Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

Friday, February 14, 2003

The first part of the doctrine of Patience, covering God's patience with us.

Jeremiah 15:15, “You who know, O LORD, Remember me, take notice of me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away; Know that for Your sake I endure reproach.”
1. Jeremiah asks the Lord to not take him away. He cites the patience of the Lord as reason.
2. What stays the Lord’s hand? What keeps Him from executing final judgment on sinners?
3. Here it is His patience. And what is the Lord’s patience? On what is it based?
B. Isaiah 30:18, “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.”
1. Isaiah declares that God waits on man. There are three attributes of God directly related to this patience.
a. The first is grace. The Lord longs to be gracious with us. He has prepared grace at tremendous personal sacrifice.
b. The second is compassion, the way in which God expresses grace. The whole idea of grace is that we are helpless and God enters in.
c. The third is justice, which is in the form of a promise. Long for him and you will receive compassion and grace within the boundaries of His justice.
2. God waits on high to have compassion on us. Wanting the best for us, He gives us time to choose His offer of love and justice in the Savior.
3. Divine patience is evidence of His love. Think about it: if it is only about His justice then He would act immediately. Because there is a gap of time between our sin and His justice, it indicates what He really wants for us, despite our sinfulness.
C. Romans 2:3-8, “3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”
1. In the midst of this excellent teaching on restraint from judging is a principle on patience.
2. God’s patience leads us to repentance!
3. Deep down inside, we know that we are sinners, and we know what we deserve from the holy and just God.
4. Yet it doesn’t come, and we wonder. He is being kind to wait to judge us.
5. The kindness of God is His appropriate application of grace. It is entirely appropriate that He delay judgment so that we can act.
6. If we fail to demonstrate this same patience, we can expect the wrath of God.
D. Romans 9:22, “But does God while willing to demonstrate the wrath and to make known His power endure with much longsuffering vessels of wrath having been prepared unto destruction?[no!]”
1. This verse asks a vital theological question: does God foreordain some to destruction, but during their lives feign patience.
2. Paul’s question expects a negative answer. He doesn’t believe it for a minute.
3. The patience of God is therefore a testimony to human free will, and the absence of foreordination.
E. 1 Timothy 1:15-16, “15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”
1. Paul is the worst of sinners. That means that God had the most patience of all toward him.
2. And if God was patient with Paul, then He would be patient with anyone.
3. God’s patience with Paul serves as inspiration for those who feel themselves unforgivable. He forgave Paul... He was patient with the greatest of all sinners.
4. Therefore, turn to Him.
F. 2 Peter 3:14-16, “14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
1. The patience of the Lord is just the same as salvation. In the same way, we should wait upon him.
2. Peter chimes in with Paul, because he also is a benefactor of the patience of the Lord. The Lord had nearly a lifetime of patience with Peter.
G. 1 Peter 3:18-20, “18 Because indeed Christ suffered once for all concerning your sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order that He might bring you near to God, after having been killed in the flesh and made alive in the spirit; 19 in which [state] also after going to the spirits in prison He preached, 20 to those who were then disobedient when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared into which a few, that is, eight souls were saved through [the danger of] water.”
1. God was patient even in the time before the flood of Noah.
2. There was terrible and spectacular degeneracy during that time, as described in Genesis 6.
3. If God was patient through the degeneracy, then He will surely be patient with anyone, giving them the opportunity to repent.
4. And think about it: He gave them 120 years.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Here is another cultural milepost for you:

Recently I ordered some Old Time Radio recordings from Old Time Radio. The guy at the website has a truly formidable collection of recordings. Many years ago, I heard a broadcast of one of the Shadow shows. You know, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows...." It was about a phantom hitchhiker, and it was truly creepy. That planted a seed that has germinated and grown within me over the years, albeit slowly. Somehow I ran across the website, and ordered a few of the shows there. The Shadow, Cavalcade of America, and, our new family favorite, Our Miss Brooks.

Miss Brooks was a cynical high school teacher played by Eve Arden. The recently deceased Richard Crenna played the voice of Walter Denton, one of her students. The show is in the spirit of I Love Lucy, and there are some genuinely funny moments in every recording. Eve Arden has an exquisite sense of comical timing, and a delicious sarcasm that savors every verbal drip against her counterparts.

The hijinks are mostly innocent, but with an edge that is surprising for fifty years ago. Miss Brooks is certainly not a paragon of virtue, but neither is she brazen. She knows the difference between right and wrong, even if she is a bit hardbitten and relentless in her pursuit of Mr. Boynton, the biology teacher. It still remains suitable for my young family.

Remarkable also are the commercials. Palmolive soap and Luster-Creme Shampoo are the usual sponsors for Our Miss Brooks. Since we listen together as a family two or three times a week, we have all memorized the jingle: "Dream girl, dream girl, beautiful Luster-Creme girl."

There are many other superb shows available through OTRCAT. The Green Hornet, George and Gracie Burns, the list is long and talent-filled. American radio was very entertaining, and we have found it a nice way to spend a half hour in the evening, and significantly better than anything on prime time television, satellite, cable, or otherwise.

One more point: listening to Our Miss Brooks strikes a melancholy note of comparison with what passes for entertainment from today's media. It wasn't pure as the driven snow, but it still had a sense of decency.

Courage and Faith.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Okay, something a bit different this afternoon... A game review.

In mid 2000 Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord burst onto the computer gaming scene, a long-researched, long-developed game which depicted combat on the Western Front of World War II from Normandy to war's end. It was not only genre-breaking, it was a big surprise because an independent publisher, Big Time Software (all of two guys at first) brought it to life. The idea behind the game is to put the players in command of various-sized forces composed of infantry, tanks, artillery, and airplanes, and put them on a 3D battlefield, and have them go at it.

But it is much, much more than that. The tanks are realistically detailed (and I do mean realistically) according to their real-life characteristics: their guns, their armor, their speed, their size, whew! So also the other components, down to just about the last rifle, grenade, machine gun. Tiger tanks act like Tiger tanks... Veteran U.S. infantry squads like their real-life equivalents, firing, moving, tiring, reacting to the battle environment with fear and courage and with (believe me) minds of their own.

The military elements come to life on a remarkably realistic 3D battlefield filled with buildings, trees, brush, rocks, churches, stone walls, roads, and many others. And... weather is also a factor. Snow, fog, rain... you name it.

The British, Free-French, Canadian, and Polish nationalities were represented as well. The game portrays small unit actions from company to regimental size, and literally anything that happened from June 6th, 1944 to the end of the war may be simulated.

You play like this:

There is an orders part of the game turn, where you tell your guys what to do. Using mouse-clicks, a player selects one or more units, and indicates where and how fast they are to go. "Run over to the tree line," "Sneak into the church," and, to an armored vehicle, "hunt in this direction"
But the other guy is giving orders to his units as well, and that's where it gets really sticky. After you give your orders, you press 'go,' and 60 seconds of the battle unfolds before your eyes. His machine gun may be looking in your direction when you attempt to cross open ground fifty meters away. Your men may not like that, and run for cover... or suck up their guts and do it, even if it costs many members of their squad. You may watch from any angle or elevation you choose, and follow any of your squads or tanks as they fight their digital way across their pixellated hell.

The game is remarkable for its faithfulness to real world tactics. Go ahead and tell your infantry company to run across 100 meters of open ground in the face of enemy machine guns and tanks. You'll (or more appropriately they'll) pay. But do it with fire support and artillery support, and with a smoke screen, and you might just pull it off.

Last fall, as with most successes these days, there came a sequel: Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin. It offered many game improvements and covered tactical combat on the East Front, with the USSR and its allies going up against Germany and theirs.

Aside from its excellence in gaming value, Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord and its sequel have no apparent intrinsic virtue. They neither promote nor protest war, they merely depict it. The violence is muted, if you're concerned about that sort of thing. Squad members disappear without being gorily blown to bits. Tanks blow up and buildings collapse. Explosions occur all over, and fires may start. However, the two games are superb representations of combat in those theatres and at that time, done with precision and devotion to detail. And they do serve as awesome reminders of a most difficult time in the history of freedom, and I believe that is in fact a virtue. Every once in a while in the midst of a game I stop and think that men had to do that, and that is a sobering thought indeed.

Big Time Software, now battlefront.com form a very fine American success story. The creators of the game, Steve Grammont and Charles Moylan, went out on a big limb in order to make their dream become reality, working for many months with no pay, and working to the point of exhaustion. Their initial sales were wildly successful, and recently they have been featured on the front page of USA Today and on CNN. Since the publication of the first game, they have added two full time employees, and the second game made a bigger splash than the first. A third game is now in the planning stages.
Obviously I have transitioned to a new look for the blog. Bereft of hairstyle options, I seek a new look in my writing place.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

My all new other blog, in which I invite your participation:

Celebrity Antiwar Boycott