• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • September 2008
    M T W T F S S
  • Recommended Reading

Why Our Economic House Of Cards Tumbled

An insightful look into the cause of our current economic crisis. . . .

Christianity And The Superstitious

As I noted in a previous article (What Do Atheism, Education, And Superstition Have In Common?), even atheists can be superstitious. Therefore, it is not surprising to me that from time to time I meet a superstitious Christian. The Bible opposes superstition in every form. Yet, you may come upon Christians who, for various reasons, have adopted an extra-Biblical superstition as part of their daily religious practice.

Ichabod Spencer was called to serve as colleague-pastor of the Congregational Church in Northampton, MA in 1828, the church made famous by Jonathan Edwards. Spencer’s ministry at Northampton from 1828-1832 was remarkably blessed with conversions. In the article below, Spencer shares his concern over the hindrance of superstition to true Christianity:

I was sent for by a woman who was in great distress in respect to her preparation for death. She was fully convinced that she should not live long, though now able to ride out daily, and seldom confined to her bed by her infirmity. She was a member of a neighboring church; but she said, “I have no peace at mind, and no witness that God has given me a new heart.”

I had not been acquainted with her before. She appeared to be an unimaginative, amiable woman, who loved her husband and her children; but she had not a very discriminating mind. Her wealthy, moral, but irreligious parents had done little for her, except to indulge her, and train her in the love of money and the enjoyments it can furnish.

I strove to instruct her in the way of life. I visited her almost every week for long time. She gained little or nothing in hope. There was something strange about her, which I could not understand. Her mind would be drawn off from the very things which I would be most anxious to fasten upon it.

One day she mentioned to me what a “bright witness,” as she called it one of her acquaintances had. She told me what it was. “It was a great light that appeared to her, and filled the room where she was.” The silly girl who told her this silly story some years before, had sometimes included her to attend religious meetings with her, among a class of people more apt to see such visions, and more fond of them than I am; and now, the poor woman’s mind was constantly on the look-out for “great lights.” With this expectation her mind was occupied; it was called off from the truth, and bewildered and confused by this superstition.

Again and again I explained to her the unscriptural nature of all such notions, and taught her that such “great lights,” existed only in the imaginations of people who were very nervous or very silly, or both. I thought I had succeeded in dissipating her superstitious notions, and for some months, during the lapse of which I often saw her, I had hoped that she was led to put faith before fancy, and look to Christ, and not to visions, for comfort and salvation.

But after all this, she sent for me. I went. She brought up the same story of a “great lights”, and asked me, – “Why don’t I see such witness”, “For three reasons,” said I: “first, you are not nervous enough; second, you are not imaginative enough; third you are not quite fool enough.”

Then I went over all the explanations of biblical religion again, and all the arguments to demonstrate the superstitions she had about some external witness, and expel it from her mind. She appeared to be convinced, and for some weeks enjoyed a rational hope in Christ. I had hope for her.

A few days before death she sent for me again. She was in great distress, in despair. She asked me if I thought she should “not have some bright witness before she died.” She died without it.

Superstition is mischievous. It hinders the exercise of faith, where faith exists; it prevents faith where it does not exist. Superstitious people are foolish. The sights they see, the strange sounds they hear, the voices whispering some words or some texts of scripture in their ears, are nothing but fancies, not facts; and if they were facts, they would be no evidence at all that these persons had become the children of God. Biblical evidences of religion are entirely different.

From: A Pastor’s Sketches, (1850)

Congress Says “No” To Bailout Plan

From: The Desk Of Gary Bauer

This afternoon, the House of Representatives voted down the administration’s economic rescue plan 205-to-228. At one point, the stock market plunged seven hundred points.

Over the weekend, House Republicans succeeded in forcing major improvements in the bill. President Bush made a brief statement shortly after 7:30 A.M. this morning to calm nervous markets and to rally members of Congress for the anticipated vote. In spite of his plea, and in spite of support from the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, a majority of House members voted “no.”

Consider this: Republicans voted against it because there were not enough protections for the taxpayer. The Democrats who voted “no” did so because they wanted more of what got us into this mess to begin with – more loans to people who couldn’t pay them back.

On the verge of this vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi went to the House floor and launched into a vitriolic attack against President Bush and the GOP. She continued the week-long liberal assault of blaming John McCain and the free market philosophy for this crisis.

Republicans have been biting their tongues in recent weeks – not playing the blame game, trying to find a workable solution to this crisis – when in fact liberal policies and politicians, as we and others have documented, deserve virtually all of the blame for the mortgage meltdown. But Speaker Pelosi just couldn’t restrain herself. When bi-partisanship was desperately needed to do the right thing for America, Pelosi put partisanship first.

House Republican Leader John Boehner just concluded a press conference where he made it clear that votes existed to pass this plan, but Pelosi’s vile assault on the GOP blew it. As I write, Barack Obama is at a campaign event blaming Republicans and capitalist greed for this crisis.

Republicans tried to be responsible. Republicans tried to act in a bi-partisan spirit for the good of the country – from President Bush taking the lead on this plan to John McCain suspending his campaign to return to Washington. Yet, at every juncture, they have been “kicked in the groin” for their efforts to reach out to Democrats.

My friends, I don’t think it is possible to overstate just how critically important this election will be for the future of our country. We are in a battle for the heart and soul of this nation. The freedoms we cherish hang in the balance. I have been saying for months that the Democrats and their radical leftwing allies intend to destroy the conservative movement. Deliberately taking down our economy in order to “change” it with something that resembles Big Government European-style socialism now appears to be part of their plan.

Cartoon Mocks Sarah Palin’s Christian Roots

Assemblies of God’s chief executive officer George O Wood is the leader of the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination. Recently, he denounced a cartoon in the Washington Post that mocks Sarah Palin, Pentecostalism, and Christianity.

The Christian Post reports that, “In the cartoon Palin is illustrated talking on the phone at a podium in an incomprehensible language. Republican presidential nominee John McCain stands near Palin and says with a grin, ‘She’s a Pentecostal and speaks in tongues, and only God can understand what she’s saying. But it gives my campaign a direct line to the Almighty.'”

Wood said that to his knowledge Palin has never said she prays in tongues. Palin was raised in a Pentecostal church but currently attends a non-denominational evangelical church. The media tries to portray Christian Pentecostalism as a cult, but the WashingtonPost.com has received many complaints about the cartoon’s offensiveness to Christians.

The cartoon may be viewed here. . . .

If Washington Had Listened To John McCain – There Would Be No Need Of A Bailout

Mark Alexander, in his article “Bailout Basics,” traces Presidential Nominee John McCain’s opposition to the government policies that have caused our current economic crisis. Below is a portion of Alexander’s article:

“For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac … and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. … If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.” –John McCain arguing for passage of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act (S. 190) which he co-sponsored in 2005.

While Sen. McCain is being pilloried by his opponent, Barack Hussein Obama, for asserting (correctly) last week that the fundamentals of most U.S. economic sectors are sound, clearly, Sen. McCain has understood for years that irresponsible lending practices for U.S. housing posed “enormous risk … to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.”

While Obama was out politicking this week, ostensibly itching for a debate that he’d been avoiding all summer, McCain suspended his campaign to work with Republicans in Congress, outlining conditions for an agreement that would both protect the American taxpayer and thwart a meltdown of the U.S. economy. So, “Country First” is not just a campaign slogan…

The enormous risk that Sen. McCain warned of in 2005 has now become a financial crisis of staggering proportions. That crisis can trace its roots to Bill Clinton’s signature on legislation making it easier for minority constituents with bad credit to obtain mortgages. In 1995, he had his Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, rewrite the lending rules for the Community Reinvestment Act, opening the flood gates of mortgage lending to unqualified borrowers.

Does The Truth Really Matter In Issues Of Faith?

There are certainly many “cultural” Christians today who believe it’s politically correct to hold that truth is a matter of personal opinion. Charles H. Spurgeon wrote that “The glorious charity of the present day is such, that it believes lies to be as good as truth; and lies and truth have met together and kissed each other; and he that telleth truth is called a bigot, and truth has ceased to be honorable in the world!”

It is important for Christians to protect themselves in this culture where truth is relative and words have no meaning. We must carefully research those ideas which are brought into the church in the name of tolerance. These concepts are often presented in vague and unclear language. Scripture, on the other hand, consistently makes definitive statements about good and evil; truth and lies. It is becoming more difficult for Christians to know when they are being taught false doctrine. This is why it is so extremely important for Christians to study the truth of Scriptures.

Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24) Later, Jesus states in John 8:31-32 “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Only absolute truth will guide you to God. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) This excludes personal opinion as the final arbiter of truth.

Are Republicans Backing Away From Sarah Palin?

Kathleen Parker’s article, “The Palin Problem,” seems to represent the turning of some Republicans’ heads – away from Sarah Palin, that is. A few Republicans have recently been more critical of Palin’s qualifications. Parker writes:

“No one hates saying [this] more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted. . . .

“Only Palin can save McCain, her party and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

“Do it for your country.”

Parker, a conservative, may be very sincere in her beliefs about Sarah Palin, but her view of the Republican candidate for Vice-President is seriously flawed.

First of all, considering the hostility of the media toward the candidate, Palin has handled their “gotcha” questions as well as can be expected. It is like a game of Trivial Pursuit with questions Obama and Biden could not answer and would never be asked.

Second, if she quits or is asked to step aside from the VP – McCain will lose the conservative vote and lose the election. Many people are only voting for John McCain because he put her on the ticket.

Pressure from Washington insiders is mounting against the McCain-Palin ticket because they are afraid of Palin’s reputation of being a “whistle blower.” She took on the Republican Party in Alaska and pointed out corruption where she found it. There are Democrats and Republicans in Washington who are afraid that she might influence a McCain Presidency to go after Washington corruption. Many in Washington, who are hoping for personal benefits from the economic bailout, certainly do not want a Washington “outsider” following the money trail.

The McCain campaign has been somewhat protective of Palin because of the viciousness of media and left-wing attacks against her and her family. Sarah, however, has more grit than they are giving her credit for. The best move the campaign could make is to turn her loose to make her own case to the American people.

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