Monthly Archives: March 2009

Thoughts on Obama’s Strategy

dheadshotFrom one man-on-the-street.

I have always believed that artificial props are just that…artificial. Artificial means: false, unnatural, and inauthentic hence, unwieldy and untrustworthy. We ordinary citizens have to bear the consequences of our bad or untimely decisions.

Years ago, I went into a business linked to real estate. I took that leap just when that industry was crashing. Even though I had some big jobs, they were not enough to offset the slump. Furthermore, I was under-capitalized. Eventually, I had to close our doors. No one was there to bail me out. If a bailout had been available, it probably not have worked. It was just the wrong climate…especially for a “start-up.”

I think government subsidies artificially prop-up bad business. Our agriculture industry has been in a mess for years because of subsidies. If you can’t sell your crop at a fair market value, don’t grow it…grow something that will sell. Among other evils, subsidies have resulted in huge corporate farms and an unhealthy glut of corn and soybeans that we have find uses for.

Now, the auto industry is in a mess. Foreign car-makers (“foreign” is almost a misnomer since most of them are built here with American parts) are taking over the industry with high-quality automobiles built with superior efficiency. “The Big Three” are in trouble because they didn’t meet the competition until far too late.

We suffered when our business closed and I and my employees quickly had to find another source of income. Why should any business be any different? If the government is going to throw money at something, why not help the out-of-work automobile workers for a year or so while they search for another job or career? In my thinking that is far more prudent (and compassionate) than prolonging the agony by trying to save their failing industries (to say nothing about the obscene bonuses they pay their executives) by chunking billions at them.

Now, poor Obama is in a no-win situation. If he continues to lob billions at bad businesses he will be condemned. If he does not he will still be condemned. It would have been better to say, “Fellows, you got yourself in this mess and it is not the government’s business to get you out of it.” Upheaval, confusion and suffering may be the result, but if it is not a law, it ought to be: Bad business practices will result in failed businesses. When the dust has settled, things will be different but the economy will be healthy. The deficit and national debt will not be impossibly immense and we will not have cursed our children and grandchildren with its terrible burden.

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Filed under Community, Culture Wars, Current Events, Politics

Thoughts on Turning Sixty-Seven

old-man1I entered my 68th year last month. My 91-year-old father might disagree but I guess I am now “old.” I find old age fascinating on several levels. It is, for example, in old age that you wish you had taken better care of your young self. The aches, pains and other afflictions are not pleasant. To realize that you have been categorized as “old” is not particularly good for the ego. Neither is the realization that you are no longer (if you really ever were) attractive to young women. These days, if they smile approvingly at you, it is because you remind them of a loved and respected father, grandfather or great-uncle (get that straight and it will help keep you out of a lot of trouble and embarrassment!).

These are the routine parts of old manhood. But, what I am writing about is something rather unexpected. It is the insight I’ve gained because

I have lived long enough,

read enough books,

encountered enough problems,

misunderstood enough,

experienced enough reversals of fortune,

loved enough people,

lived through enough crises,

eaten enough crow,

had enough experiences – positive and negative…

…to realize the arrogance of my youth. Not necessarily an obvious, exterior, obnoxious, puffed-up know-it-all arrogance. But rather that which rises out of misplaced self-confidence, academic knowledge and an assurance that one has found authentic truth.

I was thinking today about an encounter I had back in the late seventies with a man who held an opinion (more of a belief) that I considered downright wrong…maybe even ungodly. I thought, how can he believe that when Scripture says this? I knew the experiences that influenced his opinion, but I also knew what the Scripture said. Now, at a comparable age with my own collection of experiences, I see what he was saying and why.

In my dotage I find myself considering, accommodating, tolerating and investigating ideas I would have rejected out-of-hand in my youth. I find myself believing things I never would have contemplated in my younger years. Now, older, sadder and wiser, I shudder at past positions taken, claims made, assurances given, defenses offered and explanations proffered. Today I am finally ready to reason more than react. Arrogance has been consumed by humiliation.

In our culture, older people tend to be marginalized and that’s a shameful waste. We are considered out-of-touch, hopelessly behind the learning curve and set in our ways. And, that sad assessment may be true for some of us. But I find myself more curious, more open-minded, more tolerant and receptive to new ideas than my youthful self.

Why did I have to get old to get reasonable? How much more productive and peaceful life would have been if wisdom did not depend on experience! Could I please try it again and this time with what I’ve learned? Oh the joyful thought of youthful living guided by age’s wisdom!

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Filed under Health Care, Ignorance, Love, Meaning of Life, Men's Issues, Mind, Peace, Random Thoughts, Respect, Scripture, Whitsett News

You’ve GOT to be Kidding Me!

You hear about it all the time but the amazement never ceases.  I refer tojesusfacecushion people seeing images of Jesus and Mary in peices of toast, cloud formations, pancakes and now, wait for it, a seat cushion! Yes, I kid you not.  A fellow-blogger who got his information from an Australian newspaper has documented this latest frenzy.

Antoinette, an 82-year-old parishioner, said the face was a “divine phenomenon” as tears welled up her eyes.

“This church is a holy site,” added Lise-May, another worshipper.

“This is not a miracle, it’s a sign of God,” said parish priest Daniel Gavard.

My first thought was, Good grief, the atheists will have a field day with this! My second thought was, how do they even know what Jesus looked like?  Or Mary? My final thought was, Somebody needs to call this what it is, desperate superstition.

Of course, the atheists will lump these poor, ignorant, desperate people (including, apparently, the priest, who ought to know better) in their catch-all category, “Religious,” and use them for target practice.  Pity.

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Filed under Atheism/Theism, Current Events, Ignorance, Jesus Christ, Religion, Supernatural

REVELATION REVEALED

rome-in-ruins

A Quick Look at the Book of Revelation

A Mission Practicum lesson for students in Sunset International Bible Institute’s Adventures in Missions program

Dear Adventures in Missions student,

As you work among the people at your posting, you will occasionally encounter folks who base much of their doctrine on the book of Revelation. A good example is the popular series, Left Behind by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. They say their work offers a realistic picture of a future “rapture” based on a “true” interpretation of the book of Revelation…They believe that Revelation, must be taken literally. Those who don’t believe this are destined to be “left behind” when the “rapture” occurs. This is one of the several forms of “dispensationalism,” found among evangelical denominations.

Revelation is the only book of prophecy in the New Testament. It is a wondrous book full of essential teaching for followers of Christ. No book, however, has been more abused and misused. It has been used to teach and justify all sorts of doctrines. It is the foundation of many varieties of dispensationalism. It is a favorite source of proof texts for the teachings of Christadelphians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists and others.

In order to counter most of the mistaken teaching based on it, one should study and know the book. However, to be aware of some basic facts up front will be helpful in countering erroneous claims.

Purpose of the Book

John received his revelation from Christ and wrote it down around 75 A.D. (95 or 96 A.D. according to some authorities). He was apparently in exile on the Isle of Patmos (1:9). He was given this message of encouragement for the disciples of Christ. It is a promise that the real victory is in Christ and His church. No matter how bad things may get, if you are in Christ you are already the winner.

It is designed to show that even a powerful bully as big as Rome can be whipped and doomed to destruction. In the end, God will triumph and His Christ will reign supreme. It calls upon its readers to be faithful unto death, even death as martyrs.

While intended to hearten those under the thumb of Rome, the Spirit’s message is also relevant today. Like the disciples living in John’s day, we are called upon to choose the eternal over the temporal; resist temptation, refuse compromise with pagan secularism and let our Christ-like consciences be our guide. We are urged to have confidence in the ultimate victory of the kingdom of God…not only in the reign of someone like the emperor Vespasian, but also in the midst of the chaos of any age.

Theme of the Book

“Be Faithful and We Win”

Perhaps this can best be expressed in words found in the first three chapters, “Be faithful unto death, and you shall receive the crown of eternal life.” Not, “do all the right things,” not “keep all the rules,” not “always be successful,” not “always win,” but be faithful!

The crown of life belongs to the faithful. No one can take it away. For the faithful, victory is assured. It will be hard and painful, but after it’s over we win!

General Interpretation of Prophecy

Since Revelation is a book of prophecy, the correct methods of interpreting prophecy should be employed.

  1. Prophecy has a primary and secondary purpose.
    1. The primary purpose is to provide a word from God for the people of the time. This may or may not include future fulfillment (1 Peter 1:10-12).
    2. The secondary purpose is fulfillment of some future event or circumstance. The prophecy of Revelation fits these conditions.
  2. Prophecy is not a matter of private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20-21). What the Holy Spirit reveals the Holy Spirit interprets. Meanings not revealed in the text can only be deducted from other similar prophetic passages where the meaning is known or obvious. Private interpretation is, at best, merely guesswork. When it comes to guesswork, your guess is as good as mine.

Symbolic Language

The language is primarily symbolic. There are colors, numbers, metals, jewels, beasts, bowls, scrolls, seals and scenes. It is bad exegesis to draw literal conclusions from symbolic passages or vice versa. For example:

    1. When God reminds Moses, “I bore you on eagle’s wings, and brought you to Myself (Exodus 19:4)…no one believes that actual eagle wings were employed.
    2. Jesus spoke of the temple and meant His body (John 2:20-22).
    3. When John referred to the religious leaders as “vipers,” he didn’t mean real ones! But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7)?

One of the basic characteristics of those of the dispensationalist persuasion is their insistence upon literal interpretation. Right in the middle of a symbolic passage such as Revelation 20 with an abyss, chain, beast, earth with four corners, and Gog and Magog, the thousand years is made literal and becomes the basis for millennialism.

Imminent Application

Revelation 1:1-3 — The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

22:6 — And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place

22:10 — And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”

While it is a book of prophecy, the fulfillments were to “shortly come to pass,” and “near.” (1:1-3; 22:10) In the Greek it reads, “…things which are taking place shortly.” This means speed, quickness or haste. Notice the emphatic “must…” Conclusion: the book of revelation cannot be applied to some undefined time two thousand years in the future and still make sense.

The Matter of Relevance

As with all books of prophecy, it was initially and primarily written to believers of its day. It was initially relevant to those under Roman rule. Otherwise it would be totally irrelevant in its own time. While the lessons of the book apply to every generation, we have no Holy Spirit application referring to people and times of the future.

To sum up, these are the characteristics of the book of Revelation which should keep it from being misused and abused:

1. Written to the people living during the time of the Roman emperor Vespasian. It will find its primary relevance to those of that era – not over 2,000 years later.

2. Written in symbolic (apocalyptic) language using colors, numbers, animals, and other objects and scenes which should not be interpreted literally.

3. It is a book of prophecy and thus not open to “private interpretation.” Some meanings are explained in context; others are matters of opinion and, therefore, should not form the basis of doctrine.

4. The time frame in which the prophecy would be fulfilled is imminent at the time of its writing. It is “soon.” The time is “near.”

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Filed under Christlikeness, church, Jesus Christ, Prophecy, Rapture