Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Kitchen Door

For decades our old house used to have a door between the dining room
and the kitchen, one of those swings-both-ways doors, though it was
almost always propped open... This door had (as most kitchen doors
do) a certain kind of hinge mechanism that would return the door to
its DEFAULT position -- closed -- any time it was left to itself and
not pushed on (or propped open)...

It struck me this morning that the Christian is in a similar state, as we
walk through this life looking forward to Christ's coming: If we are not
vigilant, if we do not DAILY struggle against the sin nature still hanging
around inside us -- and which will remain there until we are finally
perfected by God -- if we are not actively involved in the spiritual disciplines,
we will naturally return to our Default position, which is, at the least,
Apathy, and at worst, Rebellion.

Romans 7 and Ephesians 6 give us a good view of what that struggle
looks like and how to prepare ourselves for it, and Hebrews 12 talks about
continuing in that struggle, day after day, with PERSEVERANCE, so that in the end
we may reap what the author calls a "harvest of Righteousness".

Don't ever be taken in by, or hypnotized by, any "modern" version of the
Christian faith that jettisons the reality of SIN in favor of focusing on
"God's Love"... Indeed, it is the very wonder of a God who loves us in spite of
our sin that provides the strength we need along the journey...

So let us continue to work out our own salvation -- to PUSH against the door --
even as we humbly acknowledge, moment by moment, the work of God inside us.
HIS door is ALWAYS open.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Audacity of Arrogance

Well, just when I thought the craziness of Obama-zombie-ism couldn't
get any more dramatic, we all woke up to the news this morning that
Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The NPP Committee's own statement on why its Prize was awarded to Obama
was vague; their reasoning really boiled down to what they believe to be
a positive change in "global MOOD" that (they think) Obama has affected...

Here are the questions many people -- surprisingly, including many of
Obama's own supporters -- are asking today: Why him? SHOW US his
body of work, his lists of accomplishments, that would warrant an award
like this... DETAIL for us the YEARS he has spent working on behalf of
humanity... DESCRIBE for us the specific impact he has had for Peace
in the international community... EXPLAIN to us the personal suffering
and sacrifice he has endured, over the years, that would
justify this kind of recognition...

To use an expression from the 80's, where's the beef???

Because short of that, the awarding of this Prize to Obama makes an
absolute mockery out of this recognition; it is a slap in the face
to anyone who has actually DESERVED this award and has received it after
tremendous, legitimate achievement and/or personal sacrifice...

HERE is my pick for who should receive
the Nobel Peace Prize this year: In the face of
grave personal danger from the oppressive
and despotic regime of Ahmadinejad, this young
Philosophy student attended a pro-Democracy rally
in Iran a few months ago, and was gunned down
in the street by government-hired militia.

Since then, her death has inspired a great many Iranians, and those who support
Democracy in Iran, to work toward FREEDOM in that theocratic nation... We hope
that they are successful and that Neda will not have died in vain...

So over against these thoughts, only megalomaniacal self-aggrandizement
can explain why Obama, with virtually NO qualifications, would not respectfully
REFUSE this award on the grounds that compared to past Awardees, he has
no right to accept it... Only the most blatant Arrogance would allow the world
to fawn over him with recognition meant for TRUE humanitarians who have
demonstrated their worthiness to the world over the years.

If there was ever any question that Obama lacks the dignity and honor
and humility that ought to distinguish the presidency, this stunning and
unbelievable news should settle it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The State of our Souls, the Simplicity of our Sin

During the Scripture reading at church yesterday, I was struck by a particular
phrase: "...because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever
their sins have been." This may not be the precise interpretation of that phrase,
but it occurred to me that any sin, ALL sin, boils down to those two things:

By the mere fact of being human, our very souls are in a state of Uncleanness.
The implied question -- "compared to what?" -- has an obvious answer: God Himself.
In view of His complete and utter Holiness and Purity, we are filthy and wretched
paupers, draped in the rags of our own corruption. Any true and legitimate view
of Almighty God must begin here.

As if merely being full of impurities were not enough, we then rebel, in countless
ways, against the authority and sovereignty of God, putting word and deed to the
root of all sin, Idolatry (worshiping anything but GOD as our god(s)...) Whether
it is pleasure, or pride, or other false gods, anything short of a pervasive and
persistent attitude of, "be it done unto me according to Your will", offered to
God from a spiritual, face-down position in dust and ashes, is, quite simply,
Rebellion. God as "part of my life" instead of "God as the supreme Center of
my life", and any failure to seek His will above ALL ELSE -- any failure to be
completely poured out before Him -- is Rebellion. All of our sin comes down
to this simple word.

This phrase -- "uncleanness and rebellion" -- struck me as pretty much covering
the whole gamut of our true condition, the condition which made the atoning
sacrifice of Christ necessary. Indeed, this phrase comes from Leviticus 16, and
the entire chapter discusses the visceral, brutal, savage procedures that Aaron
was instructed to use, to make atonement for Israel: Slaughtered animals, blood
all over the place and flung here and there using his finger, and then the
sending of a "scapegoat" into the desert, and the wearing of clean linens...

... all because of our uncleanness and rebellion.

Join me today and take a few moments to pause what you're doing, and just imagine
the scene... Imagine yourself lying flat on your face, trembling uncontrollably,
petitioning a Holy and Pure God -- the God of the Universe -- to look upon the
cross of Christ and sponge away your Uncleanness and forgive your Rebellion.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

It's not actually ABOUT Healthcare

I was having a few beers with a buddy the other night, and he made
a statement that kind of surprised me: "I just don't understand all
the acrimony and passion over this Healthcare debate!" he said; "Why
is just about everyone I talk to all up in arms about it?"

I think his perspective -- he's a medical professional, by the way --
is that Healthcare should excite about as much passion as filling out
a job application or changing you oil; he views it as a technical,
procedural matter, I think, and not so much a political time-bomb...

Well of course all I had to do was bring up the subject of Costs, and
soon he was just as passionate as everyone else; he's a very smart guy,
so I think what he really meant was that he hasn't had much time to
think about the topic...

But that got me thinking, and I realized something this week that I
probably knew but never considered directly:

This "Healthcare debate" isn't primarily ABOUT Healthcare.

It's REALLY about these issues, in my opinion and from everything I've
heard or seen or read on the matter in the past 4 weeks:

1. For better or for worse, Obama is THE MAN for an entire generation
of Young voters and for much of the previous generation of Liberals who
have been licking their wounds ever since Reagan kicked Carter's arse in
the 1980 elections; Reagan was their nemesis, elder Bush was a weaker
but similar "threat", Clinton wasn't as radical as they had hoped and
so they didn't get no satisfaction on his watch, and the younger Bush
gave them plenty of fodder for their political cannons... So NOW they
have THEIR guy (sort of an "anti-Reagan"), and they'll be DAMNED if they
aren't going to milk this thing for all it's worth... Obama can do no
wrong, in their eyes, and whether Obamacare makes SENSE or not, whether
it will CRUSH competition or not, whether it represent GROSS government
intrusion into -- infringement on, usurpation of -- personal Freedoms,
or whether it will lead to FINANCIAL ARMAGEDDON, they don't care,
because Obama can do no wrong. Hence my "Obama-zombie" moniker for them.

2. There has rarely been such a clear, obvious, omnipresent Expose of
the fundamental difference between Liberal and Conservative
ideology than what we've seen played out in this country since January 20.
At its very core, the Liberal mind believes GOVERNMENT can and should take
care of virtually ANY need (and many wants) of the Citizen that it can possibly
touch, and of course "control" must be gained to do so, and dissenters must
be first ostracized and then penalized. The Conservative mind says that LESS
government is better, Citizens must do as much FOR THEMSELVES as possible,
FREEDOM (even FROM government!) is worth DYING for, and that the government
answers to the CITIZEN, not the other way around. Healthcare is perhaps the
single biggest front on which these two ideologies go head-to-head, right out
in the streets, citizen-to-citizen... Liberals think Conservatives are cold
and have no compassion, Conservatives think Liberals lack common sense and
have their heads in the sand... But THAT is why the debate rages on.

Perhaps nobody said it better than political satirist P.J. O'Rourke:
Giving money and power to Government is like giving whiskey and car keys
to teenage boys.

Amen brother.