googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: November 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Malachi 3:10
"Prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How the Bible Says to End Unemployment

One of the debates going on in Washington is over extending unemployment. Part of the debate revolves around how to pay for it. Unfortunately, there's not enough debate among legislators concerning the wisdom behind giving money to people who aren't working. Nancy Pelosi made the insane comment that unemployment income gives us the best bang for our buck in stimulating the economy. If that were true, why isn't the economy growing at a blistering pace now? With an unemployment rate of 9.6%, we're paying millions of people not to work. We should be stimulating the economy like crazy!

Liberals tend to deny that unemployed people sometimes milk the system. If someone is out of work, yet is still making $400/week (or whatever) from unemployment insurance, what incentive is there for him to take a job that only pays $400/week? I mean, if someone could choose between working 40 hours or enjoying 40 hours of leisure – and still get paid the same – which is the more appealing choice? And let's face it, if someone could make $400/week for not working, he might even choose that over working for $500/week. What's more, he certainly wouldn't consider working for anything less than $400/week. Why in the world should I give up staying home and making $400/week in order to go to work for only $350/week?

The Bible recognizes this dilemma and has a simple solution. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Do you think that might work? I mean, if someone could choose between working or not working – but made the same money either way – he might choose not working. But if he had to choose between working and not eating, which do you think he'll choose?

Perhaps I should point out that this passage specifically identifies these as people who are not willing to work. The sick, widowed, orphaned, etc, certainly deserve our charity. It may sound hardhearted, but this is what some people might call, “tough love.” 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 goes on to say, “have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” The principle is simple: don't let someone become comfortable in a bad situation. To help the person, you need to make him miserable about his circumstances.

Now, critics of my theory might argue that there are simply no jobs out there to be had so it's just cruel not to help people who want to work but can't. This notion is easily refuted by looking in your local classifieds. No matter where you live, I guarantee you the your newspaper has a “help wanted” section with jobs waiting to be filled. Even if there are more people looking for jobs than there are jobs, people will still find a way to make money if the alternative is starving. Why, he might even start his own business!! Don't you think creating jobs would grow the economy faster than paying out unemployment insurance?

Our federal government's approach to the problem seems to be the exact opposite of the wise approach. They seem determined to allow a person to continue not working indefinitely. As it stands now, a person can draw unemployment insurance for nearly 2 years (99 weeks). Not everyone who draws unemployment stays unemployed for 99 weeks (though some do) but ask yourself honestly, would anyone stay unemployed for 99 weeks if he had NO income? Any income is better than no income and anyone who once raised their nose at a minimum wage job might now jump at the chance if the alternative is starving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What's in a Name?

I first published this about three years ago. Recently, I was looking over some of my older blogs and came across it again. I think it's a wonderful message if I may say so and decided to republish it.

The gospels tell of the man named Barabbas (Matthew 27:16, Mark 15:7, John 18:40, Luke 23:18). He is described as a “notable prisoner” who committed insurrection, murder, and robbery. Here was as guilty a man as you’ll ever find and he was sentenced to be crucified for his crimes. However, it was the custom of the Romans to release a prisoner to the Jews at the time of the Passover (John 18:39). Now, Pilate wanted to release Jesus because he felt Jesus was not guilty of any crime but the crowd cried out for the release of Barabbas (Matthew 27:24). Therefore, Jesus (the innocent man) was sentenced to die and Barabbas (the guilty man) was set free. Jesus literally died in his place.

I’ve often wondered how Barabbas might have felt about this. Certainly he would have been relieved he did not have to die. I wonder if he felt thankful to Jesus who bore the cross for his sake? I wonder if he might have accepted Christ because of it. What a wretched man Barabbas would have been if he watched an innocent man die for the sake of his sins and did not even care.

But there’s something very interesting about the name, “Barabbas”:

“Bar” is a Hebrew word meaning, “son of.” In Matthew 16:17, Jesus calls Peter, “Simon Barjona.” This means, “Simon, son of Jonas.” See also John 21:15-17, where Jesus refers to Peter as, “Simon, son of Jonas.”

“Abba” is a Hebrew word meaning, “Father” or “Daddy” (Mark 14:36, et al).

So, “Bar-abbas” literally means, “a son of a father.” When you think about it, every man is “a son of a father.” Indeed every one of us is a child of a father. So Barabbas could have been anyone – he is a “generic man.”

This paints a wonderful picture of the substitutionary death of Jesus. Each one of us is a Barabbas: all guilty of many sins and all sentenced to die. But we don’t have to die. Jesus – the innocent man who knew no sin – has died in our place. He went to the cross and we were set free.

As you read the account of Barabbas, think about his name. He’s the “anyone” man. Try reading it again and inserting your own name instead of Barabbas’. Now, how do you feel about it? Have you accepted Jesus’ death as the payment of your sins? Are you grateful to Jesus because of it? Or do you not even care?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Not So Similar

To those of you who watched Sesame Street when you were young – like I did – do you remember the part of the show when they sang, “One of these things is not like the others...”? It was a little exercise where they would show 4 objects: 3 of them were similar and 1 was different. It wasn't a hard game, not even for a 5-year-old. Usually the difference was very obvious. They might show 3 squares and 1 circle, for example. In those games, the most obvious answer was always the correct one.

As adults, we might have a tendency to over think the game. If you think about it, there are a number of ways we could compare the shapes. If 2 squares and the circle were blue, we could correctly say the red square was different. Perhaps I might compare the area of the different shapes and see that 3 are more similar in size than the other. If I examined them microscopically, I might discover that 3 were drawn clockwise and 1 was drawn counterclockwise. The more minutia I examine, the more ways I might find to compare and contrast the different shapes. At the same time, though, the more I might loose sight of the most glaring difference: 3 are still squares and 1 is a circle!

A few posts back, I mentioned that chimps are similar to humans. Evolutionists claim that the similarities are due to relatedness between humans and chimps. As we study chimps, we might write a long list of things we have in common. But I think that, in their zeal to see the similarities between humans and chimps, scientists have lost sight of the glaring differences between the two.

I took my son to the zoo recently. In the gorilla area, there was actually an exhibit that encouraged kids to compare themselves to gorillas. As far as I'm concerned, the more we compare humans and apes, the greater the differences that we can see. Human feet do not even remotely resemble apes' feet. Even our hands are dissimilar. The proportion of our limbs to our bodies is different than in gorillas. Our hips, our knees, our faces, our skulls, etc. - they're all different. Do I really need to list all the differences? This is a game played by first graders, after all, and the differences are just as easy to spot now as they were on Sesame Street.

And what about intelligence? I have to laugh when I see scientists marvel at a chimp using a stick as a tool – all they while they are recording the event in high-def video! It's easy to see who is the greater master of tools. Remind me again what scientists hope to learn from studying chimps.

Are there any similarities at all between humans and apes? Of course there are. I think in some cases the similarities are exaggerated. In the case of human/chimp DNA, for example, scientists have long claimed that human and chimp DNA are 98% similar. In more recent years, though, many have backed off that claim. It's more like 95%. But even if the 98% is accurate, the human genome is so enormous that even a 2% difference represents tens of millions of different base pairs. The enormous difference 2% makes in the host organisms is plain to see. If not exaggerated, the similarity in DNA is, at the very least, overrated.

And besides the obvious anatomical differences between apes an humans, there is also a spiritual difference. Of the various creatures in all the creation, only man is made in the image of God. On the day Adam was created, God gave him the task of naming certain animals (Genesis 2:19). The Bible makes it clear that Adam was not like any of the animals.

So the next time you hear an evolutionist calling chimps our closest cousin, remind yourself that chimps and humans are not really that similar. You can see the differences for yourself. Remember that simple little exercise you learned all the way back in the first grade and say to yourself, “One of these things is not like the others.”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Nation of Wimps!

Last night, on Face Book, my former pastor and Face Book friend posted a video of Gianna Jessen, a woman whose mother attempted to abort her but she survived the abortion and was born alive. It was a touching video of her giving a pro-life speech in Melbourne Australia (you can watch it here). It prompted me to look for similar stories on YouTube. Apparently this has happened on other occasions as well. A woman named Melissa Ohden posted a short video describing a similar experience (here). Their testimonies are moving and rebut the lie that abortion advocates are “pro-choice.” Certainly the babies in these abortions are not given a choice and it's wonderful to hear these intended abortion victims give a voice to the millions more who have been killed.

Abortion is a plague that haunts America. It is our holocaust. A majority of people identify themselves as “Pro-life” and overwhelmingly believe that abortion should be illegal or legal in only certain circumstances. Yet we either lack the will, the political courage, or the political savvy to do anything about it. We have let the fringe minority set the agenda and now have abortion on demand. If a woman wishes, she can, for any reason, have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy.

But my main point of this post isn't to talk about abortion.

I also came a across a video series (parts 1, 2, and 3) about a woman named Carly who had an abortion and regretted it. Near the beginning of the first video, she talks about how she and her boyfriend became sexually active at the very beginning of their relationship. Certainly one component in a woman's decision to have an abortion is the relationship with the father. Many women having abortions aren't married to the father. But then again, many women having babies aren't married to the father. The logical conclusion is that many women are having sex with men they aren't married to. Our society glorifies sex and ignores consequence.

But neither is my main point about out of wedlock sex or illegitimate births.

The main point of my post is the role of men in the above examples. In the cases of the abortion survivors, what were the fathers doing while the mothers were trying to abort their children? In the case of Carla, we know what the father was doing: he was being a selfish jerk pressuring Carla into having an abortion while he himself was too scared to walk into the abortion clinic with her. And what were they thinking while they were having sex with these girls? Did it not occur to them that they might make these women pregnant?

I read a book a few years ago called, The Power of Myth. Even though the author, Joseph Campbell, was an atheist, he did raise a least one good point. In many cultures around the world, boys of certain ages are subjected to a rite of passage where, afterward, they are treated as men. Among Jews, for example, there is a bar mitzvah. It is a defining moment in their lives – a clear distinction where they understand they need to stop acting like boys and start acting like men. Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

Here in the US, we have no formal tradition where this occurs. This is why we have adult men who still act like teenagers. There are certain milestones in our lives that would be good candidates for a rite of passage (turning 18, graduating from high school, etc) but in many of these cases, the older generation continues to treat the man like a boy. If an 18 year old man were to talk to his parents about marriage, they would likely tell him he is still too young. They might tell him to wait, go to college, save his money, and then get married at some unidentified moment in the future when he is “ready.” In my opinion, this only perpetuates adolescence. Instead of getting married, the 18-year-old will heed his parents advice about marriage and simply continue having sex with his girlfriend-of-the-moment. And what is the parents' advice about having sex? Probably something like, “Well, you know how kids are. They're going to have sex.” What a cop out! Instead of telling them it's OK to act like kids, why don't we tell them to grow up and start acting like adults?!

We are a nation of wimps. Our men refuse to act like men. They're old enough to work, drive, have sex, and do all the things a man does but they refuse to take on the responsibility of being a man. They want a life without consequences. The out of wedlock sex, illegitimate births, and abortions are merely symptoms of their childish behavior. “Wimps” is certainly an appropriate description but I guess I could also call them “babies.” Actually, “babies” is a little too tame since babies tend to cry over little things. Here, we are talking about matter of importance.

What else might we call them? “Idiots” works. I mean, even a simpleton can understand that having sex could lead to pregnancy. Obviously some men haven't figured that out. They can't think beyond the 15 minutes in bed. Besides pregnancy, they are also risking contracting and spreading STDs so these men are demonstrably stupid. “Selfish” comes to mind too. I don't care what they say, these men have only one thing on their mind – their own gratification. They don't care one whit about the women they are having sex with and if they claim they do, then I also call them “liars.” If they really cared for the women beyond sex, then why don't they just marry them?

“Cowards” might be the strongest word I could use to describe these men. That Carol's boyfriend wouldn't walk with her into the abortion clinic didn't make him a coward; he was already a coward and that act merely made it evident. These men are only pretending to be men while they abuse women to slake their own lusts. They're afraid to do those things that truly identify someone as a man: things like taking responsibility, making a commitment, providing for a family, raising your children, and being a role model.

Yet even worse than cowards, these men are “sinners.” God made marriage an earthly model of our relationship with Christ. Men are supposed to love their wives like Christ loves His Church and gave His life for it (Ephesians 5:25). Christ endured the cross to redeem His Bride but these men surf the net for porn. They aren't even interested in a “bride.” They aren't the shepherds of their family like Jesus is but they are the thieves and robbers who only come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). They're also “idolaters” who put the needs of their own flesh above obedience to God.

Lest anyone should think I'm just being proud and judgmental, I assure you that I was young and dumb once too. It was only by the grace of God that I grew up before becoming a victim of my own stupidity. Take it from someone who knows. My advice to all of you is repent. Show some responsibility. Stop thinking of yourself and start thinking of others. Be a man!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Revelation 17: Is the Harlot of Babylon the Catholic Church?

My Sunday school class has been reading through the book of Revelation. I was recently asked to teach a lesson and it happened to fall on Revelation 17 which introduces the Harlot of Babylon. I prepared for the lesson by reading through several commentaries on the subject and noticed something they all have in common: they all claim the Harlot is the Roman Catholic Church. Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible says, for example, “The image here is that of papal Rome, represented as an abandoned woman in gorgeous attire, alluring by her arts the nations of the earth, and seducing them into all kinds of pollution and abomination.”

Of those commentaries that hold this opinion, I notice that they become fixated on Catholic Church and see that Church in every detail:

The purple and scarlet... it's the Catholic Church

The pearls and precious stones... it's the Catholic Church.

The golden cup full of abominations... it's the Catholic Church.

There's an old saying that when you're a hammer, everything else looks like a nail. When you allow yourself to become locked into one way of thinking, you suddenly have the same solution for everything. In this case, as these commentaries try to interpret the details of the rest of the chapter, all they can see is the Catholic Church.

Now I concede that a lot of the details seem to fit the Catholic Church but it would be rather pragmatic to insist that it is the Catholic Church just because it fits some of the details. When the Bible is ambiguous, it means to be ambiguous and I think there is great danger in advancing one interpretation of an ambiguous passage as though it is doctrine.

There are a lot of things I disagree with Catholics about but I am not a person who believes that no Catholic is saved. Concerning this passage, I must say one thing in defense of the Catholics. There is a very significant event that will happen between now and the time of Revelation that will fundamentally change the complexion of the Catholic Church. No commentary that I've read has factored this event into their theory. That event is the Rapture!

Think about this for a moment: Presently, in the Catholic Church, we have a world-wide, very affluent, religious organization seated in Rome. After the Rapture, we will have a world-wide, very affluent, religious organization seated in Rome – entirely comprised of people who aren't Christians! The Catholic Church at that time is not the same Catholic Church that exists now. It can't be. So even if the Catholic Church turns out to be the harlot in question, it's not the Catholic Church that the commentaries are attacking now.

Could the Catholic Church be the harlot of Revelation 17? Maybe. It fits the description. But the Bible isn't absolutely clear about it so therefore, I have to remain open minded. Maybe it is or maybe it isn't.

There are some things the Bible is absolutely clear about. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). That's very clear. If someone ever asked me if Muslims can go to heaven, I can say with certainty they cannot. If someone asks me if the Catholic Church is the Harlot of Babylon, I have to answer, “I don't know.”

As you do your own study on the subject, no doubt you will come across the same opinions that I've heard expressed. When you do, ask yourself if they are taking the Rapture into consideration as they point a finger at the Catholic Church. If they don't at least mention that there will be no Christians among the Catholics at that time, they are painting an unfair picture of the Catholic Church.

Remember, only the Bible is infallible. All other opinions are suspect.

Further reading

Revelation 13:18: What is the Number of the Beast?

Revelation 3:11: Taking Our Crown

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Case of Evolutionists Wanting to Have it Both Ways

Similarities between living creatures is often touted as evidence of relatedness between the creatures. The similarities between humans and chimps, for example, are supposed evidence that humans and chimps have a common ancestor. For that matter, all mammals are believed to have a common ancestor and so have certain features in common. One argument creationists use to rebut the “evidence” of similar traits is to point out how non-related objects often possess similar traits. Bicycles and motorcycles have certain things in common. Does that mean that motorcycles evolved from bicycles? Of course it does not. They have features in common because they were designed for similar purpose.

I was browsing Youtube the other day (watching videos posted by evolutionists, by the way!) and came across a video where Kent Hovind (a controversial, young-earth creationist) made this very point during a discussion with a evolution-believing graduate student. The video is 9 minutes long and much of it isn't related to the point at hand so I won't post the whole thing here. You can view it for yourself at this link. The part I'm referring to begins around 55 seconds into the video when Kent offers the analogy of similarities in bridges. The student makes the following comments: “That has nothing to do with evolution... because a bridge is a horrible analogy to a living thing. I mean, it has nothing in common with a living thing.... And they [living things] reproduce which is one of the fundamental tenets of evolution. I mean, a thing can't evolve unless it reproduces. Here, we're talking about reproducing systems. Explain to me what this has to do with a common Designer because I really don't get it.”

Later in the video, Kent uses the analogy of similarities between cars and motorcycles. The student again makes the following comments: “Machinery is a horrible example. This has nothing to do with living things. They're not living things. I don't see why you insist on using machinery as an example.”

I think this student precisely knows why Kent is using it as an example. It's the same reason we often use it as an example – because it makes so obvious that common features are not de facto proof of common ancestry. His response is the usual response I hear from evolutionists when I use similar examples. They don't have a really good rebuttal so they simply ridicule the analogy. They believe that, if they disqualify the analogy as being invalid, then they excuse themselves from having to respond to it. This is a staple in the evolutionists' arsenal of responses and is usually employed as the first resort whenever the “common features are due to common Designer” argument is raised.

As often as I've heard evolutionists denounce machines as bad analogies to living things, you can imagine how amused I was when I came across a video (here) where an evolutionist uses machine design as evidence for evolution. And what errant soul wandered from the evolutionists' playbook and made this outrageous claim? It is none other than that most out-spoken of all atheist-evolutionists, Richard Dawkins! I kid you not – it's Mr. “God is a Delusion” himself.

Now, the person who made this video did not have the “common Designer” subject in mind when he posted it on Youtube. Instead, he made the video in response another claim made by Hovind, namely that evolution hasn't made any contributions to science. In the nine minute video, the last six minutes are devoted to a detailed monologue where Dawkins explains how “evolution” is being simulated in laboratories to help design more efficient machinery.

What can I say about the video? It fails in a couple of ways. Primarily, it doesn't demonstrate evolution at all. Evolution is supposed to be “aimless.” When Dr. Rechenberg (I'm not sure of the spelling) attempted to use artificial “mutation” and “selection” in his experiment, he had a goal in mind – to find an efficient wing. In the real world (or should I say, “the theoretical world of evolution”), evolution doesn't concern itself with some future goal. The only “objective” of natural selection is to remove those traits that don't convey an immediate benefit. In the supposed long transition from an arm to a wing, evolution had no idea it was heading toward a wing. Each generation of limb along the way had to convey a greater benefit to its host than the previous limb. If you start with a fully functioning arm, what benefit is there in a mutation that makes it less then an arm but not yet a wing?

I don't mean to digress into a discussion of transitional forms. My main point is the blatant hypocrisy of suddenly using the analogy of design in machines after having decried the analogy for so long. When it suits them, I guess it's a fine analogy.

Now that it's officially a good analogy after all, I have a suggestion: How about going back and answering the question evolutionists have been dodging for so long? Can't similarities in animals be evidence of design? A bike is similar to a motorcycle. Did the motorcycle evolve from the bike or were they just made that way? It's time to stop attacking the question and start answering it. You can't have it both ways.