Thursday, November 27, 2008
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Now, it’s true that we are sometimes ungrateful and take for granted the blessings God bestows on us. But I feel it is somewhat short sighted to measure our blessings by comparing our situation to a worse alternative: “I may be out of work but I still have my health.” OK, so what about people who don’t have good health? “Well, maybe they don’t have their health but they still have a family that loves them.”
And what’s more, are we only thankful if we can think of something “good” God has done for us? “God, I know I’m in terrible health but I’m not dead yet so thanks!”
Is that really how some people try to make themselves feel better – by considering how much worse off they could be? To me it’s like being waist deep in quick sand and saying, “I’m thankful that I’m not chest deep like that fellow over there.”
To me, there is exactly one thing to be thankful for: my new life through Jesus. When we are passed from death into life, everything else in this world becomes secondary. It doesn’t really matter if I’m rich or wretched, comfortable or destitute, fat or starving. I’m thankful to God because no matter how good or bad I have it now, I’ve got something infinitely better prepared for me.
Even if I were the richest person in the world, I know that it would someday all pass away so why would I be thankful for that? Think about the rich man in Luke 12:17-20:
“And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”I have a home ready that was not made by hands. I have a treasure stored up where thieves cannot steal it and rust does not corrupt it. What more could I possibly ask for?
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)Wow! Now that’s something to be thankful for.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
It came up in a discussion about eHarmony’s decision (coercion?) to make their services available to gays. Concerning eHarmony, this liberal said, “the right to promote one's values ends where other people's rights begin.” That’s curious. Why can’t it be the right of someone to be gay ends where my right to exercise my religion begins? For ones who wear the mantle of “tolerance”, liberals are the most intolerant people I’ve ever met.
But I’m not here to talk about tolerance. Today, I’m going to talk about the economy. Yes, I think this issue of “fairness” is hurting the economy and I’ll show you how. In my post, eHarmony Caves, I said that if I were the owner of eHarmony, I simply wouldn’t do business in NJ. It just now occurred to me that a lot of people probably feel the same way.
We’re supposed to live in a free market society. To many people, the American dream is to own their own business and to be their own boss. Liberals, of course, believe the American dream is equality to everyone. Not equal opportunity, mind you, but equal results. If someone is very successful in business, and makes a lot of money, the Obama/Biden ticket says it’s time for that person to be “patriotic” and “share the wealth.”
But this eHarmony thing shows another area where liberals want to meddle in the free market. If I run a business, I have to “be fair” in my business dealings as well. Imagine, for example, I save a little money and buy a small house that I’m going to fix up and rent. As a Christian, perhaps I have a moral objection to renting the house to same sex couples. Perhaps I have a moral objection to renting it to unmarried couples. So what? As a Christian landlord, isn’t that my right? I guess not because if I refused to rent to a gay or unmarried couple, you can bet that I’d soon be hearing from a civil rights attorney or even the attorney general.
If I were forced to rent a home and facilitate a relationship that I thought was immoral, I would probably sell the home and forget the whole thing. Likewise, if I wanted to start a business that catered to Christians, but knew I’d have a legal battle from non-Christians and gays, then guess what? I’ll probably not start the business!
What if the owner of eHarmony decided that instead of caving on the issue, he would just close shop instead? In an economy already hurting for jobs, it would be still one more business putting people on the streets.
Now some people will think I’m over reacting. Just ask yourself this: if you are a Christian, would you start a business if you were FORCED to employee gays, give benefits to the same-sex partners of gays, and discipline Christian employees if they dared to object? If anyone answers “No, I wouldn’t start the business” then I rest my case. If even one person doesn’t open a business for fear of violating his religious convictions, then that’s one less opportunity to grow the economy.
Now, if I wanted to open a business that promotes pornography, drinking, dancing, etc, the liberals don’t seem to mind that at all – unless of course I allowed smoking there!
Monday, November 24, 2008
In a recent post, I talked about Jesus’ conversation with Peter where He called Peter, “a rock.” In that same conversation, Jesus promised to give to Peter, “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” What exactly does that mean?
In the KJV, there are exactly eight verses using the word key: Besides this verse it also appears in Judges 3:25, Isaiah 22:22, Luke 11:52, Revelation 1:18, Revelation 3:7, Revelation 9:1, and Revelation 20:1. No other passage cites, “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”
Of the passages that cite keys, only two are of particular note:
And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
This is certainly a reference to Jesus as seen in Revelation 3:7:
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Since there is no other passage that explains what the keys to the kingdom of heaven are, we should look at the context of the passage to help us understand.
When we read the entire verse, after Jesus promises the keys to the kingdom, He immediately follows up saying, “and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” I suggest to you that the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” precisely is the power of loosing and binding. Indeed, what else can it be? And furthermore, most people understand this authority of binding and loosing was given by Jesus only to Peter. But the reality is, the authority was not given to only Peter. We see later that Jesus gave this same authority to all of the disciples (Matthew 18:18).
Of course, this begs the question: what is the authority to loose and bind? Some people believe it is the authority of the priesthood to forgive sins. I think an examination of the Greek sheds a little more light on it.
The words binding and loosing appear in the “perfect” aspect. The perfect aspect represent events in the past that have effects into the present (see my post, An Open Door). The most forceful example of this is perhaps Jesus’ persistent use of the phrase “it is written.” It would literally read, “it is having been written.” In this passage, it literally says, “it has been bound” and “it has been loosed.” But both are modified with the future verb estai (it shall be). So the passage literally reads, “it shall be having been bound… it shall be having been loosed.”
Most scholars understand this to mean that whatever the disciples proclaimed on earth, has already been decided in heaven. That is, when they speak, they are speaking not their own will but the will of God. Whatever they say will be bound has already been bound and what they say will be loosed has already been loosed.
As I discussed in another post, God did give certain authority to His prophets and apostles to speak the word of God before we received the cannon of Scripture. I believe here is just another example of that. Jesus tells the disciples that they will have the ability to announce to the world what has been bound and what has been loosed.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
“And Jesus answering said to him, `Happy art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal [it] to thee, but my Father who is in the heavens. And I also say to thee, that thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my assembly, and gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:17-18, Young’s Literal)
There are some people who interpret this passage to be a special commission that Jesus gave exclusively to Peter. That Christ, in this passage, is telling Peter that He will build his church on Peter (the rock). There are immediately 2 things I see in this passage that cause me to think otherwise.
First, Jesus refers to Simon-Peter as, Πέτρος (a rock) but says He will build His church upon ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ (this rock). Immediately we see that there are two different words used here: Πέτρος (Strong’s word # 4074) and πέτρα (Strong’s word # 4073). Why the difference? Admittedly the difference is subtle but the latter generally refers to a massive rock, like a cliff. πέτρα is used in Revelation 6:16, “and they say to the mountains and to the rocks (πέτραις), `Fall upon us, and hide us from the face of Him who is sitting upon the throne, and from the anger of the Lamb,'”
The usual explanation offered for the difference is that πέτρα is a feminine noun and Πέτρος is masculine; Jesus would not have given Peter a feminine name. To that argument I respond that Πέτρος is not even meant to be a name but a predicate adjective. Consider John 14:6, ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ὁδὸς καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια καὶ ἡ ζωή· (I am the way and the truth and the life). These are all feminine nouns, rather they are adjectives Jesus uses to describe Himself. So there is nothing in the Greek language that would have prevented Jesus from saying to Peter, σὺ εἶ πέτρα.
The second thing that jumps out at me is the emphatic use of the pronoun, σὺ. As I discussed in another blog, the use of a pronoun here is redundant since it’s already implied in the verb εἶ (you are). The emphatic use of the pronoun creates a contrast between the first clause and second clause: YOU are a rock – I will build my church on THIS rock.
I believe Jesus was referring to Himself as THIS Rock. He identified Peter as “a rock” because of Peter’s faith.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
In case you haven’t heard, eHarmony has recently settled a 7-year-long lawsuit in NJ by agreeing to offer its services for gays to meet same sex partners (source here). Previously, the site only arranged meetings for heterosexual couples with a focus on long-term relationships and even marriage. Match.com and Yahoo have long offered their sites/service to gays.
I think it’s a ridiculous case. Some news reports have compared it to “a meat-eater suing a vegetarian restaurant for not offering him a rib-eye, or a female patient suing a vasectomy doctor for not providing her hysterectomy services.”
To have fought the battle for seven years is to be commended but the sudden about face is somewhat disconcerting.
The dating site came into prominence in 2001 after its founder, Clark Warren appeared on James Dobson’s radio show. It immediately received 90,000 referrals and has climbed from 4,000 clients in 2001 to more than 20,000,000 today. According to Dr. Dobson, Dr. Warren told the LA Times that association of eHarmony with Focus on the Family is “the kiss of death.”
And when I say, “cave” I mean they CAVED – big time. Some of the terms of the agreement are as follows:
>eHarmony will launch the new same-sex dating site, named "Compatible Partners," by March 31.
>They will offer a free, 6-month subscription to 10,000 gay users.
>Pay the plaintiff, Eric McKinley $5,000 and fork over $50,000 to New Jersey's Civil Rights division "to cover investigation-related administrative costs." (AKA shakedown money)
> Post photos of same-sex couples in the "Diversity" section of its website.
>Revise anti-discrimination statements placed on company websites, in company handbooks and other company publications to make plain that it does not discriminate on the basis of "sexual orientation"
Now, if I owned eHarmony, I would have simply posted the following on my website:
"We’re sorry but our services are not available to residents of New Jersey. For additional information, please contact your attorney general.”
Further reading: Another Take on eHarmony
Friday, November 21, 2008
Almost 40 years ago, Dr. Thomas Barnes, a young earth creationist, observed that the magnetic field of the earth is decaying at an observable rate. Based on measurements taken since the late 19th century, as well certain archeological measurements, he estimated the half-life of the field to be only around 1,400 years (meaning the field loses ½ of its strength every 1,400 years).
This spells trouble for anyone believing in an old earth. As we go back further in time, the field would have been exponentially stronger. More than 10,000 years ago, the field would have been so strong it would melt the earth!
Of course, evolutionists disagree. Rather than a decaying field, evolutionists subscribe to the “dynamo theory” where the field is created and sustained by the rotation of the earth and a molten core. Although the strength of the field can vary, the field is continuously being regenerated.
Dr. Russell Humphreys holds a PhD in physics from Louisiana State University and is also a young-earth creationist. He’s had a very successful career in the private sector and, after retirement, continues to do work for ICR and AiG. Though militant evolutionists despise him, he is highly regarded among creationists for research in creationist studies such as the RATE project.
Several years ago, Dr. Humphreys successfully embarrassed secular astronomers by correctly predicting the “magnetic moments” of both Uranus and Neptune. He published his predictions more than 5 years before the Voyage spacecraft sailed past the planets and confirmed his theory. The assumptions he used in his predictions were based on a young universe. The remarkable thing is that his prediction differed from secular scientists’ models (based on the dynamo theory) by an order of magnitude.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
In the news today, I heard about an Oregon woman who is out $400,000 after falling for one of these scams. I guess I should feel sorry for her but it’s really hard to. Here’s why:
For those people unfamiliar with the Nigerian scam, let me give you a thumbnail explanation. A person in the US gets an unsolicited email, letter, or fax from a Nigerian “official.” The person claims to have some vast fortune (tens of millions of dollars) in some frozen asset in Nigeria and he’s trying to get the money into the US. He’s looking for some willing accomplice in the US to help him get the money out. The US accomplice fronts some money to pay some fees, bribes, and other miscellaneous expenses, and the “official” promises to cut the accomplice in for a huge percent. Above all else, the Nigerian official asks the whole thing must be kept hush-hush. You know what happens next, the US citizen fronts the money and the vast fortune never materializes.
An equally obnoxious scam is when a person receives notice they’ve won an “international lottery” but they have to pay some up front money in “taxes” before receiving the big haul.
But why people fall for such schemes? I don’t know. Actually I do know: THEY’RE GREEDY. These people think they’re going to get something for nothing – or a lot for a little. So, they stay “hush-hush” and help the crooked Nigerian official smuggle the money out. Some of them even think they’re going to pull one over on the official and pocket the entire sum. Hah! And these international lottery “victims” are the worst. Did it not occur to them they’ve never even bought an “international lottery” ticket? How can you win a lottery you never bought a ticket for? By the way, it’s illegal to play in international lotteries.
If all these people lost was their own money, it probably wouldn’t annoy me so much. The part that bothers me is that, in their greed-driven madness, they often suck true victims into their scheme. In the lottery scam, sometimes people will receive a “cashier’s check” which supposedly represents a small portion of the earnings. The victim is supposed to cash the check and immediately wire back a portion of the check for the taxes. What’s wrong with this? BINGO! The “cashier’s check” is a fake. The person’s account is suddenly thousands of dollars overdrawn. Often the banks can never collect this money back. What’s worse, a lot of times these “victims” have their friends or family members cash the check for them so it’s really their friends’ accounts that become overdrawn!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Today, we do see people speaking in tongues, healing, and even handling snakes. But I don’t believe the events we see today are the same spiritual gifts given to the early church. First, we have to consider why Jesus performed miracles. Jesus Himself tells us why:
“But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.”
So the miracles of Jesus were to testify that the Father had sent Him. We see this theme in many of Jesus’ miracles. Consider Matthew 9:4-6:
“And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.”
Jesus here performs a miracle to demonstrate his authority from God – in this case, the authority to forgive sins. But why did the apostles and early church perform miracles? Pretty much, it was for the same reason. When Jesus commissioned the Twelve, look at what He said:
“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease… These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:1,5-8)
Jesus gave the apostles the ability to do miracles – even raising the dead! – as a sign of their God-ordained authority. We also see similar examples in the OT, such as in Exodus 4:1-8, where God commanded Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. Moses feared no one would believe God had sent him so God gave Moses miracles to perform as evidence.
When Moses led the people out of Egypt, there were no Scriptures. Likewise, when Paul began his first mission journey, there was no New Testament. In both instances, these men were speaking new revelation from God. The only way to show they had the authority to do this was by performing signs. Until the cannon of Scripture was finished, tongues and prophecy were the only way to receive new revelation from God. At Pentecost, for example, when people first began speaking in tongues, the Bible says they heard them “speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11). Acts 10:46 says, “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” And Acts 19:6 says, “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” So the speaking of tongues was very closely linked to prophesying and magnifying God. These were miraculous gifts given by God.
Today, we have the full cannon of Scripture. Of course it’s true that God is still in the miracle business. But the time of the apostles and the prophets is passed. There is no new revelation from God. We have the Bible and that is sufficient to equip us to do God’s work and to know His will.
Obviously there are still those people who believe these kinds of miracles continue because there are still people who handle snakes, drink poison, and speak in tongues. But I also know that sometimes these people die from snakebites, which cannot be said of the God ordained apostles (Read about Paul’s snakebite in Acts 28:3-6). I’ve also not seen faith healers raising people from the dead as the apostles could (the claims of Todd Bentley not withstanding).
I certainly believe God is capable of anything. But what He can do is not necessarily what He does do. I'm the last person who would doubt the ability of God to perform miracles. God has a perfect place prepared for us. A place that is free of the Curse. This place is not our home and God doesn't intend for us to live here forever. While we're here, there will be death, disease, and suffering. Today, people DIE from snakebites and poison - even believers.
In Biblical times (both OT and NT), God gave us prophets and apostles to let His plan be known to us. So that we could be sure who was of God and who wasn't, He also gave them the ability to work miracles. But now we have the complete revelation of God and there are no more apostles or prophets. The need for signs has ended.
I do not believe that people anymore have the same authority Christ gave to the apostles or prophets. If anyone claims to be speaking the word of God, I will compare what he says to the Scripture. If he claims some new revelation, I will dismiss him outright. If he supposedly performs miracles, I will be all the more skeptical. The next miracle I’m waiting for is the return of Christ.
Monday, November 17, 2008
You can read a short abstract about an upcoming documentary here but this is the gist:
On Election Day, 12 Obama supporters were interviewed and asked questions straight from a recent Zogby poll. Here are some results from the original poll:
512 Obama Voters 11/13/08-11/15/08 MOE +/- 4.4 points
>97.1% High School Graduate or higher, 55% College Graduates
Results to 12 simple Multiple Choice Questions
>57.4% could NOT correctly say which party controls congress (50/50 shot just by guessing)
>81.8% could NOT correctly say Joe Biden quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism (25% chance by guessing)
>82.6% could NOT correctly say that Barack Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot (25% chance by guessing)
>88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket (25% chance by guessing)
>56.1% could NOT correctly say Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground (25% chance by guessing).
Only 13.7% failed to identify Sarah Palin as the person on which their party spent $150,000 in clothes
Only 6.2% failed to identify Palin as the one with a pregnant teenage daughter
And 86.9 % thought that Palin said that she could see Russia from her "house," even though that was Tina Fey who said that!!
Only 2.4% got at least 11 correct.
Only .5% got all of them correct. (And we "gave" one answer that was technically not Palin, but actually Tina Fey)
You can see for yourselves how the Obama supporters answered. As I’ve already said, the information these people have heard is obviously skewed to support Obama. In this clip, all of the interviewees knew that Sarah Palin has a pregnant teenage daughter and that the RNC spent $150K on her wardrobe. None of them knew who Bill Ayers was.
It would be funny if it weren’t so downright scary!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman; every branch in me not bearing fruit, He doth take it away, and every one bearing fruit, He doth cleanse by pruning it, that it may bear more fruit;” (John 15:1-2, Young’s Literal)
For those people who believe in the doctrine of eternal security (like myself), this passage from John is one we need to carefully consider. Many people cite this verse as evidence that it is possible to fall away from the faith. Indeed, at first glance, this passage seems to indicate just that. However, in the broader context of the chapter, I don’t believe v. 2 is talking about being removed from the vine.
Let’s look at this more closely.
The key word in v. 2 is αἴρει (Strong's Number 142 (αἴρω)). Most translations have rendered this, “take away” or some similar term to that effect. The impression is that we are removed from the vine. The word is used in this sense in Mark 4:15:
εὐθὺς ἔρχεται ὁ Σατανᾶς καὶ αἴρει τὸν λόγον τὸν ἐσπαρμένον εἰς αὐτούς.
Immediately Satan comes and takes the word which has been sown in them.
But the primary root of the word means to “lift up.” Again from Strong’s:
A primary root; to lift up; by implication, to take up or away; figuratively, to raise (the voice), keep in suspense (the mind), specially, to sail away (i.e. Weigh anchor); by Hebraism (compare nasa') to expiate sin -- away with, bear (up), carry, lift up, loose, make to doubt, put away, remove, take (away, up).
Another consideration is that v. 2 deals with branches abiding in Christ (πᾶν κλῆμα ἐν ἐμοὶ - every branch in me). Verses 1-5 contrast the difference between abiding in Christ (able to produce fruit) and not abiding in Christ (not able to produce fruit). Verse 5 is interesting:
ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος, ὑμεῖς τὰ κλήματα. ὁ μένων ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ οὗτος φέρει καρπὸν πολύν, ὅτι χωρὶς ἐμοῦ οὐ δύνασθε ποιεῖν οὐδέν.
I AM the vine, you are the branches. The one abiding in me and I in him, this same bears much fruit, because without me you are not able to do anything.
We see then that every branch abiding in Him produces fruit. Does that contradict v. 2, which says that branches not producing fruit are taken out? Not at all! The branches not producing fruit are lifted up by the husbandman so they can bear fruit.
But verse 6 warns:
ἐὰν μή τις μένῃ ἐν ἐμοί ἐβλήθη ἔξω ὡς τὸ κλῆμα καὶ ἐξηράνθη καὶ συνάγουσιν αὐτὰ καὶ εἰς τὸ πῦρ βάλλουσιν καὶ καίεται.
Unless someone should abide in me, he is cast out as the branch and is withered and they gather them and they throw [them] into the fire and they burn.
So we see that it’s those branches that do not abide in Christ that are removed and cast into the fire.
Friday, November 14, 2008
The theory behind such a move is simple: It’s the corporations and wealthy business owners that employ the working class Americans. If the top rates are reduced, there will be more money to grow businesses and expand the economy, more people will be working, and revenue to the government will actually increase. This “trickle down” effect earned his strategy the nickname, “trickle down economics.” Critics called it, “voodoo economics”, a term ironically coined by George H. W. Bush.
Did his strategy work? Oh yes! It worked big time. Americans enjoyed the nation’s longest, peacetime expansion of the economy in US history. And revenue to the Federal government went from just over 500 billion in 1980 to over 1 trillion in 1990!
Needless to say, liberals despised it. Liberals see the tax code as a tool for social engineering. The idea that wealthy people actually got to keep their own money is completely contrary to their socialistic tendencies – er – I mean, ideas of “fairness.” They vilified Reagan and his plan in every way they could imagine and still do so today. It’s class warfare in the extreme. How many times during this presidential campaign did we hear Obama ramble on about McCain’s “tax cuts for big oil” or “tax cuts for the wealthy”?
But they loved spending the money though! They spent money like sailors on leave. And even though tax receipts doubled during the ‘80’s, spending went up exponentially and the nation had even higher deficits than before.
Now, fast forward to today. What is all this talk about bailouts? Why are we forking out hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up failing businesses? Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG are “big business” by anyone’s definition. Now we’re talking about $25 billion for the big three automakers too!
Could someone please explain to me the qualitative difference between letting big business keep more money via tax cuts and writing a government check to big business? The only difference I see is that the government gets to attach a boat-load of strings when it writes the check.
I’m sorry to point it out to these Dem’s but this is a great big “gotcha”! You’ve known all along that it’s “big business” that drives the economy. When we help the lenders, it helps the borrowers. When we help the automakers, it helps the workers. The economy grows, revenue grows, and everybody is happy
Psst, Congressman Frank… your hypocrisy is showing.
"As a thief is disgraced when he is caught,
so the house of Israel is disgraced—
they, their kings and their officials,
their priests and their prophets.
They say to wood, 'You are my father,'
and to stone, 'You gave me birth.'
They have turned their backs to me
and not their faces;
yet when they are in trouble, they say,
'Come and save us!'
Where then are the gods you made for yourselves?
Let them come if they can save you
when you are in trouble!
For you have as many gods
as you have towns, O Judah.
Now, in the context of the passage, these verses are specifically dealing with Israel’s sin of idolatry. The people worshipped idols of stone and wood as though these were their gods. They rejected the Creator God and replaced Him with gods of their own choosing and God is chiding their foolishness for believing a tree or a rock created them.
Today, secular science believes there was once an event dubbed, “abiogenesis.” Abiogenesis is the belief that non-living chemicals somehow arranged themselves to become the first living life form – the supposed common ancestor of all living things. There are many different theories as to how such a thing could happen but it’s important to note that abiogenesis has never been duplicated or observed. Even though there is no scientific evidence that such a thing is possible, they still believe it happened because,… well… here we are!
So tell me, what exactly is the qualitative difference between believing we came from a rock and believing we came from a fortunate arrangement of chemicals? Some people ridicule me for believing in creation. I think it’s far more incredible to believe life just happened by itself. The latter looks to me like a modern version of believing a stone gave us birth.
It’s true that the fledging Hebrew nation at the time of Moses didn’t know everything we know, but they weren’t idiots. If God wanted to say that He created over billions of years, He didn’t have to say “six days” because these Jews were too stupid to understand anything else. The Bible has very clearly demonstrated its ability to convey enormous numbers by comparing them to things like the grains of sand in the sea (as in Genesis 41:49).
But besides that, there’s another point of disagreement I have with TE folks. Online the other day, one TE Christian made the following comment: “...[God] used evolution to create other living creatures, culminating in us.”
If God created us via evolution, where exactly are we in the process? Have we evolved any since Adam? Have we reached perfection and ceased evolving? If things continue, what will we look like in 100,000 more years? 1,000,000 more years? Are we in the image of God now or will we be in another few millennia?Most evolutionists I know believe evolution is still occurring. I've heard the stats about things like the average height of humans and the density of our teeth even over the last few decades that evolutionists use to support their claims. If God created via evolution, it hasn't "culminated in us." We are just the current model. It seems to me, some people who hold to TE haven’t thought out the consequences of their belief.
There are a lot different “interpretations” of Genesis. Besides TE there are theories like “progressive creationism” and the Gap Theory. The common theme in all of these is they all attempt to show how the Bible is compatible with “science.” The sad fact is that whenever scientific opinion seems to conflict with the Bible, these folks immediately begin to “re-interpret” the Bible. I guess it doesn’t occur to them that it’s the scientific opinion that could be wrong.
In future posts, I intend to detail some of the more mainstream theories people use to warp Genesis to fit science as well as discuss the failings of such compromises. In the meanwhile, let me issue a blanket objection: the plain reading of Genesis is the correct one. We need not look for some other way to read it.
When considering the sovereignty of God, I don’t know if any example in the Bible is as thought provoking as this passage from Esther. If anyone is unfamiliar with the story, I encourage him to read the whole book for himself. One curious fact about Esther is that it is the only book of the Bible that doesn’t mention God. However, the hand of God is clearly seen moving throughout the entire account.
In the story leading up to Esther 4:13, the former queen of Persia had been put away for disobeying king Ahasuerus (AKA Xerxes). Esther was chosen to marry the king because of her beauty but he was unaware that she was a Jew. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, had instructed her to not reveal her heritage (perhaps he himself had received this word from God). The villain of the book is Haman, a high-ranking official of Ahasuerus who held bitter contempt for Mordecai. His hate for Mordecai drove him to persuade the king to issue a decree ordering the genocide of all Jews in Persia.
Mordecai had sent a message to Esther asking her to go before the king to plead for the Jews to be spared. However, the custom then was that no one (not even the queen) could appear before the king uninvited. To do so could be a capital offense unless the king had mercy and welcomed the person by holding out his scepter.
Esther was faced with a dilemma: appear before the king uninvited and face possible execution or stand by and watch her people perish. Fearing for her life she was afraid to go before the king.
Mordecai was a man of faith, though. He expected God to deliver the Jews and in this passage he’s basically telling Esther, “God is going to deliver us either with you or without you.” But then he reminds Esther that she is not queen by accident. She is there by God’s sovereignty; perhaps for no other reason than to plead for the Jews before the king. As Mordecai put it, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
As Christians, we don’t live our lives by accident. Where ever we are and what ever we’re doing, we are where God has put us. He has put us there either to do His will or He has allowed us to be there as the recompense for our disobedience. At any moment though, we have the opportunity to be obedient.
One thing I’ve noticed is the egocentric attitudes of many Christians. If things are going great, they rejoice and say, “God is blessing me.” If things are not going great, they lament and say, “God is testing me.” Has it occurred to any of them that maybe it is not about them at all? Perhaps you got that great job so that you could be a witness to someone in that same office. Perhaps you lost your job so that you would be at home to talk to a certain Jehovah’s Witness that comes to your door.
It’s not likely that many of us will decide the fate of a people by our actions. Nevertheless, God still has a purpose for us. Perhaps we need to encourage someone; perhaps we need to help someone; perhaps we need to witness to someone. Whenever we’re faced with any decision, we need to ask ourselves, “What would God have me to do right now?” Who knows, maybe you’ve come to that place for no other reason than to do the right thing for God at that very moment.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
“they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. "Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him.” (John 8:4-6, NASB)
In Greek grammar, the function of a word in a sentence is determined by its inflection. Words in the nominative case, for example, are the subject no matter where they appear in the sentence. This is quite a departure from English where function is largely determined by word order. In English, for example, the subject usually appears before the verb. In the sentence, “John gave the book to Jane,” “John” is the subject, “the book” is the object, and “Jane” is the indirect object. It would be extremely awkward to say, “To Jane gave John the book.”
The use of inflection by the Greeks gave them much more liberty in arranging word order. They could choose, for instance, to arrange the words in a way that sounded more pleasing. One important reason for choosing word order, though, was to stress emphasis. Words are occasionally brought to the front of a sentence in order to stress that word.
One forceful example of this comes from John 8:4-6. In this account of the woman caught in adultery, the intent of the Pharisees is to catch Jesus in a dilemma so they might accuse Him before the people. They begin by reminding Him that the Law commands adulterers to be stoned. But note what they ask Him:
σὺ οὖν τί λέγεις;
Literally this reads, “You, therefore, what do you say?” Note the position of the pronoun σὺ at the beginning of the sentence whereas in most English translations, "you" appears toward the end of the sentence. Furthermore, the use of a pronoun is redundant since it is already implied in the verb λέγεις (“you say”). The redundant use of pronouns adds additional emphasis to the Pharisees’ question. The Pharisees could have simply asked τί λέγεις; (“what do you say?), which is a simple interrogative. This way the question would have been much more benign.
The intent of the Pharisees was overt. They were trying to provoke Jesus into speaking against the Law of Moses: The Law says this – but what do YOU say?
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
The fundamental flaw in their argument is the unproven assumption that “born of water” means baptism. I don’t believe it does.
In all of Scripture, the term “born of water” occurs exactly once. Besides this verse, there is no other passage we can examine that might shed more light on the meaning of this term. Consequently, we only have the context of this verse to help us understand what Jesus meant by His statement to Nicodemus.
There are at least 4 possible meanings to the term, “born of water.”
First, is the possibility that it does mean water baptism. There are a few problems with this view. First, the words “baptize” or “baptism” occur approximately 85 times in Scripture. And even though this ritual is frequently mentioned, nowhere is it called, being “born of water.” If someone wants to associate this term with baptism, the burden should be upon them to do so because Scripture doesn’t make the connection.
Furthermore, to say, “one must be baptized and born of the Spirit” is antithetical to the rest of Scripture which says we are saved by grace through faith and not by any outward acts such as good deeds or circumcision (Ephesians 2:8, Romans 4:9-12)
Another possibility is that being “born of water” means being cleansed by the washing of the Word. There are a few passages that could support this idea such as Ephesians 5:26. Consider especially John 15:3 where Jesus said, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” This is reinforced in the scene where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples (John 13:9-10):
"Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all."
If a saved person is considered “washed”, “cleansed”, or “bathed” (or maybe “born of water”), then Jesus’ words to Peter are clear: we never have to be “bathed” again. If we sin – that is, “get our feet dirty” – we only need to be restored by the washing of our feet. We do no need to become saved again.
I think “born of water” fits quite nicely with the idea of being washed in the Word. But we cannot dogmatically insist that it is the same thing. There are still two other ways to interpret this passage that could be equally valid.
A third possible way to understand this passage is to look at the Greek conjunction kai, (Strong's Number 2532, καί). kai can be translated as “and” but it can also mean “even.” In this view, the passage could be translated to say, “you must be born of water, even the Spirit.” This would be similar to point two above where being “born of water” means to be cleansed by the word. Only in this case, Jesus is identifying the Agent of the cleansing as the Holy Spirit.
While these three may all be valid understandings, I believe the most likely meaning is that “born of water” is simply a reference to the physical birth. Even today, the amniotic fluid is referred to as “water” and when we’re born, we’re quite literally “born out of water.” Let’s examine the context of the passage again.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). It seems obvious that the phrase, “born again” necessarily compares the second birth (the spiritual birth) with the first birth (the physical birth).
Nicodemus apparently made the connection but became confused, thinking Jesus was referring to a second physical birth. John 3:4, “Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?”
Now read the next to statements together (John 3:5-6):
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
I believe the passage is clear but let me paraphrase: “A person must be born physically AND spiritually. (because) That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Now, skip forward a little further, Nicodemus is still struggling with understanding the spiritual rebirth. Jesus makes the following statement (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?”
We see Jesus is again comparing spiritual truths to physical truths. Jesus often explained spiritual truths by comparing them to things we understand. Consider the number of times Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” In this passage, Jesus is comparing the rebirth - the spiritual birth - to the physical birth.
“Born of water” referring to the physical birth also agrees nicely with 1 Peter 1:23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” So we are first born of corruptible seed (the flesh) and then we are born again of incorruptible seed (the word of God via the Spirit).
I will let the reader decide for himself the meaning of the term. While it seems to me that “born of water” very clearly refers to the physical birth, I can also see that there are other possible ways to understand the term. Furthermore, I believe the “born of water means baptism” explanation is the least likely meaning.
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" US Dept of Veterans Affairs
Though WWI was called, “the war to end all wars,” the sad fact is that there have been many wars since then. But the Bible says there truly will be a day when war will end. We look forward to that day when the Prince of Peace will set up His kingdom on the earth. Isaiah 2:4 tells us about that time:
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
“In this undated photo released by the University of Utah, geologist Winston Seiler poses next a trackway, or set of prints made by the same dinosaur, as it walked through a wet, sandy oasis some 190 million years ago.”
I can see why they were disappointed. The “footprints” and “tail-drag marks” were just potholes from water and erosion. Isn't it interesting how much of the earth’s topography is shaped by water and erosion? Hmmm.
“"We went up there optimistic, really hoping we were going to find footprints," Milner said Friday. They quickly determined there were none. Instead, it was a dense collection of potholes caused by erosion in the sandstone, they said. And the supposed tail-drag marks in the rock? Probably another result of erosion, the paleontologists said.”