March 19, 2010
I am including a
link to Peggy Noonan's
column today for two reasons. One, it is remarkably insightful, and,
two, it impresses on my mind that she is not really a conservative
columnist. She is, where most of America seems to be: right of center.
Some conservatives criticize Peggy, but she is overall, a pretty
balanced observer. You can't just blow her off, as the left tries to do
with with Sean and Rush.
Now for the Slaughter
On the road to Demon Pass, our leader encounters a Baier.
The Wall Street Journal:
March 18, 2010
"demon pass" is a play on words and refers to "deem and pass," what the
amateurs in the house are trying to pull off. You won't want to miss
March 17, 2010
I have been thinking about the health care bill
and the way the majority is going about getting it passed. Actually none
of us really know whether the law is a good thing or not, which fact
serves to underline the problem. With the attempts to rush the thing
through without thorough exposure and debate, and with the continued
attempts to pass the legislation by whatever means avoid the will of the
majority in the country, one conclusion suggests itself: The present
administration does not trust us. It may be that we donít deserve that
trust. It may be that the administration knows what is best for us. But
these are not the premises upon which this country was founded. I think the absence of God in the thoughts of
too many leaders is taking its toll.
Along another line of
thought, I came across an old essay by Robert Bork that I thought might
be useful even today. It was first published as the impeachment of Bill
Clinton was looming:
COUNTING THE COSTS
March 15, 2010
Program notes posted for "Beyond
Redemption," taped in September of 2008.
March 14, 2010
When this feeble life is o’er,
time for me shall be no more.
There used to be a movie short called “The March of Time.” It was a kind of newsreel, and dealt
with important events in current society as I recall. The march of time, or the passing of time, is a
familiar idea, but it is altogether misleading. Time does not march. Time does not pass. We pass.Like a fast car running westbound on the Interstate, we pass mile marker after mile marker, but
the markers don’t move. We move.
But on this interstate, there is no eastbound lane. We pass mile marker after mile marker, but we
can never go back. We can’t even stop. And this is one of the more profound truths of the Bible.
We are rushing headlong through life. We are here for a little while, and then, we pass. "Man,
that is born of a woman” said Job, “is few of days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a
flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and then he’s gone." (Job 14:1-2).
Because the questions of
second and third tithe arise in the chapters of Deuteronomy we are now
covering in the
Weekend Bible Study, I have found an old essay I wrote on the topic
years ago and added it to this site. You can read it
By the way, don't miss
February 28, 2010
I came across some notes on a
book I read that formed the basis of at least one radio program or
sermon. I wrote a short review at the time, intending to post the review
here. Somehow, I mislaid it, but things have a way of showing up. It is
a short review, but a book worth reading.
Steering Through Chaos,
by Os Guiness.
February 14, 2010
Some have asked, "What is the
scope of the work CEM and Born to Win are doing?" So, we rummaged
around and produced a page with a summary of our activities and
productivity. Take a look and see for yourself:
What We Do.
February 5, 2010
Read Political Pundits
For more than
one reason, I am sure. The better ones are
connected, and have lunch with important people. Consequently, they gain
insights (and facts) they share with the rest of us. While he was alive
and working, Robert Novak was invaluable. People would talk to him on
background, and his knowledge and insight helped his readers to
understand what was going on at a level surpassing the stuff on the
But there is more. The best
of the pundits are widely read, have a strong sense of history, and a
knack for conveying understanding---and, in the words of King Solomon,
understanding is greatly to be sought after. Pundits are not always
right in their conclusions, but at least the best of them let you see
clearly why they think the way they do.
One of the greatest surviving
pundits these days is one Charles Krauthammer---a thinker of the first
order. He is no knee jerk right winger and resists categorization. His
column today is a classic example of clarifying issues that the reader
may already have a sense of, but hasn't found a way to put it all
together. In "The
Great Peasant Revolt of 2010, Charles explains with keen insight
(and a little irony) the weakness of the present administration, but
also of any and all congresses in past years. Evaluating the rebuke the
Democrats got in Massachusetts, He asked:
Speaking as one of the "dim"
I have begun to smart a little under the assumptions of our betters in
Washington, and after this editorial, I will never vote again without
thinking about it. Someone, I forget who, recently opined that the
intellectual may be smarter than any one of us, but he isn't smarter
than all of us. Never forget that, for since in our wisdom we founded a
nation governed by the people, God has the right to hold all of us
accountable for the stupidity of our government. Attention must be paid.
In thinking about the Lordís prayer, I came to
the phrase, "deliver us from evil." I suspect this is where we might
pray some of the imprecatory psalms. In doing my books on the psalms, I
noted that David does not pray against people by name, but by
description of what they are and what they do. Another Scripture says,
"The curse causeless shall not come." Thus, we do not pray against
people who have done us no harm, and whose story we may not know. Thus,
we may curse the wicked as a category, but not a given person we
deem to be wicked. We might be wrong. "As the bird by wandering, as the
swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come." (Proverbs
In listening to the stories on the health care
bill, which some declare to be dead as the dodo, others that it is on
life support, I found myself wondering why on earth congress persons
would attempt to do what they were/are trying to do. They donít have a
clear majority, even in congress, who like this bill. And the public is
foursquare against it. Why would they try to do this in face of so much
opposition? Doubtless they consider this the right thing to do, but
where is the payoff? To this day, I have not heard a plain statement
about the payoff on this bill. It is dying the death of a thousand cuts,
perhaps unfairly, but if it is really good for us, why no coherent
statement of why it is so?
So, I have taken to praying that the Lord will
expose the wicked and defeat their plans. I did that months ago, and now
I am adding a request that he examine the hearts and minds of those
attempting this law, who also seem to have little regard for our
freedom. For those who wonder why the wicked prosper, and why God allows
it, a reading of the psalms should answer that question. God allows it
because we do not ask him to act. "You have not, because you ask not."
(James 4:2 KJV)
It would be interesting to know
more about the efforts and results of Christian ministries in Haiti. I
get the impression that there are hundreds of them, if not
thousands---some having been there a long time. I get the impression
that they have not made much of a change in the overall culture of the
country. In fact, Christian Missionaries have been going to China for
centuries with little effect, but now, internal Chinese Christians are
having a profound effect there. What has made the difference?
Where do they start with the
Haitians? The Gospel according to John, to be sure. The death and
resurrection of Christ, certainly. I expect they teach heaven and hell,
and the after life. But I wonder how much they teach about the here and
now. Years ago, I read a novel titled, White Man's Grave, which
gave a lot of insight into tribal life in Sierra Leone. It seemed
obvious to me that standard Christian fare would have little or no
traction among those people. What they needed was a good dose of the Law
To be sure, the teachings of
Jesus are firmly based on, and a more full development of the Law of
Moses. But there are times when a people need something very basic. Only
have sex with one person for the rest of your life. When it comes time
to relieve yourself, go outside the camp and bury it. The discipline of
a ceremonial law that has meaning behind it is helpful to keep the whole
system bound together. And I am not talking about Messianic Judaism. I
am not talking about teaching primitive peoples the Hebrew language. I
am talking about simple practical obedience to the real God, the Creator
of all things, the source of all justice and righteousness.
How much are the books of the
law taught by Christian Missionaries? Would they help, if taught?
a More Secure Church
The Christian faith is a curious mixture of individualism and
collectivism. We are saved, individually and personally. Faith in an
institution is cannot be a substitute for faith in God. Yet are not to
forsake the assembling of ourselvesóthus, we voluntarily join ourselves
to a community of faith. This is important for a lot of reasons.
The problem arises when the church begins to dominate and demand.
Just as we say "yes" to Christ, there are times when we must say no the
church. And the church has to be secure enough to take no for an answer.
Just last week, I noticed the
word in an article on health care reform. Joe Klein, writing about
Obama's problems wrote: "By the end of his presidency, Bill Clinton had
come to the conclusion that he made two big mistakes in his own near
fatal push to enact health care reform. One was to go whole hog, all at
once, rather than try for incremental change that would slowly transform
the system." There was the word. And it reminded me of something I had
all but forgotten.
When I was going through
college and learning to be a public speaker, the civil rights issue was
on a boil. And I asked black fellow I knew what the hurry was. Why not
solve one problem at a time rather than attempting a revolution. I don't
remember what he said, but I distinctly recall the emotion connected
with his rejection of the idea of incrementalism. You can't blame blacks
for feeling that way. They wanted their rights and they wanted them now.
And I wondered when I read
Joe Klein's article if the emotion connected to the word "incrementalism"
is still driving people who remember the struggle. Incremental is bad.
Do it all and do it now. But when you are dealing with something as big
as the United States, some careful consideration is needed before you
try to reverse course and run onto the reef of the law of unintended
consequences. It is a lot like turning an aircraft carrier around when
it is steaming full speed ahead. I was shocked when I learned how far
one of those great ships had to go and how much room they needed to
complete the maneuver.
If I could have found a
bumper sticker last year that said, "Too Much, Too Fast," I would have
broken a personal rule and put it on my car. Nobody is smart enough to
foresee every pothole that might take out the bottom of your truck. It
is a good thing that they have been forced to slow down. There are some
more rough roads ahead.
January, 22, 2010
Respect for God? Someone I read recently used
that expression, but the word, respect, seems too small. Perhaps,
"in awe of God"?
Yes, but falling on your face? Chances are, anyone who does that these
days is doing it because he thinks he is supposed to, probably because
he read that someone in the Bible did it. I think that if God is present
in his glory, a man will be on his face because his knees will not hold
Abraham was a friend of God, and his close
encounter with God just before just before the fall of Sodom did not
require histrionics. And God did not appear in his glory that day, but
as a man. How would you know of the presence of God in form of a man?
You wouldnít unless he intended you to and he plainly intended that
Abraham know. They ended that visit walking along a road together and
talking seriously as two old friends might.
The disciples of Jesus on the road to Emmaus
knew something was different about the man they were talking to, but
they didnít know what until Jesus revealed himself. With hindsight, they
realized that their heart burned within them along the road. It seems
that a lot of what we experience with God only comes with hindsight.
I was more than a little
stunned this afternoon when I read an editorial by Mort Zuckerman,
Editor in Chief of US News and World Report. It is so rare to see a
major news figure admit he is wrong, but this mea culpa goes to
the wall. No one could explain more effectively the failure of the Obama
presidency, but this explanation comes from an important publisher who
voted for Obama and endorsed him.
The title of the piece tells
you what Mort is trying to say: "He's
Done Everything Wrong."
I've been praying for a few
months now that God would expose "the wicked" who are wrecking this
country, and the prayer seems to have been answered. I am reasonably
sure I am not the only one praying this way. Candidly, the degree to
which wrongdoing has been unmasked is astonishing. I have never seen
anything quite like it.
I just finished preparation
for a radio program we will tape this morning, and I am trying to be a
little more diligent in posting my program notes here. Today's program
is titled, "The Christian Virus," and it begins this way:
An article showed up in my email last week with nothing except a link to an internet page. It was three pages, actually. About Christianity in China. I almost didn’t read it. I have heard about Chinese Christians before, but nothing to make
me think they could do any more than struggle along. But I opened the file, and when I got started, I couldn’t stop.
Something important is happening in China that is so counter to what one might expect that it
sounds like, well, a miracle. And the miracle is remarkably similar to the one that turned the Roman world upside
down in the days of Paul and Barnabas. But there is no Chinese Paul. There isn’t even a Chinese Billy Graham, or Rick Warren. Christianity is not on television, or even radio as far as I know. There are no mega-churches. But there are now some 70 million Christians in China. How on earth did that happen?
It has happened in the way Christianity has always thrived: person to person, like a virus.
The rest of the unedited
notes can be read
at this link.