I KNEW It!

Read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. Or No Place for Truth by David Wells. Both will give you sufficient grounds to throw your 328 inch plasma screen television into the sea. But if you don’t have time (or, you can’t because of your television-induced inability to read more than 500 words at a time) read this.

[edit: apparently the link is not consistent and some of you have been sent to read a story about a rhinoceros or something like that. The upshot of the article is that television is killing you. So don't watch it.]

Whither The Prophets…

… and where would they show up naked?

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: I am not asking anyone to strip.  I am not God and do not have the authority or insight to ask anyone (or take it upon myself) to show up anywhere sans Levi’s.  In fact, if you are not truly hearing from God in the same way Isaiah did, your nakedness is just foolishness and not the good kind (1 Corinthians 1:21-25)  either.

So, in Isaiah’s 20th chapter, God calls the prophet to go before the Nation and show them the futility of trusting in the help of Egypt and Ethiopia.  They were going to be stripped bare of all that they possessed and led into captivity “bare bottomed” by Assyria.

The Lord’s purpose in giving the nations of Egypt, Ethiopia and Israel the prophet Isaiah without his britches is to graphically display the shame of their disobedience and trust in their own strength.  This walking graphic novel was often what the prophets were called to…

John the Baptizer came in eating bugs and wearing itchy clothes, while his countrymen enjoyed the wealth of Roman occupation and the fatness of their genealogies.  Hosea takes an adulterous woman for a wife and shows Israel both her own idolatrous heart and the love of a faithful God.  There are others, but you get the point.

The prophet’s role in the world has been handed over to the Church (Col 1:24, Paul says that he takes in his body that which is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.  Paul has become the representative of suffering to the world, much like the OT prophet did.  We are to imitate him in this, as Paul imitates Christ.).  That brings me to my question…

In what ways are we to be prophetic today?  To whom do we deliver our message? What should we be speaking against/for?  What does it look like; given that our God given message is mediated by the inerrant Word?

I have some ideas and I will deliver those in a post soon (and probably in a sermon or two as we enter Lent), but I thought I would get your input in this.

So… Whither the prophets of God?

al sends

Same as It Ever Was

Shortly after the events of September 11, 2001 I recall saying to someone, “Nothing can be the same again. Everything is different now.” In some very real ways that’s true (have you flown lately?). But in the main life has gone on pretty much as it did. We wake up, we go to work, we come home, we watch mind-numbing inanity on television, we drink a couple of beers on Saturday, we go to church on Sunday.

In the minds of many this morning, the world has effectively come to an end. The already of the rise of the Antichrist has happened, all that’s left is the not-yet of the horror of his reign. In four (or eight) years, however, it is likely that we’ll not feel like much has changed. This does not mean that things won’t be different – doubtless they will. But our capacity for adaptation will cause us to perceive the days to come as completely normal. Even if it looks nothing like today, we’ll redefine normal so that we’ll hardly remember what it used to be like. Continue reading

Its Just Numbers…

… very large numbers.

Just to let you know… If we took the $700,000,000,000.00 promised in the government bailout bill passed by the House yesterday and divided that amongst the 300,000,000 or so men, women and children currently in the US, we would each get over $2300.00.   For my family that would mean $13,800.00.

They are not giving that money directly to us though.  We would just waste it on paddle balls, wacky-taffy and rides at the fair.

Thankfully the government is turning all that cash over to investment bankers.  Some of whom have nice government jobs, our current Treasury Secretary for example.

Look at this CNN article from 2007:

A big question mark hangs over Wall Street: How is it that the top firms consistently beat the odds, earning spectacular returns on their own investments? Last year the five biggest U.S. investment banks – Morgan Stanley (Charts), Goldman Sachs (Charts), Merrill Lynch (Charts), Lehman Brothers (Charts) and Bear Stearns (Charts) – generated $61 billion from proprietary trading, about half their total revenue and a 54 percent increase over 2005.

Let’s see…

Morgan Stanley almost failed this year, relying upon Mitsubishi UFJ of Japan to bail them out.

Goldman Sachs lost half its stock value during the last couple of months yet is expected to do really well during the bail out. (Henry Paulson, our Current Treasury Secretary, was Goldman’s CEO before he became a public servant.)

Merrill Lynch is no more… owned by Bank of America.  Good news though.. the CEO of Merrill gets a great job at BoA.  He gets to run all the business elements that were formerly part of Merrill.  How great is that?!?

Lehman Brothers is bankrupt.

Bears Stearns was one of the first failures.  Of course it may not have been their fault… it seems that some of their competitors may have spread false rumors about the company, driving them to sell their holdings to JP Morgan for pennies on the dollar.

Please remember… place your treasure in Heaven where neither rust nor robber barons can get at it.

For your edification:

Matt 6:19-34

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22″The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.  23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24″No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

al sends

Implications

Oscar Wilde said, “An idea that isn’t dangerous has no business being called an idea at all.” Ideas are dangerous things, and this is certainly no less the case when the ideas are about God. As we think through some of the implications of Calvinistic ideas, some questions naturally emerge. These are good and proper questions to ask. Whenever I hear people ask these questions, regardless their conclusions, Continue reading