Hebrews 12:1-2

"..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Judging Angels

In the middle of a discourse about Christians bringing lawsuits against fellow Christians, Paul takes a brief detour to state the following in 1 Corinthians 6:3:

Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?

Paul appears to be asking a rhetorical question to prove his point about how harmful and shameful (1 Cor 6:5) to the Gospel such lawsuits are. After reading this passage today, I asked myself the question: "Did I know we were going to judge angels?" The immediate response was "No". I don't recall ever hearing anyone speak on the topic. I could not recall any passage elsewhere in the Bible that references Christians judging angels. So I went looking for some commentaries on this verse.

Barnes' New Testament Notes (Albert Barnes) :
Probably the reference is to fallen angels, as there is no account that holy angels will then undergo a trial... Or, perhaps, this may mean that the saints shall in the future world be raised to a rank in some respects more elevated than even the angels in heaven... In what respects they will be thus elevated, if this is the true interpretation, can be only a matter of conjecture. It may be supposed that it will be because they have been favoured by being interested in the plan of salvation—a plan that has done so much to honour God; and that to have been thus saved by the immediate and painful intervention of the Son of God, will be a higher honour than all the privileges which beings can enjoy who are innocent themselves.

Commentary Critical and Explanation of the Whole Bible (Robert Jamieson):
judge angels—namely, bad angels. We who are now "a spectacle to angels" shall then "judge angels." The saints shall join in approving the final sentence of the Judge on them (Jude 6). Believers shall, as administrators of the kingdom under Jesus, put down all rule that is hostile to God. Perhaps, too, good angels shall then receive from the Judge, with the approval of the saints, higher honors.

While this is a verse about angels being judged that I do not recall knowing, it is not clear to me how Jude 6 reflects any participation of the Saints in judging the angels.

Commentary on Corinthians - Volume 1 (John Calvin):
As, however, Paul speaks here in the future tense, as referring to the last day, and as his words convey the idea of an actual judgment, (as the common expression is,) it were preferable, in my opinion, to understand him as speaking of apostate angels.

In several places, I found reference to a verse in Matthew 29 and one in Galatians that were used to defend the stance of Christians judging angels. I am not sure that the reference of Matthew 19:28 explicitly refers to all Christians or if it was specific to the 12 disciples. While it is possible that this reference could indeed show that Christians are going to act as judges of the twelve tribes of Israel, it doesn't mention anything specific to angels. Galatians 1:8 verifies that there are angels who do present a distorted or untrue Gospel and that they should be cursed by the Saints. However, to me this verse appears to be speaking of our encounters with false doctrines and demons while on the Earth.

As such, taking into account the limited amount fo time I have devoted to studying this idea of Christians judging angels, I have reached two conclusions. The first is that although I did not remember ever hearing about this topic and did not recall the verse in 1 Corinthians, I believe that Paul wrote it as inspired by the Holy Spirit. As such, I believe that we will judge angels, even though I do not know how that judgement will take place. The second conclusion, and perhaps the most important, is that God has used this tiny verse to capture my attention today, causing me to conduct a deeper study of His Word than I would have done otherwise.

While I may not have reached any greater depth of knowledge about the topic than when I had begun, at least I now know that there have been other, much more brilliant, theological minds that have reached similar conclusions, and in reading their thoughts and study on the matter, I have learned more from God's Word. I celebrate that today I have been reminded of the truth of 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pass the Pork Already

I find more and more information everyday that relates to why the Government Spending Bill is a terrible idea. It's easy to read the opinions of other bloggers and columnists and dismiss them as having other political agendas to promote, but when economists, economic professors and Nobel Laureates speak out against the bill as well, I think that people who don't know economics might want to take heed. It's also worth reading through the eight pages of why some of the more highly educated people in the world of economics think this is a terrible idea.

There's a reason why our President wanted to try and have this bill passed quickly and it doesn't appear to have much to do with helping the economy. I believe that he knows that most of this bill is a farce and he knows that the longer its passage is delayed the more people will have a chance to read it and speak out against it. Support for the bill is beginning to wane in the public eye and these sorts of polls tend to help politicians who might be wavering in their support to find their backbone again. Let's hope this is the case.

Some of the things that have been added to this bill at the last moment are truly frightening. The creation of new government positions with the power to implement far-reaching change in the health care industry ought to make people stand up and take notice.

For those of you who are visual learners like me, here's a graph showing the expenses of the proposed bill and how they will be paid out over time.

Here's a good list of 10 reasons to oppose the bill.

(HT: Dana)

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Government Spending Bill

I've been reading a lot about the Economic Stimulus Bill and wanted to attempt to capture some of the information I have gathered on the web. There are a ton of good articles and posts out there that are worth reading when it comes to the far-reaching aspects of this bill. I disagree on a fundamental level with increasing the size of government, which this bill would drastically do. I find it laughable that people could read what is included in this bill and still honestly believe it will help stimulate the economy. Hopefully, the more people hear about the erroneous claims attached to this bill, the more our representatives in Washington will hear from their constituents about how idiotic this bill is.

Do the research for yourself people! Read the bill and for each item included therein ask yourself the question "Does this immediately stimulate the economy? If the answer is no, then that item should not be included in this bill. Are there a few items in this bill that are worthwhile in the short run? Sure, but they are vastly overshadowed by the ridiculous amount of pork that has been attrached to this bill.

Justin Taylor :
Harvard economics professor Robert Borro: "This is probably the worst bill that has been put forward since the 1930s. I don't know what to say. I mean it's wasting a tremendous amount of money. It has some simplistic theory that I don't think will work, so I don't think the expenditure stuff is going to have the intended effect. I don't think it will expand the economy. And the tax cutting isn't really geared toward incentives. It's not really geared to lowering tax rates; it's more along the lines of throwing money at people."
Amanda Shaw:
It’s 1.1 times ten to the twelfth power, or 1,100,000,000,000. To put that in perspective, the Family Research Council has pulled out a calculator and crunched some numbers. With $1.1 trillion, the grand total so far of Obama’s stimulus plan, we could pave the entire US interstate highway system with 23.5-karat gold, we could build 16.6 million Habitat for Humanity houses, we could hire 1.9 million teachers.

To put this further in perspective:
* The Marshall Plan cost $12.7 billion ($115.3 billion, adjusted for inflation)
* The space race cost $36.4 billion ($237 billion with inflation)
* The Korean War cost $54 billion ($454 billion with inflation)
* The New Deal cost $32 billion (estimated; $500 billion with inflation)
* The invasion of Iraq cost $551 billion ($597 billion with inflation)
* The Vietnam War cost $111 billion ($698 billion with inflation)

So, the total cost of the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, and the New Deal—using all figures adjusted for inflation—is less than that of the current economic stimulus package. That’s how much $1.1 trillion is.
Wild Walker World:
A portion of the response from Congressman Todd Akin(MO):
To give you a sense of just how large the stimulus package is, the House-passed version is:

o Almost the size of Mexico's economy ($893 billion in 2007).
o 33.7% larger than all spending on Social Security
o 33.4% more than the defense budget.
o 24.6% more than federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid combined.

Additionally, allow me to list a few of my personal concerns with the Democrat's bill:

o It will cost $10,520 per family in debt spending. In fact, some economists say it would be cheaper to give every working family in America a one-year tax holiday.
o Only $26 Billion or 7% of the proposed stimulus funds will be spent in 2009.
o Only $30 Billion or 3 percent - throughout the life of the entire stimulus package would be directed towards "shovel ready" road and highway projects.
o The bill also circumvents the regular budget process by creating 32 new programs at a cost of $136 billion.
o It contains $16.4 billion in new spending for federal agencies - including office furniture at the Public Health Service.
o It spends $54 billion on 19 programs rated by the Office of Management and Budget as "ineffective" or "results not demonstrated." President Obama has said that we can no longer afford to be "squandering billions of tax dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness." Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi's House majority has chosen to put forward legislation that is inconsistent with the President's vision for "smarter" government.

Finally, I could not support H.R. 1 because I believe history demonstrates that when government removes billions of dollars from the economy in the name of "stimulus," the result is not a shortened recession but a prolonged depression.
Washington Times:
President Obama's economic recovery package will actually hurt the economy more
in the long run than if he were to do nothing, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Shouts of Joy

Today was a big day in the life of our church. The candidate that the Pastor Search Committee presented to the church yesterday was to preach view of a call in both of our service times. I was incredibly excited to hear the message God was going to give to us through this man and I was hoping that a lot of people would be blessed through the service time.

The PSC had thought through how this day should be scheduled and had recommended that we delay the vote until after the second service. This would allow our entire church body to gather together as one unified body for this critical vote in the life of our church. I cannot recall any other time in the last ten years that our church has gathered together in such a fashion and I was looking forward to the event.

After our Sunday School hour, we headed upstairs to the sanctuary for the second service. They began the service with some announcements, reiterating when the vote would take place and explaining the process once more for the attendees. Our PSC chairman read through the official introduction of the candidate and then we prayed for the day. At this point, my excitement was building, but I felt that there was a lot of it already in the room. When we began singing, the difference in that time of worship was readily apparent. People were not merely attending the service; they were participating in the service. The voices that arose around me spoke to the magnificence of the Lord. I stood in the pew singing along with my brothers and sisters and felt the presence of the Lord and couldn't help but cry my way through the final song.

As the candidate began his sermon, you could feel the excitement level in the room increase with each passing moment. God was moving in His people and was using this man to bring glory to His name. The topic of the sermon: prayer. Throughout the message, God kept reminding me of how much I had prayed about the pastor He had ready for us. God reminded me of the numerous times Lisa and I prayed that God would move in our church and prepare the members for the man God had for us. God reminded me of the dozens of PSC meetings where we prayed for God to lead us to His man for us. I sat and listened and praised God for bringing us to this moment.

After the service was over, everyone went to pick up their children from the nursery so that even the workers could participate in the unified vote. There was a 10 minute break between the service and the meeting. During this time, Lisa and I moved to the balcony so that some of the older members could have our seats on the main level. We sat in the second row just off of center. From this vantage point I stood and watched as our church came together as one. I had several people approach me and thank me for my hard work and stated that they thought the candidate was great. My excitement continued to grow.

In our church, the candidate has to receive a two-thirds majority to be called as pastor. Several people had asked me if this man had set a goal of the percentage he would accept as confirming that God had called him to be our pastor. To the best of my knowledge, this man was preaching in front of us because he felt led to be our pastor and didn't have a percentage in mind to confirm this. But I wasn't sure. I could not recall him ever stating anything about such a goal, but I couldn't say that we had asked him either. So it was an unknown factor.

In our PSC meetings, we had talked about what we hoped for in a vote. We wanted it to be an overwhelmingly positive vote so that neither the church body nor the candidate had any reason to doubt his calling. And yet, we knew that there was a pocket of negativity within our church that seemed to be trying to hamper the possibility of an objective vote. We had met with some of these people to relieve some of their fears and had given them a bunch of information that the rest of the church did not have. Some of them seemed to be reassured and happy with what we had presented to them while others seemed only more entrenched in their opposition to this man that they had never me or heard. This was an issue we spent a lot of time on during the last two weeks leading up to this day. We didn't know how many people had already made up their mind against this man, but we knew they were out there. How many would it be? 10? 50? 100? We didn't know. And there was no way to know if these people had influenced others before meeting this man. We prayed hard about it and left it in God's hands.

The meeting began and the candidate was given a moment to speak to the congregation. He thanked the PSC for our diligence and for allowing his identity to remain anonymous until Saturday's Q&A. He explained why this was important to not only him but to the life of the church he was currently leading. He thanked our church for considering him for the position and for being so kind to him and his family. And with that, this man stepped down from the stage and the vote was called for. People filled out their ballots and passed them to the deacons who took them to the back to count them. While the votes were being counted, our two worship leaders led us in a couple of songs. My excitement was peaked and I was praying that God would allow our efforts to be fruitful and that this man would lead our church to reaching the lost in our community.

The deacons returned from the back where they had been counting. The candidate returned to the room with his family. The chairman of our Board of Stewards began to read the results of the vote. The vote was 969 in favor, 31 opposed! At that moment, I was overcome with incredible relief. Everything that I had felt about this man from the first time we met him had been confirmed. Every fear or doubt about the church liking him or calling him to be our pastor was dispelled.

And then God revealed to me how awesome He is in how He works all things for His glory. A shout of joy erupted from somewhere in the room and was immediately echoed from throughout the building. People clapped. People whistled. The entire room stood to their feet. I remained in my seat and wept like a baby. I was completely and utterly overwhelmed by the response. The vote count was incredible, but this response was beyond anything that I had asked or imagined. This room that has for so many years seen the people react to the Goodness of God with the enthusiasm of a golf clap was being shaken with excitement. The happiness and joy expressed within that moment said so much more than the actual vote itself. God’s people were excited and hopeful about what He was going to do with this man leading us. God was allowing me to see the extent of what I had been apart of and it was huge.

I cannot wait to see how God moves in our church and leads us to the place where we are impacting the community for Christ. It’s amazing to look back and see where He has brought me during this process, and I look forward to where He will take me in the coming days, weeks and months.

To God be the glory!