490! Happy Reformation Day!

Happy Reformation Day! 490 years ago today, Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis on the Wittenberg door that sparked the Reformation and led to religious freedom and freedom in general.

With that, I turn to a recent column by WORLD Magazine’s Marvin Olasky that compares the freedom we have gained through the Reformation, with the bondage that is offered through communism, which celebrates it’s 90 anniversary next week.

The 490th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation arrives on Oct. 31. The 90th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s Communist revolution comes up on Nov 7. That numeral 4 indicates a key difference between the two: The 490 glorified God, the 90 attempted to deify Man, and some men in particular.

Luther was a theological revolutionary but not a political one. He wrote, in 1521, A Sincere Admonition by Martin Luther to All Christians to Guard Against Insurrection and Rebellion. The following year, as political unrest intensified, Luther preached about effecting change through patience, charity, and reliance on God’s Word rather than violence. He portrayed the devil enjoying religiously based class warfare: “He sits with folded arms behind the fire of hell, and says with malignant looks and frightful grin: ‘Ah, how wise these madmen are to play my game! Let them go on; I shall reap the benefit.'”

When one of the madmen, Thomas Müntzer, led a communist uprising in 1524 and 1525, Luther argued that “the Gospel does not make goods common, except in the case of those who do of their own free will what the apostles and disciples did in Acts IV. They did not demand, as do our insane peasants in their raging, that the goods of others—of a Pilate and a Herod—should be common, but only their own goods” (Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants).

For nearly five centuries many Protestants have followed Luther’s distinction. It’s good for Christians to be charitable, voluntarily selling property they don’t need to help those in need. But kissing up to envy by instituting government-forced theft is sleeping with Satan. Communism always works out poorly in practice, because people work hardest when they get to keep for themselves and their families most of what they have earned. Those who provide valuable goods and services deserve their profit, and government should not seize it. Government can tax it, but countries prosper the most when taxes are low.

Why, when the historical evidence is so clear, does communism periodically rear its exceptionally ugly head, sometimes in profile as “Christian socialism,” and sometimes in Full Monty flare? Part of the appeal lies in the thrill of overturning God-given patterns of family and enterprise and substituting our own. Part is power-seeking. Part is Satanic.

It all comes back to the difference between 490 and 90. Whittaker Chambers in Witness (1952) wrote that Communism “is not new. It is, in fact, man’s second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ It is the great alternative faith of mankind. . . . The Communist vision is the vision of Man without God.”

Chambers eloquently continued: “It is the vision of man’s mind displacing God as the creative intelligence of the world. It is the vision of man’s liberated mind, by the sole force of its rational intelligence, redirecting man’s destiny and reorganizing man’s life and the world. It is the vision of man, once more the central figure of the Creation, not because God made man in His image, but because man’s mind makes him the most intelligent of the animals.”

London journalist Richard Spencer put it well two years ago in The Telegraph: “Christianity and communism are fundamentally incompatible—one a spiritual creed, the other materialist. Christianity lays down that a man’s responsibility to his neighbour is personal, a matter for his individual conscience, while communism decrees that all duties are collective, to be enforced by the state.”

Spencer noted, “At first glance, communism may look like the fairer system, and Christianity the more selfish. In fact, of course, communism and its blood-brother, fascism, have been responsible—in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America—for more human misery over the past century than any other systems of belief thought up by man. By denying human beings their individuality, all totalitarian systems brutalise the human condition, reducing everyone in their sway to the status of ants, or cogs in a machine.”

A crucial difference between 490 and 90: “Christianity teaches that each of us is a moral being, responsible for our actions to our Maker, and individually bound to love our neighbour as ourselves.”

Let’s not buy into the liberal lie, that life is better without it being based upon God and His word. There is true freedom in Christianity, and bondage in the systems of man. Happy Reformation Day!

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Amazing

There are 15 laterals in this clip before Trinity University scores against Millsap. From what I understand, it was Millsap’s homecoming and they had already shot off fireworks to celebrate their victory before this play was run. It’s amazing. Enjoy sports fans!

Counseling

Yes, from time to time, we all have to go to counseling for various reasons. I have to say, that it is never fun and one time, a counselor actually called me a “worm.” Can’t say I felt good about that, but there it is.

Below is a video of one of the best counselor’s I have ever heard. I found this via Gunny’s site. Gunny is a fan of this counselor too.

Hope you learned from that.

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass
You may have heard of the movie, The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman that is due out December 7. The movie is sure to bring about a lot of controversy because it is a children’s film wherein the ultimate goal, and solution to the problem is to kill God.

The movie, based on the books by atheist Phillip Pullman, is not quite as anti-god as the books are, but there are those who hope your child will watch the movie, and then go and read the books. I’m sure this is the goal of all atheists, to get our children reading anti-god literature so that they too grow up and become atheists.

I’m also sure that there will be some who will call for a boycott of the movie. I’m not going to do so. I’m not sure boycotts really work and in the end, we all must decide whether or not we want our children to see such movies.

Killing God
Whatever you may decide, let me just make some suggestions about the entire ordeal. First of all, the reason that many will protest this movie is because they do end up killing God, a doddering old figure who seems to have outlived his usefulness. Of course, this picture of God is hardly real. The true picture of God found in Scripture is that of one who is all powerful, all knowing, and present every where. As fools bark out that there is no God, He laughs at them (Psalm 2 and 14). It is absolutely absurd to think we could ultimately kill God.

The second point I wish to make is that in fact, we have already killed God. A bunch of Pharisees got together with a bunch of Romans some 2000 years ago and hung Him on a cross. It didn’t work. He was resurrected three days later and now sits on an eternal throne ruling all of creation. He is the eternal judge that we all must answer to someday (John 5).

Finally, if Pullman is a true atheists, then why does he write a children’s story about killing god in the first place. His point is so that we can live freely, unfettered by God’s judgments (see Psalm 2 again). But if there is no God, then who are his characters killing? This shows Pullman’s inconsistencies. He says there is no God by being an Atheist, but in reality, he knows that there is a God that he must answer to one day (Romans 2 addresses this. We all are born with a conscience with testifies to the reality of a God we must answer to).

Our Response
With all this being true, then how should we respond to the movie? How about using it as a tool to instruct, teach and reach those who will watch the movie. Ask the question: Can we really kill God? That takes us to His everlasting nature on one hand and the cross on the other hand. The cross leads to the point of why He dies there in the first place.

We can also use the movie to show the inconsistencies of atheists. They are set on the fact that there is no God, yet here is one showing he knows there really is a God, and he wants to kill that God so that he can live as he chooses.

But please, let’s not call for a boycott. That is hardly a response that leads to any level of effectiveness. The reason I say this is that when I was in college, before my conversion, the movie The Last Temptation of Christ came out and there was a boycott called for by all sorts of Christians. The only reason the movie got any notice at all, was because it was being boycotted. The movie wasn’t worth the celluloid it was printed on, but there it was, surviving week after week because Christians boycotted it, making the rest of us want to go see the movie to see what the fuss was all about. Remember in the world of public relations, even bad publicity is good publicity. So let’s not boycott.

I’m not saying we should see it or not see it. But no formalized boycott. As for seeing it, that is something that we need to decide for ourselves. I probably will not see it simply because I’m too busy to waste my time on these type of films. If I’m going to see a movie, I want it to be something that appeals to me. But you have to decide for yourself. Will it cause you to become an atheist? Not if you are a true believer. Will it cause some to become atheists? You bet. But if they are truly God’s elect, they will not stay atheist forever, therefore let’s not let us dampen our efforts to share the gospel. Only God knows who belong to Him.

My Source for this Blog
Most of the information that I have for this blog comes from Snopes.com, the website that sets about debunking internet urban legends. Here is a link to the article… click here.

California Fires


Someone mentioned to me yesterday about the severity of the fires in California and it struck me that perhaps that is why James Taylor wrote the words, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.” It seems like every year there is another out break of fire hitting the southern part of the state. The reality became even more real when my brother, who lives in Irvine, CA, sent us the following e-mail:

Sunday Night I drove my two older boys to the end of Sand Canyon (roughly 5 miles from the office) and we watched the fire work its way along the Road that separates the wilderness from Irvine. That particular Road is “Portola”.

So at the corner of Sand Canyon and Portola we watched to see if the fire would jump Portola and enter Irvine proper. Fortunately the OC Fire Department was right there dousing any sparks. This coupled with the fact that the other side of Portola was recently clear cut for a housing development. There isn’t anything to burn on the Irvine side. We stayed until the police chased us away.

Just a vignet into Irvine local……We were driving along a brand new housing development. Some of the houses were still under construction and some were already occupied. On one side of the road we were on was a ridge that basically on fire. The other side was new homes. As I was driving along I glanced into a new home that was clearly occupied.
Inside a big bay window I could see the back side of a mans’ head. He was sitting on the couch watching a big screen TV. On the TV I could read the caption “Irvine Fire” and the pictures where of the fire. I couldn’t help it…….I yelled out my window, “Turn Around!” I don’t think he heard me but its the thought that counts.

The Good news for us at least, is that this is basically the tip of Irvine. So after that point the fire had basically passed by us and the Griot Office.

I’m glad he is OK. He can’t afford disaster (as if anyone could). Typically, this is the point where I would admonish my brother, “Boy, you better git yurself out of KALi-for-ni-A! It’s a modern Sodom!” But I won’t. If we applied that theology to things, every where would be considered a modern Sodom. Just look at Georgia. They are experiencing drought conditions that may lead to wildfires as well. Even South Carolina is in a drought condition, even though we have been blessed by a slow, gentle rain today.

Well, I don’t know how to conclude this, but to say that I’m glad my brother is OK, and I hope that California gets some rain soon.

October Vacation


October Vacation
As you can see from my previous post, I got out of dodge for a while and landed in Newport News, VA, where my sister and her family live. I’m actually heading back tomorrow, but got a chance to play the tourist for the day. Where? How about Yorktown. It’s about 9 miles from here, so my sister took me up there to look around. Just so happens that today is the 226th Anniversary of George Washington’s defeat of Cornwallis. What perfect timing. We got to see the Fifes and Drums of Yorktown, along with the museum, and the site where Cornwallis handed over the reigns of the colonies to General George. I know we are supposed to know all of this from our history lessons in high school. But it never seems real until you actually walk the fields where the battles took place and the victory was won. OK, we didn’t actually walk the fields… more like, drove by the fields where the victory was won, but you get the idea.My sister just reminded me that we did walk over one of the trenches… one trench is as good as any!

Madie the 4 year old!
I took a lot of pictures, but I can’t download them here on her computer. They will have to wait. The above picture is of Madie, the cutest 4 year old in the family. She is one of those wonderful children that just immediately wins your heart. We went to her pre-school open house last night for parents (and uncle!), to meet her teacher and her friends. It was one of those awkward functions that adults have to go to, in order to… well, just not sure why we go to them. But we’re supposed to, so we do. The best moment came where they were serving up refreshments. Amy (my sister) and I were not eating anything because we wanted to go out afterwards for dinner, so we let Madie snack at the table. We were pleased that she decided to settle on carrots. Then, to our surprise, she grabbed the dip, took her carrots and the dip to a table and made herself at home eating both. The dip was rendered hers the moment double dipping occurred. We could do nothing but laugh.

Quote of the Week
And the week here would not be complete without that quote of the week. We were cooking dinner tonight and Amy was telling me that some chef didn’t recommend putting butter on the noodles, but she did anyway. I wasn’t sure who the chef was, Armorall Agassy, from the Cooking Channel. I said, “Amy, you know I don’t have cable.”

“But you should have at least seen him on his commercials.”
Becoming acutely aware of my deficiency in this area of knowledge, I blurted out, “Look, I’m a Christian, I don’t have to be culturally relevant.”

BTW, I looked up the Cooking Network, the chef she was referring to is Emeril??? I looked at his picture, and I don’t recognize him. My quote still stands.

Where Am I?

OK, as you know from my previous post, I headed out of town yesterday. So, can you guess where I am? I will give you clues, and you have to figure it out from there.

Here goes, first of all, you need to know that I headed just north of the holy land for the people of rooster worship. I’ve been to their house of worship once before and have seen the great high priest of roosters himself, the Old Visored One. But I did not stop there. I continued on my journey and crossed over the Pee Dee.

After about 2 1/2 hours, I passed into the north country. It’s a land of beauty, but filled with many dangers. There are blue demoniacs, and a tar-shoe factory, although they would be sore if I said it that way. I had no desire to see those lands, but I was sorely tempted to take a detour because Hattie beckoned me with her light, and she wanted to share her cape with me, but I pressed on. Her light, while impressive, was way too far out of the way.

Finally, I came to the land of lovers, where I passed by the place of the emporium, and just north of a dismal swamp. I crossed a bridge where I could see five grey cities in all their splendor, and the bridge was swallowed up by the canal. After a time, I came to a new port and called my sister to tell her the news.

Can you guess where I am?

The Perfect Storm

The Perfect Storm
Sometimes, when we are in the midst of the storm, it is very easy to take our eyes off of Christ. I think this is why we have the story of Christ crossing the Galilee with His disciples. Remember this story? He falls asleep in the back of the boat, then a storm comes along, and the disciples begin to panic. Finally, they cry out, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”

I think this is a reality for every believer. Not that we are in physical storms, but when out troubles rise up out of no where and take us by surprise, we forget that those troubles are not there without due permission from our Master. We see these waves of grief heading our way and think that some how, He is not truly in control of all things. Remember, He is more than just a carpenter or a good man, or a teacher. Jesus is the One in whom all things are created, by Him and for Him. He is the true Master of the Universe, and of our souls. We should not give that truth just mere lip service. When we say that God is sovereign over all things, that means that nothing comes about without it being a part of His Divine plan. There are no “accidents” in part or in fullness. All things are a part of His Divine decree and those of us who trust Him for our salvation must remember this in the midst of our own personal storms.

I only write this because the waves are crashing over the bow. Yes, I have one hand on he tiller and one hand on the life jacket, but my eyes need to be on Him. To me, it does seem like He is sleeping. It seems like He is resting because I haven’t figured out how to manage the sails, the waves and the need for more air. But I know that each wave that crashes over the bow is a wave foreordained by Him for His purposes and for His glory. I wish that I could wake Him, and get Him to make the waves stop. But I can’t. Not that He is truly sleeping. I just know that He has greater things for me and my family, and those things will not come about without those waves.

If I were a pagan, I would despair. But I am not a pagan. I’m a child of God. I belong to Christ, and He will see me through this storm. I just wish that it wasn’t so painful and that it didn’t seem so lonely back here on the tiller. My eyes are on Him. Hopefully, very soon, He will give me a new course heading. Until then, we are heading into the waves, and they continue to crash over the bow.

60 Minutes and Joel Osteen

I just watched 60 Minutes for the first time in years because they did a feature on Joel Osteen, of Your Best Life Now fame. I watched it because they also featured Michael Horton, one of the true defenders of the faith responding to Osteen’s ministry. Of course, they only gave Horton about 30 seconds, but he said enough. He called Osteen’s message heresy.

And it is. Why do I say that? The gospel is not about feeling good about yourself. It’s a message that basically says: You cannot in any way shape or form, please God in your own flesh. You are a sinner, in need of hell. But, in God’s goodness, He has provided someone to take your sin, and give you perfect righteousness, namely, Jesus Christ.

The sad reality is that Osteen’s message is dangerous because it makes people feel good about themselves, when in fact, they are still children of wrath according to God (Ephesians 2). The telling sign of this was when they showed Osteen at one of his book signing tours and a Jew, and Roman Catholic who were married, talked about how they watched his show every week. That should not happen if the gospel is present because the gospel is a stumbling block to the Jew and an offense to the Gentile. The reason these two can watch Osteen is that there is no gospel present at all. This misleads people making them think that they have found favor with God when there is still an offense there. The offense is only removed when people trust in Christ for salvation. That is never presented in Osteen’s message, by his own admission. Therefore, he is preaching another Gospel (see Galatians).

The neat thing about this piece was talking about it with my father. He wasn’t able to tell me what was wrong with it, but he knew something was wrong with it. Most believers will see through the false message. The gospel isn’t about Your Best Life Now. It’s about your best life in heaven, because of the person and work of Christ. Hopefully, the multitudes that follow Osteen, will see through is his false message.

Following Christ

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…
If Jesus was tempted, after being led into the wilderness by the power of the Holy Spirit, why would we think, being His children, that His same Spirit might not lead us into the wilderness for a time as well?

I think we often believe that since we have been Redeemed, we have been made perfect as well. Yet, there is indwelling sin that still needs to be purged in our hearts (Psalm 51). We still have areas in our lives that we need to repent of, turn away from, and God uses times in the wilderness to bring that about.

He has promised to complete the work that He began in us (Phil. 1:6), and He will do just that. So He takes us into the wilderness (metaphorically speaking), and He breaks us. He shows us our hearts, shows us our shortcomings, shows us our need for Christ all the more. The temptation on our part is to say: “God why? Why are you doing this to me? Why are you making me go through this?” And we don’t know all the answers, but I imagine one of them is: “Because I love you deeply and with an everlasting love. You have sin in your life that has a hold on you, and worse. You love that sin and are holding onto it as if it were some sort of badge. That sin is heinous to Me and I must rid you of it. Not because I’m cruel or hateful, but because I, the Living and True God, have made you MINE. You belong to Me and I want to clean you up.”

Therefore He leads us into the wilderness. He allows us to be tempted and we, being weak in the flesh, jump headlong into the sin, thinking nothing of the consequences, but only of the momentary satisfaction we might receive by fulfilling our sinful desires. Then He brings out the search light of His Spirit and shines it on us. We want to run under a rock and plead with Him to remove the light. We might even foolishly ask Him why? To which He might reply, “But didn’t you pray My word, Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting?” To which we reply, “Yes, LORD, I did pray that. BUT I didn’t think you would actually do it!”

We want Him to take the light from us, and quit searching us. Yet, it is the most beneficial and merciful act He can do for His children. To search us, and cleanse us, and work in our hearts is not the act of cruelty at all, but of His love for us. He must purge us of all our sin and make us white as snow. That is no easy task. It’s impossible for us to do. But nothing for Him to do and He does so. We twist and shout back at Him. We squirm and try to break His grip upon us (John 10:28). But He doesn’t let go. He told us that too. He said that nothing could remove His children from His hands. We thought that just meant as far as salvation was concerned. We thought it pertained only to our justification. But it pertains to our sanctification as well. He will see our sanctification through to glorification. It’s not comfortable. It is difficult at times, but it is most necessary.

Yes, He led Jesus into the wilderness so that Jesus could be tempted and overcome Satan. He does the same for us. Not that we can overcome Satan, for we cannot, but so we cling all the more to our Savior who did overcome Satan, and sin, and the flesh, and the world. One day, we will completely be free of sin. We will no longer battle with it. But until then, He searches our ways, He cleanses us with hyssop. If we are wise, we will quiet submit to it and be grateful He loves us as a Father. He is doing what is best for us.

Filmstrip!

OK, just learned a new trick from a fellow photographer. If you have several very similar pictures, but all good ones, put them in a filmstrip like this! Yes, these were the same pictures I posted below. Just wanted to share the reality of this discovery.

Honoring the Sabbath

You know that one of my pet peeves for fellow Christians is the constant abuse of the Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day. For some reason, many think that the fourth commandment has been relegated to the back burner and is no longer a requirement for the Christian. The truth of the matter is that the Decalogue, or the Ten Commandments, were placed on stone for a reason. That signifies their unity. You break one commandment, you break them all (James 2:10).

Occasionally, I will convince someone that keeping the Sabbath (the First Day of the week in the Christian era), is honoring to God and the next question is: How? I think J.C. Ryle deals wonderfully with this in his commentary on Luke 14, where Jesus heals the man with dropsy.

Ryle writes:

“The qualification which our Lord here puts on the requirements of the fourth commandment is evidently founded on Scripture, reason, and common sense. The Sabbath was made for man,– for his benefit, not for his injury,– for his advantage, not for his hurt. The interpretation of God’s law respecting the Sabbath was never intended to be strained so far as to interfere with charity, kindness, and the real wants of human nature. All such interpretation only defeat their own end. They require that which fallen man cannot perform, and thus bring the whole commandment into disrepute. Our Lord saw this clearly, and labored throughout His ministry to restore this precious part of God’s law to its just position.”

Have a wonderful Lord’s Day.

Spiritual Service

I love Paul’s reminder to us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

If we truly belong to Christ, then we don’t belong to ourselves, so to speak. He has purchased us from sin and iniquity in order for us to serve Him. The beauty behind this is that we realize there are no menial tasks for the Christian. Whether it is changing diapers, taking out the trash, or preaching the gospel, we do so because we are serving Him. Those are things that He has called us to do if those tasks are before us. That being the case, we realize that there is nothing that needs to be done, that is worthless in doing. We do all for His glory. We do all because He has called us to do it. The task, in and of itself, is not where the worth comes from, but from the One who calls us to do it.

Because this is true, I can do the mundane, the repetitive, the monotonous, with joy because I know that I’m doing so for the King. He bought me for a price and the road He has placed me on is the road that I serve upon with joy because I know He asks me to do these things. Let us serve Him with that knowledge and joy.

Finding Jesus

I thought this was humorous and worth sharing… Of course, like all jokes, it’s theologically inaccurate, but still funny.

Baptizing A Drunk

A man is stumbling through the woods totally drunk when he comes upon a preacher baptizing people in the river. The drunk walks into the water and subsequently bumps into the preacher. The preacher turns around and is almost overcome by the smell of booze. Whereupon he asks the drunk, “Are you ready to find Jesus?”
“Yes I am” replies the drunk, so the preacher grabs him and dunks him in the river. He pulls him up and asks the drunk, “Brother have you found Jesus?”
The drunk replies, “No, I haven’t.” The preacher, shocked at the answer, dunks him into the water again, but for a bit longer this
time. He pulls him out of the water and asks again, “Have you found Jesus, my brother?”
The drunk again answers, “No, I have not found Jesus.”
By this time the preacher is at his wits end so he dunks the drunk in the water again, but this time he holds him down for about 30 seconds.

When the drunk begins kicking his arms and legs, the
preacher pulls him up. The preacher asks the drunk again, “For the love of God, have you found Jesus?”
The drunk wipes his eyes and catches his breath and says to the preacher,

“Are you sure this is where he fell in?”