Most newsworthy of 2009?

Dr Al Mohler has his picks, and comments on each item here. In simple list form they are….

#1. The Inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States
#2. The Uprising in Iran
#3. The Travail of the Global Economy
#4. The Death of Michael Jackson and the Nation’s Addiction to Celebrity
#5. The Rise of Twitter and the Growing Domination of Social Media
#6. The Battle over Health Care Reform
#7. The Leftward March of Liberal Protestantism
#8. The Climate Summit in Copenhagen
#9. The Swine Flu Epidemic and the New International Hygiene
#10. The Spotlight on Private Scandals and Public Consequences

I was a bit surprised at his #7 and 8. I would substitute, say, the rise of aggressive atheism for #7, and the growing ground-swell of political unrest (tea parties, etc) for #8. Time will tell…

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“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings”

Are you afraid of getting bad news? Commenting on Psalm 112:7 (above), the great Charles H Spurgeon, in his fine Morning & Evening devotional book, writes this….

Spurgeon feature

Christian, you ought not to dread the arrival of evil tidings; because if you are distressed by them, what do you more than other men? Other men have not your God to fly to; they have never proved his faithfulness as you have done, and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear: but you profess to be of another spirit; you have been begotten again unto a lively hope, and your heart lives in heaven and not on earthly things; now, if you are seen to be distracted as other men, what is the value of that grace which you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature which you claim to possess?

Again, if you should be filled with alarm, as others are, you would, doubtless, be led into the sins so common to others under trying circumstances. The ungodly, when they are overtaken by evil tidings, rebel against God; they murmur, and think that God deals hardly with them. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do?

Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means in order to escape from difficulties, and you will be sure to do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure. Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Your wisest course is to do as Moses did at the Red Sea, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” For if you give way to fear when you hear of evil tidings, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure which nerves for duty, and sustains under adversity. How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires, but will your doubting and desponding, as if you had none to help you, magnify the Most High? Then take courage, and relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, “let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Sound exhortations from the ‘prince of preachers’
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PS — Why not set your browser START page to: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/morneve.today.html.
This address automatically changes to the current day’s address…

Respecting other religions?

It seems to me there is public pressure to respect (and tolerate) just about everyone and everything. In recent headlines the Roman Catholic Pope was being challenged to declare some “respect” for Islam — a worldwide religion, but a false religion. In an online article, Dr Al Mohler discusses this.

mosque5079792thbLet me raise the question here for individual Christians: should we ‘respect’ Islam — or how should we properly respond to Muslims? Here is an excerpt from Dr Mohler that I find most helpful….

In this light, any belief system that pulls persons away from the Gospel of Christ, denies and subverts Christian truth, and blinds sinners from seeing Christ as the only hope of salvation is, by biblical definition, a way that leads to destruction. Islam, like every other rival to the Christian gospel, takes persons captive and is devoid of genuine hope for salvation.

Thus, evangelical Christians may respect the sincerity with which Muslims hold their beliefs, but we cannot respect the beliefs themselves. We can respect Muslim people for their contributions to human welfare, scholarship, and culture. We can respect the brilliance of Muslim scholarship in the medieval era and the wonders of Islamic art and architecture. But we cannot respect a belief system that denies the truth of the gospel, insists that Jesus was not God’s Son, and takes millions of souls captive.

I’m so thankful for Dr Al Mohler, and the clarity of his writing and thinking (and the abundance of it). If you do not check his online postings — especially to gain a biblical view of news and events — you should.

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What is “News” to you?

I just had to convey the following thoughts to you. A fine young blogger named Tony Reinke digested a sermon on this topic, and wrote an article entitled, Cross-Centered News Consumption. Here are several good paragraphs….

What constitutes true news is, for the Christian, no easy question to answer. But neither is this a new question. Long before the “information age,” an obscure Puritan preacher named Henry Hurst (1629-1690) delivered a sermon to answer the question: “How may we inquire after news, not as Athenians, but as Christians, for the better management of our prayers and praises for the Church of God?” His text was Acts 17:21—“Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.”

Hurst understood the attraction we all have to the latest news, not because of its intrinsic importance, but due to our Athenian-like insatiable inquiry to feed on a stream of fresh tidbits. And I don’t claim innocence here. Often my news consumption habits are as defendable as the Athenians.

In Hurst’s sermon he begins by breaks news into three categories:

A. Trifling reports. These reports are, “below the gravity and prudence of a man to receive from a reporter, or to communicate to any hearer.” Think petty rumors spread in gossip columns, blogs, or in conversations at Starbucks, the fascination into who Michael Jackson is dating, the National Inquirer, much daytime television, etc.

B. Personal and private matters. These reports are “of no more concern to a judge or magistrate or the public than a scuffle of boys in their sports to a general and his army.” These are stories with very little consequence, that should have remained a private issue, but have become public only because of the Athenian attraction within us.

C. Public news that concerning the state and Church. The final category includes news reports that communicate “threatening danger, or some smiling providence” as it relates to the Church or state. There is every reason to be aware of what threatens the health and safety of our country. Genuine worldwide threats should concern us, and especially those in position to provide strength in light of the dangers.

But infatuation with so much inconsequential “news” (#1+2), Hurst argues, led the Athenians to wasting time, neglecting duties, a loss of trade and employment, and bred further false stories of others and provoking contention among those we should be offering peace. Hurst writes, “I could wish there were a redress of all the inconveniences and vices that spring up in coffee houses [the blogosphere of the 17th century]; but I believe that every man who frequents them must mend his own faults herein.” I’m writing this at Starbucks, and as I look around to the tables of conversation I see that this temptation to Athenian rumor milling is just as relevant here as a 17th century coffee house. We should be just as concerned with the news we communicate over coffee, as the commercial news we read, hear, and watch.

Be careful little eyes what you see; Be careful little ears what you hear — for the Father up above is looking down in love….
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Spring Has Sprung

In the early morning sunshine Thrusday, I was walking into a place for a breakfast and could not help but notice the abundance of spring flowers surrounding the entrance: bunches of yellow daffodils, ranks of hyacinths, tulips (my favorite) and lots of other colorful things I don’t know by name. Spring has finally sprung here in upstate NY. But when I got home, and walked up to my front door, things still looked bleak and drab; no flowers in sight here. What’s up? Ah, the truth pinches me now as it did that morning: no sowing, no reaping! I did not plant flowers that would come up this spring.

Sowing and reaping is a mainstay of a biblical worldview (Gal. 6:7, Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. esv).

Let me apply this concept (sowing or planting, giving rise to something to reap) to just one area of life: your mind. If you desire to grow spiritually, love the Lord your God with all of your mind — so that the thoughts and expressions coming out of you are like those beautiful spring flowers —  you must first consider what you’ve planted (or failed to plant). What do you ‘sow’ to your mind? What goes in by way of watching, or hearing, or reading? And then what do you reap? What springs forth? Is your thinking and your conversation looking drab and barren?

In Luke 6 Jesus teaches about a tree and its fruit:
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Of course this verse points to the reality of grace — which if God implants in our hearts, will bear good spiritual fruit in our lives, confirming our new nature (new birth) as Christians. But further, it also reminds us of the principle that our thinking and our conversation is the fruit of what is treasured within, and what is sown to our heart and mind.

So let me ask you: do you read your Bible? Do you read it daily? This is the Word of God and by it (alone) will you grow to understand God, yourself and the world you live in. Or is your daily mental diet simply watching TV or reading newspapers? (A fellow named Ben Hecht, once said, Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.)

And further, what else do you read to sow godly thoughts in the seed bed of your mind? When was the last time you worked through a good book? How about one of the great Christian books so readily available? (I could easily recommend several books that have significantly impacted my life; just ask me).

It was Sir Francis Bacon who said, Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man. The Word of God (Psalm 119) says,

97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Spring has sprung, but the time for sowing is not past. It is new every day! Sow away!

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