Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Family Chain

Between ice storms this week, my brothers and I made a quick trip to West Texas where our family bid a temporary goodbye to our uncle Magel. He was a great family man who is much loved by his surviving wife of over 50 years, and by his son, daughters and many grand-kids. I had not seen many of them for decades, and others I actually met for the first time. He left a great legacy by faithfully passing on his Christian values to his family.

A few years ago, I wrote an article on the differing attitudes toward death of Christians as opposed to that of non-believers. It was certainly difficult to temporarily lose Magel, but was made somewhat easier by the fact that we are assured of seeing him again one day. We only buried Magel’s earthly body. His spirit is still alive in the presence of our Lord as he awaits his final resurrected body.

In the funeral program, the family included a poem written by Ron Tranmer who has published numerous encouraging and inspirational poems for many occasions. I’d like to share this poetry for all those who are missing family members and are looking forward to being together again.

Broken Chain
(revised version)

We little knew that day
God would call your name.
In life we loved you dearly.
In death we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you
but you didn’t go alone,
for a part of us went with you
the day God called you home.

We’re left with loving memories
of the time we had with you,
and feel your love around us
in everything we do.

Our family chain is broken
and our lives are not the same,
But as God calls us one by one
the chain will link again.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Light and Darkness on Presidents Day

The holiday popularly known as Presidents Day began as a celebration of George Washington’s Birthday, but with the Washington-Lincoln Recognition Act of 2001 (HR 420), we recognize all the presidents who have led our nation throughout our history. Unfortunately, we currently have an empty chair in the White House, so in this post, we’re once again forced to look to the past.

This year, we’ve chosen to highlight a portion of a speech by President Dwight D Eisenhower from October 24, 1954 marking the 75th Anniversary of the Incandescent Lamp. Text from the speech is courtesy of our friend, Bill Federer’s American Minute.

“IN GOD WE TRUST.” Often have we heard the words of this wonderful American motto. Let us make sure that familiarity has not made them meaningless for us. We carry the torch of freedom as a sacred trust for all mankind. We do not believe that God intended the light that He created to be put out by men.
The term “light” is used in many contexts in the Bible, beginning with the ordinary physical sense. Light was the first thing God created after the heavens and earth (Gn 1:3). Yet, its primary use is in the figurative, allegorical or metaphorical senses to portray spiritual realities. The late Dr Henry Morris, who established the Institute for Creation Research, notes

Light is the most fundamental and important form of energy, and energy includes every phenomenon in the physical universe. It is appropriate for John to affirm that God is light, because everything created must reflect the character of its Creator. The term “light,” therefore, has come to be applied not only to light in the physical sense, but also to that which is true in the intellectual realm, and holy in the moral realm as well. In addition, the term is often used in opposition to dark or darkness as symbolizing good and evil. We see this in the Apostle John’s application to God Himself, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5).
Light is used to express knowledge, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2Cor 4:4, see also Job 12:22 and Ps 119:130). Light and dark are also used to express morality or lack of, as illustrated by the Prophet Isaiah, Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness (Is 5:20). Light can even symbolize eternal life itself. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12).

It is easy to see that, while much of the church sleeps and even looks to the government to assume part of her responsibilities, our country's “leaders” continue their quest to eliminate the spiritual light from our nation, replacing it with their own fundamental change. We could even say that our physical light is being dimmed as well. Radical environmental policies are condemning many to sickness or even death by depriving the poor of basic needs such as inexpensive utilities necessary for healthy food and clean water. Thus, please pray that God would again shed His Light on our once great nation. We should, like Job, long for the days when God watched over us; when His lamp shone on our head and by His light, we walked confidently through the darkness (Job 29:2-3).

Returning to Eisenhower’s speech, the former president also addressed the relation between faith and freedom:

Atheism substitutes men for the Supreme Creator and this leads inevitably to domination and dictatorship. But we believe - and it is because we believe that God intends all men to be free and equal that we demand free government.

Our Government is servant, not master, our chosen representatives are our equals, not our czars or commissars. We must jealously guard our foundation in faith.

For on it rests the ability of the American individual to live and thrive in this blessed land - and to be able to help other less fortunate people to achieve freedom and individual opportunity. These we take for granted, but to others they are often only a wistful dream.

Today, we see that Eisenhower’s prophetical words have been ignored or forgotten. As the current administration continues to drive God from our country, it is inevitable that American’s freedoms are also sliding away.

Still, we can be confident that God is in control. He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them (Job 12:23). Therefore, we must also continue to pray that God will turn the hearts of our nation back to Him, with the assurance that He alone controls the course of world events (Dan 2:21).

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Spiritual State of the Union 2015

We recently witnessed B Hussein Obama’s State of the Union speech. For those who missed it, we’ll provide a brief paraphrase of what he said (and didn’t say):
The economy is booming and unemployment continues to drop (since we no longer consider those who’ve given up finding work, or who’ve taken part time jobs as unemployed – not to mention the fact that we have a record 92 million not in the workforce). I promise to veto any legislation that would cut Obamacare and thus deprive anyone of insurance coverage (even though Obamacare itself resulted in millions of people losing their insurance coverage with which they were well pleased). The deficit is shrinking (pay no attention to that pesky 18 trillion debt thingy, or the fact that I’ve added more debt than all other presidents combined). Russia and Al Qaeda are no longer a threat and we’ve stopped the (non-Islamic) Islamic State (even though IS has doubled their territory since US airstrikes began). In short, everything is rainbows and unicorns (are you going to believe what you see in the real world, or what I tell you?).
This post however, is not about the make-believe world in BHO’s imagination, but about the spiritual state of our union. As we move into 2015, we could acknowledge the erosion of morality in many areas but for the sake of brevity, we’ll only mention three.

Decreased freedom of religion - Never before in our history has the federal government taken such an active role in attacking the God-given rights of people of faith. Many, including those serving as chaplains in our military, are denied the right to pray in the name of Jesus. In some public organizations, God's name can't even be mentioned, unless it's used as an expression of profanity. Doctors and nurses are being forced to assist in abortions or risk losing their jobs. Religious organizations are being threatened with fines for not providing abortion-inducing drugs to their employees. Barriers that protect children from pornography are being systematically removed, but the children are “protected” from bringing a Bible to school. Parents rights are being stripped away by those who believe instilling them with Christian values is equivalent to child abuse.

Cheapening of Human Life - Approximately 4000 babies continue to be murdered each day while Planned Parenthood receives over 500 million dollars a year in government grants, almost half of its overall revenue. We’re now seeing a renewed push for assisted suicide or “death with dignity” as promoted by the media.

As the population continues to age and with over 62 million potential workers killed by abortionists, the ratio of workers to retirees has shrunk from 34-1 to about 2-1. So, something must be done about these old folks that will be increasing seen as a drain on society. This is where the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) comes in. I detailed this board three years ago in one of our most-read articles called ObamaCare Death Panels Coming in 2014. The IPAB will determine which patients will get (or not get) certain medical treatments based upon their estimate of the patient’s value to society. If the needed treatment is more expensive than the board's estimate of the patient’s worth (never mind the patient’s worth to his or her family or friends), the patient is out of luck. Members of the panel will be appointed by Obama, not elected, and I can pretty much guarantee that it will be comprised of accountants and lawyers instead of doctors since all decisions will be based strictly on monetary issues; although in swing states, whether or not the patient is a regular supporter of the democratic party could also be a determining factor. There is no oversight or appeals, so any IPAB decision is final.

Finally, and most importantly, we come to

Compromise in the Church - A few weeks ago, I heard the story of a church that was going up in flames. The townsfolk were running with their buckets of water in an attempt to extinguish the flames. It seemed like the entire town pitched in, including several known atheists. As they ran toward the church with their water buckets, one of the church deacons couldn't resist yelling at the group, “Wow, I’ve never seen atheists running to church before”. One of the atheists yelled back without breaking stride, “I’ve never seen a church on fire before”.

The lesson in the story is that, when a church is on fire spiritually, outsiders take notice. Now, there are some local churches across the country that are on fire, but for the most part, the Church as a whole has lost much of her influence over society in America. Call it weariness, discouragement, lack of faith, apathy or a host of other factors, but our modern culture has infiltrated and compromised the church rather than the church transforming the culture by boldly proclaiming the truth and fulfilling the great commission to make disciples.

We’re quick to blame the organizer-in-chief currently occupying the Oval Office for much of the nation’s spiritual problems. Granted, the current president and his administration are one of the most anti-biblical and anti-Christian in our history. BHO still refuses to acknowledge any terrorism committed by radical Muslims; yet at the Nation Prayer Breakfast last week, he was quick to assert that the Crusades, Inquisition, Jim Crow laws and slavery were all carried out “in the name of Christ”, failing to mention the minor detail that much of the Crusades were to defend Christian lands against Islamic aggression.

Still, we should not expect anything different from non-Christians. In Scripture, we constantly read of God taking vengeance on godless nations who were practicing similar abominations that are regularly occurring in America today, but when it came to judging His people of Israel, He often began in the sanctuary (Ez 9, 1Pe 4:17). Even so, He has also given us the promise that, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2Chr 7:14). Notice that this verse doesn’t say that “if the politicians”, or “if Hollywood”, or “if the abortionists” will get right with God, but “if my people”. So, God is looking to the Church House rather than the White House for leadership on spiritual issues. The spiritual state of the Church will determine the spiritual state of the union.

As believers, we know that God is sovereign over both humans (Ac 17:25-26) and the nations (Job 12:23, Ps 66:7, Jer 27:1-11, Ezk 29:13-16 and many more). In addition, we have been given a prophetic view of things to come in the Scriptures. We have assurances for our future and know that our Lord’s power and grace is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, the church has no excuse for her impotence. With much prayer for revival, we must awaken and confidently go about doing His work until He returns.