Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Federal Judge Nomination Who is A Champion of Traditional Marriage


The Trump Administration has already established a sterling record of solid judicial nominees, and his nomination of Howard C. Nielson, Jr. to the federal bench continues that path.

The Washington, DC attorney, who has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, has come under fire for saying that gay judges shouldn’t hear cases involving issues that affect the LGBT community.

Nielson first came to national attention when he served as one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry … better known as the “Proposition 8” case.  In 2008, California voters approved a constitutional amendment temporarily banning same-sex “marriage” in the state.  Nielson was on the team that sought to defend the measure in court.  When the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that Prop. 8 violated the US Constitution, Nielson filed a motion to nullify the ruling … arguing that the judge, Vaughn Walker, should have recused himself because he was in a long-term gay relationship.  [Walker had waited until after issuing his decision to make his sexual orientation public.]  Nielson asserted that Judge Walker “had a duty to disclose not only the facts concerning his relationship, but also his marriage intentions.”  Nielson went further, saying only if Walker “unequivocally disavowed any interest in marrying his partner could the parties and the public be confident that he did not have a direct personal interest in the outcome.”

Nielson’s motion was denied by another district court judge and the Prop. 8 case eventually made its way to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) … where the Justices ruled in support of Judge Walker’s decision.  That case paved the way for the Obergefell ruling by SCOTUS 2-years later … legalizing same-sex “marriage” across the country.

Perhaps the greatest measure of Nielson’s qualification for the federal bench comes from the magnitude of the alarm his nomination has raised among progressives. The pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign (HRC) website announced in bold capital letters – “SHOCKER! ANOTHER ANTI-LGBTQ JUDICIAL NOMINEE FROM TRUMP.”  The HRC AM Tip-sheet continued, “Nielson is just the latest in a long line of extreme and unqualified anti-LGBTQ officials Donald Trump and Mike Pence have appointed and nominated to crucial agencies and court benches – some of whom will serve lifetime appointments.”

The LGBT publication, The Advocate, said that Neilson is just “the latest in a string of problematic judicial nominees.”  And the very left-leaning judicial watchdog group, Alliance for Justice, declared that Nielson’s nomination “raises red flags” because, in part, “in taking a leading role in the effort to prohibit same-sex marriage in California,” and [Nielson] “argued that a federal judge should be disqualified from hearing the case solely because he was gay.”

Early in his career Mr. Nielson served as a law clerk to SCOTUS Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.  He went on to serve in the Department of Justice as Counsel to the Attorney General, supervising high profile litigation.  In 2003 Neilson was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, providing legal opinions and informal advice to the White House, the Attorney General, and Executive Branch Departments and Agencies.

“President Trump has made an outstanding choice to fill the vacancy on Utah’s federal District Court,” said Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.  “Howard Nielson is a first-rate talent with broad experience and a commitment to the rule of law.  He has sterling credentials and a solid reputation in the legal community.  President Trump promised to make judicial nominations a priority for his administration, and today, he continued delivering on that promise,” added the Utah Senator.  “I applaud the White House for selecting such an exceptional nominee and look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to see Howard confirmed,” says Hatch.

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Monday, January 15, 2018

LA AG Provides Legal Guidance to Students re Religious Rights


Public school students in Louisiana (LA) have new legal guidance about constitutionally-protected religious expression.  Republican LA Attorney General Jeff Landry and U.S Rep. Mike Johnson have together released the Louisiana Student Rights Review to provide information on what is allowed at school under the U.S. Constitution.

“We wanted people to know, and students especially to know, that their First Amendment rights are not surrendered at the schoolhouse door,” Landry tells OneNewsNow.  “And that they do have a right to express their religious views while they are on campus and during their school time.”

The legal guidelines are meant to help public school officials who might find themselves the target of atheist groups, which allege violations of the ‘establishment clause’ and threaten costly lawsuits if their demands go unmet.  Facing a costly court fight, the schools often back down.  “That’s the reason we put the book out,” Landry says.  “It’s put together in an easy-to-read format, and it lays out some great questions and answers that students may have in regards to exercising their religious beliefs during school time or during extracurricular activities, “ says Landry.

Landry, a former U.S. congressman, won election to the attorney general’s office in 2016.  He says America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, especially the belief that mankind’s rights are God-given, not granted by human beings or by a government.  “That has been enshrined at the beginning from the Declaration of Independence through our Constitution,” he says.  “And so this is a way to ensure that those students, as they go about their daily lives, understand that their religious beliefs are not to be dropped off at the front door of school,” says Landry.

Thank God for elected officials who understand our fundamental rights and set students at liberty to freely express their faith.

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Friday, January 12, 2018

When Religious Convictions and Government Clash


A religious liberty law firm says a legal ruling – demanding an Amish family to use an electric pump – is about more than just electricity.

The case (Yoder v. Sugar Grove Area Sewer Authority) was heard in a Pennsylvania state appellate court – concluding a 5-year legal battle – where a 2-1 court decision ruled the Old Order Amish couple has to connect to a sewer system using electric equipment.

The Yoder family can appeal to the PA Supreme Court, but that does not guarantee its appeal will move forward.

“Americans should be free to follow their religious beliefs and this should be no less true for those like the Amish with unusual beliefs,” responds Chief Counsel Randall Wenger of the PA-based Independence Law Center.  With some exceptions, he says, the Amish have traditionally worked and lived without electricity as part of their faith; but now the government is requiring the Yoder family to ignore its beliefs.  When the Old Order Amish lose a case like this, says Wenger, some may ignore the legal case because it involves unusual people with odd beliefs.  “Or we can say,” Wenger says, “Wait a second, we all lose because it’s not so much the merits of electricity that should concern us, it’s that a fellow American is being told they don’t have the right to follow their religion.”

In fact, the dissenting judge in the case suggested in writing that the state’s Religious Freedom Protection Act requires the Sewer Authority to show it has a “compelling” reason – in this case a mandatory electric connection – to impose a burden on the Yoder family’s religious beliefs.

If a federal court can force an Amish family to violate its religious beliefs, Wenger warns, that same court can force others to violate their rights, too.  “We don’t live in a free society anymore,” he warns, “if government can force people to violate their most deeply-held convictions.”

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Evolutionary Scientists Retract Former Theory for Truth


Isn’t it refreshing when scientists recognize that they deal in theory, not necessarily in reality!? 

According to Lynde Landgon writing for World News Service on December 31, 2017 a secular scientist – who attempted to explain the origins of life – has made a bold admission that bolsters arguments against Darwinian evolution.  Jack Szostak of Harvard University published a 2016 paper in Nature Chemistry claiming he and his colleagues had figured out a way to get RNA to replicate itself.

Darwinian evolutionists believe RNA (a nucleic acid present in all living cells) were some of the first molecules to form on the Earth and give rise to living things.  But for that to happen, the RNA would have had to somehow reproduce on its own without requisite enzymes that would not have evolved yet.  Szostak claimed to have facilitated RNA self-replication in his lab, but in December 2017, he said one of his colleagues, Tivoli Olsen, realized they had misinterpreted the data when she could not reproduce the original experiment’s results.  “In retrospect, we were totally blinded by our belief [in our findings] … we were not as careful or rigorous as we should have been (and as Tivoli was) in interpreting these experiments,” Szostak told Retraction Watch.

In his 2009 book “Signature in the Cell,” the Discovery Institute’s Stephen Meyer noted the inadequacy of using RNA to explain how life spontaneously appeared on earth.  That inadequacy continues to stymie evolutionists today.  “As I have investigated various models that combined chance and necessity, I have noted an increasing sense of futility and frustration arising amongst scientists who work on the origin of life,” Meyer wrote … referencing some of Szostak’s earlier work on the subject.

Ann Gauger, a developmental biologist and author for the Evolution News & Science Today blog, commended Szostak and Olsen’s integrity for coming forward with the retraction on their own.  “Scientists are human, and they desire certain outcomes that fit with strongly held beliefs,” Gauger wrote.  “It is absolutely necessary that we be our own severest critics, and check and double check our interpretations of data.  This applies to all points of view on the origins spectrum.”

Wouldn’t be wonderful if more scientists came to understand that they are dealing in theory, not in absolute truth!?

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Monday, January 8, 2018

Planned Transgenderhood


Abortion giant Planned Parenthood (PP) released its annual report over the New Year’s holiday weekend posting record-setting income numbers for its fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017.

PP reported performing over 320,000 abortions this one year, accounting for approximately 1/3 of all the abortions performed in the United States.  However, National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis points out “one glimmer of positive news” is the number of abortions performed by PP decreased from the previous year … a result of the overall abortion rate continuing to drop across the country.

With fewer women seeking abortion, PP is apparently seeking to expand its business model.  However, this does not mean actually providing more healthcare services for women such as mammograms or prenatal care.  Instead, this year’s report highlights the organization’s new focus on providing transgender hormone therapy.  [17 states now have PP health centers that have hormone therapy.]

In other words, while masquerading as a “healthcare” provider for women, PP is apparently more invested in turning men into woman than expanding what are very critical women’s healthcare services.

The Washington Times reports “the nation’s largest abortion provider struggling to keep its doors open as fewer women undergo abortions and patients seek health care services elsewhere.”  Overall patient visits are down 20% from 2010; and the latest financial numbers indicate a 43% decrease in assets due to the closing of dozens of clinics across the country.

PP’s record-setting income is the result of a 19% increase in private contributions and bequests, including corporate donations, over the previous year.  Undoubtedly, the 2016 election cycle was a boon for PP’s fundraising efforts as the organization remains a major player in left-wing political engineering circles.

The big picture here illustrates the overall exploitative nature of PP’s work.  37% of PP’s income comes from “Government Health Services Reimbursements & Grants.”  A reimbursement of this nature is typically a Medicaid-type payment, something that happens at every qualified healthcare provider for every patient covered under the program. These services are covered at countless clinics that don’t serve as a front for an abortion business.

When patients seek these services elsewhere, abortion, the most expensive service offered, becomes more important to the bottom line, which DeSanctis believes is the underlying motivation for PP’s abortion quotas.

Keep in mind, the abortion industry has been linked to truly exploitative criminal activity such as sex trafficking.  Live Action’s undercover investigations have caught multiple PP employees turning a blind eye to potential victims who were brought to in get what would amount to a forced abortion.

Furthermore, the politicization of gender identity is exploitative in nature as well.  PP’s newest business initiative of providing sex-change therapy hormones essentially supports an agenda that is determined to mandate men be allowed to use women’s restroom facilities on the basis of how they feel, not their biological sex.  The left aims to enable predators in support of the LGBT agenda on this issue, despite the well-documented incidents that show these policies do in fact cause safety concerns.

All in all, PP works more to exploit women, provide abortions, help men become women, and less to provide actual healthcare services to women.  So why would any corporation partner with such an organization?  Clearly, with the reported 19% rise in donations this year, PP is depending on charity to keep its doors open.

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Friday, January 5, 2018

What Do You Get When Rights Only Go One Way? Intolerance!


Attorneys for an Oregon couple who were punished by a state bureaucrat over a wedding cake are reviewing a federal appeals court decision.

The Associated Press (AP) reported December 28th that the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries that resulted in a $135,000 penalty against Aaron and Melissa Klein, who owned the bakery Sweetcakes by Melissa, located in Gresham.  The Kleins refused to take an order for a same-sex wedding cake and the legal battle that ensued marked one of the country’s first cases that pitted a business owner’s religious views against non-discrimination laws that include homosexuals and lesbians.

The Kleins argued that a liberal labor commissioner, Brad Avakian, violated their religious rights and free speech rights when he imposed the staggering fine for causing emotional distress to the lesbian couple.  Avakian garnered national attention for issuing a gag order to silence the Kleins and even demanding that they pay the fine using personal assets and not their business, The Washington Times has reported. 

Avakian was also known for advocating for homosexual rights, and the Kleins argued that he should have stepped away from their case after he issued a 122-page order that claimed the lesbians suffered 80 symptoms -- resuming smoking habits, weight gain, doubt, and worry -- from the incident that they described as “mental rape.”  Yet the Kleins failed to prove their case against Avakian, the AP story reported; and Avakian proclaimed the court ruling shows Oregon is “open to all.”

The decision against the Kleins comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips.  That decision is expected in June 2018.  Writing about that pending decision at National Review, Kevin Williamson warned about the legal consequences if Christians are forced by “government bayonets” to perform a duty they are morally opposed to.  He wrote: Telling a black man that he may not work in your bank because he is black is in reality a very different thing from telling a gay couple that you’d be happy to sell them cupcakes or cookies or pecan pies but you do not bake cakes for same-sex weddings — however much the principle of the thing may seem superficially similar.  If the public sphere is infinite, then the private sphere does not exist, and neither does private life.

“Obviously this is a blow for the Constitution and the rule of law in this country, and I think it’s a sad day in this country when people can be punished for their religious beliefs,” says Mike Berry, the attorney at First Liberty (FL) who represents the Kleins.

When asked about the Phillips’ case, Berry says it’s too early to know how that outcome will affect the Kleins.  “It would really depend,” he says, “on how broad or narrow of a ruling the Supreme Court issues in that case.”

Firsthand observers of the Phillips’ oral arguments left the courtroom predicting that Justice Anthony Kennedy, known as a swing vote, could side with Jack Phillips.  FL, in fact, is seeking what Justice Kennedy pointed out during the oral arguments.  “Tolerance is really a two-way street in this country,” says Berry, “and if we truly are going to be a nation that values diversity of all points of view and all beliefs, then tolerance really does have to run both ways.”

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Doing Church Isn’t Church


In my 40+ years of ordained ministry, I’ve lost count of how often I’ve heard the likes of this:
“We can’t make it to church today, so we’ll just do church at home as a family.”
“I can just do church on a hike this morning in God’s creation.”
“The church is really the people, so we can do church wherever … for God is everywhere.”

It’s becoming increasingly popular to fashion new ways to “do church.”  But how do we discern what does and does not constitute going to church?

God’s Word has plenty of wisdom on the issue.  Here are a few reasons why doing church away from church isn’t church:

1. We wouldn’t approach other areas of life like that.
To assert that we can do church away from church is an unparalleled way to approach life events.  Does the “church-away-from-church-still-counts” parallel other things in life, like missing your child’s game or performance or a movie we wanted to see together?  Would you say, “I’m going to forsake my son’s hockey game, but remember his practice last week at the ice rink” or “I’m going to miss my daughter’s musical performance, but I’ll remember her practice in the living room last week” or “I won’t make it to the theater, but I’ll do the movie by watching the preview again on my phone”?  Of course not!  Nor does doing church at home, in the car, or on a hike constitute going to church.

2. Since we are not God, we cannot redefine things that are God’s.
If you are the founder of a company, you can define your company’s goals.  You can define standards for your employees, because you are over the thing.  Well, Christ is the head of the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23); He bought the Church with His life (Acts 20:28); He birthed the Church into being, therefore, it’s His Church (Matthew 16:18).  So, the Lord gets to say how things go.  When He lays out things for His Church, that’s how things need to be.  So, when it comes to doing church we must do it God’s way.

3. Worship of God is not a self-determined endeavor.
Much of the Bible lays out what it means, and does not mean, to worship God.  That’s because one of the great problems with humanity is that depravity renders us unable and unwilling to worship Him correctly.  Not once in the history of humanity has a person or people devised the correct way to worship the One true God.  That’s why we need the Bible.  Whenever man takes the self-determined approach to worshiping God, he makes an idol.  In His grace, God prescribes worship to sinful man for good reason.  God has not left it up to us to decide what defines obediently gathering as the church for corporate worship.

4. Church means something specific in the New Testament.
Not once in the New Testament does God refer to an individual or parents and their kids as the/a church.  Individuals are called by their name and families are called by their households; but they are not called ‘church’ or said to be doing church.  During the earlier days of the book of Acts, the Church was in its infancy (foundational stages).  God matured it towards the end of the first century.  The church means the corporate body gathered for edification in an orderly manner according to commands prescribed to church leaders.  Thus, it will not do to consider myself ‘doing church’ away from the local church.

5. Gathering corporately observes that God has saved us into the body of Christ.
Let’s be clear: The New Testament does not support this argument – “The church isn’t a building, it is the people; therefore, if I am with other Christians, then it’s technically church.”  Hanging out with my family or a few Christian friends might be practicing the one anothers or studying the Bible or praying; but it is not the church gathered in obedience for corporate worship.  The Lord does not say, “Oh, right, the church is not the building, so go ahead and forsake corporate worship.”  No, He says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25-26).  Paul writes, “The body is not one member, but many” (1 Corinthians 12:14-18).  The local church is made up of many members who need one another.  We belong to the body of Christ; we gather to show that we embrace God’s desire to immerse eagerly into His visible, living church in faithful obedience to the Head of the body – Christ Jesus.  Doing church away from church isn’t church … because doing church without the church isn’t church.

6. Church constitutes, in part, a group of believers under the committed care of qualified leadership present to bless the local body.
God’s Word calls for qualified and affirmed leadership in the church (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 1:5-9).  Paul did not consider things as faithfully complete in a church without such leaders.  At the close of the first century, the apostles delegated elders/pastors to take the baton in the shepherding-care of the churches (1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Peter 5:1-4).  Tested leaders (physically present) were necessary in every church.  We need to honor God and the way that He has decided to care for His churches.  Prescribed corporate worship involves the preaching of God’s Word, administering the sacraments, and disciplining as necessary by these leaders (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Timothy 3:2, 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:2).  Even if the New Testament was written in our virtual age, the ideal would be a church who is physically, and not virtually, gathered together.  [I say this as a pastor of a church that provides Livestream as an intermediate or temporary means of worship; not in lieu of corporate worship.]  We cannot consider an arbitrary group of people gathered on a Sunday as a church if it does not include a regenerate body of individuals committed to one another, under biblically qualified and affirmed leaders, preaching of the Word, administering the sacraments, and conducting biblical church discipline as necessary. We cannot consider such a group as doing church.

I’m sure much more could be said on what church is and is not, but Pastor Eric Davis of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has hereby captured the essence. 

In summary: Christians should scrap the feeble attempts to justify church-away-from-church as the church.  We don’t approach other areas of life like that.  We are not God, and so have no authority to redefine the ins-and-outs of His church.  The truths about church and worship are not arbitrarily defined, but mean something specific in the New Testament.  Gathering with the body under the shepherding of biblically qualified leaders demonstrates the privilege we have of belonging to something larger than us – the greatest organization in the universe.  We ought to consider it a privilege and joy to gather weekly with God’s people.  The body needs us and we need the body.  We need what God desires to give us through qualified, affirmed leadership.  We need to see and be seen.  If we are missing church with the family, and attempting to supplement it, just tell the truth – “We are going to study the Bible, sing some songs, and pray as a family; but this isn’t church, kids.”

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Monday, January 1, 2018

Get Real in 2018 – Not With More False Resolutions, But With Genuine Priorities


Several years ago, I saw the movie “The Bucket List” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  Jack Nicholson plays an uncaring multi-millionaire named Edward, who has everything money can buy; and Morgan Freeman plays Carter, a humble and very knowledgeable mechanic.  These perfect strangers meet as patients in a hospital room (actually it’s Edward’s hospital) where they both discover they have cancer and have only a year to live.

“The Bucket List” is a list of all the things to do before you ... “kick the bucket.”  These two men decide with only a year left to live they aren’t going to let their cancer hold them back from following their dreams.  So Carter heads off with Edward in his private plane as they begin living out what they think are their dreams and life goals, much to the chagrin of Carter’s wife and family.  I don’t think I’m ruining the movie for you if you haven’t seen it, but throughout their journey they begin to discover what’s really important in life; and I’ll give you a hint -- it’s not about going halfway around the world to see wonders of the world or live in luxury.  They discover it has more to do with faith and relationships; family and friends.

I felt the idea behind this movie is a perfect launching point for the New Year … because the New Year tends to be a time when we think about our life as we reflect back on the past year and the things we did or didn’t do; the happy moments; the regrets; the disappointments.  And then we look at the New Year as a fresh start; a chance to change things and do better this year.  Some of us even make New Year’s resolutions.  A resolution goes something like, “I resolve that over the next year I am going to ... eat less ice cream” … or something like that

Well, resolutions are one thing.  But a “Bucket List” is different; it’s a bigger idea … because it is more than just what I want to change, do better, or differently over the next year.  The “Bucket List” is looking at the end of your life and asking; what would you like to have accomplished before you leave this earth?  Supposing you have only a year left to live, what regrets would you have if they weren’t done before you die?  What things have you left undone?  I can imagine some peoples lists would be like Edward’s and Carter’s: kiss the prettiest girl in the world; make a million dollars; skydiving; and maybe drive a favorite car model.  Those may sound like pretty fun things to do, but I’m going to challenge you to begin creating a “bucket list” for yourself based not just on what you want to do, or what would be fun or exciting (that was the problem Edward and Carter ran into); but prayerfully create a list of things that are really going to matter at the end of our life.

Now, you might be thinking, why a “bucket list?”  Isn’t this rather depressing?  Why would we want to talk about our death or kicking the bucket?  Shouldn’t we be focusing on more positive things?  It’s interesting that even Christians don’t like thinking about how short their life is.  Yet, listen to what David wrote in Psalm 39; he actually asked God to remind him how brief his time is on earth.  Psalm 39:4-5 reads, “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away.  My life is no longer than the width of my hand.  An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath.”  [hear/view my message entitled “Setting Priorities in Life” at https://livestream.com/accounts/3709164/events/7937477?t=1514297092571 as I expound on this text]

Supposing you find out tomorrow that you only have a year left to live.  Would that cause you to change what you are doing?  It is being intentional about doing what really matters.  It will have to deal with our relationships and with our faith.  What loose ends would you like tied up?  Relationships resolved?  When people are at your funeral, what do you want them to say about you?  What are you doing right now to accomplish these goals?

As we create a “bucket list,” we are really asking, what are my priorities?  What’s so important it has to be done or become a part of my life before I die.  It’s more than just thinking, what would be a cool thing to do.  It’s realizing my life will be incomplete without this.  It’s prioritizing what is really the most important things, and making them a reality in our life right now.  Unfortunately, as we’ve already mentioned our life usually doesn’t reflect our priorities, we live according to our unwritten real priorities.

What are these unwritten real priorities?  Your real priorities are identified by honestly asking yourself three simple questions:
* Where do I spend my time?
* Where do I spend my money?
* What do I think about most often?

These are your real priorities.  You can claim whatever priorities you think you have, but the answer to these three questions reveals what your priorities really are.  What we want is for our real priorities to match our hoped for priorities.

Listen: When creating a “bucket list” or setting your priorities, there are two things to keep in mind:
1) Ask, what does God want me to do; not what do I want to do? 
2) Don’t limit God.

Through Christ God gives us the power to tackle God-sized dreams.  If God tells us in His Word to do something, then God will give us the strength, the ability, and the means to do it.

What needs to go on your “bucket list?”  What needs to become a priority in your life?

May your focus in 2018 be on real priorities and not on seasonal resolutions.

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Friday, December 29, 2017

Exposing SPLC by Coalition of Christians & Conservatives


A coalition of Christians and conservatives is continuing its efforts to expose the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The campaign is a collaborative effort by many Christian and conservative groups that have united to defeat what they call a common enemy.  The website is https://exposesplc.com/, which features an eight-minute video about the SPLC.

“It’s about their money, where they park their money [and] about the injustices that they commit,” explained organizer and attorney Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute.  Dacus contends that was once a valued organization fighting for the civil rights of minorities has become a group of political activists driven by money.  As a result, the legal expert maintains the SPLC has worked hard to create “new hate groups” in order to create new hatred, isolation and vilification.  “You can’t really raise money to fight a dragon that’s already been slain,” Dacus asserted.  “There has never been – in my recollection – ever such a great threat to our First Amendment and our constitutional freedoms by any other third-party organization than the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

People appearing in the video include: Alliance Defending Freedom’s (ADF) Michael Farris; Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver and Carol Swain – a political scientist and former professor who has been targeted by the SPLC; and American Family Association President Tim Wildmon.

“At the end of the video, there is a petition that allows people to sign that and to weigh in against the SPLC – and specifically to inform the media that we object to their usage of the SPLC as some kind of impartial, credible third-party civil rights organization,” Dacus continued.  “They are not.  They are the farthest thing from that.”  The petition also requests companies donating to SPLC to stop.

My friends: You must view this video and come to realize the battle that is being waged, and the tremendous loss in religious liberty … if SPLC continues to spew its lies.  The time is long since passed to shut down SPLC.

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Prevailing Translation of the Lord’s Prayer is Not Arbitrary


Pope Francis recently shared his thoughts (not decree) that the translation of the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer should be revised.  R. Scott Clark, an American Reformed pastor and seminary professor, rendered these thoughts addressing the underlying problem:
“Francis’ suggestion, already adopted by French Romanists and mainline Protestants, that the translation of the Lord’s Prayer be revised to say, ‘Let us not fall into temptation’ gives the impression that the relation between the text of Holy Scripture and translation is more or less arbitrary.  This implication fuels what I perceive to be a widespread view, particularly among unbelievers and perhaps also among believers, translations of Scripture or other authoritative statements are essentially arbitrary and may be changed at will.  This suspicion, which is part of the spirit of the Late-Modern age, assumes a sort of nominalism that is simply untrue.  The nominalists argued (and their late-modern successors continue to argue) that the relation between the sign (e.g., a word) and the thing it represents, the reality, is arbitrary, a convention, an agreement, and sometimes even the product of a conspiracy.  This is why people accept the claims of writers like Dan Brown.  They suspect that someone, somewhere is just making up things and imposing their will on the rest of us.  These are all symptoms of a profound loss of confidence in the existence of objective reality.  In earlier phases of the Modernity, the essence of which has always been the assumption of human autonomy relative to all other authorities, there was a shared agreement that there is such a thing as objective reality or truth.  The debate concerned which account of reality is of correct.  One of the defining characteristics of late-modernity is the loss of confidence that there is any such thing as objective reality.  Of course, the same people who deny that there is any such thing, who assert that all claims to truth and reality are nothing but a will to power also stop at stop signs.”

The standard, prevailing translation of the Lord’s Prayer, is not arbitrary.  The relation between the original text and the traditional English translation is not merely nominal.  The translation says what it says because the original text says what it says.  The Greek text of Matthew 6:13 and Luke 11:4 translates most direct as, “And bring us not into temptation.”  Out of the dozens of English translations only a few (e.g., the New Living Translation) adopts a rendering approaching that suggested by Pope Francis.  The two most important terms for this discussion are “bring” and “temptation.”  This verb occurs 8 times in the New Testament.  This is the verb our Lord used when He said, “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities” (Luke 12:11).  

The translation “to lead” or “to bring” in the first clause of the sixth petition is not arbitrary. This is what this word means.  It is true that the petition may be troubling.  That is often the nature of Jesus’ teaching.  He said deliberately difficult things.  Anyone who thinks Jesus’ teaching is simple has not considered it very deeply.  

As to the intent of the petition, the Heidelberg Catechism 127 is right:
127. What is the sixth petition?
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” that is: Since we are so weak in ourselves that we cannot stand a moment, and besides, our deadly enemies, the devil, the world and our own flesh, assail us without ceasing, be pleased to preserve and strengthen us by the power of your Holy Spirit, that we may make firm stand against them and not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, until finally complete victory is ours.”

The urge to revise the Lord’s Prayer rests partly in a misunderstanding of it.  We are sinful.  We, not God, are the source of the problem.  In large measure the prayer is to be delivered from ourselves.  Of course, we confess the reality of the spiritual struggle against spiritual principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12).  The Evil One does go about as a lion (1 Peter 5:8).  The complete victory to which the catechism refers is the final, eschatological victory.  We are engaged in a spiritual struggle with ourselves and our own corruption of heart, mind, and will.  We are also engaged in a struggle with spiritual realities outside of us.  [read James 1:12-18]

God tempts no one and our Lord taught us to pray, “bring us not into temptation.”  James 1 is a Holy Spirit inspired commentary on the first clause of the sixth petition.  We are utterly dependent upon the Lord’s preserving grace, on which we dare not presume and, at the same time, we are the source of the corruption against which we struggle.  The Lord is not corrupt.  He neither tempts nor sins.

While the sixth petition is challenging, it is God’s Word and the traditional translation faithfully communicates the language and intent of the text and of our Lord’s own words. There is real truth in the world and the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer is part of that truth.

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Perfect Gift


As we celebrate Christmas, the perfect gift that has been given to us is not wrapped in shiny paper.  We do not have to try to figure out what the gift is by shaking it upside down.  For the perfect gift we have been given does not lie under a Christmas tree, but was born under the stars of Bethlehem in a stable.

My friend: If God can reach all the way down from the throne of Heaven to the body of a teenage virgin; if He can enter time from eternity; if the infinite can become an infant … think about what He can do in your life. 

The One who created all things emptied Himself into a human being so that we could have everlasting life.  How did He do it?  I have no clue.  Mary didn’t know; Gabriel didn’t know; and you can’t know things like that.  You just have to leave them up to God.  And, as Gabriel says, “nothing is impossible with God.”  [read Luke 1:26-38]

May you have a very, merry Christmas … remembering always the reason for the season.

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Caroling for Life


Throughout December, Christmas carolers have gathered outside abortion facilities across America, to draw attention to the unborn children at risk of abortion.

The Pro-Life Action League’s (PLAL) nationwide caroling event – ‘Peace in the Womb’ – brings the Christmas message of peace and joy to the darkness of abortion clinics at over 80 locations in 30 states.  [https://prolifeaction.org/event/caroling2017]  “It’s particularly sad to think of someone getting an abortion during the Christmas season, when we celebrate a new dawn of hope and joy coming into the world with the birth of a child,” explained Eric Scheidler, Executive Director of the PLAL.  “With our Christmas carols, we seek to remind those entering abortion facilities, and the entire community, that the Christmas message of salvation came through an unplanned pregnancy.”

The PLAL ‘Peace in the Womb’ Christmas caroling events have taken place nationwide, with multiple events and locations in metro areas, including Chicago, Omaha and Philadelphia.  December 2017 marks the 50th year that the PLAL has coordinated caroling outside of abortion clinics.  Scheidler remarked, “The message of the Christmas angels is, ‘Be not afraid.’  This is the same message our carolers are sharing with abortion-minded mothers.  Whatever fear might be bringing them to the abortion clinic, we want to help, in any way that we can.”

Scheidler noted that pro-life carolers throughout the country are prepared to refer women to pregnancy assistance centers that offer a wide range of assistance to help women choose life for their babies.  Over the years, many women have decided against abortion after hearing the pro-life carolers.  At least 9 babies were saved from abortion during the 2016 nationwide caroling event, including one in Wood Dale, Illinois: “The couple came out of the abortion clinic with huge smiles on their faces,” Scheidler reported.  “The mother declared, ‘We’re having a baby!  We changed our minds!” … while the father thanked the carolers, saying, ‘Good job!’  All they’d done was sing Christmas carols, and a life was saved.”

Surely the heavenly host joined in sing – “Glory to God in the highest!”

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Beale, Jr.
Chaplain (Colonel-Ret), U.S. Army
Pastor, Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel