Update on Tomb Story

The Washington Post is reporting the following on the so-called tomb of Jesus.

  • Leading archaeologists in Israel and the United States yesterday denounced the purported discovery of the tomb of Jesus as a publicity stunt.
  • Scorn for the Discovery Channel’s claim to have found the burial place of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and — most explosively — their possible son came not just from Christian scholars but also from Jewish and secular experts who said their judgments were unaffected by any desire to uphold Christian orthodoxy.
  • “I’m not a Christian. I’m not a believer. I don’t have a dog in this fight,” said William G. Dever, who has been excavating ancient sites in Israel for 50 years and is widely considered the dean of biblical archaeology among U.S. scholars. “I just think it’s a shame the way this story is being hyped and manipulated.”
I’m glad it is being seen for what it is. Read the entire article here.

New Sermon & Cure for Modern Ills

Sermon Posted
I’ve posted my latest sermon at: Grace of Aiken. The latest sermon is on God’s sovereignty in salvation, focusing on the Father’s decision to save some and not save others. It is based on Romans 9:14-24.

One of the realities that struck me while working on this sermon is that God really never intends to save all mankind. He only sets out to save His elect. He sets out to save those He has chosen before the foundations of the world to be His, and to have them presented spotless and blameless. I know that this truth is anathama among many Christians because they want nothing to do with the reality that God may have not chosen someone they love.

But the hard reality is that it is God who chooses us to be saved. Our belief is a result of His decision and not the cause of God’s decree. It is not because of anything in us, and if He chooses not to show grace to someone, as Creator, that is His perogative. As He told Moses:

“I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows Mercy.

God is the one who decides to show mercy and what we need to do in the meantime is realize how grateful we should be in that He has chose us, true Christians, to be a part of His family. We have no right to question Him in His decisions. We must trust that His decisions are for His glory and leave it at that. After all, when we talk about the Sovereignty of God, we are speaking of the reality that He is God, and we are not. He is the supreme ruler of all and His decisions are just and loving.

Here is a quote I used from Martin Luther.

While a man is persuaded that he has it in his power to contribute anything, be it ever so little, to his salvation, he remains in carnal self-confidence; he is not a self-despairer, and therefore is not duly humbled before God, he believes he may lend a helping hand in his salvation, but on the contrary, whoever is truly convinced that the whole work depends singly on the will of God, such a person renounces his own will and strength; he waits and prays for the operation of God, nor waits and prays in vain . . .

May we realize this truth and cling to His mercy, forsaking our own silly free will…

BTW, the audio is a bit messed up at the beginning… I will see if I can’t fix it later on… You can read the transcript at: Timothy’s Sermons.

Cure For Modern Ills
Now on to other things. I found the following editiorial over at John in Carolina’s blog. This is written by the former Editor of the Times of London, William Rees-Mogg. He writes that religion, or Christianity, is the cure to our modern ills, not the problem. If we want to see a change in society we must return to the true religion that has been given to us by God Himself. All other religions are written by man. Only Christianity provides true hope for our eternal problems and true hope for our immediate problems as well. I’m writing this, not Rees-Mogg. Here is what he writes.

Under the head, “Religion isn’ t the sickness. It’s the cure,” Rees-Mogg begins:

From the earliest days Christianity has been opposed to slavery. In his Letter to the Galatians, St Paul wrote: “As many of you that have been baptised in Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. We were all one in Jesus Christ.”

Undoubtedly Christians have compromised with slavery — as with other social evils — in the course of history, but the orthodox Christian doctrine is one of liberty and equality.

The Christian belief was the inspiration in William Wilberforce’s long campaign to end the slave trade. His Bill received the Royal Assent on March 25, 1807, 200 years ago.

That was the most important of all the great reforms of the 19th century; essentially it was a Christian reform, inspired by the Protestant conversion of Wilberforce himself. March 25 was the old New Year’s Day; it is also the feast of the Annunciation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

We live in an age when modernists regard religion with something approaching panic. It is like the Devil’s attitude to Holy Water. There was a comic example of Christianophobia in The Sunday Times yesterday. Michael Portillo, who used himself to be seen in Brompton Oratory, was hyperventilating at the idea of David Cameron going to church.

“I worry,” he wrote, “because men of power who take instruction from unseen forces are essentially fanatics . . . I would be more reassured to hear that the Tory leader goes to church because that is what it takes to get a child into the best of state schools, not because he is a believer.”

Perhaps this neurotic response to Mr Cameron’s habit of going to church reflects Mr Portillo’s recognition that religion is again becoming an important influence on society. Many of the current news stories show that religion is back in public consciousness; for those who feel uneasy about religion, that is unwelcome.

Islam is, of course, the alarming religious issue that will not go away. In the 20th century the world failed to adjust to two major belief systems, nationalism and Marxism. Now we face a similar global challenge from Islam, which opposes Judaism in Israel, Hinduism in India, Buddhism in South East Asia, Christianity in Europe and America and modernism in the whole advanced world. We certainly cannot say that all religious influences are benign; al-Qaeda is a religious cult, but a perverted one.

Religion turned William Wilberforce into a Protestant saint, but Wahhabism has turned Osama bin Laden into a devil.

The rise of militant Islam in the 21st century is, however, part of a much broader phenomenon. In the United States there has been the extraordinary resurgence of fundamentalist Protestantism, sufficiently strong to win two presidential elections for the Republican Party. In Britain, an inflow of Catholics from Eastern Europe, particularly Poland, has revitalised the Roman Catholic Church, which now has the largest Christian congregation in the country. The worldwide Church of England has been divided by a battle of moral convictions.

All of these religious movements challenge modernism, that popular mix of materialism, scientism and political correctness that had seemed to be carrying all before it.

The modernist attack on religion was based on the victory of science, and particularly of neo-Darwinism. Yet science was open to the same challenge as religion; it could explain only half the world.

The scientists, or some of them, sneered at religion for being unable to explain the developments of nature. Yet science itself was unable to produce a science-based morality for society.

Marxism attempted to create a scientific social order that ended in monstrous and bloodthirsty tyranny. Social Darwinism either meant eugenics and the slaughter of babies who were not thought fit to survive, or it meant nothing. The Social Darwinism of George Bernard Shaw, or indeed that of Adolf Hitler, has been rejected by mankind.

The world needs religion to address the moral issues. In the advanced societies it is these moral issues that now mock us. Europe and North America are hugely wealthy regions, but they are morally impoverished. Broken families, drugs, booze, youth gangs, crime, neglect of children and the old, the sheer boredom of shopaholicism, terrorism, the inner-city slums, materialism itself, are all the marks of a global society in decline.

Societies can be judged by their care for children. Social education must start in the family and must have a moral basis. Children need to be taught to distinguish between right and wrong. A recent report by Unicef showed Britain as 21st out of 21 advanced countries in the welfare of children; our national failure is a shame and a disgrace.

In 19th century England, the revival of Christianity provided the basis for a century of social reform. The religious revival spread across all the Christian churches; in the Church of England there was the Evangelical movement as well as the High Church movement. The Roman Catholic Church attracted thousands of new converts. The Methodists and other Nonconformists devoted themselves to the welfare of the poor and the working class. The Salvation Army took its trumpets into the pubs and slums and offered a new hope.

The 19th century was an age of social reform based on religious revival and the Christian faith. The 20th century was an age of religious decline and of accelerating decline in social cohesion as well as in faith. “Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey/ When wealth accumulates and men decay.”

These are lines from Oliver Goldsmith’s moving poem, The Deserted Village in the 18th century. If they seem to apply to our modern societies, religion is not the problem; it is the only possible remedy.

Here We Go Again!

You may have heard of the latest news concerning the so called tomb of Jesus. The archealogogists are claiming that the tomb they found was that of Jesus and Mary Magdelene. Unless you are part of the religious movement known as the DaVinci Codettes, then hopefully you will quickly see this as a ruse. The scientists are even trying to claim DNA evidence to support their theory. Read about it here.

Observations
Of course, even if they have DNA evidence, all that they can truly say is that the DNA evidence shows whether or not one person is related to another. It cannot tell us the identity of a person unless we have another sample to match it to. In other words, we can take my blood and the blood of my son and compare the two and see that he is indeed my son. But we cannot come upon a grave out west, test the DNA and say that it is the blood of Montazuma. After all, we would have to have a sample of his blood that we know for certain that it Montazuma. Since we have no actual blood of Jesus, Mary, Joseph or even any one of the Caesars that reigned during that time, there is no hope of ever determining who was in the grave of those tombs.

All that the DNA confirmed was that those buried there might have been related to one another, and are in fact, human.

What is in a Name
The other evidence they are using is the inscriptions on the ossuries, or the boxes that held the bones of people who died. One of them reads: “Judah son of Jesus” and another reads “Jesus son of Joseph.” Sounds conclusive. OK, if Jesus died and did not rise from the dead, then let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die (I jest of course).

Problem is, that Jesus was not the only man in that time named Jesus (assuming that this is not some sort of hoax at all). His name was a common name as well as Judah and Joseph. There is also the possibility that the names were used after Jesus had assended to the throne. But the assumption here is that there was only one Jesus in Biblical times and one Judah son of Jesus. The point is that none of this is conclusive evidence. They have prooved nothing at all. In fact, the historical evidence is in favor of Jesus being raised from the dead.

Historical Evidence
The historical evidence still supports that Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven. Where do we find this historical evidence? In the Bible. Yes, the Bible is also a historical witness as well as it being God’s word. The evidence is that more than 500 people witnessed the risen Savior, and all the disciples saw Him ascend into heaven. Therefore the evidence is that He was truly raised from the dead and did not remain in the grave as this news article is trying to get us to believe. Jesus is alive, He is not a God that is dead.

This Is Nothing New
No, this isn’t. This is just another claim from unbelievers that the word of God cannot be trusted. It is an old tactic used by Satan since… well, the first sin: “Has God really said…” This is what Satan does. He uses every means possible to attack God’s word and to bring doubt to mankind. He is successful to a certain degree. But Satan will not be successful to those who believe and belong to Christ, for His Spirit testifies to our spirits that God’s word is true. We can trust God’s word. The elect know it to be true in all that it testifies concerning God and our faith. Therefore, let the world believe the lies. Those of us who belong to Him need to remember that our God does not lie. His word is trustworthy and Jesus did rise from the dead. Amen and Amen. Come Quickly LORD Jesus.

Also read more about this at Denny Burk’s site.

Worth Reading
Flopping Aces has a wonderful piece showing the hypocrisy of Al Gore and his energy consuming home outside of Nashville. Al Gore just won an oscar for his propaganda on global warming. The piece also compares Gore’s home to that of George Bush’s ranch outside of Crawford, Texas. Please read it and then tell me who is really concerned with the environment.

A Sermon Snippet

The following is a snippet from this week’s sermon taken from Romans 9:14-24.

One of the difficulties that we have when discussing the sovereignty of God, is coming to a consensus of what it means when we say that God is sovereign. What does it mean?

I’ve chosen to use Arthur Pink’s definition on the subject. He writes that by saying God is sovereign,… “We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what does Thou?”[1]

I think it would be safe to say that many in Christian circles would agree with that statement on the surface, but when we dig further, we find that God is sovereign with exception to the reality of man’s will. At what level is God still sovereign and allowing for man to have free will?

If we say that man does have free will, and when it comes to making a decision for Christ that man is saved, then we basically have said that God is not really sovereign. I know there are those who say that the two work together in conjunction with one another, neither one violating the other, but this is not the picture we are given in Scripture. This view, which is predominant in Christian circles, is called the synergistic view. In other words, both the will of God and the will of man work together for man’s salvation. This is known as synergism.

This is not a view that we hold to because of what Scripture says about man. On the one hand, we are free moral agents, free to choose to do as we please, or so it seems. When it comes to salvation, we are not free at all. We are bound in sin. The Bible says that before our conversion, we were slaves to sin.

Romans 6:16-18 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Through faith we have been set free. Not necessarily a freedom that encompasses more activity, but a freedom that gives us an option when it comes to sin. Before salvation, we were bound by sin and unable to do anything good according to the Law or righteousness of God. Even when we would perform works that other men admired, those works were tainted by sin and unacceptable to God.

But what about when it comes to our will? Is it free or bound? The answer is yes to both possibilities.

“Man has a will and that will has a certain freedom. Our LORD clearly teaches that man has a power of choice. It is important to begin here to disarm opponents of all the foolish accusations that have been brought against the Biblical doctrine of man’s will. Every man has the ability to choose his own words, to decide what his actions will be. We have a faculty of self-determination in the sense that we select our own thoughts, words, and deeds. Man is free to choose what he prefers, what he desires.”[2]

The key sentence in understanding this is the last one: Man is free to choose what he prefers, what he desires.

The problem arises when it comes to God. No man desires God. We do not seek Him or want anything to do with God. He must change our hearts. Therefore, if we are going to be saved, then it must be by the hand of God that it happens.

We have been looking at God’s sovereignty and we started by showing that God is sovereign over the nations and over nature. This morning I want us to see that God is also completely sovereign over salvation as well.

In this, we will see first that salvation is dependent upon God’s mercy.

Romans 9:14-16 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness of God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows Mercy.

Paul has been explaining to the Romans that God selected Jacob over Esau even before the two were born. He is making the case that election and salvation are based upon God’s decision and not our own decision.

Before either of the two boys, Jacob and Esau had done a thing, God’s decision was already final regarding the two. Remember that both of these boys were twins. Paul has already made the case that Isaac, not Ishmael, would be in the line of the seed. It is easy to make that case because Ishmael’s mother was Hagar and not Sarah.

But with the birth of Jacob and Esau, the children of Isaac and Rebecca, the case needed to be made that both would not be in the line. Not because of something that the two did. Remember, you don’t have to look far to find the sin in either one of these boys. Esau sells his birthright for a pot of stew, and Jacob is a deceiver. One might ask: “Why did God show any kindness to these two at all? Neither deserved any favor among God.”

This is true. Neither did deserve God’s favor or His mercy.

Remember, mercy and grace have that idea of showing kindness to one that is not deserving of such kindness. It would be akin to a person attacking a king, spitting on him, killing his son, hating the king all the while and then, even though that person is in rebellion against the king, the king showing kindness to the person even though he does not deserve it. That is mercy and that is a picture of the mercy we have been given.

We hated God. We did not like His law, His precepts, His righteousness, His requirements of the Law, or His prophets and especially His Son. We wanted nothing to do with anything of God, yet in His kindness, for His own glory, He shows us mercy and changes our hearts so that we see Him for the beautiful and loving God that He is.

The same was true for Jacob. He received God’s mercy, not because of anything found in him, but out of God’s good pleasure.

This is why Paul shows what God told Moses: “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”

This shows that when it comes to salvation, it is all based upon God’s decision and nothing found in the man or the woman who is saved. He is the One that makes the decision, not man.


[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1983, p. 19.

Spring is Springing!

Yes, spring is springing here in Western-Central South Carolina! I went out to get the paper this morning and noticed this… flower had bloomed. I know my tulips are about to bloom as well. They are on the verge of coming about and it will be by God’s sovereign hand that they do so, not the will of man, or the flesh that brings them about! (A little Calvinistic lingo there… in honor of mentioning the word Tulip… which means that it was foreordained that I say it. After all, what kind of flowers does a Calvinist plant? TULIPS!)

I’m also working on a piece about those kids who have submitted videos blaspheming the Holy Spirit to Youtube.com. More than 20,000 entries have been submitted. This is serious and not to be taken lightly. This is the unforgiveable sin, according to Christ and we should examine what has taken place. I just don’t have time to work through it this afternoon. But perhaps next week I can finish and open it up for dialogue.

I hope you like the photo, as the Tulips bloom, by the decree of God, I will take more pictures and share with you. I’m not sure what kind of spring we will have since most of my trees have been on the verge of blooming for some time, even though we have reverted back to winter weather.

BTW, I posted on the college-ministry site: Ichthus Pub.

Saying Goodbye

Yes, unfortunately, LoveMyCheesecakes.com is going out of business. Well, apparently, they have already gone out of business. There was just not enough demand for cheesecakes to keep the business up and running, so the elder that was running the site, closed it down this week. All the money he made from it, ended up having to go back to Google. Apparently, when someone did a search for cheesecakes, if his site was click on, he had to pay them a fee. The number of hits on his site, stripped him of any profits from the number of actual sales. In other words, a lot more people were clicking on his site through Google, than were actually buying cheesecakes.

The other problem was the $21 FedEx shipping cost. That drove quite a few people away from buying cheesecakes. I was hoping the large amount of traffic my site was getting would provide some sales, but best I can tell, not too many of you were buying cheesecakes. Hhm? Good bye LoveMyCheesecake.com… one of the many dot com failures that you rarely hear about.

More Thoughts on Ethanol


I know I’ve already posted on this topic once before. Read it here. But I read a Joel Belz column in World Magazine the other day and he had a few things to say about the use of Ethanol as an alternative fuel. Joel, who is from Iowa, does a good job of explaining the problem of using this additive or alternative fuel to gasoline. For one, we get to tell the Arab nations to keep their oil and their terror. Two, it helps the farmers. One more reason that I will add is that we get to say: “Hey, we are helping the environment.” After all, it’s all about our feelings, right? But I digress.

Joel points out three reasons why ethanol is not a good alternative to gasoline. His first argument, and I’ve pointed this out before, is that it takes so much petroleum based fuel to make a gallon of ethonol.

  • The first is that it takes so much fuel to produce the kind of ethanol that cars and trucks can use. Those John Deere tractors and all the related farming and refining equipment gulp up a lot of fuel in the process of making the ethanol. In fact, most experts say it takes about a gallon of petroleum-based fuel to manufacture 1.3 gallons of ethanol. It’s not an attractive ratio. Every time you fill your tank with 20 gallons of ethanol, you have to stop and consider that it took 15 gallons of petrol to make the ethanol to which you were just so patriotically loyal.
Secondly he points out that gallon for gallon, ethonol is not efficient at all. You can see that in the above quote. It takes too much energy to make it worth the effort when you compare how much energy it takes to get a gallon of gasoline.

Finally, and this is his major point, it takes subsidies from the U.S. Government to make it work at all.

  • Except for federal subsidies, every gallon of ethanol that’s been sold in the United States would have cost about 50 cents more than it actually sold for. The government can do that for a while, and most people tend to play along with the pretense. The farmers like it, of course, and the artificially high price they get for their corn makes up for some of the hard years they’ve suffered. The ethanol industry likes it too, and there are lots of new jobs in places where jobs had been disappearing. But wherever subsidies go, people tend to forget what things are really worth. They forget for a while—but then the realities of the free market jump in to set the record straight.
And of course, the free market will do that once the government steps out of the picture. For the average guy like me, this doesn’t make the switch worth it at all. The only people benefitting from the use of ethanol are the farmers and the feel-good environmentalists… most of whom, will not use the stuff themselves, since they are way too important to pay the high prices. But then again, maybe they will. They do tend to prove themselves as fools. But I digress again.

All in all, I think the picture on ethanol are clear. It’s better to drink the stuff than to use it at all. Let’s stick with Big Oil, and put more wells on our own soil and quit depending upon those who like to use our oil money in order to kill us.

Read Joel’s entire article here.

Hate Crimes and the Truth

Yes, hate crimes and the truth are on a collision course. That is because hate crimes are designed to attack thought and dialogue that is at odds with those behind it and their political views, even though their views are at odds with Scripture.

We have two cases of it this week. The first is Tim Hardaway, a retired NBA player with the Miami Heat, when asked what he thought about former NBA player John Amaeichi coming out of the closet. Hardway responded by saying: “You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people,” he said while a guest on Sports Talk 790 The Ticket. “I’m homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.”

He later came out and apologized for his remarks. No, I don’t think his remarks should be defended. Where my beef is that the NBA removed Hardaway from any future events. David Stern banned him for his beliefs and his views. This should not happen. What it says that it is OK to live an homosexual lifestyle, which is an abomination before the LORD, but to speak out against it, or have strong feelings against it, is the unpardonable sin. (See the full story here.) Why is it that the left always screams for tolerance, except towards those who believe that sin is sin?

The other story comes from WorldnetDaily.com.


WND Exclusive

ON CAPITOL HILL
Diss a ‘gay’? Go to jail!
Activists warn Christians targeted under new ‘hate crimes’ proposal

Posted: February 15, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

Two Christians in Australia have been indicted for criticizing Islam, and another for criticizing Zionism. A filmmaker has been threatened with arrest for using the word “homosexual” rather than “gay.” Now a German priest faces jail time for publicly criticizing abortionists, and in Holland, “fornicators” and “adulterers” are protected classes and cannot be criticized.

All courtesy of the concept of federal “hate crimes” legislation, which unless defeated soon could be mandatory in the United States, warns a rising chorus of critics.

“All that matters are the delicate feelings of members of federally protected groups,” said Michael Marcavage, director of RepentAmerica.com “Truth is not allowed as evidence in hate crimes trials. … A homosexual can claim emotional damage from hearing Scripture that describes his lifestyle as an abomination. He can press charges against the pastor or broadcaster who merely reads the Bible in public. The ‘hater’ can be fined thousands of dollars and even imprisoned!”

This should not take place. Hate crime legislation is geared to silence the truth and those in the Christian community must stand up against this. We must be able to preach the truth, even when it is not accepted.

The sad reality is that I think most Christians are a sleep at the wheel when it comes to these issues. They don’t want to take a stand because it is difficult. Homosexulity is a sin and should be condemned at every level. A stance for righteousness must be taken. No, I’m not proposing we go back to the Old Testament Law and stone sodomites (the correct biblical term), but we must let them know that they are out of accord with the Scripture, that it is a sin, and that they need to repent.

BTW, WorldMagazine has the article on one of those Christians that was arrested for speaking out against Islam. Turns out, all Daniel Scot did was quote from the Koran, and those pressing charges against him were so ignorant of what the Koran says, they thought he was dissing Islam. He is a Pakistani Christian that was raised in an Islamic school and later became a Christian. He was charged with saying hateful things against Islam because he was teaching Christians what the Koran actually says.

The article reports:

  • Scot calls these campaigns “intellectual terrorism.” He blames Islamic groups that take advantage of open democracy in countries where Muslim populations are growing rapidly. They lobby in favor of the restrictions as a way to stifle legitimate debate over Islamic-inspired terrorism and the meaning of Quranic texts. “Teaching about Islam is not a popular subject, especially if you know the Quran,” Scot told the Jan. 26 gathering sponsored by the Kairos Journal, where he received an annual award honoring pastoral courage and fidelity to Scripture.

Remember, Islam is the so called religion of peace. A religion which calls for the death of person who converts from Islam to Christianity. Where is the peace in that? Whether you are moderate or not, that does not equal peace.

The Perfect Candidate

Yes, I’ve found the perfect candidate for the 2008 Republican Nomination. Mark, over at Casting Pearls Before Swine, wrote a blog on the possible nominations for the 2008 presidential election, and has basically come to the conclusion that there are no viable candidates. Therefore, I offer you:…. Little Bitty Buddy, the next Republican nominee!

As you can see, he does look younger than your average candidate, which will help pull in the youthful vote. He also does the hair, which will get some of the liberals, plus, he is ultra conservative given the fact that all his beliefs come from mommy and daddy. He knows he believes in important issues, like vroom, vroom television and puppets for all! He also stands strong on sippy cups, bananas, and his daddy’s stomach when he wants to see daddy scream!

He and Elmo will make the perfect ticket… and yes, he has it on good authority that he can keep Elmo from talking during the campaign!

The Sovereignty of God

Many people say they believe that God is sovereign in all things, but what does that mean when they say it? Does that mean that God is sort of in control, or fully in control of all that happens? What does it mean?

God Gets the Glory!

When it comes to our worship of God and our living for Him, we must decide at some point whether or not we are going to live life with God being the center of who we are, or ourselves. If you know anything about the worship wars that many churches have, this is really what is driving the war. Some say that it involves styles of music, but style of music is neutral when it comes to worship.

What is at the heart of the matter is whether or not our worship is God centered or man centered. Our songs always reflect what it is that we believe about God and worship. If our songs point to what we are doing and what we want, then more than likely we have a theology that is man centered.

The reason this is important is that for us to truly glorify God, we must truly accept the reality that the salvation we have is all from Him and Him, alone. This, as we have seen, is not a very popular message. It’s a message that men do not like to hear, especially in our individualistic society. But it is a biblical truth that we must accept.

This is why the five Solas of the Reformation are so important. At the heart of the Five Solas, is the fifth Sola, Soli Deo Gloria, to God alone the Glory

The first four Solas all tie in with this Sola because the final Sola, shows that at the heart of our salvation is God’s glory. Therefore, when we worship, when we live, when we do anything, the heart of what drives us should be God’s glory, not man’s glory.

In God’s warning to His people about idolatry, He tells us in Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

In other words, God wants His people to be consumed by who He is, not idolatry, and nothing is more idolatrous that to say that we had anything to do with our salvation. When we come to our salvation, our flesh cries out that we want some part of accomplishing it, but God will have none of that, especially given the fact that He had to take us, those dead in their trespasses and sins, and make us alive so that we could see we have a need for Christ in the first place.

We can claim nothing at all, but the fact that we are sinners. For by doing so, we rob God of His glory, if we could actually do such a thing. Remember what man’s religion is like, it’s like taking our works, which are filthy menstrual rags, and offering them to God as something worthy to be praised. God will have none of it, especially in light of the salvation that He offers through Christ and Christ alone.

God offers to take us and clean us up, and give us new hearts of flesh that will receive His word, and believe in His Son, and we still want to lay claim to the fact that we did something. We cannot do so and still glorify God. He is the One that saves us. Christ alone saves us. Grace that is from Him that we do not deserve, that we are saved. Faith that we cannot muster in ourselves and that His Spirit works in us, that we are saved.

The only one that will receive any glory for our salvation is God and God alone. This is at the heart of Soli Deo Gloria. To try and lay hold of any of that glory is an offense to God. He does it all, from beginning to end for His name’s sake, and for His own glory.

Isaiah 48:9-11 “For My name’s sake I will defer My anger, and for my praise I will restraint it from you, so that I do not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; for how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another.”

Therefore, why do we boast, why do we lay claim to it. Let us accept it and rejoice that He has given us salvation at all.

Just When You Start to Wonder…

You know, there are times as a mother that you really have to CLING to the promises of the Covenant with regards to the salvation of your children. This week in particular, I often wondered WHAT was going on with this child the Lord has given me. Between the daily night terrors that happen during nap time every day, the fussiness, refusal to eat that which is good for him, the spitting of food and the various other experiments how best to make a mess with his dinner, the lying about having a messy diaper, the enjoyment of hitting mommy and banging her in the nose, the constant need for attention (especially from Daddy), and the hiding of my new black shoe, I have really grasped onto that promise!
Then, things like last night happen that touch my heart and give me great hope.
Our little buddy has a friend named Noah who seems to have been in the hospital more this year than out of it. In a nutshell, Noah’s whole digestive tract is simply not working. He cannot eat. We have literally watched this beautiful little guy, go from being Andrew’s size (about 30 lbs) to now about 20 lbs., depsite the treatments they have been trying. Needless to say, we have been praying for Noah now for about a year. Our son knows Noah’s house, though having been there only a handful of times. He calls him “Ba-Ba Doah” (Baby Noah) distinquishing Baby Noah from his Noah’s Ark toy.
Last night at prayer time, we were praying with LBB and had just said “Amen” when he sat up and looked at us questioningly saying “Ba-Ba Doah?” and then pointed up and said “God.” He wanted to pray for Noah. So, all of us, bowing heads and holding hands prayed for Noah. Then we sang the Doxology. Afterwards, as he has done here recently, he pointed to where he has seen Noah’s feeding tube (his ow-y) on Noah’s tummy. “Doah’s ow-y.” Then, he said “Me no ow-y.” shaking his head, raising his shirt and pointing to his ow-y free tummy. It’s like he knows that God care heal Noah and wants to pray to that end, even at the tender age of two. People say that two year olds can’t understand really what’s going on, especially in church with spiritual issues. (LBB has even been asked to be put in the nursery, of which I submitted reluctantly with major objections…for portions of the service 🙂 , but make sure that monitor is on in the nursery.)
The fact is, they do get it. At least LBB has. He’ll tell you who made him. Pointing up he says happily, “God did.”
We pray that the Lord moves in the hearts and lives of our sons at an early age, trusting the the covenant all the while training them. I pray that the glimpses of fruit we get from times like these point to their future trust and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just when you begin to wonder at the depth of their depravity, the hope of the coventant shines through the mire of it all.

The Virgin Mary

I love the passage in Luke 11, where the woman shouts out: “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” It seems like it would be an appropriate thing to say if Jesus were really hoping that people would exalt His mother to the level that she now has among Catholics. But He doesn’t reply this way at all.

Jesus says, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” It was far more important for Mary to believe in Christ by faith alone and be saved just as we are than it is for her to have had the position of being His mother. She needed to exercise faith more than anything else. Her position as His mother would not save her. She needed to be saved just as much as the rest of us do, by grace, through faith, and this not of herself, but a gift from God. Yes, she did have a wonderful honor in being His mother, but she was still in need of redemption.

If there was ever a moment for this to be contradicted, it was at this moment. But Jesus does not. He says that she will be truly blessed if she believes the word of God and keeps it. The same truth applies to us as well.

I like what J.C. Ryle writes concerning this:

“It was a greater honor to the Virgin Mary herself to have Christ dwelling in her heart by faith, than to have been the mother of Christ, and to have nursed Him on her bosom. Truths like these are generally very slow to recieve. We are apt to fancy that to have seen Christ, and heard Christ, and lived near Christ, and been a relative of Christ according to the flesh, would have had some mighty effect upon our souls. We are all naturally inclined to attach great importance to a religion of sight, and sense, and touch, and eye, and ear. We love a sensuous, tangible, material Christianity, far better than one of faith.”

But, we must not let our religion be one of the senses, but one of faith and faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone. This is what saves us. Not because of anything we do, but because God chooses to do so. God gets all the glory when we are saved. We only get to say that we were sinners, and by His grace, we are saved. This truth applied even to the Virgin Mary. Her works of being His mother could not save her. She needed to have faith wrought in her heart just like the rest of us. Is she special? Yes. But no so special that the requirement of faith was laid aside. She was still a sinner, and needed redeeming just as much as the rest of us do! Amen!

Little Stinker, again!

Andrew pulled some of his stunts again today. I took him grocery shopping with me and when we got home, I tried to teach him to help by bringing in a bag of groceries. Nothing heavy. Just some bananas. I gave him the bag, had him clinch it with both hands. Then I picked up as many bags as I could and told him to start for the door. Just as I got my hands full, he dropped his bag, and ran for the yard.

I thought I could catch him before he got far. But carrying the bags of groceries and trying to grab him proved to be a bit more difficult than I thought it would be. He got to the neighbors yard before I caught him. Then I had to get him back to the house, along with the groceries I had been carrying. It must have looked quite humorous to see me chasing him with a hand full of groceries across our yard and the neighbors yard.

He moves so fast!

BTW, the picture was taken when Fred, the INTERN, and the college group came over for hamburgers and a Bible study. Fred has the wig and Andrew, being a lover of hats, naturally had to put it on.

Mike’s America!

Mike hits a grand slam with his latest post on the Kyoto protocal and global warming. Turns out that those blaming the United States the most, are those who are polluting the most. In fact, of all the countries that participated and accuse us of crimes against humanity for not participating, are the ones doing the most polluting. They should charge themselves first. America has a clean bill of health. Check out Mike’s page here!

I’ve maintained since my visit to the Philippines that our country has the cleanest air in the world I’ve also spent time in Italy, Turkey, Germany, England and Switzerland. And yes, I’ve lived in New York City, as well as Dallas and Houston. No, the air isn’t pristine there. There were days in New York where I thought the air was going to choke me. All this to say, we are not perfect and need to work to clean up the air. But Kyoto was not the answer. This is obvious since they signed it and are still polluting more than we are. Their pollution is so bad that it is clouding their vision of their own hypocrisy. Once again, the United States is the country to follow. We are NOT the evil wicked nation the rest of the world claims we are.

Momentary Lapse of Class

In case you haven’t heard, Texas A&M beat Kansas in Kansas on Saturday with a last minute shot by Acie Law. This is the first time a team from the Big 12 South division has defeated Kansas on their home turf in 31 tries.

The interesting point is the Acie, after winning the game, ran down in front of the ESPN camera and showed off his jersey while taunting the fans. That only lasted a few moments. After he went inside, and gathered his wits, he immediately apologized to the fans for doing. That shows the program still has some class, along with the victory as well.

Black History Month

Lest I say something that I would regret, I like what Sofyst wrote over at the Protestant Pub concerning this event…

  • February is a time when all normal observance and study of American or Western history is temporarily suspended and the history of one race is brought to the forefront to be observed and remembered.
  • It is a time when segregation is perfectly exemplified.
  • Rather than conveying the truth that black American history is part of all American history, this observance limits black involvement to one month of the year and sends the message that there is a notable difference between black Americans and other Americans, and that their history does not belong with the history of all other Americans.
  • Perhaps though our country is not ready to mature and become a nation of Americans. Perhaps we are still in our childish stage of being a nation of African-Americans and Euro-Americans and Asian-Americans, and not yet ready to be a country of simply Americans.
  • But even so, even in this stage of immaturity that we may be in, we should not think that our immaturity warrants our unfairness or inequality. For even while toddlers or within preschool, while we were still allowed our immature and childish ways, we were taught to be fair and equal in our actions. While we were allowed still to be immature, we were mandated by rule of equality to be fair.
  • If we are unable to see ourselves as one people, should we not attempt to treat the different peoples equally?
  • Let us have our black history month and remember this race’s great contribution to this country. But let us not forget the other races. With our black history month let us create an Oriental history month, or a Hispanic history month. For these races have contributed to this country as well.
  • Our country may not be ready to see ourselves as one people, and to simply remember the history of Americans, but let us not segregate ourselves between our races and give to one race what we are unwilling to give to another. For after all, that is the injustice that the great African-American fathers and mothers combated many years ago…
I thought it was very well thoughout out. In the comments over there, it was pointed out that Morgan Freeman has also made this point. He is an American, therefore let us focus on that. As long as we are still segregating Blacks, even for their own month, it is still segregation.

BTW, another thought. Turns out that there have been two parties busted on two seperate campuses, one at Clemson, the other at Tartleton State in Texas, where white students held parties dressing up like blacks. I don’t condone the parties, but I do think it shows us the disconnect that whites have when it comes to MLK Day. Just not much of a day that I would ever celebrate. It also shows us, along with Black History Month, that we are not really making progress.

Superlative Bore Prediction

The reality is that most churches that have evening services will cancel those evening services so that they can watch the Superlative Bore on Sunday. AS one wiser than myself told me this morning, “culture is our religion in an external form, and this coming Sunday is the most religious holiday in the country.” Even more so that Christmas. When churches are shutting their doors when they normally have services in order to watch the game, this shows clearly what their priority is. Their priority is a man-made game that has been given some sort of signifcance by man.

It really is silly, for it is just a game. But I did say that I would give a prediction. My prediction: people will eat too much, blasphemy God and the Colts will win! Peyton Manning will remain cool, leading his team to victory and be recognized as the Hall of Fame Quaterback that he is, and the Bears will go on to be a footnote in the history of the game. And, in 1,000 years, just after this wave of global warming finally ceases, no one will remember anything about Sunday’s game.

However, those who remained faithful to their Lord and worshipped Him in spirit and truth, by offering Him praise and honor and glory that He is due, will not be forgotten. He will remember their good works and they will be a pleasing aroma to the Triune God. Those that try to justify their love affair with the world, will be forgotten. For me and my house, we will worship and honor the Lord. Now, back to my two sermons for Sunday.