Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ted Haggard, Alexandra Pelosi and the Bible

HBO is airing a documentary this week on Ted Haggard and his life after his fall from grace. I just read a CT interview with the filmmaker, Alexandra Pelosi (the daughter of Speaker of the House Nanci Pelosi). It is really a fascinating read and worth your time. Haggard is clearly broken and trying to get back on his feet (it sounds like he has to some extent). What I found most intriguing and hopeful in the interview was Pelosi's explanation of what got them through the ordeal:
There was an AP story on Friday about another young man in New Life Church claiming he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Ted.

I'm not surprised. I mean, you never get caught your first time.

Are you going to put a tagline at the end of the film about this news?

It's too late. [The New York Times reports that HBO plans to add a brief statement at the end of the film.] I think that the point [with this news] is that Ted was a deceiver and a liar. But I wasn't so interested in Ted's sexual problems. What I think is interesting is watching the family and watching this man go through this private hell publicly. It's just sad for his family. But somehow he got his life back together.

I'm not a really religious person. We consider ourselves to be Catholics, but we think of it more as a cultural thing. But what I love about Ted's story, at least about Ted's family, is that the Bible got them through. They read the Bible. They would read these passages, and it moved me. I went out and bought a new Bible. When I was making Friends with God, everybody quoted the Bible, but I was never inspired to go buy one. But this experience with Ted turned me onto the Bible in a whole new way, because he would read these passages and it would really inspire me.

People might come away from this movie being a little anti-church, but it makes you really pro-Bible. It makes you really pro-God in a way, because you read these things in the Bible and you're like, wow.

Gayle and the kids read the Bible a lot, and they weren't doing it for me. They got through all of this with the help of the Bible.
Read the whole thing.

No One Can Criticize Me More Than the Cross Has

So Says Dr. Alfred Porier in his article, "The Cross and Criticism." It is particularly devastating and should be read by every Christian. He writes convincingly:
In light of God's judgment and justification of the sinner in the cross of Christ, we can begin to discover how to deal with any and all criticism. By agreeing with God's criticism of me in Christ's cross, I can face any criticism man may lay against me. In other words, no one can criticize me more than the cross has. And the most devastating criticism turns out to be the finest mercy. If you thus know yourself as having been crucified with Christ, then you can respond to any criticism, even mistaken or hostile criticism, without bitterness, defensiveness, or blameshifting. Such responses typically exacerbate and intensify conflict, and lead to the rupture of relationships. You can learn to hear criticism as constructive and not condemnatory because God has justified you.

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? (Rom. 8:33-34a).

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it (Ps. 141:5).

If I know myself as crucified with Christ, I can now receive another's criticism with this attitude: "You have not discovered a fraction of my guilt. Christ has said more about my sin, my failings, my rebellion and my foolishness than any man can lay against me. I thank you for your corrections. They are a blessing and a kindness to me. For even when they are wrong or misplaced, they remind me of my true faults and sins for which my Lord and Savior paid dearly when He went to the cross for me. I want to hear where your criticisms are valid."

The correction and advice that we hear are sent by our heavenly Father. They are His corrections, rebukes, warnings, and scoldings. His reminders are meant to humble me, to weed out the root of pride and replace it with a heart and lifestyle of growing wisdom, understanding, goodness, and truth. For example, if you can take criticism—however just or unjust—you'll learn to give it with gracious intent and constructive results. See the sidebar, "Giving Criticism God's Way."

I do not fear man's criticism for I have already agreed with God's criticism. And I do not look ultimately for man's approval for I have gained by grace God's approval. In fact, His love for me helps me to hear correction and criticism as a kindness, oil on my head, from my Father who loves me and says, "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone He accepts as a son" (Heb. 12:5-6).
Whole thing.

This article was linked to by Michael Mckinley of 9 Marks in response to a question that was asked of him by a church member: "If I imagined this were the last time I ever saw him (the church member), and I was being 100% completely honest about what I saw in his life, what criticism would I offer him?"

Do you have the guts to ask a question like that?

Giant Underground Ant Colony

This is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MH and Driscoll on Nightline


1. They only showed the clips of his preaching when he was yelling, as if that is all he does. He does get animated, but most of the time he is pretty reserved.
2. They did a pretty good job of representing what the church has done, namely, to reach out to the outcast.
3. While Mark does have a penchant for teaching on sex, the reason it has come up a lot recently is because they just did a series on Song of Solomon.
4. I am glad they touched on humility at the end. That is Driscoll's biggest blindspot.

Are you Willing to be Hated for Speaking the Gospel Truth?

Randy Alcorn wants to know.

Prosperity is Not Always Good

There is an interesting article in USA Today on the changing habits of shoppers amidst the economic downturn. Read it here. Whereas before people could spend without thinking, most of us now are looking for good deals, holding onto products longer (e.g. cars) and, simply, not buying as much. What was most fascinating to me, however, was a quote from J.C. Penny CEO Mike Ullman:
In 2009, the consumer will act rationally. They will shop for what they need and less for what they want. And they don't need much.
Read that last sentence again: "And they don't need much." This is a truism that escapes us when we prosper. So few of us are able to control ourselves when we are rich, when we don't have to think about our bottom line. We will spend money on things that, in truth, we don't need. Now I understand that we aren't called to live only on the things we need. Art, rest, entertainment and relaxation are not bad things and we should use some of our money on them. However, it seems obvious that many of us have lost control (especially when it comes to spending on credit). And so is it possible that one of the reasons God has orchestrated this bad economy is to change us? I think so. The scriptures teach that we are to be thankful for suffering. It makes us better people. This downturn is forcing us to live on less and be thankful for more. Prosperity is not always good. But recession is not always bad.

This is Not a Blog About Politics

But some things are just too amazing and absurd to pass up. From WSJ's editorial today on the proposed "stimulus" package:
We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.
They continue:
Add the roughly $20 billion for business tax cuts, and by our estimate only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus. And even many of these projects aren't likely to help the economy immediately. As Peter Orszag, the President's new budget director, told Congress a year ago, "even those [public works] that are 'on the shelf' generally cannot be undertaken quickly enough to provide timely stimulus to the economy."
Here's another lu-lu: Congress wants to spend $600 million more for the federal government to buy new cars. Uncle Sam already spends $3 billion a year on its fleet of 600,000 vehicles. Congress also wants to spend $7 billion for modernizing federal buildings and facilities. The Smithsonian is targeted to receive $150 million; we love the Smithsonian, too, but this is a job creator?
Whole thing.

Snuggie, You are Famous


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Clinton Will Work Actively to Halt Human Trafficking

Let's hope she holds to this:
I want to pledge to you that as Secretary of State, I view these issues (human trafficking) as central to our foreign policy. Not as adjunct or auxiliary, or in any way lesser than all of the other issues we have to confront. I too have followed the stories that are exemplified by the pictures that you held up. I mean, it is heartbreaking beyond words that, you know, young girls are attacked on their way to school by Taliban sympathizers and members who do not want young women to be educated. It’s not complicated! They want to maintain an attitude that keeps women — as I said in my testimony — unhealthy, unfed, uneducated and this is something that results all too often in violence against these young women, both within their families and from the outside.

This is not culture. This is not custom. This is criminal. And it will be my hope to persuade more government — as I have attempted to do since I spoke at Beijing on these issues, you know, 13 and some years ago — that we cannot have a free, prosperous, peaceful, progressive world if women are treated in such a discriminatory and violent way. I’ve also read closely Nick Kristof’s articles, in the last months and especially the last weeks, the young women that he has both rescued from prostitution, and met, who have been enslaved and abused, tortured in every way– physically, emotionally, morally– and I take very seriously the function of the State department to lead our government through the Office on Human Trafficking, to do all that we can to end this modern form of slavery. We have sex slavery, we have wage slavery, and it is primarily a slavery of girls and women. So I look also forward, Senator (Barbara Boxer), to reviewing your legislation and working with you as a continuing partnership on behalf of these issues we care so much about.

So we’re going to have a very active office on trafficking, we’re going to be speaking out consistently and strongly against discrimination and oppression of women, and slavery in particular. Because I think that is not only in keeping with American values, as we all recognize, but American national security interests as well.

CT's Most Redeeming Films of 2008

Though I'd prefer they refrain from using the word "redeeming," I get what they mean and the list is great. They give the top ten and a host of honorable mentions. Here. The top ten:

1. Wall-E
2. The Visitor
3. Grand Torino
4. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who
5. Rachel Getting Married
6. Fireproof
7. The Dark Knight
8. Shotgun Stories
9. Slumdog Millionaire
10. Man on Wire

It's Always the Bass Player


I haven't seen this movie yet. I'll admit that I have been afraid of it. When Christian movies are bad, they are the worst. Think Carman. But it sounds like this one is actually pretty good (check out all the reviews here). I was really encouraged and made joyful this morning as I drove to work and heard the Focus on the Family interview with the writers and Kirk Cameron (recorded last January). Gospel intentionality and acts of service made the film possible. Listen here.

I think I might even go rent Fireproof now. You'll be sure to get my one sentence moview review if I do.

Modern Feet Washing

Check out this great article on serving the homeless.

I Guess Planned Parenthood Will Not Stimulate the Economy After All

Here. Thank God.

No, Mr. President

"And the rest of us, who don't have your power, we will pray for you. And we will believe that God will change your heart, and we will be the happiest people on the planet."

Babies are Musical

Of course they are.

Monday, January 26, 2009

When You've Got No Drummer, Use Tractor

Of course:

LOLCats, Finally

A little detour from Life Amplified:

funny pictures of cats with captions

funny pictures of cats with captions

funny pictures of cats with captions

Pelosi Video with Burk Commentary

Here is the video of Pelosi talking about stimulating the economy via "family planning":

Translation: "We have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our keeping babies from being born through contraception or abortion." When did we change our name to China? Here is Denny Burk's response:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is defending the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars of the forthcoming stimulus package are to be spent on “family planning.” Her argument is very simple. The economy is bad. Having babies costs money. Would-be parents need to save their money by not having babies.

Without a doubt, Pelosi’s remarks reflect the spirit of the age. In general, our culture has come to view children as a burden rather than as a blessing. Even among those who are married, children are increasingly viewed as add-ons—an option that may or may not be pursued by the couple.

This view of children is anything but biblical, and it is positively sub-Christian. From the very beginning of creation, having children has been associated with blessing from the Lord. God commanded Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply”—which was apparently the necessary condition of their ruling over the earth (Gen 1:28). Psalm 127:3 states very clearly that “children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward.” When his disciples attempted to dismiss curious children as a nuisance, Jesus said, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Family Planning Will Stimulate the Economy

Or so says Nanci Pelosi in an interview with ABC News this morning:
STEPHANOPOULOS: We also heard from Congressman Boehner coming out of the meeting today that again a lot of that spending doesn't even meet the same test you just talked about right now. Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.
Beyond the blatant immorality of her remarks is the side issue of a congress and president that has been given a blank check to "fix" the economy with, apparently, no oversight. Yuval Levin (who posted the above transcript) writes:
Watching the Sunday political shows today was certainly discouraging. It is perfectly clear that essentially no economic thinking underlies the stimulus bill that will move through the House next week. It’s simply seen by the Democratic leadership as an opportunity to spend a lot of money on various causes they’ve wanted to support for years and to increase the reach of the government into the economy. They offer no sense of just how their solution relates to the problem our economy faces; no reason to think that they will ever pull back from the levels of spending and of intervention they now envision; and no excuses for even the most egregious examples of profligate waste in the plan.
So not only will our tax dollars be used to fund things won't help the economy, some of that hard earned cash will go to ending the lives of the unborn. Great.

15 Pro-LifeTruths

From John Piper in 2003:
1. Existing fetal homicide laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother's womb (except in the case of abortion).

2. Fetal surgery is performed on babies in the womb to save them while another child the same age is being legally destroyed.

3. Babies can sometimes survive on their own at 23 or 24 weeks, but abortion is legal beyond this limit.

4. Living on its own is not the criterion of human personhood, as we know from the use of respirators and dialysis.

5. Size is irrelevant to human personhood, as we know from the difference between a one-week-old and a six-year-old.

6. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood, as we know from the capacities of three-month-old babies.

7. Infants in the womb are human beings scientifically by virtue of their genetic make up.

8. Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. All the organs are present, the brain is functioning, the heart is pumping, the liver is making blood cells, the kidneys are cleaning fluids, and there is a fingerprint. Virtually all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Justice dictates that when two legitimate rights conflict, the limitation of rights that does the least harm is the most just. Bearing a child for adoption does less harm than killing him.

10. Justice dictates that when either of two people must be inconvenienced or hurt to alleviate their united predicament, the one who bore the greater responsibility for the predicament should bear more of the inconvenience or hurt to alleviate it.

11. Justice dictates that a person may not coerce harm on another person by threatening voluntary harm on themselves.

12. The outcast and the disadvantaged and exploited are to be cared for in a special way, especially those with no voice of their own.

13. What is happening in the womb is the unique person-nurturing work of God, who alone has the right to give and take life.

14. There are countless clinics that offer life and hope to both mother and child (and father and parents), with care of every kind lovingly provided by people who will meet every need they can.

15.Jesus Christ can forgive all sins, and will give all who trusts him the help they need to do everything that life requires.

Christian Cleverness to the Max


Saturday, January 24, 2009

How do Miller and McLaren Feel Now?

In the comments section of a post by Anthony Bradley (read it here), "Paul F" wrote:
I wonder how Brian McLaren (A Generous Orthodoxy, A New Kind of Christian) and Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz) feel since they specifically made a case that Obama is the best option for the pro-life cause. Here are two representative quotes.

McLaren: "But in regards to abortion along with many other issues, we are convinced - firmly, thoughtfully, and enthusiastically convinced - that casting our vote for Obama is a step in the right direction, fully consistent with our desire to celebrate the sacredness of life and improve the moral health of our nation and world."

Miller: Obama "will accomplish more than John McCain" on the abortion issue and has proposed the only "realistic strategy that can move us around the cultural impasse that is breathing hate and anger into the Christian community."

I wonder how increasing funding for abortion services is a step in the right direction or is part of a realistic strategy to decrease the number of abortions.

Jim Wallis is, of Course, Encouraged

From his blog yesterday:
I am encouraged that President Obama’s first action on abortion was to release a statement supporting a common ground approach to reducing abortion, even as he also reiterated his policy of supporting legal choice. Even more significant was his decision not to issue an executive order rescinding the “Mexico City policy” on the day of the anniversary of the Roe decision and the annual March for Life. For the past two decades, this particular rule has become a back-and-forth of instituting and repealing as administrations have changed—almost as a partisan tit-for-tat.

In breaking the symbolic cycle, President Obama showed respect for both sides in the historically polarized abortion debate, and called for both a new conversation and a new common ground. I hope that this important gesture signals the beginning of a new approach and a new path toward finding some real solutions to decrease the number of abortions in this country and around the world.
Good Lord, is he serious? Translation: "I am encouraged that Obama was kind enough to wait one day to release millions of dollars that will indirectly end the lives of millions of babies." Yeah, I am encouraged too.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why Reverse "Mexico City"?/ UPDATE

I am having trouble finding the reason Obama, or Clinton for that matter, overturned the "Mexico City" policy. The Moral Accountability blog explains what the policy is:
The Mexico City Policy (called by pro-abortion activists and the national press the “Global Gag Rule”) conditions any receipt of funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) by overseas non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on their agreement neither to perform nor to “actively promote” abortion as a means of family planning. The policy was instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 at the United Nations International Conference on Population in Mexico City. The policy was subsequently rescinded by President Bill Clinton on January 22, 1993, only to be reinstituted by President George W. Bush on January 22, 2001. The intent of the Mexico City Policy is to close loopholes that allow USAID money to fund abortion indirectly, circumventing standing law that prohibits direct funding—in particular the Helms Amendment, an appropriations rider. Without the Mexico City Policy it would still be illegal for recipients of USAID funding to use such aid in the performance of abortion, but aid would defray the non-abortion costs of abortion providers, freeing those funds for the performance of abortion. Furthermore, abortion providers in the developing world (like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Mary Stopes International) have a storied history of using their Western funding to promote the legalization or liberalization of abortion laws. By restricting the funding of such groups, the Mexico City Policy is invaluable in protecting the profound and inherent dignity of human life and rule of law in the developing world.
So I get why this is a good policy. But why reverse it? I have been scouring the internet looking for the reason for reversal. Anyone out there know?


Ok. This is not from the Obama camp, but it'll do:
"Women's health has been severely impacted by the cutoff of assistance. President Obama's actions will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don't have access to family planning," said Tod Preston, a spokesman for Population Action International, an advocacy group.

The Pope Digs Facebook

Here. He calls FB and Myspace "gifts," but warns that this form of communication could lead to isolation. Agreed.

I Was Wrong, For Now, Final Version

It sounds like President Obama is going to sign the reversal of the "Mexico Policy" today. He hasn't signed anything yet, but all sources say it will happen today. He decided that it would be prudent not to sign anything until the day after the anniversary of Roe. So what can we learn from this?

1. Barack Obama was respectful of pro-lifers who remember the anniversary of Roe and consider it a sacred day (I suppose the act could have been motivated by political expediency, but I'll choose for now to believe that waiting was a gracious and respectful act).

2. Barack Obama showed no respect--in fact, he showed blatant disrespect--for the life of the unborn. His waiting a day does not diminish the affect of his decision.

3. This does not mean prayer went unanswered yesterday. The larger point that must be made, especially if I am to remain sane, is that God is in control of Barack Obama, and that God is good. God has seen fit throughout history to use evil men and women to bring about his good will (e.g. me). Some have been notoriously evil (e.g. Pharaoh, Saul, Nebuchadnezzar). So the answered prayed came as a result of God's intervening, not Barack's goodness.

4. Though a small prayer was answered yesterday, we still must pray for and wait expectantly for a complete reversal of Obama's anti-life philosophy. Please join me in interceding for him.

If you're so inclined, I'd love to hear your feedback on this post.

Moral Accountability

A group of leading, conservative intellectuals, including Robert George and Francis Beckwith, have just launched a new site and blog called Moral Accountability. They purpose is simple: Keep track of Barack Obama's opposition to pro-life and pro-marriage policies. In an open letter they write:
In the course of the 2008 presidential campaign, a small group of Catholic and Evangelical Protestant intellectuals and activists, while saying that they personally support legal protection for the unborn and oppose the redefinition of marriage, promoted the candidacy of Barack Obama, who made no secret of his intention to wipe out the entire range of laws restricting or discouraging abortion and embryo-destructive research, or of his opposition to all state and federal initiatives (such as California Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act) to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. These intellectuals assured their fellow Christians and other social conservatives that Obama’s economic policies would reduce the incidence of abortion, and they promised that Obama was being honest when he said that he was opposed to “same-sex marriage.”

Despite these assurances, we fear that the Obama administration will swiftly begin an assault on pro-life laws and pro-marriage policies. During his campaign for the presidency, Obama promised that his very first presidential act would be to push through the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, which would require federal and state funding for abortion and, in the gleeful words of the National Organization for Women, “wipe out hundreds of anti-abortion laws” across the United States. Even if he and his allies in Congress are unable to win sufficient support for this extreme measure to enact it as a package, they will no doubt seek to push through its various elements one by one. Bills will be introduced, for example, to override laws requiring parental consent or at least notification for abortions performed on minor girls—laws that demonstrably save thousands of lives every year—and laws mandating the provision of factual information about fetal development and the risks of abortion to women contemplating the procedure.
They conclude:
Our project is offered in a constructive spirit, not one of vilification. Our goal is to help ensure that never again will good intentions conspire with shoddy reasoning and wishful thinking to compromise the rights of the weakest and most vulnerable members of our community and to undermine the institution of marriage. And so in a sincere spirit of friendship, we invite those Catholics and Evangelicals who joined Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and similar organizations in helping Obama join us now in repelling the attacks that will be launched against life and marriage in this administration.

With the revocation of the Mexico City Policy forbidding the use of U.S. taxpayer funds to promote abortion abroad, with the repeal of the Hyde Amendment protecting U.S. taxpayers from being forced to pay for abortions, with the demolition of laws requiring parental involvement and informed consent, with the promotion of “therapeutic” cloning and the expansion of embryo-destructive research, with the abolition of conscience and religious liberty protections for pro-life physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, and with the fulfillment of Obama’s other promises to the abortion and embryo-research industries, the death toll is sure to mount. In solidarity with the victims, we will document it as best we can, and we will demand moral accountability.
Read the whole thing and be sure to subscribe to their feed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Was Wrong, For Now v. 2.0

A friend who reads this blog read this post and emailed me. She made it plain to me that we should consider Obama's postponement of overturning the "Mexico Policy" an answer to prayer. That is, even though his position may not have been changed, we at least a have a few more days with the policy in place. This is a good thing and, thus, an answer to prayer. She's right, of course. I have been praying for a 180 for Obama, but a few 45s of 90s are answers to prayer too. Thanks E. Feel free to write in the comment section next time as well... ;-)

Flying Gospels to North Korea

Ok, I have at least one post today that isn't about Roe v. Wade. From CT, so cool:
Christian activists in South Korea sent hundreds of thousands of gospel tracts over North Korea's closed border in November using helium-filled balloons. Equipped with a time-release mechanism, each balloon carried 10,000 leaflets that tell the story of a 1907 Christian revival in Pyongyang, and compare Kim Jong-Il to Nebuchadnezzar. The effort is part of a resurgence of balloon launches, used for decades by political and religious groups to send propaganda past the North's information blackout. Such launches worsened relations between North and South in 2008. In response, North Korea's government further restricted travel and communication between the two countries.
Though it could have a negative effect on relations between the two countries, it seems that the risk is worth it.

I Was Wrong, For Now

Here. And yet there is nothing in Obama's record that leads me to believe that this postponement will become a change in policy.

More on Roe v. Wade

I guess this blog should be called Life Amplified today:

1. Joe Carter: "Four Reasons You Might Be Aborted: An Open Letter to Fetal Humans."
2. Justin Taylor: "One Simple, Practical Way You Can Make a Difference for Women and the Unborn."

Our Obligation

More from George; it's all just too good:
In addition to prayer and our political efforts, there is the obligation to reach out to pregnant women who are in need or who are subject for other reasons to pro-abortion pressures. The partisans of abortion, with the help of an overwhelmingly sympathetic and deeply biased news media, have portrayed people who oppose the killing of the unborn, whether by abortion or in embryo-destructive research, as heartless moralizers bent on oppressing women and impeding the progress of science. Nothing could be further from the truth. For decades, pro-life people—mostly women—have devoted themselves, often at great personal cost and in the face of many obstacles, to assisting their pregnant sisters in need. They have recognized that a truly just and humane understanding is one that recognizes the common dignity and mutual interests of mother and child. Ordinary pro-life individuals and families have worked and sacrificed to provide for the material, emotional, and spiritual needs of pregnant women in need—many of whom, it must be noted, are driven to contemplate abortion under pressure from boyfriends, husbands, family, and friends. Even women who have succumbed to the temptation to destroy their unborn children are not condemned or abandoned by the pro-life movement. Rather, they are offered forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing—no strings attached. At the same time, it is pro-life Americans who are leading the charge for ethical and therapeutically useful forms of stem cell research—research that does not compromise biomedical science by killing in the cause of healing.

And those of us who are Christians must, in obedience to the command of Christ himself, love our enemies. We must pray for those who have brought the abortion license upon our nation and for those who today protect and sustain it. We must also pray for those who perform and profit from the taking of human life. Our love for them must be godly and ungrudging. We must never give up on its power to transform.
Whole thing.

Obama is Not Pro-Life

From Robert P. George's piece today:
Obama is being served and abetted by a small number of Catholic and Evangelical intellectuals and activists who have been peddling the claim that Obama, despite his pro-abortion extremism, is effectively pro-life because of his allegedly enlightened economic and social policies will reduce the number of abortions. This is delusional. The truth is that Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to serve in the United States Senate or seek the Office of President of the United States. The revocation of the Hyde Amendment, the Mexico City Policy, funding limitations on embryo-destructive research, informed consent laws, parental notification statutes—all of which Obama has promised to his pro-abortion base—will dramatically increase the number of abortions, and will do so for reasons that have been articulated by the abortion lobby itself. It is the pro-abortion side that tells us that the Hyde Amendment alone has resulted in 300,000 fewer abortions each year than would otherwise be performed—and that is why they so desperately want it to be repealed. Yet the putatively pro-life Obama apologists claim that the man who pledges to repeal it is going to reduce the number of abortions. Let me say it again: this is delusional.

I Hope I Spoke Too Soon

Kathryn Jean Lopez:
For days now, it has been assumed that Barack Obama will repeal the Reagan-era Mexico City policy which prohibits federal funding of abortions overseas. But the supposed confirmations I’ve read have been weak. And I just have this feeling Barack Obama is too pragmatic to do it today, the anniversary of Roe. If he did issue an executive order, it would serve to rally the pro-lifers gathered on the Mall with a newfound sense of purpose. I expect he has to do something like it soon — some reminder to the abortion industry that he is their guy. But I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s not a Mexico City act today. And I don’t expect it to be full-on FOCA anytime soon.

The Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

I doubt I will write anything extensive today on this anniversary. However, here are some sources to check out:

1. Robert P. George: "Our Struggle for the Soul of our Nation."
2. Ed Whelan: "Why Roe v. Wade Needs to be Overturned."
3. John Piper: "Lincoln’s Logic on Slavery Applied to Abortion."
4. A short video detailing Margret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood (sorry that it is a bit heavy handed):

Uneasy Nights

Pray for Barack Obama, that he might have uneasy nights.


Mitt Romney on Those Who March for Life

Cited by NRO's The Corner, Mitt Romney's message to the gathering in Washington D.C today:
Today in Washington , many thousands of American women and men have proudly gathered on the National Mall for the March for Life. In a city of many competing political interests, these marchers have come to speak for only one cause: the goodness of every life, and the rights of the unborn.

Thirty-six years ago, those rights were denied by our highest court, in a decision that also denied the rights of all Americans to resolve the abortion issue through democratic debate and legislation. To their great credit, the organizers of the March for Life never let this anniversary pass without speaking to the conscience of America , and calling our nation to uphold its highest ideals in the protection of human life.

America owes these marchers a debt of gratitude for their perseverance in a noble cause. I am honored to count myself as their friend and ally. And because of their dedication and their goodness of heart, I am certain that one day this cause will prevail.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"He Will Actively Work to Reduce Abortions"

Or so said many pro-life supporters of Obama. He's off to a great start. This will happen, mind you, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Think he's trying to make a point? Denny Burk writes:
I...think it’s important to highlight the folly of certain “Christian” leaders who tried to lead astray a generation of young pro-lifers with the myth that abortions might be reduced under a pro-choice chief executive. On his second day in office when he signs the order that will undoubtedly result in an increase in abortions abroad, the president himself will put the lie to that myth once and for all.


Yo-Yo Ma et al

This was great yesterday:

Honor the Emporer

From my devotional this morning, 1 Peter 2:13-17:
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bush Booed on Departure

Chris Matthews: "Bad form." I'll say.

Classless. I, for one, will miss you Mr. President.

MH Baptisms

We work hard that people may be changed and turn to Jesus. See some stories and baptisms marking this conversion at Mars Hill Church in Seattle below:

Def: Open Theism

From Reclaiming the Mind:
Open Theism, also referred to as “free will theism” and “openness theology,” is the belief that God does not exercise meticulous control of the universe but leaves it “open” for humans to make significant free will choices that impact their relationships with God and others. A corollary of this is that God has not predetermined the future. Open Theists further believe that this would imply that God does not know the future exhaustively.

Among proponents of this view are Gregory Boyd, John Sanders, and Clark Pinnock.

How I Have Been Praying For Barack Obama

It troubles me when I hear Christians complain and criticize politicians (or anyone for that matter) but also fail to pray for them. I have tried to take my own advice since election Tuesday. Below is how I have ended my prayer times most mornings. It isn't profound by any means but hope it works profoundly.
Oh great and majestic God I pray for Barack Obama. God, I pray that you change his heart his heart and lead him to the truth that God has come to us in Christ Jesus and that he alone stands as our substitute. May he know the Gospel and be forever changed by it. And God, to that end, I also pray that you change his heart with regard to the unborn. Oh Jesus, may you stir within him profound love for all life, especially little babies still in the womb. May he protect them with all of his power and might. And God may all of this be used to accomplish your purposes, further your will, and bring glory to your name. Amen.
However you pray, please do so regularly for this man, this country, this time.

Rick Warren Invocation Video

He killed today. He sounded inclusive, and he was in some regard. But, in the end, he was not (listen especially to the end). Praise be to God and Christ Jesus:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Russell Moore Hates Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

Moore writes:
I don’t hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I think it, somehow, unbiblical. No, indeed. The entire canon throbs with God’s commitment to the fatherless and to the widows, his wrath at the shedding of innocent blood. I don’t hate it because I think it’s inappropriate. Just as every Lord’s Day should be Easter, with the proclamation of the Resurrection of Jesus, and Christmas, with the announcement of the Incarnation, so every Lord’s Day should highlight the worth and dignity of human life.

I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that we have to say things to one another that human beings shouldn’t have to say. Mothers shouldn’t kill their children. Fathers shouldn’t abandon their babies. No human life is worthless, regardless of skin color, age, disability, economic status. The very fact that these things must be proclaimed is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness.
Read the whole thing.

Fleet Foxes on SNL

Odd to see an indy-type band on SNL. Very cool:

Enough Said

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Piper Brutally, Biblically on Gene Robinson and Barack Obama

Barack Obama, surely in response to the backlash about inviting Rick Warren to give an invocation during his inauguration, invited Gene Robinson to give an invocation as well. He is the first openly gay bishop sanctioned by the Episcopal church. Piper writes boldly in a response in a piece entitled "How Barack Obama Will Make Christ a Minister of Condemnation":
This is tragic not mainly because Obama is willing to hold up the legitimacy of homosexual intercourse, but because he is willing to get behind the church endorsement of sexual intercourse between men.

It is one thing to say: Two men may legally have sex. It is another to say: The Christian church acted acceptably in blessing Robinson's sex with men.
The implications of this are serious.
It means that Barack Obama is willing, not just to tolerate, but to feature a person and a viewpoint that makes the church a minister of damnation. Again, the tragedy here is not that many people in public life hold views (like atheism) that lead to damnation, but that Obama is making the church the minister of damnation.
He concludes:
The gospel, with its forgiveness and deliverance from homosexual practice, offers salvation. Gene Robinson, with his blessing and approval of homosexual practice, offers damnation. And he does it in the name of Christ.

It is as though Obama sought out a church which blessed stealing and adultery, and then chose its most well-known thief and adulterer, and asked him to pray.

One more time: The issue here is not that presidents may need to tolerate things they don't approve of. The issue is this: In linking the Christian ministry to the approval of homosexual activity, Christ is made a minister of condemnation.
Read the whole thing.

On Voting as Discrimination

Tom Hanks came out recently and called supporters of Proposition 8 in California, banning gay marriage, "un-American." His comments were directed mostly to Mormons. In what I found to be a perfect response, Bill MeKeever said:
Personally, I find it un-American to tell people that they shouldn’t vote their conscience. Hanks said he doesn’t 'like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper.' Considering that just about every law discriminates in some form or another, makes this comment ridiculous. Hanks’ comment shows that he very much believes in discriminating against people with whom he disagrees. I may not agree with Mormon theology, but I certainly defend their right to express their opinion.
MeKeever is a representative for the Mormonism Research Ministry.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Piper on the Economy

David Lee Roth: Runnin' With the Devil

Without the band tracks. So awesome:

I Guess I Will Burn my iPhone Now


Prosperity Preachers Pinched

Ah, alliteration.

Check out this interesting article on what's going down with prosperity preacher amidst worldwide financial turmoil. Some of them are having to give up things like private jets. In other words, the world is coming to an end.

Read the whole thing.

Marriage Book Reviews

I may have posted this here, or at another blog. Can't remember. But it won't hurt to point to this set of reviews of some of the most popular marriage book by dudes I trust (compiled by 9 Marks Ministry). There are a lot, but it is worth going through them, especially if you are looking for a good book on marriage. I just ordered two books that they recommended:

1. Tying the Knot Tighter by Martha Peace & John Crotts
Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace by Gary and Betsy Ricucci

Because I am still ridiculously sinful, I often forget that marriage takes diligence. Constant diligence. By simply shining some light on your marriage you will grow, and so will your love for your spouse.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Which Member of the Trinity Should You Pray To?

Piper's answer might surprise you. Pay close attention to why he thinks you should end your prayers with "In Jesus' name, amen."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mark Driscoll and the New Calvinists

The New York Times might be biased, but their writers are still some of the best in the world. Case in point, a new article on Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church and the "New Calvinists." Read it here.

Driscoll and his church have gotten a lot of attention over the last few years. Some good, plenty bad. This piece is by far the best. Whoever Molly Worthen is, she knows her stuff. She is able to outline well both Driscoll, the resurgence of Calvinism in the church and, if you can believe it, Calvinism itself. Her treatment of the theology and ecclesiology did not have me, as is usually the case, offended or rolling my eyes due to ignorance. Rather, she did her homework.

Anyway, it is a long article, but brilliant. And Driscoll, for all his faults, is changing the world. Read the whole thing.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wingsuit Base Jumping

HT: z

St. Sara and IJM

A friend pointed out this article to me on Sara Groves and her work with and impact on International Justice Mission and the fight to end human trafficking. It reads:
So what in the world compels this Minnesota wife and mother of three to write such powerful words? What motivates her to make such music?

For Groves, it's a combination of her faith, the Spirit's leading, and hearing the stories of those who've gone before—those who are fighting injustice and those who have been victims.

Among her early influences was U2's Bono, who told Christianity Today in 2003 "celebrity is currency, and we want to spend it this way"—for the cause of social justice and compassion around the world.

Groves, who was just becoming a bit of a "celebrity" herself in Christian music, was struck by Bono's quote and wondered how she was spending her own "currency." She was already good at making music, but was it enough? Could it translate into ministering to widows and orphans and a broken world?

"I've struggled with that question," Groves says. "I used to think, I have to do something different. I can't just write songs anymore. I have to get my nursing degree or become a lawyer—something to make a difference."

A friend told Groves, "I can't believe you're even asking that question. You write music. That's what you do, and that's what you do well." He urged Groves to write songs that "tell these stories of redemption"—to tell the world what she's seen and heard. Not only about the ugliness, but about the beauty that comes through the work of ministries like IJM and Food for the Hungry, organizations Groves supports regularly.
I am enthralled by Groves not only because she can write music better than most. I am amazed at her because she writes out of the goodness of her heart. She is intensely humble and sacrificial. That's why I call her St. Sara. Read the whole article.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Year of the Bible

That's what Doug Groothuis wants you to make 2009. Agreed. Here are his suggestions:
1.If you teach in a Christian setting, read portions of Scripture aloud in your classes. Chose what fits the subject or the exigencies of the hour.

2. If you preach, never let the image humiliate the words of the Bible. Let the Bible speak, convict, liberate, and enlighten--not video clips or other special effects. See 1 Peter 4:11; Hebrews 4:12.

3. Memorize and meditate verses or even chapters of the Bible. Over many years, I have put verses on small cards that I carry around with me and read when I have time. The blank side of old business cards work very well. See Psalm 119.

4. Read and reread biblical books, using various translations

5. Employ a good Study Bible, such as The NIV or TNIV Study Bibles, The Apologetics Study Bible, or The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible.

6. Pray through the Bible during prayer times. This keeps your mind from wondering. The Psalms are particularly meaningful here, but all of Scripture can be a focus for prayer and meditation.

7. Bring the Bible into your conversations in a natural and intelligent way. You needed even announce that you are quoting a text; simply say it or paraphrase it.

8. Don't adopt a "favorite verse" approach to the Bible. Read it for what it is, difficulties and all. In fact, consume it and let it change you. Eugene Peterson writes wonderfully about his in Eat This Book.

9. Get into a Bible study that does more than pool collective ignorance: "Well, to me, that verse means..." Get into a study of the Bible.

10. Cut out things that take time away from Bible reading, meditating, memorizing, and so on: TV watching, video game playing, oversleeping, reading junk books and magazines, surfing the scum of the Internet, and so on. See Psalm 90.

11. Listen to an audio Bible while driving. My absolute favorite is Alexander Scourby's reading of The Revised Standard Version. (He also read the King James.) However, I don't believe this was ever put on CD. I have a good copy of the cassette version of, however. He had a mellifluous voice and read perfectly. His reading of Ecclesiastes 12 brought me to tears (while driving).

I recently heard an audio Bible with sound effects in the background that made me cringe; it seemed like a movie soundtrack.

11. Try to become a "walking Bible."

Peacemaking Verses

From the Peacemakers Ministry Blog, the key peacemaking Bible verses:
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9)

"That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17:21-23)

"He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (1 Peter 3:11-12)

"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." (Romans 4:19)

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:17-18)

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (Hebrews 12:14-15)

"Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:18)

Fleet Foxes

I admit that I am late to the game. But better late than never. Fleet Foxes:

Money Kitty

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Have You Heard Bon Iver?

You need to: