Archive for the The Truth and The Life Category

Doing the work of the Gospel

Posted in The Truth and The Life, The Way on November 9, 2009 by Irish Bison

We live in an age where orthodoxy is at the core of most of our recognized religious denominations. Ortho meaning “right or correct,” doxy meaning “true or praise.” We have a number of faiths described with such a term, The Eastern Orthodox Church, Jewish Orthodox, Christian Orthodox and what does this mean? Traditionally it means adhering to the accepted, traditional and true meaning of the faith or teachings of scripture. The problem with many in the modern era is that they adhere so strictly to certain pieces of their orthodox faith that they become obsessed with it. A common statement among American Christians is, “one needs simply to have faith to be saved.” Well this is true in an orthodox sense, Scripture teaches us that it is only through faith that we are saved; in Romans 5:1 we read: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” And we read also in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

The problem is that such adherence to this one orthodox principle in scripture may lead us to forget the rest of the pieces in the puzzle. I have often (with full recognition that I myself am a heinous sinner) admonished others who profess the saving faith to turn from their actions which are speaking a bit louder than their words. The common response is that I am judging, which is a topic that I could speak on at length, but the second is a quick move to point out that Jesus was speaking against the Pharisees strict adherence to the law and that He came to teach us that it simply is faith that saves us, not the practice of the law. There is truth in the statement, just not in the way it is being interpreted. I would submit to you that if Christ preached against strict “orthopraxy,” the practice of the (ortho) correct (praxy) action, or practice of the law, would He not say something similar about the strict adherence of orthodoxy only?

Throughout His ministry Jesus teaches us that strict adherence one way or the other isn’t the correct ticket. By our faith we are saved, we read that in Ephesians 2:8 and we know that our works cannot save us, Christ spoke against the very Pharisaical practice of the same. Works alone cannot earn the Grace of God: Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” So Grace is Grace and works are works. But Jesus also teaches us that many will profess the faith and not make the cut (sorry for that football term there). In Matthew 7:22-23 we read: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” This is echoed in the previous verse with a bit more sincerity: Matthew 7:21 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” This is repeated in Luke 6:46 and Luke 13:25 and echoed again through many other verses of scripture.

The reality is this: orthodoxy leads us to orthopraxy. Notice that “but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven?” As we follow in the ministry of Christ we learn the truth of His teachings, orthodoxy. Through this, out of our love for Him, we begin to practice orthopraxy, or we begin “doing the work of the Gospel.” This is part of the great commission, go forth and teach the Gospel. The root of this is the statement that Jesus speaks to us in John 14:15: ” If ye love me, keep my commandments.” With our faith comes good works, and faith alone is not the answer, because faith is simply a word. True faith is the learning of that which is true and the practice thereof, orthodoxy and orthopraxy working together leading us to do the work of the Gospel.

The Lord Calls One of His Own

Posted in The Truth and The Life on October 11, 2009 by Irish Bison

11 years ago my wife and I were struggling with many things. I had been laid off from my job and I was experiencing a variety of health issues related to the stress of being unemployed. No excuses though, I was raised to provide for myself, so I went to the local mall to apply for a number of jobs. One of those interviews was very providential indeed. The manager of the store and I sat for about two or three hours and discussed everything, life, movies, religion, our significant others (my wife, her fiancee). We became fast friends and she now tells people that I am her big brother (the irony there is that she is a tad older than I am). Needless to say I went to work for her.

Over the course of my year there she would repeatedly invite me to her church for their Sunday service. Not being much of a church type, or Christian for that matter, I would say something like “sure,” and the explain that my wife was raised as a Roman Catholic and she wanted something a bit more formal than the church my boss attended. Regardless of my answer she would continue to invite me, with a cheerful smile and a calm understanding.

Sometime early in the year 1999 things were particularly difficult for my wife and I and I had a serious health episode. When I woke up I told my wife we were going to go to that church the very next Sunday. We walked in the door and stuck, thank God.

The Pastor and Steward of that Church was a man named Edwin Powers Elliott Jr. A truer example of a Christian man does not exist. Edwin went home to be with the Lord today. I feel as though I have lost my own father.

From day one in his Church Pastor Elliott made us feel welcome. He went out of his way to make sure we learned at our own pace. As the Spirit of the Lord grew in my wife and I, Edwin was there with answers to questions and an understanding of Scripture that comes only from a true and faithful love of the Gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the birth of each one of my children he was at the hospital before I could even reach the phone to call him. He baptized each one of my children and did his best to treat them as if they were prospective adults, admonishing each one to do their best and being genuinely proud at their individual achievements.

In 2004 when a number of things began to fall apart in our lives Edwin was there for support. He stood by us and through the strength given by the Holy Spirit he helped us to stand. As my father’s Parkinson’s began to play a good bit of catch up again Edwin was there, often arriving at the hospital even before I could get there. Not only did he give comfort to me, but he would stay and chat with my father who struggled greatly with his affliction. Through Edwin’s patience and teaching my father has begun to understand the tribulations of this life.

Edwin introduced me to the beautiful biblical meaning of freemasonry. He signed my petition. He raised me. He was instrumental and a key piece in founding Patrick Henry Loyal Orange Lodge #1105, a protestant organization promoting Christian fraternalism. He was the longtime editor of the Christian Observer, the oldest continual Christian news publication in the United States.

He held so many official offices in the various York Right organizations within freemasonry that his coat could scarcely hold the medals and awards. He was awarded the highest award that a Royal Arch Mason can be awarded, the John Dove award for Excellence in Royal Arch Masonry.

He was a member of Hanover Presbytery and of the Calvin Synod. I think at the time he was admitted to Calvin Synod he was the only non-Hungarian member of the Synod.

Edwin was also a publisher. He and his brother published so many books on such a variety of subjects that it would be difficult to count them all.

Most importantly he was our Pastor and teacher. For those of you who read this you may doubt my words, but with God as my witness I will say that Edwin made time for each member of his flock. He met on a weekly basis with a number of men in his church, I know I was one of those he met with. On occasions, in order to get something to him, I would inadvertently walk in on one of his meetings with someone else.

An amazing thing about this man is that he suffered from a number of health problems that would task him greatly, yet he was always selfless in his support of others. He suffered from a form of diabetes that did its best to hold him down, but it didn’t. The night before he suffered his heart attack I was with him at a meeting. He did something for me that he probably shouldn’t have done and I shouldn’t have asked him to do.

Through all of these things Edwin was supremely confident in the gift of Grace offered to us by the Lord through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Edwin would often talk about the day he would get to go and be with the Lord and to meet with all of those who had gone before. He would tell us of the people he wanted to see and questions he wanted to ask them. Today he is there, praise God. He will be sorely missed by many, many people, but he is where he longed to go.

Islam – Religion of Mutilation

Posted in Sounding Off, The Truth and The Life, The Way on January 8, 2009 by Irish Bison

I am posting a link here, I actually saw this on European news many years ago but it is an important facet on the mindless nature of many of the followers of islam. If you are squeamish I would urge you not to view this. View Here

Many islamic groups practice a female version of circumcision where a “cleric/physician” removes the female child’s clitoris with an instrument resembling a garotte. As you will note from the images the preparations of the “cleric” follow the strictest rules of sanitation (being facetious here). I would call your attention to the expression of the young girl. No anesthetic is used for this procedure save for a simple dabbing of alcohol on the young ladies genitalia. The procedure usually takes place between the ages of 7 and 13, depending on the islamic sect. The special I saw on this procedure was a live documentary of the same being performed on a 13 year old Egyptian girl. If i can find the documentary I will post a link to it or embed it here, again it is a form of “civilized barbarism” that is difficult to stomach. After the procedure the young girl curses her parents and wishes that they all would die, strong words from a 13 year old.

Circumcision is a religious practice, in the Old Testament God commanded Abraham to circumcise each male child on the 8th day of his first month as a remembrance of the covenant God made with Abraham. As far as I know there is no provision for female circumcision, and I do not know if such a practice is taught out of the quran or the hadith. I need to make a distinction here because muslims, christian detractors and liberals attempt to equate this barbaric practice of islam with biblical circumcision.

The first thing I would say is note the primary time for the required circumcision, 8th day of the first month, so at 8 days old. I would ask all of you, males and females alike, what your memories are of your 8th day out of the womb? Secondly, male circumcision involves removing the excess skin, or prepuce, of the penis. The functionality of this piece of skin has been debated since time began I am sure but as functional organs go the prepuce is simply classified as “excess skin.” In contrast, the islamic circumcision of the female is the complete removal of the clitoris and hood, in essence removing the organ and the excess skin around it. Should we attempt to bring the male practice up to speed we would need to begin the procedure at an equal age… and remove the head of the penis as well as the excess skin. (a simple study of human anatomy would teach you this).

The most important point here is the following tidbit from the mother of the young lady in the article: “This is the practice of the Kurdish people for as long as anyone can remember… We don’t know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it.” Now as I said earlier, I do not know whether this practice is required by the teachings of the quran or the hadith, but neither does this lady who follows her faith. I have already pointed out to you that the biblical practice was established by God in creating his covenant with Abraham and the promise of a God’s grace. Now, if you are not Jewish, or Christian, you will think I am nuts, but that is fine by me because I understand what the Lord requires of me. I do not follow blindly because my God has informed me and He teaches me to read, learn and understand: Proverbs 17:24 “Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.”

As God has commanded me to learn I can discern the difference between mutilation and a religious observance, mutilation being the act of maiming or physically injuring someone as to negatively alter the appearance or function of the body. Some will undoubtedly argue the appearance part, but thousands of years have shown that male circumcision does not adversely alter the function of the male organs. Studying human anatomy and biology will teach you that female circumcision will definitely have an adverse affect on the functionality of the female organs. I will not go into detail as to how, but it has to do with nerve endings and stimulation. If you are going to attempt to argue against that I would say you might be delusional.

In terms of Christianity and being a Christian, I would say that the sacraments of circumcision and passover existed in old testament times to honor the foreshadowing of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. Since we have had that promise fulfilled in the birth, life, death and resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ, His new covenant established two new sacraments that we do in remembrance of His great ministry and sacrifice, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. If many of you study your History you will note that Christian Europeans did not practice male circumcision, possibly due to the understanding of scripture. Circumcision did not become widespread in the US until the 1920’s for purportedly sanitary reasons. For those of you who would like to argue against the “Christian” practice of circumcision, get your facts down before you make such idiotic arguments.

Finally, we hear, see and read about many of the strange events coming out of islam, but many of these are so fantastic that we miss the finer details. I often say that our culture has become so enthralled with sensationalism and catastrophe that we miss the little blessings in them. With regards to islam I will revise my saying and make the observation that we have become so blinded by the larger assaults coming out of islam that we miss the little atrocities. As the world gathers to condemn israel’s assault on gaza, I would remind you that Hamas has been launching mortar rounds and rockets into israel for the past 30 or 40 years now. Just as with this story on Sheelan Anwar Omer, we have missed the little atrocities that are behind the larger ones.