Saturday, March 25, 2006

Is the next generation falling away from the faith?

A well written article was passed along to me from Ed Vitagliano of Agape Press. His article is disturbing for those who have not seen it first hand. As a Sunday School teacher of high school students in a SBC church for almost a decade, I saw this all too often. There were many young people who professed Christ, were baptized and grew up in the church under Christian parents, but were utterly ignorant of the faith and how it truly impacted their lives. I would love to hear your responses to this article. Just click the post title to read it.

This could save you $$$$

I ran across this link the other day and it was very helpful. I hope it will be for you as well. With gas prices climbing again, it is always great to know where the cheapest prices in town are. Sometimes there is a .30 difference within just a few miles, which means one thing: Huge profits for those selling the higher priced gas and more money out of your pockets. So try this link and see if it helps you. Click on the title of this post to bring it up.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

My father turns 70

Image hosting by PhotobucketI thought I would take the opportunity to introduce you to my father. Richard Brown is, in my opinion, a hero of the Christian faith. He has been a faithful father and friend to me. He was converted in 1964, just a year after he and my mother were wed. They adopted me in 1969 when I was 2 months old. He has pastored several churches over the years. Recently he has taken a pastorate in Kings Mountain, N.C. after he retired. Before that he was pastor of Sandy Plains Baptist Church in Gastonia, N.C. for 20 years and before that served for many years as associate pastor of Catawba Heights Baptist Church in Belmont, N.C. Other churches that he served in include Baptist churches in Blacksburg, S.C., Calvary Baptist in Shelby, N.C. and others.

My Dad follows in similar steps to his father, Ed Brown. Though my grandfather was not a believer, he was known as an honest hard working man. My father has the same reputation along with the fact that he is a man who loves people and loves God. He is the kind of man who truly serves others. He is a man who knows what it is to keep a confident conversation confident. Though my father and I don't quite see eye to eye on theological matters, God has been very gracious in prospering our relationship as father and son since my conversion at the end of 1992. We have encouraged and challenged each other and to that end I am forever grateful.

My father was one who saw fit to reads the Scriptures in the home almost everyday that I can remember while I was young. Because of God's work in his life, I can say that I am where I am because of those early influences. Dad is great, not because he is superior to other men, but because of His great God.

His 70th birthday was this past Monday and on the previous Saturday we held a surprise party in his honor. Many people attended from our present and past relationships, including his first pastor, Tom Stevens. Tom and his wife were missionaries to Indonesia years ago and were responsible for sharing the gospel with my father and mother. God graciously converted them just 1 year into their marriage and later called my father into the ministry.

I thought this would be a fitting tribute to let many of you know of my father. He is not one of the more famous preachers, but I think, all things considered, he has sought to be faithful in the feeding of the flock and the care nurture of them. I pray the God will give my father another 30 years of ministry and that He will enable him to run the race and finish well and stand before Him and hear Him say, "Well done good and faithful servant".

As a fitting tribute to my father, we are naming our soon to arrive son, Richard in his honor. Though my father and I agree that we should not give him the middle name Albert (like my Dad's), we decided to name him Richard Cameron. For those of you who are history buffs, you'll recall Richard Cameron was the famous "Lion of the Covenant" among the Scottish Covenanters. The other children are already referring to him as "R.C." Go figure:)

Illegal Immigration: The Soft Underbelly

For some who might think it unnecessary to have political fodder on the blog. I am one who believes that a nation answers to God, as well as, individuals. The issue though for the nation is that it will answer in the "here and now", for I don't see how they will answer throughout eternity. Therefore, we must be aware of the issues and give a proper response when electing officials. We must, as believers, chose our representatives based upon righteous leadership rather than "the lesser of two evils", and then pray that somehow God bless that. While I am for praying for our leaders, because the Scripture commands that we do so, we must realize that our government of the United States is a government by the people. Therefore, we must be well informed and willing to do the right thing, not the politically expedient one. With that in mind, you will see that I will be posting various articles from the Constitution party in the future. Some you have already read, I hope.

While I do not believe that government can save men, I do believe that government is given to protect men and to punish evil doers. However, if we fail in electing men who will rule justly, then that which was meant for good will become that which expouses evil. May God guide us as we think on these things.


Immigration reform is a hot topic in Washington these days, with President Bush, Senator John McCain, and Senator Pete Domenici, among others, proposing various pieces of legislation purportedly designed to solve America's illegal immigration crisis. Republicans Domenici and McCain have both introduced immigration reform legislation, while President Bush, in a January 7th speech, proposed sweeping new laws providing for millions of new immigrants to be hired for jobs that "American workers are not willing to take." While the President, unlike Senators McCain, Domenici, and many other Congressmen, claims to oppose amnesty for illegal aliens (or, in the politically correct parlance of Washington, "undocumented workers"), his policies amount to capitulation to a status quo that has allowed and even encouraged millions of illegal immigrants to live and work in the United States.

The Constitution Party has never opposed immigration per se; we recognize that enlightened immigration laws have allowed America to attract talent from all over the world. Most of us are descended from immigrants ourselves. But there is a false premise underlying all current immigration reform proposals that would in some way reward the millions of illegal aliens. This premise is that America's greatness is based ultimately on her ability to maintain a hard-working citizenry. Illegal immigrants, goes the argument, are simply taking jobs that Americans are unwilling to take. As the President put it, "some of the jobs being generated in America's growing economy are jobs American citizens are not filling."

The notion that worker productivity is the ultimate measure of a nation's greatness is an old socialist fallacy, reconditioned and revamped for a twenty-first century world being encouraged to worship without question at the altar of free trade. But in fact, people all over the world work extremely hard, as our own ancestors did in the various countries where they originated. The reason people come to America is not to work harder, but to enjoy more fully the fruits of their labor, in a comparatively open and free society where, in spite of the worsening burden of taxes and regulations, capital formation is still possible and risk coupled with hard work still yields rewards.

But why is it the case that the worker in Mexico, the Philippines, or India can work as hard as or harder than his American counterpart, yet seldom manages to accumulate any savings or acquire any reward except more work? The reason American workers are so much better off is that our laws historically, for all their failings, have generally protected private property and free enterprise, and punished graft, racketeering, extortion, and the like.

The basis of our prosperity, our system of free enterprise, is dependant on our remaining a nation of laws. No legal system can last long if laws are passed that encourage and reward illegal behavior or if laws that punish lawlessness aren't enforced.

But that is precisely what the sort of policies being proposed by Senator McCain, Senator Domenici, and President Bush will do. In the case of amnesty, does anyone seriously believe that granting amnesty to millions of illegals will not encourage millions more to sprint for our borders? It's already happening. The mere prospect of President Bush's "amnesty lite" proposal has resulted in an increase of thousands of illegal immigrants each month since it was first announced.

The President also promised to work with the leaders of other nations (read: Mexico) to encourage them to change policies that have driven their citizens to seek employment in the U.S. in the first place. In other words, we have no choice but to adapt to the consequences of government malfeasance in Mexico and elsewhere, and hope they change their ways eventually.

This is naive and foolish thinking. The more we accommodate illegal aliens, the less incentive we give to governments like Mexico's to change their corrupt ways.

It is not considered politically correct to say so, but the flood of illegal immigrants has brought many evils in its train, including a greater volume of drug smuggling, the trafficking in human beings destined to lives in unspeakable forms of bondage, and an epidemic of violent street gangs. The risk of terrorists infiltrating the United States via our porous southern border is very high. Lawlessness, it seems, encourages more lawlessness.

But what about those jobs that will supposedly go unfilled if illegals are not available to fill them? The primary reason that Americans are less willing to perform those jobs is that many employers prefer to pay much lower wages, and to require longer hours of work under appalling conditions, as long as they have a captive pool of illegal workers to hire. Moreover, the extraordinary levels of taxation and regulation imposed on American industry provide strong incentives to hire workers for whom employers need not assume the heavy costs of health plans, social security "matching contributions," and other crippling economic and bureaucratic burdens. If illegals were no longer available, wages and working conditions would quickly be bid up to reasonable levels, and pressure would mount for tax and regulatory relief, so that American industry could afford to pay American workers what they are worth.

What should be done? First and foremost - enforce the law! This means our borders need to be patrolled by much larger forces. This administration is making no serious effort to impede the tens of thousands crossing the border illegally each month. Rather than spreading our troops around the world, fighting battles that do not directly involve our security or our vital interests, we should be directing our troops to the border which is our soft underbelly for terrorist infiltration. A good deal of our military budget would be better allocated to pay for protecting our own homeland and borders instead of everybody else's.

Secondly, it means finding and deporting illegal aliens. We must send a message to Mexico and other miscreant regimes that exporting their problems to the United States will no longer be rewarded.

Thirdly, instead of revising our immigration laws to encourage more people to immigrate who may threaten our American culture, our stability and our form of government, Congress needs to reform and, in many case, abolish, the regime of taxes and regulations that penalize American industry for hiring legal workers.

While we may never live in a perfect world, we need to demand of our leaders that they stop ignoring the problem of illegal immigration, and that they take genuine corrective measures to remedy it. If we do not, our country and our laws will soon be completely overwhelmed, as law-abiding citizens become a minority in their own land.

Thoughts Regarding Matthew 12:22-37

Well, it has been some time since I actually had time to write a post.  I have been extremely busy and to be honest, extremely tired after a full day at work and some time with the family along with reading.  However, the Lord has graciously provided me with some time this morning before the kids are up, as Denise has gone to the doctor.  I made mention earlier about making a few comments on Matthew 12 in regard to Christ and the kingdom.  Note:  These are comments on  the passage and I welcome your input.

These comments are in response to  some of the questions that we encounter in previous posts (look through the archive if you have questions about that(.  Verses 22-32 are the basis of what we are looking at.  We will note that how Christ has already rebuked the Pharisees in verses 1-8 concerning the Sabbath and how He spoke of His superiority to the temple and His lordship over the Sabbath.

Next He demonstrates what He spoke of in verse 7 in the following verses of 9-14 by healing a man’s withered hand.  In 15-21 we find Jesus has left the synagogue and the people are following Him were healed, but He warned them not to make Him known, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying…”, the Isaiah 42:1-4 is referenced.

The we come to the passage we are considering.  Verse 22 speaks of one who was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute.  Jesus heals the man and the multitudes are amazed so much that they ask themselves, “Could this be the Son of David?”  This title “Son of David” has already been referenced in Matthew.  For instance on 9:27 we see it referenced by two blind men who cry out to Jesus as the Son of David, desiring that He cause them to see.  Later in Matthew 21:9 we see that the phrase is used to refer to Christ as He comes into Jerusalem and that Matthew clearly indicates in verse 5 that it is a fulfillment of what the prophets said and that was that the King had arrived.

Later in Matthew 22:41-46 we find Jesus questioning the Pharisees about their understanding of the “Son of David”.  His point is ultimately to show them that the Son of David would not only come through the family line of David, but indeed He was superior and “older” than David Himself.  Thus He asks “If David then calls Him Lord, how is He his Son?”  Clearly we are talking about Messianic, kingly references.  See my previous post on Daniel 9 concerning what Messiah would do and when He would do it.

So in Matthew 12 we find that the crowds are asking if this could be the Son of David.  Remember, what did the Jews perceive the Messiah to do?  They perceived that He would establish a physical kingdom and destroy the enemies of the nation of Israel.  Even the disciples didn’t really get it until after the resurrection and Jesus enabling them to understand the Scriptures.  So these Pharisees thought they would try and change the perception of the crowds by saying that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub.

The term Beelzebub is the Greek word beelzeboul, which simply means “lord of the house” and is further defined in the text as “the ruler of demons”.  This is none other than Satan himself and he is further referred to in the Old Testament as the god of Ekron in which Baal-Zebub (the lord of the flies) is referenced (2 Kings 1:2).  Clearly the Pharisees are saying that Jesus and Satan have “teamed up” in order to pull away followers after themselves.

Verse 25 gives us the response of Jesus.  Notice that the text says that He knew their thoughts.  He not only heard their blasphemous words, cut also know the depths of their depraved thoughts.  He then responds by saying, “"Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?”  He basically is giving a logical response to what they are saying about Him and His power to heal and cast out demons.  We might be more familiar with a later vernacular and that is “together we stand, divided we fall”.  Jesus is clearly showing how it is impossible for a kingdom to stand if it is opposing itself.  Then He does exactly what He has done on many occasions in Matthew and that is to put them in a pickle in regards to where His authority actually comes from.  Notice He contrasts His power and authority and ask them by whom their children are casting demons out by.  Their children refers to of Jewish decent that had been sent out by Christ Himself as disciples (Matt. 10:5) to heal, preach the gospel, and cast out demons.  It’s possible others could be included in that, but I tend to think it much clearer that the Christ’s own disciples are the ones referenced and in the midst of them one actually was a devil, Judas Iscariot.

Jesus then announces a truth often overlooked by some:  If He is in fact casting out demons by the Spirit of God, Then the kingdom of God has come unto you.  The verb efyasen is in the aorist active indicative.  It is commonly held that this is an action that has begun in the past, is occurring at the present and will continue into the future.  This kingdom is the same kingdom that John the Baptist spoke of earlier in Matthew 3:2.  

There were times in Jewish History when they acknowledged the kingdom of heaven with God Himself.  Surely the times of the Messiah were considered to be the kingdom of heaven.  I do not take that there is to be a distinction between the two phrases “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven”.  One thing is for sure:  the kingdom was at hand when John began preaching and Jesus now says it has already come and is now and will continue into the future.  His kingdom is thus being established before them.

Now He then references a small illustration concerning the strong man.  Let us note what He says.
<blockquote>"Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.  He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”</blockquote>

Granted, Satan’s name is not used here specifically as the strong man, but is it not a correct assumption from the text itself that Jesus is using the strong man to represent Satan?  What is He saying concerning the strong man?  Well, it seems obvious.  Jesus is saying that one cannot go into the strong man’s house and plunder his house, unless He first binds him.  The term “binds” here is deo and can be used to speak of forbidding, holding in bonds, or binding with chains.  Interestingly enough this is the same word used in Revelation 20 concerning the binding of Satan.  The only difference of course is their contexts and the moods.  In Matthew it is the subjunctive mood and in Revelation it is the indicative.  Of course the explanation concerning Matthew is tied to its context which is presupposing that the binding of the strong man has occurred in order that the desired end be accomplished (ie. Plundering).

Now Jesus has clearly tied this little picture with what He has been doing and the kingdom of God.  There can be no question that He has done that.  In verse 30 He then goes on to emphasize the fact that His kingdom and Satan’s are opposites.  One is gathering and the other scattering.  There is not a third kingdom mentioned.  Therefore these kingdoms are in complete opposition to one another.

He then addresses the ones who have dared to blaspheme by actually saying that the work of the Son of God done by the power of the Spirit of God under the authority of God the Father is actually the work of Beelzebub (Satan, the devil, the dragon, that old serpent).  Truly they are hard hearted and spiritually dead and blind and in such sin that they cannot even understand the clarity of the person of Christ:  that He is sent from God.  Therefore, Jesus concludes with a resounding judgment upon their wickedness in declaring that there is no forgiveness for what they have done.  They have blasphemed the Holy Spirit.  These men, even to this very day, no doubt, hear those words echo in their tormented soul’s ears and it torments them all the more.  They experienced the presence of the Messiah (God Himself in the flesh) and they witnessed His miracles and heard His teachings, but they were so blinded by their own self love that they despised their Creator and counted Him as nothing more than a mere teacher, possessed of the devil and one who was out to destroy the power they had with the people and expose them for what they were.  This judgment fell on them and they have no escape.

Thus we see that particular sin would not be forgiven them in this age, nor in the age to come.  Some would say this is the present age that Jesus spoke of and that the age to come is when He returns to end human history.  Personally I don’t quite know what to make of it.  I tend to view it in those terms because that is what I have been taught to believe, however there are some who make a compelling argument for the difference between the Old Covenant age and the New Covenant age, and I think that seems much clearer.  I will simply be clear on the fact that Jesus said there was no forgiveness for such sin.

With these things said, I tend to lean toward these things being accomplished in what is referred to in Revelation 20.  I know, I know.  We have been through that before.  However, I do see Christ’s kingdom here and now and yet a future aspect to it when He concludes time and places all His enemies under His feet, including death (1 Cor. 15:23-26).