Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snowflakes evidence of Intelligent Design?

After having temps above freezing this last week melting much of the snow that had accumulated so far this winter, it started falling from the sky this afternoon.   I love the beauty of falling snow.   But what you can't see with the naked eye can be photographed with high power equipment.   Check this out...

Paul Burwell,
Evidence of intelligent design, or random chances processes at work in a meaningless universe?  

How do you account for the symmetry & beauty?  

Art in nature points to the nature of the Artist.  

Check out more photos online at the Calgary Herald.

Paul Burwell,

Living for experiences is like chasing vapors...

Here's a great quote from Michael Horton on seeking experiences vs. lived experience in light of truth...
"... manufactured and prepackaged "experiences" are incredibly short-lived. I cannot remember most movies I have seen. For whatever brief moments or even hours that I am wrapped in the cocoon of a space ride at Disneyland or am overwhelmed with intense emotion at a concert, the experience leaves as quickly as it came. However, my most enduring experiences are identified with events in which the goal was something other than having an experience. I will never forget hearing the minister say, "I now pronounce you husband and wife." Just words, right? They are words that change our life. "You have cancer." "We got all of the cancer - you're free and clear." "You're pregnant." "You got the job." Reports grounded in objective facts - outside of us and our experience - are the most significant experience generators in our lives.
"Each week, as I join my brothers and sisters in a public confession of sin and our particular sins to God in silence, Christ's ambassador declares that I am forgiven in Christ's name and on the authority of his Word. Regardless of what I feel inside, God's external Word assures me that I have peace with God in his Son. This is not a subjective experience - a peaceful, easy feeling - but an objective announcement. And precisely because of its objectivity - the fact that it is announced to me even when I am not overwhelmed by it emotionally - I get the experience of forgiveness thrown in as well. Living for experiences is like chasing vapors. It is sunsets, not "the sunset experience"; actual expressions of love, not "the love experience"; the Triune God, and not "the worship experience," that turn out to deliver the most important and lasting experiences."
- The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World, p. 224
[HT: routundus]

Friday, January 28, 2011

Alcorn on proving the accuracy of the pro-life position

Randy Alcorn has a great post on proving the accuracy of the pro-life position by the use of photos of aborted children.   This issue is an emotional, often heated one in which many Christians are divided.  

I remember our years of ministry at Texas A&M when pro-life groups would display giant pictures of the horrors of abortion.   It always produced conversation and debate, even among the believers that I knew.  

Alcorn brings clarity to the issue, IMHO, even if it's uncomfortable.
I’ll never forget years ago when a pro-life candidate ran television ads showing aborted babies, and people were outraged. A CBS Evening News reporter declared the abortion debate had reached a “new low in tastelessness.” Strangely, there was no outrage that babies were being killed... only that someone had the audacity to show they were being killed.
The question we should ask is not “Why are pro-life people showing these pictures?” but “Why would anyone defend what’s shown in these pictures?” The real concern about pictures of unborn babies isn’t that they’re gory, but that they prove the accuracy of the pro-life position.

The Holocaust was so evil that words alone couldn’t describe it. Descriptions of Nazi death camps had long been published in American newspapers, but when these papers started printing the pictures of slaughtered people, the American public finally woke up. If not for the pictures, even today most of us wouldn’t understand or believe the Holocaust.

I visited a college campus where a pro-life group had set up displays of aborted babies alongside the victims of the Nazi death camps, the killing fields, American slavery, and other historical atrocities. Signs with warnings about the graphic photographs were posted clearly, so all those who looked did so by choice. I witnessed the profound effect on students and faculty, including those who didn’t want to believe what they were seeing.

Animal rights advocates argue that in order to make their case they must show terrible photographs, such as baby seals being clubbed to death. If there’s a place to look at such pictures, isn’t there a place to look at pictures of abortions? And if abortion isn’t killing babies... then why are these pictures so disturbing?

Was the solution to the Holocaust to ban the disgusting pictures? Or was the solution to end the killing?

Is the solution to abortion getting rid of pictures of dead babies? Or is it getting rid of what’s making the babies dead?
 What do you think?

Can believers please God? Can we displease Him?

Thanks to Justin Taylor for posting this very helpful response to the question, "Does God get disappointed in believers when we disbelieve or disobey."

Dr. David Powlison - Does God get upset when we disobey? from CCEF on Vimeo.

I've been saying this for years. Glad to see David Powlison taking the issue on and speaking with clarity.

Also, for further study, you may want to see the chapter "Pleasing God by Our Obedience: A Neglected New Testament Teaching" by Wayne Grudem in For the Fame of God's Name.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Tale of Two Presidents

A comparison of two presidents on the single most important issue of social justice in America today.  First of all, President Obama's recent words:
"Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women's health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.
"I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.
"And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opporrtunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams."
 Next, President  Reagan:

Reagan also wrote "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation" in 1984, well worth checking out.  In it he writes,  "Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the Court's result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right."

When Reagan penned these words, some 15 million lives had been taken by abortion on demand.   As of today, 50 million.  Today, according to the National Abortion Federation, 35% of women will have had an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. 

Praying today for prophetic voices like Reagan's to speak anew against this social injustice in my home country of the US & my adopted country of Canada, where there are no legal restrictions to abortion on demand.

A Visual Q&A on the Big Questions

My favorite Reformation Creeds are the Heidelberg Catechism & the Westminster Confession of Faith.   The latter has it's own catechism, which you can now explore visually with this cool, artsy project:  Q&A:  An Exploration of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

This is a work in progress, so you can subscribe RSS to follow the project as more Q&A's are completed.   Hopefully, when they finish Westminster, they'll move on to Heidelberg!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Great Resources: Apologetics 315

Apologetics 315 constantly provides great resources to those interested in defending the faith. From interviews to links, this is a great site.

Typical FB & online debates....

This is precisely why I try to avoid online debates....

Go ahead, I double-do-dare-you to debate this one!

[HT: Z / 22]

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blogging through JE's resolutions

My peruvian amigo, Francisco, is blogging (in excellent English, I might add) through the resolutions of my favorite American philosopher & theologian, Jonathan Edwards.  It would be well worth the time to think through Edwards' resolutions with Francisco...

He's completed the first 10:

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Destroying evil without destroying us...

    Why did Jesus have to die?  Couldn't God just forgive?

    In his excellent book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller argues that forgiveness always means bearing the cost instead of making the wrongdoer do it.   "Forgiveness means absorbing the debt of the sin yourself."  
    "It is crucial at this point to remember that the Christian faith has always understood that Jesus is God.  God did not, then, inflict pain on someone else, bur rather on the Cross absorbed the pain, violence, and evil of the world into himself.  Therefore the God of the Bible is not like the primitive deities who demanded our blood for their wrath to be appeased.  Rather, this is a God who becomes human and offers his own lifeblood so that someday he can destroy all evil without destroying us."  
    Jesus is both the priest and the offering.   He said, "I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep...No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (The Gospel of John, 10:11, 19).

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    What is "apologetics?" Are you sayin' you're sorry for something?

    apologetics |əˌpäləˈjetiks|
    Apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith.   "Apologetics" is a term that comes from the Greek work apologia that means simply, 'defense.'  It is not to apologize for what you believe in or to apologize if someone's offended at our proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ, but to make a defense for it.   In Peter's first letter to the churches of Asian Minor, he wrote these words:
    " your hearts set apart Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you...." (1 Peter 3:15)
    More specifically, I believe Christian apologetics is a defense of the proclamation that Jesus is Lord--the King of kings and the Lord of lords.   Believers are called to make a defense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is in part a proclamation of His lordship.   We are not called to make a defense of personal opinions or personal preferences on religious topics, but rather "to set apart Christ the Lord" and to give an answer for that.   That is, we are devoted to His Lordship.

    Christianity at its basic level is just this proclamation.   This confession, says the late missionary to India, Lesslie Newbigin,
    “ distinguished in that it is a commitment to a belief about the meaning of the whole of human experience in its entirety--namely, the belief that this meaning is to be found in the person of Jesus Christ, incarnate, crucified, risen, and destined to reign over all things.”

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    I "Heart" Atheists

    I came across this website,, listening to an Unbelievable podast.  The creator of the website found out in debates with atheists that the same arguments kept coming up.  So with a desire to collect answers, he made this website to be his personal answer key.

    The website features a "Top 100" list of challenges that are often posed by atheists, with answers given by iloveatheists' creator, Todd Pitner.

    Check it out.   And love an atheist.

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Wars & rumors of war

    Foreign Policy online has an article they published before the new year signaling a number of hotspots around the world that are on the brink of war, or could easily be pushed that way.
    Across the globe today, you'll find almost three dozen raging conflicts, from the valleys of Afghanistan to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the streets of Kashmir. But what are the next crises that might erupt in 2011? Here are a few worrisome spots that make our list. 
    1. Côte d'Ivoire
    2. Colombia
    3. Zimbabwe
    4. Iraq
    5. Venezuela
    6. Sudan
    7. Mexico
    8. Guatemala
    9. Haiti
    10. Tajikistan
    11. Pakistan
    12. Somalia
    13. Lebanon
    14. Nigeria
    15. Guinea
    16. Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Thankful for the relative peace in which we dwell (despite living in a secular state), but also praying that the Prince of peace will come and bring His kingdom and set everything right.

    Prayer Bootcamp for Urban Mission

    Back in November, my wife and I had the opportunity to attend the "Prayer Bootcamp for Urban Mission" in Vancouver put on by our Grace Church Planting Network. Justine Hwang & Pastor John Smed led the bootcamp. John writes,
    "The secret to effective prayer is to connect the gospel to prayer and prayer to mission. This is the essential character of Jesus’ prayer. The upward priority of worship, the kingdom values of preaching grace and doing justice, and the inward practices of forgiveness and spiritual warfare are all contained in the Lord’s Prayer. This workshop is applied prayer. We put Christ’s teaching into immediate action as we pray together for each others’ churches and cities. The outcome of this workshop is ‘prayer trainers’. With prayer resources and instruments in hand, participants put into practice what is learned."
    Here is a short video highlighting that project.

    Grace prayer from Peter Jordan on Vimeo.

    John & Justine are looking to expand this ministry.   We would definitely endorse the bootcamp.

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Moses was maybe smarter than you think

    It is common to hear that the writer of Genesis--Moses--was a doofus.   With our modern assumptions about how we would have written Genesis (e.g., we would have used the same name for God in Genesis 1 & 2), we look back with a chronological snobbery that insists the ancients were too primitive to have any sense.  [Of course, there are still some who cling to the JEPD theory of the composition of Genesis, but that's another story.]

    At any rate, in prep for teaching on Genesis 6-9 (the account of Noah), I came across these examples of chiastic structures in the story.   A chiasm is a literary device used in ancient literature which highlights certain truths at the center of the structure.  A typical chiastic structure follows a pattern of ABC CBA.

    Check out these chiasms, the first of which highlights how the story of Noah was carefully written to highlight God's covenant 'remembering' of Noah.

    The second one is a chiasm within the above chiasm.

    Moses a doofus?  Yeah right.

    Get your game face on, but don't waste your sports

    Game day.   God.  Do they have anything to do with one another?  

    I love sports.  I can't imagine the world without sports.  I'm so thankful that God has created us a culture builders, and one of the ways in which we build culture is by sports.   Granted, as with anything in creation, we can twist it for our own selfish ends, worship it giving it too much significance, and we can use it to abuse others.   

    But, sports is inherently a good thing because it's part of created life.   From the grace of a "Hail Mary" pass caught in perfect stride, to the complex performance of a high platform diver, to the strength and elegance of a race horse, sports is at once a highlight of humanity's abilities and potentials, and an excuse to give God glory.  Eric Liddell, the Scottish Olympic runner immortalized in Chariots of Fire, knew this well when he said, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

    Is it possible to "feel God's pleasure" while enjoying sports?  I believe the answer is not simply "yes," but a resounding "YES!"  

    Christianity addresses all areas of life, including our sports lives.   

    Below is a list of resources--books, videos, articles--that are helpful in thinking through sports to the glory of God. 

    Don't Waste Your Sports, by CJ Mahaney (book | website)
    Game Day for the Glory of God, by Stephen Altrogge (amazon | google | article)
    The Reason for Sports: A Christian Fanifesto, by Ted Kluck (amazon)

    *  A Theology of Sports, by James Spiegel
    CJ Mahaney's "Thanking God for Sports"

    CJ Mahaney's, "Don't Waste Your Sports"

    Don't Waste Your Sports from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

    Stephen Altrogge: Victory (1:23)

    Stephen Altrogge: Defeat (1:43)

    Stephen Altrogge: Sidelines (0:50)

    Get your game face on, but don't waste your sports.

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Is it possible there are no coincidences?

    So we had a mid-week family movie night last week, and we decided to watch M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs." It's one of my favorites.  If you haven't seen it, go get it.

    Mel Gibson plays a priest (Graham Hess) who has lost his faith after the tragic death of his wife.   But strange things start happening when crops signs show up in the field next to their house.   As it turns out, people start freaking out when it gradually dawns on people all over the world that these signs are markings for an alien invasion.

    This is a great scene between Graham and his brother, Merrill (played by Joaquin Phoenix).  In it, Graham explains to his brother that there are two groups of people in this world.... 

    "People break down into two groups. When they experience something lucky, group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I'm sure the people in group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way. For them, the situation is a fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they're on their own. And that fills them with fear.
    Yeah, there are those people. But there's a whole lot of people in group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they're looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever's going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope.
    See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, that sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?"

    What say you:  Is it possible that there are no coincidences?

    Wow, need a dose of racism to sober you up?

    It's not everyday when you hear such calloused racism, at least not for me.  That's not to suggest that it's not there, and everywhere, but to go on record in a public forum stating your racism, well...

    From Collive Community News Service, "Neoconservative thinker David Horowitz was put on the spot by a Muslim student during a speech at the University of California San Diego. His comeback revealed her true goal."

    Come, Prince of peace.  

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    God, Time & Eternity

    My friend, Joshua B, posted this quote on his facebook page.   I had to re-quote it here so I wouldn't lose it.  
    "Time is the succession of thoughts in the mind of rational, created beings. God, being eternal, does not have a succession of thoughts, but rather His thoughts persist at once in their entirety, or put otherwise, they are immediate. God "interacts" with time insofar as every action of creation (including the succession of men's thoughts) is the result of God's thinking them so. Therefore time is an aspect of the created order and not an aspect of God's essential nature. Therefore time is subject to the will of God, and not God to the nature of time." (HT Aurelius Augustine, Gordon Clark)
     Thanks, Joshua, for posting this.  Beautiful.

    Coffee with Dr. Gordon

    Yesterday, I had the privilege of having a four-hour conversation with Dr. Bruce Gordon, associate professor of science and mathematics at the The King's College in New York City and co-editor (along with Dr. William Dembski) of the forthcoming collection "The Nature of Nature:  Examing the Role of Naturalism in Science."

    Dr. Gordon loves the intersection of philosophy, apologetics, and science, as do I.  Plus he loves mathematics, which I don't, but am thankful that people like him do.   Along with his lovely wife, Mari-Anne, we enjoyed a great conversation over Starbucks coffee covering topics from his work as a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute in Seattle, his current work at Kings College, his work in Intelligent Design plus topics from the age of the universe to the Flood to biological determinism.

    By way of introducing him to you, here is an article in the Washington Times by Dr. Gordon critiquing Stephen Hawkin's new book.  The article is entitled, "Hawking Irrational Arguments:  Theoretical Physicist Takes Leave of His Senses."

    Check out this video (9:59) below of Dr. Gordon teaching on "The Absurdity of the Multiverse & Materialism."

    We've enjoyed having Bruce & Mari-Anne worship with us at New City Church while they have been in town visiting family. I look forward to following his career, plus having him potentially do some teaching for us at NCC on the area of Intelligent Design.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    New Focus for the Blog

    Over the past few months I have clarified & narrowed what I want the focus of this blog to be. My few faithful readers over the years will have noticed posts ranging from sports to family to politics to theology. These will probably still make appearances from time to time, but the focus of this blog beginning in 2011 will be on the intersection of apologetics, mission, & culture with an aim to providing resources, links, and commentary to my (hopefully) growing spheres of influence. There is a big need in Canada to equip followers of Christ in defending and proclaiming the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

    So, stay tuned. I hope it will be helpful.

    Okay, this freaks me out...

    Is it moving or is it static?