Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Revivial?

I’ve written here before about experiences we’ve had at churches in our area due to our children’s participation in some of their extra-curricular activities. However, the event we attended this week took the cake.

It was one of the shallowest, most disjointed attempts at entertainment evangelism I’ve ever in my life witnessed. In fact it was difficult for my wife and I to sit through the entire thing and, truth be known, at the first tactful moment we could we fled.

It’s one of those cases were a man had a talent and, like so many believers today, felt the best way to serve God was to turn his talent into a “ministry” instead of just ministering while pursuing the talent to the best of his ability and to the glory of God. I was reminded of the quote from Martin Luther about vocation, specifically in this case concerning a tailor:

“If he is a Christian tailor, he will say: I make these clothes because God has bidden me do so, so that I can earn a living, so that I can help and serve my neighbor.”

Today of course the tailor would start Stitchers for Christ International (SCI for short and for the stationary), a 501c3 corporation, and go around performing at churches having developed a unique system of sharing the “gospel” using the steps necessary to hem a pair of pants.

The worst part of this particular event, however, was that after NOT sharing anything close to the gospel for 45 minutes (my wife commented that we knew more about the presenter than about Jesus at the end of it all) this gentleman asked everyone to close their eyes and “pray the prayer.” Afterwards those who had “asked Jesus into their hearts” (mostly children) were bidden to come forward where several pastors, presumably at least a few of whom had been to seminary, took their information and welcomed them into the family of God. It was easy believe-ism at its worst, have them pray the prayer and give them immediate assurance. The kids were even told this was their “spiritual birthday” and to always remember it. At the end we were told by one of the adults (I’m not sure if he was a pastor) that we’d witnessed a “revival.”

As they were leaving each child was given a pamphlet. I took a look at my son’s on the way out. “Do you Have a Heart that’s Happy?” it said on the front. Halfway expecting to see Joel Osteen’s picture when I opened the cover, I read:

“It’s your choice whether you go to HEAVEN.” (Presumably the Holy Spirit has something to do with it but He’s not mentioned at all and is definitely not the deciding factor!)

After an example of “the prayer” it said “You are now saved if you prayed the prayer to God, and you were really serious.” Serious as defined by what standard? Again, it’s totally dependent upon me, if my frame of mind is correct when I pray the prayer then I’m saved.

The sad thing to me is that a man who claims to have read the Bible completely through every year for 30 years wrote this stuff and a whole room full of church-goers, some of whom are pastors, thought it was wonderful and that they’d witnessed a revival.

This particular church is by no means alone in this approach. This kind of thing is rampant in modern American evangelicalism. When this is what passes for a revival in our churches, it’s no wonder God doesn’t send the real thing to our land. We wouldn’t recognize it when we saw it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bar Stool Economics

My father-in-law sent me this attributed to a professor of economics at the University of Georgia. Parables can indeed contain great truths!

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers, he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group stil l wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20, ' declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10!'

'Yeah, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!'

'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'

'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered somethin g important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.

Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Litmus Test?

What if we used the below quotes from Jefferson and Madison as a litmus test for the remaining presidential hopefuls, eliminating any whose platform is opposed to the ideas expressed here? Reckon how many would be left standing?

- Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated. - Thomas Jefferson

- With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. – James Madison

- I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. – James Madison

- Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government. – James Madison


Friday, February 8, 2008

Reaping What We Sow

I continue to be amazed that professing Christians and other so-called conservatives across this country have not been standing in line to support Ron Paul. We've chosen instead to vote for the status quo, in many cases, I believe because evangelical Christians are joined at the hip with the United States military and consider it sacrilege to even question whether or not the war in Iraq may have been a mistake.

Despite what some may think, however, "thou shalt support our troops no matter what" is not the eleventh commandment. The irony of this of course is that the candidate with the highest donations from the military is Ron Paul and so truly supporting the troops might actually mean voting for Dr. Paul. This fact seems lost on much of the pro-war evangelical community.

As a result of this insanity, we're now faced with a likely choice in November between two candidates who are virtually indistinguishable where things like size of government and personal freedoms are concerned. It's true that one them will likely be more in favor of continuing the slaughter of unborn children than the other but what McCain lacks in that regard he makes up for in his zeal to continue the slaughter of 18 - 22 year olds having said not only that we may be in Iraq for 100 years but promising there will be more wars:

So what are we to do as believers on election day, vote for the candidate committed to taking the lives of our children before birth or after? To use the tired Pogo quote, we have met the enemy and he is us. John McCain, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the White House will be the fruit of our labor in this election.

To see what might have been, here's a clip from Ron Paul's recent speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

At times like this I worry for my country and my children but am thankful that, as always, we can depend on the promises of God and can know that He is in control of all things. When God is all we have left, that is enough.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The 7 Wonders of Socialism

Interesting article from a website called "WebUrbanist" about the aftermath of Socialism in the former Soviet Union.

However, in their quest to find the "7 Wonders of Socialism" I think they missed a couple:

These two unfortunately have not yet been abandoned.

HT: Lew Rockwell

Monday, February 4, 2008

Quotable Quotes

Some thoughts to ponder as we enter the election season full force.

"We are friends of liberty everywhere but guardians only of our own liberty" - John Adams

"It is the responsibility of the church to be the conscience of the nation and to call the state to repentance when the state becomes demonized and fails to serve in the cause of righteousness." - R.C. Sproul

Sunday, February 3, 2008

NFL Pulls Plug on Big-Screen Church Parties for Super Bowl

How on earth will we reach the lost (um, I mean "unchurched") now?

From the Washington Post