“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape …
but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape…
A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything …
but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear…
A strong woman won’t let anyone get the best of her …
but a woman of strength gives the best of her to everyone…
A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future…
a woman of strength realizes life’s mistakes can also be God’s blessings and capitalizes on them…
A strong woman walks sure footedly…
but a woman of strength knows God will catch her when she falls…
A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face…
but a woman of strength wears grace…
A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey…
but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong…
– Marta S. Hardy
A new year…a new diet and exercise program. But I will try to avoid the following exercises:
~ Jumping on the bandwagon
~ Wading through paperwork
~ Running around in circles
~ Pushing your luck
~ Spinning your wheels
~ Adding fuel to the fire
~ Beating your head against the wall
~ Climbing the walls
~ Beating your own drum
~ Dragging your heels
~ Jumping to conclusions
~ Grasping at straws
~ Fishing for compliments
~ Throwing your weight around
~ Passing the buck
As a legal immigrant from Egypt and a Christian, this story was particularly poignant. Will the president heed this particular plea? I would guess not, but I hold out hope.
A 15-year-old Egyptian girl, Dina el-Gohary, has written an emotional appeal to President Obama asking him to use his influence to save her father, Maher el-Gohary, who is being persecuted for his beliefs. "Mr. President Obama, we are a minority in Egypt," Dina writes, according to a report from the Assyrian International News Agency. "We are treated very badly. … We are imprisoned in our own home because Muslim clerics called for the murder of my father, and now the Government has set for us a new prison, we are imprisoned in our own country."
Dina and her father are Christian converts in a part of the world where conversion can mean death. The Muslim-majority countries of the Middle East are among the world’s greatest offenders against freedom of conscience. Religious liberty does not exist or is severely curtailed based on Shariah supremacy. Egypt is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which commits signatories to respect a variety of liberties, including religious freedom, but a court considering whether Mr. el-Gohary could legally change his religious affiliation ruled that Egypt was only bound to honor those provisions that did not contradict Islamic law, and "in the event of a contradiction, Shariah takes precedence."
Egypt’s Constitution guarantees freedom of belief but not freedom of religious practice. The same court stated that faith is "an internal, personal matter," but the right to actually practice a religion other than Islam "is subject to restrictions that may be imposed through regulations that emphasize certain higher interests, especially those related to safeguarding public order and moral values and to protecting the rights and freedoms of others." Because Muslims would take offense at Mr. el-Gohary becoming a Christian, their indignation outweighs his right to choose his faith. The state thinks that changing the religious affiliation on his identity card from Muslim to Christian is "a threat to societal order." The court further insulted Mr. el-Gohary by claiming he could not even prove he was a Christian. Documentation supplied by the Coptic Christian Church was tossed because the court said the church had no legal authority to recognize conversions and that Mr. el-Gohary was "toying with religion."
Mr. el-Gohary has had several death-sentence fatwahs issued against him, has been forced to live in hiding and has been banned from leaving the country. His case actually is one of the more benign. Former Afghan citizen Abdul Rahman converted to Christianity and was arrested and threatened with death but managed to flee to asylum in Italy. In August, during an anti-Christian riot in Pakistan, eight people were burned to death and two others were fatally shot. "You said that the Muslim minority in America are treated very well," Dina el-Gohary wrote to Mr. Obama, "so why are we not treated here likewise?" The U.S. government is well aware of Mr. el-Gohary’s plight. The State Department’s 2009 International Religious Freedom Report covers his case in detail. We urge Mr. Obama to review this report. He has gone out of his way to curry favor with Muslims at home and abroad, but the president seems unwilling to address this difficult issue. We have heard him apologize extensively for American actions abroad, but when it comes to religious liberties, the United States is not the country with the problem.
For his part, Mr. el-Gohary is adamant that he will remain a Christian regardless of the oppression he faces. He said he and his daughter would not revert to being Muslims "even if we have to live on the streets. We love our Lord Jesus, and we have left Islam for good."
I found it quite humorous to hear that President Obama won the Nobel peace prize yesterday. For me it raises the question of what peace means? How has the President brought about greater peace? Has he healed divisions? Has he ended worldly conflict somewhere?
Maybe he should have been awarded with the Nobel Prize for Literature for inventing the unique and remarkable slogan "Yes, we can" and “hope and change”?
Or maybe he should have been awarded the Prize for Medicine for inventing a miraculous Healthcare Reform plan that claims to save money while around the world, the same system is losing money and going under–with completely inferior care?
Or how about the Prize for Physics working to stop this world destroying itself due to global warming, when all the current scientific evidence is pointing in the opposite direction? Just how short-sighted are we?
And why should he be overlooked for the Prize for Economics for spending almost $800 billion dollars to create a negative number of jobs in America, throwing away much of that money in government waste and graft?
You would be hard-pressed to find any person on Earth or in history, who has achieved so much in such a short time.
A helpful clarification to modern heresies closely associated to ancient heresies by Dr. Tom Wright.
We live in an unusual age today. As objective truth collapses and the authority of a triune God who objectively reveals himself inerrantly in scripture disappears, it is little wonder that an unanchored world goes insane. What is truly sad is when once faithful and orthodox denominations abandon the authority of scripture for a worldly ethic. Many ordained leaders in my own denomination (PCUSA) as well as most other mainline denominations have signed onto a statement that abandons nearly all traditional Christian sexual ethics in favor of an ethic that mimics the liberal sexual ethos of our postmodern times. While on the one hand they favor, plead, and politically maneuver for the freedom of nearly all sexual expression absolutely prohibited by God’s Word, the other hand works with the liberal left of the political world to bring about tyranny and control in nearly all other aspects of our lives. Mark Steyn has written very cogently about this here. Here is an ironic section of his article:
A few years ago, Kenneth Minogue of the London School of Economics wrote that ours is the age of “the new Epicureans” in which the “freedom to choose” trumps all. A childless couple can choose to conceive. A female couple can choose to conceive. A male couple—Barrie and Tony from Chelmsford, England—can choose to conceive and both be registered as the biological fathers of their children not so much on the technical grounds that they had “co-mingled” their sperm before shipping it out to their Fallopian time-share in California but out of a more basic sympathy that this is how Barrie and Tony “self-identify” and it would be cruel to deny them. A woman in Bend, Ore., can choose to become a man, and then a “pregnant man.” A man can choose to become a woman. A man can choose to get halfway to becoming a woman, and then decide it’s more fun to “live in the grey area.” Biologically, Barrie or Tony, but not both, is the sole father of their child; the “pregnant man” is pregnant but not a man; the he/she living in “the grey area” is in reality black or white—at least according to what we used to call “the facts of life.” But issuers of passports, drivers’ licences, even birth certificates and no doubt one day U.S. Department of Homeland Security visas now defer to the principle of “self-identification.”
In terms of sexual identity, we’re freer than almost any society in human history, at least in terms of official validation of our choice to “redefine” ourselves in defiance of biological and physiological reality. And yet, if you accept that infertile couples and gay couples should be free to “have” babies by means of technology, why should you not be free to sell them the semen that enables them to do it? If you suggest that, say, “partial-birth abortion” (which is actually partial-birth infanticide) ought to be illegal, feminists will be out in the street chanting, “Keep your laws off my body!” and “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!” But, when the government tells you you can’t sell your own bodily fluid, which is, after all, about as basic a personal property as anything, there are no outraged progressives to chant “Keep your legislation off my ejaculation!”
At some point we will come to see that the developed world’s massive expansion of personal sexual liberty has provided a useful cover for the shrivelling of almost every other kind. Free speech, property rights, economic liberty and the right to self-defence are under continuous assault by Big Government. But who cares when Big Government lets you shag anything that moves and every city in North America hosts a grand parade to celebrate your right to do so? It’s an oddly reductive notion of individual liberty. The noisier grow the novelties of our ever more banal individualism, the more the overall societal aesthetic seems drearily homogenized—like closing time in a karaoke bar with the last sad drunks bellowing off the prompter “I did it My Way!”
And in the end even the sex doesn’t do it. In the Netherlands, the most progressive nation in Europe, the land where whatever’s your bag is cool, where naked women beckon from storefront windows, a certain ennui is palpable. Last week, the ANP news agency released a poll showing that the Dutch now derive more pleasure from going to the bathroom than from sex. It wasn’t a close-run thing: eighty per cent identified a trip to the toilet as the activity “they enjoy the most”—or, as the South African newspaper the Witness put it, “The Bog’s Better Than Bonking.” To modify Eliot, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a flush.
No…Lynne and I are not having more children.
Our little Pomeranian girl Itty-bitty has had 4 (3 boys and 1 girl) beautiful little puppies. It looks like two of them will be a rare blue merle color, while the other two are looking to be tri-colored (party colored). They are amazingly entertaining and absolutely precious.
There is something quite satisfying about holding a new life.
A dear friend and brother in the Lord recently made the following comment on my blog, which should receive a broader reading. Thank you Rob:
My wife and I made a round trip journey of just under 700 miles yesterday to take our oldest daughter to church camp for a week. As is always the case when a family makes a journey of this nature, the most common refrain is “Are we there yet?”
Alexis De Tocqueville wrote in “Democracy in America”, “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerc – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it vas not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
I sorrowfully ask “Are we there yet?”
Here is a portion of this story:
Sinn, 32, faces three counts each of concealing the body of a child and offering an indignity to a dead human body.
The information also alleges she tried to hide the fact that they had been born by keeping them in a "storage tote box".
As I thought about this particular story, it dawned on me that many in the pro-choice camp would consider this woman to be a hero, if these children were aborted moments before they would have been born. In late-term abortion clinics, these children would simply have been dismantled and their bodies discarded. Yet, this woman is being charged with “offering an indignity to a dead human body.” Does all this seem as incongruous to you as it does to me? In a country like Canada that has extremely progressive abortion policies, if it is shown that these children were aborted, then it is perfectly fine to kill them and discard their remains in whatever manner is most expedient. But if the children were born and breathed for a while, then she will be charged for a felony, just for treating their bodies with indignity. This all seems absolutely insane to me. Eventually it seems to me, all of this is going to lead to the legalization of full infanticide. It must, for our culture of death reach equilibrium.
"As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.” (Ezekiel 33:30-32)
It is common to see the local church as a worshipping or even a caring community. I prefer to think of the church primarily as a learning community, which includes worship and caring as experiences that lead us to deeper learning and spiritual development.
We as leaders/teachers are called to faithfully proclaim God’s Word in a culturally clear and compelling way. We do so with the learner’s development as our outcome, yet our dilemma is often that of Ezekiel. The responses we get seem positive, yet have no real impact on our community of learners.
Ultimately, our call as leaders is faithfulness and not results. This does not diminish our responsibility to be both faithful to God’s Word and culturally compelling, addressing the needs of our people. But ultimately the outcomes and results are accomplished by the Holy Spirit, who is at work through His Word.
Shelby Steele, a very incisive and perceptive writer and researcher on race issues, has written a very important assessment of the Sotomayor nomination. Whatever your political ideology, I think you will find his in-depth assessment instructive.
Consider this comment:
Judge Sotomayor is the archetypal challenger. Challengers see the moral authority that comes from their group’s historic grievance as an entitlement to immediate parity with whites — whether or not their group has actually earned this parity through development. If their group is not yet competitive with whites, the moral authority that comes from their grievance should be allowed to compensate for what they lack in development. This creates a terrible corruption in which the group’s historic grievance is allowed to count as individual merit. And so a perverse incentive is created: Weakness and victimization are rewarded over development. Better to be a troublemaker than to pursue excellence.
Sonia Sotomayor is of the generation of minorities that came of age under the hegemony of this perverse incentive. For this generation, challenging and protesting were careerism itself. This is why middle- and upper middle-class minorities are often more militant than poor and working-class minorities. America’s institutions — universities, government agencies, the media and even corporations — reward their grievance. Minority intellectuals, especially, have been rewarded for theories that justify grievance.
His book titled, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era is a very important book.
Consider also his assessment of the Ricci case in New Hampshire, in which she supported the city’s decision:
And here we come to Judge Sotomayor’s favorite such ingenuity: disparate impact. In the now celebrated Ricci case the city of New Haven, Conn., threw out a paper and pencil test that firefighters were required to take for promotion because so few minorities passed it. In other words, the test had a disparate and negative impact on minorities, so the lead plaintiff, Frank Ricci — a white male with dyslexia who worked 10 hours a day to pass the test at a high level — was effectively denied promotion because he was white. Judge Sotomayor supported the city’s decision to throw out the test undoubtedly because of her commitment to disparate impact — a concept that invariably makes whites accountable for minority mediocrity.
Challengers are essentially team players. Their deepest atavistic connection is to their aggrieved race, ethnicity or gender. Toward the larger society that now often elevates and privileges them, they carry a lingering bad faith — and sometimes a cavalier disregard where whites are concerned, as with Judge Sotomayor in the Ricci case.
“It is one of the defining marks of Our Time that God is now weightless. I do not mean by this that he is ethereal, but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable. He has lost his saliency for human life…. [And] when God becomes weightless as I believe he is so often today, we lose the doctrinal signals that might otherwise warn us that some profound change has taken place – the sorts of signals that once warned us of the threat of heresy. Too often in Our Time there is only peace and quiet. The traditional doctrine of God remains entirely intact whilst its saliency vanishes. The doctrine is believed, defended and affirmed liturgically and in every other way held to be absolutely inviolable but it no longer has the power to shape and to summon that it has had in previous ages…. God has not disappeared in the sense that he has been abducted or overwhelmed. He is not like a child snatched away while its parents were momentarily distracted. No, God is more like a child that has been abandoned within a family, still accorded a place in the house, but not in the home. Because the doctrine is professed, perhaps even routinely in creed or confession, it seems as if all is well. But it is like a house that gives no outward signs of decay even though termites have rendered it structurally unsound” – fractured foundations! And he continues by saying “The consequence of all of this is that what was once transcendent in the doctrine of God has either faded or been relocated to the category of immanent, and then this diminished God has been further reinterpreted to accommodate modern needs. These alterations have drastically changed the whole meaning of Christian faith. They have affected the way we view God in relation to our selves, to life, and to history. They affect the way we think of his love, his goodness, his saving intentions, what his salvation means, how he reveals himself, how his revelation is received, why Christ was incarnate, and what significance this has for other religions. All of this and much more follows the moment that the formal categories of transcendence and immanence within the traditional doctrine of God are unsettled.”David Well’s book God in the Wasteland and No Place for Truth.
One of the major arguments for “gay marriage” is equality. Proponents both inside and outside of “church” organizations often claim that they are fighting for equality. When they encounter failure in secular or religious political fights, they claim that the decisions went against equality. When they encounter political victories, they claim that equality has won out.
Let us for a moment examine the argument for equality.
Do self-identified homosexuals have fewer political/church rights than those who do not identify themselves as gay? Do they have the same marriage rights?
The answer of course is a resounding yes. They have exactly the same rights as all others. They have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex, just as anyone else does. They do not have the right to marry someone of the same sex, like all others. What is actually being attempted is a redefinition of marriage, not a rights issue. This has nothing to do with equality or fairness.
Within my own PCUSA there are several groups who exist for the sole purpose of the promotion of full acceptance of homosex behavior, often using the argument of equality. The argument is made that active self-affirming unrepentant homosexuals are banned from leadership positions within the church, and are therefore “unequal”. They therefore fight for the equality of homosexuals, including the arena of marriage.
In fact, the term equality is often used to frame the debate. This is completely dishonest. For one must first provide sufficient proof within a Christian context that God recognizes homosexuality as a personhood identifier. There is no definitive scientific/biological or even psychological evidence for this, let alone a shred of biblical evidence. Until enough such evidence can be provided which leads to concession from the opposing side, then this argument is fallacious to the extreme.
The fact is that all those who have a sinful homosex bent, are called to repent and turn to God for forgiveness. They are then called to live in obedience to Christ and his infallible word, making them eligible for positions of spiritual leadership. It is the same for those who have a bent for gossiping, or lying, or stealing. All of us are equal, and have the same rights and responsibilities before God. All are sinners, called to repent of our sins and live lives that please God. But those who defiantly reject God’s word, embrace their sinful behaviors, and continue stealing, cannot and should not be eligible for ordination into a leadership position. We are all equal in this.
It is morally irresponsible to frame the issue as one based on equality without bringing sufficient biblical evidence to bear that would show that God recognizes “homosexuality” as a personhood category.