Just What Exactly Did Those Angels Say?

We all know the words, as recorded in the King James Bible and placed in a number of Christmas carols: “peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” But that was the King James version, and I’ve always questioned its accuracy. It seems rather indiscriminate, this goodwill to men, almost like sentimental humanism.

It’s always best to check other translations: For instance, the New American Standard says, “peace on earth among men with whom He is pleased.” Now that is different. It stresses that peace will come only to those who please God.

We see the same emphasis in the New International Version: “peace to men on whom His favor rests.” God’s favor rests on those who respond to Him. Yes, His love is unconditional, but His favor is something else.

I have an interlinear Greek-English New Testament, which translates as follows: “peace among men of good will.” Again, there is the concept of man’s response–you must be someone of good will to obtain His peace.

So when we see those words this Christmas, let’s not just fall into the worldly way of understanding them. The world loves the King James translation because it can turn its phrasing into a lack of personal responsibility. I don’t believe that is what is intended at all.

Peace on earth, and within each individual on earth, is obtained only through a restored relationship with the God of all. That restored relationship is available via the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no other alternative.

In a Celebrity-Mad World . . .

As a people, we seek heroes. Sometimes, we manufacture them:

At times, we even go further:

Yet, in the midst of all this hype, there is one true “hero” and only one Messiah:

May this be a real Christmas for everyone who reads this.

What's in a Name?

How Does Being the Daughter of a Former President Qualify One to Be a Senator?
How Does Being the Daughter of a Former President Qualify One to Be a Senator?

If Hillary Clinton is confirmed as Secretary of State, someone will need to fill her spot as Senator from New York. It appears, as of today, that the leading contender for the seat is Caroline Kennedy, daughter of JFK.

What particular qualifications does she possess that would make her the best senator for the state? As many are noting, her biggest qualification seems to be her name. If she gets the seat, it will be by appointment of the governor. She won’t even have to stand before the people of New York and explain why she should be representing them.

Now, Caroline Kennedy is hardly the first person to be in the Senate who has no real qualifications for the job, but this is particularly disturbing because she will get the position primarily because her family name is famous. We’re not supposed to have royal families in America, but that’s how it sometimes goes.

Of course, I could just as easily question Hillary Clinton’s experience in foreign affairs. Having teas with foreign leaders while First Lady is hardly a qualification. One cartoonist has captured my views precisely.

Jonah Goldberg has a fine article comparing the experience of Caroline Kennedy with Sarah Palin. You can find it here:

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NWRmYWJlZGJlYzJjYTM0M2VlYzdlN2ZhYjMxZDQ0OGE=

After writing all of the above, I found that Kennedy has answered some questions about her beliefs. You can find the article from the New York Times by going here:

 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/nyregion/21kennedy.html?_r=1&hp

It’s easy to summarize her views: pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion (including partial-birth), pro-amnesty on immigration, anti-gun, pro-bailout, pro-union (including “card check”), anti-voucher, and anti-nuclear power. As Amanda Carpenter of Townhall.com puts it, “In other words, she’s just another knee-jerk, doctrinaire, New York liberal.”

Warren & the President-Elect

The latest political controversy that involves the Christian faith is one I’ve had to think about more than usual. Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback megachurch in California, has been tabbed by Obama to offer the invocation at the inauguration.

My first reaction was one of disbelief: how could Warren possibly join Obama on the platform and invoke God’s blessing on his administration?

My second reaction was to think more about the responsibility we all have as Christians to pray for our elected leaders, no matter how much we may disagree with them. Perhaps, I reasoned, this is God’s way of putting someone with His heart near the heart of this new administration. After all, didn’t Billy Graham counsel both Democrat and Republican presidents?

The prophet Daniel served at the court of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. His presence there was a way that God used to bring His message to that pagan monarch.

Christians do have a responsibility to pray for government officials. If we have the opportunity to influence them, we need to take it. So why should I not want Warren to pray at the inauguration?

I know all of this, yet I still have trouble with this latest development. If Obama wants to receive counsel from Warren or any other evangelical with a proper understanding of God’s righteousness on issues of public policy, that is one thing–and it would be a cause for rejoicing. But to pray at the inaugural itself is tantamount to a public profession of solidarity with the new president. Our role is to hold up God’s standard and lead officials closer to what He intends for government. I’m afraid that Warren’s presence on that platform will appear to be more of an endorsement.

Now, I know Warren does not endorse Obama’s views on abortion, and that his church took a decided stand against homosexual marriage. It’s possible that people will realize this, and in the eyes of those who are part of the great American “middle,” that confused mass of humanity that doesn’t know what it thinks, hearts and minds may be opened to rethink their views.

Already the main problem is that Obama is getting grief from his homosexual supporters, as they demand that Warren be removed from the agenda. Perhaps that reaction will accomplish the opposite of what the protesters desire; people may reject their protest.

I understand the various possibilities for how this could turn out, and some of it could be for the good. Yet I remain unconvinced. I ask myself, “Could I do what Warren is being asked to do?” Quite honestly, I could not.

I welcome the perspectives of my readers on this issue. As long as your comment is civil, I will publish it.

Does Anyone Consider Constitutionality Anymore?

We are naturally focused on the billions being poured out currently to stave off economic collapse (which it may do temporarily, but not long-term). Yet the only reason we find it so easy to spend that money is because we have a culture in the government that says everyone should receive something from the taxpayers.

Every so often, someone releases a list of where taxpayer money is going. Thanks to Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma for the latest. Here are samples, with my comments:

  • $188,000 for Lobster Institute in Maine, home of the “LobsterCam” [I was unaware the Lobster Institute was a government agency–and why are we spying on the poor lobsters?]
  • $1 million for bike paths on Louisiana levees while levees await basic repairs [Does this mean you can enjoy viewing the devastation?]
  • $2.4 million for a  retractable shade canopy at a park in West Virginia [Undoubtedly another project approved by Sen. Byrd; do you think this canopy will be named after him, like everything else in West Virginia?]
  • $24.6 million for the National Park Service’s 100th year birthday in 2016 – 8 years early [Well, we wouldn’t want to wait until the last moment]
  • $3.2 million on a blimp the Pentagon does not want [Anytime you can find anything the Pentagon doesn’t want, don’t buy it]
  • $367,000 wasted by a Texas school board on items like an inflatable alligator and under-the-sea waterslide, among other things [Now this is exactly what the federal government needs to be focusing on–the national security implications are staggering]
  • $5 million for a bridge to a zoo parking lot in St. Louis [So is this a “federal” zoo?]
  • $9,000 for a non-functioning airplane-shaped gas station in Tennessee [At least it’s non-functioning, thereby making it similar to most government programs]
  • $300,000 for specialty potatoes for high-end restaurants [Thank goodness they are “specialty” potatoes and not ordinary ones–we wouldn’t want to waste money on something ordinary]
  • The one factor all these expenditures have in common is that there is no authority in the Constitution for Congress to legislate or spend for any of them. At least Congress is being consistent.

    Teaching in Puerto Rico

    My Lodgings at YWAM

    My Lodgings at YWAM

    I am in Puerto Rico this week, teaching church history at the Youth with a Mission (YWAM) base in Juncos. I have been coming here for the last six years, teaching primarily in the School of the Bible. Besides church history, I also offer a week-long series on Biblical worldview and another on American history.

    Being here is always a highlight for me. The students are eager to learn and devoted to developing into what the Lord wants them to be. The base also has a passion for evangelism, primarily in China.

    One of my goals the past few years has been to learn as much Spanish as possible. I seem to make advances, only to have my schedule reverse my achievements. Finding the time to learn another language when you are a fulltime professor, trying to write another book, and blogging in your spare time, is not easy. Someday . . .

    The Ultimate Moderate

    Hillary Clinton: How Did She Become a Moderate?
    Hillary Clinton: How Did She Become a Moderate?

    One of the supreme ironies of this election season has been the labeling of Hillary Clinton as a moderate. She is now Obama’s choice for Secretary of State, probably the highest position in his cabinet.

     How did she win the moderate label? After all, isn’t this the person who attempted to make the federal government the overseer of all health care back in the 1990s? Did anyone ever call her a moderate prior to this campaign? In fact, she was conservatives’ worst nightmare before Obama took the spotlight.

    If she is moderate, that is only in relation to the positions taken by Obama. The word “moderate,” like “conservative” and “liberal,” is a relative term. What have we come to when we consider Hillary Clinton to be a moderate?

    So, if you have read my previous two posts along with this one, you have probably perceived that I’m not at all convinced we are experiencing a revival of moderation.