Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Happy (and appropriate!) New Year's Greeting

In this 296th and final blog entry of the year, I have wishes for all of you, outlined in a familiar fashion:

First, I hope that all of you grow in your knowledge of God and His Word, the Bible; and that your desires and zeal are ever-more in keeping with His will.

Next, I hope that your knowledge of mathematics, and of all academic knowledge of value, and your desire to learn and to grow in wisdom, increase in the coming year.

I also hope that you become more positively involved in the politics and activities of your community, being the "salt and light" spoken of in Matthew 5.

May God bless you all in 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Text Messaging Too Much?

According to this foxnews.com article, approximately 2.5 trillion text messages were sent from cell phones worldwide in 2008. A little division shows that this is nearly 400 text messages in one year, for every living person on the earth...or more than one text message per living human per day, all year long.

Are you doing your part? I am not. Neither is my wife, nor my children. Even though the six of us should have combined for about 2300 of the earth's text messages last year, we sent...zero. We share one cell phone, and although it can send text messages, I do not use this feature.

And I am personally wondering: How much money did the phone companies collect for all those messages this year?

So who is sending them? If we assume, somewhat liberally, that only 2 billion of earth's 6.4-or-so billion population has cell phones and use them for texting, that amounts to 1250 text messages, per year, per texting cell phone.

But even that is generous; many of those cell phone users, like myself, send few or no text messages. So let's say 1 billion are "active" text messagers. They would have to account for 2500 text messages per phone per year....about 7 text messages per day.

And then the Law of Averages arrives and reminds us that some of these will be "above" the average of 2500 per year and others will be "below" this level. There must be some who are easily exceeding 5000 text messages per year, a rate of about 14 per day.

If you find that you are consistently sending out so many text messages, do yourself a favor: Cut back. Perhaps your calling plan makes them inexpensive, and perhaps some of them serve a useful purpose (announcing your location or telling someone what you are looking at just now probably don't fit the definition of "useful" here); but surely, if you are at a "thousands-a-year" level, you are wasting your time...and possibly the time of others.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Is Caroline Kennedy "Qualified" to be a Senator?

Let us get to the point: What, exactly, are the qualifications to be a United States Senator?

According to the U.S. Constitution, a senator must be at least 30 years old, a citizen for at least nine years, and live in the state the senator represents. So, according to that august document, she is qualified to serve in the United States Senate.

There are other important factors, however, that speak to the qualifications of an individual for government/legislative service. Let us consider some of these:

  • Integrity. A legislator should be an honest person both in personal and public dealings.
  • Understanding of place. A legislator should recognize the parameters and limitations of the office. He or she should strive to work within those parameters while...
  • A spirit of service. A legislator must realize that he/she serves the people whom he/she represents. A legislator must not treat the position as one with which to benefit self (See: Blagojevich, Rod). Within the parameters of the office, service to constituents should be strong and prompt.
  • Philosophy and worldview. A legislator should demonstrate a philosophy and worldview that is compatible with the United States Constitution and the legislator's state constitution. In general, a legislator should view government as a necessary evil, to be kept minimal in size while able to perform its essential duties.
  • Knowledge of government. A legislator must educate himself concerning the mechanisms, history, and current affairs of government.
  • Ability to cooperate. A legislator is one of many; it behooves each to learn to deal with both allies and opponents.
Then there are other so-called "qualifications" which are not necessarily consistent with the above:
  • Ability to raise money, or the ability and desire to spend one's own money.
  • Political connections.
  • Name recognition.
  • Favor from people in high places.
Caroline Kennedy therefore stacks up as follows:
  • She meets the Constitutional requirements.
  • She meets the list of other so-called qualifications.
  • I have my questions, though, about the first list. Is she truly dedicated to the service of the people of New York (this would be a good question to ask re: the resigning N.Y. senator)? Will she strive to stay within the parameters of constitutional government, or seek to continue its expansion into areas never intended by the Constitution? As a democrat, is her philosophy and worldview consistent with the Constitution? How well will she work with members of both parties to do constructive political work?
I am not a New Yorker anymore, but if I were, I would want to know the answers to these questions. And quite frankly, if Caroline Kennedy demonstrates a commitment to small, constitutional government that maximizes the freedoms of the people (in other words, what republicans are supposed to be doing), and is willing to work with other senators and the president to that end, I have no problem with her becoming the next senator from N.Y. I would say the same thing about any other candidate who will be chosen.

And just for the record, Gov. Paterson, if you want to nominate me to take Hillary's place, I will move to N.Y. in a heartbeat.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hymn of the Week: When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

Luke 2:30: "For mine eyes have seen thy salvation..."

So says Simeon when he beheld the Savior of the world in the arms of His parents in the temple. I know that a song exists that begins with these words (but I could not find it today):

Mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
My heart has been cleansed by thy grace...

It really is a great song (please feel free to let me know if you have a source for these lyrics). But it got me to thinking if there were any hymns with this idea for a title.

Again, not that I could find. But I was reminded of this classic verse from a famous hymn:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Let us remember Who we are "looking at": The King and Creator, the One Who was both the babe in the manger and the Savior on the cross.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Divine Sovereignty vs. Human Choice

The tension between divine sovereignty and human choice is one of the great paradoxical realities of human existence.

This quote by Spurgeon, which I found in a book I am reading, does a great job of making this paradox more palatable to the human mind...by using an example from mathematics. Those who have studied non-Euclidean geometry will find this most interesting.

"If...I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is foreordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring." (quoted in Twelve Ordinary Men, by John MacArthur, from The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, 4 vols., 1:177)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Angels from the Realms of Glory

These words were first published by one James Montgomery on Christmas Eve of 1816. As with many hymns, there are more original stanzas to the lyrics than are contained in most hymnals. An additional verse was written in 1855 by Isaac Gregory Smith.

Notice the refrain: "Come and worship...Christ, the newborn King." This is at the heart of Christmas: That Christ, the King of the Universe, was born in a lowly manger—but He was born to be worshiped. Not merely admired, nor respected, nor eulogized—He is to be worshiped. The angels do it; the saints in heaven do it; do we?

Let us worship Him this Christmas season.

Angels from the Realms of Glory

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Refrain

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:

Refrain

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.

Refrain

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Refrain

Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.

Refrain

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:

Refrain

All creation, join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
To th’eternal Three in One.

Refrain

Note: In place of the verse “Sin­ners, wrung with true re­pent­ance…” some hymn­als use the fol­low­ing, writ­ten in 1855 by Isaac Greg­o­ry Smith:

Lord of Heaven, we adore Thee,
God the Father, God the Son,
God the Spirit, One in glory,
On the same eternal throne.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Lord of Heaven, Three in One.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Who Was James the son of Alphaeus?

If you are a Bible scholar, or learned the little song in Sunday School years ago, you know that he was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. He may in fact be the most obscure disciple, as the only times he is mentioned in Scripture are in the four lists of disciples found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts.

Reading MacArthur's Twelve Ordinary Men, I came across this series of quotes concerning James the son of Alphaeus:

"If he ever wrote anything, it is lost to history. If he ever asked Jesus any questions or did anything to stand out from the group, Scripture does not record it. He never attained any degree of fame or notoriety. He was not the kind of person who stands out. He was utterly obscure. He even had a common name.

"...His lack of prominence is even reflected in his nickname. In Mark 15:40 he is referred to as 'James the Less.'

"...Eternity will reveal the names and the testimonies of these, like James the Less, whom this world barely remembers and knows nothing about.

"...In any case, we can be certain that he became a powerful preacher like the others. He surely performed 'the signs of an apostle...in signs and wonders and mighty deeds' (2 Corinthians 12:12). And his name will be inscribed on one of the gates of the heavenly city." (pp. 170-173)
The moral? God can use even the quietest, most obscure, diminutive people to do mighty works for Himself. If you have ever felt that you do not "have what it takes" to do the Lord's service, remember that all of the disciples were ordinary men, and some of them even easy-to-overlook ordinary men. And God used them mightily!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Ironies of Freedom

A few days ago, some foolish "reporter" threw his shoes at President Bush during the president's visit to Baghdad. In his culture, this is a sign of contempt.

The man is now in custody, as he should be. He should be put through the justice system of the country and punished consistent with its legal codes. This will serve as a positive sign to his people that the government is capable of dealing with those who break the law in a fair and just manner.

Meanwhile, far-left elements in our country and many in the Arab world are hailing this moron as a hero. One Egyptian man has even offered his daughter in marriage to her (and the daughter reportedly looks forward to this). They see him as bold and courageous.

The irony is this: If he had done the same thing under Saddam Hussein—and keep in mind what man is most responsible for the downfall of his regime—he would now be dead...unless, of course, Saddam wasn't through torturing him yet. (Note: It wouldn't be the same sort of thing called "torture" at Guantanamo; this would be "real torture" that our president and vice-president would never approve.)

The irony continues: President Bush—the man who is most responsible for this moron's freedom—shows no anger at him. The man who provided the freedom is assailed by the man who benefited from the freedom; the assailant receives praise while the provider is, at best, ignored—and at worst, mocked.

Our president is a class act. Even if you disagree with his policies, please admit that truth.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hillary Clinton's Replacement: A Suggestion

Several years ago, I contemplated throwing my hat into the ring to run for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Then I realized I was only 29 and had no money or name recognition, so I scrapped that idea. Some former first lady ended up winning the seat; like me, she did not live in New York when she made her decision.

But now she doesn't want it anymore, and is resigning to take a cabinet position under the fellow that, last I checked, she couldn't stand. Politics make strange...um, maybe I should skip that...

However, I have heard that Gov. Paterson has narrowed down the field of replacements to twelve. I would like to suggest a thirteenth: ME. Back in 1999, I authored an open letter which included, in part, my qualifications for the seat. Here is a part of that letter:

"I am a New Yorker by birth; I spent one full year of my life as a citizen of that great city (my first year, by the way); I love upstate NY as well; I used to own an "I [heart] New York" T-shirt; and I have always been a fan of the greatest baseball team of all time-the New York Yankees. I feel that as a conservative Christian republican, I have a lot to offer the people of New York: integrity, character, direction, and a huge affinity for bona fide New York bagels. I can appeal to the Catholics (with a name like Matesevac, certainly); I can appeal to the Jews (see previous bagel comment combined with my knowledge of OT feasts); I can appeal to the diehard sports fans (see previous Yankees comment) .... I really AM a New Yorker; I really AM a Yankees fan; and I really do love a good bagel."

Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that the governor of New York will almost certainly nominate a democrat, which irritates me, as this shows a closed mind, discrimination, and unspeakable political bias. I was born in New York!

In the event that he changes his mind, I am available for the job at a moment's notice.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Gentle Mary Laid Her Child

The website cyberhymnal.org lists over 400 Christmas hymns (and there's another category for "epiphany"). I only know a fraction of them, including this one, for which we have a great recording from SMS in Greenville, SC.

It is wise for us to meditate upon the fact that this baby was "the Savior" and the "King of Glory." He is a "Stranger" to the world—so we should introduce them to Him! The wonder that God would come to earth, born as a baby in the humblest of circumstances, should elicit praise from our mouths.

Gentle Mary Laid Her Child

Gentle Mary laid her Child lowly in a manger;
There He lay, the undefiled, to the world a Stranger:
Such a Babe in such a place, can He be the Savior?
Ask the saved of all the race who have found His favor.

Angels sang about His birth; wise men sought and found Him;
Heaven’s star shone brightly forth, glory all around Him:
Shepherds saw the wondrous sight, heard the angels singing;
All the plains were lit that night, all the hills were ringing.

Gentle Mary laid her Child lowly in a manger;
He is still the undefiled, but no more a stranger:
Son of God, of humble birth, beautiful the story;
Praise His Name in all the earth, hail the King of glory!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Quote of the Day

Just heard on Rush Limbaugh, as he was discussing the media and political pile-on surrounding the governor of Illinois:

"I believe that Rod Blagojevich is entitled to at least the same due process as the detainees at Guantanamo Bay."

The record should show that Gov. Blogojevich is innocent until proven guilty—no matter how easy it may be to prove. The media and many Illinois politicians are already treating the man is a criminal to be removed from office. Let him have his due process...quickly, of course.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Proud To Be A Bob Jones University Alumnus

Always have been. And it's not just because their world-class choir can do a world class job with the Hallelujah Chorus. You can play that in the background while you read the rest of this entry. The video is great, too.

It came to my attention that a few weeks ago, BJU made a "Statement About Race at Bob Jones University." The university, like most southern colleges, was segregationist and did not enroll African-American students prior to 1971; it did not remove its ban on interracial dating until 2000. As a student there between those two dates, I was fully aware that antagonism and racism at a personal level was directly in violation of school rules and policies, and was virtually nonexistent on the campus. These were not major issues during my time there.

The statement (see link above) is an absolutely classy, yet humble, apology. Their policies, long since corrected, were wrong; now they have come clean about the matter. I hope this settles this issue once and for all in the eyes of everyone.

My biggest disappointment on this matter was the class-less way that a small percentage of alumni and "friends" of the University demanded this. There were vitriolic internet postings and rude demands from some, devoid of the Christian love and brotherhood that we should show to a brother whom we believe is in the wrong. I would expect that there will be some in the world, without connection to BJU, who would express such attitudes—indeed, for some, even this statement will not suffice. I trust now that all alumni and friends of the University will support this statement and support the University with their prayers and encouragement.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How To "Torture" Someone

Much has been made of the supposed "torture" of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and other foreign locations. I sincerely doubt any "true" torture has been taking place, although I found it highly amusing when I read these two articles (here and here) which described the musical selections that these detainees are forced to listen to for long spans of time. According to a British source, here are some of the most commonly used songs:

• "Enter Sandman," Metallica.

• "Bodies," Drowning Pool.

• "Shoot to Thrill," AC/DC.

• "Hell's Bells," AC/DC.

• "I Love You," from the "Barney and Friends" children's TV show.

• "Born in the USA," Bruce Springsteen.

• "Babylon," David Gray.

• "White America," Eminem.

• "Sesame Street," theme song from the children's TV show.

Other bands and artists whose music has been frequently played at U.S. detention sites: Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Don McLean, Lil' Kim, Limp Bizkit, Meat Loaf, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tupac Shakur.

So is this torture?? I guess it depends on your definition of torture. But if your goal is to force enemies of our country to cough up information that will contribute to the safety of our citizens, then I have no problem with blasting Springsteen at them. Or Barney.

Here are some quotes regarding the efficacy of these tactics:

The experience was overwhelming for many. Binyam Mohammed, now a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, said men held with him at the CIA's "Dark Prison" in Afghanistan wound up screaming and smashing their heads against walls, unable to endure more.

"There was loud music, (Eminem's) 'Slim Shady' and Dr. Dre for 20 days. I heard this nonstop over and over," he told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith. "The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night for the months before I left. Plenty lost their minds."


Not all of the music is hard rock. Christopher Cerf, who wrote music for "Sesame Street," said he was horrified to learn songs from the children's TV show were used in interrogations.

"I wouldn't want my music to be a party to that," he told AP.

Bob Singleton, whose song "I Love You" is beloved by legions of preschool Barney fans, wrote in a newspaper opinion column that any music can become unbearable if played loudly for long stretches.

"It's absolutely ludicrous," he wrote in the Los Angeles Times. "A song that was designed to make little children feel safe and loved was somehow going to threaten the mental state of adults and drive them to the emotional breaking point?"


Some musicians, however, say they're proud that their music is used in interrogations. Those include bassist Stevie Benton, whose group Drowning Pool has performed in Iraq and recorded one of the interrogators' favorites, "Bodies."

"People assume we should be offended that somebody in the military thinks our song is annoying enough that played over and over it can psychologically break someone down," he told Spin magazine. "I take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that."


He said he was locked in an overcooled 9-foot-by-9-foot cell that had a speaker with a metal grate over it. Two large speakers stood in the hallway outside. The music was almost constant, mostly hard rock, he said.

"There was a lot of Nine Inch Nails, including 'March of the Pigs,"' he said. "I couldn't tell you how many times I heard Queen's 'We Will Rock You."'


For those of us who find rock music to be morally offensive in general, and even for those who don't, there are a lot of insights to be had here....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Bailout Question

Question: The car companies might get $15 billion, but only if they submit to all sorts of conditions and the authority of a car czar...so why isn't there a "bank czar?" Or a "mortgage backer czar?" Or an "insurance company czar?" Aren't these groups getting a whole lot more than $15 billion?

Does anybody know?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hymn of the Week: How Firm A Foundation

We sang this hymn in church this morning and I particularly struck by the words

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
Most of us when singing this hymn tend to remember that our faith is secure or that God protects us. And these are true. In the midst of the hymn, we see (on multiple occasions) that God may not put us in favorable circumstances—but he is still our faithful foundation and he will still protect us and meet our needs.

It is well to remember that circumstances we perceive as negative and undesirable may be (and generally are) God's avenues for us to grow and become purer in His eyes....and that He is there to help us through them. The words of this hymn emphasize this.

How Firm A Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Bible, Bailouts, and Debt

Proverbs 22:7: "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."

Four years ago when I bought my current home, my wife and I went through this experience known as "closing," where we signed approximately 570 pieces of paper, that, in short, obligated us to pay back the mortgage money we borrowed and to take care of the home and otherwise meet reasonable obligations during that period of repayment.

And if we wanted to borrow the money, we had to sign the papers. So we did.

To this day (and for many more yet to come) we must abide by the conditions set forth in those documents. We are, in essence, servants of the Wells Fargo bank.

God willing, the day will come when we completely pay off our mortgage. At that time, we are free from the "bondage" of the mortgage company. We can quit buying homeowners' insurance. We can stop sending them money on the first of each month. We can burn the place down, if we so choose. We can freely sell it to another person. (Of course, we will be good stewards of the home we now own, for that is our moral obligation to God.)

Now let's consider the situation in Washington D.C., where the Big Three automakers are seeking billions of dollars in "help." In truth, it would be a violation of conservative principles to just "give" them money (and just imagine how much every other company in the country would want some money, too). But should they be loaned money?

Two observations come to mind here. First, they claim they cannot borrow money through ordinary channels right now. Perhaps that is so...but is it so because their assets are currently collateral for other loans? Surely their vast manufacturing facilities and property holdings around the country and world would secure loans?

Second, do they really need to become "servants" to the U.S. Government, which, as it is about to be taken over by democrats, will be something of a nightmare of a "master" to companies like the Big Three...a master which will dictate to them that they must do things which will either run them into the ground financially or put them at a huge competitive disadvantage?

Are they really that desparate? Is it really that bad? If so, I should fear for the economy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Terrible Idea From Grand Rapids Public Schools

Yesterday, Grand Rapids Public Schools announced that there will be no F's on report cards this trimester: If a student did not pass a class, he will be awarded an "H." It's called the "Success Only Option," and of the 20,930 classes taken by students throughout four high schools, 2,364 of them will be assigned a grade of "H" when report cards come out this week.

None of the four high schools in the district is meeting the federal standards. Lots of their students drop out (about 25%)...typically the ones who get the F's. The idea here, presumably, is that the students will realize that they still have the opportunity to take the class again, or take it online or in some other format (such as summer sessions), so that they can still have the opportunity to pass. The administrator of the district was quoted as saying something along the lines of "Failure is something that all of us experience..., but why do we want to visit that [failure] on 14-, 15-, and 16-year-old children?"

Students will have one term to retake the class, and then the grade could change to an F. An "H" was referred to as a "delayed failing grade."

Teachers, naturally, are not pleased. They realize that these same immature "14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds" also frequently fail to have the maturity to meet deadlines, deal with stress, and reach expectations. Giving them a perceived "out" will make the teacher's job even more difficult (and in a district like GRPS, it's difficult enough—and that doesn't even count their labor union issues) when one of those same immature kids tells them, "Who cares? I'm not going to fail your class! You can't fail me! So what if I have to take it again later?"

Parents should not be pleased, either. As a teacher, I firmly believe that the largest part of high school failing grades and dropouts have their roots in parents who, over time, have not put an emphasis on education and who have not taught their children by their lives, actions, and words that education and graduation are of high importance. Parents who do those things generally have kids who pass and graduate, so why should they be worried? Because their children's teachers are going to have a more difficult task dealing with the immaturity of the other students, thereby shriveling up the time they can give to teaching!

Those who have not been involved in public education (as adults, not students) often are oblivious to how much disruption the more immature students are capable of inflicting. To empower and embolden them by saying "Don't worry, you won't get an F" is going to be like waving red in front of bulls. Classroom decorum will suffer.

But most of all, this terrible idea isn't going to accomplish its goal of getting more students to graduate. To graduate, you still have to pass the required courses. An "H" isn't a passing grade; it is not adequate to get the credit. At best, it will stall the dropout from dropping out. Consider these two students:

  1. Student A, after two years, has 7 credits and 3 F's.
  2. Student B, after two years, has 7 credits and 3 H's.
Both are equally close to (or far away from) graduating. Both still have 3 credits to get. Both still have the same opportunities to get those 3 credits. The first student may feel despondent; the second may feel indifferent—yet neither of these is good!

The cold, hard truth is that children must recognize the consequences of life. They must learn, through lessons small or large, that failure to meet their responsibilities reaps failure in some area of life. Ideally, they will learn this before high school in things less substantial. The immature student might actually benefit from the kick-in-the-pants that an "F" brings, when he finally realizes that consequences are real, serious, and sometimes life-long. Isn't that a good thing?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Detroit Lions Football Players and Etiquette

This extremely interesting article tells us how the Detroit Lions are doing something right: Their rookies are required to attend a five-hour course in personal etiquette, run by a professional in that field.

Young men whose lives have centered on football and who have recently come into huge piles of money are generally not those whom you would expect to see modeling the manners of the genteel. They are taught about the use of the "n-word" (i.e., don't), table etiquette, how to shake hands, what wines are appropriate with what meats, and that jeans that hang off your rear end do not present the kind of image they should be conveying to the world. And more.

There is a very worthwhile video that accompanies the story at that web page. I encourage you to watch it.

It would be great watching, too, for a lot of teens I know today...especially the young men, but also the young women who are making their acquaintance.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Count Your Blessings

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is over, what better way to continue to be thankful, than to count one's blessings?

Gratitude is a desirable and necessary character quality every day of the year. We must each make a conscious effort, every day, to show gratitude and to have a thankful heart. Hopefully this hymn, written by Johnson Oatman, Jr., will help you to do that.

Count Your Blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Refrain

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Refrain

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

Refrain

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Refrain

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Worst News Days of the Year...

...are the Wednesday through Friday surrounding Thanksgiving. Consider the numbing predictability:

Wednesday: Obligatory reporter at airport, discussing how busy the airport is. Other reporters reporting on traffic in the region. Obligatory predictions from AAA about how many more/less people will be driving/flying during the upcoming weekend. Relevant weather issues discussed.

Thursday: There is no news, unless terrorists attacked somewhere in the world. Obligatory reporter found at a local agency where free dinners are being provided to those who otherwise could not afford them. Obligatory coverage of parades and, since there's time to kill, discussion of tomorrow's big sales and crowds. Sports coverage is the highlight of the day.

Friday: Obligatory reporters at local area Wal-Marts, Best Buys, and other big box retailers discussing how early the lines began to form (video of lines in the middle of the darkness being shown here) and what products these people are looking to buy. From somewhere will come a report of crowds who were (to put it kindly) disruptive and/or injuries from a trampling somewhere. Sports coverage is again the highlight of the day.

Nothing is happening in politics (and perhaps that's just as well), the markets are quiet, and the biggest local event may well be a Santa sighting.

Perhaps they could just produce these programs in advance and give more people the day off?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Verses on Thankfulness

The Bible is full of references to being thankful. Here are twenty to meditate upon today.

2 Samuel 22:50: Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.

1 Chronicles 16:34-35: O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.

Psalm 30:4: Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Psalm 30:12: To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Psalm 75:1: Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.

Psalm 100:4: Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Psalm 106:47: Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise.

Psalm 119:62: At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.

Daniel 6:10: Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Matthew 26:27: And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

Luke 22:10: And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Romans 6:17: But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

1 Corinthians 15:57: But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14: Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

Philippians 4:6: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Colossians 3:17: And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

2 Thessalonians 2:13: But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

Hebrews 13:15: By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Revelation 7:12: Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 11:17: Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scripture For Thanksgiving Week

When David was assembling the gold, silver, and other valuable possessions needed for Solomon his son to build the temple, he spoke these words of gratitude and praise to God for His provision of the materials, and for the generosity of God's people:

1 Chronicles 29:10-17
10 Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.
11 Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.
12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.
13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.
14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.
15 For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.
16 O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own.
17 I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Great Article About Socialism

Walter Williams wrote the piece below, which I found here, on the evils of socialism. Socialism is indeed an evil, and I think he does a great job of simply explaining this fact.

No one should be forced to help their fellow man

Evil acts can be given an aura of moral legitimacy by noble-sounding socialistic expressions such as spreading the wealth, income redistribution or caring for the less fortunate. Let's think about socialism.

Imagine there's an elderly widow down the street from you. She has neither the strength to mow her lawn nor enough money to hire someone to do it. Here's my question to you that I'm almost afraid for the answer: Would you support a government mandate that forces one of your neighbors to mow the lady's lawn each week? If he failed to follow the government orders, would you approve of some kind of punishment ranging from house arrest and fines to imprisonment?

I'm hoping that the average American would condemn such a government mandate because it would be a form of slavery, the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another.

Would there be the same condemnation if instead of the government forcing your neighbor to physically mow the widow’s lawn, the government forced him to give the lady $40 of his weekly earnings? That way the widow could hire someone to mow her lawn. I’d say that there is little difference between the mandates.

Putting the money into a government pot makes palatable acts that would otherwise be deemed morally offensive.

This is why socialism is evil. It employs evil means, coercion or taking the property of one person, to accomplish good ends, helping one’s fellow man. Helping one's fellow man in need, by reaching into one’s own pockets, is a laudable and praiseworthy goal.

Doing the same through coercion and reaching into another's pockets has no redeeming features and is worthy of condemnation.

I don’t believe any moral case can be made for the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another.

But that conclusion is not nearly as important as the fact so many of my fellow Americans give wide support to using people.

I would like to think it is because they haven’t considered that more than $2 trillion of the over $3 trillion federal budget represents Americans using one another.

Of course, they might consider it compensatory justice. For example, one American might think, “Farmers get Congress to use me to serve the needs of some farmers. I’m going to get Congress to use someone else to serve my needs by subsidizing my child's college education.”

The bottom line is that we’ve become a nation of thieves, a value rejected by our founders. James Madison, the father of our Constitution, was horrified when Congress appropriated $15,000 to help French refugees.

He said, “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.”

Tragically, today’s Americans would run Madison out of town on a rail.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hymn of the Week: All Glory, Laud, and Honor

These may be the oldest commonly sung hymn lyrics not taken directly from the Bible—at least, this hymn should be common. The original words were in Latin and are attributed to Theodulph of Orleans in the early 9th Century. It was translated to English in 1851 by John M. Neale. The melody dates back to 1615.

With Thanksgiving week upon us, we should go above and beyond our usual gratitude. We should focus our praise to Him Who has given us all things, or as David wrote in I Chronicles 29:16, "O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own."

All we have comes from Him. All our praise is due Him. Let us remember that this week.

All Glory, Laud, and Honor

Refrain

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s Name comest,
The King and Bless├Ęd One.

Refrain

The company of angels
Are praising Thee on High,
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply.

Refrain

The people of the Hebrews
With palms before Thee went;
Our prayer and praise and anthems
Before Thee we present.

Refrain

To Thee, before Thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.

Refrain

Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.

Refrain

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We Are...PENN STATE!!

My dear friends,

It is my pleasure to invite you to watch the Rose Bowl on January 1. Go Penn State!

Sincerely,
A PSU fan in Michigan

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Eagles: Yes, It Gets Worse

[You may want to read the previous entry first.] Shortly after the last entry was put on the blog, I encountered this article titled "Day after tie, Reid defends McNabb, others for not knowing rules." You mean, there were more?? Here are a few relevant quotes:

"I'm sure there are plenty of rules that guys don't understand, but I don't think that has any factor whatsoever to do with the outcome of this game and how they played in the overtime," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Monday. "I think that's absurd. You play to win in that time, whether you think you have another overtime period or you don't. And you play your heart out to win it in that time, and that's how we approached it and that's how the players approached it."

Reid ignored the point. Whether the players' ignorance about the overtime rule affected the outcome is debatable. It's inconceivable and embarrassing that some of them didn't know a game can end in a tie. [Commentary from the author]

"I'll take the responsibility for that," Reid said.

...

"I've never been a part of a tie. I never even knew that was in the rule book," McNabb said after the game. "It's part of the rules, and we have to go with it. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But unfortunately, with the rules, we settled with a tie.

"I guess we're aware of it now," McNabb said. "In college, there are multiple overtimes, and in high school and Pop Warner. I never knew in the professional ranks it would end that way. I hate to see what would happen in the Super Bowl and in the playoffs."

Uh, they keep playing if it's tied in the playoffs or Super Bowl. But McNabb apparently didn't know that, either.

...

Several of his teammates were just as clueless.

"Me and Greg Lewis were discussing it on the sideline, so we asked one of our trainers and he told us it ends in a tie," running back Correll Buckhalter said.

"I found out while we were in OT," rookie wideout DeSean Jackson said.

"I thought we kept playing," linebacker Omar Gaither said.

I would like to think my Steelers are smarter than this group. One final quote from the article:

McNabb was unavailable to reporters on Monday. A spokesman for the QB said McNabb told him he wished he knew the rule and wasn't going to make any excuses for not knowing it.

Way to man up, McNabb.

Eagles Inept? Yes. Ignorant of the Rules? Apparently So.

Consider the following two quotes from members of the Philadelphia Eagles following their 13-13 tie game with the woeful Cincinnati Bengals yesterday:

This first one comes from quarterback Donovan McNabb, who went 28-of-58 with three interceptions and a fumble:

No one was more surprised than McNabb that it ended so soon -- 3 hours, 46 minutes after the opening kickoff. The 10th-year quarterback thought it would keep going until someone scored, just like a playoff game.

Wrong.

"I didn't know that," said McNabb, who played a leading role in keeping it tied. "I've never been part of a tie. I never even knew it was in the rule book. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But unfortunately with the rules, we settled with a tie."
The second one comes from the head coach, Andy Reid:
"I've never been in a tie, so I don't know how this works in the standings," coach Andy Reid said. "I know it's not good enough. We need wins, and this is not a win."
He doesn't know how this works?? The quarterback doesn't know that tie games exist in the NFL?? I could have explained these to them when I was in tenth grade! Read about the entire five quarters of Eagles ineptness here.

Verses To Meditate Upon Today

Isaiah 6:1-5

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Preaching We Need To Hear

I was thinking about this last week, and a conversation with a friend on Saturday night reinforced it: What topics are preachers today not preaching about, but really should?

Here is a list of several topics I think preachers in America really need to preach about more often, regardless of how they think their flocks will receive these topics. [Note: This is not intended in any way to be a criticism of my own pastor.]

1. Sin and Salvation; Heaven and Hell. Hell, in particular, is an unpopular topic these days. Yet how many millions came to Christ in part because they did not want to spend an eternity there? Why are we minimizing the fact that damnation in hell for eternity is a very real event that will occur to every man or woman who does not accept Christ's gift of salvation?

Salvation, of course, should be a frequent topic. Just consider how many unsaved people walk into churches every week.

2. Love Not The World (1 John 2:15-17). One of the biggest problems in American Christianity is that we think that God does not care that we want to do what the world and the devil want us to do. This is a lie from Satan himself: That we can be worldly and still please God. No man can serve two masters. No man should try.

3. Certain activities, and in particular certain entertainments, are sins. Not matters of "Christian liberty" or "personal choice;" not matters of taste; they are sins. Swearing is a sin. Intentionally looking at pornography is sin. Watching wicked TV shows and movies is sin. Listening to various kinds of ungodly music is sin. In short, anything that detracts from your testimony and drags others toward worldliness is sin.

Pastors need to name names and get specific. They need to get up and say that watching some of the popular shows and listening to some of the popular artists is wrong—i.e., it is sin—because of what it does for—i.e., against—the cause of Christ. Which brings me to...

4. Modesty is a requirement, not an option. Sad to say, it appears most men either don't tell their wives, don't care, or (worse yet) encourage their wives to be immodest. It seems that most Christian women in America today are willing to show off their cleavage, bellies, backsides, upper legs, and other parts of their bodies that should be reserved for the view of their husbands...or they dress in a way that hints far too strongly about what is there. They appear oblivious to the fact that they are provoking wicked thoughts in the minds of men—and that is sin.

Men are not exempt, either. And a lot of men need to be rebuked for allowing their wives and daughters to dress immodestly.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Take Time To Be Holy

I think the key phrase here is "take time." We are almost all busy (some of us think we are busier than most), but we still must take the responsibility to spend time with God.

The verb seems imperative, as if it were a command. That's appropriate. We are commanded throughout God's Word to pray, to read His Word, to seek His will—and these things do put demands (perfectly justified, I might add) on our time.

As God's children, we ought to love Him enough that we feel pleased, not obligated, to yield that time to Him. These words by William Longstaff should remind us of this.

Take Time To Be Holy

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Thought From a Hymn

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

Martin Rinkart wrote this hymn in Saxony in 1646 (read it auf Deutsch here) after the Thirty Years War ended, after his city had endured siege, famine, plague, and death, leaving him as the only pastor in the city. The hymn was written for a grand celebration service shortly after the war was over.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good For Them! Catholic Bishops Speak

Even though I am a Baptist (and proud of it), I cannot help but commend the Roman Catholic bishops who are referenced in this article for their outspoken support of an obvious biblical truth: Abortion is unequivocally wrong and sinful.

Here is a portion of that article:

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops vowed Tuesday to forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights, saying the church and religious freedom could be under attack in the new presidential administration.

In an impassioned discussion on Catholics in public life, several bishops said they would accept no compromise on abortion policy. Many condemned Catholics who had argued it was morally acceptable to back President-elect Obama because he pledged to reduce abortion rates.

And several prelates promised to call out Catholic policy makers on their failures to follow church teaching. Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., singled out Vice President-elect Biden, a Catholic, Scranton native who supports abortion rights.

"I cannot have a vice president-elect coming to Scranton to say he's learned his values there when those values are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church," Martino said.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Diocese of Kansas City in Kansas said politicians "can't check your principles at the door of the legislature."

Naumann has said repeatedly that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic Democrat who supports abortion rights, should stop taking Holy Communion until she changes her stance.

"They cannot call themselves Catholic when they violate such a core belief as the dignity of the unborn," Naumann said Tuesday.

Notice: "accept no compromise on abortion policy." Abortion is murder. It is wrong. It is sin. There is no middle ground or gray area here. It is absolutely morally wrong. Period.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What is a Gentleman?

Today I stole a moment to look at the Collegian Online from my alma mater. I found an article about the University's Artist Series and some etiquette suggestions, which I totally agreed with. The article concluded with a segment titled "What is a gentleman?" I share most of it here:

A gentleman is not just a man who holds open doors for women. He’s not just a man who picks up things that a woman drops or who carries his girlfriend’s bag.

A gentleman is a servant-leader—a man who finds thoughtful ways to show people that they are important to him. He acts confidently, based on what he knows to be right, and his deportment commands the respect of those who know him.

Being a gentleman is not just a way you act toward a woman you are interested in—being a gentleman is a state of mind and a pattern of life.

A man does not magically become a gentleman in one day. He is always seeking to learn how to best express his appreciation and respect for other people.

Especially in his dealings with women, a gentleman is characterized by respect and discernment. He consciously seeks to identify and understand her concerns, making the woman feel comfortable at all times.

A true gentleman accepts the responsibility to react in the way he knows to be right and to constantly strive for greater understanding of this responsibility.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Contemptible, Evil, and Perverse!

It is a troubling day in America, when according to this story, a group of about thirty perverse sodomites entered a church on a Sunday morning and began to...

Prayer had just finished when men and women stood up in pockets across the congregation, on the main floor and in the balcony. "Jesus was gay," they shouted among other profanities and blasphemies as they rushed the stage. Some forced their way through rows of women and kids to try to hang a profane banner from the balcony while others began tossing fliers into the air. Two women made their way to the pulpit and began to kiss.
There is more. You can check the link. Where did this happen? San Francisco or some other California den of iniquity? Key West? New York City? No.

It happened in Lansing, Michigan, at the Mount Hope Church.

It is also contemptible that the mainstream media, which would blaze it throughout the western world if a Christian group did something of this sort at a homosexual crowd's meeting, has not picked up on this story. The only other article I could find on the topic is here...and please note, this is an "alternative newspaper." More on this later.

Some Cause For Optimism, If Done Properly...

This article, by Bill Whittle of National Review Online, contains these words of encouragement to those in despair over the recent election returns. Here is an excerpt:

Nowhere have I heard a shred of defeatism or despair. On the contrary. In point of fact, the magnanimity and graciousness I have seen in defeat in so many places on the right tells me that this is an eager and seasoned army, one able to look defeat in the face and own up to the errors in tactics and strategy that got us there. And nowhere do I see a call to abandon our core principles and sue for terms, but rather that our loss was caused precisely by our abandonment of the issues which we hold dear and which have served us so well on battlefields past.

So consider this, my fellows in arms: On Tuesday, the Left — armed with the most attractive, eloquent, young, hip, and charismatic candidate I have seen with my adult eyes, a candidate shielded by a media so overtly that it can never be such a shield again, who appeared after eight years of a historically unpopular President, in the midst of two undefended wars and at the time of the worst financial crisis since the Depression and whose praises were sung by every movie, television, and musical icon without pause or challenge for 20 months . . . who ran against the oldest nominee in the country’s history, against a campaign rent with internal disarray and determined not to attack in the one area where attack could have succeeded, and who was out-spent no less than seven-to-one in a cycle where not a single debate question was unfavorable to his opponent — that historic victory, that perfect storm of opportunity . . .

Yielded a result of 53 percent.

Folks, we are going to lick these people out of their boots.

There is much to do. That a man with such overt Marxist ideas and such a history of association with virulent anti-Americans can be elected president should make it crystal clear to each of us just how far we have let fall the moral tone of this Republic. The great lesson from Ronald Reagan was simply that we can and must gently educate as well as campaign, and explain our ideas with smiles on our faces and real joy in our hearts. For unlike the far-left radical who gained the presidency on Tuesday, we start with 150 million of the most free and intelligent and hard-working people in the history of the Earth at our backs, with a philosophy that — unlike theirs, which has resulted in 100 million dead in unmarked graves — has liberated and enriched more people and created more joy than any nation or combination of nations in our history.

And then we will begin, with a confident and happy heart, to examine how we have failed the American people in regard to making clear the moral and philosophical underpinnings of our philosophy. For anyone that fully understands these philosophies, presented calmly and with wit and humility, will come to our side and never leave.

We have tried, and failed. Tomorrow we will try again.

How can we lose, my friends? How can we lose, unless we give up?

Hymn of the Week: The King Is Coming!

With the election of a president this past week, many in America are guaranteeing a new day of grander and better things under a new leader...while others pine that such an opportunity has been missed.

In truth, there is only one leader—a king—The King—who will be guaranteed to usher in a better world: Jesus Christ! Ira D. Sankey wrote this hymn in 1888 about that very King and His coming to earth to set up a kingdom greater and better than all others. This is what men should be waiting for!

The King Is Coming!

Rejoice! Rejoice! our King is coming!
And the time will not be long,
Until we hail the radiant dawning,
And lift up the glad new song.

Refrain

Oh, wondrous day! oh, glorious morning,
When the Son of Man shall come!
May we with lamps all trimmed and burning
Gladly welcome His return!
Rejoice! Rejoice! our King is coming!
And the time will not be long,
Until we hail the radiant dawning,
And lift up the glad new song.

With joy we wait our King’s returning
From His heavenly mansions fair;
And with ten thousand saints appearing
We shall meet Him in the air.

Refrain

Oh, may we never weary, watching,
Never lay our armor down
Until He come, and with rejoicing
Give to each the promised crown.

Refrain

Friday, November 7, 2008

Surely Obama Isn't This Stupid?

Among others, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, of all people, has been named to "serve on a panel of financial luminaries and corporate experts advising President-elect Barack Obama on the nation’s hard-bitten economy, ensuring Michigan, its troubled auto industry and labor has a seat at the table." [From the Detroit Free Press]

So I ask, WHY? What is Obama thinking? This woman has supervised—nay, dictated by her punitive tax-and-spend policies—the single-state recession by which the other 49 states' economies are measured.

The rest of this panel consists of usual democratic tax-and-spend-policy types, several from the Clinton administration. Former U.S. Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) has also been named to the panel.

Some of us spent the past year saying, "If you like what Granholm has done for Michigan, you will love what Obama [or Hillary] will do for America." I still believe this. And I don't like the thought. Granholm has been a disaster for Michigan.

The Matesevac Family of Blogs Grows Again

Now it's a set: My brother Adam has started his own blog, too: Punditry From the Great One. The link to his blog is at right.

Like my brother Peter and myself, expect good, solid commentary on political and religious matters.

There are no other siblings in our family...but if any of my other kin start a good blog, I'll link them to this site, too!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pray For Your Country, Your Leaders, and Michigan

The only word I can come up with is "disaster."

McCain lost. Badly.

U.S. Senate and House seats were lost. Here in Michigan, the only two close races both were won by negative, lying Democrats.

In Michigan, both Proposal 1 (legalizing medical marijuana) and Proposal 2 (legalizing embryonic stem cell research) won.

Cliff Taylor, a great man running for Supreme Court Justice, got whipped.

Carl Levin won another term handily.

Here in Michigan, it looks dismal. Democrats took the biggest majority in the state house that they have had in decades. (Thankfully, the Senate was not up for re-election; GOP has a slight majority there.)

The upshot of all of this: Our leaders are now chosen. Pray for them, that they will seek God's will, and make wise decisions. There will be a lot of electoral planning for the next two years, but we must pray anyway.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Would You Vote For This Man?

I wouldn't. I do not know him. I do not live in his county (he's running for a second term as a Kalamazoo County Commissioner). Until recently, I did not even realize what party he claims. However, his signs are exceptionally annoying; I drive by both of these daily.

And for crying out loud—if your spelling is that bad, you shouldn't hold public office...regardless of the party you claim.

The pictures are here. Notice that his name is spelled differently in the two pictures, also!

Verses For Today

Daniel 4:3: How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

Daniel 4:37: Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

Is our testimony to say—publicly—things like this?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Faith Is The Victory

I John 5:4b: ...and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
No matter who wins the elections Tuesday, there will still be a God.

No matter who wins the elections Tuesday, we still have a responsibility—and a privilege—to put our faith in Him.

No matter who wins the elections Tuesday, we recognize that at the heart of it all, our battles are foremost spiritual battles, and not electoral ones.

And no matter who wins on Tuesday, we recognize that victory comes by faith—faith in the God of the Universe Who made us, loves us, guides us, and keeps us. Any one of us can "win" in that battle.

Faith Is The Victory

Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Refrain

Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.

His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God.
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field.
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.

Refrain

On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array.
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout.

Refrain

To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n.
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in Heav’n.
Then onward from the hill of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring Name.

Refrain

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The MOST Important Reason NOT To Vote For Obama

Romans 14:10b-12
10 ...For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
I also received this timely quote in the e-mail box last week, attributed to one Huntley Brown:
Many of my friends process their identity through their blackness. I process my identity through Christ. Being a Christian (a Christ follower) means He leads I follow. I can't dictate the terms He does because He is the leader.

I can't vote black because I am black; I have to vote Christian because that's who I am. Christian first, black second. Neither should anyone from the other ethnic groups vote because of ethnicity. 200 years from now I won't be asked if I was black or white. I will be asked if I knew Jesus and accepted Him as Lord and Savior.
There will come a day when I, and every other human being who has ever lived, will stand before God. Each of us will give an account of our actions, thoughts, deeds, motives—everything—before the omniscient God of the Universe. Those of us who were eligible American voters on November 4, 2008, will give an account of our actions at the polling place on that day (and that includes those who did not bother to vote).

When I stand (more likely, fall on my face) before God, will I be able to say that I researched the issues, informed myself of the candidates' positions, and then, using the best wisdom He could give me, chose those candidates who best reflected what is right and godly, and who would best lead my country, state, and county?

When I explain to God my votes, will I say that I chose candidates based only on how I thought they might impact my pocketbook, ignoring their records on things like abortion, embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage, and other issues on which the Bible speaks clearly?

If I vote for Barack Obama because I was displeased with the previous president, or because of the color of my/his skin, or because I thought he would take somebody else's wealth and give it to me—in other words, because of my hatred, shallowness, or greed—will I be ashamed when I give account of this in the holy presence of my God? Or will He say, "Well done, good and faithful servant"?

I will give account to God some day. I cannot vote for Barack Obama.

How To Get Mad...Or At Least Righteously Indignant!

By reading some of today's headlines, of course. All of these come from foxnews.com; you can click the hyperlinks if you want to read more.

In California, a kindergarten teacher had her students sign pledge cards in support of gays. The teacher was one Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward. Even the school acknowledged that the exercise was inappropriate for kindergartners—and in California, that's saying something. Read this one here.

Continuing on the theme of moral perversion, a nudist colony in Florida has requested a clothing-optional polling site. Thankfully, the election supervisor says he has no plans to accommodate them; unfortunately, it's because he doesn't want to carve out any new precincts until after redistricting after the 2010 census. So much for standing on moral principle. Read this one here.

And, of course, prior to the big election, there are those who think America's election officials, already shouldering the great task of ensuring a fair and accurate vote count, are not doing enough to help non-English-speaking citizens vote. This may be one of the biggest reasons why English should be our official language. If you can't read the ballot in English, you should not be casting a vote. If you do not care enough to gain a basic grasp of our language, you do not care enough to be given a say in our leaders. Read this one here.

Those of us who claim to stand for biblical and patriotic values really need to be a bit more stirred up by these sorts of things. It should make us "full of righteous indignation," to use an older phrase, to see such moral depravity and such affronts to our American political system. Yet we so often just shrug our shoulders or quietly mumble, while doing nothing about it.

It's time we stood up and spoke—nay, proclaimed—biblical truth and common sense!

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Great Cartoon!

Click on it to see it larger, if need be. This one is great.

The Second Most Important Reason NOT To Vote For Obama

I read the following quote recently from the book Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur. The context is a discussion of the disciple Peter.

"Character, of course, is absolutely critical in leadership. America's current moral decline is directly linked to the fact that we have elected, appointed, and hired too many leaders who have no character. In recent years, some have tried to argue that character doesn't really matter in leadership; what a man does in his private life supposedly should not be a factor in whether he is deemed fit for a public leadership role. That perspective is diametrically opposed to what the Bible teaches. Character does matter in leadership. It matters a lot.

"In fact, character is what makes leadership possible. People simply cannot respect or trust those who lack character. And if they do not respect a man, they will not follow him. Time and truth go hand in hand. Leaders without character eventually disappoint their followers and lose their confidence....

"Lasting leadership is grounded in character. Character produces respect. Respect produces trust. And trust motivates followers." (pp. 46-47)
We may not know everything about Obama's character, but we know plenty. Consider the following attributes of a man—a leader—of character:
  • He speaks the truth consistently.
  • He takes a stand for what is right regardless of popular opinion.
  • He determines what is morally right, what is lawful, what is edifying and helpful to others—and then he does that, day in and day out.
  • He chooses friends and acquaintances who will make him a better man.
  • He meets the needs of his family and others who rely upon him.
Barack Obama is no way meets these descriptions of character. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth. His moral compass on the issues of our day is generally wrong, and no more stable than the wind. His public positions have changed and will change based upon circumstances.

Do you want this kind of man as the next president?


Keep in mind that these descriptions of character apply to candidates for other offices, too. Consider this when you have to decide for Hoogendyk or Levin, for Coleman or Franken, or for one of the two guys running for county commissioner.

This Weekend: The TOP Reason NOT to Vote For Obama....Stay tuned....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

You Know Something Smells Rotten When...

...the AP Fact Checkers don't even agree with you...and you're a liberal! Three hours after the Obama infomercial (which I did not deem important enough to watch), there appears this article, the beginning of which if reprinted below:

WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour commercial Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing budget pressures he would face in office.

Obama's assertion that "I've offered spending cuts above and beyond" the expense of his promises is accepted only by his partisans. His vow to save money by "eliminating programs that don't work" masks his failure throughout the campaign to specify what those programs are -- beyond the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

A sampling of what voters heard in the ad, and what he didn't tell them:

THE SPIN: "That's why my health care plan includes improving information technology, requires coverage for preventive care and pre-existing conditions and lowers health care costs for the typical family by $2,500 a year."

THE FACTS: His plan does not lower premiums by $2,500, or any set amount. Obama hopes that by spending $50 billion over five years on electronic medical records and by improving access to proven disease management programs, among other steps, consumers will end up saving money. He uses an optimistic analysis to suggest cost reductions in national health care spending could amount to the equivalent of $2,500 for a family of four. Many economists are skeptical those savings can be achieved, but even if they are, it's not a certainty that every dollar would be passed on to consumers in the form of lower premiums.

And there's more, too...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Scripture Describing Our Day

Although the verses quoted below describe what is going on in a church, I think they also accurately describe and advise about the political situation in our present day.

Romans 16:17-18:

17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

The Big Headlines!

How many of these Big Headlines have you seen?

Cubs Win 1st World Series in Century

Patriots Complete Perfect Season With Super Bowl Victory

Al Gore Wins Florida, Becomes President

New York City Secures 2012 Olympics

O.J. Convicted of Murder

Barack Obama Becomes President

Just because it is predicted does not mean it will come true...make sure you vote on Tuesday!

Quote of the Day

This nugget comes from The Fox Forum and was authored by Greg Gutfeld. The entire article was good, but this piece near the end deals nicely with the "redistribution" issue:

I mean, wasn’t the credit mess nothing more than an act of wealth redistribution? Banks were encouraged to give loans to high-risk folks to buy homes they couldn’t afford. It’s a free lunch that, in the end, we’re all now paying for.

And this is what happens when you decide to rearrange a pie instead of growing it. What you get is sticky fingers, instead of a full stomach.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guess Who Started a Blog?

Yes, my brother Peter has started a blog, The World According to Pete Matesevac. See the link at right, or just click here.

Expect a lot of conservative-leaning political discussion. He's pretty good at that.

Today's Reason NOT To Vote For Obama

Because all of our enemies want him to win!

The United Nations is well-established as a gathering of America's (and Israel's) enemies. According to this Washington Post online article, nearly everyone at the U.N. wants Barack Obama to win this election.

Why?

Part of it has to be that they perceive (correctly) that Obama will be much friendlier toward the U.N. than President Bush has been. This alone is a good reason not to be voting for Obama.

Another part of it must be that they perceive (probably correctly) that Obama will not do as much as McCain to strengthen America's position militarily in the world. This is also a good reason not to be voting for Obama.

What does it tell you, that America's enemies want Obama to win? If our enemies want Obama, why should we?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Today's Reason NOT To Vote For Obama

Because he wants to redistribute your wealth! The quickly spreading, infamous comments by Sen. Obama can be found here, among many other places.

We have no reason to believe, based on anything Sen. Obama has done (I'm not going by what he has said), that these opinions have changed since he voiced them.

So, finally, we know what "Change" means on all his campaign advertisements!

Hymn of the Week: I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

The election next week could put ungodly leaders in control of our country. The stock market is erratic...on a good day. Winter is coming. Someone you know is sick, or has lost a job—maybe it's you.

There is certainly plenty of discouraging stuff out there. But even in the midst of discouragement, there is a God Who loves His children and cares for them and blesses them.

Consider these verses:

Psalm 23:4-5
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Matthew 6:25-34
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
This hymn by Ira Stanphill reminds us of the truth that tomorrow is not for us to worry about; God Himself will help us through tomorrow if we put our trust in Him.

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day;
I don’t borrow from its sunshine, For its skies may turn to gray.
I don’t worry over the future, Fore I know what Jesus said;
And today I’ll walk beside Him, For He knows what is a head.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

Every step is getting brighter As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden’s getting lighter, Every cloud is silver lined.
There the sun is always shining, There no tear will dim the eye,
At the ending of the rainbow. Where the mountains touch the sky,

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

I don’t know about tomorrow, It may bring me poverty;
But the one who feeds the sparrow Is the one who stands by me.
And the path that is my portion May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me And I’m covered with His blood.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

Friday, October 24, 2008

More Information About Pillsbury Baptist Bible College

As mentioned two days ago, Pillsbury will be closing its doors at the end of the semester. This news story, with video, comes from a Rochester, MN, television station. It does a remarkably objective yet sympathetic job reporting this.

Today's Reason NOT To Vote For Obama

Barack Hussein Obama. He does not want to say much about his upbringing, particularly where religion is concerned. He attended a church where America was cursed and the preacher spouted venom about our country's political system.

Should Christians be concerned? Absolutely. No matter what he says, he is not like them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And The "Good" News...

Governor Jennifer Granholm is please to report that for the first time in months, Michigan no longer leads the country in unemployment! We are now only 49th, with luckless Rhode Island (probably temporarily) taking over the 50th spot. Our unemployment rate is 8.7%, well behind Rhode Island's rate of 8.8%.

If you like with Jennifer Granholm has done with Michigan, you'll love what Barack Obama will do with America!

A Very Sad Day Indeed

It came to my attention today that Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Owatonna, MN, will be closing its doors for good on 12/31/08. It is always sad to hear that a Bible-based ministry is closing its doors, and particularly so in this case, as I used to work at PBBC. There are a lot of fine people on the faculty and staff there whose lives will be disrupted as a result, and, of course, the students will be placed in a situation where they do not wish to be.

God is always good, and He is in control. Our prayers must be with the folks at PBBC, that God's will be done in their lives, and that His grace encourage and strengthen them through this time.