Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dave Ramsey on the Financial Tumultousness

Dave Ramsey recently responded to the the recent downturn in the economy. What I like about him is that he talks to those of us on Main Street, not Wall Street:

Are we okay, Dave?

Definitely. Remember Enron and WorldCom in the recent years? We survived that. But much worse than all this was the financial crisis of the ‘80s – S&L collapse and 1,000 bank failures in 2 years. We’re nowhere near this type of thing; that was probably 50 to 100 times worse than all of this.

What does all of this come back to?

Greedy banks financing homes to broke people. It all seemed to work okay in their minds when the economy was booming, but when the economy slowed a little bit broke people quit paying on their subprime mortgages. DUH. No wonder they went out of business. Stupid decisions.

Is there anything we can do to fix this bailout mess?

YES! Here's a quick summary: Companies that had billions in subprime loans were feeling the effects of their stupid decision to make those loans in the first place, and practically gave them away for pennies on the dollar. But since no one wants these loans, and they've had to mark them down to market value, it has frozen the market. If we temporarily change the rule that forces companies to do that, that will free the market up.

This is an absolutely huge deal, and it involves everyone getting in touch with their congressperson before we spend hundreds of billions of dollars that we don't need to! Learn more

Read the rest of his comments.

Living Missionally in the Suburbs

Ed Stetzer was asked, "How can we live more missionally in suburbia (any practical suggestions)?" He responded,
First, I think churches in the suburbs need to reconsider and discover again the nature of the biblical gospel. To many, the suburbs mean success. I live in such a place — people move to my area because it is where the other successful people are moving. It is no closer to downtown that 5 other suburbs I could list, but it is the go-to place on the north side of Nashville. Thus, it attracts people who value success. Obviously, a biblical gospel calls us to weakness and not strength. In the midst of the celebration of riches and opulence around us, we hold up a gospel of self-denial, poverty of spirit, and forgiveness of sin.

Second, we want to be counter cultural and push for community. Much of the suburban situation is built around keeping you away from people. I can have my dry cleaning picked up, my groceries delivered, and my lawn mowed every week — and I never have to leave my house. (I have neighbors that I never see unless I intentionally see them.)

But, for us, we see that the church and its believers are sent on a mission. So, my family can be stalkers. We being cookies to all the new neighbors (our neighborhood is new). We invite people over for barbecues. We blow off dangerous amounts of fireworks and invite everyone over. If the suburbs push against community, we push for it.

Children are also a great point of connection. We built the swing set in our yard that their kids want to play on. We have a zip line they can swing down and break their legs. We have the tire swing in our yard (and, it is quite a tire-swing if I do say so myself). So, if you are looking for the kids, they are at my house– and the parents follow.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

How Were Old Testament Saints Saved?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Truth (Sigh)

An Atheist Owns Us


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Redneck Fun



Which is funnier...the dude swinging around on the back-hoe, or the guy with the glass of beer and a toothpick? I just can't decide.

Why Mark Driscoll Loves John Piper

Mark Driscoll heaps on the praise...
1. He is the most passionate guy I think I’ve ever met.

Of course, he is first and foremost passionate for the glory of God. But he is pretty much passionate about everything. For example, the first time we had him preach at Mars Hill Church the nuts we had out were unsalted. I learned that he is passionate about salted nuts.

2. He does not seem to really care about his approval ratings.

He does not own a television, and I would bet he spends less time checking what people say about him through Technorati and Google than he does watching television.

3. He has a father’s heart.

Unlike so many older men who are threatened by, competitive with, or critical of young men, I have repeatedly seen Dr. Piper have a father’s heart to encourage, exhort, and empower young men. The few times we’ve been able to sit down together have been incredibly transforming. On a few occasions he has been gracious enough to sit down with the young church planters in our Acts 29 Network with no microphones and very honestly answer the painful questions about life, ministry, and family. In those moments, from his heart and off the cuff comes pure gold that my brothers in Acts 29 still talk about. Especially noteworthy was the question from Jonathan McIntosh at The Journey Church in St. Louis, who asked what he would have to offer as final wisdom to young pastors. Piper buried his face in his hands to think and pray for a few minutes while the rest of us held our breath and waited. He then lifted his head and forcefully encouraged us to gouge out our eyes before looking at a woman lustfully (other than desiring our wives, of course) and chop off our hand before touching a woman other than our wife. Personally, I will never forget the time he told us about holding his stillborn grandchild around Christmastime as tears rolled down his face, describing how he prayed for God to resurrect the baby from death. As I looked around the room I saw dozens of young pastors, myself included, fighting back buckets of tears.

4. By not trying to be cool . . . he’s cool.

I cannot confirm it, but I think Dr. Piper may only have one jacket. I see him preach in it all the time and it’s a tweed coat with more than a few years of faithful service. I also think he may own one belt because I’ve only ever seen one. He drives a simple car, lives a simple life, does not have a tattoo (at least that I’ve seen), does not skateboard, and likes to read stuff by dead guys a lot. But by trying to just be himself rather than being cool, he has curiously become cool because he’s about Christ and that’s always cool.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

That IS a Big Horse

More on the Christian Response to the Economic Crisis

Al Mohler writes well here (and even simply enough that I can understand it) on the economy and how we as Christians should view it. Near the end of the article, he writes:
This current crisis should also remind Christians that we are not called to be mere economic actors, but stewards. Everything we are, everything we do, and everything we own truly belongs to God and is to be at the disposal of Kingdom purposes. This world is not our home and our treasure is not found here. We are to do all, invest all, own all, purchase all to the glory of God.

Finally, this current economic crisis just might help Christians to focus on another issue -- retirement. Where in the Bible are we told to aspire to years and decades of leisure without labor? There is nothing wrong with saving for what the world calls retirement. Indeed, that is just good stewardship. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with workers enjoying the fruit of their labor. But Christians should think of retirement as an opportunity to be redeployed for Kingdom service.
Read the whole thing.

Piper on Dependance on the Gospel

I Could Do This if I Wanted To



HT: Neatorama

Mark Driscoll, Frolicking

You seriously have to see the intro Mars Hill has done for their new series on the Song of Solomon. See the video and other odd/awesome materials here.

Music: Ron Block

This is a tune from Ron Block of Union Station. He's really an amazing instrumentalist. He's also a committed Christian. Check out this tune and lyrics:

Jesus, in Chesterton's Eyes

G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy, p. 154:
Instead of looking at books and pictures about the New Testament I looked at the New Testament. There I found an account, not in the least of a person with his hair parted in the middle or his hands clasped in appeal, but of an extraordinary being with lips of thunder and acts of lurid decision, flinging down tables, casting out devils, passing with the wild secrecy of the wind from mountain isolation to a sort of dreadful demagogy; a being who often acted like an angry god—and always like a god. Christ had even a literary style of his own, not to be found, I think, elsewhere; it consists of an almost furious use of the A FORTIORI. His “how much more” is piled one upon another like castle upon castle in the clouds. The diction used ABOUT Christ has been, and perhaps wisely, sweet and submissive. But the diction used by Christ is quite curiously gigantesque; it is full of camels leaping through needles and mountains hurled into the sea. Morally it is equally terrific; he called himself a sword of slaughter, and told men to buy swords if they sold their coats for them. That he used other even wilder words on the side of non-resistance greatly increases the mystery; but it also, if anything, rather increases the violence. We cannot even explain it by calling such a being insane; for insanity is usually along one consistent channel. The maniac is generally a monomaniac. Here we must remember the difficult definition of Christianity already given; Christianity is a superhuman paradox whereby two opposite passions may blaze beside each other. The one explanation of the Gospel language that does explain it, is that it is the survey of one who from some supernatural height beholds some more startling synthesis.
HT: JH

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Digital Intimacy

Read this article from the NYT on Facebook, Twitter and other similar web social networking sites.

How to Prepare for Suffering

John Piper has some wise words on how to prepare for sudden suffering:
Repentance

Suffering is a call for us and others to turn from treasuring anything on earth above God.

Luke 13:4-5 - Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Reliance

Suffering is a call to trust God not the life-sustaining props of the world.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 - For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

Righteousness

Suffering is the discipline of our loving heavenly Father so that we come to share his holiness.

Hebrews 12:6, 10-11 - The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.... He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Reward

Suffering is working for us a great reward in heaven that will make up for every loss here a thousand-fold.

2 Corinthians 4:17 - This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

Matthew 5:11-12 - Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.

Reminder

Suffering reminds us that God sent his Son into the world to suffer so that our suffering would not be God’s condemnation but his purification.

Philippians 3:10 - ...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings.

Mark 10:45 - The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Iraq is Better

The war in Iraq, or even just Iraq for that matter, has not gotten much news as of late. Recall in 2006 the daily reports of explosions and casualties and deaths. Not anymore. Why? Are the new agencies so weary of the violence that they have ceased reporting? No way. There is no news because there is no news. Read Dexter Filkins piece in the NYT. It is truly astounding the transformation that has taken place there. He writes:
When I left Iraq in the summer of 2006, after living three and a half years here following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, I believed that evil had triumphed, and that it would be many years before it might be stopped. Iraq, filled with so many people living so close together, nurturing dark and unknowable grievances, seemed destined for a ghastly unraveling.

And now, in the late summer of 2008, comes the calm. Violence has dropped by as much as 90 percent. A handful of the five million Iraqis who fled their homes — one-sixth of all Iraqis — are beginning to return. The mornings, once punctuated by the sounds of exploding bombs, are still. Is it possible that the rage, the thirst for revenge, the sectarian furies, have begun to fade? That Iraqis have been exhausted and frightened by what they have seen?
Read the whole thing.

Our prayers, I am sure, are still needed for the ravaged country and its people. Continue to pray that inroads are made with the Gospel.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

An Open Letter To Obama Supporting Christians

Read it.

Tough Times for the Wealthy

Below the fold in this morning's WSJ, there's an article on what the wealthy in NY are sacrificing as they face financial uncertainty. It reads:
A nose job in a hospital with a private nurse in attendance had been something of a rite of passage for Joan Asher's children. But when her fourth and last child was ready for her own rhinoplasty recently, Ms. Asher asked her to postpone it.

The financial markets were simply more out of whack than her 16-year-old's proboscis.

"The other noses were more prominent," the stay-at-home mother from a tony New York City suburb in Westchester County told her 16-year-old daughter. She could get hers done when things settled down.
If it weren't so sad, it would be laughable. Read the whole thing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

ESV Study Bible



Order it today.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

God and Sexuality

John Frame on Politics

Read this closely. If one could sum up how Christians should engage politics in two paragraphs, John Frame has done it (from The Doctrine of the Christian Life, p. 617):
...in some cultures (like the ancient Roman, in which the New Testament was written) there is not much that Christians can do, other than pray, to influence political structures and policies. But when they can influence them, they should. In modern democracies, all citizens are 'lesser magistrates' by virtue of the ballot box. Christians have an obligation to vote according to God's standards. And, as they are gifted and called, they should influence others to vote in the same way.

This is not to say that political choices are always obvious. Often we must choose the lesser of two evils. Candidate Mershon may have a better view of one issue than Candidate Beates, while Beates has a better view on a different issue. It is an art to weigh the importance of different issues and to come to a godly conclusion. Each of us should have a large amount of tolerance for other Christians who come to conclusions that are different from ours. Rarely will one issue trump all others, though I must say that I will never vote for a candidate who advocates or facilitates the killing of unborn children.

So he is saying that Christians must engage not as partisans, but as believers in Christ. We live by a different set of standards and should therefore never vote exclusively with one party. However, there are some political choices that will be obvious. I pray you know what those choices are.

HT: Z

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Economy

Justin Taylor interviewed David Kotter about the struggling economy and especially about the events of the last few days. Though I am sure some of his comments could be debated, he gives a simple explanation to what is going on. His final word on the matter is the most helpful:
For believers, this is just one more reason to "not love the world or the things in the world" which is "passing away along with its desires" (1 John 2:15, 16). In Louisville we have been without electricity since Sunday, and it makes me increasingly grateful that our God is independent and powerful enough to accomplish his good will every moment. Lighting candles each night reminds me that I am not!

Although it will be harder to obtain aggressive mortgages, Christians who are practicing prudent financial stewardship (modest houses, large down payments, monthly payments easily within their means, diligent participation in the work force) should not have much problem. Everyone will want to verify that their savings account is government insured, but believers with a generous "wartime mindset" should have no trouble keeping their bank accounts under $100,000 FDIC limit. Above all, don't be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor what you will wear. Remember that journalists, markets, and lemmings tend to move in herds. The media never reports on thousands of planes that land safely, but solely focuses on one that doesn't. In that light, if you are saving for retirement more than 10 years from now, this actually would be a good time to invest in the stock market. But don't let your IRA be a substitute god or distract you from treasuring Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:24-34).
Read the whole thing.

Against the Crucifix

N.T. Wright, in What St. Paul Really Said (p. 46):
Crucifixes regularly appear as jewelry in today's post-Christian Western world, and the wearers are often blissfully unaware that their pretty ornament depicts the ancient equivalent, all in one, of the hangman's noose, the electric chair, the thumbscrew, and the rack. Or, to be more precise, something which combined all four but went far beyond them; crucifixion was such an utterly horrible thing that the very word was usually avoided in polite Roman society. Every time Paul spoke of it--especially when he spoke of it in the same breath of salvation, love, grace and freedom--he and his hearers must have been conscious of the slap in the face thereby administered to their normal expectation and sensibilities. Somehow, we need to remind ourselves of this every time Paul mentions Jesus' death, especially the mode of death.

Slippery Slope

"There are no beer bashes at Liberty, and no coed dorms, but it doesn't have to be a monastery."

--Jerry Falwell Jr. on the plan for a year-round artificial ski slope on their campus.

HT: CT Quotation Marks

Package Wichita Palin

That would be my name if I were blessed enough to be adopted by the Palin Family. What would your name be? Click here to find out.

HT: Kuo

Rejoinder to Brooks

Just so you know, this is not a blog about politics but about stuff I find interesting. And I find Sarah Palin interesting. So I wrote about her the other day. I said she made me "uneasy." This uneasiness rose to the surface after I read David Brooks' column on her and her lack of experience. At the time his argument seemed sound. I could have been wrong. Listen to Laura Ingraham's response:
THE CONSERVATIVE ELITES ATTACK!

In today's New York Times, David Brooks launches a critique of Sarah Palin, essentially concluding that her populist appeal is dangerous and ill-conceived. He yearns for the day when "conservatism was once a frankly elitist movment," one that stressed "classical education, hard-earned knowledged, experience, and prudence." Brooks, like a handful of other conservative intellectuals, believes Palin "compensates for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness."

Well, at the risk of appearing brash, let me say that I am glad to see my old friend finally pushed to the point where he has to make an overt defense of elitism, after years of demonstrating covert support for elitism. We conservatives who believe Governor Palin represents a solid vice-presidential pick should be extremely comfortable engaging this issue.

Brooks's main argument against Palin is that she lacks the type of experience and historical understanding that led President Bush to a 26 percent approval rating in his final months in office. Yet the notion that the Bush Administration got into trouble because it didn't have enough "experience" is absurd. George W. Bush was governor of Texas for six years. His father was president. His primary advisors on matters of foreign policy were Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Colin Powell. In 2000, it could hardly have been possible to find a more experienced team to head up a GOP administration. Brooks's notion that the Bush Administration was "the anti-establishment attitude put into executive practice" is simply ludicrous. Does anyone believe that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld count as "anti-establishment"?

Of course, we could also consider the Nixon Administration. Who had more experience than Richard Nixon? How'd that work out? What about George H.W. Bush? How did his administration do? What about Herbert Hoover — who had vast experience both in terms of dealing with foreign countries during World War I and in terms of dealing with the U.S. economy as secretary of Commerce? How did he do? The truth is that Brooks's basic claim — that experienced leaders are necessarily better than inexperienced leaders — simply doesn't hold water.

Now let's look at the broader issue of elitism versus populism. For Brooks to be right, his elites have to make better policy judgments than average Americans. But he overlooks the fact that in America we have a particularly bad elite, an elite that holds most Americans in contempt and has no sympathy for the history and traditions that make us great. And that elite has been wrong on issue after issue for most of the last 40 years. Who was more right about the Soviet Union, the elites or the people? Who was more right about the need to cut taxes in the 1970s, the elites or the people? Who was more right about the need to get tough on crime, the elites in black robes with life tenure, or the folks cheering for Dirty Harry? Who would Brooks trust to decide critical issues regarding the War on Terror today, the voters or the inside-the-Beltway types who lose sleep over tough interrogation tactics? Elites — particularly our American elite — are much more likely to go for the latest fad, for seek to apply whatever notion is currently trendy in the salons of Europe. To find true Burkean conservatism in this country — to find citizens who are both respectful of our country's traditions and anxious to see our country remain a world leader — you have to turn to the voters.

The truth is that it is no longer possible to govern this country through a conservative elite. We have a radical elite, an elite that believes in climate change, gay marriage, unrestricted abortions, and the United Nations. We have an elite that intends to make massive, liberal changes to every aspect of American life. This elite ruins almost everything it touches — from the schools, to the media, to the universities. Giving more power to the elites means watching the United States become more and more like Europe.

Populism rests on two great insights. First, it understands that the people (taken as a whole) are often wiser and more prudent than the elites. Average people are almost always respectful of tradition, while elites tend to act like an angry mob trying to tear down the old idols. Second, populism understands that it's not enough to actually have the right policy ideas, you have to have the will to take on the elites who will try to prevent those ideas from going into place. In order to get anything accomplished, the GOP is going to have to use public opinion to override the objections of liberals, including liberals in the media.

Does Sarah Palin have the political skills to successfully govern this country from a populist perspective? It's far too early to say. She is certainly the most promising such figure to come along since the elites were denouncing Ronald Reagan. And therefore we should all wish her well. It is silly to criticize her at this early stage until we know a lot more about her abilities as a leader. I am glad to say that her instincts appear to be sound.
HT : The Corner

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Most Massive Theology

From Donald Macleod's The Humiliated and Exalted Lord:
Theology exists in order to be applied to the day-to-day problems of the Christian church. Every doctrine has its application. All scripture is profitable and all the doctrine is profitable. Similarly all the application must be based on doctrine. In both the Philippians example-passage and the Corinthian example-passage, Paul is dealing with what are surely comparative trivia, the problem of vain glory in a Christian congregation and the problem of failure of Christian liberality. As a Pastor one meets with these difficulties daily. They are standing problems. Yet Paul, as he wrestles with both of them, has recourse to the most massive theology. It’s not only that you have the emphasis on the unity between theology and practice but you have the emphasis on the applicability of the profoundest theology to the most mundane and most common-place problems. Who would ever imagine that the response to the glory of the incarnation might be to give to the collection for the poor? Who might imagine that the application of the glories of New Testament Christology might be to stop our quarreling and our divisiveness in the Christian ekklesia? That is what Paul is doing here. He is telling them: You have these practical problems; the answer is theological; remember your theology and place your behavior in the light of that theology. Place your little problems in the light of the most massive theology. We ourselves in our Christian callings are to be conscious of this. We must never leave our doctrine hanging in the air, nor hesitate to enforce the most elementary Christian obligations with the most sublime doctrines.
HT: JT via Ligon Duncan

Haiti

Next time you see a report on a Hurricane barreling towards America, don't forget about Haiti.



I am in the middle of reading A Crime So Monstrous and just finished the chapter on Haitian child slavery (read a quote from it here). It is baffling to me how a country like this can suffer so miserably. America, the greatest and wealthiest country ever, stands miles from her shore but is unable to help with any sort of sufficiency. It is truly an odd world we live in.

Pray.

HT: Z

Never Mind. I Love Her Again

Palin Bags a Bigfoot:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Uneasiness

I have been uneasy about Sarah Palin since I heard her answer some questions. But before that, I was almost in love. An anti-establishment, magnetic, powerful person hailing from a "frontier state." She abhors abortion and wants to fix government. Ahh. The current state of politics is so atrocious that her entrance into the foray was like having pure oxygen forced into my lungs after breathing soot for years. But, like I said, this was before she had to answer extemporaneously. Though many (on the right) claimed she did fine, I was not so sure. Her engagement with Gibson was, as one writer put it, a "white-knuckle affair." And so I didn't sleep much that Thursday night. This person that felt so right wasn't feeling so right anymore.

I tried to convince myself that it wasn't a big deal that I could have answered Gibson's questions better than her. "She doesn't need to know a lot yet" I said to myself. "She has to be a lot." And that is possible. But then I recalled reading John Adams. David McCullough masterfully wrote of the men who drafted the constitution. Though humble, they were the best of the best, especially Adams. Their ability to lead stemmed from their great brilliance and integrity. Our enduring Constitution is owing, is large part, to the deft ability of those men.

But obviously, things have changed. Vanity (ushered in by way of the TV) now disallows many of those "best" from serving publicly. Moreover, The flatness of the world has brought with it unparalleled, intolerant and partisan media scrutiny, keeping many from even considering politics. Now it is true that there have been some smart men in the last 40 years that have attained the presidency or run for it (Clinton is overtly brilliant). And yet, these smart men have tended to be hopelessly narcissistic, and are therefore have little capacity to govern well. So, it seems, we are left with two options. The smart yet self-centered, or the less adept yet new and refreshing. I am uneasy with both, but focus on the latter.

Is our only hope for another Adams Sarah Palin? Perhaps, and I hope so. And as a Christian, I know that God will use whomever he pleases to see his great purposes accomplished (there is no difference to God between Adams and Palin). But I am not God. I have to try and use my puny brain and determine if some are fit for office and others not. Until I see something different from Palin, I will wallow in my uneasiness.

Read David Brook's piece from the NYT. He helped me understand a bit more why I was uneasy.

Be an Originalist

60 Minutes did an extended piece on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last night. It was really good and informative. But beyond why he and his view is important to America, I, of course, had to see something theological in it. There are two parts to the interview (here and here), but the section pertinent to my point can be watched below:




Antonin Scalia is a first rate interpreter, not creator. His sole job, as he sees it, is to determine what the founding fathers originally intended when they penned the Constitution. "There is no right to abortion" he would say. :It's just not there." His task is very much like that of a biblical interpreter. Pastors, theologians, scholars, and every Christian, must study the scriptures the same way Scalia studies the Constitution. Before you can apply the scriptures to your life, you must first try and determine, to the best of your ability, what the authors originally intended in their time and in their context. The wrong way to look at any text would be to immediately ask of it "What does it mean for me?" If you don't know what it meant back then, you won't be able to understand what it means for you today. By asking the W's (i.e. who, what, etc.), you'll be on your way to figuring out what exactly Paul, Moses, Luke, et al were actually talking about. And then, in truth, you will be an originalist.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The "I Hate It When This Happens" Post



Seriously. Who buys a grill at a flea-market? I get all mine at swap-meets.

"Though He Cause Grief"

I was struck as I read last night these verses from Lamentations:
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men, (31-33).
This is substantial. Jeremiah tries to explain the immense complexity of God and those who suffer at his hand by saying two things: (1) God causes grief, and (2) He does not willingly do it. So this means that God does see fit to bring about some suffering. However, he never does so joyfully. Or, as Ezekiel records from God, "As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked," (33:11). What are we to make of this? I think John Piper is correct when he writes in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God,
Jeremiah gives us a glimpse into the mysterious complexity of the mind of God in Lamentations 3:32-33, “Though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.” Literally: “He does not from his heart [millibbô] afflict or grieve the children of men.” He ordains that suffering come— “though he cause grief”—but his delight is not in the suffering, but in the great purpose of creation: the display of the glory of the grace of God in the suffering of Christ for the salvation of sinners, (p. 86).
So when I stand outside my daughter's room and listen to her scream herself to sleep, I do not do so willingly, "from my heart." I do so that she might find a deeper joy than would have been available had she not gone through her little trial. God looks upon the world same way, for his glory and our good (salvation).


See also the article by Piper, "Are There Two Wills in God"?

I Learned Innocence from My Daughter

In Matthew 27, Judas realizes that his betrayal would lead to the death of Christ. So he runs to those who gave him the blood money and exclaimed, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood," (4). It isn't clear here if Judas meant that Jesus was not guilty, or if he finally realized that his master, the Christ, was perfect. The scriptures make clear that Christ came into the world as he left it: sinless. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that he "knew no sin" (5:21) and the author of Hebrews said that Jesus is "one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin," (4:15). Hebrews goes on to say, unequivocally, that the Christ is "holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens," (7:26). This was of course necessary for Christ to stand as a propitiation on our behalf. Were he at all marred by sin, he could not have been a substitute. Until recently, however, I had not understood the gravity of this transaction. The killing of an innocent, the only innocent.

I think that it is hard for humans to understand the perfection of Christ. His adulthood brought with it all our peculiar oddities. But more than that, we are so used to the imperfection of adults that it is nearly impossible to see Jesus for who he is. This is how it was for me until one Christmas. My wife had been cast as Mary in a small reenactment of the Nativity account. For once in my life, I found myself sitting with everyone else. As she came in with Joseph, I immediately saw she was holding a baby. I had forgotten they weren't go to use a doll. As I started at that beautiful little boy, one penetrating image entered my mind. Though graphic, it was an image of that tiny boy nailed to a cross.

I firmly believe that even babies have a sinful nature. But they are the most perfect amongst us. Their bodies are still relatively pure. Every adult has been worn down by sin the same way junkies are worn down by heroine. But newly born babies are different. There is a reason we use the phrase, "Innocent child." They are, for the most part, pure. But think then on Christ, the one who has no sinful nature. Think about that man nailed to the cross, more perfect than any child, more innocent than any baby.

And so I think about my daughter. She points to the perfection of Christ. He, the "lamb without blemish or spot," was wholly undeserving of his punishment, yet bore the penalty anyway.

Existential Randomness

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ubiquity

Check out this killer new technology from Mozilla (they do the Firefox browser). Revolutionary? Probably not. But pretty cool. Check out the video:

Would You Be Happy in Heaven if God Were Not There?

John Piper, from God is the Gospel:
My point in this book is that all the saving events and all the saving blessings of the gospel are means of getting obstacles out of the way so that we might know and enjoy God most fully. Propitiation, redemption, forgiveness, imputation, sanctification, liberation, healing, heaven—none of these is good news except for one reason: they bring us to God for our everlasting enjoyment of him. If we believe all these things have happened to us, but do not embrace them for the sake of getting to God, they have not happened to us. Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It’s a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don’t want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel.

Music: Jerry Douglas

On dobro. Phenom.



(Sorry the whole thing is not there. The best part is the beginning anyway.)

Sola gratia

I posted yesterday on grace. God works into our lives his grace in a way that counteracts our nature. Without the work of grace in our lives we would act in accordance with the sinfulness we are prone to. And that sinfulness is much darker than any of us realize. Were it not for the intervening act of God, we would not refrain from any of those acts of evil and malice that seem so foreign to us today. That sort of evil is only foreign to us because of the grace of God.

I was reminded of this truth this morning as I watched the footage from a show on the 9/11 attacks that is going to run tonight on the History Channel, 102 Minutes that Changed America (viewer beware). The contrasting images of the horror above and the valor below are truly amazing. But what is the difference between the men who flew the planes into the buildings and the men who went up into them after they had been hit? Grace.

God Forbid

From the LA Times blog:

Sarah and Todd Palin's decision to complete her recent pregnancy, despite advance notice that their baby Trig had Down syndrome, is hailed by many in the pro-life movement as walking the walk as well as talking the talk.

But a senior Canadian doctor is now expressing concerns that such a prominent public role model as the governor of Alaska and potential vice president of the United States completing a Down syndrome pregnancy may prompt other women to make the same decision against abortion because of that genetic abnormality. And thereby reduce the number of abortions.

Published reports in Canada say about 9 out of 10 women given a diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy through abortion.

Dr. Andre Lalonde, executive vice president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Ottawa, worries that Palin's now renowned decision may cause abortions in Canada to decline as other women there and elsewhere opt to follow suit.

He says not every woman is prepared to deal with the consequences of Down babies, who have developmental delays, some physical difficulties and often a shortened lifespan.

God forbid some people be burdened like this. The obvious solution is murder.

HT: Hotair

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cats and Printers



HT: Neatorama

On Money

From Randy Alcorn's The Treasure Principle, p. 25-26:
Whenever we think like owners, it's a red flag. We should be thinking like stewards, investment managers, always looking for the best place to invest the Owner's money. At the end of our term of service, we'll undego a job performance evaluation: "For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.... So then, each of us will give an account of Himself to God" (Romans14:10,12).

Our name is on God's account. We have unrestricted access to it, a piviledge that is subject to abuse. As His money managers, God trusts us to set our own salaries. We draw needed funds from His wealth to pay our living expenses. One of our spiritual decisions is determinig what is a reasonable amount to live on. Whatever that amount is--and it will legitimatley vary from person to person--we shouldn't hoard or spend the excess. After all, it's His, not ours. And He has something to say about where to put it.

Grace

Camille Paglia on abortion:

But the pro-life position, whether or not it is based on religious orthodoxy, is more ethically highly evolved than my own tenet of unconstrained access to abortion on demand. My argument (as in my first book, "Sexual Personae,") has always been that nature has a master plan pushing every species toward procreation and that it is our right and even obligation as rational human beings to defy nature's fascism. Nature herself is a mass murderer, making casual, cruel experiments and condemning 10,000 to die so that one more fit will live and thrive.

Hence I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue. The state in my view has no authority whatever to intervene in the biological processes of any woman's body, which nature has implanted there before birth and hence before that woman's entrance into society and citizenship.

My wife has been asking me recently how it is that people can think like this. She is especially baffled at nurses and doctors who routinely end the lives of babies. The only answer we have is grace. Unless God extends to us his unmerited grace, we will act in accordance with our sinful nature. So the issue is not how good we are but how bad we are. If we were left to ourselves, we would all become Mengelas, Stalins, Dahmers and the like. But because we are covered by the common grace of God (to varying degrees), we are prone to love and justice. And when we are covered by the grace of Christ, we are saved. 1 Corinthians 2:7-10:
But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"--these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
HT: The Corner

Fist to Keyboard

Dane Cook once said about You Tube, "Make your hand into a fist and punch the keyboard. There is a video for that." I think I discovered that video.



Now I am going to take my fist and punch my head.

HT: Monk

Exegeting on CNN



HT: Challies

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On How to Practically Engage the Abortion Issue

Many of the "fetus-fatigued" today believe that Republicans, conservatives and Christians talk a good game with regard to ending abortion, but do little about it. There is some truth to that. To that end, D.A. Carson lays out six ways we can move beyond making the case against "easy abortion" and practically engage this difficult issue. Here are the points:

1. Circulate hard facts.
2. Present such facts as the moral position, but never with a self-righteous or triumphalist stance.
3. Go for the small gain. And then keep going.
4. Make sure that opposition to abortion is married to support for unwed mothers, counseling centers, practical help for under-age moms, and the like.
5. Expose the emptiness of "hard case" legislation.
6. Recognizing that the activist court of the last few decades is ultimately going to call the shots on these matters, the business of judicial appointments has become more and more important.

Read the whole thing. It will be worth your time.

HT: JT

Hurricanes

From space.

HT: Neatorama

Divine Election

Is divine election unfair? John MacArthur answers this question well:

In spite of the clarity with which Scripture addresses this topic, many professing Christians today struggle in their acceptance of God’s sovereignty — especially when it comes to His electing work in salvation. Their most common protest, of course, is that the doctrine of election is unfair. But such an objection stems from a human idea of fairness, rather than the objective, divine understanding of true justice. In order to appropriately address the issue of election, we must set aside all human considerations and focus instead on the nature of God and His righteous standard. Divine justice is where the discussion must begin.

What is Divine justice? Simply stated, it is an essential attribute of God whereby He infinitely, perfectly, and independently does exactly what He wants to do when and how He wants to do it. Because He is the standard of justice, by very definition, then whatever He does is inherently just. As William Perkins said, many years ago, “We must not think that God doeth a thing because it is good and right, but rather is the thing good and right because God willeth it and worketh it.”

Therefore God defines for us what justice is, because He is by nature just and righteous, and what He does reflects that nature. His own free will and nothing else is behind His justice. This means that whatever He wills, is just; and it is just, not because of any external standard of justice, but simply because He wills it.

Because the justice of God is an outflow of His character, it is not subject to fallen human assumptions of what justice should be. The Creator owes nothing to the creature, not even what He is graciously pleased to give. God does not act out of obligation and compulsion, but out of His own independent prerogative. That is what it means to be God. And because He is God, His freely determined actions are intrinsically right and perfect.

To say that election is unfair is not only inaccurate, it fails to recognize the very essence of true fairness. That which is fair, and right, and just is that which God wills to do. Thus, if God wills to choose those whom He would save, it is inherently fair for Him to do so. We cannot impose our own ideas of fairness onto our understanding of God’s working. Instead, we must go to the Scriptures to see how God Himself, in His perfect righteousness, decides to act.

Jesus in Our American Image

Colin Hansen reviews Jesus Made in America: A Cultural History from the Puritans to the Passion of the Christ by Stephen Nichols. Colin quotes Nichols:
'Today's American evangelicals may be quick to speak of their love for Jesus, even wearing their devotion on their sleeve, literally in the case of WWJD bracelets,' Nichols writes. 'But they may not be so quick to articulate an orthodox view of the object of their devotion. Their devotion is commendable, but the lack of a rigorous theology behind it means that a generation of contemporary evangelicals is living off of borrowed capital.'
Read the whole thing.

"Jesus is a Friend of Mine"



They will know that we are Christians by our...awesome music.

Missional Living


Benched from Brandon McCormick on Vimeo.

Child Slavery

John Piper blogged the other day on child slavery in Haiti. He quoted Benjamin Skinner from the book A Crime So Monstrous:

…[Slaves] are everywhere. Assuming that this is your first trip to Haiti, you won't be able to identify them. But to a lower-middle-class Haitian, their status is 'written in blood.' Some are as young as three or four years old. But they'll always be the small ones, even if they're older. The average fifteen-year-old child slave is 1.5 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than the average free fifteen-year-old. They may have burns from cooking for their overseer's family over an open fire; or scars from beatings, sometimes in public, with the martinet, electrical cables, or wood switches. They wear faded, outsized castoffs, and walk barefoot, in sandals or, if they are lucky, oversized shoes...

[Y]ou may see their tiny necks and delicate skulls straining as they tote five-gallon buckets of water on their heads while navigating broken glass and shattered roads.

These are the restavéks, the 'stay-withs,' (child slaves) as they are euphemistically known in Creole. Forced, unpaid, they work from before dawn until deep night. The violence in their lives is unyielding. These are the children who won't look into your eyes. (-6)

Nationwide the number of restavéks ballooned from 109,000 in 1992 to 300,000, or one in ten Haitian children, in 1998, to 400,000 in 2002." (7).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sarah Palin for President

When Sara Palin revealed to reporters that she was pregnant, she "joked about giving her child the middle name Van, since Van Palin would sound sort of like the hard rock band Van Halen."

Is it too late to switch McCain to the Vice President slot?

Sarah and Trig

There's a great article in the NYT today on Sarah Palin, her pregnancy, and the the birth of he Down syndrome son, Trig. Check it out.

HT: Hotair

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Anti-Abortionism and Family Values

Read Jacob Weisberg's piece in Slate called "Whatever Happened to Family Values: How the GOP Gave Into Anti-Abortion Absolutism." His argument is best summed up in the following two paragraphs:

In fact, these two conservative social goals—ending abortion and upholding the model of the nuclear family—were always in tension. The reason is that, like it or not, the availability of legal abortion supports the kind of family structure that conservatives once felt so strongly about: two parents raising children in a stable relationship, without government assistance. By 12th grade, 60 percent of high school girls are sexually active or, as Reagan put it, "promiscuous." Teen-pregnancy rates have been trending downward in recent years, but even so, 7 percent of high-school girls become pregnant every year. And the unfortunate reality is that teenagers who carry their pregnancies to term drastically diminish their chances of living out the conservative, or the American, dream.

Forget the Juno scenario—in the real world, only a tiny fraction of unwed mothers give their babies up for adoption. If you do not allow teenage girls who accidentally become pregnant to have abortions, you are demanding either that they raise their children as single mothers or that they marry in shotgun weddings. By the numbers, neither choice is promising. Unmarried teenage moms seldom get much financial or emotional support from the fathers of their babies. They tend to drop out of high school and go on the dole, and they are prone to lives of poverty, frustration, and disorder. Only 2 percent of them make it through college by the age of 30. The Bristol Palin option doesn't promote family happiness, stability, or traditional structure, either. Of women under 18 who marry, whether because of pregnancy or not, nearly half divorce within 10 years—double the rate for those who wait until they're 25.

He then says:
I've long expected the Republican Party to resolve this conflict in its social vision by moderating its stance on abortion. Politically, pro-life absolutism has never made much sense.
Articles like these never fail to amaze me. For the sake of partisanship, for the sake of holding onto ideals that have become idols, some will throw out all standards, all logic. Now I could care less about the GOP. Though Weisberg is clearly dismayed at the supposed hypocrisy of the Republicans, that should not concern us. What should concern us is this issue. He says boldly, "You can't have your cake and eat it to." If we want nuclear families, we have give up our anti-abortion stance.

1. The logical absurdity of his argument leads me to believe he doesn't actually believe what he's arguing. Rather, he finds conservative values so bizarre and illogical that he thinks by being cute, he'll be able to expose us for who we are. Even so, one must answer the argument.

2. Nuclear families are a goal, not an absolute. Though we understand that kids are better off with a married mom and a dad, we of course realize that there are circumstances that do not always allow for that.

3. Ending abortion is both a goal and an absolute. We hope that abortions will decrease in America to the point where they are non-existent. However, we also believe that this issue has primacy over all other issues. It is absolute. Nuclear families are great and beneficial. Saving lives is much more important. That should be obvious.

A Culture of Fear and Protection

From Kerri Augusto in Newsweek:
It seems that we are up against a rising tide of scheduled childhoods born from a culture of fear. No one…allows her young child to explore the woods, wander local neighborhoods or ride a bike across town without supervision…We have come to accept that it is our job to keep our children from harm at the expense of everything else.
I saw a 10-year-old girl riding a bike in our neighborhood the other day while I was walking with my fam. I asked my wife if she'd let our daughter do that. She promptly responded, "Never."

HT: LT

Saturday, September 6, 2008

God-Centeredness

“The acid test of biblical God-centeredness—and faithfulness to the gospel—is this: Do you feel more loved because God makes much of you, or because, at the cost of his Son, he enables you to enjoy making much of him forever?”

-John Piper, God is the Gospel, p. 11

Friday, September 5, 2008

Procrastination Flowchart

















HT: Neatorama

People Who Live Without TV

Clara Moskowitz writes today in Live Science about people who do not watch TV. Her findings, while interesting, should not be shocking. This passage was particularly striking:
"Non-viewers had a greater variety of things that they did with their free time than viewers did," Krcmar said. "It's not just that they were reading instead of watching TV. They were hiking and biking, and going to community meetings and visiting with friends. Overall, they tend to do more of everything."
My childhood was consumed with TV. Every day after school for hours. And, of course, that is habit for me now. I don't watch nearly as much as I used to, but when I do, I do so for the same reason: to escape. From hard work, from thinking too hard, from dealing with the harder things in life. Yes, for entertainment, but more deeply than that, to escape reality. And this has led to a decreased ability to concentrate, to comprehend and to work long stretches without getting distracted.

This, consequently, is now a front and center issue in our household since the baby came home. Can I properly raise her with a TV in the home? I am not sure. Boundaries can be set (e.g. only at certain times, no TV in bedrooms, etc.). But I fear even an hour a day could be detrimental. So the question I keep on coming back to is, What harm will it do by removing it from our lives completely? And more profoundly, does TV watching increase our love and affection for Christ, or does it lessen it? Listen to these words from John Piper from Pierced by the Word:
If all other variables are equal, your capacity to know God deeply will probably diminish in direct proportion to how much television you watch. There are several reasons for this. One is that television reflects American culture at its most trivial. And a steady diet of triviality shrinks the soul. You get used to it. It starts to seem normal. Silly becomes funny. And funny becomes pleasing. And pleasing becomes soul-satisfaction. And in the end, the soul that is made for God has shrunk to fit snugly around triteness. This may be unnoticed, because if all you’ve known is American culture, you can’t tell there is anything wrong. If you have only read comic books, it won’t be strange that there are no novels in your house. If you live where there are no seasons, you won’t miss the colors of fall. If you watch fifty TV ads each night, you may forget there is such a thing as wisdom. TV is mostly trivial. It seldom inspires great thoughts or great feelings with glimpses of great Truth. God is the great absolute, all-shaping Reality. If He gets any airtime, He is treated as an opinion. There is no reverence. No trembling. God and all that He thinks about the world is missing. Cut loose from God and everything goes down.
My sense is that insofar as TV is an escape from reality, it is also an escape from those things that should make us great. When we enter into fake reality, we are escaping from the difficulties of life: suffering, hardship, grief, pain, failure. But those, the scriptures say, are the things that would have made us the wisest, the holiest, the most compassionate, the happiest. Romans 5:3-5 "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

So I suppose I could say use TV wisely. But I can't help but think the wisest move would be to throw the thing to the curb. I'll keep you posted.

Challies on Palin

Check out this really excellent post from Tim Challies on Sarah Palin, the media and how Christians should respond to a woman who has decided to make something other than mothering her highest priority.

Savant

Neatorama has a fascinating look at the "10 Most Fascinating Savants in the World." Truly amazing. They write about Kim Peek (the movie Rain Man is based on him):
But what Kim can do is astounding: he has read some 12,000 books and remembers everything about them. "Kimputer," as he is lovingly known to many, reads two pages at once - his left eye reads the left page, and his right eye reads the right page. It takes him about 3 seconds to read through two pages - and he remember everything on 'em. Kim can recall facts and trivia from 15 subject areas from history to geography to sports. Tell him a date, and Kim can tell you what day of the week it is. He also remembers every music he has ever heard.

Water

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I am a One-Issue Voter

My friend, a staunch Republican, got mad at me once for this. I had heard that Conoleezza Rice was considering running for president. But I had also heard that she was pro-choice (I am not sure if this is true; I had heard that rumor). I told my friend that, if this were true, I couldn't vote for her. I am a one-issue voter, I said. He was livid and told me that I was the reason Republicans lost elections. Interestingly, this challenge comes both from the left and the right in the Christian world (and more from the left this year). This is my response:

1. Everyone is a one-issue voter. There is, for everyone, a single issue that would sway their opinion one way or another. Perhaps it isn't abortion. What about segregation? Would you support a candidate who was in line with you on every issue but also supported racial segregation? Doubtful.

2. One-issue voting is litmus test voting. Or, we could call it "front door" voting. What do you have to know about a politician before you let them in your front door? This goes along with point number 1. There are issues that will immediately dissuade you from voting for a person. But if they pass that test, you let them in the front door. But does that mean you'll let them walk around the house? Nope. There are other things to consider, other issues. So abortion, for me, is a front door issue. Once you're in, we can talk more.

3. The issues of one-issue voters are usually more important than other issues. That is, there is a hierarchy of issues. Abortion is my one-issue because, in my opinion, it is legalized genocide. There is no difference between killing a 4 week old in the womb and a 4 week old out of it. Can you imagine a politician who was not opposed to the killing of toddlers and even went so far as to call this practice a basic human right? That would instantly become your one-issue and you'd consequently disqualify him/her from getting your vote. That's why I am baffled at those who believe life begins at conception, yet argue that we have to look at all the issues when deciding on a candidate. What they mean is that all issues are equal. That is logically absurd. The issue of health care is obviously important. But more important than the murder of innocent children?

4. Voting like a utilitarian is voting as though you are God. My friend was mad at me because by making abortion into a litmus test, I (and others) allowed for the possibility that another candidate, perhaps a much worse candidate, would get elected. Therefore, his argument was that I should vote like a utilitarian. "I don't agree on everything with X-politician, but we agree on most things, and that is good enough. My vote is both for them and against what would prove to be much worse." As a blood-bought Christian I can't agree with this strategy. This philosophy says that you can abandon a few basic, moral beliefs on account of making sure the right candidate--the person you think is the best for the country and world--gets elected. You know best. That philosophy, I believe, is unChristian. We are not called to live as those who justify the means by the ends precisely because we have no capacity to know, on a macro scale, what is "good" and what isn't. Rather, we are called to live holy lives in every way, at all times (1 Pet. 1:14-16). Voting for someone who does not actively work to end mass genocide would be an abandonment of the new nature we have received (Rom. 6). And we do this based on the knowledge that God will work all things out in the end for his glory and our joy. It is our responsibility to vote with our conscience. It's God's responsibility to make sure things turn out the way he wants them to. He doesn't need our help.

See also on this subject this article from John Piper and this post from Joe Carter.

Why Christians Love Pailn

She paints with a broad brush here, and much could be argued over, but Hannah Rosin over at Slate has some interesting things to say about why Christians dig Sarah Palin. Note that when she quotes stats about evangelicals, she really means those who are "born again." This is an important distinction. Born-againers, who make up about 30% of America, do not necessarily live according to a Christian world-view. Evangelicals, who make up about 9% of the population, do.

You Have to be Kidding



I've decided to put a picture of the Palin family on the front of our Christmas cards this year.

HT: Hotair

The Catholic Church Stands Strong

From Cardinal Francis George, Archdiocese of Chicago:

The Catholic Church, from its first days, condemned the aborting of unborn children as gravely sinful. Not only Scripture’s teaching about God’s protection of life in the womb (consider the prophets and the psalms and the Gospel stories about John the Baptist and Jesus himself in Mary’s womb) but also the first century catechism (the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) said: “You shall not slay the child by abortions. You shall not kill what is generated.” The teaching of the Church was clear in a Roman Empire that permitted abortion. This same teaching has been constantly reiterated in every place and time up to Vatican II, which condemned abortion as a “heinous crime.” This is true today and will be so tomorrow. Any other comments, by politicians, professors, pundits or the occasional priest, are erroneous and cannot be proposed in good faith.

This teaching has consequences for those charged with caring for the common good, those who hold public office. The unborn child, who is alive and is a member of the human family, cannot defend himself or herself. Good law defends the defenseless. Our present laws permit unborn children to be privately killed. Laws that place unborn children outside the protection of law destroy both the children killed and the common good, which is the controlling principle of Catholic social teaching. One cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be working for the common good.

This explains why the abortion issue will not disappear and why it is central to the Church’s teaching on a just social order. The Church does not endorse candidates for office, but she does teach the principles according to which Catholics should form their social consciences. The teaching, which covers intrinsic evils such as abortion and many other issues that are matters of prudential judgment, could not be clearer; the practice often falls short because we are all sinners. There is no room for self-righteousness in Catholic moral teaching.

Read the whole thing. This was partly in reaction to these statements by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

HT: Touchstone

Idolatry, Take 3

Lest you think I am not susceptible to the idolatry I pointed out earlier (here and here), let me set the record straight. I am as easily capable of making politics, among many other things, into an idol as anyone else. I partly wish, for purely personal reasons, that John McCain had not selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. I was disinterested in the whole thing, and it felt good. But that's not how it has always been. I remember staying up until 4 in the morningthe day after the presidential election in November 2000, praying the George Bush would get elected. I was so consumed with the race and getting the right guy elected that I literally made it into an idol. I had forgotten that God was in control. He was the one I should have looked to, depended on.

I pray I have learned my lesson. Because Palin represents my "values" and is an evangelical, she (with McCain) could easily become an idol in my life. I could quickly come to depend more on their winning than on the God who created me and sustains me. It is good in these times, therefore, to remember a frew things:

1. No matter who gets elected Jesus is coming back to the world on the same day.
2. God will elect to office the person who will bring about his sovereign will.
3. No politican can stand as a substitue on my behalf, saving me for eternity.

On Trig Palin

Rich Lowry writes about an experience he had a on a plane with a man in his twenties with Down syndrome named Ian. Please read it. He concludes:
From this brief encounter, I dare say Ian is friendlier, better adjusted and more considerate than about half of the people on the streets of Manhattan or San Francisco on any given day. Yet most of those people are perfectly unperturbed by the elimination of babies with Down syndrome in the womb. To hell with them. God bless Sarah Palin for bringing Trig into the world, and may he shower those around him with as much sunshine as the gentleman I met on that flight.
HT: Challies

Palin Review

Read Doug Groothuis' review of Sarah Palin's speech last night. Her concludes:

"Sarah Palin transcended my expectations and my prayers were answered. It's a new race, and I'm committed."

Satan's Slave






















Now that is weird. I was just going to blog on this topic.

HT: Neatorama

The Hairdo Litmus Test

From the Boston Herald, on Sarah Palin's Hair:

But must her hair suffer? With her long, straight, often pinned-up locks, Palin looks one humid day away from fronting a Kiss cover band.

“It’s about 20 years out of date,” said Boston stylist Mario Russo of the Alaska governor’s ’do. “Which goes to show how off she might be on current events.”

Hard to argue with that.

HT: MB

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"A Moment for the History Books"

I'll say.



HT: Z

Are the Gospels Trustworthy?

Lee Strobel has a decidedly evangelical apologetics TV show called Faith Under Fire. It isn't the best show and is obviously a bit biased. Some of the edits are rough and leave the viewer wondering if something important was left out. Nevertheless, it serves some purpose.

They recently discussed the subject, Are the Gospels Trustworthy? A pretty important topic. Ben Witherington puts up a solid defense.

Media on Palin

Yuval Levin's take on the bizarre reaction from much of the media at the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP candidate:
The reigning emotion of it all has been anger—anger at being surprised, anger at being denied the spectacle of a Republican circular firing squad, anger that a conservative pro-life Republican could also be a woman and might represent the aspirations of other women, anger at being handed a person they did not know and who did not know them, anger that this upstart thinks she can ruin their coronation party. And the anger was fed by, and was indicative of, a profound elitism—a sense that we were dealing with some redneck moron from a state with no decent restaurants. The Republican candidate for president chose as his running mate a young, charismatic, female Republican governor—probably the most popular governor in the country—whose attitude and resume ring precisely of McCain’s kind of politics, and who has been on most people’s short-list since he won the nomination, and the press treats it as a symptom of some terrible and reckless madness.

Sarah Palin's Office















That is a giant bear skin, if you can't tell. Awesome.

Thinking About Adoption Theologically

Russell Moore is a dean at Southern Baptist Seminary and has a book coming out called Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches. His social and political commentary is excellent, and I am sure his book will be great as well. (On a side note, Moore predicted more than a month ago that McCain would choose Sarah Palin as his running mate). You can read about him in the WSJ here.

Watch these videos about his personal foray into the world of adoption and on how he started thinking about the issue theologically.





HT: Said at Southern

Colson on Governor Palin

Read Chuck Colson's excellent piece here.

HT: CC

I Learned Grace From My Daughter

I don't like everyone. Amazingly enough, there are people that I just don't get along with. But this is often a struggle for me. Should I like everyone? I used to conclude, no. Until I had a daughter.

My daughter does not discriminate. The grace in her tiny heart overflows toward everyone. Everyone. She'll give her giant smile to the worst, the ugliest, the lamest, the lowest. All that matters to her is that you smile back. My favorite game is to hold her up in the air over my shoulder and watch her as people pass by. Even though she can't talk yet, she does everything she can to get their attention. She wants to be their friend! I am convinced she would give even Hitler a smile.

That is how Christ looks upon us. Ugly, lowly, horrible. He still smiles. It was his joy to go to the cross for us.

And so I pray for the grace of my daughter. I pray that I fly beyond my pettiness, my emptiness, and give my smile to all people.

What I Learned About God from My Daughter

Jesus said some radical things about children:

Matthew 19:13-14: "Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'"

Matthew 11:25-26: "At that time Jesus declared, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.'"

Every day I spend with my young daughter, I understand a little more what Jesus was talking about. Humility, grace, love. And these are things that reflect the character of God. If I look closely at the children of this world, I will see God more clearly. To that end, I am going to do a series of posts on what I have learned from my daughter about God. I hope they are helpful.