29 March 2013

Home School Blues

The "light" post on PB&J, I put up last month was pretty well received. So, we'll do that again. right now.

26 March 2013

Really, Beyonce?

OK, folks, this blog entry is going to be really different. First, I seldom post (or even think about) subjects having to do with satanism and the occult. Secondly, Beyonce? Really?

Well, I saw this video the other day and thought it necessary to share it with you. I'd like to know what you think about it.

For those of you sensitive to skimpy clothing, etc, be warned. Part of the video is of Beyonce performing at the Super Bowl. She wasn't wearing much. If you can get by that, though, there is food for thought here.

22 March 2013

Post-Racial America?

Although it's questionable whether Barack Obama ever actually used the phrase, he and many others promised that if he were elected we would have a "post-racial America." That term is sometimes defined this way:

"A term used to describe a society or time period in which discussions around race and racism have been deemed no longer relevant to current social dynamics. Popularized after the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States of America in 2009." (Urban Dictionary)
But, but, but... Yes, that's right, racism is alive and well - maybe even thriving in the US.  One blogger described today's racist attitudes this way:

Racism has a spectrum. On the far end there’s the skinhead, Farrakhan, KKK kind – we can’t fully eliminate that but we can isolate it. Then there’s the latent kind that’s less doctrinaire racism and more a combination of ignorance, reluctance, apathy and discomfort – like when people are able to joke and put their arm someone of another color at work, but they wouldn’t welcome their daughter dating that person’s son. This is a visceral and irrational reaction, one people know they shouldn’t have but can’t avoid. I wouldn’t call these people racists, or even bad, just scared enough to put up walls. See blog here).
Commentator Walter E. Williams bluntly states that, "Many Americans thought that with Obama's presidency, we were moving to a "post-racial society." Little can be further from the truth. - (See more here).

American society is notoriously thin-skinned. People (of all racial groups) get offended easily - and just as easily litigate over those perceived offenses. But, hey, this has led to the creation of a couple of new(ish) industries: ethnic lawsuiting and race hustling. Now admit it, Americans, when we use the term "race hustler" two names (often preceded by the ill-used term "reverend") immediately come to mind.

Far from being over, racism simply changed colors. It's not that whites don't continue to exhibit racism. No, but now racism is recognized (by those actually looking honestly at society) as not in the domain of whites only. In fact, Walter E. Williams (for the record, a black man in America), sees the new reality clearly. In an article published at TownHall.com, he wrote
Even if the president and his liberal allies in the media and assorted civil rights hustlers don't care much about blacks murdering whites, what about blacks murdering blacks? During a mid-March weekend in Chicago, 49 people were shot, 10 fatally, including a 6-year-old black girl, making for more than 100 murders this year. Philadelphia isn't far behind, with murder clipping along at one a day since the beginning of 2012. Have we heard Obama make a statement about this carnage or that most homicide victims are black and that their murderers are black? No, and we won't, because black-on-black crime, like black-on-white crime, does not fit the liberal narrative of the continuing problem of white racism.
No, racism has not gone away in America, nor in the UK, the Netherlands, India, or anywhere else. It is a sin common to humanity. In the Bible, in Acts, chapter 6 we read this: "Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution." (Read the entire passage at Acts 6:1-6). What do we have here? It's racism, plain and simple. It's an old sin (we could go into the Old Testament and find many examples, as well). 

What do we do about it? I don't have any more answers to that than the many commentators and theologians who have written about the issue extensively. Two things I do know. First, we need to be prayerful about our own attitudes (not so much other folk's attitudes). Secondly, we cannot simply stand around singing "kumbaya" and pretend that the issue has receded from the culture simply because a (half) black man has been made the President of the US.

What do you think, readers? I really want to hear from you on this (touchy) subject.  


19 March 2013

From the Past; For Today (Music Involved)

It's time, methinks, for another blast from the past. In 2010, I wrote about a song - a rock and roll song - that spoke of the times in which it was written and the atmosphere in the US in 2010. Little has changed - at least for the positive - in that nation. So, I reprise that old blog entry for your reading and listening pleasure. (Don't forget to go to the bottom of the page and actually enjoy the song).

The song was titled "For What It's Worth," but it was known by the phrase, "Somethin' Happening Here." It was sung by a group known then as Buffalo Springfield.

The group itself was only together for two or three years, although all its members went on to great musical careers. This song, which came out in 1967, was their big hit. Not only that, but it became the rock anthem of the 60s and 70s. 

The year 1967 was a tumultuous year in the US and around the world. Protest against the war in Vietnam was at its height. Demonstrations; rallies; even violence over the unpopular war was widespread. Priest Daniel Berrigan, with several others, went into a draft office and splattered red liquid – made up partly of their own blood – over draft records. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared that the US government is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.  Part of the lyrics for the song read like this:

What a field-day for the heat  
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and they carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down.

(Of course, I can hear the music in my head).

Paranoia and fear were all around.[Flash forward to 2013: Americans buying guns in record numbers, distrust of government at all time high, states submitting petitions to secede from the union (I admit these are mostly to make a point and would have little chance of succeeding)].

I propose this song as the Rock Anthem of today, for an indefinite period.

We're out of Bush's unpopular war (for the most part) and we're entrenched in Obama's unpopular war. The economy is in bad shape (don't ever accuse me of understatement!). Election campaigns are dirtier than ever. Race relations are in the toilet. [More on Obama's "Post-Racial America" in days to come]. Winter's coming and we're still dependent on foreign oil. Immigration politics and policies are dividing the nation. Fear of socialism - in our own country  - is rampant.

Anybody who is a member of any patriotic organization is labeled a domestic terrorist suspect. Our names are on several lists gathered and disseminated by our own government. Mistrust of the government is probably at its highest since the 60s (if not higher).

Paranoia and fear are all around.
There's somethin' happenin' here.
What it is ain't exactly clear.
There's a man with a gun over there
A-tellin' me I've got to beware.

I think it's time we stop.
Children, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's goin' down.

There's battle lines bein' drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speakin' their minds
A-gettin' so much resistance from behind.

The song is only 2 minutes and 39 seconds long. Its worth a listen. And maybe we should "stop. Children, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's goin' down."

15 March 2013

Christian Leadership

To say that I have a problem with "big-name" leaders is an understatement. I almost refuse to read or listen to those with big followings (please note the important word there, though. I did write "almost."). I find it offensive when big "ministries" bear the name of the founder. Leadership, however, is essential.

There are all sorts of leadership roles in the church, the family, and the community. One need not be elected to some office or committee in the church to be considered a “Christian leader.” Simply having a title or office in the church doesn’t make one a leader. There are many who have held such positions and been no leader at all. On the reverse side, there are many who quietly lead without ever being voted in to anything or named to any position, committee, or board. Please don't take this as an indictment of any and all who do hled office in the church. That's not my point.

Consider 1 Peter 2:5-9, especially verse 9: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

Now take a look at Revelation 1:6: "...and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

There are no other words in Greek which are related to the word translated “priest” or “priesthood” in these verses. This word is defined in Greek dictionaries as “a member of the priestly fraternity or sacerdotalists.” Not a lot of help there. A further explanation of what it means may be found in 1 Peter 4:10: "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace."   Now juxtapose that against Matthew 25:40, which says “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” So we are serving God when we are serving people. When we are serving Him we are being priestly.

Someone once asked me, “if we can’t be on a committee, what’s the point of coming to church?” This is to totally – and disastrously - misunderstand the role of the Christian as priest. First, there are no committees in the Bible (unless one considers the meeting in Acts 15 to be a committee). Second, service is not necessarily institutional. Individual Christians are all priests; leaders.

It's comical, sometimes, when I tell Protestant Christians that they should rightly be referred to as saints (that's another blog post, someday). Now, I'm saying that we are all priests! Well, don't be going out and buying a funny collar, but if you are Christ's you ARE one of His priests.

I will be adding a bit to these thoughts on Christian leaders in future posts. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the matter?

12 March 2013

The Gonzales Flag

Given the current spate of gun grab proposals in the USA, I thought I would reprise this post from my former blog. This originally appeared in August 2007.

I like to read history. I do it for fun! In the past few weeks I came across an event in American history of which I had been unaware. It's an inspiring and important episode in the American saga. A brief account of the event, as reported by Gallery of the Republic , is this: 

In late September, 1835, Colonel Ugartechea, the commander of the Mexican garrison at San Antonio, sent a few men to Gonzales to recover a cannon that had been loaned to the town to fight off occasional Indian attacks. The citizens of Gonzales realized that the intent of the move was to disarm possible rebels, and so the request was denied. Ugartechea then sent dragoons under Captain Francisco Castaneda to demand the cannon unconditionally. As word of the conflict spread, the Texan force grew to over 200 armed men and the town was fortified. The cannon was mounted on a wagon, and blacksmiths hammered iron scrap and chains in the cannonballs. Two ladies of the town, Cynthia Burns and Evaline DeWitt, painted a flag on cotton cloth, depicting the cannon, the lone star of Texas and a clear challenge to the enemy. The Mexican troops moved north to ford the river and approach Gonzales. The Texans decided that they had to attack before Mexican reinforcements arrived. They crossed the river at dusk, formed their battle lines at night and surprised the Mexicans at dawn on October 2nd. The battle that followed was brief; when the Texans opened fire, the Mexicans withdrew, abandoning their supplies. Stephen F. Austin joined the army as commander on October 10th, and the other Texans, under the command of James Collingsworth, took the Goliad the next day. On October 12th, the march on San Antonio began. 

Would that Americans today had the courage to say “Come and Take It,” rather than giving our country away. There are many forces trying to take away our nation and our heritage. Allow me please, dear readers, to name just a few: 
  • Islamic Radicals (and their terrorist partners around the globe). Simply put, they want to kill all Americans who will not submit to their form of religious fanaticism. This country allows for religious freedom (as long as you aren’t a white Christian). I don’t care if there are mosques all over the place. They can have that freedom. They can worship as they wish. They can proselytize, too. But that’s not what these radicals want. They want me dead. I’m old, so that’s not too big a deal for me, really. But, they want my kids and grandkids dead, too. Why don’t we just say “Come and Take It,” and mean it. Put up a fight. Freeze and nationalize all their assets. Ask questions later. They cannot continue to terrorize effectively without funds. Any nation or non-national entity found to be funding them gets blockaded; or worse. We can survive without them. There’s nothing less at stake than our national survival. 
  • Illegal Aliens. I am not against immigration. I am not against aliens. Illegal, however, means “outside the law of the land.” They start out illegally; they sap our financial resources; and, according to many sources they are responsible for a major crime wave all across the fruited plain. I know that there are reports with all sorts of conflicting data regarding illegals and crime. You choose yours; I’ll choose mine. Here’s just a snippet of one report: But now comes Eric Rasmusen arguing that the cost of crimes committed by illegal immigrants add up to over $80 billion per year. Crime costs America about $400 billion per year, of which about $167 billion per year is government spending–-$72 billion on police, $57 billion on imprisonment, and $38 billion on courts. …By a conservative estimate, illegal immigrants cause 21% of crime. 21% of $400 billion is $84 billion, and 21% of $167 billion is $35 billion... An article in World magazine recently indicated that meth sales on Native American reservations are the result of targeting by the “Mexican Mafia.” They’ve already come to take it. Stand up. Make immigration to this country fair; build the fence; stop the North American Union. 
  • The Liberals. They’re already in the process of giving away the country. Did you ever notice that liberals are all too happy to give and give – as long as it doesn’t come out of their own pockets? I don’t want to hear the arguments that rich liberals pay a lot of taxes. They shelter their assets to minimize their taxes, just like rich conservatives. That’s why they (the liberals) can afford to keep asking for higher taxes. They can afford to hide their cash – legally, mostly. They also lag far behind conservatives in giving to charitable organizations. Liberals like Kennedy, Kerry, the Clintons, Soros, etc., act like European royalty of old. It doesn’t matter what nation the other royalty is from, just marry royalty. Let the peasants (that’s us!) fend for themselves. Send them away. Stand up. Vote conservative (notice that I do not connect a party label to that admonition); oppose liberal schemes to end the American experiment begun with the blood of patriots going back to the 18th – and 19th centuries and preserved with the blood and guts of courageous Americans – and legal immigrants through the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Americans; make them “Come and Take It.”

08 March 2013

Warring Over Worship

I remain a confirmed warrior in the “worship wars.” What once seemed an innocuous attempt by evangelical churches to add a little zest to their worship services, thus attracting new – and most importantly - young attendees, has simply gone too far.

I was once at a conference at which the "worship leader," the head of an international Christian organization, stood up and said, “We’re being very flexible this morning. We can either worship now, or I’ll open the Word.”

This is what we’ve come to in our Christian vocabulary and experience. We sing and clap for 15-30 minutes, with our children by our side. We feel good that in the mix of songs our “worship team” has included one “old hymn.” Then, having concluded worship, we open the Bible and send the kids away to “Junior Church.”

Worship is not entertainment. Nor is it intended to be focused on the alleged worshipper. Nick Needham, embedded with the worship warriors in Scotland, views today’s tendencies in worship as the natural flow of events stemming from “cultural pluralism.” Subjectivity is the order of the day as “worship teams” tinker and experiment until they find just the right emotional charge for each service. Needham describes the “tendency to construct and evaluate worship in terms of the human subject … rather than in terms of the divine object, God, the blessed self-revealing Trinity, and His will, word, and activity.” In other words, it’s all about us.*

God never said that we could make worship up as we go along. He gave us some very specific items He wants in our worship. They include music, prayer and His Word. With the emphasis on more and louder music in our “celebrations” today, we barely have time to fit in a Scripture reading. It’s more important for the Hawaiian shirt-clad “speaker” (many of these churches have ceased using the archaic words Pastor, Preacher, or Reverend. They may offend the sensitive visitors) to have properly coordinated his (or her) Power Point presentation, than to have coordinated Scriptures from which to preach to the lost, the hurting, the fatherless and the widows.

And, by the way, “never is heard a discouraging word.” These people live in a happy, clappy world in which the mere mention of sin would be an affront. No, we’ll counsel folks as they need if they come to the office on Tuesday. Today, it’s “Seven Ways that Jesus Can Make You Happier,” or “They Aren’t Really Lost, They Just Haven’t Learned Our Choruses, Yet.”

I Guess I’d better not get started on the difference between “Contemporary Christian Praise Music” and hymns’ or the “emerging church.” Yes, God’s Word instructs us to “make a joyful noise,” but that’s not the end of the verse. We are to make a joyful noise “to the LORD.”!

I’m not against anything new. I’ve tried a few new things in this century. I like music – and not just 200 year old hymns. But we’ve done a terrible thing to worship. We’ve given it away. In our striving to be accepted by man, we’ve turned our backs on God. He declared: 
       21 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
    I cannot stand your assemblies.
    22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.
    Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
    I will have no regard for them.
    23 Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps. (Amos 5:21-23).

He who ordained worship in the first place; He who told Israel how to sacrifice, now tells them to cease and desist. Why? Because their hearts are in the wrong place. Because they were not obedient.

How much more would God despise empty “worship” which seeks to be “friendly” rather than contrite and awed? How much more must he be offended by our efforts to orchestrate an emotional outpouring rather than expectantly waiting upon the Lord and hearing lessons from His Word about the real world in which we live?

Let’s get back to the days when it meant something to raise our voices in worship of “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!”

*“Worship Through the Ages,” in Give Praise to God, edited by Philip Graham Ryken, Derek W.H. Thomas, and J. Ligon Duncan (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R  Publishing, 2003) p. 407.

05 March 2013

Children in Church

The time is coming for the release of our book, Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship. We would certainly love for all of you to buy it. The publisher is Great Waters Press. The premise of the book is simple. We believe that it should be the goal of every Christian family to worship together at the corporate gatherings of the church.

I won't go into all the details here. That's what the book's for. I do, however, want to share with a video extolling the virtues of the book. This was totally unsolicited. I don't know this man and I don't even know how he got hold of an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC to those of is the know). He obviously "get's it," though.

So, I invite you to spend 4 minutes and 25 seconds with Brian Dempsey of Grace Online Library.

His review is here:

01 March 2013

Papal Apocalypse?

So, the Pope has resigned. In fact, his resignation took effect yesterday. You may have seen all sorts of news regarding this event. Pope Benedict is the first Pope to resign, rather than dying in office, since 1415. There is all sorts of speculation, including odds, regarding who will be the next Pope. In fact, the oddmakers have already established a favorite. As of the day after the resignation’s announcement,

If the oddsmakers are correct, the next pope will be a Canadian.
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, the former the former archbishop of Quebec, who now heads the Congregation of Bishops, has shot to the top of oddsmakers' lists in the 24 hours since Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly announced he will retire at the end of the month.
Paddy Power, based in Ireland, lists Ouellet at 7 to 2 odds. Ladbrokes, a London-based betting house, has the Canadian cardinal at 3 to 1 odds.
Ouellet has such "pope-ularity" that he has attracted 65 percent of all wagers at Ladbrokes, spokeswoman Jessica Bridge told ABCNews.com.

By the time anyone reads this post, the odds will, no doubt, have changed. It’s a big betting event, as evidenced by this quote. "Last time around [in 2005] we had over 1 million euro betting on the next pope. This time around we certainly expect to exceed that," he said. "We're confident this will be our biggest non-sporting betting event we've ever had." (see entire article here). 

Here’s a connection you may not have noticed. Now that the Mayan calendar thing is out of the way (see my post on this here), we have yet another doomsday prediction. This one connected with the Pope. "Saint Malachy of Armagh, a Roman Catholic bishop who died in 1148, was said to have had a vision while on a pilgrimage to Rome wherein he learned the exact number of all the popes who would rule from his time to the Apocalypse." (Story here).

Malachy gave numbers and Latin phrases to all the (the future) Popes. The exact number assigned to Pope Benedict is not clear, but he could be the last Pope before “the end.” Or, he could be the penultimate Pope.

Once again, the entire world is in a wait-and-see mode. Many, no doubt are on pins and needles as they wait.

God's Words says, "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." (Matthew 24:36). Oh, it's all interesting. Who will be the next Pope? How will he interact with Protestants? Lot's of questions arise when a popular and powerful man is to be replaced. But, only God knows when history as we know it will end. In the meantime, "Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever."