A few years ago I modified our astronomy outreach ministry (Logos Astronomical Society), transforming it into Lift Up Your Eyes by name. When I did this I purchased the domain names of luye.us and luye.org for the accompanying website - formerly under lasws.us. Little did I know at the time that the acronym LUYE is actually a fairly popular name in China, and this has produced some interesting results for the website. Ever since this change, it has been interesting to see the amount of traffic that I receive from China. Before this change I would mostly receive visitors from Creation Science websites that had linked to the previous domain name of lasws.us; but now, under the current domain names, the majority of my traffic comes from China and these visitors are coming directly to the domain itself, rather than through a link. Additionally, these visitors usually stay for a while - sometimes for a very long time. Because of this, I have been looking for options to have a complete mirror site someday, where the visitor would come to a page that would give them an option to visit the English site or the Chinese site - that would be the long term goal. In the meantime, I have placed a simple header on the index page which says “Greetings to our visitors from China” followed by “sanctify them in thy truth...” (in Chinese) followed by the text of John 3:16-18 (also in Chinese, as pictured above). This graphic is then linked to a Gospel presentation in Chinese. It’s not much at this point, but it is a start. I offer this as FYI and FYP (for your information and for your prayers). It is always comforting to know that the Lord, in His perfect providence, will harvest a great number of souls from every tribe, tongue, people and nation throughout the earth - for His glory alone.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
In 1969 the state of California passed the Family Law Act which became the bedrock of what is now called “no fault divorce.” By this legislation a divorce could be sought by anyone for what is termed as "irreconcilable differences." Thus, like a raging wildfire, this new precedent spread throughout the nation such that, by 1983, every state in the union had adopted no fault divorce as its new legal standard (except for South Dakota, which capitulated in 1985). Thus, through mankind’s ascending wisdom and intellect, America was catapulted back into the same Pharisaical darkness that our Savior faced when He walked upon this earth:
Matthew 19:3:3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?"
For an “advanced” society, we haven’t gone very far, and this is quite evident when we compare our present day to the early church’s past. Most of the Jewish oral traditions held in Jesus’ day would necessarily supply an answer of yes to the above Pharisaical query. In fact, a Jewish man could divorce his wife if he found a woman who was prettier than she, or if his wife spoiled his dish (burned his meal). In modern terms we would call such menial matters - irreconcilable differences. These licentious attitudes of the past have been hatched once again in the present, and to such an extent that we now have a plethora of services that will help a person expedite a divorce as easily as one might have their taxes prepared; and so we have www.ourdivorceagreement.com, www.3stepdivorce.com/ and http://nofaultdivorceforms.com/nofaultdivorceforms/, just to name a few online services. It is ironic to consider that modern man, with all his technology and advancements, has only managed to fall back to his own sinful past.
So much for the ascent of man!
I would submit to you that mankind’s marital unfaithlessness serves as a sharp contrast to the Savior’s faithfulness as the Bridegroom of His church. You see, as Adam’s offspring, we continue to perpetuate his sinful failure as we ourselves transgress in his likeness. Paul expands on this reality in Romans chapter 5 when he calls Adam a type of Christ (by contrast), reminding us that Adam brought forth sin, death, and condemnation; but that Christ brought grace, justification, and life. Thus, humanity’s transgressions serve as an antithesis to Christ’s perfect righteousness. We all sin in the likeness of the offense of Adam and therefore, our natural lives are a living contrast to the Savior’s holiness and perfection. This is also true concerning mankind’s failures in marriage. For the natural man, marriage is merely a contractual agreement founded upon the expectation of one’s own comfort, safety, and pleasure. In this sense, many today are like the pagan Greeks and Romans of yesteryear who saw marriage as an opportunity for self-advancement and self-indulgence. But this is an antithesis to Christ who is our faithful and sacrificial Bridegroom. The Savior’s love is an infinitely gracious and giving love. We had nothing to offer Him whatsoever, therefore He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy (Titus 3:5). Thus, when Christ laid down His life for His elect bride, He did so with a sacrificial love for one who was horribly mangled by indwelling sin. In addition to this we see that the church, in all of her present imperfections and sins, is still beloved and kept for her faithful Husband (Jude 1). The church will someday be transformed into a state of perfection when she is permanently joined with her Bridegroom in heaven. Until then, His bride is faithfully kept for that wedding day upon no other basis than the grace, mercy, and unfailing love of Christ.
And it is this same principle of marital fidelity that is the true glory of any faithful marriage between a husband and wife:
Ephesians 5:25-27:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
Not only did Christ perform the painful deed that was necessary in order to procure the bride of His Father’s choosing (Ephesians 1:3-5), but He will return again in order to consummate this marriage in that perfect, heavenly union:
Revelation 19:7-9:7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, "Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ " And he said to me, "These are true words of God."
Our faithful Bridegroom awaits that wedding day with passionate anticipation. His voice is filled with the tones of fidelity the likes of which no human could ever express. When the Lord promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and that He would be with His church always (Matthew 28:20), He gave His elect bride a foundation of hope that is built upon the immutable reality of His unfailing fidelity. And He longs for that heavenly wedding feast with such anticipation that He has promised not to drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when He drinks it anew with His bride in His Father’s Kingdom (Matthew 26:29).
He is a faithful husband - and that is our hope.
With these thoughts in mind, let us remember that when the Lord expresses His dreadful hatred for divorce (Malachi 2:16), He does so as the One who is the faithful Bridegroom of His elect bride. He will never leave nor forsake the people of His choosing - this is the oath of His mercy, grace and unfailing love.
With all of this in mind we are given a very sobering context for Christ’s words to His disciples when He taught them about the value and sanctity of marriage: ”what therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6). It is important to remember that the Savior teaches us about the beauty of faithful love in marriage, being the perfect example of it in every way.
Monday, October 16, 2006
[Written on 10/5/06] From my earliest years as a believer in Christ I will always remember those first moments when I began to learn many rich songs, hymns and spiritual songs of the Christian faith. Every week presented another treasure trove of songs that were new to me, but were ancient by historical standards. As I began to discover the riches of these songs, I realized that their messages had meanings that often went far beyond my primitive knowledge of the Scriptures. In most cases these songs sparked my desire for a deeper understanding of God's Word, especially when they employed theological terms and concepts that I had yet to understand. Amidst these rich experiences, I made a rather somber discovery one Thanksgiving season. I can't remember what year it was, or how old I was in Christ, but I do remember the disturbing feeling that I had when I realized that one of the hymns that I enjoyed greatly actually had a rather dark and difficult message - it was the hymn, Come Ye Thankful People Come by Henry Alford. As a thanksgiving hymn I found that the tune, along with the opening verse, seemed to compliment the theme of the holiday. It had such a positive and joyful sense to it that one could just imagine a whole army of Christians marching joyfully together in honor of our victorious Savior. The opening line triumphantly commands believers to come to God's own temple, come, raise the song of Harvest-Home! Yet, despite this powerfully joyful beginning there is a bitter irony that sets in with the next two verses:
2 All the world is God's own field, fruit onto His praise to yield; Wheat and tares together sown, unto joy or sorrow grown: First the blade, and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear; Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
3 For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home; From His field shall in that day, all offences purge away; Give His angels charge at last, in the fire the tares to cast, But the fruitful ears to store, in His Garner evermore.These somber words were familiar to me, but I wanted to make sure that I understood their biblical foundation, so I quickly consulted Matthew chapter 13 for their context. When reading this text, from which Alford's hymn is largely based, I realized that my internal feelings of conflict had to do with my own lack of Scriptural knowledge, and not the hymn itself. Alford's hymn is a wonderful expression of thanksgiving to be sure, but it also reveals God's holy judgment upon the impenitent. In a sense, Come Ye Thankful People Come poetically fixes our eyes on the golden wheat of the redeemed against the dark backdrop of this world of tares. A theme such as this reminds us all that in that final day of the Lord’s judgment, the wicked will be excommunicated from God's presence forevermore, while His own people will be free from sorrow, free from sin, there forever purified, in His presence to abide (v. 4).
Overall, Alford's hymn is a joyful hymn, but this joy is not a frivolous or childish one. It is a joy that is contained within the reverence that is due to the Son of God who will in that day, all offenses purge away:
Psalm 2:11-12: 11 Worship the Lord with reverence, And rejoice with trembling. 12 Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!What Alford communicated in his hymn is a message that is all but lost in our modern culture, and it is this: there are only two kinds of people in this world - the wheat and the tares; the disciples of Christ and the impenitent. In the day of the Son of God's final judgment, the hearts of men will be fully known. Then and there, the golden wheat of Christian discipleship will strongly contrast the dark deeds of those who practice wickedness; for His wrath will soon be kindled and when it is, it will be the excommunication to end all excommunication. In a culture that has all but eleminated the biblical practice of church discipline, there is a great need to call the church back to the pursuit of purity. Those who advocate a tare-sensitive “ministry” and thus garner those whose appetites are set upon personal pleasure and designer theologies are only doing the work of the enemy. The statistics of their efforts may be very impressive, but the substance of what they are doing is only fuel for the fires of God’s final judgment. Let us therefore be encouraged and warned by Alford’s hymn. Let us be warned against the error of having a tare infested church that cares little for the holiness of God. Let us also be encouraged that despite the church’s present imperfections, the Lord will someday come and take His harvest home:
4. Even so, Lord, quickly come, To Thy final Harvest-Home! Gather Thou Thy people in, Free from sorrow, free from sin; There forever purified, In Thy Presence to abide: Come, with all Thine angels, come, Raise the glorious Harvest-Home!Come Lord Jesus - Come!
Saturday, October 14, 2006
It is always interesting to listen to people when they speak of sin. Depending on who’s doing the speaking, the assessment of any transgression can range from being wonderfully biblical to that which is satanically repugnant. Take for example the recent Mark Foley scandal. Much attention has been given to his electronic communications with under-aged pages who labored under his leadership. Of course the liberal-mainstream media is using this to their political advantage while most Republicans have expressed their repulsion over the fact that Mr. Foley sought to be a predator towards a handful of minors serving in his office.
But hold on for a second. What is actually sinful here? Is it a problem of pedophilia? Is it a problem of failed communication between the House Speaker and those who had concerns about Mr. Foley years ago? Is it the professional misconduct of a superior trying to have a sexual relationship with a subordinate, or the gross vocabulary of the e-mails themselves? I would submit to you that the problem existed long before the eruption of this scandal itself; long before the feigned righteousness of the Democrat and Republican parties ever arrived on stage. If Mark Foley is guilty of anything, he is guilty of being a sexual pervert. This was the case before he was found cavorting with younger men on the internet. Mr. Foley’s transgression is rooted in his un-natural desire for sex with other men, something the Bible calls an abomination:
Leviticus 18:22:22 ‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.’
It is amazing to see how people are upset over the fact that these pages were under-aged; does this mean that Mr. Foley’s actions would have been acceptable if they were legal adults? Absolutely not. Homosexuality is an utter abomination in the eyes of God - a clear perversion of what the Lord created. Homosexual pedophilia is an abomination of abominations. In the end, it is all a damnable abomination. Sadly, the task of convincing others that homosexuality is a repugnant sin is like trying to convince a child that gasoline is dangerous. A child can either accept your word that it is dangerous, or they will be fools and choose to play with the lethal substance, against wise counsel. For the children of God, His word is enough on the matter; but for the children of wrath, they would rather play with fire, and right now, many in the Republican party have chosen to toss this burning coal from one hand to the next. Unfortunately, homosexuality is much more prominent within the Republican party than many will suspect (it’s a sad day when I can agree with a liberal on anything, but over this matter I tend to agree). The Republican leadership knew that Mr. Foley was a homosexual. It was a matter that they were willing to ignore until it blew up like a fireball in their face.
That’s what you get when you play games with things that are under God’s judgment.
Now lest you think that my focus is to beat up the Republican party, know this: the Democrats are still outdoing their foes in the area of hypocrisy - and with an Olympic stride. As the Democrats continue to scream for the resignation of the House Speaker, there is this odd shadow of contradiction which looms over them - a shadow that the liberal-mainstream media pretends doesn’t exist. It is the dark shadow of Mr. Gerry Eastman Studds who, in July of 1983, was censured by the House of Representatives for his sexual relationship with a 17 year old male congressional page. His legacy is said to be that he was the “first openly gay national politician.” Translating that into biblical language: he was the first openly perverted national politician. The fact that he committed the sin of pedophilia just added to the heap of his perverted lifestyle. Though Studds was censured for his actions, he was given a standing ovation in his home district and was subsequently re-elected to five more terms in office. While the news media has been happy to beat the Foley drum as loudly as possible, the Studds story has been strangely forgotten. In fact, his story has been well hidden throughout this Foley scandal until this morning, when something happened that not even the liberal media could avoid covering - Mr. Studds passed away. Now in mentioning the man’s death, I have no desire to make light of it. It is a grave moment when a soul passes from this life to eternity - especially when there is no hope that he will enter into the presence of the Lord. But the sad irony of it all is that the media was able to hide the debacle of this man’s sinful life, even amidst the Foley scandal, until his story could be avoided no longer. CNN’s News Alert was so brief, and their official report on him was so short, that if you blinked, you would have missed the entire thing. Despite the problems found in the Republican party’s handling of the Foley scandal, the Studds debacle makes the Democratic party look like a bunch of contented para-pedophiles.
In the end, what strikes me about his story is that when Mr. Studds was censured he said that his relationship with the under-aged congressional page was inappropriate and was a “very serious error in judgement.” A response like this is both amazing and sad. When a man can transform biblical words like perversion and abomination into a “serious error in judgement” - then you have a man who is heavily steeped in his sin and deception.
Calling homosexuality (and pedophilia) a mere error in judgement is, in itself, a scandal. But rest assured that in the final judgment of God, there will be no error in His judgement...none whatsoever.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Over the years I have advanced the argument that classic Arminianism and Hypercalvinism are guilty of the same root error - human reason. I often think of these contrasting views as being illustrated by a pendulum that hangs at rest, but is then knocked out of balance by human imposition. As the pendulum hangs straight down, it represents sound doctrine from God’s Word. When it is struck on one side, it sways from the biblical middle and strikes the side of error - as in the case of Arminianism: unwilling to accept the absolute sovereignty of God in all things, the Arminian seeks to impose his man-centered arguments in order to establish a system of doctrine that seems to be more reasonable in his view. Believing that he is helping matters, he creates an imbalance in defense of his presumptions about human freedom and the nature of God’s sovereignty. When the pendulum is struck from the other side, it swings to the extreme of the Hypercalvinist whose agenda is to systematize God’s sovereignty in such a way that he resultantly wreaks havoc upon the truths concerning man’s personal responsibility and culpability as a sinner. What he fails to see is that his system of doctrine is also the result of human reason which takes the balance of doctrine to an opposite extreme - an extreme that is no better than that of the Arminian.
It is in this line of discussion that I would like to mention the teaching of Eternal Justification, which is typically found in the camp of Hypercalvinism. Briefly put, Eternal Justification argues that the elect of God receive the actual application of Christ’s righteous merit from before the foundation of the world. In other words, their argument goes beyond the thought of God’s decretive will by advancing the idea that Christ’s merit is actually applied before the sinner is ever born, or ever believes by grace. As a result of such thinking many have slipped into the following errors which often accompany certain strains of Hypercalvinism:
1. The belief that the Chrsitian’s justification makes it unnecessary to confess sin and ask for forgiveness.
2. The belief that it is wrong to ever question the validity of one’s faith in Christ.
3. The advocacy of antinomianism.
Overall, the doctrine of Eternal Justification tends to overemphasize the implications of God’s decree over the reality of His providence in history. This position will often take texts like Romans 8:29-30 beyond the scope of what it is teaching:
Romans 8:29-30:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
In the system of Eternal Justification, Paul’s use of the aorist verb is thought to support the idea that the believer receives the actual application of Christ’s merit from before the foundation of the world. However, Paul’s repeated use of the Aorist tense throughout these verses should remind us that he is giving instruction about the surety of God’s electing decree, rather than the outworking of His providence. Thus, by the certainty of God’s eternal decree the elect are said to be foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified. Now the observant student of Scripture should note that while the Christian is presently foreknown, predestined, called, and justified, he is however not yet glorified. Glorification is a future reality of which the Apostle already spoke in this same chapter:
Romans 8:18:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Thus, it should be clear that since Paul recognized that in the outworking of God’s providence the Christian is not yet glorified, his use of the Aorist tense in Romans 8:29-30 refers to the infallible surety of God’s eternal decree. Puting it another way, the certainty of God’s decree enables Paul to speak of all aspects of our salvation as a completed reality - even when speaking of the sinner’s future glorification. But there is a great difference between speaking of the certainty of God’s decree versus the reality of His providence. In the case of providence, the language of our justification is quite different:
Romans 5:1:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ...
In this text Paul clearly helps us to understand that our justification was actually applied by means of faith (which itself was a gift of God’s sovereign grace given to us in time). In other words, there was a time when we, the elect of God, were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-2) and were counted as the children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3); we were once foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved to various lusts and pleasures (Titus 3:3-5) such that the Lord exercised patience towards us in view of our wickedness (1 Timothy 1:12-16, 2 Peter 3:1-15). And how important are these truths? Well, Paul had a habit of reminding us of our former state for the sake of our compassion on the lost, as he did in Titus 3:
Titus 3:1-2:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.
Clearly, we need to remember that lost sinners have yet to receive the application of Christ’s righteousness through faith, along with all other aspects of God’s saving and sanctifying grace - just as we did in the outworking of God’s providence. We also need to remember that we cannot know who the elect are. Their behavior, as it is now, is no different from our own before we were saved. We’re fools if we can think for a moment that we can tell who are Christ’s elect sheep before they are saved. Hence, we find a great biblical balance in all of the passages which speak of God’s decree and His providence. We must remember that the texts which teach us about the immutability of His decree are just as necessary as those texts which remind us of God’s providential work in time. All of these texts are necessary, for they keep us from precariously oscillating away from God’s truth!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
In 2005 I put together an outreach video called “Lift Up Your Eyes” based upon Isaiah 40:26. This presentation is used in our Lift Up Your Eyes astronomical ministry. Essentially, I set up a telescope, provide a Powerpoint presentation (similar to the video below) and then, if the weather is permitting, we go outside in order to do some viewing of the stars, planets, nebulae and galaxies - whatever is viewable that evening. This then provides an opportunity to speak to others about the One who created the heavens and the earth for His own glory.
I decided to post the video on Google since the file size is too large to support on my server. Because of the change of definition concerning planets, established by the International Astronomical Union in August of 2006, Pluto is no longer a planet by definition. I have inserted such a disclaimer in the video until I have the time to redact Pluto out of it altogether. But in its present form it is yet another Gospel tool that is free to pass along to others.
Credit: Classical Guitar by Paul LeClair.
Update: This is the first time that I have used Google Video and so this is somewhat of an experiment. I noticed that the very end of the video is truncated - All that is missing is an invitation to visit www.luye.org, which I’ll correct at some point when I have the time to do so.
This may be familiar to you already, but Amy Grant was recently awarded with a Hollywood Star for her lifetime achievements in the music industry. Take special note of where her current husband (Vince Gill) wants his Hollywood Star to be positioned (6:20-6:25), and how she sees her own place in the journey of life (8:00-8:28). As to her final comment - viewer descretion is advised. How sad it is to have to say that.
Let me encourage prayer for them both.