Psalm 25

ps-25.jpgGreetings!

When read in Hebrew, this psalm is an acrostic – each verse begins with a successive letter of the alphabet.  That would have made it easier to memorize.

As my Life Application Bible points out, nearly have the Psalms mention enemies (72 out of 150).  Satan is our ultimate enemy and wants to see us stay away from God or turn from him.

David mentions asks for mercy and forgiveness several times, trusting that it is in God’s nature to grant them.

1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;

2 in you I trust, O my God.

Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.

3 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,

but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.

4 Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths;

5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.

6 Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways;

according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.

8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.

11 For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

12 Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.

13 He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.

14 The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.

This reminds me of where Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” and “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  (Matthew 6:33 and 7:7.  People who really seek the one true God will find him. 

15 My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.

18 Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.

19 See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles!

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The angry Psalms

bible3.jpgSome Psalmists invoked or called down evil or curses.  A classic example is the end of Psalm 137:

V. 8-9: O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us— he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

These imprecatory Psalms, as they are called, make Christians uncomfortable – as they should

Some of these psalmists seem to be venting in the first part of the Psalm, then they seem to calm down as they talk with God and start to see things from his perspective.

Skeptics and Dalmatian Theologians often use them, along with other difficult passages, as a sort of trump-card to say, “Aha!  That would be evil, so this isn’t God’s Word!”  They are wrong.

There are different points of view on this – most of which rigid liberal fundamentalists won’t like – but I think Ben Witherington III sums it up nicely:

I think actually Luther had a very good point when he said that in the prophets God speaks to us, but in the psalms we speak to God, and what is in and on our hearts is truly and truthfully revealed. How then are such psalms God’s Word? The answer is not difficult– they show God holding up a mirror to us so we will see our own hearts and what is in them– ranging from praise to cursing. As James once said– blessing and cursing should not be coming out of the same human mouth or heart for that matter.

The imprecatory psalms then reveal fallen human character, not divine character.

Just because something is in the Bible doesn’t mean that God thinks the action being described is a swell idea.  The Bible is a thoroughly honest book.  The flaws of even the heroes of the faith are laid out for all to see.  There is no revisionist history there. 

For Christians who dismiss these verses as not belonging in the Bible: If those passages trouble you, that is good. But I wouldn’t throw them out by saying that God didn’t want them in the Bible.  Unless, of course, you can do both of the following for me:

1. Use your “still, small voice” – i.e., your hotline to the true word of God – and tell me what God really wanted the Bible to say. Don’t just say that the current version is wrong, but tell me what it should have said. Feel free to add, delete or modify as He guides you.

2. Convince me why I should trust your revelation from God rather than the one that has been tested for 2,000 years or more and rather than any special revelations that other people come up with.

For non-Christians who use these verses to dismiss the Bible: I encourage you to dig deeper. 

Weekly roundup

skydive.jpgParachuting past disability – 89-year-old amputee Fred Winter made his first jump.  I used to attend the same church as Fred.  I last saw him when he was 83 and working out at the YMCA.  He is a truly engaging and inspiring person.

“I didn’t do this for the thrill of it,” he added. “I did it to inspire other people who have lost limbs.”

Check out the video.  This makes me want to sky dive . . . when I’m 89.  I figure if I wait until then I won’t have risked as much of my life.

Opus gets banned for some gentle digs at Islam.  Gotta love the “brave” journalists who made that choice.

How much do the rich pay in taxes?  More than you might think.  See this update by Next Stop Lauderdale.  Here’s a sample: “Among the richest 5% of taxpayers the actual taxes paid equaled 56.2% of all income taxes versus 50.2% had the tax rates not been changed in 2003.”

Think about that: The top 5% pay more than half of the taxes.  Seems like the Lefty politicians should be sending them (us?) thank-you cards instead of villification.

This should be interesting.  Ben Stein has a movie coming out called Expelled, which is:

 . . . a disturbing new documentary that will shock anyone who thinks all scientists are free to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.

Ben Stein, a pop-culture icon who is also a lawyer, an economist, a former presidential speechwriter, author and social commentator, “uncovers a long line of biologists, astronomers, chemists and philosophers who have had their reputations destroyed and their careers ruined by a scientific establishment that allows absolutely no dissent from Charles Darwin’s theory of random mutation and natural selection.

Good analysis of the CNN report on “God’s Warriors.” 

“God’s Warriors” is quite an equivocation in the CNN series because Christian activities are fundamentally different than radical Islam.

Have you patronized blasphemy lately?

Choice

choices.jpgA classic pro-choice sound bite is that it is paternalistic to assume that women are incapable of making their own choices, so abortions should be legal.

That message fails like the rest of pro-choice logic because it assumes what it should be proving: That abortion doesn’t kill another human being.

Should a woman have the “choice” to kill a toddler in her private bedroom along with her doctor and priest because they have consulted each other on this difficult decision? Of course not. So the only question is, “What is the unborn?” If it is not a human being, then no justification is necessary. If it is a human being, then no justification is valid (except to save the life of the mother).

Of course women should have choices – where to go to school, what career to choose, whom and when to marry, etc.  But they shouldn’t have the choice to legally have someone killed.  And neither should the guys or her parents who often pressure them to do so. 

And in many cases “choice” is a myth.  Read about the Unchoice message and Portraits of Coercion.  They contain some important statistics and stories.

There is a better way.  Choose life.

Blessed are the meek

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The comedian Dennis Miller had a great piece on Matthew 5:5 (Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth).  He said something like: 

Who cares if the meek inherit the earth?  We’ll just take it right back from them.  What are they going to do about it?  They’re a bunch of meeks!

Of course, the key to the joke was the misunderstanding of what it means to be meek and to inherit the earth.

In the context of the Sermon on the Mount, meekness is submitting to God after we have acknowledged our spiritual bankruptcy and mourned over our sins. 

But meek does not equal weak.  It is power under control.  It is humility and not exercising our power.  By submitting our wills to God we are being meek.  Just as a tamed lion or horse still has all of its power, so do we. 

Meekness does not equal cowardice.  Consider what Christians have done over the centuries for God that took incredible courage.

Meekness does not equal timidity or passivity.  Consider all the exciting and energy-requiring things people do for God – mission trips, sharing the Gospel, teaching, service, etc.

Mid-weekly roundup

Pastor approves cursing your enemies – What an embarrassment.  I wonder if this guy just took a major turn or if he slowly drifted into such doctrinal error?  Ick.

book-burning.jpgI suppose it is a shade better than book burning, but I was surprised at how proudly and openly these Darwinists admitted to hiding Intelligent Design books in bookstores.   Seems rather cowardly to me.  I suppose their monopolies in public and higher education and the free ride by the MSM aren’t enough.  This subset is even afraid to debate in the public square. 

They love to trot out their Galileo story to perpetuate the “Christians are anti-science” canard, but they miss the larger point: It is the abuse of power that helps sustain wrong ideas, not the religious component.  Rationalizing that they must hide “false” ideas from people is symptomatic of their fundamentalist materialist ideology. 

Islam in Europe – this guy does a great job of addressing the cowering politicians there.

Free market principles and abortions were addressed in Freedomnomics.  Supply and demand principles work everywhere.  Legalized abortion makes sex appear to be less risky and less costly, so you get more of it.  And more diseases, more emotional damage, more abortions and, ironically, more out-of-wedlock children.

Born that way?

dna2.gifThe “gays were born that way” saying has taken on a life of its own and has a significant impact on public policy.  Is it true?  If it is true, does it matter?  Some thoughts . . .

1. I’m highly skeptical of “proof” that it is genetic (either a “gay gene” or genetic predispositions), as these studies have all been proven to be false in the past.  See the Gay Gene Hoax.

2. Even if it is genetic, that doesn’t change the morality of the behavior.  You don’t get an “ought” from and “is.”  Gay-bashing is a sin, but those people could claim they were “born that way.”

3. If it is genetic, the number of gays will be dramatically reduced in a generation or so.  Heterosexual parents will be quick to abort their children with predispositions to be gay.  And the Liberals won’t do much to stop them, because they typically love abortion rights more than gay rights.  They haven’t changed their views even for gender selection abortions (which virtually all involve the murder of females), so they probably won’t change them for gays, either.

I think that would be a bad thing, of course, as I’m against abortions except to save the life of the mother regardless of whether the baby has a predisposition to be gay.

4. I’ve seen lots of evidence that many people are gay because of sexual abuse and/or relationship issues.  I agree that anecdotes don’t make a full case, but I’m talking about a lot of anecdotes from people who come across hundreds or even thousands of gays.  I’ve read of many counselors who said that virtually all of their gay patients had been abused or had serious relationship issues.  It has also been my personal experience knowing gays.  And here’s a quote from gay activist / journalist Tammy Bruce from The Death of Right and Wrong:

Almost without exception, the gay men I know (and that’s too many to count) have a story of some kind of sexual trauma or abuse in their childhood – molestation by a parent or an authority figure, or seduction as an adolescent at the hands of an adult.  The gay community must face the truth and see the sexual molestation of an adolescent for the abuse it is, instead of the “coming-of-age” experience many regard it as being.  Until then, the Gay Elite will continue to promote a culture of alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and suicide by AIDS.

She wasn’t trying to dispel the “born that way” notion, but I thought her comment was compelling.

And nearly all the lesbians I know were abused by their fathers or husbands.

5. It doesn’t have to be one traumatic event.  It could be the complete dynamics of a relationship in place from birth that would make someone think they were “always that way.”

6. Gays who choose that lifestyle would be predisposed to say they were born that way.  Otherwise, the whole “civil rights” demands would have even less reasoning behind them.

7. How many times do you see a newborn and say, “Now there’s a gay baby!”  Be sure not to unfairly stereotype youths as gay just because they have non-traditional characteristics.  How about nurturing and encouraging them for who they are and what interests they have?

8. Why are some people so eager to insist on the genetic link?  Seems kinda homophobic to me, as if they think the lifestyle would make an undesirable choice.

And don’t just say, “They are picked on, so who would want that lifestyle?”  That reasoning wouldn’t apply to people with true genetic differences that have made people a source of disapproval in the past.

Also, gay approval is at an all time high – “pride” parades, recognition as employee network groups at many businesses, civil unions & marriages – even apostate church weddings, almost universally favorable media treatment, etc.

9. Here’s one lady who doesn’t claim she was “born that way.”  She says feminism led her to lesbianism (go figure!).

Ms Wilkinson, Professor of Feminist and Health Studies at Loughborough University, said: “I was never unsure about my sexuality throughout my teens or 20s. I was a happy heterosexual and had no doubts. Then I changed, through political activity and feminism, spending time with women’s organisations. It opened my mind to the possibility of a lesbian identity.”

Grading the teachers

a.jpgFull disclosure, if it matters: My wife taught 4th grade for five years and is just starting her job as a librarian.  She may or may not agree with all of this.

Theobromophile had a good post on teachers that got me thinking about how we evaluate and compensate them.  This is not about whether they are under- or over-paid in general, but how to determine what raises they should get and how their performance is assessed.  Considering that teachers evaluate students with precise numerical scores in objective and subjective ways, it is ironic that unions resist compensation models that would consider that some teachers are doing a better job than others. 

Many jobs in business are challenging to evaluate, yet we do it anyway with a mix of  measures.  Is it perfect?  No.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t try.

Most evaluation systems have some version of a 5-point scale: Outstanding, exceeds expectations, meets expectations, need improvement, and “You’re fired.”  The finer points would be easy to iron out once the broader principles are in place.

Here’s my proposal, which some approximate figures.   

50% – average improvement on standardized tests – Each class should have an average incoming score. Teachers who increase the average by more than 1.0 (1.0 being an improvement of one grade level) would get higher ratings and/or bonuses.

For example, a lower performing class of students entering 4th grade might start the year with a 2.8 average and end up at 3.9, so the teacher would have done her part and more – an increase of 1.1 grade levels.  Another teacher might start with a class of 3.3 and end up with a 4.2, so the class would have improved by only 0.9 grades from year to year.

Is this a perfect measure?  No, there are all sorts of important influences such as parents and environment.  But if you have a critical mass of students the average should yield a fair rating.  If nothing else, you could compare it to peers.  A teacher with a longer term average of 1.2 must be doing something right, while a teacher with an average of .85 has work to do.

50% – a variety of categories such as preparation, administrative abilities, communication with parents, judgment, teamwork, etc.  The overall evaluation would be done by the Principal, though input would be gathered from Associate Principals and peers.   

Pros

  • More accountability – rewards better teachers and gives incentives for lower performing teachers
  • Fairness – doesn’t punish teachers who start with lower performing kids.
  • In theory, every teacher could get a high score if they raised their students’ achievement by more than 1.0 grade from year to year.
  • Relatively simple to administer – all these figures should be readily available.  Kids who start mid-year could have a weighted average impact to the score.
  • Not based solely on test scores, so teachers won’t just “teach to the test.”
  • Could be used to evaluate administrators as well.   
  • This is just a dream of mine, but perhaps schools would spend more time on things like math, science and English and less time on social engineering.  Just sayin’. 

Cons

  • Teacher unions won’t like it.  I have two words for them:  Boo-hoo.  (Or is that one word?)

How would you compensate teachers – purely on experience, or on performance as well?

How to Stay Christian in College

I’m recycling this June 2006 post because I like to remind people of this book each year.  Here is one of my favorite quotes by the author, J. Budziszewski:

Though it always comes as a surprise to intellectuals, there are some forms of stupidity that you must be highly intelligent and educated to commit.  God keeps them in His arsenal to pull down mulish pride, and I discovered them all.

Any correlation of the words in bold to postmodernism is purely deliberate.

——

How to Stay Christian in College (Th1nk Edition)Despite the title, How to Stay Christian in College is a book that anyone can benefit from. This should be must reading for students headed to college and for their parents. The author, J. Budziszewski (I’ll bet even he misspells his name sometimes), was an atheist when he became a philosophy professor at the University of Texas. He converted and is now a stellar defender of the faith. He is extremely intelligent, yet writes in a way that makes difficult and important concepts easy to understand. This book would make a great graduation gift.

Last year this book was given to High School Juniors and Seniors at our church. Click here to view a set of PowerPoint slides I used to present an overview (it covers parts of the book plus other things I added) or go here and right-click and select “Save target as” to download them. There are speaker notes below the slides.

An alarming number of youth abandon their faith in college and make all sorts of mistakes that take years or even lifetimes to recover from. They also miss out on opportunities to share the Gospel with people and to defend the Christian worldview during the inevitable philosophical and religious discussions that take place on campus. While preparing for all the practical considerations of college – majors, living accommodations, activities – Christians should ensure that they are well equipped to live out their faith while on campus. Make no mistake: Most colleges aggressively live and teach the opposite of the Christian worldview.

He offers very practical advice and how to not only survive but to thrive on campus. Being a Christian in college doesn’t mean avoiding all the fun activities that take place. I was basically a pagan while in college, so I can relate to how much this book could help others.

One of the most interesting insights is that going to a “Christian” college where the professors embrace liberal theology can be more dangerous than going to a secular college where you know what you are going to face.

I enjoy anything by this author, but I especially recommend Ask Me Anything: Provocative Answers for College Students for high school and college students.

One final question as you head off to perhaps the biggest life change you’ll ever undertake: Will you convert them, or will they convert you?

Weekly roundup

Who needs Underdog?

superwish.jpg 

Ethanol is the ultimate government solution: Special interests get billions of your tax dollars to produce an inefficient fuel, increase grocery prices and harm the environment.  Brilliant.

Farm subsidies – wasteful or practical?  I say wasteful and counterproductive.  I know we have a couple readers who own farms.  Looking forward to your insights!

The myth that abortion lowers crime rates is wrong on several levels. 

  • It ignores the homocides of the abortions themselves.
  • You could kill lots of people outside the womb and those folks would then commit less crimes – but would that be moral or wise?
  • It implies that killing people before they have committed crimes is morally acceptable (yet pro-legalized-abortionists are usually anti-capital punishment).
  • The statistics are manipulated.

Mommy Zabs has a new site called Not China Made.  Check it out.  Now!  I’ll wait here.

It has been interesting watching the evolutionists squirm over the fossil finds in Kenya

If you read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins you may want to follow it up with The Dawkins Delusion.

Video on the logical consequences of hate crime status for sexual preferences

“There is no truth, except for these five things . . .”

contradiction.jpgThe title is how I  characterize the approach of moral relativists (those who claim there is no truth) and/or Christians who claim there are many paths to God besides Jesus.  These folks probably make terrific neighbors and such but I must admit that I get frustrated talking with them. 

Here’s a sample of their writing from another blog.  The funniest part is that in his rebuttal he said, Dialogue is always dangerous because it poses the threat of change and the possibility of error.”  In his effort to accuse me of being scared of dialogue (Eek!  Yeah, he has my number.) he once again refuted his own position.  How could one be in error if there isn’t any truth?  Relativists can’t go two sentences without contradicting themselves.  When I read those comments I keep thinking they must be a parody and that the guy will all of sudden say, “Psych!  Just kidding!”  They are that bizarre.

Why search? Good Lord, life isn’t about searching for truth. It’s about living together as best we can with all the differences and baggage and trying to negotiate those differences. There is no such thing as truth, some metaphysical property that transcends time and space making one set of beliefs correct and all others erroneous. There is only the human commitment to getting along with one another and making the world a bit more tolerable. I have no commitment to truth because it doesn’t exist.

Time and again they claim there is no truth and then rattle off multiple truth claims.  They come to your blog to explain why you are wrong, illogical, denigrating, disingenuous, etc.  They consider you to be arrogant for thinking your views are correct, though they obviously think their view is correct.  When you point these things out they go into full-spin cycle mode and things get even more confusing. 

I find this approach to be:

  • Passive-aggressive: They jump in with their truth claims then criticize you for holding truth claims.  The “OK for me / not OK for you” hypocrisy is lost on them.  False humility and ad hominem arguments (attacking the “intolerant” person instead of his views) are not virtues.
  • Lacking confidence: They seem afraid to stand behind their views.  Maybe they think it is safe to express a view provided you immediately caveat it with, “But you are right, too!”  If you think you are right, then say so!  If you think my truth claims are wrong, just explain why.  It is OK, really. 
  • A waste of time: I don’t mind dissenting opinions.   For example, we have regular commenters here who are atheists.  We obviously disagree on some matters I find to be of great importance, but they share their ideas with clarity and good humor.  But the truth-is-relative folks will “listen” and then dismiss whatever they don’t like with statements like, “But that is just your truth.”  I’d rather dialogue with someone who acknowledges that on some issues we can’t both be right. 
  • Illogical and incoherent: In a logical universe something can’t be “A” and “not A” at the same time.  For example, it is theoretically possible that one of the following is true but more than one cannot be true: Reincarnation (Hinduism), judgment and an eternity in Heaven or Hell (Christianity) or non-existence (atheism).  If someone wants to claim that whatever you conceive God to be is what He becomes just for you, then that is a truth claim they would need to back up with reasoning in the marketplace of ideas. 
  • Dishonest: They claim there are no moral truths but make moral claims left and right, and they live as if there are truths.  Their lives deny their words.

Other than that I think the approach is swell. 

(Of course, I am not saying that different circumstances don’t yield different truths – e.g., pushing a toddler is immoral in a living room but moral if he is about to get hit by a car.) 

Some relativists try to distinguish between truth and absolute truthTruth is what corresponds to reality. Putting “absolute” in front of “truth” adds little, if anything.

Just because you can’t completely know God (a point I readily concede) doesn’t mean you can’t know what He revealed to us and wants us to know.

Just because the Bible is capable of being misunderstood doesn’t mean it is incapable of being understood.

Just because you make claims about God based on what you’ve learned doesn’t mean you are arrogant (provided you don’t share it in an arrogant way, but that is a different issue). 

Should we be humble since we might be wrong on something?  Of course.  I’ve been wrong plenty of times.  If you uncritically believe everything I write then you’ve got a problem.  On topics I haven’t researched thoroughly I freely admit that I could be mistaken.  For example, don’t ask me to state with utter confidence whether Calvinism or Arminianism is true and why. 

But if I write about something it is because I think it is correct.  If I think I’m wrong on something I don’t write about it.  Yet the relativists interpet that as arrogance because they infer that I must think I’m always right.

I don’t get divisive over minor issues.  I’m actually quite liberal on those.  But on topics such as whether Jesus is the only way to salvation or whether He is God then I will unapologetically express and defend those views.  Christians who can’t agree with the essentials might want find a new religion. 

The false dichotomy that non-spiritual things can be true or false but spiritual things cannot is very costly.  Jesus was not a relativist or a religious pluralist.  It is too bad that pluralistic Christians spend more time and effort rationalizing why others don’t need Jesus than they do taking the Gospel to them.

Comments and critiques are welcome, provided that you concede that truth and morality exists and that spiritual matters that can be true or false.  Otherwise, why should I read self-refuting comments? 

Also see Religious Pluralism is Intellectually Bankrupt.

Snakes trump heights!

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From an episode of Monk, the obsessive-compulsive detective:

[A snake is loose in the house Monk and Captain Stottlemeyer are investigating, so Monk is standing on the kitchen table]

Capt. Stottlemeyer: I thought you were afraid of heights.

Adrian Monk: Snakes trump heights! It goes germs, needles, milk, death, snakes, mushrooms, heights, crowds, elevators.

“Snakes trump heights” is now a catch phrase in our house (as I’ve said before, we like Monk because he makes our OCD look less raging). 

It occurred to me that we make decisions like this all the time – overcoming one fear because we fear something else even more. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The fear of losing a job could drive you to overcome a fear of speaking in public. 

I’ve thought about most of the truly exciting and rewarding things I’ve done in life and they nearly all involved overcoming some kind of fear: Marriage, having kids, jobs, public speaking, mission trips, evangelism and more.

The Bible says do not fear 366 times (one for every day of the year, including Leap Year). 

Phillipians 4:6-7 tells us not to fear, but to pray instead:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Just as importantly, in verse 8 it follows that with what we should fill our mind with once we’ve stopped fearing:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Let God trump all your fears.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Peace

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There are three main kinds of peace in the Bible:

1. Peace with others – the absence of conflict.  This is what people typically refer to when they think of peace or world peace (or, as the bumper sticker says, whirled peas). 

James 3:17-18 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

2. Peace of God – the peace that comes from knowing and trusting God.  This is a wonderful part of the Christian life, being able to trust that all things work for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28).

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

3. Peace with God – this is the most important kind of peace.  Trusting in Jesus takes us from being an enemy of God to being a friend of God.  Only by becoming believers in Christ do we become children of God.

James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

John 15:13-15 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

The third type of peace is the most important.  Why?

  • From an eternal perspective, what could be more important?
  • You can’t have the second type (peace of God) without the third (peace with God).
  • The more people have the third type (peace with God) the more we’ll get the first type (peace with others).

The Virgin Birth – it still matters

virgin-birth.jpgJohn MacArthur had a recent sermon which helped remind me why the virgin birth matters. 

First, I’m not sure why theological liberals are so adamant about opposing the virgin birth.  After all, when you consider the complexity of the universe and the fact that God originally created humans out of nothing, then what would be so complicated about a virgin birth?

And more importantly, the virgin birth is directly related to the deity of our Lord and Savior, an attribute these folks often seek to deny.  After all, if the virgin birth isn’t true, then the Bible has some big-time mistakes or lies.  If it wasn’t a virgin birth, then who was the father? 

And the passages related to Jesus’ deity don’t make much sense if Jesus was just a product of some covered up affair – e.g, John 1:1-3 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Jesus is “the Word” in that passage, so if He is eternally existent how did He get here without the virgin birth?

The notion that God came to earth as a human is one of the most outrageous things ever said.  Still, I believe it to be true based on the evidence of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and the reliability of the Bible.  If theological liberals want to deny the virgin birth, that is their right.  But they really need to consider the logical consequences that follow from such a belief, because what you end up with is a man-made religion.  If they think the Bible is that incorrect, I’m not sure why they follow it at all. 

Liberal theologians seem to enjoy mocking the orthodox view of the virgin birth as if we are wasting time defending it.  But once again they are the ones who challenge the plain meaning of the text.  If it is worth it to them to bring it up, why isn’t it worth it for us to defend it?

Q: Wasn’t the word “virgin” in Isaiah 14:7 a mistranslation?  (“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”)  Didn’t it really mean “young woman?”

A. The word Almah could indeed mean an unmarried woman as well as a virgin.  But that would hardly be worthy of a prophecy (“A young lady will get pregnant?  No fooling!”).

More importantly, consider that 70 Israelite scholars translated the word as “virgin” in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament completed one hundred years or more before Jesus’ birth.  And the Holy Spirit-inspired Gospel writers that referenced the incarnation mentioned many times that it was a virgin birth.

Al Mohler wrote a thorough piece on this topic and concluded it this way:

The authority of the Bible is almost completely gone where liberal theology holds its sway. The authority of the Bible is replaced with the secular worldview of the modern age and the postmodern denial of truth itself. The true church stands without apology upon the authority of the Bible and declares that Jesus was indeed “born of a virgin.” Though the denial of this doctrine is now tragically common, the historical truth of Christ’s birth remains inviolate. No true Christian can deny the virgin birth.