Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Has America Gone Mad?

by Chuck Colson

Has Our Nation Gone Mad? What about Christians? If you were to agree, what are you doing about it? It's a scary proposition but I will never forget Edmund Burke's medicinally stinging quote: "The only thing necessary for for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." What Burke said has awakened me from the slumber of fear.

I'm constantly inspired by the intellect and principles of Chuck Colson.  Though he went to heaven in 2012, I believe his commentaries still resonate with great relevance and helpfulness in today's chaotic zeitgeist.

"This country has lost its mind. Just ask Soren Kierkegaard. OK, that’s a bit cryptic, but read today’s commentary, and I’m sure you’ll agree.

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your TV, there it was again—another mind-numbing story about politics.

You might have thought we’d catch a breath after President Obama’s historic election. But no, we’ve been treated to daily doses of political news ever since—the “historic” election of Republican Senator Scott Brown, Tea Party events, and weekly political scandals. Now, we’re looking ahead to November and the next “most historic election ever”—the one that will finally save America.

Are we all losing our minds, spending half our lives watching politics on the tube? I’m reminded of the words of Soren Kierkegaard, the 19th-century Danish philosopher. Almost 100 years before the invention of television, Kierkegaard predicted what would happen if such a thing were invented. “Suppose,” Kierkegaard wrote, “someone invented...a convenient little talking tube which could be heard over the whole land. I wonder if the police would not forbid it, fearing that the whole country would become mentally deranged.”

He was right: We are becoming deranged. We are succumbing to what French philosopher Jacques Ellul prophesied in the 1960s—the politicization of all aspects of life. Ellul foresaw the Information Age and the media’s need for a steady flow of information to feed the populace. Media therefore would gravitate to covering centers of power. Politicians would be willing accomplices, because they’d gain fame and clout.
We’ve succumbed to what Ellul predicted—the idea that every problem has a political solution. This, he warned, leads to increasing dependence on the state and decreasing citizen control of government.

The result: The structure of government becomes so unwieldy that it can hardly function. For example, we’ve spent billions fighting terrorism—but we couldn’t stop “the underwear bomber” from boarding a U.S.-bound plane, even though his name was on a terrorist watch list.

Ellul also foresaw that when government becomes all-intrusive, the intermediate structures that keep societies vibrant—families, churches, and voluntary associations—collapse and tyranny follows.

What’s the answer? First, we better recognize that politics is not the be-all and end-all. Politics is merely the expression of culture. Clean up culture—that’s our job—and politics will follow.

This happened when God’s people were awakened in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. England then was in worse straits than we are today, with slavery, child labor, and rampant political corruption. But along came William Wilberforce, the Oxford movement, and the Salvation Army. What followed was a great, century-long revival of Christian faith. England was not only saved in the Wesley revivals, it was stronger than ever.

So we as 21st-century Christians must do the same thing. And there is no time to lose. If, as I believe, the political illusion has America by the throat, there are only two likely outcomes—revolution, which is what the Tea Party people suggest (albeit peacefully), or tyranny.

God has acted again and again through His people to change history’s course. But for that to happen, the Church had better sober up, summon its spiritual resources, expose the political illusion, and begin to defend and live the Christian faith in our culture."


Monday, August 1, 2016

Racism and Discrimination: The Cry For Justice Against All Injustice – Psalm 7

by Jeremy J. Lundmark

“Arise, O Lord, in Your anger;
Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries,
And arouse Yourself for me;
You have appointed judgment.”
(Psalm 7:6)

“Do you long for that? Do you wish for wrong to be stopped and righteousness to be rewarded?  Christian, if you have no emotional disdain for injustice I’m not sure Christ can be in you.  His disdain for injustice drove Him to the cross.”

Have you ever been wronged?  Ever felt like the world was against you and justice never prevailed?  In Psalm seven David is under the thumb of his enemies and nothing seems to be going right.  His enemies seem to have an advantage over him and he is lead to write, or sing, this psalm.  The psalm begins with a simple cry for deliverance.  David declares that he will take refuge in His God. David will trust in Him alone to deliver him from his enemies.  There is an important lesson to be learned here.  When we are in distress we need to take refuge in God and not in our own devices.  Spurgeon writes:
Whatever may be the emergency of our condition we shall never find it amiss to retain our reliance upon our God. “O Lord my God,” mine by a special covenant, sealed by Jesus’ blood, and ratified in my own soul by a sense of union to thee; “in thee,” and in thee only, “do I put my trust,” even now in my sore distress. I shake, but my rock moves not. It is never right to distrust God, and never vain to trust him.”

Next, David addresses the accusations of his enemies. He declares his innocence of the charges laid against him and he calls for judgment against himself if the charges are true.  David is a man calling for justice in this Psalm.  He is not simply calling for justice against his enemies. In fact, to call for justice against only one’s enemies is itself unjust.  If we call for justice, we call for justice against all injustice.  David is right to begin with his own heart.  He lays his heart before God and says “If I have done any of these things then let my enemies crush me.”

His confidence is compelling.  When we go to God against our enemies we would do well to examine our own hearts first. If we want justice against our enemies, we ought to want it upon our own heads as well.  Let us be certain that the charge we bring against our enemies can not also be laid against us!  If we desire grace from our sinfulness we ought not to be surprised if God has grace on the sinfulness of our enemies.  Here, we see David confidently expunging himself of all the charges and submitting to the judgment of God if he is wrong about himself.

Spurgeon brings out another point from verses 3-5

From these verses we may learn that no innocence can shield a man from the calumnies of the wicked. David had been scrupulously careful to avoid any appearance of rebellion against Saul, whom he constantly styled “the Lord’s anointed;” but all this could not protect him from lying tongues. As the shadow follows the substance, so envy pursues goodness. It is only at the tree laden with fruit that men throw stones. If we would live without being slandered, we must wait till we get to heaven. Let us be very heedful not to believe the flying rumours which are always harassing gracious men. If there are no believers in lies there will be but a dull market in falsehood, and good men’s characters will be safe. Ill-will never spoke well. Sinners have an ill-will to saints… and they will not speak well of them.”

Though we may be just in all our actions we shouldn’t expect others to be just towards us in all their actions.  After all, Christ who was perfection incarnate was mocked, beaten, and crucified.  We should expect nothing less if we follow Him.

Next, David makes an appropriate turn in the psalm.  He suggests that if the accusations are false God ought to “Arise” and judge those who persecute him.  If injustice is prevailing he calls on the just judge of the universe to rise up, take His throne, and execute judgment.  It is a bold series of verses.  David speaks to God as if God has fallen asleep and gotten lazy on the judgment seat.  He says “Arise… Lift yourself up…Awake.”  This is not mockery.  It is David calling God to action. Notice in verse eight that David doesn’t simply call on God to execute justice against his enemies:

…judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.” ~Psalm 7:8

David’s inward desire is for pure justice.  He loves the law and if there is uncleanness in him he wants it gone.  If there is injustice in the world, he wants it gone.  If there is injustice in the universe, he wants it gone.  David is crying out to God for justice against ALL injustice.  He longs for a world where justice prevails and injustice is executed.  Do you long for that? Do you wish for wrong to be stopped and righteousness to be rewarded?  Christian, if you have no emotional disdain for injustice I’m not sure Christ can be in you.  His disdain for injustice drove Him to the cross.  If you are not in the slightest bit angered when a woman is raped, a child is molested, or a thief steals there’s a real problem there. Why?  David goes on to say that God is a righteous judge and He is indignant against unrighteousness all the time.  We are called to be “Like Christ” and be “Holy as He is Holy.”

David’s Psalm goes on to describe the way of the wicked and its inevitable outcome. God is a just judge and will most certainly execute judgment.
“If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.” ~Psalm 7:12, 13

The best words in this verse are “If a man does not repent.”  Those words give hope to all who have offended God.  They give hope to all who are in Adam.  It has always been the case that if we repent and believe in the provision of God for salvation, Christ, that we shall be spared.  However, woe to the one who does not repent.  In Genesis God flooded the earth and wiped out the vast majority of all living creatures and we are told that He put His bow in the sky.  That is a sign of the covenant.  Know this, His bow is still bent and readied against the wicked.  Those who do not repent have set themselves to war against the Almighty.  That is a war that they can never win.
“Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.” ~Psalm 7:14-16

What mean things men will do to wreak revenge on the godly. They hunt for good men, as if they were brute beasts; nay, they will not give them the fair chase afforded to the hare or the fox, but must secretly entrap them, because they can neither run them down nor shoot them down. Our enemies will not meet us to the face, for they fear us as much as they pretend to despise us. But let us look on to the end of the scene. The verse says, he “is fallen into the ditch which he made.” Ah! there he is, let us laugh at his disappointment. Lo! he is himself the beast, he has hunted his own soul, and the chase has brought him a goodly victim. Aha, aha, so should it ever be. Come hither and make merry with this entrapped hunter, this biter who has bitten himself. Give him no pity, for it will be wasted on such a wretch. He is but rightly and richly rewarded by being paid in his own coin. He cast forth evil from his mouth, and it has fallen into his bosom. He has set his own house on fire with the torch which he lit to burn a neighbor. He sent forth a foul bird, and it has come back to its nest. The rod which he lifted on high, has smitten his own back. He shot an arrow upward, and it has “returned upon his own head.” He hurled a stone at another, and it has “come down upon his own pate.” Curses are like young chickens, they always come home to roost. Ashes always fly back in the face of him that throws them.” ~C.H. Spurgeon