04 June 2010

Greatly to be Praised

Psalm 145:3


Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.


A recent series of devotionals I have been tacking from the teachings of A. W. Tozer, perhaps best known for his books on the Holiness of God such as "Pursuit of God" and others, has touched off and on for the last week or so on worship. What worship should be, what once was, and what now has become were the basic topics.


Today in some many churches we seem to have gone to extremes. While some have made worship pedestrian, others have made it like a rock concert, and still others into an over-charismatic time of being outside of yourself or normal acceptable behavior "in the spirit". What I am struck by is what Tozer hit upon; it simply needs to be about praising God and His unsearchable greatness. Here's what Tozer had to say:


"The dictionary says that to admire is "to regard with wondering esteem accompanied by pleasure and delight; to look at or upon with an
elevated feeling of pleasure." According to this definition, God has few admirers among Christians today.

"Many are they who are grateful for His goodness in providing salvation. At Thanksgiving time the churches ring with songs of
gratitude that "all is safely gathered in." Testimony meetings are mostly devoted to recitations of incidents where someone got into
trouble and got out again in answer to prayer. To decry this would be uncharitable and unscriptural, for there is much of the same thing
in the Book of Psalms. It is good and right to render unto God thanksgiving for all His mercies to us. But God's admirers, where
are they?

"The simple truth is that worship is elementary until it begins to take on the quality of admiration. Just as long as the worshiper is
engrossed with himself and his good fortune, he is a babe. We begin to grow up when our worship passes from thanksgiving to admiration.
As our hearts rise to God in lofty esteem for that which He is ("I AM THAT I AM"), we begin to share a little of the selfless pleasure
which is the portion of the blessed in heaven."


All I can say is Amen!

02 June 2010

Equality & Intolerance

Galatians 3:28
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg recently gave a speech at the New England Law |Boston campus to a group of young female law students. During her speech, designed and delivered to encourage young women in their pursuit of a achieving their career goals, she spoke at length about the importance of choosing the 'right husband'.

After hearing of the speech, and interested in what she had to say, I searched the internet to find a transcript. I could not. I did find enough links to verify some bits of information I had previously heard, and enough to satisfy my curiosity.

We are told in scripture that in Christ, there is no slave or freedman, no male or female etc, just children of Christ. Some might call me a skeptic, but I rather like to think of myself as a realist. While what my heart may want, even strongly desire and work towards that end to bring something to fruition, I realize that the world is not perfect. In this case I fully understand that all are not believers and thereby supporters of the Bible as God's Word and this axiom of equality as He has given it to us as a biblical tenet. But the point that is being made by the text is that we need to be treating people in fairness. THAT is a universal axiom, or so you'd think.

In doing some research on a totally separate topic yesterday in a local Border's Book store I ran across another incident of lack of consideration with regards to dealing with people on an equal footing. While both subjects are totally unrelated, the tie-in they do have, equality and fairness, seemed to jump out at me. What this passage caused me to think of is this: what our media calls 'intolerance' is really just bigotry, real intolerance and reverse discrimination.

In California, a council member has been banned from praying in 'Jesus name'. Praying in Jesus name is now purported to be 'intolerance' as this might offend some who are not Christians. Yet praying in the name of all other god or faith is perfectly acceptable. So what is being said, (without being said) is that the free exercise of a Christians faith, a right guaranteed by the Constitution by line item like enumeration, is now being adjudicated as 'intolerance'.

Chaplains all around the nation and in our military are being forced to use prayers that do not mention the name of a particular God or 'Jesus'. Yet, to require a Muslim in the military or a workplace not to pray to Allah 3 times daily during work or duty hours is discrimination, and now a Federal Hate Crime. So what we see is that the rights of those outside of Christianity are defended, while the rights of the Christian are eroded.
In Justice Ginsburg's speech she lamented about how her husband gave up his career so that she could better pursue her career seeing that she was being elevated in her profession. She even made the comment that, "Since 1980, I haven't made a single meal,"

While I think it is honorable (although on admittedly shaky biblical grounds) that Justice Ginsburg's husband, who had very successful law career in his own right, gave up his career to become a chef so his wife could continue to further hers, how would the media react if this story were recounted by Justice Scalia or Thomas? What if any of the male Supreme Court Justices spoke so loudly and proudly they were that the careers of their respective wives were put on hold (voluntarily or not) so that they could spend the next 30 years relegated to cooking dinners for their husbands? What if one of those male Justices told hundreds of other young, single men at a law school official conference or assembly to be very careful how they choose their wives, making sure that they choose one who will be happily willing to remain in the kitchen cooking meals for him for the next 30 years while they themselves went out and furthered their careers Something tells me that would not fly. Anyone of those men would be branded a sexist bigot. Yet Ginsburg is flaunted as a most excellent example with young women like Carol Ricker a third-year law student from Franklin who asked the question on same-sex marriage, said after the event that she found Ginsburg a "captivating speaker". Leaving the conference Ricker said of Ginsburg, "By her sharing her experiences, she showed how she was able to change things, which should be an inspiration to not only women, but to men, people of color, everyone who wants to be successful". Change is not always good. All I can say about this is that I must remember the name of Carol Ricker so that if I ever find myself being sued for sexual discrimination or intolerance, that I need to not hire her.

While you cannot go so far as to call it intolerance in the case of the comments of Justice Ginsburg, we can see that it is acceptable bigotry on the side of the liberal mindset. This is the same side of the liberal coin that will label us/Christians bigots for wanting to pray in the name of Jesus. Justice Ginsburg's speech, and so many more like them, is not only tolerated, it is championed by them. It's OK for men to put their careers on hold for their wives, but for a male to ask his female 'life partner' (and yes, you do have to specify these days) to put her career on hold so that he can climb the ladder of his career would be seen as bigoted and racist. Any male Justice to make such a comment would be tarred and feathered in the media.
What do I want? The same thing Jesus wants: True equality. Every man, woman and child treated with the equal respect that would have been afforded them by Jesus Himself. Loving the sinner/the man hating the sin. We need to be preaching the Bible for what it is: The truth, and the Word of God without compromise. That's what I want.

But when we cannot even get real, true teaching of real, true equality that from our Evangelical pastors backed by scripture in this country, what in the world makes us think that we just might get it from the media? Yet to face the media bias and stand firm requires resolve. It requires resolve and strength, not of ourselves, but from Christ and His Word. Of ourselves, we can do nothing, but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. When we are persecuted for our faith in Christ, and make no bones about it, that's what this is, we are not called to arms to fight to the death to defend these rights. We are to be encouraged by this persecution, and to find it pleasurable to suffer alongside Jesus for such. But at the same time, Jesus did give us tools to fight these spiritual battles; His word, and the Law of the Land. To not use the tools that He has given us, is not to be a good steward over that which He has given us control.

We are seeing some people stand up and fight. In the fine State of Virginia, State Trooper Chaplains recently had a two year old moratorium put on them from praying in Jesus name, are now being told by the governor to pray in Jesus name all they want. More and more schools are recognizing that the right to Freedom of Religion really means freedom 'of' and not freedom 'from'. We need to do our part to educate people that requiring a person NOT to pray in the name of Jesus or any other particular way is itself discrimination, and that trying to force me or you not to do so is in fact showing the same intolerance to us as they proclaim we show when we pray in Jesus name. They just don't get it.

Luckily God does. God knows the hearts of men, and we have to simply trust Him to deal with each situation as it comes up in our lives. But we cannot go into this intellectual fight unarmed. Arm yourself with the knowledge of God's word. Arm yourself with scripture and a heart that is renewed daily to be more like Jesus. Arm yourself with fellowship in a strong bible teaching bible believing church that will equip you to defend yourself with scripture, against the onslaught of the world's wily deceptions and winds of doctrine. Arm yourself with love that can see everyone equally for what they really are: fallen sinners in need of Grace. This and only this will see the walls of true intolerance and real bigotry come to an end.