Dec 24, 2011

The Greatest Gift has been given. Now what?

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  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. (Matthew 5: 15)


 
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Dec 19, 2011

According to the Scriptures

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Legacy Moment | Crawford Loritts
1 Cor. 15:3-4


Recently I had a conversation with some friends. We were talking about how important it is to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, that it’s the final authority for how we live and what we do with our life. It’s without error. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian believes that. In the course of the conversation, I made reference to a seminary I know about. They teach people how to be preachers and Bible teachers, and they release people to Christian service. But a few faculty members are post-Christian. They would say they’ve grown beyond the need to believe that the Bible is the Word of God. They embrace other teachings, even though they might contradict the Bible. They’re post-Christian.

Well, it’s not popular to say this in our relativistic culture, but not everybody can be right. The claims of Jesus Christ are not merely warm sentiments and optional perspectives. The Gospel is not advice to be considered, it is objective Truth to be believed.

That was the Apostle Paul’s passion when he penned these words in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verses 3 and 4; “…I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Notice: Paul appeals to authority, and his appeal to authority is nothing less than to the Word of God. He says, “I’m not giving you ideas, I’m not giving you my truth, I’m not giving you my insight. What I’m telling you is anchored to the Truth.”

Here’s what I want you to remember today. It matters a great deal whether or not we believe the Bible is the Word of God. It’s the difference between a life-changing message and merely good-but-impotent advice.

 
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Dec 12, 2011

The Individual and the Internet

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The Quest for Community
By: Chuck Colson


Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites claim to foster the community so many people need. Find out how badly those claims are overblown.

Man was made to live in community. In Genesis 2, we're told it's not good for man to be alone. And in a classical world the worst punishment was to be banished from society, because you had no meaning once you were.

Our founders in America created a country that respected individual rights and liberties, but always in the context of the people. And the people united in communities and associations, which secured individual rights from an otherwise all-powerful government.

So you had a balance. And in the context of those communities, we prospered like no other nation on earth. Tocqeuville when he came to America praised the civic virtue of Americans -- their collective self-reliance in building hospitals, schools, churches, etc. But in recent times, not only in America but throughout the Western World, "individual autonomy," the code word of modern liberalism, has become ascendant outside the context of community. And not surprisingly, as radical individualism grew, the power of government grew as well, especially in the 20th Century.

Here's why.

Robert Nisbet argued in his 1953 book, The Quest for Community, that radical individualism caused communities to break down. Family, church, clubs, groups, associations, that came between the individual and the state, all weakened in the face of this desire for individual autonomy. So it's no wonder we've witnessed an explosive growth in government over the last fifty years. But as face-to-face communities decline, people are flocking to virtual, online communities. Many see these as "communities for a new generation."

A recent conference revisited Nisbet's ideas in light of online communities. The results were not encouraging.

Christine Rosen, senior editor of The New Atlantis, noted that in a face-to-face community, I come as I am. In virtual communities I come as the image I want to project. The resulting interaction is too tame to be called community. Instead, as Wheaton College professor Read Schuchardt added, we end up with narcissistic groups of false selves.

Rosen acknowledged that in the online world we may have more friends than we could have in face-to-face community. But the quality of those friendships is so poor that sociologists have coined the phrase “migratory friendships” to describe digital friends who have lots of information about each other, but don’t actually know each other.

The hard work of genuine community has been outsourced, she said, to technology -- so we become the product of our technology, shaping our image to meet the demands of the market.

Well, what are we to make of this? Virtual communities cannot replace real, face-to-face communities. They can't perform the function of providing meaning and fellowship in the same way. And they certainly can't serve as intermediate structures between the individual and an all-powerful government. Virtual community is really no substitute for the real thing.

For the sake of our well being and freedom as men and women created not to be alone, it is so vital now that the church be a catalyst for rebuilding real communities in a very real way.

 
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Dec 8, 2011

For Plan B, a Dose of Reality

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The two sides of the abortion debate don't share much in the way of ideology, but there was a common reaction from both camps yesterday after the decision over Plan B: shock. For years, the Left has been pushing to make the "morning-after" pill available for anyone of any age without a prescription. They assumed the Obama administration, headed by the most militant pro-abortion President in history, would go along with the idea. They assumed wrong. Tuesday, the head of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, announced that she was overruling the FDA in one the most jaw-dropping decisions of this White House's term. Sebelius, one of the abortion movement's most reliable allies, agreed with groups like FRC that making Plan B as accessible to buy as aspirin was a dangerous decision, especially for young girls. " ...[T]he switch from prescription to over-the-counter for this product requires that we have enough evidence to show that those who use this medicine can understand the label and use the product appropriately. I do not believe that Teva's application met that standard. The label comprehension and actual use studies did not contain data for all ages for which this product would be available for use." For now, Plan B will stay behind pharmacy counters--where it belongs.

While Sebelius's decision was the right one, it certainly knocked the wind out of the abortion movement. This morning, liberals were still seething that, for once, HHS put women's safety ahead of their radical agenda. Kirsten Moore, part of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, told the Washington Post that her group is "outraged that this administration has let politics trump science." Funny, they don't seem to mind when the White House is ignoring science on stem cell research, RU-486, or the contraceptive mandate in ObamaCare. The reality is, we shouldn't be lining store shelves with pills packed with several times the hormones of a standard birth control dose.

As FRC's Jeanne Monahan said in dozens of media interviews yesterday, that kind of convenience is not in the best interest of young women's health. Not only is Plan B linked to an increase in teen pregnancies, but a 2010 study found that it's partially responsible for a spike in adolescent STDs. Allowing young girls to buy Plan B directly off store shelves also robs parents of more authority. These are pills that can, in some instances, abort a human life. Surely, moms and dads have a right to know that their daughters are considering these risks. Meanwhile, abortion groups are acting as if Plan B has been outlawed altogether. Hardly. All Sebelius asks is that girls under 16 consult their doctors first. Whatever politics may have motivated yesterday's decision, we applaud HHS for getting this right. When it comes to drugs like Plan B, which FRC has opposed from the beginning, women and their unborn children deserve as much protection as possible.

 
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Dec 7, 2011

The Lie, Now and Then

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Nothing Left to Say
By T. M. Moore | Published Date: December 06, 2011

“And the LORD said to Satan, 'The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!'”  - Zechariah 3:2

We have seen that both David and Paul acknowledged a day when lies would be widespread among the human community. They also saw the reign of the Lie to be a short-lived phenomenon. David insisted that all those who speak lies will be stopped (Ps. 63:11), and Paul, echoing that, promised that those who reject the Truth of God will not continue to make progress (2 Tim. 3:9).

We should take great comfort in these words, because the epidemic of lies with which our world is presently infected is wreaking havoc in the affairs of people and nations.

We need to ask ourselves whether we actually believe this. The Word of God says it – and not just in these two passages. In various places the Scriptures indicate that those who traffic in lies will not be able to stand against the Truth as it marches on through the ministries of the Church. Here is just a sample: God promises to bring the plans and schemes of the nations to naught (Ps. 33:10). His glory and the testimony of His children will still His enemies (Ps. 8:2). God will shut the mouths of all wicked people (Ps. 107:42) and all who practice injustice (Job 5:16). He puts to silence every sinful mouth before the testimony of His Law (Rom. 3:19). He raises up church leaders to stop the mouths of those who traffic in lies (Titus 1:7, 8).

What the Scriptures promise throughout is symbolized in Zechariah’s vision in chapter 3 of his book. The prophet saw the High Priest and Ruler of God’s people – named, “Joshua” or “Jesus” – being condemned by Satan because He was dressed in filthy garments in the presence of the Holy God. Here is the tale of the ages: the father of lies railing against the very embodiment of Truth. This is the very essence of the Lie – the denial of validity to the Truth of God.

But those filthy garments which Zechariah saw are our sins. Jesus bore them in His own body before the Father. His sacrifice accepted, He was clothed in proper garments of righteousness, and Satan was commanded to shut up and was sent packing.

The righteousness of Jesus Christ is the ammunition we need to stop the mouths of liars. As we read in Matthew 22:46, once Jesus established His deity, sovereignty, and coming Kingdom, on the authority of God’s Word, all those who had to that point opposed him publicly and outspokenly were no longer able to answer Him and had nothing left to say. From that point on they would turn to violence rather than words.

It was the testimony of Jesus and His power to make all things new that Peter and John proclaimed before the religious leaders of their day, leaving those enemies of Christ with nothing left to say (Acts 4). The salvation of Jesus Christ – His forgiveness, holiness, transforming grace and power – lived out and declared by His people, is the power of God for salvation, the power to stop the Lie and lead men into the light of Truth. And while we do not expect a complete vanquishing of the Lie here and now, we do expect to see real progress of the Truth; moreover, we know that a day is coming, then and there, when all lies and liars will be eternally banished from the presence of God.

It is toward that far horizon that we are called to strive against the Lie in all our daily activities.

Download the series "Nothing Left to Say." Click here:  Nothing Left to Say

 
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Dec 6, 2011

Samuel Morse believed the Bible

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Samuel Morse, famous for his invention of the telegraph, was a devout Christian who was very generous and gave large sums of money to charity. He was not bitter when other people and companies made fortunes using his inventions, but did not pay him for the use of his patented telegraph. Morse was also interested in the relationship of science and religion, and provided funds to start lectures on “the relation of the Bible to the Sciences.”

Before his death, Samuel Morse wrote;
 “The nearer I approach to the end of my pilgrimage, the clearer is the evidence of the divine origin of the Bible, the grandeur and sublimity of God's remedy for fallen man are more appreciated, and the future is illumined with hope and joy.”

 
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Dec 5, 2011

Socialist movement in America – 1905

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A Case Study in Changing our Nation’s Culture

"The article below is a brief history of how Socialism came to America. Take special note of the infiltration into all areas of society, but most especially the  educational system. This is why our schools need to be entirely overhauled - from curriculum to teaching methods. For it is not the quality of teachers that is in question, but rather the method and content of what they are required to teach." – Ricki Pepin

On September 12, 1905, approximately 100 people  met in a loft over Peck's Restaurant, at 140 Fulton Street, in lower Manhattan. The purpose of the meeting was to strategize the overthrow of the Christian worldview that still pervaded much of American culture and to replace it with the ideas of a then rather unknown writer by the name of Karl  Marx. They called the organization they formed that day the Intercollegiate Socialist Society.

The godfather of the organization was a 27-year-old author named Upton Sinclair. The first
president chosen was the author Jack London,  age 29. Also present was Clarence Darrow, the
attorney.

The strategy of the organization was to infiltrate their ideas into academia by organizing chapters in
as many colleges and universities as possible. And organize they did. Walter Lippmann, later author
and director of the Council on Foreign Relations, was the president of the Harvard chapter. Walter
Reuther, the future president of the United Auto Workers, headed the Wayne State chapter; and
Eugene Debs, who went on to become the five-time Socialist candidate for president, was the leader
at Columbia.

The society grew. The first annual convention was held in 1910, and by 1917 they were active on 61
campuses and a dozen graduate schools. Other early activists included W. E. B. DuBois, who would
become an official of the NAACP and later a Communist Party member, and Victor L. Berger of
Wisconsin, who became the first Socialist elected to Congress.

In 1921, the Intercollegiate Socialist Society took its next organizational step, changing its name to
the League for Industrial Democracy. Its purpose was "education for a new social order based on production
for use and not for profit." Norman Thomas, another perennial Socialist candidate for president, was the
leader behind the scenes. The renamed organization’s first president was Robert Lovett, editor of
the New Republic, and field secretary with Paul Blanshard, who later became an author.

The college chapters of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society now became the Student League for
Industrial Democracy. As members graduated from college, some entered the pulpit, others the
classroom; some wrote textbooks while others into the labor movement in both political parties.
When the New Deal began in 1933, they were prepared. At the time the leak had only 5,652
members that they were in positions of leadership everywhere.

By 1941 John Dewey, the founder of progressive education in the league VP in the 1930s, was its
honorary president, and Reinhold Niebuhr, the  theologian, its treasurer. Dewey had already
organized the Progressive Education Association  and the American Association of University
Professors.

The League for Industrial Democracy was so successful that those who held membership in the
movement or were cooperating with it could have been a list for Who's Who in America: Robert N.
Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union; Charles Beard, the historian; Carroll Binder, editor of the  Minneapolis Tribune; Helen Gahagan Douglas, the Congresswoman who was defeated by Richard Nixon for the U.S. Senate;  Felix Frankfurter, Supreme Court Justice; Sidney Hook, the educational social philosopher; Edna St. Vincent Millay, the poet; Henry Morganthau Jr., one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's most trusted  economic advisers; Walter and Victor Reuther, United Auto Workers; Will Rogers Jr., humorist; Franklin Roosevelt Jr., the president signed; and Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the historian.

The obscure loft in Manhattan where they organized has long been forgotten, but what began there
that night permeates America's institutions and culture, having replaced the Bible-based values of the 19th century with the liberalism based on Marxism.

Consider
To what extent do you feel that you have been influenced by the anti-Christian forces of modern culture? Do you think you have picked up any of the values of the League for Industrial Democracy? Unfortunately, all of us are the products of our own backgrounds. Even after we become Christians we still are influenced by our culture. We need to evaluate our presuppositions against the truth revealed in God's Word.

[Excerpted from - The One Year Book of Christian History,  by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten,
published by Tyndale House, Wheaton IL,  2003. Pages 512-513.                     ISBN 0-8423-5507-3]

 
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Dec 2, 2011

Explaining Altruism

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By T. M. Moore
Researchers are trying to explain the source of altruistic behavior. Why do human beings do good to one another?

Evolutionary thinkers all the way back to Darwin have struggled to account for this very un-evolutionary behavior. Why should we care when people suffer and die? What causes us to rush all kinds of aid and assistance to people in need? Isn’t survival of the fittest supposed to be our watchword and rallying cry?

As Alice G. Walton explained, writing at The Atlantic website, altruism “doesn't make a whole lot of sense, since we’re all out to preserve ourselves – and our genes. There must be something else going on.”

Something else, indeed, but something which, thus far has defied scientific explanations.
Evolutionists used to believe there was something communal about altruism, that people cared for one another, and even strangers, because it helped ensure the viability of the local gene pool. This theory, pioneered by E. O. Wilson almost a generation ago, had become accepted as a “good enough” explanation for altruism.

Until, that is, Dr. Wilson repudiated his own theory last summer, only to be vilified by many of his peers.

Ms. Walton reports on research with children which demonstrates that altruism may be something inherently human. Children, it seems, are capable of altruistic behavior before they’ve ever even learned the word or have an opportunity to think about what it means or requires of them. “Researchers,” she explains, “have recently demonstrated that altruism and fairness appear to develop, perhaps simultaneously, from an incredibly early age.”

But they still don’t know where the behavior comes from, whether it’s innate – which seems likely, but why? – or learned. Many kids just seem to show generosity and even sacrifice because, well, it’s the thing to do, I guess.

The Biblical view of humankind explains this. We are made in the image of God, and we have the works of His Law written on our hearts. The Law of God instructs us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are our brother’s keeper, and we know thus just because of the kind of beings we are.
Now evolutionary researchers aren’t likely to accept that opinion. They will continue looking for other explanations for altruistic behavior, but it doesn’t matter. Even if they find a particular altruism gene which incites this kind of behavior, they will still have to explain how such a development fits within an evolutionary life framework.

And that will just require a lot more research.

Sooner or later, as the evidence continues to build across a wide range of disciplines and topics, advocates of an evolutionary worldview are going to have to explain why their view of life explains so little and the Biblical view explains so much.

And that’ll take some serious ‘splainin.

 
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Dec 1, 2011

Dual Commissions

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Evangelizing and Engaging Culture
By: Chuck Colson
It’s not an either-or situation. It’s a both-and. I’m talking about fulfilling the Great Commission and the Cultural Commission.

A few years ago, I spoke to a gathering of pastors about engaging the cultural battles of the day. Afterward, the pastors had a lot of questions — but they were also a little confused. One confessed, “I’d never heard of the Cultural Commission, and will it interfere with fulfilling the Great Commission? Isn't that our job — to win people to Christ?"

That people still think this way left me momentarily speechless. "Of course we're called to fulfill the Great Commission," I replied. "We're also called to fulfill the Cultural Commission." Christians are agents of God's saving grace — bringing others to Christ. But we are also agents of His common grace: We're to sustain and renew His creation, defend the created institutions of family and society, and critique false worldviews.

I saw this was an “Aha!” moment for some of the pastors.

But the Scriptures are so clear. In Genesis, we're told that for five days, God created the universe. On the sixth day, He created human beings — and ordered them to pick up where He left off. They were to reflect His image and have dominion, but from then on, the development of the creation would be primarily social and cultural: It would be the work humans performed as they obeyed God's command to fill and subdue the earth.

The same command binds Christians today. We bear children, plant crops, build cities, form governments, and create works of art. While sin corrupted God's created order, it did not obliterate it. And when we are redeemed, we are both freed from sin and restored to do what God designed us to do: create culture.

Remember, every part of creation came from God's hand, every part was drawn into the mutiny of humanity against God, and every part will someday be redeemed. This means we must care about all of life. In Colossians 1, Paul notes that "everything" was made by and for Christ, and that everything will be reconciled by Christ; it's clear that Christians are saved not only from something (sin) but also to something (Christ's lordship over all of life).

This is why Christians must never limit themselves to evangelism alone or to the "feel good" church. We must not stand by while our culture is hijacked by alien philosophies hostile to the created order. Look at the issues before us: so called gay "marriage,” which is an oxymoron and will undermine the family; then there’s the creation of life in man's image, that is, cloning; abortion; and terrorism driven by religious extremists, and that’s just naming a few.

If Christians do not seize the moment and act on the cultural commission, there soon won’t be any culture left to save. But when we do our duty, we can change the world. Look at Christians like William Wilberforce, who spent most of his life fighting — and winning — the war against slavery in Britain, and bringing about a great cultural renewal in that country.

Today on my “Two-Minute Warning,” which I urge you to view at ColsonCenter.org, I talk about a church that really gets it. It’s growing rapidly, and it’s fulfilling both commissions. It’s the Watermark (Community) Church in Dallas, Texas; the pastor Todd Wagner, a great leader. And when you go to watch my "Two-Minute Warning," we’ll link you to a video of a stirring message he delivered to his congregation. You won’t want to miss it.

 
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