Weekly roundup

pro-choice-baby.jpg

I saw this picture at Casting Pearls Before Swine and thought it was worth a 2nd viewing.  Greetings from Mt. Perspective!  (It says, “Now that I’m safe I’m Pro-Choice!”)

You know you are blessed when the abortionist who tries to kill you ends up signing your birth certificate.  Just more evidence that abortion kills an innocent human being, and that a failed abortion failed to kill a human being.

What a joke – the UN wants $86 billion per year to combat global warming and to help the poor.  Now there’s a good investment, because you just know they would use it efficiently.

Seriously, the UN (and the other Greens) could milk this forever!  I mean, when will they ever say that the world is just the right temperature in all the right spots and will stay that way – especially when that would cut off their funding and power?

To spank or not to spank children – simple but excellent guidelines on a controversial topic. This is back in the news in the Houston area because a 2 yr. old was killed by the horribly wrong kind of physical discipline. It is sad to see some legislatures considering anti-spanking laws.  Just what we need – more of the nanny state.

Good summary of the CNN YouTube fiasco.  Do they have any journalistic integrity?

For your viewing pleasure, I thought I’d include a brief Stand To Reason YouTube video.  This one is on the problem of evil.

Proverbs 13

prov-13.jpgGreetings!  Let’s look at some more timeless wisdom from God’s word. 

      A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

2 From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things, but the unfaithful have a craving for violence.

3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

I’ve found that one of the key ingredients to success at work and at home is what I say and what I don’t say.  Being more intential about saying good and encouraging things makes a big difference, but even more important are the things I don’t say – those pointless, unconstructive things that make you feel better for a moment but are there for a lifetime.

4 The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

5 The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.

6 Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

7 One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

8 A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat.

9 The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.

10 Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

13 He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.

Learning to submit to authority is an important success factor in life.  Too many people grow up without basic manners and with the ethic that rebellion is good.  They are destined for misery.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.

15 Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard.

16 Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly.

17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.

18 He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.

20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

As 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”  I’ve seen how choosing friends well has made a huge difference in my daughters’ lives so we encourage that whenever we can. 

21 Misfortune pursues the sinner, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous.

22 A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

Giving is important and can bring great joy, but there is nothing wrong with thrift and saving.  We need to trust that God will provide, but one of the ways He provides is to give us enough to save for retirement and to give generously.

23 A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away.

24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

That is the classic verse about how to punish children.  I go through Proverbs a chapter at a time here, but it is also productive to go through the whole book to look at particular themes such as money, marriage, children, etc. 

If we love our kids we will discipline them appropriately while keeping their natures in mind.  V. 24 isn’t a blank check for abuse.  It doesn’t say to punish in anger.  But age-appropriate and infraction-appropriate punishment is important to their well-being.

25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

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

Coveting

money2.jpgIt is easy to take the 10th Commandment (Thou shalt not covet) more lightly than others, because it not as highly ranked, right?  But coveting leads to all sorts of problems and is at the root of violating many of the other commandments.

Coveting is bad because when we covet we make ourselves miserable.  But there is another more significant problem with it, which is what it says to God.  When I covet I am telling God that I think He has made mistakes and has not given me all He should have.  When I look at coveting that way it is very sobering, because that is obviously not the message I want to send to my Lord and Savior. 

I often hear people claim that so-and-so has too much money already, so they should cough it up (via taxes) for the public good.  Perhaps they do have too much, but is the claim that God is asleep at the wheel and isn’t distributing wealth properly?  Views like that are just another way of coveting other people’s money and subtly blaming God for not distributing wealth the way we think it should be done.  It may seem more noble because of the “Robin Hood” effect, but it is coveting just the same. 

Must-see videos

stand-to-reason.gifThese Stand to Reason videos are simply outstanding.  Greg Koukl is the most well-reasoned, winsome, articulate and effective apologist and teacher I’ve come across. 

The videos are just a couple minutes long.  I highly encourage Christians and non-Christians to watch at least a couple of them.  They will educate you and help you think more clearly.

Their Podcastwebsite (including their training MP3s) and blog are also invaluable. 

Stand to Reason trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith and to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square.

Check ’em out!

Who can you marry? An exhaustive list of Biblical rules.

wedding-rings2.jpgAccording to the Bible, a Christian should only marry a person who is:

  1. A Christian
  2. Able to be married (i.e., of legal age, not married already, etc.)
  3. Of the opposite sex

Item 3 used to be self-evident (and still is, for most of us), but we had to add it to the list a few years back. 

That’s it.  The key constraint is usually item 1: The future spouse must be a Christian.  Ignoring God’s clear direction on this is a bad idea. 

Full disclosure: It is possible that my wife violated guideline #1 in marrying me.  Fortunately, she lost the receipt so she can’t return me now.

“Missionary dating” (that is, dating someone in hopes of converting them) is un-Biblical , as it is based on false pretenses.  God might bless your relationship and your spouse might become a Christian, but there are no guarantees of that in scripture.  You just don’t want to start your marriage in clear violation of one of God’s commands. 

Marrying someone outside your faith is problematic.  You will have vastly different views on what should be the most important part of your life.  It will send a horrible message to your children, namely that you and your spouse thought it was important to agree on where to live, how many kids to have, where to vacation, what to eat, etc., but it wasn’t important for you to have even a general agreement on who God is and how that should impact your lives.

A good Christian friend realized the error of his ways and broke off a relationship with a non-Christian.  It was pretty painful, but certain things validated why he needed to make the break: She specifically tempted him to deny his God, “Just this once” – proof enough as to why such relationships are a bad idea.

Of course, just because it is moral to marry someone doesn’t mean it it wise.  There is a lot of wisdom and advice about how and whether to marry in the book of Proverbs and in 1 Corinthians 7, among other places.  These passages were directed to Solomon’s son but they apply to both sexes.

Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Proverbs 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Proverbs 21:19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

Proverbs 27:15 A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day;

Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

Psalm 33

ps-33.jpgGreetings!  This opening convicts me, because I am a lousy singer and have always been self conscious about my singing.  I do play guitar at some gatherings, which I enjoy because it gives me a way to praise him another way.  And that way I can sing if I like, because no one is standing too close to me!

The main point is to worship him fully and joyfully, as is fitting for all He is and all He does.

1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

2 Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

4 For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

6 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.

13 From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind;

14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—

15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.

17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.

18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

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

What does God really want here?  For us to fear him and put our hope in his love (v. 18).

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

dna2.gifSeven minute preview of the upcoming movie. 

The more I thought about this situation, the more I wondered why we tolerate free speech in every other area of this society, but not here.

What makes this situation so different?  In my experience, people who are confident in their ideas are not afraid of criticism.  So that tells me that Darwinists are afraid. 

. . .

But if you do leave, will anyone be left to fight this battle?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Ben Stein

Total Transformation’s Tips

treadmill.jpgI just wanted to plug my friend John’s cool site, Total Transformation (and, to a lesser extent, his irreverent Musings, Rants and Monologues site).

He documents his successful and sustained weight loss and fitness journey and encourages others as well, and he does this with a Christian worldview and a good sense of humor. 

He also has the guts to document it all with before and after pictures. 

I like how he offers a variety of tips and is always trying new things.  It isn’t one of those one-trick-pony or “As seen on TV!” plans that act like they found a miracle breakthrough.

He recently challenged people to ensure they were doing multiple joint weight exercises (e.g., squats, dips, etc.) rather than just isolating one muscle at a time.  That encouraged me to work in a “power day” to my routine, where I just do squats, weighted dips, deadlifts and abs.  I have really enjoyed the variety and results. 

Keep up the good work, Dr. Kaiser!

Psalm 32

ps-32.jpgGreetings!  The first two verses are really a massive understatement to me.  We toss around the word blessed rather easily, but consider how it is used here.  If my sins aren’t forgiven and God counts them against me as He could, then I have no hope and am doomed to an eternity in Hell. 

Yet with his forgiveness I not only don’t get the punishment I deserve but I get a life with him now and for eternity. 

Of David.

1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

2 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.

God is patient, but there will come a time when forgiveness is no longer possible.  250,000 people will die today all around the world.  Very few knew today would be their day.  Today is the day to get right with God.

7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.

9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.

11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

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

Today is a great day to rejoice in God’s love and forgiveness.

Favorite dish of liberal theologians & skeptics: Shellfish

shellfish.jpgAs always, this is about careful thinking and proper analysis of the Bible and not about picking on homosexuals.  We are all sinners in need of a Savior.

Many liberal theologians, skeptics and pro-gay lobbyists use the “shellfish” argument to undermine and/or dismiss parts of the Bible they disagree with, often mocking about how they love shrimp and such.  They use the same reasoning with other Old Testament restrictions such as not eating pork or mixing fibers in garments.  This video by Jack Black is a recent example.

Their argument goes like this:

  • Yes, Leviticus 18:22 says Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
  • But Leviticus 11:10 says, And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of all the living creatures that are in the waters, they are an abomination unto you
  • Therefore, the Bible cannot be the word of God and homosexual behavior must be moral because the Bible is an undependable, contradictory book that equates shrimp eating with sexual immorality.  And people who teach that homosexual behavior is a sin are bigoted hypocrites who only follow the parts of the Bible they like.

Search for Leviticus shellfish or see sites like God Hates Shrimp for more examples.

The above exercise proves that anti-gay fundamentalists selectively quote the Bible. They enthusiastically and openly embrace those parts of the Bible which affirm and justify their own personal, pre-existing prejudice against gay people, while declining to become as enthusiastic about verses like the ones listed above.

After all, how many times have you heard a fundamentalist say that eating shellfish was an abomination? But they sure don’t hesitate to say it about gay people, do they? What does that tell you?

Actually, I find those questions to be ironic, because I think the facts will show which side is most likely to pre-judge, selectively quote the Bible and take it too literally.  I hope they take this analysis seriously and reconsider whether their premises and conclusions were sound.

On the one hand, their argument is effective because it is catchy and very few people know how to respond to it.  Many people claiming the name of Christ can’t even articulate the simple Gospel.  When was the last time anyone read Leviticus?

On the other hand, their argument is ineffective because the facts do not support it.  Also, it deliberately and unnecessarily undermines confidence in the word of God.  I expect that from skeptics and non-believers, but I am always disappointed that those claiming to be Christians use it to attack the word of God.

The argument appeals to those who take passages literally when it suits them.  Both passages say abomination (or detestable, depending on what translation you read), don’t they?  And if eating shellfish is obviously a morally neutral act, then homosexual behavior must be as well, right?

However, if you follow the basic principle of reading things in context and you attempt to understand the original languages better on difficult or controversial passages, then you’ll realize that the shellfish argument is not supported by the facts.

The short version: There were different Hebrew words translated as abomination.  They were used differently in the individual verses and were used very differently in broader contexts.  The associated sins had radically different consequences and had 100% different treatments in the New Testament.  And the claim that Christians are inconsistent if they say homosexual behavior is a sin if they don’t also avoid shellfish, mixed fibers, etc. would mean that they couldn’t complain about bestiality, child sacrifice, adultery, etc.  

The longer version

1. The words translated abomination in the original Hebrew are different.  In Lev. 11:10, it means detestable thing or idol, an unclean thing, an abomination, detestation.  This word is typically used in the Bible to describe unclean animals.

In Lev. 18:22 the Hebrew term תּוֹעֵבָה (toevah, rendered “detestable act”) refers to the repugnant practices of foreigners.  As noted below, the word is also used used to describe bestiality, child sacrifice and incest.

Therefore, the “same word!” argument self-destructs immediately.

2. Even a plain reading of the passages shows that the homosexual behavior is considered detestable to God, whereas the shellfish are to be detestable to the Israelites because it made them ceremonially unclean.  Those are key differences.  Being detestable to God is different than being detestable to a person.

3. The broader contexts show completely different types of regulations.  Read Leviticus 11 and Leviticus 18 yourself and note the contexts.  I’ll wait here.

The beginning and end of chapter 11 make it clear that this passage is about dietary rules just for the Israelites:

Leviticus 11:1-2 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat:

Leviticus 11:46-47 These are the regulations concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves in the water and every creature that moves about on the ground. You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.

Now consider the beginning and end of chapter 18, where the Israelites are told not to be like the pagan Canaanites.  God expected the Canaanites to follow these moral laws and was about to vomit them out of the land for failing to do so.  Therefore, they obviously weren’t Jewish ceremonial laws.

Leviticus 18:1-3 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.

Leviticus 18:30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the Lord your God.”

4. The punishments for eating shellfish and homosexual behavior were radically different.  There were about 15 things in the Israelite theocracy that could result in capital punishment, and homosexual behavior was one of them (And no, I’m not suggesting that should be the punishment today.  The punishments were for the Israelite theocracy, which is clear when you read the context of those passages.)  But eating shellfish just made one ceremonially unclean for a period of time.

Again, note how the moral laws with their steep punishments are tied to offenses God held the pagans responsible for, yet the unclean animal passages were for the Israelites only and were brief (It could have been for health reasons and/or symbolic reasons.  Animals on the ground were like the serpent and thus symbolized sin and pagan religions often sacrificed pigs).

 Leviticus 20:13 “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Leviticus 20:22-26 Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations.

‘You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those which I have set apart as unclean for you. You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

5. The ceremonial dietary laws were clearly and emphatically overturned in the New Testament, whereas the commands against homosexual behavior (and other sexual sins) were not.   Also see Acts 15:28-29 (It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.)

6. The claim that Christians are inconsistent if they say homosexual behavior is a sin if they don’t also avoid shellfish, mixed fibers, etc. would mean that they couldn’t complain about bestiality, child sacrifice, adultery, etc.  After all, those things are also considered to be wrong in Leviticus 18 and elsewhere.  That is a transparently false argument.

And if someone tries to play the “Leviticus is outdated” card, remind them of this verse and ask if it still counts: Leviticus 19:18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Remember, anyone calling themselves a Christian should be seeking to hold the same views as Jesus.  And Jesus fully supported the Old Testament — every last letter and mark.

Here’s another answer from Tektonics, a terrific apologetics website:

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Aren’t there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

The point of this question – aside from the matter of not knowing what ritual purity is all about – is lost; if there is a sincere interest in knowing if there are “degrees” of abomination, just ask this simple question: Are there degrees to which things may be found “abominable”? Are the works of a robber baron not less abominable than those of a murderous dictator? In any event, if shellfish is a matter of ritual purity only, and homosexuality is a matter of higher morals as argued, then indeed, eating shellfish would have been a lesser abomination. (Indeed, the fact that the words used for “abomination” in both passages are different suggests that by itself.The word used for the shellfish is used only a few times in the OT, always of unclean animals, whereas the word used for homosexuality is used for things like bestiality, incest, and child sacrifice!)

So if anyone uses the shellfish argument with you, ask a few questions to see if they have really thought it through.  Everyone I have ever seen use it was either unaware of these responses or deliberately ignoring them. 

And as always, remember that the Bible couldn’t be more clear. Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people* (religious or not) can see these truths:

– 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
– 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
– 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
– 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind. There are no exceptions for “committed” relationships.
– 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to LGBT couples parenting children.

* The three general types of pro-gay theology people:

1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God.” (Obviously non-Christians
2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling the theological Left.” (Only about 10 things wrong with that.)
3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

Also see Problems with Pro-Gay Theology and Responding to Pro-Gay Theology.

Psalm 31

ps-31.jpgGreetings!  David (or possibly Jeremiah) is crying out to God for protection.

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

4 Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.

5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.

Jesus quoted v. 5 on the cross – Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I trust in the Lord.

That reminds me of Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

8 You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.

9 Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.

10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.

11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friends— those who see me on the street flee from me.

12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.

13 For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”

15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.

16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.

17 Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.

18 Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

19 How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.

20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.

21 Praise be to the Lord, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.

22 In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.

23 Love the Lord, all his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full.

24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

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

I have never suffered anywhere near what this Psalmist did, yet he trusted in the Lord.  That challenges me to trust in him all the more through minor trials and fears.

Hell is not very popular

I once mentioned in an adult Sunday School class how people often quote Matthew 25:40  (“Whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto me”) but they almost never quote verses 45-46 (“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”)

Sure enough, in the sermon that day that exact thing happened.

I was also in a study with a bunch of allegedly mature believers who spouted one heresy after another.  When they were busy denying the doctrine of Hell, I calmly pointed out that Jesus talked more about Hell than He did about Heaven.  This is an objective truth; it is not a matter of interpretation.

Still, one lady was so steeped in her preconceptions that she immediately blurted out, “No He didn’t!”  Indeed.

I think one reason people don’t talk about Heaven much is that it reminds them that there is also a Hell.  And they don’t like to acknowledge or talk about that.

Ms. Green had some good insights and a broad list of verses about Hell.

Privacy

privacy.jpgClinton, Obama and Edwards would all demand pro-abortion Supreme Court justices (But there is no litmus test, of course).

Their rationale was the typical political weasel-word privacy. Privacy to do what, pray tell?  Have an abortion, of course. 

Does a woman have a right to kill her toddler in the privacy of her own bedroom after consulting privately with her physician and spiritual advisors?  Of course not. 

So, once again, the only question is: What is the unborn?  If it is not a human being then no justification for abortion is required.  If it is a human being then no justification is adequate. 

P.S. It is a human being.

P.S.S. If they really want to keep government out of our private bedrooms, they could start by booting Planned Parenthood out of our schools and de-funding them.

Hat tip: Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason.

Weekly roundup

Maybe the death penalty is the deterrent many of us knew it was.  And even if studies couldn’t prove it out, we all know that if traffic tickets cost a nickel they would be less of a deterrent and if they cost us 1 yr. in jail they would be more of a deterrent.  So we know that greater punishments are deterrents; the question is whether they are proper. 

Great summary of the 1st Amendment

Something I used to wonder about: Why does God permit false prophets?

Five common misconceptions about Christians by Ms. Green – these come up a lot, especially when blogging.  Bookmark this page.

Who really cares?  – a provocative piece highlighted by I, Pandora.  As always, it is only charity if you are giving your own money away.  Voting to take someone else’s $ to send to your favorite cause via taxes is something else altogether.  Given the media stereotypes of cold, heartless conservatives I thought this was worth a look.

In his book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, Professor Arthur C. Brooks reports that conservative families give about 30 percent more money to charity each year than liberal families, even though their income is about six percent less. Conservatives give more regardless of income bracket, even with lesser levels of education.  

The bottom line is, the more religious people are, the more likely they are to give. And religious people do not limit their giving to religious organizations. In fact, religious people are more likely than secular people to give to non-religious charities such as the United Way.

Moreover, charity among religious conservatives is not limited to giving only money; they are much more likely to volunteer their time and participate in other informal acts of charity. For instance, religious conservatives are twice as likely as secular people to donate their blood.

Acts 28

acts-28.jpgGreetings!  Paul is on his way to Rome as a prisoner.  They have been shipwrecked on Malta.

Ashore on Malta

28     Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.

No matter how severe the circumstances, Paul was always looking to spread the message of Jesus with words and deeds.

Arrival at Rome

11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. 12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. 13 From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. 14 There we found some brothers who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. 15 The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged. 16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.

Paul was obviously a low-risk prisoner and had earned a lot of freedom for himself.

Paul Preaches at Rome Under Guard

17 Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—not that I had any charge to bring against my own people. 20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”

21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”

23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”

27 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

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

Once again, Paul reasoned with his hearers  (“explained . . . “tried to convince”).  As usual, some were convinced and some were not.  God is ultimately in control of that, but we are obedient if we share the truth regardless of the outcome.

The Book of Acts ends in a somewhat anti-climactic way.  It chronicled key events in the history of the early church.  Paul wrote a couple of his letters from prison there.  He may have been released at some point and then put in prison again.  Either way, he was eventually killed for his faith after being imprisoned in Rome. 

Acts wasn’t just about Paul, it was about the spread of the Gospel.  I pray that we would all live out verse 31 and that we would boldy and without hindrance preach the kingdom of God and teach about our Lord Jesus Christ.