• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Are State’s Rights Movements Becoming More Active?

us_flagQuoting Georgetown University professor of constitutional law Randy Barnett:

“In response to an unprecedented expansion of federal power, citizens have held hundreds of ‘tea party’ rallies around the country, and various states are considering ‘sovereignty resolutions’ invoking the Constitution’s Ninth and Tenth Amendments. For example, Michigan’s proposal urges ‘the federal government to halt its practice of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States.’ While well-intentioned, such symbolic resolutions are not likely to have the slightest impact on the federal courts, which long ago adopted a virtually unlimited construction of Congressional power. But state legislatures have a real power under the Constitution by which to resist the growth of federal power: They can petition Congress for a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. An amendments convention is feared because its scope cannot be limited in advance. The convention convened by Congress to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation produced instead the entirely different Constitution under which we now live. Yet it is precisely the fear of a runaway convention that states can exploit to bring Congress to heel. …[A] Federalism Amendment would provide tea-party enthusiasts and other concerned Americans with a concrete and practical proposal by which we can restore our lost Constitution.”

Preaching Is Essential To Worship

bible123From: The Pen of Robert Spinney

Most American Christians today do not understand how listening to an hour of preaching can be an act of worship. This is because we tend to regard worship as something inherently emotional. Worship, we believe, is something that we feel. We like to be “lifted up to the Lord” in worship, which seems to require heavy emphasis on songs. “Good worship” is worship that moves us, touches our heart, and causes us to sway a little. Because we equate praise and worship with emotions, we tend to think of our standard Lord’s Day morning worship services as containing two distinct parts: the “praise and worship” part ( which consists of singing primarily of singing and perhaps public testimonies ), and the teaching or lesson part ( which consists of the pastor’s morning sermon ). We see the sermon as a wholly intellectual and didactic event ( read: it doesn’t move us emotionally ), so we think that the worship stops when the preaching begins. I get blank looks from otherwise energetic Christians when I speak of “worshiping while one listens to the Word being proclaimed” or “preaching as an act of worship for preacher and listener” or “meeting God in the preached Word.”

What is the problem? In addition to placing too much importance upon emotions, we American Christians suffer from a sub-biblical view of preaching. But this may be because — in spite of all our affirmations and orthodox statements of faith — we have a sub-biblical view of the Word of God itself.

We can ( and should ) say many good things about the Word of God: it is infallible, it is inerrant, it is God-breathed, it is useful, it is relevant, it is the final authority in matters of faith and practice. But we should add one other thing, something our Protestant forefathers emphasized but we have forgotten: the Word of God mediates the presence of God to us. In other words, God does not normally speak to his people today through dreams or Isaiah-like prophets. He speaks through his Word. That means if I wish to hear God’s voice and enjoy his presence, I need to sit before his Word. To put it another way, we meet God through his Word. The Holy Scriptures not only teach us, exhort us, and correct us ( although they do all these things ), God’s Word is also the normal medium through which we encounter God himself and receive from him. . . .

Few American Christians today believe that the Word of God mediates the presence of God. Ask the average American Christian when ( or where ) she is most likely to commune with God intimately, and she will respond, “When I’m singing.” This is why we use the phrase “praise and worship services” to describe a meeting where we do nothing but sing. In other words, we use songs to mediate the presence of God. Although we would never admit it, we secretly believe that hymns, contemporary Christian songs, and praise choruses are more powerful than the Holy Scriptures. . . .

I understand that the appeal for Word-based worship, or worship that is centered upon the hearing of the Word of God, may sound strange, just as we are beginning to abandon it in favor of more “exciting” methods. But Word-based worship was commonplace among our Protestant forefathers. Protestants of all stripes understood that the guidelines for a biblical and profitable worship service could be reduced to one phrase: Word and Sacrament. For centuries, Christians have met with their God in the written Word ( as set forth in the sermon ) and in the living Word ( as set forth in the Lord’s Supper service ). We may be the first generation of Christians to think that we can have a praise and worship service without the presence of either the preached Word or the communion table.

Dire Predictions About The Future Of The US

liberal-fascismFrom: The Pen of Sher Zieve

  • Massive energy tax increases of at least an additional $1,800/year/family
  • Higher prices for all goods and services
  • Total government control of the media (See Rosa Brooks “news” bail out proposal)
  • Total government control of the entire financial industry (money will go to Obama and leftist supporters and be withheld from those who oppose them)
  • The end of free speech (US state police have already been apprised by the Obama administration’s DHS Chief Napolitano that all who hold conservative or third party viewpoints are to be considered ‘enemies of the state’)
  • Abortions on demand
  • Infanticide for failed abortions (Note: Obama voted four times in opposition to a law that would have protected babies who are left to die after a failed abortion)
  • Total government control of ALL industries Obama et al deem “essential” (which is subject to change at a moment’s notice)
  • The end to small business unless it supports the Left
  • The end of the middle class—as Obama and Co and the globalists will have gutted the country’s treasury and placed US taxpayer money in their own pockets
  • The criminalization of all political thought that is deemed non-supportive of the Left
  • The rescinding of Amendment 22 to end presidential term limits
  • The prosecution of President George W. Bush for protecting the country against terrorists (in order to distract the masses from what Supreme Leader Obama and Co are really doing)
  • The elevation of terrorists to a protected class (Islamists soon to be the global power elite’s Secret Police force?)
  • Forced taxpayer funding for illegal immigrants
  • The dismantling of the US’ southern border
  • Major drug dealers covertly partnering with government

You may read the entire article titled “The Reason The Left Must Destroy The USA” here. . . .

Hate Crimes Laws Create Second Class Citizens

In The Words of Matt Barber:

The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote any day on S. 909, a “hate crimes” bill that would grant special preferred government status to a select few citizens based on the behaviorally driven, fluid and undefined concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” while expressly excluding other citizens. . . .

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle – in Washington and around the country – should not only reject S. 909, but should also begin working toward repeal of all state and federal hate-crimes laws.

All violent crimes are “hate crimes.” Ever known anyone cracked upside the head in love? There may have been a time when hate-crimes laws were temporarily necessary, but that time has come and gone. When the 1968 federal hate-crimes bill passed, there were multiple and verifiable cases of local prosecutors refusing to indict whites for violent crimes committed against blacks. This was the justification for the law at the time. . . .

S. 909 and existing hate-crimes laws create a two-tiered justice system with first-class victims and second-class victims. Second-class victims – such as the elderly, veterans, the homeless or children – are explicitly denied the same resources, attention and justice given to those who are arbitrarily deemed to be first-class victims. This is as un-American as it is unfair.

Rather than continuing down the wrong path and creating new hate-crimes laws that unfairly favor whichever boutique special-interest group screams the loudest, we should move toward inclusion and equality for all Americans. We should look to the future instead of the past. We should both reject S. 909 and repeal all outdated and discriminatory hate-crimes laws.

Read more here. . . .

Socialism: The God Of Modern Thought By Charles Spurgeon

charles-haddon-spurgeon123The god of modern thought exceedingly resembles the deities described in this Psalm [115:8]. Pantheism is wondrously akin to Polytheism, and yet differs very little from Atheism. The god manufactured by our great thinkers is a mere abstraction: he has no eternal purposes, he does not interpose on the behalf of his people, he cares but very little as to how much man sins, for he has given to the initiated “a larger hope” by which the most incorrigible are to be restored. He is what the last set of critics chooses to make him, he has said what they choose to say, and lie will do what they please to prescribe. Let this creed and its devotees alone, and they will work out their own refutation, for as now their god is fashioned like themselves, they will by degrees fashion themselves like their god; and when the principles of justice, law, and order shall have all been effectually sapped we may possibly witness in some form of socialism, similar to that which is so sadly spreading in Germany, a repetition of the evils which have in former ages befallen nations which have refused the living God, and set up gods of their own.

EPA Powers Will Destabilize Our Economy And Freedoms

environmental fascismFrom: The Pen of Jonah Goldberg

One of the most important events of our lifetimes may have just transpired. A federal agency has decided that it has the power to regulate everything, including the air you breathe.

Nominally, the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement . . . only applies to new-car emissions. But pretty much everyone agrees that the ruling opens the door to regulating, well, everything.

According to the EPA, greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide — the gas you exhale — as well as methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. It is literally impossible to imagine a significant economic or human activity that does not involve the production of one of these gases. Don’t think just of the gas and electricity bills. Cow flatulence is a serious concern of the EPA’s already. What next? Perhaps an EPA mandarin will pick up a copy of “The Greenpeace Guide to Environmentally Friendly Sex” and go after the root causes of global warming.

Whether or not global warming is a crisis that warrants immediate, drastic action (I don’t think it does), and whether or not such wholesale measures would be an economic calamity (they would be), the EPA’s decision should be disturbing to people who believe in democratic, constitutional government.

Continue reading. . . .

If You Believe What You Like

Quoting Saint Augustine:

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.

Elementary Thoughts: Attitude – Part 1

principalThere is a root of bitterness growing ever deeper in the lives of many of America’s children today. You see it in many of their faces and in the way they walk. When they smile, it sometimes appears to be a forced contortion of the facial muscles. You know they do not mean it. They are just going through the motions to avoid unwanted questions. Behind the smile is the mind of a cynic seeking foremost to avoid feeling the pain.

Sometimes there is anger. These children move through the halls of the school like boiling pots. All it takes is for someone to tip them slightly and the anger becomes a scalding burst of violent emotion. They respond from hurt, because they cannot find comfort or refuge from the pain. In fact, it is those who should be the primary source of comfort and refuge who are increasingly the source of the pain.

It was “Back To School Night,” in late August, and several hundred children, along with their parents, were making their way through the halls to find their new classrooms and meet the teachers. In one classroom a young mother greeted her son’s teacher. The boy stood sheepishly at his mother’s side and smiled widely when the teacher welcomed him to her class.

As the teacher began to speak about some things the boy should look forward to in her class, she was interrupted by a loud adult voice which the other parents and children could not help but hear, “Well, you need to know that Michael is bad news. You are going to really earn your pay this year. He lies and he’s always getting into trouble.”

The teacher was shocked and embarrassed for the little boy who stood there looking down at the floor. She could not believe the words that had just come out of the mother’s mouth and, especially, that they had been said in front of the child and so many other people. Michael’s mother had spoken hurtful words that prophesied a dismal year for him and the teacher. Michael, in turn, did his best that year to make sure that prophesy came true.

Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” The words we speak to our children and about them are, indeed, almost prophetic in their impact. The young mother above may have thought she was doing the teacher a favor by giving her a warning about her son. The message she conveyed, however, devalued her child and gave him a negative image of his potential abilities. If he had ever had a chance of improving his behavior during that year, he was now discouraged from that goal by the person who had the most influence on his life. (Continued Monday)

There Is A Higher Authority

ten commandmentsChristianity, at the time of the Constitution’s drafting, was considered to be the foundation of a sound moral and political order even though debates raged over particular doctrinal beliefs. In his dissenting opinion in McGowan v. Maryland (1961) William O. Douglas stated:

The institutions of our society are founded on the belief that there is an authority higher than the authority of the State; that there is a moral law which the State is powerless to alter; that the individual possesses rights, conferred by the Creator, which government must respect. The Declaration of Independence stated the now familiar theme: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” And the body of the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights enshrined those principles.

What Is The Focus Of Your Church?

sensitivityFrom: The Pen of Kim Riddlebarger

For a number of years now, various church leaders in my neck of the woods (Orange County, CA) have told us that in order for churches to grow and recover their vitality, they needed to be more cognizant of contemporary culture. These leaders also told us that we needed to become more adept at speaking to people in ways which are meaningful to them. So far so good. But how did this stress on being “contemporary” work itself out in practice? The church I pastor—Christ Reformed Church (URC)—is within eyesight of Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. Schuller, you may recall, built his church by going throughout the local community and asking people why they didn’t go to church. The follow-up question had to do with what a church could do to get them to go. Well, it was not long before young Schuller bought a local drive-in and was preaching to people who stayed in their automobiles hooked up to the church service through the clunky drive-in speaker hanging from the car window. Going to church in their “jammies” without getting out of their cars, apparently, must have been at the top of many a person’s church wish list.

Orange County was also the home of the “Jesus People” movement in the late 60’s. Traditional charismatic and dispensational Christianity could indeed be translated into folk music (later, Christian rock) and counter-cultural churches where tie-dye and sandals replaced suits and wingtips. Traditional hymns and liturgy supposedly represented the pro-Vietnam War traditionalists and the “uptight” middle class. Sad to say, many churches thought this challenge from the youth to be a threat, rather than a golden opportunity. Seizing the opportunity, the Calvary Chapel movement was born. If you have ever sung a praise song, or witnessed drums, bass-guitars, and praise and worship singers in your church, you probably have Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel to thank.

Though Chuck Smith was a pastor to a whole generation of local kids because traditional churches didn’t seem to care about the questions their youth were asking and Chuck Smith did, the transformation of the traditional church service into the youth-oriented pop-culture worship of the Jesus People, surely had unintended consequences. Over time, worship became an “experience.” Theologically illiterate men and women who played guitar and could sing, soon became “ministers” and were leading worship and giving testimonies. Christianity became “cool.” And to supply this burgeoning new market with all the accouterments of evangelical “coolness,” the Evangelical subculture was born. Stephen King and Eric Clapton were out. Christian novels, Christian movies, and Christian pop music were in. . . .

I mention these particular examples to make a point. The focus of the church of the lowest common denominator is me. The sermon is about problems I face. The music is music what I like. The church service is designed to entertain me. That explains why they all look and sound so much alike. Somehow, God got lost in all the talk about my felt needs. The theology of the church of the lowest common denominator is utterly man-centered. It is all about me—or at least that’s how I am made to feel. This is where we as Reformed Christians must make our stand. . . .

We do not need to become practical Arminians to see our churches grow. The solution is both very simple and quite risky. The solution is simple because we don’t have far to go to find the answer—the Scriptures, our own theology, liturgy and confessions. They contain everything we need to see Reformed churches grow, multiply and flourish. We don’t need to reinvent the theological wheel. Yet, this is risky because it means that by employing our existing resources in new ways our churches may no longer be enclaves for white cultural conservatives. If we put our theology into practice, our churches will look much more like the communities of North America—filled with all races, cultures and socio-economic groups. This kind of change can be disconcerting, though it must be pointed out that this is not because of latent racism as some may argue. The discomfort has to do with having our comfort zones challenged. Change is never easy. It is hard to reach out to others outside familiar territory.

The solution is to take the focus off me, and put it back where it belongs, on God. Instead of the church of the lowest common denominator, a Reformed church should be the church of the highest common denominator. But what does a church of the highest common denominator look like? It looks like this—it is a church where the theology, worship and evangelism is God-centered, not man-centered.

Pathological Projection In Politics

right_wing_declarationFrom: The Pen of Jonah Goldberg

“The idea that American ‘hate groups’ are right-wing and bristling with vets got new life with JFK’s assassination at the hands of a disgruntled vet named Lee Harvey Oswald. Everybody knew right away that Oswald was an agent of ‘hate’ — and hate was code for right-wing and racist. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren summed up the instantaneous conventional wisdom when he blamed the ‘climate of hatred’ for Kennedy’s death. Everybody knew that the right was involved. There was just one inconvenient truth: Oswald was a communist who, according to the Warren report, had ‘an extreme dislike of the rightwing’ and had actually tried to murder a right-wing former Army general. When Hollywood filmed the Tom Clancy novel ‘The Sum of All Fears,’ it changed the real villains from Jihadi terrorists to a bunch of European CEOs who were secret Nazis. Because ‘everybody knows’ that’s where the real threat lies. Sen. John Kerry belonged to an organization of vets that considered assassinating American politicians. (Kerry denied participating in those meetings.) Barack Obama was friends with, and a colleague of, a domestic terrorist whose organization plotted to murder soldiers and their wives at a social at Fort Dix. A young Hillary Clinton sympathized with the Black Panthers, a paramilitary gang of racist murders and cop killers. Bring that up and you’re a paranoid nutcase out of ‘Dr. Strangelove.’ But if you’re terrified of a bunch of citizens who throw tea in the water and demand lower taxes and less government spending, well, that’s just a sign of political seriousness. Because everyone knows who the real threat to the country is.”

Augustine On Plato And Cicero

Quoting Saint Augustine:

I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden.”

US Senate Seeks To Ban Private Gun Sales

no-guns-729109Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have joined Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and victims and family members of the Virginia Tech tragedy, to introduce legislation to eliminate the private transfers of firearms and close the nation’s “gun show loophole.”

Independence Institute researcher David Kopel has written about the “gun show loophole,” concluding that it is a myth: Says Kopel:

“Despite what some media commentators have claimed, If a dealer sells a gun from a storefront, from a room in his home or from a table at a gun show, the rules are exactly the same: he can get authorization from the FBI for the sale only after the FBI runs its “instant” background check”

Like all other threats against our freedoms, we must rise and defeat this bill, slap it down hard.

The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), John Kerry (D-MA), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Call your Senators today, toll free numbers include 1-877-851-6437 and 1-866-220-0044, or call toll 1-202-225-3121 and register your outrage at ongoing efforts to take guns away!

CALL PRESIDENT Obama, 202-456-1111 and 202-456-1414 expressing your disdain and ABSOLUTE REJECTION of all GUN BANS.

The information above is provided by Concerned Citizens for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Elementary Thoughts: Discipline – Part 6

principalI would like to be able to say that the previous stories I have told are rare exceptions to the present practices of American families. I would like to say that, but I cannot. The truth, from my perspective in the public schools, is that these patterns of behavior are increasing in frequency at an alarming rate. Many parents are quick to blame teachers, bus drivers, neighborhood conditions, peer groups, and ex spouses for Johnny’s bad behavior. Fewer and fewer are willing to take a long hard look at their on lifestyles and accept the responsibility for training and nurturing their children to become responsible, productive citizens.

I would also like to be able to say that you do not find this type of response among people who say they are Christians. I am sorry to report, however, that I too often hear from frustrated Sunday School teachers who have approached a parent concerning their child’s behavior, only to be told in no uncertain terms, that their comments were not appreciated. I am amazed to find this reaction among people who should be in covenant with one another to look out for each other’s children. Think of what a great advantage it would be to know that other adults are willing to monitor your child’s behavior when he is out of your sight and that they would freely come and tell you if Johnny was getting into trouble. Unfortunately, it seems that the world’s attitude of “mind your own business” has crept through the church doors also.

The truth of the matter is that if Johnny is not given appropriate training in his character development at home, by parents who consistently enforce discipline and model lives of integrity before him based on lasting spiritual principles, Johnny is unlikely to be receptive to learning these principles anywhere else. Even modern “caregivers” who are genuinely concerned about the moral development of children in our society are severely handicapped in training the children of parents who neither seek nor support their efforts. Many parents seem to care only that their child has a place to stay between 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. As one mother of a young boy said, “My son’s teacher complains about his behavior all the time. I’m sick and tired of hearing about it. I’ve got a good mind to put him in a Christian school. They would know how to deal with him, but I wouldn’t want them shoving religion down his throat.” Too many parents just want someone else to “deal” with their child’s problems and not bother them.

When parents are not directly and responsibly involved in the lives of their children they hurt them. They may not mean to, but they do. A child needs to feel and experience the close involvement of his parents in his life. Annie Sullivan, who made the difference in the life of Helen Keller, made this observation, “I have thought about it a great deal, and the more I think, the more certain I am that obedience is the gateway through which knowledge, yes, and love, too, enter the mind of the child.” A child needs parental set boundaries within which to function with a feeling of security. When behavioral boundaries are not consistently enforced, there seems to be an unmet need in the child which pushes him farther and farther outside the expected behavioral norms of society. Could this unmet need be the lack of parental involvement which failed to set behavioral boundaries in the first place? A child must be corrected and taught the character traits you want him to develop in order for him to become self-disciplined. When you fail to teach a child to become self-disciplined, you plan for that child’s self-destruction.

The Governor Of The Universe

James Madison

James Madison

James Madison declared in his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785):

Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe; and if a member of Civil Society, who enters into any subordinate Association, must do it with reservation of his duty to the General Authority; much more must every man who becomes a member of a particular Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign.

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