Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Arlen Specter: Shameless Self-Promoter

Blogging politics isn't something I've done in a while, but this is too good to pass up.

For those of you who haven't heard, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter did the flippity-flop from the Republican party to the Democratic party this past week. Why? The answer is simple. He is a shameless self-promoter.

In 2004, Specter was reelected to his Senate seat--which he has held since 1991--despite opposition within his own party. His republican challenger, Pat Toomey, painted Specter as a lefty and almost upset Specter in the primary.

Now, with the 2010 election in his sights, Toomey has aimed at the Specter-held Senate seat and many have claimed that he has the ability to take the seventy-nine-year-old in the primary.

Specter has foreseen his beloved Senate seat slipping from his grasp. In 2007-08 he made a bid to shore up his grip by attempting to soothe the pain of a hometown Philadelphia Eagles Super-Bowl XLIII loss to the hated New England Patriots in 2005. He called for a congressional investigation of the destruction of the infamous "Spygate" tapes (illegal video footage the Patriots had taken of other teams game-preparation) by the NFL. Specter wrote to the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, asking him to address the tape's destruction hoping to scrounge up some dirt on the Eagles Super-Bowl loss. Goodell shrugged Specter off by saying, "they confirmed what I already knew about the issue." Specter pursued it a little further, but when no one was paying attention, let it fizzle out.

Needless to say, his antics did not win him any support with the Pennsylvania voters. And neither did his March 18, 2008 statement, "To eliminate any doubt, I am a Republican, and I am running for reelection in 2010 as a Republican on the Republican ticket." But Toomey's threat only grew. Specter needed to propel himself forward with something big. Something shameless. Something self-promoting.

So he flopped.

Yesterday Specter declared,
"As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party."


Don't think for a moment that Specter doesn't understand the gravity of the situation. By switching parties Specter puts Senate democrats at fifty-seven seats. And if Al Franken overtakes Norm Coleman in the never-ending Minnesota recount--which he is predicted to do--democrats will have achieved fifty-eight seats giving them a close to filibuster-proof Senate. Add in the two independent seats, which rarely vote in line with the GOP, and you have the magical number sixty.

With this in mind Specter said, "I will not be an automatic 60th vote."

Yeah. Thank you, Senator Obvious. Specter wants to be the straw that preserves or breaks the camel's back. He wants the publicity and the glory. He wants reelection in 2010 which he was not going to have as a Republican with a 52% Pennsylvania disapproval rating and a significant poll deficit (Toomey: 41%; Specter: 27%).

Changing parties could place him in the limelight. It could give him new life in the heart's of Pennsylvania voters. It could be his ticket to another six-year stint in Washington D.C.

Arlen Specter is a shameless self-promoter.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Resolution 17

Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

In short, don't waste your life.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Rebekah and I have a favorite flower. The tulip.

Here are the reasons why I love tulips:

  1. Tulips are a symbol of new life. When I was young my mother would plant tulips. In the springtime they would pop out of the ground telling everyone that Spring had arrived. New life arises in the Spring just like in our spiritual lives: God calls us from wintery death to spring-like life through Jesus Christ.
  2. Tulips spring from the ground like Christ sprung from the grave. And both are celebrated in the Spring.
  3. Tulips--as already noted--come in the Spring. Spring is my favorite season.
  4. The "Doctrines of Grace" are easily remembered by the acronym TULIP.
  5. Bonus reason: Resident Thorns Poet, Jordan, just made this up,
One lip,
Three lips,
Four lips.

I hope you love tulips too.


-n. [nait]

1. The night's silence, like a deep lamp, is burning with the light of its milky way. 2. Timid thoughts, do not be afraid of me.

(as in: Night's darkness is a bag.)

Apparently this is cool in eastern Asia. Jeremy recently traveled there and bought me a small journal/planner with these words on it. I think something may have been lost in translation.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Gospel is an Intricate Part of Evangelism

On Thursday night I attended a "Shane and Shane" concert here in Fargo.

There was man who claimed to be an evangelist there. I would have never known.

The word "Jesus" only escaped his lips a couple of times and never in the context of the Gospel. His content made me think that the good news he thought made him an evangelist was social.

But a social gospel is not the true Gospel. And claiming that you are a proclaimer of the good news without proclaiming the good news just doesn't seem to work.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Scripture, Experience, and the Spirit of Christ

About two months ago I was thinking intently on "Seeking a Sign and the Authority of Scripture" and it came to mind again today as I was reading John Piper's new book, Finally Alive. I went back to my post to reread it and the comments section directly addressed one of the thoughts I had. So, rather than write something new, I will simply repost the remarks.

A question was posed by dual blogger, Eva Joy (Here I Am, Send Me and Life and Prime Numbers):

"I am wondering if you have insights on a question I continue to struggle with: How do you resolve that stance (Scripture as authoritative over experience) with the realization that how we interpret Scripture is influenced by our presuppositions which, in turn, are formed by our experience? Scripture may tell us the significance or meaning of an experience but how we understand what it is telling us is often informed by other experiences."
I replied,
"That's a good question. I will try to answer it.

"Often social conditioning gets the blame for the things that we believe. But for the Christian, we know we are led by the Spirit.

"'When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.' -John 16:13-15

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. -Romans 8:14-16

"So, our interpretation of Scripture is not governed by our experiences, as a post-modern society tells us, but rather by the Spirit. We are indeed a new creation in Christ and we can be certain that God is faithful to the promise in John 16. And a semantic look at John 16 shows us (1) that the Spirit spoken of is that of Christ (He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life) and (2) that the Spirit will guide us in all Truth, which includes all matters of Scripture, as Christ is both synonymous with Truth and the Word (John 1)."
The citation of experience as the shaper of our Scriptural interpretation is trumped by the understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit. He guides us, illuminating our path through Scripture, taking what is Christ's and declaring it to us. A regenerate heart can take solace in knowing that it is one with Christ, a fellow heir; all well Christ is the first-born amongst many sons, that He may be lifted up and glorified.

Tree of the Week (4.21.09)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The First Year of Marriage: Nine Month Update

Today marks nine months of marriage to my beautiful bride, Rebekah Sue.

In the days leading up to our union, well-wishers doled out advice: "The first year is really tough. Don't be discouraged; it will get better."

As I reflected on these words this morning, I nearly felt guilty. The reason people gave that warning was because their first year of marriage was tough. And yet I would venture to say that the first nine months of my marriage to Rebekah has been void of toughness. I can attribute this to nothing other than the grace of God and His Spirit making Rebekah aware of my needs before her own and making me aware of Rebekah's needs before my own.

The past nine months have been the best of my life; God has made Rebekah a catalyst in my sanctification to the praise of His glorious grace. And I hope the reciprocal is true as well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

There Is a Joy that Brings True Happiness

"But Lord, keep me far from one error. May it be far from the heart of Your servant who here confesses unto You, that I should feel momentary earthly joy and suppose that I had reached true happiness. There is a joy that brings true happiness, but it is not given to the ungodly. It is only for those who love You for Your sake."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Justice and Mercy Every Morning

Every morning, while being entirely righteous and just, the Lord is still merciful.

The Lord within her is righteous;
    he does no injustice;
every morning he shows forth his justice;
    each dawn he does not fail;
    but the unjust knows no shame.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Tree of the Week (4.14.09)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Resolution 16

Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

The Christian should mind his or her tongue, speaking no evil concerning anyone, and rebuking only when necessary.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Mirth of Christ

GK Chesterton concludes his book, Orthodoxy, with an accurate observation of the life of Christ.

"Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian. And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation. The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth."
I see two things in Scripture which makes this true. There are others, but for the sake of brevity I will limit it to two.

Firstly, Isaiah prophesied about the sorrow and grief that the Messiah would endure.
He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
The chapter continues,
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
    the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
    by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
Jesus knew that He was to be crushed by His Father, this caused Him deep sorrow, but out of His affliction He knew His Father's purposes would be accomplished which leads to the second observation.

While on Earth, the joy that Christ knew was not immediate, but to come.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
-Hebrews 12:1-2 (emphasis added)
Jesus knew that doing the will of His Father would bring Him great joy, although His Earthly mission was one of sorrow and grief.

Unfortunately, some have disagreed with Chesterton saying that Jesus was a funny guy, trying to turn his teachings into jokes. I do not think that Chesterton would say that Jesus did not laugh or crack a joke from time to time, but his true joy, the mirth that Chesterton referred to, was not yet realized during Christ's time on Earth.

It is also irreverent and somewhat disgusting to take Jesus' teachings and use them as a justification for crude humor. A perfect example comes in the book, Vintage Jesus. In it Mark Driscoll says,
"Jesus' humor was often biting and harsh, particularly when directed at the Pharisees. For example, he called them a bag of snakes, said that their moms had shagged the Devil, and mocked them for tithing out of their spice racks."
Driscoll made it clear at the 2008 Desiring God Conference that he directly disagrees with Chesterton in this particular instance, but, as much as I appreciate Driscoll's leadership and ministry, I must side with Chesterton for three reasons.
  1. Jesus, in the same verse where He calls the Pharisees a "bag of snakes" concludes with, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). A heart filled with the Spirit of Christ (as Christ's heart obviously was) would not make a joke out of the Pharisees by saying "that their moms had shagged the Devil."
  2. Jesus does say to the Pharisees that they do the will of their father who is the Devil (John 8:39-47), but only because if God was their Father they would not be seeking to kill him. They are of their father the Devil because they want to kill Jesus, not because their mother's had sexual relations with the Devil. When Jesus speaks about God our Father he does not mean that our mother's had sexual relations with God. This passage, therefore, does not translate into a crude joke.
  3. The apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Jesus is the example of this and He adhered to it perfectly. Yes, He did say that the Pharisee's father was the Devil, but He did not say "that their moms had shagged the Devil." That is corrupting or unwholesome talk.
Again, this all is not to say that Jesus was above jokes. He was a man who laughed and I am sure had fun. But His full potential for joy was not realized until after He was crushed. He knew that joy was coming, but the sorrow and grief were great leading up to it. This is why Chesterton felt like Christ's mirth was restrained on Earth and why I do as well.