Archive for January, 2009

Does December 21, 2012, mean anything to you? No? Trust me, . . . . it will. This is the new date for the end of the world. Ok, I hear that snickering. Go ahead and laugh, Mr. “Haven’t-I-heard-this-before-and-you’re-an-idiot”! This is far more serious than Hal Lindsey, Y2K, or anything Henry Kissinger ever thought of doing.

December 21, 2012 marks the end of a 5,126-year cycle on the Long Count calendar developed by the ancient Maya. It also is the day that the sun is aligned with the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Can’t be good. And I’m not the only one warning you about it (just google “2012” and you’ll see what I mean).

So laugh on Mr. “I-don’t-care-what-the-ancient-Mayans-thought-you-lamebrain” and, you too Mr. “What-an-imbecile-you-are-for-writing-about-this” — but hey, don’t come running to me when the solar storms, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes start — acting like you’re surprised or something. Cause then it’ll be too late and I’ll be very tempted to say, “So, who’s the lamebrain now, huh?”

[And just to show you how serious this is, they’re making a movie. Am I right or am I right?]

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I somehow missed some pretty important news back in the first part of November (ok, so me missing important news is NOT new, I gotcha, listen anyway). Roman Catholic bishops meeting in Baltimore on November 11, declared that they would close their hospitals rather than comply with the FOCA (the Freedom of Choice Act) if it was passed. Obama had declared (to the delighted members of Planned Parenthood) that he would sign the bill as soon as it landed on top of his big shiny oval office desk (“The first thing I’d do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing I’d do.”).

So, what’s the FOCA? Melinda Henneberger reports:

Though it’s often referred to as a mere codification of Roe, FOCA, as currently drafted, actually goes well beyond that: According to the Senate sponsor of the bill, Barbara Boxer, in a statement on her Web site, FOCA would nullify all existing laws and regulations that limit abortion in any way, up to the time of fetal viability. Laws requiring parental notification and informed consent would be tossed out. While there is strenuous debate among legal experts on the matter, many believe the act would invalidate the freedom-of-conscience laws on the books in 46 states. These are the laws that allow Catholic hospitals and health providers that receive public funds through Medicaid and Medicare to opt out of performing abortions.

Without public funding, the Roman Catholic hospitals would not be able to remain open. What’s the solution? The Bishops said that if the FOCA passed, rather than submit to having to perform abortions, they would close the hospitals. NOTE: They wouldn’t sell these institutions, they would close them. To do otherwise, said the bishops, would constitute “material cooperation with an intrinsic evil.”

Now, THAT’S how Christians should respond to laws which force us to participate in evil. If the FOCA passes and if this requires all hospitals to perform abortions, what will all the Baptist and Presbyterian hospitals do?

[thanks to Mark Horne for pointing me to this]

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bail me out baby

The news tells me that Obama’s “stimulus” package, which the Democrats passed yesterday in the House, has now been increased by the Senate to a total of $888 billion. If this gets passed that means that we will be “stimulated” to the tune of $30,588 per second, every second, twenty-four hours a day, for an entire year.

I’m being stimulated just thinking about this.

so . . . I guess it working already.

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“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” (1 Peter 1:1-2)

Peter describes the members of the church as “elect according to the foreknowledge of God.” Election, to Peter (and Paul and Jesus) is never left exclusively in the realm of decree. It is the choice of God based upon His foreknowledge (His gracious covenant lovingkindness) manifested in His calling out a people to be His own. Scottish preacher and expositor, John Brown, says this commenting on the term election as it is used here in the first chapter of Peter’s epistle: “I apprehend the word ‘elect’ here, and in a number of other places in the New Testament, does not refer directly to what has been termed the electing decree, but to the manifestation of it in the actually selecting certain individuals from amidst a world lying in wickedness, that they may be set apart to God, and become his peculiar people.”

He then quotes the puritan commentator, Robert Leighton, “Election here means the selecting them out of the world and joining them to the fellowship of the people of God.” This is the election of which our Lord speaks when he says, “Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen [elected] you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:19) (more…)

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in the comments section of the last post, Dale asks, “Pastor Steve: my tax dollars are being forcefully taken from me and used to pay for murdering the unborn. How do we respond?”

rather than respond in the comments, I decided to put my response here:

yeah, good question, Dale. I think we respond to this in much the same way we respond to all the other sins and trespasses of the world: by worship and witness.

We worship as priests (i.e. we worship *for* the world). We must confess our (the world’s) sins and call upon the Lord to come and act (in the same way the apostles and disciples prayed when threatened by the Jewish leadership in the first century, Acts 4).

And then we can act: calling upon our Congressmen and Senators and fellow citizens to respond faithfully to this — and all other evil actions taken by the administration; and living sacrificially showing mercy to the world around us. The more we serve, the more powerful our witness. Apart from this, our protests get lost in the chorus of criticism and we end up looking like mere “naysayers.”

Mercy, sacrifice, and compassionate service, distinguishes our critique from the naysayers. Our goal is not to try to insure that others respect our sensibilities. We’re here to bring the life and healing of Jesus to the world. These actions attack the life and well-being of the world — and that’s why we oppose them. It’s not a matter of politics. It’s not a matter of having our “views” respected. It’s life and death.

But worship is first. It insures that our actions will be kept on target (with the right goal, the right motives, and with no doubt about where our hope lies).

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So this is “change”?

President Obama wastes no time in increasing the baby killing (from Fox News):

“President Obama on Friday is expected to lift a ban on federal funding for international groups that promote or perform abortions, reversing a policy of his predecessor, George W. Bush. . . . Organizations that had pressed Obama to make the abortion-ban change were jubilant. “Women’s health has been severely impacted by the cutoff of assistance. “President Obama’s actions will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don’t have access to family planning,” said Tod Preston, a spokesman for Population Action International, an advocacy group.”

“Change” Obama-style is coming as fast as he can write his name:

“Obama has spent his first days in office systematically signing executive orders reversing Bush administration policies on issues ranging from foreign policy to government operations.”

This is why everyone was so jubilant on Tuesday?

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I alluded to this observation by Mike Mason in my Pastors Conference address and thought it might be good to give the quote. This comes from Mason’s helpful book The Mystery of Marriage:

“If man really is fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly if follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.

“Certainly that is why there is nothing in the New Testament about beautiful sunsets. The heart of biblical theology is a man hanging on a cross, not a breathtaking scene from nature. For the Bible is centrally concerned with love, and the wonders of nature (by comparison with the wonder of human relationship, healed and restored in Christ) touch only remotely on love. We cannot really ‘love’ a sunset; we can only love a person. If we can be said to love things in nature at all, it is only by a sort of analogy with the love we bear for one another, and supremely for God Himself.” (The Mystery of Marriage, 38-39)

It’s easy to feel close to God while watching a sunset or gazing on a breath-taking scene, and it’s easy in part, because sunsets and water falls and mountains don’t contradict us or say thoughtless things or offend us in uncountable ways . . . like people do. But I am called to love people. And that is hard. It would be a lot easier if they simply shined brightly, made everything else look beautiful, and kept their mouths shut.

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Never been all that inclined to drink, but in this case, pass me the bottle.

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Ok, so I’m a sucker for Clint Eastwood, growling, scowling, and grimacing his way through another movie. This may not be Clint’s best, but I liked it. As the movie opens, Walt Kowalski (Clint’s character) has just lost his wife. One of her last requests to her young parish priest, was that he get her husband to go to confession. Walt *needs* to go to confession and gradually comes to realize just how badly he needs to do so. He lives next door to a family of Asian (Hmong) immigrants and the story revolves around how he is reluctantly drawn into a relationship with them. Walt becomes the crankiest guardian angel you’ll ever see. Eastwood is great in this (by now) familiar role (in this case, he’s Archie Bunker packing heat). Here’s one of his memorable lines (spoken to a gang of hoodlums who thought they were tough . . . that is, until they met Walt): “Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while that you shouldn’t have messed with? That’s me.”

Yes. it. is.

Oh it’s a tad predictable. You realize early on that Walt is going to end up liking his new neighbors, and, probably, sacrificing himself for them, but still, . . . come on, . . . it’s Clint, it’s the squint, it’s . . . it’s the vibe, man. Make my day.

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Making God laugh

We watched “Bella” last evening and enjoyed it a good deal. This film was written and directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde and shows how new life comes through love and sacrifice. Ah, that sounds commonplace, and, of course, it is. But this is how Christians transform the world. The lead character (Jose`) works in his brother’s restaurant as head chef. Jose` is there in hiding: hiding from the pain and grief he’s suffered, hiding from others and hiding from the shame and disappointment he thinks he’s inflicted upon his family and friends. One day his brother fires a waitress for being late to work and Jose’ is moved to try to help her. This leads to a day which ends up transforming Nina (the waitress) and Jose` himself. There’s lots of emphasis on food and eating here. Table communion, shared meals, bring life. It’s a simple and beautiful story of how giving up yourself is the way to life and peace. Jose’s compassion transforms Nina. And the new Nina, changes Jose’s life . . . forever. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, do it.

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If you were unable to attend the Pastors Conference this week, you missed some outstanding stuff. Rich Lusk, Rich Bledsoe, Doug Wilson, and Jim Jordan, gave some tremendous lectures (that you can download here). Please do it. You won’t be sorry.

[do it in honor of Elvis’ birthday, which is today]

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This coming Monday, our 11th annual Pastors Conference begins. If you’re able and willing, we always have room for one more. The conference is for pastors, church officers, and interested laymen. It’s going to be fun and (we hope) helpful so come on down! Go here for more info. Feel free to call our church office (318- 323-3061) if you have questions.

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We’re goin

Thanks to the generosity of a dear friend, the boys, Charity and I are heading down to New Orleans tomorrow morning to watch Alabama play Utah in the Sugar Bowl. See you there?


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