Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Rhinoceros by Francis C. Woodworth

rom the accounts of those who are best acquainted with the rhinoceros, it appears that the animal is tamed only with great difficulty, and never to such an extent that it is always safe to approach him. Sir Everard Home gives the following account of one in a menagerie in London: "He was so savage, that about a month after he came, he endeavored to kill the keeper, and nearly succeeded. He ran at him with the greatest fury; but, fortunately, the horn of the animal passed between the keeper's thighs, and threw him on the head of the rhinoceros. The horn struck a wooden partition, into which it was forced to such a depth, that the animal, for a minute, was unable to withdraw it; and during this interval, the man escaped. By discipline, the keeper afterward got the management of him; but frequently, more especially in the middle of the night, fits of phrensy came on, and while these lasted, nothing could control his rage. He ran, with great swiftness, round his den, playing all kinds of antics, making hideous noises, breaking every thing to pieces, and disturbing the whole neighborhood. While this fit was on, the keeper never dared to come near him."

When the rhinoceros is quietly pursuing his way through his favorite glades of mimosa bushes (which his hooked upper lip enables him readily to seize, and his powerful grinders to masticate), his horns, fixed loosely in his skin, make a clapping noise by striking one against the other; but on the approach of danger, if his quick ear or keen scent makes him aware of the vicinity of a hunter, the head is quickly raised, and the horns stand stiff, and ready for combat on his terrible front. The rhinoceros is often accompanied by a sentinel, to give him warning—a beautiful green-backed and blue-winged bird, about the size of a jay—which sits on one of his horns.

The following account of the perils of a party hunting for the rhinoceros is given by Mr. Bruce, a traveler of celebrity: "We were on horseback, at the dawn of the day, in search of the rhinoceros; and after having searched about an hour in the thickest part of the forest, one of these animals rushed out with great violence, and crossed the plain toward a thicket of canes, at the distance of nearly two miles. But though he ran, or rather trotted, with surprising speed, considering his bulk, he was in a short time pierced with thirty or forty javelins. This attack so confounded him, that he left his purpose of going to the thicket, and ran into a deep ravine, without outlet, breaking about a dozen of the javelins as he entered. Here we thought he was caught in a trap—for he had scarcely room to turn—and a servant, who had a gun, standing directly over him, fired at his head. The animal fell immediately, to all appearance dead. All those on foot now jumped into the ravine, to cut him up. But they had scarcely begun, when the animal recovered himself so far as to rise upon his knees; and he would undoubtedly have destroyed several of the men, had not one of them, with great presence of mind, cut the sinew of the animal's hind leg. To this precaution they were indebted, under God, for their lives."

The rhinoceros and the elephant have been known to engage in a pitched battle, in which case the former always comes off victor. The combat, however, is a very furious one.

There are two species of the rhinoceros. The one which is represented in the engraving is the double-horned rhinoceros. It is perhaps the largest of land animals, with the exception of the elephant. When pursued, notwithstanding its large, unwieldy body, it can run with astonishing swiftness.

from Project Gutenberg - "Stories about Animals: with Pictures to Match by Francis C. Woodworth."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ignorance Can Be Fixed; Stupidity Is Forever

Do you remember Dr. Laura?  Several years ago, on her radio talk show, she took a call from a sixteen-year-old girl who complained that her parents made her go to church with them. She claimed that she is an atheist and it is not fair that her parents subject her to a belief system that is contrary to her own.

Dr. Laura questioned her unbelief and emphasized that, in order to be credible, her position must be defended by sound reasoning. Dr. Laura wisely pointed out that millions of bright, educated and thinking people for thousands of years have concluded and defended a belief in a real God. It therefore seemed ignorant and foolish that a sixteen-year-old could dogmatically assert that there is no god. I think, at best, the girl can only be an agnostic. There is no shame in admitting that one does not know for certain that God exists. That is what you call “ignorance” and ignorance is fixable; stupidity is forever.

When one avowed atheist sued the federal government in the ninth circuit court of appeals to have the phrase “under God” removed from the flag salute, he argued that subjecting his daughter to the mere mention of God violates the constitutional prohibition for government to establish a religion.

The most important question that demands an answer is, “Does God exist?” And quite frankly, it really doesn’t matter much whether or not we acknowledge Him in our flag salute. We can take Him off our money, we can expel Him from our schools and we can bar Him from our courts.  But His existence can neither be established nor nullified by popular consensus.

So is there any substantive evidence for the existence of God?  Consider this.

About 75 years ago, evolutionist began to tell us that the concept of one god is the apex of a gradual development from the belief in many gods. But historical research challenges those assumptions. It is increasingly clear that the oldest known traditions of all peoples worldwide were of one single supreme God.

The transformed lives of millions of true believers and their experiences provide evidence, although subjective, that cannot be ignored. Their personal testimonies are worthy of consideration just as testimonial evidence is considered in a secular court of law.  And furthermore, even the written testimonies of the deceased stands.

Legitimate scientific law must conclude that there is a god. The law of cause and effect insists that “no effect can be produced without a cause.” Even evolutionists, as they consider everything they see in the physical universe, agree on that but eventually all their theories must lead them to an "uncaused cause", which they can only describe as a “big bang.” But even the “big bang” required some material substance so they are left with the unexplained or the "uncaused cause."

There is vast and incredible order and design in the universe. The Earth itself is evidence of design. Its size is perfect. If smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible. If larger, it would contain free hydrogen. Its distance from the sun is correct to maintain temperatures to sustain life. The moon is unique in comparison to moons of other planets. It is much larger and has an affect on the continents and oceans. The tilt of the Earth’s axis insures the seasons.  "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork." Psalm 19:1

O.K. The fact that the vast majority of humanity, at all times and in all places, has believed in some kind of god is not conclusive proof. The majority can be wrong. And the testimony of believers is too subjective and could be unreliable. And even if we admit an uncaused cause, and, even though there are many indications of God in nature, nature cannot conclusively demonstrate that He exists or what He is like. Even the Bible, in the book of Job, asks the rhetorical question, ”Can you find God by searching for Him?” The obvious answer is “NO,” not unless He reveals Himself.

A few years ago, I attended a seminar at our local high school where a scientist, who was a Christian, was making his case for the existence of God. A woman in the audience stood and asked him this question; “If there really is a god, why doesn’t he simply show himself to the world and settle this matter once and for all?”

She acted as though she could believe if she could see for herself.  But the truth is, she would not.  If God would do that for you, would you then believe? The reality is, He has taken the initiative throughout history to communicate to men. But His fullest revelation has been His invasion into human history in the person of Jesus Christ. The most conclusive evidence that there is a God is that He has visited us and revealed Himself to us. All other indicators are mere clues or hints. The confirmation of those indicators is the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So, then, there is evidence from tradition, human experience, nature and science but most importantly, there is the evidence of direct revelation. Therefore, our faith can be sure and is, in fact, more reasonable than the foolish faith of atheists.

That’s right, a belief that there is no god is a remarkable act of foolish, indefensible faith that can only be explained by understanding that to conclude otherwise would demand a change in attitude or behavior.

There is a God and He can be known in personal experience. He has given us sufficient evidence for His existence. He has shown Himself to the world, but just like that woman in the seminar, many people refuse to believe.

But the day will come when everyone will acknowledge His existence,

For the Scriptures say,”‘ As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,’ every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.’” (Rom. 14:11)


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Facebook Rewrites Genesis 1:27

God is far too narrow-minded.  Facebook has decided to enlighten Him by offering this modern, amplified revision of Genesis 1:27

"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male, female, agender, androgyne, androgynous, bigender, cis, cis female, cis male, cis man, cis woman, cisgender, cisgender female, cisgender male, cisgender man, cisgender woman, female to male, FTM, gender fluid, gender nonconforming, gender questioning, gender variant, genderqueer, intersex, male to female, MTF, neither, neutrois, non-binary, other, pangender, trans, trans female, trans male, trans man, trans person, trans woman, trans*, trans* female, trans* male, trans* man, trans* person, trans* woman, transfeminine, transgender, transgender female, transgender male, transgender man, transgender person, transgender woman, transmasculine, transsexual, transsexual female, transsexual male, transsexual man, transsexual person, transsexual woman, and two-spirit; all 58 genders created He them."

At this point, I think they would do well to remove the entire text between verse 27 all the way through Geneses 6:5 and pick it up here to give it proper context: 

"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of His heart was only evil continually.

And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at his heart.

And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them."


That just about sums it up.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Islamic Muslims Helped Shape The New America

Obama has been bending over backward trying to convince us that Islam has played an important role in the founding and the fabric of our country.

"...Islam has always been a part of America’s story,” June 2009
"Islam has always been part of America," 2010 
"...(the holiday) also reminds us of the many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy," 2014
"Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding," 2015
Barack Obama

Well, technically, He is right; Muslims have been indirectly responsible for a great deal of the early development of the United States armed services.

What Obama fails to acknowledge is that over two hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson led the United States in a declared war on Islam.
Early in the eighteenth century, pirates terrorized the Mediterranean Sea and large portions of the North Atlantic Ocean.  They attacked every ship they encountered and held the crews for exorbitant ransoms.  Those they took hostage were subjected to barbaric treatment and wrote heart-breaking letters home, begging their governments and family members to pay whatever their captors demanded. 

And guess who those Pirates of the Carribean were?  They were not the glamorized, politically correct characters as portrayed by Disney (Disney's anti-traditional family, queer tolerant, Muslim loving, anti-Christian, history revisionist PC agenda is another topic for another blog post).  The pirates were Islamic Muslim terrorists.

Those Mohammadan extortionists of the high seas represented the Islamic nations of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers – collectively referred to as the Barbary Coast – and presented a dangerous and unprovoked threat to the new American Republic.

Before the Revolutionary War, U.S. merchant ships had been under the protection of Great Britain.  When the U.S. declared its independence and entered into war, the ships of the United States were protected by France.  However, once the war was won,  America was faced with the need to protect its own fleets.  So, in a real sense, we can credit the Muslims with the birth of the U.S. Navy.
Beginning in 1784, seventeen years before he was elected president, Thomas Jefferson was appointed America’s Minister to France.  That same year, the U.S. Congress sought to appease its Muslim adversaries by following in the footsteps of European nations which paid bribes to the Barbary States, rather than engaging them in war.   It was a stupid idea then and it is a stupid idea now. Appeasement doesn't work.

In July of 1785, Algerian pirates captured American ships and demanded an unheard-of ransom of $60,000.  It was a plain and simple case of extortion, and Thomas Jefferson was vehemently opposed to any further payments.  Instead, he proposed, to Congress, the formation of a coalition of allied nations who together could force the barbaric Islamic states into peace.  A disinterested Congress decided to pay the ransom.

In 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Tripoli’s ambassador to Great Britain to determine by what right his nation attacked American ships and enslaved American citizens, and why Muslims held so much hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.  The two future presidents reported that Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja had answered that Islam "was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise."

Despite this stunning admission of premeditated violence against non-Muslim nations, as well as the objections of many notable American leaders, including George Washington, who warned that caving in was both wrong and would only further embolden the enemy, for the following fifteen years, the American government paid the Muslims millions of dollars for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. The payments in ransom and tribute amounted to over twenty percent of the United States government annual revenues in 1800.

Jefferson was disgusted.  Shortly after his being sworn in as the third President of the United States in 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli sent him a note demanding the immediate payment of $225,000 plus $25,000 a year for every year forthcoming.  That changed everything.

Jefferson let the Pasha know what he could do with his demand.  The Pasha responded by cutting down the flagpole at the American consulate and declared war on the United States.  Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers immediately followed suit. 

Until then, Jefferson, had been against raising an American naval force for anything other than our own coastal defense.  But having watched his nation be cowed by Islamic terrorists for long enough, he decided that it was finally time to meet force with force.

He dispatched a squadron of frigates to the Mediterranean and taught the Muslim nations of the Barbary Coast a lesson he hoped they would never forget.  Congress authorized Jefferson to empower U.S. ships to seize all vessels and goods of the Pasha of Tripoli and to “cause to be done all other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war would justify.”

When Algiers and Tunis, which were both accustomed to American cowardice and acquiescence, saw the newly independent United States had both the will and the right to strike back, they quickly abandoned their allegiance to Tripoli. 

The war with Tripoli lasted for four more years and raged up again in 1815.  The presence and bravery of the U.S. Marine Corps in these wars led to the line “to the shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Hymn, and they would forever be known as “leathernecks” for the leather collars of their uniforms, designed to prevent their heads from being cut off by the Muslim scimitars when boarding enemy ships.

Islam, and what its Barbary followers justified doing in the name of Allah and the prophet, Mohammed, disturbed Jefferson quite deeply.  America had a tradition of religious tolerance.  Jefferson, himself, had co-authored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, but fundamentalist Islam was like no other religion the world had ever seen.  A supremacist religion, whose holy book not only condoned but mandated violence against unbelievers was unacceptable to him.  His greatest fear was that someday this brand of Islam would return and pose an even greater threat to the United States.

It should bother every American, that Muslims have brought about women-only classes and swimming times at taxpayer-funded universities and public pools; that Christians, Jews, and Hindus have been banned from serving on juries where Muslim defendants are being judged.  Piggy banks and Porky Pig tissue dispensers have been banned from workplaces because they offend Islamist sensibilities.   Ice cream has been discontinued at certain Burger King locations because the picture on the wrapper looks similar to the Arabic script for Allah.  Public schools are pulling pork from their menus, and on and on it goes.

It’s death by a thousand cuts, or inch-by-inch as some refer to it, and most Americans have no idea of their history.  This battle is being waged every day across America.  By not fighting back, by allowing groups to obfuscate what is really happening, and not insisting that the Islamists adapt to our own culture, the United States is cutting its own throat with a politically correct knife, and helping to further the Islamists agenda.  Sadly, it appears that today’s America would rather be politically correct than victorious.

For further information, Google Thomas Jefferson vs the Muslim World here.

Edited and commented by Ralph M. Petersen

Most of the above content was accumulated and composed by either Sean Rose or 
Floyd Farar- Cold War Era, US Navy veteran Floyd Farar but I can't tell which for sure.

There's A Rhino On The Bus! (an allegory)

There's a RHINO on the bus!
There's a RHINO on the bus?
I don't see all the fuss because

There's a RHINO on the bus.

Now you're trying to tell me

That he's sitting next to us?
I really think it's something

That we've all got to discuss.

I'm not the type of boy to

Stamp his feet and cuss.
But don't you people realize

by author/illustrator Brian Yanish

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Great Communicator Speaks About The Great Equalizer

“The gun has been called the great equalizer, meaning that a small person with a gun is equal to a large person, but it is a great equalizer in another way, too. It ensures that the people are the equal of their government whenever that government forgets that it is servant and not master of the governed. When the British forgot that they got a revolution. 

And, as a result, we Americans got a Constitution; a Constitution that, as those who wrote it were determined, would keep men free. If we give up part of that Constitution we give up part of our freedom and increase the chance that we will lose it all. I am not ready to take that risk. I believe that the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms must not be infringed if liberty in America is to survive.” —

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

If Your Pastor Is A Woman, You Don't Have A Pastor

It was 1969.  I was fresh out of school and newly married.  That’s when the announcement appeared in the newspaper; the Santa Ana Police Department was recruiting rookie officers.

I had ambitions for police work; I completed what police science and criminology classes were available at my school, as well as some classes in psychology and sociology so I was a little more qualified than most of the other applicants.

I appeared, at the appointed time, in front of the recruiting officers for my interview.  One of the first questions, they asked me was, “What is your height?”  And that was the end of my police career.

You see, the job qualifications required a minimum height of 5’ 9” and I was one-half inch short.  One stinkin’ half inch.  When I answered the question, the recruiting officer asked, “Why would you come down here and waste our time?  You knew what the height requirement is.”

Now it is not my intention to complain about the interview or the stupid qualifications; I simply want to use this story to illustrate a point.  In my lifetime, I have had several occasions to apply for employment and in every case, there have been written qualifications in the job publications.
Those qualifications usually divide into two categories – SHOULD haves and MUST haves.  In other words, there are some qualifications, attributes, skills, characteristics, or experiences that could be beneficial to you and your employer for success in your job.  And then there are others that are absolutely necessary or you will not be considered.

I am not a cop because I did not meet the qualifications.  That’s the way it is in the secular business world.  When the posting says, “Must have, shall have, or will have, that’s exactly what it means.  If you do not possess all the qualifications, you do not get the job.  Period!

So what is my point?   When it comes to calling a pastor, most churches aren’t even as cautious as the secular world and too many of them think they know better than God.

The calling of a pastor to a church is a high calling.  It is special; it is unique because it is a calling from God.  Scripture is clear; It is God who calls his shepherds.  He equips them for service and He assigns them to their respective ministries for the edification of His church.  It is not the prerogative of the sheep to choose the shepherd.  It is their responsibility to recognize the one whom God has sent.

How do we do that?  It’s not easy, but the very first things we ought to look at are the qualifications that God has provided in His Word.   God does not give us a bunch of negotiable qualities to consider; He gives us a short list of absolute, non-negotiable, qualifications.  They are listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and in Titus 1:5-9 and in both lists, they are MUST HAVE qualifiers. 

And God doesn’t give us the option to overlook some of them; a pastor MUST be qualified in all. 

If any man ever wonders if God is calling him to pastoral ministry, the first place he should look is in these two passages.  Years ago a friend of mine objected, “Just because I made a mistake when I was younger and divorced my first wife, does that mean that I am not qualified to serve God?” 

“Of course not,” I answered, “It just means that God is not calling you to a pastoral ministry.”

Your pastor may be a very fine man (or woman) but if he does not meet all of the qualifications, you can be sure that God did not call him, equip him, and send him to you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Final Authority: Is The Bible Really Enough?

We believe that the Bible is the final authority
in all matters of faith, and practice.

That is an interesting statement. In one form or another it appears in thousands of church statements of faith and doctrinal statements. It has been a foundational statement in every church in which I have been a member.

But that statement is a subtle, modern liberal attempt to limit the authority of scripture.  Even though many give tacit approval, the emphasis on Faith and Practice, deliberately omits matters of science, sociology, sexuality, politics, etc.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work with a few men to reworke our church's constitution. After considering that statement, we expanded it as follows:

His Word (is the church’s) supreme and only guide in all matters of membership, organization, purpose, faith, doctrine, order, ethics, morality, Christian living, and discipline.

I liked that.  For us, it was a declarative reminder that everything we did in our church should be established in and guided by the Word of God.  Unfortunately that statement on authority was soon relegated to the back of a file drawer somewhere and was soon forgotten. 

The reformers stated it differently – Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). But is that really enough? Do we need more? Do we need tradition or new revelation or experiences?

I don’t know who Tim Staples is, but I recently came across an article written by him titled, According To Scripture. In it, he denies and attempts to refute sola Scriptura as a biblical teaching. In his opening paragraphs he states:
"If a teaching isn’t explicit in the Bible, then we don’t accept it as doctrine!" That belief, commonly known as sola Scriptura, was a central component of all I believed as a Protestant. This bedrock Protestant teaching claims that Scripture alone is the sole rule of faith and morals for Christians. Diving deeper into its meaning to defend my Protestant faith against Catholicism about twenty years ago, I found that there was no uniform understanding of this teaching among Protestant pastors and no book I could read to get a better understanding of it.

What role does tradition play? How explicit does something have to be in Scripture before it can be called doctrine? Does Scripture tell us what is absolutely essential for us to believe as Christians? How can we determine the canon using sola Scriptura? All these questions and more pointed to the central question: Where is sola Scriptura itself taught in the Bible?

Most Protestants find it in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The fact is that this passage (or any other) does not even hint at Scripture being the sole rule of faith. It says that Scripture is inspired and necessary—a rule of faith—but in no way does it teach that Scripture alone is all one needs to determine the truth about faith and morals in the Church. My attempt to defend this bedrock teaching of Protestantism led me to conclude that sola Scriptura is unreasonable, unbiblical, and unworkable.
In his article, he continues to expand and defend that premise in detail if you care to read it.

Well, I am just a simple-minded, dumb, uneducated, theologically challenged Christian but I believe in sola Scriptura. And I don’t have a problem defending that. I will try to be clear and succinct.

I fully agree with Tim Staples that II Tim 3:16-17 is not sufficient to prop up “sola Scriptura.” But the real questions you need to answer are these - Do you believe that God means what He says and says what He means? Can You depend on Him for Truth? Do you believe His Word? If any of the answers are NO, then you are going to be really frustrated and messed up.

All of this settles in my mind on one very simple (or maybe one extremely profound and complicated) concept - Final Authority. God has spoken and His Word is the final authority. You can see that everywhere in Scripture when God speaks in absolute, unarguable, and authoritative terms like, “I Am the Lord,” “Thou shalt not,” and “The Word of the Lord came…”

In the garden, He said to Adam, “Do NOT eat of this tree or you will die. That sounds straight-forward and simple enough but then the serpent comes along and entices Eve into a discussion or dialogue about it. “Did God really say that? That doesn’t make logical sense. Surely He didn’t really mean that you would really die. The fruit looks so good and, after all, God created it; it can’t be that bad.”

Between the serpent and Eve, they reached a reasoned consensus based on their opinions but it wasn’t what God said.

Similarly, when He was tempted in the wilderness, Jesus spoke in the same authoritative manner. He didn’t attempt to argue or reason with Satan; He simply said, “It is written.”

There is a popular phrase that goes like this, “God said it; I believe it, and that settles it.” I would submit to you that, frankly, it doesn’t really matter one bit whether or not I believe it. The fact is, God said it and that settles it. His Word is the final authority and He often doesn’t take the time to explain it or try to convince us about truth. He just declares it.

So how does that play out practically in our lives? Here are a few random thoughts and I am sure, if you really want to, you can think of many more.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” That sounds pretty final. There is no other way. It really doesn’t matter if you think Him not to be fair or reasonable about that.

The Word of God declares, “There is none righteous; No not one.” and “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So it really makes no difference if some of us want to believe that, somehow, there may be some exception to “All” by means of some kind of immaculate conception or ages of accountability or untainted innocence or primitive ignorance. All means All.

On homosexuality, I have heard all kinds of arguments from people with different opinions about the same texts. But the Word of God is very clear; it is an abomination and a sin. Our opinions, objections, and arguments are irrelevant.

Is there a second chance after death? God’s Word says, “It is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment.” That fact doesn’t change simply because we all agree otherwise by consensus, that there must be some kind of holding tank where we can be purged of our sins and prayed into heaven by our relatives.

I really don’t have a problem with God’s Word being the “final authority.” My problem is disobedience and rebeliousness. God is God; I’m not and frankly, He doesn’t care how I feel about truth or whether I agree with Him. The bottom line is, “Thus saith the Lord.” You would be surprised at how simple the answers are when we stop trying to wrap our hearts and our heads around tough theological, psychological, or emotional questions and simply listen to the final, authoritive Word of God.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Do We Really Have Free Will?

Do you remember the movie, “Free Willy?” It’s a story about a captive Orca that was confined to a tank in a marine park. "Poor Willy" longed for freedom (at least that was the premise of the story line). At night he would cry out to his family in the bay outside the park. Finally Willy’s cries reached the ears of a young boy who felt and empathised with Willy's agony and found a way to free him from his captors.

Now that makes for a nice heart wrenching, touchy-feely, and sentimental story but the real-life star of the film, Keiko, the killer whale, rejected freedom and actually preferred captivity. Keiko died in 2003 but before his death, his caretakers wasted millions of dollars over a ten year period trying to free him. They took him out to sea more than 60 times in hopes that he would rejoin wild killer whale pods in his natural arctic habitat near Iceland. But every time they release him, Keiko came back to the familiarity of captivity.

People are like that too. I think it is ironic that the title of the movie, Free Willy, is so similar to the phrase, free will. We are in bondage and need to be liberated. God’s Word teaches that we are prisoners of sin and we cannot free ourselves; we need a Savior to come along, understand our need, and make a way for us to be free.

That is exactly what Jesus Christ did for us. He has opened the gate wide and put freedom easily within our reach. But, just like Keiko the killer whale, people actually reject the freedom God has offered because, in our sin nature, given a choice we will always choose to remain captive to sin.    Until God changes our nature, we cannot be set free.  And once that happens, then we truly have the free will to reject sin and obey God.

Jesus said to the people, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But they said, “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘set free’?”Jesus replied, “I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave of sin. But if I set you free, you will indeed be free” (paraphrased from John 8:31-36).
reposted from 11/07

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros, your hide looks all undone,

You do not take my fancy in the least;

You have a horn where other brutes have none;

Rhinoceros, you are an ugly beast.

Hilaire Belloc

Monday, February 2, 2015

I Am The Very Model Of A Biblical Philologist

A biblical- and ancient-Near-Eastern-studies–themed parody of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" from The Pirates of Penzance. Lyrics, musical arrangement, and vocals by Joshua Tyra, ⓒ 2011. Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan, original lyrics by William S. Gilbert.  Published on Dec 11, 2014

This one is really fun!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dr. Martin Luther King - Lying Liberal Lunatic Or Compassionate Christian Conservative? REDUX

A reporter once said, “When you make something a greeting card holiday, people forget the struggle and what you were striving for.” We have this holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so I decided to do a little research to gain a better understanding of the man and his mission.

I will agree with most of his admirers that he was a man of passion, dreams, and faith. But I have concluded that he was either a liar and a phony OR he was not the true militant champion that the lunatic left imagines. If he were still alive today, I doubt that he would find comfort or cronyism among the ungodly left in the Democrat party.  And it is almost certain that he would NOT be chumming with the likes of the phony reverend, Al Sharpton, and I seriously doubt that he would have been intimidating voters with the Black Panthers, standing on the hood of a car yelling "burn it down," or marching in a mob calling for dead cops "now." 

Why do I think that? It is because of his own words. Here are some of his challenges and instructions for the black youths of his day and they are timeless, noteworthy principles that are consistent with Christian philosophy and conservative ideology and they deserve universal attention:

  • Character is more important than skin color. Common humanity, rather than race, should be the basis for relationships.
  • Reason without morality is dangerous. Intelligence plus character is the goal of true education.
  • Do your life's work as if God called you to it. And, no matter how small the job, do it with a sense of responsibility. If it falls your lot to sweep streets, sweep them like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music.
  • Love is creative and redemptive and is absolutely necessary for the survival of our civilization. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. Redemptive goodwill for one's enemies is the solution to race problems.
  • Bigots are everywhere. Some individuals must have the courage and moral strength to remain in their communities, no matter how bad they are, and seek to lift them to new levels of creative living.
  • Maintain your moral standards. A person who will stop dating you because you refuse to engage in a sexual act is a person who is not genuinely interested in you, and would make an undesirable mate.
  • It is wrong to be unjust, dishonest or hateful. We have moved from the theory of “survival of the fittest” to a theory of “survival of the slickest.” Everybody is busy obeying the 11th commandment -- "Do not get caught."
  • Humanism is another attempt to make God irrelevant. Without God, efforts turn to ashes and sunrises into darkest night. Christianity affirms a real, loving Father who works through history for the salvation of His children. Man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of all things and humanity is not God.
  • Our capacity to deal with shattered dreams is ultimately determined by our faith in God. Genuine faith sees that, beyond time is God and beyond life is eternity. However dismal the present circumstances, we are not alone, for God dwells with us. Through Jesus Christ, God has taken the sting from death by freeing us from its dominion. Our earthly life is a prelude to a glorious new awakening, and death is an open door that leads us into life eternal.
Can anyone really imagine those kinds of words or challenges emanating today from the mouths of any of the racist, self-appointed spokesholes for the American black culture such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, rev. Wright, or ever Barack Obama? I think Dr. King would probably be much more comfortable in the company of great Americans like Justice Clarence Thomas, Dr. Walter Williams, Tim Scott, Ben Carson,, Rep. J. C. Watts Jr., and Major Allen West.

After realizing great victories in his work for civil rights, Dr. King anticipated that there were still difficult days ahead. “I would like to live a long life but I'm not concerned with that. I am not worried about anything. I fear no man. I just want to do God's will.”

Columnist Clarence Page once noted that, although King was a man of peace, almost anywhere in America where his name is now memorialized, some kind of violence or racial hatred is associated with it. He lamented, “How sadly we have protected Dr. King’s legacy. Our keeping of his name has fallen far short of his dream.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

I Don't Need A Thousand Tongues; I Don't Praise God Enough With The One I Have

Charles Wesley wrote O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing in 1739 to commemorate the first anniversary of his conversion to Christ.

The title comes from the seventh verse (which has been moved to the first verse in modern hymn books).  It is believed that the inspiration for this verse came from his friend, Peter Bohler, who once said to him, “Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Him with them all.”

Like most hymnbooks, ours has five verses.  Many Methodist books show seven and a few books contain ten verses.  But the original hymn had 18.  Most of the verses have been omitted because the hymn is just too long for most hymn singing.  A couple verses (12 and 17) were eliminated because of pressure from the political correctness crowd.

The exact order of the verses as originally written is uncertain but the order here is consistent with many sources:  

In the first part of the hymn, Wesley employs two verses (1 and 7) of Praise and Glory to God as parentheses around his personal testimony (vss. 2-6) of faith in his Savior.  

Verse eight is a prayer for assistance to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ to the world.  Then in verses 9-11, he expounds on the power of that name.

And then, in verses 12-17, he makes a general appeal to the lost world to turn from sin to Christ.  He closes with words of assurance in this life and the promise of our eternal hope.

1.         Glory to God, and praise and love
                    be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
        the church in earth and heaven.

2.         On this glad day the glorious Sun
                    of Righteousness arose;
            On my benighted soul He shone
                    and filled it with repose.

3.         Sudden expired the legal strife,
                   ’twas then I ceased to grieve;
            My second, real, living life
                    I then began to live.

4.         Then with my heart I first believed,
                    believed with faith divine,
            Power with the Holy Ghost received
                    to call the Savior mine.

5.         I felt my Lord’s atoning blood
                   close to my soul applied;
            Me, me He loved, the Son of God,
                   for me, for me He died!

6.         I found and owned His promise true,
                   ascertained of my part,
            My pardon passed in heaven, I knew,
                  when written on my heart.

7.        O for a thousand tongues to sing
                   my great Redeemer’s praise,
        The glories of my God and King,
                  the triumphs of his grace!

8.         My gracious Master and my God,
                  assist me to proclaim;
            To spread through all the earth abroad
                  the honors of Thy name.

9.         Jesus! The name that charms our fears,
                  that bids our sorrows cease;
            ‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
                  ‘tis life, and health, and peace.

10.       He breaks the power of canceled sin,
                   He sets the prisoner free;
            His blood can make the foulest clean,
                   His blood availed for me.

11.       He speaks, and, listening to his voice,
                  new life the dead receive,
            The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
                  the humble poor believe.

12.       Hear Him, ye deaf, His praise, ye dumb,
                  your loosened tongues employ;
            Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
                  and leap, ye lame, for joy.

13.       Look unto Him, ye nations, own
                  your God, ye fallen race;
            Look, and be saved through faith alone,
                  be justified by grace.

14.       See all your sins on Jesus laid: 
                 The Lamb of God was slain.
His soul was once an offering made
     for every soul of man.

15.       Harlots and publicans and thieves
                 in holy triumph join!
            Saved, is the sinner that believes,
                 from crimes as great as mine.

16.       Murderers, and all ye hellish crew;
                 ye sons of lust and pride,
            Believe the Savior died for you;
                 for me the Savior died.

17.       Awake from guilty nature’s sleep,
                 and Christ shall give you light.
            Cast all your sins into the deep
                 and wash the Æthiop white.

18.       In Christ, your head, ye then shall know,
                 shall feel your sins forgiven;
            Anticipate your heaven below,
                 and own that love in heaven.

This is a great hymn for doctrine, worship, and edification and, even though we never sing all eighteen verses,  it is worthy of occasional reading through in its entirety.





Thursday, January 15, 2015

Every Jot and Tittle

I was reading in Jeremiah 20 this morning when I noticed this strange language construction:

“The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.”  Jer. 23:20

Notice the auxiliary verb, HAVE used two times in this verse. 

The rule for using has vs. have depends on the personal pronoun that precedes it.  For pronouns in the first person (I and we) and some in the second person  (you, and they), use have.  If the pronoun is in the third person singular (he, she, or it), use has.

So why is that a big deal?  Well I dunno.  I’m not an expert on grammar and I know absolutely NOTHING about the Hebrew language or how this might read in the original text.  But it seems to me that the translators must have been smarter and more careful than me (or is it I?) and they probably took great pains to translate it accurately.  
It has been noted that there are many, many references, in every book of the Bible, to the tri-unity of God.  Could this be one of them?  Think about it.  The reference is to God.  The pronoun is singular (He).  God is one god.  However, the auxiliary verb used (have) indicates a plural subject (a tri-unity), the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Since God is one god in three persons, it seems that the language is accurate; He (The One and only God) shall not return until He (the Father, Son, and Spirit) HAVE executed and performed the thoughts of His heart.”