Archive for December 31, 2009

Resolutions? No!

This post was originally posted at www.desiringgod.org.

HT: David Mathis

Reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ classic Spiritual Depression would be a strong way to start the new year.

The title can be a tad deceiving. It’s not merely a book for those with a pronounced sense of spiritual depression. It’s a book for all Christians—for the daily spiritual depressions we all face this side of heaven.

Lloyd-Jones ends his second chapter with these challenging and refreshing words:

Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression? The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past. Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ. Never look back at your sins again. Say: ‘It is finished, it is covered by the Blood of Christ’. That is your first step. Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you. What you need is not to make resolutions to live a better life, to start fasting and sweating and praying. No! You just begin to say:

I rest my faith on Him alone
Who died for my transgressions to atone.
(35)

What Is Christmas All About?

Ask fifty random people what is the meaning of Christmas and you will probably get fifty different answers. This should come as no surprise when you consider that as a holiday, Christmas has a checkered past. As late as the 17th century, Christmas in England was nothing more than a Mardi Gras type festival including gorging, drunkenness, and sexual promiscuity. Despite the allure of the worldy and pagan rituals that celebrate the changing of seasons, there has always surfaced a witness to the unchanging truth that Christmas is about Jesus Christ.

This holiday with all of its traditions is at its core the announcement of an invasion. A world that was overcome with sin and evil was invaded by God in the form of a man. Jesus brought a ray of light into a very dark world and because of His advent our lives will never be the same. When we miss this, we illustrate how much our understanding has been obscured by the sin of this world. If you find your Christmas a little lacking or incomplete, dont feel bad or depressed. Let that longing remind you that Christmas, no matter how idyllic, will never be as blessed as when those who have placed their faith in Christ celebrate His birth with Him in heaven.

Until that day, I leave you with this bit of prophetic hope and wish you and yours a blessed and Merry Christmas!

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

– Revelation 22:1-5

Abortion and the Proposed Senate Health Care Bill

Special Update For Clapham Community Readers:

Over the weekend the last vote needed to close debate and schedule a final vote for the senate health care bill was secured. Democrat Senator Ben Nelson from Nebraska was the final hold-out that senate majority leader Harry Reid needed to secure the 60 votes needed to avoid a republican filibuster. Sen. Nelson initially withheld his support for the bill because of the weak language concerning the use of federal funds to support abortion. After heavy negotiations and concessions by the majority leader, Sen. Nelson saw his way to vote to close debate.

It is important to understand that the language changes to the abortion provisions of the bill are not complete and still allow for federal funds to go to pay for elective abortions. The actual language of the amendment proposed by Sen. Reid to accommodate Sen. Nelson’s concerns has been analyzed by the legislative staff of the National Right to Life Committee. According to their analysis:

This statement represents NRLC’s initial assessment of changes made in the 2,074-page Reid bill by the 383-page manager’s amendment. NRLC will issue more detailed analysis later that will speak to other objectionable elements of the revised Reid legislation, pertaining to other policy issues of concern to NRLC. Regarding the abortion language, however, we can already say that the Reid language is completely unacceptable for reasons that include the following:

  • The language violates the principles of the Hyde Amendment by requiring the federal government to pay premiums for private health plans that will cover any or all abortions. The federal subsidies would be subject to a convoluted bookkeeping requirement…
  • The so-called “firewall” between federal funds and private funds is merely a bookkeeping gimmick, inconsistent with the long-established principles that govern existing federal health programs, such as the Hyde Amendment. Moreover, the Reid “firewall” is made of rice paper – it exists only so long as the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services continues to contain the Hyde Amendment.
  • At any future date when the congressional appropriators and/or the President decide to block renewal of the Hyde Amendment, the Reid bookkeeping requirements would automatically evaporate, and insurers could pay for elective abortions with the federal subsidies without even bookkeeping requirements.

These are just a few of the objections posted in the NRLC findings. Please do not rely on traditional media outlets that are likely to spin the compromise as a victory for life. Stay informed and continue to put pressure on your senators to vote against the bill.

To contact your senator and to let them know that you dont support this bill click here.

Christmas and the Cross

jesuscrossThe love of God comes to us through Christ crucified so that we can see what our sin really deserved. It is morally impossible to be proud at the foot of the cross. And so for those who don’t want to humble themselves before God, the cross remains an offense and a scandal.”

– Rev. John Piper

Scandal is a good word to describe what happened a few days ago in a Massachusetts classroom. On December 2nd a 2nd grade teacher asked her students to draw pictures of things that remind them of Christmas. One little boy decided to draw a picture of Jesus on the cross. Any sane person, even a non-religious one, would respect the boys sketch as an expression of his faith and move on. Sadly this was not the case.

Instead of lauding the boy for creative expression, the principal of Lowell Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, Massachusetts decided that the boy had violence issues and suspended him. To make matters worse, the school told the boys father that a psychological evaluation, at the parents expense, would be required before the boy could return to school. The superintendent of the school district defended the actions claiming that the district has safety protocols that it must follow when they have concern for a child’s safety.

I find it troubling that a school teacher and superintendent find it necessary to protect a child from the cross of Christ. Yet, the concern expressed by the school district serves as a perfect illustration that the message of the cross is offensive. People who will subject themselves to all manner of abject violence in a movies theater or in front of a TV suddenly get squeamish at a pencil sketch of a cross. Only slightly less offensive is a Christmas manger scene. Newspapers all over the country document cases of people trying to sue government agencies for displaying manger scenes. The rationale used to defend such hubris is a gross misinterpretation of the “establishment clause” of the 1st amendment. Which, by the way, does not include the phrase, “separation of church and state”.

While I am disappointed by the actions of Superintendent Julie Hackett of the Taunton, Mass. school district, I am not surprised. The cross is offensive to those who refuse to take responsibility for their sin and seek the grace and forgiveness of Christ. I feel sorry for Ms. Hackett and any other people who seek to remove the cross, or a manger scene or any other symbol of Christ from our society. They do a harm to themselves and deprive us all of a timely reminder that God sent Jesus so that we could have victory over sin, death, and evil.

Authors Note: If you would like to respectfully express your concern over this incident please feel free to use the following information:

Concerned individuals may e-mail Maxham Elementary School or call Principal Rebecca Couet at (508)821-1265, or fax to (508) 821-1274. The Taunton Public Schools district office may be reached by calling (508) 821-1100 or e-mailing Superintendent Julie Hackett.

HT: World Net Daily