Caution: Intense Law & intense Gospel

Sunday was the commemoration of St. Matthew.  In the Gospel lesson, Matthew tells about how Jesus called him, tax collector though he was, and how the Pharisees thought about him:

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

10 And as Jesusreclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)

Our pastor took this text and played off of the indignation that people are feeling about NFL stars Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.  He turned it into a powerful sermon.  Read it all at the link, but I give excerpts after the jump.  CAUTION:  INTENSE Law and INTENSE Gospel. [Read more...]

Great Britain will decentralize its government

In response to the near secession of Scotland from the United Kingdom, the British government is promising to decentralize, giving more power to regional and local governments.  (Not just Scotland but Wales and Northern Ireland already have their own parliaments.  England hasn’t, being content to rule all of the others, but now England itself may become more like a state in the larger United Kingdom.)

The desire for weaker central governments seems to be a world-wide phenomenon and is exactly what American conservatives have been calling for.  But the British have always put on the best Tea Parties. [Read more...]

Cell phones the police can’t tap into

You can set up a passcode to protect the information on your cell phone.  But the manufacturers can still unlock that information if given a court order, giving police and other government agencies access to people’s private data.  But Apple has announced that the new operating system for iPhones, iOS 8, will not give the company access to passcode-protected phones, making it technologically impossible to comply with snooping requests.  Android is following suit.

What do you think of this?  Is it a commendable blow for personal privacy against government surveillance?  Or is it an abdication of responsibility to help authorities fight crime?

[Read more...]

Even Billy Graham prefers liturgical worship

According to a new biography of Billy Graham–America’s Pastor by Grant Wacker (Harvard University Press)–the Southern Baptist evangelist has said that if he were starting all over again he would be “an evangelical Anglican” because he appreciates the “spiritual beauty in Anglican order.” [Read more...]

Alibaba and the 40 Thieves

In China, pretty much everyone buys pretty much everything from the online site Alibaba.  Last week, the company came to the United States, getting listed on the New York Stock Exchange, where it raised over $21 billion, becoming the second-biggest IPO in history.  Alibaba has a market capitalization of nearly $220 billion, making it bigger than Facebook, eBay, Disney, and Amazon.  There are plans to open operations in the United States.

But there might be some dangers in investing in a company that is under the thumb of a government that does not believe in capitalism or private property. [Read more...]

Congress approves war with ISIL with little debate

Congress signed off on President Obama’s plan for an air war against the Islamic State, both in Iraq and in Syria.  The war authorization was attached to a budget bill, and it passed both the House and the Senate on a bi-partisan vote with virtually no debate.

The last two times we entered a war in Iraq, Congress held extensive hearings and debates.  But not this time. [Read more...]


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