Outstanding analysis of the lies of Black Lies Matter, and their true use to the Democrat establishment:
9/11/2001, much like Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1041, was a failure of expectations. No civilized human being imagined that airliners full of passengers would be used as missiles against fully-occupied civilian office buildings. Those that did were not human beings; they were radical Islamic barbarians. Never forget who the enemy is or fail to name them – radical Islamic barbarians.
There’s not much to say about the tragedy in Louisiana with the epic flooding. The race baiters like Obama golfed rather than assist the sticken. Black Lies Matter was no where to be seen. But the Cajun Navy, local volunteers from the stricken area and from some distance away, came to the rescue. Race, ethnicity, creed, etc., were irrelevant. Only the preservation of human life mattered.
The best report I’ve see was from Slow Facts. He wrote an outstanding piece called You Dried the Rain and Dammed the Flood. This is must read about the real America. Don’t believe hardly anything that you read, and be suspicious of what you don’t read, in the mainstream press.
First, the term “active shooter” is a misnomer. When we all go to the range, we are all active shooters. The correct term should be active killers. But, I was apparently not consulted when this bit of propaganda was coined. Be that as it may…
The Houston Police Department made a pretty good training video a while back, but it never mentioned being armed. In contrast, the Liberty University incorporates the reality that in free states like Virginia, it is likely that some citizens will be armed when terrorists or some other psycho shows up wanting easy victims. Excellent training video with great advice.
Along the same lines, Mas Ayoob wrote seven great tips for armed citizens facing terrorists. A mandatory read.
Be armed, trained, and ready.
Sin and Providence – The Mystery of Concurrence
Old Testament Reading: Genesis 50:15-21
New Testament Reading: Acts 2:22-33
Sermon text: Job 1:6-22
Audio located here.
The Concept of Concurrence
Pastor Brian has been going through the life of David in 2 Samuel. A few weeks ago, we saw that David did not go to war with his army, but stayed home instead. While at home, he was tempted by the sight of Bathsheba bathing, gave into the temptation by breaking first the 10th Commandment in coveting his neighbor’s wife and then the 7th Commandment by committing adultery with Bathsheba. She became pregnant, and to cover up his adultery, David had her husband, Uriah, killed at the front lines, thereby violating the 6th Commandment. Adultery is bad enough of a sin, being a rejection of the good gift that God in His wisdom has provided, but to try to cover it up by murdering the an innocent party goes beyond the pale.
It seemed like the perfect crime. The king of Israel violated the 10th then the 7th Commandment, then covered it up by violating the 6th, no one who knew would talk and no one else was the wiser. As Mel Brooks would observe over two-and-a-half millennia later, it’s good to be the king.
Well, not entirely. You see, we live Corum Deo – before the face of God. God is omniscient, not only seeing all that we do, but also all that we think – even what’s on our computers. Remember Psalm 139 says:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
God sends the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sins. Although David immediately repents (good thing for Nathan, BTW) and God spares his life, there were consequences. We saw those played out in the death of the child conceived in adultery and in the rebellion and death of his son Absalom. Sin always carries consequences. We believe otherwise to our peril.
At this point, you’d think that the adulterous Bathsheba would fade into obscurity. Spoiler alert. As we will hear in a week or two, she doesn’t. David marries her and they have a son with whom you are probably familiar – Solomon. Solomon, the eventual result of David’s and Bathsheba’s commission of adultery, and David’s commission of murder to cover it up, becomes the next king in God’s promised line, the line to Jesus Christ Himself. Whoa. What’s up with that?
Chapter 3, paragraph 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith says this about God’s decrees:
God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
It seems appropriate to define sin at this point. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. We sin when we don’t do what we ought to do, and when we do that which we ought not do. I sometimes think that we do not give the Fall full credit due its implications. The Fall introduced sin, death, and decay into a perfect universe. The Fall touched everything, from imparting total depravity into our hearts to introducing futility and corruption into creation itself, which groans with us as Paul tells us in Romans 8:20-23. The effect of the Fall was both radical and complete. We should never overlook that truth.
With that background, let’s look at God’s providence, as we read in Chapter 5, paragraph 4 of the Confession:
The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.
As the Confession shows, there are two related aspects of concurrence, but we will only consider one today. The first involves how God interacts with His creatures in general, how they are “powered” as it were. As Paul says in Acts 17, we live and move and have our very being in God. That has profound implications, as Scripture shows, but we don’t have the time to do the entire topic justice. The second aspect, the more difficult if that’s possible, is the mysterious relationship between God’s preceptive will, His decretive will, and His willful creatures, which the Confession discusses in Chapter 5, paragraph 4.
Dr. RC Sproul, Sr., notes that everything that happens, even our sin, is the will of God. Said another way, there are things in God’s decretive will that violate His preceptive will. God’s preceptive will is His Word, the Scriptures, our only rule for faith and practice. His decretive will is His secret counsel of all that will come to pass. So the concept is that God decrees things in His secret, hidden will that violate His Word. Berkhof defines concurrence as the “cooperation of the divine power with all the subordinate powers, according to the pre-established laws of their operation, causing them to act and to act precisely as they do.” We saw that David provided a perfect example of this. Yet, God is not the author of sin as James makes clear in 1:13 and John does in his first letter 2:16. Kinda makes your head hurt, eh?
How does all this work? Very well, thank you. Seriously, no one knows the mind of God. His knowledge is too wonderful for us. As Calvin said, “Finitum non capax infinitum.” The finite cannot contain or comprehend the infinite. God is infinite, we are finite creatures. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Dt 29:29 warns us that the secret things belong to the Lord; they are not for us to know or speculate upon. We would be wise to heed the warning.
That said, Scriptures is full of examples of this complex interaction between God and His sinful creatures. They run right from the beginning of redemptive history to the very end. We will cover some of those this morning, but we will not exhaust the subject. Hopefully, today you will walk away with an appreciation for the doctrine of concurrence and how to think about it in your lives.
Concurrence in the Scriptures
Consider God’s servant Job in today’s sermon text.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
Who were the Sabeans and Chaldeans? Were they a gentle people at their weekly tea and krimpet party when Satan enticed and incited them? Were they discussing donating their bingo winnings to World Vision to feed the hungry at that moment? Were they reading How to Win Friends and Influence People when God changed their hearts and turned them into thieves and cattle rustlers?
Not hardly. They were thieves and cattle rustlers to their core. It’s what they did. Look how God describes them later to Habakkuk:
They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour. They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand.
God didn’t change the Sabeans or Chaldeans, He simply removed His protective hedge from around Job and let them do what came naturally to them, what they likely wanted to do for a long time. They were sinners from whom God removed His restraint. God later describes this phenomenon relative to the sinful Israelites in Ps 81:12:
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.
One might be inclined to think that would be a favorable thing. We get to do whatever we want – woohoo! Far from it. Paul describes this removal of restraint as a judgment in Romans 1:24 and 26. Remember – sin always has consequences.
Another clear example is Pharaoh, when he would not release the Israelites. God didn’t change Pharaoh from a leading Christians for Israel contributor into an unjust king who hated the Jews. No, God merely removed his restraining hand and allowed the Pharaoh to do what he wanted. In Exodus 14:17, God explicitly stated that He removed His restraint from the Pharaoh at that time so that the Egyptian army would be destroyed in the sea, with God getting the glory. The same release of restraint was true of the Sabeans, Chaldeans, and at times is so even with us if we are honest with ourselves.
And yet in the end, the sins of the Sabeans, Chaldeans, Pharaoh, and ourselves today, all serve God’s ultimate purpose in ways that we often could not imagine. We only know so in Job and elsewhere because God tells us in Scripture.
Consider the passage from Genesis 50 read earlier. Joseph’s brothers decided to kill him by leaving him in a hole in the ground with no food or water. They were persuaded to change their minds and instead sold Joseph into slavery. God didn’t make them do that. It was the brothers’ own jealousy that drove them to sin. Then Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph, and subsequently lies when her seduction fails, which puts Joseph in prison. God didn’t change Potiphar’s wife from a virtuous woman and dedicated Red Cross volunteer into a devious, lustful liar. She was a devious, lustful liar whom God simply let proceed in accordance with her own sinful desires.
If anyone had a reason to be bitter towards their brothers, it was certainly Joseph. Yet, in Genesis 45:5, Joseph clearly states that it was God who sent him to Egypt to preserve life. God opened Joseph’s eyes to see the grander plan. How could Joseph harbor ill-will towards his brothers when God used Joseph so powerfully. They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. That’s the doctrine of concurrence.
In Isaiah 10:5, God uses Assyria as His rod of anger. Again, did God change the peace-loving Assyrians into aggressive conquerers? History says otherwise. The Assyrians wanted to conquer the land of Israel. God merely removed His hedge from Israel and His restraint from Assyria to do as they willed.
Consider Habakkuk. He complained to God about the evil in Israel succeeding while the innocent suffered. God’s solution was to bring in the Chaldeans. Remember them? God didn’t change the gentle, tea-totaling Chaldeans, turning them from holding fund raisers for blankets for the homeless into fierce and heartless warriors. No, they spent centuries honing their skills as fearsome conquerors and pillagers of other nations. Yet, God used their heartless sins to accomplish His purpose for Israel.
As if there were any doubt, God makes explicit in Isaiah 66:4 that He does not approve of the sins of the proud. Yet those sins facilitate bringing God’s sure plans to fruition.
I saved the ultimate expression of the doctrine of concurrence for last. We see concurrence clearly in our salvation. In Acts 2, Peter clearly lays out the Jews’ sin in murdering Jesus, yet he also says that it was God’s plan. Peter says the exact same thing in Acts 4:27, 28. God did not change devout temple worshipers and strict law keepers into blood-thirsty murderers. No, the mobs held murder in their hearts of their own will. Peter does not excuse the murderers because it was God’s plan, but lays their guilt squarely upon them. Yet their lawlessness and murder proved critical to bringing about the ultimate answer to sin and the Fall in the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Think on that for a few minutes. Without God’s absolute sovereignty and superintending providence over His universe, there would be no salvation for His elect.
One might raise an objection at this point. How can God hold us accountable for sins which he uses to bring about his decretive will? Sound familiar? I hope so, because Paul tackles that question head on in Romans 9:19-23:
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
Calvin minces no words in his commentary on these verses:
“Indeed, it is evident that no cause is adduced higher than the will of God….he [Paul] placed the will of God in the highest rank for this reason,–that it alone may suffice us for all other causes.”
God is God – almighty, sovereign, perfectly loving, merciful, and just. We fail ourselves as well as cast a shadow on God’s character when we evaluate what we see unfolding in a fallen world through finite human lenses rather than Scripture. I refer you back to Isaiah 55:8-9, which should find a permanent place in your memory.
Augustine summarized the mystery this way: “God knew that it pertained more to his most almighty goodness, even to bring good out of evil, than not to permit evil to be.” That is indeed a profound mystery to our finite minds.
Application for Today
So, did Bob just run you down a rabbit hole to see how the Mad Hatter was doing this morning? I hope not. The doctrine of God’s providence, especially the difficult doctrine of concurrence, should give us great hope each and every day as we navigate this fallen creation. We find the ultimate expression of how concurrence brings hope to believers living in this fallen world in Romans 8:28:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Everything that happens – good, bad, even tragic – serves to glorify God and progress His plan for the universe and the sanctification of all those called according to His purpose. “All things” means that there is no wasted or pointless event in the universe. All things, without exception, serve God’s ultimate purposes, even our sin and their inevitable consequences. We are not victims in a random universe, but active, critical elements in bringing about God’s eternal purposes. We are absolutely responsible for our sins and the inevitable consequences, but we also know that God will use even our sin to bring about His immutable purposes. That should blow your mind. It does mine. Our hope, or only hope, is that God is sovereign over all. He decrees all that comes to pass. As the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 46:10-11,
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
This is certainly not a new concept for you. On the first Sunday of every month, we read question and answer #1 from the Heidelberg Catechism. We did so this morning. Did you think about the words, “indeed, that everything must fit His purpose for my salvation”? Meditate on that this week.
When you see the world, your job, your family, or your life seemingly out of control, think about the disciples watching the crucifixion, most from a safe distance. Think about the despair that they felt afterward in the upper room before Jesus appeared to them. They lost sight of Jesus’ clear teaching. God is every bit as in control now as He was then.
Dr. R.C. Sproul, Sr., was in a major train accident on Sep 22, 1993. A barge hit a bridge support that night in Alabama, and the bridge collapsed into a bayou when the Dr. Sproul’s train reached it. Forty-seven people were killed and 103 were injured, including Dr. Sproul. It ranked as the deadliest train wreck in Amtrak history. When the press found out that Dr. Sproul was on the train, they cornered him and asked him where God was on that night when so many were killed and injured. Dr. Sproul replied that God was in the same place He was when His Son was crucified – in heaven and in charge. Dr. Sproul would later write:
I knew that on the horizontal plane of history this train wreck was a horrible tragedy. I also knew that on the vertical plane there are no accidents. I understood that the invisible hand of Providence was involved in this “accident,” and it was one of those events that worked together for good for those who love the Lord.
So it should be for each and every one of us. I am not saying that such a godly attitude is easy. We cannot necessarily know or see what God’s specific end game is in a particular circumstance, but we can always trust that it serves His glory and our sanctification. God never makes anyone sin. We alone are responsible for our sins. But although God hates sin, so much so that Habakkuk observed that God cannot even look upon it, somehow, in ways that we could never imagine in our finite minds, God even uses the violations of His preceptive will to bring about His marvelous plans through His decretive will. Everything serves His purposes, and always to His glory alone. No exceptions. Everything.
What should our response be to all this? Such wondrous truths should drive us to worship and praise our Creator and Savior. We have comfort that all things serve the eternal purposes of God who loves us so much that He sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to die a horrible death on the cross to pay the price for our sin that we could never pay, then raised Him from the dead in vindication of His perfect righteousness, and crediting that righteousness to all who believe, that we may worship and glorify Him forever in perfect, resurrected bodies. That’s an incredible and eternal love.
Job finishes out his trials by repenting of his pride and worshiping God for His greatness and wisdom. Hear Job’s final reply to the Lord:
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Habakkuk closes with a prayer of praise after God reveals the extent of His very difficult providence – the destruction of God’s chosen people by a fierce and remorseless enemy. Here how he closes his prayer:
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, they should be our models. It was no easier for them in their day than it is today for us.
The knowledge of God’s secret decrees is too wonderful for us, but we can rest and find our joy in the One in charge, who loves us with an everlasting and perfect love. Be still, and know that He is God.
So, the next point release has been out for a while, so it was time to upgrade my laptop to the next LTS. The laptop users don’t like change, so it jumps between LTS releases. My desktop takes every new release. I like to live on the bleeding edge, but that sentiment isn’t universal.
Upon updating the Ubuntu 14.04 files as usual, Ubuntu announced the new LTS release and asked if I wanted to upgrade. After restarting to finish the 14.04 updates, I started the 16.04 upgrade. It took about 2 hours (it’s an old laptop) and only asked about overwriting a couple of configuration files. The update proceeded normally and finished with no problems.
When the system rebooted, Ubuntu 16.04 was running flawlessly. Cannonical did an outstanding job with the update scripts. Just another reason that I like Ubuntu – it just works.
Here’s a cool test that doesn’t require registration, loading apps, etc. Very straight-forward. Supposedly scientifically based. Here was your humble blogger’s score:
I am Shakespeare!!! But, you know that already. The last part is certainly true, as I make up words all the time. That annoys some people for reasons that I do not comprehend. Language is a tool, so why not improve it?
Police officer Jay Stalien lays out the raw truth about the scandal of black-on-black crime and the self-serving lies of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) crowd in this post. All I can say is read it in its entirety. But do note on his page that Officer Stalien used to serve in Baltimore before he moved to Florida.
About the black lives that apparently don’t matter to BLM or the race baiters like Obama and Sharpton:
Complaint: More black people get arrested than white boys.
Fact: Black People commit a grossly disproportionate amount of crime. Data from the FBI shows that Nationwide, Blacks committed 5,173 homicides in 2014, whites committed 4,367. Chicago’s death toll is almost equal to that of both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined. Chicago’s death toll from 2001–November, 26 2015 stands at 7,401. The combined total deaths during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2015: 4,815) and Operation Enduring Freedom/Afghanistan (2001-2015: 3,506), total 8,321.
Complaint: Blacks are the only ones getting killed by police, or they are killed more.
Fact: As of July 2016, the breakdown of the number of US Citizens killed by Police this year is, 238 White people killed, 123 Black people killed, 79 Hispanics, 69 other/or unknown race.
Fact: Black people kill more other blacks than Police do, and there are only protest and outrage when a cop kills a black man. University of Toledo criminologist Dr. Richard R. Johnson examined the latest crime data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports and Centers for Disease Control and found that an average of 4,472 black men were killed by other black men annually between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2012. Professor Johnson’s research further concluded that 112 black men died from both justified and unjustified police-involved killings annually during this same period.
Note that the last statistic is ANNUALLY, not total for the period. Also note that Chicago is only one city, and at times, not even the worst for black-on-black homicide. Where is BLM’s outrage on this tragedy? Why aren’t they marching in the mean streets of Chicago?
From Officer Stalien’s conclusion:
All of my realizations came to this conclusion. Black Lives do not matter to most black people. Only the lives that make the national news matter to them. Only the lives that are taken at the hands of cops or white people, matter. The other thousands of lives lost, the other black souls that I along with every cop, have seen taken at the hands of other blacks, do not matter. Their deaths are unnoticed, accepted as the “norm”, and swept underneath the rug by the very people who claim and post “black lives matter”. I realized that this country is full of ignorance…
Thank you, Officer Stalien, for having the courage to lay out the truth.
We had to include this very interesting exchange between Charles Townshend, who would later be author of the Townshend Acts, and Col. Isaac Barre, as reported by Virginia representative Jared Ingersoll.
Colonel Barre was a member of Parliament who had fought in America during the Seven Years War, receiving injuries that left him blind in one eye and severely scarred on his face.
And now will these Americans, children planted by our care, nourished up by our Indulgence until they are grown to a degree of strength and opulence, and protected by our arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from heavy weight of the burden which we lie under?
Colonel Isaac Barre:
They planted by your care? No! Your oppression planted ’em in America. They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated and unhospitable country where they exposed themselves to almost all the hardships to which human nature is liable, and among others to the cruelties of a savage foe, the most subtle, and I take upon me to say, the most formidable of any people upon the face of God’s earth. And yet, actuated by principles of true English liberty, they met all these hardships with pleasure, compared with those they suffered in their own country, from the hands of those who should have been their friends.
They nourished by your indulgence? They grew by your neglect of ’em. As soon as you began to care about ?em, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule over ’em, in one department and another, who were perhaps the deputies of deputies to some member of this house, sent to spy out their liberty, to misrepresent their actions and to prey upon ’em; men whose behaviour on many occasions has caused the blood of those sons of liberty to recoil within them: men promoted to the highest seats of justice; some who to my knowledge were glad by going to a foreign country to escape being brought to the bar of a court of justice in their own.
They protected by your arms? They have nobly taken up arms in your defence, have exerted a valour amidst their constant and laborious industry for the defence of a country whose frontier while drenched in blood, its interior parts have yielded all its little savings to your emolument. And believe me, remember I this day told you so, that same spirit of freedom which actuated that people at first, will accompany them still. But prudence forbids me to explain myself further. God knows I do not at this time speak from motives of party heat; what I deliver are the genuine sentiments of my heart; however superior to me in general knowledge and experience the reputable body of this House may be, yet I claim to know more of America than most of you, having seen and been conversant in that country. The people I believe are as truly loyal as any subjects the king has, but a people jealous of their liberties and who will vindicate them if ever they should be violated; but the subject is too delicate and I will say no more. 
The Brits never did get it, but man, they eventually got it from us in God’s sovereign providence.
Also in honor of Independence Day 2016, I offer the following A Cappella cover of Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA:
I’m a rock guy to the core, but I love that song. Happy Independence Day!!! (and don’t burn your eyebrows off)
The Commissioner’s Handbook for the Presbyterian Church of America’s (PCA) General Assembly (GA) starts at about 860 8.5 x 11 pages. During GA, the handbook can grow to about 1,000 pages as Committees of Commissioners reports roll in. That makes for a large and heavy notebook to carry around. Add to that the Book of Church Order (BCO) and references like Robert’s Rules, etc., for more muscle building. I’ve been carrying all that around for over a decade of annual GAs. Enough is enough.
So, I wanted to go fully electronic for the PCA General Assembly this year. I looked at tablets, but they are pretty expensive, especially with a keyboard. Laptops are too big and heavy. I did not want to spend big bucks on something that wouldn’t be used very often. I was between a rock and a hard place until I read this article on ZDNet. It recommended looking at Chromebooks. So I did.
After carefully researching the market, I found the best of all worlds – an Asus Chromebook Flip.
The beauty of the Asus Chromebook Flip is that it has a 10.1 inch touch screen like a tablet, a keyboard like a notebook computer, and you can fold it on its hinge all the way around so that it basically becomes a tablet:
When folded back on itself, the keyboard is disabled and it automatically goes into tablet mode. Very cool! I bought the version that has 4 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. It also takes a micro SD Card, so storage shouldn’t be an issue. And, of course, it’s made to work with Google Drive. The Asus runs on a ARM-based Rockchip Quad-Core RK3288C CPU, which will enable it to run most Android apps by the end of the summer, although it can be “hacked” to run some now. I’m running Bible Study by OliveTree‘s Android app right now.
The Flip sports a 10.1″ 16:10 WXGA (1280×800)/Wide View Angle LED Backlit Touch Screen run by a Rockchip Mali T764 GPU, and it looks great. The aluminum case feels very solid, and houses two USB2 ports, one micro-HDMI port, audio jack, proprietary charging port, volume controls, and a power button around its edges. It also has a digital microphone, speakers, and an HD webcam. All that weighs in at a hair under two pounds (.89 kg).
The keyboard is a comfortable size, but the tradeoff is that it doesn’t have all the standard keys. Some missing key functions can be had using shift key combinations, but not all. For example, there’s no home or end key, nor have I found a way to get that functionality. It does have some Chromebook-specific keys for web browsing. The touchpad has no buttons, but right-clicking can be simulated by clicking the touchpad with two fingers.
That brings us to the primary limitation of Chromebooks. They are designed to be connected to the Internet pretty much all the time. The built-in 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth™ V4.0 help with that, but you need a source with which to connect. Providentially, most restaurants, coffee houses, hotels, etc., have WiFi available. You can also store data locally to work with, but even those work through the Chrome browser interface. That’s not necessarily bad, but it is different.
Chrome OS works OK, being a model of simplicity. If you can use a browser, you can use a Chromebook out of the box. Chrome OS is automatically updated on a regular basis. I had a few major updates to install when I bought mine, and then another today. If you have an Android phone with Bluetooth enabled, you can authorize the Chromebook to unlock if it detects your phone in close proximity. That’s very cool, especially in table mode.
For GA, this all worked out fine. I loaded the Commissioner’s Handbook, the BCO, and my supporting documents on the Chromebook. They are automatically backed up on Google Drive so that you can get them anywhere on any device that supports Google Drive. However, you need to “right-click” on each document and select the proper option if you want it locally available. The Chromebook defaults to storing things on Google Drive, not locally, and it’s easy to make a mistake in location.
WiFi in my hotel was fine, but it was pretty spotty at GA. There were a few times that I had to use my phone’s WiFi hotspot capability to get documents on the floor of the Assembly, but that worked fine.
The battery life of the Flip is amazing. Asus claims 9 hours, but that’s conservative. Our longest day went until almost midnight. I used my Flip almost all day and it was in standby the few times that I didn’t have it open. When I returned to my hotel room after midnight, the battery still had 19% left. Incredible.
The only real downside is performance. I like the Rockchip CPU because it is ARM-based and will easily run Android apps, but it doesn’t provide the snappiest performance. The 4 GB of SDRAM helps. A faster processor would provide snappier performance, but also eat more battery. It will also take significantly longer to get Android apps to run on Intel processors. Everything is a tradeoff. The Flip works fine, but doesn’t keep up with my Dell tablet that I have for work. Still, it works well for document work, which is mostly what I use it for.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my Asus Chromebook Flip. For $249 on Amazon, it was a great deal for the capability. It served its initial purpose very well, and will do so for some years to come. With the keyboard, the Chromebook does more than what a tablet will do at a lower price point, and is smaller, lighter, and less expensive than a laptop or even a standard notebook. Can’t beat that with a stick.
The PCA will consider a host of overtures at the 44th General Assembly that purport to deal with racial/ethnic reconciliation, although most merely parrot Overture 4. I believe that all but a couple of the reconciliation overtures are seriously flawed. I hope to briefly explain a few of the issues.
Let me make clear up front that racism is sin. Exegesis that states or implies that ALL men do not equally bear God’s image is wrong and self-serving, not God honoring. Not loving ALL of our brothers and sisters in Christ as John admonished in his first letter is sin. Let’s get that off the table up front.
The Ninth Commandment
Westminster Larger Catechism Q/A 144 says that the 9th Commandment requires in part:
A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever…and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth…studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.
I contend that in regard to the duties required by the 9th Commandment in the WLC Q/A 144, all overtures requiring the PCA as a whole through “covenantal and generational involvement” to repent of events related to or following the Civil Rights Movement causes the PCA as a whole, presbyteries, and the bulk of the current PCA particular churches and members to violate many, most, or all of the above excerpted requirements in regard to their own history and sins, depending on individual circumstances. And while anecdotes and stories are interesting and tug nicely at the emotional cords, it is hard data that should inform all decisions and votes.
The PCA did not exist during the Civil Rights era to which many overtures refer, commonly pegged as 1954-19681. The PCA’s first constitutional assembly was in December of 1973. How can the PCA confess and repent of something that happened before its founding? How could the PCA as a whole be complicit in something that happened before it existed? Individual churches in existence during the Civil Rights era that later joined the PCA may or may not have something of which to repent, but not the PCA as a whole as called for by these overtures. To do so would fail to tell and uphold the truth, maintain the good name of the PCA, or practice what is true, at the least.
According to Dr. Sean Lucas’ book on the history of the PCA2, the PCA was explicitly created to be open to all races and ethnicities3. There were no organizational, polity, or policy barriers raised to prevent reconciliation4. That’s not to say that individual churches could not or did not raise such barriers, and we know that some certainly did so, but such was not and is not the PCA’s either informal or formal policy. In fact, Dr. Lucas points out that there was a significant contingent of younger pastors who joined the PCA that actively opposing segregation5. Many proposed overtures appear to do these men, their congregations, and the overall design of the PCA a serious injustice.
Further, the PCA had 260 congregations with around 41,000 communicants at the initial founding in December of 19736. Many of those early officers and communicants have gone to glory. By God’s grace, the PCA has grown to 1,534 churches with over 370,000 communicants as of the 44th GA7. In 1973, the PCA was primarily a regional denomination. Today, by God’s grace, the PCA has spread throughout the entire country. The bottom line is that – without passing any judgement whatsoever – the PCA of today is quite literally not the PCA of 1973, and even that PCA did not exist during the Civil Rights era. Even if all the original communicants were still with us, they would constitute just 11% of the current PCA. Just 11%. These are hard facts.
The PCA membership today is significantly different than at its founding. For example, God graciously placed my church, and indeed my presbytery, in an ethnically diverse community. Our membership literally spans the globe. Our annual Lessons and Carols service features readings in Urdu, Lingala, Spanish, Mandarin, Dutch, German, and others as well as English. We have first and second generation legal immigrants from around the world who and whose ancestors had nothing to do with the 60’s Civil Rights issues in this country. To ask them to confess and repent as a church of such issues amounts to asking them to bear false witness to their and their families’ history and sins, and fail to preserve their good names or the truth.
Corporate Repentance and the Continuing Church
While there are a few examples of corporate repentance in the Old Testament, recall that only a tiny fraction of Israelites remained faithful to God at those times, 7,000 out of at least several million in Elijah’s case. That’s clearly not the case in the PCA according to our own statistics.
Yet even in the Old Testament just prior to the Exile, when faithfulness was at an all-time low in Israel, God deals directly with so-called “sins of the fathers” in Ezekiel 18 and Jeremiah 31. The issue in those passages bear similarity to the bulk of the proposed overtures. From Ezekiel 18:
The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
God’s sums up His admonition, which covers all of Ezekiel 18, with His declaration in Ezekiel 18:20:
The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.
In Jeremiah as well, God clearly states that each man will be judged for his own sin, not for those who came before. That’s black and white Scripture, not anecdotes or convenient interpretation. I believe that these passages negate the corporate and/or covenantal argument as applied in most of the overtures.
We are a “continuing church” in regards to Reformed doctrine, missions, and church government as TE Jack Williamson made clear at the first General Assembly8, but God makes it clear that sins are individual unless that sin is encoded in our governing documents and/or policies, which demonstrably isn’t the case in the PCA. Anyone who sins against their brother or sister is violating our constitution and should be challenged, and if appropriate, brought up on charges in accordance with BCO procedures. That negates any “institutional racism” by policy or construct. To say that the PCA as a “continuing church” bears the sins of those from which it separated says more than most would want. That would make us liable for the sins of rejecting the authority of Scripture, which led the old church to a host of fatal theological errors. Does the PCA bear the guilt of those sins as well? Where do we draw that entirely arbitrary line? Who gets to decide?
One advantage, of course, of the corporate approach is that it diffuses the responsibility away from individuals and courts who actually did sin. Just like the old saying “Be a team player, it diffuses the blame.” If we blame everyone, practicality speaking, we blame no one. It takes courage to hold individuals, sessions, and presbyteries specifically accountable, but it’s easy to make broad pronouncements that make us feel good but ultimately hold no one accountable. That’s exactly what the bulk of the reconciliation overtures do.
Burden of Proof
I was blessed through my military service to live and travel across our great country, worshiping with many congregations. Although trained through 30 years of military leadership to spot and address these kinds of racial and ethnic issues, I’ve not seen widespread evidence of a systemic or institutional racial or ethnic problem in the PCA. The burden of proof – not personal anecdotes or catchy liberal buzzwords – falls on those making these accusations – the 9th Commandment demands it – but I haven’t see any hard data offered. It is easy to make broad-brush claims, but where is the evidence of wide-spread racism in the PCA? Any argument using statistical demographics must be accompanied by evidence of malfeasance at their root as opposed to cultural or sociological patterns unrelated to wrongdoing by anyone in the PCA. Sociology can not usually be boiled down to a few numbers.
Though there may be some individuals and churches now in the PCA who have something along these lines of which to confess and repent during their previous membership in other denominations prior to the PCA (I’ll mention one shining example later), they are a very small minority in the current PCA as the numbers clearly show. Even if ALL the founding officers and congregants of the 1973 PCA were still in the 2016 PCA, which we know isn’t the case as many have gone to glory, and if ALL of them required such repentance, and we also know isn’t the case, they would only make up only 11 percent of the current denomination. Should an entire denomination repent of the sins that something much less than 11 percent of their members MAY have committed before the denomination even existed? That doesn’t make sense to me, nor does it agree with God’s explicit commands in Ezekiel and Jeremiah.
I know that there continue to be racial/ethnic issues in isolated cases in the PCA, just as there are in society at large. Those involved must repent of these sins and rely on Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins, as do we all. That’s what the disciplinary processes coded in the BCO should be used to address where necessary, as it was in Western Carolina Presbytery a few years back. The process was painful for the faithful, but it worked. But, it hardly seems appropriate for an entire denomination to repent for the sins of a relatively few – at most way less than 11%. Again, God’s commands in Jeremiah and Ezekiel relative to the sins of the fathers clearly argues against this.
Back to the Ninth Commandment
The 9th Commandment issues come clearly into focus when using set theory and logic to examine the overall situation. Every communicant member of the PCA falls under the shepherding of their session, their local court. Every PCA session is wholly contained within the set of its presbytery. Similarly, all presbyteries are collectively and wholly contained within the set of the PCA. Think of this as a set of concentric circles with the individual communicant in the smallest inside circle, wholly contained in the larger session circle, itself wholly contained in the presbytery circle, and the largest PCA circle wholly containing the presbytery circle. So, when the PCA as a whole confesses and repents, as most of the overtures require, the entire set of the PCA includes successively every presbytery, every session, and every communicant member. When the PCA repents of anything, that carries through to the every communicant in the pews, which causes them to violate the 9th Commandment when they have not sinned in that way. It’s logically a package deal.
Where do we go from here?
Albert Einstein is famously quoted as observing that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome. The PCA passed overtures and personal resolutions in 20029, and a pastoral letter in 200410 at the GA level, a 2002 paper in Potomac and Chesapeake Presbyteries, and others as well. Yet, there we were in 2015 and here now in 2016 proposing to do the same thing. Such overtures are not binding, but considered deliverances of the Assembly, to be given due and serious consideration in the denomination according to BCO 14-7. How did that work out in 2002 and 2004? Apparently not so well since here we are again.
The PCA needs a different approach, which Potomac Presbytery has proposed in Overture 45. We believe that it is time to break the cycle of overtures and resolutions based on emotional anecdotes and generalities – called information-free decision making by my boss – and approach the subject of racial and ethnic reconciliation in a deliberative manner to garner specific facts and issues to be resolved, resulting in specific actions to be taken as we saw in Western Carolina. Like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the PCA must address specific sins with specific measures which presbyteries and sessions may implement without ambiguity. The Civil Rights Act didn’t just say “Stop that,” it addressed specific wrongs with specific, implementable solutions. That’s exactly what Potomac’s overture recommends that the PCA do.
After all, how can we solve problems if we cannot state specific, identifiable, perhaps quantifiable issues that must be addressed? How can we learn about those specific problems if we do not take the time to ferret out the details and perform something like a root cause analysis? And how can we reach a final resolution and put these issues behind us if we don’t propose specific, implementable solutions? How can we know what success looks like unless we make the effort to define a measurable and achievable desired end state? The answer to all these questions is that we cannot, as recent PCA history demonstrates.
Potomac Presbytery has put forth an alternative overture which corrects the defects in most of the other related overtures to the 44th General Assembly. Potomac’s Overture 45 asks for specific, concrete actions to affect lasting change, something that most of the overtures lack. I say this with an eye firmly on the peace and purity of the PCA, basing my position on Scripture, hard data, verifiable history, and logic, while seeking analytical rigor. I encourage the commissioners to the 44th General Assembly to perfect and approve Overture 45.
At the same time, I also encourage the commissioners to approve Overture 53, as it puts forth specific, concrete actions to be taken in accordance with our polity to hold those guilty of racial/ethnic sins accountable. The men of the First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS, set the bar by taking concrete action to repent of specific past actions of the church and deal directly with specific issues in specific past session minutes. This leading by setting the example by taking concrete steps to repent of specific past actions, is also true of First Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, AL, and Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis TN11. Every church court and individual who so sinned must do the same.
The commissioners of the 44th General Assembly should reject any and all overtures that purport to address racial/ethnic reconciliation, yet do not hold anyone or any church court accountable under BCO procedures. Let us not repeat the errors of the past by passing feel-good overtures that diffuse the blame, sounding pious but accomplishing nothing. Otherwise, we’ll be back here in 10 years doing the same thing all over again. It will be déjà vu all over again.
1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_Civil_Rights_Movement_(1954–68). Accessed Dec 13, 2015
2 Lucas, Sean M., For a Continuing Church, The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America, Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2015
3 Lucas, p.296
4 Lucas, pp. 307-308
5 Lucas, pp 323-324
6 PCA Administrative Committee website, http://www.pcanet.org/history/. Accessed Dec 13, 2015
7 Administrative Committee Report for the 44th General Assembly of the PCA, p. 253
8 Lucas, p. 313, Derived from Jack Williamson’s opening sermon at the first PCA GA: “We have committed ourselves to be the rebirth and continuation of a Presbyterian Church loyal to the Scripture, the Reformed faith, and committed to the spiritual mission of the Church as Christ commanded in the Great Commission.”
9 PCA Historical Center, http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/race.html. Accessed Dec 13, 2015
10 Ibid, http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/racism.pdf. Accessed Dec 13, 2015
11 Haynes, Stephen R., The Last Segregated Hour, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp.228-245.
Memorial Day is not just another day off, but a day to remember and thank those who provided and protected the freedom that you have and exercise every day that you breath on this earth. Remember them, pray for their families, and thank God that in His Providence He blessed us with those willing to sacrifice all so that others may live free. Our military members don’t fight because they hate what is in front of them, but because they love what is behind them.
NOVA Armory had their grand opening yesterday morning. That wouldn’t usually be a big deal, but the anti’s tried to stop the opening. They tried the same tactics that they used against the store in Cherrydale, but it didn’t work this time. Incidentally, the store front in Cherrydale is still empty, so the landlord really took it in the shorts when he caved to the antis. Oops.
The anti’s, as usual, used lies and almost truths. They claimed that 88% of the Lyon Park community voted against the firearm store in their neighborhood. What they didn’t say was that that less than 1% of the neighborhood even bothered to vote on their pet referendum.
The grand opening featured Delegate Rich Anderson, a personal friend of mine, and VCDL president Philip Van Cleave, and a representative of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. The store and the opening were packed. Of course, the press was present, including WTOP.
The crowd went way to the right of the picture above. The crowd inside packed the place to the gills wearing orange Gun Save Lives stickers, and was constantly refreshed for the hour that I was there. While the official opening wasn’t until 0900, folks started showing up shortly after 0800 and were welcomed.
NOVA Armory gave out 100 free t-shirts. They were gone in just a few minutes. From the time I saw someone with a shirt until I made my way to the former shirt pile was less than 5 minutes. 100 shirts, boom. Most folks in the store at that time did not get one. That’s an illustration of just how many folks showed. The pictures don’t do the crowd justice, because the crowd spilled out onto the Pershing Road side because it was so tight in the store and all the body heat really made the temperature inside uncomfortable after a while. That’s a lot of people.
Of course, the anti’s couldn’t let the opening go without their nonsense. The seven incredibly liberal politicians that represent Arlington at various levels held a mini-protest in Lyon Park about 2 miles away from the store. I drove by there on my way home. It was a cold morning, just over 40 degrees F, and the group at Lyon Park would not have exhausted the t-shirt supply, not by a long stretch. WTOP has a picture of their sparse turnout. Worse, the anti’s were so self-absorbed that they usurped people who reserved Lyon Park to set up for an Easter Egg hunt. Nothing’s more important to an anti than their own twisted anti-liberty message.
Yesterday was a good day for liberty and the freedom to open a legal business that sells the only consumer product protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Dr. John Lott wrote a great piece entitled Guns in America: You know the case for background checks is weak if… Dr. Lott shows clearly how gun controllers lie to make a case that doesn’t exist.
Tactical Ted wrote 12 Years of Campus Carry – Results. He does a nice job of showing that 12 years of concealed carry on college campuses has produced only great results for the carriers. All of the doomsday pronouncements of the anti’s never came to fruition. They never do. The streets aren’t running with blood. Only the blood of thugs and rapists have been spilled.
Contrary to the lies of the gun grabbers, Gun Owners Stopped Numerous Crimes and Saved Countless Lives in a Year. I’ve posted sites before that collect defensive shooting incidents. Anyone who says that they don’t happen or are rare is ignorant or lying. It’s as simple as that.
Along the lines of lying anti-liberty types, Liberal Media and Gun-Grabbers Ignore Latest CDC Report – It Doesn’t Fit Their Narrative. The Gateway Pundit documents how the gun grabbers ignore data that doesn’t fit their schemes. As usual.
John Risenhoover, a retired BATF Senior Special Agent, wrote AN ACTUAL STRATEGY TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE. Not surprisingly, his strategy doesn’t involve targeting law-abiding citizens. John suggests going after real criminals.
Makro Kloos wrote about why the gun is civilization. I and many others have written about this before. Before there were firearms, the strong and powerful preyed on the rest of society. Women were property and used as the strong desired. The real war on women is led by those who would make women vulnerable to the strong and powerful again.
That’s about it for now. All this should keep you busy for a while.
A Sheriff department demonstrates that magazine capacity makes little difference in an active killer scenario. Standard capacity magazines (14-16 rounds pistol, 30 rounds for a modern sporting rifle) provide no significant advantage over a host of sub-capacity magazines for active killers.
More anti-liberty lies exposed.
I love the M1911 demo. Don’t need no stinkin’ plastic pistols.
The money quotes – Magazine capacity restrictions:
Don’t create realistic opportunities to “tackle” an active killer during reloads.
Do make it harder for civilians to protect themselves from violent criminal attacks.
Magazine restrictions don’t pass the common sense test.
Along those lines, here’s some great wisdom on gun control in general:
The Firearm Blog published links to the Army’s new training videos. I haven’t been through them yet, but I plan to review them. It’s always interesting to see what the Army’s doing for training.
So, I went to Ft. Benning’s Shooter’s Channel on Youtube to find a lot more videos. Enjoy!
First, the Second Amendment appears in the Bill of Rights. The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to lay out the powers of the federal government. The Founding Fathers created the Bill of Rights to lay out the limitations of the federal government and recognize, not grant, God-given freedoms. We seem to have forgotten that basic fact.
CBS’ Ben Swann of Reality Check investigated the true intent of the 2nd Amendment and actually got it right.
Extremely well done!
So, when I was growing up, playing Army was all the rage. We had tons of creative toy gun options, including the imaginative Johnny Seven One Man Army setup.
But I really wish I had a Tommy Gun, the king of WWII house-to-house weapons:
Ah, those were the days when men were men, and boys were brought up to be men.