Comment Here



Ronald Dart's

Opinion Archives

December 26, 2009

On Prayer and Translations.

It occurs to me that translation of any document is not merely a matter of words. A lexicon will give you a number of words to choose from, but it isn’t much help in deciding which word to use in English. Much more is involved—the culture of a people, their style of communication, and, when it comes to the Bible, the broad theology of the book. Of the many words that might make a valid translation of a single Hebrew or Greek, there may be only one that catches the meaning in context. And it is the meaning that is the thing.

There are times, for example, when the King James Version gets it right, and times when it simply does not. According to the KJV, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). On the other hand, the New International Version renders the sentence: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." In both versions, a single word, energeo, is rendered by two words as the translators reach for meaning. But the Greek word comes from a root that simply means "active." Actually, I think James may be saying that the work of prayer is effective. If it seems strange to think of prayer as work, perhaps that explains why people find it so easy to forget to pray.

The word dikaios might be better rendered "just" instead of "righteous." Thus, the work of prayer by a just man or woman avails much. I don’t think of myself as righteous, but I am coming to see that the work of prayer does a lot more than I might have thought. And one need not be critical of people who put in a given number of minutes in prayer each day. Sometimes we work by the clock, and work has a beginning and an end.

I suspect that there are people whose special calling is the work of prayer. It is what God commissions them to do. These may be people who are physically limited and other types of work are closed to them. I do not think anyone is called to merely recite prayers written by others. The Psalms most likely are written to teach lessons about prayer, not to be merely recited. The Lord’s prayer was given in response to a request: Lord, teach us to pray, not "write us a prayer." Jesus responded, "After this manner, pray." He did not say, "pray these words," but he gave them an example to follow.

December 13, 2009

A Change of Heart, by Linda Gallia.

For the most part I do not agree with our President and the kind of change he has tried to bring to our country. I will agree with President Obama in the regard that I do believe our country needs "change". After lots of thought about this subject and some inspiration from other people I have listened to and some things I've read, I have come to another conclusion regarding the change we need. What kind of change will really help America? I wonder quite often how many Americans truly want to hear truth? I also wonder if our President believes he speaks the truth or if he is truly as deceived as he seems to be?

I was observing a discussion about Jonah and all that had happened with Nineveh when God sent him there. Usually we focus on Jonah and how he ran away and ended up in the belly of the whale, or "great fish". There are great lessons to be learned in what Jonah did. I have rarely seen much focus on the city of Nineveh or the people and why they repented. It really got me to thinking about the question: "Why did Nineveh repent?" It certainly seems that everyone in town repented, but it still begs the question: Why?
Read More

December 6, 2009

One World Government, How Likely?

December 6, 2009

For those interested in this kind of stuff, I built this site entirely on my own and maintain it using Microsoft FrontPage. It is a one man show, so you will see typos and other errors from time to time. I don't have time or staff for much proofreading. But the joy of FrontPage is that corrections are easily made. You can always point out needed corrections using the comment link (above, right), or my email address if you have it. I don't post my email address because of all the robots people use to collect them and send spam.

If you are conversant with MS products, you will find FrontPage easy to learn. I recommend a book titled, Teach Yourself Visually, FrontPage 2002. MS has passed beyond FrontPage to a new generation, but FP still works just fine for simple stuff and information transfer.

December 5, 2009

Psalm 94:12 ff.

Blessed is the man whom you chasten, O LORD,
and teach him out of your law;
that you may give him rest from the days of adversity,
until the pit be dug for the wicked.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
neither will he forsake his inheritance.
But judgment shall return unto righteousness:
and all the upright in heart shall follow it.

There is a powerful lesson in this short passage. The chastening of the Lord is a blessing because it keeps us from making mistakes that the wicked fall right into. There is a pit being dug for the wicked, and God's people pray regularly that it would be so. In recent days, we have seen startling examples of answered prayer as people we didn't recognize as wicked turn out to be so as they are exposed. So we recall that the chastisement of God may be painful, things would likely be much more painful without it. So don't be envious at the prosperity of the wicked (Psalm 73). Take your lumps gladly.

November 28, 2009

One of the problems Bible readers encounter is the common use of figures of speech. When we are cautioned that we are to live by "every word of God," it isn't surprising that we tend to take things literally when they actually are figures of speech, metaphors, similes, parallelism, etc. All these have Greek names that are confusing, but they do often render rewards when struggling with difficult passages. Everyone knows that "kicking the bucket," in English, has little to do with buckets (unless you milk your cows by hand). There is, online, a very useful resource for describing and analyzing the literary techniques used in the Bible. It is "Figures of Speech Used in the Bible," by E.W. Bullinger.  There are a number of such resources out there, but this one, which has been around a long time, is handy and easy to use.

The Bible is God's revelation to man, but it is also a fine work of literature, and and uses a wide variety of the figures Bullinger describes. You may want to bookmark this site.

November 27, 2009

I came across an old sermon recently which must be included in my planned "Collected Sermons" book. You can read it at this link: Facing the Tidal Wave. Here is how it begins:

II haven’t said anything up to now about the terrible tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami that have taken so many lives in Southeast Asia and caused so much suffering. With the wall to wall coverage we have been getting, it was hard to get a word in. Every news channel, every news magazine has film, pictures, explanations, scientific summaries of the physics of what happened.

       But something banged into my mailbox yesterday that forces my hand. I have to say something. A friend was calling my attention to an op ed piece by Joseph Farah taking the Archbishop of Canterbury to task for something he said about the disaster.

Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, says the earthquake and tsunami in South Asia should and will shake the faith of all Christians. “The question ‘How can you believe in a God who permits suffering on this scale?’ is therefore very much around at the moment, and it would be surprising if it weren't—indeed it would be wrong if it weren't,” he says.

        Now I am not sure what the archbishop meant in this statement, but I am sure that Joseph Farah didn’t get it. At first blush, I was prepared to accept what Farah said at face value. I lived in England for nearly seven years, and I got used to seeing one or another of the bishops of the church of England make some truly outrageous, even heretical statements about the Christian faith. It finally dawned on me that all these statements were occurring as Easter was coming on. I figured that the good bishops drew straws every year to see who could stir up some publicity for the church at Easter time. After all, it is axiomatic that negative news coverage is better than none at all. They probably got some people to come to church on Easter Sunday just to see what the uproar was all about.

       Before I went off half cocked about what Archbishop Rowan Williams said about the Indonesian quake and tsunami, I thought I would look it up in context. I am glad I did. I can’t repeat everything he said in this message, but two full paragraphs will serve to clarify. More.

November 21, 2009

Got a question this morning on the pre/post tribulation argument. Answer here.

November 20, 2009

I got a letter a couple of days ago that expressed dissatisfaction with my use of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. As it happens, I was brought up on the King James Version (KJV), and have used it for years as my primary Bible. I love the old language, and admire the work of the translators. When I use the KJV in a sermon, I commonly paraphrase as I go to make the read fall better on the ear.

About the time I was writing my books, I got a complaint from a young reader that he had difficulty in reading the KJV—I think that is fairly common in this post Shakespeare generation. So, I switched to the NKJV, but hit a snag. The publishers of the NKJV have much more stringent copyright rules than the NIV, and so I switched to the NIV, correcting it where I felt it was in error. Even now, I use the KJV as my primary study Bible and usually speak from it. But it is sometimes difficult, especially in print.

In point of fact, there are places where the NIV is more true to the Greek than the KJV, and there are places where the opposite is true. And then there are the textual issues as well. Doing the best for my readers leaves me with the NIV where it is useful and another version where it is not.

November 18, 2009

Came across an interesting link this morning having to do with the Stock market, that had a lot of interesting graphs and stuff. I am utterly unqualified to give financial advice, but then who is qualified. Joe Friday only wanted the facts, and those are hard to come by these days. To be a faithful steward of what God has given us, attention must be paid to what is going on.  We have to watch out for the Sundowners these days, some of whom may be crying "Wolf!" This chap does not seem to be doing that:

Why the Stock Market Should Crash

November 12, 2009

The latest version of Living to Win, the CEM Newsletter is posted here due to the construction proceeding on the Born to Win site. I'll try to include any audio links as soon as I have them. We should have an email going out shortly with the links as well. I am particularly anxious that you should hear the program on Progressive Christianity.

Watch for news here, and sign up for the email updates.

November Living to Win

November 5, 2009

We are studying Romans in the Online Bible Study, and it occurred to me that even an English major can forget how figures of speech are used.

Paul uses many figures of speech in his letters, and it is useful to understand the principle behind the practice. Figures of speech are as old as speech itself, and have been studied extensively. For a useful rundown of the top 20 figures of speech, and a link to many more, see this link.

The Top Twenty Figures of Speech.

The Prayer Lady, by Lenny Cacchio.

October 23, 2009

Too Much, Too Fast.

Peggy Noonan’s column today, It's His Rubble Now, was thoughtful and thought provoking. In the first few months Obama’s presidency, she gave him the benefit of the doubt, the chance to govern without frivolous criticism. But in recent weeks, she has been forced to call it what it is. The parallel drawn with Bush, standing on the rubble of the World Trade Center is apt. The economic rubble upon which Barack Obama now stands is his rubble.

That said, there was one disconnect in her piece that deserves some thought. She said, "The case can be made that day by day he's moving the Democrats of Congress in the historic direction he desires. All his adult life he's played the long game, which takes patience and skill."

I suppose that is true at one level, but one has to wonder about the tactics in this game. He is pushing aspects of his program at breakneck speed. If I were a creator of bumper stickers, I would have one on the market that said, "Too Much--Too Fast." The change he wants to bring about is generational, the work of a generation, not a term of congress.

When Douglas MacArthur took over as commandant of West Point, reform was definitely in order, but the General said that the changes that were coming would be evolutionary, not revolutionary. If, indeed, the health care situation in this country needs reform, it is plainly a long term job. Trying to go from where we are to a European style national health system should not be attempted with a coup. As Ms. Noonan said in an earlier column to the Democrats, "you are scaring us."

If the president had defined one, fixable area of the healthcare problem and addressed it clearly, his ratings today would be far higher than they are and he would be laying the groundwork for a second term. As it is, people are increasingly becoming uncomfortable with him. I have no special insight into what should be done. All I know is that the president appears to be attempting too much, too soon. The grand old American system may be on the verge of rebuking him.

October 22, 2009

At the feast this year, Allie prepared a speech for orientation of teachers who teach the YEA program at the Feast of Tabernacles. There were more that 150 children registered for the program this year. Because of our accident, Allie gave the speech to Paula Hughes who read it to the assembled teachers. I quoted part of it in my first morning sermon. By popular demand, we have published the text of the speech, both in print and on the Web, right here. Give it a read: Change---is it Good?

Q and A

What does Paul mean when he says Christ is the "end of the law" and what was actually nailed to the cross? Read an answer here.

October 20, 2009

The cover of Time magazine recently featured an article titled: "The State of the American Woman." The subtitle was: "A new poll shows why they are more powerful—but less happy."1 I must have missed something in all the poll results, because I didn’t really get a clear vision of why women are less happy. I can’t say I am surprised at the result. More power does not often result in greater happiness.

The authors wrote about what has come to be called, "The War Between the Sexes," but a much more interesting article appeared about the same time in First Things, a journal of religion and public life. By Mary Eberstadt, it was titled, "What does Woman Want?" 2 Subtitle: "The war between the sexless."

Teeing off on two articles on opposite sides of the marriage issue, Mary Eberstadt asks an obvious question: What is modern marriage doing to kids? I get the impression that a lot of people would rather not talk about that. For Ms. Eberstadt, though, there was a more interesting question: "What is modern marriage doing to adults? More precisely, what today is the state, in our apparently postmodern, postfeminist, post-judgmental social order, of what antiquarians once thought of as ‘the war between the sexes’?"

She cites Caitlin Flanagan’s article in Time, "Is There Hope for the American Marriage?" "There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage. It hurts children, it reduces mothers’ financial security, and it has landed with particular devastation on those who can bear it least: the nation’s underclass."

There was one telling line: "The current generation of children, the one watching commitments between adults snap like dry twigs and observing parents who simply can’t be bothered to marry each other and who hence drift in and out of their children’s lives—that’s the generation who will be taking care of us when we are old."

The other side of the story, told by Sandra Loh, amounts to two charges made repeatedly, almost always by women and with many echoes elsewhere in contemporary sources: first, that the combined pressures of motherhood and marriage and breadwinning are just too much to bear; and second, that many of today’s marriages—that is to say, marriages made among enlightened, older, educated, sophisticated people—are a sexual desert.

Now how on earth has that happened. There may have been a society in history as sex obsessed as ours, as inundated with everything from bikinis to pornography and married couples live in a sexual desert? The answer seems to be that contemporary man has lost interest in sex.

I had wondered about that. Some time ago, I noticed that the aspirin and Alka-seltzer advertisements had all but disappeared and had been replaced by ads about Viagra and Cialis. The number of men, still in the prime of life who need help in this area is, well, surprising, to say the least. You don’t need scientific surveys to know that something is wrong. All you have to do is watch television.

So what is going on? One answer cited by Eberstadt gets close to the heart of the matter. It was a study by Jean Twenge based on data collected from 16,000 college student, that found a sharp rise in what she called, "narcissism index," disproportionally among the young women.

Eberstadt, though, seems to trace the trend back to pornography. It is true enough that porn plays a role in desensitizing males to the allures of the fairer sex. But the game didn’t start there. It started back in the ‘60s when Mary Quant invented the mini and then micro skirt.

I’ll leave it to you to read Eberstadt’s article. It is well worth your time. But I think women have followed style all the way to our teens wearing what is called "slut wear" and have played a major role in desensitizing men to sex. Pornography is the end game. The opening gambit occurred long ago.

I can’t hold out a lot of hope. For things to change, it would take nearly all women everywhere re-mystifying sex again by simply covering up. It doesn’t require a burqa. Just lowering hemlines and raising necklines would be a start. A next step would be back to the one piece bathing suit. But don’t worry, that’s not going to happen. Fashion won’t permit it. If you are a woman, you can do it yourself, but you will be mostly alone, I fear.

October 19, 2009

We have had a long and happy relationship with Christian Educational Services, Australia (CESA). They are an independent service ministry, like CEM, and they are licensed to distribute all our material in the land down under. John Klassek was kind enough to send a link to a page of pictures from their festival. I thought for certain that many of you would enjoy a look in. They often have visitors from overseas, and will surely make you welcome should you decide to go.

Feast of Tabernacles, Caloundra, Queensland, 2009

October 17, 2009

I see that the Borntowin.net site is back up, but the forum is not. One of the problems is some unexpected conflicts between the rebuild of the Born to Win site in a dot.net.nuke format and the operation of the forum on the same server. For the time being, this site will have to be News One for our operation. The live streaming experiment worked well today, some tell me better than it did for the feast. We will be making it a standard from now on, and I hope we will get better at it.

As for the forum, I will be looking overnight for a substitute forum to see us through. Watch this space for news of what we are doing. I am sorry for the inconvenience. The timing of the problem was unfortunate, because it caught us on the hop after the feast.

Allie and I made the trip home without incident and with the help of Skip and Diane Martin who delivered our rental car back to Lucedale, Ms. I purchased another car in Florida so we could get home. Allie felt well enough to help drive back, and we are recovering from the feast. Allie is recovering from her injuries. Apparently, she suffered a separated sternum which was causing the pain, but that is improving.  We are very grateful for the good wishes and prayers of our friends, and feel we were spared a much worse outcome.

Today's sermon was titled, "How the First Christians Assembled." About 50 tuned in to live streaming, which probably translates out to about 100 viewers. The CDs will go out Monday to those on the list to receive them, and the download link will be emailed Monday as well.

That's it for tonight.

October 16, 2009

One of the great lessons from Psalm 94 is the short passage that reads, "Blessed is the man whom you chasten, O LORD, and teach him out of your law; That you may give him rest from the days of adversity."

It calls to mind that great passage from Paul: "The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" (Hebrews 12:6 NIV).

Understand and know that while the time of chastening seems grievous, it is designed to keep us from far worse pain and loss later on. And the lessons to be learned are found in the law.

September 27. 2009

Thomas Sowell touched on an aspect of race relations today that I had only partly thought about. For some little time, I have felt we don't have a race problem so much as a culture problem. Reading this, I began to realize how we hurt, not merely black Americans, but the entire country with segregation. Slavery was bad enough, but when we freed the slaves, we didn't set them completely free. That's a hard thing to do. Even Moses had a problem with that. But Sowell caused a couple of ideas to gel in my mind. One is that in segregating blacks, we forced them to develop their own separate culture. Naturally, many tended to look toward Africa, having little idea of the disaster the real Africans were creating in the home country. This began to become clear to me when I listened to the sermons of Jeremiah Wright, the Pastor of the church where Barack Obama attended for some 20 years.

What this has done is to imbed the remaining vestiges of serious racism in, of all places, the black churches. And why, in this age of reconciliation, do we still have black churches? It is not because blacks are not welcomed in non-black churches. White Christians long ago learned better than that. It may be because of the roots of Black Liberation Theology.

In any case, Thomas Sowell shed some light on the subject with "The Underdogs." Maybe we need to replace the term "racism" with "culturism." Seems more accurate.

September 13, 2009

A New question shows up today. See the Q and A  page.

August 30, 2009

Working my way through Psalm 81 this morning, I came to "selah" for the umpteeth time and looked again at the Hebrew and the usage in the psalms. I am increasingly aware of the musical nature of the psalms, and at the same time noticing it in a parallel study in Ezekiel. I am coming to the conclusion that one of the reasons we have trouble with some passages is that we are interpreting them as prose when they are written to be sung. Selah comes from a root that means "to hang up," hence, "suspension." But what is suspended? It could be that the singer pauses and allows a musical interlude, or that the instrument is "hung up" and the singer(s) continue a capella. I am inclined toward the latter, not only because it is the words of the psalm that matter, but also because singing a capella changes the mood. It caused me to remember: "By the rivers of Babylon-- there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our harps (Psalms 137:1-2 NRSV).

This goes with another thing I am seeing: The change in perspective. When you start noticing that a few verses are sung in the first person about God, and the next verses are sung in the first person singular as from God, the psalm begins to take on a new shape. At first, I just assumed this was like the mixed metaphor, merely a reflection of Hebrew thought. But then it dawned on me that if this was in performance, it might be done by two singers or a singer and a chorus. If their music were done in the idiom of, say, Bach, Handel or Mendelssohn, it would be a cantata or an oratorio. This has jarred me loose from some old views of the prophets.

I am surprised it has taken me so long to see this, because it seems fairly obvious. How broadly does this affect our hermeneutics? We already know we can't take the Bible literally everywhere. Maybe our problem is not merely literal/figurative, but prose/musical.

Now add the element of vocal interpretation. I had a high school speech teacher who, when interscholastic speech competition came along, entered me in, of all things, poetry reading. It turned out to be one of the best things any speech teacher ever did for me. It was there I learned how much meaning could be developed in reading text aloud. Pacing, volume, pausing, and other vocal effects could completely change the way the listener received the text. Every musical artist knows that even with a mechanical device like a piano, there can be enormous differences in interpretation of a piece of music.

This is a good reason for families and churches to have oral readings of scripture. Not merely the monotone reading of verses as is commonly done, but interpretive reading. Teach your kids to read the scriptures aloud, with feeling. Teach them to interpret the scriptures with the voice.

August 16, 2009

Psalm 74, revisited

This psalm seems to have been written at a time of invasion and destruction. Even the sanctuary of God is burned. We get a glimpse into a very hard time. The picture I get from Jeremiah and others is that Israel was no longer capable of governing themselves, so God sent the Babylonians to govern them. It seems clear enough that by the time Jesus walked the streets of the city, they were coming to the same terrible pass. It would be almost 40 years, but the Temple would once again be destroyed.

            As one watches Israel in the modern world, the thought occurs that once again, they are falling into disarray and are increasingly failing to meet challenges as they once did. Even here in the United States, we seem to be seeing a failure of government. This Psalm seems to be a prayer for all ages and all places.

Read it here: Psalm 74

July 26, 2009

A Broken Wall

I have seen before what happens when a tragedy strikes suddenly and without warning. A gentleman I knew lost his wife in a terrible car accident. One day she was there, smiling, cheerful, beautiful. And the next day she was gone. In another case, a man went down with a stroke and died quickly. There was no hint of a health problem before he died.

As a minister, I see so much of this, and it all has one thing in common. Those who experience this kind of sudden loss feel numb for some time thereafter. They often say, “It just hasn’t hit me yet.” Or “I can’t feel anything.” It is different when someone dies after a long illness. The wife, the husband, the kids have all prepared themselves and can enter more gently into grief. But it doesn’t work the same way when death is sudden, unexpected, unfair, or even evil. More.

July 24, 2009

Psalm 88

The poor fellow who wrote this psalm had been in great anguish of soul for a long time. And he suffered, not only from isolation from God, but from everyone else. He was alone in his suffering. Not only that, but he had been this way from his youth. And yet, he has not lost his faith in God. He just wonders how long it will have to be this way. And he pleads his case for life. 
            The superscription of this psalm suggests either a tune or an exhortation to care for, visit, and understand the feelings of those who are ill. So many ill people put on a good face, and you have no idea of the depths of despair that creeps up on them in the night. This psalm gives you a look behind the facade so many brave souls erect. It is also something of a plea to come visit. Try reading it again with that in mind, and remember the isolation and loneliness of those who approach the end of their lives.

July 12, 2009

The previously announced chat room is not working well, so I have placed an embedded chat on this site. See the linked room near the top of the left column.

July 9, 2009

I had never heard of David French before I spotted a column of his just this morning: "Obama's Irrelevant War Rhetoric." Just one paragraph here, but the whole column is worth the time.

"My entire life, I firmly believed the pen was mightier than the sword and that great armies moved under the inspiration of great men. Now, I’m not so sure. In one year, my small unit — an armored cavalry squadron of less than 1,000 men -- liberated hundreds of square miles of Diyala Province from the darkest evil. It was not stirring rhetoric that stopped AQI terrorists from torturing and beheading entire villages, or shooting children in the face to “send a message,” or imposing the worst forms of Sharia law while they spent their days high on drugs, raping women, and watching Turkish porn. It was not the pen that cleared mine-laden roads or brought the first signs of economic life to communities trapped in grinding poverty. "

July 8, 2009

It is always gratifying when someone who has the public ear, and plenty of contacts among the elite, comes to the same conclusion you came to yourself. That happened again to me this morning when Tony Blankley asked simply, "Why can't we just take Sarah Palin at her word?"  For days I have been asking that of myself and adding, "and wait and see what she is going to do?

A governor turns the office over to a competent lieutenant governor and steps down to get off the stage and take her state out of the line of fire. Normally, that might have taken a short notice on the news. But people of power obsess over Sarah Palin, because she is everything they are not, and because she poses a threat to their own power. This is just as true of Republican nabobs as Democrats.

One thing I found of special interest. She got more news coverage than anyone would ever have expected. Free of charge. You may want to read Blankley this week. His column is penetrating.

July 3, 2009

I don't always agree with Peggy Noonan (I know, that is a silly thing to say, because I don't always agree with anyone). That said, she is always worth reading. She is conservative (perhaps libertarian conservative along with William Safire and George Will), and open minded. And she is a patriot. But the reason she is worth reading is that she writes so very well. An example is today's column, Making History. She wrote of the men who were the founders of this country, and of David McCullough, whom she titled, "America's greatest living historian." About this man, she had this to say:

  • Almost two years ago, I was lucky enough to tour Mount Vernon with a dozen people including him. (If I were David McCullough I would know the date and time. But I know the weather.) At the bottom of a stairway leading to the second floor, we chatted for a moment, and I asked him how he accounted in his imagination for the amazing fact of the genius cluster that founded our nation. How did so many gifted men, true geniuses, walk into history at the same time, in the same place, and come together to pursue so brilliantly a common endeavor? "I think it was providential," he said, simply. Well, so do I. If you do too, it's part of what you're celebrating today.

Providential. It is a word men used to understand. It doesn't mean "lucky." By definition, providence means, "Divine guidance or care." And it is indeed part of what we celebrate this weekend.

June 27, 2009

My apologies for not having this up last night. I forgot that many of you won't get the newsletter. Here is the link. It is still on the Podcast site.

Weekend Bible Study, Ezekiel 19-20.

Those chapters were hard going.

New set of sermon notes today. Will record it this afternoon: Godliness with Contentment.
It is a sermon for this age.

June 26, 2009

Peggy Noonan doesn't swing for the fence. She is a switch hitter, changing sides of the plate, depending on the pitcher. And she places her hits carefully. Forgive the baseball analogy, but it came to mind reading today's column. I read Peggy consistently, and I think she bats in the 300 range. She has avoided piling on the new President, because there is a time to give a man a chance; or a time to give him enough rope. Her column today, "To-Do List: A Sentence, Not 10 Paragraphs," is a remarkably insightful view and comes from someone who knows what it is like to be young and in the Whitehouse. She is a good writer, and wise, and I hardly need to add: but no one is perfect.

What she has done today is to put her finger squarely on what is wrong with the Obama administration. Perhaps it is not all that is wrong, but an awful lot of what is wrong stems from that title. Do yourself a favor and read her column. It may go a long way toward explaining why Obama could be another one term president.

June 24, 2009

Things are improving a bit, but we still can't access the old WBS files online. I'll have links on this page Friday that will go to last Sabbath's sermon and the Weekend Bible Study that will start with Ezekiel 19. Most of the CEM website is fine, but some of the front page links are broken. We have someone working on it as we speak.

So watch this page, and be sure and look down the page. The most current dates are here at the top.

I often mention the History and Prophecy series, and Doug Young has them posted on his sermon site. Just click on this link. The series is down the page. History and Prophecy.

June 22, 2009

The Born to Win site is back up and operating, although some links are still broken. Check back here from time to time for updates, and if you aren't signed up for the email newsletter, by all means, please do so. We will leave these links here for the time being and will put up more as we can.

The Forum: You can access the forum at this link: CEM and Friends.

Here is a radio link from a recent program: The Will to Disbelieve.

Sermon notes from last Sabbath: That I May Know Him.

And our Father's Day radio program: A Father in the House.

The Bible study for this weekend: Ezekiel 17-18.  Because our website is down, this is posted on "Pod O Matic" for your convenience.

We are sorry that we can't give you the older Bible studies right now, but we are working on it.

June 7, 2009

This morning's radio program, "The Class that Never Was," (which played on all our stations) was originally recorded in 2002, and played in Graduation week. I got a couple of emails this morning asking about the information, scripture references, etc. in the program. Much to my surprise, I found the notes to the program in my archives and posted it this morning in my program notes.  So for all you who are interested in the biblical issues associated with abortion, the notes are there for you.

May 27, 2009

Posted today in Sermon Notes, "The Kingdom of Heaven."


May 25, 2009

I am still working in the Psalms and found the 62nd Psalm almost as relevant to today's world as the 64th. Take a look.

May 6, 2009

As I was editing the next book of Psalms this morning, I came to the 64th, and it seemed strikingly relevant to the national scene. I have heard more and more people expressing fear of their government--a very unnatural response for law abiding citizens. Then, I came upon Psalm 64. Does it say anything to you?

April 28, 2009

I carry copies of the magazine, First Things, to have something to read when waiting at the doctor’s office, or oil changes on the car, etc. That is how I happened to read an item from last summer by Richard John Neuhaus, in his regular column, “The Public Square.” The presidential campaign was going strong, and Senator Barack Obama was the focus of everyone’s attention. I laid the article aside at the time, but came across it again in last few days. Mr. Neuhaus died last January, and I am sorry we have lost an editor with his insight. Here is what he said at that time about Barack Obama and his roots: 

The senator lends his prestige to the claim promoted by sundry race hustlers that Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Clarence Thomas, and Bill Cosby, along with millions of other black Americans, are not black enough to be part of “the black community.” One can understand why a Harvard Law School graduate born in Hawaii with a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas would, for political and perhaps personal reasons, seek the street credentials of having “roots” in a militantly black sector of the intensely race-conscious city of Chicago. But complicity in the explicit slander of America and the implicit slander of most blacks in America is a very high price to pay for a ticket of admission to “the black community.” Read on

April 14, 2009

How many legs does a dog have if you count the tail as a leg?

Abraham Lincoln asked a crowd that question, and most people answered "five." Wrong, said Lincoln. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. Taking off from this homely illustration, Thomas Sowell today addressed a fundamental fallacy in progressive thinking: Magic Words.

What I had not known until I read it in his column (which his readers gave five stars), was that China is starting to sell some of its holdings of U.S. bonds. Economic advice is not my specialty, and I had thought that bonds have a face value that can only be redeemed at maturity. That is true enough, but apart from the face value, bonds have a market value that can change from day to day. New bonds have to be issued and sold at today's market value.

Common sense suggests that if the Chinese are trying to unload large amounts of U.S. government bonds, that will put a downward pressure on prices-supply and demand and all that, you know. That means our government will have to lower prices or raise interest rates on the new bonds we want to sell. I can't tell you what effect this will have on our economy, but you don't have to be an expert to realize it is not good.

"The Chinese are not fools," observed Thomas Sowell, and they realize that inflation is coming: "That in turn means that the dollars with which U.S. government bonds will be paid off will be worth a lot less than the dollars with which the bonds were bought."

I don't know, but I suspect the government is counting on the man in the street not realizing that inflation is a hidden tax. The intellectuals in the administration know it well enough, and it makes their statements that "no one making less than 250,000 dollars a year will have a tax increase" into, well, a lie. Assume an inflation rate of, say, 13.5 percent (which we saw in 1980), and that your apartment rents today for 500 dollars a month. When your lease comes up for renewal in 12 months, the rent will be 567 dollars a month. That will take another 804 dollars out of your pocket. And lest you think your wage will go up the same percentage, 1980 saw seven percent unemployment as well. Those were the years of the "misery index."

But the value of the article does not stop there. You can read the whole thing at Magic Words in Politics.

There are those who think precious metals are the refuge in times to come. But you can't eat Gold, and there is always this to think about:

  • "In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth" (Isaiah 2:20-21).

This may be a time for us to respond as Paul:

  • But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:7-9).


April 4, 2009

God--In Person

Is God everywhere? Is he in every leaf of every tree? Does he permeate the cosmos with his being? Is he in every blade of grass?

Well, yes and no. God is in every blade of grass in the same way I am in a transceiver I built years ago and later sold. You might even find some of my DNA in that radio, because I got a little careless with my tools. But I am not there. I am here.

God is in every blade of grass in the same way my wife is in the little painting she did years ago when we were playing with oils. But if you think you can put your foot on God when you walk across the grass, you are badly mistaken.

I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know where it happened. It has probably happened over and over again in history, but somehow, we have been sold a bill of goods about what Andree Seu calls “A lower case, upper story god who was the ‘ground of being.’” Whatever in the world that means. God is not everywhere. He is where he wants to be when he wants to be there. More

April 4, 2009

I wonder when the first case against the newest laws of the new congress will hit the courts. Typically, these things take a while, but it seems plain enough that little consideration is being given to the constitutionality of actions being taken right now by both the legislative and executive branches of government. During the campaign, I was worried a the way some candidates talked like they were running for emperor instead of president. I discounted it as campaign rhetoric, but now I can no longer discount it. They meant it.

George Will, last week, rose to the challenge and called the actions of congress unconstitutional. I think it is only a matter of time until someone or some group decide to find out through the courts. It seems the administration is determined not to waste a good crisis. I hope the people have the will to stand up for the constitution.




March 23, 2009

Is the Middle East ready for democracy?

One would wish it were so, but the answer is obviously, no. That is not to say that the Taliban didn't need to be destroyed, nor that hanging Saddam Hussein was not an improvement. But American politics has led to a disconcerting and unrealistic approach to the region and to Islam. There are two opposing postures visible in government: idealism and realism. For a very long time, the west was realistic about the Arabic speaking world. Thus we worked with what some people said were repressive regimes. Those regimes, often as not, repressed movements that would have made the life of the man in the street even worse.

As idealism began to dominate foreign (and domestic) policy, a new level of instability began to emerge. For a useful insight, read the piece appearing today by Barry Rubin, "Middle East still not ready for democracy."


March 15, 2009

Yet another experiment begins this morning. Look on the left for "Program Notes." I plan to have staff print these for the prisoners on our list who can't receive tapes or cds. There may be other uses as well, some of which are suggested on the introductory page. This may also involve sermon notes.

March 14, 2009

I have two programs circulating now that are related in a curious way. Neither of them has aired at this date; they have only been offered to our mailing list. They will play on the air in the next few months. I just this morning listened to one of them, "The Testimony of Four," which discusses why and how the four Gospels were written and preserved. The program is important because of insidious and persistent attempts to undermine the authenticity of the New Testament. Often, these efforts come about to justify a belief system which cannot be easily maintained in the face of plain statements by Jesus and the apostles.

The other program, "The Will to Disbelieve," is related in that belief systems are often based, not on evidence, but upon the will or need of the of the believer in the system. It has now been experimentally determined that people rarely change their deeply held belief systems, whether they are religious or political. I had known this for a long time, but did not entirely understand why it is so. I suspect it is closely connected to what Viktor Frankl calls, "Man’s drive to meaning."

One thing that brought them together, oddly enough, is the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19ff.) The point of the parable is not, as is often supposed, a description of what hell is like, but rather Jesus' summarizing words: "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." That is counter to what one might have thought, but it turns out to be true in practice as well. People are not persuaded nearly so much by argument as by their unspoken and unrecognized needs.

You can listen to both of these programs by clicking on the links provided above. The connection may not be immediately apparent to all, but it is likely that it will become so in time to come.

March 13, 2009

There is an insight in Peggy Noonan’s column today, but she doesn’t come right out and say it. The column, titled, "There's No Pill for This Kind of Depression," walks through her set of experiences, contacts, neighborhoods, and describes the mood of people far and wide. She observed:

      [The] economy isn't the only reason for our unease. There's more to it. People sense something slipping away, a world receding, not only an economic one but a world of old structures, old ways and assumptions. People don't talk about this much because it's too big, but I suspect more than a few see themselves, deep down, as "the designated mourner," from the title of the Wallace Shawn play.

For me, it is summarized in President Obama’s mantra: We are going to remake America. I think a lot of Americans are mourning the passing of the country we love. And it didn’t have to be so. Even the perceived snub of Britain’s Prime Minister is a symptom. If you really want to understand what happened there, you need to go to You Tube and review the sermons of Jeremiah Wright. I doubt the President thought of it this way, but the Prime Minister of Great Britain is a "White European." And for those immersed in Black Liberation Theology, there is a clear antipathy for that category of people. It is risky business for a president to carry prejudice into his foreign relations.

No one knows what our beloved country will look like in another 10 years, but sometimes a little fear can be a good thing—especially when there is something to fear besides fear itself. Ms. Noonan commented on the increase in gun sales: "People are scared." It is funny how insecurity manifests itself. I heard a talking head on the radio this week remark that styles are starting to change: cleavage is out, women are starting to cover up. The boldness of the past few years is being replaced by a sense of vulnerability. It may even affect spring break.

I suggest reading the entire column (The link may only be there for a week). She is describing how this country is getting the medicine it needs: a dose of reality.

March 6, 2009

Ouch! I didn't realize it had been a month since I posted here. There have been many distractions, but that is hardly an excuse. I was stung to action today by a piece that appeared in the Jerusalem Post titled: "How Obama, Hillary and Kerry will, ultimately, bring peace to the Middle East." What made this article hit so hard was the fact that it confirmed in concrete terms what I have already come to fear.  Here is the way the piece ended:

The Obama administration has no intention of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power or Syria from maintaining its alliance with the mullahs. The White House seeks far more modest ends.

Through its policies towards Israel on the one hand and Iran and Syria on the other, the Obama administration demonstrates that it has already accepted a nuclear Iran. Its chief concern today is to avoid being blamed when the mushroom clouds appear in the sky. And it may well achieve that aim. After all, how could the administration be blamed for a nuclear Iran when it has wholly devoted its efforts to advancing the righteous cause of peace?

I fear great loss of life may fall out (no pun intended) from the Obama foreign policy. These are dangerous times, I fear.

February 6, 2009

In the weeks since the election, Peggy Noonan has solidly maintained the posture of a good American, respecting the constitutional process and recognizing that the people had spoken. She seemed reluctant to criticize the President elect until he had done something that could be evaluated. Today, she said what a lot of people are thinking. A moment of truth came and she described how it seemed:

  • On Wednesday, in an interview with Politico, Dick Cheney warned of the possible deaths of "perhaps hundreds of thousands" of Americans in a terror attack using nuclear or biological weapons. "I think there is a high probability of such an attempt," he said.

    When the interview broke and was read on the air, I was in a room off a television studio. For a moment everything went silent, and then a makeup woman said to a guest, "I don't see how anyone can think that's not true."

    I told her I'm certain it is true. And it didn't seem to me any of the half dozen others there found the content of Cheney's message surprising. They got a grim or preoccupied look.

Funny thing is, that the left has so demonized Dick Cheney that he was not taken seriously in too many quarters.  It seemed to me that Ms. Noonan has come to the same conclusion Carl Rove came to concerning the new President: "He's just winging it."

Personally, I think I see a profound example of the danger of inexperience in the most powerful office in the free world. Throughout the financial crisis that emerged in the closing weeks of 2008, I was left feeling that no one had a clue what to do about it.

Read Peggy Noonan's column by clicking here. It is worth every minute.


January 27, 2009

I missed this entirely until Chuck Norris called it to my attention, and I think most of the world did. He called it the most important thing that happened at the inauguration of President Obama, and he has a point. Moreover, Rick Warren is a little more subtle than I thought he was. Read it here.

January 23, 2009

Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body (Hebrews 13:1-3).

Does intercessory prayer really make a difference? We should hope so, because Jesus "Ever lives to make intercession" for us (Hebrews 7:25). But this passage adds an intensity that goes beyond mere sympathy. There seems to be a question in some of the versions about the phrase, "in the body." The New American Standard Bible, for example, renders the phrase, "since you yourselves also are in the body." I am not sure how to take that, because some would say, "in the body," means in the church—the body of Christ.

I don’t think that is what Paul is saying, because this is a Hebraism. It is eye opening when you come to recognize parallelism in the Psalms, and a lot of obscure or ambiguous phrases become clear. Paul, being a Hebrew thinker, quite naturally expresses himself in parallel phrases. The first phrase, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them" controls the second "as being in the body." Paul urges an empathy with sufferers, as urgent as if you were the one who was suffering, or as being right there with them.

January 19, 2009

"Disillusionment Is Necessary for Salvation"

Forgive me for citing another of Dart's Laws. This one was developed in the atmosphere of religious disillusionment and a doctrinal argument about what was necessary for salvation. I concluded that, to whatever extent one has illusions about religion and religious leaders, disillusionment is a necessary step for the saving of the soul.

The rule comes mind as I watch all the preparations for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Someone noted that the University of Virginia was cancelling classes on inauguration day, something they apparently have never done before. It is an example of the expectations that have been built up for the 44th president, and one wonders what the reaction will be when the inevitable disillusionment comes. No mortal could ever live up to the giddy expectations that have been developed around this man and his political campaign.

The president of the United States of America is neither king nor dictator, much less a Messiah.  The constitution places him as an equal power against congress and the Supreme Court. No man can live up to the promises of a political campaign, so the greater the promise, the harder the fall.

I suspect that President Obama would have been better served with a smaller majority in congress. Now, the Democratic Party cannot hide behind the Republicans, and President Bush will be in Dallas enjoying his retirement. Power corrupts, and the future political battles will likely be among Democrats rather than between parties.

Let the disillusionment begin. Maybe we can get back to constitutional governance.

January 17, 2009

As President Bush leaves office, I am once again impressed with what a decent and honorable man he is--and the certainty that history will judge him better than this generation. It was gratifying to read Thomas Sowell this morning, who presents the best summary of the Bush presidency I have read to date. I especially enjoyed his opening paragraph:

  • Whatever history's verdict on the Bush administration might be, it is likely to be very different from what we hear from the talking heads on television or read from the know-it-alls on editorial pages. [Emphasis mine.]

January 8, 2009

"If riches increase,
set not your heart upon them"
Psalm 62:10).

I think this is a hard thing to avoid, especially in the modern world, and for the strangest of reasons. For some time now, there has been increasing pressure on charitable organizations. For one thing, the Internal Revenue Service has added a feature (I suppose to make filing easier) called "the standard deduction." Thus there is an amount you can deduct whether you give to charity or not. The effect of this is to move charity slowly from private hands to public.

I once asked some elderly friends of mine how people made it before social security. They almost seemed surprised that I asked. "Family," came the reply, "and if no family, then local charity." When I cast my mind back to those days, I ponder how it would affect me to know that my mother would not have anything to take care of her in old age. I would obviously change my approach to saving and spending to be sure she was taken care of. Then I would realize that unless I planned for it, I would have nothing to live on either.

It creates a very different, and far more responsible, approach to life and living. I recall there was a county home for the elderly, handicapped and indigent. It was a government program, paid for by taxes, but it was local, and thus under the full control of the local taxpayers. Was it really worse than starving on social security? I doubt it.

Before social security there was family, charity (mostly churches), and local assistance. The motivation to give was compelling. But when the government begins to take over the responsibility, the need to help others fades away. So does charity. You can judge whether that is a good thing, but never forget the Katrina effect, where government failed dramatically and the churches and charities came through like champions.

And as we approach national healthcare, some are asking, "Do you want the people who handled the Katrina disaster to handle your healthcare?"

January 4, 2009

If you ever wondered why some people don't trust government, George Will offers a convincing example of The Law of Unintended Consequences. It was clear in the aftermath of the crash of 2008, that neither the administration nor congress knew what to do next, and the consequences of what they have done will surely not be what was intended.

  • WASHINGTON -- Like pebbles tossed into ponds, important Supreme Court rulings radiate ripples of consequences. Consider a 1971 Supreme Court decision that supposedly applied but actually altered the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The argument for a reduction in the power of government is simple. They don't know what they are doing, therefore the less they do the better.

January 3, 2009

The Politics of Religion

Listen here.

Playing on radio this weekend.

January 3, 2009

Here is a thought for the new year:

  • He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment. He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head (Psalms 7:14-16 NIV).

May it be so in 2009.

January 1, 2009

With the onset of a new year comes the first challenge. Remembering to date your checks, 2009. It is sobering to realize that there are kids alive today who may ring in the year 2100. I can’t even imagine what that world will be like. If present trends continue, I would not be very optimistic, but Dart’s first law of trends says that present trends never continue. I would be better off today if I had learned that earlier, but we must play the cards we are dealt.

One of the cautions that should accompany that law is that attempting to create prophecies of the future based on present trends will lead to failure. I recall an article I once wrote titled, "Famine, 1975." I did a lot of research for that book including reading the book by William and Paul Paddock with the same title. I pulled down facts and figures, and plotted graphs, and it looked very much like the Paddocks were dead right. If existing trends continued, there would have been massive, world wide famine by 1975, and any New Testament reader with a prophetic interest would realize the significance of famine.

The problem was, that Dart’s first law of trends blew the whole idea to bits. The trends then present led to advances in agriculture and food production, and the Paddocks and I were left with egg on our faces.

Then there was the great financial bubble that ended in 2008. Anyone who was betting on present trends in the middle of 2008, lost his shirt in the autumn. Will the present downward trend continue? Almost certainly not, but who can say when it will change? And it could always change for the worse. One thing is certain. Americans voted for Change in November and they, and the rest of the world, are getting change.

I have a new radio program in the works titled, "The Failure of a Prophet." It won’t air for some weeks, but perhaps you would like to listen to it today. Just click on the link above and download it. Meanwhile, I must find my checkbook and write a reminder in the date line of a few checks.








Contact us              Copyright 2009 Ronald L Dart, all rights reserved.