Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rayburn on Galatians 4:8-11

Galatians 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

So it is not really a surprise that men make really foolish choices as these Galatians did, however exasperating it may have been to Paul. The history of the Christian church in the world is, in large part, the history of this same stupidity.

But, it is very interesting to notice the specific point Paul makes here about the grip that man's natural religious ideas have upon the human soul and, accordingly, how hard it is for people to hold on to the pure gospel. A drug addict may continue to use drugs even after his life has been devastated by his drug use because, after all, he has become physically and psychologically dependent upon them. A woman may return to a violent and philandering husband over and over again because she is afraid to leave him or because she is afraid to be alone. But, why would a Christian who had tasted the fresh air of the gospel go back to the putrid atmosphere of works and human performance?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Speaking of dives...this one's hilarious

OK, this is straight up one of the funniest things I've read in a long time-

A MAN jumped into a fast-flowing river because he couldn't take his wife's nagging anymore.
The Chinese truck driver, known as Zhou, and his wife were on a ferry on the Yangtze River when it all became too much for him, the Chongqing Evening Post reports.

Members of the ship's crew saw the man suddenly run out of his cabin with his hands covering his ears, and shouting: "I can't stand it any longer."

They initially thought he was suffering from an ear injury and went to help him but found he was unhurt.
"While we were still puzzling over the this, his wife ran up and continued nagging him," said a crewmate."The husband covered his ears again and said: 'I need a break' before jumping over the side into the rushing river. "We immediately found lamps to light up the water but found nobody. The possibility of survival can be zero."

However, later that night, police found the man who had managed to swim about 2km across across the broad river.

"I felt I was dying, but even that's better than my wife's nagging," he reportedly told the police.
The couple were reunited the following morning at the local police station where Zhou's wife promised to give up her habit of nagging him.
This story reminds me of Solomon's words in Proverbs 27:15-"A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome (nagging) wife are alike."

Disgraceful dive by Eduardo

In a vital Champion's League game between Arsenal and Celtic, talented Croatian forward Eduardo da Silva takes a disgraceful, unsportsmanlike dive to draw a penalty kick and score Arsenal's first goal. Arsenal goes on to win.

Plays like this give soccer a bad name. There are calls to suspend Eduardo for this maneuver.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Son's Funeral Tribute to His Mother

I recently attended the funeral of a woman who's son is a member of Redeemer. Lyle Burton gave me permission to post the remarks he gave at the funeral, I found them to be a blessing. I hope they are to you as well.

Funeral Tribute to Mom

While God was growing me inside my mother’s womb, when I first became able to hear, I’m sure that the first sounds I heard were those of my mother’s heartbeat and her voice. So began a lifelong bond with my mother. After she gave me birth, I still listened for the sound of her voice as she tended to literally my every need. I heard her familiar voice as she sang lullabies to me to get me to sleep. As I began to grow, her soft words of encouragement when I was discouraged, and words of comfort when I was hurt or scared, served to strengthen that bond between us. My mother became my emotional anchor and moral compass. She taught me right from wrong and taught me about Jesus. She also taught me about responsibility and even how to wash dishes, do laundry, and cook. If I got up sick in the night, she was up too, without my even having to call out to her. It was her hand that I felt on my back or on my forehead and her comforting voice in my ears.

When I became a teenager, her voice was sometimes filled with words of disagreement as I was pretty sure I knew it all. When I became an adult, I realized that I actually didn’t know it all, and turned to her frequently for advice about every day issues of living and answers to questions about what to do about a baby’s fevers or tummy aches. I heard her familiar voice singing those same familiar lullabies to my children and nieces and nephews and eventually my grandchildren.

In the year since Dad died, I called her more frequently not because I needed something, but rather to hear her voice tell me she was okay or to find out if she needed something. In the last few months of her life, it was her voice telling me that she needed help because she was in terrible pain and didn’t know what to do, or that she was too dizzy to get out of bed and get to the bathroom and needed help. In the last few days of her life, it was her voice telling me that she wasn’t hungry and didn’t want to eat, and me telling her to please eat her dinner.

Well, her heartbeat and her voice are both silent now, and how I wish I could hear them again. About a year ago, my Dad died very suddenly, and I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye or to have any final end of life conversations. I count it a blessing that last week she asked me if I had anything to say to her. I said “yes, I do”, and we had a very nice conversation in which we got the opportunity to tell each other good-bye and that we loved each other.

I’ll tell a story that I’ve shared with some of you about something that happened the last week of her life. When she had refused the dialysis and knew that she was going to die, she was planning what dress to wear for burial and some other details. She asked me to find a picture of her showing the way she fixed her hair and take it to the funeral home so they could cut her hair and fix it the way she would want it. I promised her I would. A few days later, she was slipping in and out of consciousness, and my wife Lorie was sitting with her in her hospital room. She woke up and said she wanted to speak to me. Lorie called me and said she wanted to talk to me and I should get over there right away before she lost consciousness again. I hadn’t shaved or showered, but I pulled on a pair of sweat pants and drove over to the hospital as quickly as I could. When I got there, I asked her what she wanted to tell me, expecting some profound end-of-life revelation. She said simply; “don’t forget to take the picture to the funeral home”. I told her I wouldn’t forget. As I look at her body lying here today, she is out of pain, her hair is exactly right, and she looks better than she has for three months.

I have a scripture passage I would like to read that gives us the reason for our hope. It is First Peter, Chapter 1, verses 3-9:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I know my mother is in Christ, so I can now say, To God Be The Glory!

I love you, Mom. I’ll see you later.

The Government Can

Pretty clever.

J.I. Packer on the Doctrine of Adoption

"Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption... If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God's child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all."

- J.I. Packer (from Knowing God)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The "Public" options

The current debate over President Obama's proposed overhaul of health care in the U.S. has raised an issue I find intriguing particularly related to the way many Christians have reacted to the so-called "Public Option" germane his plan.

Of course, by "Public Option", Obama means to have a government-run insurance option as part of a new health care system. So, "Public" means a tax-funded, government administered insurance program. There are several concerns with such a suggestion. There is great concern that a government subsidized insurance program will undercut private insurance companies and drive them out of business leaving the government as the sole healthcare administrator. Related to this concern is what happened in Hawaii a few years back when a so-called public option was signed in to law and hordes of Hawaiians dropped their private coverage to take use the government "insurance" and overran the state bank. The public program was haulted inside a year when it became obvious it would bankrupt the state treasury. There are related concerns about the number of doctors, the need to ration health care (like in Canada and the U.K.), etc. But who can deny the biggest red flag about a government run program? The government is not good at running much of anything. Who really thinks the government would do a good job running or administrating a small program let alone one this massive?

Here's where I am intrigued as it relates to the way professing Christians seem to be talking about Obama's "public option". I have been talking to many Christians about this debate. I have yet to find one Christian who thinks a public option would be good for anyone. I have heard some believers even speak of the suggestion of a public option like Obama's as unethical, even immoral (specifically related to some of Obama's provisions for public funds being used for abortions). I think it's fair to say there is widespread opposition among Christians toward the suggestion of a public option concerning health care. There is a sizable group of Christians that are vigilantly opposed to the so-called public option. Government can't do this job, they shouldn't do this job, they should stay out of it.

I generally agree with this sentiment.

But why are so many Christians comfortable with public schools?

The government running schools and education makes far less biblical sense to me than running health care, yet the majority of professing believers seem perfectly OK with it.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Epic Soccer Battle, RPC United vs WCA Eagles

Today the Westminster JV team (8-10th graders) took on my Thursday night indoor team, RPC United, in a final tune up for their season. We won 6-1 but I am extremely happy with what I saw from my boys. We're (RPC United) fat and old, but we have played together for some time and actually have 5 former college players, one of which was a full-ride scholarship caliber midfielder. The JV boys were tentative against us at first and obviously couldn't out-body us, but nevertheless they showed well today. The game helped me observe some things I can work on with the boys and also gave me some good ideas for player placement heading in to our first league game next Tuesday.

I think we started a tradition today as we continue to build a soccer program at Westminster. Check out my sweet header on a pass from Chico that ended up cranking the crossbar.

John Stott on Galatians 4:4-5

Read part of what John Stott wrote about Galatians 4:4-5-

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. - Galatians 4:4-5

What is emphasized in these verses is that the one whom God sent to accomplish our redemption was perfectly qualified to do so. He was God's Son. He was also born of a human mother, so that He was human as well as divine, the one and only God-man. And He was born 'under the law', that is, of a Jewish mother, into the Jewish nation, subject to the Jewish law. Throughout His life He submitted to all the requirements of the law. He succeeded where all others before and since have failed: He perfectly fulfilled the righteousness of the law. So the divinity of Christ, the humanity of Christ and the righteousness of Christ uniquely qualified Him to be man's redeemer. If he had not been man, He could not have redeemed men. If He had not been a righteous man, He could not have redeemed unrighteous men. And if He had not been God's Son, He could not have redeemed men for God or made them the sons of God.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

God Bless the School D.L. Moody Founded

God bless the school that D.L. Moody Founded;
Firm may she stand, tho' by foes of truth surrounded!
Riches of grace bestowed may she never squander,
Keeping true to God and man her record over yonder.

As two more Redeemer youth made their way to Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute. We now have three young people attending MBI.

Moody is a baptistic, dispensational bible college, but not hostile to students who aren't. Further, Moody's faculty is largely reformed as it relates to soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). The benefits of attending Moody outweigh any of the negatives, I'd go there again in a second and would be very happy to send my sons there in the future.

Anyways, it was exactly 20 years ago this week that Nathan and I left the confines of Western New York to embark upon our Moody experience. I'll never forget driving in to Chicago and seeing the mighty Sears Tower knowing I would gaze upon it for the next 4 years.

My time at Moody was exceptionally formative. It was at Moody that God confirmed His call upon me to preach and pastor. It was at Moody that I made friends with whom I still fellowship. It was at Moody where I learned the bible, it's original language, and how to teach and preach it. It was at Moody where I saw the rough side of life and sin, being downtown Chicago near Cabrini Green (terrible "project" where drugs and gangs reigned) and working in an inner city church opened my eyes. It was at Moody where I developed a passion for world missions. It was at Moody where I met Coach Joe Harding, my soccer coach and personal mentor and encourager to this day. It was at Moody where I was introduced to the PCA through Covenant Presbyterian Church. It was at Moody where I met my helpmate and best friend, Shari.

Indeed, God bless the school that D.L. Moody founded!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Egomaniacs die hard...

Brett Favre was a very good quarterback over the course of his career with Green Bay. I don't rank him in the top ten all time, but no one can deny he was an upper tier QB for the bulk of his career. Favre played for a small market team with alot of pride, something I understand a little. Such cities take their sports teams too seriously and deify their team heroes in a way not understood by most cities. Green Bay is reeling over the actions of Favre these last two seasons.

It seems to me he should have retired two years ago and taken his place as a god in Green Bay much like Jim Kelly has done in Buffalo or John Elway in Denver. Instead, unable to spend time away from the limelight, one of the supreme egomaniacs of this generation has driven a spike through the hearts of the Packer nation by signing with their arch rival Minnesota Vikings. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports framed the situation beautifully-

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Maybe Brett Favre lost the keenest segment of the Green Bay Packers fan base long ago. Maybe he lost them when every summer began to orbit around him, and every roster decision was applauded or disparaged based on how it impacted No. 4. Maybe he lost them in one tumultuous offseason after another, when his emotional whims became reason enough to hold the franchise hostage.

Or maybe he really, truly lost them on Tuesday, when he signed with the hated Minnesota Vikings, and then in Favre fashion, said “If you’re a true Packer fan, you understand.”

That was the line that still had fans fuming as they filed out of Stadium View Sports Bar in Green Bay, aptly named for its view of Lambeau Field down Armed Forces Drive. Some fans that had flocked for the Packers’ evening practice on Tuesday piled into the bar to watch Favre’s news conference. And ultimately they had a resounding opinion as they filed back out: Favre’s iconic legacy in this city has hit a new low.

“I couldn’t believe the ‘true Packers fans’ should understand thing,” said Ron Knautz. “I’m 54 years old. I’ve been a Packers fan since I was 5, which is when I knew what the Packers were. I got my picture taken with Bart Starr when I was 12. I’m a true Packers fan. Maybe a true Packers player would understand how I feel.”

Saturday, August 15, 2009

First (and likely last) Triathlon

Setting up my "Transition Area" before the race at 6am.

No, that's not Michael's me flailing for dear life.

The bike portion was probably the only section I could actually say I "enjoyed". Toughest hills I have ever encountered. A road bike would have been a better choice over my hybrid.


I just participated in a Triathlon down near Springfield, Missouri today. It was classified as a "sprint" tri, and now I know why- skinny people can sprint. Me on the other hand...well..I finished strong.
It started with a 300-yard swim, followed with a wicked hilly 12.4 mile bike ride, and ended with a 5K (3.1 miles) road race. It took me 1 hour and 41 minutes to finish, not too great, but an accomplishment for me. I'm built more like a linebacker than Lance Armstrong.
I started training about 2 months ago after our Katy Trail adventure, the bike and running anyways. I couldn't get out to swim too much. I can't say I ever wanted to run a triathlon but I needed a goal to motivate me to keep exercising and eat less this summer, so that's why I did it. I learned a lot by participating, specifically: I am a very slow swimmer, I am just an average bicyclist, and a turtle of a runner. All good things to know!
I am glad I did this. I gained some insights that would help me do it faster if I choose to do it again (like not taking so long during the transitions, that really hurts your time...also, I'd use my road bike instead of the hybrid...wouldn't hurt to be at least 20 pounds lighter), but if you ask me right now, I'm retired.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dropping like a rock

Virtually all of President Obama's vital poll numbers are dropping like a rock. The two most telling polls are job approval and leadership ability.

Job approval- 60% approved in February. Now his approval is at 47% (only 10% higher than mean, old, nasty, incompetent, George W. Bush).

Leadership ability- 64% thought he was a good leader in February. Now only 45% think so.

Check other interesting polling info here.

Polls can be deceiving, no doubt, but still, these numbers represent the definition of "dropping like a rock". We're talking less than 6 months.

Why the swing? I think it's because Obama seemed, to quite a few people anyways (not me), to want to go slightly left of center legislatively. Instead he has gone radically far left...farther than any president ever. He's a liberal socialist plain and simple. Rightfully, he's freaking people out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 Tomato Crop

This year's tomato crop has been one of the best I can remember. The regular rain and heat is the perfect formula for tomato success. We have already made several pots of sauce (I freeze tons of it to eat throughout the year) and pick 10 ripe ones a day. The zukes have been stellar as well.

I just finished a delicious BLT. You could eat these tomatoes straight...but beware- you'll need alot of Charmin if you do.

Paglia on Obamacare

Even members of the hoard of "journalists" who drove Obama in to the White House are starting to recognize the lunacy of his push for socialized medicine. One such supporter is Camille Paglia, who consistently wrote in support of Obama for many months before he was elected and even still swoons over various Obama actions. But even for Paglia, Obama's health care proposals are scary. Note what she writes:

I must confess my dismay bordering on horror at the amateurism of the White House apparatus for domestic policy. When will heads start to roll? I was glad to see the White House counsel booted, as well as Michelle Obama's chief of staff, and hope it's a harbinger of things to come. Except for that wily fox, David Axelrod, who could charm gold threads out of moonbeams, Obama seems to be surrounded by juvenile tinhorns, bumbling mediocrities and crass bully boys.

Case in point: the administration's grotesque mishandling of healthcare reform, one of the most vital issues facing the nation. Ever since Hillary Clinton's megalomaniacal annihilation of our last best chance at reform in 1993 (all of which was suppressed by the mainstream media when she was running for president), Democrats have been longing for that happy day when this issue would once again be front and center.

But who would have thought that the sober, deliberative Barack Obama would have nothing to propose but vague and slippery promises -- or that he would so easily cede the leadership clout of the executive branch to a chaotic, rapacious, solipsistic Congress? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom I used to admire for her smooth aplomb under pressure, has clearly gone off the deep end with her bizarre rants about legitimate town-hall protests by American citizens. She is doing grievous damage to the party and should immediately step down.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Obama's aggressive endorsement of a healthcare plan that does not even exist yet, except in five competing, fluctuating drafts, makes Washington seem like Cloud Cuckoo Land. The president is promoting the most colossal, brazen bait-and-switch operation since the Bush administration snookered the country into invading Iraq with apocalyptic visions of mushroom clouds over American cities.

You can keep your doctor; you can keep your insurance, if you're happy with it, Obama keeps assuring us in soothing, lullaby tones. Oh, really? And what if my doctor is not the one appointed by the new government medical boards for ruling on my access to tests and specialists? And what if my insurance company goes belly up because of undercutting by its government-bankrolled competitor? Face it: Virtually all nationalized health systems, neither nourished nor updated by profit-driven private investment, eventually lead to rationing.

I just don't get it. Why the insane rush to pass a bill, any bill, in three weeks? And why such an abject failure by the Obama administration to present the issues to the public in a rational, detailed, informational way? The U.S. is gigantic; many of our states are bigger than whole European nations. The bureaucracy required to institute and manage a nationalized health system here would be Byzantine beyond belief and would vampirically absorb whatever savings Obama thinks could be made. And the transition period would be a nightmare of red tape and mammoth screw-ups, which we can ill afford with a faltering economy.

As with the massive boondoggle of the stimulus package, which Obama foolishly let Congress turn into a pork rut, too much has been attempted all at once; focused, targeted initiatives would, instead, have won wide public support. How is it possible that Democrats, through their own clumsiness and arrogance, have sabotaged healthcare reform yet again? Blaming obstructionist Republicans is nonsensical because Democrats control all three branches of government. It isn't conservative rumors or lies that are stopping healthcare legislation; it's the justifiable alarm of an electorate that has been cut out of the loop and is watching its representatives construct a tangled labyrinth for others but not for themselves. No, the airheads of Congress will keep their own plush healthcare plan -- it's the rest of us guinea pigs who will be thrown to the wolves.

HT: Jeff

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Another Buffalo Bill goes to the Hall

One of the greatest defensive ends to ever play football was enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame today. Bruce Smith played 19 seasons, all but one with the Buffalo Bills. He finished with 200 sacks, more than anyone since the stat began to be counted in 1982. I chose the picture above because it typified many battles with Miami Dolphin guard, Richmond Webb. Webb paid Smith this memorable compliment:

"He took no plays off. It was going to be 60 minutes of hell."

The Tide has indeed turned- Another Yankee Classic Finish

It's always sweet against the Red Sox.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Brothers Felich 2009 Produce

We are people of the you might say. We kill our meat and eat it and we grow our food by the sweat of our brow.

OK, that's bull.

The boys did plant their own choice crop to accent my tomato garden. Nico chose watermelon, the first was picked yesterday. AJ grew sweet corn which we ate on Wednesday. Poor Jordan tried to grow spinach (his choice, because he thought he could make "Espinaca" dip by growing it), but it got choked out by Nico's watermelons. Tough going for the little man this year. He seems unfazed by his crop failure, which is good.

Health Idolatry

"No, eating this stuff just makes you feel like your living longer"

The current focus on "Health Care" reform (in reality, it's health care costs that need reform) brings to light one of the driving forces behind the skyrocketing cost of health care- health idolatry.

Health idolatry is the worship of health.

The bible certainly gives general principles that compel us to be good stewards of the physical bodies God has given us. Paul writing to the Corinthians, a church dealing with all sorts of carnality, said-

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. -1 Corinthians 6:19-20

David extols the great creative act of God in giving him his body-

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. - Psalm 139:14

Further, Solomon speaks about being wise in this physical life so as to be good stewards of the amount of earthly time we have-

Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? -Ecclesiastes 7:16-17

Later in his same letter to the Corinthians Paul uses discipline of the body as a metaphor for spiritual discipline-

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control,lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. -1 Corinthians 9:24-27

By calling out "health idolatry" I do not mean to undercut clear Scriptural instruction regarding the faithful stewardship we are called to exercise concerning our physical bodies. Instead, I am referring to the seemingly ridiculous lengths people will go to stay healthy physically. I regularly meet people who are consumed with what they eat, how much they exercise, what kinds of medications, vitamins, diet pills and supplements they ingest, and obsess over every little ache or pain. Tae-bo, spin classes, Pilates, cycling, jogging, yoga, and on and on. There is no end to the publications and individuals who preach about eating foods that are "all-natural", free of trans-fats, chemicals, hormones, and all those other bad influences. More people are shopping at health food stores and buying ground up weeds (herbal "remedies") then every before in history. I just read that organic food sales should be roughly $33 billion by 2010, representing 4.8% of the total food market! One would think life expectancy would rise with such a spike in healthy eating, yet there has been no change in the U.S. for 15 years (it's currently 77.7). One might argue the jury is still out on the positive effect of health food ingestion, and maybe so, but does anyone really think a diet of expensive "health" foods will make a monumental difference? My blood pressure would rise every time I saw the health food bill, so eating "all natural" rice cakes wouldn't be worth it for me.

I could go on.

Why this infatuation with health? What's with "health idolatry"? I think it has to do with several fears people have:

1. People fear aging. People don't want to look old. People in our culture will go to crazy lengths to appear younger than they are. Plastic surgery, liposuction, blemish-removal, hair weaves, you name it, no matter the cost, many people will pay for it. There is a stigma with getting old in our culture. Instead of honoring gray hair and the wisdom it should represent, there's a shame attached with aging. So much is about looks today. People judge based on looks. People are scared of rejection they think aging will bring.

2. People fear illness. People don't like to suffer from or with sickness. We view sickness as entirely negative, as if it never fits in the plan of God. We don't want pain. Don't get me wrong, sickness stinks and should be avoided whenever possible, but living in fear of getting sick is futile. We will all die of sickness unless Christ comes back first. The one sure thing about your physical life is you will get sick and die. Period. Obsessive dietary and exercise habits coupled with life-altering germaphobic habits can really rule a persons life.

3. People fear the process of dying. Sickness is bad enough, but the process of dying is most to be loathed. Stave off death as long as you can by whatever means possible. How many people do you know that have died of cancer treatment before the actual cancer killed them? I know many. Again, don't get me wrong, there's plenty to live for so extending your physical life isn't wrong by any means, but worshiping this physical life can lead to excessive efforts causing you and your loved ones more pain, the very thing you were trying to avoid. Add to this fear our apprehension about what final sickness will do to our physical appearance. We don't want people to remember us the way we look physically when in the process of dying.

4. People fear what comes after death. Few people really think there is nothing after physical death. Polls consistently show the majority of people know that physical death is not the end. Despite this innate sense of the immortality of the soul, many people are outright scared about what comes after physical death. While not spoken of in the checkout line of the health food store or at the health club, there is an underlying fear of the life after that drives people to stay alive and be physically healthy.

Having said all this it strikes me that much of the current talk about "health care" for all Americans and the notion that health care is a human right may be driven by an overemphasis on physical health. Health idolatry might be making us irrational. Advancements in food processing, vitamin understanding and administration, medications, and exercise science are all gracious allowances from God, but their purpose is to give us a sense of praise for God, the ability to live more energetically for His service, and a manifestation of how we are fearfully and wonderfully made. At the same time, this side of the Fall, when our bodies break down there is opportunity for God to bring glory to Himself by giving us the grace necessary to believe Him when our bodies fail. Whether you believe Paul's "thorn in the flesh" to be physical or spiritual, His words apply to human weakness that is certainly shown when we get sick-

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

-2 Corinthians 12:7-9

I can understand how unbelievers would view health care as the most important thing on earth. If you fear what comes after death, indeed if you think it's the end, you might do whatever it takes to extend your earthly days. Physical life for many is existence. There is nothing else. This physical life is the end in the minds of myriads of people, don't tell them they can't do whatever it takes to live longer. No one should be denied this, right? Health worship I tell you. Health idolatry, don't you think?

Please don't take this post as a license to be unhealthy- that would be foolish and could even be sinful (gluttony is indeed a "deadly" sin). Don't take this as being insensitive to those dealing with sickness or toward those who have just lost a loved one because of sickness. Jesus was extremely compassionate toward the sick and so am I, by His grace. I hate what I see sickness do. It's an awful reminder of what's wrong with this sin-torn world. Do take this as a challenge to not be obsessed with physical health to the point of believing you are the one who ultimately controls such a thing. Don't worship this physical life, it's only a very small portion of the time you will exist-very small. One day those who are united to Christ by faith will receive new bodies fitted for eternity, set your mind on that!

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. - 1 Corinthians 15:42-49

So, pass those twinkies....just kidding...sort of.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Couldn't resist...

Lightening things up- reprising the Legend of the Revenator 07

Just over two years and 40 pounds ago Brian and I quick-made (like an hour or so) this little video to taunt the Westminster 8th graders who challenged me to a dodgeball match at their graduation party in the gym.

Back in 1997 when I came to Redeemer, our school Westminster Christian Academy had something like 25 students I was tagged to be the gym teacher. For four years I taught gym class which meant playing dodgeball 80% of the time (they got what they paid for). I loved dodgeball, especially taking on the whole class of kids while sitting in a wheelchair. That was sweet. Most of those students are well in to High School or going in to college, but when we see each other we get a chuckle about the "dodgeball days". One student never lets me forget my famous slogan- "Headshots are encouraged"!

Special Credits:

Videography, post-production, poor spelling, lawn mower victim: Brian Hough

Student Victims of Revenator attack: Mrs. Preston's 2007 Kindergarten class

Target Pictures: WCA 2007 7th and 8th Grade classes (many of whom are this years incoming 10th graders...some are still scarred)

The Revenator: Tony Felich

unfortunately no animals were harmed in the making of this film

I though this post would lighten the mood after some heavier posts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Loyal to the King...King Jesus that is

My recent post on the catechism of Pope Pius X generated disagreement from several Roman Catholic readers. While we have disagreed, I have appreciated their civil discourse but hold no allusions about there being some kind of reunion between Reformed Christians and Roman Catholics. I concur with C.S. Lewis' statement from an essay he wrote-

"As a Christian, I am very much aware that our divisions grieve the Holy Spirit and hold back the work of Christ; as a logician I realize that when two churches affirm opposing positions, these cannot be reconciled."

I am sure future posts will generate more such discussion, though I have no real confidence anyone's mind will be changed.

I do want to address a particularly clever response of one of the RC responders. "Reepicheep" is the namesake for my blog because he is my favorite fictional character. His loyalty to the King is ultimately what I so appreciate. Reep values loyalty to the King as paramount, it drives him. I chose Reepicheep as the name for this blog because I want to have the spirit of Reepicheep regarding King Jesus. Note how a very thoughtful Mr. Lyons responded-

"It's about your screen name, Reepicheep (Loyal to the King). One is hard pressed, in my mind, to be loyal to Aslan without also being loyal to the kings and queens he has set over Narnia. Unless, of course, one is simply unaware of the authority provided."

On the basis of the discussion generated by the "Pius Post", the responder was implying that I should be loyal to the "kings and queens" God has set over me/us, particularly meaning the Pope. A clever response, I have to grant him that.

But alas, I do think any person loyal to God must be loyal to those God has put over him. I believe I am aware of the authority God provided. God is specific about who He has put over me/us-

Psalm 2:6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

Luke 1:33 ...and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

There is only one Head of the Church and it isn't a Pope, it's Jesus. To be loyal to God I must be loyal to King Jesus. The Church is only legitimately The Church when she is loyal to King Jesus and whatsoever He commanded. Claiming ancient roots, aggressively promoting spurious doctrines like Apostolic succession, and quoting medieval theologians far more than offering a sound exegesis of myriads of biblical texts doesn't make an organization The Church.

Frankly, much of modern Roman Catholic apology reminds me of the Jews of Jesus' day with its claims of authority due to antiquity and century old traditions. Christ may be claimed as King by some of her parish names, but He's so obscured by the smells, bells, idols, rituals, Popery and pageantry that most RC's couldn't tell you the first thing about how to have a relationship with Him.

Most of the RC's that respond to my blog are former protestants not representative of the vast mass that identifies itself as Roman Catholic. To listen to the formerly Reformed RC's you might be lulled in to thinking most RC's know some semblance of the gospel. I spent a solid 18 years as an active Roman Catholic and a large portion of my family and many friends still are, I'm telling you most are clueless regarding what it means to be justified before God.

I know there are lots of Roman Catholic blogs that have been fired up by former protestants, mostly written to comfort each other and win more protestants to join their communion. It's all very interesting when blogged and theorized about, but as a pastor I grieve for the millions of Roman Catholics who do not trust in Christ as their Savior because they have not been given a clear exposition of what that means. I spent lots of time listening and asking questions. I wanted someone to give me answers at St. Stephen’s in Grand Island, New York. I sat faithfully every Sunday and Wednesday as a youngster thoroughly confused as to how I might be right with God. “Go to confession”, Father Snyder told me. “Attend Mass regularly” Father Judge told me. “Be sure not to miss CCD,” Father Hughes would say. When I asked too many questions I got catered off to Father Cahill’s study so he could tell me how reliable the Church was. I didn’t doubt him in the least, however asking more questions earned me a dis-invite from my CCD (confirmation) class so my mother could “work with me at home”. I wasn’t asking Reformation questions. I was asking how I could be right with God, I assure you. The answer I got was varied and confusing, but it came down to works. Do this, do that…it never ended and you could never be sure. Some here might say that’s not what the Church teaches, but I’m telling you that’s what millions hear. This ain't no straw man.

What I wanted them to do is confirm my feelings were true- I was a sinner. Then I wanted them to tell me how to be saved from my sins. It’s possible the answer was buried in the heap of Hail Mary’s and “Our Fathers” Father O’Brien made me say at confession, but I didn’t hear it. I don’t think many do. Why wouldn’t someone just say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” in all it’s beautiful simplicity?

Sure, some of the newly converted RC's will say that Christ is clearly taught in the Roman Catholic Church, somehow I just missed it. “I’m sorry you had such an experience Tony, but your experience shouldn’t be considered the norm”. I simply respond by saying that I meet dozens of RC's and rarely do I find one who was born and raised in the RC Church who can give any kind of cogent biblical description of the person and work of Jesus Christ. That's straight up. I think my experience is unusual only in that I kept asking questions and genuinely wanted to understand “my” religion and be faithful. Most people just shut up, take the Host each Sunday or Saturday night, and go back to their disconnected, irreligious lives immediately after.

So, will all those who call themselves Roman Catholic but lacking clear understanding of the gospel be saved because of their trust in the Roman Catholic Church?

I think not. No one should think so.

If a place claiming to be "The Church" cannot make clear the gospel of God's grace it ought to look at the jungle of traditional weeds and briar's that have obstructed and choked out Christ and cut them all down. Lo, such a church needs to reform. Maybe they're not really the Church they keep telling themselves they are.

When I read Hebrews (and Galatians for that matter), I know old Judaism is in view, but wow does it seem like Roman Catholicism could just as well be in view. As you might expect, the Westminster Confession captures my sentiments on the bible's teaching concerning the Church –

The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.

The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion;and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. (WCF, 25.1 & 2)

Being Reformed, especially as a former Roman Catholic is a major way I live out my loyalty to King Jesus. It wasn't a popular decision when I decided to leave Romanism. It came with a price I assure you, however, to be loyal to King Jesus I had no choice. Heck, being Reformed isn't even popular among Evangelicals, so it's not like I'm jumping on some kind of popular bandwagon in opposing Popery. I oppose Romanism as an act of loyalty to King Jesus.

Once again, I think the framers of the Westminster Confession of Faith rightly interpreted Scripture when declaring-

There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof. (WCF 25.6)

Matthew 23:8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.

So, I'll stick with's a perfect namesake.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hopefully this is a sign that Obamacare is unraveling

Our illustrious former governor and current HHS secretary Kathleen "I was never a member of congress" Sebelius stands to take questions about congress members not reading the 1000 page Obamacare health insurance bill before being ready to vote. She is standing with the Democrats newest pride and joy Arlen Specter and they respond together.

Hopefully this video clip gets circulated and continues to erode support for Obamacare.

Thanks Joe.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sproul on the Curse Motif of the Atonement

A year and a half ago I attended the Together for the Gospel conference and heard RC Sproul preach a powerful sermon on the "Curse Motif of the Atonement". As I prepared for my sermon this week I reviewed that sermon and found a highlight clip set to music. It's worth a look/listen.