Friday, April 30, 2010

Keep Religion Out of Government?

Have you entered the fray about the National Day of Prayer?

As I listen to the wrangling about "separation of church and state" I am concerned for a major fallacy that seems to be the foundation of many folk's arguments (see USA Today and Comments on Franklin Graham's editorial in the Washington Post). The fallacy is that there is somehow the ability to separate religion from government. I believe this is impossible and not the concern of the authors and ratifiers of the first amendment.

Religion is really the cosmological and functional world view system one believes. We all have at least a functional world view system. If we didn't we couldn't operate in life. To be human is to have a world view, an understanding of our purpose and the general principles by which we live. Every human being has some sort of world view, from the most devout Christian to the most convinced agnostic to the most sincere pantheist. And, every government conceived by man operates under some religious assumptions.

So let's stop making the nonsense statement that we can separate religion from government. That's like saying we can separate breathing from being alive - we simply can't both be alive and not breath. Neither can we be alive and not be religious in some way. We can not have government and not have some religion shaping it.

I seems clear that the point the founding fathers were after was to keep the federal government from preferring a particular denomination or religious institution over another. They never meant to separate a belief in a supreme being from the foundation of our country. To do so unravels the very fabric of our government, a government predicated on a firm belief in a God who has created all men equal and endowed them with certain inalienable rights, a government reliant on a common and cohesive belief in a Supreme Judge. Without such an assumption the rest of what is asserted in the Declaration of Independence and all the founding documents comes undone.

So let's stop the nonsense understanding of "separation of church and state" as keeping "religion" out of government. Let's instead honor the wisdom of our founding fathers by seeking to be careful to not prefer one religious denomination or institution over another while maintaining a firm and foundational belief in a Supreme Being who has granted us and sustained for us the privilege of a just and representative government. We will sooner or later lose this privilege if we fail to honor the wisdom of our forefathers. 

A Government-sponsored non-partisan interfaith Theistic National Day of Prayer acknowledging our need for the help of the Supreme Being is not only constitutional but quintessential to our nation.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

King of Grace Church VBS 2010!

We are looking forward to this year's Vacation Bible School.

Come be a part of this July 12-16, King of Grace Church, 28 Chadwick St., Haverhill, Ma, 01835.

Register Here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Life-Changing Preaching

I heard David Platt for the first time at Together for the Gospel, 2010. Wow!

Check out these two messages below and let God use the preaching of David Platt to change your life!

David Platt: SBC Pastors Conference 2009 from Todd Thomas on Vimeo.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Phoebe Prince and the Golden Rule

I have been heart-broken at the tragic suicide of Phoebe Prince from South Hadley High School. Seeing a vibrant young girl so overcome with despair because of the wanton cruelty of others made me weep.

This tragedy coincides with our study of the Golden Rule as a church as we are learning about Kingdom Living from the Sermon on the Mount. If only Phoebe's classmates, her friends and her teachers and perhaps even her family had applied this simple and profound teaching everything might have been different.

And, if only I had done better at following this beautiful command when I was young. I am no better than any of the bullies and probably worse. I regret the many times I bullied others. God was merciful to keep me from participating in such a tragedy though I certainly have done things of equal wickedness.  And I continue to fall short myself in living the Golden Rule.

But there is hope and redemption. Christ himself fulfilled his own command in his beautiful life and his tragic death. His perfect life was offered as a sacrifice to pay the just penalty for those who willingly and knowingly spurn the justice and beauty of the golden rule and treat others cruelly. He died for bullies and young girls alike. He died that we might be forgiven for our horrible crimes and know perfect love.  And in knowing this forgiveness and perfect love, we might learn to love like Him - doing to others what we would want for ourselves. Would you look to Him to rescue you from your sins and lead you in His ways?

May God grant us wisdom and grace to live the Golden Rule as we look to the King and Savior who gave it to us, who shed his blood to cleanse us from disobeying it and who recreates us in Him to live it truly.

May God give us a someone like Pheobe to love and perhaps keep from such a tragedy.

As a side note: I was perplexed to see a post from Ethics Alarms focusing on how the Golden Rule is creating an unethical reaction to the situation. I would submit it would be better to say it is an incomplete application of the Golden Rule that might be functioning here.  Such an application of the Golden Rule is a violation of the Golden Rule in my opinion. I believe such a discussion is unhelpful.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Optical Illusion

Check this out. It is not a spiral but a series of concentric rings. Our minds take the information our eyes see and interpret - sometimes wrongly. Pretty amazing!
(Courtesy of Neatorama HT: Sarah H.)
Try squinting and looking at it - you might be able to see the rings.

Don't believe everything your senses and your mind tell you - they can be wrong. We need something better and more reliable than what our five senses tell us.....

Friday, April 02, 2010

Pray for Juárez

My friend Dave Harvey reports on one church's stand amidst the violence and turmoil of Juárez:
You may have seen reports of the murders of three people associated with the U.S. Consulate in Juárez, Mexico, earlier this month. ..As Mexico’s war on the drug cartels continues, the city of Juárez is embroiled in violence. On average, at least seven people have been murdered every day since 2009, including more than 500 murders since January. ...This ongoing social catastrophe has far-reaching effects. About 5,000 businesses have closed, and some estimate that as much as 15–20% of the city’s population has left. Those who remain face the daily threat of ruthless violence

Carlos Contreras..senior pastor of Iglesia Gracia Soberana de Cd. Juárez .. writes,
But there is good news also. The church in the city remains strong and has apparently become the only remaining source of hope for many people. We all pray and we pray a lot, and we pray boldly and we pray publicly for God to intervene in a miraculous way to change things and to do justice. But mostly we pray for revival and for the salvation of thousands.
Under the leadership of their pastoral team, Iglesia Gracia Soberana is taking the gospel to the streets. The most recent session of their Alpha class (an introductory class on the gospel) graduated 63 students, more than they’d ever had. The church is airing evangelistic programs on local TV. Earlier this month, 150 church members went to two busy intersections, handed out about 800 evangelistic tracts and about 200 New Testaments, and prayed for about 300 people. On Saturday they hit the streets again, handing out 6,000 invitations to church, 300 copies of the Gospel of John, and 200 New Testaments—and praying for 1,300 people.
You can read the whole article here.

Please pray for Juárez and Iglesia Gracia Soberana!
  • that God would grant wisdom and strength to Carlos Contreras and other pastors in Juárez.
  • that God would give sustaining grace to Iglesia Gracia Soberana and the other churches in this city.
  • that the gospel would be clearly preached and many would put their faith in Christ for forgiveness of sins.
  • that peace and justice would be restored to Juárez.
Check out this slide show of their prayer outreach:

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Wrestling with Biblical Studies?

Do you wrestle with studying God's word and preparing to preach?

Check out Andy Neselli's review of D.A. Carson's essay,  “The Trials of Biblical Studies” from
The Trials of Theology: Becoming a “Proven Worker” in a Dangerous Business (ed. Andrew J. B. Cameron and Brian S. Rosner; Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2010).

It look's like this is another very beneficial resource from our friend Dr. Carson.

Here are 2 of the five points Carson addresses followed by Andy's bulleted summaries. (You can read the whole review here.)

3. Five facets of pride

  • Your desire to be admired and recognized is dangerous.
  • The sheer joy you find in your work does not make you spiritually superior to people who work in other disciplines.
  • Your academic specialty in an area of biblical studies does not make you a superior pastor.
  • Knowing more about the Bible than most people you serve does not make you a superior person.
  • You may experience inverted pride (i.e., being threatened because you are insecure and jealous) if successful professionals in secular work think lightly of your job.

4. Pressures to manipulate Scripture

  • Avoid the pressure from the right: safe exegesis that reinforces your confessional group.
  • Avoid the pressure from the left: clever exegesis that makes you academically respectable.
  • Avoid the nonconformist pressure to reach independent conclusions on nearly everything.
  • Avoid the pressure to so focus on the history of interpretation that you never decide anything.
  • Instead, genuinely and patiently listen to the text with integrity.

New Atheism Smackdown

I came across Gayle Trotter's review of Mary Eberstadt's new book The Loser Letters. It is a Screwtape Letters type satire of the New Atheism. I can't wait to read it! Here is an excerpt:
The Loser Letters, Eberstadt’s first published work of fiction, draws on a long satirical tradition from Juvenal to The Screwtape Letters.  Eberstadt’s protagonist, a young woman named A. F. Christian (as in, “A Former Christian”), details the journey of her enlightened abandonment of her “cradle Dullness” (namely, her Christian faith) and her adaptation to atheism.  Christian writes excited, star-struck letters to the self-described so-called “Brights” of the New Atheism, in which she gushes about the Brights’ superiority while candidly evaluating the weaknesses that limit the New Atheism’s ability to win new converts.  With this device, Eberstadt delivers a gripping story line with a chilling twist at the end and, in the process, administers a smackdown of the New Atheism.
You can read the whole article here.