Thursday, June 28, 2007

More on the very, very bad immigration bill...

The Senate apparently killed the immigration bill, once and for all, today. In so doing, they have evidently observed that the will of the American people was against it. And this time, most American people were right.

Each of us would be wise to observe how our own senators voted on the bill. I have included a link here, so that you can quickly determine how your own two senators voted. Feel free to thank them or rebuke them for their votes.

A detailed look at the roster will note that 12 Republicans left wisdom behind and voted Yea, while 15 Democrats found some and voted Nay. The two independents (i.e., closet Democrats) in Congress split their votes (Lieberman of CT voting Yea; Sanders of VT voting Nay), and Sen. Johnson (D-SD) remains away for health reasons.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The very, very bad immigration bill before the Senate

This week the United States Senate continues to debate an immigration bill that is very contrary to the wishes of most ordinary, law-abiding Americans. In part, it will either explicitly or practically give amnesty to a very large number of illegal immigrants—people whose very arrival here constituted a violation of our laws. The consequences of such a law are very troubling, especially where social welfare and voting issues are concerned...not to mention terrorism. Has it occurred to any of the bill's supporters in the Senate that they may be granting amnesty to people who could potentially want to murder large numbers of us?

I am especially annoyed by the fact that our national government, in the over 5½ years since 9/11, has essentially failed to make any decent attempt to control who enters our country legally, except perhaps via airports. And we all know that the terrorists will try to enter the country via airports (probably even using their real names). Then there are the budgetary reasons: Do illegal immigrants contribute more financially to our states, counties, and cities then they sap financially from them? I very much doubt it.

But the fact is still the fact: Illegal immigration is illegal, and the federal government needs to deal with it—wisely, not foolishly. I read a good article (read the full text here) on the subject from Newt Gingrich; here is a summary of some of what he wrote (with my commentary blended in, too):

  • Control the border! Build fences, hire more Border Patrol (and give them authority to do their jobs aggressively), use technology—whatever! Just do it!
  • Get serious! Go after the companies that continue to "hire" illegal immigrants, and punish them to the fullest extent of the law...and then toughen the law.
  • If an illegal immigrant commits a crime, immediately deport him. Period.
  • Make English the official language. Legal immigrants should have some sort of way to learn the language, of course; but in order to get to vote, immigrants must pass a test in U.S. History in English.
  • Improve the temporary guest worker and visa programs that we have, and check on those whose visas expire.
  • Yes, some of the illegals who are here are working and obeying our laws and taking care of their families. And, yes, they should be allowed on the path of citizenship. But in order to properly obey and respect our laws, they should have to return to their country and file their paperwork—as we would want their countrymen to do.
I would also add that America needs to be extremely careful about immigration from Muslim countries. Islam is not a religion that is compatible with American ideals, and despite the politically correct drumbeat of multiculturalism, the truth is that more Islam here does not make our country a better place. And, of course, most of the potential terrorists in our country are Islamic. (When was the last time a Canadian tried to blow us up?)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What is the largest known prime number?

Most of you are aware of the existence of something called prime numbers: Numbers having only two proper factors, which are the number itself, and one. Examples of prime numbers include 2 (the smallest), 3, 5, 101, 2003, and the 110-digit number 3520154665960884202608832800756586623196257878464375664- 7773109869245232364730066609837018108561065242031153677.

Mathematicians have been able to prove that there is NO "largest prime number," so the contest turns to the question of what is the largest known prime number. And don't think that there aren't some competitive math types out there looking for it, with multiple supercomputers that take months to determine such things.

The current "winner" is the number formed by taking 2 to the power of 32,582,657 [that's 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2.....but with 32,582,657 2's in the list] and subtracting 1. This number, when properly calculated, contains 9,808,358 digits. You can read more about it at, and if you don't feel like waiting for your computer to print it [Note: I can print one page with 3588 digits, in Times New Roman (12 point), using 1" margins all around. At that rate, you would need 2734 sheets of paper], you can order the poster at Really. $94. All 9,808,358 digits, in something like 1-point font...and they also sell a watchmaker's loupe so that you can read the 29"x40" poster.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Two Quotations for Today

The following quotations are taken from an entry written by Dr. Sam Horn (a pastor in Wisconsin and member of the staff of Northland Baptist Bible College) in Sharper Iron (see link at right), in an article entitled "The Spirit and the Church, Part 2." I recommend Sharper Iron and I certainly believe this particular comment is very insightful, particularly where the unsaved are concerned.

"Sadly, the world no longer trembles at the reproof of the Spirit. This sad state has not come about simply because the world has progressed in hardness and wickedness—it has always been wicked and hard of heart. Rather, it has come about as believers have become increasingly more like the world they are to reprove by the Spirit. When unbelievers see believers adopting the values, activities, and lifestyles of the world around them, they have no real reason to value the Spirit who indwells these worldly believers." [Italics mine]
The second quotation deals with what fundamentalist Christians may face in the future if the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is not properly understood, and also speaks to the badly-misunderstood-today concepts of the Spirit's role in our worship:

"The contemporary emphasis on worship has created a new interest and focus on the Spirit. Unfortunately, the lack of theological understanding on the part of most worshipers has led—and will continue to lead—the church at large into a precarious and shallow view of the Holy Spirit.

Additionally, there has been a distinct move away from corporate and controlled worship to a more spontaneous and individual expression of worship. Praise has replaced proclamation as the center of much contemporary worship. Singing is rapidly replacing preaching as the medium of biblical communication and instruction. While there is little doubt that the biblical role of singing did include instruction, the content of much of what is being sung in praise and worship is appallingly shallow in theological content. Furthermore, the worship of the contemporary church has become increasingly infiltrated by the values and mediums of the surrounding culture. This change has resulted in the unconverted feeling as comfortable with the church as they do with the world. Much of this worship is done in the name of the Spirit or with the Spirit as its focus. This development has grave ramifications for the future of evangelical Pneumatology." [Italics mine]

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Christian Education: The Parents

The parents are the primary educators of their children. This is not an option they can pass off to others; this is a biblical command. It is the parents who are to train and rear (and discipline, as needed) their children. (See Deut. 6 as one of several passages on this subject)

My wife and I have four children; we are the primary educators of our children. That we "employ" professional teachers to teach them the 3 R's or that we send them to Sunday School or Patch Club in no way diminishes our responsibility—we are only delegating that responsibility, temporarily, to another individual. If that individual does not train our children biblically, it is our responsibility to remove the children from that individual's tutelage.

What are some of the necessary qualifications for parents, in order that their children may receive a Christian Education? I offer several (if you have more, please add your wisdom to the discussion):

  • Ideally, both parents are saved, dedicated servants of God. While there are many in today's older generation who testify of being brought up in an unsaved but upright home—where the expectations were the same or higher than what we expect of Christian people today—this is very rare today. Even among Christian families, an upright upbringing is not a given.
  • The parents must be proactive, determined, and grounded in the Word, with the an attitude of "I'm going to do whatever God wants me to do so that I can rear my children to be His servants." Yes, that means the parents must avoid certain entertainments, and music, and activities, and people who will influence their child against God. Saved, dedicated servants will do those things. (Yes, there are children today who will become great leaders for the cause of Christ—as there have been others in the past—who did not have this kind of parenting. Praise God for His grace and His working in anyone's life!)
  • If the parents choose to place their children in a Christian school, then both parents and school need to be on the same page where biblical matters are concerned. They must be standing together on God's Word. Parents must also be prepared to remove their children from the school if the school's philosophy deviates from the Truth. This does not mean the parents have to agree on every jot and tittle of how the school operates. The parents may wish the school had a different lunch program, or that recess were in the afternoon instead of the morning, or that their child took Geometry in 11th grade instead of 10th. These are not issues demanding separation, and parents sometimes need to get a grip on the fact that the school cannot (and need not try to) make everyone perfectly happy with everything. But when the school departs from the Word and does not train children biblically, separation is the proper response.
  • If the parents choose to homeschool, they must do so within this same philosophy of Christian Education. Homeschooling is not a frivolous matter, and to do it properly is not easy. The parents need to provide a biblically-based curriculum that is Christ-centered, academically excellent, and well-rounded. They need to provide opportunities for the children to serve God. And, yes, they too need to "separate" themselves from organizations, etc., which do not promote a biblical philosophy of CE.

Christian Education: Opening Thoughts

This is planned to be the first in an occasional series of entries on the topic and importance of Christian Education. I tried a number of days ago to come up with a one-sentence philosophy of Christian Education which could be used as a starting point on the subject; here is what I wrote:

Christian Education exists to provide a quality Bible-based education that is Christ-centered, academically excellent, and well-rounded, enabling the student to daily serve Christ and become more like Him.
I have spent 17 years in CE as a student and 14 years as a teacher, and, during the last five years, as a parent. My wife and I are quite adamant that our children will not go to public schools, or attend any school where the philosophy of education is substantially different than what I just wrote above. If that means our only remaining option is to homeschool, we will do that. God has given us our four children and we have the mandate to rear them properly in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4); schooling is a huge part of this.

For Christian Education to be truly Christian, in harmony with my definition above, several things must be true. That is the purpose of this series of entries.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Thoughts from Charles H. Spurgeon

The following quotation is from the evening devotional for this date, June 18, from Charles H. Spurgeon's famous devotional, Morning and Evening.

"The heart of the believer is Christ's garden. He bought it with His precious blood, and He enters it and claims it as His own. A garden implies separation. It is not the open common; it is not a wilderness; it is walled around, or hedged in. Would that we could see the wall of separation between the church and the world made broader and stronger. It makes one sad to hear Christians saying, "Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that," thus getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in that soul which can even raise the question of how far it may go in worldly conformity."

The Price is Right....Who Should Succeed Bob?

Either my wife or I could probably do Bob Barker's job (after all, we know the games quite well, having watched them since shortly after birth), but PLEASE—for the love of humanity!—NOT Rosie! Is there any other person who could so single-handedly ruin the charm of the show?? Is there any other person who could so single-handedly drive viewers away?? Does this not strike anyone else as a travesty??

Update, 6/26/07, 4:20 p.m. EDT: It has been reported that Rosie O'Donnell will not be the next host of TPIR, according to her own blog. We at the Matesevac home breathe more easily now.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Thinking Like a Christian, Week 2: Philosophy (Part 3—Concluding Thoughts)

Christian philosophy represents a worldview that is entirely consistent with the Bible. The choice of a supernaturalist worldview (that there exists something beyond the natural) will have strong influence over many areas of a person's life. Life is meaningful and purposeful, and our beliefs must be shaped and directed according to a coherent, reasonable, biblical worldview—not "tossed to and fro" by whatever secularist teaching comes along.

And a final quote from Warren C. Young:

“In the same way it can be said that the Christian philosopher and theologian must be acquainted with the contending worldviews of his age. Philosophy, after all, is a way of life, and the Christian believes that he has the true way—the true pattern for living. It is the task of the Christian leader to understand the ideologies of his day so that he may be able to meet their challenge. The task is a never-ending one, for, although the Christian’s worldview does not change, the world about him does. Thus the task of showing the relevance of the Christian realistic philosophy to a world in process is one which requires eternal vigilance. To such a task, to such an ideal, the Christian leader must dedicate himself.” A Christian Approach to Philosophy, pp. 228-229.
Due to being out of town next weekend for a wedding, combined with the fact that this topic will require two S.S. lessons (June 17 and July 1), it will be a little while until Week 3 (Biology) appears in the blog.

Thinking Like a Christian, Week 2: Philosophy (Part 2)

Philosophy, of course, is a very broad subject; many books and dissertations exist on the topic. In this entry I want to discuss several areas of philosophy and how a Christian worldview deals with them.

Faith and Epistemology: Hebrews 11:1 defines faith; Epistemology is defined as "The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and origin of knowledge. Epistemology asks the question “How do we know what we know?" in the The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3rd ed. This seems like an unresolvable paradox until we recognize that all knowing requires faith! Where is your faith? Is it in God, or something else? Edward T. Ramsdell is responsible for this great quote in his book, The Christian Perspective (p. 42):

"The natural man is no less certainly a man of faith than the spiritual, but his faith is in the ultimacy of something other than the Word of God. The spiritual man is no less certainly a man of reason than the natural, but his reason, like that of every man, functions within the perspective of his faith."
Please note also that Christian philosophy does not throw out tests or reasons for truth. If anything, we are to consider the evidences that reason can employ.

Reconciling Science and Christian Philosophy: One of the most repeated (and erroneous) statements on this subject is that these cannot peacefully coexist. The scientific method is actually a help to the Christian, for it is based on observations—and the Christian should be OK with that. Indeed, it is the man who believes life sprang from non-life or that a large explosion was the catalyst for the known universe that should be concerned with observations. Observations from the scientific method support the Christian's teleology (discerning God from His design) and cosmology (questions about the origin and nature of the universe).

Scientific discoveries also support the conclusion that God exists. Here are four of them:
  1. The Second Law of Thermodynamics (increasing entropy)
  2. The apparent impossibility of spontaneous generation of life from non-life
  3. DNA and genetic information theory
  4. The "Anthropic Principle": The cosmos seems to be "fine-tuned" to accommodate human life
It is also interesting to note that modern science, for the most part, was founded by men with a Christian perspective—men who, observing laws in nature, gave credit for those laws to an all-powerful Lawgiver.

Metaphysics (the branch of philosophy dealing with "first principles" and ultimate reality): The two main classes of metaphysics are plainly addressed by Christian philosophy.
  • Ontology—the nature of existence or being. Christians believe that God exists; God is.
  • Cosmology—the origin and nature of the universe. God created it, from nothing, as He described in Genesis 1.
Take, for example, the Mackinac Bridge. Does it exist? I have, by my count, crossed it five times, so I am going to say, Yes. Where did it come from? There are plenty of eyewitnesses (and probably a documentary on the History Channel) to its construction, so I'll assume it did not simply evolve at that location over a period of untold years.

Do the universe, our planet, our human race, and the other uncounted things we see around us exist? If so, where did they come from? The answers: Yes; because God created them.

The mind and the body are two different things: Christians believe the mind, or consciousness, exists as a separate entity from the physical body. Admittedly, some of the other worldviews believe this also. We believe that the mind was created by God. The key implication is this: Matter exists, and something other than matter exists. Christians believe in both the material and the supernatural. The Bible teaches that the physical body is not the same as the soul or spirit in verses such as Daniel 7:15; Micah 6:7; Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; and James 2:26.

Perhaps you can see now why I am leaning toward making two S.S. lessons out of this instead of one....

Friday, June 15, 2007

Thinking Like a Christian, Week 2: Philosophy (Part 1)

Of all the topics in the "Thinking Like a Christian" series, this has got to be the hardest to distill, in understandable, concise, and yet sufficiently thorough language, into a 40-minute S.S. lesson! The word philosophy, recognized by many as a Greek word meaning "love of wisdom", occurs only once in the entire Bible, in Colossians 2:8:

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
There are many "philosophies" out there. Some of them are almost comically erroneous; others are quite difficult to discern from truth. What are some important biblical truths about philosophy? I offer these observations:

1. The most significant and important philosophical truth in the Bible is that Jesus Christ is the Logos (Word) of God (John 1:1-4). Christ is the explanation for the universe and everything in it. Furthermore, all the Christian doctrines of God, creation, design, etc., etc. are consistent with the findings of science, history, and personal experience. The philosophies that "spoil" you will teach you otherwise.

2. The Bible does not ask the Christian to abandon reason in order to accept truth. Isaiah 1:18 reminds us: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Understood in the context of salvation (a rather important topic in the Bible!), God asks us to use our reason to understand not only our need, but also His provision and gift of salvation. A great truth! 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us of our Christian duty to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear," which again emphasizes our need as Christians to reason with biblical truth.

3. I offer this golden quote from Warren C. Young's book A Christian Approach to Philosophy:
"The crucial problem is that some thinkers place their trust in a set of assumptions in their search for truth, while other thinkers place their trust in a quite different set of assumptions."
Our set of assumptions is found in the Bible. Everything else is "vain deceit."

4. Christianity answers more of the deeper questions of life more completely than any other worldview. Again, this should not surprise us, since our philosophy and faith ought to founded in the Book which God Himself wrote.

5. Philosophy leads us astray when it is based on "vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." What should we do with such philosophies that lead us astray? Read 2 Corinthians 10:5:
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
Cast them away! Know that God wants you to intentionally remove such philosophies from your life whenever they might exert a control over you. (One extra word to parents: Teach this to your children by precept and example—every single day! Teach them that thinking biblically is good, and that following the world's thinking is not good—it must be "cast down"!)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pi to 1000 places

Pi is perhaps the most fascinating number in all of mathematics. I read today that in Japan, a computer has calculated it to approximately 1.2 trillion decimal places. That's not a misprint; at a rate of 5 digits per second, you could read the whole thing in about 7600 years. I read this in the context of an article about a Japanese fellow who recently claims to have recited from memory the first 100,000 digits...which only took a little more than 16 hours. Even I would admit that the boredom level is pretty high there...

Just so you know, pi is what you get when you divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter. The first one thousand decimal places are given below:

3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 8214808651 3282306647 0938446095 5058223172 5359408128 4811174502 8410270193 8521105559 6446229489 5493038196 4428810975 6659334461 2847564823 3786783165 2712019091 4564856692 3460348610 4543266482 1339360726 0249141273 7245870066 0631558817 4881520920 9628292540 9171536436 7892590360 0113305305 4882046652 1384146951 9415116094 3305727036 5759591953 0921861173 8193261179 3105118548 0744623799 6274956735 1885752724 8912279381 8301194912 9833673362 4406566430 8602139494 6395224737 1907021798 6094370277 0539217176 2931767523 8467481846 7669405132 0005681271 4526356082 7785771342 7577896091 7363717872 1468440901 2249534301 4654958537 1050792279 6892589235 4201995611 2129021960 8640344181 5981362977 4771309960 5187072113 4999999837 2978049951 0597317328 1609631859 5024459455 3469083026 4252230825 3344685035 2619311881 7101000313 7838752886 5875332083 8142061717 7669147303 5982534904 2875546873 1159562863 8823537875 9375195778 1857780532 1712268066 1300192787 6611195909 2164201989

Now you know where to find it again. If you memorize this, I'll be sure to write about you in my blog!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

What should our churches be like?

I read a fascinating entry on Sharper Iron (see blog link in right column) several days ago about a young couple who, for a time, attended what we might call a "more contemporary" church. They eventually left it and settled in a "more traditional" church. I will summarize and augment the discussion here.

There were essentially two points of view about two kinds of churches. Let us first look at the "more contemporary" church. The couple had some issues with the type of music used, the less formal atmosphere, and the relatively consistent "milky"—as opposed to "meaty"—preaching [There were also some doctrinal problems, too, but more on that later]. But this couple was thoroughly impressed with the friendliness of the crowd (especially to new folks like themselves), their apparent desire to do what God wanted them to do, their hunger for teaching, their kindness to others outside the church as well to church members, and their desire to "reach out" to those in the community.

Many of our "more traditional" churches are different. The sermons are more doctrinal or expositional in nature, the music is conservative (and generally not "modern" in its sound), and there is both a more formal atmosphere as well as a generally formal standard of dress expected of those assembled. Unfortunately, however, many of these same churches are not perceived as friendly to outsiders or to those less fortunate in the community; nor are many of the members perceived as being "hungry" for the Word of God. Someone will often claim that such churches are legalistic [whatever that means in their own mind—legalism must surely be the most-abused word in all of Christianity], expecting all those in attendance to maintain a certain lifestyle in order to remain in good graces with the rest.

So what should one look for when choosing a church? What should a church be like?

When we moved to Michigan three years ago, we visited a number of churches in this area. We visited churches of both types described above. There was one overriding test, however, when we chose a church:

  • Was the church fundamental in its doctrine? Did it follow and teach the Bible literally?
If a church could not pass this test, we weren't going to be a part of it. The couple whose story I read eventually found that the doctrinal problems in the preaching were a sufficient reason for them to leave the church. I agree with them. But what about the other things?

The conclusion I reached was this: Both types of churches have weaknesses, and both have strengths. A properly-functioning New Testament church will have the strengths of both. It will have reverent and proper music (a topic on which the Bible speaks at great length; I can recommend a few books on the topic to the curious), those in attendance will be encouraged to live lifestyles which are in keeping with the Word of God (yes, we are to be accountable to one another in how we live), and a proper, reverent decorum conducive to worship will be maintained.

But there is more: The church should be friendly and welcoming to all (regardless of who they are or how they look), it should help its own and reach out to the community both in the traditional evangelistic sense and also by helping to meet the real and physical needs of the unsaved, and those in attendance should "hunger" for the teaching of the Word.

Those of us who attend "more traditional" churches—and I make no apology for preferring them—must be careful not to glibly look down upon the "more contemporary" ones and make blanket judgments about them. The Bible speaks to that, too. But in addition to doctrinal purity, we each must strive to make our own church all of the following:
  • A friendly, welcome place
  • A place where reverent, God-honoring worship takes place
  • A place where there is "hunger" for the Word, and where that hunger is satisfied in both the young and the mature Christian
  • A group of believers who edify one another, encouraging each other to godliness
  • A group of believers who reach out to those in the community with the gospel of grace and the hand of help
For those of you reading this who attend "more contemporary" churches, please be kind to us, too. We may not always react well to your suggestions for us to change, because when you really believe that God prefers something to be done a certain way, you tend to be stubborn about it. And when you know He desires or demands something to be done a certain way, then you tend to be dogmatic...and that's OK, if you know that it is God's desire or demand.

I am happy to report that Faith Baptist Church in Mattawan, MI, where I and my family attend every week, is such a church. Of course it has its faults—it is made up of human beings, and any organization populated by humans tends to have problems. But on the whole, the list above is a fair representation of what we are trying to be. Our pastor and leadership believe this. If you are ever in the area on a Sunday or a Wednesday evening, come and visit us. I hope you find us friendly, helpful, doctrinally straight, and worshipful.

Thinking Like a Christian, Week 1: Theology

Is there a God? What is God like?

Among the most profound of all questions are the two above. It is evident with just minimal thought that one's view of God's existence and person will effect one's thoughts, decisions, and actions every day.

Take, for example, those who hold an atheistic view—there is no god. They will see no purpose in life, since we simply came to be by chance. They will see no ultimate right or absolute good, and therefore will view law as something to be determined by majority vote, or even by caprice. Those who are pantheistic or those who hold to the teachings of another "god" (e.g., Allah) will have their own views on these and other questions.

How do we learn about God? The first way we learn about God is through special revelation, which includes the Word of God (the Bible) and the Person of Jesus Christ. We can learn more about God through these than any other avenue. Of course, to believe in God, we must believe that His Word is "inspired": That it is His very Word, communicated on purpose to us, and that it is entirely true to the very last word. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The inspiration of Scripture is fundamental; no one can deny it and still claim to be a Christian. To claim that the Bible is not God's Word is, in essence, to call the God of the Bible a liar. Faith cannot allow that.

For the Bible to be true and accurate, it must be divinely inspired! There is certainly plenty of evidence to support this view: Its exceptional unity, despite its diverse "authorship" (God authored all of it, of course, but used many different men in many different circumstances to pen the words [2 Peter 1:20-21]); its ability to change the lives of individuals for the better; its profound moral truth; its prophetic accuracy; and, certainly, so much more. An open-minded study of the Bible can leave no other conclusion.

The person of Jesus Christ is not a myth. He was a real human being (fully man and fully God—my finite mind can't understand that completely, either) who really lived, died, and rose again on this earth, as the Gospels record. The Holy Spirit, who lives within each Christian from the time of salvation, plays a role in revealing the truth of Scripture and of Christ to us.

This gives us so much more reason to make the study of Scripture an important and daily part of our lives.

Another way we learn about God is through general revelation: The Creation. What we observe in the Creation speaks of a Creator God Who designed it all for a divine purpose. We learn about that purpose in the Bible. A classic example of this: A person, walking on a hike through the woods, finds a watch. It is in working order, appears clean, and shows the correct time. Does the person conclude that the watch has lain there forever? Does the person conclude that the watch both came into being and "found its way there" by mere vagaries of chance? No. He concludes that not only did someone make the watch, but also that the watch was brought to that point (probably unintentionally, of course) by someone. He may not know all the details, but he knows that the watch did not get there by itself. The presence of design implies the existence of a designer. C.S. Lewis said,

“Suppose there were no intelligence behind the universe…In that case nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. Thought is merely the by-product of some atoms within my skull. But if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course, I can’t trust the arguments leading to atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I can’t believe in thought; so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.” (From the book, p. 25; quoted from Broadcast Talks [London: 1946, p. 37-38])

God's revelation, particularly the special revelation of His Word, tells us much about God. No single blog entry or Sunday School lesson can do more than scratch the surface of Who God is. But several important worldview points stand out:
  • There is only one God. God makes this exceptionally clear in many passages, including Deuteronomy 4:35, 38; 1 Kings 8:60; Isaiah 45:5, 6, 14, 18, 22, and 46:9. He refers to Himself in Exodus 3:14 as the I AM THAT I AM. The very first of the Ten Commandments makes it very clear how we are to respond to this: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3).
  • God is a personal God. He has what we humans might refer to as "personality," though His bears only faint resemblance to our own. He communicates and reveals Himself to men, as the Scriptures indicate in many places.
  • The characteristics of God are found in the Bible. Again, entire books could be written on every one of these (and they have been), but they include: He is sovereign (Daniel 4:34-35); He is moral (note that there are many passages, for example, where He distinguishes between good and evil, or between right and wrong); He is longsuffering, patient, and faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9); He is a Trinity (Matthew 28:19); He is powerful (Genesis 1:1 speaks adequately to this); He is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45, quoted in 1 Peter 1:15-16); and He is a judge (2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 10:30).
  • And just an extra word about God being a judge: The judgment of God is not a popular preaching topic. But that doesn’t matter: The holiness of God necessitates the judgment of God. His holy nature is antithetical to sin. God must judge people because people are sinners. God does not take pleasure in judgment (Ezekiel 33:11), but He must judge because He is holy (Jude 15). Live, think, and act, knowing that the Judge sees you every moment.
  • God is a Redeemer. This is the great promise to mankind, the reason we can all rejoice, since it means that our eternal destiny doesn't have to be condemnation in hell. God is a loving and merciful God, "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). His love is universal—available to all men and women of every nation, people, or demographic polling group. His love is gracious—He loved us "while we were yet sinners" (Romans 5:8), sending His Son to die for us. His love is sacrificial—God willingly gave His own Son (John 3:16-17) to die for us. His love is beneficial—both in the benefit of eternal fellowship with God in Heaven (Romans 6:23b) and in the earthly benefits we enjoy every day as His children.
These truths are not merely an academic review exercise in theology! Study them, to be sure, but remember that every day, you will think thoughts, make decisions, and take actions. Think, decide, and act based upon Who God is, what He has done and will do, and knowing that He is a Holy Judge. Let these impact your life totally.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Where will you be after you die?

Many who read this blog are my friends and acquaintances; and I am inclined to believe that most of these are Christians already. But it may be that you have somehow come to this corner of cyberspace uncertain of your eternal destiny. Where will you be after you die?

We learn in Romans 3:23 that "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." All of us are sinners. And the consequences of this are not good; Romans 6:23a further states that "The wages of sin is death." This is not merely referring to physical death, which we cannot avoid; but to eternal death—eternal separation from God in a place of endless torment, the place called Hell. This is the problem.

God has provided the perfect solution to this problem; it is called salvation! The second part of Romans 6:23 states "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Salvation—eternal life—is a gift, provided by Jesus Christ! We cannot earn it and we cannot deserve it. Romans 5:8 clarifies this by saying that "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It was His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection which made it possible for the penalty of our sins to be paid, and for us to receive not eternal death but eternal life, with Him, in Heaven. Praise the Lord!

Each and every person on this earth can receive this gift. Romans 10:13 makes it clear: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Whosoever really does mean you! Revelation 3:20 makes this clear also. It is not hard to do, as we learn in Romans 10:9-10: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

How can you accept the gift of salvation? You must put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and ask Him to forgive you of your sins. Even a child can do that—and many have. It is indeed only a child-like faith which is required. There is no special incantation or magic set of words; simply pray humbly in faith. You could, for example, say something like this:

Jesus, I ask you to forgive me of my sins. I put my faith in you as my Savior, and I believe that you can give me eternal life. Please give me your gift of salvation, and make me one of Your children.
It is a simple act. My prayer is that everyone who reads this blog either has accepted Christ's gift of salvation or that they will today. Please contact me if I can be of any help to you.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Which Republican would I like....(Part 2)

Today, I was introduced to the website .
The purpose of this website is to ask you your views on issues and candidate qualities, and once you do that, it tells you how closely the candidates' views match with yours. Each candidate is assigned a percentage rating compared to your "theoretical ideal candidate" and then the candidates are ranked in order from most matching your viewpoint to least. They have nearly every human being who has announced any degree of intention of running for president next year, including the Libertarian and Green Party candidates. This appears to be a non-partisan, but highly useful, website.

So what did it tell me after I indicated my views and preferences? First of all, the 25 candidates landed in the following order:

  • All of the Republicans were at the top of the list, and then we had...
  • The Libertarian (you should see the picture—he looks like a cowboy with hair longer than my wife's). After him, we had...
  • All of the Democrats, and then...
  • The woman from the Green Party. She and I had precisely 0% agreement. Even Dennis Kucinich, the lowest democrat, had a 5% agreement with me.
On the democrat side, the most-in-agreement democrats were Joe Biden (23%) followed by a Gore/Clinton tie (22%). Least in agreement: Kucinich and Obama (7%).

There was a tie for my top Republican between Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo (89% each). Following them was another tie between Mitt Romney and Sam Brownback (76% each). Guiliani and Paul were the lowest Republicans on my scale, which I understood. The credibility of this tool was iffy in the middle of the Republican pack, where Hagel and McCain came ahead of Gingrich, Huckabee, and the two Thompsons.

The site also gives fairly detailed positions the candidates have taken or votes they have cast on a variety of important issues—the same ones you are asked about. I would encourage you to take a look at it, and even take the survey and see what it tells you. If all you want to do is read or compare the positions of the candidates, go straight to, where you can open two candidates' information at once, side-by-side. I am curious to know what you think!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

You might be from Central Pennsylvania if...

Several years ago, a friend sent me an e-mail entitled, "You might be from Central Pennsylvania if...." For those of you not so blessed to call that area your home, you may not catch all of the humor in the post below; but I have listed some of the (I think) funnier things from the e-mail here. NOTE: Scrapple, while considered by some to be edible, is perhaps the most vile "food" on the earth. Self-respecting dogs turn up their noses at it. Red beet eggs are only marginally better. But at least they can be classified as edible...barely.

Here is the list. Enjoy!

You know you're from Central Pennsylvania if:

1. You have an uncontrollable urge to buy bread and milk when you hear the word "snow."

2. You say the correct pronunciation LANG-kist-er instead of Lan-CAST-er, and LEB-en-in instead of Leb-a-NON.

3. You know the only way to make good fastnachts is to cook them in LARD.

4. You live within two miles of a plant that makes potato chips, corn chips, pretzels, candy, or ice cream, or that packages turkeys, beans, or bologna.

6. You do things "once," as in "I'll go check in the back room once."

8. You know what REAL pot pie is.

9. YOUR turkey has "filling," not "stuffing," and most certainly NOT "dressing."

10. You know that chicken corn soup from a fire house is the most nearly perfect food on earth.

11. Your neighbors' names are Driebelbis, Stoltfus, Lebo, Peachey, Yoder, Brubaker or anything ending in "-baugh or -ouch."

12. You say things like, "I'm calling off today," and "They're calling for snow."

13. You've heard of distelfinks and hex signs.

14. Red Beet Eggs makes your list of top ten favorite foods.

15. You pronounce "Suite" as SUIT, not SWEET.

16. You say you're going out to the shed "AWHILE," instead of "FOR AWHILE."

18. You think the roads in any other state are smooth.

19. You know the Penn State cheer. (WE ARE...PENN STATE!)

20. Hearing horses clopping down a paved street doesn't bring you to the window to see what's going on outside.

21. You never see any Confederate Flags, except on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

22. You prefer Hershey's Chocolate to Godiva.

23. You consider Pittsburgh to be "out west," and you know the fastest way to Philly is the Turnpike.

24. School closings due to snow take the radio stations a half an hour to finish, because just about every town has its own school district.

25. When someone says 1972, you think "Agnes," and when someone says 1979, you think "TMI."

26. You call sloppy joes "barbecue."

28. When it snows, they put cinders on the roads instead of sand.

29. You know what scrapple is and you still like to eat it.