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Archive for May, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service has wildly overreached its authority in targeting conservative groups for auditing. Many non-profit organizations that have the words “patriot,” “tea-party,” and “9-12” in their names were given special “attention” by IRS agents. They did this, evidently, to determine whether or not these groups were violating their tax-free status by engaging in politics. After the story first broke, we’ve found out that this has been going on since 2011 (and my guess is even earlier than that).

This wouldn’t be a problem, and no one would have noticed, if the IRS had simply investigated organizations everywhere else on the political spectrum – not just the right. There is no evidence the IRS targeted groups with the words “progressive,” or “liberal” in their names. If they had a balanced approach, no problem. Non-profits need to follow the rules when it comes to gaining or keeping tax-exempt status. Those rules have to be enforced equally to everyone. Proverbs 20:23 says, “Unequal weights are an abomination to the LORD, and false scales are not good.” Our friends at the IRS have violated this principle.

What the IRS did (and may be still doing) is a huge problem. It’s an outrageous overreach of their authority to collect taxes. On its face, it looks like a blatantly like a political move – left-wing administration goes after its enemies on the right. It would be just as bad if it were the other way around, too. No government should use a club as powerful as it’s taxing agency to hurt people and groups they think are their enemies.

How long has this been going on? Who came up with the idea? Who signed off on it? How high did this go up the “chain of command?” Will anyone be held accountable? Why have IRS officials been so reluctant to answer questions (from those who pay their salaries, by the way)? Is this a policy of the Obama administration? These are just some of the questions that need to be answered.

We have to be able to trust our government, but everyday it’s getting harder. May God have mercy on us.

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The Lord’s Prayer, or “The Disciple’s Prayer” if you prefer, is the model prayer. It has that high distinction not only because it was taught to us by the Lord Jesus Christ, but also because of what’s in it. The first three petitions deal with God and the second three petitions deal with our needs. What should also strike us about this prayer is the Lord’s use of plural words.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen. (Italics added)

The model prayer isn’t just about me – it’s about us! It has a communal aspect to it. This is a prayer, and a style of prayer, that we can pray together. Certainly we can and should pray using “I,” “me,” and “my,” but our prayers have to go beyond ourselves. If they don’t they’re selfish (which reflects the one praying). But when we pray, “give us this day our daily bread,” for example, we’re asking God to meet the needs of all of His children – including ourselves. When we pray for others, as the Lord’s Prayer says, we’re praying for ourself, too.

This has changed my praying because every time I hear, read, or pray these words, I’m reminded that all of us can pray the same words or ideas – it applies to all of us. A church can pray these words or ideas together, giving them even deeper meaning. I’m also reminded that I need to pray for more than just myself and my needs.

The Lord’s Prayer is incredibly deep and meaningful. We should expect nothing less, since it came from the lips of the Lord Himself.

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This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on Psalm 42 on the subject of spiritual depression. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Spiritual depression is real and serious, but can be guarded against and removed by looking to God and hoping in Him.

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978-1-4143-2627-6More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell is a classic book. In it, McDowell makes a very strong case that Jesus Christ is exactly who He claims to be – God in human flesh. Truly, Jesus was, and is, more than a carpenter. It was one of the first Christian books I read, and it introduced me to a subject that has influenced ever since – apologetics.

McDowell covered such topics as whether Jesus was a liar, lunatic, or Lord based on His claims; the evidence for His bodily resurrection from the dead; the reliability of the biblical documents; his (Josh’s) testimony of how he came to believe in Christ as well as the stories of many others. McDowell originally wrote the book on twelve legal pads in 48 hours (which is absolutely amazing!) in 1977. It was updated in 2005 and 2009. The latest edition is co-written by Sean McDowell, Josh’s son and a quality apologist in his own right.

As much as I liked the original, the revised edition is even better! New material has been added to most of the chapters, but the best addition of all is an entirely new chapter called “The Challenge of the New Atheism” I highly recommend this book. It’s a classic made even better. Anyone who reads it will be benefitted by it. Tolle lege!

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching Genesis 27 (Jacob deceives Isaac and takes Esau’s birthright). Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau leaned on their own understanding and didn’t trust the Lord with all of their hearts – they did it their way, not God’s way.

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