Worldview

The US “Puts Moderate Restrictions on Religious Freedom
Despite the first amendment stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” 225 years later, “the United States places a ‘moderate’ level of restrictions on religious practice compared to the other countries in the world. According to Pew, the U.S. saw a marked increase in hostility toward religion starting in 2009, and this level remained consistent in the following years.”

America has harsher restrictions than roughly 130 other countries. Places allegedly more free than the U.S. include Serbia, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—not exactly traditional strongholds of democracy.

Sexual Freedom As A Secular Sacrament
Rod Dreher comments on the campaign to ban male circumcision in Scandanavia.

1. This illustrates that the claim frequently made by secular liberals that their worldview is values-neutral and therefore more just is a sham. It’s not that secular liberals are morally wrong in any of their particular claims, but only that they are wrong, and self-deceptive, to claim that their values are in any sense neutral.

2. It is telling that the reason the Scandinavian doctor gives for suppressing traditional Jewish and Muslim practice is that it stands to decrease sexual pleasure later in life….For many secular liberals, sexual freedom and pleasure is the summum bonum of life, and must be privileged above all else, including religious liberty.

3. If my country should ever threaten my right to practice the fundamentals of my religion as Scandinavian countries are threatening their Jewish and Muslim citizens, it will become my enemy. That will not mean civil war, as it once did in the US, but if a significant number of Americans come to think of their government as an enemy of their faith — and I think this day is coming, in my lifetime — we will be living in interesting times.

Cancer Tidal Wave Coming Warns WHO
The globe is facing a “tidal wave” of cancer, and restrictions on alcohol and sugar need to be considered, say World Health Organization scientists.

It predicts the number of cancer cases will reach 24 million a year by 2035, but half could be prevented.

The WHO said there was now a “real need” to focus on cancer prevention by tackling smoking, obesity and drinking. The WHO’s World Cancer Report 2014 said the major sources of preventable cancer included:

  • Smoking
  • Infections
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity and inactivity
  • Radiation, both from the sun and medical scans
  • Air pollution and other environmental factors
  • Delayed parenthood, having fewer children and not breastfeeding

The World’s Smallest Engine Runs on an Atom
And if you need a bit of a “pick-me-up” after cancer, sexual freedom, and restrictions on religious freedom, marvel at this incredible illustration of Psalm 8 dominion.

Evangelicals: Alone and Exiled in Hollywood
A discussion of the double standards in Hollywood that led to banning Joni’s song from Oscar consideration. Considering the morals in the vast majority of Oscar winning films…

It’s almost funny to see how incensed the Academy can be and how finely wrought the ethical code of the left-leaning organization can be when it comes to evangelicals, a group they routine despise, ridicule, or reject outright.  All it takes is a mere whisper of sin exposed by some columnist, and a song about God is suddenly toxic, yanked from consideration for an award.

And how about this for a conclusion:

There is no use singing to the deaf. Especially when they are programmed not to hear anything but their own voices.


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We Need To Come To A National Consensus on Airplane Seating
This article is so funny. But the problem is not. Especially if you are 6ft 3in without high heels on. I must confess I have resorted to the old push my-knees-deep-in-the-back routine at times, much to my wife’s embarrassment.

Babies Are Murdered Here
R.C. Sproul Jr. thinks we’ve been way too polite and careful in our anti-abortion rhetoric.

We Can’t All Be Beautiful
Karen Swallow Prior: “Part of the value of beauty is, in fact, its rarity. So it’s not surprising that only 4 percent of women across the globe describe themselves as “beautiful,” in a study commissioned by Dove. Yet 72 percent of the girls in the survey reported that they “feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful.”"

What Is Marriage?
Mike Witmer: “Last week I explained to my daughter that she was no longer allowed to watch the Disney television show, “Good Luck Charlie.” She understood that we love gay people and appreciate the many good things that they may contribute to society, but we don’t like how Disney is openly trying to force children to accept homosexual marriage as a normal, lifestyle choice.”

Sneering Calvinists
Derek Rishmawy, recently come to embrace the doctrines of grace, pleads: “If you’re really a Calvinist and believe you’ve received knowledge of the truth by the sheer grace of God, which is what a Reformed view of knowledge teaches, then be patient with those who don’t see it. God has been (and is currently being) patient with you in some area as well. So stop sneering and ask God to humble you enough to be helpful to those offended at or wrestling with those doctrines you now hold dear.

Why I’ll Never Be A Mommy Blogger
Me neither, but for a different reason.


We Become How We Worship

Yesterday, we looked at G.K Beale’s insight that We Become WHAT we Worship. Today I’d like to go a step further than that to say, “We become HOW we Worship.”

Worship is so powerful that we not only take on the image of what worship, but we also take on the image of the manner and style of our worship. So it’s not enough that we worship the right God, the God of the Bible, we must also worship the right God in the right way, the biblical way. And if we do so, we will become what He wants us to be – remade in His image.

Truthful
For example, the truth of God’s Word should be at the center of all worship. We read the Word, sing the Word, pray in accordance with the Word, and hear the Word preached. True Worship is truthFULL. And if our worship is truthful, we also will be truthful in our daily lives. Truthful worship on a Sunday makes for a truthful Monday to Saturday.

Spiritual
Much worship today aims primarily at stimulating and exciting our physical senses. If we can provide a colorful spectacle for the eyes, spectacular musical sounds for the ears, a pounding beat to impact the body and get the adrenaline running, then the emotions are stirred, and there’s a sense of elation and excitement. But if we become how we worship, such sensual, emotion-driven, thrill-seeking worship will produce sensual, feeling-focused, thrill-seeking Christians.

Spiritual worship does not aim primarily at the physical senses and the emotions (although it should have a secondary impact on them) but it primarily addresses the mind and seeks to impress the soul with divine truth about eternal facts. It demands thought and interaction with the Word of God and lifts people out of this world of sense and time, into the spiritual and eternal dimension.

And if our worship focuses on the spiritual, on spiritual truths, that’s the kind of people we will become Monday to Saturday. We will live in the spiritual realm, we will sustain and guide our souls with the abiding truths of God’s Word, we will be aware of eternity and the presence of God.

Reverent
If our worship is full of humor, frivolity, jokes, and casualness, we shouldn’t be surprised if that’s the kind of character that will be produced in the worshipers.

But if our worship is reverent, respectful, and careful, that will be reflected in our characters through the week.

Now this can go way too far, of course. If worship is morose, fearful, joyless, hopeless, and miserable then worshipers will become like that too. Any church that specializes in putting people in fear, in limiting hope, in minimizing assurance, is going to produce people that are like that in their daily lives – fearful, suspicious, cold, unfriendly, hopeless, and unhappy.

Christ-Centered
God has set forth His image perfectly in His Son. He is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3). Therefore, if we are to become like Jesus, and we become what we worship, we must make Christ the focus of our worship. We hear Christ’s Word, we preach Christ, we pray in Christ’s name, and we sing of, to, and with Christ in our songs.

Believing
If we become how we worship, the more we exercise faith in Sunday worship the more faith we will have Monday to Saturday. The more we trust in the Lord in church, the more we will trust in him in the world. Faithless and life-less Sunday worship produces faithless and lifeless Christians at home, at work, and in the community.

All this underlines that if worshiping the true God in the true way is the biggest formative influence in our lives, then let’s prioritize worship, especially the corporate gatherings of God’s people on the Lord’s Day.

And let’s also ensure that we and our children are in churches that not only worship the one living and true God, but also where God is worshipped in a truthful and lively way.


Worldview

This College Professor Has A Message For Liberal Arts Majors
Hunter Baker’s fed up with people denigrating liberal arts degrees. Based on the results of a study published in the Wall Street Journal, he says:

It turns that out that while students who major in a wide variety of professional fields out-earn their liberal arts peers at the outset, the liberal arts majors tend to pull ahead in later years.

How does he explain it?

The person who has mastered a particular market-driven skill of today is in a good position to profit in the short term, but given that we live in a highly dynamic society, the better long term investment is an education that equips the person to learn for the rest of his life.  The liberal arts, if taught well and approached with desire by the student, have the ability to unlock almost any subject the student wishes to learn for years to come.  If you understand how to think, how to draw lessons from past experience, how to write and speak, how to calculate, and how to put information through the kinds of tests which yield knowledge, then you have the tools you need.

Or to put it briefly: “You learn how to learn.”

The Cowardice of Wendy Davis
Jonah Goldberg writes:

Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics slammed Davis for being “too cowardly to give a straight answer, let alone a thoughtful one, to a straightforward question that goes to the heart of a matter she has made the signature issue of her political life.”

I agree. But Davis is merely at the forefront of the cowardice epidemic. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade earlier this month, President Obama couldn’t bring himself to say the word “abortion,” preferring instead virtually every poll-tested buzzword. Indeed, in all of the “war on women” noise, abortion is almost always wrapped in the velvety euphemisms of “women’s health” and “reproductive choice.”

France’s Future at Risk From Unnatural Families, Say Protestors
This appeared in the UK’s premier left-leaning newspaper, which explains the left-leaning angle to the story, but good to see even the French rising up.

Amazon Plunges Into Christian Publishing
The data must look good for Christian books.

The Abortion Rate Hits 30-Year Low
The US abortion rate fell by 13 percent from 2008 to 2011, and reached the lowest rate since abortion was made legal in 1973.


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Four Things a Pastor Should Consider Before Engaging in Social Media
There are probably about a hundred things but here are four of the most important things.

Reflections on How Christians Make Decisions About Counseling
One of Bob Kellemen’s conclusion from recent debates about the effectiveness of biblical counseling: “Some Christians Don’t Seem to Have Much Confidence in One-Another Care and Biblical Counseling.” Here’s my conclusion, with differences in italics: “Most Christians Don’t Seem to Have Much Confidence in One-Another Care and Biblical Counseling As The Only Remedy Exclusive of All The Other Means God has Provided.” A conclusion I’m comfortable with.

5 Reasons You Should Smile More as a Leader
I’m not for Cheshire cats or Joel Osteens in the pulpit, but if I think about the people I’m drawn to, it’s definitely cheerful people.

Reforming Families Conference
Free Conference at the Creation Museum (July 31-August 2)  with speakers including Ken Ham, Al Martin, Jerry Bilkes, and others.

P&R Pastor’s Conference
And another enticing offering her on May 5-7 with Harry Reeder, Ed Welch, Timothy Witmer and Steve Estes.

Car Seat Success Story
Here’s a feel-gooder for you.


We Become What We Worship

“We become what we worship” is the basic insight of G K Beale’s book of the same name. Unfortunately it’s an “academic” book and, like most academic books, suffers from being twice as long and complicated as it ought to be (where have all the brave editors gone?). Part of the book’s complexity results from the author trying to prove his point from the wrong passage (Isaiah 6), when there are a number of others he does refer to that could have formed a much more obvious foundation for his thesis.

But that apart, the main point of the book is deeply insightful, and neatly summed up by Beale in this memorable statement: “What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or restoration.” He argues that we were made to bear the image of another, and that we become the image of what we worship – either our Creator or something in the creation.

Psalm 115 is perhaps the clearest example of this. The focus of the psalm is on the deliberate construction of silver, gold, and other materials into a god to be worshiped (v. 4). The psalmist looks at the statues and sees what looks like a mouth, eyes, ears, nose, hands feet, and chests. But they have no functionality; none of these things are working (vv. 5-7). They don’t speak, see, hear, smell, handle, walk, or even breathe. They can’t speak truth to us, hear our prayers, see our situation, savor our worship, receive our gifts, come to our aid, or impart life.

The impact of this idol on those who worship them? “Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them” (v. 8).

It’s not that these idolators lose their physical senses of speech, sight, etc. Rather, it’s a description of the idolators’ souls and spirits – lifeless and senseless like the idols they worship. They are spiritually dumb, blind, deaf, powerless, and breathless. They’ve become what they worshipped.

“But I don’t worship pieces of metal, wood, or stone.”

No, maybe we’re not “traditional” idolators,” but we may have any number of “non-traditional” idols and the impact of them is exactly the same. We become what we worship:

  • If we worship supermodels, we’ll become vain and self-centered.
  • If we worship football players, we’ll become aggressive, bombastic, and women-demeaning.
  • If we worship actors and singers, we’ll become foul-mouthed, immoral, and sad.
  • If we worship corporate America, or the dollar, we’ll become greedy, oppressive, and materialistic
  • If we worship academia, the pursuit of degrees, letters, titles, etc., we’ll become proud, arrogant, condescending, and conceited.

BUT, and here’s the huge encouragement from Beale’s book, if we worship Jesus, we’ll become like Him. Worship is the main “tool” God uses to change us into the image of His Son.