Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

October 31, 1517

On this day in 1517, a German monk nailed his 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany and launched a movement that would change the world. While much of the world celebrates Halloween, we will celebrate Reformation Day with popcorn and a private home viewing of Luther.

The issues with Roman Catholicism are as true and pressing today as they were then. Justification by faith alone, one of the cornerstones of the Gospel, still stands anathematized by Rome. In other words the Gospel is declared anathema by the man who styles himself to be the Vicar of Christ on earth. The words of the Council of Trent still stand, and until Rome rejects those teachings there can be no reconciliation between Rome and Christianity.

Today is a day we should celebrate our Lord raising up flawed men like Martin Luther who He used mightily in the propagation of His Gospel against those who would reject it. It is also a day of sober reflection on the constant assault against the Gospel and the perpetual need to guard the faith delivered once for all, and entrust to the church for all time. Pray that God will continue to raise up men like Martin Luther, we certainly could use some these days.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is the age of prosperity over?

That is the argument from Arthur Laffer, famous in economics and political circles for the "Laffer Curve". His argument in the Wall Street Journal is that we have come to the end of the age of prosperity, an age that has lasted for decades and is really all many people my age have known. It has given us material wealth unimaginable by most generations of American, and along with that a sense of entitlement and discontent also unimaginable. We never have enough. We desire the latest, the newest. I know this all too well (as I eagerly await my ESV Study Bible, as if I don't have enough study Bibles). The article carries the title: The Age of Prosperity Is Over with the subtitle: This administration and Congress will be remembered like Herbert Hoover. That is not intended as a compliment. Here is an excerpt:

If you don't believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they'll do with Wall Street.

Some 14 months ago, the projected deficit for the 2008 fiscal year was about 0.6% of GDP. With the $170 billion stimulus package last March, the add-ons to housing and agriculture bills, and the slowdown in tax receipts, the deficit for 2008 actually came in at 3.2% of GDP, with the 2009 deficit projected at 3.8% of GDP. And this is just the beginning.

The net national debt in 2001 was at a 20-year low of about 35% of GDP, and today it stands at 50% of GDP. But this 50% number makes no allowance for anything resulting from the over $5.2 trillion guarantee of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac assets, or the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Nor does the 50% number include any of the asset swaps done by the Federal Reserve when they bailed out Bear Stearns, AIG and others.

But the government isn't finished. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- and yes, even Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke -- are preparing for a new $300 billion stimulus package in the next Congress. Each of these actions separately increases the tax burden on the economy and does nothing to encourage economic growth. Giving more money to people when they fail and taking more money away from people when they work doesn't increase work. And the stock market knows it.

The stock market is forward looking, reflecting the current value of future expected after-tax profits. An improving economy carries with it the prospects of enhanced profitability as well as higher employment, higher wages, more productivity and more output. Just look at the era beginning with President Reagan's tax cuts, Paul Volcker's sound money, and all the other pro-growth, supply-side policies.

Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan added their efforts to strengthen what had begun under President Reagan. President Clinton signed into law welfare reform, so people actually have to look for a job before being eligible for welfare. He ended the "retirement test" for Social Security benefits (a huge tax cut for elderly workers), pushed the North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress against his union supporters and many of his own party members, signed the largest capital gains tax cut ever (which exempted owner-occupied homes from capital gains taxes), and finally reduced government spending as a share of GDP by an amazing three percentage points (more than the next four best presidents combined). The stock market loved Mr. Clinton as it had loved Reagan, and for good reasons.

The stock market is obviously no fan of second-term George W. Bush, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama or John McCain, and again for good reasons.

These issues aren't Republican or Democrat, left or right, liberal or conservative. They are simply economics, and wish as you might, bad economics will sink any economy no matter how much they believe this time things are different. They aren't.

A stinging indictment. Was Bill Clinton, gulp!, a better President that George W. Bush? Not a better person, a better President? For all of his well-meaning attempts, President Bush has abandoned any pretence of being a conservative fiscally and in an unholy partnership with the Left has saddled us with an enormous debt and soon will have saddled us with the most liberal President in my lifetime.

Our age of prosperity is over. And believe it or not, that is probably the best thing that could happen to the church. Barack Obama may be good for the Gospel, not because he is a godly man because he certainly is not, but because as our self-reliance in our own culture war and our affluence wanes, we are left with nowhere and no one to turn to but God. I predict that if Obama wins, our culture will suffer like never before but our God will show His glory in salvation, in changed hearts like few of us have seen in our lifetime. Pray God will send us revival and send us repentance.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What do you even say in response to this?

From the Toledo Blade....

Exorcist to star in reality show

Larson challenges Satan, casts out demons in new television series

The Rev. Bob Larson has been circling the globe for decades, battling Satan and his minions with a Bible and a cross.

Now you can watch him cast out demons from the comfort of your couch.

Mr. Larson, who was in Toledo earlier this month to lead one of his Spiritual Freedom Seminars, is joining the ranks of such luminaries as Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, and Jessica Simpson as the star of his own reality TV show.

The Real Exorcist premieres in a four-hour marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel on Thursday night - not coincidentally, it's Halloween eve.

Mr. Larson admits it's an unusual combination of spirituality and entertainment, saying he can envision fans "throwing house parties with pizza and popcorn" while they watch him command demons to depart from tormented souls.

But he also sees it as an opportunity to show the world that evil spirits and demonic possession are real, and that people who are suffering can get help, he said in an interview with The Blade.

"I'm going to be in the bars and hotel rooms and bedrooms of America, where I could never get otherwise, with the people who need it the most. [People] who are tormented and who are afraid to talk about it," he said. "Who do you tell about these strange things that are happening?"

By watching Mr. Larson cast out evil spirits on The Real Exorcist and by witnessing the victims' lives being changed, people who think they have demon problems will feel as though they've been "given permission" to talk about their fears and seek help, he said.

"They don't have to go to church to get the help. Let's face it, a lot of people just don't like the church. They don't like religious institutions. So I'm able to connect directly with them and help them," Mr. Larson said during a lunchtime interview at a Bob Evans restaurant in south Toledo.

Wearing a sharp gray suit, with a full beard and swept-back red hair, Mr. Larson speaks matter-of-factly about his 25 years of experience delivering people from demons.

The 63-year-old minister, sipping a can of Red Bull energy drink, said he has performed well more than 6,000 exorcisms in 90 nations, and reports having been kicked, choked, and spat upon by people whose demons resisted the prayers of deliverance.

What in the world is this guy thinking? Hmm, a guy who sees the casting out of demons as something to be done for profit. Never heard that story before. Or have we...

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city. But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the power of God that is called Great." And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." (Acts 8:5-23)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

That pesky fellow!

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)

(I originally composed these brief thoughts for the Fo-Mo Chronicles but decided to post them here as well)

There is probably no figure that causes more trouble to those who buy into doctrines like works salvation or baptismal regeneration quite like the repentant thief on the cross next to Christ. He really confounds those who believe in some version of works based righteousness. We see a man who does nothing to merit paradise, just condemnation, one who is justifiable being punished hanging next to one you merited no such punishment. There are many ways he confounds those who insist on works for all or part of their salvation.

His simple declaration of faith

His faith is simple, it is a faith of one who places his hope on the One who can save him. His hope is in spite of the life he lived up to that point, not because of it. When a Christian is saved, he or she is saved despite the utter sinfulness of their prior life. We are saved not by our litany of good works, we are saved by Christ.

His recognition of his own sin

He sees and realizes his own sins, and Christ's sinlessness. A recognition of sin that must precede salvation. We cannot be saved until we see why we need to be saved. That flies in the face of a faith+works salvation. The image of the thief is little different than the image of the saved Christian. We are that sinner, a lowly criminal hanging next to His King. We bring nothing to our salvation, we add nothing to our justification but the sin that Christ atoned for.

His salvation

His salvation requires no action on his part, only His blessing. Nothing else needs to be done. Indeed I think the reason we see this account is to show us that this thief, like us, is utterly helpless. He cannot get down and go do righteous works to show himself worthy of salvation. All he brings is all God demands: a penitent heart, changed by God, that declares Jesus Christ as Lord. That is all we need, and when we seek to add our works to His work we put the cross to shame and deny the Lord.

Something else I love about this guy: He is anonymous. We have no idea who this guy is or what his name is or what kind of life he lived. He was a thief, we know that and that is about all we know. The conversation is not about him, it is about Christ, about Christ being merciful on an undeserving sinner. In a day when “me, me and me” is the new Trinity, when we wonder what God can do for us, when we seek as much as we ever have to stand insolently before God and claim our reward based on our works and our righteousness , this anonymous thief reminds us all that each of us has a cross we should have faced, but that in the case of redeemed Christian He faced it for us so that we wouldn’t have to.

Whenever you hear someone say that it is our works that save us, remember this lowly thief who brought nothing to the cross but his sin, but today dwells with the Lord in paradise and remember that we can do nothing to save ourselves. That's O.K. though, because Jesus has paid for it all with His blood and that was good enough for this thief and it is good enough for us. Praise God for His mercy and praise God for recording the story of this thief in His Word to set to rest the question of who and what saves us!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I was at Amazon, putting the ESV Study Bible in my cart, and they lost other books bought by people who purchased the ESV study bible. One of the books listed was The Shack. Now I wonder what is going on there, because if you take the trouble to get a highly complex study Bible and then also read The Shack, how do you reconcile that? Maybe it is a good Reformed theologian who is reading the shack for research or something. I hope.


My ESVSB shippped today, very excited!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Paul Washer on the lie of decisional evangelism

Brother Paul is tellin' the truth once again!

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Just watched Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed by Ben Stein last night. Magnificent! Go out and rent or buy it today! A few quick notes...

What it isn’t, what it is and what people can learn from this film.

What it is not. It is not a defense of or an advocacy for creationism. As a young earth, literal six-day creationist I didn’t hear much that supported my view directly. Conceptually yes, but specifically not. The biggest issue is whether or not intelligent design is a viable theory and if so why it is forbidden to speak of in the academy. If you want a defense of Biblical creationism, try Answers in Genesis. Defending creationism is not accomplished in this film, nor should you be disappointed by that because it is not the goal.

What it does set out to do, and accomplished, is to expose the lunacy of the “science” community, a community that is dogmatic about it’s articles of faith as any religion has ever been. The bastions of learning and expression, i.e. the universities, have in reality turned into cathedrals of intolerance. What is ironic is just how firmly these people hold to their creed of Darwinism when in fact they are unable to prove many of the most basic questions (i.e. how did life begin?)

What you can and should take from the film. The biggest issue is the absolute moral bankruptcy of the humanist, evolutionary view. Some may see Ben Stein’s link between Darwinism, Planned Parenthood and Nazi Germany as being heavy handed, but it really is the logical end result of that worldview. At the very minimum Darwinism reduces human beings into economic units: what can you produce and what do you consume. At it's worst it sees human as having no intrinsic value, and killing the inconvenient, the lame, the less intelligent, the old, the unproductive is not only permissible, it is ethically required.

See this film, and realize that the intellectual elites are neither intellectual nor elite. We have nothing to fear from these people, because they have nothing intelligent to say. It may sound high minded, but it is bankrupt and false.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Victoria Lynn!

Tori turned 1 yesterday!

Boy is it hard to believe a year has gone by! It is also hard to contemplate that this is the last time we will celebrate the first birthday of one of our children. After seven prior first birthdays you would think it would be kind of passe, but it never ceases to amaze me how quickly time flies. We didn't do much yesterday, but we are going to do cake on Saturday. God has been so good to us in so many ways, so merciful and Tori is one of His greatest gifts to our family in a time when we really needed that blessing and reminder of how precious family is.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

A fighting retreat

Conservatism, which as recently as the early 1990’s was ascendant, is clearly in full scale retreat. We are mere weeks away from a Barack Obama landslide victory and very likely a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. Reliably conservative Kentucky has polls showing that Mitch McConnell is tied in his race for re-election, something unthinkable a few years ago. The older liberal Supreme Court justices will likely retire shortly after Obama takes office confident that he will replace them with other far left, pro-abortion justices who are younger, packing the court for decades to come and eliminating the hope of overturning Roe v. Wade. Given a sufficient majority in the Senate, Obama will be able to breeze through sweeping new legislation that will reorient the private-public spheres in a way we haven’t seen since FDR and Lyndon Johnson. Once people get a taste of “free” government health insurance and unlimited access to doctors for every sniffle, it will be nigh impossible to wean them back off. Future Republican candidates will have to cede the huge new government programs lest they be accused of trying to take away health care from kiddies. Once the camel gets it’s nose under that tent, it is all over but the triumphal Rose Garden signing by Obama.

Conservatism has by and large, at least to the masses, hitched its star to President George W. Bush, for good or ill. In the weeks following September 11th and even early in the liberation of Iraq, it seemed as if we had backed a winner and thus many conservatives, especially more populist and Christian conservatives, were willing to overlook chinks in the armor: the one-sided coverage of the Iraq war that universally portrayed it as a disaster with daily body counts that gradually turned public opinion sharply against the war; general ineptitude in events like Katrina and now the financial debacle that made Bush look disinterested or incompetent; an abandonment wholesale of conservative small government principles that led to enormous increases in spending and the national debt. Now Reagan is no longer the face of the Republican party, Bush is. Fair or not, that face is one that the media has convinced people (in fairness with some justification) as one of uncertainty, incompetence and general stupidity. John McCain has done little to change that perception. With the exception of the GOP convention introduction of Governor Palin, McCain has been on the defensive and has allowed Obama and his media surrogates to dictate the tone and the topic of the campaign. Right after the convention with interest in Governor Palin at a fever pitch, they hid her away (Put her away privily in King James lingo!) and we didn’t hear from her again until she revealed her daughter was pregnant. This has been a grossly incompetent campaign since McCain sewed up the nomination, with no central message and a seeming defensive posture throughout. Obama is grossly underqualified to be President, and yet the conversations have all focused on whether Governor Palin is qualified to be President in the unlikely event of McCain’s death. She gets grilled on her qualifications while Obama gets a free pass on the same standard, and we hear nary a word from the McCain camp. If they had any honor, the McCain campaign staff would all ceremonially fall on their swords. So in general, as conservatives, we are hosed in November 2008 and we can only hope that the bloodbath isn’t as bad as we fear.

The question becomes what kind of retreat we are in. Is it a drop your rifle and run rout? Or is it a fighting retreat where we shed blood over every inch we give up? Do we flee to the hills, do we start a scorched earth guerrilla war or do we back up fighting until we get to favorable ground from which to launch a counter-offensive? William F. Buckley Jr., to paraphrase, described conservatism as standing in front of progress and shouting “Stop!”. But for conservatism to gain the high ground and go back on the offensive, merely being against progress is inadequate. The movement needs leadership. Not people in leadership positions, but actual leadership. Leadership like Ronald Reagan, someone who articulated clear conservative principles that average voters understood (government is not the solution, strong national defense, etc.). Leadership like Newt Gingrich, who for all of his personal failings and faults was the catalyst behind the Republican party taking control of the House in the 90’s. Just calling Obama a “liberal” isn’t going to cut it unless there is a clear declaration of what it means to be a liberal and what it means to be a conservative. If liberals spin the debate as being about them wanting you to have health insurance and those mean Republicans wanting kids to get sick and die for lack of insurance, conservatives lose that debate. If we can frame it in such a way that we show that the enormous inefficiencies of a government single-payer systems means enormous tax increases and worse health for everyone, and that with no cost to consumers every sniffle will lead to the doctor’s office means long waits for health care, that is a debate we can have and we can win. But without leadership to make that clear, it will never happen and without leadership to reign in “conservatives” in Congress who rail against wasteful spending except when it benefits their district, we will look like hypocrites.

There is plenty of high ground to retreat to and make our stand. Liberalism is intellectually bankrupt, the equivalent of policy cotton candy that tastes yummy but gives you a stomach ache. But without a new generation of leaders who can articulate the high ground, in an environment where they will have to cut through the static of a hostile media that still controls the access of many Americans to information, the message will never get out. Now is not the time to drop our rifles and run, nor is it the time to start a scorched earth policy. Now is the time, in the face of almost certain catastrophic defeat, to start planning for the future and finding the hills on which to make our stand.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The theology of families

I am reading through a very interesting series of posts at the 9 Marks website by Andrew Nichols titled: A Theological Vision for Families. Like much of what is written by the 9 Marks folks, it is aimed at pastors but the principles are the same and besides the church has abdicated too much leadership to the man who holds the office of pastor for too long. It is not fair and it is not Biblical to turn over the leadership of the local body to one person, and while the pastor is a leader among equals he has but one of the families in the local church.

Mr. Nichols makes some very good points here. As the article points out, God first created man. Then recognizing the utter danger of having men living by themselves and making enormous messes, He creates women. Then tells them to travel the world, work on their retirement plans, have fun! Wait, that is not what He said. He commanded men and women to cleave to one another and be fruitful and multiply. In other words to get married and have children. Mr. Nichols states quite unequivocally that it really isn’t one of many possible options, it is an explicit command…

So make no mistake: For those of us not blessed with the gift of singleness (1 Cor. 7:7), or who in God's mysterious providence are unable to have children, families are not optional. They are commanded.

That about sums it up. May I be so bold as to say that the family is the integral unit in God’s redemptive plan, even more so than the local church? The church as we see it doesn’t show up until pretty late in the Bible (and you could argue that church as we do it in American evangelicalism doesn’t appear in the Bible at all!), but the family unit is right there at the beginning. Children don’t exist so we have someone to evangelize, but still the idea of family is central throughout Scriptures and it should be central in the theology of the church. I would argue that we have a pretty poor view of the family in the church. Not because we are not “family friendly” or that we don’t uphold traditional marriage and oppose abortion, but because we have a view of families that is extra-Biblical. Consider the words of this rebuke…

Why is it so easy for pastors and parents to develop a distorted view of children? There are probably many reasons, but let me suggest one: we have allowed our experience and cultural preferences to shape our view of children and then looked to the Scriptures to reinforce what we've already decided.

Ouch! But it stings because it is true! The church is the organization God has ordained to be the primary means of the proclamation of the Gospel, but the church is also a family made up of families. Even the most dedicated Christians spend 5-6 hours at church, but dozens of waking hours with our families. We look at families like the world looks at families, and that is dangerous. Why is Christian education such a back burner issue for many churches and Christian families? Because so many people have bought into the world’s idea that schooling is primarily a job for the state with a goal of making children into productive workers in society. The Bible tells us that raising up children and teaching them is the responsibility of the family, and the goal is to raise them up to know God. Ask yourself this, would you rather your child grow up to be a Wal-Mart greeter who knows Christ or a heart surgeon who is lost? Most Christian parents would say the former, so why then do they raise their children as if the latter is more preferable? It is because they believe what the world tells them about families, and they never hear anything different in church.

May I be even more bold as to say that local churches who do not properly disciple the families in their church, and who do not evangelize in their community, have no business sending checks to overseas missionaries every month. None. The belief that evangelism starts at home is perfectly Biblical.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

As a universal body of Christians, we have skipped over the first few and gone straight to “the end of the earth”. We support missionaries in Kenya, but not in our local communities. We send money to Bolivia, but spend little time and money on kids ministries. How many churches have their best teachers teaching kids? Honestly? Are we catechizing our children at home and at church, and is the church a vital partner in that? Because we are fooling ourselves if we think that it is happening in the vast majority of our Christian homes. We aren’t very good at it in my house. Sure our kids have Bible lessons as part of their homeschool, but we are not spending nearly enough time in Scripture memorization and application. That doesn’t mean we should ignore overseas missionaries but honestly in America in 2008 we have more lost people than most other nations on the face of the earth and yet when we think missionary work, we think exotic locales. If we wish to look for fertile ground for evangelism, we need look no further than our street, our workplace, our car windows. Your neighborhood is Jerusalem to you, your state is Judea. It is hard to raise funds for missionaries to Michigan even though there are literally millions of lost people within a few hours drive of where I am right now. There is a hint of racial superiority in all of this. Those people over there who don’t even speak English like God intended, they really need to hear the Gospel! Jim down the street is as lost as they are, but he is a pretty good golfer and he gives to the United Way at work, so it isn’t nearly that important that he hears the Gospel. Besides his mom goes to church, so that should carry over to him.

The family is foundational to the church, and is foundational to God’s plan. We are His image bearers and as such we are commanded to organize into family units and rear children, and to teach those children in the way they should go.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Our children need this training. Our churches need children who have received this training. We need to provide this training in both our homes and in partnership with our churches. Our mandate as parents and in families is laid out in Deuteronomy chapter 6, and growing up to be rich and successful doesn’t appear anywhere.

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. "And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you--with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant--and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you-- for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God--lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 6:4-15)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Failure and humility

Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62)

What is the warning here? It is a warning to those who follow Christ to keep their eyes on the work ahead of them and not look back where they came from. If you are always looking behind, your plowing will invariably become crooked. The siren call of the old man, the life that took joy in sin, is tempting but deadly. The temptation is to keep looking over our shoulders to where we came from, instead of the life we have ahead. This is something I am all too familiar with because I have been the workman who kept looking back to where he used to be and I can speak of the disastrous impact. It can be easy to sin, and sin begets sin. That sin hurts people around you, friends and family and even people you may not know but still are impacted by that sin.

Ultimately what hurts the worst is not the sin and hurt we cause others, or even the shame and self-loathing you feel towards yourself. It is the betrayal of our Lord, repaying His sacrifice with disobedience and sin. First and foremost, our sins, my sins are sins against God...

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. (Psalms 51:4)

It has been a hard twelve months of healing, good days and bad. He has been merciful to me, and has shown me in the forgiveness and loving of my wife what grace looks like. While I still have no lack of self-confidence, I also have in my mind every day what relying on my own strength got me and that is a place I never want to go back to.

My hope is found in the truth that I worship the same God as David, and that in His grace and mercy I pray He still has use for me. My prayer is that of David, that He may make use of me once more...

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. (Psalms 51:9-15)

Praise God for His faithfulness towards His creatures even when they are utterly faithless towards Him.

If you want to understand the Sovereignty of God...

You simply have to listen to this talk by Pastor Dan Cummings. Pastor Cummings spoke at the recent 2008 Reformed Conference on The Sovereignty of God at Calvary Baptist church in Waterford. It was a great conference even though there weren't a ton of people there and the speakers were not the big name speakers. In fact most of them were local pastors but it was God's people gathered under the ministry of God's Word and that is a wonderful blessing.

Pastor Cummings is the pastor of Five Points Community Church in Auburn Hills (named for a location, not the TULIP!) and he has Stage IV cancer. His talk, given very softly because of his physical weakness, was not a soaring oratorical performance but it struck deep in my heart. I am not a crier by nature but I wept profusely. Brother Dan spoke at length of the hidden smile behind the frowning providence of God. He spoke of the God of the Bible, a God who is sovereign in all things and who is the kind of God we can die on with joy while exalting Christ. Pastor Cummings brings sovereignty home, they are not just words for Pastor Dan but real life.

Perhaps the most striking statement of Pastor Dan was something that kept coming up to him: how much he loved being a dad to his kids, how much he loved being a husband to his wife and how much he loved being a shepherd to his flock. But the question he asked himself, do I love these things more than I love Christ? What a jarring question but what a vital one. What do I value more than Christ? If the answer is anything at all, I need to repent of that and pray to have my orientation turned first and foremost to the cross and my Savior who died there.

Suffering is a gift of God. All things are done for his glory and all things He purposes are good. Suffering is no different. Pastor Cummings preached from 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 and tonight I saw in practice and in real life exactly what Paul was writing about. I can't express how blessed I was, and I look forward to hearing this message many times again. I have downloaded and when I get to feeling crabby about the perceived unfairness of life, I will break it out and hear from a man who loves God in the midst of unbelievable suffering, because he loves God's Son who suffered for my sake.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Something else our poor kids are missing by being homeschooled

This pretty much speaks for itself...

School Field Trip to Teacher's Lesbian Wedding Sparks Controversy

First-graders in San Francisco took a field trip to City Hall to celebrate the marriage of their lesbian teacher on Friday, but opponents of same-sex marriage in the state say the field trip was an attempt to “indoctrinate” the students, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The field trip was suggested by a parent at the Creative Arts Charter School, and the school said the trip, where students tossed rose petals on their teacher and her wife as they left City Hall, was academically relevant.

"It really is what we call a teachable moment," said Liz Jaroslow, the school’s interim director, according to the newspaper. She said same-sex marriage had historic significance. "I think I'm well within the parameters."

California will vote on Nov. 4 on Proposition 8 which seeks to ban same-sex marriage in the state, and supporters of the measure say the field trip shows that allowing same-sex marriage will mean it’s taught to school children, the newspaper said.

"It's just utterly unreasonable that a public school field trip would be to a same-sex wedding," said Chip White, press secretary for the Yes on 8 campaign, told the Chronicle. "This is overt indoctrination of children who are too young to have an understanding of its purpose."

Gettin' stupid with the White Horse Inn

We're just about lovin' Jesus!

How many times have you heard something like that? We're just lovin' on Jesus! We should just love one another and everything will be OK! Deeds not creeds! But how do we know who this Jesus is that we love if we don't study the Word? How do we know we are to love one another if we don't read they Word? How do we know we are sinners who need salvation in the first place?

That is the question tackled on the latest White Horse Inn, and it is an excellent show. We have seemingly embraced ignorance as a virtue in society and especially in the church. Seeker sensitive churches seem to take pride in a lack of doctrinal precision. A simple faith has been overtaken by a simplistic faith.

Christianity is not an intellectual exercise.

I understand that. But the Gospel is a propositional truth. It is not about who you are or how you act or what you do. It is about faith in a revealed Christ. The Bible tells us who we are and who He is and what He has done. he have faith as a gift of God that in part indicates our agreement with that truth.

One of the basic missions of the church is to teach, to instruct, to disciple. But I can recall a number of times when I have taught or preached something fairly basic, and I have only been a Christian for less than a decade and have a TON to learn, but people who had listened said "I've never heard that before". These are not typically recent converts, but often older saints who have been in church for decades. They hear the Bible, the read the Bible, they study the Bible in Sunday school and yet remain woefully ignorant of the basic truth propositions of the Bible. How can that be?

Ken Jones made a brilliant point, that the paradox of this age of the church is not that people are not reading the Scriptures, but that people are reading the Scriptures and are still becoming progressively more ignorant. His rationale for this? People are reading the Scripture, but they are not reading them Christocentrically, instead they are finding affirmations for the subjective from the Scriptures. In other words, we read the Bible to see what it can do for me, not what it tells me about God. The more dangerous teachers, like T.D. Jakes, are actually opening the Scripture and giving false exposition. Joel Osteen doesn't even bother to pretend to open the Word.

Head and heart are not enemies!

Another great statement by Ken Jones: "Christianity is first and foremost a body of truth that is to be believed." Compare that with what is taught in many places, compare that with the Jesus is my buddy, or worse He is my servant. Lukewarm teaching is the standard fare, the kind of lukewarm teaching that leads to churches being vomited out. Does God desire us to be ignorant of Him, to just wave our hands in the air in euphoric praise without the vaguest idea of who He is? Is that the kind of worshipper God wants?

Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:21-24)

Jesus says it twice: God seeks those who worship Him in Spirit AND Truth. You don't have to be a genius to be a Christian. You don't even have to be smart. But you cannot be ignorant. There is a difference between smart and not being ignorant. I know plenty of people who they world would look at as less than brilliant, but they know who Christ is because they have studied His Word. What a blessing these people are, because while simple compared to the wisdom of the world, they are knowledgeable of the things of God. We should honor these people, because for some of us knowledge is easy: we read well, can express ourselves easily, and are just as easily lazy about knowledge of God. It can be seductive to rest on your brains, and not seek knowledge. God's knowledge is accessible to anyone, but you must work at it. You don't need a high IQ, but you do need a hunger for God's Word.

Worshipping the unknown god

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:15-18)

Too many churches are like Athens, where they worship the Unknown God because they have no idea who they are worshipping. The Bible takes work, it takes diligence. It takes patience. I have read stuff before and shook my head, only to read it some time later and have it make sense. If you are a follower of Christ, you yearn to know Him better, not for what He can do for you now but what He has done for you for eternity. Being an ivory tower egghead who is all theology and no heart is not a Christian virtue. Being a simpleton isn't either.

Don't be ignert 'bout yer Saveyur!

(I have had that picture saved for a long time, just waiting for a chance to use it!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Look who had their hands in the cookie jar!

Great little video from Fox News that cuts through much of the inane hype and gets to the dirty truth of the financial crisis: our friends in the Democrat party have as much blood on their hands as anyone else out there. Because of the artificiall demand created in part by Fannie and Freddie, there was an ever increasing market for subprime loans. If there was no market for sub-prime mortgages to be sold at a profit, mortgage originators would have stopped writing those mortgages.

The lesson here is not that we need more government oversight, but instead that when the government gets involved in the free market, it ends up messing up the demand-risk equation and creates a market where none should have existed. What is really scary is that the Bush administration, directly ignoring obvious conservative principles, is going to take over private banks. Where does it end?

What is outrageous is the way that Dems are getting off Scot free even though they have controlled congress in recent years. Chris Dodd? Chuck Schumer? Barney Frank? Even the Messiah, Barack Obama, took money from Fannie and Freddie? I am aghast at the idea! That must just be more Fox News right-wing bias showing through!

Unfortunately, the media is so in the tank for Obama that the truth of his and others Dems complicity in this mess has been thoroughly hidden. A state trooper in Alaska who used a taser on a kid gets rightly fired? All over the news! The Anointed One shown to be nothing more than a Chicago Democrat, with shaky credentials, outrageous associations and hands a lot dirtier than the media would have you believe? Nary a word.

Between the fraudulent voters rounded up by Obama’s henchmen at ACORN and the non-stop glowing coverage of Obama, coupled with a gross selfishness on the part of Americans, you can put this election to bed. Obama is going to win going away and his cronies in the Congress are already planning on multi-billion dollar income redistribution plans. Wait until the same people who ran Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac start running private banks and bailing out consumers, companies and even states.

(Hat Tip: Paul Edwards)

Spare the rod...

The Biblical mandate for parental chastisement of children, including what is known as corporal punishment (i.e. measured spanking, etc when needed. On the Albert Mohler show, Dr. Mohler has been crystal clear and level headed in his defense and indeed advocacy for reasonable, measured, Biblical spanking to discipline children. On a recent radio show, he looked at an article by Alan Kazdin, a vocal advocate of the no spaking movement, on The article is pretty silly on it's face, as Dr. Mohler points out...

Here is some of the scientific research Professor Kazdin wants America's parents to take into account:

The negative effects on children include increased aggression and noncompliance—the very misbehaviors that most often inspire parents to hit in the first place—as well as poor academic achievement, poor quality of parent-child relationships, and increased risk of a mental-health problem depression or anxiety, for instance). High levels of corporal punishment are also associated with problems that crop up later in life, including diminished ability to control one's impulses and poor physical-health outcomes (cancer,heart disease, chronic respiratory disease). Plus, there's the effect of increasing parents' aggression, and don't forget the consistent finding that physical punishment is a weak strategy for permanently changing behavior.

All of this is put forth without even a single footnote or citation. We are just to take Professor Kazdin's word for all this. He argues that "the science" shows this and shows that, but anyone who reads scientific reports knows that there is nothing so clearly defined as "the science" about just about anything. The "findings" Kazdin summarizes in the paragraph above appear to be matters of correlation anyway. When a report suggests that spanking (or anything else) is "associated with" a list of ills and bad outcomes, realize that "associated with" is a very thin argument. Non-spanking may be just as or even more "associated with" these same issues, under the right conditions and described by the right definitions.

That sort of nonsense is pretty typical. Spanking can lead to cancer? There are always those who feel that children are best left to raise themselves with only minimal interference from parents. I do appreciate that Dr. Mohler calls Dr. Kazdin out for merely repeating "the science" with no citation of any scientific study, which as he also points out is pretty sketchy stuff when looking at social science anyway. But this guy rolls out some titles and everyone just takes it as gospel truth. He is a "scientist"! That is one of the big shutdown lines of the secular left: "scientist". It is like "racist" or "fundamentalist", used to shut down conversation. Shocking, Dr. Kazdin has a book out The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child: With No Pills, No Therapy, No Contest of Wills that purports to have discovered the secret to disciplining a child without any actual discipline. His methodology in his book is apparently the same as in his article on Slate, that is "trust me, I am a scientist!" From the page, this is an excerpt from the review by Publishers Weekly....

Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Center and Conduct Clinic as well as president of the American Psychological Association, claims his method works with no pills, no therapy and no contest of wills. Instead, Kazdin uses a practical, science-based method of dealing with behavioral problems in children that relies on positive reinforcement and a reward system. Kazdin doesn't dwell on the scientific research (it seems the reader must trust him on this), though he claims his method works about 80% of the time with serious problems and therefore should have even greater success with everyday behavior glitches.

I love it, just trust him, the "science" agrees with him (we think). What is more disturbing is, once again, the mindset that it reveals among the self-declared intellectual elite. Read this and think of the potential impact of Dr. Kazdin getting his way on our families.

One result of this standoff is that the United States, despite being one of the primary authors of the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of Children, which specifies that governments must take appropriate measures to protect children from "all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation," is one of only two nations that have not ratified it. The other is Somalia; 192 nations have ratified it. According to my colleague Liz Gershoff of the University of Michigan, a leading expert on corporal punishment of children, the main arguments that have so far prevented us from ratifying it include the ones you would expect—it would undermine American parents' authority as well as U.S. sovereignty—plus a couple of others that you might not have expected: It would not allow 17-year-olds to enlist in the armed forces, and (although the Supreme Court's decision in Roper v. Simmons has made this one moot, at least for now) it would not allow executions of people who committed capital crimes when they were under 18.

We have so far limited our national debate on corporal punishment by focusing it on the schools and conducting it at the local and state level. We have shied away from even theoretically questioning the primacy of rights that parents exercise in the home, where most of the hitting takes place. Whatever one's position on corporal punishment, we ought to be able to at least discuss it with each other like grownups.

Well frankly Dr. Kazdin, no we cannot have a conversation about this because the U.N. and you have no standing to dictate to me or my children. So here is the conversation: butt out. Last time I checked, the United States is still a sovereign nation (until Obama gets in) and as such I don't care what Iceland or Mozambique believes about spanking kids.

These are our children, and we have the right and the responsibility to raise them ourselves. Not to outsource them to secular schools, or day-care, or nannies or the United Nations. If you don't want to raise children, don't have them!

Friday, October 10, 2008

You know the market had a bad week...

...when this is the headline from the Wall Street Journal.

Dow Ends Down 128 Points in Best Showing of Punishing Week

When being down 128 is the best day of the week, yikes! I am kind of glad I have not been in the bank this week, I am sure people are freaked out a little. Not sure how true it is, but this was apparently the worst week ever in the stock market. Makes me glad that I worship a sovereign God!

Forget faithful exposition of God's Word!

Better make sure the potty is clean!

From the Wall Street Journal...

Department stores hire mystery shoppers. Restaurant chains bring in undercover diners to rate their food and service. Churches enlist Thomas Harrison, a former pastor from Tulsa, Okla., and a professional mystery worshipper.

Mr. Harrison -- a meticulous inspector who often uses the phrase "I was horrified" to register his disapproval of dust bunnies and rude congregants -- poses as a first-time churchgoer and covertly evaluates everything from the cleanliness of the bathrooms to the strength of the sermon. This summer, Mr. Harrison scoured a megachurch in Cedar Hill, Texas, and jotted down a laundry list of imperfections: a water stain on the ceiling, a "stuffy odor" in the children's area, a stray plastic bucket under the bathroom sink and a sullen greeter who failed to say good morning before the worship service. "I am a stickler for light bulbs and bathrooms," he says.

Now this shouldn't surprise me, after all we live in an allegedly capitalistic system and the church has embraced it. Religion has become a commodity and the church is many places is just a merchandising mechanism, a way to deliver the "product". When we start wondering what sinners want from church instead of what God demands from His worshippers, we have a problem. It is little wonder that people church hop when what they hear and experience on Sunday mornings is so trivial. Look for example at his report on a Texas megachurch and what he said about the sermon.

COMMENT: "The message is appropriate and meaningful. It is challenging and inspiring."
GRADE: Green Light

Well that is reassuring, it was relevant and inspiring. I wonder what sort of grade he would give to "Sinners in the hands of an angry God"? I am assuming he wouldn't find it inspiring or appropriate. Does he have a category for "Confronting sin", "God's Law" or "Hell"?

There was at least one voice of reason in the article...

Some theologians warn that mystery-worshipper services will drive "spiritual consumerism." Evaluating churches as if they were restaurants or hotels might encourage people to choose their church not according to its theology, but based on which one has the best lattes or day care, says Paul Metzger, professor of theology at Multnomah Biblical Seminary in Portland, Ore. "We tend to look for religion or spirituality that will give us what we want, when we want it," Prof. Metzger says. "There's a pressure for the church to be something that the church is not."

But that was followed by this...

Others say that church shopping has become necessary for churches seeking to compete in an increasingly mobile and consumer-oriented society. "My competition is Cracker Barrel restaurant down the street," says Pete Wilson, pastor of CrossPoint Church in Nashville, Tenn., who regularly enlists a secret shopper to evaluate his 2,000-person congregation. "If they go in there and are treated more like family than when they come to CrossPoint Church, then it's lights out for me."

See I thought that what Paul says is right:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Apparently this guy wrestles against grits, John Deere merchandise and free coffee refills! Two thousand people come on Sunday's to hear a guy who thinks that he should be competing with Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel. The church should absolutely be kind and welcoming, but what people should desire is to hear Christ and Him crucified on Sunday morning. I would rather sit in an uncomfortable pew with no A/C and less than delightful bathrooms and hear God's Word faithfully declared than I would sit in a comfy pew with a Starbucks and clean restrooms where fluffy heresy disguised as "preaching" is going on.

My pastor talked about the motivations of people coming to church on his blog. He somehow failed to mention a clean restroom in his blog post. I am sure it was just an oversight but it better be cleaner next week or I am taking my family to Cracker Barrel!

ESV Study Bible Giveaway!

For those who don't get the weekly email, they are giving away five of the new ESV Study Bibles in leather. It probably hurts my chances of winning, but the ESV is a great translation and this is a $50 bible so it is well worth it, especially if you don't have a good study Bible yet. All the cool Calvinists are getting it, and if you are an Arminian, don't worry. It has lots of pictures!

Click here for details on how to enter!

(P.S. if you win and don't want it, I will be happy to take it off your hands!)

government of the people, by the people, for the people?

No longer.

These are some of the words of one of the greatest speeches in our history, the Gettysburg Address. It probably isn't taught in public schools anymore because Lincoln was a white guy.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Noble words and a noble sentiment, but one that is rapidly fading into the twilight in America. The will of the people, the right to govern ourselves, is becoming a anachronism. In my last post I wrote this:

The idea of having to show ID before voting seems common sense, but not to the Left. The reason for that? Because they believe that they know better than the average American citizen, so if they win elections by fraud and deceit it is OK, because they are doing it for our own good. I mean, how can average Americans be trusted to vote? We don't trust them to educate their own kids or run their own businesses. Why even bother with the farce of an election in the first place? The Soviets had "elections" but the slate was chosen by the elite. We might as well do that here. Let the NEA, AFL-CIO and Harvard professors tell us who we can vote for so we don't damage our standing in the world.

Then I read this story...

Conn. high court rules same-sex couples can marry

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, making the state the third behind Massachusetts and California to legalize such unions.

The divided court ruled 4-3 that gay and lesbian couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry under the state constitution, and Connecticut's civil unions law does not provide those couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Friday that she disagreed, but will not fight the ruling.

"The Supreme Court has spoken," Rell said in a statement. "I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision — either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution — will not meet with success."

So Connecticut becomes the latest state to permit the sham of "gay marriage" to take place by judicial fiat. It doesn't even really merit mention in the news. The Governor knows this is not the will of the people, but doesn't care enough to even try to do anything about it. "The Supreme Court has spoken"? So the people have no voice here? Everyone is so concerned about their 401k statement that they can't even see the ongoing crumbling of our nation around us.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people has been replaced with government of the government, by the government, for the government.

The ACORN that grew into a mighty oak

A fraudulent oak that is.

Despite the attempts of the mainstream media to avoid linking Barack Obama with the fraud specialists of ACORN, more and more we are seeing that ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is a prime example of what Barack Obama was doing as a "community organizer". ACORN is under investigation for multiple examples of outright voter fraud. Obama's apologists claim that he has little to do with ACORN, but National Review has documented his deep ties with ACORN...

ACORN’s voter-registration affiliate, Project Vote, was founded by leftist activist Sandy Newman. When Newman was looking to hire somebody to run Project Vote in Illinois, he turned to a local lawyer who had conducted training for ACORN: Barack Obama. Small world. (“He did one hell of a job,” Newman says. Undoubtedly.) ACORN’s political-action committee is supporting Obama, to nobody’s great surprise, and ACORN has hired Michelle Obama’s old Chicago law firm to help them out in a million-dollar embezzlement case. (National Review’s Stanley Kurtz documents the Obama-ACORN nexus here.) More significant, Obama represented ACORN in a lawsuit against Illinois, seeking to force the implementation of “motor voter” registrations, an initiative that has provided rich opportunity for voter-registration fraud. Senator Obama today disavows his connection to the leftist group in much the same way he describes his longtime associate and benefactor, the impenitent terrorist Bill Ayers, as “some guy who lived in my neighborhood.” Which is to say, he does so dishonestly.

After the 2000 election, the liberals mantra was to count every vote. I guess under Barack Obama and ACORN, the mantra is to count every liberal vote as many times as possible. He is from Chicago, where the Democratic machine believed in "Vote early, vote often". This is the sort of group that ACORN is, and the kind of people who are helping Obama "get out the vote":

ACORN’s Nevada offices were raided by federal law enforcement on Tuesday as part of a vote-fraud investigation. At least ten states have reported suspicions about ACORN’s new voters, who number at least three million since 2004. Among those the group was seeking to register to vote in Nevada were the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys. “Tony Romo is not registered to vote in the state of Nevada,” deadpanned Ross Miller, Nevada’s secretary of state. It is against the law to employ felons in voter-registration projects; ACORN seems to have employed at lest 59 of them, inmates on work release.

Unsurprisingly, the team of vote-canvassers assembled by ACORN for the benefit of Senator Obama — a gang one disgruntled felon/inmate/activist described as “lazy crackheads” — has produced some colorful results: 21 separate voter-registration applications were filed for a single voter in Miami; activists have attempted to register untold numbers of dead, underage, imprisoned, imaginary, or otherwise ineligible voters in swing states; in Indiana, signatures were forged on registration cards for names apparently pulled out of the phone book at random, and Indianapolis/Marion County’s registration now stands at 105 percent of the voting-age population; in Nevada, registrations for Cowboys’ star Terrell Owens and other would-be voters were filed from non-existent addresses, and there were no records of the existence of many of the people proffered as voters. In Albuquerque, at least 1,400 registration cards are in question. Missouri (53,500 new ACORN voters) and Ohio are finding forged signatures and registrations from non-existent addresses. These are not isolated cases; they run into several thousands already, and the investigations have only begun.

In July of 2007, five ACORN activists pleaded guilty to fraud in Washington state for submitting nearly 2,000 phony voter applications. ACORN’s new team has facilitated at least 40,000 new voter registrations in the state of Washington for this election. The Wall Street Journal reports that ACORN workers in Ohio were “given crack cocaine in exchange for fraudulent registrations that included underage voters, dead voters and pillars of the community named Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive Turkey.” The Republican party in Ohio is asking the state this year to cross-reference driver’s-license numbers on registrations against the state’s motor-vehicles database, so that any mismatches can be examined. They are making their case in federal court, but Ohio’s Democratic secretary of state is resisting. Democratic officeholders across the country deny there is a problem.

There is little to wonder about when you look at ACORN and Obama. He was one of them, worked with them and they are working on his behalf. I would expect to see challenges after the election that will make the 2000 election look like child's play. Rightly so. If Obama wins fair and square in spite of his leftist record and his inexperience, then he should be President. If he wins based on a ton of fraudulent voters, then he should not. Simple as that. The Left makes a huge deal out of people having to prove they are who they say they are when they vote. The idea of having to show ID before voting seems common sense, but not to the Left. The reason for that? Because they believe that they know better than the average American citizen, so if they win elections by fraud and deceit it is OK, because they are doing it for our own good. I mean, how can average Americans be trusted to vote? We don't trust them to educate their own kids or run their own businesses. Why even bother with the farce of an election in the first place? The Soviets had "elections" but the slate was chosen by the elite. We might as well do that here. Let the NEA, AFL-CIO and Harvard professors tell us who we can vote for so we don't damage our standing in the world.

Meanwhile McCain supporters are pleading with the candidate to take the gloves off and start talking honestly about Obama. There is so much to talk about, but McCain has seemed like he is taking the month of October off. Time to stop playing games and start telling the truth. The fear would be that speaking honestly about Obama would be seen as "negative". Well duh! It is negative because that is the truth of his record. It isn't like McCain is leading in the polls so what does he have to lose? The truth is that Obama is a creation of the media, an empty suit who is supported by groups like ACORN and domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers. He will tax and spend this nation into further economic ruin. He has no plan for Iraq, no plan for Iran, no plan for China, no plan for North Korea. Yet he will probably be our next President because people have placed self-interest over the nation, and because the fine folks at ACORN will ensure that every crack addict, convicted felon and dead person in America casts a vote for Obama.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Welcome to the U.S.S.A.

The United Socialist States of America

Here is a brilliant idea from our "conservative" leadership in response to the credit crisis.

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is considering taking ownership stakes in certain U.S. banks as an option for dealing with a severe global credit crisis.

An administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no decision has been made, said the $700 billion rescue package passed by Congress last week allows the Treasury Department to inject fresh capital into financial institutions and get ownership shares in return.

This official said all the new powers granted in the legislation were being considered as the administration seeks to deal with a serious credit crisis that has caused the biggest upheavals on Wall Street in seven decades and continues to roil global markets.

Supporters of this approach, such as Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., argue that injecting fresh capital into U.S. banks who want to participate in the program would be an effective way to bolster banks' balance sheets and get them to resume lending. Taxpayers would benefit because the government would receive an equity stake in the bank in return for providing the capital.

How exactly is that a reasonable response under our Constitution? It doesn't sound like something that jives with American political thought. It does sound like a different political document though:

Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

Those words come from the Communist Manifesto, the fifth plank. The White House is now taking economic advice from Charles Schumer, part of which includes the state taking the means of production and credit as we buy up banks, increase regulation and potentially bailout auto makers. What next, buying General Motors and have Uncle Same getting into the auto business? Why not state commune farms? State oil companies? Call Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro, have them over to the White House! What communism failed to accomplish by military force will be finally accomplished by apathy and overwhelming self-interest. In our desire to protect our own self-interest, we are willing what we hold most dear. Of course most people have no idea what ideals we should cherish and what our country was founded on (hint, it wasn't the government holding your hand and correcting every mistake)

Heck, we might as well elect Barack Obama. Better the socialist who admits it than the socialist who pretends to believe in the free market and calls himself a conservative. We are experiencing a leadership gap in this country, no one is willing to stand up and tell people the hard truth because the soft lie is so much easier to pass. These seem like small measures, a little here and a little there but they all end up inexorably at the same place. Once the bureaucracy gets it's claws into something, it never lets go.

Dosvidaniya America

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it

Not feeling grim enough yet? We are pretty focused on the U.S. economy here in America, obviously, but things are very interconnected in the world financial systems and they trauma is global. No one seems to know what to do, and that is dangerous because when the pressure is on to DO SOMETHING, it almost always ends up being wrong (i.e. the $700 billion bailout). There is a very insightful article by Niall Ferguson in Time Magazine called The End of Prosperity? and it is pretty sobering stuff. Here is a sample:

The U.S. — not to mention Western Europe — is in the grip of a downward spiral that financial experts call deleveraging. Having accumulated debts beyond what's sustainable, households and financial institutions are being forced to reduce them. The pressure to do so results from a decline in the price of the assets they bought with the money they borrowed. It's a vicious feedback loop. When families and banks tip into bankruptcy, more assets get dumped on the market, driving prices down further and necessitating more deleveraging. This process now has so much momentum that even $700 billion in taxpayers' money may not suffice to stop it.

In the case of households, debt rose from about 50% of GDP in 1980 to a peak of 100% in 2006. In other words, households now owe as much as the entire U.S. economy can produce in a year. Much of the increase in debt was used to invest in real estate. The result was a bubble; at its peak, average U.S. house prices were rising at 20% a year. Then — as bubbles always do — it burst. The S&P Case-Shiller index of house prices in 20 cities has been falling since February 2007. And the decline is accelerating. In June prices were down 16% compared with a year earlier. In some cities — like Phoenix and Miami — they have fallen by as much as a third from their peaks. The U.S. real estate market hasn't faced anything like this since the Depression. And the pain is not over. Credit Suisse predicts that 13% of U.S. homeowners with mortgages could end up losing their homes.

Banks and other financial institutions are in an even worse position: their debts are accumulating even faster. By 2007 the financial sector's debt was equivalent to 116% of GDP, compared with a mere 21% in 1980. And the assets the banks loaded up on have fallen even further in value than the average home — by as much as 55% in the case of BBB-rated mortgage-backed securities.

To date, U.S. banks have admitted to $334 billion in losses and write-downs, and the final total will almost certainly be much higher. To compensate, they have managed to raise $235 billion in new capital. The trouble is that the net loss of $99 billion implies that they will need to shrink their balance sheets by 10 times that figure — almost a trillion dollars — to maintain a constant ratio between their assets and capital. That suggests a drastic reduction of credit, since a bank's assets are its loans. Fewer loans mean tighter business conditions on Main Street. Your local car dealer won't be able to get the credit he needs to maintain his inventory of automobiles. To survive, he'll have to lay off some of his employees. Expect higher unemployment nationwide.

Anyone who doubts that the U.S. is heading for recession is living in denial. On an annualized basis, real retail sales and industrial production are both declining. Unemployment is already at its highest level in five years. The question is whether we're headed for a short, relatively mild recession like that of 2001 — or a latter-day version of what the world went through in the 1930s: Depression 2.0.

Is that sobering enough for you? We are drowning in a sea of debt, and there isn't an easy way out of it. Ferguson actually knows what he is talking about as a recognized expert on economic history, unlike many of the talking heads on CNN, Fox and even CNBC.

What is even more troubling is the very real chance that the world governments will band together and DO SOMETHING that will further cement the global nature of not just financial systems but governments. Spurred on by the International Monetary Fund and other international groups, look for a call for greater consolidation of economic governing bodies. I am all for free trade in the global marketplace, but I am not in favor of foreign nations, many of whom envy and hate the U.S., making policy decisions that are binding on the U.S. Nor am I enraptured with the likely other results, a massive set of new regulations that will further cripple our ability to compete economically. I am pretty much at the when Obama, instead of if Obama, becomes president mindset at this point and you know given his voting record that we are looking at bigger government on a scale we haven't seen since the New Deal and the War on Poverty. Once government gets involved in something, it is virtually impossible to extricate ourselves, and massive government interference has already led to America going from the economic engine of the world to teetering on the brink of total economic collapse and ruin.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Bush Legacy: Barack Obama

Have you seen this man?

If things go the way they are looking, President Bush will be handing over the keys to the White House to Barack Obama and he will be largely to blame. With the nation in crisis financially, we needed someone to step up and lead this nation. Someone to reassure us but also to give us direction, someone to go before Congress and tell them what needed to be done instead of coming before them hat in hand like a beggar. Instead what we have gotten over the last few weeks, really over the last few years is a man who is the lamest of lame ducks, a man being carried along by the winds of change like a leaf in October.

Remember this guy?

Where did he go? He has been replaced by someone unrecognizable, someone who has been cowed by the media and the critics, someone who has let a greasy porkchop like Michael Moore and a raving lunatic like Keith Olbermann make him into a shadow. Love him or hate him, President Bush in the crisis days after September 11th was a leader. He was certain, he was firm and he had direction. We were in a crisis and he didn't hesitate to tell us that. He said it would be hard, and he said it would take time and he said it would require sacrifice. Like Ronald Reagan he was not interested in nuance, he was interested in results. Now, seven years later and facing a financial crisis, where is President Bush? His "leadership" is trying to push a boondoggle of a "bailout" through at a cost of hundreds of billions, and he failed to even do that until it was revamped with tons of pork spending to bring allegedly conscientious congressmen in line. He looks weak and is unable to support John McCain because McCain is fleeing from him as fast as Obama is trying to link them together.

There was a time when Americans would sacrifice for the greater good. When young men signed up to fight for their nation, and didn't decide later that they should pick and choose where to fight. There was a time when sacrifice didn't mean a 20 gig iPod instead of a 40 gig iPod. People gave up creature comforts and made sacrifices because we were in a crisis and we needed to pull together. Now? Now people want the nanny state. People know that McCain is more qualified to handle virtually any issue, but Obama makes them feel good. We are in a crisis but someone else, anyone else, needs to take responsibility. It isn't my fault I bought a house I couldn't afford! We desperately needed Bush to take charge, and he didn't. We needed John McCain to pick up the torch and he didn't. Is it any wonder that the gap between Obama and McCain is widening? No one cares about Bill Ayers, even though they should. They don't know who he even is. What they care about, right or wrong, is the economy and all they hear from the President is that the "economy is fundamentally stable", which it clearly is not. What they hear and see from McCain is more of the same Washington garbage. He should be running against Washington, and instead he is running against Bill Ayers.

If anyone sees the old President Bush, please tell him we need him back. Barring that we McCain to show the leadership I know he has. Tonight is the night, if he doesn't hammer Obama hard and show how dangerously naive and inexperienced he is, it is all over and we are looking at four years of neo-Marxist ideology in America.

Voting our pocketbooks

Beliefnet, home of all things ecumenical, has done some surveys based on a classification of voters into one of twelve religious subgroups and published their findings in an article called The Twelve Tribes of American Politics in the '08 Election. I don't place a lot of stock in these clumsy classifications. For instance, I would fall into the "Religious Right" category based on my literal view of the Bible and more than once a week regular church attendance. But so would James Dobson and the later Jerry Falwell, and I have pretty divergent views in a lot of areas from them on salvation and eschatology which impact my worldview. But on basic issues of the inerrancy of the Bible, justification by faith and on most moral issues we are pretty close.

There is not much that should surprise you in the classifications, but what is disturbing is the extent to which voters who, in the last election, were strongly driven by moral issues (i.e. gay marriage and abortion) are now mostly concerned about economic issues.

Moral issues are dramatically less important this year than in previous years – even among the most religiously observant voters, according to the 2008 edition of the Twelve Tribes of American Politics.

Just 13% listed social issues first, half the number who did in the summer of 2004. 61% listed the economy first compared to 32% in 2004.
(speaking of the religious right)
Compared to other groups, more likely to care about cultural issues (36% compared to 13% nationally) but even they have placed economics as a much higher priority. Now 42% list the economy as the top issue; in 2004, 18% did.

I get the concern, I have ten mouths to feed if you count mine and these are scary times. I also recognize and affirm that morality is not strictly a political issue and that God's sovereignty applies as much in the political world and in governments as it does anywhere. But it is troubling that in just four years, so many people who placed issues of morality as their top concern have turned to their pocketbook as their most important concern.

There are some who would argue that we shouldn't worry about politics at all. There are some for whom the political process is the means God uses to accomplish His will. Who is right? Maybe we shouldn't worry about gay marriage. It is an invalid marriage under God's law anyway, so why worry about it? Isn't more important to make sure that my family is fed? Or maybe be willing to sacrifice the unborn to give me a false sense of economic security is too great a sacrifice to make. These are conversations we need to have, because if we are so lightly grounded in our beliefs that a downturn in the stock market and trouble in housing makes us neglect moral issues, or at least give them less importance, that is a problem.

Mark the date!

The dates for the 2009 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology are out, and it is coming to Grand Rapids March 27-29. The topic this year is Right With God: The Doctrine of Justification. Since '09 is an off-year for Together for the Gospel, I will be planning on a couple of vacation days to check out some great Reformed Bible teaching right here in the great state of Michigan.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sound words from a departed brother

From the late D. James Kennedy, heard today on the radio....

Tolerance is the last virtue of a depraved society

That almost makes up for suffering through The View for an hour.

Anyone who looks at the United States right now and doesn't see Rome, doesn't know a thing about history or human nature. We tolerate anything except taking a stand. We want everything right now and we want the biggest and the best. Our economy is in shambles, our national morality is at an all time low and we are about to elect an empty suit who is either dangerously naive or just dangerous.

Get your fiddles out, Rome is burning.

Well that worked well

After the much anticipated bailout bill, putting the government $700+ billions into the private market, we were assured that things would be better. Now the Dow is down under 10,000 and the world economy is accelerating it's decline. On the bright side, the taxpayers are about to own hundreds of billions of dollars in bad mortgage debt. Thank you President Bush, Senator Obama and Senator McCain.

We should declare a moratorium on government for a year. Send Bush home early, disband congress and let this mess sort itself out.

Take on the insurance companies!

I have spent the morning at the hospital while my wife's thyroid was removed, and it has been one Barack Obama commercial after another. The last one has Obama pledging to "take on the insurance companies".

How exactly is that going to happen? By increasing regulation? That will do wonders for bringing down costs. Just nonsense, but people eat this stuff up like sheep eating up hay. Go get Obama! Give me some of their money Obama! Make it fair Obama! Baa! Baa!

Why exactly is it the role of the President to take on insurance companies? Last time I checked, health insurance is a private sector concern. There is not a constitutional right to health insurance (or health care for that matter) and it certainly is not a matter for the President to take on. Just more empty class warfare rhetoric from Obama. I can't wait for the surgery to get over, to get me away from the Obama commercials and now to get me away from The View. The cackling and clucking about nonsensical stuff is making me bleed from the ears. The one chick is talking about how good she feels about Biden, and Hasselback asked her if she felt the same way about McCain. The woman looked at her like she was from Mars. Biden is very experienced, true enough. But what Obama and his lack of experience? Fortunately, the whole conversation was saved by yet another inane comment from that astute political observer, Whoopi Goldberg. No wonder Americans are so stupid when they watch this crap all day.

I wonder when Obama is going to go on TV and promise to "take on" the tort lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits that raise health care costs for all of us and benefit no one but them? I won't hold my breath.