Psalm 17

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Greetings!  Psalm 17 is a little like Psalm 16, except this one has a greater sense of urgency.  David was suffering severe persecution from King Saul, who was literally insanely jealous and was trying to kill David.  David pleads with God for justice. 

David had already been told he would become the king of Israel one day.  He had opportunities to kill King Saul yet he trusted in God’s timing even while his own life was in danger.  Now that’s faith.

Psalm 17

A prayer of David.

 1 Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea;
       listen to my cry.
       Give ear to my prayer—
       it does not rise from deceitful lips.

 2 May my vindication come from you;
       may your eyes see what is right.

David readily acknowledged his sinfulness in Psalm 32 and Psalm 51, so he wasn’t claiming to be perfect.  He close relationship with God and his repentance and receipt of forgiveness made him clean. 

 3 Though you probe my heart and examine me at night,
       though you test me, you will find nothing;
       I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.

 4 As for the deeds of men—
       by the word of your lips
       I have kept myself
       from the ways of the violent.

 5 My steps have held to your paths;
       my feet have not slipped.

 6 I call on you, O God, for you will answer me;
       give ear to me and hear my prayer.

 7 Show the wonder of your great love,
       you who save by your right hand
       those who take refuge in you from their foes.

 8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
       hide me in the shadow of your wings

 9 from the wicked who assail me,
       from my mortal enemies who surround me.

 10 They close up their callous hearts,
       and their mouths speak with arrogance.

 11 They have tracked me down, they now surround me,
       with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.

 12 They are like a lion hungry for prey,
       like a great lion crouching in cover.

 13 Rise up, O LORD, confront them, bring them down;
       rescue me from the wicked by your sword.

 14 O LORD, by your hand save me from such men,
       from men of this world whose reward is in this life.
       You still the hunger of those you cherish;
       their sons have plenty,
       and they store up wealth for their children.

 15 And I—in righteousness I will see your face;
       when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

Countless people live for rewards in this life, and Christians get pulled into that line of thinking as well.  It is a constant battle, especially living in “God’s backyard” here in the U.S.   

The reference to being awake alludes to David’s belief in the afterlife.

Pray that we will trust in God’s justice and protection and that we will rightly order our lives with an eternal perspective. 

Weekly roundup

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From National Geographic news – Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says – I think that your carbon emissions are causing Mars to heat up as well.  I hope you feel suitably guilty.

Also see Global warming?  I won’t be losing any sleep over it.  So the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revised its expectations from their 2001 prediction of a 20-30 foot rise in sea levels all the way down to 17 inches.  So they were off by at least 1400% in just six years.  We can surely trust the latest figure and radically change our economy, regardless of the consequences, right?  Sadly, the Left is using these distortions to frighten children and dramatically influence government policies and spending.  But remember, you are as bad as a Holocaust denier if you don’t agree with them!

Judge orders ‘gay’ agenda taught to Christian children

U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf yesterday dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought by David Parker, ordering that it is reasonable, indeed there is an obligation, for public schools to teach young children to accept and endorse homosexuality.

Hillary makes the rounds with her pro-family message (heh).  See the video of her presentation to the Human Rights Campaign here.  Hey, at least she is candid about her complete hostility to traditional marriage.  It was comical when she accused Republicans of politicizing personal things like relationships.  Uh, Hill, if memory serves I think the Left brought up the whole “gay marriage” thing and wants to change the laws whether the people like it or not.  We were OK with the one-man / one-woman arrangement.  So who is politicizing this? 

Top 10 amazing facts of Mormonism.  Speaking from experience, Mormons make fantastic neighbors and friends.  But Mormonism is not Christianity. 

Penn & Teller YouTube video skewering environmental hysteria

Cool, someone finally put together a video showing the Democratic hypocrisy on Iraq.  I knew those quotes were out there but hadn’t seen them packaged so nicely.  Hat tip: I Can Plainly See

The paradox of postmodernism

(Actually, it is a self-contradiction.  But then where’s the alliteration?)

They will admire you for seeking the truth.

They will mock and revile you for claiming you found it. 

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In a nutshell, a key element of postmodern thought is that truth is relative – i.e., there are no absolutes.  Of course, purveyors of this philosophy think that it is absolutely true that there is no absolute truth.  Indeed.

We should avoid sharing the truth in an arrogant way, but there is nothing inherently arrogant about believing something is true.  In fact, if you don’t think something is true then by definition you don’t believe it.  Truth is that which corresponds to reality, so we should be able to back up our truth claims with fact and reasons. 

Seeking the truth presupposes that there is truth to be found.  And there is.  I found it . . . or rather, Him.

Psalm 16

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Greetings!  David puts all his hope in the Lord.  He isn’t trusting in anything else for his joy or salvation.

 Psalm 16

 1 Keep me safe, O God,
       for in you I take refuge.

 2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
       apart from you I have no good thing.”

 3 As for the saints who are in the land,
       they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.

 4 The sorrows of those will increase
       who run after other gods.
       I will not pour out their libations of blood
       or take up their names on my lips.

 5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
       you have made my lot secure.

 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
       surely I have a delightful inheritance.

How does the Lord counsel us?  Primarily through his Word.  He also gives us wisdom when we ask for it. 

 7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
       even at night my heart instructs me.

 8 I have set the LORD always before me.
       Because he is at my right hand,
       I will not be shaken.

By trusting in the Lord we will have joy, not just fleeting happiness.  We can be confident that he will not forget us when we die.   The words about “your Holy One” not seeing decay also apply to Jesus.  He was resurrected on the third day and his body did not decay.

 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
       my body also will rest secure,

 10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, 
       nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

This contains a magnificent promise: God has revealed to us the path of life in his Word.  We will have eternal joy when we trust in Jesus for our forgiveness and salvation. 

 11 You have made known to me the path of life;
       you will fill me with joy in your presence,
       with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

The S-word(s)

original-sin.jpgOne night at dinner when the girls were little my youngest daughter blurted out, “Mommy used the S-word today.” 

That would have been a very rare but not unprecedented occurrence, so I took it at face value and assumed there was probably a good story behind this revelation.  But after a pause my daughter added, “She said, ‘Shut-up.'” 

Oh, that S-word!

I forget what instigated the utterance in question, but as it was used even less frequently than the other S-word it was probably appropriate under the circumstances.

But there is another S-word that you hardly hear these days, even in church: Sin

The world hates that word because it implies that there is a right and a wrong thing to do in a given situation.  It also presupposes that there is a God whom we are sinning against.  And sin leads to guilt and guilt leads to fear of punishment, and we hate those things as well. 

Some pastors even avoid the word because it sounds so darn judgmental.  (Who could possibly survive that label?!)  You could listen to dozens of their sermons and not even realize you needed Jesus. 

But it is too bad that sin is denied, glossed over, ignored and even celebrated.  Because you can’t come clean until you know you are dirty. 

Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8 and 10:9:  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.   For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Genesis 50

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Greetings!

This is the last chapter of Genesis.  We’ll do a few Psalms 15-18, then Proverbs 8 and then the Gospel of Matthew.

Joseph wept and mourned over his father’s death a long time.  Sometimes it feels like our funeral and grieving processes are so rushed. 

Genesis 50 Joseph threw himself upon his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”  

Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.” So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company. When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.

Joseph’s brothers fear that he was only kind to them because of Jacob.  The verse in bold is one of my all-time favorites.

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.”

When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family.

He lived a hundred and ten years and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

It took 400 years, but just as God promised He delivered the Israelites from Egypt. 

This is feminism?!

Some quick bullet points to respond to anyone claiming that the pro-life view is anti-women.  Feel free to borrow these without attribution:

  • Virtually all gender selection abortions destroy female human beings for the sole reason that they are female human beings.
  • Legalized abortion puts the burden on women to use it as a method of birth control.
  • There are many physical and emotional risks to abortion that are bad for women.
  • Do women really have to have the legal right to kill their unborn children to prove they have equal value with men?

—–

feminism.jpgAs someone with a mother, a sister, a wife, two daughters and many friends who are female, I am a big fan of women’s rights.  But consider this quote: 

Roe v. Wade enabled women to participate in the social, financial and political life of this country.   Gloria Feldt, former President of Planned Parenthood

I reject the reasoning that says women must have the ability to kill their unborn children to prove their worth and to fit into society, the workplace and politics.  Her statement doesn’t apply to the over 20 million females destroyed in utero in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade.  And nearly all gender selection abortions kill females.

Early feminists were pro-life.  Susan B. Anthony’s newspaper viewed women having abortions as a symptom of a lack of equality, not the proof of equality.  She called abortion “child murder,” and that was long before 4-D ultrasounds.  Other Susan B. Anthony quotes:

When a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is a sign that, by education or circumstances, she has been greatly wronged.

—–

[Is the woman] guilty?  Yes.  No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed.  It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh!  Thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!

The pro-life position is pro-women.

. . . abortion is the ultimate male chauvinism.  . . . abortion rips off women as much as it rips off the unborn, and allows male chauvinists to run free.  Rev. John C. Rankin

Exploring Christianity – Part 2 – Credibility of the Author(s) – A

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Click here to see the latest installment of my friend Nicholas’ interview with me about Christianity.  He set up a new easy-to-read page that he can just add to as we go along.  The second part dealt with the case for the credibility of Biblical writers. 

Follow-up: Let’s start with your claim that the Bible is written by “credible authors.” If you could prove the credibility of an author who lived thousands of years ago, that would certainly bolster your argument when it came to writing describing Christ’s life, for example. However, it does nothing to bolster the veracity of writings which claim to portray God’s wishes for us. Since much of the Bible is comprised of these wishes, often revealed to an individual through means not witnessed by anyone else, aren’t you essentially taking them at their word? And what of the vast parts of the Bible the author of which is not known – how do you trust an unknown author?

It seems to me that while you can bolster your argument for accurate copying/translation through material evidence, your argument weakens when you regard the testimony of four individuals as true because you deem them trustworthy and completely falls apart when considering portions of the Bible which were simply “inspired” by God. At the end of the day, doesn’t your belief in the Bible’s veracity come down to faith?

Let me answer your last question first, namely, “Doesn’t your belief in the Bible’s veracity come down to faith?”

The answer is, “Yes,” in the sense of having faith based on confidence and trust. It is faith based on evidence. It isn’t blind faith or, worse yet, faith in spite of evidence. We all have faith in something; the question is what is the most logical and well-supported thing to have faith in?

There are parts of the Bible that have unknown or disputed authorship, but I wouldn’t consider it a vast portion. The credit for authorship may not have been important to pass along on some books, but the early church obviously took them to be inspired and worthy of canonization. There is a great deal of church history outside the Bible, so it isn’t like someone came along later and made up all these names. The early believers took these writings very seriously and carefully copied and shared them with others.

With respect to Moses’ authorship of the first five books of the Bible, here’s an article that deals with both sides of the debate. Here’s the most important part: “But nowhere in the Bible is it specifically stated that Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch. Even if one believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, a case can be made that he authored only parts of the Torah, and that other writers added sections of their own and/or edited the resultant text.”

I’m not sure I completely follow your claim that accurate accounts of Christ’s life wouldn’t necessarily bolster our confidence in the portions that “claim to portray God’s wishes for us.” The Gospels record that He claimed to be God and that He proved He was God by performing countless miracles (including walking on water, raising the dead, healing the blind, curing leprosy, etc.) and rising from the dead just as He predicted. If those accounts are true, then we should take everything He said very seriously. Jesus validated the Old Testament, so we could trust that as well.

So why were these witnesses reliable? In the interest of space I’m going to summarize some points from an article called Matthew and John on the Witness Stand. Matthew and John were two of the Apostles and eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

The article notes five criteria used in legal circles to determine witness credibility. Do these two meet the criteria?

1. Did the witness make statements on a previous occasion inconsistent with his present testimony?
There is no evidence that Matthew and John ever submitted different testimonies before or after their Gospels were written.

2. Is the witness biased?
Matthew died as a martyr for the faith and John was exiled to an island (basically, a prison) or possibly martyred. If Jesus stayed dead, they had no incentive to claim that He had been raised to life. The same goes for people like Peter, Paul, James, and countless others who died grisly deaths rather than recant their message. This gives them a high degree of authenticity. Some people will die for a lie if they think it is true, but I don’t know anyone who knowingly dies for a lie. People are typically biased to save their hides but not to risk them for a known lie.

3. Is the witness of good character?
I am not aware of a shred of evidence that impugns their character or that they didn’t live their lives as if they really believed Jesus rose from the dead.

4. Was the witness incapable of observing, remembering, or recounting the matters testified about?
“Their writings are clear and lucid with an abundance of detail.” They give no indication that they were invented.

5. Did other witnesses show that material facts are otherwise than as testified to by the witness?
There are no contradictions in their testimonies (or those of other Gospel accounts). If Jesus’ body was still dead, I assure you that the Jewish authorities would have been glad to parade it down the street.

In summary, it is in no way required for us to confirm authorship to a specific individual (I trust directions to appliances even though I don’t know the author), but the Bible has many confirmed authors who are credible witnesses.

Genesis 48-49

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Greetings,

Jacob is about to die.  He has led a very challenging yet exciting life, filled with tragedy but ultimately redeemed when reunited with his family in Egypt. 

Jacob gave his blessings to his sons and two of his grandsons.  For some reason he gave a greater blessing to Joseph’s son Ephraim, the second born, even though in that culture it typically went to the first born.  This happens other times in the Bible as well, such as with Jacob being blessed over Esau. 

Genesis 48-49 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed. Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?” “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn. Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm —may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth.”

When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” He blessed them that day and said, “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. And to you, as one who is over your brothers, I give the ridge of land I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.” Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel.  

 Reuben would have had the blessing as the firstborn, but he dishonored Jacob by sleeping with one of his concubines.

“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.

“Simeon and Levi are brothers— their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.

Judah had done many dishonorable things, such as selling Joseph into slavery.  He did redeem himself in Genesis 44 by offering to take Benjamin’s place when it appeared he would have to be a prisoner of Joseph.  More importantly, God ordained that the king of Israel and Jesus would come from the line of Judah. 

“Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.

“Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon. “Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down between two saddlebags. When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor.

“Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward. “I look for your deliverance, O Lord.

“Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels. “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king. “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.

Joseph’s great faith helped him endure and thrive throughout the worst of circumstances – being sold into slavery by his brothers and being unfairly jailed by the Pharaoh.   

“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.”

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him. Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.” When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

Weekly roundup

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Publisher of African-American homosexual magazine accepts Christ and leaves homosexual lifestyle – Good for her.  I pray for her strength and perseverance, because she’ll be catching some major grief.  The GLBT lobby doesn’t care for people who burst the myth that change isn’t possible.

Terrific debate between Greg Koukl and Deepak Chopra (30 min. video).  I thought Koukl did a nice job of defending the Christian worldview and exposing some of the flaws in Chopra’s New Age thinking.

A good overview of the abortion / breast cancer link controversy

Terrific site for Christian theology – Mongergism.com

Former ACLU boss linked to child p*rn – no wonder they protect it as “free speech.”  As I Can Plainly See pointed out, why can you Google Mark Foley and get tons of recent hits and Google this guy’s name and only get five?  Why is the mainstream media ignoring this? 

Greetings from Mount Perspective: Oh, those awful, awful traditional marriage proponents.  Read this short little post and see if it makes a difference which side said it.  If it were reversed the MSM would go (even more) unhinged. 

Just when you thought Al Gore couldn’t get any more hypocritical, it turns out that his “carbon offsets” (which would be a joke even if they were legitimate) that allegedly balance out his enermous energy use were purchased from a company he owns

Genesis 46-47

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Greetings!  This passage has one of the most dramatic reunions in the Bible.  Jacob thought Joseph was dead, and now he’ll get to see him again and live out his last seventeen years with him.

God speaks directly to Jacob to reassure him. 

Genesis 46-47 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. They also took with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan, and Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt. He took with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.

These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob. The sons of Reuben: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul. The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron. The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon and Jahleel. These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all. The sons of Gad: Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli. The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. Their sister was Serah. The sons of Beriah: Heber and Malkiel. These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah—sixteen in all. The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard. These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all. The son of Dan: Hushim. The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem. These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all.

All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.

Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time.

Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?” “Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here awhile, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.

There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is used up.”

“Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock. When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”

So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.” “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s. Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.

Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.” “I will do as you say,” he said. “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

What about the Crusades?! And the Inquisition?! Etc.?!

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Many critics try to use issues such as the Crusades, the Inquisition or just run of the mill hypocrisy as trump cards against Christianity.  But you shouldn’t judge an ideology based on the actions of those who violate its tenets. 

If people did the opposite of what the Bible teaches then at worst they were not Christians and at best they were, at least temporarily, bad ambassadors for Christ.  Those issues are serious, of course, but they have zero impact on whether the Bible is true and whether Jesus is the the only way to forgiveness of your sins, reconciliation with God and to eternal life. 

The same goes for other religions and worldviews: We need to understand what they really teach to judge them properly. 

When people try to dismiss Christianity by saying, “What about the Crusades?!,” this is my first reaction: I make it a habit not to apologize for things that 1) happened 1,000 years ago and 2) I didn’t do.  I’m just funny that way.

Another possible response is to say that you’ll take responsibility for the thousands of people killed by “Christians” provided that the atheists take responsibility for the one-hundred million plus killed by Lenin, Mao Tse-Tung, Hitler and others.  (It is probably best just to think that and not say it, as it probably won’t take the conversation in the direction you want to go). 

Also, if someone wants to claim that Christianity isn’t true because of bad things done in Jesus’ name, then they would need to concede that the vast number of good things done in his name would be evidence for Christianity. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean we should gloss over bad things done in Jesus’ name.  Those are serious issues and an embarrassment to Christianity.  We can respond to them and use them to express Biblical truths.

Was the Inquisition wrong?  Of course!  It is completely un-Biblical to think you can or should force someone to believe something.  When the rich young ruler walked away sadly after being told he must give up everything to follow Jesus (Matthew 19), Jesus didn’t run and tackle him.  He didn’t even offer to take half.   The text says that Jesus loved the young man, but He didn’t force him to believe.

Mainline Christian denominations have caved on important Biblical concepts regarding sexuality – easy divorce, promiscuity, abortion and various perversions.  They abandoned essentials of the faith such as the deity, exclusivity and sufficiency of Christ as well.  They have grossly misinterpreted the Bible, but that doesn’t mean Christianity isn’t true.  It means people have drifted from or abandoned Biblical teachings.  Ideally, people wouldn’t judge Christianity based on what those people do and say. 

Some “Christians” abused scriptures to justify slavery (maybe they were really Christians, and maybe not . . . that was between them and God).  But what critics typically forget is that Christians who properly interpreted scriptures, such as heroes like William Wilberforce, were the ones who helped end that type of slavery.

Yes, self-proclaimed Christians have done many bad things.  But what is the answer – that Christianity is false?  Of course not.  The answer is more Christianity, or more specifically, more authentic Christianity. 

Biblical illiteracy is part of the problem.  The more people know about what the Bible really says, the more quickly they can stop heretical movements.   

Are bad actions done in the name of Christ a problem for Christianity even if the perpetrators may not have been true Christians and the acts were un-Biblical?  In a moral sense, no.  Again, you don’t judge an ideology based on the actions of those who violate its tenets. 

But in a practical sense it is a problem for Christianity, because these issues can be a stumbling block for non-believers.  We need to be sensitive to those who were wounded by Christians (real and fake) and be prepared to explain the truth in love. 

Also see Christianity’s Real Record for a more thorough analysis.