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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Illegal Immigration

Wow, what a touchy issue especially in the current climate. Let me begin by saying I love Mexicans. I have been to Mexico three times over the course of my life and met some wonderful people there. I pastor a church where no less than five of the ten families have spanish sir names. We have two services a week for Spanish speaking people. Three of the men in my church were not born in this country. One was born in the Dominican Republic. Two others were born in Mexico. I like to believe that I do not have a prejudiced bone in my body. I love these people and find great satisfaction in being able to pastor them. They are huge supporters of their pastor.

Let me also say, having been in Mexico I understand the plight that many of those people labor under. It is hard for those who have never been out of the United States to understand real poverty. Poverty in America is when you only have one car, a microwave, a 32 inch TV, some kind of video game, and a hosts of other electronic equipment. Most Americans can be convinced this is poverty because they have never seen real poverty. I have, in Mexico, Panama, and Ghana (West Africa). It is not hard for me to understand why someone who lived just a few miles from the border with the most prosperous nation on earth would cross that border and take up residence in the land of prosperity even if it meant being here illegally. If my family barely had enough food to eat and enough clothes to wear, and there was no reasonable expectation that our condition would change and I knew I could cross an international border and in a few months things would be dramatically different and for the better that would be hard to forego. If one would think about it, it is easy to understand why they come. It would not matter what country we bordered, if it were like Mexico the people would be trying to get in. If our country was in West Africa the Ghanaians, Nigerians, those from Togo and other surrounding countries would be crossing the border in droves. It is not a problem with Mexicans as much as it is a problem with people who are in dire circumstances. Mexicans are the problem for us because they are our international neighbors.

I can understand why they come, why they want their babies to be born here but it is not right. The Mexicans and even the Mexican government is exploiting their geographical relationship to us. They are not being good neighbors. If I looked across town and saw a family that had a much larger house than I did, and ate much better food, and drove much better automobiles, and had a much better job than I did would it be neighborly to impose my self upon them. I do not think so.

The Mexican government will not stop the flow of humanity across our mutual border until they are given some motivation for doing so. Because the county of Mexico has proven it is inept at cultivating its natural resources it is content to have its citizenry cross the border with its northern neighbor so that the nation that has been productive can provide a haven for those to whom they (Mexico) are responsible. We should make it known through diplomatic channels at the highest level (Bush to Fox) that unless they stop the flow of immigration we will not continue to count them among our friends in the international community.

Another thing. Most people are against amnesty. I understand why. It is distasteful. It is rewarding illegal behavior. But when examined honestly what are the logistics that would be involved in rounding up 12+ million people and sending them back to their country of origin? It would be a monumental task, involving great expense. We would send them back and millions of them would return again within a few months along with others who had never been here before. I for one do not believe the answer is in mass deportation. I believe the resources (time, energy, and money) could be better spent on one of the primary reasons for the existence of our Federal Government. Secure the border. Secure the border. Secure the border.

This would involve several things. Station troops all along the border. We can do it. We have been doing it at the 38th parallel in Korea for 60 years now. We have secured their border with troops but we cannot secure our own? No one will be granted access. We will stop them at the border and they will be returned just at the point from which they crossed. If Mexico does not like it then they need to figure out a way to stop it on their side for we will stop it on our side. If our troops are fired on they need to have standing orders that they are at liberty to shoot to kill. We must send a message that we will not tolerate the infringement of our sovereignty by indiscriminate border crossings.

Another thing that it would involve is severely curtailing the visas that are issued at border crossings. Many people enter legally and then do not return. They have abused the privledge of legal entry so it should be severely restrained. No one can cross the border at a check point who cannot prove that they have legitimate business in the United States. They must have a job in Mexico. They must provide a wide range of information including where they will be traveling, where they will be staying, when they will return, phone numbers where they can be reached. All of this information must be verifiable before they can cross into our country. It is unfortunate that you have to be so suspicious of neighbors, but the neighbors have proven themselves untrustworthy. The process may take several days. We are sorry but these are the requirements that your disregard for our laws have necessitated that we apply to you.

Another thing is that we should have an expedited process where people could entry the country legally to work and ultimately apply for citizenship. There needs to be legitimate hope provided that if you want to be an American the possibility is there. But they must want to be Americans. That means their allegiance is to the flag of the United States of American and not the Mexican flag. They must learn English (read, write, and speak). They must learn something of our history. They must respect our institutions and our laws. They cannot come legally and then break our laws, if they do their forfeit their right to be here and they will be promptly sent back, not placed in an American prisons for the American taxpayer to care for.

We have brought this problem on our selves. One of the primary ways we have done this is by catering to a Spanish speaking population. There is no reason why everything should be written in Spanish as well as English. We have created a situation where people can come into the culture illegally and function reasonably well because we have made every accommodation for them.

As for illegal immigrants marching in the streets demanding their rights, by their actions they reveal a misunderstanding about our Constitution. The preamble to the Constitution begins with the words, "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union. . . " The Constitution is for the citizens of the United States. It conveys no rights on non-citizens. One's presence in our border does not make them an automatic recipient of our liberties. While as a nation we are typically very gracious to our visitors do not mistake our graciousness for something you deserve. As Americans we were freeborn, those born in other places must earn the privledge to be called an American!

Just my opinion, my fullypersuadedopinion

cooollll bus

That is what the kindergartner kept saying a few weeks back when I did a 2:30 run for a lady who was out for the afternoon. The little girl thought my bus was cool, my trash can was cool, and my seats were cool. She told me that she lived in a very big house, and she was very right.

There were about 10 kids on that route from a very affluent neighborhood in Lake Jackson. I asked the little girl what grade she was in and she said kindergarten. I asked what grade the other kids were in and she said, "we are all in kindergarten, we don't know anything." "We can't learn either." I said sure you can. She said, "I can read."

I must admit that 20 minute route was very entertaining. It is amazing how they go from not knowing anything at five to knowing everything at sixteen.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Week of the bus driver

This week I have spent a good deal of time driving a bus. There was no school today but Monday thru Thursday I had a field trip each day.

Monday I went to Houston to take some High School kids to the Museum of Natural Science in Herman Park. That is next to the Houston Zoo for those who are familiar. All the way I watched a boy and girl in a romantic embrace. The boy was "bug eyed" over the girl. It would have been funny were it not so serious. The boy was creating unnecessary agony for himself by sitting so close to the girl and holding her like he was. What do I know I'm just a bus driver??!!

Tuesday I took some special needs kids from a couple of schools here in Freeport to a park in Lake Jackson for some kind of a scouting program. I ran an errand to the credit union and looked around in Hastings book store for about 30 minutes waiting for them to finish up.

Wednesday I shuffled some kids back and forth to the beach for their aquatic science class. Really, all they were doing was picking up trash for about 30 minutes. That is a good thing but I am not sure what it had to do with aquatic science. There were only about five or six students on each trip, some of them drove their own cars. There was supposed to be a group that went at 2:00 but the teacher told me that morning that none of them may show up. So I dropped off my group at 11:15 and had to wait until 2:00 for a group that might not even show up. Not really enough time to go home. The one redeeming factor is that I was able to eat lunch with my son at the school cafeteria. I enjoy being with my son and I always liked school food growing up. Sure enough no one showed up for the 2:00 run but then I did not have time to go home before my afternoon route. Had I known no one would show up at 2 I could have went home at 11:15 and returned at 3:00. Oh well. It gave me an opportunity to take a short nap and read some in my book, The Great Bridge by David McCullough. A book about the building of the Brooklyn bridge. I know, I know it sounds boring, what could be written about the building of a bridge. All I can say is read the book. My daughter Olivia purchased it for me on my Birthday. She knows I have enjoyed several of David McCollough's books. Why read fiction when non-fiction is so intriguing and exciting. I would highly recommend all of his books that I have read so far. Harry Truman (gave me an appreciation for the tense times of the late 40's and early 50's. John Adams (I almost cried at the end of the book when John Adams died. I felt like I came to know him) 1776 (What a great story about the siege of Boston, the escape from New York across New Jersey, and the crossing of the Delaware at the end of the year. I digress.

Thursday I was shuffling kids back and forth to the beach again for aquatic science. Picking up trash again. Read some more of The Great Bridge. All three groups showed up this time. On my second trip there were a couple of boys sitting at the back I believe there was a student following us in a vehicle. One of the boys had an empty water bottle in his hand. I saw him lower the window, I could tell he wanted to throw the bottle out. They could not tell if I was watching them because I had sunshades on. When I went to stop at a light he saw his opportunity and threw the bottle out. I also saw him do it. I told him to put the window up. I radioed base and told them to have a principal meet me at the school when I arrived. When the principal boarded the bus I informed him that the young man had thrown a bottle out of the window and he had also made an obscene hand gesture at the vehicle following us. I told the principal that the young man apparently needed some special attention. The principal said "bottle out the window, hand gesture, got it." Stupid bus driver??!! Having made my one friend for the day I proceeded on to the next group.

You may ask how I manage to be gone all those days and still prepare for services. Well, if the truth be known I could not do that. This week though we are having all day services and several of the men in our church will be speaking instead of me. So, those weeks are a little slower (study wise) than usual. It kind of gives me a break to devote some attention to other things, this week it was bus driving and also an opportunity for some of the other men in our church to open the word of God and an opportunity for the people to hear some one different. We have a couple of men who have surrendered to preach and they need some time to sharpen their skills. Also we have three young men with whom I have spent some time last year teaching them how to study the Bible and to organize their thoughts. None of these young men are called to preach but I firmly believe that men need to be equipped to be leaders in the church and their home. One aspect of that is knowing how to study your bible and share the fruit of your study in a systematic, interesting way. These young men have spoken several times, usually about 20 minutes a piece and they have always done a surprisingly good job.

Today there was no school. Today I cooked two meals and cleaned up afterwards. Our family cleans a beauty shop once every two weeks. The money we make from that is mostly saved and used to pay taxes at the end of the year. All the kids go and help mostly without complaint even though it requires getting out of bed at 5:00 in the morning. So once a year I try to do something so they will know I appreciate their efforts. This year I became their servant for a day. This morning we had scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, cereal, waffles, hashbrowns, and juice. This afternoon I grilled ribeyes, pork ribs, and boneless, skinless chicken tenders, baked potatoes (cheese, sour creme, bacon bits), green beans with a thick piece of bacon and a bit of grease added for flavor, corn with butter, garlic bread. I cooked the entire meal, Kimberly just couldn't refrain from helping some. I did the clean up afterwards. They all refrained from helping with that although I do believe Daniel offered his assistance. When the kids walked by you would have thought they were a "calf looking at a new gate." They told me what a great job I did and Lydia even made me a card and had everyone sign it. I know they think I am absolutely helpless. They forget I am the oldest of four boys, a sister was adopted after I left home. I have done my shared of helping with the cooking, and cleaning the bathrooms. The only reason I don't do it now is so they will learn how to do it. Yes I can cook and clean. No I do not spend a lot of time doing either. I believe they all should have some responsibility around here. I'll pastor the church, drive the bus, deliver a few pizzas, and be responsible for all the decisions and direction of the home and I will for the most part leave the cooking and cleaning to others who are by the way a little more proficient at it than me. Oh, yea, we still have blue bell to look forward to. If you have not had blue bell you have not had ice cream. We have extreme chocolate, cookies and creme, and moooooolinium crunch. Oh no, more bowls to wash. I wonder if anyone would notice if I left them till tomorrow for someone else to do???

Tomorrow it is back to the weight room after a week and a half break. Taking a look at the van that is not starting. I am trying hard not to complain. We have had the van nine years and had very little trouble with it. I do not like car problems, for my diagnostic and mechanical skills are limited. Maybe work on the back bathroom some. Post something a little more substantive here. Maybe, perhaps, possibly on illegal immigration. If so you can rest assured it will be my fullypersuadedopinion!



This life I have is a wonderful life!

Monday, April 24, 2006

BEWARE: CONVICTION AHEAD

Modern Christianity is weak and insipid because we have made each other the standard instead of the Holy Bible! I seem to remember Paul exhorting some folks in Corinth, I believe it was, that in comparing themselves among themselves they were not wise. Maybe not wise but it sure made for an easier standard to keep. God help us that our churches might be "hot houses" and not "ice houses."
An Ice House, Instead Of A Hot House!
(J. A. James, "Earnestness in Personal Piety" 1847)

It appears quite clear then, that great numbers of Christian professors are but very imperfectly acquainted with the requirements of "pure and undefiled religion," and need to be led to re-study it in the pages of Holy Scripture. We have lost sight of the 'divine Original', and have confined our attention to the 'imperfect transcripts' which we find on every hand in our churches. We have by tacit consent reduced the standard, and fixed our eye and our aim upon an inferior object. We are a law to each other, instead of making the Word of God the law to us all. We tolerate a worldly-minded, diluted, and weakened piety in others--because we expect a similar toleration for ourselves. We make excuses for them--because we expect the like excuses for our own conduct in return. We have abused, shamefully abused, the fact that 'there is no perfection upon earth,' and converted it into a license for any measure and any number of imperfections!

Our highest notion of religion requires only abstinence from open immorality and the more polluting worldly amusements; an attendance upon an evangelical ministry; and an approval of orthodox doctrine. This, this, is the religion of multitudes!

There may be . . .
no habitual spirituality;
no heavenly-mindedness;
no life of faith;
no communion with God;
no struggling against sin, Satan, and the world;
no concern to grow in grace;
no supreme regard to eternity;
no studied and advancing fitness for the eternal world;
no tenderness of conscience;
no laborious discipline of our disposition;
no cultivation of love;
no making piety our chief business and highest pleasure;
no separation in spirit from the world.

In short, no impress upon the whole mind, and heart, and conscience and life--of the character of the Christian, as delineated upon the page of Scripture. We all need to be taken out of 'the religious world', as it is called, and collected again around the Bible to study what it is to be a Christian! Let us endeavor to forget what the bulk of professors are, and begin afresh to learn what they ought to be. It is to be feared that we are corrupting each other, leading each other to be satisfied with a 'conventional piety'. Many have been actually the worse for attending church. They were more intensely concerned and earnest before they came into church fellowship. Their piety seemed to come into an ice house, instead of a hot house! They grew better outside the church--than in the church. At first they were surprised and shocked to see

. . . the lukewarmness,
the irregularities,
the worldliness,
the inconsistencies,
of many older professors, and exclaimed, with grief and disappointment, "Is this the church of Christ!" But after a while, the fatal influence came over them, and their piety sank to the temperature around them!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Law - Its Origin

THE LAW – IT’S ORIGIN


It is important that we view the law in its appropriate context. To do this we must first and foremost consider its origin. It is referred to both as the law of God and the Law of Moses. Seven times the phrase “the law of God” is used in Scripture. Twenty-two times the phrase, “the law of Moses” is used in Scripture. God is the divine origin and Moses is the human instrument. No place in Scripture are we given to believe that the law originated with anyone other than God. While there are clearly several elements to the law it all originated with God. Thus the moral precepts that are laid down there originate with God. In acknowledging the truth about He from whom the law originated we are compelled to draw certain conclusions about the law He delivered.

First and foremost it is important that we understand that God is holy. Here is a concept that is difficult for us to grasp except in degrees. The difficultly is in the fact that the holiness of God knows no degrees. He is simply holy. He is not holier nor is He the holiest. By that I do not mean that there is anyone that rivals Him in holiness, what I mean is that His holiness is without degree. It knows no limit. He is infinite in holiness. So much so that no qualifying word need be added. There is no degree that need be mentioned. God is simply holy. The Bible simply declares that there is none like Him. To say that He is holiest creates a mental image of Him simply be more holy than us. This misses the mark. Attempting to visualize the extent of God’s holiness we find even our spiritual perception pressed beyond measure as it looses sight of the holiness of God when it vanishes in to the vastness of infinity. On this point there is no mistaking the message of the Bible.

Psalms 99:3 - Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.
Psalms 99:5 - Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.
Psalms 99:9 - Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.
Psalms 145:17 - The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.

His holiness transcends anything with which we have familiarity. The holiest among us are counted as an unclean thing when measured by the standard of God’s nature. His holiness knows no defect, it entertains no imperfection, it reveals no blemish, and it bears any scrutiny.

1 John 1:5 - This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Being light even the slightest tinge of darkness would be easily noted. In God none is to be found. What must a light be like in which is no darkness at all? It is a light sufficient to illumine that heavenly city.

Revelation 21:23 - And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
Revelation 22:5 - And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

It is a light that is unapproachable.

1 Timothy 6:16 - Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

God is so holy that sinful man cannot approach him. Thus the necessity of the cross of Christ. Thus the necessity of being in Christ Jesus. Thus the necessity of having the righteousness of God imputed to us. Our only hope of approaching God is through Christ.

John 14:6 - Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

We would expect that if a person as that described above were to give a law that it would reflect his nature. The law would be a reflection of his values, perfection, and beauty. As such it would naturally run afoul of those who by nature were the opposite of the lawgiver.

The scripture declares:

Romans 7:12 - Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

This is exactly what we would expect considering from whence it originated. A holy God can only produce a holy law. A just God can only produce a just law. A good God can only produce a good law.

The law, in reflecting on the nature of its author, we would anticipate it to be infinitely holy. We would expect it to be a source of light from which we could discern that which was righteous and unrighteous. We would not expect to find any blemish in its precepts. We would, considering our own nature, expect it to reveal our many blemishes. We would find ourselves not wanting to approach it because of its lofty standards and we would thus be found recoiling on numerous occasions at its demands.


It is equally important that we understand that the author of the law is immutable. That is he does not change. Again on this point the Bible is abundantly clear.

Malachi 3:6 - For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

There is no mistaking the declaration of the prophet. He does not change because of who he is, the LORD. The self-existent one, the great I AM! There is no need for change. To change means one of two things. You either get worse or you get better. You cannot change and stay the same. God cannot get worse for to do so He would cease to be God. He cannot get better for to do so He would not have been God. And again the scripture is straightforward in its declaration that he always has been and always will be God.

Psalms 90:2 - Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

God is who He is, He is who He always has been, and He is who He always will be.

Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

He is the same. He does not change. What He was yesterday He will be today and what He is Today he will be tomorrow. What He always has been He always will be.

Hebrews 1:10-12 - And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

The very heavens and earth will be changed, in fact they will perish. The very things, which are at times used in scripture, as the example of things that are steadfast and unmovable will one day be changed. But in contrast to that God remains the same. The years do not change him. Perfection and infinite holiness needs no change.


Psalms 102:27 - But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

God did not change when he gave the law. God has not changed since he gave the law. We change all the time because we learn and experience. God learns nothing. In fact he knows all things, at the same time, all the time. This is the essence of omniscience. Complete and constant knowledge united with infinite holiness will never be compelled to change.

James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

There is no variableness with God. There is not even the shadow of turning. We go back and forth on an issue, God never does. We make slight adjustments in our outlook and beliefs, God never does. God does not change to conform to our inadequacies. We are to change to conform to the image of His Son. By the way His Son was absolutely obedient to the Law. We cannot be lawbreakers and conformed into the image of His Son. The God that we stand before on the Day of Judgment will be the same God Adam stood before in the Garden of Eden. There will be no change in his nature, or his positions. The same God that thundered from Mount Sinai will be the same God before whom we stand and give account. The same God who sacrificed himself on Calvary will be the same God we view on the Bema Seat. The years do not change Him. The issues do not change Him. The culture does not change Him. The compromises of His people do not change Him. The fads and fashions of this world do not change Him. The toleration of sin does not change Him. He is unchangeable.

The law, in reflecting the nature of its author we would anticipate to be unchangeable. It would know no variableness. It would not change through the years. To need changing would admit of imperfections or inadequacies. To change would imply the lack of knowledge or understanding. We would expect the law to be formidable, unrelenting, and uncompromising.

While it would be easy to decry such a rigid standard it must be remembered that it is rigid in holiness and perfection. We do not decry rigid standards when it comes to the market place or the production of consumer items or the food supply. We should not despise rigid standards in the moral/spiritual realm. They are after all for our own good.

Deuteronomy 10:13 - To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?

The commandments are for our good. Sometimes things that are for our good we do not necessarily like. How many times have parents forced their children to do certain things because it was for their good? All their pleas of not wanting to do it fell on deaf ears, because with our experience and knowledge we knew it would be in their interest to follow through on the command. In the same manner God has provided us with a law that is for our own good. His experience and knowledge being far superior to our own is not to be questioned. The primary difference is that God will allow us to violate his law to our own destruction. He does not want coerced obedience but willing, loving obedience.

Understanding the origin of the law should give us a proper platform from which to properly evaluate the character of the law.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Remember The Alamo

On this day in 1836 the Republic of Texas was born. Just East of present day Houston is a sacred battleground called San Jacinto. It is here where approximately 910 Texas under the command of General Sam Houston defeated the Army of Dictator Santa Anna who outnumbered the Texans almost two to one. In a battle that lasted about 18 minutes there were 630 Mexicans killed, 208 wounded, and 730 taken prisoner. The Texans had two killed, 23 wounded six of them mortally.

For a more detailed account of the events leading up to the battle of San Jacinto see the following link:

http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/batsanjacinto.htm

The Lone Star Republic was brought into existence on this battlefield. For nine years Texas existed as a sovereign Republic with its own President and Congress, its own money and embassies in Europe. Texas holds the distinction of being the only state other than the original 13 colonies that fought for and gained its own independence from tyranny, consequently Texas is the Lone Star State!

Because of our glorious defense of liberty and freedom places like the Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto have been immortalized. Two of the largest statues in the country are in Texas. One of Stephen F. Austin (the Father of Texas) just north of Angleton on Hwy. 288 and the other of Sam Houston (commanding General of the Texan army for Independence, governor of two states, president of the Republic of Texas, U.S. senator) just south of Huntsville on Interstate 45. Of course there were other names that have been enshrined in our memories because of the sacrifices they made for an independent Texas. Men such as Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Jim Travis

Quotes from Sam Houston:

"We view ourselves on the eve of battle. We are nerved for the contest, and must conquer or perish. It is vain to look for present aid: none is at hand. We must now act or abandon all hope! Rally to the standard, and be no longer the scoff of mercenary tongues! Be men, be free men, that your children may bless their father's name." (Just before the Battle of San Jacinto)

"Texas will again lift it's head and stand among the nations. It ought to do so, for no country upon the globe can compare with it in natural advantages"

"All new states are invested, more or less, by a class of noisy, second-rate men who are always in favor of rash and extreme measures, But Texas was absolutely overrun by such men."

"Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."


The state song of Texas:




Texas, Our Texas

Texas, our Texas! all hail the mighty State!
Texas, our Texas! So wonderful, so great!
Boldest and grandest, Withstanding ev'ry test;
O Empire wide and glorious, You stand supremely blest.

Chorus
God bless you, Texas!
And keep you brave and strong,
That you may grow in power and worth,
Thro'out the ages long.

Refrain
Texas, O Texas! Your freeborn Single Star,
Sends out its radiance To nations near and far.
Emblem of freedom! It sets our hearts aglow,
With thoughts of San Jacinto And glorious Alamo.

Texas, dear Texas! From tyrant grip now free,
Shines forth in splendor Your Star of Destiny!
Mother of Heroes! We come your children true,
Proclaiming our allegiance, Our Faith, Our Love for you.
God bless Texas and the United States of America!
My fullypersuaded opinion

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A New Creature

The Scripture says that the man in Christ is a new creature old things are passed away behold all things are become new.

The writer of Hebrews said that he expected better things of his audience than thorns and briars but rather he expected things that accompany salvation. We certainly do not have to "do" anything to receive salvation nor do we have to "do" anything to maintain salvation. Nevertheless neither of these premises indicate that salvation is not accompanied by some things. If one is truly saved they will have the things that accompany salvation.

A life that has not been changed is a soul that has not been saved. The following, I believe, draws a thorough contrast between the redeemed and the unredeemed. Enjoy!!

My fullypersuaded opinion

The difference between the godly & the ungodly
(James Meikle, "The Traveler" June 14, 1758)

There is a wide difference--in both principle and practice--between the the godly and the ungodly. The affections of the godly are refined--and their desires exalted. The inclinations of the ungodly are corrupt--and their desires groveling.

Sin has but a tottering standing, and a momentary abode--in the godly. But sin has fixed its throne, and taken up its eternal residence--in the ungodly.

In the godly, grace and sin struggle for sovereignty. In the ungodly, sin domineers and there is no struggle.

The godly is deeply concerned about world to come. The ungodly has no concern about eternal realities.

The speech of the godly is seasoned with grace. The discourse of the ungodly is insipid and vain.

The godly has his hope fixed on God. The ungodly has no fear of God before his eyes.

The godly use the world without abusing it. The ungodly, in using the world, abuse both themselves and it.

The godly confesses God in his daily life, and rejoices with his whole heart in Him. The ungodly says in his practice--"there is no God" and wishes in his heart,that there were no God.

The godly adores the Creator above all else. The ungodly worships the 'creature' more than the Creator.

The godly uses God's name with profoundest reverence, and departs from iniquity. The ungodly profanes God's name with impudence, and adds iniquity to sin.

The godly redeems his time. The ungodly trifles away his time.

The godly studies his duty in obedience to all God's precepts. The ungodly shakes himself loose from every command of God.

The godly forgives his foes. The ungodly lays a snare for his foes.

The godly commits it to God to avenge his wrong. The ungodly, fiery and tumultuous--seeks revenge.

The godly loves chastity in all things. The ungodly wallows in uncleanness.

The godly is content with his condition. The ungodly covets all the day long.

The godly is pure in heart. The heart of the ungodly is like a cage full of unclean birds.

The godly walks at liberty in the ways of God. The ungodly is the servant and slave of sin.

The Holy Spirit rules in the heart of the godly. Satan rules in the heart of the ungodly.

The godly has his conversation in heaven. The ungodly has his conversation in hell.

As there is such a wide difference in their principles and practices--so also, in their eternal destinies. God is faithful--He has promised felicity to the pious, and threatened vengeance to the wicked.

"The wicked is driven away in his wickedness; but the righteous has hope in his death." Proverbs 14:32

The godly are under the blessing of God's love. The ungodly are under the curse of God's law.

The godly with joy, draw water out of the wells of salvation. The ungodly shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

To the godly pertain all the exceeding great and precious promises. To the ungodly pertain all the threatenings of God.

Heaven shall be the palace of the godly! Hell shall be the prison of the ungodly!

While the godly shall dwell through eternity with God, the ungodly shall be driven away into everlasting darkness!

Thus, the righteous and wicked are separated in theirlife, and divided in their death. They are divided . . .

in their principles,
in their practices,
in their choices,
in their joys,
in their thoughts,
in their company,
in their speech,
in their fears,
in their expectations,
in their death,
and through eternity itself!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

George Washington

It was on this day in 1789 that General Washington was notified that he had been elected to serve as the first President of the United States under the new Constitution. He had planned on retiring to private life and resuming his activities at Mt. Vernon. Duty called and he answered. I believe it was divine providence that he served as our first President.

Quotes from Washington:

"If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never have place my signature to it; . . . I beg you will be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against . . . every species of religious persecution."

"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."

It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe, without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being. Religion is as necessary to reason, as reason to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature had he not a Supreme Being to refer to."

"Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government."

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens."

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Law - The Divine Standard

THE LAW – THE DIVINE STANDARD
Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Romans 7:12


It is here where the crux of the controversy rages. What ever our position the law towers over us. It is impossible to once and for all separate us from it. This is in part because it has been written on our hearts.

Romans 2:14,15 - For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

Adam, having eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil sentenced us all to have that knowledge stamped on our hearts. We were deprived, because of his disobedience, to live our lives in simple, child-like innocence. The world forever changed on that fateful day and it was most certainly for the worse. Law, the knowledge of right and wrong, was with us all now. It would be some years before God would have his standard of righteousness recorded and formally erected as the rule by which all men were responsible to live but its presence was felt in our lives.

Even Cain realized he had done a bad thing by killing his brother Able. We know this because he rose up against him while he and his bother were alone in the field. He did not do it in the sight of family. We know this because when God questioned him concerning the whereabouts of his brother he curtly replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper.” Even though God had yet to declare, “Thou shalt not kill” Cain knew it was wrong. It was sinful. His own heart condemned him. His own conscience accused him.

The Bible is clear that even before the law, from Adam to Moses sin was in the world.

Romans 5:12-14 - Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.


The result of sin is death. Sin was in the world even before the law was given. Sin is not reckoned to one’s account when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses. How could this be if the law had not yet been given? Why were those generations of men subject to the penalty of sin? Because they had the law written in their hearts, so that although it had not been formally declared it had been practically experienced. This is why death reigned from Adam to Moses. Men knew what was right and choose to do wrong. They sinned but not after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. Adam sinned against a clear precept all others until Moses sinned against the law that was written on their hearts.

The law is an ever-present reality. Try as we may to remove it from all prominent positions in society it remains in our hearts. From that sacred chamber no judge or court can remove it. The very fact that the Ten Commandments continue to receive the attention they do is an amazing testimony to their continued relevance and their unsettling proclamations.

One’s view of the law and how it is to be related to is fundamental in one’s outlook on life. The truths that we emphasis will have a direct bearing on the spiritual nature of our lives, behavior, and decisions. There are many that want to contend that we are free from the law. By this it seems that they mean the law no longer provides direction for us concerning what is holy and what is unholy. With this premise I disagree. There are others who believe (no Baptist that I know of) that the law, in some respect or of some kind, must be kept either to achieve salvation or to sustain salvation. With this premise I disagree. I would contend and this is the foundation of my arguments to be presented in this book, that we are not saved or kept by keeping the law (that is legalism). In fact salvation frees us from the law for the purposes of justification. While I no longer look to the law for justification it remains valid as an accurate representation of God’s view on a host of moral issues. It is strange that when it comes to the Ten Commandment there seems to be wide agreement on this point but once we move beyond Exodus twenty every moral precept is then called into question. To reference any scripture from Exodus, Deuteronomy, or Leviticus is legalistic and an attempt to try and put people back under the law. It is my position that God has not changed his mind on any of the moral principles set forth in the law. They are as valid today as when they were written. The simple fact is that while the Ten Commandments present a condensed version of the moral expectations of God there are other places where the ten are embellished and should serve us well in seeking to determine the mind of God on a host of issues.

Psalms 19:7 - The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;

The law is designed to convert the soul, in the sense of identifying unrighteousness and turning men back from it. It is a perfect law. The law is not blemished. The moral precepts of God are perfect. The law is not to be manipulated to suit our fancy but it is to be acknowledged, as an expression of the divine will. If we are not careful we can fall headlong into a "clintonian" mindset, “it depends on what “is” is.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Quotes from William Tiptaft

"I have no stone to cast at the vilest of the vile. It is all of grace that I am made to differ!"

"Grant Lord that we may be made right in doctrine, right in experience, and right in practice."

"Six feet by two-and-a-half is all the ground that the richest man in England will shortly occupy."

"Dead fish go with the stream, living ones against it."

"If you had a thousand crowns you should put them all on the head of Christ! And if you had a thousand tongues they should all sing his praise, for he is worthy!"

Monday, April 10, 2006

Let the heathen rage

This is a response to my letter to the editor of a couple of weeks ago.

USING PASTORSHIP TO BOOST ARGUMENTS IS WRONG

I disagreed completely with James McEntire’s fawning defense of Bush’s illegal and immoral war, but I was absolutely appalled that he found it necessary to try to lend weight to his remarks by identifying himself as a pastor. Perhaps he thinks his chosen avocation makes him more credible than other people, or perhaps he thinks he speaks for God. Whatever the reason, it’s wrong.

Sam Davis, Pearland

Funny, there was a time when Pastors were expected to be leaders in their communities. I suppose if I had a PHD it would have been perfectly legitimate to add that to my name to lend weight to my remarks. He's appalled, I'm appalled, were all appalled???

The People's Church

I saw a sign today that said the future home of the people's church. Herein lies the problem. Most churches see themselves as the people's church. This determines there approach to ministry. Give the people something they want, after all it is the people's church. The problem is that it is not the people's church, it is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, and upon this rock I will build MY church. I for one do not want to be a part of the people's church but a part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. A church where people are more interested in what Christ wants than what the people want. A church that caters to Christ rather than the culture. A church that calls the culture to repentance instead of conforming to their desires.

Just my opinion, my fullypersuaded opinion

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lee Surrenders

Today is the anniversary of Robert E Lee surrendering the army of northern Virginia to Ulysses S Grant at the Appomattox Court House.

The scourge of slavery should never have been allowed on these shores. The subsequent increase of federal power is a calamity under which we still labor. Amending the Constitution to give congress the power to levy taxes on personal income placed us all at the mercy of the state. There is a sense in which we are all slaves and we all work for the state. The money we earn is subject to their discretion as to how much we get to keep. They have strengthened their grip through payroll deductions so that we don't even lay hands on the money. All of this for the purpose of instituting legalized plunder. With power centralized in Washington, we the people, have less influence than ever.

Just my opinion, my FullyPersuaded opinion.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Law, Legalism, and Liberty

I started a book a while back that I work on as I have opportunity, which unfotunately is not very often. I hope that at some time in the future I will be able to devote more of my time to writing. The title of the book is Law, Legalism, and Liberty. I have a little over two chapters written. I thought I would begin by sharing with you the preface. What I have written I will be posting over the next few weeks. Maybe I will consequently be motivated to devote more time to this project.

PREFACE


Why a book on law, legalism, and liberty? The need is manifested all around us. The culture is degrading itself at an ever-increasing rate and it seems that on many issues the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ are simply a few steps behind and in many cases not even a half step behind.

The close pursuit of the churches in tracking the world is now legitimized and defended as the best means for reaching the world. I have yet to see any strong Scriptural arguments for such a position. It is troubling to see the churches of Jesus Christ seeking to package the gospel in the world’s attire. It seems that once the tide has turned in the culture in accepting a certain thing it ceases to matter what God may think about it. It is as though God changes with the culture, he has few standards outside the basic ten that are not subject to change and restructuring to meet the needs of an ever-changing world.

I am convinced that what needs to happen is that the world needs to be conformed to Christ and not the churches of Christ to the world. Churches increasingly orient their ministries to leave the impression that to accept Christ is to change very little. Whatever you enjoyed in the world has a “sanctified” counterpart in Christianity. This does not seem to be the message of the Biblical gospel. It is as though we want people to believe that very little will be required of them if they embrace the cross. Your music need not change simply to be sanctified. Your dress need not change just justified. Your appearance need not change because what matters is the heart. Your goals need not change just relabeled. Your focus need not change just spiritualized. Where is the preaching that demanded a death to the old way? Where is the ministry that was built on the premise that “old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”

The present generation has abandoned many of the standards of the previous generation. Maybe some of them deserved to be abandoned. I am not arguing that the way they did it in the old days is the way it should be done today. My concern is when you can go to church and you are hard pressed to discern whether you are at church or the mall. You have some difficulty in discerning the women from the men, and the girls from the boys. You could close you eyes and imagine that you were in a club or rock concert.

If in this generation we have abandoned some critical areas that separated us from the world, it is a worthy question to ask what will the next generation surrender. While the present generation has sacrificed the offense of the cross will the next generation sacrifice the substance of the cross? While the present generation has sacrificed the result of the gospel will the next generation sacrifice the message of the gospel? I know we would all like to think, not so. But I for one am concerned about that very thing.

With this thought in mind there is something that is worthy of our consideration. The scripture assures us the end time will be marked by apostasy.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 - Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

The “falling away” spoken of involves the idea of apostasy. In fact it is from the Greek word that we get our English word apostasy. apostasia ap-os-tas-ee’-ah; defection from truth (properly, the state) ["apostasy"]:—falling away, forsake. Now let me ask you to whom does this apply? It cannot apply to denomination that have already departed from the truth. It can only have reference to those who hold the truth. You cannot fall away from something you do not hold to. So that in the end times what we can expect to see are true churches falling away from the faith that was once delivered to the saints. I think it is important to recognize that those who in the past have fallen away from the truth did not recognize what was happening. They undoubtedly believed they were being broad minded, enlightened, and open to change. Again I am not against change just to be against something. At the same time change is not something that is to be taken lightly. The Scripture even warns us on this account.

Proverbs 24:21 - My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:

The word “meddle” here is an important word for it describes what is to be our position toward those that are given to change. It involves the idea of to braid, i.e. intermix; engage, mingle. So the instruction is to not be braided with those that are given to change. Do not intermix, engage, or mingle with those that are given to change.

So change is to be adopted cautiously. It is not to be embraced because it cost something to stand against it. It is not to be embraced because the culture has come to accept it. It is not to be embraced because it is no longer worth fighting the battle. Change is to only take place at God’s word and in order to ensure that it is at His word we are to honestly evaluate whether the change compromises our holiness, our separation, or our doctrine.

In considering these issues there are a number of particulars that come to mind. It is not my intention to address these at any length. It has come to my attention over the years that the issues where there is a disagreement is the result of an underlying disagreement about the role of the law, the application of legalism and the practicing of liberty. It is to these foundational principles that I intend to devote my attention and the particular issues will arise only and if they have bearing on the fundamental questions at hand.

I do not write to personally condemn any individual, church, or preacher. There is coming a final day of reckoning and to that day I am willing to defer. I am writing to express my concerns. To encourage those who hold similar views to mine and to challenge those who may hold slightly differing views in these important areas.

Latest Letter to the Editor

Michael Morris the assistant managing editor for The Facts wrote:

Published March 23, 2006

Now in our fourth year in Iraq, it is difficult to be surprised by anything that happens there. The predictions of our soldiers being out of the country in a year are long forgotten, as is the insistence the war effort would cost us no more than $1 billion — it currently stands at $450 billion and counting.Our soldiers continue to perform admirably, making inroads with common Iraqis with small, often overlooked acts of compassion and friendship every day, even as they are forced to run a gauntlet of potential bloodshed wrought by the increasing sophistication of a robust insurgency no one expected.When we hear one of our military heroes has died, or a suicide bomber had rained carnage on innocent shoppers at a market or a funeral at a mosque, or another aid worker or missionary has been kidnapped or beheaded, we no longer are startled. It merely is another day of death in an ill-conceived war with no clear resolution.Unless you are President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or another administration official, in which case the glass isn’t just half-full, it’s overflowing with celebratory champagne. While there have been welcome — albeit belated — admissions that all things on the ground in Iraq are not rosy, the insistence of great progress and optimism of a sweeping change being afoot are overstated.How many times have we heard that the insurgency is in its final throes, a claim repeated again over the weekend by Cheney? Yet, a major offensive was required last week in the area around Samarra, north of Baghdad, in another attempt to clear it of insurgents.The Iraqi people are embracing democracy we are told, but more than three months after elections a new government is no closer to being formed.Life is getting better for Iraqis and they are better off, it’s repeatedly said. Three years after the end of hostilities, however, electricity generation is barely above prewar levels. Before the invasion, half of Iraqis had access to potable water, compared to just 32 percent now. And the oil that was supposed to offset most of our costs? About 1.8 million barrels are being produced per day now, barely more than the 1.5 million barrels a day that were being pumped in the final months of Saddam’s regime.It was more than two years ago we first heard a variation of the phrase that when the Iraqis are ready to stand up, we will stand down. Those Iraqi soldiers, while far greater in number, still are nowhere near ready to be self-supporting.Those are the realities of the situation we face. Progress will be slow. Our soldiers will not be coming home in any great number anytime soon. The country is on the brink of civil war, if it has not already fallen into one. The insurgents remain a deadly force with few signs their power is abating.It is a failure to acknowledge those realities which has damaged the credibility of the administration and President Bush personally. Insisting Americans believe what they are told and disbelieve what they see with their own eyes is patronizing and makes any effort to rally support impossible. The misguided delusions that we are winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqis and are closing in on victory only move us further from those attainable objectives.Somewhere in between the mindless optimism of the administration and the indigestible pessimism of its critics is the truth about what is happening in Iraq. It is there the battle for the hearts and minds of the American people must be fought, and where the patient acceptance of the eventual success of our mission can be found.

FullyPersuadedBaptist wrote:

Mr. Morris’ editorial was just another opportunity to rail against the Bush administration. He provided a litany of reasons showing “the mindless optimism of the administration” while not providing one example of “the indigestible pessimism of its critics.”He complains that the administration is “insisting Americans believe what they are told and disbelieve what they see with their own eyes.” The problem is we do not see anything with our own eyes, only what has been filtered through the eyes of others. Are those filters to be trusted? A casual observation of any newscast will reveal that almost all news that is reported is bad. To watch most newscasts one would conclude there is nothing good happening anywhere. While there no doubt is plenty of bad news in Iraq and elsewhere, I believe there is good news as well. And although it is not generally reported, that does not mean it doesn’t exist.We have a problem in Iraq, but we had a problem there before the war. Solving problems is often unpleasant work. Those who recoil from the unpleasant will solve few problems. I am thankful we have a president who finds reason for optimism in trying times.James McEntire Jr., pastor, Faith Baptist Church, Freeport

Friday, April 07, 2006

Looking for a place

I am always looking for a place to present my thoughts. There are many things I am fully persuaded about. Many of them will probably end up appearing on this blog.
Even though I preach at least twice a week and teach two public Bible studies. I still seem to have more to say. This will be one more place where I will write it. I write letters to the editor in the local paper.
I will likely be sharing an assortment of thing here. My thoughts on current issues. My thoughts on political issues. My thoughts on theological issues. My thoughts on ministry issues. My thoughts on family issues. Also...... a few thoughts on items of interest (to me) that happen around here and some of my bus stories.
It will not take long before anyone who reads here will discover that I am in deed FULLY PERSUADED and that I am BAPTIST!