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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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Spending The Public Trust

Quoting Ronald Reagan:

“These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. … It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people. Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, causing human misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity. But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades, we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals. You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that same limitation?”

Let Us Celebrate Reformation Day

 

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach. The Protestant...

Martin Luther

 

Today, we celebrate Reformation Day. The Reformation was a time when God allowed light to shine in the darkness. God allowed his grace to come again into glorious sight, so that one could truly know how to be at peace with the living God. God, in His goodness, during the Reformation reestablished the gospel, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, that had previously been set aside for the good works of man.

On October 31, 1517, a young monk in Wittenberg, Germany posted 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in his home town. His intention was to begin a discussion with other teachers in the Catholic Church. Martin Luther was used by God to begin a reformation of the church by returning to the foundation of Scripture alone. Scripture alone taught that salvation was not earned or sold by indulgences and grace was God’s alone to give.

The study of Scripture alone, and asking what Scripture taught concerning man’s salvation, was the realization of experiencing true salvation. The teachings of the Reformation were established upon, and found in Scripture alone.  These doctrines were Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, and all to the glory of God alone. Salvation could be found by going only to Christ, not by going through the motions of external obedience. This righteousness of Christ was received by faith alone. Christ’s righteousness, not ours allows us to stand before a Holy and Just God. Christ alone is our sanctification and it is He who has paid the ransom price to purchase us from the consequences of sin and make us children of God.

Today is a great day to share the light of the Reformation with someone else.  Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. Surely, this is worth celebrating.

A Revolutionary Season In American Politics

 

Image of Lew Rockwell

Lew Rockwell

 

American politics has an educational value all its own if there is anything positive to be said about it at all. Elections encourage people to focus their minds and therefore, become more knowledgeable of what the politicians are actually doing in Washington. Perhaps, this time, Americans have learned that they cannot just wait till every election year rolls around to become involved in how we are being governed.  Lew Rockwell, who is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, editor of LewRockwell.com, and the author of Speaking of Liberty, writes that:

It’s another revolutionary season in American politics, with voters preparing to do everything they can within the structure of the law to throw out the bad guys and the bad system they represent. The focus is on this amorphous thing called the Tea Party, which embodies a huge range of political impulses from libertarian to authoritarian, united under the common belief that everything is going wrong in Washington, with a common goal of upending the status quo. . . .

The health-care bill is also a source of American public anger. People are not deceived into believing that whatever reforms we are getting are going to fix the problems of the current system; they will make them worse. As it is, the freedom remaining in the system is the only reason that the system serves us at all. Take that away, and you take away a lifeline.

The revolt, then, is in high gear. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last. The governed have long been very unhappy about the government, and they periodically wake up and seek to change it. It’s been some 16 years since the last go-round of such revolutionary sentiment. It is arguably stronger today than it was back in 1994.

The good aspects of this have nothing to do with political outcomes, despite what people believe. The political environment focuses the mind on important issues like freedom, economics, culture, power and its uses, and the role of the state. As they debate with their neighbors, follow election coverage, listen to the candidates, and watch the process, people learn and study and, most importantly, think and rethink.

If you begin with a skeptical attitude toward the government, watching and thinking can lead to a radicalization and ultimate embrace of a consistent opposition to government involvement. This is why election season always ends up creating a huge flood of new libertarians who buy books, feel the inspiration to get active (perhaps for the first time), and dedicate themselves to reducing the power of the state in whatever way they can.

Continue reading. . . .

Is Government By An Elite Group Superior To Government For, By, And Of The People?

Tower of Babel

Quoting Ronald Reagan:

“The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom. In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.”

The Beauty Of Our Lord

Charles H. Spurgeon

“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)

The portion of other men fills their bodies and enriches their children, but the portion of the believer is of another sort. Men of the world have their treasure in this world, but men of the world to come look higher and further.

Our possession is twofold. We have God’s presence here and His like-ness hereafter. Here we behold the face of the Lord in righteousness, for we are justified in Christ Jesus. Oh, the joy of beholding the face of a reconciled God! The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ yields us heaven below, and it will be to us the heaven of heaven above.

But seeing does not end it: we are to be changed into that which we gaze upon. We shall sleep a while and then wake up to find ourselves as mirrors which reflect the beauties of our Lord. Faith sees God with a transforming look. The heart receives the image of Jesus into its own depths, till the character of Jesus is imprinted on the soul. This is satisfaction. To see God and to be like Him-what more can I desire? David’s assured confidence is here by the Holy Ghost made to be the Lord’s promise. I believe it. I expect it. Lord, vouchsafe it. Amen.

Iran’s Role In The Murder Of Americans

Iran is at war with the modern world. Khomeini called us “The Great Satan”. The destruction of America is a core value of the Iranian leadership. History will judge America’s leaders during this undeclared war by a simple formula: Leadership is ultimately judged by whether you win or lose. Everyone hates losers. Michael Ledeen, a noted political analyst and a Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies discusses how Iran has been killing Americans for many years:

[The Iranians] have been killing Americans for 30 years. That’s what the chants of “Death to America!” are all about. From the Hezbollah suicide attacks on the US Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in the early 1980s, to the use of Iranian-made roadside bombs and mines in Iraq and Afghanistan by terrorists trained in Iran, to armed assaults against American troops by members of the Quds force, Iran is at war with us.

Every so often a military leader calls attention to this fact, but no publication, and no political leader, makes it a central theme of our national debate. Why? Because if you accept the fact that the Iranian regime is killing Americans almost every day, you are compelled to do something about it. And hardly anyone is willing to do anything effective. The only evil action by the mullahs that interests the West is the nuclear program, even though they have demonstrated very clearly that they don’t need nukes to murder and maim thousands of Americans. . . .

Thousands of Americans have been killed and wounded. Those who plant the mines and bombs–the IEDs and the EFPs–are often trained by Iranians in Iran. And many of the suicide bombers are also trained by Iranians.

Continue reading here. . . .

God’s Sovereignty

Jonathan Edwards

Quoting Jonathan Edwards:

“From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, in choosing whom He would to eternal life; and rejecting whom He pleased. . . . But I have often, since that first conviction, had quite another kind of sense of God’s sovereignty than I had then. I have often since had not only a conviction, but a delightful conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceedingly bright and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God. . . . And wherever the doctrines of God’s sovereignty with regard to salvation of sinners were preached, there with it God sent revival.”

The Constitution And “Benevolence”

March 4: James Madison begins the first of two...

James Madison

In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 to assist some French refugees, James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, stood on the floor of the House to object, saying:

“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.” He later added, “(T)he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”

The Nature Of Temptation

Calvin: Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?

Hobbes: I’m not sure that man needs the help.

What is temptation? Often people today think of “temptation” as the desire to have just one more piece of chocolate or maybe the inability to resist a delicious looking dessert. Temptation has been trivialized in our society to refer to impetuously wishing to do something which you think of as naughty but not serious. The Bible refers to temptation very seriously because it views temptation as the desire to oppose the moral law of God in act or attitude.

One more piece of chocolate pie may be a problem for you but does it really compare to the consequences of rebelling against God? Richard Sibbes makes an important point when he writes, “Satan gives Adam an apple, and takes away Paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.” Temptation offers the illusion of happiness but its consequences yield only everlasting torment.

Yet, all are tempted. Do not be discouraged when this happens, pray that God would hold on to you so that you do not yield and fall. Jesus told his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Once temptation is yielded to, it grows in power. What makes this so difficult for many of us is that we truly don’t want to discourage temptation completely. We deceive ourselves into believing we are in control. We think we can toy with sin as a cat does a mouse; only too late do we realize that temptation is really the cat.

Paul writes, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) If you honestly and firmly determine to do your best to avoid temptation and pray with all your heart for God’s deliverance, He is faithful to provide you with the means to stand against Satan’s clever devices.

If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit of God is living within you to guide and to help you resist the temptation to sin. However, if you are a Christian who often neglects church attendance, reading the Scriptures, and prayer – your resistance will be weak when the trial of temptation comes upon you. Don’t rush to put your hand into the fire and then pray not to be burned, but pray, rather, to have the wisdom to understand fire and keep your hand out of it.

Demonizing The American Citizen

Quoting columnist Arnold Ahlert:

“Why has the left directed so much time and effort into demonizing ordinary Americans? Because the Tea Party’s three primary planks — limited government, fiscal responsibility and Constitutional fealty — represent the greatest threat to liberalism since its flowering in the 1960s. A smaller, fiscally responsible government dedicated to a Constitution expressly designed to limit the power of the state is the death knell for those dedicated to the idea their worldview must be imposed on Americans by an ever-expanding state. The left’s worst nightmare is an America comprised of largely self-sufficient, clear-thinking individuals left to their own devices.”

The Democrats’ Strategy Of “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”

Quoting columnist Jeffrey Folks:

“Lenin famously described his strategy for communist domination as ‘one step forward, two steps back.’ Of course, by that he did not mean to suggest steps of equal length. The step forward was a lot more like two large steps, and the two steps back were more or less symbolic, designed to diffuse opposition. Clearly, in the past two years the United States has moved two giant steps in the direction of socialism. We have seen the redistribution of hundreds of billions of dollars, the seizure of major industries by the state, the re-emergence of a hard-core welfare state, the virtual nationalization of healthcare, takeover by regulation of the energy and financial sectors, and much more. This resurgence of state control has been accompanied by the new power of labor unions, environmental lobbyists, tort lawyers, and state bureaucracies. But now, having reached the limit of what the public will stomach, the Leninists who run the Democratic Party see that it is time for two baby-steps back. Those steps back are taking the form of a new suggestion of inclusiveness and bipartisanship (even of openness to business interests), talk of repeal of some parts of the healthcare bill, talk of making some parts of the Bush tax cuts permanent (after the election, of course), talk of a balanced budget (pay-go once again). As this list suggests, the step back is nearly all talk-talk in the midst of an election campaign designed to preserve Democratic majorities. The steps back, in other words, are not an actual retreat. They are merely talk. As soon as the election is over, the strategy of moving forward will resume — this time in the lame-duck session of Congress.”

Read more. . . .

Where Are The Heroes?

8 These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.

9 And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew. 10 He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.

11 And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. 12 But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory. (2 Samuel 23)

There is a sad tendency among modern men and women to seek to discredit rather than admire the noble character of a hero. It seems that praise must be accompanied by an unhealthy dose of skepticism – otherwise, to praise a real hero is to humiliate yourself. It is as if true admiration must be left behind in the nursery with the innocence of childhood. The modern man must not admire anything or he will appear ridiculous to his peers. Strong beliefs and actions are only for fanatics. Let some historic figure be seen as a hero and there will be no end to those academic researchers who will seek to find some piece of scandal or half-truth in his or her life that will bring him or her down to their level. Our modern culture has become too insecure to tolerate the possibility of noble character. Charles Wagner, who is the author of Courage, writes:

What is a hero? He is a man of larger stature than his fellows, who has lived an intense and wider human life than the majority; a being who concentrates in his mind and heart the aspirations of a whole epoch, and gives them powerful expression; or it may be that he is a man who appears above the crowd to accomplish one deed, but one so great, so fine, that it immortalizes him.

When we study the history of humanity, we see heroes appearing at the beginning of every great movement. Their example is contagious; some virtue emanates from them and takes possession of others. It is their privilege to arouse enthusiasm, hope, and light. They are the saviors of hopeless times, the guides in dark days, the pioneers of the future, the pure and noble victims who die for justice and truth, in order to pave the way for them. But what influence would they have without the respect, admiration, and enthusiasm which they excite in us? It is by dint of admiring them that we become capable of profiting by their virtues. What is true of the hero is true of everything that is heroic, to no matter what degree. Everything that is great, everything that is beautiful, everything that is pure and sacred, penetrates to our hearts through our respect and admiration. These are the senses by which we perceive the high realities of the soul….

I am not speaking here of our illustrious heroes, but of those obscure, unknown, unnamed heroes of whom the world is full. It is for them that I ask of youth eyes and ears to perceive, and a heart to admire. . . .

Where is this good, of which I speak, to be found? We must seek for it. Those who seek for it and are capable of seeing it will find it. I urge many young people to investigate this unknown region. They will discover many salutary herbs which will serve them as elixirs.

The truth is that no one has any idea of the number of good people who live about us. The amount of suffering patiently borne, the injuries pardoned, the sacrifices made, the disinterested efforts, are impossible to count. It is a world full of unknown splendors, like the profound grottoes lighted by the marvelous lamp of Aladdin. These are the reserves of the future; these are the silent streams that run beneath the earth, and without which the sources of good would long since have become exhausted, and the world have returned to barbarism. Happy is he who can explore the sacred depths!

Continue reading. . . .

Pardoned By God

Thomas Watson

Quoting Thomas Watson:

“Whenever God pardons sin, He subdues it, Micah 7:19. Then is the condemning power of sin taken away, when the commanding power of it is taken away. If a malefactor be in prison, how shall he know that his prince hath pardoned him? If a jailer come and knock off his chains and fetters, and lets him out of prison, then he may know he is pardoned; so, how shall we know God hath pardoned us? If the fetters of sin be broken off, and we walk at liberty in the ways of God, this is a blessed sign we are pardoned.”

Respect Requires A Position Of Strength

Quoting Ronald Reagan:

President Ronald Reagan

Image by edalisse via Flickr

“[M]y highest duty as president [is] to preserve peace and defend these United States. … American strength is once again a sheltering arm for freedom in a dangerous world. Strength is the most persuasive argument we have to convince our adversaries to negotiate seriously and to cease bullying other nations. But tonight the security program that you and I launched to restore America’s strength is in jeopardy, threatened by those who would quit before the job is done. Any slackening now would invite the very dangers America must avoid and could fatally compromise our negotiating position. Our adversaries … respect only nations that negotiate from a position of strength.”

What’s So Scary About The Devil?

“There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.” (C.S. Lewis)

Does evil exist? Do you believe in Satan? Many in today’s world believe he is a myth, a boogeyman, a fable, or the product of an ignorant superstitious mind. The Bible has a lot to say about the demonic, but it is largely ignored in our enlightened culture and even in our churches. We have developed a more therapeutic strategy for dealing with the dark side of human nature and sin. We now refer to evil as a sickness rather than acknowledge the power of its autonomous influence.

Satan is a brilliant strategist. He is utterly satisfied when you are unwilling to acknowledge his existence. He is quite capable of setting before you a vision and plan for your ultimate happiness. His goal, however, is to use every means at his disposal to keep men separated from God. His unrelenting malevolence towards mankind is satisfied only by our destruction. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44)

We are in the middle of a cosmic spiritual battle and mankind is an unwitting bondservant to the master of evil. “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” (John 8:44) Paul wrote, “the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

How is it possible to resist such a formidable foe? We can’t in and of ourselves. We are too weak and flawed by the fall of Adam. How then may we overcome the evil designs of this master puppeteer? James, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, writes – “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” (James 4:7) In order to overcome Satan, the first thing you need is a new master. Without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit of God, you will never defeat the devil’s influence over your life. James then says in the same verse, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Once you have submitted to Christ as your Lord, you are then enabled to resist. But Peter reminds us to be “sober-minded” and “watchful” and “firm in your faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9) The devil will continue to seek to devour you.

I do not subscribe to the theory that there is a demon under every bush. Nor can we excuse our sins by claiming that, “The devil made me do it!” Even without Satan there is quite enough evil residing in our corrupted natures to commit unspeakable acts. However, if we are to truly understand the nature of the universe in which we live, we must take seriously the Bible’s portrayal of Satan and his demons as personal spiritual entities who are actively involved in the lives of people on this planet in the worse possible ways. Therefore, God the Father sent Jesus Christ “to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)

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