Just read it.

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I encourage you to read the New Testament in 2010.  You can do it less than 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  Seriously.

Have you ever read the whole New Testament?  If you are a Christian then you should have, in addition to reading the Old Testament.  It isn’t what saves you, of course, but it seems to be a pretty logical step for someone claiming to be a follower of Christ.  And wouldn’t it be a little embarrassing for a seeker to find out that you hadn’t read it? 

But let’s focus on the positive: This is the word of God — the God who created the universe and everything in it and who saved your eternal soul (if you are a Christian).  This is his primary form of communication to you.  He uses it to transform us. It is living and active.  He makes many, many promises about his word and its power and He fulfills those promises. 

Even if you have read the Bible you should read it again and again.  Jesus called it our daily bread for a reason.

If you aren’t a Christian, read it and believe!  Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.  Or just read it to be a well informed person.  Regardless of your views on it, the New Testament is foundational to Western culture and has influenced culture, art and literature far more than most people realize. 

How hard is it to read the New Testament?  Not very.  Let’s break it down:

  • 260 chapters
  • Less than 200 pages in a typical non-study Bible
  • Each chapter is usually a page or less.
  • You can read a chapter in 5-10 minutes and that includes the footnotes if you have a study Bible.  That’s less time than you spend reading the newspaper, blogs or just surfing.
  • Less than one chapter per day
  • Several books are just one chapter, and many are just a few chapters. 
  • Use a study Bible if you like, but that isn’t required. 
  • Get a friend involved and hold each other accountable and share what you’ve learned.
  • Join a Bible study group
  • Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything.  I put a couple suggestions at the bottom of the post and here are some more Bible study tips.

Try this: Read a chapter at breakfast.  If you are too busy, then keep a Bible by your bed and commit not to go to sleep before reading at least one chapter.  Even if you miss now and then and only read five per week you’ll still accomplish the goal.

You don’t have to read it straight through.  Read a Gospel, then a letter or two, then another Gospel, then Acts, then a letter or two, etc.

If you have an iPhone, check out the free Logos Bible iPhone App.  I have used this the last couple months.  I work through a book of the Bible, reading the same chapter 2-3 times throughout the course of the day. 

If reading isn’t your thing, then listen to it.  Redeem your commute.  You can listen to the whole New Testament in under 20 hours.  Get free MP3 files of the New Testament here and put it on your iPod.  It is a high quality rendition. 

Forget the excuses and give it a try.  You can do it, and you’ll be really glad that you did. 

P.S. Yes, we should read the Old Testament as well.  But let’s start with the New Testament.  And if you already had more robust Bible study plans for the year then just pretend you never read this. 

A suggested reading pattern from James MacDonald.  Just read a chapter or so, then:

  • Question it – What portion stands out to me? Why? (Don’t just focus on what you don’t understand, consider what you do understand)
  • Is there an example for me to follow?
  • Is there an error for me to avoid?
  • Is there a duty for me to perform?
  • Is there a promise for me to claim?
  • Is there a sin for me to confess?
  • Plan it – make a plan for how you will use it
  • Pray it – pray scripture back to God
  • Share it – helps others, and helps us to remember it

It isn’t generosity when you give away the money of others

Most Liberals assume that they are more generous.  They come from Stereotype Land and read the script just like the media and entertainment complexes tell them to.  But studies show that by any measure — giving time, money or even blood donations — conservatives are more generous.  They just don’t lobby Caesar to “give” your money and count it as a good deed on their part.  See Who Really Cares.

And consider how these Liberal heroes want to take your money to “give” to others but can’t manage any real and significant giving themselves.  If Joe Biden, for example, can’t afford to give more than 0.2% over his roughly quarter-million dollar income (that is point-two percent, not two percent — only $369 per year), then how could he possibly afford to pay increased taxes?  Oh yeah, there will be loopholes for him and those who vote for the tax increase bills.

His 0.2% giving and the percentages below are even worse than they look because they are based on Adjusted Gross Income, which is typically much less than gross income.

The Palins gave over 10 times what Biden did, percentage-wise, though that was still just 2% in 2007 and 3.8% in 2006.  They donated much more money than the Bidens with only half the income.

Too bad the media didn’t lead with that story in 2008.

A truly inconvenient truth: Al & Tipper Gore donated $353 of their 1997 income of $197,729, or 0.18%.  That is a fraction of 1%.  I wonder if he’s making real donations now that he’s getting rich off the AGW fraud?

More Liberal Scrooges (read the whole article at the link – it is priceless).

Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo was a homeless advocate throughout the 1990s, but according to his own tax returns he made no charitable contributions between 1996 and 1999. In 2000 he donated a whopping $2,750. In 2004 and 2005, Cuomo had more than $1.5 million in adjusted gross income but gave a paltry $2,000 to charity.

Cuomo made no charitable contributions in 2003, when his income was a bit less than $300,000.

Barack Obama — wow, a whole percent!  Hope and change, baby.

Barack Obama has a rather poor track record when it comes to charitable contributions. He consistently gave 1 percent of his income to charity. In his most charitable year, 2005, he earned $1.7 million (two and a half times what George W. Bush earned) but gave about the same dollar amount as the President.

John Kerry

Senator John Kerry likewise has a poor record. In 1995 he gave zero to charity, but did spend $500,000 to buy a half stake in a seventeenth century painting. In 1993, he gave $175 to the needy.

Ted Kennedy, champion of the poor

Senator Ted Kennedy has clearly relished his role over the years as a liberal Robin Hood. He once told Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal, “I come from an advantaged life, and I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to get re-elected to the U.S. Senate by taking food out of the mouths of needy children.” But this should not be confused with Senator Kennedy actually giving much money to needy children.

. . . With a net worth of more than $8 million in the early 1970s and an income of $461,444 from a series of family trusts, Senator Robin Hood gave barely 1 percent of his income to charity. The sum is about as much as Kennedy claimed as a write-off on his fifty-foot sailing sloop Curragh.

But the poverty pimps give loads, right?  Uh, not exactly:

Jesse Jackson has often claimed that he operates from a “liberal spirit of compassion and love” while conservatives are “heartless and uncaring toward the silent poor.” But according to his publicly-released tax returns, he regularly donates less than 1 percent to charity.

Not surprisingly, while the political ideology of conservatives isn’t driven by redistributing the wealth of others, they are far more generous.  Even FDR was a cheap giver:

This evidence of liberal hypocrisy is damning enough, but what really amazes is how poorly these liberals do in comparison to so-called “heartless conservatives.” President Ronald Reagan, for instance, was often called heartless and callous by liberals. Unlike Roosevelt or JFK, Reagan was not a wealthy man when he became president. He had no family trust or investment portfolio to fall back on.

And yet, according to his tax returns, Reagan donated more than four times more to charity — both in terms of actual money and on a percentage basis — than Senator Ted Kennedy. And he gave more to charities with less income than FDR did. In 1985, for example, he gave away 6 percent of his income.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have continued this Reagan record. During the early 1990s, George W. Bush regularly gave away more than 10 percent of his income. In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney gave away 77 percent of his income to charity. He was actually criticized by some liberal bloggers for this, who claimed he was getting too much of a tax deduction.

These Liberal leaders preach about generosity but they are hypocrites and fakes.  They want to take from neighbor A to give to neighbor B — while taking their commission, of course — and consider it charity on their part.  And they have plenty of confused and/or fake religious folks helping them, including the Methodist leader who thinks the proposed health care bill — which includes taxpayer-funded abortions — is in the spirit of the Good Samaritan.

Save this link to show those who claim that Liberal leaders really care about others.

Hat tip: The Sisyphus Files

So where’s the ACLU when you need them?

From Christians Urge Yes On 66 and 67:

As a voice for many in the faith community and as a provider of social services, we add our support to Measures 66 and 67. We all have a solemn responsibility to care for those who cannot do so for themselves, especially in challenging economic times like these. We believe it is fair and just to ask corporations and the most prosperous Oregonians to do their part in helping us through these tough times.

Sounds like coveting to me.  What if these initiatives don’t completely solve all the problems?  Well, these fine religious folks will just go back to corporations and the most prosperous citizens (typically defined as anyone who makes $1 more than these clergy) and take more of their money.  Because there are never unintended consequences like lost jobs, right? 

Note that I pay all my taxes and think all Christians should give generously.  And as always, people can argue these initiatives based on secular reasoning.  But when fakes like this bring Jesus into it I have a problem.

Hey, Chuck & Co.: You are more prosperous than 98% of the world.  Using your logic, they should keep taxing you until you have the same amount as them.  After all, until all these problems are solved you need to keep being taxed more and more.

Or perhaps you could set an example and give more yourselves and encourage your congregations to do likewise.

Those of us who operate faith-based charities and non-profit organizations know that we cannot meet the needs that exist in Oregon without a strong government role in providing health care, affordable housing, job training and other services that provide hope and opportunity.

How Biblical.  The church can’t carry out its mission so it turns to . . . the government!

So why is it that the separation of church and state crowd doesn’t sue over things like this?  Oh, yeah, because they want more government as well, and the churches most often involved in these ecumenical organizations typically gave up on Jesus a long time ago.  No threat to the Communists there.

Ballot Measures 66 and 67 help protect the most vulnerable Oregonians and secure adequate funding for public education, health care and public safety programs. The national economic crisis has had a profound impact on all of us. But it has hit society’s most vulnerable – the working poor, seniors and children – particularly hard. 

Perhaps you should be endorsing conservative economic principles instead of trillion dollar political payoffs and horrible health care bills that include taxpayer-funded abortions.

Join with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and faith leaders in voting Yes on Ballot Measures 66 and 67.

Christians working together make sense, but partnering with Muslims and other religions breaks the commandment not to be unequally yoked.  But since when did Chuck let God’s commands get in the way of his politics?

I have a post coming up soon which highlights how cheap most Liberal politicians are with their own charitable giving (Biden, Obama, Kennedy, etc.).  Yet they get into office and gladly spend other people’s money and consider themselves to be champions of the poor.  Sure. 

I’d love to know how much the leaders of these ministries personally donate. 

As always, it is only giving when it comes out of your pocket.

Foundational problems with Congress and the health care bills

Any one of the following is so mind-boggling that there is no way the bills should be passed, and any member of Congress who votes for them should be removed from office.

Members of Congress didn’t write any of the health care bills themselves.

Members of Congress didn’t read any of the health care bills themselves.

Members of Congress are exempt from the health care bills.

The latest bills include taxpayer-funded abortions.

The bills assume that massive reductions in current fraud take place and that more fraud won’t occur. If fraud can be reduced — and it should be — why not start now and prove it?

We don’t have the money to pay for this, so we’ll be borrowing even more from China (and from future generations) to pay for this.

The bills appear to be un-Constitutional.

Add your own in the comments section!

Dave Barry is still funny

Enjoy his year-end column here.  I didn’t realize he was still writing.  A few bits:

BAD NEWS: The economy remained critically weak, with rising unemployment, a severely depressed real-estate market, the near-collapse of the domestic automobile industry and the steep decline of the dollar.

GOOD NEWS: Windows 7 sucked less than Vista.

The No. 1 item on the agenda is fixing the economy, so the new administration immediately sets about the daunting task of trying to nominate somebody — anybody — to a high-level government post who actually remembered to pay his or her taxes. Among those who forgot this pesky chore is Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, who sheepishly admits that he failed to pay $35,000 in federal self-employment taxes. He says that the error was a result of his using TurboTax, which he also blames for his involvement in an eight-state spree of bank robberies. He is confirmed after the Obama administration explains that it inherited the U.S. Tax Code from the Bush administration.

But the big political drama takes place in Washington, where David Souter announces that he is retiring from the Supreme Court because he is tired of getting noogies from Chief Justice Roberts. To replace Souter, President Obama nominates Sonia Sotomayor, setting off the traditional Washington performance of Konfirmation Kabuki, in which the Democrats portray the nominee as basically a cross between Abraham Lincoln and the Virgin Mary, and the Republicans portray her more as Ursula the Sea Witch with a law degree. Sotomayor will eventually be confirmed, but only after undergoing the traditional Senate Judiciary Committee hazing ritual, during which she must talk for four straight days without expressing an opinion.

In government news, top Washington thinkers, looking for a way to goose the economy along, come up with the “Cash for Clunkers” program, under which the federal government provides a financial inducement for people to take functional cars, which are mostly American-made, to car dealers, who deliberately destroy these cars and sell the people new replacement cars, which are mostly foreign-made. This program, which was budgeted for $1 billion, ends up costing $3 billion and is halted after a month. The administration declares that it has been a huge success, which everybody understands to mean that it will never, ever be repeated. With this mission accomplished, the top Washington thinkers are free to train all of their brainpower on the nation’s health-care system.

Dave forgot to mention that people later discovered that they had to pay taxes on the “benefit” of wildly over-paying for the new cars, because in a shocking maneuver the dealers dramatically reduced their mark-downs because of the increased demand for their same supply.  (Why can I teach the principles of supply and demand to 7th grade Junior Achievement classes in 30 minutes yet politicians can’t understand them ?)

On the environmental front, Copenhagen hosts a massive international conference aimed at halting manmade global warming, attended by thousands of delegates who flew to Denmark on magical carbon-free unicorns.

Hat tip: Lone Wolf Archer and Chuck (from Facebook)

Roundup

I know this is stating the obvious, but it bears repeating: Obama supports abortion tax in Senate healthcare plan.  He and other Democrats lied over and over about this. 

877 snowfall records were set last week in the USA — and several other reasons why the AGW (“global warming”) hypothesis has been falsified.

Keep in mind that some of the “haters” the media shows you are fakes

Charter Schools: Why Can’t Republicans Make This Issue A Winner? — read it all.  These schools are better for the kids and would be a great issue to highlight why conservative principles succeed.

Republicans do a lot of hand wringing, trying to figure out how to make the Republican Party and conservative governance relevant to the minority community. (This is New Orleans, remember, and the public school system is 95% African-American.) Charter schools are a way to do it without pandering. People will notice when their children achieve in school. And rather than wasting taxpayer dollars, it just makes sense to spend it raising a more educated and more employable voter. 

Sophie B. Wright Middle School was a typical Orleans Parish public school. It had failed utterly, to the point that the School Board was considering closing it and using the physical plant as an alternative high school.

But instead, in 2005, the school became Spohie B. Wright Charter School, headed by Principal Sharon Clark.

In many respects, Wright’s dramatic improvement since it became a charter — it now ranks among the city’s most promising public schools without admissions requirements — illustrates the charter model’s greatest strengths.

Top 10 Most Ridiculous Uses of Stimulus Funds — Yeah, this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind for the Federal Government.  A few:

10.  A $427,824 research grant to design better video games for senior citizens based on their unique “game-play needs”.

7.  Funding a $447,492 Univ. of North Carolina study on the development and use of “African American English” amongst 70 adolescents.

5.  An academic study comparing outcomes of the concurrent and separate use of malt liquor and marijuana ($389, 357).

2.  A $54 million project to relocate one bridge for the Napa Valley Wine Train (!) in order to mitigate the possible impact of a “100 year storm event”.

Roman Polanski ‘overwhelmed by . . . messages of support and sympathy’ (Mostly from Charlie Sheen I’d guess) — Because “award-winning film directors [who] anally rape Qaalude-dosed 13-year-olds” deserve support and sympathy, right? 

Methodist Bishops wrong again

Fresh off Jim Winkler’s abuse of the story of the Good Samaritan, we have this: God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action — A Pastoral Letter from the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. These leaders embarrass themselves and the denomination over and over again.  (Please note that these are just the U.S. Bishops.  In my experience the International Bishops are more orthodox.  And as always, I’m grateful that my local church has sound theology.)

Once again, I am not anti-environment.  Two of my cars get 33-35 mpg, I have recycled newspapers for almost 40 years and I constantly minimize waste, among many other things.  But I find the shrill and un-thinking environmentalism espoused by these Bishops and other extremists to be counterproductive, and I am most concerned about their abuse of scripture to advance their political agenda.  

Here are selected portions of this announcement.

First, let us orient our lives toward God’s holy vision. This vision of the future calls us to hope and to action. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Christ’s resurrection assures us that this vision is indeed a promise of renewal and reconciliation. As disciples of Christ, we take God’s promise as the purpose for our lives. Let us, then, rededicate ourselves to God’s holy vision, living each day with awareness of the future that God extends to us and of the Spirit that leads us onward.

Go read Jeremiah 29:11 in context, or even just verse 4: “This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon . . .”   It has nothing to do with some generic promise to all people or even Christians.  It is a specific promise for a specific group (the Israelites taken into captivity by the Babylonians) at a specific time.   God’s plans for those who die without trusting in Jesus do not involve increasing their welfare or giving them a future with hope.  It will be an eternity in Hell.  Under no circumstances is this some kind of catch-all verse to share with people.

The Bishops completely misunderstood their foundational verse.  I’ve misinterpreted verses before, including that one, but (1) I’m not a group of 50 Methodist Bishops, (2) I am not speaking for the denomination, (3) I’m correctable and (4) I don’t take verses out of context to support my political views.

Did none of the Bishops realize how this verse was taken wildly out of context (bad),  did they not care (bad) or both (really bad)?

We practice social and environmental holiness by caring for God’s people and God’s planet and by challenging those whose policies and practices  neglect the poor, exploit the weak, hasten global warming, and produce more weapons.

Do they really challenge those whose practices neglect the poor and exploit the weak?  What have they done in, say, North Korea or Iran?

What do they do for the pro-life cause?  What could be more neglectful or exploitive than destroying unwanted human beings who are the weakest of all?

Have they not read that the global warming power grab was a fraud?  They need to pray for the spiritual gift of discernment.

Weapons protect people.  The Bishops should read Romans 13.

For example, in the Council of Bishops, the fifty active bishops in the United States are committed to listening and learning with the nineteen active bishops in Africa, Asia, and Europe. And the bishops representing the conferences in the United States will prayerfully examine the fact that their nation consumes more than its fair share of the world’s resources, generates the most waste, and produces the most weapons.

Maybe they should share our economic model (pre-Obama) that generated the amazing wealth in the U.S. — you know, the wealth we’ve shared with the rest of the world.  Economics is not a zero sum game.  Sure, some cheat, but if you provide superior service and products with efficiency you can win.  There is nothing un-Biblical about that.

We pledge ourselves to make common cause with religious leaders and people of goodwill worldwide who share these concerns. We will connect and collaborate with ecumenical and interreligious partners and with community and faith organizations so that we may strengthen our common efforts.

I see that 2 Corinthians 6:14 doesn’t mean much to these folks: Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

We pledge to advocate for justice and peace in the halls of power in our respective nations and international organizations.

Really?  What are your plans for Iran and N. Korea? 

Ecumenical and interreligious partners persist in demanding the major nuclear powers to reduce their arsenals, step by verifiable step, making a way to a more secure world totally disarmed of nuclear weapons.

Again, what are their plans for Iran and N. Korea?  Naiveté is not a spiritual gift.  It can be deadly.

There is nothing wrong with a message of reduce, reuse, recycle.  But the church should focus on its real purpose first.  This announcement by the Bishops is just more left-wing politics disguised as religion.

I wish these Bishops put this much energy into sharing the Gospel.  I’d like to ask each one individually when they last shared the real Gospel with someone — including the key points about their sin nature and need for a Savior, and how Jesus is the only way.

Note: Comments are welcomed, but instead of theological liberals just telling me I should leave the denomination instead of criticizing it, how about actually addressing my arguments?  For example, if you think the Bishops’ take on Jeremiah 29 is more accurate than mine, please explain why in detail.

Hat tip: Mark at Chester Street