Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Food is for Sacrifice (part 5 of 12)

Food is the very symbol of our life and labor; harvested, slaughtered, prepared, presented and consumed. It then gives back strength for more labor and life. From death comes life―how can this be? Such a “resurrection” cannot be explained by any natural process. It’s only possible though the One who calls things that are not as though they were. Nourishment is a miracle by which the seed must die in order to produce its fruit. By way of its deadness, food reveals, even beyond our dependence on food, that our life is completely dependent on the Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

In Leviticus, Israel was given detailed lists of clean and unclean food fit for eating and sacrifice. God set Israel apart from her pagan neighbors by giving them a special menu. This special menu helped identify them as God’s people. Israel starts taking their food very seriously. In Daniel 1, Daniel and his companions refuse to eat food from the royal table. In 2 Maccabees, faithful Jews refuse to eat pig even though it means they’ll be slaughtered.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Food Indicates Our Dominion (part 4 of 12)

We are omnivores, who are capable because of the Creator’s design to eat just about anything. In Jeffrey Steingarten’s book, The Man Who Ate Everything, he observes:

By design and by destiny, humans are omnivores. Our teeth and digestive systems are all-purpose and ready for anything. Our genes do not dictate what foods we should find tasty or repulsive. We come into the world with a yen for sweets…and a weak aversion to bitterness, and after four months develop a fondness for salt….All human cultures consider fur, paper, and hair inappropri­ate as food. And that’s about it. Everything else is learned.

The nifty thing about being omnivores is that we can take nourish­ment from an endless variety of flora and fauna and easily adapt to a changing world—crop failures, droughts, herd migrations, restaurant closings, and the like. Lions and tigers will starve in a salad bar, as will cows in a steak house, but not us…

By closing ourselves off from the bounties of nature, we become failed omnivores. We let down the omnivore team. God tells us in the Book of Genesis, right after Noah’s flood, to eat everything under the sun. Those who ignore his instructions are no better than godless heathens. [pp. 4-5]

Adam was given the world to rule, and the world to eat. At the Lord’s Table we eat bread and drink wine, which are not natural products; they are the products of human labor or dominion. Thus, the Lord endorses our dominion, our economics of bread-making, and brings it into His presence in worship.  Food expresses our creativity, which is central to being images of God. Every recipe―every meal―is an expression of dominion over the creatures. Therefore, your kitchen is a place of redemption; where the earth is subdued to the glory of God!

Christin's Quote Book

  • Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love. - Charlie Brown
  • A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. – Jane Austen
  • Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
  • It takes a great deal of Christianity to wipe out uncivilized Eastern instincts such as falling in love at first sight. – Rudyard Kipling
  • Oh, you’re from Wales?  Do you know a fellow named Jonah?  He used to live in whales. – Groucho Marx

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Food and the Fall (part 3 of 12)

Scripture also connects food to sin and its consequences. In Genesis 3, sin enters the world through the eating of forbidden food. The result of this rebellion against God is a curse that impacts humanity’s food source.

Genesis 3:17-19
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your  wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.

18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

Because of sin, food will no longer be found in abundance. Arduous labor for food is now necessary. Famine and starvation become possibilities. Sin changed our relationship with our food. We have to remember that food is a creature―a gift from God to us. It cannot become an idol or a means of salvation in any direction.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Food Means Dependence (part 2 of 12)

We are eating creatures who cannot live unless we take in something from outside of us. Ultimately, we are dependent upon God. The food we eat is dead, and only God can cause it to nourish and become life to us. In Scripture, food points to the gracious provision of God.

Genesis 1:29-30
And God said, See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30“Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

Adam and Eve and every other living creature had an abundance of food to choose from. It was like living in an all-you-can-eat fruit and salad bar. Just turn your head and take a bite. There was food everywhere.

In Psalm 104, the psalmist praises God for the order of creation, and this includes the way the creation is designed to produce food.

14     He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the service of man,
That he may bring forth food from the earth,
15     And wine that makes glad the heart of man,
Oil to make his face shine,
And bread which strengthens man’s heart.

27     These all wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season.
28     What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.

In the wilderness, God provided manna, quail, and water for Israel to sustain them on their journey. And so, as we pray, “give us this day our daily bread,” we acknowledge that we are needy and dependent. We acknowledge that God sustains our lives by feeding us.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Centrality of Food (part 1 of 12)

One of the first things Jesus did after the resurrection was make breakfast for some of His disciples. It wasn’t the first time He taught us lessons with food. I suppose we had the “Last Supper,” and now, on the resurrection side of things, the “First Breakfast.” Food not only fills our stomachs and satisfies our hunger, it literally fills our lives. Indeed, it’s the way to man’s heart. Our lives are ordered and directed (in large measure) by food; we cultivate it, cook it, preserve it, store it, savor it, share it, devour it, digest it, and then start all over again. But the Bible takes us even further in understanding the origin and purposes of food so that we come to recognize it symbolic and spiritual significance as well. We are body and soul and God feeds both with all kinds of food. He teaches us to look at the world from many angles so that we might better glorify and enjoy Him.

Food and the Bible
Biblical history virtually begins with food, and food continues to play an essential role in God’s story. The act of eating was often much more than a matter of nourishing the body; it was also associated with important events and relationships. This might be difficult to imagine sometimes, especially if, like Abraham who “hurried” and “ran” to feed his angelic visitors (Gen. 18:6-7) you find yourself rushing to put the finishing touches on some all-important feast or just to get supper on the table on time!

The grand feast and our daily bread are on a continuum of life that is filled with meaning and significance. As we knead our bread, make our sauces, and stir our pots we should pause to remember some memorable scriptural meals:

  • At Mount Sinai for example, Moses and the elders dined together to seal their covenant with God (Ex. 24:11).
  • Jacob and his father-in law, Laban, also shared a meal to seal a pact. (Gen. 31:54).
  • And of course, the Last Supper, perhaps the best-remembered biblical meal of all time, was rich in covenant significance that made its elements fundamental to Christian theology and practice.
  • Moreover, the Marriage Feast of the Lamb is the very picture of God’s gracious gift to His people through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Feast and famine are signs of blessing and cursing in Scripture. For example, food was used by God to shape history, as the story of Joseph and his brothers teaches us. Because the rain-watered Land of Israel could be fickle in its productiveness, its people looked to Egypt as their breadbasket, where the Nile never failed to flood. And so, in a year of famine in Canaan, the sons of Jacob migrated to the Land of the Pharaohs, where they found their long-lost brother Joseph, now the Pharaoh’s Vizier. Here the brothers and their extended families grew and flourished until eventually the Pharaoh who knew not Joseph enslaved them. Later, the people that had meanwhile become the Children of Israel left Egypt under the leadership of Moses in the Exodus, and it all started because food was not available in a certain year in Canaan!

As we look at the world, the world must be interpreted―what does it mean? When we think about a particular subject the way God thinks about it, then we have comprehended the theology of that subject. Therefore, all things have a theology i.e., God thinks about everything. Since food and meals are so central in the Bible, there is much revealed about them that will help us to think God’s thoughts after Him―to help us have a theology of food. I want to look at ten theological aspect of the food we eat.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Cloud of Witnesses

The twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews begins with these words: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Of course, this is a reference to the long list of faithful Old Testament believers that we are reminded of in chapter eleven. But I have also been reminded in last several weeks of the fact that I am currently surrounded by a present-day cloud of faithful witnesses as well. They are constantly “looking to Jesus”; saints who walk with God day-in and day-out through the valleys and mountain-tops. They are amazing people; trophies of God’s grace. As I stand back and observe them in the face of trials that would overwhelm your typical hero or heroine, these are super-heroes because there faith is supernatural. It’s clear that they are driven and sustained by something bigger than they are. In the face of sickness, pain, suffering, fear, fatigue, disappointment and death, they press on to their high calling in Jesus Christ, and they do so in such an admirable way; not only those who are suffering directly, but also those loving servants who surround and serve them.

I (and many others) are truly blessed and served by such a cloud of faithful witnesses and I want to thank them as I thank God for such gifts of encouragement and strength.

24        The Lord bless you and keep you;
25        The Lord make His face shine upon you,
          And be gracious to you;
26        The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
          And give you peace.
                                  ―Numbers 6

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Economics in a Box

This is a follow-up from my last series of posts on economics. 
This looks good:

Economics in a Box

A Full 16-week Semester Economics Course for Homeschool Students.

Visit the Economic Thinking web site by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"I Pencil" (part 8 of 8)

By Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate, 1976

Leonard Read’s delightful story, “I, Pencil,” has become a classic, and deservedly so. I know of no other piece of literature that so succinctly, persuasively, and effectively illustrates the meaning of both Adam Smith’s invisible hand—the possibility of cooperation without coercion—and Friedrich Hayek’s emphasis on the importance of dispersed knowledge and the role of the price system in communicating information that “will make the individuals do the desirable things without anyone having to tell them what to do.”

We used Leonard’s story in our television show, “Free to Choose,” and in the accompanying book of the same title to illustrate “the power of the market” (the title of both the first segment of the TV show and of chapter one of the book). We summarized the story and then went on to say:

“None of the thousands of persons involved in producing the pencil performed his task because he wanted a pencil. Some among them never saw a pencil and would not know what it is for. Each saw his work as a way to get the goods and services he wanted—goods and services we produced in order to get the pencil we wanted. Every time we go to the store and buy a pencil, we are exchanging a little bit of our services for the infinitesimal amount of services that each of the thousands contributed toward producing the pencil.

“It is even more astounding that the pencil was ever produced. No one sitting in a central office gave orders to these thousands of people. No military police enforced the orders that were not given. These people live in many lands, speak different languages, practice different religions, may even hate one another—yet none of these differences prevented them from cooperating to produce a pencil. How did it happen? Adam Smith gave us the answer two hundred years ago.”

“I, Pencil” is a typical Leonard Read product: imaginative, simple yet subtle, breathing the love of freedom that imbued everything Leonard wrote or did. As in the rest of his work, he was not trying to tell people what to do or how to conduct themselves. He was simply trying to enhance individuals’ understanding of themselves and of the system they live in.

That was his basic credo and one that he stuck to consistently during his long period of service to the public—not public service in the sense of government service. Whatever the pressure, he stuck to his guns, refusing to compromise his principles. That was why he was so effective in keeping alive, in the early days, and then spreading the basic idea that human freedom required private property, free competition, and severely limited government.

You can read, download, or purchase a copy of “I Pencil” HERE.  Share the wealth!

Monday, May 23, 2011

"I Pencil" (part 7 of 8)

Testimony Galore

If I, Pencil, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men and women can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony galore; it’s all about us and on every hand. Mail delivery is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of an automobile or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine or to tens of thousands of other things. Delivery? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, they deliver the human voice around the world in less than one second; they deliver an event visually and in motion to any person’s home when it is happening; they deliver 150 passengers from Seattle to Baltimore in less than four hours; they deliver gas from Texas to one’s range or furnace in New York at unbelievably low rates and without subsidy; they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard—halfway around the world—for less money than the government charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street!

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society’s legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.

Christin's Quote Book

  • A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it. – Bob Hope
  • There were times my pants were so thin I could sit on a dime and tell if it was on heads or tails. – Spencer Tracy
  • If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. – Anne Bradstreet
  • Fatherhood is pretending your most favorite present is soap-on-a-rope. – Bill Cosby

There once was a limerick
But this isn't it.
This isn't a limerick;
It isn't even a poem.

Carl Muckenhoupt

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"I Pencil" (part 6 of 8)

No Master Mind

There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work. This is the mystery to which I earlier referred.

It has been said that “only God can make a tree.” Why do we agree with this? Isn’t it because we realize that we ourselves could not make one? Indeed, can we even describe a tree? We cannot, except in superficial terms. We can say, for instance, that a certain molecular configuration manifests itself as a tree. But what mind is there among men that could even record, let alone direct, the constant changes in molecules that transpire in the life span of a tree? Such a feat is utterly unthinkable!

I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles which manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies—millions of tiny know-hows configurating naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire and in the absence of any human masterminding! Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.

The above is what I meant when writing, “If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.” For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand— that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive master-minding—then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith.

Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn’t know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation’s mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of faith in free people—in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity—the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental “masterminding.”

Saturday, May 21, 2011

If You Received this, the World Did Not End

I remembered yesterday that I was working with Dr. Greg Bahnsen, helping publish his Penpoint newsletter, when he wrote this in October of 1994, (Penpoint, Vol. V:9):

As I write (at the beginning of September, 1994) I am anticipating that this issue of Penpoint will be printed, processed and delivered to you. By the time you are reading it, the month of September will have come and gonewhich means the world, after all, did not end according to the timetable and prediction of radio broadcaster, Harold Camping. This really isn't much of a surprise.

Two years ago Camping published a convoluted and dense study of Biblical chronology and prophecy, entitled 1994?, suggesting (or "proving," according to his followers) that Christ will return, and the world as we know it will end, sometime during September of this yearand most likely between September 6 and 15. A Camping follower and chemist from Delaware was quoted (Knight-Ridder Newspapers) as saying: "I will be absolutely shocked if this doesn't happen on September 6." Camping declared that "some kind of sign" would occur on that date, one which will create worldwide consternation, fear, and bewilderment. Another Camping disciple, a Reformed Episcopalian from Philadelphia, said: "nothing, absolutely nothing, can change my mind." Except maybe the course of recent history.

Camping's meandering and misguided sojourn into chronology, symbolism, arbitrary numerology, and eschatological date-setting, along with his subsequent book Are You Ready?, have sold between 60-100 thousand copies, thus securing a tidy financial gain for the prognosticator, along with his ruined reputation. Some months ago he was even willing to appear on the Larry King call-in show on television (CNN) to present and defend his views to millions of viewers in this nation and around the world.

Because of the tremendous reproach he has brought on the name of Christ and the trustworthiness of Scripture, I trust Camping will now leave the radio, stop presenting himself as a reliable teacher of God's holy word, and publicly repent of his brazen attempt to do what Christ Himself declared no man could donot even Jesus Himself with respect to His human nature! "But of that day and hour knows no one, not even the angels of heaven neither the Son, but the Father only" (Matthew 24:36; cf. 24:36, 42; 25:13). "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has placed under His own authority" (Acts 1:7).

We've Been There, Done That
Camping has acted contrary to the Savior's own words and brought embarrassment upon the cause of His kingdom, but Camping's faux pas is anything but unique.[Note: It is unusual to have a date-setter be an amillennialist like Camping; most turn out to hold a premillennial (and dispensationalist) perspective. However, I even know one postmillennialist who predicts the beginning of "the latter day glory" of Christ's kingdom to be around the year 2000. The infection of a date-setting mentality can afflict adherents of any millennial viewpoint, even though the best representatives of all three (or four) schools vaccinate against it.] God's people have been scandalized by date-setters throughout the New Testament era. There have been dozens in our own generation.

In 1970 Hal Lindsey published The Late Great Planet Earth, which went on to sell millions of copies. He predicted that Christ would return within forty years ("a generation") of the re-establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948. Heading an Arab-African alliance, Egypt was supposed to attack Israel, with the Soviet Union subsequently entering the fray. His predictions caused enough hoopla that even Time magazine covered it (Jan. 8, 1973: "Is the End Near?"). Lindsey later wrote: "unmistakably... this generation is the one that will see the end of the present world and the return of Christ" (The 1980's: Countdown to Armageddon, 1981).

In 1981 Bill Maupin, leader of the Lighthouse Gospel Tract Foundation (Tucson), declared that "there isn't any chance" that the rapture would not take place on June 28 of that year. His followers quit their jobs and gave away their cars. Six weeks later he had revised his calculations, and his followers again gathered at his house, waiting to be lifted off the face of the earth. But his was a small flock.

Not so for Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel network of huge worship centers (first in Costa Mesa, CA). In "Future Survival" (1978) he said: "From my understanding of biblical prophesies, I'm convinced that the Lord is coming for His Church before the end of 1981."

In 1986 Charles Taylor (Anaheim, CA), the editor of Bible Prophecy News published the startling calculation (about which he claimed to be "89 percent sure"!) that Jesus Christ would return on September 24, 1987. "All signs point to it," he assured readers, based on a complex formula he extrapolated from Leviticus and Daniel. "The majority of Christians," according to him, knew that the rapture would take place within the next couple of years.

Edgar C. Whisenant (Little Rock, AR) could prove it with mathematical precision; he was, after all, a rocket scientist. So he set out to demonstrate how "all the 886 end-time Bible prophecies" coalesced to make Rosh Hashanah of 1988 the exact date of Christ's return to rapture the saints. He published 88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988. Whisenant was anything but humble: "Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong, and I say that unequivocally."

Jesus' Own Words About the Time of His Return
What should faithful followers of the Lord Jesus believe about the time when He will return to end history (1 Cor. 15:24), physically raise all the dead (John 5:28-29), separate the sheep from goats into eternal life and eternal punishment (Matt. 25:31-46), establish a new earth wherein righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:7-13) and wipe every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4)? Clearly these things have not happened yet in history.[Note: The fact of Christ's yet future, visible and glorious return should be conspicuous to those who study their Bibles. Readers should be warned against the heretical view (a radical or extreme preterism) which holds that all Biblical prophecy was fulfilled by the time of (and in) the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.a view popularized in our day by J. Stuart Russell, Max King, Edward Stevens (cf. the periodical, Kingdom Counsel), and others.]

Jesus indicated that there were two errors which men could make about His return, stemming from the same false presupposition. First, there is the foolish error of thinking that Christ is returning very soon (Matt. 25:1-12), against which Christ taught His disciples instead simply to live in preparation "for you do not know the day nor hour" (v. 13). Second, there is the deadly error of presuming Christ will take a long time to return (Matt. 24:37-51, esp. v. 48), against which Christ taught His disciples instead to live in preparation, "for you do not know on what day your Lord comes" (v. 42; cf. vv. 44, 46).

The false presupposition common to both these opposite errors is presuming that we have any right to calculate, speculate, or set the date of Christ's return. Even though the Bible gives us certain "signs of times" in the form of things which God promises to accomplish prior to the end of history, nobody knows how long the time will be after the fulfillment of those conditions when Christ will consummate the kingdom and deliver it up to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24). Just because we do not and cannot know the time, the one and only thing Christ requires of His followers in this regard is simply faithful living in preparation for His coming at whatever time the Father has determined. If we constantly live in obedience to His word, serving Him and watching for Him at all times, then that day will not overtake us "as a thief in the night" (1 Thess. 5:4-6).

Stay Tuned...

US preacher warns end of the world is nigh: 21 May, around 6pm, to be precise.
The end of the world is nigh; 21 May, to be precise. That's the date when Harold Camping, a preacher from Oakland, California, is confidently predicting the Second Coming of the Lord. At about 6pm, he reckons 2 per cent of the world's population will be immediately "raptured" to Heaven.

"I Pencil" (part 5 of 8)

No One Knows

Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me?

Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating the picker of a coffee berry in far-off Brazil and food growers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. I shall stand by my claim. There isn’t a single person in all these millions, including the president of the pencil company, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how the only difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the miner nor the logger can be dispensed with, any more than can the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field—paraffin being a by-product of petroleum.

Here is an astounding fact: Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.

Friday, May 20, 2011

"I Pencil" (part 4 of 8)

Innumerable Antecedents

Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions are among my antecedents.
Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydroplant which supplies the mill’s power!

Don’t overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the nation.

Once in the pencil factory—$4,000,000 in machinery and building, all capital accumulated by thrifty and saving parents of mine—each slat is given eight grooves by a complex machine, after which another machine lays leads in every other slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop—a lead sandwich, so to speak. Seven brothers and I are mechanically carved from this “wood-clinched” sandwich.

My “lead” itself—it contains no lead at all—is complex. The graphite is mined in Ceylon [Sri Lanka]. Consider these miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the lighthouse keepers along the way assisted in my birth—and the harbor pilots.

The graphite is mixed with clay from Mississippi in which ammonium hydroxide is used in the refining process. Then wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow—animal fats chemically reacted with sulfuric acid. After passing through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears as endless extrusions—as from a sausage grinder—cut to size, dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase their strength and smoothness the leads are then treated with a hot mixture which includes candelilla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax, and hydrogenated natural fats.

My cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all the ingredients of lacquer? Who would think that the growers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil are a part of it? They are. Why, even the processes by which the lacquer is made a beautiful yellow involve the skills of more persons than one can enumerate!

Observe the labeling. That’s a film formed by applying heat to carbon black mixed with resins. How do you make resins and what, pray, is carbon black?

My bit of metal—the ferrule—is brass. Think of all the persons who mine zinc and copper and those who have the skills to make shiny sheet brass from these products of nature. Those black rings on my ferrule are black nickel. What is black nickel and how is it applied? The complete story of why the center of my ferrule has no black nickel on it would take pages to explain.

Then there’s my crowning glory, inelegantly referred to in the trade as “the plug,” the part man uses to erase the errors he makes with me. An ingredient called “factice” is what does the erasing. It is a rubber-like product made by reacting rapeseed oil from the Dutch East Indies [Indonesia] with sulfur chloride. Rubber, contrary to the common notion, is only for binding purposes. Then, too, there are numerous vulcanizing and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy; and the pigment which gives “the plug” its color is cadmium sulfide.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"I Pencil" (part 3 of 8)

“I, Pencil”
By Leonard E. Read

I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that’s all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K. Chesterton observed, “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that’s too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S.A. each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye—there’s some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"I Pencil" (part 2 of 8)

By Lawrence W. Reed

Eloquent. Extraordinary. Timeless. Paradigm-shifting. Classic. Half a century after it first appeared, Leonard Read’s “I, Pencil” still evokes such adjectives of praise. Rightfully so, for this little essay opens eyes and minds among people of all ages. Many first-time readers never see the world quite the same again.

Ideas are most powerful when they’re wrapped in a compelling story. Leonard’s main point—economies can hardly be “planned” when not one soul possesses all the know-how and skills to produce a simple pencil—unfolds in the enchanting words of a pencil itself. Leonard could have written “I, Car” or “I, Airplane,” but choosing those more complex items would have muted the message. No one person—repeat, no one, no matter how smart or how many degrees follow his name—could create from scratch a small, everyday pencil, let alone a car or an airplane.

This is a message that humbles the high and mighty. It pricks the inflated egos of those who think they know how to mind everybody else’s business. It explains in plain language why central planning is an exercise in arrogance and futility, or what Nobel laureate and Austrian economist F. A. Hayek aptly termed “the presence of knowledge.”

Indeed, a major influence on Read’s thinking in this regard was Hayek’s famous 1945 article, “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” In demolishing the spurious claims of the socialists of the day, Hayek wrote, “This is not a dispute about whether planning is to be done or not. It is a dispute as to whether planning is to be done centrally, by one authority for the whole economic system, or is to be divided among many individuals.”

Maximilien Robespierre is said to have blessed the horrific French Revolution with this chilling declaration: “On ne saurait pas faire une omelette sans casser des oeufs.” Translation: “One can’t expect to make an omelet without breaking eggs.” A consummate statist who worked tirelessly to plan the lives of others, he would become the architect of the Revolution’s bloodiest phase—the Reign of Terror of 1793–94.

Robespierre and his guillotine broke eggs by the thousands in a vain effort to impose a utopian society with government planners at the top and everybody else at the bottom. That French experience is but one example in a disturbingly familiar pattern. Call them what you will—socialists, interventionists, collectivists, statists—history is littered with their presumptuous plans for rearranging society to fit their vision of the common good, plans that always fail as they kill or impoverish other people in the process. If socialism ever earns a final epitaph, it will be this: Here lies a contrivance engineered by know-it-alls who broke eggs with abandon but never, ever created an omelet.

None of the Robespierres of the world knew how to make a pencil, yet they wanted to remake entire societies. How utterly preposterous, and mournfully tragic! But we will miss a large implication of Leonard Read’s message if we assume it aims only at the tyrants whose names we all know. The lesson of “I, Pencil” is not that error begins when the planners plan big. It begins the moment one tosses humility aside, assumes he knows the unknowable, and employs the force of the State against peaceful individuals. That’s not just a national disease. It can be very local indeed.

In our midst are people who think that if only they had government power on their side, they could pick tomorrow’s winners and losers in the marketplace, set prices or rents where they ought to be, decide which forms of energy should power our homes and cars, and choose which industries should survive and which should die. They should stop for a few moments and learn a little humility from a lowly writing implement.

While “I, Pencil” shoots down the baseless expectations for central planning, it provides a supremely uplifting perspective of the individual. Guided by Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of prices, property, profits, and incentives, free people accomplish economic miracles of which socialist theoreticians can only dream. As the interests of countless individuals from around the world converge to produce pencils without a single “master mind,” so do they also come together in free markets to feed, clothe, house, educate, and entertain hundreds of millions of people at ever higher levels. With great pride, FEE publishes this new edition of “I, Pencil” to mark the essay’s 50th anniversary. Someday there will be a centennial edition, maybe even a millennial one. This essay is truly one for the ages.

—Lawrence W. Reed, President
Foundation for Economic Education

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Foundation for Economic Education (part 1 of 8)

I want to introduce some of you to an organization that has had a great influence on me by helping me gain a better understanding of economics. They do so in an interesting and exciting way. The group is known as the Foundation for Economic Education [FEE], and you can find their web site HERE.

In addition to this post, the next seven posts will bring you (in bite-size piecesa cliff-hanger), an amazing essay by economist Leonard Reed, titled “I Pencil.” Here is a little background on the author of the essay, written by economist Milton Friedman:

Leonard E. Read (1898–1983) established the Foundation for Economic Education in 1946. For the next 37 years he served as FEE’s president and labored tirelessly to promote and advance liberty. He was a natural leader who, at a crucial moment in American history, roused the forces defending individual freedom and private property.

His life is a testament to the power of ideas. As President Ronald Reagan wrote: “Our nation and her people have been vastly enriched by his devotion to the cause of freedom, and generations to come will look to Leonard Read for inspiration.”

Read was the author of 29 books and hundreds of essays. “I, Pencil,” his most famous essay, was first published in 1958. Although a few of the manufacturing details and place names have changed, the principles endure.

Monday, May 16, 2011


We have redesigned our church web site and invite you to check it out by clicking HERE.

Christin's Quote Book

  • You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. – Dale Carnegie
  • To err is human, but when the eraser wears out ahead of the pencil, you’re overdoing it. – J. Jenkins
  • Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. – Thomas LaMance
  • He gave her a look you could have poured on a waffle. – Ring Lardner
  • It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle marry one another and so make only two people miserable instead of four. – Samuel Butler

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blessed Be the Tithe That Binds

12        What shall I render to the Lord
          For all His benefits toward me?
13        I will take up the cup of salvation,
          And call upon the name of the Lord.
14        I will pay my vows to the Lord
          Now in the presence of all His people.
Psalm 116:12-14

I am blessed to be the pastor of church of tithers. Sometimes people think the pastor is worried about the finances for personal reasons, but a faithful pastor is concerned about the giving because it’s a matter of faithfulness and righteousness. It’s an indication of whether people are trusting God or something else. And, as I pointed out in the last post, it also speaks to who the true authority is and who is due tribute. The person or thing that we give our tithes to is the one we look to for our blessings [happiness]. When we tithe to the Lord, we acknowledged that He is the giver of all good gifts and that we trust Him to take care of us.

Since God requires the tithe, we are therefore bound to do so. Most of us have taken church vows that publicly declared before God and His people that they could count on us to be faithful and obedient in this area of our spiritual lives. Moreover, like many other parts of our walk with God, tithing is connected to all the other aspects of our spiritual lives. Disobedience in this area is an indication of a lack of faith in God as well as a lack of gratitude for all His benefits and for salvation itself. Jesus reminded us that God gives far more that we ever could: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Tribute

“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” ―Malachi 3:8

Everyone is paying a tribute to someone all the time. Early in the history of man we see them bringing ten present of their increasethe “firstfruits”to God. It belongs to Him and it will be spent on someone or something. The only question is, to whom or what will it be given?

In the book of Hebrews 7:1-2, we read: “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all…” We also learn something here about authority and submission. The argument here is that Melchizedek is much greater than Abraham―even though Abraham had the promises. This is first seen in the fact that Melchizedek blessed Abraham (and the greater always blesses the lesser), and, second, in the fact that Abraham tithed to Melchizedek. Not only was this so, but Abraham’s descendants, still in his loins by federal representation, were represented in that tithe. This means that the Leviti­cal priesthood is inferior to the Melchizedekan priesthood, which is where Christ establishes His own priesthood that is superior to the Levitical priesthood.

Melchizedek delivered his blessing immediately after Abraham, a great man of war, slaughtered some very grievous enemies of righteousness. Abraham was met by Melchizedek, the king of Salem [Jerusalem], and Abraham gave a tenth of the spoil to Melchizedek and refused to keep the remainder―that he returned to the king of Sodom. Abraham was a military man, and he honored the Lord with the spoils of his victory. BTW, this exchange predates the incorporation of the tithe into the Mo­saic code. In this respect it’s like the Sabbath. These things were not part of the Mosaic code only. This indicates that the tithe is grounded in the way things are and is not just an administrative detail of the Mosaic Law.

Tithing is an inescapable concept, since the first fruitsthe ten percent that belongs to God is going to be paid to someone. We might give it to ourselves, our creditors, our bass boat, our vacation, our recreation, etc., but we’re going to give it to someone. We give the tithe to the person or thing that we expect to get a blessing from. To give less than the tithe is to dishonor the superior. What would Abraham have been saying had he given Melchizedek 6% or even 9.5%? No one seems to mind it when God demonstrates His greatness by blessing us, but some do mind (sinfully) having to declare God’s greatness ourselves through the tithe. But the two go together. God is offended by our trying to do less than He requires and less than we promised. “‘And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?’ Says the Lord of hosts’ (Mal. 1:8).

Nothing in the New Testament indicates that the practice of tithing is set aside, any more than our inferiority and Christ’s greatness is set aside; if the relation still stands, why not this biblical way of declaring the rela­tion? Moreover, we don’t give ten percent as a way of showing that ninety percent remains “ours.” Rather, just as we observe the Lord’s Day, so we render the tithe. We set one day out of seven apart, not because the remaining six belong to us, but rather as a way of rendering the firstfruits. We’re declaring, by offering one, that the other six are His as well.

Note that people who play loose with the Lord’s Day will usually play loose with the tithe. We offer ten percent as a ritual signification that one hun­dred percent is the Lord’s. We don’t pay the money because we have extra and God is always a little short. We offer Him tribute. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. All that we have and are be­long to Him. We tend to forget this, to our dismay and sorrow, and so God has instituted this little reminder: ten percent, and off the top.

[HT: Some of this material is from Pastor Douglas Wilson’s commentary on the book of Hebrews]

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Farewell to Dixie

Today is a day of mourning; of lamentation. To lament is to express grief, to mourn, to regret deeply, to sorrow; it’s a song or poem expressing grief. Expressions of Lamentation can come: through tears and weeping, through words (written and spoken), through music and poetry, through silence or through crying out to God.

Today we formally say farewell to a dear saint who loved and served faithfully her God and her neighbors. Dixie Lincoln has gone ahead of us to her genuine rest. Everyone who knew her was blessed by her…her family, friends and strangers. In our lamentation there is a paradox that sustains us; it is a joy in knowing how the story ends…she lives happily ever after!

This is for you…

"Comfort, Comfort, Ye My People"
by Johann Olearius, 1635-1711

1. Comfort, comfort, ye My people,
Speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
Comfort those who sit in darkness,
Mourning 'neath their sorrows' load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem
Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell her that her sins I cover
And her warfare now is over.

2. Yea, her sins our God will pardon,
Blotting out each dark misdeed;
All that well deserved His anger
He no more will see or heed.
She hath suffered many a day,
Now her griefs have passed away;
God will change her pining sadness
Into ever-springing gladness.

3. Hark, the Herald's voice is crying
In the desert far and near,
Bidding all men to repentance
Since the Kingdom now is here.
Oh, that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way;
Let the valleys rise to meet Him
And the hills bow down to greet Him.

4. Make ye straight what long was crooked,
Make the rougher places plain;
Let your hearts be true and humble,
As befits His holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
Now o'er earth is shed abroad,
And all flesh shall see the token
That His Word is never broken.