Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pragmatism Goes to Church
by A.W. Tozer,

"God Tells The Man Who Cares"

It is not by accident that the philosophy of pragmatism around the turn of the century achieved such wide popularity in the United States. The American temperament was perfect for it, and still is.

Pragmatism has a number of facets and can mean various things to various people, but basically it is the doctrine of the utility of truth. For the pragmatist there are no absolutes; nothing is absolutely good or absolutely true. Truth and morality float on a sea of human experience. If an exhausted swimmer can lay hold of a belief or an ethic, well and good; it may keep him afloat till he can get to shore; then it only encumbers him, so he tosses it away. He feels no responsibility to cherish truth for its own sake. It is there to serve him; he has no obligation to serve it.

Truth is to use. Whatever is useful is true for the user, though for someone else it may not be useful, so not true. The truth of any idea is its ability to produce desirable results. If it can show no such results it is false. That is pragmatism stripped of its jargon.

Now, since practicality is a marked characteristic of the American people they naturally lean strongly toward the philosophy of utility. Whatever will get things done immediately with a maximum of efficiency and a minimum of undesirable side effects must be good. The proof is that it succeeds; no one wants to argue with success.

It is useless to plead for the human soul, to insist that what a man can do is less important than what he is. When there are wars to be won, forests to be cleared, rivers to be harnessed, factories to be built, planets to be visited, the quieter claims of the human spirit are likely to go unregarded. The spectacular drama of successful deeds leaves the beholder breathless. Deeds you can see. Factories, cities, highways, rockets are there in plain sight, and they got there by the practical application of means to ends. So who cares about ideals and character and morals? These things are for poets, nice old ladies and philosophers. Let's get on with the job.

Now all this has been said, and said better, a few dozen times before, and I would not waste space on it here except that this philosophy of pragmatism has had and is having a powerful influence upon Christianity in the middle years of this century. And whatever touches the faith of Christ immediately becomes a matter of interest to me and, I hope, to my readers also.

The nervous compulsion to get things done is found everywhere among us. We are affected by a kind of religious tic, a deep inner necessity to accomplish something that can be seen and photographed and evaluated in terms of size, numbers, speed and distance.

We travel a prodigious number of miles, talk to unbelievably large crowds, publish an astonishing amount of religious literature, collect huge sums of money, build vast numbers of churches and amass staggering debts for our children to pay. Christian leaders compete with each other in the field of impressive statistics, and in so doing often acquire peptic ulcers, have nervous breaks or die of heart attacks while still relatively young.

Right here is where the pragmatic philosophy comes into its own. It asks no embarrassing questions about the wisdom of what we are doing or even about the morality of it. it accepts our chosen ends as right and good and casts about for efficient means and ways to get them accomplished. When it discovers something that works it soon finds a text to justify it, "consecrates" it to the Lord and plunges ahead. Next a magazine article is written about it, then a book, and finally the inventor is granted an honorary degree. After that any question about the scripturalness of things or even the moral validity of them is completely swept away. You cannot argue with success. The method works; ergo, it must be good.

The weakness of all this is its tragic shortsightedness. It never takes the long view of religious activity, indeed it dare not do so, but goes cheerfully on believing that because it works it is both good and true. It is satisfied with present success and shakes off any suggestion that its works may go up in smoke in the day of Christ.

As one fairly familiar with the contemporary religious scene, I say without hesitation that a part, a very large part, of the activities carried on today in evangelical circles are not only influenced by pragmatism but almost completely controlled by it. Religious methodology is geared to it; it appears large in our youth meetings; magazines and books constantly glorify it; conventions are dominated by it; and the whole religious atmosphere is alive with it.

What shall we do to break its power over us? The answer is simple. We must acknowledge the right of Jesus Christ to control the activities of His church. The New Testament contains full instructions, not only about what we are to believe but what we are to do and how we are to go about doing it. Any deviation from those instructions is a denial of the Lordship of Christ.

I say the answer is simple, but it is not easy for it requires that we obey God rather than man, and that always brings down the wrath of the religious majority. It is not a question of knowing what to do; we can easily learn that from the Scriptures. It is a question of whether or not we have the courage to do it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I have been covering Rick Warren’s long slide into self-absorbed deception for quite a while, and I have not been as hesitant as Joseph Farah at WND has been about stating what is wrong with Rick Warren’s Theology. Rev. Warren’s latest escapade in Syria and his statements while in Syria should leave no doubt what Rick Warren’s beliefs are and where he wants to take his “Purpose Driven movement”

I urge everyone to contact their church leadership and request that ALL Rick Warren material be removed from your Church. Rick Warren has been a Pied Piper leading many millions down a path to the false church. Its time to Stand Up! And say no more!

As for me and my house, we will be Spirit Led and Not “Purpose Driven”

God Bless,

John Baker

The purpose-driven lie

Posted: November 16, 20061:00 a.m. Eastern

Rick Warren wrote to me this morning to protest this column. He claims he didn't say anything he was actually quoted as saying by the official press in Syria. I urge you, however, to watch him with your own eyes on this short video clip in which he says Syria "does not allow extremism of any kind." In fact, Syria is, in many ways, the No. 1 sponsor of terrorism in the world.

For a long time I've held off criticizing mega-church leader Rick Warren, author of the best-selling "The Purpose Driven Life," even though I have been sorely tempted.

When he joined up with now-disgraced National Association of Evangelicals leader Ted Haggard to suggest man-induced global warming represented an impending calamity, I didn't say too much. I questioned it, but I let it go.

When he joined Haggard again in writing an open letter to President Bush urging government action to fight global poverty, I didn't say a word – even though I thought it ironic. After all, it is the church's responsibility to help the poor. It is not government's responsibility.

But now that Rick Warren has traveled to and provided legitimacy to a hostile foreign government, presided over by a brutal fascist dictator who hates Jews, threatens Israel, subverts neighboring Lebanon, imprisons and terrorizes its own citizens and even kills them in massive numbers when they stand up in revolt – now I have to denounce this impostor in the strongest terms possible.

It is my biblical mandate to do so.

Other Christians may be holding back, waiting to hear Rick Warren's explanation for his behavior in Syria. Some are cautiously suggesting that accounts of his activities there may have been distorted by the controlled press. Some want to give him the benefit of any doubt.

I'm going to give it to you straight: Rick Warren had no business traveling to Syria and being used for propaganda purposes by Bashar Assad, the terrorist-supporting president. There are only two possibilities to explain what happened:

He made the outrageous statements attributed to him by the Syrians, for which he should be ostracized – maybe even tried for treason, in my opinion.

He didn't make the statements, or was misquoted – in which case he has placed himself in the predictable position of being a "useful idiot" for the Islamofascist regime in Damascus.
Take your pick. Neither option is very attractive.

Here's what we know now.

The official press in the Syrian police state is suggesting Warren is taking sides with Syria against his own country with regard to issues in the Middle East. The reports indicate we can soon expect Warren, upon his return to the U.S., to lecture Americans about our abusive role in the region.

The Syrian newspaper Umar Jaftali quotes Warren as saying: "Washington is wrong not to hold dialogue with Syria, which wants peace. I call on the Americans to visit Syria and meet its beautiful people. I will tell the Americans that their idea about Syria does not reflect the truth."

Here's what the Syrian Arab News Agency reported:

"[The] American delegation stressed that the American administration is mistaken not to hold dialogue with Syria."

"Pastor Warren hailed the religious coexistence, tolerance and stability that the Syrian society is enjoying due to the wise leadership of President al-Assad, asserting that he will convey the true image about Syria to the American people."

Warren gave Assad a "memorial drawing" to "thank the Syrian people for their ... efforts exerted for maintaining peace and harmony."

Warren was quoted as saying: "Syria wants peace, and Muslims and Christians live in this country jointly and peacefully since more than a thousand years, and this is not new for Syria."

He would, in the words of the official news agency, "tell the Americans that the ideas which had been shaped about [Syria] didn't reflect the truth and they have to come to Syria and see by themselves and realize her nice people and visit her wonderful and historical ruins."

It was reported he told Syria's Islamic grand mufti that there could be no peace in the region without Syria and that 80 percent of Americans rejects what the U.S. administration is doing in Iraq.

He praised Islamic-Christian co-existence in Syria.

If I were a betting man, I would wager that Warren will come home and allege he was widely misquoted. He probably was. I HOPE he was. But here's the problem: When you place yourself in the position of being used – and you ARE used – whose fault is it?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happy Feet The Childrens Movie:
Pushing an Anti-Religion Message

Today I read a review of Happy Feet, the new singing penguin movie that opens Friday.Maybe you've seen the trailers and thought, as I did, "How could they possibly make a 90 minute movie out of this?" I mean, it's just penguins. Singing. For 90 minutes right?

But it appears there's more to this film than just singing penguins. To quote, "Happy Feet is a film about the dangers and evils of religion in the face of open-minded liberal thought."Wait a second...What?

Turns out, the plot involves one penguin who dances, while all the others sing, so as a result, "said penguin is kicked out of the community by the town elder for Heresy against the Great Penguin in the Sky."

Basically, the penguins all blame the lone dancer for God taking away all the fish in their ocean. When he proves that this is really due to human fishing in the area, "A revolution breaks out as the elders scream about heresy against the Great Penguin in the Sky while the youth begin to dance and sing."

The most interesting thing is that the reviewer sees all of this in the film and is disturbed. He says, "You see, I respect anyone who takes the time to educate their children in what they believe the ways of the world are. But this film wasn’t designed, nor advertised, to have parents make that decision for themselves...I do not, do not, DO NOT, agree that it is in any way a good idea to discuss such radical ideas in an animated film and then sell that film simply as a harmless, singing and dancing Penguin extravaganza."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Being Good Stewards
By John Baker

The article below caught my eye, as we sometimes do not realize the impact that modern society has on our lives. The last two years that I lived in Europe I lived on an island called the Isle of Skye, it was located off of the northwest coast of Scotland, and is part of the chain of island’s known as the Inner Hebrides. The Isle of Skye is approximately 50 miles long with varying distances in width. The Island actually resembles an Angel with its wings stretched out. If you were looking at the “angel” face to face, the top of his head would be facing north-west, and the wing to his left facing west towards the open North Atlantic. I lived on the northwest corner of this wing facing the Open North Atlantic Ocean. As you stood on the cliffs looking out at the Atlantic Ocean to the west you could just make out on the horizon the island chain known as the Outer Hebrides. The Sea separating the Inner Hebrides from the Outer Hebrides is known as the “Minch”. It was about 20 miles wide. With these islands being so far north and facing the open Atlantic Ocean, They are in the path of some of the most ferocious winds and storms in the world. Every fall brought a ritual that has been carried out since men have lived on the islands. The securing of all outdoor buildings and anything that might get blown away by the winter gales coming in off of the North Atlantic, sweeping down from the Artic. Anything and everything had to be secured from the 100 mph plus winds that came barreling through the Glens on the Islands. I lived in a glen aptly named Glendale. Its name coming from a mixture of Scots Gaelic and Norse Words: Glen derives from the Gaelic word: Gleann meaning Valley, and Dale derives from the Norse (Viking) word Dahl meaning Valley. So Glendale literally means Valley, Valley!

Even the houses on the island were built to be able to withstand the ferocious winds that came in off the Ocean. The typical Island house was made of Stone, with mortar spread over the stone on the outside and painted white. Each house had an inner stone wall 1 ½ feet thick and then an outer wall another 1 ½ feet thick. With a gap left in between these two walls, and the gap was originally filled with dirt, straw and small rocks. This made the houses airtight. Roofs had to be especially constructed of black Slate shingles securely nailed flat against the sub-roof. There was nothing cozier than in the winter time to put some coals in the fireplace, sit in a nice comfortable chair, with a hot cup of coffee, reading the Bible, and faintly hearing the gales off of the Ocean howling through the Glen. It gave you a very real sense of the power and majesty of God’s creation.

When the weather permitted I would frequently take the sea ferry across the Minch to the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. On a good calm day the trip took two hours, on a windy day when the seas were rough it could take anywhere up to five hours. There was nothing more disconcerting than to board the ferry on a particularly windy day and hear the Captain of the Ferry come over the intercom and tell his passengers that it was rough on the Minch with high seas but they were going to attempt to make it across the Minch anyways! The thought always went through your mind “ok they are going to try. What happens if they fail? Do we sink?” But in all my trips across the Minch and in all their “trying” they never sunk, they would just turn around and wait for calmer winds so they could dock back at our departure point. A trip across the Minch on any day was an adventure. The Ferry was a large Ship, that could carry up to 25 cars and trucks on two decks. You drove onto the ferry and a deck hand would point to where he wanted you to park in one of three lanes. Once you were parked, you were instructed to put the cars emergency brake on and then they would proceed to chain the car to the deck to prevent it from shifting in heavy seas! You would then climb three sets of stairs to the passenger deck where there were lounges with large windows so you could see the ocean, and there was also a ships passenger galley where you could eat.

On the days when the sea was rough, it always amazed me how the ship could make the crossing, as the waves would pound the ship so hard that it sounded as if you were inside a steel trash can and someone was beating on it with a baseball bat! The ship would also pitch from side to side and dive into the waves, and as it dove the waves would break over the top of this massive ship! On these days inside the ship would be mayhem, as many passengers would be getting sea-sick from the rough seas. I would for a thrill go outside to the front of the ship on the highest observation deck and watch the waves break over the bow, waterproof clothing was an absolute requirement! Once we reached the other side, the ship would enter the long narrow bay that leads to the village of Tarbert on the Isle of Harris, and as the ship entered the bay the seas would calm, and the wind would die down. Another adventurous crossing had come to a successful conclusion!

As the ship neared the dock a voice would come over the intercom system asking all car passengers to return to their vehicles and prepare to disembark. By the time we reached our car the chains would have been removed, we would get in start the engine and wait as one by one the cars and trucks drove off the ferry and onto the island.

Upon leaving the ship you would be in the village of Tarbert, the main town on the island. If you needed gas or food, better get it here and before 5:00PM because once you left the village, the rest of the island was sparsely populated with only one other gas station situated at the other end of the island to the south and it was only open part time. Upon leaving the village, it seemed as though all those cars on the ferry just vanished! As your entire time on the island you would never see them again! Also the one road that led out of the village turned into a single rack road, with “Passing Places” every mile or so, where you could pull off and allow cars coming in the opposite direction by. After you had been to the islands many times you began to understand the “rules” and the “Ballet” that occurred at the “Passing Places” . The rule was: The first car to reach the passing place pulled over and let the opposing car go by. The “Ballet” was when both cars going in opposite directions were able to time their entrance into the “Passing Place” and be able to remain at speed and not slow down when swerving to avoid the other car!

It was always terrifying, but now in hindsight comical of how we would see one of the few local island residents come barreling down the single track road towards us, and then us trying to rightly judge the timing of the entrance to the “Passing Place” so we wouldn’t cause the local driver to have to slow down. Because if you did you always got “Sassenach” yelled at you and a raised arm and a swinging fist in your rear view mirror! “Sassenach” was the Highland Scots Gaelic word for “Lowlander” or “Englishman”. All outsiders who came to live or visit in the Western Highlands or Islands of Northwest Scotland are called “Sassenachs”.

About two miles out of Tarbert the single track road split into two single track roads: The “Golden Road” runs north-east and southwest along the eastern seashore of the Island. The western road runs north-east and southwest along the western seashore of the Island. The “Golden Road” was so named because, the eastern portion of the Island is rocky with thin soil, and on the thin soil about the only thing that will grow are wild flowers and heather, and with the island being so far north, the Sun for most of the year is so far south that its rays are softened and hit the ground at a sharp angle and when the wild flowers and Heather are in bloom, the ground sparkles like Jewels and Gold. The soil is so thin that in centuries past the residents of this side of the island would heap the soil up in to mounds, that ran like long ridges across the small patches were soil could be found in between the outcroppings of rock, and they would gather sea weed along the shore to mix with the dirt to make the dirt fertile enough to grow food. Sea weed contains phosphate which is a good fertilizer and increases the germination rate of food crops. These long low ridges were known as “Lazy Beds” or in Scots Gaelic “Run-Rigs”.

Today as you drive the “Golden Road” you see the remains of these lazy beds along the length of the road. You also see many broken down stone cottages, which have been long abandoned as their former residents left the island looking for better prospects. Up until the First World War the Island had a vibrant population. But the generation that went to war got a taste of what life was like off the Island and most never returned, but instead took jobs on the mainland in factories built as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Life has always been hard on this island but a few itinerant and hardy souls refuse to leave their island home. They subsist on fishing and Sheep herding. The Sheep of Harris are known the world over for their soft wool known as Harris Tweed, which at one time was the height of fashion. Still today local’s eek out a living spinning and weaving the wool on antique looms for export to the world.

At the southern end of the Golden Road you reach the only other “village” on the island, the spot in the road known as Rodel. The town consists of a small hotel (most small hotels in the northwest of Scotland and the Islands are actually converted and extended houses) a few houses and the small stone St. Clements Chapel. Where for centuries the Chiefs of the Clan Macleod of Harris were interred. Up until 1745, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland were populated by groups of People known as Clans. The Clans originated as groups of family members who lived together and descended from a common ancestor. If you have aver seen a last name with “Mac” or “Mc” at the beginning of the name, it is either an Irish Name or a Scottish Clan name. The “Mac” or “Mc” is derived from the Irish or Scots Gaelic word for “Son of” So MacLeod means “Son of Leod” Leod being the common ancestor. MacDonald means “Son of” Donald, Donald being the common ancestor.

In Scottish Highland society before 1745 you were either part of a clan through birth or swore allegiance to a clan in exchange for protection. If you distinguished yourself in your allegiance to the Clan you were honored by being allowed to use its name as your last name. The Chief of the Clan was chosen from the eldest direct male or closest male descendent of the common ancestor. The Clan and those who swore allegiance to the Clan worked the land, herded the clan’s cattle and fought along side each other to protect the clan’s land and possessions, No written deeds existed for clan land, they held their land by the might of the sword . Over time certain clans became more powerful and dominated the other clans. The Highland Clans were also known as fearsome fighters. The Highlands of Scotland for centuries were divided by constant battles between the clans, they eventually became so powerful that no King of Scotland could hold his throne without the support of the Clans. In 1745 that all changed.

In 1707 an act of Union was signed between England and Scotland unifying the two countries under one Parliament and King. In 1603 the English Queen Elizabeth the 1st died without an heir, so the English Parliament asked the Scottish King James VI to be King of England. James was the second cousin of Elizabeth. James accepted and became King over the two Countries. His Grandson Charles II died without an heir and so his brother James II became King, but James II was Catholic and tried to force England to return to Catholicism, but he was defeated and exiled. So William of Orange a Duke in the Netherlands, who was married to Charles II sister was asked to be King of England and Scotland, as he was an ardent Protestant. Many of the Scottish Clans were upset at the exile of James II because it meant the end of a Monarchy (the House of Stuart) that originated in Scotland. While James II was in exile in France he conspired with the help of France to return him to the Throne of England and Scotland. He died in France but his son Charles Edward Stuart famously known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie” never gave up trying to win back the Throne. Finally in 1745 the King of France wanting to put pressure on England during the French and Indian war in The American Colonies, agreed to fund a small force to assist Bonnie Prince Charlie in invading Scotland and “raising” the Clans to rebel against England and install Charlie as King of Scotland and then England. This was known as the Jacobite Rebellion.

Some of the clans allied themselves with Charlie and they defeated the Government forces in Scotland and marched on England making it within 80 miles of London, before the Highland Clans tired of the long war and seeing that they would receive no support from any promised Rebel English forces, refused to go any further and turned and headed back to Scotland. In the meantime government forces had been landed ahead of them via boats in Scotland and attacked the Clans as they headed back north. The final battle and the death knell of the Clans came on April 16th 1745 at the Battle of Culloden near Inverness in the highlands of Scotland. The Government forces with their superior modern fire power which included canons mowed down the Highland Clans. To ensure that the Highland Clans would never again threaten the government, the Clan system was destroyed through laws that stripped the communal ownership of the clan lands by the whole clan and gave title of the lands to the clan chief, thereby removing the bond of the Chief to his clan through their common ownership of the land. To further control the Chiefs, they were required at their own expense to maintain a presence at the Kings court in London. The wearing of the Tartan was outlawed as was the playing of the Bag-Pipes, and a highlander was not permitted to carry a weapon larger than a small knife. These laws stayed in effect until the British King George III (A German by birth), King during the American Revolution popularized and then legalized the wearing of Tartan and the playing of Bagpipes.

Anyways back to the Isle of Harris, passing on through Rodel and rounding the southern tip of Harris you come to the west side of the Isle of Harris. There at the South Eastern tip. A small thin half mile strip of Golden sand links the island to a small hilltop that juts out into the North Atlantic, here the Ocean boils and rages from the winds that drive the waves which break against the rocky base of the Hill. You can hike across the sandy strip and make your way around the base of the hill to its far west side. On the other side the hill stands between you and the island blocking it from sight, and you are left on a small strip of green with the raging Atlantic in front of you and a rock face behind you. Here centuries ago Irish Monks built a small stone chapel, and a small monastery. All that remains today is the roofless stone Chapel. Standing within its four stone walls all you hear is the howling wind and the crashing of waves against the rocks. Not a single man made sound can be heard, and not a man made object can be seen, the next bit of land to the west out over the vast raging north Atlantic is the coast of Canada some 3,500 miles away.

Sitting on this small bit of green looking out over the vast ocean it is as if you are where time stops and existence ends. It is no wonder the Monks built a monastery here. The seclusion and remoteness removes all man made distractions and focuses your mind on the power and majesty of God.

But unfortunately even here in a place so remote, where the waves sometimes become so high that they break over the fifty foot cliffs and onto the patch of green you see the ground littered with plastic bottles, bits of plastic fishing nets, plastic buoys that have broken loose from nets, and various other plastic artifacts. And it makes you aware of how pervasive our modern throw away society has become.

In my travels I have been to some of the most remote spots on the planet, from Iceland to the Artic in Northern Sweden, to the southern Hemisphere and the southern tip of Africa, the Indian Ocean, remote islands in the south Atlantic, and there has been one thing that I have seen in all of these places, a proliferation of plastic waste. It is so odd to stand in a place where no human settlement exists within hundreds if not thousands of miles admiring the beauty of God’s creation and then to look down and see the ground littered with plastic that has been carried by the ocean vast distances. I have stood on beaches in the Indian Ocean, which interestingly enough does not border the U.S. but is separated from the U.S. by thousands of miles and picked up plastic bottles that floated from the U.S. via either the Pacific Ocean or Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. One of the trivial facts I have learned in my international travels is that specific plastic bottles are manufactured for specific geographic markets. And you can tell this by the bottle as well as the labeling printed on the bottle.

Not to pick on the U.S. alone. I have went diving in the Mediterranean Sea between Southern Europe and Africa and found the long beds of seaweed and sea grass that grow up from the floor of the shallows choked with plastic bags, plastic rope, and plastic fishing nets. We were always warned that when we went snorkeling or diving to always go in twos and always carry a knife on your belt to cut yourself or diving partner free if need be from fishing line or fishing net underwater to keep from drowning.

As Christians we are many times made to believe that articles such as the one below are just the false ramblings of “left Wing Environmentalist Alarmists” What would be nice if we could separate the rhetoric from the truth, there are many issues such as the one below that Christians refuse to recognize as true because they are considered as part of a liberalist platform.

Good stewardship is a Biblically based virtue. For example, the Sabbath laws, that called for rest on seventh days and seventh years, applied to households, animals, resident aliens, and the land (Exodus 20.10, 23.10-11, 25.4-5).

Leviticus 26 is a wonderful chapter that speaks rather poetically about the ramifications of obeying or disregarding God's law and ties obedience to God with relationship to land. The chapter talks about the rewards of following God's decrees. In particular, it paints a picture of harmony between humanity and the land, with the land providing both abundant crops and sanctuary. (Leviticus 26.4-6)

In contrast, rebellion will result in enmity between mankind and the land. The people who turn away from God will be persecuted and afflicted, but "the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths." (Leviticus 26.34-35) And not only will the land no longer be safe haven, it will actually "devour" its former oppressors. (Leviticus 26.38) The state of the land is a sign of our state with God.)

Land was not so much a commodity. Rather, it was an inheritance for the Israelites and it was core to the covenantal promises that God made to them. God's people are not to abuse their inheritance, but to treasure it. It cannot be bought and sold. (Leviticus 25. Actually, the land could be bought and sold, but every fifty years, it reverted to its "owners" or "inheritors." What term to use is problematic, because we are inclined to use labels that imply dominance over the land. Instead, Leviticus 25.23 proves helpful: "The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine [God's] and you are but aliens and my tenants." This verse clearly assumes that mankind is custodian or caretaker of land.)

The land was a promise to Abraham (e.g., Genesis 12.7, but really throughout the Bible). The "promised land," a "land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3.17), figures prominently in Jewish thinking (e.g., Psalm 137.1-6, Ezekiel 36.24) and Christian metaphor (e.g., Revelation 21.1). It is "home." Moses, the great prophet, longed even just to see the promised land, as if it were a glimpse of heaven. (Deuteronomy 34)

Abusing the land is like chopping the leg on which you stand. The people of the Bible were invariably farmers, vintners, shepherds. They did not "mine" the land and so deplete it. Rather, they relied on the land as a sustaining resource, year after year.

Numbers 35.33-34 has an interesting nuance. It reads,
Do not pollute the land where you are... Do not defile the land where you live and where I [God] dwell.

It seems like the environmentalist's dream verse. Well, actually, the "pollution" and "defilement" refer to ritualistic abuse (committing sins, like murders, on the land), but I think this helps make the case: God's people are called to treat the land as holy. Worship of God means nurturing the land just as we care and maintain a church building.

If you would like to see some photos of the Isle of Harris. You can go to my online album here:

Monday, November 06, 2006


Amos 8:11- 12 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find [it].

I relate to Amos... 8th Century B.C. prophet who blistered the social problems of his nation::: HE HAD A STRONG SENSE OF WHAT IS RIGHT!

Amos 7:12- 15 Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: But prophesy not again any more at Beth- el: for it [is] the king's chapel, and it [is] the king's court. Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I [was] no prophet, neither [was] I a prophet's son; but I [was] an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.

There is something powerful about a man/women who just falls in love with God more than anything! I JUST WANT TO KNOW YOU GOD! HEAR YOUR WORD!

He began to prophecy misery to the nation... basket of Summer Fruit & God's Plum line ===> pretty outside, but rotten inside

** He blistered the inflationary economy that took advantage of the poor!


A nation drunk with pleasure & greed & selfishness! A congress who talks of a greedy decade while writing enormous bad checks! S&L's Junk bonds ===> Health insurance scandals ===> Welfare frauds ===>

Amos 8:4- 5,7
Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works.


Romans 12:19 ... Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Amos 8:10- 12
And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only [son], and the end thereof as a bitter day. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find [it].

Part of Judgment was a famine of HEARING the word of God!

I can do w/o many things... But I must have a word from God!

THANK GOD FOR THE HOUR WE LIVE : There is no famine of God's word!

CHRISTIAN: churches, books, tapes, schools, clubs, EVERY SERVICE!

*** But there is a famine of hearers of the word! (anybody listening )

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Never has a generation been so knowledgeable, and so knowledgeless at the same time!

HOW IS THAT? maybe we need to investigate what happens once the word comes from the pulpit or the page.... to our spirit. (a wall)

*** Does it meet a friendly smile, or a cold shoulder of stubbornness? *** does it meet the snobbishness of preconceived religion?

*** or does it meet plan old rebellion & stiffneckedness?

Jesus spent an entire lesson on this subject!

Matthew 13:1- 9
The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some [seeds] fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Matthew 13:10- 16
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed [are] your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

So you see hearing is not just an issue of being preached to...


Do you hunger after it... or do you want a simple snack?

1. seed fell by wayside for fowls to eat

2. stony soil no deep soil, sun withered 4 TYPES OF SOILS

3. thorns sprung up and choked them

4. Good ground with fruit

Matthew 13:18- 23
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth [it] not, then cometh the wicked [one], and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth [it]; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

1. Casual observer
2. Start good / no depth
3. cares of world / deceit of riches
4. good ground


Do a soil test! Look at your spiritual walk to date? any good?

KEY TO GOOD SOIL : not only understand... but bear fruit!

James 1:21- 26
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion [is] vain.

superfluity: more than necessary

Naughtiness: disobedient, improper IN OTHER WORDS ===> GROW UP! Meekness: mild mannered

I Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

KARTEGEO = cast off, put away sharply


Psalms 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.


Colossians 1:21, 23
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled ...If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Acts 24:24- 25
And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.


Acts 24:27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.

COME NOW! Not when your feeling board... tried everything else

Psalms 119:105 Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalms 119:9- 12
{Beth.} Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed [thereto] according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed [art] thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.

Proverbs 30:5
Every word of God [is] pure: he [is] a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

Matthew 4:4
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Mark 7:13
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

So often I marvel at how we can hear so much preaching, yet have so many struggles?!


Romans 10:13- 26
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by [them that are] no people, [and] by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, [of] the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to [the image of] Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.