Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Her price is far above rubies:

(I want to let as many of you as possible see this, so I'm putting it here as well as on the Something to Think About blog. Thanks to Janet Patton for reminding me about the description from Proverbs 31 that I put in the title.)

When I was in my fourth and fifth years of college I attended a small church in northeast Pennsylvania. The first year I was there I was separated from my fiance', Kathy. Just a few weeks after we were married we moved into our first home, a mobile-home out in the country between Baptist Bible College and the Osterhout Bible Church. There were many reasons why those two years in the little church by Susquehanna were a great time in my and our young lives. High on the list, though, of benefits of worshipping and serving with that group of country and small-town folk was the fact that Agnes Decker was the pastor's wife.
She was a pastor's wife in the old sense of the role. The life of the church was marked by her hard work, hospitality, teaching, compassion, willingness to do what needed to be done and prayer. She helped a guy who missed his girl feel at home and embraced us as newly-weds. We were welcomed to the Decker home on several occasions. Mrs. Decker, and her daughters, whom she had trained, were great hostesses and cooks. There was nothing fancy there, just good and plenty served with love.
In her later years, until her health declined, Mrs. Decker carried on a ministry via email. It was much the same as her ministry in person--she passed on what she had gained, shared kind words, and offered and encouraged prayer.
Mrs. Decker's funeral is tomorrow. To all the family, Kathy and I celebrate with Agnes Decker's life lived to the glory of God, and we pray for you in your time of loss.
Heaven will be sweet. Let's lay up treasures there. I think Mrs. Decker modeled that. I hope at one of the suppers in glory--surely there will be supper there--I can wait on Mrs. Decker. I fear, though, that she'll already have her apron on.

It's STTA.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The New Athenians:

In Acts 17, Paul met a group of people who "used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new." (Acts 17:21, NASB95) So, when this little Jewish guy showed up talking about a strange god and the teaching associated with his worship they were ready to show up and jaw about it.
OK, I'll confess I just got something in my email in box that smacked me a little, so make allowances for the personal, here, but I'm struck by how many of the decisions and changes that people, especially young people make are motivated by the quest for novelty.
It seems that the folk who met Paul on Mars Hill were looking for something new to think about it. "Tell us something that will stimulate our minds, challenge the old ways of thinking, or give us an opportunity to practice our skills of argumentation. Some of my New-Athenian friends share that spirit. They are constantly reading, searching the web, blogging, and talking over their favorite adult-beverage. More of them, though, in my limited experience are not after something new to think about a novel experience. I have noticed for years that Boomers like me tend to buy stuff, houses--then bigger houses, cars--then nicer cars, clothes--then more clothes, etc.--closets, garages, and storage units full of stuff. The late George Carlin's routine about stuff was so funny because it was true. (I'm not posting a link, because his routine is also somewhat vulgar.) But I digress, back to the NewAthenians, they come from a generation who seem to be more interested in buying experiences than stuff. Their parents have full houses, they have passports full of stamps and frequent-flier accounts overflowing with points.
Mom says, "You would think since our son-in-law, has decent job, that he and Sally could afford a decent bed for the guest room." Dad replies, "Well, I don't wonder. Have we ever been to Europe?"
Paul told Timothy, "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires." (2 Timothy 4:3, NASB95) If possible I think we are beyond that. Not only do the New-Athenians want to have their ears tickled, but the other four senses as well. Music is not evaluated based on whether it communicates truth, but by whether it is contemporary, cutting-edge, relevant, in a word new. Churches spend a great deal of effort and money making things look, feel, sound, and smell right (I'm not talking merely about properly cleaning bathrooms, but incense, etc. Since many new ministries adopt a coffee-shop motif, and other contemporary pastors and evangelists seem to think that it is impossible to have a meaningful conversation with a person of this generation without sharing beer or ale, even taste must be included in the mix. Stuff comes to my inbox all the time, from church decor, to stuff to project, to new paradigms for preaching and ministry, to new music, to books that promote new stuff, it is clear that a who industry has built up around reaching out the New Athenians.

That day on Mars Hill Paul presented something revolutionary. A concept so out-of-the-box that it stretched the impress-me-with-something-new minds of all but a few of the Athenians to the point of rejection. I fear that in the same way New Athenians reject this truth.
I fear that Athenians Old and New are looking for something with which to amuse themselves, something to tickle their ears (and other senses). The truth Paul was presenting, if accepted, radically changes lives. "Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33) So Paul went out of their midst. 34) But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them." (Acts 17:32-34, NASB95)
The five senses are gateways for the communication of truth. There is certainly nothing wrong with presenting that truth in stimulating, artistic, even entertaining ways, but bottom-line the question cannot be:
"Is it new?"
"Did I like it?" or
"Do I feel better?"
But, "Is it true?" and if it is, "Am I willing to change my life accordingly?"

Monday, April 5, 2010

Roeder, Tiller, Obamacare, & Me:

Two recent news stories have raised the issue of submission to government authority--or looked at from the other direction, civil-disobedience--to a higher level of discussion in Christian circles:
Scott Roeder, who readily admitted killing abortionist George Tiller has been sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for fifty years. Since Roeder is fifty-two years old. It is almost certain that he will not leave prison alive. In his trial Roeder claimed that his killing of Tiller was justifiable homicide. His defense consisted of arguing that his killing of Dr. Tiller was justified because it resulted in saving many innocent lives--the many unborn children that Tiller will not abort. This defense is inhanced when one considers that Tillers' death might cause other abortionists to quit, saving even more lives. The fact that Tiller was well known as an abortionist who would perform late-term abortions, even when other abortionists and clinics refused, certainly raised the outrage of pro-lifers in reaction to his practice, which came to a sudden stop, when Roeder pulled the trigger.
I spoke with a Godly, law-abiding, gentle man last night. I think his take on the case is typical. "I can't condone what he did, but I don't like the fact that he was sent to jail while nothing is done to the abortionists who kill babies."
I ask myself: Suppose Roeder were released from prison on some odd appeal--one of the jury members owned stock in an abortion-center, something like that. Mr. Roeder decided to leave Kansas and was looking for a nice quiet place to live--a place like Covington, where I live. At the same time a retired George Tiller-like retired abortionist was looking for a house to buy. Both of them looked at the house next to mine. Which one would I want as a neighbor?

The other item of news, is one that was impossible to miss. The massive Health Care Reform Bill just became law. In spite of the Executive Order signed by President Obama many who have looked into the 2,000+ pages of regulations have concluded that it will mean money that comes from American tax-payers will pay for abortions.

So, was Scott Roeder justified in killing Dr. Tiller? There is no doubt that killing the abortionist prevented him from killing hundreds of children. Is killing Tiller the equivalent of shooting a man running toward a loaded school bus with a bomb in his hand?
The law and the court say no. You can do some web search on JH and you'll find that from the accepted definition Roeder's guilty verdict was appropriate. Among other criteria the threat has to be immediate. Dr. Tiller was not scrubbing for an abortion in church, where Roeder killed him.
When Paul told the Romans to submit to civil authorities, I think we can be sure that ths government of Caesar was involved in taking innocent life. In a short time some of those innocents would be Christians slaughtered in the arena. That knowledge was not hidden from the Holy Spirit as He moved Paul to write, "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." (Romans 13:1, NASB95)

A similar, though less violent, question relates to taxes. If in fact it is demonstrated that, in spite of assurances made to Representative Stupac, my tax money is used to kill unborn children, should I then refuse to pay my taxes?
The question wasn't related to abortion, but Jesus was asked in Matthew 22:15-22, "Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”
Famously, Jesus replied, ". . . render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”

I'm looking forward to hearing from some of you, but my answers are:

While I sympathize with Roeder, and would much prefer him as a neighbor to a retired abortionist, had I been a member of the jury I would have had to vote, "Guilty."

And, I figure that, yes, indeed, some of my taxes will fund abortions--which I totally oppose--yet in a few days, I will go through my yearly tribulation associated with paying my tax. I'll work hard to pay the government no more than I owe, but I'll conscientiously pay what I owe.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Here is the conclusion. You may find the way he gets there informative and interesting.

From an Article on Al Mohler's blog:

The modern world does not exist without science and technology, but science does not rule the world. In a democracy — especially a democracy governed by the First Amendment — a healthy debate on all these issues will reach virtually every American institution, including the public schools. School boards and legislatures are answerable to the people — not to a regime of scientists.

Science is a cultural product that inevitably reflects the society it serves. This can be as breathtakingly impressive as the NASA missions to the moon, or as morally reprehensible as the Nazi medical experiments. Modern cultures cannot exist without modern science, but science is not the non-ideological and non-political world of knowledge many presume it to be. That presumption, to borrow Charles Haynes’ words, is “both wrong and dangerous.”

(Read it all)