Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Starry Perspective

Recently I added a new item to my office d├ęcor – a framed print from NASA’s Hubble telescope, known simply as XDF, short for eXtreme Deep Field.  Released in September of this year, this image is the product of ten years of photographs taken of the same tiny patch of sky.  The XDF represents an area one-fiftieth of the angular diameter of the full moon.  One astronomer compared it to looking at the sky through an eight-foot straw. It represents the most penetrating glimpse into space ever captured for human consumption.

In this tiny patch of sky may be seen about 5,500 galaxies, each of which consists of billions of stars.   The faintest galaxies captured in this photograph are one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see.

Often before retiring to bed, President Teddy Roosevelt used to step outside the White House with a friend and look up into the night sky, searching for a tiny patch of light near the constellation Pegasus.  “That is the Spiral galaxy in Andromeda,” he would say.  “It is as large as our Milky Way.  It is one of a hundred million galaxies.  It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our own sun.”  After a moment of silent awe, he would then say, “Now I think we are small enough. Let’s go to bed.”  Thanks to advances in technology, we can now see that the universe is far bigger than Roosevelt ever imagined.

On this minuscule planet we call home, we can very easily loose perspective.  Following the ebb and flow of politics, fearing the machinations of despotic leaders, and failing to remember that the same God who spoke the universe into existence also controls the hearts of kings causes us to at times be overwhelmed. 

Considered in light of the universe, Isaiah 40:22 compares us earthlings to the relative significance of grasshoppers.  When you glimpse the vastness of that universe, it seems that Isaiah’s words are a grand overstatement!

So be encouraged and reassured.  Despite the apparent limitlessness of the universe, God is never distracted or inundated with the details of executing His providence.  Considering the work of His creation should drive us to be prostrate before Him in humility and reverential fear.  Gazing at the contents of a tiny fraction of the sky should bring needed balance and perspective to the daily hassles we encounter on planet earth.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post-Election Analysis

Today, it seems, everyone is consumed with post-election analysis.  For many conservative Americans, the unthinkable has happened – four more years of the Obama administration.  As I listened and read the pre-election hype by conservative columnists and talk show hosts, this election was construed as likely the most critical in the history of the nation.

Many reasons are being cited for Obama’s victory: an overtly biased main-stream press, a poor job by the Republican party of making the case for the defeat of Obama, an ignorant electorate that fails to comprehend where current government policies are leading the country and what they will mean for future generations, and even the impact of Hurricane Sandy last week. 

Likely there is truth in each of the points cited above.  But, as a Christian who believes in the providence of God, I can only conclude that we are destined for four more years of BHO because the Lord ordained it.  God typically uses means to accomplish His purposes, whether simply widespread ignorance or the impact of a devastating storm.

I believe America has the leadership that she currently deserves.  Widespread lethargy and lukewarmness have characterized much of the Christian church for many years.  Nationally, the majority in this country is unconcerned about adhering to God’s eternal, moral law.  Support for legalized theft, wherein confiscatory taxation takes from one American and gives to another, is growing, as illustrated by the record number of Americans receiving food stamps and other government assistance.

This election produced the first two states that voted to approve same-sex marriage, a marked turn after thirty-one votes against this perversion.  This result is but one example of a nation that has turned her collective back upon God and His Law.  Why then should we be surprised with the reelection of the current President?

Following the devastating terror attacks on 11 Sept 2001, churches were full, for a few weeks.  Then Americans got back to business as usual.  Had Romney won yesterday, I have no doubt that many conservatives would have breathed a giant sigh of relief before  resuming their godless lifestyles. 

Perhaps God intends these election results as a further wake-up call for His people.  We desperately need more than 40 days of prayer before an election.  We need the long-term transformation of Christian homes . . . where parents take seriously the spiritual welfare of their children and grandchildren . . . where family worship takes precedence over participation in sports and other extra-curricular activities . . . where the godless curriculum of secular education is replaced by a God-fearing methodology that cultivates Christian principles throughout the formative years of life, and  . . . where participation in God-honoring public worship becomes the highest priority in life.

This morning my Bible-reading schedule called for me to read the last two chapters of Jeremiah, the record of the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah because of their rejection of the Lord and His truth.  God could have spared the nation had they turned back to Him, but they refused. 

The prophet Isaiah declares the principle that Judah failed to heed, and which America is likewise rejecting, leading to our dramatic decline toward destruction: “Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (59:1-2).

Four more years of Obama cannot ultimately be blamed on media bias or an inferior Republican strategy.  God can overcome the most ignominious of political campaigns to install righteous leaders in our land and restore “the years the locusts have eaten”  (Joel 2:25).  But He expects His people to reflect a spirit of repentance that is more than skin deep (i.e., beyond the next election). 

Apart from a wide-spread spiritual awakening, I fear for the future of this nation.  It is entirely possible that we will live to see the implosion of the U.S. of A. into something very different than the Republic founded by our forefathers.  That process is well under way and will continue unless and until God intervenes.  But our faith must not rest in a better political strategy; instead our hope must reside in the Lord’s hand that is not shortened.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Judicial Tyranny, a Tool in the Hand of God

In my lifetime I do not recall a more awaited decision by the U.S. Supreme Court than the one delivered today on “Obamacare.”  Leaders across the political spectrum were gathered with baited breath and spin-machines idling on standby, ready to use whatever decision was made to their own political advantage.

From my perspective, as one who respects the U.S. Constitution and believes it should be faithfully interpreted according to the intent of the Founders, today’s court action was a gross miscarriage of justice.  The national government has now been given the green light to force the American population to do anything it chooses, under the guise of abusive taxation.

The long-term implications of this landmark decision remain to be seen.  It would appear that the liberties Americans have enjoyed for the past 236 years are going the way of the dodo bird and passenger pigeon.  The rapidity with which our society is degenerating is breath taking, incorporating developments unthinkable a few short years ago.

What is the Christian response to this latest example of judicial tyranny?  The author of the beloved hymn, Amazing Grace, John Newton, provides some pertinent insight.  In one of his letters he describes what he terms “some blemishes in Christian character.”  One of those blemishes is the excessive attention to political matters, to the detriment of the “much more essential service [of] pleading for [the country] in prayer.”  Individuals that are overwhelmingly caught up in political affairs, Newton writes, “look no farther than to second causes, and forget that the Lord REIGNS (emphasis his).”

In other words, however much we may disagree with this latest Supreme Court edict, those nine justices are but secondary causes that the Lord is using in His sovereign reign over the affairs of these United States of America.  The root of our nation’s ills is spiritual.  We have abandoned God and His Law and are reaping the devastating consequences of loss of freedom.  The book of Judges repeatedly describes a similar fate for the ancient Jews who refused to follow the Lord with integrity and devotion.

If our land is to be restored from its headlong plunge to oblivion, the cure will not be found at the ballot box but in the prayer closet.  Yes, we must exercise our civic duty to cast informed votes, to voice our concerns to our representatives, to encourage state and local governments to resist the tyranny being foisted upon us by the Washington elite by utilizing the Tenth Amendment and other legal means.  But if our nation is to be saved from utter destruction, the key will be found in humility and repentance before the Sovereign God.  He indeed reigns.  Let the faithful repent and seek His face.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Mother's Highest Calling

Last month Democratic operative Hilary Rosen created a firestorm when she said on CNN that Ann Romney had "actually never worked a day in her life," making her a poor adviser on women's economic issues.  There has been widespread bipartisan condemnation of Rosen’s assessment of Mrs. Romney.  While the comments were certainly ill advised, they have served to highlight the role of mothers who serve primarily in the home.

In a book entitled Spiritual Parenting, the great 19th century Baptist preacher, C.H. Spurgeon wrote the following:

“It is well to note the admirable selection of instructors. We are not at a loss to tell who instructed youthful Timothy. In this epistle Paul says, ‘When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.’ (2 Timothy 1:5). No doubt grandmother Lois and mother Eunice united in teaching the little one. Who should teach the children but the parents? Timothy’s father was a Greek, and probably a heathen, but this child was happy in having a venerable grandmother, so often the dearest of all relatives to a little child. He was blessed also with a gracious mother, once a devout Jewess, and afterwards also a firmly believing Christian, who made it her daily pleasure to teach her own dear child the Word of the Lord.

O dear mothers, please understand that you have a very sacred trust reposed in you by God! He has in effect said unto you, ‘Take this child away, and nurse it for Me, and I will give thee thy wages’ (Exodus 2:9). You are called to equip the future man of God, that he may be ‘thoroughly furnished unto all good works’ (2 Timothy 3:17). If God spares you, you may live to hear that pretty boy speak to thousands, and you will have the sweet reflection in your heart that the quiet teachings of the nursery led the adult man to love his God and serve Him.

Those who think that a woman detained at home by her little family is doing nothing, think the reverse of what is true. Scarcely can the godly mother quit her home for a place of worship. However, dream not that she is lost to the work of the church. Far from it, she is doing the best possible service for her Lord.

Mothers, the godly training of your offspring is your first and most pressing duty. Christian women, by teaching children the Holy Scriptures, are as much fulfilling their part for the Lord as Moses did in judging Israel, of Solomon in building the temple.”

Mothers and grandmothers, be encouraged that there is no opportunity in life to make a greater contribution of eternal concern than by fulfilling your God-given maternal responsibilities. Choosing to subsist at a lesser economic level or intentionally not pursuing other self-interests because of your devotion to home and family will reap rewards you will never live to regret. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wisdom in Chuck Colson's Final Speech

Christian statesman Chuck Colson was called to his heavenly home April 21st.  He became seriously ill during a March 30th speech that would prove to be his last.

Several points that he made are well worth noting in this election season, one that has been labeled by many commentators as the most critical in American history.  Every Christian should exercise his right to vote; failure to do so is to aid the forces of evil bent on destroying this country.  There is no justifiable rationale for Christian indifference when it comes to casting an informed vote to uphold righteous standards in civil matters. 

But Colson presented a balanced view that recognizes that changing our country requires more than merely electing different politicians:

“I happen to be one of those who believes that societies are changed by movements at the grassroots. So how do we get that material out to people that they can use it for their neighbors? I think cultures are changed over the backyard fence and the barbecue grill; I don’t believe they’re changed from the top down. And I’ll talk to you tonight a little bit about why I think that is so critical right now. …”

“Everybody looks to the elections and thinks, well the elections are going to settle this problem or settle that problem. Elections are important. Whoever serves in office, it makes a difference what kind of person that is and what that person believes. But elections can’t solve the problem we’ve got. The problem we’ve got is that our culture has been decaying from inside for 30 or 40 years. And politics is nothing but an expression of culture.”

So, to improve the social and moral climate in this country, we have to change the culture.  Culture is simply a reflection of what people believe.  And politics is a reflection of the nation’s culture.  We get the kind of politicians that the majority want and vote for; elected officials reflect the values that the electorate believes in and lives by.

In reality, then, we have ourselves to blame for the state of affairs that is destroying this country from within.  The church has historically been a constructive force for truth and righteousness, in influencing a society to seek the Lord and His righteousness.  When we fail in that mission, the blame for the dismal state of affairs must be laid at the feet of the people of God.

Colson summarized it this way: “So it comes right back to us. Look in the mirror, that’s where the problem is. And if we can, through the church, renew the church to really bring a healthy cultural influence, then there’s some hope that we can be changed.”

May God grant to us wisdom, boldness, and discernment to stand for the unchanging principles of His truth, and to influence those around us to do likewise.  Therein lies the only hope for this nation.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Year of the Bible in Pennsylvania

2012 has been unanimously designated the Year of the Bible in Pennsylvania by vote of the PA House of Representatives.  In an increasingly partisan and divided nation, it is refreshing to see strong bi-partisan support for this resolution in the Pennsylvania House.

The text of the resolution notes that “many of our great national leaders, among them President Washington, President, Jackson, President Lincoln, President Wilson, and President Reagan, paid tribute to the influence of the Bible in our country’s development, as exemplified by the words of President Jackson that the Bible is ‘the rock on which our Republic rests.’”

Reaction has been swift and fierce in opposition to H.R. 535.  It comes as no surprise that the secular media and liberal religious leaders are decrying the resolution as inappropriate and calling for its repeal. Thank God for the courageous action of these representatives who understand the critical role that the Bible has had in the history of this nation and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

As the Resolution further notes, “This nation now faces great challenges that will test it as it has never been tested before . . . Renewing our knowledge of faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people …”

The fact is, H.R. 535 is a return to Pennsylvania’s roots.  An act of the 1705-06 Pennsylvania legislature specified that to serve as a civil magistrate one had to “profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the saviour of the world.”   The Pennsylvania constitution of 1776 declares that the legislature shall consist of persons who subscribe to the following: “I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the universe, the Rewarder of the good and the Punisher of the wicked; and I acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by Divine inspiration."

May the substance of H.R. 535 sweep our land in a powerful return to the convictions of our founding fathers.