Never Again

January 28, 2014

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual international day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Here are nine things you should know about one of the most horrific genocidal campaigns in history:

1. The term “Holocaust,” originally from the Greek word “holokauston” which means “sacrifice by fire,” refers to the Nazi’s persecution and planned slaughter of the Jewish people. The biblical word Shoah, meaning “calamity”, became the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the 1940s, especially in Europe and Israel. The term “holocaust” became a household word in America when in 1978 NBC television aired the miniseries titled Holocaust.

2. The Holocaust began in January 1933 when Hitler came to power and technically ended on May 8, 1945 (VE Day). But the official genocidal plan was developed at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. Fifteen Nazi leaders, which included a number of state secretaries, senior officials, party leaders, SS officers, and other leaders of government departments, held the meeting to discuss plans for a “final solution to the Jewish question in Europe.” (The Nazis used the euphemistic phrases “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and “Final Solution” to refer to the genocide of the Jews.) In the course of the meeting, Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps.

3. The Nazis distinguished between extermination camps and concentration camps. The interchangeable terms extermination camp (Vernichtungslager) and death camp (Todeslager) refer to camps whose primary function was genocide. Unlike concentration camps, the Nazis did not expect the majority of prisoners taken to the extermination camps to survive more than a few hours after arrival. In the early years of the Holocaust, the Jews were primarily sent to concentration camps (where they would often die of torture and starvation), but from 1942 onwards they were mostly deported to the extermination camps.

4. Genocide at extermination camps was initially carried out in the form of mass shootings. However, the shootings proved to be too psychologically damaging to those being asked to pull the triggers. The Nazis next tried mass killing by blowing victims up with explosives, but that also was found unsuitable. The Nazis settled on gassing their victims (usually with carbon monoxide or a cyanide-based pesticide). Stationary gas chambers could kill 2,000 people at once. Once in the chambers, about one-third of the victims died immediately, though death could take up to 20 minutes.

5. The use of camps equipped with gas chambers for the purpose of systematic mass extermination of peoples was a unique feature of the Holocaust and unprecedented in history. Never before had there existed places with the express purpose of killing people en masse. These were extermination camps established at Auschwitz, Belzec, Chełmno, Jasenovac, Majdanek, Maly Trostenets, Sobibor, and Treblinka. For political and logistical reasons, the most infamous extermination camps were in Occupied Poland, since Poland had the greatest number of Jews living in Europe.

6. At various concentration and extermination camps, the Nazis conducted medical experiments on their prisoners, which included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, and various amputations and other surgeries that were often conducted without anesthesia. The most notorious of these Nazi physicians was Dr. Josef Mengele, who worked in Auschwitz. According to one witness, Mengele sewed together a set of twins named Guido and Ina, who were about 4 years old, from the back in an attempt to create Siamese twins. Their parents were able to get some morphine and kill them to end their suffering.

7. Churches throughout Europe were mostly silent while Jews were persecuted, deported, and murdered by the Nazis. As Holocaust scholar Victoria J. Barnett says, “In Nazi Germany in September 1935, there were a few Christians in the Protestant Confessing Church who demanded that their Church take a public stand in defense of the Jews. Their efforts, however, were overruled by Church leaders who wanted to avoid any conflict with the Nazi regime.”

8. The largest Protestant church in Germany in the 1930s was the German Evangelical Church, comprised of 28 regional churches or Landeskirchen that included the three major theological traditions that had emerged from the Reformation: Lutheran, Reformed, and United. Most of Germany’s 40 million Protestants were members of this church, although there were smaller so-called “free” Protestant churches, such as Methodist and Baptist churches. Historically the German Evangelical Church viewed itself as one of the pillars of German culture and society, with a theologically grounded tradition of loyalty to the state. During the 1920s, a movement emerged within the German Evangelical Church called the Deutsche Christen, or “German Christians.” The “German Christians” embraced many of the nationalistic and racial aspects of Nazi ideology. Once the Nazis came to power, this group sought the creation of a national “Reich Church” and supported a “nazified” version of Christianity. The Bekennende Kirche—the “Confessing Church”—emerged in opposition to the “German Christians.” Its founding document, the Barmen Confession of Faith, declared that the church’s allegiance was to God and scripture, not a worldly Führer.

9. The most commonly cited figure for the total number of Jews killed is six million — around 78 percent of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe at the time. Additionally, the Nazis murdered approximately two to three million Soviet POWs, two million ethnic Poles, up to 1,500,000 Romani, 200,000 handicapped, political and religious dissenters, 15,000 homosexuals, and 5,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, bringing the total genocide toll to around 11 million.

Joe Carter

55 mil and counting

January 22, 2014

41st Anny of R v. W:

Today is the forty-first anniversary of the landmark abortion decision, Roe v. Wade, in which the Supreme Court eliminated the abortion laws of all 50 states, and in the companion case of Doe v. Bolton — which was released on the same day — which eliminated state health and safety regulations of abortion. Last year I noted nine things everyone should know about Roe. Here are nine more:

1. The case was filed by Norma McCorvey, known in court documents as Jane ROE against Henry WADE, the district attorney of Dallas County from 1951 to 1987, who enforced a Texas law that prohibited abortion, except to save a woman’s life.

2. In 1969, McCorvey was 22 years old, divorced, homeless, and pregnant for the third time (she had placed her first two children for adoption). An adoption agency connected her with two young lawyers fresh out of law school who were eager to challenge the Texas statutes on abortion. McCorvey only met with her lawyers twice-once for beer and pizza, the other time to sign an affidavit (which she didn’t read). In order to speed things up McCorvey lied and told them she had been raped. She never appeared in court, and she found out about the infamous ruling from the newspapers. The baby she was seeking to abort was born and placed for adoption.

3. When McCorvey met her lawyers she didn’t know the meaning of “abortion.” Her lawyers told her that abortion just dealt with a piece of tissue, and that it was like passing a period rather than the termination of a distinct, living, and whole human organism. Abortion was a taboo topic in 1970, and Norma had dropped out of school at the age of 14. She knew that John Wayne movies talked about “aborting the mission,” so she thought it meant to “go back”—as in, going back to not being pregnant. She honestly believed “abortion” meant a child was prevented from coming into existence.

4. In the late-1990s, McCorvey was working at a Dallas abortion clinic when the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue moved its offices next door. She says Rev. Phillip Benham, Operation Rescue’s national director, started “sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ” with her. She later became a Christian and committed pro-life advocate.

5. Together, Roe and Doe effectively forbid states from prohibiting abortion even in the final stages of pregnancy. The Court said (in the 1992 Casey decision) that “[w]e reject the trimester framework, which we do not consider to be part of the essential holding of Roe.”

6. The Court’s majority relied heavily on popular, but unproved and later disproved, 1970s-era evidence that there was an urgent need for population control in the United States. As legal scholar Clark Forsythe explains, “Fear of ‘the population crisis’ was a huge influence. [The Court] drank that in without any trial or evidence or expert opinion in the lower courts. There was no evidence. There was no record. They absorbed that through the media.”

7. Without any record evidence, the court in 1973 also adopted the medical myth that “abortion was safer than childbirth.” That influential myth, says Forsythe, has been told to millions of women considering abortion ever since. “It was wrong in 1973, and it’s wrong today. The myth is based on the mechanical comparison of the published U.S. maternal (childbirth) mortality rate and the published U.S. abortion mortality rate. These two rates are like apples and oranges; what goes into their numerators and denominators is completely different.”

8. Many pro-life advocates mistakenly believe that state laws to define human life as beginning at conception (or fertilization) would pose as challenge to Roe. But as Forsythe notes, “no state can – by statute or constitutional amendment – change the meaning of the 14th Amendment to the federal constitution.” Additionally, he explains, “not one justice on the current Supreme Court supports the proposition that the unborn are protected as “persons” within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. Not one. All have rejected it, explicitly or implicitly.”

9. Many Americans believe the myth that “overturning” Roe would make abortion immediately illegal everywhere. However, most states have repealed their pre-Roe prohibitions. Fifteen other states have state judicial versions of Roe that would prevent any prohibitions. The reality is that if Roe were overturned today, abortion would be legal tomorrow, up to viability, in at least 42 states and probably all 50.

Joe Carter

Not Welcomed in NY

January 21, 2014

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo believes that pro-life activists along with anti-gay activists, and supporters of the Second Amendment, are not welcome in his state.

During a radio interview on Friday, Cuomo pointed out that Republicans were in the midst of a schism, where conservatives worked against moderate Republicans.

“Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves,” he said. “Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

State Republicans blasted his comments, the New York Post reported, even as the governor walked them back on Sunday in an open letter to the newspaper.

Have a Good Day
Let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found.
Psalm 32:6

When our children were little, I would pray with them in the morning and ask God that they would “have a good day.” Something about the simplicity of that prayer seemed appropriate for what they were facing.

But when Barbara and I were alone and praying for our children, our petitions were often a bit more involved–especially as they grew older. That’s because we knew–as you do–that there’s a lot more to life than having a good day.

Frankly, there were many times when we prayed that our kids would have challenging days. When we were focusing on certain character qualities and issues in their lives–and wanted their hearts to soften and become more teachable–we didn’t always pray for good days. We knew that some lessons could only be taught in the schoolroom of a “horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day.”

Anne Arkins, coauthor of While They Were Sleeping, says that when she prays for her children, she often says, “Lord, do whatever You have to do in their lives to help them recognize their need for You and to see what You want to accomplish in their lives.” This prayer reminds us that God is the owner of life and the true Father of our children. He has given us responsibility over them for a season, but what they really need is to be taught and trained by Him and to grow in relationship with Christ.

It is a great privilege to help our children learn to develop good habits, to make right choices and to walk with the Lord. But sometimes this requires a mom or dad being willing to step back, hold out open hands and ask God to teach them a lesson–even if it means not having a very good day.

Discuss
What issues are your children facing right now? What choices are they learning to make? What kind of prayer do they need?

Pray
Pray together for each of your children by name and by need, trusting that God will draw them closer to Him each day, through each circumstance.

-Rainey

Fat Pastors

January 18, 2014

Sort of.

One of the greatest men my wife and I had the privilege of being shepherded by used to wear his pants very high on his waist. His belt was practically underlining his chest. He looked like a dork, and it was distracting when he stood before the congregation. So one of the creative guys at the church “took one for the team” and took him aside one day to recommend he wear his shirts untucked. He did, and the sight was much better. But what I loved about this pastor is that he had zero idea this was an issue. I mean, I’m sure he thought he looked fine — he wasn’t unkempt, just uncool — but obviously worrying about his image wasn’t even on his radar.

By contrast, I used to see another area pastor at the local coffee shop in the same town who was pushing sixty and was rockin’ — or thought he was — the embroidered jeans, Affliction tees, leather cuffs, and frosted bedhead. Professing to be cool, he became a fool.

In the age of Pastor Fashion and sermons forbidding the eating of pork in service of the gospel of weight loss — I mean, does anything scream “Judaizer” more loudly than preaching the dietary law? except maybe actually preaching circumcision — don’t the pastors who don’t care about their image, their profile, their reputation seem more dignified?

Now, of course this is not to say we should be careless about our bodies and our general health. I have nothing against Joel Osteen (pictured) looking good on the surface; I just have a problem with him preaching there. He is perhaps the West’s most successful purveyor of the paltry. I mean, no matter how much abundance he promises, his gospel is actually the puniest one out there. The love of the superficial will kill the soul, stealing our spiritual oxygen like Ed Young’s spanx. Man looks at the outward appearance, of course, and that’s who these guys fear, that’s whose ears these guys are trying to tickle, that’s who they’re seeking to please. When Paul warns in Philippians 3:19 against those whose god is their belly, it’s just as applicable a warning today about the Crossfit junkie as it is the chocoholic.

The pursuit of the appearance of having it all together is not new. We might have the most advanced whitewash, but you can’t really improve a tomb.

I don’t think you even need me to list all the evidences that American evangelicalism is obsessed with image, with cool, with seeming impressive. What we need are men (and women) who will lead the way in rejecting the Photoshopping of our faith. And wouldn’t it be a huge relief, wouldn’t we all just kinda exhale in relief if we were led in this way to stop sucking in our guts? Our stomach might increase, but wouldn’t we actually decrease in the right ways? Wouldn’t that kind of freedom to breathe — the freedom to simply be ourselves — be a fruit of the gospel?

So no, I am not advocating gluttony here, just a Christward self-disregard, a godly un-self-consciousness. I am praying for an increase in the tribe of self-forgetful pastors — if not all-out dorky ones — with platforms thrust upon them genuinely “aw shucks”-wise, men who will love not their images even unto death. Men who at least are not obsessed with the camera catching their good sides. Give me a fat guy in the pulpit so long as he preaches not himself and not the law but the glorious gospel. And if you’ve got a pastor with washboard abs who does that– well, that’s okay too, I guess.

…He had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
– Isaiah 53

Jared Wilson

Moms

January 17, 2014

While Jamie was on a much needed “moms-need-to-get-away-to-remain-sane” weekend, I held down the fort. The days had a little drama, but mostly a lot of fun. I didn’t actually lose anyone, the kitchen was swept, and believe it or not the dishes were done. (let’s not talk about the laundry). Jamie was gone since Thursday, and I’m honestly so glad when she has the rare chance to get away from the day in day out of being a mom. It’s great for her.. And it’s great for me.

Everytime she leaves for a short trip, my eyes are opened even more to the weight, calling, and busyness that goes with being a mom. As I’ve been cruising in the loaded-down Excursion, doing homework, organizing mail, sweeping the kitchen, reading to every kid, and staring down an overflowing laundry basket… I’ve had lots of time to think about Jamie. And all moms really. I’m convinced that we have a serious “mom problem.” Let’s just say it out loud people… we have a problem with moms being seriously under-treasured and under-appreciated.

Full disclosure… I don’t know how to fix the problem. Unfortunately, I’m only stating the problem… (give me a break, i’ve been busy!) But, I’d like to offer four points in my manifesto — “THE MOM PROBLEM”

1 — MOMS RARELY GET EDIFICATION. Let’s be honest. Stay-at-home moms get no applause; they rarely get any affirmation that they are treasured. Working dads get it readily. They are edified by the verbal praise of co-workers or supervisors, They are reminded of their value every time they produce, lead, or create something. For me, every time someone buys a song on iTunes or sends an encouraging email, there is an instant sense of ”being valued.” Every fully scheduled week on iCal or busy season of travel and recording… well, it subtly implies that I’m being effective and doing something worthwhile. Granted, sometimes this is a false sense of value, but my point is this — moms aren’t ever edified by people, projects, or what they produce. and that’s just not right. Mom’s don’t get to see the fruit of their mom-projects. They don’t get encouraging emails from their kids. There’s no quick return, kick-back, pay stub, or approval given to moms for their countless hours of toiling and working. And in too many ways, moms find themselves discouraged and undervalued, as if their job is less important or validating as their husband’s. This is a problem.

2 – MOMS FEEL STUCK. Again, let’s be honest. When most of your life is spent in a mini-van driving the same path 1,000 times, it feels a little boring. When most of your life is spent cleaning up the same messes 1,000 times, loading the dishwasher 3 times a day, and keeping the washing machine constantly spinning, it feels a little… confining. I felt it. And I was only running solo for 5 days. As soon as the dishwasher was unloaded, the sink was full. Dear. Lord. On Friday, I made 3 round trips to the school that is 7 miles from our house. That’s 42 miles, 3 hours of driving in traffic, 1/2 of which had complaining kids in the back. At home, the healthy schedule to keep kids on track slowly turned into something so mundane, that I couldn’t help but feeling a little “stuck” this week. Mom’s need a release from the mundane. They need a jolt of spontaneity to kill the rigorous routine that comes with momhood. Working dads get it regularly. It’s no biggie for me to go have lunch with a friend in the middle of the day. I don’t think twice about staying up super late to work on music in the studio. But moms rarely have the option of doing anything spontaneous, and it leaves them feeling stuck.. and feeling stuck usually leads to boredom, apathy, and resentment. This is a problem.

3 — WEEKS WITH DAD ARE FUN, WEEKS WITH MOM ARE JUST NORMAL. Let’s be honest again, people. When it’s just dad holding down the fort, all rules are off. We eat out more than we can afford. The laundry stacks up. We miss sports practice, we resort to buying school lunches, and we show up to school late every single day. We rent expensive movies on Xbox, we stay up late, we forget to take care of our black kid’s hair, and we all wear the same clothes multiple days in a row. Dads are considered heroes because s they “run the house” alone for a few days. Friends come out of the woodwork offering help and empathy for having to handle all the kids alone. But, moms get NONE of this. They don’t do eating-out-spending-sprees just because dad is gone for a few days. They don’t get the freedom to just let it all go for a few days. They don’t have countless people texting and calling to see if they need something since their spouse is out of town. Why? Because dads are applauded for being daring enough to do what they should do, while moms are taken for granted and simply expected to get crap done. This is a problem.

4 — MOMS HAVE A HARDER TIME LOVING JESUS. Ok, last one.. again.. let’s be honest. I love Jesus. And what helps foster that love for Jesus is a daily routine of solitude, reading, and praying. It’s built into my calendar. I have a quiet office, a nice comfy chair, and an hour of time that is reserved only for reading the scripture and praying. I’ve found that to be crucial as a follower of Jesus and a pastor to people. But one thing I noticed this week is that it’s darn near impossible to have that sort of rhythm when you’re a full-time mom. There is no office to go to. There is no quiet, comfy chair without the interruption of anyone. When the schedule is filled with everything that it takes to keep the house and family running smoothly, it’s almost impossible to quietly sit at a table with Jesus and His Word. Instead, I sat at the dining room table with my moleskine and Bible yelling at kids for drawing on the table and playing swords inside the house. And when the day was done and kids were in bed, I was so tired that I just wanted to sit on the couch and fall asleep watching Chopped. No doubt, moms definitely have a harder time being still and quiet, scheduling time for the one necessary thing: to sit at the feet of Jesus to listen. This is a problem.

Ok, I started by saying I have no resolution, but I have to say just a few things. If Jamie (or any mom) were to write this exact blog it would be seen as “a mom bitching,” but somehow I’m getting away with being honest. So let me take full advantage of your ear, offering a few things Jamie and I have incorporated into our life to address our apparent “mom problem.”

1 — Mom needs to go away. We try to make that happen a few times a year. Just to let her GO and not be stuck. And this is on ME to make happen.

2 — Mom needs to be with Jesus. There are many times in the day/week, where Jamie needs to drive to Thunderbird Coffee and be alone reading her Bible. There are many times in the week where I cook dinner while Jamie goes to my office in the studio to sit and be quiet. And this is on ME to make happen.

3 — Mom needs to hear how big of a dent she’s making with her life. She’s not going to hear it from her selfish 8 year olds. She’s not going to hear it from reading a blog or watching a movie. She needs to hear it from her husband. This is on ME to make happen.

4 — Mom needs to find her complete worth in Jesus. Wow, this has to be so freaking hard. I can’t even pretend to understand all that goes into being a mom. But, I do know this. Whoever we are, whatever we do, however much we struggle, we all must find our total identity and worth in Jesus, alone. Moms can’t find their worth in their pro-bono parenting job. They can’t find it in their husband or the number of miles they drive in their car. They can only find value and worth in being a daughter of God… and beloved child of a loving and merciful Father, God. And once again, as Jamie’s husband and pastor, this is on ME to remind her constantly of her standing as God’s daughter…deeply loved, treasured, and valued.

My manifesto. There it is.

-Aaron Ivey

Judging

January 15, 2014

Evangelical Christians are often told not to judge. If there is one verse non-Christians know (after, perhaps, some reference to the “least of these”) is that’s Jesus taught people, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). Of course, what the casual Christian critic misses is that Jesus was not calling for a moratorium on moral discernment or spiritual evaluation. After all, he assumes five verses later that his followers will have the wherewithal to tell what sort of people in the world are dogs and pigs (Matt. 7:6). Believing in the sinfulness of sin, the exclusivity of Christ, and moral absolutes does not make one judgmental. Just look at Jesus.

But this doesn’t mean Matthew 7:1 has nothing to teach conservative Christians. Like everyone else on the planet, we have a propensity to assume the worst about people, to happily pass on bad reports, and to size up individuals and situations without knowing all the facts (or even half the facts). I’m not talking about disciplining wayward church members, or having hard conversations about people caught in sin, or refusing to ever take someone’s past behavior into account, or being hopelessly naive about the way the world works, or refraining from the public exchange of ideas, or suspending all our powers of discernment until we understand something or someone with omniscience. I’m talking about the all too natural tendency to shoot first and ask questions later (or not at all).

Is there a piece of biblical wisdom more routinely ignored on the internet, not to mention in our own hearts, than Proverbs 18:17?—”The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” I’ve never been accused of serious misconduct that I knew to be patently false or horribly misunderstood. But if I am someday, I hope folks will remember the book of Proverbs. “”If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Prov. 18:13). Too often we are quick to speak and slow to listen. The world, the flesh, the devil, and the internet want us to rush to judgment, when the Bible urges us to suspend judgment until we’ve heard from both sides. It happens all the time: pastors sinfully judge parishoners based on hearsay, church members criticize pastors without knowing the whole story, citizen assume the worst about politicians whenever another Scandalgate emerges, kids attack their siblings at the first whiff of error.

Most of us go through life hearing dozens of reports and accusations about celebrities, athletes, pastors, and people we know, operating under the unwritten rule that where there’s smoke there must be a fire. And that’s often true. But arsonists also light fires. Sometimes the cloud of controversy conceals a raging inferno of wrongdoing. But sometimes the pungent smell of smoke turns out to be crumbs in the toaster. Best not to yell “Fire!” in a crowded building, only to find out later your neighbor likes crispy Eggos.

Some readers may wonder what has prompted this post. Nothing in particular. And everything. There is no fresh incident which inspired these thoughts. Rather, I’m writing because of the sin that I know lurks in my own heart and because of the way the blogosphere and twitterverse demand full scale denunciations the way rambunctious eight year-olds demand pixie sticks. Give them what they want and they will only ask for more.

As Christians we realize that sin deserves rebuke and the sinned against should have our deepest compassion. But we should also remember from the last days of our Lord that believing every accusation can be just as bad as making them. As long as there is Jesus, we have to allow that “controversial” and “accused” do not always mean “troublemaker” and “guilty.” We should use the same measure with others that we would want used with us, which means an open heart and an open mind. Do you want people assuming the worst about you? Do I want people passing along every bad report they hear about me? What if people talked about us the way we talk about others?

I’ve often been challenged in this regard by the Heidelberg Catechism’s explanation of the ninth commandment:

God’s will is that I never give false testimony against anyone, twist no one’s words, not gossip or slander, nor join in condemning anyone without a hearing or without a just cause.

Rather, in court and everywhere else, I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind; these are devices the devil himself uses, and they would call down on my God’s intense anger. I should love the truth, speak it candidly, and openly acknowledge it. And I should do what I can do guard and advance my neighbor’s good name. (Q/A 112)

Think of your tweets (as I think of mine). Think of your posts. Think of your conversation with friends. Think of what you talk about with your husband. Or how you talk about your wife. Think of your emails and texts. Think of the speech pouring out of your heart. Are we doing all we can to guard and advance our neighbor’s good name? Or are we ready to believe the worst, eager to pass out failure, and happy to pile on when the pile gets popular? If the mere assertion of wrongdoing can ruin someone’s life–if that’s the moral universe we want to sustain, one where guilt is presumed and innocence is only declared after it’s too late–then you and I are only a whisper away from seeing it all go down the drain.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.”

It may not say what everyone wants it to say. But it still says a lot. Much more than many of us want to hear.

Nonsense!

January 9, 2014

President Obama’s nominee to be the nation’s top civil rights enforcer is a race-obsessed lawyer who tried to permanently free unrepentant cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Once again, Obama appoints the most vicious radical to a key leadership position. At Justice, no less. An anti-American, enemy of freedom demagogue. Obama’s hatred for this country sends shivers up my spine.
Radical racist Debo Adegbile has worked hard to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal gunned down policeman Daniel Faulkner in Philly in cold blood. As Faulkner tried to arrest Abu-Jamal’s brother during a traffic stop, Abu-Jamal shot the policeman once in the back and then stood over him and shot him four more times at close range, once directly in the face.
Welcome to Obama’s Department of Justice. The inmates are running the asylum.

Why God Comes First

January 8, 2014

When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God.
Psalm 73:16-17

If you were asked to name three things that pose the gravest general threats to the health of today’s marriages–and to your marriage in particular–what would be on your list? When Barbara and I were asked the same question recently, here are the three we gravitated toward:

Threat number one is not really knowing who God is. In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer wrote, “The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils among us.” When we fail to attribute to God the majesty of His supreme position over us and all creation, we weaken our need to stay accountable to Him in our behaviors and attitudes toward each other. We also lower the healthy self-esteem that’s derived from measuring our value in the light of His love and grace. Tozer summed it up, “The most important thing you think is what you think about God.”

Threat number two is selfishness. This shows itself in numerous degrees, from not wanting to help fold socks . . . to not caring what our schedules are doing to our families . . . to outright adultery. But in reality, this second threat breeds on the first one. Lives that are being constantly molded and characterized by a fear of the Lord will move toward humility and self-denial rather than living to satisfy self.

Threat number three is lack of biblical skills in resolving conflict. Conflict happens in marriage. It is simply unavoidable. But many people are not fully aware of the wealth of scriptural truth on this subject. Just following the admonition of a verse like Ephesians 4:32–being “kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you”–will change your life.

Discuss
Which of these three threats strike the closest to where you are right now? What commitments should you make to each other to counteract them?

Pray
Ask that you may see God in greater grandeur and glory with each passing day and that the resulting glow would enlighten and enliven your marriage.

Rainey

Looking Godly???

January 6, 2014

This time last year, I mentioned six ways to look godly while not growing in your faith — and then spent 2013 battling them, falling for them, and finding several other ways, too. So here, for 2014, are six more ways to look great while doing little…

1. Multitask your Quiet Time

Every day, head off to a quiet place in your house with a Bible for half an hour. It will really encourage anyone you live with, and set a great example. And half an hour is a very long time. A brief read of the Bible, a quick Lord’s Prayer, and you’ve got about 28 minutes left for thinking through some work issues, or writing a mental shopping list, or considering where to go on your next vacation, or even doing some serious meditation with your eyes closed.

2. Ask for prayer without praying yourself

You’re humbly dependent on God for all things. It’s just that this way, you can delegate your humble dependence to others while you get on with life. Plus, by sharing prayer requests in this way, others know you are humbly dependent; and they find out about all the unseen ministries you’re part of.

3. Confuse talking about application with actually doing it.

It takes humility and godliness to accept correction and challenge, so make a point each Sunday of telling someone (preferably someone different each week) how the sermon applied to your life and how you need to change. Then don’t. Maximum effect, minimal effort. It’s the thought that counts…

4. Only do ministries that are noticeable and enjoyable

For some reason, when our service is something we enjoy anyway, it hardly seems sacrificial at all. And serving others is so much more pleasant when those others notice what we’re doing for them.

5. Refuse to accept encouragement

Whenever someone does thank you or mention an area they think you’re growing, reply that you don’t really think they’re right. You’ll sound modest, and the person encouraging you will feel the need to encourage you all over again. More praise to fuel your image, while scoring good humility points.

6. Rearrange the Christian books on your bookshelves.

Last year, #6 was “Buy Christian books and put them straight on your bookshelf”. This year, you can save yourself some money by simply rearranging the ones you bought last year. After all, only really seriously godly Christians read books twice. Leave a few scattered around your house, preferably open.

-Carl