googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: December 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Micah 5:2

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

God sent a Lamb

When Jesus came to earth, His people were already longing for the Messiah. Israel was in the grip of Roman occupation and they earnestly desired a King who would deliver them. They were expecting a lion, but God sent a lamb. Their King was born in the most humble of circumstances. While the world lay sleeping, the host of angels praised God singing, “Glory to God in the highest!” What a difference there was between what the world wanted and what God delivered.

When Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the people waved palm branches and shouted, “Save us, Son of David.” They were still looking for their deliverer. They still were looking for the lion. What those people couldn't see is that Jesus was their deliverer. He didn't come to free them from Rome tyranny but to free them from their bondage of sin. He didn't come as the lion to conquer their enemies but as the sacrificial lamb who would remove their sins.

I sometimes hear people ask why God allows bad things to happen. I guess even now people are still looking for a lion. They want God to charge in and fix everything else but these same critics won't ask God to change them. They want the lion but reject the lamb.

God's ways are not our ways. Someday, Jesus will return as the Lion. God has promised to restore His creation but first, it was necessary for Him to come as the Lamb.

I like God's way better.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Food for thought

I thought this was funny. If we let science be our guide in interpreting Scripture, God seems a lot less miraculous.

Some Churches Just Don't Get It

Christmas is usually the time I restock my library. When friends and family ask me for gift ideas, I often suggest books I'd like to read. At least part of any cash I get is also spent on books. The other day, I was browsing for some book ideas and was reading the reviews of the book, Already Gone. By the way, it bugs me that sometimes people use Amazon book reviews like a debate forum but that's not my point now. The premise of the book is that nearly 2/3 of teens and young people who attend church now will likely not continue to attend church after they leave home. One reason for this mass exodus is that they don't see the Bible as being relevant to the “real world” and a lot of the reason revolves around the creation/evolution issue.

One critic of the book, who claims to be a former youth leader took exception with the book's premise and said, “[K]ids aren't stupid, and know a specious argument when they hear it. If (in essence) they're being told that "The Flintstones" represents real and true history,... and that all they are watching on the History or Discovery channels is a sinister secular conspiracy to do away with God, then it's no wonder they fall away from the faith.”

No where in his criticism did he actually claim to have read the book. He merely takes exception with the premise. His solution is to engage in the very practice that the book identifies as the problem. He says, “I see (and have involved myself in) a Church and a Christian School which take a line which would be anathema to Ken Ham, freely endorsing a harmony between modern Science and a grounded Christian faith.”

I guess some churches just don't get it. There is no “harmony” between a belief in evolution and the Bible. The only way the two beliefs can be reconciled is to believe the Bible doesn't mean what it says. People who claim to believe both the Bible and evolution either pigeon hole the differences and not think about them or they ascribe to the Bible the genre of allegory/parable/myth. Thus they create the contradiction in kids' minds: the Bible isn't the “real world.”

Jesus made it very clear that people who reject the Old Testament also tend to reject Him. Consider just the following three verses:

John 3:12, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”

John 5:46-47, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”

Luke 16:31, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

All of these were spoken by Jesus. They demonstrate clearly how there is a causal link, an “if-then” condition, that if someone rejects what the Bible says about worldly things (which must include the creation) then he will also reject Jesus. It's expected really. If the Bible is wrong about one thing, then how can it be trusted about anything? Even more so if the Bible is wrong at the very first verse!

The sad fact is that many churches have compromised on this fundamental point. Some see it as a divisive issue and therefore avoid discussing it. They might give lip service to defending the Genesis account of creation but won't proclaim it too loudly lest they offend some evolution-believing members of their church.

Other churches, like the one represented by the critic above, openly proclaim that evolution is true and they use science as their paradigm to interpret Scripture. To them, Genesis can't mean what it says because science says otherwise. Obviously, their opinion of science is higher than their opinion of the Bible. This is a dangerous path to trod. Science also says that virgin women cannot conceive children. Science also says that dead men don't come back to life. Do these events in the Bible belong in the same “non-literal” genre as the creation? If we don't trust the plain meaning of the words of Scripture, then in what part of the Bible can we ever have confidence?

Read the critic's quote again. Note carefully how he condemns young-earth creationists for saying that, “"The Flintstones" represents real and true history.” Should I remind him that I believe the plain meaning of the words of the Bible? He is essentially saying that the Bible presents a Flintstones-like representation of history and creationists are stupid for believing it.

It's no wonder that many churches fail to reach the lost. What is their gospel? That it's OK to not believe the Bible – just believe in Jesus? What kind of gospel is that? Though these churches may claim to follow Christ, their attitude lies in direct opposition to what Christ taught. He said that if someone doesn't believe the Bible then neither will he believe in Him. They just don't get it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why Don't Rich People Stimulate the Economy?

I first heard the lie from Nancy Pelosi: unemployment compensation gives the best stimulus bang for the buck. If you give an unemployed person a check, he will spend it which will create jobs. The logic is an obvious failure though because with all the people currently receiving unemployment, we should be growing the economy like crazy! As a matter of fact, unemployment just went from 9.7% to 9.8% so we now have MORE people out of work even though we pay unemployment benefits for 99 weeks.

The current debate over extending the Bush tax rates leads me to question the sincerity of liberals who think unemployment compensation is truly stimulative. Suddenly, they're concerned with the deficit. Their tact now seems to be that rich people paying less taxes doesn't stimulate the economy and actually raises the deficit. Are they serious?

First, let's be clear about something: no one is receiving a tax cut. The current debate is only about a tax increase. If nothing is done about the expiring tax rates, everyone's taxes will be going up starting January 1. If the tax rates are extended, then everyone's taxes will merely continue at the current rate. No one's taxes are going down no matter what happens. The debt problem we have is due to the reckless spending that's been going on. If tax rates continue at the same rate as now, it has ZERO impact on the deficit. I wish the alternative news outlets like CBS, NBC, MSNBC, etc, would get that right.

But even if this were a tax cut, there's a question I'd like to ask liberals: What do you think rich people do with their money? Seriously, what do you think? Do they invest it in stock? Do they take vacations? Do they start businesses? Do they buy fancy cars? Do they buy fancy homes, nice clothes, or eat at expensive restaurants? The obvious answer is that they do all of these things. So under what premise is it that liberals claim this doesn't stimulate the economy? Who do you think works in the hotels where the rich people vacation? Who builds the cars that rich people buy? Who builds the homes or makes the clothes or serves the food where rich people spend their money? Who works in the businesses that rich people start?

People spending money is what makes an economy – and rich people have the most money! The impact of the dollars they spend is significant. It creates jobs.

Now, don't get me wrong, poor and middle class people who spend money create jobs as well but their impact isn't the same. Many people who are out of work will try to “tighten their belts.” They try to save their money and pinch their pennies. They might not buy a new car, for example, but may buy a used one instead. When someone buys a used car, nothing new has been manufactured. Also, an unemployed person might not take the vacation he had planned. He might put off the home remodel or even the home repairs. Unemployed people tend to only spend their money on the necessities. It is because of these things that the economic impact of their spending is much more narrow.

I once heard a liberal say in an online debate that the rich only get their money by taking it from the poor. Can they not see the lunacy in such a statement? If I have a product to sell, I don't even try to sell it to people who don't have money to buy it. How can I get rich off people who have no money? In order for me to make money, I have to offer some good or service that someone else who has money wants to buy. It's a win-win proposition: they get a good or service and I get money. It's the American way!

Allowing tax rates to go up in a tough economy like this is insane. Don't let the liberals' attempt at class warfare fool you. Even if only the rates on the “rich” are raised, the poor people – the ones who need jobs the most – will suffer as well.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

And You Think We're Embarrassing?

I've said many times in the past that I can't figure out the left. In fact, I've said it so many times that I'm starting to feel a little silly. Surely I can come up with something a little more original, can't I? Honestly I can't. I just cannot understand how liberals think. Oh sure, I always know what they're going to think; they're always going to hate Christians and conservatives. It's their reasoning that I can't figure out. They are able to simultaneously hold completely contradictory views and still be totally oblivious to their hypocrisy. How does a mind work like that?

OK, here's the most recent example. Liberals are all about diversity, right? I mean, they're for equality, tolerance, fairness, yadda, yadda, yadda. Take something like homosexuality. If my city ever hosted an event like a Gay Pride parade, I'd be embarrassed. Yet not the liberals. They're proud of their gay pride. To them, being gay is like a virtue and the more outrageous a gay person is, the more tolerant they are. If I don't “tolerate” their embarrassing antics, then I'm the one who has the problem. I'm called a homophobe.

Now let's compare that to the recent announcement to build an Ark-based tourist attraction in Kentucky. It seems that Courier Journal columnist, Pam Platt, is really embarrassed by it. In her editorial, A Whirlwind of Ignorance, (a reference to the movie, Inherit the Wind, based loosely on the Scopes trial), Ms. Platt said, “the proposed creationism park reinforces unfortunate stereotypes about Kentucky and Kentuckians.” In other words, she believes if we build such an attraction, it would only prove we're all just backward hicks.

Ms. Platt, where's some of that liberal tolerance now? Why is it that cities like San Francisco are called progressive and enlightened because of their tolerant attitude toward flaming homosexuals while KY embarrasses you because people here actually believe the Bible? I guess some beliefs are more equal than others. I wonder what liberals would be saying if there were a Gay Pride museum being built instead. No doubt we'd be hearing pleas for tolerance.

Can you imagine the outrage I would hear if I said I would be embarrassed if a Mosque was built in my neighborhood? Yet liberals see no hypocrisy when they feel embarrassed by Bible believing Christians. Liberals' hearts don't bleed for us.

It's clear to see who is the bigot here. Ms. Platt is a bigot of the most blatant sort. The Courier Journal should be embarrassed by her.  There's a term for Ms. Platt and those like her – they're called “theophobes.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jesus Before the Bema Seat

I very occasionally teach an adult Sunday school class. Recently, I taught a lesson on the Judgment of Believers – often called the “Bema Seat Judgment.” This is when believers stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and have their works judged. The term “judgment seat” comes from the Greek word, “βήμα” (bēma). While I was preparing for the lesson, I did a search to see how many times the word βήμα is used in the Bible. It is used 10 times (in various forms): 8 times in the epistles and twice in the gospels. The two times it is used in the gospels (Matthew 27:19 and John 19:13), it refers to the same event which is the judgment of Jesus before Pilate.

Here is the account from Matthew in context (Matthew 27:19-24):

When he [Pilate] was set down on the judgment seat [βήμα], his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

I thought it was interesting that Jesus Himself was once judged before the Bema seat. We know the outcome, of course; He was ultimately sentenced to be crucified. However, note carefully what Pilate said about Him. He said that Jesus was a “just person” who had done no evil. In John 19:6, Pilate is quoted as saying, “I find no fault in him at all.” The accusation board Pilate wrote to be placed over Jesus said only that He was “King of the Jews.” Was that the worst that could be said about Him? Pilate might as well have written, “Savior of the world.”

It's significant that Jesus was found to be without guilt. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). If Jesus had been guilty of any sin, He would have been deserving of death. If He had been deserving of death, He could not have given His life as the payment for our sins since He would have had to die for His own sins. But He was innocent. He was the lamb without blemish – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Before we stand before the Judgment Seat, it was necessary for Him to stand before the judgment seat. It is by His obedience that we are made righteous (Romans 5:19). Praise God!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Merry Christmas!

You might have already been wished a “Happy Holiday” already but just in case you haven't heard it, I wanted to be the first to wish everyone a merry Christmas! To kick off the season, I thought I'd post some more music.

It's a great medley: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and The Chorus of the Bells.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Hypocrisy of "Separation of Church and State" Advocates

In my last post, I talked a little about the antics of that wolf in sheep's clothing, Barry Lynn. The controversy around the new Ark Encounter reminded me of some of the similar controversy that surrounded the Creation Museum when it opened. I think some people need a lesson in the idea of “separation of church and state.” I wrote this a while back but this might be a good time to revisit it.

In May, 2007, I was fortunate enough to visit Answers in Genesis’s new Creation Museum the week that it opened. For those who might not be familiar with it, the Creation Museum presents the Biblical history of the world rather than the evolutionary theory. It’s a great museum that rivals any secular museum I’ve been in. It was built entirely with private donations and is overtly religious in nature.

Anyway, about the time the museum opened, there was this tiny, wanna-be-grass-roots group called DefCon who was circulating a petition protesting the museum. DefCon is an abbreviation for “Defense of the Constitution” - you’ll see in a moment how ironic that is. Now, DefCon has the right to protest anything they want. They can picket, circulate petitions, tell lies (actually they shouldn’t tell lies but they still do), and try to discourage support for the museum in any way they see fit. However, everything was not as it seemed.

There were actually 2 petitions being circulated - one for educators to sign and the other for everyone else. The wording in each was nearly identical except the first began, “As educators..."; So, the people who signed this petition were specifically evoking their positions as educators when they signed it.

I first became alarmed when I read a little blurb about a DefCon board member, Sam Schloemer, who happens to be an elected school board official. The article referred to him by his elected title of Representative. In his quotes, he openly condemned the museum and encouraged teachers to do the same. Of course, many of these teachers who signed the petition were PUBLIC school teachers - i.e. representatives of the state.

So let’s see here, we have an elected official encouraging other public officials to condemn a private, religious organization. Then we have public employees, acting within their capacity “as educators” actually doing it. Doesn’t anyone see a problem with this? It would be akin to a group of history teacher banding together and signing a petition saying, “As educators, we condemn the outrageous belief that Jesus was an historical person.”

Now, being the concerned, Christian voter that I am, and (at that time) a resident of OH where Rep. Schloemer serves, I wrote letters to the Governor, Rep. Schloemer, the state’s Secretary of Education. I also engaged in much online debate about the blatant infringement on the First Amendment that was occurring. The silence from the elected officials was deafening. In all fairness, the Governor’s office replied with a non-committing response but he mistakenly seemed to think the museum was in OH. The Secretary of Education said that there is no official position of the DOE but did not comment on the teachers’ actions. I never heard back from Rep. Schloemer.

The response from cyberspace was confusing. I was constantly told, over and over, that these educators had the right to sign the petition because, even though they were teachers and elected officials, they were also private citizens and had their First Amendment right free speech. They also said that AIG is trying to effect public school curriculum by telling kids God created us so it was AIG who was violating the first amendment. If these people had their way, there would be a padlock on the museum right now.

OK, let’s get this straight: A private, religious organization exercising its belief is violating the first amendment. And ELECTED officials and PUBLIC employees openly condemning a religious institution and petitioning against it is free speech? It’s Bizzaro world.

There are a few people out there who believe the first amendment says something like, “there will be a separation of church and state.” Well, the amendment does not use the word “separation” or “church” or “state” so it’s about a bad a summary as one could make. For those who are confused, let me point out what the first amendment actually says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. "

Here’s a little reading exercise. In the above quote, who is being bound or restricted by this amendment? Is it the religious person? No!! It’s CONGRESS (i.e. the state)! Religious people have the right to say, do, or believe anything they want. They can speak out and proselytize to their hearts content. They can publish newsletters and blog about how bad they think the government is. They can even build a museum and peacefully assemble there. They can do all these things and the STATE can do nothing about it. The state should do NOTHING to infringe upon the rights of Christians to exercise their faith, which includes signing a petition against them.

Perhaps there are a few teachers who signed the petition not realizing their actions were a violation of the free exercise clause. If you care to rescind your petition then you are forgiven. For all the rest - shame on you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Ark Encounter

I happened to visit Answers in Genesis' website a couple of days ago and noticed a banner saying there was going to be a big announcement today. Frankly, I had forgotten about it because a lot of times people will tease a big announcement for something that turns out to be not so big after all. Today, while my wife and I were pulling into the parking lot of a local, Chinese buffet, the noon news report on the radio announced that AiG was planning to build a “theme park.” The alleged park was reported to include a full-scale ark the size of Noah's and cost a projected $150 million! Wow!

During lunch, I had mixed feelings about the report. Was this truly going to be a “theme park”? Visions of something like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World were running through my mind. One criticism often leveled against the Creation Museum is that it's more like a “theme park” and not a serious museum. To bolster the point, I've seen critics post the photo of PZ Myers sitting astride the saddled dinosaur the museum has set up for a photo op. The critics refer to the saddled dino as an “exhibit.” It's certainly not an accurate criticism. However, if AiG truly built some kind of Noah's Ark theme park, it would likely validate the critics and seriously undermine their own credibility.

After lunch, I had to go into work and didn't get home until late. When I got home, I immediately went to AiG's website to learn more about the announcement. Much to my relief, it isn't really a “theme park” in the sense the radio report had implied. It is described as a “tourist attraction” and while the attraction will be themed, it isn't rides and games. The Ark Encounter website describes it as, “a one-of-a-kind facility that presents the full-size Ark and its historical background and times.” Besides a full-sized replica of the Ark (what it might have looked like), the attraction will also include a 100-foot “Tower of Babel” (what it might have looked like) with a 500 seat theater, a petting zoo billed as “Noah's Animals”, and several other themed attractions. Like the Creation Museum, it seems the Ark Project seeks to educate visitors in the historical reality of the Bible. It's purpose is to both educate and evangelize. Unlike the Museum, however, the new attraction will be “for profit.”

The radio spot also included a sound bite from Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. This man purports to be a Christian but since the Bible says we can know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16), I have my suspicions about him. One thing that helped seal the deal for the project is that Kentucky has special tax incentives in place to lure outside, tourist interests to KY. Barry Lynn feels that since the Ark attraction is overtly religious, it should not receive any kind of tax subsidy. I guess Mr. Lynn feels it's OK to subsidize a NASCAR Sprint Cup Race (which also received the subsidy) but not a group like AiG for an attraction like the Ark Encounter. Is he serious? I'm sure he is. Liberals think they're being “fair” when they exclude Christians from enjoying the same benefits available to everyone else.

There are still a lot of hurdles to jump before ribbon is cut at the new attraction's opening. All in all, I'm excited about it. When the Creation Museum opened, I was able to attend it the first week. Hopefully, I'll have the opportunity to visit the Ark Encounter in the Spring of 2014. Good luck to AiG.