Eich Is Out. So Is Tolerance.

Eich Is Out. So Is Tolerance..

MoxFirefoxpicThis is another of those stories that will make you realize how intolerant and antagonistic our society has become toward those who support traditional marriage (Biblical, i.e., God-ordained and defined). This news item broke this week and it is just one more indicator of the fact that the pro-homosexual, anti-Christian crowd, for all its talk of tolerance and freedom, really only wants this for itself, not for those who stand for and support traditional values.

The fact that this man’s contribution “got out” because of an IRS leak only makes one more upset. With the continued slide into moral decay on the part of our country goes loss of freedom and privacy. We may expect more of this in the future. Signs of the times, these things are. Signs of Christ’s return – for judgment (on the impenitent) and salvation (for penitent believers). May our hope be fixed on that great day.

Here’s the story as posted April 3, 2014 at “The Foundry” (Heritage Foundation) – read the rest at the link above:

Mozilla Corp. co-founder Brendan Eich has resigned as CEO after a week of public pressure stemming from a campaign contribution he made six years ago. Eich supported the wrong cause; he supported California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

For some who favor the redefinition of marriage, tolerance appears to have been a useful rhetorical device along the way to eliminating dissent.

Eich, on the other hand, seems to have been quite tolerant. As Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, commenting on the development, said of  Eich’s 15 years at Mozilla:

I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness.”

 

The outrageous treatment of Eich  is the result of one private, personal campaign contribution to support marriage as a male-female union, a view affirmed at the time by President Barack Obama, then-Sen.  Hillary Clinton, and countless other prominent officials. After all, Prop 8 passed with the support of 7 million California voters.

Sunday Worship Preparation: Psalm 126

Psalm126As we enter the Lord’s gates of righteousness and joy today (Ps.118:19), we consider together Psalm 126, the seventh of the songs of ascent sung by God’s OT pilgrim people as they journeyed to Jerusalem for worship. Here is the Word of God in this song:

Psalm 126

When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.

2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.

3 The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

4 Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south.

5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

We can see immediately that the setting of this psalm is a late event in the history of Israel – the return from captivity in Babylon after 70 years (see also Psalm 137). And we also catch the note of joy and gladness – this is a celebratory psalm! The OT church is celebrating the joyful event of the return to Israel and Jerusalem with laughter and singing because it was the work of their sovereign God and Savior, v.2-3. Though it was the Persian king Cyrus who granted them release from Babylon, it was the Lord of Persia and Cyrus Who “turned again the captivity of Zion”, v.1 (Read the history of this again, especially in Isaiah, to see the Lord’s sovereignty over all the details of this event. You will recall that Cyrus is even called the Lord’s anointed servant, Is.45:1.)

In fact, it was the “LORD” – Jehovah, the faithful God of the covenant, the One Who remembered His promise to His own and Who never forgets or forsakes His people, no matter how much time goes by or how many events take place. The Lord of salvation set His people free from Babylon and restored them to the land of promise. And He did that in His love, mercy and grace for His elect remnant, because Christ was in them and they were in Him.

No wonder then that their mouths were filled with laughter and their tongues with singing! No wonder they sang praise to God and attributed this saving event to Jehovah! “The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad”, v.3. As in the time of harvest, God had turned their weeping into joy, vss.5-6. Sowing in tears, they now reaped with rejoicing, because the Lord had turned all things – even the troubles and temptations of the captivity in Babylon – for their good.

This glad song is also ours today. And even more so. For we know about a greater return from captivity. We know the reality to which the return from Babylon pointed and still points: to our release from the bondage of sin and the return to the joyful freedom  of serving God! To the perfect work of God’s highest Servant, Jesus Christ, Who for us miserable sinners went to Calvary to pay the full price of our release and return, even the wrath of God and the sufferings of hell. But Who also rose again from the dead for us and went to heaven for us and is coming again for us, so that someday we may fully leave the Babylon of this world and enter the joy of our Lord!

O, what great things the Lord has done for us! And for this we are glad, so glad! O, how our weeping has been turned into joy! So we laugh and we sing, and we worship and shout our praises to the God of our salvation! Today, on the Lord’s Day, the day of our risen, victorious Savior! And every day! For we have begun to live the endless life of our return to God, and the full day of rest is not far off. God’s Servant, our Savior, is soon coming to set us fully free and bring us home!

And so,  we, like the OT church, still pray, “Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south” (v.4). Even as we celebrate God’s work of turning again the captivity of Zion, we long for the full and perfect day. For we are still sit in the Babylon of this world. We still suffer from the remnants of our bondage to sin. Satan can still hinder us and hurt us. But our Lord is coming! The day of our full return is seen on the horizon! “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” May that be our prayer as we laugh and sing and celebrate God’s work for us today.

If you wish to meditate on Psalm 126 through the music of the Psalter, we post this versification of it and link you to the page where you may also find piano accompaniment.

1. When Zion in her low estate
Was brought from bondage by the Lord,
In ecstasy we sang for joy,
By grace and wondrous love restored.

2. The Lord in greatly blessing us
Before the world His power displays;
Yea, great things God has done for us,
And filled our hearts with joy and praise.

3. O Lord, refresh us by Thy grace,
Revive and quicken all our powers,
As failing streams are made to flow,
Replenished by abundant showers.

4. The sower bearing precious seed
May weep as in his toil he grieves,
But he shall come again with joy
In harvest time with golden sheaves.

Word Wednesday: “Hope”

HopeinJCAs we enter the new year today, I thought the word “hope” is appropriate. Hope is basically expectation of good, even of things and experiences that are better than before. Whenever we start a new year, we are filled with fresh hope. We all seek good; we all want things to be better than before. Only now, our hope must not be that of the unbelieving world (What good can they expect? What better things do they have to look forward to?), but the hope we have as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is how Webster’s New World College Dictionary (4th edition) defines hope. As you think about these points, fill them in (and fill them out!) with our sure hope in Christ according to His promises to us in His Word.

1. a feeling that what is wanted is likely to happen; desire accompanied by expection

2. the thing that one has hope for

3. a reason for hope

4. a person or thing on which one may base some hope

5. trust; reliance

And now here from the Bible is our gospel hope – determined by, defined by, and delivered to us by our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ:

Psalm 16:

8I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

9Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

11Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 39:7-  And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

Psalm 43:5 – Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Romans 5:1-5: Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Phil.1:20-21 – According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

1 Thess.5: 8But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Titus 1:2 – In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 2: 11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 6: 17Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

1 Peter 1: 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

May God grant you a truly HOPE-filled 2014!

“In 2014, Heaven is Still Our Hope”

SBLogoSuch is the title Prof.Barrett Gritters gives to his editorial in the January 1, 2014 issue of the The Standard Bearer. In the face of the contemporary enemies of the gospel who speak of heaven (and hell!) as being only on this earth and in the here and now, Prof.Gritters writes about the believer’s only true hope in this world of sin, suffering and sorrow – his glorified perfection in heaven in the presence of his precious Savior.

Below is some of what he wrote. I pray that it encourages you to remember what we live for and aim for, also in 2014. A blessed New Year to you and yours!

Although I would be heckled off the podium at most Christian universities and even Reformed colleges if I began a speech with such a line, I still confess with all the conviction my heart can muster: ‘Heaven is still my hope. Heaven is still my home.’

As the year of our Lord 2014 begins, my prayer for you, readers of the the Standard Bearer, is that you still hope for heaven, too.

We look to the future and embrace what our hearts are set on: heaven. As the world becomes increasingly wicked, we await with joyful anticipation our life in the presence of God and His saints – in heaven. As the church becomes more and more apostate, caring little for biblical righteousness and less for truth, we eagerly await heaven. As we become older, our thoughts more and more turn to our future home – to heaven and dwelling in eternity with God.

This is our hope.

…The deep error of those whose hopes have gone offtrack is to ignore the truth that Jesus is coming again – physically and bodily, as He ascended (Acts 1:11). Coming again for judgment. Coming again to redeem His earthly creation. Coming to resurrect those who fell asleep in Him and to change their bodies into heavenly bodies just as He changed their souls into heavenly souls when they died (I Cor.15!). Coming soon.

This earth will be destroyed. It is not salvageable by man. The political machines of the world will not be Christianized. The court systems of this world will not mete out justice, but more and more promote wickedness and condemn the godly. And when the cup of iniquity has been filled and the people of God are persecuted for standing for truth, then believers will cry out more than they do now, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Rend the heavens, and come down! Deliver us from our adversaries! And justify Thyself before all those who have rejected Thee!’

The hymn was right: ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.’

In 2014, our hope is still heaven (pp.148-151).

Top 10 News Stories of 2013 – The Associated Press

News from The Associated Press.

yearinreviewPosted over a week ago already is the Associated Press’ annual list of its top stories of the year. For 2013 the top story was the botched rollout of Obamacare, with the Boston Marathon terrorist attack second. Below is the AP’s own introduction; to view its list, click on the link above.

As always, when we review the year in this way, we are reminded not only of the increasing wickedness of man but also of the unchanging sovereignty of our God, Who is in the heavens and does as He pleases (Psalm 115:3), also in and through the wickedness of man. And through the eye-glasses of God’s Word we learn to discern the signs of our Lord’s return. He is coming – in judgment and in mercy – and 2013 proved that again!

NEW YORK (AP) — The glitch-plagued rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul was the top news story of 2013, followed by the Boston Marathon bombing and the dramatic papal changeover at the Vatican, according to The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The saga of “Obamacare” – as the Affordable Care Act is widely known – received 45 first-place votes out of the 144 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. The marathon bombing received 29 first-place votes and the papal transition 21.

Other strong contenders were the bitter partisan conflict in Congress and the leaks about National Security Agency surveillance by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

Visit this page to see the list of top stories.

P.S. For some news closer to home for the year 2013, the Grand Rapids Press has once again published its top 25 pictures for this year, including this most memorable one from the Spring flooding (see below). These images too bring back lots of memories, the happy and the sad. Here’s the introduction to these memories:

We published thousands of photos this year in our MLive galleries and in The Grand Rapids Press documenting the moments that make up our lives in West Michigan. Historic flooding, ArtPrize and Griffins hockey players lifting the Calder Cup gave us memorable images to capture as did the installation of a new Bishop and a family celebrating the birth of another child, a 12th son. Here are 25 of our favorite images from 2013.

GRFlooding-duck

The Binding of Satan by D.Kelly & an Interesting Interview with J.Beeke

The Binding of Satan by Douglas Kelly | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Dec2013My Sunday periodical reading included the next feature article on this month’s Tabletalk theme, “The Millennium”. Written by Dr. Douglas F.Kelly, professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Charlotte, NC, it carries the above title, and is a soundly Reformed (amillennial) interpretation of the binding of Satan as described in the classic passage on the millennium, Rev.20. I recommend it to you for your own reading and understanding of this important passage.

Here is the conclusion to his study – from which we may take great comfort and confidence in the face of the devil’s power:

Although the evil one still has limited power in a fallen world, it is far less than what he had when he was able to bind and blind all nations outside Israel. And believers can still overcome even Satan’s limited power, for James 4:7 commands us, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Revelation 12:11 testifies of the embattled saints that “they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Hence, on the foundational truth of Satan’s having been bound from blinding the nations, the church may daily pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10), and find comfort in God’s assurance: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (Ps. 2:8).

I also read with interest the interview feature, which this month is with Dr.Joel R.Beeke, who as you may know lives and labors here in Grand Rapids, MI (Heritage Reformed Congregation and Puritan Reformed Seminary).

While we do have our differences with the theology of Beeke at certain key points (doctrine of the covenant, call of the gospel, etc.), he is a lover and promoter of good books, including the writings of the Puritans.

Part of the interview included a discussion of books, so it is that part of the interview I post here for your benefit. The KJV Study Bible project in particular will be of interest to us, I believe. To read the entire interview, visit this Ligonier link.

TT: What new projects are in the works at Reformation Heritage Books (RHB)?

JB: We are working on three massive projects right now at RHB. The first is a KJV study Bible, projected for print in 2015. It will be the first KJV study Bible that is thoroughly Reformed and helpful for fathers in leading family worship. The second project is the complete works of William Perkins, one of the fathers of Puritanism, in ten volumes. His works have not been printed since the early seventeenth century. The third project, in conjunction with the Dutch Reformed Translation Society, is the translation into English of Petrus VanMastricht’s extensive Reformed theology, which explores each point from biblical, doctrinal, polemical, and practical perspectives. Jonathan Edwards said it was the best thing ever written besides the Bible.

TT: Why should twenty-first century Christians read the Puritans?

JB: The Holy Spirit revived the church in the Reformation and Puritan era, filling jars of clay (men such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Perkins, John Owen, John Bunyan, and Jonathan Edwards) with treasures of spiritual gold. God illuminated the Reformers to rediscover fundamental biblical truths about salvation and worship. The Puritans wedded vibrant spirituality to a rich, Bible-based theology. Reading their writings moves your soul with awe at God’s glory, builds up your mind with faith in the truths of Scripture, ignites your heart with love for Christ the all-sufficient Savior, and expands your life out of its shrunken puddle of selfishness to expect great things from God and to attempt great things for God. In other words, the Puritans give us fuel for worship and missions.

December Tabletalk: Comforting Eschatology – Eric Watkins, etc.

Comforting Eve by Eric Watkins | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Dec2013The Tabletalk article I reference today is not part of the main features (on the theme of the millennium this month – see last Monday’s post), but belongs to a regular rubric in this magazine. Under the “Pastor’s Perspective” rubric Rev.Eric Watkins, pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in St.Augustine, FL (PCA), wrote a fine piece with the above title – “Comforting Eve”.

And yet Watkins wrote with the general theme in mind, for he ties together the comfort believers need in their trials with eschatology (the doctrine of the last things). And he focuses on the first woman in the Bible, Eve. It is a perspective with which we are perhaps familiar because of the mother-promise given to Eve (Gen.3:15), and yet Watkins casts it in a new light, which I found very comforting.

Perhaps women especially will find comfort in this article – broken-hearted wives and mothers. But so will us men, for sin and suffering has broken many a manly heart as well.

I encourage you to read the entire article at the Ligonier link above, but here is a portion of it to encourage that encouragement:

Eve bears two sons, but neither is the son she was promised. In fact, one will kill the other. What woman could endure this? A failed husband, her own failures, and now in the dawning hours of hope, her older son murders the younger, and thereby prolongs her darkness. The enmity begins—two kingdoms, two cities, and the first visible death. Both in her lifetime, both from her womb. Is it too much to call Eve the mother of the broken-hearted?

What could possibly comfort her and reunite her with her younger son? What could reverse the curse upon her family? What could turn these long nights of sadness into an eternal day of gladness? And for Eve’s daughters and sons, what can truly comfort us when the dearest of things in this life are taken? When the sufferings of life seem to be more than we can endure? When this world, or our family, or perhaps even our spiritual family hurts us with wounds too deep for words?

It is here that we must admit that trite clichés of good intentions barely comfort us at all. Some wounds are simply too deep for earthly consolation. We must, by faith, join Eve and the choir of the broken-hearted, who often sing their songs of praise through a veil of tears. We must learn, with Eve, to long for the coming Son who is better than Adam and Abel, and to rest in His word of promise. He has come and is yet coming again, and through His Spirit we are assured of our eternal consolation.

For those who also want to read the next feature article on the theme of the millennium, Dr.Cornelis Venema of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, IN wrote a good article on Rev.20:4-6 from an amillennial perspective. It is titled “Reigning With Christ” and I link it here.

Concerning the Millennium – December “Tabletalk”

Not a Simple Matter by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Dec2013As we begin a new month, the final one of 2013, we take a brief look at the latest issue of Ligonier Ministries’ Tabletalk magazine. This issue is devoted to the theme of “The Millennium”, i.e., the varying views found in the church today on the end of the world and the return of Jesus Christ, especially as set forth in Revelation 20.

Burk Parson provides his customary introduction to this topic under his editor’s column “Coram Deo – Before the Face of God”. He titles this editorial “Not a Simple Matter”, describing how the church has struggled to understand Revelation 20 and other passages relating to eschatology. Here is his closing paragraph:

If you are among the many Christians who find it difficult to understand eschatology (the doctrine of last things) and have found yourself in a quandary in the millennial maze, you are not alone. Even some of the church’s greatest scholars, past and present, have admitted their own struggle to understand the Bible’s teaching on the last things and the millennium. It is not a simple matter. Nevertheless, it is a biblical matter and therefore an important matter, one we should never stop studying as we continually strive to rightly divide the Word of Truth for our edification and for God’s glory as we eagerly anticipate the return of our conquering King, Jesus Christ, when we will see Him and reign with Him coram Deo, before His face forever.

Yesterday I also read the first main article on “The Millennium”. Keith Mathison in his article “The Millennial Maze” provides an overview of the four major views of eschatology: historic premillennialism, dispensational premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism. Though brief, Mathison’s descriptions are accurate and also give concrete examples of figures in the church who have held these positions.

This is how Mathison opens his article (with a little humor):

I once heard someone define the millennium as a thousand-year period of time during which Christians fight over the proper interpretation of the book of Revelation. While amusing, that definition is obviously incorrect. Christians have been fighting over the proper interpretation of the book of Revelation for two thousand years. In all seriousness, however, all of the fighting has led some Christians to adopt despairingly a position they call panmillennialism (we don’t know which view of the millennium is correct, but we know it will all pan out in the end).

While we may smirk at these comments, and also acknowledge the difficulty in understanding the Bible’s teaching on the return of our Lord, we should also be clear that the problem is NOT the Bible’s clarity, but our own frail and feeble understanding.

It is inconceivable that Jesus would leave us in the dark about such an important event, and indeed we believe that His teachings are plain and simple. But because of our own limited understanding, as well as sin and pride, we do not grasp His teaching as we ought.

Having said that, I firmly believe that the amillennial position – in spite of the shortcomings of its name – is the correct one, and that all the others are in error on this matter. To my mind this position best reflects the plain and simple teaching of the Word of God. And, I might add, also the teaching of the historic creeds of the church (especially the Reformed creeds).

May God give us true light on this important doctrine even as we live in these last days. And may that true light give us true hope for the one, final coming  of our Savior and Lord.

Colorado floods – “The Big Picture”

Colorado floods – The Big Picture – Boston.com.

Last week the Front Range region of northern Colorado (including Loveland, where we have a PRC congregation) experienced heavy rains and severe flooding – some of the news reports even calling it flooding of “Biblical” proportions. The Boston Globe as part of its “Big Picture” feature this week (Sept.18) posted some pictures of the devastation caused by these rains and susequent floods.

Indeed this flooding is “Biblical”, not because it rivaled the great Flood described in Genesis 6-7, but because the Bible tells us the Lord of creation and history is sovereign over every rain drop and over every rushing river, and because it tells us that also through such floods God reveals that He is coming – coming to judge and destroy (the unbelieving and impenitent) but also coming to save and glorify (His believing and repentant people).

May we stand in awe of the power of our God and see again the footsteps of Jesus Christ making His way to return in glory. Click on the link above to see the pictures.

Worse Than Fiction: Euthanasia is Real!

Worse Than Fiction.

Daily_Commentary_9_18_13

This “Breakpoint” commentary was sent to me by a reader, and I believe it is worth sharing with the rest of you. We know euthansia is being practiced in parts of the world, because it has been sanctioned in certain countries – so-called “civilized” countries, including the Netherlands. But the crass reality of it as described here may still shock us. And, according to the reports we are hearing, it is not far from our own land. In fact, should we doubt is not already being practiced?

Read this article linked above, and see another reason why the Lord is coming in judgment on this wicked world.

At the 21st European Conference on Thoracic Surgery last May, a paper presented by a group of Belgian doctors reported on “Lung Transplantation with Grafts Recovered From Euthanasia Donors.” Yes, you heard me correctly.

According to the abstract, between January 2007 and December 2012, six patients received pulmonary grafts using tissue from euthanized donors. The abstract states that the euthanasia was carried out “in accordance with state legislation and approval by Ethics Committee.”

The “donors” were described as suffering “from an unbearable neuromuscular . . .  or neuropsychiatric . . . disorder” and had expressed an “explicit wish to donate organs.”

So as not to seem too ghoulish, “Euthanasia was executed by an independent physician in a room adjacent to the operating room in the absence of the retrieval team.”

Or, as Wesley J. Smith summed it up, “One set of doctors killed the patient, stepped out of the room, and another set of doctors entered for the harvest.”

The Belgian doctors’ hope is that “More euthanasia donors are to be expected with more public awareness.”

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