Mar 16

Christ Among Other Gods: A Defense of Christ in an Age of Tolerance ★★★★★

This book is a set of 12 sermons that Lutzer delivered at Moody Church a few years ago. The reading of this book is very easy as the writing is in a relaxed narrative style. Though the book is 246 pages long, it can be read in several nights sitting.

The forward by JI Packer is most interesting, in that Packer is most deeply a Reformed theologian, and yet Lutzer is dispensational and elaborates dispensational thinking in one chapter of the book, chapter 10 on the return of Christ. Yet, Lutzer also heavily quotes recent Reformed thinkers that are distinctly outside of his camp, such as BB Warfield and JG Machen, showing that both Packer and Lutzer don’t have restrictive eschatologies. In the course of this book, Lutzer tends to suggest a drift away from strict dispensational soteriology and towards a more Reformed understanding of the nature of salvation from an infralapsarian perspective (which I also hold).

This book is not a book on comparative religion, as is offered by JND Anderson. Lutzer does not detail the various religions of the world, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Animism, etc., but speaks in general terms about those religions in comparison to Christianity. Lutzer is correct that there is a very distinct gulf between all other religions and the Christian faith, making it imperative that the Christian religion be examined for its worth. Lutzer spends a chapter covering the issue of “tolerance” and the Christian perspective on tolerance. He discusses relativism—can Christians truly make absolute truth claims? The majority of chapters then delve into Christian claims, most centered around the Christ event, including his birth, his life, his authority and claims, his death, his resurrection, and ultimately, his return. In chapter 11, he addresses the claim that Christianity is unique, arguing that challenges to that uniqueness ultimately fail. In chapter 12, he calls on Christians to share the good news. We have a set of truth claims that neither Muslim, nor Buddhist, nor atheist, nor any other religion can ultimately challenge since it is based on the true creator God of the universe.

I enjoyed reading this book much because it reads so easily and provides a non-technical rational for our Christian stance in the forum of multiple religions. Also, the book was a wonderful reminder of sitting under the pulpit of Erwin Lutzer during our Chicago years. The book is a spiritual challenge to me to be bold in presenting a real, true faith to an ever more pagan world. So, I highly recommend the book to all, Christian and non-Christian alike.

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Mar 11

When A Nation Forgets God, by Erwin Lutzer ★★★★

This is a very short book of seven chapters, that can be read easily in 1-2 evenings, and represents sermons that Lutzer preached at Moody Church in Chicago. Lutzer has frequently spoken of the theme of lessons from Nazi Germany in his sermons, but in this book, the focus is entirely on how the USA is paralleling Nazi Germany in forgetting our Christian roots and marching after other drummers. The seven chapters address how our freedom of religion is slowly lost, how compromise to the Christian faith is accomplished through economic concerns, how evil laws can somehow allow moral permissiveness, how propaganda from the state tends to affect the evils we become inured to, how the state becomes the educator of our children much to both our own and our children’s detriment, and how political correctness is killing us. As a solution, Lutzer calls for ordinary heroes to stand up for the faith, and how the cross of Christ needs to be our all and total focus in life.

I had mentioned elsewhere how we enjoyed sitting under the pulpit of Erwin Lutzer, and in this review (and the next), find that reading his books brings back many memories of our time at Moody Church. Lutzer is not an expository preacher but is excellent at confronting our culture in a cry for returning to Christ and Scripture for our guidance in life. This book is recommended as an easy and enjoyable reading experience.

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Mar 08

God’s Will: Finding Guidance for Everyday Decisions, by JI Packer with help from Carolyn Nystrom ★★★★★

As a young man, I worried a lot about receiving guidance from God and was offered a potpourri of bad advice as to how to achieve that guidance. As an older man, I now am in a position of giving younger people advice as to how they might receive guidance from above. I had mentioned quite briefly in my Memoirs the modus operandi that I have used over the years in getting guidance from God which has set the course for my life. It is mostly in accordance to that found in this book. I have also reviewed a similar book on guidance written by Bruce Waltke (see 02JUL2009). His text tended to be more technical, showing that many of the ways in which Christians seek guidance from the Lord are more akin to witchcraft than to honest inquiry as to the will of God. It also is an excellent book and most worthy one’s attention.

Packer approaches finding God’s will in a similar fashion to Dr. Waltke and also John Newton, for which he has a lengthy quote at the end of his book. Starting with the 23rd Psalm, Packer acknowledges that simply by being one of God’s sheep necessitates him being your shepherd and directing your path. Packer then works through a number of issues on a chapter by chapter basis, including 1) maintaining good spiritual health, 2) paying attention to commands in Scripture as to how to live, how to walk, and how to think, 3) seeking maturity and wisdom of the Solomonic type, learning how to think wisely through problems, 4) seeking Godly counsel, consulting friends and family, 5) looking to people that model the Christian life and living accordingly. The Lord Jesus Christ stands primary as our model. 6) when it comes to major life commitments, such as a job, school, marriage, moving, etc., trusting in the Lord’s guidance knowing that God will direct your heart and mind in the way that you should go, 7) when ethical concerns cloud the situation and ethical dilemmas arise, trusting in God for wise leanings and taking care regarding the many temptations that will assault you, and 8) relying on the Holy Spirit. Packer spends careful time on speaking about the Holy Spirit, correcting mistaken ideas such as hearing a voice in your ear or seeing a vision that will direct you. As an example of how the Spirit really works, Packer suggests that the Holy Spirit has a “floodlight” ministry in illuminating a narrow segment of the “stage” that directs you in the way that you should go. Specifically, Packer notes mistakes made by “superspiritual” Christians, including a) undervaluing God’s gift of reason to you (i.e, just think things out!), b) overvaluing the role of patience and waiting on the Lord (when action should be taken), and c) programming, or putting limits, on the Holy Spirit’s work by demanding or expecting exactly how the Holy Spirit should act. Contrariwise, Packer also labors intensely in condemning the opposite extreme, which he calls the sub-spiritual extreme, where a Christian does just the opposite of the three points above, with point c) being that of expecting nothing from the Holy Spirit.

The book is an excellent read, and worthy of any Christian interested in walking according to God’s will. Packer writes in a very pastoral fashion, and reading his books is almost identical to listening to him. I believe that many of his books are exactly that, lectures or talks that have been transcribed. Packer has the ability to take the most complex theological ideas and make them simple. In addition, Packer never ceases from emphasizing that theology demands both praise and practice, walking joyfully and thankfully in His ways. I would recommend this book to any interested reader.

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Mar 06

The True Story of Fake News: How Mainstream Media Manipulates Millions, by Mark Dice ★★★★

Mark Dice is best known for his documentation of the Illuminati and the Bohemian Grove, and thus is often accused of being a “conspiracy theorist”. I’m not sure such accusations logically follow and consider the accusation that Hillary Clinton is a conspiracy theorist holds more credibility than such accusations against Mark Dice.

In this book, Mark Dice attacks mainstream media. By that is meant not only the standard media channels like CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CBC, etc., but also the internet social media and reference sites, such as Wikipedia.

Dice first goes after social media. I would have thought that social media would have been fairly free of bias, but the contrary is mostly true. Google has the ability to manipulate how searches are performed in order to favor a liberal bias. Facebook tends to have a horrid bias in how it censures conservative vs. liberal media. Dice’s complaint about U-tube is in how it manipulates advertising revenues based on the “offensiveness” of content, and offensive is often deemed as anything of a conservative nature. Since Dice depended heavily on revenues acquired with U-tube, it has affected him most heavily.

The attack then rages against the standard media channels. Step-wise through the various media channels, Dice documents many incidents where the media either created the news or manipulated the recording of the news (for instance, editing out segments of comments to make them say exactly the opposite of what was said) in order to provide a strong liberal bias. Sadly, he does not include Fox News, which has also manipulated how it reports the news in order to force a bias in the direction that Fox News wished. I am sure that the examples provided by Dice are just the tip of the iceberg in how our news is manipulated to heavily biased ends.

The book is slightly tedious to read. His short last chapter provides a brief overview summary of the problems in fake news. This is where I know Mark Dice could have used his book as a springboard to discuss the problem of news bias and what to do about it. 1. What alternatives do we have in attempting to gain news without a distorted slant? 2. How do we live with the news swamp that is currently given to us? 3. What other sources of news are available? 4. What ways can we protest social media in an effective fashion? Is boycotting social media the best action? 5. What grass-roots efforts are available that seem to be effective at forcing more responsibility with the news media?

Since news will always be biased, we cannot simply demand news without “bias”. The reporter holding a world view similar to our own would be helpful. The only effort that I am aware of to provide more conservative newsagents has been the World Journalism Institute, though even it has had somewhat of a neo-conservative bias reflected by the parent news magazine, World Magazine. Reporters of a conservative bent have found it overwhelmingly challenging to live in the liberal shark tanks of the liberal press. Too often, like Ross Douthat, they have caved and showed themselves mostly as liberals in sheep’s clothing, perhaps having a pro-life stance, but otherwise being rottenly liberal to the core. Hopefully, Mark Dice will think through and provide a better scheme that conservatives could use to confront the liberal (and lying) press.

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Mar 05
Daniel, Francis, Donna, and David Foucachon, then Cooper White, Cooper Salmon

Thirty more days until I start hiking the PCT. The anxiety is building. Thoughts are raging about my preparedness and plans. There are several things that are most important now.

Betsy

I will be leaving Betsy for 5-6 months. She is my top priority in life and the person that I have learned to love more than any other human in the world. My thoughts are ever toward her and her welfare while I am gone. She will be babysitting our granddaughter Rachel during the months of May, June, and July and so will be busy. But she is worried about my welfare, and I need to assure her that I will always play it safe. It is possible that I may drop in at home once or twice in the middle of my hike, but that remains something that I can’t speak about at this time. We’ve gone over many details of the economics of the household since I’ve managed our finances and other concerns entirely up to this time. I think that she is feeling comfortable with matters.

Heavy snow year

I’ve followed online discussions (mostly on Facebook) about how to deal with the heavy snow year. It is quite possible that I will be doing what is called a flip-flop, where one jumps ahead on the trail, and then comes back later to complete that section. If I flip-flopped, I would probably jump from Walker Pass to Donner Pass, complete the hike, and then return to Walker Pass to complete the high Sierra.

Finishing other projects

There are garden and yard projects that need to be completed, friends and family to touch base with, and completion of my autobiography. I have published on this blog site the 1st version of my autobiography. I’ve heard back from several friends that I perhaps might have over-stated some things, such as my criticism of the south without discussing that in general, Betsy and I had a very nice time in Biloxi, all other things being considered. I will probably add in a brief description of my PCT hike, and submit the autobiography to the printers just after our 40th wedding anniversary on 20OCT2019. I await other critical comments on the book but just haven’t heard back from anybody regarding corrections that they would like me to make regarding their own personal details. There will be time for that if you e-mail me before September.

Huguenot Heritage

The photo above is that of Francis and Donna Foucachon, whose ministry is that of Huguenot Heritage, partnered with 3 Millennium Ministries in providing theological educational materials to the French-speaking peoples of the world. My heart goes out to those in Africa and elsewhere who speak the French language, yet have almost no instructional materials in solid Christian theological doctrine and truths. This last Sunday and yesterday I spent back in Moscow, Idaho filming promotional materials for Huguenot Heritage. Several of the Foucachon children run a video/publishing concern in Moscow, Idaho called Roman Roads Media, and they were able to do filming with me outside (in the snow) as well as inside. We intend to do a hike-a-thon style fund-raiser for my PCT hike, asking people to commit to so many cents or dollars per mile to the Huguenot Heritage effort. 100% of all funds will be used carefully to fund the translation of educational materials used by 3rd Millennium. I beg all readers to consider making a donation. Since the trail is at a maximum of 2650 miles and if you donate a penny a mile, the most you will be out will be $26.50. I sincerely hope that you could do 10¢ or even a dollar or more per mile. It will be tax deductible, and serves greatly in promoting God’s kingdom among the French. There will be more information forthcoming regarding this effort on this web site, on the Huguenot Heritage webpage, and on my Facebook page.

It was a total delight to spend time with the Foucachon family and their friends from Roman Roads Media. They are the most wonderful hospitable people. Francis grew up in France, and was trained as a chef. He then went into the ministry, being ordained in the PCA church (I think). He lives in Moscow, Idaho, and used to run a totally first class French restaurant in town, until his Huguenot Heritage ministry needed his full-time attention. I am generally indifferent to French cooking, but I’ve now had a number of meals cooked by Francis, and without hesitation note that they among the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. He is a phenomenal cook. Sunday evening, he cooked a tenderloin steak that is probably the best steak I have ever had ever, bar none. On Monday, he cooked up some lobster bisque and vegetable soup for lunch that was to die for. I really didn’t grasp that food could taste so good. Sunday evening, we were able to share a superb bottle of cognac, fine cigars (that I brought), and fellowship. In so many ways, Francis and I are identical in our theology. We love the Reformed faith, we love the old paths, we love vanTil, we love a worship service that is deeply formal and reverent, etc. It was like discovering a truly kindred spirit. I will definitely be visiting him (and hopefully, some day, his church, Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho) again.

vegetable soup and lobster bisque

A very hospitable table that can be expanded much further. This was lunch! with a wonderful wine, salad, a melted cheese item, and the soups above.

There was about 6 inches of snow in the Moscow, Idaho area. The drive was snowy all the way from Tiger Mountain (in Western Washington) to Moscow, Idaho. The roads were excellent. Nearing their home in Moscow, Idaho, I was using Google Maps, which took me down a side road that ended up unplowed and impassable. After a little difficulty turning around, I make their home in just over 5 hours.

I will be using the Huguenot Heritage and Roman Roads Media people to do my hiking updates. I’ll send them the photos and text, and they will place them into a blog page that will illustrate my hike. Thus, it will be important that you connect with the Huguenot Heritage website.

Preparation for the Hike

I still need to continue exercises to get me in shape. I’d like to do one overnight backpack trip, even if it is only a few miles in distance, just to get used to packing and unpacking the tent, sleeping bag, and camping stuff. I will continue my day hikes, now always with my ULA backpack containing in it everything that I will be needing for my hike. Other days, I’ll go with Betsy to the YMCA and work out on the stair stepper and weights. I feel ready at this time, but wish to continue training exercises up to the time of my departure.

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Mar 01

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer ★★★★★

We had wished to see this movie when it was still in the theaters, but for very understandable reasons (all bad) the film was pulled, even though it was monetarily doing quite well. So, we thought it would be worth watching. It is a true story, and apparently the movie was careful to be as accurate to the historical details as possible.

Perhaps our first reaction was that the acting was not the best. This is understandable, as I’m sure it was hard to find actors willing to do this film. Contrariwise, the scene set-ups and cinematography were superb, and the action/story line was excellent.

The story is of the FBI and county detectives encountering each other in a search for the source of the physician who was writing massive quantities of narcotics. A raid on his office demonstrated a veritable house of horrors. The filth and stench of his office defied imagination, with fetal and infant body parts littering every portion of his three-story office and procedure clinic. Eventually, employees started talking of the abuses and crimes that were committed on a regular basis in the office.

A moderate amount of the movie centered around the court scene. The defending lawyer pleaded how rampant violations were necessary in order to best promote the “good”, that of making abortion easy and available to every girl in all stages of pregnancy. The prosecuting attornies insisted that the trial was not about abortion, but about the killing of babies in later stages of pregnancy or soon after birth. The prosecution prevailed, and Gosnell ultimately got life in prison without parole (which means 5-10 years in non-legal speak).

It’s what the movie did not say but suggested that makes the movie so powerful. 1. Yes, it is about abortion. 2. Yes, it is a real human being inside. 3. The slippery slope is speeding up. This movie came out approximately 6 months ago. Six months later, two states approved the murder of live-birth abortions. Multiple senators struck down a proposed law that would ban precisely the things that sent Gosnell to prison. 4. Moral relativism will ultimately lead to anything being moral, including the sacrifice of infants to Molech. Assuredly, Francis Crick of double helix fame will be proven correct that abortion will be legal up to age 2. And, why not? If the child is an inconvenience, why shouldn’t the mother have the right to terminate her little nuisance? One cannot possibly say that the trial of Gosnell was NOT about abortion. Political correctness is killing our nation as we refuse to speak openly and honestly about matters of deepest concern. Portrayed in this movie was the ivory tower of lies, the courtroom, the halls of where truth must be discarded and hope abandoned for the innocent. If this trial were to be held in 2019, Gosnell would have walked away with only misdemeanors for his office practices. It makes one weep.

It is a film that brought tears to my eyes, in that both the defense and prosecuting attornies refused to speak the honest truth about the horrors of abortion. The movie is an indictment on our nation, which will someday go down in history as committing crimes that make the Nazis appear like innocent school children. It is a moving film, very much worth watching.

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