Days of Change: Blasted Perspective on the Election

I woke up this morning and the first thing I notice was the sun came up, just like yesterday.  It was not brighter, nor was it dimmer.  It did not go into hiding or start to revolve in an entirely new way.  It did exactly what it was created to do, rise and shine.  While last night’s election certainly brought change, a newly elected president, Indiana being won by a democrat for the first time in my lifetime, the first African-American to be president, and new moral positions (his view on abortion is as liberal and anti-biblical as we have ever been under), my purpose and function today is the same.  In fact for Christians, just as God is the same yesterday, today and forever, our purpose and function should be the same yesterday, today, and forever:  To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  While a new administration may offer new and different avenues to do this, my existence and outlook is not shaken or changed.  I, like the sun, am to do what I was created to do, rise and shine.  I am to get up, go about the tasks that God has called me to do and shine for his glory and enjoy Him.

Christians, do not be overcome and discouraged today.  Christ sure victory over sin and death is as secure today as it was yesterday or in the 1950’s or in the 1800’s.  If anything let your zeal be inspired and increased.   First, we are reassured there are many who need Christ.  Second, God’s plans have not been thwarted, His kingdom will endure, He is at discouraged or stressed today for He knows what is to come so neither should we His children be discouraged or stressed today.  Go out and do His work, for it will be victorious!  As sure as the sun is rose, the Son reigns.

A few other observations:

  • A record number of voters showed up to voice their opinions yesterday.  This election may be the best barometer during my lifetime of where my neighbors and fellow country men stand, of what is important to them and what is not.  Let this motivate us as Christians to realize how greatly our neighbors and country need to hear about and see the radical transforming power of Christ.
  • The economy, by in large, drove this election.  Even among professing evangelicals this vote had to do primarily with their pocketbook and treasures here on earth (even for many who did not vote for President Elect Obama).  Abortion and morality were little talked about and of little concern to the majority.  This again shows the need of Christ, because money is ahead of morality.  It also ought to be a gut check for all of us:  are we laying up treasures here on earth or in heaven?

Why is Tuesday Election Day?

Why do we vote on Tuesdays? Why not Monday, Saturday and/or Sunday? Yahoo gives us the answer.  First, there is a reason we vote in November:

The short answer: We used to be a nation of farmers.

The long answer: Congress chose November because the harvest was over and the weather wouldn’t be bad enough to prevent people from traveling.

Second, there is a good reason why we vote on Tuesday. It has everything to do with Church and the Lord’s Day:

As for Tuesday, people used to have to travel overnight to their polling location. (In 1845, horse was the preferred method of transport.) In an effort to avoid religious days of rest, Congress chose Tuesday, leaving Monday and Wednesday as travel days. Tuesday was voting (and horse-resting) day.

It seems we have moved a long way from where we started, as a society and as the western evangelical church. Not only did the church used have great respect for the Christian Sabbath 150 years ago, but so did the government!

Blasted Politics

This is not a political blog and I have no intent on it becoming one.  My intent is not to set one party against the other, but to put forth some helpful article that will cause us as Christians to think biblically about what is going on and what is at stake.

As Americans politics play into our lives and religion.  We have rights and responsibilities.  John Piper wrote a helpful article that I believe will challenge us to exercise our right to vote and help us as Christians to keep this upcoming election in perspective with God’s Word.

Voting is like marrying and crying and laughing and buying. We should do it, but only as if we were not doing it. That’s because “the present form of this world is passing away” and, in God’s eyes, “the time has grown very short.” Here’s the way Paul puts it:

The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

It is important that we, as Christians, do not forget about the moral issues at stake in the upcoming election.   Randy Alcorn has a thought provoking article on whether or not Abortion should still be an issue Christians keep as a priority when voting.

Every Christian should take these teachings seriously. Is the unborn an innocent human being? If you claim to be prolife in the historical meaning of the word, then your answer is yes. Is abortion the shedding of innocent blood, the taking of human life created in the image of God? If you say you are prolife, your answer must be yes. (Please do not redefine the meaning of the word prolife and say “I’m prolife” if you’re really not.)

So, is the candidate’s stand on the issue of shedding innocent blood important enough to disqualify him as a candidate? Yes. While a single issue can’t qualify a candidate, it can disqualify him.

He also links a video that is graphic but is helpful in understanding how much life is in an unborn baby and how many are being destroyed/killed.

Jesus was not a Financial Adviser

Over the next few weeks I hope to write a few articles on lessons I have been learning about who Christ is and what his earthly ministry was like.  With the great economic crisis going on around us my thoughts have been drawn to biblical principles and philosophies dealing with our money.  So I will begin there.

Most approaches to finance, even those of leading Christian financial gurus, are not the full biblical perspective on finance, nor do they match Christ’s.  It is not that what they say is all wrong or has not biblical basis, or even that it will not help, but rather that it leaves one too focused, and often wrongly focused, on money and finance.  Some of them may be great help for individuals in certain areas of finance, such as getting one out of debt, or learning to use a budget.  However, we must be careful to then go back to scripture and incorporate a holistic biblical approach.  Christ did not come to earth teaching the American dream, nor did he live it.  Christ did not own a home, make great earthly investments, have wonderful strategies to help with taxes, or have 2 months salary set aside (I am not suggesting we be unwise in these areas).  Money was not what he lived for or gave himself to be greatly concerned about.  He lived dependent, not self reliant.  Chiefly, he was dependent upon his Father in heaven, but secondarily he was dependent upon his followers.

The reason even many Christian financial advisers do not give the whole picture is because Jesus approach to money does not market well:  Your money is not yours, 10% is to be given to God.  Don’t give God the 10% at the end, but your first fruits.  The other 90% is still God’s, but he wants you to use it.  Don’t use it to lay up treasures here on earth, use it to be generous, to bring God glory!  The amazing thing is, the more you know of Christ, the more you will desire to live this way as a response to grace.

Tim Keller calls a true biblical view of economics and finance one that demonstrates “unreasonable and unaccountable generosity.”    His sermon “Grace and Money” may be the best sermon I have ever heard on a biblical view of finance.  Please listen to it carefully.  It very well may be life altering for many, even those that have thought they have been following “biblical” financial advice.   It is a timely message in light of our financial crisis.  If we can but learn to look at money this way, our Christian response will be a light to the world during this time.

Abortion and Generation Next

 As Senator Hilary Clinton come to town to campaign in the historic Wigwam, it brings to mind the upcoming election.  While choosing a candidate may be difficult in this election, Russ Moore recently called attention to a shift in young evangelicals concern about the issue of Abortion.  He called it Fetus Fatigue and quoted from a philosopher by the name of Douglas Groothuis.

Groothuis writes:

“It appears that millions of evangelicals, especially younger ones, are experiencing fetus fatigue. They are tired of the abortion issue taking center stage; it is time to move on to newer, hipper things–the sort of issues that excite Bono: aid to Africa, the environment, and cool tattoos. Abortion has been legal since they were born; it is the old guard that gets exercised about millions of abortions over the years. So, let’s not worry that Barak Obama and Hillary are pro-choice. That is a secondary issue. After all, neither could do that much damage regarding this issue.

“Evangelicals (if that word has any meaning), for God’s sake, please wake up and remember the acres of tiny corpses you cannot see. Yes, the Christian social vision is holistic. We should endeavor to restore shalom to this beleaguered planet. That includes helping Africa, preserving the environment, and much more. However, the leading domestic moral issue remains the value of helpless human life. Since Roe v. Wade, approximately 50 million unborn humans have been killed through abortion. Stalin said, ‘One death is a tragedy. A million dead is a statistic.’ Too many are now Stalinists on abortion. The numbers mean nothing, apparently.

On This Day In Sports

Brett Favre retired, again, but this time it seems for real.  There are fewer and fewer players left in the league that are still older than I.  Check one more off that list.  I loved to watch this gun-slinger, but those days are now over.

18 years ago today Hank Gathers collapsed on a basketball court and died of heart related problems.  He was playing college basketball for Loyola Marymount University and was trying to help his team to a Conference Tournament Championship and a run at an NCAA Championship.  In honor of Hank, his best friend shot free throws left handed in the NCAA Tournament.

On sports radio today, Todd Leary, a former IU player and now color commentator on the radio for IU Basketball, recounted a story of his playing days.  He was asked about the differences in basketball at IU now, versus under Bob Knight.  There was one game he had made several turn overs and Bob Knight called him over during the game and told him to hand the defender the basketball.  He did it!  Bob Knight told him that possession was not any different than the previous two.  Leary said that he does not think any of IU’s players would do that anymore, probably not anyone in college basketball.  He suggested that players don’t listen to coaches like they used to.   I thought it was telling of the shift in authority as a culture as well.

Judge not lest ye be judged

I have heard this is the most quoted verse in the Bible in our day and age, and yet one often misunderstood. Many use it to suggest that we are not to show discernment or make determinations about what is right or wrong. Today if we call something sin for which one must be held accountable for , we are often quoted this verse from Matthew 7 and Luke 6. In the context of Matthew 7 and the sermon on the mount we must conclude that this verse is not instructing Christians to stop determining what is right or wrong, nor about being discerning. However, it does call into question the manner in which we carry ourselves and treat others. Enter Dan Burton and the Roger Clemen’s trial:

Congressman Dan Burton, asking former trainer Brian McNamee “That’s a lie, right?” after reading his statement. And that’s not all, Dan Burton was on McNamee’s case throughout his testimony, saying things like “You’re here as a sworn witness yet we have lie after lie after lie. I don’t know what to believe. I know one thing I don’t believe. That’s you!” and “Roger Clemens is a baseball titan, and with all these lies, you have destroyed him and his reputation. How can we believe you? This kind of circus really bothers me.” Naturally, the comments made by Rep. Dan Burton are making headlines.

All in all, what Congressman Dan Burton said may be true. McNamee has lied and is not the most believable person in the world. However, it has brought up all kinds of discussion this morning on the news and radio today, and these hosts are now googling the name ‘Dan Burton’ and digging up his questionable past. Yesterday he stood up in a condemning manner against Mr. McNamee. His tone was harsh and his words were sharp. Today he is being given little grace in the media’s scrutiny of his life.

This is exactly what the passages in Matthew and Luke tell us will happen. If we are harsh with others, then there will be a harsh standard by which we will be judged. If we are quick to expose everyone else’s faults, others will be quick to expose our faults. As Christians we are to be discerning and concerned about what is right and wrong, but we must also be forgiving and gracious in our speech and actions. If we have been forgiven much, we should forgive much in others. If we have been loved when sinners, we should show love to those who are in sin. If we have been considered righteousnot because of our own works but because of Christ’s, surely we should not be self-righteous and look at others splinters while the planks of our own life/sin are still easily seen.

Irony: Life is Short

This morning there was an article on Yahoo that stated:

New research in the U.S has suggested living to one hundred could be a lot easier than imagined. University of Rochester researchers have has suggested that even people who develop heart disease or diabetes late in life are still able to reach the century mark. More than 500 women and 200 men who had reached one hundred were assessed for the project, which found roughly two-thirds had avoided significant age-related ailments.

That article replaced one of yesterdays lead articles and one of the saddest stories I have read in awhile.

It was the first dance of a marriage that was not to be. Kim Sjostrom and Teddy Efkarpides had been married for less than an hour on January 19 when the bride crumpled in her husband’s arms during a rendition of a Greek song that means simply “love me”. At 36, Ms Sjostrom was dead from heart disease.

And yesterday there was another life nearly ended “early” in the hockey world (don’t play this if blood bothers you).

None of us know the number of our days. However, God does and intends for us to live them for His glory. Seize the day in this way. In the words of John Piper, “don’t waste your life away.” In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan gives us a wonderful contrast of how true believers seizing the day versus what men often do. Christians and Hopeful met up with a Mr. ByEnds. He was a fair weather Christian who pursued his own interests above the kingdom of God. Mr. Byends parted ways with them and described (Mr. Byends considers all of this a negative) Christian and Hopeful as different from him in a glorious way:

Why, in their belligerent manner they (Christian and Hopeful) conclude it’s their duty to rush on their journey in all kinds of weather, and I’m waiting for the proper wind and tide. They’re in favor of hazarding everything for God at any moment, and I’m in favor taking all advantages to secure my life and estate. They’re in favor of holding their notions even though all other men are against them, but I’m in favor of religion in what and for as far as the times and my safety will sustain it. They’re in favor or Religion when in rags and contempt, but I’m in favor of him when we walks in his golden slippers in the sunshine and with applause.

Biblical View of Cold Weather

As the midwest braces for an artic blast, John Piper draws our attention to Psalm 147.

He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow

The Golden Compass Navigated

For those wondering how to handle the upcoming fantasy triology, The Golden Compass, Dr. Mohler has written a helpful review and commentary on the film and it’s author. His insight is educated (like Dr. Mohler would be anything but), balanced, and applicational. Here a few blips from his review:

First of all, The Golden Compass is an extremely attractive movie. Like the book on which it is based, the movie is a very sophisticated story that is very well told. The casting was excellent. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig (the latest James Bond actor) are joined by others including Sam Elliott and newcomer Dakota Blue Richards, who plays the central role of 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua. Kidman is chilling as the beautiful but evil Marisa Coulter and Craig is perfect as Lord Asriel. Actor Ian McKellen (Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) is the voice of Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear.

The movie is very well done and will be very attractive to audiences of all ages. The special effects are superior to any previous movie of the type, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy (also released by New Line Cinema). Everything is in place for this to be a blockbuster at the box office.

If you stop reading right there, then one would run out and watch with no reservation. However, the basis for the movie should make one hesitate:

This is not just any fantasy trilogy or film project. Philip Pullman has an agenda — an agenda about as subtle as an army tank. His agenda is nothing less than to expose what he believes is the tyranny of the Christian faith and the Christian church. His hatred of the biblical storyline is clear. He is an atheist whose most important literary project is intended to offer a moral narrative that will reverse the biblical account of the fall and provide a liberating mythology for a new secular age….

Pullman’s attack on biblical Christianity is direct and undeniable. He once questioned why his books attracted little controversy even as the Harry Potter books attracted so much. He told an Australian newspaper that what he is “saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.”

Mohler goes on to demonstrate that Pullman is not subtle in his views.

In the last volume of the trilogy, a character known as Dr. Mary Malone explains her discovery to Lyra and Will: “I used to be a nun, you see. I thought physics could be done to the glory of God, till I saw there wasn’t any God at all and that physics was more interesting anyway. The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.”

This is not an isolated incident in Pullman’s books either, the entire intent appears to be a reversing of a Christian worldview. So what is the Christian response?

A good first step would be to take a deep breath. The Christian faith is not about to be toppled by a film, nor by a series of fantasy books. Pullman has an agenda that is clear, and Christians need to inform themselves of what this agenda is and what it means. At the same time, nothing would serve his agenda better than to have Christians speaking recklessly or unintelligently about the film or the books….

I can only wonder how many parents and grandparents will allow children and young people to see the movie and then buy them the books — blissfully unaware of what is coming in books two and three.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has enemies; this we know. Christian parents must be informed about His Dark Materials and inform others. We must take the responsibility to use interest in this film to teach our own children to think biblically and to be discerning in their engagement with the media in all forms. We should arm our children to be able to talk about this project with their classmates without fear or rancor.

Philip Pullman has an agenda, but so do we. Our agenda is the Gospel of Christ — a message infinitely more powerful than that of The Golden Compass.

Hopefully now you are better informed.