googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: May 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Gettysburg Address

On November 19, 1863, four months after the Union armies defeated the Confederate forces at the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln delivered famous "Gettysburg Address" to honor the fallen soldiers. On this Memorial day, I wanted to post those words again.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Matthew 8:5-10: Being a Faithful Servant

“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:5-10

I’ve mentioned before that this is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. But God’s word is so rich that, even though I’ve read this passage many times, it still points out new insights.

Consider the words of the centurion: For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

The centurion had faithful servants. He only had to give the order and his servants carried them out: no delays, no excuses, no questions asked. He knew Jesus had this same authority. If Jesus spoke the word, whatever He said would be done. But I wonder now how faithful the servants of Jesus really are.

Jesus told us to go, to come, and to do. Look at the following passages.

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Do we go and preach the gospel? Do we come and bring our cares to Him? Do we lift Him up so that others will come? Do we teach other to obey His commands? Do we obey them ourselves? What excuses do we use for not doing these things?

Jesus said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Why indeed. I’m not sure what fate awaited the servants of the centurion who didn’t do the things the centurion asked. When I have to give an account of my works on earth, I would long to hear those wonderful words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ben Franklin's Call to Prayer

I don't know what made me think of this but this came to my mind the other day and I thought I'd publish this here. Are you aware that every session of Congress opens in prayer? Have you ever wonder how that tradition started? The pratice actually goes back to the Constitutional Convention. After a first few frustrating weeks, Ben Franklin was concerned about how little progress that had been made. He gave the following address to George Washington, President of the Constitutional Convention:

Mr. President:

The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other -- our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own wont of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.
In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. -- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.
I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move -- that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.

Franklin, arguably the most secular of all the Founding Fathers, sounds here like a Baptist preacher! And they say that America wasn't founded as a Christian nation?! LOL!!

1 John 1:9: Confessing Our Sins

ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Though we might try to live lives obedient to the Lord, inevitably we will fall into sin again. When that happens, we have to decide what to do about it. Many Christians have taken comfort in this verse: we confess our sins and God forgives us.

So exactly what does it mean to “confess” our sins? Some people practice a sterile, “God forgive me” prayer. They’re not specific about their sins and they certainly don’t admit to any particular sin. They act as though they maybe did something wrong or maybe they didn’t. They think that if they just say, “God forgive me,” that’s that.

But the Greek word for “confess,” ὁμολογεῶ (homologeō), goes a little beyond that. Like many Greek words, it’s a compound word: homos meaning “same” and logos meaning “word.” So, ὁμολογεῶ literally means, “same words.”

When we “confess” our sins, we speak of them with the same words that God does. So, “God forgive me” becomes something like, “God, I slacked off at work today. My employer pays me for eight hours of work so I stole from him because I didn’t do eight hours of worth of work. Forgive me for that sin, God. I was wrong.” This is true for any sin: covetousness, pride, lust, greed, hate, idolatry, or whatever other sin we commit on any given day.

When we confess our sins in the same way God sees them, we accomplish 2 things: First, we gain the forgiveness and cleansing that Christ promised us. But secondly, when we speak our sins specifically, it has the effect of making them more real. It’s like an alcoholic – if he never admits he has a problem, he’ll never stop drinking. It’s much harder to continue in a sinful life style if every day we speak our sin to God, condemn it as God condemns it, and ask for forgiveness from it.

If we simply say, “God forgive me,” we ask for forgiveness without any confession. There's no forgiveness or cleansing in that.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, churches all over the US will be talking about various mothers in the Bible and will hold them up as role-models of good mothers. There certainly are a lot of mothers discussed in the Bible but one of my favorites isn’t even named – the Bible only describes her as the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John). The Bible doesn’t say a lot about her but I know she was a great mother from what I read about her in Matthew:

“Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.” Matthew 20:21-22

So how do I know she was a great mother? First, we see first that she worshipped Jesus. Second, she also prayed for her sons to be with Jesus in heaven. What greater things can a mother do? Most mothers will provide for their children: food, shelter, clothes, and, of course, love - but these things only last for a while. The truly special mothers are concerned about their children’s eternal needs.

When the disciples heard the wife of Zebedee ask this, they were indignant (Matthew 20:24). Perhaps they thought it was a bit too much to ask for such a special position (to sit next to Jesus in heaven). But I say she was a great mother and wanted the best for her children.

So here is a salute to all the godly mothers out there who are praying for your children. My prayer on this day is that all of your prayers are answered.

And, mom, I’m sure you’ll be reading this: I love you.

Have a happy Mother’s Day!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Myth of Sea-to-Land Evolution

OK, so you know that I’ve long since given up on evolution. After looking into it for a few years, I realize the whole idea is untenable. But apparently even I wasn’t aware how tenuous the entire theory is. I’ve known that the so called FACT of evolution is more story telling than science but I came across an article recently that highlights exactly how little science is involved.

Haven’t you been told all your life that life arose in the sea and then progressed on to land? This “primordial soup” is the foundation of evolution: life began in the ancient oceans, became complex marine animals, then clawed onto dry land to eventually become amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, mammals, and man. Right? Since it is repeated so often, I would think this fantastic account of fish to land must surely be one of the most documented facts in all of science. Boy was I wrong.

I read an article in (a source not at all friendly to creationists), called: New Fossil: Link Between Fish and Land Animals? I encourage you to click the link and read the entire article for yourself but I wanted to highlight a few quotes taken from the article. The first paragraph begins:
“What creature first crawled out of the prehistoric swamps to conquer the land? The question has long puzzled paleontologists because the transitional species seems to have lived during a mysterious 30-million-year gap in the fossil record called Romer's Gap.”

Wait a cotton picking minute!! Are they saying sea-to-land evolution supposedly occurred during a gap in the fossil record? This isn’t just one person’s opinion either because they’ve even named the gap. That can’t be right! But read on:

“The late Devonian period has is a rich fossil history of lobed fishes.”
OK, so we have a “rich fossil history of lobed fishes.” I guess that means a lot of fish fossils.
"After the Devonian the fossil record disappears, at least for a while—20-30 million years. Only three informative fossils dating back to this time have been found."
I about fell out of my chair. Only three informative fossils? Are you kidding me? We’ve reconstructed the entire fish-to-land story based on just three fossils!! This must be a joke. But read on:
“When the fossil record resumes roughly 25 million years later, there was already a tremendous variety of tetrapod landforms. Ancestors of modern mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds had already evolved and were diverging along distinct branches.”
I guess it’s not a joke. They have fish - next they have tetrapod landforms. In the interim we have three fossils - I guess now we have four with the new one discussed in the article. But of these four, only the most recent one is considered transistional.

There you have it, folks. The entire fish-to-land scenario of evolution was contrived before a single transitional fossil was found. Even now, we have exactly ONE fossil to support the entire, stinking premise.

Let me remind you of these quotes by Darwin (from 2 different chapters):

“But, as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?”

“But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

Darwin was concerned about the lack of transitional forms in the fossil records – as well he should be. I guess the lack of sea-to-land transitional forms makes some modern scientists a little nervous too. Again, we have this candid quote from the article:
‘"We lack a focus from which all modern tetrapods evolved," said Robert Carroll, professor of zoology, curator of vertebrate paleontology at Montreal's McGill University. "Romer's Gap is a 30-million-year black box that, frankly, keeps me up at night."

Clack's latest find may help scientists sleep better.’
I can almost hear a collective sigh of relief. They’ve invented an elaborate theory about sea-to-land forms and have been searching desperately to find even ONE example. Now they’ve finally found something they can pin the "transitional" label on. This critter is no more a sea-to-land transition than the man in the moon.

If you give me a hammer, I can drive a square peg into a round hole. I guess they can also make a previously unknown species look like a transitional form. Evolution is looking pretty bad; I just didn’t realize how bad!