Weekly roundup

Don’t miss The Pachyderm’s bit on Driver’s Ed, the Modern Leftist Way

How abortion kills more than just babies – nice analysis by Washed & Forgiven plus some meaty comments as well

Why pro-life Presidents matter – it isn’t just the Supreme Court justices 

— 

Does faith require God to be hidden?

See www.str.org

Motive or accuracy – which counts most?

cross3.jpgSome people think that motive (“he really means well”) trumps the need for accuracy, but that is not the Biblical view.

Paul points out that people preaching the Gospel with wrong motives didn’t bother him as long as they got the message right:

Philippians 1:15-18 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

But he whales on people who do not preach the correct Gospel, regardless of the motive:

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

Of course, proper motive and accurate teaching is the best combination.

Isaiah 19-20

is19.jpgGreetings!

Israel was considering an alliance with Egypt against Assyria.

A Prophecy About Egypt

19     An oracle concerning Egypt:

See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud

and is coming to Egypt.

The idols of Egypt tremble before him,

and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them.

2 “I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian—

brother will fight against brother,

neighbor against neighbor,

city against city,

kingdom against kingdom.

3 The Egyptians will lose heart,

and I will bring their plans to nothing;

they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead,

the mediums and the spiritists.

4 I will hand the Egyptians over

to the power of a cruel master,

and a fierce king will rule over them,”

declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.

5 The waters of the river will dry up,

and the riverbed will be parched and dry.

6 The canals will stink;

the streams of Egypt will dwindle and dry up.

The reeds and rushes will wither,

7 also the plants along the Nile,

at the mouth of the river.

Every sown field along the Nile

will become parched, will blow away and be no more.

8 The fishermen will groan and lament,

all who cast hooks into the Nile;

those who throw nets on the water

will pine away.

9 Those who work with combed flax will despair,

the weavers of fine linen will lose hope.

10 The workers in cloth will be dejected,

and all the wage earners will be sick at heart.

11 The officials of Zoan are nothing but fools;

the wise counselors of Pharaoh give senseless advice.

How can you say to Pharaoh,

“I am one of the wise men,

a disciple of the ancient kings”?

12 Where are your wise men now?

Let them show you and make known

what the Lord Almighty

has planned against Egypt.

13 The officials of Zoan have become fools,

the leaders of Memphis are deceived;

the cornerstones of her peoples

have led Egypt astray.

14 The Lord has poured into them

a spirit of dizziness;

they make Egypt stagger in all that she does,

as a drunkard staggers around in his vomit.

15 There is nothing Egypt can do—

head or tail, palm branch or reed.

16 In that day the Egyptians will be like women. They will shudder with fear at the uplifted hand that the Lord Almighty raises against them. 17 And the land of Judah will bring terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom Judah is mentioned will be terrified, because of what the Lord Almighty is planning against them.

18 In that day five cities in Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord Almighty. One of them will be called the City of Destruction.

We are so spectacularly comfortable in the U.S.  We can’t imagine not having endless supplies of food and clothes.  But we only have what God has provided here and it could go away so quickly. 

19 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the Lord at its border. 20 It will be a sign and witness to the Lord Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them. 21 So the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the Lord. They will worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to the Lord and keep them. 22 The Lord will strike Egypt with a plague; he will strike them and heal them. They will turn to the Lord, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them.

23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. 24 In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. 25 The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”

This is a prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled.  Jesus is the Savior who will answer those who seek him.

A Prophecy Against Egypt and Cush

20     In the year that the supreme commander, sent by Sargon king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and attacked and captured it— 2 at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.

3 Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, 4 so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame. 5 Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be afraid and put to shame. 6 In that day the people who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape?’”

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

What an unusual passage!  I file that in the “Bible lessons they didn’t teach you in Sunday School” category.  One reference I read noted that Isaiah just took off his outer garment and sandals and that he was not completely naked.

Bad ideas in Christianity

circle-slash.jpgThe world is getting worse and worse and Jesus is coming back soon, so let’s withdraw now.  Let’s pull all Christian influence from business, politics, education, entertainment, the arts, media, etc.  Then let’s act surprised and wring our hands as society declines.

That is a bit of a caricature but not completely.   Of course we should avoid anti-Christian enterprises (you don’t redeem the drug culture by becoming a Christian drug dealer).  But many people reflexively avoid professions where they could be using their gifts and advancing the Gospel.

And some people buy the myth that we shouldn’t let our religious views inform our political views.  What do they expect us to do, vote the opposite of the 10 Commandments?  That would make for some interesting platforms. 

It may be a long time before Jesus comes back (try to look busy just in case), so we should do what we can to help the world .

A godly young woman who used to take dance with my daughters was thinking about going into theater but was a bit sheepish about it because it wasn’t completely “Christian.”  Not that there couldn’t be temptations or issues there, but I encouraged her to consider how she could pursue that and add a Christian influence.

Let’s be salt and light while we can.  You may have 50 more minutes or 50 more years to work for the Kingdom in this life.  We’ll have all of eternity to reflect on what we did or didn’t do.

Survey says . . .

family-feud.jpgA new Pew survey had made headlines recently:

A new map of faith in the USA shows a nation constantly shifting amid religious choices, unaware or unconcerned with doctrinal distinctions. Unbelief is on the rise. And immigration is introducing new faces in the pews, new cultural concerns, new forces in the public square.

The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, released Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, documents new peaks, deepening valleys and fast-running rivers of change in American religiosity.

The findings are being presented in two segments. One looks at religious affiliation (here used to mean identity) and demographic characteristics. The other, to be released in late spring, delves into beliefs, behavior and political views.

I’m looking forward to the second segment, because this one doesn’t seem that newsworthy.  In my experience, people check boxes such as “Christian,” “Baptist,” “Buddhist,” etc. based as much on cultural / family history as anything else. 

When sharing the Gospel with a guy recently, he explained how he was baptized Catholic as an infant then baptized again as a Baptist when he was a teen, and that he hadn’t attended church for years.  As with many people, his basic belief was that “good people go to Heaven.” 

After a fairly thorough explanation of the Gospel and how we are saved by grace/faith and not by works we asked if that was different than he expected.  He said it was completely different.

This isn’t a judgment on him either way.  But he could have checked “Catholic” or “Baptist” on this survey and it would have skewed the data.

I’ve also read about surveys where lots of people who claim to be Christian hold foundationally non-Christian beliefs (i.e., reincarnation).  These folks are either “saved and confused” or are checking the wrong box.

Isaiah 17-18

is17.jpgGreetings!

Isaiah continues his prophecies of what God will do to nations surrounding Israel. 

An Oracle Against Damascus

17     An oracle concerning Damascus:

“See, Damascus will no longer be a city

but will become a heap of ruins.

2 The cities of Aroer will be deserted

and left to flocks, which will lie down,

with no one to make them afraid.

3 The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim,

and royal power from Damascus;

the remnant of Aram will be

like the glory of the Israelites,”

declares the Lord Almighty.

4 “In that day the glory of Jacob will fade;

the fat of his body will waste away.

5 It will be as when a reaper gathers the standing grain

and harvests the grain with his arm—

as when a man gleans heads of grain

in the Valley of Rephaim.

6 Yet some gleanings will remain,

as when an olive tree is beaten,

leaving two or three olives on the topmost branches,

four or five on the fruitful boughs,”

declares the Lord, the God of Israel.

7 In that day men will look to their Maker

and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.

8 They will not look to the altars,

the work of their hands,

and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles

and the incense altars their fingers have made.

Asherah poles were images of a Canaanite goddess associate with Baal.  There are many Old Testament references to the Israelites having these poles.  Asherah and Baal worship involved sexual immorality, and you know their adherents just hated that. 

God often leaves a remnant of people and rescues them.

9 In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation.

10 You have forgotten God your Savior;

you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress.

Therefore, though you set out the finest plants

and plant imported vines,

11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow,

and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud,

yet the harvest will be as nothing

in the day of disease and incurable pain.

12 Oh, the raging of many nations—

they rage like the raging sea!

Oh, the uproar of the peoples—

they roar like the roaring of great waters!

13 Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters,

when he rebukes them they flee far away,

driven before the wind like chaff on the hills,

like tumbleweed before a gale.

14 In the evening, sudden terror!

Before the morning, they are gone!

This is the portion of those who loot us,

the lot of those who plunder us.

A Prophecy Against Cush

18     Woe to the land of whirring wings

along the rivers of Cush,

2 which sends envoys by sea

in papyrus boats over the water.

Go, swift messengers,

to a people tall and smooth-skinned,

to a people feared far and wide,

an aggressive nation of strange speech,

whose land is divided by rivers.

3 All you people of the world,

you who live on the earth,

when a banner is raised on the mountains,

you will see it,

and when a trumpet sounds,

you will hear it.

4 This is what the Lord says to me:

“I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place,

like shimmering heat in the sunshine,

like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”

5 For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone

and the flower becomes a ripening grape,

he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives,

and cut down and take away the spreading branches.

6 They will all be left to the mountain birds of prey

and to the wild animals;

the birds will feed on them all summer,

the wild animals all winter.

7 At that time gifts will be brought to the Lord Almighty

from a people tall and smooth-skinned,

from a people feared far and wide,

an aggressive nation of strange speech,

whose land is divided by rivers—

the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty.

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

There’s something about the Virgin Mary . . .

virgin-mary.jpg . . . that seems to cause people to err in one direction or another.  Catholics pray to her and appear to worship her (at least in some cases), and Protestants sometimes react by minimizing her.

One of the most unusual views held about Mary is her alleged perpetual virginity, based on a work written in the 2nd century that is not contained in the Bible.  If they want to hold this view that is one thing, but to take something without direct Biblical support and to put so much emphasis on it makes no sense to me.

Aside from the verses below and the fact that the Bible never claims perpetual virginity for her, it would have been a sin if Mary had never had sex with Joseph. 

Genesis 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Sex in marriage is not sinful!  To put such emphasis on the myth of her perpetual virginity is to be make Puritans look downright worldly.  A subsequent link made a tortured effort to rationalize away this verse, but the context couldn’t be more clear:

Matthew 1:25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

The author of the web article claimed that the word “until” was unclear and said, “Consider this line: “Michal the daughter of Saul had no children till the day of her death” (2 Sam. 6:23). Are we to assume she had children after her death?”  That is a completely different usage, of course.  If Matthew had wanted to say Mary was a perpetual virgin he could have just said, “But he had no union with her ever.” 

They also try to rationalize away these verses by saying that brothers/sisters meant cousins or other relatives.

Matthew 12:46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.

Matthew 13:55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?

Mark 3:31-34 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!

Mark 6:3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Luke 8:19-20 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

John 2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

John 7:3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.

John 7:5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

John 7:10 However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.

Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

1 Corinthians 9:5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?

Comments are welcome, but no gratuitous Catholic-bashing, please.  I disagree with many of their core doctrines but broad-brushing isn’t productive.  I’m glad that they do uphold the concept of the virgin birth.

Isaiah 15-16

is15.jpgGreetings! 

Moab, a country east of the Dead Sea, had always been an enemy of Israel.  The Book of Ruth was about a Moabitess who married an Israelite and who was an ancestor of Jesus.  Moab treated Israel very harshly and would be punished by God.

A Prophecy Against Moab

15     An oracle concerning Moab:

Ar in Moab is ruined,

destroyed in a night!

Kir in Moab is ruined,

destroyed in a night!

2 Dibon goes up to its temple,

to its high places to weep;

Moab wails over Nebo and Medeba.

Every head is shaved

and every beard cut off.

3 In the streets they wear sackcloth;

on the roofs and in the public squares

they all wail,

prostrate with weeping.

Having shaved heads was a sign of shame in that culture.  They wore sackcloth to show they were mourning.

4 Heshbon and Elealeh cry out,

their voices are heard all the way to Jahaz.

Therefore the armed men of Moab cry out,

and their hearts are faint.

5 My heart cries out over Moab;

her fugitives flee as far as Zoar,

as far as Eglath Shelishiyah.

They go up the way to Luhith,

weeping as they go;

on the road to Horonaim

they lament their destruction.

6 The waters of Nimrim are dried up

and the grass is withered;

the vegetation is gone

and nothing green is left.

7 So the wealth they have acquired and stored up

they carry away over the Ravine of the Poplars.

8 Their outcry echoes along the border of Moab;

their wailing reaches as far as Eglaim,

their lamentation as far as Beer Elim.

9 Dimon’s waters are full of blood,

but I will bring still more upon Dimon—

a lion upon the fugitives of Moab

and upon those who remain in the land.

16     Send lambs as tribute

to the ruler of the land,

from Sela, across the desert,

to the mount of the Daughter of Zion.

2 Like fluttering birds

pushed from the nest,

so are the women of Moab

at the fords of the Arnon.

3 “Give us counsel,

render a decision.

Make your shadow like night—

at high noon.

Hide the fugitives,

do not betray the refugees.

4 Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you;

be their shelter from the destroyer.”

The oppressor will come to an end,

and destruction will cease;

the aggressor will vanish from the land.

5 In love a throne will be established;

in faithfulness a man will sit on it—

one from the house of David—

one who in judging seeks justice

and speeds the cause of righteousness.

This is another prediction of the Messiah, Jesus, who descended from the line of King David.

6 We have heard of Moab’s pride—

her overweening pride and conceit,

her pride and her insolence—

but her boasts are empty.

7 Therefore the Moabites wail,

they wail together for Moab.

Lament and grieve

for the men of Kir

Hareseth.

8 The fields of Heshbon wither,

the vines of Sibmah also.

The rulers of the nations

have trampled down the choicest vines,

which once reached Jazer

and spread toward the desert.

Their shoots spread out

and went as far as the sea.

9 So I weep, as Jazer weeps,

for the vines of Sibmah.

O Heshbon, O Elealeh,

I drench you with tears!

The shouts of joy over your ripened fruit

and over your harvests have been stilled.

10 Joy and gladness are taken away from the orchards;

no one sings or shouts in the vineyards;

no one treads out wine at the presses,

for I have put an end to the shouting.

11 My heart laments for Moab like a harp,

my inmost being for Kir Hareseth.

12 When Moab appears at her high place,

she only wears herself out;

when she goes to her shrine to pray,

it is to no avail.

13 This is the word the Lord has already spoken concerning Moab. 14 But now the Lord says: “Within three years, as a servant bound by contract would count them, Moab’s splendor and all her many people will be despised, and her survivors will be very few and feeble.”

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

The Moabites worshiped false gods so there was no one to help them when they suffered. 

Weekly roundup

dna2.gifThirty-three things on evolution and intelligent design.   

Wikipedia can be useful for general information, but if anything is even remotely controversial or if some corporation would benefit by altering it then it tends to be weak.  My wife is a librarian and scoffs at Wikipedia for research.

Michael Scott from The Office said it best:

Wikipedia is the best thing ever.  Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information.

Check out Pandora Radio – here’s how Mom Loves Being At Home described it:

It’s a website where you can listen to commercial free radio while you’re on the Internet.  It asks you for a group/person you like and then they create a radio station for you based on that.  You can skip songs if you don’t care for one that they play and it will go right on to the next song.

Bob Geldof praises Bush’s African efforts  . . . media ignore them

Does God care about our pain and suffering?

See www.str.org

Isaiah 13-14

is13.jpgGreetings!

The first 12 chapters focused on the judgment of Judah, the southern kingdom.  Chapters 13-23 focus on the judgment of other nations, starting with Babylon. 

Babylon was part of present-day Iraq, and just as predicted it still lies in ruin.

Babylon is also used as a symbol of those who oppose God (see Revelation 17-18).

A Prophecy Against Babylon

13     An oracle concerning Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:

2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop,

shout to them; beckon to them

to enter the gates of the nobles.

3 I have commanded my holy ones;

I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath—

those who rejoice in my triumph.

4 Listen, a noise on the mountains,

like that of a great multitude!

Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms,

like nations massing together!

The Lord Almighty is mustering

an army for war.

5 They come from faraway lands,

from the ends of the heavens—

the Lord and the weapons of his wrath—

to destroy the whole country.

6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;

it will come like destruction from the Almighty.

7 Because of this, all hands will go limp,

every man’s heart will melt.

8 Terror will seize them,

pain and anguish will grip them;

they will writhe like a woman in labor.

They will look aghast at each other,

their faces aflame.

9 See, the day of the Lord is coming

—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—

to make the land desolate

and destroy the sinners within it.

10 The stars of heaven and their constellations

will not show their light.

The rising sun will be darkened

and the moon will not give its light.

11 I will punish the world for its evil,

the wicked for their sins.

I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty

and will humble the pride of the ruthless.

12 I will make man scarcer than pure gold,

more rare than the gold of Ophir.

13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;

and the earth will shake from its place

at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,

in the day of his burning anger.

14 Like a hunted gazelle,

like sheep without a shepherd,

each will return to his own people,

each will flee to his native land.

15 Whoever is captured will be thrust through;

all who are caught will fall by the sword.

16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;

their houses will be looted and their wives ravished.

17 See, I will stir up against them the Medes,

who do not care for silver

and have no delight in gold.

18 Their bows will strike down the young men;

they will have no mercy on infants

nor will they look with compassion on children.

19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms,

the glory of the Babylonians’ pride,

will be overthrown by God

like Sodom and Gomorrah.

20 She will never be inhabited

or lived in through all generations;

no Arab will pitch his tent there,

no shepherd will rest his flocks there.

21 But desert creatures will lie there,

jackals will fill her houses;

there the owls will dwell,

and there the wild goats will leap about.

22 Hyenas will howl in her strongholds,

jackals in her luxurious palaces.

Her time is at hand,

and her days will not be prolonged.

14     The Lord will have compassion on Jacob;

once again he will choose Israel

and will settle them in their own land.

Aliens will join them

and unite with the house of Jacob.

2 Nations will take them

and bring them to their own place.

And the house of Israel will possess the nations

as menservants and maidservants in the Lord’s land.

They will make captives of their captors

and rule over their oppressors.

3 On the day the Lord gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:

How the oppressor has come to an end!

How his fury has ended!

5 The Lord has broken the rod of the wicked,

the scepter of the rulers,

6 which in anger struck down peoples

with unceasing blows,

and in fury subdued nations

with relentless aggression.

7 All the lands are at rest and at peace;

they break into singing.

8 Even the pine trees and the cedars of Lebanon

exult over you and say,

“Now that you have been laid low,

no woodsman comes to cut us down.”

9 The grave below

is all astir

to meet you at your coming;

it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you—

all those who were leaders in the world;

it makes them rise from their thrones—

all those who were kings over the nations.

10 They will all respond,

they will say to you,

“You also have become weak, as we are;

you have become like us.”

11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave,

along with the noise of your harps;

maggots are spread out beneath you

and worms cover you.

12 How you have fallen from heaven,

O morning star, son of the dawn!

You have been cast down to the earth,

you who once laid low the nations!

13 You said in your heart,

“I will ascend to heaven;

I will raise my throne

above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,

on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.”

Verses 12-14 sound a bit like Satan but the rest of the passage doesn’t appear to describe him.  Perhaps it is alluding to Satan and how powerful leaders like Sennacherib or Nebuchadnezzar abused their positions.

15 But you are brought down to the grave,

to the depths of the pit.

16 Those who see you stare at you,

they ponder your fate:

“Is this the man who shook the earth

and made kingdoms tremble,

17 the man who made the world a desert,

who overthrew its cities

and would not let his captives go home?”

18 All the kings of the nations lie in state,

each in his own tomb.

19 But you are cast out of your tomb

like a rejected branch;

you are covered with the slain,

with those pierced by the sword,

those who descend to the stones of the pit.

Like a corpse trampled underfoot,

20 you will not join them in burial,

for you have destroyed your land

and killed your people.

The offspring of the wicked

will never be mentioned again.

21 Prepare a place to slaughter his sons

for the sins of their forefathers;

they are not to rise to inherit the land

and cover the earth with their cities.

22 “I will rise up against them,”

declares the Lord Almighty.

“I will cut off from Babylon her name and survivors,

her offspring and descendants,”

declares the Lord.

23 “I will turn her into a place for owls

and into swampland;

I will sweep her with the broom of destruction,”

declares the Lord Almighty.

A Prophecy Against Assyria

24 The Lord Almighty has sworn,

“Surely, as I have planned, so it will be,

and as I have purposed, so it will stand.

25 I will crush the Assyrian in my land;

on my mountains I will trample him down.

His yoke will be taken from my people,

and his burden removed from their shoulders.”

26 This is the plan determined for the whole world;

this is the hand stretched out over all nations.

27 For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?

His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?

A Prophecy Against the Philistines

28 This oracle came in the year King Ahaz died:

29 Do not rejoice, all you Philistines,

that the rod that struck you is broken;

from the root of that snake will spring up a viper,

its fruit will be a darting, venomous serpent.

30 The poorest of the poor will find pasture,

and the needy will lie down in safety.

But your root I will destroy by famine;

it will slay your survivors.

31 Wail, O gate! Howl, O city!

Melt away, all you Philistines!

A cloud of smoke comes from the north,

and there is not a straggler in its ranks.

32 What answer shall be given

to the envoys of that nation?

“The Lord has established Zion,

and in her his afflicted people will find refuge.”

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

No time to read the Bible?

alarm-clock.jpgDo you have time to read the Bible?  I used to think I didn’t.  Then I realized I was the guy who had time to read the paper from front to back, The Sporting News, Forbes, etc. in addition to various books. 

And I realized I would look rather foolish if someone said, “You’re a Christian, right?  And you have never read the Bible?!”

I was convicted that I really needed to read the Book.  Once I started I realized how much I had been missing.

Of course, reading the Bible isn’t what saves us.  It is just a logical thing for Christians to do.  There are endless benefits.  God uses it to transform our minds, to know him more, to shape us, help us to sin less, and more.  It contains the words of life.

Sometimes people are intimidated by it because it seems like one big book.  But many of the books are not very long.  Twenty-seven of the sixty-six books of the Bible are seven chapters or less.  I’ve been listening to Philippians on my iPod and all four chapters last a total of 16 minutes.  

I use MP3 files from Faith Comes by HearingThey currently have free downloads of the whole New Testament.  Check ’em out!  You can put them on your MP3 player or make CD’s of them.  Listen to the word in your car.  These are very well done, by the way.  I bought them years ago and have used them extensively.

If you haven’t been reading it, try just a chapter a day.  You can read it and reflect on it in 10 minutes. 

Whoa! This was on TV?!

ERIt was surprising but so encouraging to see that the clip below was on the TV show ER a couple years back. 

The chaplain is the classic fake Christian you’d expect to find in most theologically liberal churches today.  I love how the patient doesn’t buy her “just make up a god in your own image” type of platitudes.

The money quotes from the dying patient:

All I’m hearing is some new age “God is love” one-size-fits-all crap . . . I don’t have time for this now . . . I want a real chaplain who believes in a real God and a real Hell . . . I don’t need to “ask myself,” I need answers, and all your questions and uncertainty are only making things worse . . .

I need someone who will look me in the eye and tell me how to find forgiveness, because I am running out of time!

Hey Christians, time to fire up!  Some people don’t want the truth.  But there are lots of real people like this in the world who need and want the truth.  They must be so sick of the lies and the politically correct “God is whoever you want him to be” nonsense taught by the world and by far too many churches.  Is it really so hard to understand that you do not get to tell the creator of the universe how eternity works?

Are you ready to tell them the truth and the Good News?  Forgiveness, redemption and eternal life are possible, but only through trust in Jesus.

Why blog?

question-mark.gifI, Pandora did a post asking why we do (or don’t) blog and it prompted me to finish a draft.

First, the downsides

It takes way too much time and can be a little addictive.  When I came back from a 2+ week mission trip to Kenya last September I was “cured” of the mini-obsession to read and write blogs.  My Google Reader had so many unread posts that it couldn’t count them.  It just said, “Over 1,000.”  That was a sign!  I really enjoyed clicking “Mark all as read.”

I’ve tried to cut back on the blogs I read, but I do read the blogs of virtually all the regular commenters here.

A second problem is the time-wasting nature and some of the hostility you run into in the blog world.  I really don’t mind contrary opinions.  In fact, that is more interesting than endless back-slapping and “You go!” comments. 

But sometimes there are slightly overzealous folks who just wear you out.  A couple guys who recently fisked posts of mine really need to get some management training.  Anger management training, that is (yeah, I stole that line from The Office).  Reasoned disagreement is fine; unhinged-ness and nitpicking is not.

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not always a hug-fest here.  Much of the time people agree on some things but not others.    It isn’t always obvious because most commenters are charitable in how they express their views and don’t get personal with everything.

A quick search showed that two of my ideological opponents have had 385 and 439 comments here, respectively, in less than a year.  The Dawkins crowd left many hundreds as well, with a couple folks leaving about 100 each.  Yes, I have blocked a few folks but usually only for “felonies” and after repeated warnings.  I really need to pull the trigger more quickly on those.

Now the good stuff 

I started a blog when I realized I could write my own bits with as much time as I spent commenting elsewhere. 

I’ve enjoyed reading editorial pages over the years.  When reading multiple perspectives – biased or not – I learn a lot.  I try to sift out the sound bites and focus on the substance of the arguments.

When you read blogs over time you come to know who is trustworthy (unlike the mainstream media).  No one site is perfect, but it is amazing how much you can discern by reading multiple views on something. 

I enjoy the dialogue and sense of community.   Many of these topics are too politically incorrect for work and even church, but it is wide open here.  It is one of the only places you can discuss difficult and controversial matters.

Mostly I’ve enjoyed meeting interesting people from all over the country / world.  I really appreciate a quick wit and good humor.

I’ve learned a lot about making logical arguments and have found that writing things out helps clarify my thinking (Note to ideological enemies: insert your own punch line here!).

It is very cool to have lots of resources and writings stored so conveniently in one place.

I love opportunities to encourage and inform Christians in their walk with Christ.

I like whaling on false teachers and highlighting their poisonous heresies.

I have enjoyed opportunities to defend and share the Gospel and point to outstanding Christian resources on the web.

Every now and then I get tired of the whole thing and think about quitting.  Right about that time I get an encouraging email that keeps me going.

So, why do you read and/or write blogs?

Isaiah 11-12

is11.jpgGreetings!

Chapter 11 starts with more Messianic prophecies (predictions of the Messiah, Jesus).  Jesse was the father of David, and Jesus was from the line of David.

The Branch From Jesse

11     A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;

from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—

the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and of power,

the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord

3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,

or decide by what he hears with his ears;

4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,

with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.

He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;

with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

5 Righteousness will be his belt

and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

Jesus will ultimately judge us all.  He will be perfectly just and fair, but as these verses show He won’t be the “meek and mild” Jesus some make him out to be.

6 The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together;

and a little child will lead them.

7 The cow will feed with the bear,

their young will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,

and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.

9 They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.

This is one of the many sections in the Old Testament that show how Jesus was coming for Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews). 

12 He will raise a banner for the nations

and gather the exiles of Israel;

he will assemble the scattered people of Judah

from the four quarters of the earth.

13 Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish,

and Judah’s enemies will be cut off;

Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,

nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim.

14 They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west;

together they will plunder the people to the east.

They will lay hands on Edom and Moab,

and the Ammonites will be subject to them.

15 The Lord will dry up

the gulf of the Egyptian sea;

with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand

over the Euphrates River.

He will break it up into seven streams

so that men can cross over in sandals.

16 There will be a highway for the remnant of his people

that is left from Assyria,

as there was for Israel

when they came up from Egypt.

Chapter 12 is a hymn of praise to thank God for delivering them.  God is our salvation and worthy of our praise!

Songs of Praise

12     In that day you will say:

“I will praise you, O Lord.

Although you were angry with me,

your anger has turned away

and you have comforted me.

2 Surely God is my salvation;

I will trust and not be afraid.

The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song;

he has become my salvation.”

3 With joy you will draw water

from the wells of salvation.

4 In that day you will say:

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;

make known among the nations what he has done,

and proclaim that his name is exalted.

5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;

let this be known to all the world.

6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,

for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

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

Study Bibles

bible.jpgI’ve encouraged a couple commenters to consider study Bibles, so I thought I’d get a little more specific.

My wife’s favorite (and hey, she’s a librarian!) is the Quest Study Bible.  It has lots of the most common questions addressed in the sidebars.  I like it, too.

The Life Application Study Bible is my mainstay.  It has thousands of explanatory notes, tables, maps, definitions, book introductions, profiles of major characters, etc. 

Theobromophile recommended the Ryrie Study Bible.

All those links are for the New International Version (NIV), a very popular translation.  All of the verses I’ve memorized are from the NIV so I’ll switch translations when they pry it out of my cold, dead hands. 

Seriously, there are a lot of good translations out there.   I know some people get very passionate about their personal favorite. 

I am not a big fan of The Message (a broad paraphrase Bible), but if it is your favorite please don’t leave me any nasty comments.  If you want a paraphrase Bible I’d go with the New Living Translation. 

Study Bibles can be extraordinarily helpful, especially if you are new to the Bible.  I always remember that the text of the Bible is most important and was inspired by God and that the explanatory notes were not.  But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important to help us understand the context of the passages, who was writing, to whom they were writing, links to other passages, etc.

Even if you aren’t a believer the Bible can be a fascinating book to study.