Thursday, May 31, 2007


A NASA administrator makes good sense of global warning. Michael Griffin says ""I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change," Griffin said. "I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take." (Note to Al Gore)

Hat tip to Centurion.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I've been thinking some about gender and roles in the church. Here is a thought from John Stott that is a good place to start:

"Gender, Sexuality, Marriage and Divorce 885. Equal beneficiaries It is essential to begin at the beginning, namely with the first chapter of Genesis: Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.' (1:26-28).

If we put together the divine resolve ('Let us make man ... and let them rule ...'), the divine creation ('So God created ...') and the divine blessing ('Be fruitful ... fill the earth and subdue it ...'), we see that the emphasis seems to be on three fundamental truths about human beings, namely the God made (and makes) them in his own image, that he made (and makes) them male and female, giving them the joyful task of reproducing, and that he gave (and gives) them dominion over the earth and its creatures.

Thus from the beginning 'man' was 'male and female', and men and women were equal beneficiaries both of the divine image and of the earthly rule. There is no suggestion in the text that either sex is more like God than the other, or that either sex is more responsible for the earth than the other. No. Their resemblance to God and their stewardship of his earth (which must not be confused, although they are closely related) were from the beginning shared equally, since both sexes were equally created by God and like God."

John Stott, "Issues Facing Christians Today" (London: Collins/Marshall Pickering, 1990), p. 257.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Galatians 2

2:1-2 Paul Accepted by the Apostles

2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.

The 14 years is probably 14 years since his salvation. Paul went to Jerusalem with Barnabas. Some think this may be the trip recorded in Acts 15. Acts 15:2 says that Paul and Barnabas and others went to Jerusalem to speak to the apostles about the issue of whether Gentile believers had to obey the Jewish law. The following verses in Galatians 2 show that issue was at hand in this visit. The part that does not fit is that Paul said he went up by revelation.

There is another visit recorded in Acts 11, where Paul and other deliver an offering from Antioch to ease the suffering of the Jerusalem church in the famine. The revelation might be that of Agabus, who, in Acts 11:28, that there would be a great famine. That vision was the reason the church in Antioch sent the offering to Jerusalem.

Of course, it could be another visit that Luke did not record in Act. He may not have even known of it.

Regardless, Paul went to them and shared the gospel he had been preaching. That gospel is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-3. By his other statements, it is clear Paul did not need their approval. But, he wanted to avoid any schism between Jew and Gentile believers and different church leaders. But, by telling the Galatian readers this, he showed them there is no difference between his preaching and that of the other apostles. It was the same gospel believed by and taught in the Jerusalem church.

2:3-6 Standing For The Gospel

3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.

Paul had brought a Gentile believer with him, Titus. The apostles did not force him to be circumcised even though he was a Greek. So, Paul is saying to the Galatians, I brought and uncircumcised Gentile to the heart of Judaism, Jerusalem, to the core leadership of the church, the Apostles, and they did not require him to follow Jewish law.

But there were those who wanted them to. In verse 4, Paul calls them “false brothers”. They came in secretly to spy out Paul’s freedom in Christ. They had an agenda to end that freedom and bring the Gentiles into slavery to the law. Paul is describing them not only as preaching a false message, but of being deceitful.

In verse 5, we see that Paul did not submit to them. He wanted to preserve the true gospel message for them. So, you see, from the very beginning of the church, there has been a battle for the gospel. Satan does not want the message of grace to be preached.

Now, you probably don’t have a hang up with the idea of circumcision, because you did not grow up with it. But you may have other issues, other things you want to add to grace to obtain salvation, or that you have heard about.

In verse 6, Paul said none of the influential people added anything to his message. He made a parenthetical comment that God shows no partiality. He does not see one believer as more important than another.

2:7-10 Paul’s Calling Confirmed

7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

In response to Paul sharing his message, the Apostles agreed that Paul was called to preach to the Gentiles, whom he called the “uncircumcised”. They put this on the level of Peter being called to evangelize the Jews. They gave them the right hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas. Their only instruction was to remember the poor.

I like the fact that Paul specifically says the same one worked through Peter for his ministry and through Paul for his. It is always good to remind us that it is not the ministers that are important, it is God working through them.

Note also that James is mentioned here ahead of Peter, or Cephas.

One thing I do not want us to miss is the instruction to remember the poor. Paul took this seriously, returning to Jerusalem to bring an offering at the expense of his freedom.

What is our responsibility to the poor?

Leviticus 19:10 says And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” They were not to use all their livelihood for themselves, they were to save some for the poor.

Leviticus 25:35 says ““If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.”

Deuteronomy 15:7 says ““If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother.”

We don’t take advantage of the poor. Psalm 10:2 says “In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.” I think this applies to those who implemented the lottery.

Proverbs 19:17 says “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”

Isaiah 58:7 says this is the kind of fasting God honors: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”

In Luke 14:12-14, Jesus said “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

James 2:1-6 says My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man.”

From these verses, it appears to me we have a responsibility to support the poor. It seems, in the New Testament church, that the help of the poor was mostly for poor Christians. Similarly, in the Old Testament texts we read, there were many references to your poor “brother”, meaning fellow Israelite. Yet, the also had duties to the poor alien in their midst, and the aliens had certain rights.

Matthew 25 also has an interesting take on our treatment of the poor. Jesus labeled his chosen ones as those who fed the hungry, clothed the naked and visited those who were in prison, those who did these things to the least of his brothers.

What do you think the church should do for the poor?
Big Daddy Weave has an interesting profile of Julie Pennington-Russell, who is moving from her job as Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco to be Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia.

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Christ's presence hath my prison turn'd A blessed heaven; what then will In heaven hereafter, when it now creates Heav'n in a dungeon; goals to courts translates?' 'He is not bound whom Christ makes Though shut close prisoner, chained, remains A godly man's at large in every place, Still cheerful, well content, in blessed Unconquered; he a sacred heaven still About within his breast."

John Bunyan

Bunyan spent 9 years in prison.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


If you need any proof of the decline of civilization, let me invite you to attend a high school graduation ceremony. It has all the dignity of a South American soccer game.

The people who sat behind us talked through all the speeches. We didn't hear a word. When we asked them to be quiet so we could hear, the women whipped out cell phones and called their boyfriends to come beat us up.

They talked on cell phones and laughed during the National Anthem. They constantly yelled and screamed to people they knew. Other folks screamed and carried on so long when their kid walked across the stage that the next two or three kids walked without you being able to even hear their name. It was truly a night mare. I've been to football games between heated rivals that were more civilized than this.

Very few people dressed up, especially the males. There were lots of people in shorts, jeans and work out clothes. There were quite a few girls dressed like Britney Spears out to a party.

Most parents got up and left after their kid walked the stage. By the time of the Recessional, two thirds of the audience were gone. Most of the rest left during the Recessional.

The only good thing is, we stayed for the whole thing and the boyfriends couldn't find us to beat us up.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

". . . what is man that thou art mindful of him, . . ." (Ps. 8:4a)

". . . what is man that thou art mindful of him, . . ." (Ps. 8:4a)

". . . what is man that thou art mindful of him, . . ." (Ps. 8:4a)

". . . what is man that thou art mindful of him, . . ." (Ps. 8:4a)
Galatians 1

1:1 Paul Identifies Himself

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers [1] who are with me,

Between Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road, recorded in Acts 9:1-18, and his last imprisonment in Rome, Paul made three missionary journeys. On these journeys, he preached and established churches. Your Bible probably has a map in the back showing the routes of these journeys.

On the first journey, Paul visited the region of Galatia, which is in present day Turkey. He evangelized in the four cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. This is recorded in Acts 13 and 14. A church was established in each city. This letter of “Galatians” is Paul’s letter to those churches.

The reason for this letter is to defend the gospel. After Paul left the area, false teachers came in and taught that the Gentiles needed to first become Jews and observe Jewish law before they could become Christians.

For example, turn back to Acts 15:1. Jews came from Judea to Antioch and said the Gentiles had to be circumcised in order to be saved. Then look at verse 5. Converted Pharisees said they must be circumcised and obey the law of Moses.

That was contrary to the gospel Paul preached. What did Paul preach? Acts 14:3 calls it the message of grace. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul wrote: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (ESV) What does he say there? Salvation is a matter of God’s grace, accessed through the believer’s faith, which is itself a gift of God. Salvation is not by works. In Romans 3:20, Paul wrote that “…no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law…”

Not only did these other teachers contradict Paul on the role of grace and works, they criticized or denied his standing as an apostle. So, the first part of this letter to the Galatians contains a detailed defense of Paul’s calling. In the very first verse, he calls himself an apostle, not of men, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

Paul had previously been an apostle of men. Acts 9 tells us he received letters from the high priest which allowed him to visit synagogues in Damascus and arrest those who converted to Christianity. He was an apostle of the high priest.

This claim to apostleship was probably controversial to some, since Paul was not part of the original Twelve. Look at Luke 6:12-16. Acts 1:26 tells us Matthias was added after the death of Judas. The Twelve were special. There was no one else like them. Revelation 21:14 tells us that the walls of New Jerusalem have 12 foundations and on them are the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb. This seems to put a dent in the concept of apostolic succession.

But, Paul claimed to be an apostle even if not one of the 12. We saw some defense of Paul’s claim in our study of 2 Corinthians, and he will give more detail in Galatians.

Paul’s defense of his apostleship and his defense of the gospel go hand in hand. If he is not an apostle, the gospel can be challenged and his personal philosophy and teaching. But, if he is an apostle, the gospel he preached is the word of God, the teaching of Christ.

If you do not give a special, unique place to the teaching of the apostles, you may claim, as some do today, that they were witnesses to Christ and taught their version of his message. We are now witnesses to Christ and may teach our version with equal weight. If we don’t agree with Paul on something, we may change it. You hear this message in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, for example.

Another view is that certain people in the church are successors to the apostles, so their teaching is of the same weight as the apostles and they may also contradict it and add to it.

The evangelical view has been that the apostles, including Paul, were unique and had the authority to convey the message of Christ, which we must accept and not change.

1:3-4 The Greeting

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul greeted the Galatians with grace and peace. This is a shorthand description of the gospel. Salvation is peace with God, or reconciliation with God. In Romans 5:1-2, Paul said “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

The source of this peace, this salvation, is the grace of God. It was his will to send his son to give himself for our sins. He’ll talk about this more in chapter 3. If you’ll allow me to indulge my fondness for Martin Luther, he said “Martin Luther comments that “these words are very thunderclaps from heaven against all kinds of righteousness, that is, all forms of self-righteousness. Once we have seen that Christ 'gave himself for our sins', we realize that we are sinners unable to save ourselves, and we give up trusting in ourselves that we are righteous.”

He also said Christ died to deliver us from this present evil age. The New Testament often speaks of “this age” and “the age to come”. This age is the age of sin and corruption, the age to come is marked by righteousness and the reign of God.

This verse also tells us the death of Christ and our deliverance from this age was by the will of God. It was not by our will. It was not by accident. In Acts 2:23, peter preached that Christ was “handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge”.

So, Paul has, in this short greeting, set out for us the will of the Father and the son for our salvation, our deliverance from this evil age, the death of Christ to accomplish it, and the gift of salvation to us. The death of Christ is unique, as is the witness of the apostles to it.

1:6-9 No Other Gospel

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Once the greeting was completed, Paul immediately launched into a rebuke of the Galatians. He said they were deserting God by turning to another gospel. I think he is saying they are in the process of succumbing to error by the tense of the verb “deserting”. He did not say that had deserted, as if it were complete. He is careful to say there is really no other gospel, but distortions of the gospel that may lead people astray.

Although Paul has not yet defined this false gospel, he emphasized in verse 1 that the Galatians were called in the grace of Christ. Salvation by grace rather than works will be a constant theme in this letter.

He gave an even stronger rebuke to the teachers of this false gospel, saying that anyone who preaches a gospel contrary to Paul’s should be accursed. This is true even if an angel from heaven should do it. This is not to say that angels from heaven would come and preach a contrary gospel, but it is an hypergole (1. obvious and intentional exaggeration. 2. an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”) used to show how serious he is about this. There is but one gospel of grace and no one has the right to pervert it. He said the Galatians had received the gospel (from him) and anything contrary was wrong.

1:10-24 Paul Called by God

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant (slave or bond servant) of Christ. 11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. [3] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, [4] and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

Paul begins this section, which is a defense of his ministry and message, but stating that he does not preach to please men, but, rather, is a servant of Christ. In fact, he said, he did not receive the gospel from men, but from direct revelation of Jesus Christ. In verses 11 and 12, Paul says he did not receive it from men and was not taught by men. He received the message directly from Christ. That is part of his claim to be an apostle. It is also one of the reasons you cannot divide or separate the teachings of Paul from the teachings of Christ. Paul says his teaching is from Christ.

Next Paul will give the details of his conversion and early ministry to prove his point. First, he reminded them of his previous life, in verses 13 and 14. He was a zealous Jew and he even persecuted the church. We see this in Acts 7:58, Acts 8:1-3, and Acts 9:1-2.

However, in the midst of this life of zealous Judaism, God intervened. He said, in verse 16, that God the Father was pleased to reveal his son to me. That is the event recorded in Acts 9:3-18. When he wrote that God “was pleased” to reveal, he is expressing that it was an act of God’s sovereign grace. God did it because he was pleased to, not because Paul earned it. In the previous clause, he referred to God as he who “called me by his grace”.

So, Paul, the Jew, experienced a revelation of Christ and was converted, and was also called by God to preach Christ to the Gentiles. (You might think he would be called to preach to the Jews since he was a Jew and a Pharisee, but, instead God called him to preach to the Gentiles.) Not only was he called to preach, but he was set apart before he was born, according to verse 15. The alternate reading is “set apart from my mother’s womb”.

There are some other examples in the Bible of those who were set apart to serve God from before they were born. God told Jeremiah "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5).

In Judges 13:5, the angel of the Lord told Samson’s mother “for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines."

Jesus, also, was set apart as savior from before he was born, in fact, before the foundation of the world. 1 Peter 1:20 says “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake.” This, again, shows us God has been at work to bring about redemption from eternity. He did not just think of it as plan B after the Jews failed to keep the covenant. Calvin said: “God had, no doubt, decreed, before the foundation of the world, what he would do with regard to every one of us, and had assigned to every one, by his secret counsel, his respective place. But the sacred writers frequently introduce those three steps: the eternal predestination of God, the destination from the womb, and the calling, which is the effect and accomplishment of both.” Ephesians 1:1-3 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us[b] for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

It was also God’s plan before the birth of Christ or Paul, to bring salvation to the Gentiles. Isaiah 49:6 says God says:
"It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."

So, Christ was chosen before his physical birth to be the savior of the Gentiles, and Paul was chosen before his birth to be the apostle of Christ to take the message of salvation to them (us).

To further his statement that the gospel was revealed to him by Christ and not taught by men, Paul next sets out what he did after his conversion and calling. What he did not do was immediately consult anyone. Particularly, he did not go t Jerusalem and consult with the apostles, those who were functioning as apostles before him. Rather, he withdrew to Arabia. This is an interesting statement, because it does two things. First, it acknowledges the other apostles and their status. Second, it puts Paul on equal footing with them.

We are not told how long Paul stayed in Arabia or what he did there. From there, he went back to Damascus and preached. This is in verse 17. Only after 3 years elapsed, did he return to Jerusalem. He went there to visit with Cephas (Peter’s Hebrew name) and spent 15 days with him. He also visited with James, the half brother of Jesus, who appears to be the head of the church in Acts 15. Interestingly, he calls James an apostle. (It also means, when Paul got there for the counsel in Acts 15, James, Peter and he had already met.)

From Jerusalem, Paul went to Syria, possibly Antioch, and Cilicia. We aren’t told what he did there, but probably preached the gospel to Gentiles in those areas. As the believers in Judea began to hear about him, they glorified God because of him.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Now that France has elected a conservative, I may have to start making fun of the British. They are making it easy. After receiving some threats from the Arabs, Britain has surrendered and will not send Prince Harry to fight after all. It's a shame. First, they gave up without a fight. Harry will always look like a wimp from now on. Second, had he gone, he'd be a military hero and a credit to a royal family that could use some. I mean, after all, Prince Charles.
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.


The Montana State Department of Fish and Wildlife is advising golfers to take extra precautions and be on the alert for bears while playing on Gallatin , Helena , and Lewis and Clark National Forests Golf Courses. They advise golfers to wear noise-producing devices such as little bells on their clothing to alert, but not to startle the bears unexpectedly. They also advise you to carry pepper spray in the case of an encounter with a bear. It is also a good idea to watch for signs of bear activity. Golfers should be able to recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings on the golf course. Black bear droppings are smaller and contain berries and possibly squirrel fur. Grizzly bear droppings have bells in them and smell like pepper spray.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The modern cry, "Less creed and more liberty," is a degeneration from the vertebrate to the jelly fish, and means less unity and less morality, and it means more heresy. …It is a positive and very hurtful sin to magnify liberty at the expense of doctrine

B. H. Carroll (Founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), An Interpretation of the English Bible

Monday, May 14, 2007

Work is not a consequence of the fall, it is a consequence of creation. John Stott, 'The Whole Christian', "Proceedings of the International Conference of Christian Medical Students", ed. Lee Moy Ng (London: ICCMS and Christian Medical Fellowship, 1980), p. 20.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Lots of folks have a theory of poverty and its causes. In Brazil, the Pope took a stab at it. Interestingly, he blamed two economic\political systems that are opposed. Benedict XVI blamed Marxism and "unbridled" capitalism for Latin America's problems.

Sounding like his immediate predecessor, Benedict said capitalism had negative effects on Latin America. However, the effects he mentioned were not really effects of the economic system. The use of drugs and alcohol are not effects of capitalism. They are the effects of immorality and lack of self control.

He also sais the Marxist system "left a sad heritage of economic and ecological destruction" as well as "a painful destruction of the human spirit". It will continue to do so if Latin American countries continue to move to the left. History shows us that socialism and communism never help the poor. They talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. The people at the top will continue to live well, while the people at the bottom are supposed to sacrifice for the benefit of the people. In addition, all Marxist based systems are Utopian and anti-Christian. Because they are Utopian, the always have to confront the fact that their vision of Utopia has failed. As people point that out, they become enemies of the state and are killed.

The Pope also criticized globalization. I'm not sure how that could hurt Latin America, but, regardless, seems contradictory coming from the Roman church, which certainly embraces globalization where it benefits the growth of the influence of the church.

The thing Benedict did not address is whether Roman Catholocism is at least partly to blame for the problems of Latin America. After all, the church until recently claimed that about 90% of South Americans have been Catholic for a long time. How could that be the case without the church bearing some of the responsibility for the way things have turned out?

In fact, couldn't you make the case that it is more the job of the church to help the poor than the government? Jesus certainly advocated for the poor. And the Catholic church is certainly wealthy. Maybe some introspection is in order. Benedict noted that the church's leaders must halt a trend that has seen millions of Catholics turn into born-again Protestants or simply stop going to church. Maybe one way to do that is to change how the church does business in Latin America, as opposed to trying to change the government while living in luxury in Rome.

A good thing Benedict said was his criticism of immorality, especially in premarital sex and divorce. He said the bishops must convince Catholics from all walks of life to bring the light of the Gospel into public life, into culture, economics and politics. Again, that should not be simply to advocate a change in government, but to change society through the gospel.

Brazil has 120 million Catholics. They have the numbers. If they had the answer, you'd think the country would have benefitted by now.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I heard a "gospel" song on the radio saying "there's a new name written down in glory, and it's mine", celebrating the conversion of the singer. It's catchy, but it's wrong.

Revelation 13:7-9 says "Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear"

No new names are written down. They were all written down before the foundation of the world.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


John Stott says this:

Retaliation and revenge are absolutely forbidden to the followers of Jesus. He himself never hit back in either word or deed. And in spite of our inborn retributive tendency, ranging from the child's tit for tat to the adult's more sophisticated determination to get even with an opponent, Jesus calls us instead to imitate him. From "The Message of Romans" (The Bible Speaks Today series: Leicester: IVP, 1994), p. 334.

I am trying hard to live this out. I am rather famous for punishing my professional enemies, or those who did me wrong, often after much time has passed. A few years ago, a non-Christian co-worker pointed out to me that it "wasn't very Christian". That hurt, especially when I admitted she was right. I had carved an except out for the practice of law. It isn't in the original text. Nothing at all about lawyers being entitled to revenge.

Right how, I am suffering through months of agony as some people do me wrong. I have a few moments of regret for my new course. I can think of some great ways to take revenge. But, instead I have committed to acting in a Christ-like manner through the whole process, even though it is taking forever.

Theology is not an abstract pursuit, however. We have to live what what know. We are called to glorify God, not to gratify self. I know, if you get your theology from television, this is a radical concept, but it straight from the mouth of God.

And there are no exceptions for your line of work either.

The NBC poll shows that 86% of Americans want to keep "In God We Trust" on our money and "under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance.

This doesn't make America a Christian nation, but it does make America a nation that believes in God, despite years of attacks from the mainstream media.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ruth 4

4:1-10 Boaz At The Gate

1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, "Come over here, my friend, and sit down." So he went over and sat down.

2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, "Sit here," and they did so. 3 Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, "Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you [a] will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line." "I will redeem it," he said.

5 Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire [b] the dead man's widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property." 6 At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, "Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it." 7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.) 8 So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, "Buy it yourself." And he removed his sandal. 9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, "Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses!"

To begin the process of redeeming Ruth, Boaz went to the gate of the city of Bethlehem. Why did he go to the gate? The gate was where legal matters were settled. In Deuteronomy 15:7, the widow who is childless is told to go to the gate to settle the matter if her husband’s brother won’t marry her.

It was also be common for businessmen and elders to come to the gate during the day, either to transact business or to take part in settling disputes. So, Boaz sat and waited, and the nearer relative showed up. Boaz had him sit down, then conscripted 10 elders to sit with them. Once they were assembled, Boaz told the relative that Naomi was about to sell Elimelech’s property. The relative was first in line, before Boaz, to buy it. Evidently, the custom was to allow the closest relatives the first chance to purchase the property as part of this right of redemption. In Jeremiah 32:6-12, for example, Jeremiah’s relative offers him the first chance to purchase his property.

6 Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: 7 Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’ 8 Then Hanamel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
9 “And I bought the field at Anathoth from Hanamel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11 Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions and the open copy. 12 And I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my cousin, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard.

The relative said he could indeed redeem the land of Naomi, or purchase it. Somehow the redemption of Ruth by marriage is tied to the sale of the land. Boaz said if he acquired the land, he also acquired the widow, Ruth. It is not explained in this text. But it creates a double burden, paying for the land and supporting Ruth for life. Also, he will not be able to keep the property for a long time, as any son he has with Ruth will be able to redeem the property. We do know, from Leviticus 25, that Israelites could not sell land forever, they had to allow for redemption of the land so that it was kept in its original allotments by tribe and clan.

When the relative passed on the right of redemption to Boaz, he solemnized it by removing his sandal and giving it to Boaz. Boaz announced to the elders and to all the people that he had acquired the land and Ruth. He said he was fulfilling the purpose of the law by maintaining Elimilech’s family name in Israel.

Although the attention is on Boaz here, we know the Lord is at work. Naomi has previously acknowledged that the Lord was responsible for bringing Ruth and Boaz together, and that the Lord was providing for Ruth and Naomi in this manner.

In addition, we know from Leviticus 25, that the Lord considered the land to be his. We also know he considered the people of Israel to be his special possession. So, through Boaz, we see the Lord working and accomplishing his will through faithful and obedient people.

4:11-12 The Elders’ Blessing

11 Then the elders and all those at the gate said, "We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah."

The elders witness the transaction and approve. They bless the marriage, blessing Ruth to be the mother of many children, as Rachel and Leah. They bless Boaz with standing and fame. They also acknowledged the link between Ruth and Tamar. They were both widows who married and produced children in the line of Judah.

4:13-22 The Genealogy of David

3 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: "Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth."

16 Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, "Naomi has a son." And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

18 This, then, is the family line of Perez:
Perez was the father of Hezron,

19 Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,

20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon, [c]

21 Salmon the father of Boaz,
Boaz the father of Obed,

22 Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of David.

Boaz and Ruth had a son and named him Obed. Again the author attributes this blessing to the LORD. The women of Bethlehem give God the credit, breaking into praise for the Lord who provided her a kinsman-redeemer. They are referring here not to Boaz, but the baby, Obed. They pray that he will be famous in Israel. He is such a blessing that he will renew her life. In a way, the blessing is further fulfilled in the more famous son, David, and in the most famous son, Jesus.

So, the story actually closes with Naomi and not with Ruth. It began with Naomi, and her abandonment of Israel with her husband, her loss of her husband, her suffering, her return to Israel, and God’s blessing. She is somewhat like Job, who both suffered and received blessing from the Lord.

Ruth is acknowledged for her love for Naomi. The women say she has been better to Naomi than 7 sevens. This is a remarkable testimony to a woman at a time when men and sons were normally preferred.

Finally, note that Obed becomes the grandfather of King David. In all things God continually worked to bring about the success of the seed of Eve against the seed of Satan, and to bring the Messiah to Israel for its redemption.

Boaz is a type of Christ. He is a redeemer for Ruth. He rescued her from her dire circumstances. He also reached out beyond Israel to a Gentile who desired to come under the protection of the Lord. Ruth could not come into the congregation of the Lord under the strict interpretation of the law, since Deuteronomy 23:3 said a Moabite could not come into the congregation for 10 generations. However, through the process of redemption, Boaz accomplished what the law could not, the redemption of a Gentile. "…what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son…” (Rom. 8:3).

Friday, May 04, 2007


I really get tired of hearing people tell me they cannot read theology or older books because they are "too hard". I stumbled on this account of the ministry of Samuel Davies in the 1740s in rural Virginia.

Samuel Davies: Apostle of Virginia
by Thomas Talbot Ellis
Part 1 of 2

Nor were his labours confined to the whites. Large numbers of slaves attended on his ministry. He could number over 300 regular Negro hearers in the Virginia backwoods with over 150 black faces gathered at the Lord's Table at one particular communion season. Archibald Alexander in the next century could write that he had 'seen persons born in Africa who were baptized by Mr Davies, and by his care had been taught to read; and have seen in their hands, the books given to them by this eminent preacher'. What these books were, we are told by the Rev John Holt Rice. They were Watson's Body of Divinity, Boston's Fourfold State, Luther on Galatians, Flavel's Works, Alleine's Alarm, Baxter's Call and Saint's Everlasting Rest, as well as Isaac Watts' Psalms. Rice also tells us that 'Davies' churches were schools in which the people were taught better things than the ancient sages ever communicated to their disciples.' Generous friends in England sent most of the books.

So, uneducated slaves who learned to read were reading Luther, Baxter and Boston. Enough said. A converted soul, a regenerated heart, a renewed mind and an obedient spirit are all it takes.
CO2: The Greatest ScientificScandal of Our Timeby Zbigniew Jaworowski, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc.

We thus find ourselves in the situation that the entire theory of man-made global warming—with its repercussions in science, and its important consequences for politics and the global economy—is based on ice core studies that provided a false picture of the atmospheric CO2 levels. Meanwhile, more than 90,000 direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere, carried out in America, Asia, and Europe between 1812 and 1961, with excellent chemical methods (accuracy better than 3%), were arbitrarily rejected. These measurements had been published in 175 technical papers. For the past three decades, these well-known direct CO2 measurements, recently compiled and analyzed by Ernst-Georg Beck (Beck 2006a, Beck 2006b, Beck 2007), were completely ignored by climatologists—and not because they were wrong. Indeed, these measurements were made by several Nobel Prize winners, using the techniques that are standard textbook procedures in chemistry, biochemistry, botany, hygiene, medicine,nutrition, and ecology.

The only reason for rejection was that these measurements did not fit the hypothesis of anthropogenic climatic warming. I regard this as perhaps the greatest scientific scandal of our time. From among this treasure of excellent data (ranging up to 550 ppmv of measured CO2 levels), the founders of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis (Callendar 1949, Callendar 1958, and Keeling 1986) selected only a tiny fraction of the data and doctored it, to select out the low concentraions and reject the high values—all in order to set a falsely low pre-industrial average CO2 concentration of 280 ppmv as in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century. This manipulation has been discussed several times since the 1950s (Fonsel et al. 1956, Jaworowski et al. 1992b, and Slocum 1955), and more recently and in-depth by Beck 2007.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

David Heddle has a good post on the Eternal Covenant here.