.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Bible Experience

Watch this video: The Bible Experience

Do what you need to do when it comes out.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 6:10 PM :: (1) minds freed

Katrina Aniversary

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 6:00 PM :: (0) minds freed

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Word For The Week

This is the message that I will be preaching at Temple of Faith Baptist Church today.
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire."

But Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."

He answered, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment."

Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them."

"No, father Abraham," he said, "but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent."

He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

Luke 16:19-32
Hell is real. It is a place of torment where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, where souls are tormented day and night forever and ever. This is a reality that greatly offends the sensibilities of many postmodern peoples, but their offended sensibilities can not change the reality of the existence of Hell. Some will ask how a loving God can send people to eternal torment, and that is a fair question. The answer is tied to God's holiness - God is absolutely holy, and He will not have sinfulness in His presence. The fact of the matter is that people send themselves to Hell with their sinfulness, yet God has made a provision for people to escape the horror of Hell through accepting the atoning work of Jesus Christ on their behalf, by submitting to His Lordship. Much the same way that everyone is not entitled to a presidential pardon for their crimes, everyone is not entitled to salvation from the penalty of their sins. However, God has made it possible for everyone to be pardoned, through accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the only way to escape the reality of Hell.

It is much like a white dress with an ink stain. It takes a specific solvent to remove the stain of ink from a garment, and without that solvent the dress will remain stained forever. Nobody is going to wear a white dress with an ink stain, they will get it cleaned, and if the dress refuses to be cleaned by the only cleansing agent that can remove the stain of ink then that dress will be eternally separated from its owner, thrown away to be remembered no more. So it is with people with regard to our creator - if we will not be cleansed by the only cleansing agent that can remove the stain of sin then we will be cast into Hell, destined to be remembered no more.

There are, of course, those who would disagree with what the Bible clearly teaches. Carlton Pearson, who was at once a major Pentecostal preacher on the national scene, has rejected the words of Jesus and is now teaching that everyone will get to heaven, no matter their walk, no matter their talk, no matter about the way they live. Carlton Pearson believes that God gave him "new" revelation that everyone is already redeemed, that Hell is a present reality on earth, not an ontological existence in eternity. But Carlton Pearson would have been wise to read his Bible, because we are told to check the spirit by the Spirit, because every spirit is not of God. Carlton Pearson may well have heard a voice, and it may well have told him exactly what he heard, but I can assure you that it was not the voice of God.

Jesus spoke more often about Hell than he spoke about heaven, and He spoke of Hell as an eternal punishment in the hereafter for people's sinfulness in this life. Jesus said, "Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, 'is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." Jesus said, "It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." Jesus said, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell." Hell is real, and we need to adhere to the truth of the Word of God – we need to listen to Jesus instead of making stuff up on our own. It's like someone refusing to believe in the HIV virus. Their lack of belief does not change the reality of the virus' existence, and if they don't take the necessary precautions then they will experience HIV personally.

So it is with Hell.

We see in this text that the rich man wanted three things when he suddenly found himself in Hell, three things that we would do well to pursue in this life lest we find ourselves in Hell with a realigned paradigm. First, the rich man wanted his pain to be placated by the redeemed. Isn't it interesting how people don't really care about those who are suffering until they are the one suffering? It's almost funny watching conservatives when they hit hard times - that blaming-the-victim thing goes right out the window then. Then you don't hear a peep about lazy people who just need to get a job. Then it's, "Have pity on me!" When people find themselves in that situation in this life it is the responsibility of the Christian to show them love, to comfort them, to help them, to pray for them, even though the suddenly-down-and-out may not have thought about anyone else in this life, ever. However, in death there is only judgment, not compassion. The response from Abraham (circumlocution for the Father) to the rich man was essentially, "I can't do nothing for you, man."

What's even more interesting in this passage is that Lazarus never says a word. In fact, we are not led to believe that Lazarus was even aware of the conversation that was going on. Those who have been cast into Hell will be remembered no more, they are functionally nonexistent to the redeemed in eternity. It's like the worst punishment that I can remember as a child. It was a hot, summer day in Detroit and I was grounded. There was no central air - they built houses in Detroit with central heat back in the day - so there was no relief from the heat and, in fact, it was hotter inside than outside. All of my friends were outside playing while I was stuck inside doing chores. I could see my friends outside playing, I could hear my friends outside playing, I coud identify each and every one of them by name, but they couldn't see inside of my house through the plate glass window. They couldn't see my suffering, and the truth of the matter is that they didn't even notice that I wasn't out there playing with them. I was remembered no more, and it was entirely my own fault.

This is where the rich man found himself - hot, suffering, on the wrong side of joy, without hope - and it was entirely his own fault. In life he lived lavishly and cared nothing about the least of these at his own doorstep. In life he was all about himself, never submitting to God. In life he was concerned about bling-blinging, pushing work and rolling on dubs, but he got an attitude adjustment when he suddenly found himself in Hell. Suddenly, he knew Lazarus’ name. Suddenly, he was begging instead of giving orders like he did in life. Suddenly, he was in pain instead of the comfort that he had in life. Things can go mighty well for the unbeliever in this life until "Suddenly" happens. Suddenly, this rich man wanted his pain to be placated by the redeemed. Suddenly, this rich man was concerned about those who were suffering. Suddenly, this rich man began to think like a Christian, but by then it was too late. Don’t wait for "Suddenly" to happen before you turn your life over to Jesus, because suddenly you too will find that it is too late. This rich man suddenly found out that Hell was for real.

The second thing that the rich man wanted was his people to prepare for the resurrection. The rich man accepted his fate, saying, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house..." When people realize that they are in serious trouble their thoughts often go toward their family. If their family can not comfort them then they want their family to avoid their fate, their mistakes, their errors. The rich man wanted his family to act shrewedly like the dishonest manager, settling accounts so that they'd be positioned for their inevitible move, but once again his request was denied. The response was, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them." "Moses and the Prophets" was a euphamism for Scripture, and the rich man was told that his family had all the revelation that they needed in Scripture. We have been give all that we need when it comes to eternal security - it is in God's Word, the Bible. The Bible is our sole source of authority on matters of faith and life and all we have to do is apply the Word to our lives. The rich man's family thought this was absurd - it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven - and the rich man knew it, asking for Lazarus to be sent as a witness, but his family had already rejected the only witness that they would ever need.

It’s like someone trying to drive to Hawaii, who refuses to look at a map. They’re just going to head west and do the best that they can. They’re basically a good driver; that should be good enough to get them to Hawaii, right? Any road that they choose to take should get them to Hawaii, right? Everyone is going to make it to Hawaii anyway, right? You have to take the right vehicle along the right path to make it to your intended destination – you can’t drive a car to Hawaii, no matter how good of a driver you might be, and you can’t make it to heaven without Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, no matter how good of a person that you might be in the eyes of men.

The rich man in Hell wanted his people to prepare for the resurrection. Those of us who are saved will find ourselves in the presence of the Lord when we die, but the unsaved will suddenly find themselves in Hell. When Jesus returns, the dead in Christ – those in the presence of the Lord – will rise first; this is the resurrection for which the rich man wants his family to prepare. In that great getting-up morning those of us who are alive will be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye – the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. Jesus could come at any time, Suddenly can overtake you at any time, so you have to be prepared to see Jesus face-to-face.

The third thing that the rich man wanted was for his peers to prioritize repentance. We have to understand that without repentance there is no salvation. In order to accept Jesus as savior we must first accept Him as Lord. We must acknowledge that we have sinned. We must believe that Jesus died and rose again for our sins. We must confess Jesus as Lord of our lives. It all begins with repentance – turning from our sinful ways and calling them what God calls them: sin. The rich man wanted his peers to repent of their sins; he wanted Lazarus to warn them of their pending doom. Once again, his request was denied: "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." The problem was their stony hearts, their unbelief, not their lack of knowledge. They didn’t need a rhema word from the recently deceased, they needed saving faith in the living God. What they needed was sit-in-it faith.

What's sit-in-it faith?

If I see a chair I may believe that it can hold me, but I exercise sit-in-it faith when I actually sit down in the chair, putting my weight and my faith on the chair. Saving faith is that chair-holding-my-weight faith, not the notional assent of, "Yeah, I believe that the chair existed once, two thousand years ago." Saving faith sits in the chair, it is a faith that works since faith without works is truly dead. After all, faith breeds works like love breeds actions. I love you but I never say that to you? I love you but I never do anything for you? I love you but I never touch you? I love you but I never get you anything? I love you but I never spend any time with you? Love without action is dead – nothing but empty words – just like faith without works. We need a faith that works in order to be saved - we need sit-in-it faith.

The rich man’s peers, like himself, lacked faith, not knowledge. People who ask for a sign are usually looking for an excuse, not verification. "Prove it" is never a statement of confidence in the object’s ability to prove it. Even after it is proven, people rarely believe, they just ask for another sign: "Alright, do it again!" If Jesus would have come down from the cross the scoffers would have said, "That’s a nice trick; now let’s see you nail yourself back to the cross!" It’s like Eddie Murphy in the beginning of Coming To America, when he had the girl stand on one leg and bark like a dog. Once they can get you to submit to their will they will play with you until they tire of you, then they will dismiss you. They have no interest in that which they ask you to prove, they’re just waiting for you to fail so that they can say, "See? I told you there was nothing to that!" Those who need proof lack faith in the source of their inquiry. If a wife needs proof that her husband is faithful to her then she lacks faith in her husband (possibly justifiably). If a boss need proof of an employee’s time spent working then the employer lacks faith in the employee. Those who need proof that Jesus rose from the dead lack faith in Jesus. The disciple Thomas lacked faith in the risen savior, but when confronted by Jesus Himself Thomas repented of his lack of faith and confessed, "My Lord and my God!" You don’t want to find yourself in Hell, finally discovering a passion for lost souls. You need to accept Jesus Christ as Lord today, because tomorrow can come Suddenly.

When we understand the reality of Hell it should comfort the Christian that we will spend eternity in the presence of the Lord. However, understanding the reality of the horror of Hell should also drive the Christian to share our faith with the lost, those who are heading to Hell, so that they can avoid that fate. We share our faith in Jesus Christ not in a braggadocios manner, in a "We’re right and you’re wrong!" better-than-you kind of way, but from a compassionate perspective of desiring everyone to avoid the torment of Hell. Ultimately, those who reject Jesus’ lordship over their lives will find themselves suddenly in Hell, but those of us whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will remember them no more. This is why Jesus never mentions the rich man’s name – it wasn’t an oversight – the rich man’s name was not written in the Book of Life; he was remembered no more. When the Day of Judgment comes, will Jesus recognize you as one of His own, or will He say on that day, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers."

The choice is yours – you can know Him as Savior or you can know Him as Judge.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to rest in Him for all eternity,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM :: (1) minds freed

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday Comics

Dying For Affirmation
Happy Anniversary
HGH Doping
Snakes On A Plane
Rats On A Ship
Imminent Domain
Good Idea
Unanimous Consent
Crack Kills
True Pedophiles
Empty Set
Rx Leeches
Truly Weird
Party of Who?
Political Promises
Boom Baby
Fiddler On The Brink
Spin Cycle
Plan B
Web of Lies
Fallacy of False Cause
Define "Is"
Government Property
For Every Action...
...There Is An Equal...
...And Opposite Reaction

And my favorite for today: A More Perfect Union

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:20 AM :: (0) minds freed

Friday, August 25, 2006

Deal Breaker

It appears that the Democrats are considering something exceedingly stupid - changing the rules for committee chairmanships if they win the majority:
“Seniority is a consideration, but merit of course must come first,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, who has approved a review of party rules so Democrats are not left scrambling should they reach their political goal.
Let me be clear - if the Democrats retake the House this November and John Conyers (D-Spine) is not the chairman of the Judiciary Committee then I will abandon the Democratic Party.

Two tears in a bucket...

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 PM :: (0) minds freed

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Don't let your mouth write a check that your behind can't cash...

And I am way overdrawn. One of my strengths is also my greatest weakness - whenever I see a need I fill it, and it's not until stuff starts collapsing all around me that I realize that I'm overextended - trying to do too much. Such is my current situation, having functionally neglected the campaign for about a week now, having completely forgotten about a project that I was supposed to have had completed a month ago, and now having to prepare to preach Sunday I need each day this week to consist of about 36 hours.

Something's got to give.

I'm going to start divesting myself of things that I am committed to so that I can commit myself to my own health - sleep deprivation does some evil things to the mind and body. Coach Lombardi put it best, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." I have to get some rest or I'll be of no use to anybody, least of all myself, so I'm going to have to figure out what goes and what stays.

I get it honest.

My mother faced the same problem about 20 years ago. She was completing her Ph.D. and about to work on her dissertation when it was brought to her attention that being the wife of a newly-installed pastor and a full-time teacher with two children in college might be a little stressful for someone about to write and defend a book. Something had to give, so Mom is still ABD at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). Like my mother before me, I am going to have to make some decisions and preserve my peace of mind, but I have no doubt that in the end I will emerge victorious. I have to, lest I go absolutely freaking nuts.

Hail to the victors!

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:50 PM :: (1) minds freed

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Word For The Week

I got caught up in a discussion last night with an atheist on DailyKos (believe it or not, there are indeed one or two atheists on DailyKos) about Christians in politics. It is abundantly clear to me that we need to get two things straight - specifically, what is a theocracy and what does the 1st Amendment mean when it states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"? Additionally, should Christians even engage in politics and if so, how?

I am about tired of this straw man being thrown around any time a Christian advocates laws that reflects Christian values. Christians are trying to do is the same thing that non-Christians are trying to do politically - have our views and preferences reflected in the law of the land. Everyone who is involved in politics gets involved for the purpose of having their beliefs and preferences reflected in the laws and policies of the nation. That's the nature of democratic politics (small "d" democratic) - everyone brings their preferences, desires, hopes, and fears to the public square and we collectively establish laws and policies to govern our society via majority rule (Diebold notwithstanding). This is not about Christians trying to make this a Christian nation any more than is it about farmers trying to make this a farming nation or gays trying to make this a homosexual nation.

Moreover, it might be helpful if people actually looked up the definition of the word Theocracy. From Webster's:
Main Entry: the·oc·ra·cy
Pronunciation: thE-'ä-kr&-sE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -cies
Etymology: Greek theokratia, from the- + -kratia -cracy
1 : government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided
Any proper understanding of Theocracy - including Webster's - connotes and denotes God as the source of authority. That is why this straw man accusation can not stand - Christians are not seeking to make God the authority of the government of United States of America through politics, and without the authoritative component you do not have theocracy. After all, if one were to say that a government run by religious officials constitutes a theocracy then you'd have to claim that America was founded as a theocracy - the overwhelming majority of the founders were pious men of faith.

The truth of the matter is that by any proper use of the word Theocracy, even the northern kingdom of Israel or the southern kingdom of Judah in the Old Testament couldn't be called "theocracies" - neither of them were governments of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, the possible exceptions being the reigns of David, Solomon, Hezekiah and Josiah. Even then, according to the Old Testament text itself, these were not theocracies: "And the LORD told [Samuel]: Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.'" "The LORD answered, 'Listen to them and give them a king.'"

Rather difficult to have a government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided when the Israelites had rejected divine guidance.

Many secular people appear to reject the idea of Christians having our thoughts reflected in the laws of the land, but their problem is with Democracy, not with some straw man that they call Theocracy.

Seperation of Church and State
What does this phrase mean, and why does it get so much pub when it's not even found in the Constitution? The original intent of the 1st Amendment was to keep the government out of religion, to keep the Episcopalians and Congregationalists from outlawing Baptist expressions of worship. THAT is the seperation of church and state, from Thomas Jefferson's own pen. It is not the separation of religious thought from state legislation.

What is the basis of American laws? The obvious and pithy response is, "The will of the people" and ultimately, that is indeed all that matters (Constitutional prohibitions notwithstanding). If Ms. Cleo informs the thinking of enough people to affect the laws of the land then there will be some phony-Jamacan accented laws on the books. If the flight trajectory of migratory swallows affects the thinking of enough Americans then there will be some bird-brained laws on the books. If the will of God affects the thinking of enough Americans then there will be some Godly laws on the books. That's not theocracy - that's democracy, and like President Andrew Shepherd said:
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've got to want it bad, because it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the 'land of the free'? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free.'"
Naturally, many people who object to Christians bringing our Christianity to the public square will try to find some hook to hang their hat upon, but their problem is not with theocracy, their problem is with Democracy.

Christian Politics
So how should Christians interact with politics? That is a question with which Christians have wrestled since Jesus walked the earth. Jesus’ response is well-known to Christians and non-Christian alike in the western world, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:21) But beyond paying taxes, do we owe anything else to “Caesar”? What about our allegiance? Do we pledge allegiance to the flag or to the cross? One fundamental problem that American Christians have is that we confuse our nouns and adjectives: are we Christians who live in America or are we Americans who believe in Christ? There is a world of difference between the two, and that difference is life and death (Matt. 7:21-29). Christians who live in America pledge our allegiance to Jesus Christ – if there is a difference between the commands of America and the commands of Jesus Christ then Christians who live in America will obey Jesus Christ’s standard instead of the American standard, while Americans who believe in Christ will follow the American standard instead of Jesus’ standard. It is a question of submission – to whose authority do we submit? Jesus said that no man can serve two masters – either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other (Matt. 6:24). Jesus’ immediate context was money, but the same is true of ultimate allegiance – if there is a conflict in commands and expectations, will we side with America or Jesus? Everyone must choose for themselves whom they will serve, as Joshua told the children of Israel (Josh. 24:15). Paul tells us that this world in which we live is evil and that we must not be conformed to this world – we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind, setting our minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Yet, as Jesus’ ambassadors to the world, Christians must be in the world but not of the world so that we may transform the world. That means that we must be involved in the world and its politics – even though politics cannot in and of itself transform the world – and we must do that in such a way that God is glorified and the Kingdom is advanced.

A Christian political philosophy must flow from and be informed by our theology – our perspective on the nature and character of God. God created all that is ex nihilo – out of nothing – including earth and mankind. Mankind was created good but, through man’s disobedience to the will of God as revealed through the Word of God, mankind fell from that good state such that it is now natural for us to choose that which is opposed to the nature and character of God (i.e. sin). Nevertheless, God demonstrated His own love for us in this – while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. The Just died for us, the unjust, to bring us to God – such that to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (Rom. 5:8, 1 Pet. 3:18, John 1:12-13). Accordingly, the only way that a Christian can view the world is through the lens of the Great Commission which says:
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
There are a number of implications from this passage that should inform any policy position that a Christian takes:
  1. All authority comes from God through Jesus Christ
  2. Christians are to make disciples of all nations
  3. Christians are to baptize these disciples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
  4. Christians are to teach these disciples to obey everything that He has commanded
  5. Jesus is with us Christians until the end of the age
All authority comes from God through Jesus Christ
Democracy is the best structure within which human beings may be governed by human beings. Likewise, capitalism is the best system for exchanging goods and services. However, neither of these systems is infallible or indispensable. They are useful – exceedingly useful, but merely useful. The secular world views capitalism and democracy (in that order) to be that for which they would fight and die. Democracy and capitalism are to Americans what grace and mercy are to Christians – the means of interacting with our sovereign and each other. Americans believe that power is wielded legitimately only by the consent of the governed. Jesus, however, posited the source of legitimate authority elsewhere. When Pilate wondered why Jesus wouldn’t answer his inquiries, he asked Jesus, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Pilate was a governor, appointed by Caesar. You would think that Pilate’s authority came from Caesar – Pilate certainly thought so – but Jesus posits ultimate authority in God. Jesus retorts earlier, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28) This antithetical parallelism that Jesus employs emphasizes the fact that our loyalty to God should outweigh our loyalty to the “gods” of this world such that it seems like we are ignoring Bush and his GOP. It does not mean that we should ignore the government or our stewardship of our civic responsibilities – we must render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s – and in our cultural context that is political involvement as well as paying taxes.

The failure to be involved is similar to the failure to pay taxes – the effective operation of our government as it was designed is dependent upon our participation as well as our tax dollars. While Jesus’ teaching does not imply – or even allow for – isolation from the world, it does mean that we must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, such that all other things will be brought into line. This means that whenever we begin to think about an issue that faces this society we must remember where the source of authority lies – it is not in the consent of the governed; it is not in an act of Congress; it is not in an executive order; it is not in the latest ruling of the Supreme Court. All authority is in Jesus Christ – all authority – and while we must respect and operate within the civil authority of the state, the starting point of any Christian discussion of political issues must begin with the authority of Jesus Christ.

Christians are to make disciples of all nations
In 1992 James Stockdale, Ross Perot’s running mate, opened the Vice Presidential debate with the humorous quip, “Who am I? Why am I here?” It was humorous because he was not a politician, relatively unknown, and yet he was in the political spotlight. The question, however, is quite profound, and we need to ask ourselves, “Who are we? Why are we here?” This question drives philosophers to dream and minstrels to sing – each inquiring about that one thing: “Who are we and why are we here?” Africans throughout the Diaspora who are separated from the land of our ancestors have struggled to sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land, and we struggle for an identity, for collective self-esteem. We need to answer the question, “Who are we and why are we here.” To answer that question we must look to our Creator. David inquired of God, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; what is man that you take thought of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Who are we and why are we here?

Christians are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light. This language that Peter used to describe the Church is taken from Exodus 19:5-6 when God cut a covenant with the children of Israel. Israel was chosen, elected if you will, for a purpose – namely to reconcile the world back to God in fulfillment of Genesis 12:1-3, which was fulfilling Genesis 3:15c. Israel, however, failed to fulfill the purpose for which she was elected. Israel did not minister to peoples in order to share the grace of God that was given to them – they separated themselves from the rest of the world and considered themselves to be something special that the outsiders – the Gentiles – could only hope to be. They wholeheartedly embraced the “chosen people” and “a people belonging to God” while rejecting – or terminally neglecting – the “royal priesthood” and “holy nation” parts. This rejection caused the northern kingdom of Israel to be destroyed by the Assyrians and the southern kingdom of Judah to be destroyed by the Babylonians.

Today, salvation is free to you and me – even to us Gentiles – since in Christ Jesus there is neither Gentile nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, circumcised nor uncircumcised. Our situation in life is not the determining factor in our relationship with the Father; it is our relationship with the Son, and our primary purpose as Christians is to make all nations – all people-groups – disciples of Jesus Christ. We must extend a horizontal connection to our neighbors in order to facilitate their vertical connection to the Father through the authority of the Son in the power of the Spirit. Any position that we take on a political issue must keep this primary purpose in mind – reconciling the world back to God must remain the main thing.

Christians are to baptize these disciples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
This is the point where Baptists have historically emphasized baptism by immersion. While that is indeed the mode of baptizing employed by the apostles in scripture, it is not the emphasis of this passage. The emphasis of this passage is bringing people into the community of faith by a public declaration of their faith. In whom is this faith placed?
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of the Father, that is, from the substance of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made, both in heaven and on earth, who for us humans and for our salvation descended and became incarnate, becoming human, suffered and rose again on the third day, ascended to the heavens, and will come to judge the living and the dead; And in the Holy Spirit.

– From The Nicene Creed
As we ponder public policy we must remember to keep our mission of global reconciliation back to God as the main thing, and we must remember by whose authority we operate. Our mission is to facilitate people coming into relationship with God. Our mission is not to get people to live moral lives, although that should be an outworking of people coming into a relationship with God (Matt. 5:16, Gal. 5:22-23). Our mission is not to create a just society where people can realize their full potential, although that should be an outworking of people coming into relationship with God (Rom. 12). Our mission is to facilitate people coming into relationship with God through Christ in the power of the Spirit, and to bring them into the community of faith. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg the nations on behalf of Christ, “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:19-20). That is our mission. That is the main thing.

Christians are to teach these disciples to obey everything that He has commanded
What has He commanded? The first and foremost command is for explicit faith exclusively in Jesus (John 14:6). It is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that we are saved (Eph. 2:8-9). All of human destiny centers on the person and work of Jesus Christ, and apart from Him there is no salvation (Matt. 10:32-33). We are first of all commanded to publicly place our faith in Jesus for the salvation of our soul. Jesus summed up all other scriptural teaching in Matthew 22:37-40 when he answered critics by saying:
"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets.
The Jews of the 1st Century AD referred to the scripture as having three parts: the law, the prophets, and the writings. Sometimes they would refer to the whole of scripture as the Law, or the Law and the Prophets, while other times they would refer to the individual sections. In this text, Jesus is referring to the whole of scripture hinging on these two commandments – love God and love your neighbors. Jesus was asked what the single greatest commandment was – they asked for one commandment – but Jesus gave them two. The vertical and the horizontal are intricately linked – you cannot separate the two. If we love God with all that we are then that will manifest itself in our love for the people who God loves, namely everyone. (John 3:16) If we don’t love God fully and our neighbors unreservedly then we will quickly fall into legalism – just following a list of rules – such that on that day Jesus will say, “I never knew you.” (Matt. 7:21-23) The vertical relationship cannot be decoupled from the horizontal relationships – we cannot emphasize personal piety over social concerns or social concerns over personal piety. The two are intimately linked, and what God in Christ has joined together, let no man tear asunder.

One thing that we cannot forget is who it was that Jesus commanded us to teach to obey all that He commanded. It is those from all nations who, by the authority of Jesus Christ, have been made into disciples and have publicly professed their faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that we are to teach to obey all that Jesus commanded. We cannot expect those who are not Christ’s disciples to act like Christ’s disciples. We must stand up for what is right and stand against that which is wrong in society, but we cannot expect people to abide by the commands of One to whom they have not pledged allegiance, to whom they have not submitted. That would be like the Russians expecting Americans to abide by Russian law here in America. As we consider public policy, Christians must strive to create an environment in society that facilitates the furtherance of the gospel – keeping the main thing as the main thing. All else should be considered as a pile of fecal material (Phil. 3:8).

Jesus is with us Christians until the end of the age
Jesus said that there would be wars and rumors of wars, but we must see to it that we are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes, but all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver Christians to tribulation, and will kill us, and we will be hated by all nations because of Jesus’ name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the son of man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth his angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matt. 24:6-14, 29-31)

People often wonder just how soon the end will be. Christians are facing tribulation in many places in the world, even death. Even in America Christians are hated as being intolerant zealots. Many of us know people who used to profess faith in Jesus Christ and are now agnostic or functionally atheists. There has been a significant falling away from the truth already, such that we even have to argue about what is epistemological truth. Theological conservatives often display animosity toward theological liberals who hate the conservatives right back. As to false prophets leading people astray, TBN (sometimes pejoratively called “Twisting the Bible Nightly” or “Totally Bogus Network”) is proof positive. The law in America – and especially in international relations – works on a sliding scale in favor of the haves against the have-nots, with cronyism and cynicism currently more common than breathable air. These are not the best of times.

One may wonder if the end is coming upon us as a thief in the night, but we are called to persevere to the end – something that we can do because He promised that He would be with us until the end of the age. He delivered on His promise to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who helps us to stand firm in the struggle (John 14:26). We understand that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, we must take up the full armor of God, so that we will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm then, having surrounded yourself with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:12-17). For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5). As we consider public policy we must understand the nature of the warfare into which we have been thrust so that we can maintain our focus on the main thing – facilitating people coming into relationship with God through Christ in the power of the Spirit, growing them up within the community of faith to stand firm in this evil day.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to fulfil the Great Commission,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM :: (1) minds freed

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday Comics

Single Life
King George II
Same Old Ish
Wicked Beyotch Of The West
Brave, Brave Sir Robin
Flight of Freedoms
Land of the Free
Mission Accomplished
Twilight Zone
Minimum Wage
Pimp Your Kid
Cognitive Dissonance
Bagdad Bashar
Honorable Men (q.v. Balk)
Better Recognize
Stay The Course
Self Defeating Proposition
Coming Soon
No HazMats
Proof Positive
Stocks & Bonds
Allen Country
Ooo Ooh Aah Aah
Friends With Benefits
Sexual Assault
Pucker Up
North America
Home Delivery
Defensive Position
Hearts & Minds
Missionary Position
Creek Done Rose

And my favorite for today: The Voting Public

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 9:15 AM :: (0) minds freed

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Another phone.

Another toilet.

Same result.

I just lost my second phone this year to a commode. I was going to post about the crap going on in the Middle East and the nutzoid conspiracy theories buzzing around Right Blogsylvania, but I've got my own personal crap to deal with now.

No, my cheap behind didn't get the insurance.


No, my lazy behind hadn't downloaded the numbers to my PC.


My mood? Craptacular.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 10:46 PM :: (3) minds freed

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sell Out

Today I went through orientation for my new job. As the presenters went through the company vision and mission it took all that was within me to keep my mouth shut - working for an HMO while fervently believing in the moral necessity of universal health care takes the concept of cognitive dissonance to new levels. A few months ago I asked what's people's price was, what would cause them to sell out the things in which they believe - it appears that for me the price is somewhere between $50K and $100K per year.

The whole day I sat there, seething, wondering if something truthful stupid was going to accidentally jump out of my mouth, something unseemly like pointing out that if the federal government were to remove the enrollment restrictions from Medicaid that we would instantly have universal health care, that corporations would no longer need to foot the cost of medical insurance for their employees, that if the increases in taxes were entirely absorbed by the corporate employers and everyone who was on commercial health insurance switched to Medicaid then the corporate employers would find themselves with a windfall of roughly $2000 per employee and family member covered per year:
Medicaid Members (2004): 42.4 million
Medicaid Budget (2004): $173 billion
Medicaid cost per Medicaid member (2004): $4080
Medicaid cost if extended to every US Citizen (300 million people): $1.224 trillion
Current corporate spending on employee health benefits: $1.8 trillion

Savings: $576 billion each and every year

Medicaid At A Glance
Health Insurance Costs
Cost Of Inaction
If the increase of taxes were split between employers and employees then corporations would realize an even greater windfall.

Of course, if this were to be implemented then I - along with 20,000 of my new co-workers - would be out of a job, so I obviously cannot advocate this course of action. Besides, you would sooner see MoveOn.org endorse a Falwell/Robertson presidential ticket than see Congress seriously propose enrolling the entire nation into Medicaid.

It would make too much sense.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:02 PM :: (2) minds freed

Friday, August 11, 2006


I'm heading up to Detroit for the weekend - Mom's retirement gala - so I'm incognegro this weekend.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 5:00 AM :: (1) minds freed

Monday, August 07, 2006

Family Business

The only remaining question about the Democratic primary for Senate in the state of Connecticut is how just wide Joe Lieberman's margin of defeat will become. The MSM is framing this as anti-war, dovish liberals taking the Democratic Party into the abyss just like in the '70s with Vietnam. This perspective is wrong on so many fronts that it should be obvious to anyone paying attention, but few people actually pay attention any more so let's spell it out.

Democratic support for Bush's Misadventure in Mesopotamia™ is only a symptom of the root problem. It is certainly true that anti-war, dovish liberals oppose the invasion and subjugation of Iraq, but that's like saying that the NRA opposes gun control legislation or the NEA opposes voucher legislation. That simplistic labeling doesn't account for hawks like John Murtha who previously hadn't opposed anything military-related, who was the poster-boy for the military industrial complex. That labeling doesn't account for Al Gore who hadn't opposed a military intervention since Vietnam, and he volunteered for Vietnam service. That labeling doesn't account for Pro Life Democrats like myself finding common cause with Pro Choice Democrats on the utter wrongness of invading Iraq as a response to an attack based in Afghanistan.

Opposition to this war is not based upon a philosophical opposition to all warfare, it is based upon American patriotism that recognizes that in the 227 years prior to Bush's unilateral invasion of Iraq America had never unilaterally invaded a sovereign nation that posed no threat to the United States. There was that little thing with the War of 1812, but we see how well that went. Point being, unilateral invasions of sovereign nations are precisely what the United States has stood against for at least the last century, and opposition to this invasion was not and is not purely the purview of pacifistic progressives.

The truth of the matter is that the no-violence-ever crowd comprises an exceedingly small percentage of those who viscerally oppose Joe Lieberman and his ilk, and the root cause of our rejection of their ilk has little to do with the Iraq War itself. This is best illustrated by a side-by-side comparison of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson. By virtually every measure Ben Nelson is right of Joe Lieberman - well right of Joe Lieberman - yet you hear no calls for Nelson's ouster. You hear no condemnation of Ben Nelson. You hear nothing negative about Ben Nelson whatsoever - why is that? Ben Nelson voted for the war every time a vote came up, yet there's not a peep from the "anti-war Left" - why is that? Ben Nelson votes against the majority of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate frequently, yet there is no netroots movement to rid the Senate of Ben Nelson - why is that?

Ben Nelson is loyal to the Democratic Party.

Ben Nelson represents one of the reddest states in the union, and if he is to maintain his seat in the Senate then he has to vote according to the will of the people of Nebraska - he represents Cornhuskers, not Golden Bears. What's more - and this is the primary difference - Ben Nelson never undercuts his colleagues, he never gives the GOP political cover by being the token Democratic sponsor that allows the GOP to call a purely-partisan piece of legislation "bipartisan" - the working definition of 55 Republicans plus Joe Lieberman these days. Ben Nelson never publicly attacks the patriotism of his own party, never uses Republican talking points to denigrate his own party, never takes his party to task for failing to be the Republican Party. And Ben Nelson certainly has never kissed George Bush.

I know it was you, Fredo. You break my heart. YOU BREAK MY HEART!

This is the beginning of a purge - every Fredo that was supposed to be loyal but who instead made deals with the enemy that ended up getting members of the Family whacked , they are all about to be served; in 2006 Family debts are being settled. What upsets the MSM is that the one who is giving the orders to whack the power-brokers is the punk upstart who wasn't supposed to amount to much. What really upsets the MSM is the sure knowledge that the punk upstart is taking over its territory as the dispenser of truth, the framer of issues, the filter of information, so the MSM is fighting back. Unfortunately for the MSM, very few people actually pay attention to them any more.

The Junior Senator from Connecticut is dead.
Long live the Junior Senator from Connecticut!

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Word For The Week

Grace and peace to you
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ,
who gave Himself
for our sins
to rescue us
from the present evil age,
according to the will
of our God and Father,
to whom be glory
for ever and ever.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:3-10
Last week it was suggested that I "rewrite [my] sermons in language that speaks to people of all stripes, not only those on the Father, Son and Holy Ghost train." The most telling thing about this suggestion is its context - I reread that which I wrote last week and discovered that I made a major mistake: not once did I mention the name of Jesus. In fact, what I wrote last week could have easily been written by a rabbi or an imam. I failed as a Christian, for the gospel of Christ is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the salvation of men's souls, that Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. We have no other message; we have no other gospel that we preach.

The gospel of Christ is not "Be excellent to each other."

The gospel of Christ is not "Vote Republican."

The gospel of Christ is not "Peace at all costs."

The gospel of Christ is not "End abortion and homosexuality."

The gospel of Jesus Christ is that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Jesus Christ the iniquity of us all. He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

That is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if I should ever preach any other gospel - trying to seek the approval of men or trying to please women - then let me be eternally condemned. I would rather be banished by men than to functionally deny my Christ. Shut up about the Father, Son and Holy Ghost? Never.

The most disturbing thing in this is that nobody seems to see the irony of someone authoritatively asserting that one cannot make authoritative assertions.

Think about that for a second.

I can not assert the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but you can assert that all faiths are essentially the same thing? I am not a Unitarian Universalist and I will never preach a Unitarian Universalist message - I am a Christian, and come what may I will be identified with Jesus Christ, my source of authority, the only true authority. Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Jesus commands all Christians to "make disciples of all nations" - not to comfort people in their sins. We who are called by the name of Christ are to be a hospital for the sin-sick soul, healing them of that which ails them, but too many people are about the business of making people comfortable in their sin-sickness until that which ails them ultimately kills them. That's not a hospital, that's a hospice.

Some may prefer to seek the approval of men, but I listen to the Word of God. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are One." I am a bond-servant of Christ and I will never be snatched from the hand of the Good Shepherd.


May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to accept the gospel of Christ,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saturday Comics

Hot As Houston
Fallacy of Composition
Attention Deficit Disorder
Bad Egg
Wanton Destruction Of Innocents
Bubonic Terror
Body Armor
Civilian Shields
Neutral Observer
Cedar Chips
Viable Solution
Weekend At Fidel's
Weekend At Fidel's II

And my favorite for today: Forgiveness

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Thursday, August 03, 2006

No Choices At All

When someone is raining hundreds of rockets into your cities and killing your civilians, simply asking your enemy not to do that is not an option. Sitting on your hands and doing nothing is not an option. Asking the United Nations to levy taxes and raise an army for the purpose of creating a buffer between Israel's northern border and the point where Lebanon's military can actually exercise sovereignty is not an option.

Israel had only one choice.

Eliminating Hezbollah's capability to launch rockets into Israeli cities is the only option, and when the country from where they are launching rockets is unwilling/unable to stop Hezbollah from launching rockets into Israel's civilian population centers then Israel's only option is to eliminate Hezbollah's rocket-launching capability themselves. When Hezbollah refuses to fight military-to-military but instead fires off rockets and then blends back into Lebanese society Israel is forced to interdict Lebanese roads, bridges, fuel depots, and anything else that could facilitate Hezbollah launching rockets into the homes of Israeli civilians. Any other concern - be it a road map to peace or Palestinian elections or increasing tourism - will have to wait until the security situation is handled. If Israel's citizens are not secure in their own homes then the Knesset would have failed as a government - there is no peace when rockets are killing babies in their beds. Israel has to stop the rocket-launching; then they can concern themselves with a Palestinian peace process.

Is it disingenuous to say that Israel is completely justified while lamenting the deaths of innocent Lebanese and Israeli civilians who had no choices in this fighting? Hardly. If Harry continually punches Ike and then - once Ike has had enough of getting punched and decides to put an end to it - Harry uses a child to shield himself from getting punched back, it is hardly disingenuous to say that Ike is entirely justified while simultaneously lamenting the child getting hurt in the process. No, what would be disingenuous would be failing to utterly condemn Harry for putting the child in that position in the first place. What would be disingenuous would be failing to condemn Harry as a coward for hiding behind a child after he instigated the fight in the first place. What would be disingenuous would be to suggest that it's Ike's fault that the child got hurt.

There's nothing complicated about babies dying - I believe we're all against that - but there's also nothing complicated about placing the blame squarely where it belongs.


Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 AM :: (4) minds freed

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

False Choices

Which do you favor more: Hezbollah launching rockets into Israel as part of a "resistance" campaign, or Israel leveling the entire nation of Lebanon in a "defensive" attack?

That seems the two choices laid out by many observing or involved with the current situation in the Middle East, but is that reality?

I believe in Israel's right to exist. I also belive in Lebanon's right to exist, as well as Palestine. Granted we could talk for decades about who did what when to whom and how bad and yadda yadda yadda...but it would get us nowhere, which is exactly where we are right now.

Mahatma Gandhi said an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. A person can fully support the right of Israel to exist without supporting the current destruction of Lebanon. Likewise a person can oppose the current destruction of Lebanon without being a supporter of Hezbollah or secretly wishing for Israel's destruction.

To me, it seems incredibly disingenuous to say on the one hand that Israel is completely justified 100%, and on the other hand say it's a shame the Lebanese have to suffer the way they are right now. The Middle East crisis may be a complicated situation, but there's nothing complicated about babies dying.

Emancipated by Talib @ 2:19 PM :: (0) minds freed

Obama-Biden Transition

Commentary & Reference

Local Media Outlets

Syndicate this site

Subscribe in NewsGator Online