Friday, December 26, 2008

Silence

Pastor Mark Driscoll blogs on the value of silence...
It was a very normal day until I realized that I was actively destroying my own soul....

As I drifted off to sleep, it dawned on me that I had not had one minute of silence during my entire day. It was possible, I realized, that I could live the rest of my life without ever again experiencing silence.

In that moment, God deeply convicted me that I was addicted to the false trinity of our day, the gods known as Noise, Hurry, and Crowds. I remembered the words of missionary martyr Jim Elliot, who said, “I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds . . . Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”
Read the article here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reading Tactics...

Do you have your "New Year's Reading List" planned out? I do, and I can't wait to dig in.

Here is an article to help inspire you to read more and better. The Simple Dollar has an article called, "Fifteen Tactics for Maximizing Your Investment in Reading for Personal Growth" that is well worth checking out.

Then get started organizing your reading plan!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Most Christians believe Jesus is not THE Savior

From USA Today:
Most American religious believers, including most Christians, say eternal life is not exclusively for those who accept Christ as their savior, a new survey finds.

Of the 65% of people who held this open view of heaven's gates, 80% named at least one non-Christian group — Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists or people with no religion at all — who may also be saved, according to a new survey released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Planned Parenthood covers up sexual abuse of 13 year old (again)

For those who thought that the news several weeks ago of Planned Parenthood covering up the sexual abuse & rape of a 13 year old was a fluke, think again. Second Planned Parenthood in Indiana covers over statutory rape and counsels what she believes to be a 13 year old to go to a neighboring state so she can kill her baby without her parent's consent.



True colors are shining through.

Why does Planned Parenthood receive $300 million of your tax dollars.

Don't forget Obama has vowed to enact the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act" which would repeal all state laws such as parental consent laws, partial birth abortion bans, ad infinitum.

Lessons on Evangelism from an Atheist

Filed under: "I couldn't have said it better myself" and "Aslan is on the Move"
-----
Here is a surprising insight from Penn (of Penn & Teller fame) on the issue of evangelism (video is 5:11 & well worth your time):



He says,
I don't respect people who don't proselytize. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, 'Well, it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward'... How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?
Wow.

[HT: Stetzer]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Something to think about...

"If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much, and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy, sick." -John Steinbeck

Monday, December 8, 2008

Newsweek's Latest Propaganda for Gay Marriage


Al Mohler responds to Newsweek's bald-faced assault on heterosexual marriage & the Bible. His conclusion:
The national news media are collectively embarrassed by the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Gay rights activists are publicly calling on the mainstream media to offer support for gay marriage, arguing that the media let them down in November. It appears that Newsweek intends to do its part to press for same-sex marriage. Many observers believe that the main obstacle to this agenda is a resolute opposition grounded in Christian conviction. Newsweek clearly intends to reduce that opposition.

Newsweek could have offered its readers a careful and balanced review of the crucial issues related to this question. It chose another path -- and published this cover story. The magazine's readers and this controversial issue deserved better.
Read the whole article here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Facing myself in order to know myself

Filed Under: I couldn't have said it better myself...
-----
I will never begin to know myself until I can face myself. I will never be able to begin to unscramble the web of interior contradiction unless I am confident that, no matter how scrambled and ugly things are inside, I am safe, loved, and on the road to full recovery. I will never be able to open myself to people, and I will never be able to take the risks of love (risks without which I will never discover who I am), until I no longer need people for my deepest validation. The gospel frees me from that need. Plenty about me may shock people, but nothing can shock God, and all of it has been covered by the cross.

Charles Drew, A Journey Worth Taking, p. 158.


The First Kiss....

Here is an update on this post from the Chicago Sun-Times.
So what is it like to kiss a girl for the first time ever, after she has become your wife?

"It was surreal," said Claudaniel "CD" Fabien, 30, after his marriage to Melody LaLuz Fabien on Saturday. "It was like, my other self came out and said, 'Look dude, you're kissing her!'"

Claudaniel, 30, and Melody, 28, had pledged to be abstinent before marriage -- but went a little further by agreeing not to kiss each other on the lips before their union was official.

Why so strict? They didn't even want to get close to temptation, instead waiting until the minister said the magic words: "NOW, you may kiss the bride"....

The crowd at Maranatha World Revival Ministries on the Northwest Side whooped and hollered when the couple had their first kiss -- actually, their first few kisses -- with Melody coming back for one more peck like a kid sneaking frosting from a cake.

Afterward, she described the kiss as "magical."

"It feels like such a gift," said Melody. "When you value a kiss, it becomes something of worth."
With so much junk & ugliness in the world, it's simply awesome to ponder something so beautiful. Definitely echoes of another world.

Be sure to read the full article here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Planned Parenthood covers up sexual abuse of 13 year old

Michelle Malkin reports,
BLOOMINGTON, IN, December 3 –- New footage released today from an undercover camera inside an abortion clinic in Bloomington shows Planned Parenthood staff deliberately violating the state’s mandatory reporting laws for sexual abuse.

The footage shows Lila Rose, a UCLA student journalist and president of right-to-life advocacy group Live Action, posing as a 13-year-old girl. In an appointment with a Planned Parenthood nurse, Rose says she has been impregnated by a 31-year-old man, a clear case of child molestation under Indiana state law.

On tape, the nurse acknowledges her responsibility to report the abuse, but assures Rose she will not. The nurse says, “I am supposed to report to Child Protective Services,” but tells Rose, “Okay, I didn’t hear the age [of the 31-year-old]. I don’t want to know the age.”

She then instructs Rose how to obtain a secret abortion by crossing state lines in order to avoid Indiana’s parental consent law. The nurse also coaches Rose to cover for the 31-year-old man by saying he is only 14. She says, “You’ve seen him around, you know he’s 14, he’s in your grade and whatever. You know what I mean.”



Indiana Planned Parenthood Covers Up Sexual Abuse of 13-year Old


This is simply more evidence that abortion is the sacrament of radical feminism--the love of death, and especially the death of infant children. Who can deny that there is something deeply spiritually broken & perverse in the American culture of death? And our president elect is in bed with these folks.

Read the full article here.

God as He is revealed in Jesus of Nazareth

"The purpose of Deuteronomy is not to posit the singularity of deity, but to define the character of deity. God is God as revealed in Yahweh....

"In the dialogue between Christians and those of other faiths, there is a temptation to regard Jesus as simply the founder of Christianity in a way that cuts him loose from his deep roots in the Hebrew scriptures. Both in his own understanding of his mission, and in the interpretation of his identity and significance by his immediate followers in the NT church, Jesus shared in the uniqueness of Israel and in the uniqueness of Yahweh, the God of Israel. The historical particularity and redemptive character of OT monotheism coincide in the person of Jesus. It is not enough to acclaim merely the unique power of Jesus' life, or insights, or teaching, or example. The NT witness is that in Jesus the mission of Israel was accomplished (as the gospel went to the nations in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham) and that in Jesus Yahweh himself has been encountered in human life.

"God is God as revealed in Jesus of Nazareth."

~Christopher Wright, Deuteronomy, 10-11

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Couple waits until marriage for that first kiss....

From FOXNews:
CHICAGO — Won't kiss on the first date? How about waiting until marriage?

Chicagoans Melody LaLuz, 28, and Claudaniel Fabien, 30, shared their first kiss Saturday at the altar. The two teach abstinence at the city's public schools and practiced what they preached to their teenage students.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the couple had never kissed and that they had never been alone together in a house.

A friend of LaLuz says wedding guests cheered and stomped during the two-minute smooch.

LaLuz and Fabien say they have no worries about how they will spend their honeymoon in the Bahamas.
Two thoughts. Okay three:
1. Why is this news?

2. Two-minute smooch...awesome.

3. I'm glad that they had a true honeymoon. How many don't? Considering #1, I'd bet lots.

America produces young liars, cheaters, & stealers...

According to this report from Breitbart.com,
American teenagers lie, steal and cheat more at "alarming rates," a study of nearly 30,000 high school students concluded Monday.

The attitudes and conduct of some 29,760 high school students across the United States "doesn't bode well for the future when these youngsters become the next generation's politicians and parents, cops and corporate executives, and journalists and generals," the non-profit Josephson Institute said.
Hmmm, I wonder how this could be possible.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why don't we like the OT?

My favorite OT prof at Reformed Theological Seminary was Dr. Ralph Davis. He has a great article asking, "Why is the OT shut out of the Church?"
...the Old Testament is good bit like Jephthah the Gileadite in Judges 11:1-3. His brothers so much as booted him out of their father's household because of his illegitimate birth. That's the way it is with the Old Testament in much of the contemporary church. The church seems to feel that it's okay if the Old Testaments stays in the land of Tob with Jephthah, but let's not even give it the status of step-testament in the household of faith.
He then examines a handful of reasons why this is the case, including scholarly barrenness, evangelical sloppiness, superficial assumptions, hermenuetical intimidation, & spiritual deficiency.

He concludes: "I simply wonder if a good bit of our 'problem' with the OT might be a heart problem." And of course it is, and our only hope is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the climax of the hope of the OT.

Read the whole article here at Reformation 21.

Dr. Davis' commentaries on the OT historical books are simply to die for. He evidences a pastor's heart & a scholar's mind. Great for devotional reading, further study, or even family reading, your investment will be richly rewarded.



Spain now joins US in the leading cause of death

LifeSite News reports:
Abortion is now the number one cause of death in Spain, and represents the most common type of violence against women in the formerly Catholic country, according to a new report by the international Institute for Family Policy (IPF).

The report, which was issued on the International Day of Violence Against Women, notes that Spain has one of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe, allowing women to kill their unborn child for "psychological" reasons at any time during their pregnancy....

Although purely elective abortions are not technically legal under Spanish law, the vast majority (97%) were undertaken due to a purported psychological or physical risk to the mother.
[HT: STR]

But what about the US? What is the leading cause of death here?

click to enlarge


But, then, you knew that, right?

[source]

And for readers of this blog, you know that Obama has promised to do everything in his power to make it easier for women to terminate their babies for any and every reason by enacting the so-called, "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA).

Right now, there are a number of common sense restrictions enacted by the states (that is, by us) such as informed consent, mandatory waiting periods, and parental consent:



[source: wiki]

Obama's FOCA will do away with all of these.

But does anyone care?

Monday, December 1, 2008

What does this say about us?

Have you heard about this tragedy? What does this say about us as humans? Stuff like this makes me embarrassed by the human race.
NEW YORK (AP) - Police were reviewing video from surveillance cameras in an attempt to identify who trampled to death a Wal-Mart worker after a crowd of post-Thanksgiving shoppers burst through the doors at a suburban store and knocked him down....

Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

At least four other people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries. The store in Valley Stream on Long Island closed for several hours before reopening.

Police said about 2,000 people were gathered outside the Wal-Mart doors before its 5 a.m. opening at a mall about 20 miles east of Manhattan. The impatient crowd knocked the employee, identified by police as Jdimytai Damour, to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion....

Damour, 34, of Queens, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 6 a.m., police said. The exact cause of death has not been determined.

A 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital, where she and the baby were reported to be OK, said police Sgt. Anthony Repalone.

Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages."

"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said. "They kept shopping."

Friday, November 28, 2008

This is sick....


Some Hoosiers 24-Hour News 8 talked to asked if the gift certificates could be used towards abortions. The answer is yes. But, Planned Parenthood said that's not the purpose of the gift certificates.

Struben-Hall said, "They really are intended for preventative healthcare. We decided not to put restrictions on the gift certificates so it's for whatever people feel they need the services for most."
Read the article here.
BTW, if Obama gets his way with FOCA, the gov't will be giving these out left and right.

Happy Thanksgiving

Click to enlarge this proclamation from President George Washington:
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; — for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; — and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; — to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

George Washington

Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Does this surprise anyone?

US officials flunk test of Amerian history, economics, civics
The exam questions covered American history, the workings of the US government and economics.

Among the questions asked of some 2,500 people who were randomly selected to take the test, including "self-identified elected officials," was one which asked respondents to "name two countries that were our enemies during World War II."

Sixty-nine percent of respondents correctly identified Germany and Japan. Among the incorrect answers were Britain, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico and Spain.

Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.

Asked about the electoral college, 20 percent of elected officials incorrectly said it was established to "supervise the first televised presidential debates."

In fact, the system of choosing the US president via an indirect electoral college vote dates back some 220 years, to the US Constitution.

The question that received the fewest correct responses, just 16 percent, tested respondents' basic understanding of economic principles, asking why "free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government's centralized planning?"
For those needing a refresher course or two, we recommend remedial viewing of School House Rock: America Rock!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More On Where The Church's Treasure Is

Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds points out this interesting statistic:
This is a sobering statistic:

In fact, fewer than 5 percent of churchgoers actually tithe 10 percent of their income; the average, according to numbers from Empty Tomb, a Christian research group that puts out annual reports on church giving, is now 3.4 percent, or 21 percent less than what dust-bowler counterparts gave during the worst of the Great Depression. Figures show that churchgoer contributions have been cascading downward since the 1960s. Religious conservatives do give more. Problem is, they only give nominally more and other groups give next to nothing.

My emphasis. Read the whole thing.
More...
One 2007 study found 85 percent of church dollars are spent in-house, doing up the environs to snag more “seekers.” In another, Protestant pastors were asked what they would do with an unexpected financial windfall, and 31 percent said they would build a new building....

For every dollar evangelical churches now spend, they give about two cents to missions, an amazing statistic when you consider that funding missions was once paramount to evangelicals.
Something is seriously wrong. We have moved far from the mission of the Lord Jesus.

Tips for Reading


Tim Challies gives some good advice for reading more & better:

Read
Read Widely
Read Deliberately
Read Interactively
Read with Discernment
Read Heavy Books
Read Light Books
Read New Books
Read Old Books
Read What Your Heroes Read

Check it out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Futile attempts at religious pluralism

Here we go again....
A website launched Friday with the backing of technology industry and Hollywood elite urges people worldwide to help craft a framework for harmony between all religions.

The Charter for Compassion project on the Internet at www.charterforcompassion.org springs from a "wish" granted this year to religious scholar Karen Armstrong at a premier Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference in California....

Armstrong's wish is to combine universal principles of respect and compassion into a charter based on a "golden rule" she believes is at the core of every major religion.

The Golden Rule essentially calls on people to do unto others as they would have done unto them.

"The chief task of our time is to build a global society where people of all persuasions can live together in peace and harmony," Armstrong said.

"If we do not achieve this, it seems unlikely that we will have a viable world to hand on to the next generation."

Charter for Compassion invites people from "all faiths, nationalities, languages and backgrounds" to help draft statements of principles and actions that should be taken.
A couple of observations...
1) As a 'religion expert,' Armstrong is incredibly ignorant if she thinks the Golden Rule is at the core of every major religion.

2) Why do I get the feeling that the definition of 'religion' being used here excludes things like statism, secular humanism, atheism, narcissism, consumerism, etc.?

3) There can be no 'peace' while people live in rebellion to the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.

4) Jesus alone gives us the example of laying down one's life for one's enemies.

From Defender of THE Faith to Defender of Faith

When Prince Charles assumes the throne, he's planning a little change. According to this report from the Telegraph,
The move would mean the monarch, as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, would no longer be known as Defender of the Faith for the first time since the reign of Henry VIII.

The Prince caused controversy within the Anglican church when he floated the idea several years ago of becoming Defender of the Faiths in an attempt to embrace the other religions in Britain.

In a compromise he has now opted for Defender of Faith which he hopes will unite the different strands of society, and their beliefs, at his Coronation.
Of course, most people think that any of these titles are a joke. But with Muslim birthrates three times higher than non-Muslim birthrates, he may do well to take up the mantel of Defender of Islam.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Big Game Today

OU vs. Tech.

This game may well determine who plays in the National Championship game. Here are a couple of thoughts:

1) Stoops & Leach are brilliant head coaches.

2) My parents raised me as a Sooner fan, and as an Aggie, I hate tech.

3) This game would make a great National Championship game.

4) My prediction: OU-54 Tech-45.

5) OU will jump t.u. in the polls and play Florida for the National Championship.

6) College Football will, I think, be a part of the New Heavens & New Earth (word is still out as to whether tech will be there).

Gig 'em & Boomer Sooner!

Obama's Faith: In His Own Words

Here's the interview in full regarding Obama's beliefs.
The most detailed and fascinating explication of Barack Obama's faith came in a 2004 interview he gave Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani when he was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. The column she wrote about the interview has been quoted and misquoted many times over, but she'd never before published the full transcript in a major publication.

Because of how controversial that interview became, Falsani has graciously allowed us to print the full conversation here.
See for yourself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Knew It...

Well, dang it. I was just about to praise Obama for having the good sense to see that a play-off system for college football is 'the right thing to do,' and not two minutes later I come across the president-elect's photo with the arch-enemy: the t-sips of texas university.


And I was trying hard to like Mac Brown 'cuz generally he's a class act. But, ah....

Saw 'em off!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

This looks like a great challenge. You up for it?



AdventConspiracy.org



[HT: Doud]

Perspctives on the Financial Crisis + a hysterical video

Mint.com has a great visual on the financial crisis in America.


Plus, you have to check out this hysterically clever video of Hitler's financial crisis (just for illustration purposes, of course).



[HT: Tim Challies]

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wow! You've gotta check this one out...


Here is an amazing story of the conversion of a Serbian abortionists who terminated the lives of 48,000 babies.

Beware of medieval scholastics haunting your dreams!

[HT: Challies]

The Battle to End all Abortion Wars




According to Denise M. Burke, AUL Vice President of Legal Affairs,In elevating abortion to a fundamental right, FOCA poses an undeniable and irreparable danger to common-sense laws supported by a majority of Americans. Among the more than 550 federal and state laws that FOCA would nullify are:
*Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003
*Hyde Amendment (restricting taxpayer funding of abortions)
*Restrictions on abortions performed at military hospitals
*Restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion for federal employees
*Informed consent laws
*Waiting periods
*Parental consent and notification laws
*Health and safety regulations for abortion clinics
*Requirements that licensed physicians perform abortions
*“Delayed enforcement” laws (banning abortion when Roe v. Wade is overturned and/or the authority to restrict abortion is returned to the states)
*Bans on partial-birth abortion
*Bans on abortion after viability. FOCA’s apparent attempt to limit post-viability abortions is illusory. Under FOCA, post-viability abortions are expressly permitted to protect the woman’s “health.” Within the context of abortion, “health” has been interpreted so broadly that FOCA would not actually proscribe any abortion before or after viability.
*Limits on public funding for elective abortions (thus, making American taxpayers fund a procedure that many find morally objectionable)
*Limits on the use of public facilities (such has public hospitals and medical schools at state universities) for abortions
*State and federal legal protections for individual healthcare providers who decline to participate in abortions
*Legal protections for Catholic and other religiously-affiliated hospitals who, while providing care to millions of poor and uninsured Americans, refuse to allow abortions within their facilities
On the Fight FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) site, you can sign a petition and gather more info about Obama's campaign promise to sign this into law as his very first act as president. Add your name. My name on the petition is #175,769. Click here to sign the petition. My Christian friends who voted Obama into office, whatever other reasons led you to support him, you have a double obligation to oppose him on this issue.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Time to rethink bigotry, folks.

Listening to the media, you'd think only Christians are small minded bigots (certainly there are too many of them), but this video should correct that misconception. Here is an angry mob of folks supporting gay marriage rights attacking a GRANDMOTHER who has the audacity to speak out for what she believes is right (in America!!!).



Screaming at a grandma, tearing a cross from her hands and stomping on it? I know that by our politically correct definitions that certain groups are exempt from hate speech, but this should cause us to rethink those categories.

BTW, she gets my "Hero of the Year" award for standing in the face of such bigotry and bigots. This should go without saying, but they should be deeply ashamed. But I doubt they are bothered by it.

Click here for the report.

Friday, November 14, 2008

There went their tax exempt status...

Breitbart.com reports...
A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.

"Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president," Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein.

"Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation."

Good Read: "A Lot of Lattés"

I came across this interesting observation,
Overheard countless times in the last two months: “I am concerned about the poor performance of my investments and savings.”

Not heard even one time in the last two decades: “I am concerned about my poor performance in laying up treasure in heaven.”
On a similar note, I borrowed a recent edition of Books & Culture from a friend and read this interesting review entitled "A Lot of Lattés." In it, Ron Sider reviews Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money.
Chapter 1 hits the reader like a ton of bricks, spelling out in detail what American Christians could accomplish if they would tithe. If just the "committed Christians" (defined as those who attend church at least a few times a month or profess to be "strong" or "very strong" Christians) would tithe, there would be an extra 46 billion dollars a year available for kingdom work. To make that figure more concrete, the authors suggest dozens of different things that $46 billion would fund each year: for example, 150,000 new indigenous missionaries; 50,000 additional theological students in the developing world; 5 million more micro loans to poor entrepreneurs; the food, clothing and shelter for all 6,500,000 current refugees in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East; all the money for a global campaign to prevent and treat malaria; resources to sponsor 20 million needy children worldwide. Their conclusion is surely right: "Reasonably generous financial giving of ordinary American Christians would generate staggering amounts of money that could literally change the world."
Two more paragraphs worth quoting...
Chapter 2 outlines the dismal reality of what American Christians actually give. Twenty percent of American Christians (19 percent of Protestants; 28 percent of Catholics) give nothing to the church. Among Protestants, 10 percent of evangelicals, 28 percent of mainline folk, 33 percent of fundamentalists, and 40 percent of liberal Protestants give nothing. The vast majority of American Christians give very little—the mean average is 2.9 percent. Only 12 percent of Protestants and 4 percent of Catholics tithe.

A small minority of American Christians give most of the total donated. Twenty percent of all Christians give 86.4 percent of the total. The most generous five percent give well over half (59.6 percent) of all contributions. But higher-income American Christians give less as a percentage of household income than poorer American Christians. In the course of the 20th century, as our personal disposable income quadrupled, the percentage donated by American Christians actually declined.
Are we willing to do anything about this?

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Free Calvin on Prayer & the Christian LIfe

Here's free audio you should take advantage of. The folks over at Christian Audio have free downloads of Calvin's "Of Prayer & the Christian Life."

Be sure to enter in NOV2008 for the coupon. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Creating margins in our lives to be missional

There are a couple of great posts by Tommy Brister over at Provocations + Pantings under the title: Missional Margin: Too Busy Not to Evangelize? (Part 1, Part 2). Both are well worth your time and reflection.

Here are a couple of nuggets:
Those of us who are too busy not to evangelize need to throw away our door hangers and put up the open and welcome sign. We need to practice personal hospitality which says to a broken world, “You’re welcome here. Please come and sit a while.” The first step for us is to repent of our me-centeredness and get on board with God’s program so that it governs our lives. Is this not what “seek first the kingdom of God” is about? The kingdom of God should be top priority in our lives, period.
---
Indeed, we miss out on the mission of God because our mission (or minutia) takes precedence. We don’t love our neighbor because we don’t welcome them. It is disturbing to us. And we don’t welcome them because we are simply too busy.
---
Missional margin is all about creating white space in the life of a 21st century Christian who has more than enough distractions to anesthetize him from the call to be actively on mission with God.

The article concludes by asking, So how can I cultivate missional margin in everyday life? How can I remove the “please do not disturb” sign with one that says, “you are welcome here”?

Brister offers some suggestions. Check it out, Part 1 & Part 2.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Looking at an African-American as President


Conservative commentator Al Mohler has some good insights about the election. He writes,
For others, the night was magical and momentous. Young and old cried tears of amazement and victory as America elected its first African-American President -- and elected him overwhelmingly. Just forty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, an African-American stood to claim victory as President-Elect of the nation. As Sen. Obama assured the crowd in Chicago and the watching nation, "We will get there. We will get there." No one hearing those words could fail to hear the refrain of plaintive words spoken in Memphis four decades ago. President-Elect Obama would stand upon the mountaintop that Dr. King had foreseen.

That victory is a hallmark moment in history for all Americans -- not just for those who voted for Sen. Obama. As a nation, we will never think of ourselves the same way again. Americans rich and poor, black and white, old and young, will look to an African-American man and know him as President of the United States. The President. The only President. The elected President. Our President.

Every American should be moved by the sight of young African-Americans who -- for the first time -- now believe that they have a purchase in American democracy. Old men and old women, grandsons and granddaughters of slaves and slaveholders, will look to an African-American as President.
Maybe for a good segment of the population, this change will finally bring the emotional healing they have been looking for.

Maybe, maybe not.

Now, let's move on to the key component of Dr. Martin Luther King's dream that is much greater than an African-American in the White House: A color-blind society that doesn't judge people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. And let's all move to the point where we could care less about the color of someone's skin!!!

[*The author of this blog post does recognize the fact that the President-elect is only half African-American, but hopefully the symbolism will have the same effect.]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Praying for the President-elect

The wife has a great call for us to pray for the President, and to honor those to whom honor is due.

As the Scriptures teach us, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior..." (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

Justin Taylor reminds us,
No matter who you voted for--or whether you voted at all--it's important to remember that, as President, Barack Obama will have God-given authority to govern us, and that we should view him as a servant of God (Rom. 13:1, 4) to whom we should be subject (Rom. 13:1, 5; 1 Pet. 2:13-14).

     * We are to pray for Barack Obama (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
     * We are to thank God for Barack Obama (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
     * We are to respect Barack Obama (Rom. 13:7).
     * We are to honor Barack Obama (Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:17).

Let's hope he breaks his promise

President Barack Hussein Obama. It's official. Our duty (at least one of them) is to pray for him.

As for me, I'm praying that he will break at least one of his campaign promises. He said in a speech before Planned Parenthood, "The first thing I'll do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act."

Do you remember what the Freedom of Choice Act is? According to Senator Barbara Boxer who is a co-sponser of the bill: "The Freedom of Choice Act supercedes any law, regulation or local ordinance that impinges on a woman’s right to choose. That means a poor woman cannot be denied the use of Medicaid if she chooses to have an abortion."

Two things:
(1) States will lose any right to determine issues re: abortion. They won't be able to restrict it, or try to make it rare. They can't insist on parental notification; they can't protect doctors & nurses who refuse to perform abortions from losing their jobs. Freedom of Choice Act trumps everything.
(2) Your tax dollars will pay for abortions.

And Obama promised that the first thing he'll do as president is to sign this into law. Let's hope and pray that this is one campaign promise that he'll break.

Tim Keller on Why Plant New Churches

Tim Keller says,
"The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for the 1) numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and the 2) continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else - not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes - will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting."
If you have the time, and have been bitten by the church planting bug, or at least have your curiosity piqued, you should check out these lectures by Rev. Keller.


Part 1: 9:06



Part 2: 9:00



Part 3: 9:06



Part 4: 7:16

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Genuine Incarnation Living" means what?

"I would argue that in today's society, any attempt to model your life on the life of Christ must include a genuine attempt to hang out regularly in third places. Genuine incarnational living demands it. Missional proximity can best be developed in bars, pubs, gyms, grocery stores, beauty parlors, community groups, and coffee shops."

- Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture, p. 59.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Praying the Psalms

Filed under: "I couldn't have said it better myself"
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Christianity Today has a good, brief article on Five Ways to Pray the Psalms.
1. Say them out loud.
2. Festoon them.
3. Paraphrase them.
4. Learn them by heart.
5. Marinate in them.
Enjoy the article. Put it into practice.

Friday, October 31, 2008

New Communion Hymn

Filed under: "You've got to check this out...."
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We live during a time where much music that is written for worship is simply impoverished (and that's putting it very nicely). But, every once in a while, a new hymn(!) comes along that is simply amazing.

"The Communion Hymn (Behold the Lamb)" is one of those. Contemplative. Filled with faith & hope. Celebrative. Near perfect. We've been singing it lately at Westminister during our weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper.

Click here for audio & read the lyrics.

Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away,
Slain for us—and we remember
The promise made that all who come in faith
Find forgiveness at the cross.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of peace
Around the table of the King.

The body of our Savior Jesus Christ,
Torn for you—eat and remember;
The wounds that heal, the death that brings us life
Paid the price to make us one.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of love
Around the table of the King.

The blood that cleanses ev’ry stain of sin,
Shed for you—drink and remember
He drained death’s cup that all may enter in
To receive the life of God.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of grace
Around the table of the King.

And so with thankfulness and faith we rise
To respond, and to remember
Our call to follow in the steps of Christ
As His body here on earth.
As we share in His suffering
We proclaim Christ will come again!
And we’ll join in the feast of heav’n
Around the table of the King.

-----

We'll be singing this all over Calgary in our new church plants. Would that Jesus' church would sing more substantive stuff like this. Would that Jesus' church would long to celebrate Communion more often.

[Stuart Townend and Keith & Kristyn Getty, © 2007 Thankyou Music, Administered by worshiptogether.com (USA) and Kingsway Music (UK).]

Happy Reformation Day!


After Darkness, Light:
William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, John Knox

Thank you, my fathers in the faith, for shining the light on the Gospel
& upon the Lord Jesus Christ!

"Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes" (Romans 10:3-4).


Photo of the Reformation Wall

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Audio from Shepherding a Child's Heart


Resurgence has posted the audio from it's recent Shepherding a Child's Heart Conference. Says their site:
Everyone wants to be a great parent—the biggest responsibility of parenthood is teaching your children to love Jesus with all of their heart, soul, and strength. For parents with children of any age, Dr. Tripp's insightful, biblical teaching provides perspectives and procedures for shepherding your child's heart into the paths of life.
Session 1: The Call to Formative Instruction

   * Download the audio
   * Download the video

Session 2: Giving Kids a Vision for God's Glory

   * Download the audio
   * Download the video

Session 3: Helping Kids Understand Authority

   * Download the audio
   * Download the video

Session 4: Helping Kids Understand the Heart

   * Download the audio
   * Download the video

Session 5: Overview of Corrective Discipline


   * Downlod the audio
   * Download the video

Called to business???

In ByFaith Online, Dick Doster writes an excellent article on Christians being called to business. Entitled, "Kingdom Work in the Corporate World," Doster amplifies the doctrine of vocation by saying that business is how we (1) love our neighbors, and (2) care for the poor.
As we think about “kingdom work” and jobs that have value, it’s helpful to remember that only business — not the Church, not government, not ministry, nor non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—creates new wealth. And wealth is the only cure for poverty. We must, therefore, encourage believers to go into business, to create new products and wider distribution (in obedience to the cultural commission) in order to create new wealth (good stewardship), which creates more jobs (loving our neighbor, caring for the poor). Adam Smith, the 18th century economist and philosopher, once said that new wealth is the road to “universal opulence,” which he defined as “the condition in which the real wages of workers keep growing over time, until the poor live at a level that in 1776 even kings and dukes did not enjoy.”
Then he adds,
God’s people can, as agents of His redemptive plan, transform business, stripping it of selfish ambition and pursuing instead what’s best for their neighbors. Through business, God’s people can harness mankind’s creativity, and with it nurture His creation, developing products that make the world more satisfying. Through the economic power of commerce, Christians can make the world safer and healthier. The members of Christ’s Church, distributed in offices around the world, can transform greed into good stewardship, showing the world that business has a biblical responsibility to create new wealth and provide a fair return to investors (Matthew 25:14-28). But, with an eye toward the consummation of Christ’s kingdom, we also create wealth in order to create new and satisfying jobs, which offer the hope (and perhaps a glimpse) of a coming world where there is no poverty.
Question: what happens when the idea of vocation--and specifically business--is divorced from Christian ethics? Two things, I suggest: (1) business feeds our innate selfishness; (2) government takes over the pretends to care for the poor through the redistribution of wealth.

Stetzer: Simply Missional



Ed Stezter insightfully writes
,
Most churches build big warehouses and shelve a bunch of Christians (those rows look suspiciously like shelves). They design attractive programs to "retain" people in the sacred warehouse, keep precise records of how much inventory (people) is on the shelves, and brag about their warehouses being constantly open. And warehouse managers love to show other warehouse managers their newest warehouses while dreaming together of bigger and better warehouses.

God is calling churches to shatter the warehouse myth, to change their warehouses into strategic distribution centers, where people are distributed as salt and light to the world--sending them out on mission. Some churches are strategically challenging their people to be out there, and these churches have a strategic and simple process that moves people from the warehouse to the street. These churches are simple and missional.
Read more here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keeping the Heat ON!

Check out this video of folks who are making a difference. Its the story of Mark Richt (Georgia football head coach) & his family and their journey into adoption.



"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." - James 1:27

I think I might even cheer for Georgia now!

[HT: Vitamin Z]

The Failure of "The War on Poverty"

Filed under: You've Gotta Check This Out
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Fascinating video on the failure of the government's "War on Poverty," and how it has actually made things worse. Well worth your time: 6min 38 sec.



Anthony Bradley writes,
Please send this clip to unconstrained vision folks who believe that government is the best way to deliver help to people in need. If there's one lesson from the "war on poverty" programs the US government instituted in the 1970s it is that government programs were the primary source of the destruction of the black family and the erosion of the dignity of the black men in particular in low-income urban areas. Good intentions ain't enough. The federal programs pushed out the church and destroyed many black communities. It took about 20 years to see the effects of well-intended but stupid government programs. The crazy notion that "we just need to get the right government program" is fantasy.
[HT: BTW]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Voted!

Just exercised my right to vote or not to vote by voting. I'm proud to be an American, but deeply worried about the homeland.

At any rate, after lunch my wife and I took Justin, our oldest son, to go vote. Justin went with me to the booth and saw how it was done. Then on the way home, we had a civics lesson--or really a pep talk--about the privilege of living in a land where we have the right to vote for our / against our leaders.

Funny thing: one of Justin's friends told him that he should get a shirt that says, "If Obama wins, I'm moving to Canada." Really, he could have a shirt that says, "If McCain wins, I'm moving to Canada." Both of which are technically correct.

Oh well.

May God have mercy.

TWax is thinking about what we should be thinking about re: visitors....

Trevin Wax has some great meta-thinking thoughts about what we should be thinking about in terms of small groups & visitors. Do we welcome people who actually come? Strange thought for some, I know. He says,
Here are some ways to show visitors that your class is “open” on Sundays, and not closed to outsiders.

1. START TIME

Are parents able to drop their children off at their classes on time? Does the adult class start on time? If your start time is 9:00, but all the members know that things don’t really get going until 9:15, then your visitor (who might even arrive a few minutes early) feels like everyone knows a secret they don’t. How to fix this problem? Start on time. Or at least start your fellowship on time, so that a visitor doesn’t face the awkwardness of an empty room.

2. LEAVE EMPTY CHAIRS

Who do you set out chairs for? Leave enough empty chairs so that your visitors will feel they are expected and welcomed, not an intrusion.

3. NAME TAGS

Some classes laugh at the idea of wearing name tags. “We all know each other,” they will say. But such a mindset betrays the fact that the class is already closed to outsiders. We don’t wear name tags for each other; we wear name tags for visitors. If everyone has a name tag, then a visitor blends in better with the group. (Tip: If you are expecting a new visitor that you have invited, have their name tag already prepared before they show up!)

4. STAND ALONE LESSONS

Make sure that your curriculum provides a stand-alone lesson every Sunday. Don’t do an intensive Discipleship course in Sunday School. (I’m all for intensive Bible studies in other venues, but if you do a study like Experiencing God in class, your visitors are automatically behind in the lessons and feel like they have to play catch-up.) I usually go through books of the Bible in Sunday School, but I make sure that each lesson is “stand-alone” in the sense that someone who has never been before can jump right in.

5. DON’T HAND VISITORS A FORM

Do you want them to feel like they’re in a doctor’s office? No… don’t hand them a form. Instead, sit down with them and you fill out the form as you get to know them.

6. INVITE NEW PEOPLE AND INVITE VISITORS BACK

Nothing can substitute for a personal invitation. If you have a visitor, make a call and follow up with them and let them know they are welcome to come back.
And I would add a #7: Seek visitor feedback. We need to know how visitors experience our groups, what was / wasn't helpful. What would be more helpful. Now this is challenging, no doubt. There is an appropriate time and manner of doing this. But we need to be constantly thinking, how do new people experience this meeting?

Plus #8: Never assume an 'in-house' meeting. Not with our lingo, not with our customs. We must always be explaining things as if your broader community were present.

What else are we missing?

[See TWax's original post here.]

Great Quote on Community & the Need for Church Planting

Over at Take Your Vitamin Z, great quotes continue to be highlighted from "Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community ."
"Too often, however, churches are not contexts for making disciples so much as occasions for acknowledging relative strangers. Experience teaches that there is also an inverse ratio at work: the larger the group, the more inevitable is the superficiality of our relationships. Instead of churches growing beyond the point of being able to sustain meaningful life-on-life family relationships, an alternative (and maybe essential) strategy would be to begin new congregations through church planting. G. K. Chesterton said, “The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. . . . The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us.”

"Community has been insightfully defined as the place where the person you least want to live with always lives! Responding to this, Philip Yancey says, “We often surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, thus forming a club or clique, not a community. Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision, and hard work to form a community.” We might also add that it takes a miracle that only God himself can perform. But it is in such a community that disciples are made. To be a community of light from which the light of Christ will emanate we need to be intentional in our relationships—to love the unlovely, forgive the unforgivable, embrace the repulsive, include the awkward, accept the weird. It is in contexts such as these that sinners are transformed into disciples who obey everything King Jesus has commanded."
- Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, p. 113.

I'm going to order this book soon.

Video Sketch: I am a Family Man

This video is simply cool. It's a series of sketches set to the tune, "I am a Family Man."



Life is sweet. God is good.

[HT: Between Two Worlds]

Monday, October 27, 2008

Remembering Knox

Today we remembered & celebrated the life of Knox Anderson, the son of our dear friends, Jon & Rachel. At the park today with some friends, we released some balloons in rememberance of him.

My friend, Joshua, wrote this poem.
Wonders wander through our minds,
As we think of where you are;
Do you think of us often?
In our thoughts, you’re never far.

Do you talk and sing with Jesus?
What do you learn every day?
We wish that you could speak with us,
And walk with us along the way.

Are you watching us from heaven?
Do you see how much we’ve grown?
We think of you every single day,
We wish that we too were home.

Today we celebrate your birth,
With others who love you too,
So many love both you and us,
Some you never even knew.

To know that you’ve been gone,
As long as you were here,
Is hard for us to comprehend,
Even harder this time of year.

We know that you are joyful,
And that brings joy to us too,
We know the love of Jesus,
Is the greatest love for you.

But still the days are hard,
While we stay here and wait
For the day we’ll be together,
Safe beyond Zion’s gate.

We pray the Lord will keep us,
As He keeps you even now,
In His love and watch-care,
In His true and solemn vow.

His love has never failed us,
And it will not cease to be,
Unto you and unto us,
The eyes by which we see.
Check out Joshua's blog here.

Update: Check out my wife's blog about the balloon release.

Review of "The Shack"

Some folks have asked me about The Shack, a wildly popular book that I haven't read b/c I've been living in Peru, and now that I'm back in the States, I have a bunch of books to catch up on so I'm not likely to read it any time soon.

Having said that, here is a review of the book by Doug Wilson that many have mentioned as fair and spot-on.
I am going to say some hard things about the book in a moment, so I want to begin with this. The book is filled with numerous insights into what makes people tick, and those insights are wise, shrewd, pastoral, tender, and they deal with sins at the root. But the strength here is largely diagnostic, and unfortunately gets confused when it comes to the remedy, as will become apparent in a moment. William Young, the author, knows with profound clarity that fatherlessness is the rot that is eating away at the modern soul. The clear appeal of the book is because of the ache created by fatherlessness which, when coupled with the metaphoric solutions offered, provides us with a full explanation for the popularity of the book.
Read the whole review here.