Friday, January 30, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Claims to Have Barack Obama On His Team

If you didn't hear it on the radio, Rush Limbaugh appealed to Barack Obama being on his team in a friendly debate today.

In a discussion with the Hutch (Dr. Ken Hutcherson) today, Rush is backing the Steelers and the Hutch is backing the Cardinals in the Superbowl. Hutch said that he had a very important woman on his team ensuring the victory of the Cardinals.

Curious, Rush asked who that would be.

Hutch replied with the name Condoleeza Rice.

Astonished, Rush restated as a question, "Condoleeza Rice is a Cardinal's fan?!?"

Answering yes, Hutch said, "Two blacks against one white: you're gonna lose."

Rush offered, "That's okay: I have Barack and Michelle Obama on my team."

Hutch came back, "They're Steeler's fans? You're really going to lose!"

Anyone know of a Superbowl party I could crash? I'm in on it now.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Trading Wealth for Trusting God

Every single piece of American currency I handle has the following four words on it: In God We Trust. I’m sure I’ve been through this mental exercise before, but the more I think about it, the clearer it becomes. So, let me start from the beginning and see if I can unclutter the thinking around economics.

I’m not an economist, but what I’ve been able to learn from studying economic theories is that they are built on principles that are not fully understood by economists. It’s like a physicist trying to figure out why Newtonian physics don’t apply to quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics determine macroscopic physical behavior, but our trust in the physical world is all in the macroscopic. But physical properties in the quantum world are rather bizarre to macroscopic creatures.

Likewise, people use their money based on observed economic rewards and macroscopic speculations rather than quantum economic principles that are rarely, if ever, discussed in the economic quarter.

So lets think through this…

If I want to eat, I need food. So, I hunt or plant a garden or raise livestock. After the plants are grown and the animals are killed, I need to prepare the food for storage. Growing season only happens seasonally and whole animals are usually too large for me to eat in one sitting. They need to be prepared for storage. This ensures that my livestock and I can eat when the garden lays fallow. Then, the food needs to be processed and prepared for eating when mealtime comes around. At every step of the way, I require tools and I have to spend some time making and maintaining my tools.

All of this takes a lot of work and I would spend my whole life focused on food. But if I have some new and improved tools then can do more work with less effort. I can even have an abundance of food with some time left over for other activities like building a house to live in or making clothes to wear. Those things take tool and better tools could leave me with the capacity to make houses or clothing for others as well as share my food with them and still have some time left over for some leisure.

My grandfather was a farmer in the Midwest. He organized one of the first farming co-ops in the area where farmers pooled their resources together, purchased equipment that none of them could afford on their own and helped each other out for significant gains on their productivity.

My grandfather didn’t have to concern himself with preparing daily meals or making clothing. My grandmother did that. She didn’t have to concern herself with working in the fields. My grandfather did that. Together, they were able to trade what each did for the services of the other. Grandpa brought the food and an grandma prepared it. Grandpa made sure they had a house to live in with furnishings and grandma adorned it and them with available materials.

But they required materials that they didn’t produce on the farm. Grandpa produced much more food than he needed. He sold the abundance for money and used the money to purchase those things they didn’t produce on the farm. Essentially, he traded his abundance for what he needed. Someone else out there was producing what he needed without producing food.

So, work produces things we need or want. We’ll define this as wealth. The creation of wealth happens when people produce something that can be used, exchanged or traded for something else.

There are some things that we don’t produce that we need. Land is an example. The value of land is increased by doing work to it to the ends of being able to make it more productive or by building things on it that people need, like houses or places of business.

There are other things that we don’t produce that we don’t need that we otherwise attach arbitrary value to. These are things like gold. Sure, work goes into the mining and refining of it, but gold itself is worthless as something that can be used to sustain life.

As tools are developed and employed to help us produce things we need, this frees up people to produce things we don’t need. As such, we create various types of art and other diversions for the time we have freed up for ourselves.

Here’s a simple graph:

There are other factors such as changes in value over time that would turn this into a multi-dimensional graph.

The reason I investigate this is so that we can begin to see the relationship between the creation of wealth and trade.

The problem with hyper-macroscopic theories of economy is that they focus only on trade patterns as indicators and fail to distinguish between needs and wants in the creation of wealth.

So, what is the stock market all about? Unless you are carrying money around in your pocket or it’s in the safes and cash drawers at various places of business, all money is placed in accounts that are used to pay various operating expenses of corporations. The people whose money is paying these expenses are the owners of these corporations. Their level of ownership is determined by how much of their money is in each corporation. The method of accounting for this is called stock.

So, where basic trade is simply trading one needed thing for another and currency allows a certain flexibility in doing this, the stock market takes trade to a new level. Now, inasmuch as corporations can rise or fall in value, the ownership of these corporations can be traded for profit. But where does the profit really come from? If the corporation makes its money on manufacturing where real wealth is being created, then the value of the corporation comes from the marketability of the corporation’s product. If the corporation is making things that cannot be sold for whatever reason, then the value of the corporation is reduced to the property of the corporation: the tangible assets. If the corporation is able to sell what they make at a profit and their value doesn’t change, then at least the profit increases the wealth of the stockholders. If the company is able to increase profits over a period of time, then stock can easily be bought and resold at a profit.

But one other factor is almost ridiculous. That is the fact that if stock can be sold for more than it’s really worth, then stockholders can make a profit off the stock aside from how well the corporation actually performs. This is called a bubble. The true value of stock appears to be what the stock is sold for when the true value of stock is actually how well the corporation performs. If the true value is revealed, then the bubble bursts and stockholders lose money. The money went to the former owners who sold the stock for more than it was worth.

Confused yet? It gets worse. Suppose that a corporation doesn’t create wealth, but rather makes profits by trading. This would be something like an insurance company. Some of their profits come from their clients who pay premiums for insurance coverage. On the whole, a client base may pay more than they receive, but the company takes the money and invests it in such things as the stock market.

Other things that get traded are things like gold. The only thing that gives gold its lasting value is what other people are willing to pay for it. It’s like a perpetual bubble. The thing is, it’s been traded for so long it’s a relatively stable bubble. That doesn’t mean it can’t bust, however. If people get to the point where they won’t buy gold for what they once bought it, then gold will decrease in value.

But what are most important are two relationships I don’t see discussed much. First is the ratio between the rate of production and the rate of trade. Second is the percent of production co-opted by extraneous traders. And these two relationships are related.

Lets get back to the farm. Farmer Ralph is working his combine off and bringing in the grain fast enough to feed everyone in the town for the whole year. So, no one else in town needs to grow grain because Farmer Ralph has enough for everyone. Farmer Ralph needs electricity so he exchanges some grain on a regular basis for it thereby feeding the people at the electrical plant and gaining grain for himself. However, one year a drought plagues the farm and for that year, he doesn’t have enough grain to pay for the electricity. Ideally, the value of the grain he was able to harvest went up because he had les of it and there has to be a way to spread around the grain evenly throughout all the people in the town. However, no one is keeping track well enough and now the people who make electricity don’t have anything to eat. They have to stop making electricity so they can go out and find a way to bring in food. The rate of production and the rate of trade have both decreased.

Money is worthless if it’s not being spent. If it’s spent too slowly things like Farmer Ralph’s grain goes to waste and production is made worthless. If it’s spent too quickly, Farmer Ralph either runs out of grain and doesn’t have enough left to trade for the things he needs or the value of his grain goes up and he’s not motivated to make as much grain as he must in order for everyone in the whole town to eat.

You see, the value of such things as land, gold or art is worthless without the creation of new wealth. The creation of new wealth is worthless if it’s not used. And because of specialization and the division of labor, in order for it to be used, it has to be traded.

So, a healthy economy requires a healthy rate of the creation of wealth with a healthy rate of trade.

If healthy trade is compromised by too many or too large bubbles, then when the bubbles start to burst, the rate of trade is significantly diminished and subsequently diminishes the means for maintaining the rate of the creation of wealth.

To put it simply: If no one works, no one gets paid. If no one gets paid, no one works.

It’s not my intent to go into the reason why the big bubbles happened. Suffice it to say that there became more leaches on the trade side than workers on the creation side. And the government has seen fit to reward the leeches for the purpose of bringing about socialism in the United States. After all, what happens when the economy fails? It’s time for the government to hit the reset button.

When the reset button is hit, the argument will be that capitalism has failed. There will be substituted for it a thing that looks like severely regulated capitalism. It’s socialism in disguise. The government has been slowly being reconfigured to manage the rate of the creation of wealth as well as the rate of trade. We’ve already had subsidies and interest rate control. There will be more.

The problem with socialism is that with a guaranteed paycheck, few are motivated to work efficiently. That’s why socialist governments breed some of the poorest countries. People allowed to earn what they can make by working effectively and efficiently will be motivated to create plenty of wealth and an economy can thrive.

Once again, the point of this article: If no one works, no one gets paid. If no one gets paid, no one works.

In a socialist state, people get paid a pittance regardless of the work they do. They will therefore labor to produce only a pittance. Since they only produce a pittance, the government can only afford to pay them a pittance.

It’s coming.

And the only way out is to trust God. Because money is increasingly worthless.

(It brings a depth of meaning to the rich young man in Matthew 19. No?)

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Do You Have Faith in Your Faith?

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33

Throughout the gospels, Christ performs miracles commending people for their faith and claiming that it was on account of the people's faith that the miracle took place. This has led some groups to conclude that if someone wants a miracle, all they have to do is have enough faith and it will happen. The resulting fallacious conclusion is that if your miracle doesn't happen, then you didn't have enough faith.

So we hear about pseudo-Christian parents who deny medical help for their children because they have faith that God will heal them. And when their children die because they didn't receive medical care and they wonder with anger at how the media makes a big deal out of the fact that charges are brought against them for negligence.

My kids love to recount the story how the man in a flood turned down evacuation by bus, boat and helicopter because he had faith that God would rescue him. When he reached heaven after drowning, he asked God why he didn't rescue him and God replied, "I sent a bus, a boat and a helicopter. What more did you want?"

Peter called out to Christ in faith, "Command me to come to you on the water." In faith Peter was able to walk on the water. But faith in what? He knew he couldn't walk on the water without Christ's command. But he also knew that he needed faith of his own in order to walk on water otherwise unaided. So Peter also had faith in his faith.

However, when Peter saw the wind and the waves, his faith waned and he sunk in the water. In his sinking, he called out to Christ, "Lord, save me." He still had faith, otherwise he would have no reason to call out to Christ to save him. What had changed is that he he no longer had faith in his faith.

Do we boast in our faith or do we recognize our own weak faith? If we had faith like a grain of mustard seed, then we could tell a mountain to move it would obey. (Mat 17:20) Clearly, we don't have the faith of a mustard seed. Perhaps our attitude should be that of the father of a demon-possessed boy who told Jesus, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)

Christ asked the disciples in the boat, "Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?" The question was rhetorical. The answer is that we will have doubt. But Peter was there soaked but completely un-drowned. The question should help us conclude that even if we had Christ in person standing before us working miracles with the example of Peter that we could do the same, we would not have enough faith.

Peter himself worked many miracles from Pentecost on, but taught this about faith:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and l unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and a gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:3-9; 20-21

Inasmuch as faith is trusting in Christ, I dare say it is unfaithful to trust in our faith. We must have faith in Christ alone. Our faith may falter, but Christ is faithful to save all who the Father has given him.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Propaganda Machine In View

I saw the following comparison of headlines and searched the internet for a source only to find countless blogs carrying this information. Lest any of you doubt it, the Main Stream Media (MSM - aka "liberal media") have been pushing public opinion on par with Hitler's Nazi propaganda machine. If you read this and don't know what I'm talking about, how do you think Hitler got all those Germans to be complicit in the evils of Nazi Germany? I had a friend in the Marines named Linda. She was an older lady who went to the base chapel with me. Linda was a German immigrant and had been a youth in Berlin during WWII. She described Hitler's propaganda to me and how it affected the way she thought even to the day I knew her. This kind of distortion of the truth is passed off as merely news, but the intent to color our opinions and inform our worldviews. Be careful that you don't fall prey to those who would be the only source of your information about this world and exploit you to fuel their own geopolitical goals.

Headlines January 19, 2005

  • “Republicans spending $42 million on inauguration while troops Die in unarmored Humvees”
  • “Bush extravagance exceeds any reason during tough economic times”
  • “Fat cats get their $42 million inauguration party, Ordinary Americans get the shaft”

Headlines Today:

  • “Historic Obama Inauguration will cost only $120 million”
  • “Obama Spends $120 million on inauguration; America Needs A Big Party”
  • “Everyman Obama shows America how to celebrate”
  • “Citibank executives contribute $8 million to Obama Inauguration”

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where'd the Bread and Milk Go? 'Snow-where to be Found

It's that special time of year in North Carolina where you hear about a presidential inauguration and have to find a few tens of thousands of porta-potties. Okay, wrong story...

Let me try again:

It's that special time of year in North Carolina where one feels compelled to go to the grocery store to stock up on bread and milk only to find that everyone else already beat you to it. Okay, either the stores have gotten wise to this trend and stocked up for the rush or people finally realize that they're not really going to run out of bread and milk. Because it wasn't that bad today when Lois sent me to the store for a few groceries - including bread and milk.

It's also a time when an inch means that everyone not self-employed wakes up hours early to watch the big three networks see if their place of business will be open. Actually, it does sound like the inauguration, except that because of the economy fewer people will be waking up early to see if they need to go to work.

You know, I'm less and less excited about this with each paragraph. (Yes, I just used a neo-Kennedyism.)

But this news is something that is not too common in North Carolina. I'm originally from Ohio so I know how it is. My friend, Kim, just informed me that it's not snowing in New York...

...but in NC there is SNOW!!

Hey! I hear you guys from the north laughing at this piddly amount of snow, and I agree. But we'll have the last laugh. It'll probably all melt by noon tomorrow (like it usually does) having raised our spirits and gone away on it's own...

...completely unshoveled! Yes!!!

I wish I could say the same for the government.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Imprecatory Psalms and the Effect of Culture on Theology

Psalms are great source material for things to be sung in corporate worship. We often like to take nice verses that give us warm fuzzies about God and build a good song around it. Think About His Love is one example:

Think about His love
Think about His goodness
Think about His grace
That's brought us through
For as high as the heavens above
So great is the measure of our Father's love
Great is the measure of our Father's love

Such songs are good because they do indeed help us incline our hearts to God. It is good sometimes to look past the warm fuzzy verses and include passages that help us focus our sufferings on Him. This past Sunday we sang a song, For Thou, Oh Lord, taken from Psalm 3:

Many are they increased that troubled me
Many are they that rise up against me
Many there be which say of my soul
There is no help for him in God

But Thou, oh Lord, are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head

I cried unto the Lord with my voice
And he heard me out of His holy hill
I laid me down and slept and awaked
For the Lord sustained, for he sustained me

I've been teaching my kids some simple categories of Psalms to help them understand the Psalms better. One type of Psalm is one you don't hear sung very often in contemporary circles. The imprecatory Psalm are those where the Psalmist condemns his enemies. In our Politically Correct culture we are often taught that we shouldn't judge. Even in church we are taught that we should love our enemies. This is right. We interpret this to mean that we shouldn't imprecate against them because that's the way our culture works.

We aren't free from imprecations in our culture, however, and they are more common than we would like to admit. Try driving in a place as tame as the US for a week without at least thinking to yourself, "That idiot! Where'd he learn to drive? If he wrecks, it would serve him right!" Try going to public school (or even most private schools for that matter) without hearing condemnations of one student to another. My own kids occasionally vie to get each other in trouble by pointing out each other's sins the their parents. In the business world, it's not uncommon to find dissatisfied customers imprecating their suppliers. Even in churches where we would otherwise say we should not speak so unkindly of others, particularly our brothers and sisters in Christ, you may find people imprecating each other, often in gossip circles. Finally, who hasn't heard liberals imprecating George Bush? I thought they were the loving, tolerant, all-inclusinve ones. Unfortunately, some conservatives who are less than spiritually mature have likewise mused over Obama's potential assassination. How horrible we are!

Well, there is such a thing as godly imprecation. So stuck are we on the warm fuzzies that we lack the cultural beans and spiritual maturity to sing them in worship. Well, they were written to be sung. They're in the Psalms - in the Bible that we so revere for it's inerrancy and capacity to inform our spiritual lives. Yet we don't apprehend the imprecatory Psalms as we ought.

I pointed this out in a humorous way to the kids: "Let's raise our hands and voices in praise to God with Psalm 55:"

22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.

23 But you, O God, will cast them down
into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

"...or Psalm 137:"

1 By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
we hung up our lyres. [I thought this was interesting. Aren't we always singing songs urging people to sing?]
3 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How shall we sing the Lord's song
in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!

7 Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
down to its foundations!”
8 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
blessed shall he be who repays you
with what you have done to us!
9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!

The music is good and sung with such conviction that we all applaud God with shouts of "Amen!" and "Halleluiah!"

Of course this won't happen in contemporary western churches, and perhaps our idea of worship is a bit limited. Can we get warm fuzzies over the happiness that people have over brutally killing the children of our enemies? Yet, this was written to be sung.

I bring this up to make an observation about more subtle theological understandings. We don't have much an idea the huge impact our culturally induced sensitivities have on our capacity to correctly apprehend scripture. The good news is that enough truth is understandable in any culture for the Holy Spirit to awaken God's people to faith and to mature spiritually. However, it must be understood that the whole testimony of revealed truth in the scriptures will never be fully understandable to us, no matter what culture we are part of. We rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal more truth to us as we continue to grow in joyful obedience to the will of God, but we should never presume to understand all things.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dust Bunnies

My oldest son's rabbit was out in the living room while his cage was being cleaned. I found him under the end table where we needed to clean yet and he looked like he was trying to be inconspicuous among the dust bunnies. I added the caption at lolcats: I Can Has Cheezburger.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

In What Way Are We Made In the Image of God?

I love studying the Bible with my kids more and more. Last night we had read from Mark 14 and talked about how the meaning of the Lord's Supper had its historical roots and theological typology in the Passover at the exodus pointing to the atoning sacrifice of the crucifixion of Christ and giving us unity in the Body of Christ. This somehow led to a discussion of how we are created in the image of God. Luke offered a popular speculation that one way we bear God's image is in that we have free will. So I pointed out that while we have free will, our free will is limited to God's created order, but that God's will is not limited by His created order. Hope offered that His will is His created order. (!!!!!) How could I argue with that since God creates all that He wills? God's will is creative. Human will is reactive. What dear children I have.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

I explained to my kids the problem of speculating different ways of how we are made in the image of God is that the Bible doesn't tell us. The best theological answer to the question is, "I don't know." If we focus the answers to questions we have of the Bible to what the Bible doesn't say, then we are likely missing the message that God has for us.

We are made in the image of God and that is enough information for us. Is it not enough to indicate our status as the pinnacle of creation to say that God made us in his image? Did He make anything else in His image? The Bible doesn't say that He did. But I looked to see what the Bible had to say about images.

The Hebrew word translated image in the creation account is Tselem. Elsewhere it is typically used to refer to idols, false gods or statues. The only place it is used positively is with respect to man's image. There are several other words throughout the Hebrew text translated image and they likewise are almost exclusively used to refer to idols and false gods, apparently interchangeably according to the preference of the human author. With this one could observe that wile man being made in the image of God is a good thing, man's creation of false gods in his image is not a good thing.

(Daniel used tselem in the Aramaic, but I have ignored the usage here.)

I looked the word up in the Greek and found the word Eikon used exclusively. The only time eikon was used to translate anything Christ said was when he answered the question about taxes and asked to see a Roman coin. He asked whose likeness was on the coin. The word used here was eikon in Matthew, Mark and Luke. It's notable since Christ's teaching was with regard to the fact that we are made in the image of God and the money was made in the image of Caesar: "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”

So, one message that we need to gain from the fact that we are made in the image of God is that we belong to God. One observation I have at this point is that if all human beings belong to God (John 17) then we are all going to heaven. This isn't the case. Therefore, do we all bear the image of God?

John never used the word in his Gospel or the three letters. But he did use eikon several times in Revelation negatively with regards to people worshipping the image of the beast. (John made notable references to Daniel's imagery in Revelation obvious only to those who were familiar with Daniel's writing in the late first or early second century. Since Daniel used tselem in the Aramaic, and it was likely translated eikon in the Septuagint, I checked to see if John merely copied Daniel. He didn't. John's was a new usage of eikon.)

Paul used the word a few times in his letters to the Romans, Corinthians and Colossians. This is where his teaching gets interesting. I've included passages below of all uses of tselem and eikon, but here I'll pull out Paul's usage for commentary:

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:21-23

Observation: The true and living God is immortal - some translations read "incorruptible". Man is mortal - some translations read "corruptible". The image of God is a good thing. The image of man is not a good thing except where it perfectly reflects the image of God.

Note: Paul is not making a distinction between fallen man and man before the fall except that man as fallen necessitates his discussion. Just as we cannot generalize the observation of man being made in the image of God in the creation account beyond the fall, we cannot likewise generalize Paul's teachings to man outside of the fall.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:28-29

Observation: Those whom the Father foreknew are at some point in time not in "the image of His Son", but are "predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son". A transformation takes place in some. Question: does the "image of his Son" equate to the creation of man in the image of God in Genesis?

7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 1 Corinthians 11:7

Observation: Glory is mentioned alongside image, but Paul seems to make some fine distinction here to prevent demeaning women to a status less than men. Paul's point is rather to draw a parallel between God's relationship with man and a husband's relationship with his wife. Question: Is Paul's observation that a man is the "image...of God" particular in the sense that all people versus some people are made in the image of God or a general statement referencing creation as an apologetic reference for the formation of a principle applied to a marital relationship. I suspect the latter.

49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:49

Observation: This is in the context of a discussion of the resurrection. The "image of the man of dust" is that of a corrupted body that will die. The image of the man of heaven is that of a resurrected body that will not die. Could it be that the image of God is that which is undying and that mankind lost that image in the fall such that everyone born is not born in the image of God, but that we look to the day when we will once again bear a perfect image of God?

18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:9-10

Observation: This is pretty straightforward. The image of God is that into which we are being transformed. I would call this sanctification, or the process of making us more holy. God is holy and we are called to be holy as He is holy. Perhaps the image of God is His holiness. That is, man was created holy, set apart from the rest of creation. At the fall, man chose to be set apart from God which is a distortion of that holiness. Sanctification is a restoration of that relationship with God which would be consistent with everything we have read up to this point. This may be what the image of God is all about.

4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Colossians 1:15

Observation: Christ is the image of God, which we know from John 1. John uses the word Logos there as a philosophical treatise, but the sense is the same in that Christ is the manifestation of God in creation as He takes on the form of man. He is capable of dying, but demonstrates the incorruptible power over death in His resurrection. He is without sin being the perfect image of God and God Himself in the flesh.

Concluding observations:

1) Bearers of the image of God are called to glorify God.

2) If believers in Christ are being transformed into the image of God then we are not perfectly in the image of God. Man was created in the image of God and under the fall have made images of false gods to worship, whether of metal, wood, false ideologies or even ourselves. Any distortion of the image of God can be said to be a false god of which we are all guilty except Christ who is God.

3) Regarding the will of man being the image of God:

a) I have this contention: that where our will departs from the will of God, we distort the image of God. Where our will agrees with the will of God, we do well to call attention to the will of God. Even Christ, who is God, said, "I have not come to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me." How much more should we seek to be able to honestly say the same thing?

b) Being so, we must be humbly certain that we not believe falsely and claim such as the will of God. This most often takes the form of uncertain judgments and poor teachings. But leaders and teachers must be subject to the discernment of fellow believers lest any be led astray. But rather, for any of God's provisions in which we rejoice let us demonstrate our submission to Him by our submission to His word and to His people.

Relevant Passages:

Hebrew: tselem

Genesis 1:26-27
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Genesis 5:3
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

Genesis 9:6
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image."

1 Samuel 6:5
5 So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you and your gods and your land.

1 Samuel 6:11
11 And they put the ark of the Lord on the cart and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors.

2 Kings 11:18
18 Then all the people of the land went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest posted watchmen over the house of the Lord.

2 Chronicles 23:17
17 Then all the people went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars.

Psalm 39:6
6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

Psalm 73:20
20 Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.

Ezekiel 7:20
20 His beautiful ornament they used for pride, and they made their abominable images and their detestable things of it. Therefore I make it an unclean thing to them.

Ezekiel 16:17
17 You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore.

Ezekiel 23:14
14 But she carried her whoring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion,

Amos 5:26
26 You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves,

Greek: Eikon

Matthew 22:20
20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”

Mark 12:16
16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar's.”

Luke 20:24
24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar's.”

Romans 1:21-23
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Romans 8:28-29
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Corinthians 11:7
7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 1

1 Corinthians 15:49
49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

2 Corinthians 3:18
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 4:4
4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Colossians 1:15
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Colossians 3:9-10
9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Hebrews 10:1
1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

Revelation 13:14-15
14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast m it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.

Revelation 14:9-11
9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

Revelation 15:2
2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.

Revelation 16:2
2 So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

Revelation 19:20
20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

Revelation 20:4
4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

All quotes of the Bible were taken from the English Standard Version.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Dying With Dignity

House doesn't usually make profound statements. Revealing, yes. Insightful, yes. Vulgar, yes. Profound, no. But in a rerun I was just watching, he made a profound statement. A patient was dying and decided that it would be better to to just go ahead and die with dignity rather than being constantly tested. However, House finally made the correct diagnosis - she had a worm in her brain. (It's always something exotic on House.) So House goes in to talk to her and in the process makes this statement:

"You can live with dignity, but you can't die with dignity."

I suppose we have a romanticized notion of a dignified death where the family is gathered around the bedside and the dying person drifts quietly and painlessly into inanimacy. But this is a false notion that aids only mourners who have no faith.

For the believer, we have confidence that one who has had faith has been received into paradise to be with Christ as He promised the thief on the cross.

But the death of the body speaks of a need rather than a reward. Our bodies die because this world is thoroughly corrupted with sin. There is no dignity in that and the death of the body, whether of a believer or an unbeliever, shows the extent of the corruption that we have brought upon the image of God with which we have been created.

There is no dignity in death, but all dignity will be restored in the resurrection.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Uncle Jay Explains the News of 2008

Ok, this is simply hilarious. Without further ado:

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