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Showing posts from May, 2009

To Hell and Back

I was deeply moved by this story that appeared in last week's World Magazine, a fitting reminder of what sacrifices so many have made to preserve our freedom.

A Couple of Good Movies

I recently watched a couple of good movies, both about World War II. The first was Downfall: Hitler and the End of the Third Reich (2004). The story was told from the perspective of Traudl Junge, Hitler's secretary. Bruno Ganz turned in a powerful performance as Hitler. (By the way, Ganz is the same actor who, the year before, played the part of Johann von Staupitz, vicar general of the Augustinian order in Germany and Martin Luther's confessor, in the movie Luther. Ganz was just as convincing playing the pious and compassionate monk as he was playing the maniacal madman. Great talent).

Downfall chronicles the last twelve days of Hitler's life as he huddled in a bunker beneath Berlin, with the Russians advancing on the city. The entire film is in German, so one must endure two and half hours of reading English subtitles. But rather than finding this distracting, I found it to add immeasurably to the authenticity of the film. I felt like I was right there watching the events…

Second Commandment

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Let us examine ourselves this morning in light of the Second Commandment:
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments (Ex. 20:4-6)
The reason we are given this commandment is because the greatness and glory of God cannot be properly expressed by an image. An image necessarily distorts our understanding of God; it limits him; it debases him.

It is not likely, I suppose, that any of us are guilty of breaking this commandment by actually bowing down before a block of wood or stone carved into a physical representation of God. But then again, this isn’t the only way the commandment is capable …

The First Commandment

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let us examine ourselves this morning in light of the first commandment:
I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:2-3).
We shouldn’t think that the only way in which it is possible to violate this commandment is by formally confessing allegiance to some other god, like Baal or Thor, or Vishnu or Allah. It is not only those things that are actually called gods or thought of as gods that can take the place of the Lord our God in our thinking. Whatever is loved, feared, trusted in, or obeyed more than God, has in effectbecome a god to us.
Whatever has the first place in our affections has the place that only the Lord our God should have.
Whatever we most fear, if not God, has an influence over us that only God should have.
Likewise with regard to what we most trust—that person or thing in which we have the most confidence—if not God.
Whatever has a greater influence in…

Another One Bites the Dust

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The Lord is in the habit of making friends out of his enemies. I mentioned in my Sunday school class this past Sunday about the conversion of A. N. Wilson, an English writer, known for his critical biographies, novels and works of history. For several years he was an atheist, hobnobbing with the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. He recently announced his return to the Christian faith of his childhood. You can read his story here.

Ron Paul versus Bernake

Would that all our federal legislators understood economics as well as Ron Paul. And would that Bernake would answer questions more forthrightly.

A Revolution Legitimized

I've just finished an excellent book, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, by Gertrude Himmelfarb. It was published 50 years ago, on the 100th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. She does an excellent job delving into Darwin's early life, discovering the influences upon his intellectual development, recounting the voyage of the Beagle, explaining the idea of natural selection, and tracing the impact of his theory on contemporary society.

She closes by making the point that On the Origin of Species was not so much an original source leading to a dramatic change in worldview for the western world, as it was the result of a change in worldview which had already taken place.

She writes:
The Origin was the cataclysm that broke up the crust of conventional opinion. It expressed and dramatized what many had obscurely felt. More than this: it legitimized what they felt. Coming from so unexceptional a source, with all the authority of science and witho…

A New Supreme Court Justice

Who will be the new Supreme Court Justice, and on what basis will he/she be selected? Obama has given some indications in the past. It is not encouraging.

Evil Spirits From the Lord?

In Judges 9:23 and 1 Samuel 16:14, we read of evil spirits coming from the Lord. How can an evil spirit come from the Lord (especially since the Bible says God is not tempted to sin and does not tempt us to sin)?

Every event is under the sovereign control of God who “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11). This includes even the smallest details of life. Jesus says that not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from the will of God (Matt. 10:29). In fact, nothing at all could happen unless God were either to make it happen or permit it to happen. We could not lift a finger, or even blink an eye, unless God in some sense willed it.

God’s control of events extends even to the sinful actions of evil men. Take the sin of Joseph’s brothers as an example. Joseph saw the sovereign hand of God behind his being sold into slavery in Egypt. He said,

“God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not …