December 28, 2007

New Year's Resolutions--Again...

Have you made any New Year's resolutions? Well here I go again. Probably about 3 times a year or more I will be asked by someone, "What can I read to know the Bible better?" It's a thrilling question to someone who has invested their life into the teaching of the Word. Every time I am asked it, I answer the same. "How about the Bible?" I'll say.

Let me reduce this to the simplest form I can. If you wanted to get to know your next door neighbor, what would be the best way to do it? Would it be to ask another neighbor who has known the person in question? To be sure, that would give some information and maybe even good information but then again, the information could be skewed, slanted or biased.

Would it be to hang around other people who know the neighbor in question? Again, you might learn some things about the neighbor but remember I asked, "What would be the best way to get to know someone?"

Wouldn't the most reliable, most efficient way to get to know someone be by hanging around with that person; talking with that person, seeing that person involved in various circumstances in various places and times?

Well knowing God is no different. Remember John begins his gospel by saying. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." So the best way to get to know Him is not by reading what someone else says about Him but by spending time with Him frequently. And we do that by reading the Bible not by reading books about the Bible.

So grab one of those reading schedules that lay out a daily reading plan. It will help you stay disciplined. And for heaven's sake, don't expect to understand everything you read. I have been studying the Bible for three decades with advanced degrees and I don't even come close to understanding everything.

But over time, you will gain a new sense of who God is and a new feel for what is and isn't in the Bible. So if you're going to make one resolution this year, try making it to spend time with the Creator of the world each day. And when you miss a day--like I do--don't beat yourself up; remember this is for your pleasure in spending time with the King. It's not to gain you points; Jesus has taken care of that!

God is in Control and Will Be This Time Next Year

It is January 4th, four days into the new year. There remains only 361 days in this calendar year and yet by this time next year, we will still be under terrorist watch alerts; health care professionals will still be wringing their hands over the rate of pregnancies to unwed mothers; CDC officials will still be baffled at the rise of sexually transmitted diseases due to a wholesale, cultural lack of self control; the ridiculous cost of health care will continue to soar; George Bush will still be blamed for everything wrong in the world, global warming will continue to be hyped in spite of objective analysis and the price of filling your gas tank will still be inflated by the manufactured pressure of supply and demand.

But the big news story of 2008 will be who will sit in the White House having obtained the nod of the American public with the expectation that whoever it is, will make a significant dent in these monumental issues.

I hate being Mr. Dismal but I have been alive long enough now to see presidents come and go and while there have been minuscule changes for the better concerning the common good, the world has not improved nor will it. And that will not change no matter who sits in the Oval Office--my humble opinion…

The longer I live, the more clearly I seem to see the hand of God involved in the affairs of mortal man. Good leaders improve things here and there, or at least palliate symptoms of the diseased human spirit, but root causes are rarely if ever addressed and God is increasingly a concept better left in a closet.

When Nebuchadnezzar of the Old Testament--the King during Daniel's life--was recalcitrant and was sentenced to punishment by the Supreme Creator of the universe. Daniel records the following: "This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers, and the decision is a command of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes…"

This exact phrase is repeated four times in the short book and the point ought to be clear.

God is in control; not Republicans; not Democrats; not conservatives or liberals and the next leader of this wayward country will be the one--for good or bad--placed there by the hand of God. That is not necessarily comforting but it should be encouraging. There is a God and His will, will be done. One way or another.

December 26, 2007

Muslim Teen Murdered By Her Father

Aqsa was a normal, ethinic American teen. She had a Facebook page and her posted picture shows her to be an adorable 16 year old. If it is possible to say it, she looked very "North American" like millions of children of immigrants who came to this continent to find, well, the North American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Aqsa's life, liberty and pursuit of happiness came to an abrupt halt a couple weeks ago when her father murdered her. That in and of itself, horrible as it is, is not the whole story. What is unique about this murder is that it was an "honor killing" as it is called, in the peaceful religion of Islam.

Aqsa wanted to fit in with all the other Canadian girls she lived, breathed and moved around and so one day decided she didn't want to wear the traditional hijab or head covering worn by Muslim women. That is what cost her, her life.

What is also disgusting about this story is that the media, in their predictable Islamophobia, have not reported the story for what it is. One Canadian report reported it: "Canadian Teen Dies; Father Charged"

That's it, who knows why the teen died only that the father was charged, because, God forbid, that the public should know the whole truth about the serene, Muslim culture of sharia law.

Mohamed Elmasry, President of the Canadian Islamic Congress, wins "understatement of the year" award with his dynamic statement saying, "It was a teen issue."

What is also predictable yet unsettling is the silence from women's groups who thrill to jump on anything, real or imagined, that might be perceived as demeaning to females when it originates from western European sources.

Let a Christian merely parrot the biblical role of a woman and listen to the caterwauling of the feminists and watch the headlines pop to the fore of the news. Just last week I heard Chris Wallace snidely commenting about the statement Mike Huckabee made some time in his past concerning his view of women and their proper role in a marriage. He was nearly quoting, verbatim, Ephesians 5:20ff but you would have thought Huckabee was a stone aged tyrant dragging his wife through life by the hair or something worse.

But when it comes to Islam, the critics are strangely silent.

December 13, 2007

67 Year Old Mother of Twins thinking Only Of Herself

Selfishness takes on all forms. Maria Del Carmen Bousada de Lara of Spain got the urge to travel to America to seek medical treatment. That was all her family knew. Imagine their shock when media agencies began hounding them asking them their opinion of Maria's motherhood.

Maria's 73 year old brother thought it was a media hoax. As far as he knew, his sister was an independent, unmarried woman and never had any desire for children. Her reason for wanting children now? She answers with a non-answer-- "That’s life. I have my motives.”

But the medical procedure she obtained in America was aggressive IVF or in vitro fertilization. Maria gave birth to twin sons and, oh, did I mention that Maria is 67 years old?

That's right; she becomes the oldest woman in the world to have children and even her family is critical of her decision questioning her ability to even raise the children. To increase that concern, Maria has just been diagnosed with cancer essentially assuring her sons growing up motherless.

The woman lied about her age when seeking IVF; she told the doctor who took her on as a patient that she was 55. I've seen picture of this woman; she looks closer to 67 than she does 55. Way to go doc. Must have had a boat payment due…

But even if she was "only" 55, in my opinion, with rare exception, that is still too old to think about starting a family. I am in extraordinary health in all ways yet at 54, I am pretty wiped at the end of the day. My wife and I have thought--for fleeting moments-- about adopting and starting a new family now that our children are grown but invariably I look in the mirror at my wrinkles, the shedding hair, the bags under my eyes and say, "Are you nuts?"

There is no way I could adequately parent small children again not even with the help of my wife. And this 67 year old is single on top of everything else.

Forget the rumors about selling her story to the tabloids; one thing is certain. Maria had only one person in view when she made her decision and that was Maria. Yes, selfishness takes on all kinds of shapes and sizes.

December 12, 2007

Christmas Debt a Real Sin Issue

How's your outgo with respect to your income? It is an especially important question this time of year. Do you really want to be paying for "Christmas" presents for several months into the new year? Somehow, it's hard to see how that would be pleasing to the Lord whose birthday we celebrate.

Janet Hard was faithful to pay not only the minimum payment on her Discover card but paid extra on the balance each month. Problem is, she didn't notice the balance going down much at all. It seems Discover increased her interest rate from an unbelievable 18% to a criminal sounding rate of 24.4%. Back in another era, that was the kind of rate you would get from a guy named Vito who would take your loan application from the back seat of his black Lincoln.

Why was Mrs. Hard's rate increased even though she was a faithful payer? She apparently had other credit cards with some debt on them as well as some others that were inactive. Never-the-less, the availability of credit lowered her credit rating making her a greater risk hence the increase in interest rate.

What was the impact of the interest component of her bill? She had paid $3,478 on her $5,618 debt in the last two years yet only reduced her debt by a scant $350! That should make one groan but more, it should compel the millions of consumers like you, who carry credit card debt to STOP spending what you don't have! For the Christian, it is a sin issue.

How much of God's money is being stolen from him--ie., not going to Him as He demands in Haggai 1:9 and Malachai 3:10. Instead much of "God's money" is going to "The Man" in credit card interest.

If this is in anyway hitting home, you need to not just groan about it, you need to take vigorous action to change it. The first step is to STOP spending money you don't have. I don't care if it is Christmas time, it's a wonderful time to bring this part of your life in line with God's will for you. There is real freedom in not having to spend money you don't have and real spiritual joy. Don't put it off. Do it now--for a better New Year and a peace-filled journey.

Religous Scrutiny is Fairly Useless for Presedential Consideration

Mormonism has never been more in the spot light of public attention than it is currently. All the attention is a mixed bag.

Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, in an article published in Sunday's NY Times magazine asked, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

Huckabee never answers the question and that is the problem with the spot light on Mormonism. Nothing is ever really answered so one is left with the unsubstantiated impression that Mormonism is either a truly deceptive cult or that it is a viable Christian faith which simply gets bad press.

For the record, the definition of a cult from an evangelical perspective, is a group of people, claiming to be Christian, yet adhere to a particular doctrinal system "invented" by a strong leader whose views are codified in a book which, invariably, supersedes the Bible.

If you accept that definition, Mormonism is a cult. Where Mormons were once Trinitarian early on, Joseph smith changed that defining the bizarre view Mormons hold today. Namely, there is a plurality of gods as spirit beings morph--in a sense--into gods in charge of other worlds. In that god is the father of all spirit beings, Jesus and Satan--both spirit beings according to Mormonism--are technically therefore brothers.

That being said, though the whole religious review of candidates is skewed, inappropriate and misplaced. I have to agree with Mit Romney at one level. Paraphrasing his response about his beliefs he said, "Look at my marriage, see how I raised my children, etc. if you want to know what I believe." That's a good point--not in a theological sense--but certainly appropriate for the issues at hand as a presidential candidate.

All that is to say, that Romney's Mormonism should be neither a qualifying, nor disqualifying attribute of the candidate; neither should it be ignored though anymore than Barak's liberal UCC claim, or Guiliani's pretense of Catholicism, or Huckabee's Southern Baptist ordination, or Hillary's roots at the First Chameleon Church of Whatever.

Every person, including the hardened atheist, makes decisions and takes action consciously or unconsciously out of their belief system whatever it may be. To think that anyone does otherwise is anthropologically, and spiritually absurd.

December 05, 2007

Presidential Debates A Total Farce

The CNN/YOUTUBE debates were the most watched thus far. I'm not sure why that was but that is the official Nielsen report. I was so bored with the sludge on T.V. that night, that I actually tuned into it myself. It confirmed everything I had already determined about the debates and I use that word very loosely. More on that in a minute.

What was found out after the debate is that the whole thing was pretty much a scam with audience, questions, post debate spin etc. was all fixed in favor of the party of low morals and even lower metal.

The questions asked were the kind of questions rabid liberals love to ask conservatives. "Do you believe every word of the Bible is true." This was a classic question posed by a YOU TUBE interrogator with verified ties to the party of democrats. And then there was retired Army General Keith H. Kerr asking his question about homosexuals in the military. He has some roll with Hillary Clinton's campaign but of course in good Clintonian fashion the Clinton entourage said he was not acting on behalf of the Clintons--case closed.

Mind you, I really don't have a problem with antagonists asking such questions. If you have truth and common sense and wisdom on your side, then you ought to be able to stand up to any questions from anyone.

But the problem is the conniving way it was all set up and that is a problem because such procedure is not a two way street. There is no even playing field.

But beyond all the deception, the insipid nature of the questions were worthless. Here were men showing why they believe they should be the leader of the free world yet there was hardly anything of substance. And as for the question regarding the Bible; I'm looking for a presidential candidate not a theologian. What one "believes" about the Bible will be readily apparent--not by what one says, but by how one lives.

As for the word "debate" we haven't seen a debate in this country in my lifetime. The farce of asking a question with a whopping 1 or 2 minutes to answer, with a 1 minute rebuttal might work for the MTV generation, but not for the intellectually inquisitive seeking real information with the country's future in the balance.

So, I'm done with "debates" unless I need more material for another commentary.

Memphis Housing Authority Needs to Be Evicted

The Bible belt may have to switch to suspenders if the anti-Christian trend continues. Barry Towers is a government subsidized housing project for seniors in the Memphis area.

A couple dozen residents of the Towers are not able to freely move about being in some compromised state of health so the Healing Hearts Outreach Ministries began holding a worship service there on Sunday mornings. Things were going fine; why shouldn't they? This is after all the land of the free and home of the brave. This is the country which guarantees religious freedom right?

But about a year after the services had been going--stop me if you've heard this one-- Memphis Housing Authority employee, Albert Sanders told these elderly believers they "had to stop meeting and couldn't have no church in a Federal building."

Executive Director of the Memphis Housing Authority, Robert Lipscomb, tried to use the separation of church and state canard asserting it as if it were federal law. "That's a national rule against that. That's a HUD (Housing and Urban Development) policy, that's not our policy…" Lipscomb said.

Lawyers for the faithful stated, "Separation of church and state is not a federal law. It is not found in the Constitution. It is a concept that is interpreted by the MHA and perhaps by HUD, but it doesn't justify their religious discrimination." Predictably, this one is headed for court.

Now silly me is sitting here, sighing out of exasperation at the asinine assault on Christianity, wondering how this would go down if it was a group of Muslims gathering together for their daily prayers.

Would it be unwarranted to presume that;

1. This would never happen to a Muslim group and

2. If somehow it did, not only would it be permitted but the government would probably offer to pay any associated expenses in converting a room at the towers to a mini-mosque.

Pardon my sarcasm but we have seen just as ridiculous accommodations elsewhere in the country.

I predict the ladies will again be able to worship freely. But what a stupid, and costly hassle. Part of the judgment in their favor ought to include a caning of the folks at the MHA. Maybe someone will start realizing this is America--again.

Life Lessons Start Early

Kenneth Wagner is doing his kindergarten stepson no favors. The five year old supposedly decided to have a star shaved into his head as a fan of the Dallas Cowboys who are 9 and 1. The five year old said he wanted to keep it until they lost a game.

Now first off, I question whether this was the five year old's idea in the first place or perhaps someone older--like his father perhaps. It doesn't really matter I suppose but the problem started when he showed up at his school with his head shaved except for the start.

Justin was told he would have to return home and stay there until the star was removed. It seems the district has a policy concerning such matters.

Now any parent with half a brain would have said "No," at the outset. But someone didn't and Justin is paying the price. The issue though has nothing to do with haircuts. The issue has everything to do with what Wagner is teaching his step-son at this early age.

"He has the right to individuality and to present himself. I don't want the school to dictate that."

What seems like a silly matter just became a life issue for Justin. His father just taught him He that there really isn't such a thing as "authority" that should be respected simply because it is "authority." He learned instead that one's individuality trumps all else; the heck with rules.

And so the step father emasculated the school system for this five year old setting him up for future rebellion. And what happens when little Justin is 15 instead of 5 and now his "individuality" (above his father's rules) demands that his girl friend is allowed to sleep over and smoke pot together? If individuality is good enough to trample adult authority at the school, it's good enough to trample parental authority in the home.

It seems like a minor thing--a haircut--and it is. But allowing a five year old to trample on adult authority in the name of individual expression is sowing seeds for a poisonous future.

Nice going Mr. Wagner; look for a harvest a few years down the road; then look in the mirror and say, "You asked for it!"