Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Hymn

There are so many good Christmas hymns, it's hard to pick just one. But that's what I decided to do, instead of overloading my blog with lyrics of hymns. So here are the lyrics to one of my favorites, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing:"
Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!
What's your favorite Christmas hymn?

Christmas Music

One of the things I love most about the "Christmas season" is the music. Not so much the Jingle Bells, or Deck the Halls, or especially Santa Claus is Coming to Town. There are so many good hymns, and some good contemporary Christmas music, as well. I really like Steven Curtis Chapman's two Christmas CDs (The Music of Christmas and All I Really Want for Christmas) and MercyMe's The Christmas Sessions. But one of my favorite songs is one that took me a long time to realize it was even a Christmas song. I guess I just enjoyed the sound of the song so much that I didn't even pay attention to the lyrics. But when I finally did, I was floored. Here are the lyrics to Chris Rice's "Welcome to Our World:"
Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that You don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home

Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God

Welcome to our world
Click here to listen to a sample of the song.

Having a newborn son this Christmas makes that fourth "verse" really get to me. I cannot imagine giving my son up for anybody, yet God gave up His one and only Son for all of us. To think of the Son of God coming to earth as a little baby, His tiny heart literally filled with blood that would save us ... I cannot fathom the depth of God's love. For anybody reading this, I hope and pray that you will be humbled this Christmas by the love that God demonstrated in sending His Son to die for our sins. Do not let Christmas pass without dwelling on the reason why Jesus came - the story of Easter.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fight Night

In case you haven't seen it, here's the fight from the closing minutes of Saturday night's Nuggets/Knicks game:

The NBA responded today, handing out suspensions to the players involved. The Nuggets Carmelo Anthony, the NBA's scoring leader, got the longest sentence - 15 games. Mardy Collins, who committed the flagrant foul on J.R. Smith, got 6 games. And Smith and Nate Robinson got 10 games each.

But the real story is the suspension that wasn't: Knicks coach Isiah Thomas. Thomas was evidently upset that Anthony & Smith, the Nuggets two leading scorers, were still in the game. He was shown by MSG TV telling Anthony, "You better not go in the paint." A minute later, Collins, a rookie averaging 3.6 minutes per game, committed his second flagrant foul in as many nights, sparking the fight.

I'm with ESPN's Marc Stein on the following issues, posted on his blog:
Carmelo Anthony: 15 games

Too many games ... way too many when you hear that Isiah Thomas will sit out zero games. Seven to 10 games was a sensible range to me.

Don't forget that Orlando's Keyon Dooling and Seattle's Ray Allen got five and three games, respectively, for a scrap that happened less than a year ago. Melo's sucker punch, when things were finally dying down, was certainly more egregious than what Dooling and Allen did ... but not three or four times worse.

Nate Robinson: 10 games
Five games less than Melo? Nobody -- not even Anthony -- escalated this thing more than Robinson, needlessly jumping in the faces of multiple Nuggets in his latest attempt to prove how big and tough he is.

Little Nate never landed the kind of roundhouse that got Melo in trouble. But his transgressions were right up there with Melo's.

And neither Robinson nor Thomas has shown a shred of remorse, either. Anthony, at the very least, issued a lengthy apology.

Isiah Thomas: Zero games

Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

You can argue that Zeke deserved to be hit hardest of anyone involved, frankly, given the MSG footage clearly showing Thomas telling Anthony that it "wouldn't be a good idea" to venture into the paint.

Isn't that proof of premeditation? An unmistakable threat?

The Knicks' spin -- Isiah was imploring Melo to show more class than his coach? -- is laughable.

Unlike players who lose control in the heat of the moment, I'm quite sure Thomas knew exactly what he was doing.
The Sports Guy (Bill Simmons) also chimed in during a live chat today:
Nic (Madison, WI): I watched the replay of the fight about 15 times instead of studying for my exam in an hour. I thought that Nate Robinson should have gotten a stiffer punishment for his role. What do you think?

Bill Simmons: Couldn't agree more. Nate Robinson is crazy. Just last week, he nearly got into a fight with Sebastian Telfair for the second time this season. He got in 2 separate fights with teammates last year, including a naked School Ties type fight with Malik Rose in the shower.

Chris, Seattle: and The fact that everyone makes such a big deal about an NBA brawl and not so much about a MLB brawl smacks of Racism, I don't care what people say.

Bill Simmons: Couldn't agree more. Everyone involved in this fight was black, so the players are now "out of control" and the whole thing is "a disgrace." But when a white baseball player charges a white pitcher, it's all in good fun. It's a little weird.

Gus (Cold Spring Harbor, NY): While Karl was trying to get under Isiah's skin, he is absolutely entitled to play whoever he wants on the floor at any time of the game. Denver has blown late leads this season and the Knicks have come back many times from huge gaps (only to fall short). Incidentally, can this team be any worse if Spike Lee took over?

Bill Simmons: Absolutely. You know what's embarrassing, Isiah? The fact that your team keeps losing at home by 20 points every game. Stop blaming the other teams.

Yogi(NY): My favorite line was Isiah saying "we had already surrendered." In a city where "it 'aint [sic] over till its over" was he referring to the game or the season? Thank God for Isiah Thomas!

Bill Simmons: I loved that as well - also liked when he talked about how they were being embarrassed in front of "their fans." Um, your fans hate this team, [I]siah. Hear that booing sound every game? That means they're unhappy. Everyone who follows this team is hoping you get fired. That's more embarrassing than [G]eorge Karl leaving his starters in, I think.

Matt (Philly, PA): Are we seriously going to complain in professional sports about running up a score? If you don't like it, don't have a team out there that can't play a lick, the Knicks should lose by 50 everynight [sic] against anyone, except my Sixers who will shortly not be my Sixers once AI is gone.

Bill Simmons: Hear hear.

Charles (Miami): I think what everybody's missing from the Carmelo suspension is what could've happen[e]d had that punch done real damage (ala Rudy T). Luckily, he hits like [a] girl and Collins is fine. Otherwise, 15 games would be charity.

Bill Simmons: And that's the reason he got the suspension. Look, I'm fine with Melo getting 15 games, but then Isiah should get 15, so should Mardy Collins, so should Nate and so should JR Smith. To say that what Melo did was worse than anyone else is crazy. He was defending his teammate and made a mistake.
Anybody who knows me will probably be surprised by me saying this, but I agree with the Sports Guy's point about racism when comparing reactions to NBA fights vs. MLB fights. You never hear anywhere close to the same kind of outrage from the talking heads on ESPN for baseball fights as you do for basketball fights. And I think race is a big underlying factor.


While spending different parts of my life as a regular attender of Baptist, Reformed, and Evangelical Free churches, I've definitely been exposed to different views of baptism. In a recent interview, Wayne Grudem thinks back to his stance on baptism while writing his Systematic Theology:
The baptism issue is a little different. It’s very hard to have it both ways because when an infant is born in a church, you either baptize the infant, or you don’t. So it’s much more difficult to say, “Let’s just all get along on this.” Well, fine, we all get along. But do we baptize this new baby or not? A church can’t have it both ways. When I wrote my book, Systematic Theology, I was more hopeful that a compromise might be possible in which churches would allow individual pastors and individual families to make this decision for themselves. That is what the Evangelical Free Church of America has done, and it is a strong, healthy denomination in the United States that holds fully to the inerrancy of Scripture. But after many decades, no other denomination, to my knowledge, seems willing to follow them in this position.

The problem is what such a “compromise” implies about the views of baptism of the people who adopt it. For people who hold to infant baptism, they have to be able to say that it’s OK for believing parents not to baptize their infant children, which seems to them to be disobeying a command of Scripture as they understand it. How can they really say this?

On the other side, those who hold to believer’s baptism (as I do) have to be willing to admit into church membership people who have been baptized as infants, and who did not, of course, make any profession of faith at the time they were baptized. But these people (such as myself) who think that genuine baptism has to follow a personal profession of faith are then put in position of saying that infant baptism is also a valid form of baptism. And that contradicts what they believe about the essential nature of baptism – that it is an outward sign of an inward spiritual change, so that the apostle Paul could say, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

I don’t think I realized this difficulty when I wrote my Systematic Theology. I had been in an Evangelical Free Church for about four years and it seemed to me to work well enough. But now I’m beginning to realize that admitting to church membership someone who has not been baptized upon profession of faith, and telling the person that he or she never has to be baptized as a believer, is really giving up one’s view on the proper nature of baptism, what it really is. It is saying that infant baptism really is valid baptism! If we didn’t think it was valid baptism, we should be telling people who were baptized as infants that their “baptism” was not valid baptism and they should be baptized now, after their personal profession of faith. They would need to do this in obedience to Christ’s command.

So I have been re-thinking my position on this issue, and I have been considering sending a change to the publishers of my Systematic Theology book, at least explaining that there are more difficulties to my “compromise” view than I had initially realized.

In short, I don’t think the baptism issue is going to go away any time soon.

Finally, I’m thankful that believers who differ on the issue of baptism can still have wonderful fellowship with one another across denominational lines, and can have respect for each other’s sincerely held views. ...
(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Beware the Soy

"There's a slow poison out there that's severely damaging our children and threatening to tear apart our culture. The ironic part is, it's a 'health food,' one of our most popular."
So leads this story at WorldNetDaily. I was shocked at potential damaging effects of soy. The author explains, "Soy is nutritious and contains lots of good things. Unfortunately, when you eat or drink a lot of soy stuff, you're also getting substantial quantities of estrogens." Here are a few things this story points out:
  • Research is now showing that when you feed your baby soy formula, you're giving him or her the equivalent of five birth control pills a day.
  • if your baby gets colic from cow's milk, do you switch him to soy milk? Don't even think about it. His phytoestrogen level will jump to 20 times normal. If he is a she, brace yourself for watching her reach menarche as young as seven, robbing her of years of childhood. If he is a boy, it's far worse: He may not reach puberty till much later than normal.
  • Research in 2000 showed that a soy-based diet at any age can lead to a weak thyroid, which commonly produces heart problems and excess fat.
  • Recent research on rats shows testicular atrophy, infertility and uterus hypertrophy (enlargement).
  • there's now scientific evidence that estrogen ingredients in soy products may be boosting the rapidly rising incidence of leukemia in children. In the latest year we have numbers for, new cases in the U.S. jumped 27 percent.
  • There's also a serious connection between soy and cancer in adults – especially breast cancer. That's why the governments of Israel, the UK, France and New Zealand are already cracking down hard on soy.
(HT: Tim Ellsworth)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Leather's Back

So the NBA is ditching their new composite basketballs in favor of the old leather ones, starting January 1. What prompted the switch? Good old fashioned whining, of course.

From LeBron James:
"The only thing that we love the most is the basketball. That's your comfort. I mean, without your basketball, it doesn't work. That was my biggest problem, was, why would you change something that means so much to us? It didn't make sense to me at all."
Yeah, LeBron, I can't believe they were making you guys play with composite footballs.

And Ray Allen:
"The bottom line is we're out there playing and the ball is not going in like we know we're capable of putting it in, or like we've done in the past."
Sure, Ray. Ignore the facts - the statistical evidence that shows increased field goal percentage, scoring, and "ball-related" turnovers.

And Jason Kidd and Steve Nash complained that the new ball cut up their hands. Now, I'm not an NBA player, but I have played with about every kind of basketball out there - from rubber to leather and everything in-between - and I've never had a basketball cut up my hands. That's a new one.

So now that the NBA is switching back, you'd think these guys would be happy, right? Nope, not so much. Now they're complaining about the switch being made in mid-season. Seriously, guys - you do realize that regardless of what the ball is made of, you're all playing with the same one, right?

But my favorite part of the story? The trash talk from PETA. Dan Shannon, manager of campaigns for the organization, had this to say in response to players whining about the ball hurting their hands:
"PETA would like to offer a lifetime supply of cruelty-free hand cream to
any NBA siss ... excuse me, superstar who'd be willing to give the composite
ball another shot."