Wednesday, October 31, 2018
What is a good book?
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
How to influence the culture
Saturday, October 27, 2018
We condemn the attacks on innocent lives and the murder of Jews at the the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The anti Semitic rhetoric and behavior that incite these violent acts are inexcusable and indefensible. We pray for our Jewish friends and neighbors and call on all people to turn from violence and perform deeds of mercy, love, and justice. We call on Christians and churches to be God’s agents of love, reconciliation, and peace.
Thursday, October 25, 2018
Tests, tests, everywhere are tests
Amen and amen! Why are we always trying to put everything into a nice little package and test it? (Rhetorical question)
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
What have we lost?
Friday, October 19, 2018
No hierarchy here!
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Give me your rich, your empowered, those desiring to control
“Give me your tired, your poor,But, in actuality, it has never been so. Take a look at the post on the Anxious Bench today. These paragraphs are especially heart-rending:
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
During this period, as would be the case during subsequent refugee crises in history, Americans strongly opposed accepting refugees. In July 1938, one public opinion poll published in Fortune found that only 4.9% of Americans surveyed believed that the United States should accept political refugees fleeing persecution in Europe. In an era of virulent anti-semitism, Americans appear to have been especially reluctant to accept Jewish refugees. In January 1939, in the wake of Kristallnacht, a Gallup poll found that 61% of survey respondents did not believe that the United States should open its doors 10,000 German refugee children, the vast majority of whom were Jewish.Christian nation!? Hardly! We need to repent on our knees. And by repentance I don't just mean mouth a few words and feel sorry about how or ancestors behaved. I mean change the way we behave! Our descendants (if any survive!) will judge us as mercilessly as we judge others...
American immigration officials were able to prevent refugees from entering the United States by relying on the immigration quotas established by the Johnson-Reed Act, but also by using an extremely stringent interpretation of public charge rules. As Stephen Porter points out in his book Benevolent Empire: Power, Humanitarianism, and the World’s Dispossessed, President Herbert Hoover in 1930 directed American consuls to apply public charge rules strictly, in response to American fears of labor competition during the Great Depression. The use of public charge rules ended up allowing the United States to admit far fewer immigrants than what was permitted under the Johnson-Reed quota limits, which were already set at unprecedentedly low levels. By restricting immigrants only to those who had wealth, the United States used less than 20% of its available immigration quotas, and immigration during this period dipped to its lowest level since the United States began keeping records in the 1830s. Importantly, the United States made no exceptions to admit refugees or asylum-seekers.
Anti-Semitic immigration officials were particularly harsh when applying the rules to Jewish applications for immigration. “Virtually all Jews applying to enter the United Staes to escape persecution abroad were required by the State Department Visa Division to have affidavits filed on their behalf by a sponsor in the United Staes promising to support the immigrant if granted admission,” Porter explains. “While other poor and potentially dependent immigrant applicants also had the affidavit requirement applied to them, contemporary refugee advocates and later observers have noted that it was applied much more strictly and systematically to the Jewish refugees, partially the result of strong pockets of anti-Semitism among American consuls abroad and their counterparts in Washington.”
Ain't that the truth! And his point that it is the character of the person that counts is spot-on. Especially in these times of alternate facts and half-truths (ok, I'm being generous; wholesale lies would be more accurate), the character of the person counts. If the person's life doesn't align with scripture, then question very closely whether or not it's of God. Sure, God can and does use ungodly people, but be very cautious! If someone is living an opulent lifestyle and claims to be helping the poor, a red flag should go up! If someone puts the US flag (or any other flag!) before the cross, be very cautious of accepting their truth claims. And if someone openly brags about their sexual bravado... well let's just say, I have a real problem seeing that as anything other than childish and the sign of a very insecure person who needs Jesus desperately. And I see people who defend that behavior in the same light I view some of the medieval popes who endorsed certain rulers for the sake of territorial protection...
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
The joys of (not believing in) inerrancy
It is a liberating experience for a biblical scholar to be free of the a priori affirmation of inerrancy. Not only do a host of problems dissolve, but new options become available and at the same time the Scriptures become more alive. Without having to hide or ignore something, one can enjoy the feeling of honesty.—I Still Believe, page 111<idle musing>
Several years ago I was reading Greek with another person just for the fun of it. We would take a book in the New Testament and spend about an hour just sight-reading it. If we got stuck, we'd pull out the lexicon. After we had been doing this for several weeks, the person I was reading with told me how freeing it was to let the text just speak without coming to it looking to confirm a belief! I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised, as I have rarely (I wish I could say never) come to scripture that way. I don't believe in inerrancy, but I certainly do believe in inspiration, and to use scripture as a weapon to prove a presupposed belief is to me a form of heresy! But on reflection, it helped me understand the approach to scripture among some people.
Lord keep me from that attitude! May I ever come at scripture with an open heart and mind, seeing what you have for me that day!
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
I Still Believe
I grow disheartened when I see the Bible hijacked and turned into a sword of hatred instead of a ploughshare of love. Although I do not imagine that biblical scholarship is single—handedly responsible for the thin gruel offered as the gospel in too many congregations—across the spectrum of the church’s life—neither do I see that biblical scholarship is serving to challenge and enlarge and instruct as it might.—Berverly Roberts Gaventa in I Still Believe, page 89
Monday, October 15, 2018
How would our country change if we could get people to spend four hours considering their own souls and their lives and their future with the concentrated attention they consider the strikeouts, the stolen bases and the rest of the baseball game?—A.W. Tozer, The Dangers of a Shallow Faith, page 168
Friday, October 12, 2018
There is only one way to bless mankind, and that is by opposing mankind. For wherever mankind is wrong, and wherever he is different from God, it means that brother must be divided from brother and husband from wife and children from parents. Jesus said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). You must be sober and prayerfully beware the world’s propagandas. Do not sell yourself, and do not allow yourself to be slowly reasoned into wrong by the counsel of the ungodly. Better to be a radical on the right side than weak on the wrong side. Better go too far than not far enough.—A.W. Tozer, The Dangers of a Shallow Faith, page.—A.W. Tozer, The Dangers of a Shallow Faith, page 163
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Babylon, here we come : (
Tuesday, October 09, 2018
I'm reminded of the lyrics of an old Randy Stonehill song, Puppet Strings from the album Welcome to Paradise. The refrain goes like this: "We are all like foolish puppets who desiring to be kings / Now lie pitifully crippled after cutting our own strings."
Ain't that the truth...
Monday, October 08, 2018
Friday, October 05, 2018
To whom do you listen?
Thursday, October 04, 2018
Just stop it!
As an article at the Atlantic says:
Even those who believe that Ford fabricated her account, or was mistaken in its details, can see that the president’s mocking of her testimony renders all sexual-assault survivors collateral damage. Anyone afraid of coming forward, afraid that she would not be believed, can now look to the president to see her fears realized. Once malice is embraced as a virtue, it is impossible to contain.You have sown the wind, now be prepared to reap the whirlwind. You have sold your soul to the devil in exchange a for a sop of political influence. You turn your back on blatant sin to gain a little bit of a pat on the back and empty rhetoric.
But the biblical prophets have a different viewpoint, as does the New Testament. Take a look at Amos 5:
7 There are those who turn justice into bitternessAnd what does James say:
and cast righteousness to the ground.
10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.
11 You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.
14 Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.
16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:
“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the Lord.
The Day of the Lord
18 Woe to you who long
for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
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.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream! (NIV)
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)Good news? The gospel is supposed to be good news. But in the hands of the current thought leaders of the evangelical movement, it is bad news unless you are the very people who were Jesus's greatest enemies.
Repent! Repent before the lampstand is removed (let the reader understand!). Your children will judge you for your stand. Make them proud by standing with righteousness and justice instead of political game-playing that will only sully the hands of those playing. It will never bring about the righteousness of God. That comes by repentance—real repentance, not mumbling a prayer, but as the CEV translates μετάνοια (metanoia) "change your hearts and lives." As the old Anabaptist saying goes, "There is no salvation without transformation."
Stop putting Nationalism before Jesus! God will not tolerate rivals. Update: Read this post at the Anxious Bench, an evangelical blog. Here's taste:
Rather than granting women greater legal protections against harassment and abuse, they [evangelicals] prefer to ascribe to husbands and fathers the power to protect women. But by placing such trust in patriarchal power, there is little recourse when those very men betray the women they are ostensibly responsible to protect. For some evangelicals, this scenario is simply unthinkable. For many more, their default setting is to believe men, not women, when allegations of abuse surface. And to blame women, not men, when women do come forward.Read the whole thing! Be among the 36 percent who think character still counts!
Wednesday, October 03, 2018
The importance of libraries
Tuesday, October 02, 2018
Monday, October 01, 2018
Who's in control?
This was written sometime before 1960. Advertising has only gotten worse since then. Back in the 1970s, researchers estimated you saw about 500 ads per day. The most recent figures I can find say that we see anywhere from 5000 to 10000 ads a day now. That's a ten to twenty-fold increase! And you think you aren't influenced by them? Think again!