Elections Matter; but What Matters Most?

A good friend asked me today why last night’s wave election actually mattered – and frankly its a fair question.  For those of you perhaps wondering the same thing, here’s how I summarized the tangible results from last night’s Republican wave election victory:

1. The Keystone Pipeline will likely pass the Senate now creating jobs, revenue etc.

2. There will be a check on the President’s lawlessness (I mean that in the strictest of senses; he’s a lawbreaker)

3. Federal judicial appointments – the positions that have been legalizing the homosexual revolution in America – run through the Senate and will undergo higher levels of scrutiny.

4. Gov. institutions that have been bullying Americans (IRS, EPA etc.) will face greater scrutiny

5. Administration officials will face greater consequences for Foreign affairs debacles like Benghazi et all. Those are just a few items, not to mention spending held in at least something of a check.

There are many more things that will result – many are political and have bearing on the 2016 Presidential race, and what will end up being a massive (and difficult) battle to keep control of the Senate for the GOP. I won’t detail them all, but 2 of them come to mind: 1. Fundraising parity with Democrats will probably be achieved by GOP senate committees and groups, and 2. Senators like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz will not be harangued by Harry Reid’s floor schedule while they travel and campaign for the GOP Presidential Primary.

Last night was a gigantic sweep for Republicans, and a clear repudiation of President Obama’s policies.  This wasn’t a small victory with barely a plurality of voters or seats won in close elections. This was a drubbing from the lowest offices to the highest. Erick Erikson pointed out this morning that, “More than 25 of the Senators who voted for Obamacare have now been thrown out by the voters since 2010.”  This collective reality is really important to remember.

All of this being said, as I hammered out final last-minute work orders yesterday from my desk, I had the movie Chariots of Fire playing in the background on my iMac and there’s a line uttered by Eric Liddell that is worth remembering here this morning:

God made countries, God makes kings, and the rules by which they govern.

Those who rule nations in pride and rejection of God’s purposes for man will eventually – inevitably – be brought low and driven from power, either today or in the years to come as eternity spans before us. This is in accordance with His purposes and according to His time schedule, not ours.

Therefore I encourage those reading to keep politics and their results in perspective. These things are of tremendous import, but they pale in comparison to what matters at the end of the race.  Perhaps Liddell knew that better than most:

It has been a wonderful experience to compete in the Olympic Games and to bring home a gold medal. But since I have been a young lad, I have had my eyes on a different prize. You see, each one of us is in a greater race than any I have run in Paris, and this race ends when God gives out the medals.

 

 

 

 

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Weekend Reading: September 12, 2014

Happy weekend! I’m writing to you from the road on the way to the North Carolina coast, where we’re spending a few days enjoying a family wedding. This week was PACKED full of interesting stories, and world-changing events.

So flag this email for later, or grab a cup of coffee and pick out a few links that interest you.  Let’s begin with the anniversary of 9/11…

Here’s a great little youtube documentary on 9/11 from the eyes/perspective of President Bush, who, as it turns out, had an eerie prediction of the situation we now face in Iraq.  FoxNews had a short 13-slide timeline of the day’s events 13 years ago. For you Twitter lovers, you need to check out former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer’s feed from the Wednesday. He tweeted out the memorable events from 13 years ago as if they were live. His perspective is interesting to say the least. Lastly, here was the President’s speech standing atop the rubble 13 years ago – the bullhorn speech! 

President Obama gave a speech about taking the war on ISIS to Syria on Wednesday evening…not quite Churchill’s Famous ‘Fight on the Beaches’ speech…Assuming you read your quota of those stories, check out this interesting perspective from a muslim who wants us to consider Saudi Arabia’s role in supporting terror networks like ISIS and Al Qaeda, and gives some history of their genesis.  Also Robert H. Scales, a retired Army major general and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, had an Op-Ed in the WaPo this week about how to defeat ISIS that I found worth the read….and if all that wasn’t enough, apparently the President has fallen victim to a good ol’ fashioned caption contest! (h/t Tracy Lear).

Meanwhile, on the home-front, the wealthy aristocracy of New York City are pondering whether its worth an extra million for a parking spot in NYC.

Speaking of the ridiculous, this actually happened…

Now back to something encouraging…Pastor Tim Challies has a great little summary on chapter 2 of John Owen’s classic ‘Overcoming Sin and Temptation’ in which he boils some things down very nicely.

I’m sure you’ve heard, thought about, discussed the new iPhone this week. Apple announced their new iPhone (the 6th edition), iWatch and Apple Pay and I think critics were pretty much satiated that the technology giant had really moved the ball forward for the first time in a few years. Of course there are haters who disagree with my generous assessment. 

Speaking of tech, the net neutrality battle is heating up in case you didn’t notice….AND in addition to his work on Owen, Challies penned a short 5 point list on how to protect your information online which I found very helpful.

Continuing in that genre, not all technology is thrilling the masses these days…meet the simple technology that some say has ruined baseball. 

If that story doused your inner tech spark, then scroll through this one which is sure to ignite it again: advanced DNA technology solved the 126 year old mystery of Jack the Ripper this week!

On to TV…PBS has partnered with Ken Burns once again, this time on a documentary featuring the Roosevelt family. I have no clue if its going to be good or not, but its worth taking a peak…Burns will always find a place in my heart for the ‘Civil War’ and some really love his exhaustive (and exhausting) ‘Baseball’. 

This past week, Kate and I took in a little series posted to YouTube called ‘Tales from the Green Valley.’  Even if you just watch one episode of the 12 part series, you’ll enjoy watching 5 experts try and run a farm with all 17th century technology, clothes, and food. Fascinating stuff, and lots of little things you’ll learn you never new before. (h/t Katie W.)

Now some random stuff…

I appreciated this little piece on titled ‘The Problem with Reclining Airplane Seat Design’

Now THIS is cool – Whole Foods is a pretty hip grocery story, now they’re bringing hip to your door – check it out!

How to pay for all that food?  Well check out what John Piper has to say about ‘How to Decide About Your Next Job’.  Great little resource here. If you don’t read it now, file it away for a rainy day.

Vitamins or no vitamins? Nate Silver’s blog is advocating in the negative – mostly because of the way the results/benefits of vitamins are tested. This is a story for you stats geeks out there.

And…some more on the culture

Now this is a terrific little post that will crack you up and have you saying “amen!” One man edits Oprah’s coffee cup cliches. 

Challies also had a nice little follow up on last week’s nude celeb photogate scandal.

But not all celebs are scummy – check out Carrie Underwood singing ‘How Great Thou Art’...whoa! (h/t Senator Dan Hall!)

And a wonderful man of God, and terrific businessman Truett Cathy died this week. What an impact and legacy that man had!

Jared Wilson is in fine form here with an article about the church titled ‘He Must Increase; Our Churches Must Decrease’.

One thing not decreasing is the moral shift in America. Al Mohler’s daily briefing from earlier in the week is an indication of where the battle lines are. The collegiate Christian group InterVarsity has been kicked out of the California State University System. 

Kuyperian Commentary has a really solid resource on confronting deep sin utilizing 2 Corinthians. This meant a lot to me personally because a) I love 2 Corinthians and b) I’ve used many of these verses to confront sin in very difficult situations. It’s hard to describe the sense of fortitude one has when the rock of Scripture is firmly under one’s feet in such a moment.

The Twitters were tweeting this week about grade inflation at ivy league schools, which may be interesting to some of you ivy leaguers out there.

Lastly, and wonderfully, Jon Bloom ever at Desiring God had a fantastic piece called ‘The Antidepressant of Wonder’ in which he uses football and the changing of seasons as analogies for God’s work in this world, and how taking time to enjoy that work lifts our spirits vis a vis our changed perspective.

These articles remind us that we live in a rapidly changing world. Let us hold fast to our convictions in every sphere, knowing that He is able to help us hold them in integrity until the final day:

But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:12)

 

 

Renewing the Old Toyota

1986-toyota-mr2
1986 Toyota MR2 from Motortrend Magazine

As I drove my brother and his wife and daughter to the airport yesterday it was hard to say goodbye.  My daughter Chloe came with me, and there was definitely a sense of loss as all the family we had in town for the weekend left around 4:30pm yesterday for their own homes and the routines of their lives.

As we drove back home from the airport I found myself very thoughtful, and grateful for a wonderful weekend. But I realized that it’s a cruel fate of this life that family should live so far away. We move away for work, or seeking a dream, or any number of reasons – many are highly necessary in order to live productively in this world.

When I think in my mind about scenarios that would allow me to live in the same 60-100 mile radius as my family (my brother is in Denver, my sister in Cleveland, my parents in Toledo, my grandparents in Portland) I can find none.

My family loves where they live – and I love where I live.  We all have lives that are built geographically around our homes.  We have different churches, different grocery stores, our friends are here, and those little dives that we dine at on Friday nights.

So there’s really no solution…in this life.

Driving home last night my eyes wandered onto an old Toyota – an MR2 – which was running parallel with us on 270 West. Admiringly I stared at the perfectly refurbished 1980’s classic, and I thought about how much time and effort it would have taken to have that car in such immaculate shape.

My mind then wandered to our Creator, and how He’s working in each one of His children to remake them after His own image (2 Cor. 3:18 was a topic of discussion at a family dinner on Saturday night).

The Bible promises that when Christ comes back He will renew the earth and the heavens (Rev. 21:1) – just like this man renewed this old Toyota.

That’s when it hit me – in the next life, when all is renewed and set right I will have family and fellow believers to fellowship with for eternity. I have no idea how distance will be traversed in the next life, and that’s not what I’m speculating about.  Rather, one of the feelings within my soul yesterday was that it isn’t a necessary eternal de facto state of being for family to be separated by vast distances for reasons that are so intrinsically tied to this earthly – temporary – life.

In other words, that Toyota minded me that the current state of play on the earth won’t always stand. I will have an eternity to fellowship with family and friends separated now by distance, or death, or other forces of this life which will not be associated with the next. And this is a comforting thought to dwell on the day after such a great time of fellowship ended.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21 ESV)

Weekend Reading: August 15, 2014

Happy Friday!  I’m glad to be back on U.S. soil this week, and am enjoying catching up on all that is going on here in America and with my family as well.  I’ve collected a series of interesting articles, interviews, and more for you to take a look at as you coast into the weekend.

Also, if you’d like to read about my adventure in Israel this past week, you can see pictures and read about what I did here on this blog. Each day is listed below:

Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7

Now for your weekend reading…

Islam is on the rise here in America...only trouble is there aren’t enough Imam’s do lead worship…

Nice little article citing three traits of kids who don’t grow up and leave the church.

Fantastic perspective on the Ebola outbreak and the choice to fly the Christian missionary back to the US for treatment.

There’s been a lot going on oversees right now – especially in the Ukraine, Iraq, and Israel.  If you didn’t catch this story about a helicopter crash FYI, also, a great little interview that Joel C. Rosenberg did with an Iraqi pastor is here (h/t Lisa Wenzel).  And these folks list very clearly 5 things you can do for Christians in Iraq. 

Also, along similar lines, Jonathan Parnell has a column at DG about loving and hating your enemies. I’m not sure he is very clear in his writing, or that he really gets to the heart of the issue in the final analysis, but found it an interesting conversation starter nonetheless.

Speaking of foreign policy…Hillary Clinton bashes the Obama administration...and is right on target with her assessments…too bad no one will take her seriously. And FP.com has a smart look at why the administration is failing oversees. 

The folks at CARM, a Christian apologetics organization, dismantled Joyce Meyer’s false teaching a while back and I finally got to read through this a bit.  Pretty good reference.  If you’ve been reading or following her, well, let me just say there’s plenty of other good teaching out there that isn’t heretical for you to enjoy!

Speaking of false teachers, Tim Challies did an entire series on these people, and came to a handful of conclusions based on what he saw across the spectrum of his research.  A few traits stood out…

Pastor Challies also had a succinct little post about ‘Why We Love to Read’

And the guys at Kuyperian Commentary have continued their series that looks at tattoos. 

Also, I stumbled on this really interesting info-graphic that details how early each early morning TV show host gets us, and what their morning routine looks like.

Speaking of off-the-wall stuff, DG has a post about nude TV…yes, you read that right…

That is it!  Enjoy the weekend!

PJW

Weekend Reading: June 20, 2014

Summer is finally here (officially)!  So grab a towel and the kids and head to the pool – and keep your ipad or smartphone with you for some weekend reading.  Here are my top stories, videos, and things to check out as you kick back, or gear up for a busy weekend:

Amazon Fulfillment Center Insider’s Look – this was just a fascinating look inside Amazon’s gigantic warehouses – highly recommend you skim through this one.

HGTV cancels show due to Christian overtones – this is pretty much standard fair these days, but in case you missed it, two brothers who were stars in a brand new HGTV show titled ‘Flip it Forward’ have had their show canceled because **shockingly** they oppose muslim terrorists, abortion, and gay rights.

Disease is on the Border – if you’ve been watching the news at all lately, you’ve noticed that a flood of illegal immigrants has been amassing in Texas and Arizona. Many have come from South America via Mexico and are bringing contagious diseases with them.

Is Success Dangerous? – Jared Wilson says so, and has some good things for Christians to keep in mind.

America in a Spiritual Crisis – potential Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul said Friday that America needs revival more than it needs political leadership…I agree with him there!

Great Music from Keith and Kristyn Getty – If you attend our Thursday Lifegroup here in Dublin Ohio you’ll know we sang a new song last night from this more recent release of the Getty’s.  Check it out!

Travel by Drone! – This is a neat website where you can check out videos from cameras strapped to drones in top cities all over the world. A fun little diversion if you’re curious what Berlin or Kiev looks like from a few thousand feet above the ground.

Seeking the Face of God – this 2009 article by John Piper was helpful to me this week as I did a personal study on what it means to “seek the face” of the Lord.  One of my favorite scriptures is 1 Chron. 16:11 because it was Katie’s signature verse used to sign her love letters to me in college and reflected her desire for me to put God first – even before her.  Preview: “This setting of the mind is the opposite of mental coasting. It is a conscious choice to direct the heart toward God.”  Along similar lines, check out David Mathis’ article on ‘Bringing the Bible Home to Your Heart’ – h/t Parris Payden

My dog ate my emails – Former IRS Chief Lois Lerner’s emails seem to have disappeared, yet White House officials are unapologetic.  Go figure.

What do you do when you’re stuck in the Vegas Airport overnight? Why, shoot a music video using your iphone of course! – pretty funny stuff here! h/t Parris Payden

Pornolescence – Timely article by Tim Challies this week on the nature of Porn and its affect on Christian homes across America. – h/t Parris Payden

Hollywood Hearts Abortion and PCUSA Gay Marriage Update – Al Mohler gives a rundown on the vote of the Presbyterian Church USA (the more liberal of the two mainline Presbyterian denominations) to allow their ministers to marry same-sex couples.  He also discusses a new movie out of Hollywood’s sewers which seeks to make an abortion plot-line into a romantic comedy. Discretion advised if you’re listening with kids around.

How Suffering Leads to Joy and Hope – Two weeks ago I preached a message from Romans 5:1-5 on how suffering brings endurance, character and hope which ultimately yields joy.  The audio from that sermon is now posted if you have a desire to check it out.

In the Aftermath of Disappointing Elections – Tim Challies writes about his disappointment in the aftermath of the Ontario Elections the other day and how his faith, like Abraham’s, must be grounded in God’s character.  I wrote a similar piece just after the 2012 elections – find that little piece of archive goodness HERE. 

Resources, Resources!

Pray like a Puritan! – Looking for help in your prayer life? Check out the Valley of Vision.  These puritan prayers will inspire, deepen, and lift your heart as you prepare to spend time with the Lord.  Really enjoy this book!

Spurgeon at 180 – This week would have been C.H. Spurgeon’s 180th Birthday, and to celebrate the Confessing Baptists are giving away a complete sermon series – enter to win at the link above! h/t Parris Payden

“Orthodox Christology” by Keith Mathison

Last night I was reviewing the latest blog post over at Ligonier Ministries and it was so good that I felt might be useful to repost here.  Keith Mathison is three parts into a series on what he’s titled ‘An Introduction to Orthodox Christology’.  It’s a look at the entire Bible – in parts – and how we understand different part of the OT (and I assume the NT in future blog posts) to be speaking of Christ. As you might know, the ending “ology” means “the study of”.  So “Christology” is naturally “the study of all things pertaining to Christ.”

The post I read last night was focused on 2 Samuel and some of the Psalms and was really enjoyable. It’s a little on the heavy side for those who might not regularly read scholarly work, but I think you’ll find it fascinating if you’ve never examined some of these things before, and I urge you to at least give it a skimming!

Post 1: Why Christology is Important 

Post 2: The Pentateuch 

Post 3: The Historical Books and Psalms

Soli Deo Gloria!

PJW

Can’t Hold Him Down

As I was studying another passage in Acts 2 with some guys this past Sunday, we ran headlong into Acts 2:24.  Check it out:

God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Acts 2:24 ESV)

Now, we didn’t spend a lot of time on it then, but this has always been one of my favorite passages when regulating/guiding my understanding of the resurrection.  And since its Easter week (“Holy Week”), I thought I’d just bring this verse to your attention for meditation in the days ahead.

I really wanted to mention two things. First, there’s something amazing here about his ontology (His essence), and second, there’s some great truths that should put our mind to ease about our own salvation.

So first, a quick note about the “ontology” or “essence” of Jesus.  He is, of course, fully man.  That’s how He was able to be killed in the first place.   But because you cannot actually kill God, He is unable to die, and therefore death simply can’t hold him. You can’t snuff out the essence of life just like darkness, as a natural principle of science, flees from the room when you turn on the light. The rules that govern reality don’t work like that.  Had Jesus stayed dead, its not like people could say “well there goes that myth” because there would be not people to say that. When you kill the single entity that is powering and upholding our understanding of life and reality as we know it (Heb. 1:1-3, and Col. 1:15-20), then you would (or “might” since its impossible) also destroy all life which is tied to that power source pretty much instantly.

Let that thought settle in your mind a bit…can you imagine having crucified this man and then see Him walk around Jerusalem for 40 days teaching people?!  ……and you wonder why this whole Christianity thing really took off?  That, by the way, is what Easter is all about.  Time to bring your mind into a proper state to once again focus on this truth and then be subsequently blown by this truth.

But secondly, I love this verse because for those who might be struggling with that thought of “well, I definitely believe in Jesus, I definitely believe I’m saved, and I have repented of my sins…but, man, I just struggle with whether or not I’ll lose my salvation.  I know my sinfulness, and I know I’m just constantly failing!” This is the passage for you.

Why?  Well think about it this way – if Jesus is said not to be able to “be held by (death)” then that means He has power over death.  And when you combine that truth with another from Romans six which states, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:4-5 ESV)” — what you get then is the perfect combination for assurance that you’ll make it to the end without losing a thing!  

In fact, I think that’s exactly what the last part of Romans 8 is all about, and what the whole of the chapter is about, namely that since God is in charge and in control of the saving your soul from start to finish, you have to assume He knows what He’s doing AND that He can see the project through to completion.

Definitely check out Romans 8, but also check out John 6, because Jesus says some remarkable things there as well.  I’m going to leave you with a few of those verses — but first, you need to remember, and (rightly) assume that when Jesus teaches us something you can know with absolute certainty that its going to happen. Why?  Well, anyone who can control acts of nature, raise people to life, heal them of hideous diseases, multiply food without calling for takeout, and beat the grave can pretty much by guaranteed to keep your salvation safe until He comes back (note the sarcasm…).  Now here’s what Jesus says:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:35-40 ESV)