Thursday, September 17, 2009

Deeper into Liberalism

UPDATE - The two young journalists have now released two more videos in their gotcha journalism series on ACORN. Apparently they had a fairly easy time finding ACORN employees willing to help them lie to banks and the IRS while setting up a child prostitution business. Exposing this organization has now led to the US Census Bureau cancelling their contract with ACORN. I wonder why an organization under investigation in 15 states for vote fraud still had a contract with the Census. The House of Representatives voted to de-fund ACORN federally. Now the states will follow. ACORN is probably doomed.

Biblical principle - Dragging evil into the light is often the best way to kill it.

ACORN is threatening to sue Fox News for airing the videos. A DA in Baltimore (who was part of Obama's campaign) is threatening to file wiretap charges against the two young people.

ACORN is a community action group patterned after the principles of Saul Alinsky, who wrote the "Bible" of community organizing, Rules for Radicals. His principles made ACORN the force that it became. Barack Obama worked for Vote Now, an ACORN affiliated group. Hillary Clinton wrote her 96 page bachelor's thesis on Saul Alinsky. The two young journalists who exposed ACORN say that they decided to use Alinsky's principles against ACORN. Radicals become the establishment and then get fat and lazy. The next radical takes them down.

Here's a taste of Alinksy from his book, Rules for Radicals. This is the dedication:

"Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Following" & "Subscribing"

A conversation with one of my blog "followers" revealed that people probably have the impression that "following" a blog is the same as "subscribing." Apparently if you "follow" you still do not receive notification of a new posting. "Following" a blog is a) a way to show your support of the blog and b) a way to organize the blogs you are following from your Blogger account "dashboard." If you "subscribe," you will receive either the posts or the comments (or both) by email. I've added that functionality to the top of the blog.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

An Entirely Personal Note and Praise

Several people at Highlands have mentioned that I seem like I've lost weight. I have, and it's intentional. I've lost over 30 pounds so far and hope to lost about 20 more. Someone told me today that I looked too thin. I'm actually still overweight by anyone's measure - I just have a large frame, wear baggy shirts, and have been big long enough that people are used to seeing me that way. I've been on the Atkin's Diet, eating lots of meat and vegetables, moderate amounts of fruit, and very little simple carbs (bread, rice, sugar, etc.).

I've been convicted of my gluttony for a long time. I love to eat. I eat as a sensual pleasure and I eat to deal with stress, fear and anger. It is just sin, plain and simple. Food is an idol of mine. My wife has gently encouraged me to eat less for years, but I haven't succeeded. With the Atkin's Diet food is just less interesting because I'm eating the same thing over and over again. I may have to eat like this for the rest of my life. If so, it is better than the alternative. And since my chloresterol, blood pressure and blood sugar seem to be doing well with this diet, I probably will be healthier eating like this than something else that doesn't keep my weight down.

Another issue for me is that I'm an older father. I want to be around for my kids and want to be able to be active enough to enjoy them. In my family, the obese men get rewarded with heart disease and diabetes. While I acknowledge God's sovereignty in my length of life, it is pretty stupid to habitually take actions to reduce my life expectancy. Which brings me to the next point...

Back when my youngest son was born three years ago I had a medical test which indicated slightly high liver scores. My doctor told me the probable reason was that I was overweight. I didn't get my scores re-checked until recently, right after I started my diet. This time they were substantially higher and he decided to give it a month and see if the scores kept rising and give me a hepatitis test (given my travel history to developing countries and one war zone). He still thought that my scores were probably high because of weight, but we wanted to rule out Hep A-C.

Reading up on hepatitis gave new life to my motivation to lose weight and eat better, so I continued on my diet, waited a month, and went in for another test. This time I had a different nurse and we started chatting about the testing. It turned out that she was a Charismatic Christian and she said confidently, "I'm going to pray, we're going to believe God for healing, and you are not going to have hepatitis." My first thought was that she was a little bit wacky. My second thought was "I'll take that prayer."

A couple of weeks later I get a letter from my doc. No hepatitis, and my liver scores were perfectly normal. His note said, "You might have had some mild virus that raised your scores." That's true. And maybe I had something else and God heard the confident prayer of the nurse. Either way, to allow my health to slide as a result of my gluttony would be to trash his gift.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Liberal Abuse of the Poor

Conservatives and Liberals alike have their share of guilt when it comes to abuse of the poor. One of the things which makes Liberal abuse of the poor particularly aggregious is that they usually do it under the guise of "helping" the people that they are abusing. As I pointed out last Sunday, every tyrant of the 20th century rose to power claiming to be an advocate of the poor. Most of them then proceeded to abuse the poor in horrific ways.

A great deal of Liberal activism in the United States is a sham which hurts the poor. One example is the Community Reinvestment Act, which was a piece of legislation designed to move poorer people in depressed communities into home ownership. While the goal of home ownership sounds noble, the real impact was moving vulnerable people out of stable living situations into homes which they were not equipped to care for and which they could not afford. The poorer people who ended up losing their homes were actually set back and the bad debt on all of this was re-packaged in a massive Ponzi scheme which contributed to the collapse of our economy.

It still amazes me that John McCain, who publically blew the whistle on this before it fell apart, ended up with the blame for the collapse and Barack Obama and Barney Frank ended up looking like heroes. Barney Frank was the head of the Congressional Financial Services Committee which John McCain confronted. Barack Obama was a "community organizer" who worked with ACORN to pressure banks into making these loans.

Now, ACORN is eligible for billions of dollars in federal "bailout" money even though it is under investigation for voter fraud. In a new twist to the "Liberals Hurt the Poor" saga, an independent undercover investigator posed as a pimp, took a woman posing as a prostitute with him and visited ACORN in Baltimore. There they received advice on how to get a home loan for the explicit purpose of conducting a sex business and how to hide underage girls from overseas working as prostitutes on his taxes. To put it plainly, this "Liberal" organization, with close ties to the president of the United States, was willing to help a man lie to set up a prostitution business and advice him on how he could hide his child sex/slavery business. It usually isn't the wealthy who end up in the sex trade, but the poor. It isn't the wealthy who end up as sex slaves, but the poorest and most desperate of the world's people.

ACORN has fired two of the Baltimore employees and claims that this is an isolated incident and a "set up." The question is, what kind of organization are they running where something like this could occur? What about their organization would attract someone who would be willing to help a pimp do something like this? This isn't very different than the Planned Parenthood affiliates who've been caught the same way agreeing to keep statutory rape (a crime) secret (also a crime) in order to secure abortion business.

What is it about these Liberal organizations which produces this kind of support of evil? Does anyone believe that Focus on the Family could be caught in the same kind of investigative sting?

If I can be forgiven for connecting this to the sermon series I just finished preaching, this is a glaring example of how Moral Relativism and Mocking Skepticism strangle out fruitfulness (social righteousness). If we don't accept God's standards for behavior and we don't believe that God is near to judge and to help us, our innate sinfulness will lead us far astray. You cannot have righteousness without God. Anytime there is no righteousness, the weakest members of our society suffer.

UPDATE: ACORN's claim that this was an "isolated incident" has taken a blow as the investigative reporter has now released a second video showing an employee of the Washington office of ACORN doing exactly the same thing (including the advice on how to hide his child prostitution business). Pray that this organization will be brought to repentance or will be shut down before they help (more?) actual criminals commit child-sex crimes.

Monday, September 7, 2009

C. S. Lewis & the Mango Orchard

I've heard (many times) an illustration of a mango orchard (usually used to teach a dynamic related to evangelism) which goes something like this: In a mango orchard the mangos do not ripen all at once, but over many weeks. So, instead of harvesting by cleaning all of the trees, the worker has to continually go back through the orchard looking for ripe fruit. I don't know if this illustration is accurate or not, but it pretty well describes my experience with books. Some books I acquire and browse and set down for months or years (decades even). They just don't resonate, or I'm just not able to understand them. I might understand the words and sentences, but I feel impatient or bored. Later and pick them up and discover solid gold. C. S. Lewis has been like that for me. Some of his writings I read and enjoyed long ago (Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity), others are just now becoming ripe.

From God in the Dock:

"Science progresses because scientists, instead of running away from such troublesome phenomena or hushing them up, are constantly seeking them out. In the same way, there will be progress in Christian knowledge only as long as we accept the challenge of the difficult or repellent doctrines. A 'liberal' Christianity which considers itself free to alter the Faith whenever the Faith looks perplexing or repellent must be completely stagnant. Progress is made only into a resisting material."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

C. S. Lewis on Speaking English

I ran across this little gem in God in the Dock. It is in a letter Lewis wrote to The Christian Century.

"In both countries an essential part of the ordination exam ought to be a passage from some recognized theological work set for translation into vulgar English - just like doing Latin prose. Failure on this paper should mean failure on the whole exam. It is absolutely disgraceful that we expect missionaries to the Bantus to learn Bantu but never ask whether our missionaries to the Americans or English can speak American or English. Any fool can write learned language. The vernacular is the real test. If you can't turn your faith into it, then either you don't understand it or you don't believe it."

Church members complain about this all of the time. "My pastor talks in a way I don't understand." I need to hear this as well as any other pastor.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Praising and Praying

I'm praising the Lord for the open, frank discussion on last Sunday at the congregational meeting. Thank you all for your godly and gentle deportment. Please continue to pray for the Session and for John as he begins another stage of Christian service at the First Presbyterian Church in Summerville.

This week I am interviewing and testing multiple applicants for our secretary/office manager position. Please pray! We need the right person to fill in the gaps of all my administrative failings. Pray that God would use the new person to advance his Kingdom at Highlands.