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  • 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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  • January 2010
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  • Recommended Reading

The Report On Fort Hood Does Not Address The Real Problem

The U.S. military’s report on the Fort Hood shootings spends 86 pages detailing various mistakes by Army officers without once mentioning the name of Major Nidal Hasan or if the killings may have had anything to do with the Hasan’s view of Islam. The report’s silence on Islamic extremism demonstrates the current tyranny of political correctness in our military and society.

The leaders of the two-month Pentagon review told reporters that they were more interested in Hasan’s actions than his motives. Without motive, however, there would have been no murders. Hasan spoke out against the wars his country’s Army was waging in Muslim countries and shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is great) as he gunned down his fellow soldiers. Are we so unwilling to identify and confront a real enemy of our nation?

Read more in an article by Mark Thompson. . . .

Our God Will Provide

Charles H. Spurgeon

From the pen of Charles H. Spurgeon:

When the church of God believes in God, and goes forward bravely, she need not trouble as to supplies. Her God will provide for her. He that gives the Holy Ghost will give gold and silver according as they are needed; therefore let us be of good courage. If God is with us, why need we fear? . . . If any say, “If you hold to these old-fashioned doctrines you will lose the educated, the wealthy, the influential,” we answer: But if we do not lose the godly and the presence of the Holy Ghost we are not in the least alarmed. If the Holy Ghost remaineth with us, there is a river the streams whereof make glad the city of God. Brethren, my heart leaps within me as I cry, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” “Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. . . .”

[T]here is another advent, when “the desire of all nations shall come” in power and glory; and this is our highest hope. Though truth may be driven back, and error may prevail, Jesus comes, and He is the great Lord and patron of truth: He shall judge the world in righteousness, and the people in equity. Here is our last resource; here are God’s reserves. He whom we serve liveth and reigneth for ever and ever; and He saith, “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (Sermon, 1918)

Does Congress Even Care About The Constitution?

In the words of Jon N. Hall:

“America once made the required nod to the Constitution. When We the People wanted to make some fundamental change or expand the federal government’s reach, we did the right thing and amended the Constitution. … If we once thought that we had to amend the Constitution to ban ‘intoxicating liquors’ and later had to again amend the Constitution to re-legalize the stuff, wouldn’t we need an amendment to allow the government to intrude even more intimately into our lives? … If Congress were to do the right thing and initiate an amendment to enshrine the ‘individual mandate’ in the Constitution … it would fail miserably. If America is still America, Americans will not tolerate being told they have to buy something, especially if it’s for no other reason than that they exist. … I’m afraid Congress has not only misread the Constitution, but they’ve also misjudged the American people. Or maybe they just don’t know what country they live in.”

Read more. . . .

G.K. Chesterton On The Christian Ideal

Quoting G.K. Chesterton:

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Back To The Future?

Why Are Young Men Leaving The Church?

Church life today is suffering from the disappearance of young men between ages 20 and 25. Why is it that as long as the boys stay home with their parents, they go to church; but when they leave home between the ages of 18 – 20, they leave the church as well? Bojidar Marinov thinks he knows the answer. He writes:

[W]hy would a young man stay in the church? Is there a “male” message in our churches today? Is there a message that gives a young man a worthy cause to work for and to fight for? Why would he stay, to listen all his life to the same sermon over and over again, in many different versions of it? Come back every Sunday to learn—for the n-th time, over and over again—that God loves us? Shed tears over the same emotional stuff every week? Or hear that we live in the “last times” and therefore evil will expand and he can’t do anything to turn the tide? Or that his gifts mean nothing in these “last times,” all he is supposed to do is to “witness” to save a few souls from hell?

. . . What message do the churches have for those with the gift to be bankers? “Praise God you make money to pay tithes”? What about truck drivers? “God put you there to evangelize at the truck stops”? Do the churches have a message for banking itself as a legitimate part of the kingdom of God? Or truck driving? Or fitness? Or business management?

There is no message for them. The church’s message concerns only the church and the limited scope of activities that the pastors have declared to be “spiritual.” Any young man with gifts outside the scope of these activities is left to feel a “second class” citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. And guess what: Men are born with the impulse to be first class. This impulse is in the Y-chromosome. They will look for a cause, they will look for meaning in life, they will look for ideas, worldviews, professions, that give them the opportunity to have that meaningful first-class life. . . .

Why would he want to stay in a church, passive, listening to the same sermon every Sunday that tells him that there is nothing he can do to change the world except snatch a few souls from hell? He is eager to go out there and prove himself in all those fields but then the church is silent about them, the preachers never preach about them and never explain the spiritual value of those jobs, sports, political and social causes, business, etc. in the Kingdom of God. There is no theology for political action, no theology for business action, no theology for social activity. . . .

The silence and the refusal of the churches to preach and teach a comprehensive worldview creates a tension; and our young men resolve the tension by leaving the church and going to the world. . . . It is a perfectly logical response to the deficiencies in our churches’ preaching and teaching. . . .

This hasn’t always been the case. Two or three centuries ago . . . America was postmillennial. The American church had a message of victory, a message that this country was a City on a Hill, and by its example God would change the world for Christ. Whether they were rafters and cowboys in the wilderness, or store clerks and builders in the cities of the East, Christian boys heard the same message from their preachers: “We are a nation created by God to be Christian and to exhibit God’s glory. We have a Manifest Destiny to create a godly society that will be admired and imitated by the nations of the world. . . . Men like Cotton Mather preached on political and economic issues (Fair Dealings Between Debtor and Creditor is one example); and the civil government was constantly under scrutiny and criticism from the pulpits. The churches did not wait for their boys to go out and find worthy causes. The churches led the boys in those worthy causes in their crusade to redeem the world for Christ. . . .

And young men stayed in the churches, and built Christian families, and expanded the Kingdom of God, and built the Christian culture that we today thank God for. . . .

That should tell us how we can take our young men back. As long as we have a female church with a female message, our young men will prefer to stay away from it. You only get what you preach. The loss of our sons to the enemy is a curse, and it is our fault we have let our churches truncate the message to irrelevance.

Read more here. . . .

Hate Crime Laws Are Unconstitutional

From the pen of Jim Brown:

Michael Marcavage, director of Philadelphia-based Repent America, was one of 11 Christians who were jailed and charged with a hate crime for carrying Bible verse banners and preaching at a 2004 homosexual pride event in Philadelphia. The charges were later dismissed — and in 2008, the state’s Supreme Court ruled the law had been passed illegally by the Pennsylvania legislature.

Michael Marcavage Marcavage says the new federal hate crimes law is yet another move by the federal government to “silence Christians.”

“What this bill does is [seek] to shut down those who dare to speak against the sin of homosexuality with the hope and freedom that is found in Jesus Christ,” says the Christian activist. . . .

Marcavage offers three reasons why he opposes the new law. He says it is ungodly because it “seeks to shut down the gospel of Jesus Christ”; unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection guarantee of the 14th Amendment; and also unnecessary because there are already laws on the books that punish violent crimes.

Read more. . . .

David Brainerd On Love For Human Souls

Quoting David Brainerd:

“I care not where I go, or how I live, or what I endure so that I may save souls. When I sleep I dream of them; when I awake they are first in my thoughts – no amount of scholastic attainment, of able and profound exposition of brilliant and stirring eloquence can atone for the absence of a deep impassioned sympathetic love for human souls.”

Private And Public Virtue

Quoting John Adams:

“The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families. … Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.”

The Greatest Question Of Our Time

Albert Mohler

From the pen of Dr. Albert Mohler:

“The greatest question of our time,” offered historian Will Durant, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

For centuries the Christian church has been the center of Western civilization. Western culture, government, law, and society were based on explicitly Christian principles. Concern for the individual, a commitment to human rights, and respect for the good, the beautiful, and the true-all of these grew out of Christian convictions and the influence of revealed religion.

All of these, we now hasten to add, are under serious attack. The very notion of right and wrong is now discarded by large sectors of American society. Where it is not discarded, it is often debased. Taking a page out of Alice in Wonderland, modern secularists simply declare wrong, right, and right, wrong. . . .

“When God is dead,” argued Dostoyevsky, “anything is permissible.” The permissiveness of modern American society can scarcely be exaggerated, but it can be traced directly to the fact that modern men and women act as if God does not exist, or is powerless to accomplish His will.

The Christian church now finds itself facing a new reality. The church no longer represents the central core of Western culture. Though outposts of Christian influence remain, these are exceptions rather than the rule. For the most part, the church has been displaced by the reign of secularism. . . .

The confessing church must now be willing to be a moral minority, if that is what the times demands. The church has no right to follow the secular siren call toward moral revisionism and politically correct positions on the issues of the day.

Whatever the issue, the church must speak as the church-that is, as the community of fallen but redeemed, who stand under divine authority. The concern of the church is not to know its own mind, but to know and follow the mind of God. The church’s convictions must not emerge from the ashes of our own fallen wisdom, but from the authoritative Word of God which reveals the wisdom of God and His commands.

Read more. . . .

Money Or Morality?

Chuck Colson

Quoting author Chuck Colson:

“Hard work and self-denial were part of our national character — actually our Christian heritage. In recent years, the ‘sound economic values’ have eroded. … But the problem, you see, is that values and the character they produce aren’t divisible. People will not exercise restraint in their economic dealings while casting off restraints in their sexual and social ones. … Or turn on the television. There, people are indulging every sexual desire in the midst of a consumerist paradise — big homes, expensive cars and fashionable clothes. You can do anything you want. The ‘Calvinist restraint’ … didn’t preach chastity or thrift; rather it preached chastity and thrift. That’s because it saw both as proceeding from a common source: the Christian understanding of man’s nature and the purpose for which God created him. If you try to have the one without the other, you will get neither. Far from being obsolete, the old culture war is more relevant than ever. Restoring moral values across the board is essential to rescue a sagging economy as well as renew our nation’s spirit.”

Charles Spurgeon On Believing God

Quoting Charles Spurgeon:

“If we cannot believe God when circumstances seem be against us, we do not believe Him at all.”

The Limited Role Of Government

Quoting columnist Ken Connor:

“The American people must regain the ability to distinguish between wants and needs and must shed the ridiculous notion that government exists to provide either. Our Constitution — drafted by men well acquainted with the abusive capacities of a centralized government — limited the roles and responsibilities of the federal government in order to allow the principle of self-government to flourish in the new nation. Government exists to preserve and protect the sphere of civil freedom within which we can work to meet our needs and our wants. Government does not exist to provide them.”

Ways To Destroy A Church

From the pen of D. A. Carson:

“The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it–admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism–all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple’ (1 Cor. 3:17). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993, pp. 83-84)

Recruiting Terrorists In American Prisons

From the New York Post:

According to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, intelligence indicates that some 36 Americans who converted to Islam in prison have departed for the al Qaeda hotbed [Yemen] in the past year, claiming to want to study Arabic.

Intelligence officials told the committee that they’d lost track of some of the men, who they believe have slipped away to al Qaeda training camps.

This is a big problem, the report says, “because of the potential threat from extremists carrying American passports and the related challenges involved in detecting and stopping homegrown operatives”. . . .

[W]hat’s especially outrageous about the Yemen 36 is the very real possibility that they were fed their poison by folks collecting government paychecks as Muslim chaplains.

In 2003, Imam Warith Deen Umar, who until 2000 was essentially in charge of hiring Muslim chaplains for New York’s state prisons, told The Wall Street Journal that the 9/11 hijackers should be honored as martyrs.

In 2006, Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil, the city’s head Muslim prison chaplain, was caught by The Post preaching against “Zionists in the media” and the “terrorist” President Bush — and kept his job. . . .

Still, as the Senate report suggests, the radical factory in America’s prisons keeps rolling along.

Read more. . . .

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