Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meaning and Machinery

G.K. Chesterton:
So the truth is that the difficulty of all the creeds of the earth is not as alleged in this cheap maxim: that they agree in meaning, but differ in machinery. It is exactly the opposite. They agree in machinery; almost every great religion on earth works with the same external methods, with priests, scriptures, altars, sworn brotherhoods, special feasts. They agree in the mode of teaching; what they differ about is the thing to be taught. Pagan optimists and Eastern pessimists would both have temples, just as Liberals and Tories would both have newspapers. Creeds that exist to destroy each other both have scriptures, just as armies that exist to destroy each other both have guns.

Arminian Gift

For those of you who have Arminians in your life (they are everywhere!), TBNN has a special gift you can give them. Read about it here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Keller on Humility

This is classic Tim Keller. A true understanding of the Gospel, he says, will lead us to true humility. But it's said much more easily than it is done. He writes
Innumerable Christmas devotionals point out the humble circumstances of Jesus' birth—among shepherds, in a crude stable, with a feed trough for a bassinet. When Jesus himself tried to summarize why people should take up the yoke of following him, he said it was because he was meek and humble (Matt. 11:29). Seldom, however, do we explore the full implications of how Jesus' radical humility shapes the way we live our lives every day.
He goes on:
Christian humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less, as C. S. Lewis so memorably said. It is to be no longer always noticing yourself and how you are doing and how you are being treated. It is "blessed self-forgetfulness."

Humility is a byproduct of belief in the gospel of Christ. In the gospel, we have a confidence not based in our performance but in the love of God in Christ (Rom. 3:22-24). This frees us from having to always be looking at ourselves. Our sin was so great, nothing less than the death of Jesus could save us. He had to die for us. But his love for us was so great, Jesus was glad to die for us.
Read the whole thing. Please.

Newsreader: Awesome

One Sentence Movie Reviews v.2

  1. Hancock: Love Peter Berg, hated this movie.
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: I'm not surprised that Disney is dumping Walden Media and the Narnia movies after this mediocre release; unfortunate.
  3. There Will Be Blood: Truly remarkable; Citizen Kane lite.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

How to Profit from the Coming Rapture

So awesome. I honestly thought it was real at first. Description:

Are the end times near? Is the Rapture really just around the corner? Could Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson possibly be right? About 1 billion people among us believe, yes, absolutely.

And that means one thing: investment opportunities!

For those who are not as expertly versed in the Book of Revelation, Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman, authors of the bestselling Yiddish with Dick and Jane, helpfully offer both illumination and advice: What exactly is the Rapture, anyway? How is it different from the Tribulation? Who are the Antichrist, the Four Horsemen, and the 144,000 male virgins, and what do they want? And, most important, how can I make money during the 7 years of societal breakdown before Armaggedon?

Taking the familiar form of a how-to investment guide, HOW TO PROFIT FROM THE COMING RAPTURE instructs those readers who will certainly be left behind (Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, less ardent Protestants, and many more) on how to exploit the inevitable demise of the world in order to make a tidy profit. Sure, the rivers and seas will run with blood, locusts will swarm, mountains will move all over the place, and famine will strike. But for the five billion of us left behind, the post-Rapture world will be a time of even more unique investment opportunities.

HT: Neatorama

Saturday, December 27, 2008

God, Suffering and Peace

Unbelievably powerful:

"It wasn't easy. It wasn't what I wanted to happen...Am I upset with God? No. Because God knows. He's in control. If that's what he wants for my life, then that's what I want for my life."


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All I Want For Christmas is This Guy

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Not So Holy Night

Blasphemy: I hate the song "O Holy Night." It has been done so poorly, so many times. In that spirit, I give to you, as a gift for reading this blog, Not So Holy Night (with a soothing background at no extra charge).

Spiritually Significant Films

50 of them, complied by Joe Carter. A sampling:
1. Ponette (1996) (This story of a child grieving over the death of her mother is one of the most devastating explorations of loss ever captured on film. Four year old Victoire Thivisol, delivering one of the best performances of any actor ever, shows the profundity of a child’s faith.)

14. Beauty and the Beast (1996)

24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

38. Pulp Fiction

45. Spider-Man 2 (2004) (Oddly enough, this film presents a the comic-book superhero as the best allegorical representation of Christ since Aslan.)
See the whole list.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Penn on Proselytizing


Rick Warren Firestorm

Sounds like Warren is getting attacked from both sides. I suspect he is not surprised. Read Al Mohler on Warren's giving of the inaugural invocation here. It is, as usual, excellent.

My friend pointed out to me that Warren is not the first evangelical to do this. Billy Graham gave Bill Clinton's inaugural invocation. Though many would disagree with me (including Mohler), I think that what Graham did and what Warren is going to do is right and good. I think there is a difference between giving an invocation at the DNC and the presidential inauguration. Praying at the DNC is endorsement. Warren never would have done that. But now that Barack has won, Warren is saying, "You are my president and I will pray for you." That is not, by any means, endorsement.

That's my take, but I could be wrong. And, ultimately, warren has to make this decision by himself before God. Pray for him.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bowl This

Bowling will be the only sport in heaven.

Rick Warren Will Give Obama's Inaguration Invocation

Here. It's hard to know how to respond. Here is Doug Groothuis' response:
But the real issue is how an evangelical pastor can bless the most pro-abortion president in history, a man who opposes the ban on partial birth abortions, the man who would sign the Freedom of Choice Acts (which would eliminate all restrictions on abortion in all fifty states), a man who opposed a born-alive law in his home state that would have protected babies that survived botched abortions. One could go on. (Obama's supposedly open web page is routinely deleting posts that challenge his pro-abortion extremism.)

If Warren called Obama to repent, that would be on thing. But blessing this man and these policies is simply wrong. We need a prophet. What would John the Baptist say on this auspicious occasion? Of course, his type would never be invited. They would be in prison. But the spotlight is not always the place of honor.
I understand where he is coming from. Though I am not as certain that Warren is "blessing this man and these policies" by praying, there is part of me that wants to feel outrage at this. But I also know Warren is quite a deft person. Even if he is selling out some (though not nearly as
blatantly as DM), Warren is deft and calculated, hoping it will help change the mind and heart of Barack Obama. That has been my prayer since he was elected. May God change him, may God make him into the champion for the unborn.

Don't Waste Your Sexuality

Theology for Kids

Check out these reviews of "theology" books for kids in the new Themelios Journal. Good stuff for Christmas, or any time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Monday, December 15, 2008

I am Gonna Miss This Guy

1. George Bush is part mongoose.
2. How to attack with shoes: Remove one show, throw. Bend down to remove other shoe, throw.
3. Anyone find it odd, and a bit disconcerting, how long it took for Bush's security to react?
4. Mr. President, I am going to miss you.

Reflections on Facebook

Check out this helpful article by Justin Buzzard on online social life and, specifically, facebook. He has some helpful, Christ-centered guidelines. Justin writes:
Like most other new things, Christians tend to either embrace Facebook uncritically, or retreat from it and condemn its use. Embracing technology uncritically—the “bear hug,” as I call it—means using a technology without thinking through its impact on yourself and others. The “cold shoulder”—ignoring/retreating from/condemning a technology—is often driven by misguided fears and shallow biblical interpretation. While the problems with embracing uncritically are more easily discerned, giving a technology like Facebook the cold shoulder also has its problems.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Albums

Love Christmas music. Love many interpretations of it. But, honestly, most of it blows. The key is to reinvent the tunes, but not too much. Case in point, Sara Groves. She is my fav Christian singer/songwriter. But her new Christmas album is pretty bad. She is so concerned with making the songs sound new that it doesn't feel Christmasy...at all. She could have made an amazing album, like Shawn Colvin's.

Anyway, here are three great new albums that are worth picking up:

1. Sojourn: Advent Songs. Killer stuff; varied, interesting, advent focused. Esp. "Glory Be." iTunes, Amazon, Free.

2. Fernando Ortega: Christmas Songs. Usually can't stand his stuff. But this is a great
Christmas album. Quiet, relaxed, sounds like Christmas. Some of the instruments border on cheesy, but that doesn't take away from the record. iTunes, Amazon.

3. Andrew Peterson: Behold the Lamb of God. This isn't new, but will always be on my list. A true history of Christmas, Peter puts scripture to song like no other. My kids will grow up listening to this record. iTunes, Amazon.

Driscoll on Silence

He writes:
It was a very normal day until I realized that I was actively destroying my own soul.

The day began with my alarm jolting me awake. I immediately turned on my BlackBerry to hear it chime for each voicemail and email that had been left while I slept. I stepped into the shower where I listened to my waterproof radio. I then turned on the television to catch some news while I dressed. Driving to work I tuned in to some talk-radio banter.

Throughout the day the chime on my laptop kept ringing as email arrived, and my cell phone continued to vibrate and ring on my hip. Before long, I needed a break, and I put on my iPod to go for a walk.

On the drive home, I again listened to the radio in an effort to drown out the blaring horns of frustrated fellow commuters. After eating dinner and tucking my five children into bed, I turned on the television to watch shows I had recorded on my Tivo.

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 whole thing.

The Most Spectacular Sin

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sound Words on Newsweek

On the debate over gay marriage, Prop 8, and Newsweek's entry in the foray, Jonathan Dodson has some sound words:
Wherever you are on this issue, you need to be there not by blind conviction but by careful and deliberate analysis of both sides of the issue. I have friends who are for and friends who are against. I have gay friends who think it is ridiculous to use the Bible to support gay marriage and friends who think it is silly to use the Bible to rail against gay marriage. And herein lies one of the key problems, those friends are “using the Bible” not faithfully interpreting it. Whatever your conviction is, if you use the Bible, don’t. Instead, interpret it as you would want your blog, paper, or will interpreted—word by word, aimed at getting the author’s intention, not in sneaking in your bias.

Newsweek offers one reading of the Bible. Get Religion offers another reading. Both pieces are pretty inflammatory and thin on reading the Bible closely. If you read both, I hope you'll be convinced to read the Bible itself. Grab a Bible, turn to the Concordance, and look up “marriage” and “homosexuality.” Then read two scholarly treatments of the issue here and work through some conclusions. Do it with integrity; do it in love, please.

Kitty is Not George Bush Sr.

HT: Neatorama

The Cycle of Porn Addiction

Over at the Breaking Free blog, Luke Gilkerson reports on biblical counselor Phil Monroe's description of the cycle of any addiction. Most people don't do meth, but a lot of people look at porn. Read the description of the categories in the illustration below here. Don't hesitate to get help if you need it. Porn addiction, while subtle, can ruin relationships and destroy lives.

Books for 2008

Just in time for Christmas, writers and bloggers are coming out with their best books of the year lists. Tim Challies, a prominent reformed Christian blogger and book reviewer, came out with his today. Here.

I hope to have a list up within a few days too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Combatting Spiritual Drought

Though this advice from Craig Groeschel comes from a pastor's perspective, I think it is helpful for everyone:

I am as susceptible to spiritual droughts as the next pastor. Because I know my vulnerabilities, I work hard to keep my passion alive.

Here are a few things I try to revisit:

  • See God working in another part of the world. God is so much bigger than what we see week in and week out and our churches.
  • Visit an impoverished place at least once a year. Some moms choose what to feed their children. Some moms have to choose which children to feed. Putting yourself in a place that crushes your heart keeps the passion alive.
  • Fasting. I don’t know why fasting works, but it does.
  • Develop friendships with non-Christians. Caring about people far from God helps keep me closer to God.
  • Devoted time to prayer. If I don’t spend time with my wife away from all the other pressures, it is hard for us to stay close. My relationship with God is the same. If I don’t spend time with Him, how can I know Him?
  • Give extravagantly. Something about giving big breaks the grip of this world and connects me closer to God.
  • Cry. For a number of years, I didn’t cry. I’m not sure I could cry. By God’s grace, I broke through it and can cry easily now.
  • Visit a cemetery. Seeing today in light of eternity always changes me.

Gay Marriage Front and Center Again

It's clear now that the passing of prop 8 in California has awakened those who support gay marriage. Initially there was some caustic backlash against Mormons and other groups. Now, the mainstream media is getting into the game. This week's edition of Newsweek has them supporting gay marriage outright, both in an editorial article and in the letter from their editor, John Meacham. This is a bold move, but not surprising. To them, I'm sure, this is akin to coming out against segregation.

What is fascinating about their confrontation, however, is that they attack not on the basis of "universal" truths of civility, but go after the scriptures themselves. Rather than arguing their side, they aim to undermine ours. Listen to Meacham:
No matter what one thinks about gay rights—for, against or somewhere in between —this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism. Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt—it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.
That is a stunning assertion. He is saying, in essence, be a Christian, but don't hold too strongly to any of its truth. It's what we make of the Bible that's important, not what the Bible makes us. I hope you see how terrible this sort of idea is. The whole point of God speaking to us through the scriptures is that we have eternal, objective truth outside of ourselves that will guide us. We do not have the capacity to live life rightly. Without the scriptures, our life is a crap shoot.

This deficient belief is put into practice by Lisa Miller who wrote the lead column for the publication this week. Read it here. It is pretty awful. It is based entirely in bad scholarship and assumes that the Bible is a "living, breathing document." She has no real idea what biblical theology is, and, in truth, it doesn't matter to her. It doesn't matter what the early covenants were for, or how they have changed. It doesn't matter to her that there is a difference between temporary Levitical restriction and all-time truth. It doesn't matter to her that the Jesus she portrays is not actually Jesus. No, she is in it, like Meacham, to be master of her own life and to tell everyone to follow suit.

So this is an attack not on our belief that homosexuality is a sin (like many others), but our belief in the Bible; that it is the inerrant and infallible guide in faith and in practice. And that is serious. But it is one we are ready for and should stand to defend against.

There are a few resources to check out on this specific article and one video on the issue of homosexuality in the Bible:

1. Al Mohler responds well here.
2. Mollie Hemingway, here.
3. A 30 minute primer on homosexuality and the Bible (it is excellent):


Friday, December 5, 2008

I Am Second

Man, I love Tony Evans. He doesn't get the credit he deserves. The way he exposits the scriptures can leave you totally exposed, almost naked. In a good way. Anyway, you can see why in a video he's in called "I am Second" on racial inequality and Jesus. Click on the picture below to view.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Shot

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gay Marriage Will Save the Economy

From Funny or Die, against prop 8 in California, A-listers put their talent to work:

1. Awesome stereotypes.
2. I had no idea Jesus was such a bad exegete.
3. Thank goodness Andy Richter is finally working again.

How To Build a Ship

Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood, and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

D.A. Carson, on Suffering

From D.A. Carson's How Long Oh Lord: Reflections on Suffering and Evil:
One of the major causes of devastating grief and confusion among Christians is that our expectations are false. We do not give the subject of evil and suffering the thought it deserves until we ourselves are confronted with tragedy. If by that point our beliefs - not well thought out but deeply ingrained - are largely out of step with the God who has disclosed himself in the bible and supremely in Jesus, then the pain from the personal tragedy may be multiplied many times over as we begin to question the very foundations of our faith.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There's No Revival Without Repentance

J Lee Grady of Charisma Magazine writes today on the Lakeland Revival fallout. The primary preacher at this "revival" left his wife amidst the hoopla for an intern. He lists six lessons he learned from the fiasco. Here's the most important one:
Lesson #6: You can’t have revival without repentance. The word “revival” is thrown around loosely these days. If a few people fall on the floor, get goose bumps or see gold dust, we are ready to christen it a revival and put it on television as soon as possible. After all, if large crowds gather, it must be God!

I’m tired of imitations. History shows that genuine revival is more than a bunch of blessed bodies in a pile. We need more than angel feathers, emotional euphoria and limp pep talks about getting high on Jesus. We need the strong Word of God that convicts hearts, demands repentance, slays sin and has the power to produce converts who will withstand temptation.


Do you have it? This kid obviously does:

The Girl in the Window

Though seriously heart rending, this is a must read article about a girl all but abandoned for years. Thankfully, it ends in a sort of salvation. May God continue to bless this family and precious little girl.

HT: Challies

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Unseen Consequences

The U.N. believes that, due to the world's financial crisis, more children will be driven into the sex trade. It is hard to think of anything more horrifying in this world. Yet another reason to pray, especially on this day when we have so much to be thankful for.

For Your Thanksgiving

Ten weird gourmet foods. My favorite? Live Baby Octopus:
Here’s a food that wouldn’t be so strange if it was served in any other manner. Even other foods eaten alive, like shrimp aren’t that strange, the main thing here is the whole life-threatening thing. Live octopi can choke you with their moving tentacles. It’s a real-life kill or be killed situation.

Dipping your dinner in alcohol is said to help knock them out momentarily and make them less deadly, but that is to be debated. Truly skilled baby octopi eaters will barely chew their meals before gulping them down, but amateurs generally choose to chew them thoroughly -which can take up to 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On The Sovereignty of God and Suffering

Charles Spurgeon:
There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God's sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend to than the doctrine of their Master over all creation--the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands--the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne...for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust.

On How to Glorify a Mountain Spring

From John Piper's The Pleasures of God:
God has no needs that I could ever be required to satisfy. God has no deficiencies that I might be required to supply. He is complete in himself. He is overflowing with happiness in the fellowship of the Trinity. The upshot of this is that God is a mountain spring, not a watering trough. A mountain spring is self-replenishing. It constantly overflows and supplies others. But a watering trough needs to be filled with a pump or a bucket brigade. So if you want to glorify the worth of a watering trough you work hard to keep it full and useful. If you want to glorify the worth of a spring you do it by getting down on your hands and knees and drinking to your heart's satisfaction, until you have the refreshment and strength to go back down in the valley and tell people what you've found.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interview with Sara Groves

St. Sara is interviewed about her new Christmas record.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Three reasons I need this:

1. I realize now that all my current clothes are crap.
2. When Elizabeth starts playing soccer, I don't want to be the only idiot without a Snuggie.
3. I've been looking for an outfit to cast spells in.


From the WSJ, creepy:
Think about this scenario: An ordinary-looking freighter ship heading toward New York or Los Angeles launches a missile from its hull or from a canister lowered into the sea. It hits a densely populated area. A million people are incinerated. The ship is then sunk. No one claims responsibility. There is no firm evidence as to who sponsored the attack, and thus no one against whom to launch a counterstrike.

But as terrible as that scenario sounds, there is one that is worse. Let us say the freighter ship launches a nuclear-armed Shahab-3 missile off the coast of the U.S. and the missile explodes 300 miles over Chicago. The nuclear detonation in space creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

Gamma rays from the explosion, through the Compton Effect, generate three classes of disruptive electromagnetic pulses, which permanently destroy consumer electronics, the electronics in some automobiles and, most importantly, the hundreds of large transformers that distribute power throughout the U.S. All of our lights, refrigerators, water-pumping stations, TVs and radios stop running. We have no communication and no ability to provide food and water to 300 million Americans.

This is what is referred to as an EMP attack, and such an attack would effectively throw America back technologically into the early 19th century. It would require the Iranians to be able to produce a warhead as sophisticated as we expect the Russians or the Chinese to possess. But that is certainly attainable. Common sense would suggest that, absent food and water, the number of people who could die of deprivation and as a result of social breakdown might run well into the millions.

Let us be clear. A successful EMP attack on the U.S. would have a dramatic effect on the country, to say the least. Even one that only affected part of the country would cripple the economy for years. Dropping nuclear weapons on or retaliating against whoever caused the attack would not help. And an EMP attack is not far-fetched.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One Sentence Movie Reviews

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:

I waited 19 years for this?

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army:

Is there a machine that will insert me into the mind of Guillermo del Toro?


Nearly perfect.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Old Testament on Broadway!

Well, sort of. Fox News:
Cannibalism, rape, a bear that mauls children — this is the Bible?

They're among six stories from the Old Testament acted out in "Terror Texts," a musical at Northwestern College in Orange City.

Adding to the shocking nature of the stories are the theatrics, with actors decked out in Goth attire, a rock band and a mosh pit.
Getting on my knees right now and pleading to God that he bring this show up my way.

Whole thing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Calvinism is Irrational

Or so says Michael Patton, cleverly. He writes,
...the Calvinist is not satisfied with a redefining of God’s predestination. To the Calvinists, man is fully responsible for his choice, yet God’s election is unconditional. Therefore, there is a tension that is created between human responsibility and God’s election. This tension is left in tact since, according to the Calvinist, it is best understood this way in Scripture. To redefine predestination to suit one’s need to alleviate tension seems to be a very rationalistic approach to doctrine. While there is nothing wrong with using one’s reason to understand truth, there are problems when reason takes priority over revelation.

This is one of the mistakes that I believe the Arminian system of conditional election/predestination makes. There is no need to solve all tensions, especially when the solution comes at the expense of one’s interpretive integrity. There are many tensions in Scripture. There are many things that, while not irrational, just don’t make sense. The doctrine of the Trinity, the Hypostatic Union, creation out of nothing all fit this category. So does human responsibility and unconditional election. God’s sovereign unconditional election can stand side-by-side with man’s responsibility without creating a formal contradiction. We may not know how to reconcile these two issues, but that does not mean God does not know how. Their co-existence does not take away from their collective truthfulness.

I believe that the Arminian system sacrifices biblical integrity for the sake of intelligibility and doctrinal harmony. The Calvinistic system allows tension and mysteries to remain for the sake of Biblical fidelity.

I have had people say to me (often) that they are not Calvinists because the system attempts to be too systematic with all its points for the sake of the system itself. I think that it is just the opposite. The Calvinistic system creates more tensions than it solves, but seeks to remain faithful to God’s word rather than human intelligibility.
Read the whole thing.

It looks like this post is an indirect rebuttal to a similar, contrary piece by Ben Witherington on Piper and the supposed "negative Calvinists." Worth a read.

Mueller on Faith

More amazing stuff from his autobiography:
The following guidelines will help a believer build his faith:

1. Carefully read the Word and meditate on it. Through reading the Word of God, and especially through meditation on it, the believer becomes acquainted with the nature and character of God. Besides God's holiness and justice, he realizes what a kind, loving, gracious, merciful, mighty, wise, and faithful Father He is. Therefore, in poverty, affliction, death of loved ones, difficulty in service, or financial need, he will rest on the ability of God to help him. He has learned from the Word that God is almighty in power, infinite in wisdom, and ready to help and deliver His people. Reading the Word of God, together with meditation on it, is an excellent way to strengthen faith.

2. We must maintain an upright heart and a good conscience and not knowingly and habitually indulge in things which are contrary to the mind of God. How can I possibly continue to act in faith if I grieve the Lord and detract from His glory and honor? All my confidence in God and all my leaning on Him in the hour of trial will be gone if I have a guilty conscience and yet continue in sin. If I cannot trust in God because of a guilty conscience, my faith is weakened. With every fresh trial, faith either increases by trusting God and getting help, or it decreases by not trusting Him. A habit of self-dependence is either defeated or encouraged. If we trust in God, we do not trust in ourselves, our fellowmen, circumstances, or in anything else. If we do trust in one or more of these, we do not trust in God.

3. If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried. The more I am in a position to be tried in faith, the more I will have the opportunity of seeing God's help and deliverance. Every fresh instance in which He helps and delivers me will increase my faith. The believer should not shrink from situations, positions, or circumstances in which his faith may be tried, but he should cheerfully embrace them as opportunities to see the hand of God stretched out in help and deliverance. Thus his faith will be strengthened.

4. The last important point for the strengthening of our faith is that we let God work for us and do not work a deliverance of our own. When a trial of faith comes, we are naturally inclined to distrust God and to trust in ourselves, in our friends, or in circumstances. We would rather work a deliverance of our own than simply look to God and wait for His help. But if we do not patiently wait for God's help or if we work a deliverance of our own, then at the next trial of our faith we will have the same problem. We will again be inclined to try and deliver ourselves. With every fresh trial, our faith will decrease. On the contrary, if we stand firm in order to see the salvation of God, trusting in Him alone, our faith will be increased. Every time we see the hand of God stretched out on our behalf in the hour of trial, our faith would be increased even more. God will prove His willingness to help and deliver at the perfect time.

Scriptural principles may be used to overcome the difficulties in business or any earthly calling. The children of God, who are strangers and pilgrims on earth, should expect to have difficulty in the world, for they are not at home here. But the Lord has provided us with promises in His Word to cause us to triumph over circumstances. All difficulties may be overcome by acting according to the Word of God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Awesome Surfer Speak

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fight Porn

...with the help of Mark Driscoll in his free online book, Porn-Again Christian. Download the entire thing here for printing.

Neti Pot

Number one item on my Christmas wish list:

Is Obama the Anti-Christ?

Michael McKinley from 9 Marks:

I don't know if Obama is a Christian or not. If he's not, then he's antichrist in the sense that anyone who is not for Jesus is against him (Luke 11:23). But then so is my next door neighbor who smokes pot in his garage until 5:00 AM on Sunday mornings. Whether or not the president-elect is for Jesus or against him isn't my call to make.

But more importantly, this question seems to take a very America-centric view of eschatology. Monsters like Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and Josef Stalin have all risen and fallen and have not been the harbinger of the end times. But this guy wants to socialize our health care, and Jesus is supposed to be so enraged that he will come storming back to save us?

Please. The Christian faith is doing great. Christ's church is being built. The gospel is exploding in other parts of the world. It's not the end of the world... just because you think America's going down the tubes or because you don't like the guy elected to lead one branch of the government for the next four years.

If you're struggling... just take a deep breath, put down your copy of Left Behind, and pray for the president-elect.

Well said. Though I am sure the Antichrist won't be a champion for the unborn.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

God Exists

Or, ten arguments that say he does.

To the Riches of the Lord Only

George Mueller, On February 8th in the evening:
The little donations that came in today are precious, but they are not enough to meet the need of tomorrow. Before nine o'clock in the morning we need more money to buy milk. Truly, we are poorer than ever. Through grace my eyes do not look at the meager supplies and the empty purse, but to the riches of the Lord only.

The Faith of our New President

Joe Carter writes today on a transcript that was just released of an interview on the faith of Barack Obama. He writes:
If you tell me that you’re a "Christian" I take that to mean that you subscribe to a common set of doctrines outlined in either the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed. Both of these creeds are ecumenical Christian statements of faith accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and almost all branches of Protestantism. They outline what it means to be a "mere" Christian.

Included within these creeds is the belief that Jesus is the "Son of God", that Christ is a divine being. From this interview it does not appear that Obama believes this is true:

FALSANI: Who’s Jesus to you? (Obama laughs nervously)

OBAMA: Right. Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher. And he’s also a wonderful teacher. I think it’s important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.

This is, of course, exactly wrong. Jesus is not merely a "bridge" between God and man, Jesus is both fully-human and fully divine. Obama’s statement is more akin to something his role model Ghandi would say, rather than the claim made by an orthodox believer.

In fact, nowhere in the interview did I ever get the impression that Obama subscribes to even the most basic beliefs that are typically associated with being a Christian.
Carter concludes:
1. Obama is not a orthodox Christian. He may call himself a "Christian" in the same way that some Unitarians use the term to refer to themselves. But his beliefs do not seem to be in line with the historic definition.

2. In the 20 years that Obama attended Trinity, did he never hear a clear exposition of the Gospel? Did the Rev. Jeremiah Wright never once preach on the need for a saving faith in Christ? If not, then that is more scandalous than any of the anti-American remarks Wright made from the pulpit.

3. Although I already pray for Obama (as the Bible commands me to do) I now realize that I also need to pray for his eternal soul and not just that he be an effective leader of our nation. I also pray that he will find a spiritual leader who will help lead him to a true knowledge of Christ.
Read the whole thing to hear more of how Obama understands Christianity.

Spiritual Discipline

Maintaining a life devoted to practicing the spiritual disciplines is not easy. Most of us are not super disciplined people. Like the cereal we eat, we get bored or distracted and change things up. That's not very helpful when trying to become better prayers and readers of scripture.

I don't have any silver bullet answers to this problem, but there are some things that have helped me as of late:

1. You've got to remove things to add things. You won't be inclined to pray, to read the scriptures, or to meditate if you don't have time to do it. However, if you intentionally remove some things, you'll have the chance to fill that open space with something good. For example, I have stopped listening to the radio entirely. No more politics, no more sports. I don't even listen to music that much. I have filled that void with either (1) silence/prayer or (2) listening to something edifying, like a sermon or the Bible on CD (more on that in another post).

2. Read biographies of Christians who have practiced the spiritual disciplines well. I am almost through with George Mueller's autobiography. He was a truly astonishing man who depended entirely on God for everything. And more importantly, his prayers never went unanswered. That is encouraging to me and makes me want to hit my knees. Other Christians who had great spiritual discipline were A.W. Tozer and Jim Eliot.

3. Listen to and read Piper on prayer. He preaches on prayer at least once a year (maybe twice). It is always a great encouragement to pick up my prayer life after listening to him. Piper's another person with great spiritual discipline.

4. Have people hold you accountable. There's nothing like other people in your life helping you live a life of God-centeredness. Get into a group that will hold you accountable to reading the Bible regularly and praying.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On Questioning God

Is it right to question God when experiencing tremendous hardship and grief? Al Mohler answers this question well (as always) here. His answer is rooted in his belief that God is sovereign over all thing. In my estimation, it's the only rational and satisfying way to understand suffering. I hope you read it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pray/Give for the People of the Congo

From CT today:

Earlier today, an e-mail from National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson called our attention to renewed conflict and an exacerbated humanitarian crisis in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).

The situation there “in dire need of our attention,” wrote Anderson. “Violence has forced more than 250,000 to flee their homes in the last two months alone.” In the past decade, approximately 5 million have died as a result of the violence.

Similar appeals have appeared from a variety of NGOs, including Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee.

Anderson’s message focused on the resources provided by World Relief (a subsidiary of the National Association of Evangelicals and—full disclosure—the employer of Barbara Galli, wife of CT Senior Managing Editor Mark Galli). World Relief has posted a video appeal from Lynn Hybels, advocate for global engagement at Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Illinois.

Anderson is urging evangelical churches to show Hybels’s passionate video over the next few weeks and to encourage their members to respond to the crisis in the DRC.
Below is a picture of two children in the middle of the crisis. From the AP:
Protegee, carrying her sibling on her back, cries as she looks for her parents through the village of Kiwanja, north of Goma, eastern Congo on Thursday Nov. 6. A fragile cease-fire in Congo appeared to be unraveling Thursday as the U.N. said battles between warlord Laurent Nkunda’s rebels and the army spread to another town in the volatile country’s east.

Monday, November 10, 2008

On Being Able to Go to God for Help

George Mueller wrote in his journal on November 13:
I took one shilling out of the box in my house. This shilling was all our money for today. More than a hundred people must be provided for, and this is not the case once in a while, but very frequently.
And where most of us would despair, Mueller praises:
It is infinitely precious to have the living God as a Father to go to for help.
(from his Autobiography, p. 143)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama Zombies


Top Ten Things Americans Ask Brits

Oh man, I love Ricky Gervais.

More on the Significance of the Election of an African-American

Eugene Robinson, in his op-ed, in this morning's WaPo:
It's safe to say that I've never had such a deeply emotional reaction to a presidential election. I've found it hard to describe, though, just what it is that I'm feeling so strongly.

It's obvious that the power of this moment isn't something that only African Americans feel. When President Bush spoke about the election yesterday, he mentioned the important message that Americans will send to the world, and to themselves, when the Obama family moves into the White House.

For African Americans, though, this is personal.

I can't help but experience Obama's election as a gesture of recognition and acceptance -- which is patently absurd, if you think about it. The labor of black people made this great nation possible. Black people planted and tended the tobacco, indigo and cotton on which America's first great fortunes were built. Black people fought and died in every one of the nation's wars. Black people fought and died to secure our fundamental rights under the Constitution. We don't have to ask for anything from anybody.

Yet something changed on Tuesday when Americans -- white, black, Latino, Asian -- entrusted a black man with the power and responsibility of the presidency. I always meant it when I said the Pledge of Allegiance in school. I always meant it when I sang the national anthem at ball games and shot off fireworks on the Fourth of July. But now there's more meaning in my expressions of patriotism, because there's more meaning in the stirring ideals that the pledge and the anthem and the fireworks represent.

It's not that I would have felt less love of country if voters had chosen John McCain. And this reaction I'm trying to describe isn't really about Obama's policies. I'll disagree with some of his decisions, I'll consider some of his public statements mere double talk and I'll criticize his questionable appointments. My job will be to hold him accountable, just like any president, and I intend to do my job.

For me, the emotion of this moment has less to do with Obama than with the nation. Now I know how some people must have felt when they heard Ronald Reagan say "it's morning again in America." The new sunshine feels warm on my face.

Billy Graham is 90

Read Piper's reflection on him here. My favorite section (and most challenging):

He is famous for saying that he preached too much and studied too little.

One of my great regrets is that I have not studied enough. I wish I had studied more and preached less. People have pressured me into speaking to groups when I should have been studying and preparing. Donald Barnhouse said that if he knew the Lord was coming in three years, he would spend two of them studying and one preaching. I’m trying to make it up. (Christianity Today, September 23, 1977)

This is especially ironic in view of Pollock’s 1966 description of Billy’s habits of study:

Beyond all else Billy Graham studies the Bible, the supreme authority for his belief and action. Every day he reads five Psalms, covering the psalter in a month, and one chapter of Proverbs, the book that “shows us how to relate our own lives to our fellow men.” He reads through a Gospel each week, using commentaries and modern translations, and constantly returns to the Acts of the Apostles. He annotates throughout the Bible. “Sometimes His word makes such an impact on me that I have to put the Bible down and walk around for a few moments to catch my breath.” He learns great stretches by heart…. (Pollock, 248)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Suntan, That's It

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (Reuters):
I will try to help relations between Russia and the United States where a new generation has come to power, and I don't see problems for Medvedev to establish good relations with Obama who is also handsome, young and suntanned.

Why It is Important that this President is Black

Everyone (most everyone) on the right came out after Obama's win and said, "Well, it's good that the country has grown up enough to elect an African-American president." I scoffed at that. Not because it wasn't good, but because it didn't matter to me. "Who cares? Our only concern should have been the ideas he stands for, not the color of his skin." But that was naive. For two reasons: (1) I am not a racist, and (2) I did not grow up in a racist culture. It took Anthony Bradley, a brother in Christ, theologian and author, to show me that the election of Barack Obama is huge.

Please read his phenomenal article he wrote for World Magazine. He writes:
When CNN announced that Barack Obama had the electoral votes needed to win, the euphoria in the room I was in was deafening. I had never experienced anything quite like it. Many of us stood still in shock while others jumped and danced followed by people weeping.

I was so confident that Obama was going to win the election I skipped a McCain-Palin party last night to attend an election night gathering co-hosted by two St. Louis R&B and hip-hop radio stations. Although I disagree with Obama’s views on abortion and his economic philosophy, among other things, I wanted to witness the reaction and celebration with an all-black crowd. I was not prepared for what happened: Euphoria and weeping about a man representing an idea.
Bradley Continues:

Leading up to Obama’s victory speech, the DJ would insert the question, “Are you guys ready for the first black president?” The room would then erupt in cheers and whistling. Then it hit me: For the folks in this room this election was not about policy but an idea. I’ve been told my whole life that a black man could never become the nation’s president. I will never forget hearing those words escape the mouth of Peter Jennings a few years ago on the “ABC Nightly News,” as he reported the findings of a study on race.

I stood in front of the television stunned and discouraged.
Last night, however, the idea that someone other than a white man, a mixed-race man, in fact, could become president became a reality. The realization of this idea created a contagion of cheers and weeping. I wish my grandparents, who lived under the tyranny of Jim Crow laws in the South and through the turmoil of the civil-rights movement, could have lived to see what happened last night. They would be very happy.

John McCain had no idea how powerful his words were when he said, “This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.” On hearing this, the room erupted again in celebration. Who would have ever imagined the first lady of the United States would be a black woman?

For many in the room I realized that “change” was not so much about political change but cultural change. There was a determination to vote a man into office that represented a possibility—namely, that a black man could be president.
He concludes, focusing attention on Evangelicalism:
A black pastor friend in North Carolina called and asked, “Anthony, can you believe it?” We were sobered by the fact that evangelicalism essentially has no Asians, Latinos, or blacks that share the influence and respect of men like John Piper, Tim Keller, John MacArthur, Mark Dever, James Dobson, Chuck Colson, and so on (unless the topic is related to race). Oddly, conservative evangelical’s favorite black go-to guy is a Roman Catholic named Alan Keyes. Is that the best evangelicals can come up with?

Even though some conservative evangelicals, in talking about me, have said “Bradley’s an ignorant baboon,” there is hope for change in an idea in evangelicalism, too. Concerning this election, my theology frees me from anxiety about America in a world sustained by God, but it raises a new interesting set of questions about the church in America and whom we consider our leaders.
Again, the whole thing is phenomenal. Though I am terrified that Obama will make it easier to kill babies, I am happy that one good idea has broken through: the color of your skin should mean nothing. God is slowly restoring relations among the races. No, he won't make us all look the same. Rather, we will someday say joyfully, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus," (Galatians 3:28).

My hope for the country is that we would quickly move past this. Ultimately, race doesn't matter. Ideas matter. It is most excellent that our president is African-America. It is highly unfortunate that this African-American man's ideas are so godless.

And yet, we can rejoice for now. Our president is black.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Eric Redmond on Voting

Yet another thing to read. This is good, though. It is from Eric Redmond, an African-American pastor and author, on his dilemma in the voting booth last night. He writes:
So I made two very difficult choices: First, I chose to vote rather than stay home. Second, I voted for lives of the unborn rather than for approval from the vast majority of my own ethnic community. The latter choice took the risk of being reproached for the name of Christ, for I only voted for life because of the fear of my Lord (cf. Ex. 1:15-2:12). I know such a choice risks invoking the ire or dismissal of the overwhelming majority of the African American community. Yet, on a most historic Election Day, I could not allow my personal pro-life stance to crumble under the weight of being perceived as a traitor to the African American cause for victory, for that goes against all godly wisdom:

If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
Prov. 24:10-12, ESV

I cast my vote in the hopes of rescuing those being taken to the slaughter. I could not vote in such a way that I would have ignored the blood flowing from fertility clinics, for I know that the Almighty would repay my cowardice. My hope in his word is that he will remember me and graciously and provide for my life, repaying me with mercy.
Read the whole thing.


I am oddly content the morning after. And I was relatively hopeful that McCain could pull it out, despite the polls. But when FoxNews called Ohio for Obama, and I knew it was over, I quietly walked over to the TV and turned it off, content.

Though I know Obama will do everything he can, even if passively, to make abortion in America more accessible, I am satisfied that he will be my president. That's only because God is my God. And God is Obama's God (even if his beliefs are errant). And that means God is entirely in charge of Obama. Entirely. President Obama will do nothing outside of the sovereign control of God, and that leads me to contentment.

Nevertheless, our task is prayer. I am learning that more and more. I am in the middle of George Muller's Autobiography. Overseeing many orphanages in the 19th century, he lived a life of faith and prayer, always expectant that God would provide for him. Thoughts of his life permeated my soul last night as Obama won state after state. "Pray," I thought. Pray for Obama, for my state, for my leaders, for the voters, for the world. God will give us everything we need. Read this excerpt from Muller's work (p. 41-42):
In March I was again tempted to doubt the faithfulness of the Lord. Although I was not worried about money, I was not fully resting upon Him so that I could triumph with joy. One hour later the Lord gave me another proof of His faithful love. A Christian lady brought five sovereigns for us, with these words written on paper: "I was hungry and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink."

On the morning of April 16 our money was reduced to three shillings. I said to myself, "I must now go and ask the Lord earnestly for fresh supplies." But before I had prayed, two pounds were sent from Exeter as proof that the Lord hears before we call.

Some may say that such a way of life leads a Christian away from the Lord and from caring about spiritual things. They say it may cause the mind to be occupied with questions like: "What shall I eat, what shall I drink, and what shall I wear?" I have experienced both ways and know that my present manner of living by trusting God for temporal things is connected with less care. Trusting the Lord for the supply of my temporal needs keeps me from anxious thoughts like: "Will my salary last and will I have enough for the next month?” In this freedom I am able to say, “My Lord is not limited. He knows my present situation, and He can supply all I need." Rather than causing anxiety, living by faith in God alone keeps my heart in perfect peace.
May we be filled with faith like Muller, praying all the while that God would do as he pleases and that we would be happy.

Stuff to Read, the Day After

Much to read today on the election of Barack Obama. Here is some stuff from my corner of the world you might find interesting:

Al Mohler.
Michael Gerson, here and here.
Denny Burk.
Randy Alcorn.
Justin Taylor.

Finally, Doug Groothuis:

Weep for America,
you who have tears
left for truth.

Weep for the continued
and soon to be intensified
slaughter of the innocents.

Weep for the supernatural stupefaction
that has overtaken us.

Weep that character
no longer counts,
that image is everything.

Weep that America has forgotten her


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

If the Patriots Can Lose the Superbowl...

...Barack Obama can lose this election.


John McCain is no Eli Manning.

The Choice for President Seems Clear

Pro-Life, or Anti-Abortion?

Stinging, true words here from Dan Edelen:
Well, conservative Christians are most definitely prolife, right? Not really. What we are is antiabortion. We are by no means prolife. If we were truly prolife then orphanages would be relegated solely to Dickens’s Oliver Twist, and nursing homes would be empty, instead of filled with our elderly parents. Again, what we are against and what we are for are not the same thing. We have to stop pretending they are.

For Your Good

The Apostle Paul, Romans 13:1-7:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Only Reason to Weigh In

From Randy Alcorn's blog today:
The only reason I weighed in on this election is because of the biblical and moral implications of child-killing. And yes, I still do believe that with all the other issues that matter, and there are many of them, not one of them (either in viciousness, defenselessness of the victims, or total fatalities) outweighs the holocaust of children, over a million of them each year. And while numerous people keep asking me why I'm not speaking up for children already born, my answer remains the same--no presidential candidate favors the legalized killing of children who are already born.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Patricia Heaton

Patricia Heaton, formerly of Everybody Loves Raymond, is also one of the only conservative Hollywood actors. Best of all, she is ardently pro-life and speaks out on life issues all the time. Hot Air interviews her below.

Calm Me Down, John

Watch a longer version where Piper discusses womanhood (his interesting take on Sarah Palin), race, and abortion.

If I Help Him, He's Gonna Help Me

Isn't this the idolatry I was talking about?

I haven't been alive that long, so I can't be sure. But has America ever seen a presidential candidate stir up this much adulation and veneration? Idolatry is the making of good things into ultimate things. But most people do so subliminally. The idolization of Obama, on the other hand, verges on out and out god-worship.


Point of No Return

Watch this interview with Peter Robinson and Thomas Sowell (of the Hoover Institute). Here is the most interesting part:
Robinson: If Obama wins and the Democrats increase their majorities in the House and Senate, a Wall Street Journal editorial argued recently, the country would find itself subjected to "one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history." Do you agree?

Sowell: Absolutely. It will create disasters in the economy. [But] that will pale by comparison to what they will do in terms of countries acquiring nuclear weapons and turning those over to terrorists....There is such a thing as the point of no return.
It is true that eschatologically focused Christians (read=extremists) will always say that the next president will bring about the apocalypse. Nevertheless, though I doubt I'll see Jesus in the next 8 years, I can't help but think Obama is going to help us turn the corner. The "point of no return," as Sowell said.



I am about halfway through the videos and they are amazing. The general theme is constrained vs. unconstrained visions of governance and public policy. The first video is an overview of this notion and the others lens to judge the current state of America. If you love heady, highly boring discussions, it's must watch stuff.

Scariest Athletes

SI ranks the scariest athletes. My favorite: Satan.

Cat in a Box

Blaise Pascal said, "All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever means they employ, they all tend to this end." Apparently, this goes for cats too, especially when it comes to diet drink boxes:

HT: Neatorama

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On, What are We Preaching?

More from Tim Keller's The Prodigal God (Dutton, 2008, 15-16):
Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the bro¬ken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we'd like to think.

Doug Groothuis on Abortion and the Election

Listen below starting at 4:05 to Doug Groothuis talk about abortion, the election and Barack Obama. Highly informative and compelling:

Something Else Entirely

From Tim Keller's brand new book, The Prodigal God, on how the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) would have been revolutionary, and downright offensive, to the Pharisees listening (Dutton, 2008, 13-14):
It is hard for us to realize this today, but when Christianity first arose in the world it was not called a religion. It was the non-religion. Imagine the neighbors of early Christians asking them about their faith. “Where's your temple?" they'd ask. The Christians would reply that they didn't have a temple. "But how could that be? Where do your priests labor?" The Christians would have replied that they didn't have priests. "But ... but," the neighbors would have sputtered, "where are the sacrifices made to please your gods?" The Christians would have responded that they did not make sacrifices anymore. Jesus him¬self was the temple to end all temples, the priest to end all priests, and the sacrifice to end all sacrifices.

No one had ever heard anything like this. So the Romans called them "atheists," because what the Christians were saving about spiritual reality was unique and could not be classified with the other re¬ligions of the world. This parable explains why they were absolutely right to call them atheists.

The irony of this should not be lost on us, standing as we do in the midst of the modern culture wars. To most people in our society, Christianity is religion and moralism. The only alternative to it (besides some other world religion) is pluralistic secularism. But from the beginning it was not so. Christianity was recognized as a tertium quid, something else entirely.

Cats o' the Week

This will make me feel better.




Born Alive

This will be my last post on abortion today. I doubt my soul take take much more. The video below is nearly unwatchable. It is graphic and horrendous. But it is real. Oh, it is all too real.

I think there about three people who read this blog (thank you). So trying to convince any of you to vote for McCain, or even having you send this around to friends and family who are voting, will probably not do much good. So I ask you to pray. All three of you. Take 2 or 30 or 60 minutes and pray that God end abortion. Pray for the babies, for the doctors, for the moms, for the politicians, for the Christians who have been fatigued, for the world, that they may see Christ and turn to him even now. God is the only one able to make it all stop.


Planned Parenthood: Infanticide Happens



Al Mohler on Fetus Fatigue

Read this great piece from Al Mohler on the changing trends in the abortion debate. Many in the pro-life movement have given up, believing that our only hope is trying to curb the number of abortions, not outlaw them. But, he is of course right when he writes,
But I just cannot get past one crucial, irreducible, and central issue -- the moral status of those unborn lives. They are not mine to negotiate. If abortion were a matter of concern for anything less than this, I would gladly negotiate. But abortion is a matter of life and death, and how can we negotiate with death? What moral sense does it make to settle for death as "safe, legal, and rare?" How safe? How rare?

Our considerations of these questions will reveal what we really think of those millions of unborn lives. Do we consider the battle for their lives permanently lost?

Those fighting for the abolition of slavery pressed on against obstacles and set backs worse than these because, after all, these were human lives they were defending. What if they had listened to those who, after Dred Scott and the Missouri Compromise, said that the battle was "permanently" lost? What if they had been intimidated by critics accusing them of "single-issue" voting?

If every single fetus is an unborn child made in the image of God, there is no moral justification for settling for a vague hope of some reduction in the number of fetal homicides. If the abortion fight is "permanently lost," it will be lost first among those who claim to be defenders of life -- those who tell us that the argument is merely changing.
Amen. Read the whole thing.

Single-Issue Uncomfortableness

Mark Galli writes today "on single-issue activists" and how they make him uncomfortable. He says:
Gay marriage opponents argue that legalizing homosexual marriage will signal the end of the family, the bedrock of civilization.

Creation care advocates tell us that if we don't reverse global warming soon, a planetary catastrophe awaits us.

Pro-lifers remind us not only of the sheer volume of annual abortions, but also that such casual treatment of human life, if left unchecked, will dehumanize our society to the point of barbarism.

In each case, the logic is simple: If this particular problem gets out of hand (if it hasn't already), the rest of the institutions of civilization will collapse like a string of dominoes. The argument seems irrefutable. One is hard-pressed to disagree. Nonetheless, I squirm under the relentless logic.
Galli goes on:
One reason is that when we mix passion and the logic, we end up with a bitter aftertaste. I expect each activist to make his most compelling case. But by the end of the pitch, I often feel manipulated. It's like I'm at a revival, where the preacher holds the fires of hell in front of me to prompt me to come forward and repent. When it comes to evangelism, we abandoned that technique long ago. These evangelical genes, though, often kick in again when we're trying to convince others to sign on to our social cause.

Another reason is that I have long been suspicious of "single-issue" activists. I imagine myself thoughtful and reasonable, and chuckle at people whose vote hinges simplistically on a single issue. I prefer the company of other journalists and pundits, as we drink our trade-free coffee, discuss the enormous complexity of the world, and how we're going to write about that in the next issue, again.
He concludes:
Yes, I still often find single-issue activists annoying and their arguments sometimes manipulative. But I also recognize that my reluctance to sign up often has little to do with overblown rhetoric or pushy personalities. Sometimes it can be chalked up to an unwillingness to risk all, to actually live a Jesus-life of sacrifice. I call it living a balanced life, or good stewardship of time and resources, or the pursuit of contemplative spirituality! It may be such for others. I suspect for me, it's sometimes just cowardice.
I'm not sure why he wrote this piece. A confession of his personal, inner struggle, I suppose? What frustrated me was his inaccurate, narrow description of why single-issue activists propound their issue so forcefully:
In each case, the logic is simple: If this particular problem gets out of hand (if it hasn't already), the rest of the institutions of civilization will collapse like a string of dominoes. The argument seems irrefutable. One is hard-pressed to disagree. Nonetheless, I squirm under the relentless logic.
This is unnecessarily narrow. I could agree that this is one reason why you would want to curb gay marriage or abortion, or help the environment. But is the only argument one of utilitarianism? The main reason I oppose abortion is because it is immoral, not because it is a slippery slope (even though it is). Even if we discovered that abortion helped society, I would still oppose it because killing babies is wrong.

Mark does go on to speak about abolitionists and Nazi-resistors and how they clearly were doing what was right, despite their passion for one issue. Nevertheless, one must wonder why he brings up utilitarianism at all. It points to the social philosophy of Bentham more than it does Christian morality. And this confuses the debate altogether.

If you're so inclined, read the whole thing. Though I don't know how helpful it will be to you.