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Category Archives: News stories

When cultures clash

Public schools are becoming the battleground in a clash of cultures.

Obama Administration to Give Schools Guidance on Transgender Use” – The title of the article appears to be misleading. Rather than giving guidance, the “federal government will tell public schools across the country on Friday morning that they should allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.” If they don’t comply, they stand to lose Title IX funds.

President Obama: Accept Transgenderism or Else” – Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College has written a response to the letter from the Administration. Burk takes his response back to a basic binary truth, that God created us in his image as male and female (Genesis 1:26-28). Jesus himself recognized this as good and right (Matthew 19:4). “Understanding this binary used to be common sense, and this traditional understanding is no less true even if it is less common.”

From Agender to Ze: A Glossary for the Gender Identity Revolution” – Joe Carter, an editor for The Gospel Coalition has provided a glossary of 31 terms used by the gender identity movement. As Tim Challies points out, it reads like a dictionary of depravity. While it is not for the faint of heart, the list “should help you better understand the linguistic radicalness of the gender identity revolution.”

Certainly, much to pray about.

 

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2016 in Culture, News stories, Scripture

 

Let Justice Roll Down

For one of the few Mondays in recent memory, I didn’t spend the day thinking about church. Instead, I participated in the justice process—I was on jury duty. (I was originally asked to serve while I was in Russia, but delayed my service until yesterday.)

I checked into the 4th floor jury pool room at the Hampden County Superior Court at 8AM, and then spent three hours waiting, watching TV, reading a Stephen Lawhead novel, and people watching. They had a big screen TV in the jury pool room with Good Morning America on at the time of check in. Later, they played a video on the MA justice system which was informative.

I must say I was amazed/dismayed at the quality (or lack thereof) for what passes for entertainment on morning TV. It seemed like it degenerated by degrees with each hour of the morning. Good Morning America was a mix of news, culture, and trending issues. Rachel was a mix of pop culture interviews, cooking tips, and gossip. Wendy was pure, unadulterated gossip. The View was a discussion of gossip. Good thing I had a book to read, though the volume on the TV was loud enough to be a distraction.

Sometime after 11AM, me and 120 of my closest friends were taken down to Courtroom 2 on the 3rd floor. We received an orientation from the presiding judge, and met the Assistant DA and his assistant, as well as the two defense attorneys. We then learned that we were part of the jury pool for a criminal trial that might last up to two weeks. The defendant was accused of committing murder in 2014.

As it turned out, I was juror #127. They started with #2 and worked their way through the pool to find and seat 16 jurors. I must admit to having mixed feelings. I was willing to serve, but I really didn’t want to give up two weeks to do it. It would be an inconvenience to sit on a jury during the day and do church work and sermon prep at night. Rather than ask God to get me out of the task, I decided to simply leave it in his hands.

By 3:30PM, they were up to juror #70 and had chosen 20 prospective jurors. The judge asked the remaining 50 of us if serving on a two-week jury would be a hardship. Several hands went up and they were excused. Since I couldn’t claim a hardship such as having young children at home or caring for aging parents, my hand stayed down. By the time His Honor asked a few more questions, there were only 7 of us left in the pool of prospective jurors. He then asked if the rest of us were willing to return on Tuesday to continue the selection process. I was honest enough to admit I was willing, but I would prefer not to. Fortunately, I was excused and on my way.

Since MA implements a one day, one trial system, I have fulfilled my obligation for another three years.

After arriving home, I started my usual Monday task of mowing the lawn. I began praying for the trial that justice would be done. I prayed that …

  • the prosecutor would present a solid, strong case
  • the defense attorney would represent his client with dignity
  • the judge would have wisdom and fairness in his rulings
  • the witnesses would tell the truth
  • the family of the victim would find peace and closure
  • the jury would have wisdom and insight in coming to a verdict
  • God would be honored through the proceedings and that justice would roll down.
 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in Culture, News stories

 

Don’t Waste Your Retirement

“When are you going to retire?” Having turned 61 years of age two weeks ago, I’m starting to hear that question more often. To be honest, I have no plans to retire. I want to continue serving, preaching, and pastoring as long as I am healthy.

With that in mind, I read with great interest an article by John Piper entitled, “Hillary, Bernie, Donald, and Me” in which he challenges baby boomers not to waste their retirement years. He opens the article with these thoughts.

At 70, I am energized to dream great things, because this year Hillary turns 69, Bernie turns 75, and Donald turns 70. My rising energy has nothing to do with their policies or character. It has to do with the incredible fact that all of them want to spend their seventies doing the hardest job in the world.

This is wonderfully counter-cultural. I doubt that it’s motivated by a passion to magnify the greatness of Jesus. But that makes it all the more inspiring for me, because nothing gets me more excited than spending my seventies spreading a passion for the glory of Christ and his word. Paul is still my hero when he says, “My eager expectation and hope is that Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

So if Hillary and Bernie and Donald want to bear the weight of the world for the next four to eight years out of man-centered, philanthropic motives, I find my seventy-something zeal for Jesus heating up. They only get to be president of a tiny territory called the U.S.A. I get to be an ambassador of the Sovereign of the universe. They only get to change the way some people live for a few decades. I get to change the way some people live forever — with a lot of good spill-over for this world in the process.

But this is not an article mainly about me. It’s about the 70 million Baby Boomers coming behind me. I’m the oldest (born in 1946; the youngest born in 1964). Ten thousand Americans turn 70 every day. And they will continue to do so for about nineteen years. Billions of dollars are spent every year trying to get us to waste the last chapter of our lives on leisure. I’m spending one afternoon to plead with the rising seventy-somethings: Don’t waste it.

Being in the center of the baby boomer generation, I’m one of the people Piper is addressing. I appreciate his perspective and agree that we need to redefine retirement.

Piper concludes with these words.

Make no mistake. The Bible believes in retirement. It’s called heaven.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2016 in Culture, News stories, Quotes, Retirement

 

Looking for strength when fear closes in

My son posted the link to a thought provoking article on Facebook. “Nikabrik’s Candidate” is written by Gina Dalfonzo and compares our current political landscape to C. S. Lewis’ book, Prince Caspian, one of The Chronicles of Narnia. The author explains that

Lewis had a remarkable understanding of human nature. He knew what it was like to feel that all hope was lost. And he knew that fear and despair can drive decent people to look for someone, anyone, who projects an appearance of strength.

In speaking of Donald Trump, Dalfonzo wonders aloud “how some who have professed faith in Jesus Christ are lured by a man who openly puts all his faith in power and money, the very things Christ warned us against prizing too highly.”

You may not agree with everything the author says, but the article will make you think.

Thanks, Jon, for posting the link.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2016 in Books, Culture, News stories, Quotes

 

Did you know the Bible calls for Christians to be extremists?

Extremists are in the news. “The attacks in Paris have shown us extremism at its most brutal and bloody, the kind that celebrates death, destruction and mayhem.”

As Christ followers, we often go the opposite direction and avoid being characterized like this. We think moderation is next to godliness. But did you know that the Bible calls for Christians to be extremists? Titus 2:14 calls for Christ followers to be “zealous for good works.” As blogger Tim Challies points out, we are to be zealots in our efforts to do good.

But did you know that the Bible calls Christians to extremism as well? It calls Christians to be zealots in a cause, to go to great lengths to carry out extreme deeds in the name of Jesus. We see this in Paul’s little letter to Titus where we are reminded of Jesus Christ “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

We, too, are to be extremists. We, too, are to go to extreme measures to serve our God. And here are our marching orders: Do good. We are to bring glory to God by doing good for others. Allah may be glorified in maimed bodies and blood-soaked city streets, but God is glorified in acts of love and deeds of kindness. He is glorified in deeds done not to earn favor with God, but deeds done as an expression of gratitude because we have already received the favor of God. God is glorified as we serve others in his name. God is honored in the costly sacrifice of love.

Click on the link to read the full article, “A Call for Christian Extremists.” Get out of your comfort zone and do good.

 

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in News stories, Scripture, Theology, Tim Challies

 

The elusive commodity, PEACE

In a world of violence, chaos, disorder, and tragedy, we must recognize that the world will not know peace until the Prince of Peace reigns in every heart.

So … pray for peace in Paris, Jerusalem, the Middle East, your local community … strive to live at peace … and share the message of Jesus with those you come in contact with.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2015 in Culture, News stories, Theology

 

Of princes, presidents, and prime ministers

Tim Challies has written an insightful blog post regarding our tendency to get excited and/or depressed when our party wins/loses an election. In “I went away for just 6 days …” he tells of Canada’s recent election where Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party of Canada were swept into power. Though initially discouraged, Challies says that it was

a sudden and interesting little realization that drew me out of my despair. I found myself pondering the well-known words of Psalm 146:3-4: “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.” Here the psalmist admits our temptation to find hope in men, to put our trust in princes and presidents and prime ministers. We know better. We know the futility of trusting in men. But still we are prone to it. Still we do it.

And it struck me that there are two sides to this temptation. The temptation is not only to put my hope in politicians but to put my despair in them as well. I will be tempted not only to find too much joy in the election of the person I voted for, but also to sink too far into despair in the election of the person I did not. Either way, whether I soar too high or sink too low, I am declaring that I have put my trust in a man more than in God. I have forgotten that, ultimately, it is God who rules over and through earthly rulers.

Regardless as to whether or not our preferred party wins next Tuesday’s election and next year’s Presidential election here in the USA, God still reigns on his throne. A good reminder as we move into and through the next election cycle.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in News stories, Quotes, Scripture, Tim Challies

 
 
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