Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blogger Mark America: 'Conservative Revolt Under Way?'

Conservatives Ready to Stomp RINOs?
After Monday nights Fox News GOP Debate in South Carolina, it seems that a fair number among the conservative base of the GOP is on the cusp of open revolt against the party establishment that keeps shoving Mitt Romney down our throats.  His insistence on delaying disclosure of his tax returns until April signifies the fact that he has some weakness there he doesn’t want exposed until after he expects to have the nomination locked up, but he didn’t even firmly commit to that time-frame.  This is something we must demand of all the GOP candidates.  None should escape our examination.  The last thing we need is a candidate with warts that will be exposed later, once nominated, that will cost us the election and shaft us with another four years of Barack Obama.
It’s bad enough that the party establishment has pushed up the schedule in the early states in order to close off debate sooner, but I don’t think they planned on this reaction by the base.  People are now starting to ask: “Hey, what’s in those tax returns” or “why are we being told this guy is inevitable?”  As this goes on, it’s becoming clear that there is a portion of the media, even non-traditional media, that is pushing certain polls at us relentlessly showing Romney way ahead, while the truth on the ground in South Carolina and elsewhere may be something else entirely.
Suddenly the “inevitable” emperor has no clothes, and people are beginning to seriously questions Romney’s electability.  The entire question of his tax returns is an indictment, and while some pro-Romney hacks are trying to dismiss that as some sort of attack on capitalism, it has become clear that this is now their canned defense for any criticism. You can’t talk about Romney’s stammering answer on disclosing his tax returns in the name of transparency and openness without somebody trying this lame defense of Romney.  This has nothing to do with capitalism, and everything to do with Romney’s willingness to submit to inspection by the people from whom he wants financial and voting support.
Is the conservative revolt now getting under way?  Is it too little, too late?  Will Romney succeed in stealing this nomination process with the assistance of a willing media establishment?  Time will tell, but I have begun to notice that many people are no longer taking this sitting down. Rise, conservatives! Rise Tea Party! Say “No” to candidates who will not disclose their tax documents!  The New York Times, in crediting Sarah Palin for pointing out this problem, went on to state the following:
“Mr. Romney also can look to his own father, George. He released a dozen years of tax returns when he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in 1968, leading Richard Nixon to follow suit.”
I will not vote for any candidate who refuses to disclose his tax returns.  Nobody should.  This election is too important to the future of the country to wind up stranded in September or October with a damaged candidate who cannot win.  We need to see this information now, before we choose.  It’s our country, and it’s our choice!

War is Hell

Hooah: Allen West Responds to Marine Urination Incident: War is Hell

Allen West (R-FL)
The Weekly Standard is reporting on a statement via email from Congressman Allen West(R-FL) on the incident involving Marines who urinated on three Taliban Corpses.  West is known particularly for his own service, having retired from the Army  as a Lt. Colonel.  His statement reflects the view of a military realist, who understands the real nature of war, and the things that sometimes happen on the battlefield.  I think the hand-wringers would do well to listen to West on this one, as his statement comports well with my own statement on the matter.   I wish all of our veterans in government were willing to be this blunt:
“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.
“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?
“The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.
“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Here There is Victory
by Pastor Ed Evans
Scripture:  Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:  “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of You, I never will.”
34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown You.” And all the other disciples said the same.
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”  Immediately a rooster crowed. 
75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times.”  And he went outside and wept bitterly.

          On Sunday, June 13, 2004, Matt Starr was at Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas, watching the home team Rangers take on the St. Louis Cardinals. When a foul ball was hit toward where he was sitting, the 28-year-old landscaper leapt over the seat in front of him. Even though the ball had landed at the feet of 4-year-old Nicholas O’Brien, Starr knocked the boy against the seats and pounced on the ball. The boy’s mother, insulted by the aggressive behavior, swatted him with her program, while fans chanted, "Give the boy the ball." But, clutching the ball to himself, Starr returned to his seat unwilling to part with his new souvenir.
          Even the ballplayers witnessed Starr’s actions. Between innings, Cardinals’ outfielder, Reggie Sanders, went into the stands to give the boy a bat.  Nicholas also received souvenirs from the Texas Rangers, including one signed by Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.  Video of Starr’s self-serving behavior was shown on television stations across the country.
          When interviewed on Good Morning America, Edie O’Brien, Nicholas’ mother, admitted calling Starr a jerk, among other names.  "I said, ’You trampled a 4-year-old boy to get this ball,’ and he said, ’Oh, well.’"
          Four days later, Starr, a former youth minister at a nearby church, expressed sorrow for his behavior.  He agreed to send a letter of apology to the O’Brien family.  Starr also indicated he would give the boy the ball.  In addition, he would buy tickets for the entire family to a future Rangers’ game.
          I'm not sure which is worse, succeeding when we set out to do a wrong thing -- because we who belong to Christ are usually very capable people -- or the crushing guilt and remorse when our Lord looks at us as He looked at Peter when that rooster crowed.  For in that moment -- that moment -- it all comes rushing back at us that yes, we could do that, and we could win, but our priorities are all wrong, and we have stepped away from where Christ wants us to be.  Where are we going?
          It's never the sudden realization that we have transgressed a set of ethics, a list of moral objectives we've set for our self.  No, it's the sudden knowing that Jesus is standing there looking at us, the rooster has just crowed, and time waits on us to see what we are going to do, now that we know we know.
          You see, this year, the year 2012, is about Him.  As we reflect on the old year behind us and look into the new, we need to remember to keep our focus fixed on Christ.  No matter what happens in this new, unblemished year, whether it brings great blessings or hard times, let’s make sure to hold on to, to lean on the Christ, to trust in Him.
          Looking hard into the misty future of the year before us, ask yourself, if I were to be led astray -- like going after a foul ball and knocking a four-year-old aside to get it -- how might that happen?  After all, forewarned is forearmed, right?  Getting into Satan's mind and knowing that "He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world" is our key to victory (1st John 4:4).  So let's look at five ways we might be deceived.
          Perhaps you remember from your Bible that you aren't going to recognize Satan by his clothing or actions; no fiery red pitchfork, pointed ears or forked tail.  He'll be kind, polite, winsome, and attractive.  But underneath he's ugly and deceptive.
          First of all, he may try to convince you that you're not just someone, you are "something" of importance; you are special.  We know from 1st Corinthians 12:21 that God never uses one special person to touch everyone, but together we get the job done.  It's a combination of spiritual gifts God uses to build up the body, for as that verse in Corinthians teaches us, "And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you'; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'"
          You and I are part of the "someones." Uniquely gifted, God uses each one of us and our giftedness to both reach the lost and build up those who are His.  As people are helped and blessed, they let you know.  And they should!  All of us need to be encouraged.
          One encouraging comment can become several repeated comments, sometimes many comments. They come verbally, they come through text messages and emails. Sometimes comments you make get repeated on a website or two, and then you might find people have referred to you on Twitter or Facebook.
          That's when Satan causes you to think you're not only someone, you are SOMETHING.  Pride creeps in -- not overnight, just one Sunday at a time.  In six months, you start to be a different person.  You begin to think, "Where would this church, this business, these people be without me?  Why don't others develop the skills that I have? I never knew God was going to so abundantly use me."
          The answer to the problem here is two-fold. First, have an accountability partner who is honest enough to tell you every time they see something prideful about you.  But don't get defensive, since they are probably right and are trying to help, not hurt.  Trying to help as you asked them to.  Secondly, every day consider this: Should you be wiped off the scene today, the work of Christ would go on pretty much unhindered.  It is His plan, not yours.  This fact is sobering to say the least and will keep you right where you need to be -- feeling dependent, undeserving, and grateful.  Luckily for us men, we usually have a wife, or a girl friend, or a daughter who feels it is their mission in life to keep us humble.  Thank God for them.
          Secondly, as disciples of Christ, Satan will often suggest to us that instead of sharing something relevant, we need to bring something new to the game, something only we see and can teach.
          For we who are called to preach, the job is well defined. 2nd Timothy 4:2 says, "Preach the word! " That means our message is confined to what He says.  We are not teaching something new but truth as old as the Bible itself.  We don't have to make it relevant; it is relevant.  All we have to do is communicate effectively to the people.  This is why the pressure we need to feel is not how to come up with a truth our people have never heard but truth God gave years ago and put it in words that are meaningful and applicable. Sometimes we teach the same truth 50 times. It's been accurately stated that effective communication is saying the same thing in different words.
          The story is told of the old preacher who preached the same sermon twice in a row.  His Elders asked him if he was aware that was the same sermon he preached the previous Sunday.  He said, "Yes, I am, and when I see that you have understood it I'll go to something new."
          For those not called to preach, Jesus gave us explicit directions in His Sermon on the Mount, through the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12, and then the New Testament writers spend the rest of the Bible using those Beatitudes to give us more explicit directions for a life dedicated to Jesus Christ.
          However, as long as we are Christians, Satan will be trying to convince you and me that people are tired of hearing the same old thing.  Therefore, instead of feeling the need to use sentences, illustrations, and analogies that drive truth home in a fresh way, you think that you need to come up with something new, period -- something never thought of, never taught, and never heard.  Something new about the mind, marriage, relationships, spiritual growth, love, hate, or a long list of things. Soon you have stepped outside the Scriptures, teaching your thoughts instead of His. Discerning people will appropriately begin to say, "I'm not sure that's what the Scriptures say." The difference is profound. God has never promised to bless your word; He's only promised to bless His.
          The answer for you and for me is to get down on our knees, open the Bible in front of us, and utter a simple prayer, such as: "Don't let me stray outside this Bible, but help me live and teach what is in this book clearly and effectively.  Amen."
          Then, we can approach someone in our church who is very knowledgeable in the Word and say to them, "If you hear me say something strange, don't just accept it.  Ask me about it, and don't assume that because I'm a Christian or the preacher that I am right.  Hold me to account." That person should regard you highly for caring enough to make sure you are living the thoughts of Jesus, not your owrn.  My favorite prayer right here is "More of You, Lord, and less of me."
          Third, Satan is going to try and tell you what your mission as a Christian is, and what it is not.  But Satan has no say in that, whatsoever.
          For example, whatever gift God has shared with you, Satan may try to convince you that you must evangelize, you MUST convert every set of eyeballs in front of you.  But if those senior Christians around you, and your pastor have spent any time in the Word, they know 2nd Timothy 4:5: "But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."  You see, when Paul wrote that, he was not addressing Timothy as a gifted evangelist, but Timothy as a gifted pastor-teacher.  And let me point out right here that some of are called to evangelize through the spoken word, and some of us are called to draw people to Christ by the life we live, by the gifts He has given us; we teach without words, by song, by music, by extending the hand of Christ to those in need.
          And yet, be cautious, for Satan will try to define that verse for you. He will urge you that you have to stand before people and evangelize, evangelize, and evangelize.  That way, you feel that you have done your part.  But remember it isn't what you do that counts, but what Christ does through you.
          But Satan isn't going tell you that people who want the peace of Christ which they see in you are most apt to do what you do, not what you say. If you talk about the lost, they will talk about the lost. If you reach out with the hand of Christ, they will reach out with the hand of Christ.  Examples, not exhortation, change the hearts of people.
          Paul in Ephesians 6:19–20, said to ask people to pray for you that when you open your mouth, the words of our Lord will come out of it and boldly.  Once again, find an accountability partner.  Once a month, have that person ask you, "What have you done to reach out this week to a lost person?"  I assure you, that can change lives, and -- guess what -- change churches.
          Fourth, Satan will do his best to convince you that you can attain spirituality through busy-work and preparation.  But if it doesn't change you, if you have not been so deeply touched by a passage that you become a passionate channel to transfer the blessing to others, it won't touch anyone else, either.  If what we do and say touches others for Christ, it shows in the way we come across.  Our whole demeanor is not, "This is what you need." Instead, it is, "This is what God showed me I need, and I know you're going to be blessed by it, too."  Sometimes you may not be sure whether it's a sermon or a testimonial.
          But Satan uses the struggles each of us faces.  For example, time. You can begin to think you don't have time to get alone with God, so your life kicks into high gear with only a few moments of prayer.  And we starve, spiritually.
          Since our God is a God of grace, He obviously understands our time constraints and He loves us, but He also desires our fellowship, as 1st John 1:3 assures us, "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.  And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ."  Those moments when we close our ears to everyone else's voice, to the noise of the world, and just listen to His as it comes through devotional study of the Word -- those uninterrupted moments with your best friend -- are what keep you fresh. Some of those times cause tears to run down your cheeks as He shows you areas in which you're flawed and need improvement, but you still come away feeling energized. Interestingly enough.  Those who have fallen away from the Lord from lofty perches have often commented that where they made their mistake was neglecting their quiet time with Him.
          Consider creating a hallowed spot.  For me, it's my chair out in my Florida room with all the plants, where God and I meet each morning.  Reading daily devotionals, comparing the content and intent of His Word, I may cover one verse or I may cover a chapter, and sometimes it depends on how long I spend in prayer.  I don't care.  What I do care about is that I go from there into my day's activity with one truth to meditate on for that day, a verse, a truth.  I also keep the prayer requests others give Him in a notebook, so I'm careful not to forget.  I come away fed, energized, helped, and encouraged -- as only the One who saved me more than 54 years ago can do.  Don't ask me why He would ever want to be with someone so depraved as me.  But He can't wait to respond to me, and I can't wait to live out each day for Him.
          Finally, and listen carefully, finally, Satan will convince you that "You're not getting the attention you deserve."  That, in essence was his message in the Garden of Eden.  But it's frustrating, isn't it?  You may be more faithful in your study and worship of Him than anyone you know, but somehow they get the recognition and you don't. What follows is money.  Increased recognition brings increased funds with it.  So while you and your family struggle to make it, others seem to be doing quite well.
          Satan can convince you that you have a right to be frustrated. You are not getting half the attention you deserve. Soon your frustration turns to others whom you deem responsible -- your mate, your children, your co-workers, your boss, your preacher, the board members, the church, and no one understands.  Tension builds, and Satan stands on the sideline smiling.  Correction: he's laughing.
          What can we do?  Go back to the starting block. If you don't memorize, at least  master 1st Corinthians 4:2, "Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful." Note the word is "faithful," not "famous."  Place it in front of you on the desk.  Hang it in your office.  But don't just memorize it; swallow it.  Absorb it into your spiritual being so that it becomes a governing principle of your life.
          Why should you do that?  Because God is the keeper of the books.  No good deed goes unrewarded.  No amount of discipleship goes unnoticed.  No mistakes are made in His bookkeeping.  Everything due to you will come in terms of recognition, if not now, then later.  He promises, "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work" (Revelation 22:12).  Think about that -- who would you rather be rewarded by?  Someone down here who only sees a lot of what you do, not who you are in God's eyes, or someone "up there" who sees all of what you do and who you are?
          So there you have it, Satan's tactics and how to prevent them.  But don't just know them, ACT on them.  Let Satan know in no uncertain terms that his tactics won't work with you.  James 4:7 promises, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."  Your prayers and action will give him a not-so-subtle message: "I'm not interested in a truce; I'm only interested in victory.  And victory will be mine through Jesus Christ."  Amen.
Week of Worship

January 8-14, 2012

Invocation:  O God, sovereign Lord over all creation, without whom all purposes are futile, grant me today the assistance of Your Spirit.  In  all the surprises and changes of life, may I fix my heart upon You, so that Your eternal purposes may be fixed in me.  In the name of Jesus, who came to make Your eternal purpose clear.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 45

Daily Scripture Readings
Monday                Isaiah 46:5-11
Tuesday               Hebrews 6:9-20
Wednesday          Matthew 19:16-30
Thursday              Matthew 6:25-34
Friday                   2nd Timothy 1:1-14
Saturday              1st Corinthians 3:10-17
Sunday                 Genesis 1:1-5; Acts 19:1-7; Psalm 29; Mark 1:4-11

Reflection: (silent and written)

Prayers for the church, for others, for yourself.

Hymn: "Lord, You Give the Great Commission"

Benediction:  And now, Lord, as I return to the duties of life, let me go in the confidence of Your protection that I may come to the end of this day in peace and happiness. Amen.