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Archive for May, 2011

I don’t know Ed Schultz and I’ve never seen the “Ed Show” on MSNBC. But the other day on Mr. Schultz’s syndicated radio show he called conservative talk show host, Laura Ingraham, a “right wing slut.” Though it was hardly the worst thing a talk show host has said about another person — neither was it something Mr. Schultz should have said. It was out of line and totally inappropriate.

BUT (and here’s where the story gets interesting), instead of doing what so many have done over the years and defending his statement or rationalizing it away, Ed Schultz did something unusual — he asked for forgiveness on national television. He took full responsibility for his words, he didn’t excuse himself, he didn’t try to minimize the magnitude of his error — instead, he asked forgiveness of Laura Ingraham, . . . and of MSNBC, . . . and of his staff, . . . and of his wife and children.

And in the process he did something else — he demonstrated to the world how integrity works and how you deal with your public sins. And that’s not only a lesson that many of Ed Schultz’s colleagues (conservative and liberal) need to learn — it’s a lesson God’s people need to learn.

So, Ed, thanks for showing the rest of us how to do it.

Here’s the complete apology as seen on MSNBC:

[HT: Maurice Valesquez]

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Burger down

This weekend has been designated “National Burger Weekend” by whomever it is that designates such things.

But, you know what?

I like it.

Gonna gitme one.

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Lusting for heaven

Ok, we’ve had some fun with Harold Camping over the past few months (and especially last week) and we have mocked his false and baseless teachings but now that it’s clear that he has again misled thousands, it’s time to state some things clearly and one thing in particular, namely this: It is sin to desire that God would snatch you away from this earth to heaven.

Now, that probably sounds like heresy — especially to a generation which has had this perspective drilled into them from their youth (through sermons, music, movies, and books). But, in spite of all that, I stand by it: To be disappointed that you were not raptured out of this world last Saturday evening is sin.

Christians have been given a job to do. We call it the great commission — because it is the greatest privilege and honor that humans could ever have (Matthew 28:18-20). It’s the greatest job in the world: Discipling the nations as witnesses and ambassadors of the King of King and Lord of Lords. Baptizing men and teaching men all the commandments Jesus has given us, calling them to repent of sin and seeing them escape the prison house of Death and enter into the joys of life eternal.

This job is to the most glorious calling any man has ever been given. And it ought be our greatest joy.

So why isn’t it? Why is it that so many Christians sit around filled with longing to leave this world behind? Why do so many apparently despise the great calling they have been given? In large measure, it’s because quacks like Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Harold Camping and myriads of unknown ministers who have drilled the idea into everyone’s heads that it is better to be in heaven than in “this wicked world.”

George Whitfield once learned a hard lesson about this mistaken attitude from the (by then) old pastor William Tennant. Whitefield was still a young man when he met Tennant along with a group of ministers he was to address. Whitefield began to expound upon the “burden” of laboring in the ministry and of his great longing to be done with his work and go to be with Jesus. He then appealed to the gathered group of ministers if it were not their great comfort that they might soon die and go to be with Christ. Everyone agreed . . . except the oldest among them, William Tennant.

Whitefield turned to him and said, “Well brother Tennant, you are the oldest man amongst us, do you not rejoice to think that your time is so near at hand, when you will be called home and freed from all the difficulties attending this chequered scene?”

Tennant at first refused to reply but after Whitefield pressed him again, he said: “No, sir, it is no pleasure to me at all, and if you knew your duty it would be none to you. I have nothing to do with death; my business is to live as long as I can — as well as I can — and to serve my Lord and Master as faithfully as I can, until he shall think proper to call me home. . . [S]uppose you had hired a man to serve you faithfullly for a given time in a particular service, and he should, without any reason on your part, and before he had performed half his service, become weary of it, and upon every occasion be expressing a wish to be discharged or placed in other circumstances. Would you not call him a wicked and slothful servant and unworthy of the privileges of your employ?”

There you go. That’s the issue here. Jesus has called us to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-16) — and this requires that we remain on the earth as long as He desires us to remain. We are to disciple the nations and that takes time and patient labor. For us to sit around wishing He would come and relieve us of the responsibility He has given us is to despise His honor and the good of the world.

Is there something wrong with us when we wish we didn’t have to do these things? Is there something wrong with wishing you could be relieved of these responsibilities? Yes. There is something wrong. And it’s called sin.

Rapture fever is sin. It is a Satanic lusting for heaven when Jesus has given us a job to do. If we really loved Him and loved our neighbors like we ought, we’d be thankful for the honor of doing His will, serving those around us, and seeking the welfare of our cities. We’d be concerned to know what He’s revealed and we’d be happy to leave the things He has not revealed with Him. We’d be thankful for the privilege of living in this world as ambassadors for the King.

We have been called to labor with joy and confidence, persevering in season and out, seeking by the power of the Spirit to see the world transformed by the gospel. To lust for heaven when you have this job to do is sin.

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Some of us have been talking about getting one of the “Judgment Day” T-shirts from our favorite false prophet, Harold Camping. So, I decided to go to their web site (“WeCanKnow.com”) to order a couple.

BUT, wouldn’t you know it, I’m too late for this as well. I can’t even order a bumper sticker. Here’s the notice:

Dear Friends,

With our Lord’s Return such a short time away, we are no longer offering free printed materials since there is not enough time remaining for us to effectively produce and distribute them.

Rats. And I really wanted one of those “Noah Knew” shirts. It would have gone great with my “88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988″ book.

So, not only am I not getting a T-shirt, I still haven’t heard from any of Harold’s followers who are willing to give me their stuff.

*sigh*

I have to say that these have been some of the most disappointing “last days” since, oh, 1994.

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Nobody listens to me

Well, dang.

It’s like I never said anything.

So the New York Post reports that Robert Fitzpatrick (a retired transit authority employee from Staten Island) just spent his life savings ($140,000) on ads warning everyone that Judgment Day is coming next Saturday (May 21).

Fitzpatrick says that “A giant earthquake will render the earth uninhabitable” next Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

Well, that means that the earthquake is going to hit about the fourth inning of my grandson’s scheduled baseball game . . . but that’s not what makes me unhappy. No.

What makes me unhappy is that I sent out word over a year ago to all of Harold Camping’s followers that I would take their stuff since they didn’t really need it — I mean with the world ending and all.

But, nobody has taken me up on the offer.

Not a single one.

I never heard one word from Mr. Fitzpatrick . . . and there he is, throwing all that folding money away on ads . . . in New York City!

And I sure use $140,000 about now.

And on top of that, I could have saved him from all that frustration and anger he’s going to feel around 6:15 p.m. or so, next Saturday.

Dang.

[HT: Sarah Garner]

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The story of the paralytic in Mark 2 raises a number of interesting questions. One surrounds Mark’s observation that Jesus saw “their faith” (v. 5). It’s apparent that Mark wants us to know that it was not merely the faith of the paralytic himself but the faith of his friends that provokes Jesus to forgive and heal this man. Obviously, we can’t believe for another. Every man must believe for himself. But that doesn’t mean that our faith is irrelevant to the faith or the salvation (healing/restoration) of others.

There is a clear connection between the faith of these men and the healing and forgiveness of the paralytic. At bare minimum, their faith in Jesus’ ability to heal led them to do what they could to get their friend to Jesus. If they hadn’t believed, he would not have been able to see Jesus at all. And though we are not told, it is likely that their faith was vital to his own. Their confidence in the power and authority of Jesus encouraged his own faith in Jesus (or perhaps his faith stirred up theirs).

This is the way it works. None of us believe or grow in faith by ourselves. Apart from our communion in the household of faith, faith dies. Faith is not something that can flourish in isolation. You learn to believe and to walk by faith by living with God’s people. Walking with wise men, you become wise. Walking with the faithful, you grow in faithfulness.

And your faith is seen by God and honored in the salvation of others. This is what happens when we pray for others. When we pray, God sees our faith and He acts accordingly and often He blesses other people, He even draws other people to Himself granting them faith, in answer to our prayers.

This is plain throughout the Scriptures. Noah found grace in the eyes of God and for Noah’s sake, his whole household was delivered through the flood. This is the way it works. When a father is faithful, his children are blessed. When a wife is godly, her husband is sanctified by her faithfulness. Communing with wise, faithful men, brings blessings to you.

Faith is something that thrives and survives only within the community of faith. The Spirit uses others to work faith in us. We learn how to believe by living around the faithful and seeing how they trust the Lord and walk by faith in their lives. We learn what it means to persevere, by seeing perseverance in the lives of our friends. We learn what it means to give thanks in all things by faith as we see our brethren do it. We know what it is to “trust and obey” because we’ve seen it in the lives of others.

This is another reason why the Reformers (and many before them) said the Church is salvation (it is the household of faith — the home of the faith once for all delivered to the saints). This is why it is so important not to ignore worship and opportunities for fellowship with God’s people. You cannot survive in the faith on your own.

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So now we’re told that President Obama has decided not to release any photos of Osama bin Laden’s dead body. No matter that it would put to rest all the conspiracy theories that have grown like topsy since Sunday night. No matter that it would prove to Al-Qaeda that their leader is now painfully aware of the fact that the 72 virgins that were supposed to meet him apparently didn’t get the memo.

It’s almost as if Obama is trying to make sure the conspiracy crowd has enough fodder to make their theories of how none of this really happened seem quite plausible — or, at least, to claim that it is not like they said it was.

The administration is all of a sudden concerned that releasing the picture might stir up the passions of the Muslim community — as if they aren’t stirred up already. One official said that they decided not to do this since it is contrary to Islamic law (hey, but we’ve also learned that the burial at sea was contrary to Islamic law too — so what’s the problem?).

We’re all just supposed to take the word of the President and his spokesmen. In spite of the fact that they have already given at least 3 or 4 versions of what went down on Sunday at the bin Laden fortress and have had to retract numerous misstatements and errors that official spokesmen (who are supposed to know the facts) passed along.

Does anyone in this administration understand how arrogant this looks? Does anyone realize what most of us learned in the second grade — that when you have a reputation for lying, people don’t tend to believe you when you tell the truth (the old Peter and the Wolf story, you know the one). Liars have to prove their statements before they can expect to be believed.

Does anyone in the White House understand the phrase “You can’t have it both ways”? That is, you can’t mock and deride the conspiracy theorists and refuse to prove your claims.

But this one’s not hard to resolve. Just show the pictures. Show the video of the attack. It’s simple and that would settle the matter for most people.

But the longer you wait, the more time you have to “doctor” the evidence (whether you’re doing it or not) so that when you finally realize how stupid this decision is, you’re not going to be believed anyway, no matter how much evidence you pull out.

This isn’t calculus guys, it’s an easy fix: just show us the pictures. lt’s as easy as proving that you have a birth certificate . . . . . . uh, oh well, nevermind.

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Let’s be clear: It is not wrong to rejoice when the wicked fall. We are forbidden to exalt ourselves over our personal enemies (as if they deserved to die and we didn’t) but we surely may rejoice when evil men who have oppressed and killed others perish. I have no problem with thankful praise to God that Osama is dead and no longer around to stir up the ungodly in conspiring to do evil.

Here’s my problem: When America boasts over it’s omnipotence and greatness in assassinating a wicked man. Here are some of the things that have been said (and some are slightly paraphrased) by our president and other leaders:

“This shows how powerful America is. You can’t hide from us. We’ll get you, no matter how long it takes.”

“No one attacks us and gets away with it.”

“This sends a message to the world, no matter how you try to hide, we’ll find you and bring you to justice. This proves the invincibility of our will.”

Do these statements remind you of anyone?

These are the sorts of boasts Nebuchadnezzer, Pharoah, Babylon, Edom, Assyria, Tyre, Rome, and many others made before God showed them that there was Someone else of whom these statements were actually true. It’s not a good sign when the one given success by God, turns and acts as if he gained it by his own prowess and strength. In fact, it’s a pretty clear indicator of who will be next to receive the sure and certain justice of God.

We’ve forgotten how to handle success.

How much better would it have been for us to carry out the mission of Navy Seal Team 6 in complete secrecy and never take credit for it? Plan it, carry it out, reward the team of soldiers who did it, but take no credit for the deed publicly. Simply say to the world that we have received reports that Osama has been killed. Say that we have seen evidence that this report is true and that we are thankful that another of God’s enemies has been removed and we are grateful for the courage and success that has been granted to those who carried out the mission. . . and leave it at that.

Of course, it would soon be suspected that we had done the deed ourselves, but our public stance would simply be one of gratitude and thanksgiving.

The problem with doing it this way of course, is that our President wouldn’t get to boast of his excellent and efficient leadership and “courage.” Our military wouldn’t get to boast of its power and warn the world not to mess with us. We wouldn’t be able to boast over how “bad” we are and challenge all our enemies to “take a number” if they want to try to attack us. We wouldn’t be able to claim to possess divine attributes as we threaten the world and exalt ourselves on high as the only nation on earth that is capable of such great and marvelous feats.

In other words, if we took a humble stance, we would be robbed of bringing glory to ourselves – and if there is one thing modern America will not do, it is miss an opportunity to magnify itself before the world and its own citizens.

That’s my problem.

You say, “C’mon man, you just hate America. You need to be more patriotic.”

No, sorry, you’re wrong. I love my country and because I love it, I don’t want it to receive the judgment that God has promised to give to those who pretend that they are His equal. So, when America acts like Babylon, Assyria, Edom, Egypt, Rome, unfaithful Israel, and every other nation that made itself equal to God, I protest. I would rather we have God’s blessing. I would rather we not end up like Pharoah, Babylon, Rome, and all the other idolatrous kingdoms of the world.

There really is One from whom you cannot hide and from whom you will not escape — and it’s not the CIA, the Navy Seals, the IRS, or our President. And if we refuse to acknowledge Him, we will soon learn what all arrogant tyrants and Kingdoms throughout history have learned, if you pretend to be like God, you will be shown just how impotent you are.

True patriots care about the future of our country. True patriots are dismayed by mindless, idolatrous Nationalism. True patriots understand that the only way we will prosper as a country is by humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God and devoting ourselves to the only true and omnipotent King and the only Kingdom that actually will stand forever.

This is what’s been missing over the past couple of days . . . and that’s my problem.

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