Archive for July, 2009

The Happy Sad

July 13, 2009

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

Ours is the last generation to embrace the idea of mourning as a highway to happiness. As soon as we feel the slightest twinge of melancholy we rush to our favorite form of entertainment to chase away the blues. We’ll do anything to avoid feeling down. We use laughter and comedy as a narcotic to help us forget our pain. Stand up comics, comedy clubs, situation comedies and The Comedy Channel all help us entertain our pain away. According to sociologist Neil Postman we are “amusing ourselves to death.”

Only a stone-faced preacher would think laughter is a sin. A career in stand up comedy might not be in my future, but I love to laugh and be around people who make me laugh. Laughter is good for the soul. However, King Solomon said wisely, “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Eccl. 3:4). Most of us would rather laugh and dance than weep and mourn. Our life on planet earth, though, is somehow incomplete without the experience of both laughter and mourning.

Laughter is a gift from God but so is mourning. Take the sound of laughter out of the world and it becomes a dull, despairing place to live. Laughter about pure, lovely, honorable and excellent things is good and acceptable to God. The best laughter, of course, is the kind we turn on ourselves.

Frivolity, on the other hand, is the devil’s way of keeping us from being sober minded when the situation calls for it. Jesus must have thought it was important for us to mourn or else he wouldn’t have said, “Blessed are those who mourn.” James, his half-brother, also wrote, “Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom” (Jas. 4:9).

The second beatitude dispels the notion that the Christian life is one continuous moment of bliss and hilarity. It too runs contrary to so much of what we hear in today’s health, wealth and feel-good Christianity. We forget that Jesus himself was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3).

The second beatitude naturally follows the first. Those who fully embrace their spiritual poverty will naturally mourn over their sinful condition. In other words, contrition follows confession. The sorrow that comes over the ‘poor in spirit’ is godly and leads to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). Repentance yields God’s forgiveness which brings comfort.

William Barclay says, “The joy of forgiveness is through the desperate sorrow of the broken heart.” No man can find comfort in his sin for very long. Eventually his sin will find him out and his conscience will eat him alive. Yes, happy and supremely blessed is the person that mourns the sin that breaks the heart of God. By doing so he takes one step closer to repentance and forgiveness, the only thing that will make him happy and sad at the same time.

Will Congress Pass the 'Year of the Bible' Resolution Again?

July 8, 2009

On October 2, 2007, the United States Congress passed H. RES. 635, a resolution which recognizes the commencement of Ramadan and commends Muslims for their faith. The resolution was introduced by Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson with only 30 cosponsors (29 Democrat and 1 Republican) and was passed in less than 4 weeks by a vote of 376 to zero.

Simultaneously, the Year of the Bible resolution seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Friends of God’s holy Word who believe it played an important role in the formation of our nation have been working on the resolution since January 2005. More than four years later, the House leadership is still demanding at least 50 cosponsors before they will bring it up for a vote. I believe that makes the score 50 for the Bible and 30 for the Koran with House leaders giving Islam the edge over Christianity.

Even more disappointing is the response from the Senate. Not a single Senator has supported the Year of the Bible, despite the personal efforts of former Senator Bill Armstrong who championed the resolution the first time it was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1982.

What gives? Some people say we are no longer a Christian nation. Others say we never were, denying what is self-evident in our founding documents and chiseled into the stone memorials located all around our Nation’s Capitol. Newsweek magazine actually declared “The End of Christian America,” citing “the percentage of self-declared Christians has dropped 10 points in the last two decades.” Okay, so nominal Christians now have the courage to deny the faith on a survey as well as with their lives.

This week Congress is actually considering a resolution introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) that honors singer and dancer Michael Jackson. One blogger and member of the media called it “the stupidest House resolution ever.” Can Congress not at least acknowledge the Bible and the shared beliefs that “unified the colonists and gave our early leaders the wisdom to write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America?”

The goal of the Year of the Bible project is “to present the message of God’s love, hope and comfort through Bible reading and distribution to millions of Americans in 2010.” Passing a Congressional resolution will help accomplish this goal as it did more than 25 years ago.

Below is a copy of the actual Year of the Bible resolution introduced by Rep. Paul Brown (R-GA) on May 7, 2009. I encourage you to call your Congressman today and ask him or her to support H. Con. Res. 121.

111th Congress, 1st Session, H. Con. Res. 121
Encouraging the President of the United States to designate 2010 as “The National Year of the Bible” in the House of Representatives, May 7, 2009

Mr. BROUN (for himself, Mr. WESTMORELAND, Mr. FORBES, Mr. PENCE, Mr. GINGREY, Mr. FRANKS, Mr. JORDAN, Mr. WAMP, Mr. LAMBORN, Mr. GOHMERT, Mr. AKIN, Mr. CARTER, Mr. MARCHANT, and Mr. MCGOVERN) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Whereas the Bible has had a profound impact in shaping America into a great nation;

Whereas deep religious beliefs stemming from the Old and New Testament of the Bible have inspired Americans from all walks of life, especially the early settlers, whose faith, spiritual courage, and moral strength enabled them to endure intense hardships in this new land;

Whereas many of our Presidents have recognized the importance of God and the Bible, including George Washington; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Harry Truman; John F. Kennedy; Ronald Reagan, who declared 1983 as “The National Year of the Bible”; and especially Abraham Lincoln, whose 200th Birthday Celebration in 2009 highlighted freedom for the slaves;

Whereas shared Biblical beliefs unified the colonists and gave our early leaders the wisdom to write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, both of which recognized the inherent worth, dignity, and inalienable rights of each individual, thus unifying a diverse people with the right to vote, and the freedoms of speech and vast religious freedoms, which inspired courageous men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to lead the Civil Rights Movement;

Whereas the Bible has been the world’s best selling book since it was first published in English in 1526, and has influenced more people than any other book;

Whereas the Bible has been a cornerstone in the development of Western civilization, influencing the nations in the areas of history, law, politics, culture, music, literature, art, drama, and especially moral philosophy;

Whereas the Bible, used as a moral guide, has inspired compassion, love for our neighbor, and the preciousness of life and marriage, and has stimulated many benevolent, faith-based community initiatives and neighborhood partnerships that have healed and blessed our families, communities, and our entire Nation, especially in times of war, tragedy, and economic and social crisis;

Whereas the Bible has inspired acts of patriotism that have unified Americans, commemorated through shared celebrations such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas; and

Whereas 2010 is an appropriate year to designate as “The National Year of the Bible”: Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the President is encouraged—
(1) to designate an appropriate year as “The National Year of the Bible”; and

(2) to issue a proclamation calling upon citizens of all faiths to rediscover and apply the priceless, timeless message of the Holy Scripture which has profoundly influenced and shaped the United States and its great democratic form of government, as well as its rich spiritual heritage, and which has unified, healed and strengthened its people for over 200 years.

Ron Jones is a pastor whose greatest passion is to introduce people to Jesus Christ through anointed biblical preaching that transforms lives.

 

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