How can the Bible claim that the earth is 6000 years old?

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A New Look At An Old Earth

Is our world as old as PBS has told us?

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Hand Outs or Hand Ups?

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Unless you have been living in a cave, you are probably well aware that our economy isn’t exactly in great shape these days.

Or so we are told.

In fact, a cascade of greed, poor judgment, bureaucratic meddling, sweet deal pay offs to key politicians, defaults on home loans and a cackling chorus of  “The sky is falling!” from the media has transformed our financial climate from boom to bust.

Immediately we were informed that unless we hooked key financial institutions up to a billion dollar I.V. , a second Great Depression was about to fall.

This mass cash infusion courtesy of our tax dollars wasn’t a hand out, but a hand up we were told.

Assurances were given that only those banks and investment firms that were teetering on the edge of extinction would be helped, and every penny scrupulously accounted for.

At least that’s what we were told.

But as the old saying goes, “Loose lips sink ships.”

Harvey Levin, the head honcho at the celebrity gossip site TMZ, got wind that certain well heeled people were bragging that they were going to be wined and dined at an upcoming golf event sponsored by Northern Trust.

And that the taxpayers were going to foot the bill.

Northern Trust had laid off over 450 employees (almost 4% of its work force) and had received nearly $1.6 billion in the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the so called TARP bailout.

So Levin dispatched a team of reporters to get the low down.

What they found was an event that has sparked outrage.

Northern Trust, a Chicago-based bank, sponsored the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in L.A. We’re told Northern Trust paid millions to sponsor the PGA event which ended Sunday, but what happened off the golf course is even more shocking.

Northern Trust flew hundreds of clients and employees to L.A. and put many of them up at some of the fanciest and priciest hotels in the city. We’re told more than a hundred people were put up at the Beverly Wilshire in Bev Hills, and another hundred stayed at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Still more stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey and others at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica.

– Wednesday, Northern Trust hosted a fancy dinner at the Ritz followed by a performance by the group Chicago.

– Thursday, Northern Trust rented a private hangar at the Santa Monica Airport for dinner, followed by a performance by Earth, Wind & Fire.

– Saturday, Northern Trust had the entire House of Blues in West Hollywood shut down for its private party. We got the menu — guests dined on seared salmon and petite Angus filet. Dinner was followed by a performance by none other than Sheryl Crow.

There was also a fabulous cocktail party at the Loews. And how’s this for a nice touch: Female guests at the Chicago concert all got trinkets from … TIFFANY AND CO.

Including the sponsorship of the PGA golf event, Northern Trust spent well over $7 million on this one weekend.

When asked about the inherent problems of a company on the bail out list throwing this kind of bash, a company spokesman pointed out that Northern Trust hadn’t asked for the government money and had actually turned a profit last year.

So will Northern Trust return the $1.6 billion, which the TARP program allows them to do?

Stay tuned.

When I thought about this controversy, I couldn’t help but think of another difficult issue that confronts both churches and individual believers, and is front and center during tough economic times –

How do you help the needy while not enabling the greedy?

There is no doubt that the Bible tells us that we are to be practically involved in showing God’s love in tangible ways to hurting people.

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (I John 3:16-18)

God wants us to help the truly needy.

Did you catch the two operative words here?

Help.

In my experience as a pastor I have found that one of the least effective ways of helping people is by simply giving them money.

At our fellowship we ask that anyone who wants to receive financial help first commit to financial counseling.

We talk about the factors that lead them into the situation and the biblical principles that can keep it from happening again.

(A great resource for those who need scriptural insights into honoring God with our finances  can be found at www.crown.org)

The second word?

Needy

Unfortunately there are many in our society who confuse only having basic cable and a non HDTV monitor on their computer as a financial crisis.

There are also those who want to receive money in order to finance an addiction.

That is why when I see someone with a “Will Work For Food” sign, I will offer to buy them a lunch.

Or give them a nutritionally balanced energy bar and a bottle of water.

And when I offer these things, it’s easy to see the difference between the needy and those who have other motives.

We don’t want to become hardened or cynical.

There are people who are genuinely in a tough place and we need to help them.

Unfortunately there are also those who are looking for a way to scam their way through life.

We shouldn’t enable them.

May the Lord give us wisdom to discern the difference.

A Hard Stand For A Soft Target

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There is an old joke that warns “Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you!”

For many Christians, the growing suspicion that their faith makes them a target is anything but a laughing matter.

Let’s face it, sometimes it is hard not to feel a bit like belonging to Jesus has painted a bulls eye on your back.

I will never forget the opening words to my first college class.

The professor looked intently at his fresh faced students in introductory psychology and said, “If you are one of those born again Christians you might as well drop this class right now. I hate you people.”

Could you imagine what would have happened if he had replaced the phrase “born again Christians” with “Koran reading Muslims”?

Yikes!

So why are believers set aside for “special” treatment at school, or work, or in their neighborhoods?

One school of thought is presented in this eye opening article that ran in today’s Christian Science Monitor.

Some British Christians feel oppressed in the public

square

High-profile cases involving Bible-sharing and prayer have raised

concerns. But many say that reining in certain expressions of faith is a

necessary compromise in a multicultural society.

For a nation shaped by an overtly Christian heritage, Britain has apparently become a difficult place to be overtly Christian.

The conservative press bewails a steady erosion of Christian values. A member of Parliament has called for debate on “systematic and institutional discrimination toward Christians.” Even former Prime Minister Tony Blair recently let slip how aides would brusquely suppress any instinct he had to bring his faith into public view.

Now, a succession of ordinary Christians are finding this rule applies to them, too.

Earlier this month, Caroline Petrie, a nurse, was suspended for offering to pray for a patient. The case echoed another incident in which social worker Naphtali Chondol was fired for giving a Bible to a client.

Elsewhere, a teen was prohibited from wearing a chastity ring in school in a case redolent of British Airways’s move to forbid a check-in worker, Nadia Eweida, from wearing a cross. A university Christian group was banned for requiring that members attest to their belief in God. The requirement was considered discriminatory.

“There’s going to be lots more cases like this,” says Paul Diamond, a barrister specializing in religious liberties cases who represented both Ms. Petrie and Ms. Eweida. “Christians are a soft target – it’s easy to be nasty to them.”

Two key questions are raised by this increasingly overt hostility toward believers in Christ.

First, should we expect it?

The biblical answer is an unavoidable “yes.”

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. (John 15:18-21)

Let’s face it, seeing a nurse lose her job simply because she had the nerve to pray for a patient who wanted that kind of support seems crazy.

But no more crazy than the idea that we can find peace and fulfillment in this life without a relationship with the One Who created us.

Christian author Jeffrey Van Vonderan once said, “If you say the same sort of things that Jesus said, to the same sort of people He said them to, you’re going to get what He got.”

The second question is even more important.

How should we respond when we are the target of a non believer’s hostility?

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. (I Peter 4:12-16)

Peter’s practical advice is hard to miss.

Some people will treat us like jerks because we are Christians.

But when we suffer let’s make sure it’s not because we’ve acted like jerks while claiming to be Christians.

Our culture doesn’t mind making blasphemous movies, lowering grades  and ending people’s careers because we follow Jesus.

We don’t have mass riots when our  tax dollars fund a display of a crucifix in a bottle of urine.

We don’t take out mob style contracts on people who make big bucks on books that say our faith is a form of mental illness and that sharing it in Sunday School is tantamount to child abuse.

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We are soft targets.

But there is nothing “soft” about rising above such hurtful attacks.

In fact, the power and grace to refrain from becoming just another complaining member of the victim-of-the-day club is a wonderful way to show the world that our faith in Jesus is the real deal.

Are you catching grief because you love the Lord? Make this powerful principle your compass heading:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

Can’t Buy Me Love?

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Lennon and McCartney once stated a seemingly indisputable truth of life:

“I don’t care too much for money.

Money can’t buy me love.”

Of course there are those who might cynically add, “You can’t buy love. But you can rent it.”

But if current events are any indicator, it looks like our State Department is going to see if they can prove the Beatles wrong.

The United States plans to offer more than $900 million to help rebuild Gaza after Israel’s invasion and to strengthen the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, U.S. officials said on Monday.

The money, which needs U.S. congressional approval, will be distributed through U.N. and other bodies and not via the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, said one official.

“This money is for Gaza and to help strengthen the Palestinian Authority. It is not going to go to Hamas,” said the official, who asked not to be named as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton planned to announce the funding at a donors’ conference in Egypt next week.

Neither the United States nor Israel have direct contact with the Islamist Hamas movement which runs Gaza and remains formally committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.

The official said the pledge was a mix of money already earmarked for the Palestinians and some new funding.

“The package is still shaping up,” he said, when asked for specifics over how the money would be spent and a breakdown of old and new funding.

In December, the former Bush administration said it would give $85 million to the U.N. agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Uh..

Help me if I’m missing something here.

Our economy is by all accounts mired in a recession.

We have just passed a nearly trillion dollar stimulus bill and passed the tab onto future generations of Americans.

We are making extreme cuts in minor things like road building and education.

California, one of our most prosperous states, is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy

And we have nearly a billion dollars to give to “rebuild” Gaza?

But don’t worry.

The terrorists who warp the minds of their children with  Farfour the Militant Mouse and Assoud the Jew eating rabbit won’t see a penny of it.

Why?

Because it’s going to be distributed by those paragons of economic efficiency the United Nations!

Does anyone really think that pouring money into the infrastructure of a state that held celebrations and gave out candy to it’s children on 9-11 is going to make them play nice?

I guess someone does.

And is willing to spend a large chunk of our tax dollars to fund the experiment.

The notion of providing material support to those who hate God’s people is nothing new.

In II Chronicles we see the story of a king with a good heart but bad judgment.

His name was Jehoshaphat.

And although Jehoshaphat had trusted God, and had seen God’s hand of blessing on his life, he developed a relationship with one of the most wicked kings in biblical history – a man named Ahab.

A joint military exercise had not only killed Ahab, but nearly cost Jehoshaphat his life as well.

And when he returned there was a tough message waiting for him.

Delivered by a prophet no less.

Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem.  And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore the wrath of the LORD is upon you.  Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.” (II Chronicles 19:1-3)

Jehoshaphat made the crucial error of choosing to try to keep one foot in the light while seeking to play with darkness for personal gain.

Are we walking down the same path?

And if so, what kind of wake up call might await us if we befriend those who are committed to hate, terror and murder?

Winston Churchill once offered this telling insight into the fools errand of trying to win over darkness by befriending it.

“Appeasement is a case of throwing others to the alligator and hoping it will eat you last.”

Let’s  pray that our nation does not adopt a policy of feeding the sworn enemies of Israel and the West while hoping for the same result.


Cartoon in official Palestinian Authority daily

Resistance Is Futile?

If you have been a reader of Scott’s Blog for a while, you know we have chronicled the strange tendency of Islamic extremists to declare a jihad on copy write infringement laws.

You may recall how the Hamas TV children’s program “Tomorrow’s Pioneers” has featured Farfour the anti-Semitic Mickey Mouse rip off:

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After strong protests from the Disney people, Farfour’s character was dropped on a particularly delightful episode when he was beaten to death by an Israeli.

Not to be deterred, the creative geniuses at this Nazi-influenced form of Sesame Street took on Warner Brothers:

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This Bugs Bunny clone has had his problems. First, rabbits are considered unclean by Muslims. Second, Assoud made headlines when he declared he would avenge the death of his brother Nahoul the Bee by “attacking the Jews and eating them”.

Talk about a wascally wabbit.

But today we received word that another sworn enemy of Israel has taken trademark violations to a level where “no man has gone before.”

Iran banknotes to carry Omid satellite
Sun, 22 Feb 2009 06:38:26 GMT

The logo of Iran’s first domestically-built satellite, Omid

The logo of Omid, Iran’s first domestically-built satellite, is to be featured on coins and banknotes, according to a cabinet decision.

The Iranian Cabinet approved the proposal presented by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) to issue coins and banknotes with the logo of Omid Satellite.

On February 3, Tehran placed its indigenous satellite into orbit — joining an elite group of countries capable of both producing satellites and sending them into space using domestic launchers.

Omid is a research satellite that has been designed for gathering information and testing equipment. After orbiting for one to three months, Omid will return to earth with data that will help Iranian experts send an operational satellite into space.

Does that logo look the slightest bit familiar to you?

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Fascinating.

But also ominous.

Although the launch of the Omid satellite is couched in terms of research and scientific advancement, it also means that Iran is fast approaching not only the capacity to manufacture a nuclear weapon, but also to deliver it to a target half way around the world.

When we combine this development with the Shiite belief of Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad and the ruling Mullahs that their “Muslim Messiah” will be ushered in by a time of world wide war and chaos, the threat of a nuclear Iran will no longer be a problem for Israel, Europe or the Saudis.

It becomes a problem for all of us.

A far more serious issue than whether Mr. Ahmadinejhad is a “Trekkie” or not.

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:4-8)

The advent of viable Iranian satellite technology is another warning sign that this era of  “wars and rumors of wars” is building to an unmanageable crescendo..

Thank Who?

Hitchens

It has been said one of the loneliest moments in the life of an atheist is when he finds himself feeling genuinely thankful, yet realizes he has no one to be thankful to.

Apparently atheistic writer and spokesman Christopher Hitchens had just such a moment on the mean streets of Beruit, Lebanon.

Forbes Magazine writer Lawrence Osborne relates the following incident.

Weekend In Lebanon: A Dispatch From Beirut

But later that night, three of our “scoop” brigade–Jonathan Foreman, Michael Totten and Christopher Hitchens–got involved in a street brawl with some thugs of a Syria-loving skinhead party called the SSNP after Hitchens rather gallantly insulted their swastika flag. On our way to a meeting with Minister of State Nassib Lahoud, Hitchens showed me the gashed knuckles and bruises suffered during the punch up. The attackers had apparently come out of nowhere on posh Hamra Street, where they had gone to buy shoes. “I was on the ground,” Hitchens said, “and getting it in the head.” It was a miracle they didn’t pull Kalashnikovs.

Wall Street Journal.com’s James Taranto offers this ironic observation:

Hitchens is author of the book “God Is Not Great.” If Osborne’s account is accurate, God intervened to save the hide (though presumably not the soul) of a professional atheist. The Lord does work in mysterious ways.

There is an old saying that atheism lies in the lip, not the heart of man.

And although hard bitten deniers of even the existence of God like Christopher Hitchens don’t like to admit it, they find themselves constantly borrowing from a Christian world view to find meaning in life.

Christopher Hitchens is a great example of this phenomenon.

I will openly admit Hitchens and I agree on a number of issues.

During the debate on the moral validity of Operation Iraqi Freedom, few expressed more eloquently how crucial it was to remove a horrific, brutal, Hitlerian style dictator like Sadaam Hussein from power.

And yet, Hitchens’ appeal to decency and that deposing Sadaam was “the right thing to do” only makes sense from a Judeo Christian world view.

If the atheists are right and all we are is the top of the evolutionary dog pile, who is to say that gassing your potential opponents is wrong?

If the driving mechanism that got us to where we are as a species is survival of the fittest, doesn’t that also imply the non survival of the less fit?

If we are merely the outcome of the brutal, savage struggle of nature red in fang and claw, why not toss more of our potential rivals for resources, territory and mates  in the old wood chipper as Uday and Quesay Hussein were known to do?

“That is an outrage!”, sputters the atheist.

But no atheist has ever been able to tell me why that is an outrage.

That is, without borrowing a concept or two from Christianity – like the notion that human beings are valuable and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.

Oh, like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Or that kicking someone inthe head on the streets of Beruit was “wrong”.

Or that Christopher Hitchens life was spared perhaps was more than just a random outcome.

The bottom line? Many today try to deny God.

But God won’t be denied.

His truth keeps speaking to our souls.

Many angrily reject Him, but still can’t seem to erase terms like “miracle” from the back of their minds.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)