May 2009 - Posts
Memorial Day weekend was a busy one for the Napalm family as we exercised our freedoms. We have the freedom to own property and used it to plant a garden and install a ice maker line. We have the freedom of mobility and used it to plant flags in a local veterans' cemetery, attend baseball practice and an ice cream social. And we have the freedom to worship freely according to our consciences and did so on Sunday. Those freedoms are God-given and we still live in a nation that protects us from the tyranny that wants to take them away.
All weekend, I saw salute after salute to veterans. A PBS special on Sunday evening chronicled the life of a wounded warrior. I hear President Obama gave an address on Memorial Day honoring our veterans. He encouraged us to send care packages overseas and even had the nerve to say that "we have failed to give them [veterans] the support they need or pay them the respect they deserve." Regardless, Memorial Day on the news and radio was about the veterans.
While I think that honoring living veterans is noble and shouldn't be relegated to one day, Veterans Day, the fact remains that nearly everyone got it wrong. Memorial Day is a day to remember those who paid the ultimate price by giving their lives in defense of the liberties I mentioned above. Memorial Day is a day set aside to consider the losses of wars. It is a day to consider what it is like for a mother or wife to lose a son or husband. It is a day of remembrance and a day or reflection. A day of mourning -- fly the flag at half staff until noon -- and a day to exercise the secured freedoms -- fly the flag at full staff and celebrate with family and friends.
And this morning, I finally found someone who got it right. Are they the only to get it right? Probably not. I'm sure there are others. But so many got it wrong, that this was such a relief. It's a day late, but here you go: "Memorial Day 2009".
"For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (Romans 13:1)
Several months back I was asked to look into Psalm 2 due to the assumption that this chapter might some how conflict with my antinomianist, humanistic and somewhat Arminianist world view- especially when it comes to the governing of nations. (For the record, I do not see myself as any of these labels, and if you do not know what they mean, don't bother looking them up; just take my word.) So let us not ruin this beautiful passage with man-made theological hog-wash.
I began this post by quoting Paul on the institutions of authority. God has been, still is, and will always be in complete control. Futhermore, God establishes all authority - good and evil, near and far, secular and eccleasiastical. To Elijah, the LORD says, "You shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place." (1 Kings 19:15-16) Through Elijah, God chose the king of His people's enemy, the king of His people, and the prophet of His People.
So the psalmist asks: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?" For if God established the authorities, should they not rejoice and be thankful that they were chosen? Instead, they rage and plot. The answer to why is found in God's response to the Prince of Tyre: "Because your heart is proud, and you have said, 'I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,' yet you are but a man, and no god, though you make your heart like the heart of a god." (Ezekiel 28:2) But like father, like son; for the king of Tyre who was "in Eden, the garden of God, ... anointed guardian cherub," and placed by God "on the holy mountain of God," was proud in his heart (Eze. 28), and his son, the prince, has followed the path of his father, the king. Reminds me of Jesus' comments in John 8:44.
"The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed." This gathering together cannot be shown better than the union of Herod and Pilate, who "became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other." (Luke 23:12) The early believers later recalled how two authorities could "gather together against [God's] holy servant Jesus, whom [God] anointed." (Acts 4:27) But not only Herod and Pilate were brought together against God's Messiah (i.e., Christ or Anointed One), but also "the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel."
These governing authorities in their pride cry out, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us." In other words, they long to rebel from the one who placed them in authority to begin with. God is the master; "he removes kings and sets up kings." (Dan. 2:21) All authorities are his servants. In ignorance they wish to be unbounded from him, in pride they wish to plot against him.
You know, it really pains me to see Ameica going the way of large debt and moving control from states and individuals to the federal government. It was never intended to be that way, but it's what the people want and it's what they're getting -- soft tyranny.
I'm reading a magnificent book by radio star Mark Levin titled Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. In one chapter he defends free markets with their ability to self-adjust in times of recession or depression. And he shows evidence that during President Franklin Roosevelt's administration most Americans lost faith in free markets because his New Deal artificially propped up prices and salaries which extended the Great Depression by as much as seven years. If left alone, some financial analysts have deduced that the lower prices and lower salaries would have caused a self-adjustment that would have remedied the Depression in three years.
So far the most eye-opening statement in the chapter is a quote from a diary entry by Roosevelt's Treasury Secretary. And in light of the never-before-seen spending and printing of money that is currently taking place under the Obama administration (and, admittedly, some of it began under Pres. Bush), I feel it necessary by due diligence to share it with you guys.
In May 1939, when the country was experiencing unprecedented unemployment and when the president declared that "one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished," Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau wrote in his diary, “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and now if I am wrong somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosper. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And enormous debt to boot.”
The unemployment rate did not reach pre-Depression rates until 1941 -- the start of World War II.
The trees once went out to elect a president over them, and they said to the olive tree, "Reign over us." But the olive tree said to them, "Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?"
And the trees said to the fig tree, "You come and reign over us." But the fig tree said to them, "Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?"
And the trees said to the vine, "You come and reign over us." But the vine said to them, "Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?"
Then all the trees said to the bramble, "You come and reign over us." And the bramble said to the trees, "If in good faith you are electing me president over you, then come and take refuge in my shade." But, if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the Sequoia of California.
(based on Judges 9)
Listen, I rant occasionally on here about some random stuff. And most of the time the rant is an outlet for disgust or anger of things that are completely out of your control. But, today, allow me a moment to rant about something that most of you can fix: Moving about during prayer.
For years, I've noticed in worship services that prayer time is considered an opportunity for some to shuffle about and set up or get into place before the next item in the order of worship. Maybe it doesn't happen at your church. If so, I'm glad to hear about it. But it happens elsewhere.
You see, during worship, things take place on a stage or an elevated platform. And every church that I've been to doesn't have a curtain so I believe it is either expected of the participants in worship to move during prayers or we just assume that it's alright. OK, so you're not understanding what I'm saying. Here's an example: In the worship service, maybe the offering is to be taken. The deacons or ushers or whoever comes down to pass the plates. Before the offering is taken, you're asked to bow in prayer. After the prayer, you open your eyes to find things have changed. If it's a big church with a big budget, maybe the lights have dimmed. Maybe the accompanyists have moved or have moved sheet music. Or maybe a soloist or group has taken the platform to sing. If anything, I've noticed it's worse in churches that televise their services.
This is just an example. I could keep going. And, look, I've been guilty of it. It's just that today, I realized how crazy it is. We're in corporate prayer to our Father in Heaven and it's nothing more than time for the stage hands to move furniture to set up the next ... what? act?
What if, as a church, we said that prayer time is a time when we encourage everyone -- everyone -- to show a little decorum and pause, bow our heads humbly and talk to God or to listen as the one praying intercedes? Sure, you may be inconvenienced a bit with some uncomfortable silence after the prayer as the worship participants prepare for the next item in the order of worship. But, ultimately, I don't think anyone would mind if it was communicated that that is how we do things.
Prayer time is not curtain closed time. Prayer time is communication time. That's it. I'm done.
Update: A friend who is not a member of Steeple Media asked if I had heard of "prayer walking." His argument, I believe, was that people can multitask. In other words, you can walk and talk to God and chew bubblegum.
My response: Are you kidding me? When -- in your entire life experiences -- have you ever noticed that someone who flipped pages in a book, typed on a computer or used a lighting or sound console was able to carry on an intelligent conversation? Except for my wife's incredible ability to talk on the phone, play solitaire (and spider solitaire, to boot) and notice that the toddler has quietly left the room, no one ever -- ever -- has been able to communicate intelligently while multitasking. "Sorry, God. I know it's worship time, but I'm busy with something else right now. You'll either have to wait or accept the fact that I'll have to talk while I'm tinkering ...."
"An Interview with Os Guinness on the 25th Anniversary of Francis Schaeffer's Death" at Between Two Worlds via Heidelblog....
(Joe note: I was interested that the only "cautionary lesson" about Schaeffer noted by Dr. Guinness is that he "was not a scholar and he relied too much on reading magazines." Interesting.)
A reader emailed me the other day to share his disappointment about my silence on the Miss USA competition. Remember how Miss California, Carrie Prejean, was questioned about gay marriage, supposedly lost the contest because of her answer and then was snubbed after the competition by that nutcase celebrity blogger? Admit it. You remember. And you probably got caught up in the emotion.
The reason I was silent about the whole thing is because I couldn't care less. But, for the sake of your mental health and in an attempt to talk you away from the edge of the cliff, I'll give you this:
Miss North Carolina, the winner, was better looking.
Miss California talked about her family values but failed to tell us how she reconciles them with prancing around in a bikini and breast implants on national television.
No matter how inflamed people get, marriage is between a man and a woman. That's not my opinion. It's just fact like the sky being blue.
Why weren't the contestants given real world questions? I mean, if I were on the panel, I would pull from my experiences and ask something like this: "You have three kids. One is in Boy Scouts, one plays baseball and the other is in dance. Your husband is at work until 6 PM, but the kids all have to be in their assigned places by 5:30. Your parents are out of town and your husband's parents are busy. So, the question is: What do you prepare for dinner?"
"In my country and in my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman - no offense to anyone out there...." This is not a biblically correct answer as Ms. Prejean argues. It's too passive. The Bible is explicitly clear that a man leaves his parents and unites to his wife (Genesis 2) and that sexual immorality is unwaveringly detested by God (multiple verses).
Peggy Noonan is still my right wing pin-up.
Nude photos of Ms. Prejean have surfaced
(link has no nudity and no links to nudity), yet Miss California vows to continue the fight against immorality.
I don't know if you recall this or not, but back in June of 2008 I blogged about a young lady who was pregnant and in prison. It seems she is at it again. So, question: How does one help in a situation like this?
I've heard the conspiracy theories about the swine influenza virus. I've heard that it was manufactured. I've heard that it was planted in Mexico by America haters. And I don't believe any. If anything, the swine flu has been a wonderful distraction from the complete remanufacture of the United States government and destruction of capitalism.
I mean, we dumped billions of dollars in Chrysler with the expectation that the government was the only one who could revive them. But, as we saw yesterday, Chrysler filed bankruptcy and the Obama administration failed in one sense and won in another. First, they failed to revive an automaker and another may fall. But, second, and more important to liberty-loving people, Obama has won by making the government part owner of the nation's bank and giving ownership of GM to the UAW workers.
All of this is completely foreign to America. But, hey, we have a nice distraction in the swine flu -- which, to date, has killed only one -- so we don't care. Do we?
About three weeks ago, I added the Heidelblog to my Google Reader. The author, R. Scott Clark, is Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California. While I find it interesting to watch him go through the contortions* of defending some basics of the Reformed faith, he writes with passion and love of Jesus and the church. Our common ground is sola Scriptura, sola fide, disdain for theocracy and affection for our Christian tradition, just to name a few.
* One thing I find especially entertaining is the ongoing argument about children at the Lord's Table. That is one area where the Paedobaptist Covenantalism, I believe, falls apart. I mean, if everyone who is baptized is under the covenant why would you deny them access to the Lord's Table? Ultimately, I don't have a dog in the fight because I believe the normative of Scripture teaches baptism of the believer, but I just wanted to give an example of the "contortions" mentioned above.