Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Attitude 2007

From Justin Taylor:
The New Attitude audio messages are all now available for free download (free registration required):
They write:
For the first time ever, we're offering all audio messages from this conference as free MP3 downloads. You can download them one by one or choose the download set of all eight messages. (In order to view these free downloads, you'll need to log in to our online store or follow the easy instructions to create an account.) In addition, an MP3 CD containing all conference sessions will be available for $12.00 next week.

Although the conference is over, the conversation on humble orthodoxy continues. Visit www.newattitude.org for blog posts, free downloads, and other resources to help you apply the truth of God's Word to your life.
God has used Piper & Mahaney to teach me a lot in the past 7 or 8 years, and I'm looking forward to listening to each of these messages.

Civics Class Anyone?

From the New York Sun:
Senator Clinton is pitching herself as the "progressive" candidate for president, proposing to raise taxes on upper-income Americans and eliminate breaks for corporations under an economic plan that is drawing an immediate rebuke from Republicans.

...

"It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few, time to reject the idea of an ‘on your own' society and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity," she said. "I prefer a ‘we're all in it together' society."

Under a nine-point plan, Mrs. Clinton proposed to let President Bush's tax cuts for top earners expire, scrap subsidies for oil and gas companies, and require large oil companies to invest in alternative energy or pay into a national research fund. She also called for greater scrutiny of the salaries of chief executives. In a bid to keep jobs in America, she is pushing to eliminate an element of the tax code that allows companies to defer taxes on profits they earn overseas.

In ending what she called Mr. Bush's "irresponsible" tax cuts, the former first lady said she would revert to the tax rates for "upper-income Americans" during the 1990s. ...
"Irresponsible" tax cuts? Does somebody want to explain to Ms. Clinton that the government has had more tax revenue than ever before since Bush's "irresponsible" tax cuts? "But how can cutting taxes lead to more tax revenue?" you might ask. Because people spend what they make. Last I heard, the average American spent $120 for every $100 they brought home. So by cutting taxes, Americans (even if it's those darn "upper-income" Americans) have more money to spend, and they spend more. And when they spend money, they pay ... everybody together now ... sales tax (among others)!

Seriously Hill, I'm all for shared responsibility and shared prosperity, but not because of government mandate. You know what "shared prosperity" in government is? Socialism. Combine that with extreme liberal gun control polices, and you get ... communism! Yay, communism! Just ask the former USSR how that worked out. Or China, where the internet is filtered, so I'm sure nobody in China will read this - especially if I type this word: democracy. Or Cuba - unless you're Michael Moore and want to make another propaganda film, I mean, "documentary," showing how great the Cuban health care system is for rescue workers injured on 9/11, all the while failing to mention that Cuba actually has two health care systems:
...one is for party officials and foreigners like those Mr. Moore brought to Havana. “It is as good as this one here, with all the resources, the best doctors, the best medicines, and nobody pays a cent,” [Cuban defector Dr. Leonel Cordova] said.

But for the 11 million ordinary Cubans, hospitals are often ill equipped and patients “have to bring their own food, soap, sheets — they have to bring everything.” And up to 20,000 Cuban doctors may be working in Venezuela, creating a shortage in Cuba.
Can anybody tell me when the great American success story became a bad thing - when innovative men can go "on their own" and basically build a computer in their garage, ultimately leading to corporations like Microsoft and Apple?

Socialism is a good idea in theory. But we don't live in utopia. We live in a fallen world full of sinful people. I know this because I know myself. As much as I like the theory of sharing with those less fortunate than me, I'm not that good at actually practicing it. So why should we believe somebody like Hillary, herself an "upper-income" American, when they say that we should all pool our money and distribute it equally? Even if she were elected and "implemented" it, it wouldn't happen. The red tape would be ridiculous, the freeloaders would be plenty, and those trying their hardest but still needing help would find themselves endlessly waiting for help from the government.

So Hillary, or anybody else who advocates socialism or who has a concern for "the least of these:" lead by example. Give of your own time & money. Give people a hand-up, not a hand-out. "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

All Things Ellsworth

Tim Ellsworth has some good stuff today:
Here's part of Brownback's op-ed piece in the New York Times (which I strongly encourage you to read in its entirety) in which he writes about evolution vs. creationism:
The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths. The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.

People of faith should be rational, using the gift of reason that God has given us. At the same time, reason itself cannot answer every question. Faith seeks to purify reason so that we might be able to see more clearly, not less. Faith supplements the scientific method by providing an understanding of values, meaning and purpose. More than that, faith — not science — can help us understand the breadth of human suffering or the depth of human love. Faith and science should go together, not be driven apart.

...

Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves. There are aspects of evolutionary biology that reveal a great deal about the nature of the world, like the small changes that take place within a species. Yet I believe, as do many biologists and people of faith, that the process of creation — and indeed life today — is sustained by the hand of God in a manner known fully only to him. It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.

Talking to Children About Race

Thabiti Anyabwile has a post on Talking to Children about Race, and makes the following four points:
  1. Talk with your children about ethnicity (the nations) rather than "race."
  2. Talk about ethnicity in a way that magnifies the power and wisdom of God.
  3. Talk about the need of all men for the Savior.
  4. Talk about the gospel and the church as the plan of God to demonstrate unity across such diversity and to display His wisdom.
(HT: Justin Taylor)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Creation Museum

Private Pigg at IowaVoice.com has a good post about the protests of the newly opened Creation Museum:

Why?

A museum that tells the Bible’s version of Earth’s history — that the planet was created in a single week just a few thousand years ago — attracted thousands to its opening as protesters rallied outside. The dozens of demonstrators argued Monday that the Creation Museum’s central tenets conflict with scientific evidence that the Earth is several billion years old. Overhead, an airplane pulled a banner with the message: “Thou Shalt Not Lie.”

Get a life. Why protest because somebody chooses to believe something different than you? They could open up a “socialism museum” in Berkeley and I wouldn’t be there. Wouldn’t waste my time. Does socialism “conflict” with historical evidence? Has it been proven worthless? Yes and yes. I still wouldn’t show up. If someone wants to believe it then so be it. Now, when it becomes a question of implimenting socialism, I’ll be out voting against it. But I won’t be protesting the opening of a museum. Museusm are for relics anyway, aren’t they?


I'm sure ISU's Dr. Avalos will be a frequent visitor.

Give Me A Break

From WorldNetDaily:
Opponents of the controversial immigration deal forged by the White House and a bipartisan group of senators in private meetings "don't want to do what's right for America," President Bush said in a speech today.

"The fundamental question is, will elected officials have the courage necessary to put a comprehensive immigration plan in place," Bush told students and instructors at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga.

The president argued the proposal, which offers a path to citizenship for the more than 12 million illegal immigrants, will make "it more likely we can enforce our border—and at the same time uphold the great immigrant tradition of the United States of America."

The plan, which was quickly sent to the Senate floor without public hearings, has been dismissed as "amnesty" by opponents. But Bush emphasized the bill requires a number of security and enforcement measures be carried out before those features can be implemented.
How does overlooking the law make it more likely we can enforce our border? That makes absolutely no sense. And why should we expect these new "security and enforcement measures" to be enforced any better than current security and enforcement measures? What a waste of taxpayers money. Nobody wants to solve this problem, because it would be bad for business.

Running The Asylum

A co-worker emailed me the following story. I'm glad he did, because I most likely wouldn't have found it in a million years. Steve Deace wrote this article for CycloneNation.com about new ISU football coach Gene Chizik wanting to hire a full-time chaplain as part of his football staff. This move is meeting resistance from Dr. Hector Avalos, the atheist religion professor at ISU. In case you missed that or thought that was a typo, I'll repeat it: Avalos is an atheist professor of religion.
What Mr. Avalos, and others like him, really fear is that Coach Chizik’s plan for a team chaplain may inspire a generation of young men wearing the Cyclone uniform to reconsider their eternal destiny, which will cause them to reconsider how to live their temporal lives on this planet. If they do that they may not vote the way folks like Mr. Avalos prefer, nor will they likely live the way folks like Mr. Avalos do. And when you’re of the mindset of a Mr. Avalos and are convinced that this life is all there is, you will fight to the grave for it.
This isn't an isolated crusade for Dr. Avalos. My friend Noah shared the story of Guillermo Gonzalez, an ISU science professor who was denied tenure. Gonzalez is an "Intelligent Design" advocate, having published a "pro-ID book The Privileged Planet," but does not teach ID in any of his classes. Still, after his book was published, Avalos called on ISU faculty to "denounce ID as non-science."

The two questions I can't get out of my head are: 1) Why is an athiest teaching religion, including courses about the Bible, the Old Testament, and the New Testament? 2) Why are so many so-called "open-minded" and "tolerant" people so intolerant and closed-minded when it comes to matters of the gospel and those who put their faith in the risen Christ?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Poster Boy For Liberal College Professors?

I'd like to introduce you to Dr. Brian Tschanz, Assistant Research Professor at Utah State University. Brian received his PhD from the University of Utah in 1998, and specializes in "social psychology and the self and personality and self." Dr. Tschanz is teaching a Social Psychology class this summer. I enjoyed reading this part of the class syllbus:
A Note to Fans of Right-Wing Pundits: I promise to make fun of right-wing television and radio pundits early and often (Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and Ann Coulter will be on the receiving end of this abuse most frequently). To be sure, I derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from this activity. However, these individuals also tend to illustrate classic social psychological principles on an almost daily basis. They almost beg me to reach out and take a poke at them!

If you are a fan of one or more of them and tend to defend them in the manner that they defend themselves - that is, lie about what they have either said or done and then cut to a commercial before anyone has a chance to challenge them -- be assured that I will be back the very next day with proof positive that they are schmucks. Unlike you and your heroes, downloaded videos from YouTube do not lie! Hell, I might have the video ready to go at a moment's notice! This computer has an Internet connection, baby! Don't make me use it!

If it were not for the fact that a member of the Bill O'Reilly Fan Club attended a talk that I gave and attacked me with bald-face lies that I didn't have the time to refute (nor the inclination, I really wanted to use my limited time to take psychology questions), I wouldn't even bother bringing this up. For example, the student at my talk made the laughably false claim that Bill has only said shut up on his show four times (and had apologized for two of them). My only consolation was showing my personality theories class a video of Bill yelling "shut up" many more than four times (the official count on this matter is that he's said shut up too many times to officially count).

And, while we're on the topic, whereas I absolutely forbid you folks to make stuff up, I reserve the right to do so myself. I often tell stories about historical figures, celebrities and renowned psychologists that are only loosely based in fact. The skeptical among you will be able to discern when I'm pulling your legs (And for those of you who may have been in my personality theories class this Spring, this would be as good as time as any to confess that Babe Didrikson Zaharias was not the runner up to Enrico Fermi for the 1938 Nobel Prize in physics. Nor, to my knowledge, did Carl Gustav Jung's friends call him "Gus").
I don't even know what to say about this. The blatant infiltration of personal views into class material/lecture? The professor who taught me the most, outside of my major, was a religion professor who refused to tell us his personal feelings in class. And this was at a "Christian" college. How about the assertion that "right-wing pundits" lie to defend themselves? Is that just because Dr. Tschanz is liberal and therefore anything that comes out of the mouth of a professed conservative is a lie?

I think my two favorite parts are his claim to bring "proof positive that they are schmucks" and his up-front hypocrisy stating that "whereas I absolutely forbid you folks to make stuff up, I reserve the right to do so myself." How do you prove that someone is a schmuck? Just by saying it? And finally, Dr. Tschanz, I'd like to congratulate you for holding yourself to a higher standard. I mean, you criticize these "right-wing pundits" for lying to defend themselves, and forbid your students to make things up, yet you have no problem lying in your attempts to teach (or should I say, re-educate) your students. To paraphrase the words of the legendary Ron Burgundy, "Stay classy, Dr. Tschanz."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Miscellaneous Beck

Just wanted to post a couple links to things that Glenn Beck has covered recently. I hoped to spend some time reading through them myself and writing more about them, but I haven't yet taken the time and wanted to be sure to at least point you in the direction if you're interested.

First, last Friday (May 18) Glenn's CNN Headline News show aired a "Spotlight on Immigration Reform" that featured interviews with Congressman Ted Poe & Dana Rohrabacher regarding the imprisonment of former U.S. Border Patrol Agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos. Beck also spoke with "U.S. attorney for the western district of Texas and the man behind the prosecution of the border agents, Ramos and Compean, Johnny Sutton." The interview with Sutton (about halfway down the transcript) is interesting.

Second, Glenn broke down some of the numbers from the Pew Research Center's report on Muslim-Americans. Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, says the report shows that "Muslim Americans are very much like the rest of the country. They do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society." Among some of the interesting facts & figures:
  • U.S. Muslims have only a 2% higher rate of low income than the general public - while the average of Britain, France, Germany, and Spain is more than 10 times as high.
  • 76% of US Muslims are either very or somewhat concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism around the world, including 85% of long term immigrants (came here before 1990).
  • 61% of US Muslims are either very or somewhat concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism in America.
  • 71% of Muslims believe most can get ahead with hard work (including 76% of young Muslims), compared to 64% in the general public.
  • Muslims here believe Jews and Palestinians can coexist---only 16% say no---in comparison in Morocco 90% say no.
  • Only 1% of US Muslims say suicide bombings are "often" justified.
  • 7% say suicide bombings are "sometimes" justified.
  • 5% say suicide bombings are "rarely" justified.
What's shocking about the justified suicide bombing numbers are that this wasn't just about suicide bombings in general but "suicide bombings against civilian targets ... to defend Islam." So 13% of U.S. Muslims think there's justification for killing "innocent" civilians to defend their religion.

Responsibility

Tim Ellsworth has written about Dean Hancock, the father of former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, who died in a car crash this past April 29. The 29-year-old had a blood alcohol content of nearly twice the legal limit when he crashed into the back of a tow truck that was assisting another vehicle. Authorities have also stated that he was speeding, talking on his cell phone, and not wearing his seatbelt, and that marijuana was found in his vehicle. Despite all of this, the elder Hancock is suing the restaurant that his son was leaving, the restaurant's manager, the tow truck company, and the driver of the vehicle being assisted by the tow truck.

I appreciate Ellsworth's perspective, one not likely to be heard on ESPN:

We as a society have zero sense of personal responsibility, and a victim mentality has taken up permanent residence in the courtroom. There’s good reason for that, however – because it long ago took up permanent residence in our hearts. …

The blame-shifting and buck-passing of which we’re all capable began in the Garden of Eden, when Adam blamed his wife – and ultimately, God — for his sin. We’ve since become masters of the skill.

When we’re impatient with our kids, it’s because they aren’t behaving properly. When we cheat on our taxes, it’s because the government has already taken enough of our money. When we don’t work as hard as we should, it’s because our supervisors are too demanding. And on it goes.

UPDATE: The BP site seems to be down, so Tim has posted the whole story here on his blog.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Politics As Usual?

Here's some not surprising news from John Edwards:

Democratic White House hopeful John Edwards, in a major foreign policy speech Wednesday, minimized the Bush administration’s War on Terror as nothing more than a “bumper sticker slogan” used to justify the war in Iraq and “bludgeon political opponents.”

“It is now clear that George Bush’s misnamed ‘War on Terror’ has backfired — and is now part of the problem,” Edwards told the Council of Foreign Relations in New York. “The War on Terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It’s a bumper sticker, not a plan.”

Edwards proposed his own strategy — withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in less than a year, closing Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and working to rebuild the U.S. military.

In the first presidential debate last month in South Carolina, Edwards was one of four Democrats — including Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel — who said they did not believe there was a global War on Terror. Front-runners Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama indicated that they did.

Another thing that's not surprising is the two-faced nature of Edwards. Here he is in October of 2001, speaking to Bill O'Reilly:

(HT: Iowa Voice and The News Buckit)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hot Dogs & Dynamite

Here's a couple of classic funny videos just for the heck of it:



Update: Here's some background on the second video, along with the phrase "Boom goes the dynamite." No word on how he came up with "passes it to the man."

Epicenter

I just finished reading Epicenter: Why Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future, another great book by Joel Rosenberg. Instead of trying to explain the point of the book myself, I'll let Rosenberg do it:
My intent with Epicenter is not to persuade anyone of what is coming. Rather it is to explain how I came to write The Last Jihad, The Last Days, The Ezekiel Option, and The Copper Scroll and to answer the questions that have flowed from the novels and the prophecies upon which they were based.

Among them:
- Just how serious is the current nuclear crisis with Iran? ...
- Why is Russia selling arms and nuclear technology to Iran, given the seriousness of the present situation? ...
- What is the future of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the post-Arafat world? ...
- What is the future of Iraq in the post-Saddam world? ...
- Will a resurgent and incresingly radicalized Islamic movement establish the worldwide caliphate, or global empire, of which its leaders dream and for which they pray and fight? ...
(taken from Introduction, p. xvi-xvii)
Following are some excerpts from the book. In the introduction, Rosenberg tells how Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been surprisingly open about his Shiite Muslim apocalyptic theology:
The first public hint of just how central Islamic eschatology would be to Ahmadinejad's foreign policy came during his first address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2005. Admadinejad stunned the audience of world leaders and diplomats by ending his speech with this prayer: "O mighty Lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the One that will fill this world with justice and peace."

Back in Iran, Admadinejad then stunned a group of Islamic clerics by claiming that during his UN speech he was "surrounded by a light until the end" and that "all of a sudden the atmosphere changed there, and for 27 or 28 minutes all the leaders [in the audience] did not blink. ... I am not exaggerating when I say they did not blink; it's not an exaggeration, because I was looking. They were astonished, as if a hand held them there and made them sit. It had opened their eyes and ears for the message of the Islamic Republic."

The following month, Ahmadinejad gave a speech in Tehran in which he further clarified his objectives. "Is it possible for us to witness a world without American and Zionism?" he asked a gathering of terrorist leaders from such groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "You had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved." He then urged Muslims around the world to prepare for the day when "our holy hatred expands" and "strikes like a wave."

Six months later, Admadinejad upped the ante yet again, declaring in a nationally televised address that Iran had successfully enriched uranium and joined the "nuclear club," leading a number of Western intelligence agencies and experts to predict that Iran could have operational nuclear weapons in the next two or three years--just in time for the Bush administration to leave office and, presumably, for the end of the world to begin.
(Introduction, p. x-xi)
Rosenberg writes about the two lenses through which world events are most often viewed - politics and economics - and tells about the third lens of Scripture:
As an evangelical Christian whose family escaped the persecution of the Jews in czarist Russia, I have no doubt there is real evil in our world. Nor do I have any doubt that it is a powerful and pernicious force in history. I am not threatened by it, for I know there is a God and Savior who promises to defeat evil in due time. But until then, I fully expect evil to gather its forces and strike at the good. Thus, I try to anticipate how and where it might strike, and in doing so I find Scripture a useful guide.

At the very least, the Bible helps me understand the mind-set of tyrants like Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the mullahs of Iran, to put them in historic context and anticipate their future moves. At times, it even provides me specific "intelligence" of coming events.
(p. 47)
For chapters 5 through 14, Rosenberg says, "I will lay out ten future headlines we will read, the scriptural basis of such predictions, and the latest events and trends that suggest such headlines may be closer than previously thought:" (p. 51)
  • Chapter 5 - Israel Discovers Massive Reserves Of Oil, Gas
  • Chapter 6 - Treaties And Truces Leave Israelis More Secure Than Ever Before
  • Chapter 7 - A Czar Rises In Russia, Raising Fears Of A New Cold War
  • Chapter 8 - Kremlin Joines "Axis Of Evil," Forms Military Alliance With Iran
  • Chapter 9 - Moscow Extends Military Alliance To Include Arab, Islamic World
  • Chapter 10 - Global Tensions Soar As Russia Targets Israel
  • Chapter 11 - New War Erupts In Middle East As Earthquakes, Pandemics Hit Europe, Africa, Asia
  • Chapter 12 - Iraq Emerges From Chaos As Region's Wealthiest Country
  • Chapter 13 - Jews Build Third Temple In Jerusalem
  • Chapter 14 - Muslims Turn To Christ In Record Numbers
Iraqi general Georges Sada, who previously served as chief spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, senior advisor to the Iraqi president, Iraq's top fighter pilot, Iraq's air vice-marshal, and a top military advisor to Saddam Hussein ("a role he did not seek and one that almost cost him his life") and "one of the chief architects of the new Iraqi military", on the violence in Iraq, during a March 30, 2006 interview with Rosenberg:
There is a great, dramatic change if we compare it with the Saddam Hussein regime. Whatever happens now, it will still be much, much better than that. Because now if you have fifty people killed, you have tremendous reaction of newspapers, TV channels. Everybody will speak [about their deaths]. But in the time of Saddam, if he will kill 5,000 people, nobody will know. They will be killed and they will be taken to a mass grave. This will not happen in Iraq anymore. ... We have many newspapers, many radios, many TVs, everybody has got a [satellite] dish, everybody is watching everything, and this was impossible at the time of Saddam."
(p. 180)
Rosenberg tells the conversion story of the man who started "the largest church of born-again believers in the Middle East:"
This extraordinary church ministry began in 1972 when a young Egyptian businessman named Farahat lost an $11,000 watch and was stunned when a garbageman found it and gave it back to him.

"Why didn't you take the watch for yourself?" Frahat asked.

"My Christ told me to be honest until death," replied the man, dressed in filthy rags.

"You are a Christian?" Farahat asked.

The garbageman said he was.

"I didn't know Christ at the time,' Farahat would late tell a reporter, "but I told him that I saw Christ in him. I told the garbage collector, 'Because of what you have done and your great example, I will worship the Christ you are worshiping.'"
(p. 206)
Rosenberg spoke with Morocco's director of Islamic affairs, Dr. Admed Abaddi:
Abaddi, a soft-spoken, gentle-mannered former professor of comparative religion, told me that the king [of Morocco] wants to build bridges of friendship with evangelical Christians in the United States because he knows the "real" America is not Hollywood and the pornography industry but people of faith. "Historically, it has been the Christians who have held America together," Abaddi said. "Anyone who traces the history of America knows that evangelicals are behind it."

The king also wants all Moroccans--and particularly his country's Islamic leaders--to develop more friendly relations with Christians, Abaddi explained. "We need our people to know the real West, to understand that the West ain't no angel, but it ain't no demon either."
(p. 209)
Rosenberg on the growth of Chrisianity in Iraq:
Despite the fact that numerous Iraqi churches have been firebombed and converts from Islam have been attacked and killed, at least fourteen new evangelical churches have opened in Baghdad alone since the war. Other evangelical congregations are forming all around the country, some with as many as 500 to 600 people attending every Sunday. In 2004-2005, more than 160 Iraqi believers began training to become new pastors and lay leaders. Iraqis are also flooding back into the ancient Christian churches.

...

"The security in Iraq is deteriorating," explained one of the leaders of the Iraqi evangelical movement over breakfast, "but the ministry is increasing comapred to any time in church history. It's not that complicated really, Joel. When human beings are under threat, they look for a strong power to help them--a refuge. Iraqis look around and when they see believers in Jesus enjoying internal peace during a time of such violence and fear, they want Jesus too."
(p. 214)
An interesting consequence of the "anti-Semitic" tag placed on Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ:
Radio and satellite-television evangelism ministries are big factors in getting the gospel to millions of Iranians who would otherwise have no access to the truth. And God is using other creative methods to reach Iranians as well. Back in 2003, for example, then Iranians heard that Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ was anti-Semitic, they couldn't wait to see it. Neither, apparently, could the mullahs and the government authorities, thinking that anything negative about the Jews had to be good for Muslims. So despite the fact that Islam forbids the visual depiction of Jesus--and teaches that Judas was crucified in Jesus' place, and thus was never resurrected--The Passion actually played in Persia. True, only one theater ran it. But there was a ten-day waiting list for tickets. What's more, tens of thousands of bootlegged copies of The Passion are now circulating throughout Iran, and the official version is actually available in Iranian stores, as it is in most Muslim countries throughout the region.
(p. 219)
Rosenberg explains a story from one of his novels:
In my third novel, The Ezekiel Option, I tell the story of two Christians driving through the mountains of Iran with a carful of Bibles. Suddenly their steering wheel jams and they have to slam on the brakes to keep from driving off the side of the road. When they look up, they see an old man knocking on their window asking if they have the books. "What books?" they ask. "The books Jesus sent me down here to get," the old man replies.

He goes on to explain that Jesus recently came to him in a dream and told him to follow. When he awoke, he found out that everyone in his mountain village had had the same dream. They were all brand-new followers of Jesus, but they did nto know what to do next. Then the old man had another dream in which Jesus told him to go down the mountain and wait by the road for someone to bring books that would explain how to be a Christian. He obeyed, and suddenly two men with a carful of Bibles have come to a stop right in front of him.

This was one of my favorite passages in The Ezekiel Option, but it's not fiction. I didn't make it up. It's true. I got it directly from a dear friend of mine who is the head of a ministry in the Middle East. He personally knows the men involved. I simply asked if I could change their names for use in the novel, and my friend agreed.
(p. 220)
From Rosenberg's conclusion:
This intense focus on the Middle East generally and on the State of Israel specifically will only accelerate in the days and months ahead. Those who view the world through the third lens of Scripture know it. The people living in the Middle East sense it too, though they may not always know why.

If you ever visit Saddam Hussein's main palace in Baghdad, be sure to visit Saddam's throne room and look up, for there you will see a large dome. Painted on this dome are images of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Beside these are paintings of horses attacking Jerusalem. Painted on the walls are Scud missiles pointed at Jerusalem. And at the center of it all is an image of Saddam himself, riding a white horse into the Holy City.

One day not long from now, someone actually will come from the clouds, riding on a white horse, leading his armies into battle in Israel. But his name will not be Saddam Hussein or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or that of any other Middle Eastern dictator or warrior. Rather, Revelation 19 tells us that his name will be Jesus--Messiah and Savior of Jews and Gentiles, the Prince of Peace, the Risen One who loved us and gave his life for us, that we might live a full and abundant life, both now and forever. May you experience his amazing love and forgiveness before that day, for that is his greatest wish, and mine.
(p. 243-244)
From the FAQ section, in response to a question about Jordan:
In April 2004, Jordanian authorities narrowly stopped a terrorist attack in the capital city of Amman meant to decapitate the Jordanian government as well as destroy the U.S. Embassy. An astounding 20 tons of explosives and chemical weapons were discovered. Authorities said that if the poison gas attack had been successful, more than 80,000 people could have been killed and over 160,000 wounded. The Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (who until his death in June 2006 was Al-Qaeda's top man in Iraq) was believed to have been behind the attack.

Iraqi general Georges Sada told me the only place Al-Qaeda could have gotten 20 tons of chemical weapons for that attack was from Syria, which he says now possesses Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Sada explains that Saddam Hussein moved all of his WMD to Syria in the summer of 2002--several months before U.S. and coalition forces invaded--a charge now being followed up by U.S. and British intelligence.
(p. 258)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Violence in Gaza

Joel Rosenberg posts at the Joshua Fund blog on the recent violence in and around the Gaza Strip:
Someone has posted an interesting question on my other blog: "With the constant fighting and turmoil in the Middle East, I am confused as to how I am to pray. How am I to deal with the frustration of this situation that seems to never change?"

It's a good question, especially right now. There are a number of ways to answer it, but here's one: Psalm 122:6 commands us to "pray for the people of Jerusalem." Yet in many other Scriptures, the Lord tells His people to go to war.

I believe as followers of Jesus Christ we must pray for peace and prepare for war.

Thus, I pray that the jihadists in Gaza are caught, arrested and imprisoned, or hunted down by the Palestinian or Israeli authorities and brought to justice. I also pray that these jihadists meet Jesus. I pray they find peace with God through faith in Christ's death and resurrection. And I pray they are spiritually transformed as so many other Muslims in the Middle East have been in recent years (see Chapter 14 of Epicenter, "Muslims Turn To Christ In Record Numbers").

At the same time, I realize that the Lord may answer my prayers for earthly peace with a "no." In His own sovereignty, He may allow violence to continue and even allow war to ensue. We know believers will be praying for peace in the lead up to the "War of Gog and Magog," but the answer will be no (until God's supernatural intervention is complete). We also know that believers will be praying for peace right up to the Battle of Armageddon, but again the answer will be "no" until after the Second Coming of Jesus.

Thus, as Christ's followers, while we pray for peace, we must also prepare for war. That's not a lack of faith. That's being a good stewardship of our time and resources as we recognize that the Lord is in control and ready ourselves to follow wherever He leads, in good times and bad.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Democrats Who Favor Law Enforcement

This story is almost too good to be true. The mayor of Hazelton, PA, Louis J. Barletta, made national news in 2006 when he wrote the "Illegal Immigration Relief Act:"
The ordinance would impose fines of up to $1,000 a day on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits for up to five years to companies that employ them.
The Act is currently in court, having been challenged by the ACLU. (I thought the American Civil Liberties Union would fight for the civil liberties of Americans. But I guess I'm just naive.) Barletta is seeking reelection to a third term as mayor this fall. Here's where I get to the good news that I had to read twice - from the first paragraph of the story:
The Hazleton, Pa., mayor who launched a war on the impact of illegal aliens in his city was warned that his future political career would be "haunted" by the decision, but now Louis J. Barletta has won not only the GOP nomination for mayor, which he was seeking, but the Democratic nomination by virtue of 1,200 write-in votes.
Yep, not only did Barletta get nominated by the Republican party with an unofficial 1,363 votes, but he got just a shade under that from Democrats, at more than 1,200. Nice to see that common sense is alive in Hazelton, PA.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Joel Rosenberg

You may have noticed that I've been reading a lot of Joel Rosenberg's books lately. Epicenter is my fifth straight Rosenberg book - the first four were novels, this one is non-fiction, basically explaining how & why he wrote the novels, and how they relate to current events and Bible prophecy. I'll certainly post some things from the book when I'm done with it - I'm not quite halfway through and there's already been a lot to chew on. But right now, I just wanted to point out some new Rosenberg links in my sidebar - actually two "Blogs" and two corresponding "Links":

Blogs:
  • Joel Rosenberg - get Joel's thoughts on current events, with a roundup of headlines from the Middle East
  • The Joshua Fund - a blog devoted to the foundation started by Rosenberg

Links:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Copper Scroll




I previously wrote about Joel C. Rosenberg's The Last Jihad, but haven't written about the other novels since then. I recently finished the 4th in the series, The Copper Scroll. Here are portions of Rosenberg's bio, speaking of each of the first three books in relation to current events:
The first page of his first novel-The Last Jihad-puts you inside the cockpit of a hijacked jet, coming in on a kamikaze attack into an American city, which leads to a war with Saddam Hussein over weapons of mass destruction. Yet it was written before 9/11, long before the actual war with Iraq. ...

His second thriller-The Last Days-opens with the death of Yasser Arafat and a U.S. diplomatic convoy ambushed in Gaza. Six days before The Last Days was published in hardcover, a U.S. diplomatic convoy was ambushed in Gaza. Thirteen months later, Yasser Arafat died. ...

The Ezekiel Option centers on a Russian dictator who forms a military alliance with the leaders of Iran who are feverishly pursuing nuclear weapons and threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. On the very day it was published in June 2005, Iran elected a new leader who vowed to accelerate the country's nuclear program and later vowed to "wipe Israel off the map." Six months after the book was published, Moscow signed a $1 billion arms deal with Tehran. ...

Rosenberg's experience in Washington, D.C. and Jerusalem show throughout his novels, as they play out as if they were taken straight from the headlines. Near the end of The Copper Scroll, I got the chills reading this paragraph concerning Dr. Eliezer Mordechai, a former Israeli intelligence officer who had accurately identified the fulfillment of biblical prophecy from Ezekiel 38 & 39:
I supported the war in Iraq, Mordechai had written. I believed Saddam Hussein was a serious threat to the region and the world, and I believed in the cause of regime change. Removing Saddam was not as easy as we had hoped, nor as quick. But the question isn't whether we should have gone to war in Iraq. The real question is, what exactly are we building there? Are we making Iraq safe for democracy, or safe for the Antichrist?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Islamo-Disney?


M-I-C ... K-E-Y ... Why? Because the "Zionists" must be resisted, of course. Al-Aqsa TV, which is run by Hamas, runs a children's show each Friday featuring "Farfour" who absolutely bears no resemblance whatsoever to Mickey Mouse. Farfour entertains kids by telling them things like:
"You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists," Farfour squeaked on a recent episode of the show, which is called "Tomorrow's Pioneers."

"We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers."
Take a look:

I Cannot Imagine

My heart aches for Chris & Lori Coble. The Ladera Ranch, CA, couple lost their three children, Kyle, 5, Emma, 4, and Katie, 2, when their minivan was rear-ended by a semi on Friday. Here's a video of the kids, courtesy of Life to Motion:

Pray for these two, as well as their family, friends, and surrounding community, that God may show His glory and make His presence known.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How Racist Is Jesse Jackson?

Evidently, these guys aren't "black enough" for Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition:







Members of the coalition met with officials of the Atlanta Braves on Monday, because they were "Upset over the lack of African-Americans on the Braves roster":
The issue was brought to the attention of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition during the 60th anniversary celebration of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. The Braves and Houston Astros did not have any African-American players on their 25-man rosters at the time. The Braves' total grew with the promotion of left fielder Willie Harris, who is from Robinson's hometown of Cairo.
So evidently Jackie Robinson only broke the color barrier for "African-Americans" and the four Braves pictured above, from left to right, Andruw Jones (Curacao), Edgar Renteria (Colombia), Rafael Soriano (Dominican Republic), and Brayan Pena (Cuba) received no benefit from Robinson. So who broke the color barrier for Latin/South American players like these guys?

Some more inane propaganda:
Countered [Southern Regional Director for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Joe] Beasley, "As I expected, [Braves general manager John Schuerholz's] idea is the bottom line: I'll put the best 40 men I can get wherever I can get them from on the field, and that's fair. But the fact of the matter is if they put resources into recruiting here in the United States, and more specifically here in Atlanta, there are talented players here."
Talented players like Georgia natives Tim Hudson (Columbus), Brian McCann (Athens), Jeff Francoeur (Atlanta), Chuck James (Atlanta), Kyle Davies (Decatur), and now Willie Harris (Cairo)? That's 6 of the current 25 man roster from Georgia, and 3 from the immediate Atlanta area (Decatur is a suburb).

The article also made sure to point out that "Less than 10 percent of major league players are African-Americans." According to the Census 2000, 12.9 percent of the general population is "Black or African American." Holy cow, that's a difference of nearly 3 percent! Unless of course some of those Latin American "blacks" reported themselves as being "black" on the census. I think every team in the majors should be required to have at least 3.225 African Americans on their 25 man roster at all times (until the next census). At least Jackson and his organization are consistent - this goes right along with their public diatribes against the NFL's and NBA's overpopulation of African Americans.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Thursday, May 03, 2007

American Idol

Thought this was hilarious from American Idol's "Idol Gives Back" episode last week:

Good Question

I happened to see this comic strip in the paper today:

(comic found at The Non Sequitur homepage)

A Good Reason To Stay

I think this is about as good a reason as any for the U.S. to maintain (if not increase) forces in Iraq:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Wednesday on U.S. and other foreign forces to leave neighbouring Iraq

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Truth?

I don't even know what to say about this:
Visitors to the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa won't find the Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. Instead, on the bureau will be a copy of "An Inconvenient Truth," former Vice President Al Gore's book about global warming.

Johnny Hart

Last Friday night I was at a friend's house, looking at some comics in World magazine. It was then that I saw the news that the creator of one of my favorite comic strips had died. Johnny Hart, who created B.C. (and co-created the Wizard of Id) died from a stroke while at his storyboard on April 7. My first thought was back to a comic that another friend had sent me last year:


In browsing the last 30 days of B.C. comics (after Peanuts creator Charles Schulz died, Hart insisted that B.C. be carried on after his death), I found a few good ones, including one on Palm Sunday:


And this one on Easter, the day after he went to meet His Savior:


I also enjoyed these:




And finally, here's a strip that ran on Easter in 2001, drawing protests from some Jewish groups that led to some newspapers dropping the strip altogether. "Critics said it implied that Christianity supersedes Judaism."


(Click on the comics to see a larger version.)

A Striking Parallel

This story in the Quad-Cities Times tells about the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is setting up in Rock Island, Illinois, but my favorite part is this comment from reader "food for thought" under the article:
A Striking Parallel
I bought a bird feeder. I hung it on my back porch and filled it with seed. Within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food. But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.
Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table...everywhere. Then some of the birds turned mean: They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket. And others birds were boisterous and loud: They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food.
After a while, I couldn't even sit on my own back porch anymore. I took down the bird feeder an d in three days the birds were gone. I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio. Soon, the back yard was like it used to be...quite, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal.
Now let's see . . . our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, free education and allows anyone born here to be a automatic citizen.
Then the illegals came by the tens of thousands. Suddenly our taxes went up to pay for free services; small apartments are housing 5 families: you have to wait 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor: your child's 2nd grade class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn't speak English.
Corn Flakes now come in a bilingual box; I have to press "one" to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than "Old Glory" are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties. Maybe it's time for the government to take down the bird feeder.
(HT: Iowa Voice)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Real Story: The Oil Weapon

From last night's Glenn Beck show on CNN Headline News:
The media was all over the story that broke last Friday about Saudi Arabia arresting 172 Islamic militants, likely from Al Qaeda, who were apparently planning suicide attacks on a variety of targets, including Saudi oil facilities and refineries, possibly by crashing airplanes into them. In addition to the extremists, authorities also found $5.3 million dollars in cash and a stock of weapons buried in the desert.

Unfortunately, just because the media covers a story doesn't mean they're covering it right. This story isn't just about Saudi Arabia dealing with extremists...it's about Al Qaeda continuing to pursue their long term goal of bringing down the U.S. economy.
Read the rest (with links to supporting research articles) here.

Headship & Submission

In Part 1 of "Lionhearted and Lamblike: The Christian Husband as Head" (read or listen), John Piper takes a look at the mystery of a husband and wife being a shadow of Christ and the Church; he addresses the egalitarian view of gender roles; and he closes by putting forth the following definitions for headship and submission referred to in Ephesians 5:21-33:
  • Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.
  • Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.
Piper will expand on this definition of headship in Part 2.

Double Function of Grace

In "Marriage: Pursuing Conformity to Christ in the Covenant," John Piper builds on his previous message of "Forgiving and Forbearing" (which I referred to in a previous post):
...we have emphasized that this grace empowers husbands and wives to keep their covenant by means of forgiveness and forbearance. That emphasis is at the heart of what grace is: treating people better than they deserve. ...

... But now I want to emphasize another truth about grace. It not only gives power to endure being sinned against, it also gives power to stop sinning.

In all our emphasis on forgiving and forbearing, you might get the impression that none of our sinful traits or our annoying idiosyncrasies ever changes—or ever should change. So all we can do is forgive and forbear. But what I want to try to show from Scripture today is that God gives grace not only to forgive and to forbear, but also to change, so that less forgiving and forbearing is needed. That too is a gift of grace. Grace is not just power to return good for evil; it is also the power to do less evil. Even power to be less bothersome. Grace makes you want to change for the glory of Christ and for the joy of your spouse. And grace is the power to do it.
Piper explains that the forgiving and forbearing serves as a "rock-solid foundation" on which requests for change can be made without coming across as a threat. I think this ordering of forgiving and forbearing before making changes also reflects the order of our salvation. God forgives us, as Romans 3 tells us: "God presented [Christ] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished..." And then God works sanctifying change in us, as Philippians 2 says: "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."