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.


Pres. Obama? Don't Fret

Though the task is mostly dubious, my wife likes to try and understand the sovereignty of God. That is, she likes to try and understand why God does what he does. Now, of course, some of this is not only fine to do, but good. We should praise God for the things he does in our lives. "Logistical praises" my wife says. However, if you try and press our understanding of God's will too far, you'll undoubtedly start speculating and get confused. His intellect is infinite, his knowledge supremely great. And so you can make a few logical connections with regard to his intentions and purpose. Even suffering: "I am suffering because God wants me to learn patience." Sure (Romans 5). But how your suffering will affect those around you and then how those people will affect the people around them...well, that is not for us to know or understand. And for that, we are called to praise: "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Romans 11:33).

Let Me Try and Understand God for You

But we can know some things. I was thinking this morning about the election. I am hoping and praying that Obama doesn't get in, lest he get his hands on the lives of more babies. That scares and saddens me. But then I asked myself, What would God be up to if he let Obama win? Every election is under God's control (Rom 13), so a win for Barack would obviously be a work from God. What, then, could he be up to. On the details, I have no idea. But I know some general things about God that let me paint some outlines of what he is doing.

In truth, there is one piece of information I have that allows me to try and understand his will. God is about God. He does everything for his own glory (Isa. 42:8). And for humans, his goal is that they glorify him (Isa. 43:7). And they glorify him by turning to Christ, getting covered by his righteousness and then, out of their joy, glorifying him. Now how do people turn to God? They give up on the idols in their lives and finally see God for who and what he is, to finally taste that he is good (1 Pet. 2:3).

Destroying Idolatry

Now what does this have to do with Barack Obama? I have written a bit on how many Americans, it seems, have turned politics (and mainly Obama) into an idol (here, here and here). They are so desperate for a savior, for something or someone to give them meaning, that they have put all their hope in an election, in a man. But what do idols do? They fail. It doesn't matter how much hope we fill them with. They will always fail. And so, if I want to know at least the outlines to what God would be doing by putting Obama in office, I would have to say he would do it to get those men and women to see Obama for who and what he truly is: a man. Though he might be successful, he is incapable of bestowing meaning and joy. And that, for those who hope in him, will be devastating.

God knows what he is doing. And if I understand God at all, he wants people to turn to him. Perhaps this will happen when Obama (or any idol) fails them. Let's hope and pray for this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Evangelism and Church Size

Cited in CT's "Go Figure":

53% Attendees in large churches (1,000+members) who say they shared their faith with strangers in the past month.

35% Attendees of small churches (less than 100 members) who say so.


More Redneck Fun

This blog really likes videos like this:

Abortion, the Spirit Given Truth

My small group went through 1 Corinthians last year. It was eye opening. I was especially struck by Paul's pronouncement that if you do not have the spirit, you, in truth, do not know about the "things from God" (1 Cor. 1:14-15):
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment.
Based on this, I started thinking about voting. Why do we hold politicians accountable for things that are obvious to us only because we have the Spirit? Specifically, why do I vote against Barack Obama because of his stance on abortion when he doesn't know any better? I know the answer to that, but I saw that someone answered it well at another blog, so I thought I'd post it (my friend Bryan alerted me to this). Below is a conversation a blogger (Zach Nielsen) had in his comments section with a woman named Alli Rogers:

I have a friend who is very pro-Obama who explained the abortion issue to me in a way that made sense. For the record Zach, I am with you 100% but what he said made sense to me. I think of it like this:

A person who does not understand that they are a sinner will never understand that Christ died for their sins. So telling them that TRUTH will not mean anything to them because they do not know the truth.

Until those who are pro-choice understand the truth about abortion, many of the churches arguments are nonsense to them. Although it is black and white to me, it is absolutely not to many people. They do not understand the TRUTH.

Right. Theologically I totally agree. But here is the HUGE problem with your friend's line of reasoning: That logic does not work with other moral issues that we all certainly want the gov. involved in. Things such as, rape, murder, child porn, and stealing.

We don't say as a church, "since unbelievers don't have the mind of Christ we shouldn't legislate against these things." That would be total anarchy. None of us want that and all of us are thankful that we have gov. to retrain evil (Romans 13).

Just because a crazy guy might kill people because he doesn't have a conscience that lines up with the word of God, doesn't mean he is off the hook and we should bag our laws against murder. Same goes with abortion.

Yes, we should appeal for conversion and know that laws can't change people's hearts, but we both know that we are glad we have laws that protect people regardless of how people feel about those laws.

Again, just because say 51% of people think its perfectly ok for them to steal and have no remorse about stealing doesn't mean we should legalize stealing. We should seek to restrain evil by appealing to the heart AND through laws even though we know that law making can only go so far. Yet, I sure am glad we have them.

I am just advocating for those laws to be extended to the most weak and defenseless in our society.

For These People, Praise the Lord

It isn't that they just rescued her from the Ukraine, giving her a new, better life in America. They gave her Jesus. That is evident in the way she talks. Most people don't talk that way. Praise the Lord.


Weird=Awesome Music Tuesday



Go find the music video on You Tube. I dare you.

Spiritual Midgets

From Lisa Miller's Column, "What's God Got to Do With It?" on Joel and Victoria Osteen:
In her new book, "Love Your Life," Victoria Osteen tells the following story. When she and her husband, Joel, were courting, he came over to her house for dinner. She knew he was the son of a prominent Houston pastor and she, a nice Christian girl, was hoping they could talk about Scripture while she prepared the meal. "Joel began flipping through the pages, but before long, he put the Bible down," she wrote. Victoria was disappointed and complained, "I thought you'd be a spiritual giant."

"Joel said nothing and just grinned at me as we carried on with the evening." Later, he joked with friends that she'd called him a "spiritual midget."

With that story, Victoria unconsciously articulates the problem so many outsiders have with Joel and, by extension, with her. Joel Osteen is one of the most popular pastors in the country, but both he and Victoria seem, from the outside at least, to be spiritual midgets. More than 40,000 people come to hear them preach each week in a sanctuary that used to be the home of the Houston Rockets. Millions more watch them on television. Joel's books are best sellers, and Victoria's new one, though arriving in stores this week, is already high on Amazon's spiritual book list. But the theology driving all this success is thin. Over and over, in sermons, books and television interviews, the Osteens repeat their most firmly held beliefs. If you pray to Jesus, you'll get what you want. In a conversation with NEWSWEEK, Victoria defines her Christian belief this way. Religion "is about appreciating what God's given us. He's given us this life, and he wants us to live it to the fullest." (I interviewed her early one morning when the stock market had already plunged 200 points, and she referred to a recent sermon of Joel's in which he said people were like palm trees: "We have a bounce back on the inside of us." That seemed an inane sort of comfort.)

Prosperity preachers are neither new nor unique in America, but the Osteens' version seems especially self-serving. Victoria's book betrays her interest in the kind of small gratifications that rarely extend to other people, let alone to the larger world. She recommends that women take "me time" every day, and indulge occasionally in a (fat-free!) ice cream. She writes repeatedly about her love for the gym. Her relationship advice is retrograde dross: submit to your man, or at least pretend you're submitting, and then do what you want anyway. "I know if I just wait long enough," she writes, "eventually my idea will become Joel's idea, and it will come to pass." When I asked her how she kept her two children interested in church, she answered that even though they were a broccoli and lean-meats household, she gave them doughnuts as a special treat on Sundays. All this is fine, in the pages of a women's magazine or a self-help book. But what has God got to do with it?

Jim Hamiliton on Politicians

Jim Hamilton, balanced, Gospel-centered:
A simple question: do you spend more time worrying about who they are and what they will do than you spend praying for them?

All of us who love the gospel can no doubt agree that what we want most is for others to love the gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners, raised in triumph over death and the forces of evil.

And as we can agree that we need the Holy Spirit to break through in our own lives and apply the truths of the good news of Jesus Christ, so we can, and should (1 Tim 2:1-4) pray for the good news of the gospel to break through by the power of the Holy Spirit and transform the minds and hearts of those public servants who seek and occupy elected office.

ESV 1 Timothy 2:1-4 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

More Alcorn on the Election

On why he's Voting for 98% Pro-Life McCain and not for 100% Pro-Choice Obama. Seems like the titled proposition is reason enough. Nevertheless, read him here.

A Word to Postmoderns

From Abraham Piper:
If you ask questions but you reject answers, you’re not actually asking anything. You’re just festooning tired, old propositions with trendier punctuation.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Have Pro-Life Politicians Helped the Cause?

The argument goes that pro-life politicians (mainly Republicans) have done next to nothing to end abortion in America. Therefore, we need to try something new. And what is that new thing? Elect Barack Obama, the most anti-life candidate in the history of presidential politics. However, the idea that conservatives have done nothing to end abortion is a misnomer. In truth, they have done much to curb this abhorrent practice. Michael J. New documents the multiplicity of ways in his article today. He concludes,
During the past 35 years, the pro-life movement has made some real progress--progress that pro-lifers could at times do a better job of advertising. During the 1990s more states enacted parental-involvement laws, waiting periods, and informed-consent laws. More importantly, the number of abortions has fallen in 12 out of the past 14 years and the total number of abortions has declined by 21 percent since 1990. These gains are largely due to pro-life political victories at the federal level in the 1980s and at the state level in the 1990s, both of which have made it easier to pass pro-life legislation. Furthermore, since the next President may have the opportunity to nominate as many as four justices to the Supreme Court, the right-to-life movement would be very well advised to stay the course in 2008.
And as Doug Groothuis pointed out, much of this would be wiped out when/(if) Obama signs the Freedom of Choice Act.

Read the whole article.


Randy Alcorn's Take on the Presidential Race and Abortion

Randy Alcorn, from his blog:
My conversations with fellow Christians who are prolife but are voting for Obama have common themes these days. They always emphasize "Obama is prochoice, not proabortion." To which I respond, "actually he is pro-legalized-abortion." This is emphatically true, based on his own words and 100% consistent voting record. It shouldn't be considered a matter for debate. What politician in the country is more strongly committed to legalized abortion than Obama is? Every radical proabortion group knows this, and everyone of them have been working tirelessly to get him elected.

Believing what I do that the unborn are human beings in the fullest sense, to be pro-legalized-abortion is exactly equivalent to being pro-legalized-killing-of-three-year-olds. Or pro-legalized-killing-of-teenagers. Or pro-legalized-killing-of-women. Or pro-legalized-killing-of-Jews.

What would you think if a politician said "I'm not pro-rape, I'm simply prochoice about rape. And though I would not choose to rape a woman, I believe that every man should be free to rape a woman if that is his personal choice." And what would you do if that politician promised the rape lobby that if he is elected president, the "first thing I would do" is to sign legislation that would invalidate all the state laws that restrict rape in any way?

Well, I think I would say that man is pro-rape, wouldn't you? But technically, no, he is simply prochoice about rape. Well, okay. Be prochoice about whether someone should eat Mexican food or Chinese food, or cheer for the Phillies or the Rays. But don't be prochoice about whether men rape women or kill children. Because that is to be pro-rape and pro-killing.
It seems so simple.

Read the whole thing.

GWB, SP and JM

From Saturday Night Live last night, pretty funny:

On the Husband's Yes, and the Wife's No

DG just started taping to video the Ask Pastor John (Piper) episodes. It is possible that I have benefited more from his off-the-cuff answers to questions than his books or sermons. He answers questions extemporaneously better than most people, including slimy politicians. The Q&A recorded below will hopefully prove to be extremely helpful to those who believe that the husband is the leader of the family, but also that his role is not meant to be dictatorial:

On a related note, check out the article in the WSJ entitled "Who Wears the Pants." The conclusion from the research cited is interesting:
The general consensus of sociologists is that, whereas a woman's marital satisfaction is dependent on a combination of economic, emotional and psychological realities, a man's marital satisfaction is most determined by one factor: how happy his wife is. When she is happy, he is. Working within this framework, most husbands are unwilling to dig in their heels on any issue unless they have a tremendous incentive to do so.
HT: Challies

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Parental Notification

Fox News:
LOS ANGELES — California voters have twice rejected initiatives requiring that parents be notified before a minor can get an abortion, but supporters think the third time might be the charm this Election Day.

Proponents of Proposition 4, which is favored in polls by 8 percentage points, think a key change to the measure will propel it to victory.

"We put in a provision that said if a girl tells the doctor that she has been the victim of abuse by a parent then he can notify another adult family member — a grandparent, an aunt, an adult sibling," said Katie Short, co-author of Proposition 4.
Might postmillennials be right?

Luther on Music

Bob Kauflin, quoting Martin Luther:
When man's natural musical ability is whetted and polished to the extent that it becomes an art, then do we note with great surprise the great and perfect wisdom of God in music, which is, after all, His product and His gift; we marvel when we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace. A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.
(1538, in his foreword to a collection of chorale motets)


Um, Awesome

I am getting my wife a BMX bike for Christmas.


Calvinism is Really One Point

J. I. Packer, in his “Introductory Essay” to John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ:
God saves sinners—and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedaling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Saviour. This is the one point of Calvinistic soteriology which the “five points” are concerned to establish and Arminianism in all its forms to deny: namely, that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever; amen.
This can also be found in Packer's work with Mark Dever, In My Place Condemned He Stood, p. 118.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just Let the Dude Play!

AP (via Seattle P-I):
Bridgeport police said they snared a 47-year-old man who broke into a local church to play the drums. Police said Michael Smith, of Weston, was driving by the Holy Ghost Deliverance Church on Monday afternoon when he spotted a drum set through its window.

He was charged with criminal trespass and breach of peace after allegedly breaking into the church, where officers found him in a spirited solo after the church's alarm system went off.

Smith is scheduled for arraignment Nov. 5 in Bridgeport Superior Court. A telephone listing was not available for him.

Piper Doesn't Vote...Sort Of

Please read Piper's article today on voting. Brilliant.

Suffering Leads to Evangelism

John Piper recently responded to some Q&A on suffering at the Together for the Gospel conference. Listen to him talk about suffering and how it leads to evangelism:
I don’t think Christ is glorified anywhere more than when suffering people rejoice in him as their treasure. If everything is going rosy for all my people, the possibilities of us making a name for Jesus in the city is smaller than if things are going hard for our folks. Then the possibility of making a name for Jesus is greater. What the world wants to see is not for you to tell them, “Jesus makes things go well for me.” Things are going well for them, too, probably better than for you, and it is money and doctors that are doing it for them. So that argument has teeny-weeny effectiveness.

Rather, when neighbors know that the baby in your womb has a liver outside his body, no spinal column, and you have carried this baby to the end and they watch you, the possibilities of making much of Jesus are staggering.
Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Obama and African-American Christians

For some reason I have been reading the monthly editorial from Charisma Magazine editor J. Lee Grady. He and his magazine believe, overtly, that miraculous and charismatic gifts are for today. However, unlike some charismatics, I have found that he is also highly gospel-centered. Which means, also, that he is tempered, reasonable, and not nuts. I like that. A charismatic with a seat-belt on, as Mark Driscoll is fond of saying.

Anyway, his editorial today deals with, not surprisingly, the election. What is surprising is his topic. Read his article and a corresponding one from Kimberly Daniels in the November issue on their belief that some African-Americans have abandoned their Christian beliefs to vote for who could be the first black president.



It is the Common Grace of God that there are still issues that make all humans stand to fight against. Modern slavery is one of them. I am not sure why it is getting so much attention right now, but thank God. I attended the Art * Justice * Music tour a few weeks back. They propounded the work of International Justice Mission and its work to end slavery. I am reading a new book on modern slavery called A Crime So Monstrous. And, fascinatingly, some Hollywood types have put together a film on the subject called Call + Response (read a review of it). Watch the trailer below and consider helping in some way to curtail what is happening on our planet right now.

Pray, also, that God's common grace is extended to those who are blinded to the fact that abortion is also monstrous.

LOLCats of the Week

lolcats funny cat pictures

lolcats funny cat pictures

lolcats funny cat pictures


Check out this great video over at bluefish TV on Christians and their propensity to shelter themselves from the world. Click on the image to watch.


Live Vicariously Through This Dude

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Swinging in the Trees

Denny Burk transcribed part of Russell Moore's sermon today at Southern Baptist Seminary's Chapel today on single-issue politics:
There are churches, and there are pastors, and there are young evangelical leaders who are saying to us, ‘We ought not be single-issue evangelicals. We ought to be concerned about more issues than simply abortion.’ Which means that we ought to be willing to join ourselves and to vote for and to support candidates who will support legalized abortion, who will deny the personhood of children who are still in the womb, because we are able to support them on other issues . . . Many of them are in a desperate quest to say to their congregations and to people potentially in their congregations, ‘I’m not Jerry Falwell.’ And many of them believe that it is missional to speak to people while blunting or silencing a witness about the life of children so that you can reach them with the gospel. . . Some will tell us there are many other issues: economics, global warming—issues I’m very concerned about too. Previous generations have said that as well. Previous generations of preachers have stood in the pulpit and preached until they were red in the face about card-playing and movie-going and tax-policy and personal morality and tobacco-smoking and a thousand other issues, but would not speak to the fact that there were African-American brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus swinging in the trees! And there is judgment of God upon that. And there is here too.
You can listen to the whole message at Denny's website.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Christmas is Today

'Cause I got my ESV Study Bible in the mail. Now I will learn how to be a real Christian.

Seriously, it is great. And once you get it, you get access to the online version which might even be better than the hard copy.


Robert George's piece today on Obama and abortion is must-read stuff. He writes,
Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.

Yet there are Catholics and Evangelicals-even self-identified pro-life Catholics and Evangelicals - who aggressively promote Obama's candidacy and even declare him the preferred candidate from the pro-life point of view.

What is going on here?

I have examined the arguments advanced by Obama's self-identified pro-life supporters, and they are spectacularly weak. It is nearly unfathomable to me that those advancing them can honestly believe what they are saying.
George continues in this article to outline the ways in which Obama has supported abortion rights throughout his career. Justin Taylor, at his blog, summarized the eight points for us:
1. Obama "has promised to seek repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which has for many years protected pro-life citizens from having to pay for abortions that are not necessary to save the life of the mother and are not the result of rape or incest."

2. Obama has promised that “the first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act” ( FOCA). This would make abortion a federally guaranteed right through all nine months of pregancy for any reason. Virtually every state and federal limitation on abortion that is currently on the books would be abolished (e.g., parental consent and notification laws for minors).

3. Obama opposes the ban on the heinous practice of partial-birth abortion and strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling to uphold the ban.

4. Obama wishes to strip federal funding from pro-life crisis pregnancy centers that provide alternatives to abortion for pregnant women in need.

5. Obama refused to support the pro-life Democrats' “95-10” legislation (designed to reduce the number of abortions by 95% in 10 years by strengthening the social safety net for poor women). This would not have made abortion illegal; it would seek to reduce abortion.

6. Obama "opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive, either as a result of an abortionist’s unsuccessful effort to kill them in the womb, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to viability." The bill contained a specific provision that ensured that the bill would not affect abortion laws (Obama and his campaign lied about this fact until it was proven in the records).

7. Obama has co-sponsored a bill authorizing the large-scale industrial production of human embryos for use in biomedical research in which they would be killed. It would require the killing of human beings in the embryonic stage that were produced by cloning, and would make it a federal crime for a woman to save an embryo by agreeing to have the tiny developing human being implanted in her womb so that he or she could be brought to term.

8. Obama was one of the few senators to oppose a bill that would have put a modest amount of federal money into research that would develop methods to produce the exact equivalent of embryonic stem cells without using (or producing) embryos. "From any rational vantage point, this is unconscionable. . . . Why create and kill human embryos when there are alternatives that do not require the taking of nascent human lives? It is as if Obama is opposed to stem-cell research unless it involves killing human embryos."
George continues:
This ultimate manifestation of Obama's extremism brings us back to the puzzle of his pro-life Catholic and Evangelical apologists.

They typically do not deny the facts I have reported. They could not; each one is a matter of public record. But despite Obama's injustices against the most vulnerable human beings, and despite the extraordinary support he receives from the industry that profits from killing the unborn (which should be a good indicator of where he stands), some Obama supporters insist that he is the better candidate from the pro-life point of view.

They say that his economic and social policies would so diminish the demand for abortion that the overall number would actually go down-despite the federal subsidizing of abortion and the elimination of hundreds of pro-life laws. The way to save lots of unborn babies, they say, is to vote for the pro-abortion-oops! ''pro-choice''-candidate. They tell us not to worry that Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment, the Mexico City Policy (against funding abortion abroad), parental consent and notification laws, conscience protections, and the funding of alternatives to embryo-destructive research. They ask us to look past his support for Roe v. Wade, the Freedom of Choice Act, partial-birth abortion, and human cloning and embryo-killing. An Obama presidency, they insist, means less killing of the unborn.

This is delusional.
He concludes:
What kind of America do we want our beloved nation to be? Barack Obama's America is one in which being human just isn't enough to warrant care and protection. It is an America where the unborn may legitimately be killed without legal restriction, even by the grisly practice of partial-birth abortion. It is an America where a baby who survives abortion is not even entitled to comfort care as she dies on a stainless steel table or in a soiled linen bin. It is a nation in which some members of the human family are regarded as inferior and others superior in fundamental dignity and rights. In Obama's America, public policy would make a mockery of the great constitutional principle of the equal protection of the law. In perhaps the most telling comment made by any candidate in either party in this election year, Senator Obama, when asked by Rick Warren when a baby gets human rights, replied: ''that question is above my pay grade.'' It was a profoundly disingenuous answer: For even at a state senator's pay grade, Obama presumed to answer that question with blind certainty. His unspoken answer then, as now, is chilling: human beings have no rights until infancy - and if they are unwanted survivors of attempted abortions, not even then.

In the end, the efforts of Obama's apologists to depict their man as the true pro-life candidate that Catholics and Evangelicals may and even should vote for, doesn't even amount to a nice try. Voting for the most extreme pro-abortion political candidate in American history is not the way to save unborn babies.

Contrasting Opinions

Donald Miller:
Senator Obama is going to move us past the impasse in our cultural war, something I think of as a cultural Vietnam. On the issue of abortion, he is the only candidate who has a plan to reduce the number of abortions. John McCain's only plan is the same old trick: say that you are pro life and offer no plan at all other than to criminalize abortion. I simply think that plan hasn't worked, and we have to face that fact and look for other ways to make progress.

I realize this is controversial, that there are many who would rather vote for a pro-life candidate and keep the abortion rate the same, on principle. And like them I believe in the sanctity of life, I simply think we need to begin making progress, and Barack is offering progress. He is also standing up to his own party on the issue and moving the party forward to elevate the issue of the sanctity of life within the Democratic Party. I also see this as progress. I do wish we could end abortion completely, but the Republicans have not spelled out a realistic plan to do so, and until they do, I won't vote for a candidate who simply throws us a pro-life line and no plan. It seems insincere.
Robert George:
Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.
If you read the rest of George's piece, you'll read about the multiplicity of ways in the past Obama has actively supported unfettered abortion in America and that one could not therefore infer that Obama will work to reduce abortion in America. On the other hand, if you read Miller, he will try to persuade you that Obama's past positions and actions don't matter. What matters are the promises has has made. Does anyone else think that's insanely absurd? If you want to vote for Obama, fine, whatever. Just don't tell me that he's going to be a champion for babies.

More on Geroge later.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Medved's Two Insecapable Truths

Michael Medved, in his Town Hall column today, points out the two truths that are dominating the political scene right now:
1. In the midst of the unfolding crisis in the financial system, the economy isn’t just the major issue, it’s the only issue. Other controversies involving social and foreign policy disputes that seem disconnected from the financial breakdown, will waste time of campaigners and candidates and alienate the public in the process.

2. The people have become so profoundly skeptical of their political and business leaders that sweeping reform programs and positive proposals for change will gain no traction. When it comes to rescue and renewal plans for the collapsing economy, the public doesn’t understand and doesn’t trust them.
He then writes:
Despite the messianic expectations that earlier attended the Obama campaign, the people won’t vote this time on glittering visions of hope and change. They will vote for the candidate who scares them least, and who provides the best indication of allowing the normal processes of recovery to take their course.
You can read the rest of the article on the ways he thinks McCain can regain some traction, but they seem, ultimately, futile. The person who scares them the least, it is now obvious, is Mr. Obama.

D.A. Carson on the Gospel

D.A. Carson, in For the Love of God, Vol. 2:
We must always remember that: The Gospel is not admired in Scripture primarily because of the social transformation it effects, but because it reconciles men and women to a holy God. Its purpose is not that we might feel fulfilled, but that we might be reconciled to the living and holy God. The consummation is delightful to the transformed people of God, not simply because the environment of the new heaven and the new earth is pleasing, but because we forever live and work and worship in the unshielded radiance of the presence of our holy Maker and Redeemer. That prospect must shape how the church lives and serves, and determine the pulse of its ministry. The only alternative is high-sounding but self-serving idolatry.
HT: 9Marks

Lest You Sin, Cut Off Your Hand

I read an astonishing article today over at Fox News about Jessica Queller who writes and produces for the CW show called "Gossip Girl." The story reads,
In 2005, Queller, a supervising producer and one of the head writers of the ultra-successful CW series “Gossip Girl,” opted to have a double mastectomy even though she didn’t have breast cancer. And, in two years, she plans to have her ovaries removed – even though she doesn’t have ovarian cancer.

Queller, now 38, made these radical decisions after watching her mother battle breast cancer and die from ovarian cancer. Then, Queller tested positive for the breast cancer 1, or BRCA1 mutation, so she had the preventative mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
That is amazing and I honestly couldn't get my head around it at first. Most surgeries are reactive, not proactive, especially ones involving cancer. You wait for cancer to strike, then you have surgery. But as I thought about it, it made sense. She knows what is likely to happen. Why not take your life into your own hands?

And as I thought about her physical plight, I was reminded of our spiritual one. Jesus said in Matthew 5: 30, "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell." Jesus was being largely polemical here, but the metaphor was meant to convey deadly seriousness. Once you have been purchased by the blood of Christ, you are no longer beholden to two things: sin and the law. You are not beholden to sin in the sense that because your nature is now inextricably linked with Christ, you are able to avoid sin, even in this fallen world. Regarding the law, you now use it to delight in the Lord, not as an instrument to win God's favor. And the implication of that is you can now take direct action to avoid the sin that used to rule you. "Cut off your hand!" Or, be drastic. Get rid of your TV, get in an accountability group, pray, admit sin to your friends, install filters on your computer, etc.

Be like Jessica Queller and cut up your life. You know what is coming. Avoid it now.

Tim Keller w/ WaPo



The folks over at Desiring God Ministries put a video together for their recent conference "The Power of Words and the Wonder of God." The video is based on James 3. Read this passage before you watch it if you don't remember what it is about.

It wouldn't be so powerful if it weren't so true. God, forgive me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Interview With Donald Miller

Read it here.

I won't do much commentary on it, other than to say that Miller comes across, more and more, like a sold-out fool. His positions are untenable, his assessments are illogical (but I suppose I don't have a right to say that, considering the fact that I am white and live in the suburbs).

The Gospel and the Law

"The knowledge of our acceptance in Christ makes (for the first time) the law of God a beauty instead of a burden. We come to use it to delight the One who has enriched us so mightily, instead of using it to get attention or win his favor. The first way makes the moral and sacrificial life a joy; the second way makes it a burden."

--Tim Keller, Redeemer Church Planter Manual

Friday, October 10, 2008

Is it a Sin to be a Stay-at-Home Dad?

Watch Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace answer this question.

Even though my wife stays at home, I was convicted by this. It should be my life long conviction that I keep my wife with our kids. I pray I am able.

The First 24 Hours of an Embryo

Wired Magazine writes:
For the first time, it is possible to actually watch the initial 24 hours of the life of an embryo at the cellular level.

With a newly developed microscope that uses a sheet of light to scan a living organism from many different dimensions, scientists were able to track the complex cellular organization of a zebrafish embryo as it grows from a single cell to 20,000 cells.

"Imagine following all inhabitants of a town over the course of one day using a telescope in space," Philipp Keller of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, said in a press release.

"This comes close to tracking the 10 thousands of cells that make up a vertebrate embryo."
It may only be a fish, but it is pretty awesome. Watch it below. Be sure to set it to full screen mode.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Do You Love Him or the Stuff He Gives You?

E. Dewey Smith, Jr. Preach it.

How many amazing one liners can you fit in 5 minutes? Unreal. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • "A lot of folk are more caught up in supernatural stuff than having a real and authentic, tangible relationship with the One who controls the supernatural."
  • "You ain't gonna have no seven years of bad luck. You're gonna have some glass in your feet if you don't sweep it."
  • "If the rabbit's foot was so lucky, what happened to the rabbit?"
  • "You will know your relationship (with Christ) is real when you go to the point where you say, 'God, listen, if I never own a mansion, if I never own a Rolls Royce, if my husband never buys me the platinum or diamond ring, God I love you and bless you not because of what I have, not because of where I am in my life, but simply because you're a God...if I get the promotion I'll bless ya, if I stay where I am I'm still gonna bless ya...'cause my relationship has nothin' to do with what I have but who You are."
  • "Won't you to look at somebody and say 'I shall not praise him, not because of what I have, and not because of what he's going to do, but I praise him because of what he did on Calvary. He took my sin to the cross!'"
  • "I praise him because it was at the cross where I first saw the light...(inaudible awesomeness)."
I heave heard Tim Keller preach this message a million times. It doesn't matter how you say it. It matters what you say. Hallelujah.

HT: Anthony Bradley

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Not Hopeful for Any President

It is clear that this blog is no fan of Barak Obama, especially for president. In my estimation, his blatant disregard for the unborn disqualifies him out of hand. But it looks as though I am going to have get used to saying "Commander and Chief Obama." In light of what seems inevitable, Denny Burk wrote dejectedly this morning:
After Obama wins the presidency, he will almost certainly have the opportunity to appoint 2 to 3 Supreme Court Justices—Justices that will prolong the pro-choice majority that currently rules the court. So it appears that the immoral regime of Roe v. Wade—a regime that has presided over the deaths of 50 million babies since 1973—will continue for the foreseeable future.

We won’t see many opportunities in our lifetime to shift the majority of the Court on this issue. I’m sad to say that it looks like we’ll miss this one.
He is right. Legalized genocide won't end now or in the near future. But I am not as dejected as he is. My prayer for all Christians is that when they vote, for McCain or Obama, that they don't do so hopefully. In truth, we should all vote with some sense of loss. There is no man or woman that will satisfy our longing for a savior. Of course, only hope in Christ will satisfy us.

I have been thinking a lot this season on Jesus and his view of politics/governments. He thought passively of it. "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's," Jesus said (Matthew 22:21). The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus. How can you serve both God and man? they asked. His answer points us beyond hope in a world that is deteriorating. He points beyond men and institutions to himself, to God. And Paul makes this even clearer in Romans 13, one of the most encouraging passages in the Bible in times like these: "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,"(13:1). God is sovereign over everything in this political season. Every speech, debate, talking points. Every vote and voter. We must remind ourselves of the end game: God will be glorified through all of this.

Our voting experiences should therefore be mixed. Though we will all be called to vote our consciences, all of the options should leave us unsatisfied. In truth, we should grieve over the imperfection. And that dissatisfaction at imperfection should right us, it should turn us to Christ who oversees all. He is our hope. Not John, not Barak, Jesus.

Is IVF Moral?

Check out Joe Carter's excellent post on IVF and it's moral implications. He makes clear that IVF, in truth, is just as immoral as abortion. He writes,
It is certainly easier to oppose those who would destroy embryos in an abortion or for speculative scientific research than it is to criticize citizens who create "extra" embryos out of the desire to have a child. But while the motives may differ, the embryo has the same moral status and deserves to be protected from harm. The pain of infertility does not provide an exemption to our obligation.
But he recognizes the despair and pain many feel as they try to conceive:
We should not, however, dismiss the pain and suffering caused by infertility. The inability to become pregnant is a problem that affects thousands of potential families. (After one year of sexual relations, 15% of American couples are unable to conceive a child.) This inability can become emotionally trying and lead couples to seek a medical solution to overcome their affliction. Every year couples spend millions of dollars on reproductive technologies for the mere chance of conceiving a child.

Medical interventions to overcome infertility can certainly be done in an ethical manner. The most ethically unproblematic methods of aiding the reproductive process should, therefore, be preferred whenever possible. The use of fertility drugs and artificial insemination, for example, do not require the production of multiple embryos that must be discarded or frozen and placed in storage. Fortunately, these are also the first options that most physicians would consider. Other methods, however, such as gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), or in vitro fertilization, can also be approached in a way that is respectful of human life.
Read the whole thing. This is definitely a blind spot for Christians. Though the issue can obviously be heartbreaking for families, the altruism of some may have gotten in the way of their godliness.

100 Skills Every Man Should Know

The first nine:
1. Handle a blowout
2. Drive in snow
3. Check trouble codes
4. Replace fan belt
5. Wax a car
6. Conquer an off-road obstacle
7. Use a stick welder
8. Hitch up a trailer
9. Jump start a car
Read the whole list. Personally, I get about an A-. I have some work to do.

700 Billion Dollars Would Buy...

  • Gasoline for a year for every adult in America. (175 billion gallons of gas)
  • You could literally buy the world a Coke. One 2-liter bottle per week for a year.
  • You could buy a 60-inch HDTV for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
  • Sounds like Monopoly money? It should. You could buy 10 Monopoly games for each of the 6.7 billion human beings on planet earth.
  • You could buy everyone in America 2200 McDonalds apple pies. What's more American than that?
  • You could buy a brand new Hummer for each of the 11 million people on the island of Cuba
  • You could buy 2 mountain bikes for everyone in China
  • You could buy 438 pounds of rice for every single person in Africa.
  • You could buy a Caribbean Island for every single person in the state of South Dakota.
HT: Joe

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Of Course Monkies Make Good Waiters

A Defense of Single-Issue Politics

Sara Geis defends this personal "policy" extremely well. She writes:
An inexcusable justification for Obama support is rapidly gaining popularity. Those who adopt this commonly championed yet false case that abortion is no more important than other issues must be set straight, especially during a political campaign as monumental as this. Hip, trendy, and deliberately contra-Religious Right, the argument typically takes this form:

Abortion is a single-issue.
Single-issue politics is naive and wrong.
Therefore we should not vote based upon the abortion issue.
My favorite part:
Again, all issues do not carry equal weight. Despite the reality that a strong anti-abortion stance has recently fallen out of favor, such a position is still of utmost importance. To use Doug Groothuis’s coined term, fetus fatigue is no excuse for such an egregious lapse in judgement.

Barack Obama needs to be exposed for his tenaciously held, heinous positions, namely his fight and defeat of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act and his outspoken desire to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. While Christians should absolutely pursue civility in disagreement, morally atrocious policies such as these must be vigorously and unapologetically fought.
Amen, sista. Please read the whole thing. I have written similarly here.


All Sold Out

Read about it here.

Now know that I would say the same thing if John Piper decided to hit the stump with John McCain. But something tells me he would never be so dumb. Does Miller know that he is a Christian leader? Maybe he's like Charles Barkley. He's no role model. Actually, I would prefer to have Charles Barley speaking for Christians.

HT : Challies

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Prosperity "Gospel" and the Economy

The Prosperity "Gospel" is the belief that the amount of blessing in your life (how much money you have and how healthy you are) is directly proportional to your efforts on behalf of the Kingdom. Faith, prayer, giving. The more you do, the more "blessed" you will be. I honestly have no idea why they utilize the word "gospel." Perhaps they believe that the good news is not that Christ came to the world as savior, but that you will now probably get to own a Ferrari. A clearly erroneous, heretical teaching, it is ruining many parts of Christendom and is most popular in places where people are the poorest. For example, a friend told me that when he was in Africa, he had two TV channels in his hotel. One of them was TBN. Truly horrifying.

And it's possible that this teaching has contributed to the financial mess today. Time ran an article a few days ago on the Prosperity "Gospel" and the subprime crisis. The author writes:
Has the so-called Prosperity gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That's what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of Pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California at Riverside, he realized that Prosperity's central promise — that God will "make a way" for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, dangerous expression during the subprime-lending boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe "God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house." The results, he says, "were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers."
The article does not make obvious a direct correlation, and yet you can't help but believe the thesis prima facie. If you believe the Prosperity Gospel, you believe that you are deserving of great financial and physiological blessing based not on God's plan for you, but on your work for God. What's more, because God does not work within the confines of any human system, the blessing owed to you will most likely come miraculously. That is, prosperity from God will likely be "too good to be true." And what do you think subprime mortgages are? Too good to be true. Pray for those people who mistakenly entered into these despicable loans and that they discover and lean on the real Gospel.

Read the whole Time article. It is worth your time. On a related note, check out this editorial in the WSJ today called "Not Everyone Should Own a Home."


Sara Groves on her Spiritual Buffalo

From her website:
There is a scene in the movie Dances with Wolves where the Sioux are on a much anticipated buffalo hunt. As they come up over a hill, they are shocked to see a field full of buffalo carcasses. The tragedy of that moment is that where the Sioux use every piece of the buffalo—the bladder holds water, the bone makes a tool, the skin is a covering for a tent- whoever has done this has taken the best part of the buffalo for himself and has left everything else to waste. There is no way to make good use of all that is lying in this field.

I was so convicted when I went to Africa that I am not using all of my spiritual buffalo. I have developed this one side of my personal relationship with God. I go to church, I have incredible worship, and I listen to incredible speakers. I have money to buy devotionals, and leisure time to do those devotionals. I have spent a lifetime grooming a personal faith in Christ, but have I been taking the best piece of the buffalo for myself? There has been a joy in discovering the good use of my life. There is a reciprocal redemption that happens when we enter into stories of helping our neighbor—not just around the world, but in our own communities. When I came home from Africa, instead of feeling guilty for my life, I began to hear God in a very clear way say, ‘that thing carries water, that thing makes a tool, that is covering for a tent.’ There is a beauty to the good use of a life, and to the acknowledgment that everything you have and do has a Kingdom purpose.

Where Do They Stand?

Check out this article on where each of the two main parties stand (but not necessarily their candidates for pres) on some of the most important issues of our day (especially to Christians).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Savior on Capitol Hill

Just back from the Art * Music * Justice Tour with Sara Groves and other artists. Really good stuff. I'm tempted to say it's one of the best shows I've ever seen. More on that later. Derek Webb, formerly of Caedmon's Call, sang a tune that really spoke to me called "A Savior on Capitol Hill." Here are the lyrics:
I’m so tired of these mortal men
with their hands on their wallets and their hearts full of sin
scared of their enemies, scared of their friends
and always running for re-election
so come to DC if it be thy will
because we’ve never had a savior on Capitol Hill

you can always trust the devil or a politician
to be the devil or a politician
but beyond that friends you’d best beware
’cause at the Pentagon bar they’re an inseparable pair
and as long as the lobbyists are paying their bills
we’ll never have a savior on Capitol Hill

all of our problems gonna disappear
when we can whisper right in that President’s ear
he could walk right across the reflection pool
in his combat boots and ten thousand dollar suit

you can render unto Caesar everything that’s his
you can trust in his power to come to your defense
it’s the way of the world, the way of the gun
it’s the trading of an evil for a lesser one
so don’t hold your breath or your vote until
you think you’ve finally found a savior up on Capitol Hill
You can download the entire album for free (sort of) here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

ALERT: Sarah Palin Scares P Diddy

Oh man, this is awesome:

I am throwing out all of my principles. P DIDDY FOR PRESIDENT!

(Seriously, does anyone actually think Palin knew no names to current publications? It seems to me that she immediately realized how patronizing the question was and decided that answering it would do her no good.)

A Different Kind of Evangelism

Larry Charles, director of the new movie Religulous, was recently interviewed by Entertainment Weekly:
EW: "Will anyone see Religulous other than confirmed atheists and agnostics?"

Charles: "My goal is not to talk to people who agree with me. I'm interested in reaching the people that would never dream of seeing a movie that questions their religion. I want Passion of the Christ fans to come see the passion of the Antichrist."
God help him, he has no idea what he is saying.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What is Sin?

I was talking with my small group last night about this question, especially as it pertains to evangelism. How do you get a person to believe that they are sinful? Does the word "sin" even resonate anymore? The classical definition is that sin is the breaking of God's laws. God set up specific requirements for the people, for the world, in order that we come to him perfectly reverent, thus protecting his supreme holiness. His laws are not for himself, he is not governed by them. Rather, they are for us, we are governed by them. And so when we break those laws, we sin. Wayne Grudem basically agrees, defining sin as "any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature." But that is not easy to swallow. People in non-legalistic societies, where freedom is treasured more than restriction, not only do not resonate with talk of law and sin, they despise it. So what to do?

First off, there are no good answers. Sinners, by nature (and name), do not like looking at their own sinfulness. So this problem is, in reality, an old one. And so our job is to uphold both the truth represented in the Bible, but do so in a way so people will understand it. And as is the case with most things, different people will respond to different "tactics." So the question becomes, how do we go about explaining sin today? The problem, as I alluded to above, is that Americans are hopelessly individualistic. We do everything on our own, by ourselves, for ourselves. Communication happens distantly, most families are at least partially broken, and there is no need anymore for sacrificial interdependency. In the end, they desire freedom. We usually speak of freedom poetically as we clutch American flags and roman candles on the 4th and sing the last few lines of the Star Spangled Banner at baseball games. But our words do not always reflect our beliefs. In truth, Americans desire total autonomy. Autonomy from "the man," from the fam, from God, from everything. And we expect them to hear us as we talk about Moses on Mount Sinai and his list of rules? No thank you, many Americans say. Thankfully, there is a way to get through even to them and help them understand that they have sinned against the living God.

Tim Keller has been very helpful to me on this subject. He has said that he made the decision to talk about sin only in terms of idolatry. That is, he tells his people (New Yorkers) that idolatry (sin) is being deceived by and enslaved to anything that is not God. "Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry," Keller has written. And this, I think, resonates. Why? Because even they know that, deep down, those things they love are not things that are satisfying. For example, the promiscuous clearly take something good God has given (sex) and use it in a way that enslaves them. If you gently explain this to them (though they may react to it caustically at first), it will make sense to them because their use of sex never did feel all that satisfying. And they'll even begin to feel as though they really aren't as free as they once thought.

Read this article by Keller for a more thorough treatment of the subject.