, Congress can take 100% of our income anytime it wants to. As a matter of fact, right now it is imposing a tax as high as 91%. This is downright confiscation and cannot be defended on any other grounds.' ~ T. Coleman Andrews, former Commissioner of Infernal Revenue Service
'A Christian advocacy group is encouraging military families, and other concerned citizens, to write letters to the Defense Department expressing concern over the recent decision by the Pentagon that allows the sale of certain adult [sic] magazines at military exchanges.'
In reference to the article cited above, I can attest to the prevalence of pornography in the military (at least in the Army). I was exposed to more illicit and profane materials during my hitch in the Army than I ever was before or have been since. Oddly enough, the best thing that happened to protect my eyes and my spirit was being deployed during Operations Desert Shield and Storm, where the Saudi government did not allow such materials into the country. Interestingly, when we were occupying southern Iraq near the town of An-Nasiriyah, a local man named Hussein offered--unsolicited--to bring us pornography (and booze, and pills, and cigarettes) for the right price. (We declined.)
Due to the intricacies of U.S. Copyright Law, which is rivaled only by the IRS tax code, there is presently underway a tooth-and-nail fight over the rights to The Dean Martin Show. My grandmother LOVED that show; my mama said that nobody was allowed to talk during the programme at the risk of being pummeled by Nonnie. (And she would do it, too!)
As the campaign to cook up a pretense for war with Iran gathers steam, please keep in mind that you should not believe everything you read or hear.
Reason 1,094,322 that women should not be law enforcement officers.
Rather than a Just War, it seems that we have just war.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tabula rasa? I don’t think so. I KNEW Gracie Mae had something going on up there!
I endorse Rep. Ron Paul for President. And I endorse him not because he is the lesser of two evils. A Christian can never endorse any kind of evil. I endorse Rep. Paul because — from a Christian/Biblical and Constitutional perspective – he is, by far, the best candidate running for President.
— Rep. Paul believes, correctly, that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant word of God and thus it is not the role of God-ordained civil government, at any level, to feed, house, clothe or educate anybody.
— Rep. Paul takes his oath to God as a Congressman seriously and believes, correctly, that the Constitution is the highest man-made law in our land, that it severely restricts what the Federal Government can legally do, and it must be obeyed. This is why, as he states on his campaign web site, he has: never voted to raise taxes; never voted for an unbalanced budget; never voted for a Federal restriction on gun ownership; never voted to raise Congressional pay; never taken a government-paid junket; and has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
In addition, Rep. Paul has voted against: the Patriot Act; regulating the Internet; and he voted against the Iraq war. He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program. He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.
— Rep. Paul, again correctly, is truly pro-life and believes that there are no circumstances under which it is OK to murder by abortion any innocent unborn babies.
(The CP is the third-largest political party in the US (366,000 members, more than the LP's 235,000), with almost all of them in California and Nevada.)
'Today, with all of the curriculum that's been developed, [homeschooling is] really quite easy. Not only is it quite easy, one of the biggest problems I have is selecting what I want to do from the wealth of resources that are available," says Shortt.
'Of course, there is a one in ten-thousand chance that, when I push this button, it will be the end of the world.' ~ Manhattan Project physicist Enrico Fermi.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I should begin by stating emphatically that I am not a pacifist by any understanding of the word. Although I agree that the Lord calls us to turn the other cheek in our personal dealings and not to repay evil for evil, nowhere is it stated clearer in the Word of God that there is a time for war. The Westminster Confession speaks to this issue clearly, as well: '[S]o, for that end, [the Christian magistrate] may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion' (WCF 23.2). Yet again, the Divines' position is in accordance with Scripture, as evidenced by the Messiah's interaction with the Roman centurion. As one can imagine, this then raises the question: What is meant by 'just and necessary occasion'?
The historical Christian understanding of the Biblical position was delineated by Augustine in The City of God. In that work, Augustine argued that absolute pacifism is not mandated in the Word of God; still, there are certain prerequisites which must be met in order to justify waging war upon another: 1) it must be defensive, declared and carried out by the proper authority, 2) waged as a last resort, 3) proportionate to the threat, and 4) discriminate between combatants and non-combatants.
It is my deeply held view that the current war in Iraq has met none of these criteria (in varying degrees). Iraq had not attacked us (in fact, Saddam was in no position to do so even had it been his intention), there was no imperative to do so, it is obvious that we used a great deal more power than necessary to meet even the purported 'threat', and there have been innumerable instances of failures to discriminate between combatants and non-combatants (admittedly, not all of them deliberate). The last has, sadly, been the most-oft broken of the parameters for Just War. Sherman's March to the Sea inaugurated the practise which was continued as a matter of course. The firebombings of Dresden and Tokyo were horrific enough even without the vaporising of thousands of women, children, and elderly in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. How would you feel if your wife or children were considered 'collateral damage'?
Why do I raise such a tinderbox issue? Is it because I hate America? Of course not! But, as a Christian, I think it is my duty to speak the truth in love when I feel we are going astray. What concerns me even more than the government's application of unjust military action is that a significant portion of the Church (apparently) unabashedly supports that action. We are called to be peacemakers; yet, what I hear increasingly echoing from the halls of our places of worship is the beating of the war drums.
At the Faith2Action 'Values Voters Debate' in South Florida Monday night, only ONE Christian candidate for President of the U.S. stood against the war as unjust--Ron Paul. When he stated his opposition and invoked the name of Jesus--as the Prince of Peace--he was soundly booed by the admittedly evangelical audience! Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas--a Baptist minister, no less--openly calls for NUKING Iran! (How exactly does one distinguish between combatants and women and children in such an action, sir?) The sponsor of the event chided Dr Paul for 'cherrypicking' the peace passages out of Scripture! The bloodlust rampant among many in the Church is horrifying to me.
Let me be clear, I know that not every Christian supports the war and I am also not accusing anyone specifically of seeking the deaths of innocent people. There are many well-meaning Christians who feel just as deeply that the war is just as I do that it is not. I am speaking in generalities merely for the sake of brevity and to form a clear and concise argument. I hope that no one feels personally insulted or attacked, that certainly is not my intention.
Again, I am not advocating that we allow ourselves to be attacked with impunity; turning the other cheek does not require that we do not protect ourselves or the weak and innocent. I would just urge Christians to search the Scriptures for guidance as to when and how we should take such serious action as making war. The Bible tells us there is a time for war. And a time for peace.
And so it appears that wine snobs are full of cheese (as it were).
‘[The] criteria for a just war do not match what we have been doing in Iraq. Nor are they in harmony with the concept of a preemptive nuclear war against Iran. Yet the Republican presidential candidates who support the concept of preemptive nuclear war also claim to be Christians and men of faith. How can that be? Have they studied Christian just-war theory? Are they even familiar with it? Ron Paul made a very astute observation when he commented: “I have been reading from a different Bible."’” ~ Gary Benoit
Here are 25 skills every man should know. (I've only got about 12 or 13 under my belt.)
Jeffrey Tucker eulogises his father: ‘On occasion I've visited the church I grew up in. No one there today remembers my Father. But they are still singing the songs he wrote.’
'In short, Ron Paul is the only Republican whose positions on the two primary issues are different than Hillary Clinton's stance on them, and, more importantly, are more credible and more popular than Hillary Clinton's. He is the only Republican whose nomination can realistically be considered a potential impediment to what otherwise looks like a Democratic landslide.'
As Christians, we should be ever mindful of how and where we spend our money. This list, in alphabetical order, consists of companies scoring a perfect 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign's 2008 Corporate Equality Index, with policies beneficial toward homosexuals.
My youngest son came home to-day
His friends marched with him all the way
The pipes and drums beat all the time
As in his box of polished pine
Like dead meat on a butcher's tray
My youngest son came home to-day.
And this time he is home to stay...
~ Eric Bogle, My Youngest Son Came Home To-day
The Episcopal Church has fallen and it can't get up.
‘I tried to walk a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely but I now recognize that I did not fully accomplish that goal.’ ~ Former President Bill Clinton
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
by R. Matthew Lee
From the Texas Hill Country to the Virginia sea
Dwell scores of relations to Robert E. Lee
Singing high in proud tones, in insistent refrains
"'Tis the General's blood that runs through our veins!"
Through mother or father, most cannot recall
But certain, they are--he's the root of them all!
'Twas their aunt who first told them (or another relation)
Though few can produce the documentation
They revel and boast of the General's fame
And attach themselves fiercely to the Patriarch's name
Should any dare question Marse Robert's reputation
They bristle and spit with high indignation
"History can boast of few men of such worth!"
Speaks one of the millions of his kinsmen by birth
Another nearby replies, "It is true!
("The Old Grey Fox is my ancestor, too!")
One cannot--one should not--accuse or lay blame
To one for desiring to lay claim to the name
Good Sons of the South all seek but to shine
By boasting aloud that they come from his line
Yet if all who lay claim to his family tree
Indeed were aright, we'd all be a Lee!
CROC ALERT!! Your shoes could be dangerous to your health!
I couldn’t agree more. That’s why Ashlee and I did not apply for nor obtain a marriage license.
Check out this HILARIOUS video of an interviewer who can't stop laughing at a man’s (unexpectedly) high pitched voice. (It's in a foreign language but still very funny!)
‘The message is, "Don’t Serve Alcohol to Teens. It’s unsafe. It’s illegal. It’s irresponsible." We Don't Serve Teens is a national campaign on the part of the Federal Trade Commission.
'So 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds (and even 20-year-olds) are teens, correct? According to this government campaign they are. But what about this government campaign known as Selective Service? According to the Imperial Branch of government, teens are "men." Under the "Who must register?" guidelines, everywhere it mentions those who must register, they are referred to as "men." Disabled men. Hospitalized men. Men who would be classified as Conscientious Objectors. Men, men, men, men, men. Men from 18 to 25 years of age. An 18-year-old is a teen if he drinks a beer, and he is a man if he puts on the conqueror's camouflage and learns to kill for the state.
And it's apparently not irresponsible or unsafe to yank these same teens men from their homes against their will (draft anyone?) and send them off to foreign lands to conquer, be conquered, and kill the enemies of the United Imperial States.
It's irresponsible to give those same men teens a Budweiser, however.'
‘Changing the definition of what chocolate is would be a mistake.’
'I haven't committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law.' ~ David Dinkins, Former New York City Mayor, answering accusations that he failed to pay his taxes.
If men made clothing.
Friday, September 14, 2007
With that in mind, it is important to stress that saving--while also fiscally wise--is a biblical mandate, as well. More importantly is for what--and whom--we are saving. In our house, we have two savings accounts; we have one designated as the 'General Fund' and another that we keep for our child(ren). Those who know me know that I place a great deal of importance on the wisdom of our forefathers. They utilised the accumulated the wisdom of the ages (improving upon it as necessity and experience dictated) to their and their families' advantage. In that vein, we have decided to lay aside a portion of our earnings each month so that our daughter(s) will have a dowry and our (Lord willing) sons will have seed money to assist them as they begin their families.
While we place a great deal of emphasis on self-reliance (within reason) and self-sufficiency (see I Thess. 4:11,12), we also hold dear the biblical mandate to care for the generations that follow us. Teaching our children the wisdom of biblical financial stewardship coupled with a gift upon their wedding days will, Lord willing, bless them and serve them well all of their days.
‘British scientists are using a giant instrument - in essence an extremely powerful torch and microscope combined - to read [the Dead Sea Scroll] parchments that are too brittle to unroll or unfold.’
You'd never see a kid doing this in a home school!
“Dishonest Abe invested in land in Council Bluffs, Iowa, of all places, in 1857. To this day this piece of land is known as ‘Lincoln’s Hill.’ When he became president one of his first official acts was to call a special session of Congress to begin work on the Pacific Railway Act that would shower railroad corporations with government subsidies while they built a transcontinental railroad line. When Congress finally passed the bill in 1862 it gave the president the right to decide the eastern terminus of the line. And guess what? Dishonest Abe chose Council Bluffs, Iowa. What a coincidence, and what a good example of political insider trading.”
'All you have to do is go down to the bottom of your swimming pool and hold your breath.' ~David Miller, U.S. Department of Energy spokesman, on protecting yourself from nuclear radiation.
This video of George W. Bush bloopers is especially for Marian. (But others may feel free to look, too.)
Husband of the Year giving his wife and mother-in-law a ride to work:
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
We had a really enjoyable and sanctifying small group meeting last evening at the Kimballs' house (along with the Ayers family). The gist of the study was regarding our tendency as sinners to justify ourselves before God by our good works or our (perceived) adherence to the Law. On the one hand, our good works cannot earn us salvation; that is a gift from God and has nothing to do our abilities (Ephesians 2:8,9). In addition, although our good works should be a response to God's grace and an demonstrative sign of our faith (see the Book of James), even they are, more often than we would like to admit, done with the improper motive, i.e., self-aggrandisement or reputation-building. Pride is an evil taskmaster.
As C. H. Spurgeon wrote, 'Had not Jesus interposed and wrought out a wealth of merit, our tears of repentance would have been so much water spilled upon the ground.'
'Religious radicals have threatened to burn a Christian church's pastor and his family, and the church building was vandalized with a Hindu "Om" symbol, according to the Voice of the Martyrs, the worldwide ministry to persecuted Christians.'
Here is somethign for Rachel, Marian, and Hannah. Y'all should be able to get the family laundry done in no time!!
‘Democracy is not a quality that can be imposed by war. The attempt to do so has always met with failure. Democracy can spring only from within a nation itself, only from the hearts and minds of the people. It can be spread abroad by example, but never by force. The strength of a democracy lies in the satisfaction of its own people. Its influence lies in making others wish to copy our American system of government, we cannot force them to copy it by going to war …' ~ Charles Lindbergh (1941)
They say that sports are a metaphor for life. Let's hope not.
'Malaysia’s government ordered a Tamil-language daily to immediately halt publication for a month as punishment for printing an image of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette, an official with the newspaper said.'
Here is the video clip that had everybody laughing. Remember: Language is important!
I fully expected to see Kevin Ayers' name in this story. (Just kidding, Kev!)
'The result of [Mike] Huckabee's imprudent decision to take on Dr [Ron] Paul was as predictable as a clash between a ring bologna and a freshly sharpened slicer.' ~ William N. Grigg
'Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.' ~ Dan Quayle, former U.S. Vice President