Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> EAGLES' REST: November 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

What Sort of People, Indeed?

The Bible is a mixture of promises and challenges for the believer. But sometimes, I think we overlook some of the greater of both. An example of each is locked up in Galatians 3:29, which I'll get to in a minute, and also in 2 Peter 3:9-12.

More about both in a bit.

First, Abraham. When someone says "Chosen nation", everyone seems to think "Israel". But those promises were made to Abram, before he became Abraham. In fact, I blogged about that a few weeks back, but something else about that has struck me, and I can't let go of it quite yet.

Consider the promise made to Abr(ah)am, right up front in Genesis 12:

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse,. And in you all the families in the earth will be blessed". 

Look at the promise(s) made in that conversation:

  • Make him a great nation
  • Bless him
  • Make his name great
  • Make him a blessing
  • Bless those who bless him
  • Curse those who curse him
  • Bless all the families of the earth, in him.

In a post I put up a few weeks ago, I tossed out the fact that those promises were made to Abram/Abraham, not to Israel, yet we all think of Israel as the "chosen nation". And I don't disagree with that, to a great extent. But there's something else to consider, and that's the "church" ..  the ekklesia .. today.

Galatians 3:29 states plainly that "..if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." That tells me that we, the church, the Body of Christ, are the heirs of the promise made to Abraham .. those things listed above. 

That sounds great, but there's a downside we'd best not be forgetting.

Consider what the effect would be, were we to act in a manner that would cause someone, not a believer, to curse God. To curse the church. To mislead people about the nature of Christians and lead them to believe God is less than He truly is, and cause them to scorn our God or His church. Might we, by our actions, be responsible in some degree for bringing God's curse upon them?

Do we need to be more careful about how we talk to one another when we're discussing our theological opinions, and those of others, on comment strings?

Does the "weaker brother" idea even extend to non-believers, and our responsibility to not contribute to their incurring God's disfavor via their attitudes toward the Body of Christ, by our errant actions?

It's not as if God hasn't told us. 2 Timothy 2:14 .. Paul told Timothy to "..warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen." Man, hasn't there been plenty of that going on in blogdom, and elsewhere, among believers. I mean, we even argue over the meaning of "inerrant" .... 

Let's check on that 2 Peter 3 passage, starting at verse 9: "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in that way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!" 

Did you get that? In plain English, we're challenged to consider what manner of people we're supposed to be, seeing that all this stuff around us is doomed, and only the people around us matter. And by our actions, we can either portray life in the faith as something attractive and rewarding, or we can show forth the old nature and the sort of ugliness which can very well bring scorn to the name of Christ. And perhaps the curse of God, to someone in our sphere of influence, in the process, by the very promise God made to Abram. 

We talk almost in abstract terms about not bringing reproach to the cause of Jesus. If we have an ounce of compassion for our fellow man, particularly those around us who don't know Jesus, we'd best be a lot more serious about it than it seems to me we've been.

Remember the promise. 

Both halves.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

AS TO MY DISGUST AT ABORTION:

Some years ago, I wrote a poem about abortion. Although I have posted it before at "The Occasional Poet", my poetry blog, I feel I should post it here reflecting the fact that our nation .. its people .. recently elected a president who favors the allowing of pregnant women to murder their innocent babies.


IN DARKNESS SO STILL


The clinics were filling with souls gone astray
As the sadness of badness was having its way
The wealthy, the learned, concerned but with pleasure
Had multiplied misery to heights beyond measure

The masses raised glasses to self and to friends
Concerned with the moment, availing all ends
To serve but themselves, with never a thought
Of the millions of murders, and what they had wrought.

But what of that young one, confused and forlorn ..
Who hears mostly "worldness", shouldn't we warn
That should she die, having salvation received
In heaven she may face that soul she conceived

But killed, by means of abortionists' tools
And thus joined the ranks of those Godless fools
Who elevate mankind and pleasure on earth
At the cost of most everything of heavenly worth

And what of the seemingly intelligent mass
With doctoral credentials and worldly class
Who'll stand before God some day and explain
Why such agony, misery, anguish and pain

Were dealt out in measure unknown by the world
As satan's great plan to destroy us unfurled
And they, in their "wisdom", shed innocent blood
Tearing out children, in that terrible flood....

Who knows what to do and yet does it not
Is guilty of sin ... yet we know that a lot
Of good souls detesting such abomination
Have never submitted to Christ's domination

Else all that we do, and all that we say
Would speak volumes against those events of this day
That cause those who look on this product of woe
To know with a certainty that satan's the foe.

So sadness envelopes us all, without choice
For those who raise not a protesting voice
And all those who face not the fruit of their acts
And doctors who kill despite biblical facts

Will all face a judge asking why, in this life
We did what we did, whether with word or with knife
I know I'll plead Jesus as my only answer
But yet I'm not happy, in the face of the cancer

Of ungodly clinics, and churches that never
Cause comfortable members to be driven to sever
Those clandestine footholds our  enemy will hold
In lives that won't do what the Bible has told.

Oh God, may I ask; make me up to the task
As a witness to all, whether they ask
Or silently march to those clinics to kill
Your innocent children ... in darkness so still.

Friday, November 09, 2012

We're Such a Bunch of Geniuses

I confess I tried to ignore a lot of stuff about the election, beforehand. I knew without a doubt who I was going to vote for, as I could never support a candidate nor a platform that affirmed homosexuality, nor could I do anything but stand firmly against, vocally so, abortion. But I figured my news-watching and reading could more or less return to normal after the votes had been cast, and the winner declared. I was wrong.

The curiosity continues.

I've seen more analyses of the election, why it went as it did, what could have been done differently, etc, this time around, than I can ever recall. And the funny thing is, they're not dealing with anything that wasn't known before the election! 

Just recall anybody you ever saw interviewed, before an election, about who they'd vote for. Don't they always profess some sort of patriotic allegiance to the candidate who's going to address the very issues that concern them personally? Students want the one who will help with tuition or student loans or jobs after graduation, the un- or under-employed want the guy with the plan to grow jobs (which government never does anyway...), or the one who will extend welfare, the businessman wants the candidate elected who will extend capital gains treatment by the IRS, and will get government off business's back, big oil wants the guy who'll get the pipeline done, coal folks want fracking ok'd, and on and on and on.

Things like National Security come up only in times of heightened National Peril .. which leads to heightened National Fear .. or so it seems to me.

So .. why is anybody surprised at the outcome of the election? Most everyone I know of was outraged at what happened in Benghazi. Well, everyone except Mitt Romney, that is. Why was that? Was he afraid somebody (read: Democrats) would accuse him of something? If I'd been the candidate, I'd have been pounding the podium in the debates, telling Mr. President that he didn't have the RIGHT not to know about that and not to disclose exactly what was going on, to the American public.

Or worse yet, to mislead us.

Voting preferences by ethnic group? Gee .. what part of that was a surprise?

One of two conditions exists: one is that the growing diversity of the USA population has not been noticed by the politicians, and they simply missed the mark on their message, despite how obvious our diversity had become.

The other is, given the diversity of the USA, and the trends over the past 50 years or so at self-gratification, worldliness, and the disappearance of the sort of selflessness that marked the "Greatest Generation", what we saw Tuesday was the inevitable result. And it would take a cataclysm on the order of WW2 to wake us up. This time, I doubt the USA, as we know it, will survive.

SO go ahead with your post mortems and your analyses, pundits. But I'm afraid it's a "Rocking Chair" exercise. It's something to do, but it's not going to take us anywhere.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Yesterday Was A Great Day, Too.....

... but the day I'm thinking about was the day Peg and I liquidated a couple of investments we had, and paid off our house.

That one, up there.

Since our cars had been financed via a home equity line of credit, doing that effectively paid off our cars, too. We also paid off all credit card debt at the same time. We became debt-free, with some money in the bank to boot, right then.

We'd been married well over 40 years at the time, and had owed somebody a mortgage on a house for all those years. So there was a big tendency to want to breathe a big sigh of relief when we paid it all off. But I knew I'd better not do that.

See, I've been teaching for years that our only real security is in Jesus. It lies in the fact that we're all going to die one day, and every single tangible (physically speaking) thing we have on earth .. well .. we're going to leave it here when we go. As my preacher says, you never ever see a Brinks' truck in a funeral procession.

Amen.

But I had this sneaking suspicion over in the corner of my mind, that when we paid everything off, I really would feel some sense of relief, to some degree or another. Well, I was wrong.

I didn't. It turns out that what I'd been teaching all those years really was right. And I guess the idea lurking in my mind that being out of debt would bring some sense of heightened security, was put there by someone I don't want messin' in my mind.

Cut that out, devil!

Which brings me to last night and the election. I'd resolved I was not going to pay any attention to the election after I'd voted, until this morning. Whoever was going to be elected was going to be elected, and my watching the excruciating countdown .. or maybe that's countup .. and hearing the talking heads spin the results to suit their preconceptions while I bite my nails .. wasn't going to change who the winner was going to be.

We watched the "How It's Made" marathon on the Science Channel. And played  Computer Games.

Now. About 10:15, when I got a bit sleepy, I decided to go to bed, and I do admit I snuck a peek at Fox News online. There, I saw "It's Obama!". And here's the shocker .. at least it was for me:

I felt a twinge of elation. 

Don't misunderstand me. I am as anti-Obama as I can be. The Democrat (NOT "DEMOCRATIC") platform specifically includes support for the murder of innocent unborn babies and I think that is the great American tragedy which America will one day regret with the bitterest possible tears. Same deal with "same sex marriage" which is really the endorsement of what God refers to as an  abomination to Him. BUT: that momentary sense of elation was, to me, God's way of saying that He was in control, that nothing going on here was a surprise to Him, and just as He was fully knowledgeable of Israel's shenanigans when they were so rebellious ... and had plans for their future ... so He is onto the USA, as well.

Take heart, Christians. We don't have to win. God already did.

If that's not good enough for us, then the election and, indeed, the nation, is the least of our worries.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

What's In A Name?


Ever since Mitt Romney has been a candidate for national political office (do I really have to say which one?), there's been serious noise on the blogs about whether Mormonism is a "cult".

I think it's the silliest waste of time I have seen in a long, long time. And I am fully aware that some folks I admire and respect very much, have been involved in the ongoing banter. But, to me, it's still silly.

First, Mormonism is a Religion. I know. I looked up some definitions. Here are three:

1) "A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs." I'd say so.

2) "A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects." Yup.

3) "The service and worship of God or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to a religious faith or observance." OK.

4) "A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." Right.

The big problem I see is that interpretations of "cult" vary. Ideological, sociological, what? And, besides, who cares? "Cult" seems to be pejorative, and do we really want to be insulting in our discussions about other peoples' faiths?

Oh, wait. There seems plenty of evidence that we do. We can't just tell the truth about our stuff, we have to insult theirs, too.

I don't get it.

Is Mormonism's view of God correct? No. Not in my opinion. I ain't worshiping their God. And "their Jesus"? He's not mine. Not the One I see in the Bible. No way. So as far as I am concerned, there's no way I can refer to Mormonism as a form of "Christianity". But it's a religion. I don't need to argue about whether it's a "cult".

It's just silly.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Israel? Abraham's Seed? What's The Deal Here?

Back in the days when Abraham was still Abram, God came to him one day and said to pick up and leave the land and his father's house, and go to a land that God would show him. God also said that He would make Abram into a great nation, would bless him, make his name great, and would make him .. Abram .. a blessing. God also said He would bless those who blessed Abram, and would curse those who curse those who treat him .. Abram .. with contempt .. (that's how the HCSB phrases it, and I like  that) .. and that all the peoples on the earth would be blessed through Him .. Abram.

Some time later, Abram's name was changed to Abraham .. inserting the breath sound into his name, just as Sarai became Sarah.

I find even that to be interesting.

Park that thought over in the corner of your mind .. those promises were made to Abram.

Some time later, after the Sodom & Gomorrah display of God's willingness to spare the cities where righteousness is found, but his willingness to righteously destroy where it's not, and Abram's encounter with Melchizidek, God specifically promised to be Abram's shield, promised his reward would be great, and that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.

That, incidentally, is the point at which the Bible says "Abram believed the Lord, and He (God) credited it to him as righteousness".

Now, Abram wanted some assurance in all this, so God said to set up the trappings of a sacrifice .. you can read it all in Genesis 15 .. 8-12 & following .. and in the end, God put Abram into a deep sleep, after which God alone passed between the halves of the slain animals.

God alone ratified the covenant! It seems, therefore, that neither Abram, his descendants, nor any other human, could break the covenant made and affirmed solely by God Himself.

Park that thought over in the corner with that prior one, too. We'll need it in a second.   

Now .. Abraham begat Isaac (and some other folks), and Isaac begat Jacob (and some other folks); Jacob, of course, became Israel and was the father of the nation of the same name. And that's the  nation to which is now ascribed the quality of being a blessing (via God) to those who bless them, and a curse (via God) to those who curse them. Had I really been into this stuff in the early 1940's, I'd have wondered how blessed they were when Hitler we doing his best to wipe them off the face of the earth, and seeing that they didn't even have a land, things looked pretty bleak for Israel, nationally.

In view of the plight of Israel in, say, 1946, and what's happened to them since, I must believe that God does have something special in mind for them, nationally, for them to have been restored as a nation, even to the restoring to their possession of the site of the temple, Golgotha, the Mount of Olives, and all the places which so may people deem necessary in a conventional view of the second coming, Armageddon, etc.

But still......

Points I ponder when I don't have anything better to do (which is normally....):
  • The promise was made to Abraham (Abram). Why wasn't the promise to Jacob/Israel? And if the promise was to make Abraham a mighty nation, how about all Abraham's other descendants?
  • Does anybody believe that, if some giant cataclysmic event killed everybody today, that all Israel would go to heaven? I think not, especially among Christendom. That wouldn't seem to be "chosen" as of today, to me....
  • If the prior point is valid, then I'd expect something's in the offing for Israel .. either some miraculous Spiritual awakening, or some sort of accelerated move of the conventional church in that direction. If that's the case, I'd think they'd best get on with it.
  •  Wade Burleson put up an interesting, thought-provoking post, here, which raises the possibility that Israel may have lost that "Most Favored Nation Status" when they rejected, and were responsible for the death of, the Savior Himself. Who was, indeed, the only apparent vehicle by which the nation could be a blessing to all the nations of the earth.
BUT:

The real kicker, and a passage I have never heard preached on, is this:

"So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise". (Galatians 3:27-29, NIV) 

COULD IT BE .. that God has re-defined what it is to be "Israel", right there in plain sight? Or could it be that "Abraham's Seed" is what it's been all this time, and not merely a nation in the Middle East?

Don't get me wrong .. I still hold to the special nature of Israel .. it's necessity in God's plan .. the crucial importance of supporting them as a nation, today .. so I have not changed my opinion of Israel at all. But what if we apply the same promises of blessing-cursing to the church .. the ekklesia ... the Body of Christ .. today. Would you "get" the importance of being devoted to the work of the Lord here and now? Would you have a different view of a casual attitude toward using your gifts and abilities in building up the local body? Would you have new sympathy toward those who are scornful of the church and its attempts to fulfill its mission, and the fact that they just don't know what they're letting themselves in for?

How many celebrities can you think of whose performance on television people enjoy, but who fit that category?

If we really believed we were here to be a blessing to those around us, and not as agents of condemnation of sin, how would that affect our ministry?

Think about it. If you're a believer, you're Abraham's seed. And what a birthright you have, and oh, the promise with which you've been favored.

All courtesy of a Man who lived and died 2000 years ago. And yet lives today.

Think it over...







Saturday, November 03, 2012

God's Great, So Was Lunch, and Murphy Was An Optimist

That's CB & Karen Scott over there on the right. We had lunch with them at the Hunan Gardens in Hoover, Thursday. CB had come back from Brewton-Parker College in Georgia, where he is Dean of Academic Support, to meet with The Alabama Baptist Children's Home, the Alabama DHR, and for a Court hearing concerning their adoption of the foster children they've been caring for, over the last 7 years.

The two older children weren't there .. TJ is in the Marines, and Stephan is in his first year of Pre-Pharmacy at Samford University.

The two young ladies in this picture are Ashley & Carrie, left to right, and are sort of the reason for the big smile on CB's face in the other picture. As we were sitting there, they received a call from the attorney, telling them the Judge had signed the interlocutory decree, officially awarding the children to the Scotts. It was indicated that, if the final decree had been printed up, it would've been signed, too, and the adoption would have been final right then. But, the person who typed those was not in the office and wouldn't be back for a day or two, so the final decree would be signed soonest and mailed to them.

CB & Karen first rescued these 4 children about 7 years ago, when they first arrived in Birmingham, out of an indescribably bad home situation. It concerned the family of members of the church CB pastored, and having had experience as foster parents, CB & Karen couldn't not do anything about it, and arranged foster parent status through the Alabama Baptist Children's Home, who then made the arrangements with Alabama DHR.

I won't go into the details here, but note that the Children's Home and the DHR had to be involved in the whole thing, and then there was the fact that CB became Dean of Academic Support at a college in Georgia 10/1 (which is, of course, not in Alabama ... hellooooo ... ), and in all this there were numerous meetings and calls and emails with lots of different people with different memories and I think you can understand how many opportunities would arise for Murphy's Law to kick in. But CB had carefully planned everything, including his assumption of the new duties at Brewton-Parker, to allow plenty of time to to get everything done in an orderly manner.

Murphy's Law was much more optimistic than anyone thought.

I may have my head in the sand or something, but I don't think I know THAT many people who really pour themselves into something like this .. who really jeopardize themselves .. who pay the price, so to speak .. in such an effort. I don't think I ever have, personally, myself. But this much I do know: CB and Karen have. I know. I've seen it in his shoulders, on his face and his eyes. I've heard it in his voice and his words. He and Karen .. who has become a real sister to Peg, by the way ... they've been willing, and they have.

Did I mention Karen's wheelchair? Owing to MS?

Yeah.

But God is great. It has come right. And I think the kids will be a source of youth for CB & Karen, which may, in the long run, erase some of the toll Mr. Murphy and his law have taken over the past few years. Besides, CB & Karen are as much "pick up & carry on" people as I've ever known.

There are so many other things that happened, weaving this all together, that there's no doubt God was paying attention in all the details. Trust me .. it'd take another long blog post to describe it all.....

Oh yes ... if you want to know just how out-of-the-ordinary this whole thing has been, just 24 hours before the picture was snapped, CB was in New Orleans, defending his Doctoral Dissertation at NOBTS. Successfully, I might add. 

On Halloween......




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