Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why Do Bad Things Happen?

A great clip of Voddie Baucham:


Read/hear more from Voddie at his website. I'd recommend listening to his "The Centrality of the Home" and "Multigenerational Promise" podcasts, as well as checking out his book, Family Driven Faith.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Is Global Warming Dead?

From the United Kingdom's Telegraph:
Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.
Read the full story.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bare Your Bookshelf

According to Christian Resources International:
Research indicates that the average American Christian owns nine Bibles and is actively in the market for more. That statistic troubles us here at CRI, since we receive more than 400 letters a month from pastors and Christian workers in developing countries whose churches own no Bibles or Christian books.

Every day, more than 122,000 people become Christians, and most of those people are in Africa, Asia, and South America. They’re attending churches where even the pastors have no Bibles. In our country, the church isn’t growing so much. But the pile of Bibles on every Christian’s bookshelf sure is.

This discrepancy is why we have launched Operation Bare Your Bookshelf, a project to make it easy for American Christians to send a Bible (and a Christian book or two) overseas.

If you're like me, you have old Bibles sitting around that don't get used. What a tremendous opportunity to serve the worldwide church. CRI provides all the shipping materials to send Bibles to "a specific pastor, Christian worker, church member, or seeker overseas." They even send the recipient's name so you can pray for them specifically. Click here to find out more.

Liberated From Self

“Not self-conscious nor self-confident, a Christian is liberated to be self-forgetful.”

- Timothy Keller, Ministries of Mercy (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1989), 64.

(HT: Of First Importance)

A Christless Christianity

“There really is no place for Christ in many people’s Christianity. Their faith is not actually in Christ; it is in Christianity and their ability to live it out. This kind of ‘Christianity’ is really about shadow glories of human knowledge and performance. It does not require the death to self that must always happen if love for Christ is going to reign in our hearts.”

- Paul David Tripp, A Quest for More (Greensboro, NC; New Growth Press, 2007), 106.

(HT: Of First Importance)

A Little Perspective, Please

I'm a complainer, and am an impatient person, especially when it comes to seemingly minor things. Comedian Louis CK provides some perspective on our selfish, thankless, impatient society:

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Santa Claus Is The Law, Jesus Is The Gospel


(HT: Vitamin Z)

Countercultural High School Football

Rick Reilly writes about a remarkable story:

They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down
in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it
was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the
Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.

Did you hear that? The other team's fans?

They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, "Go
Tornadoes!" Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.

It was rivers running uphill and cats petting dogs. More than 200 Faith fans
sat on the Gainesville side and kept cheering the Gainesville players on—by
name.

Read the full story.

Adoption For Christmas

I found this at Vitamin Z's blog:

Here is a very cool adoption story. The Minneapolis Star Tribune story begins with this:

Every year, Dorothy Bode asks for two things for Christmas: a new Bible and a new baby. The previous year's Bible inevitably has been destroyed by one of the babies. "There's something about those crinkly pages that attract little hands," she said.

So the Bibles keep coming, and so do the babies. This year's arrival is Jeremiah.

This is the seventh Christmas that Dorothy and her husband, Robert, have adopted an infant. Their two-story home in northeast Minneapolis teems with 10 kids from infancy to 12 years old, a blend of birth and adopted children, white faces, black faces and unknown races. The new babies come to them battling autism, fetal alcohol syndrome or their birth mother's drug addiction.

To them this is not sacrifice, it's a mission. It's their way of following Jesus' teaching to love your neighbor. "Every person is equally valuable and important," Dorothy said. "[We are] doing all of this in Jesus' name -- with no strings attached for those we serve."
Read the rest.

I'm The Worst Sinner I Know

Head over to the Straight Up blog and listen to James MacDonald's interview clip with C.J. Mahaney from the Straight Up Pastors Conference. If you haven't read or heard much from C.J. Mahaney (or even if you have), you may want to watch & listen to it more than once.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Disturbing Christmas

From C.J. Mahaney at the Sovereign Grace Blog:

The days before Christmas can be a tiring season of preparation, planning, shopping, and wrapping. But I think as we prepare for the Christmas celebrations, dinners, travel, and gift giving, it’s equally important that we pause and prepare our souls for Christmas.

During this time of year, it may be easy to forget that the bigger purpose behind Bethlehem was Calvary. But the purpose of the manger was realized in the horrors of the cross. The purpose of his birth was his death.

Or to put it more personally: Christmas is necessary because I am a sinner. The incarnation reminds us of our desperate condition before a holy God.

Several years ago WORLD Magazine published a column by William H. Smith with the provocative title, “Christmas is disturbing: Any real understanding of the Christmas messages will disturb anyone” (Dec. 26, 1992).

In part, Smith wrote:

Many people who otherwise ignore God and the church have some religious feeling, or feel they ought to, at this time of the year. So they make their way to a church service or Christmas program. And when they go, they come away feeling vaguely warmed or at least better for having gone, but not disturbed.

Why aren’t people disturbed by Christmas? One reason is our tendency to sanitize the birth narratives. We romanticize the story of Mary and Joseph rather than deal with the painful dilemma they faced when the Lord chose Mary to be the virgin who would conceive her child by the power of the Holy Spirit. We beautify the birth scene, not coming to terms with the stench of the stable, the poverty of the parents, the hostility of Herod. Don’t miss my point. There is something truly comforting and warming about the Christmas story, but it comes from understanding the reality, not from denying it.

Most of us also have not come to terms with the baby in the manger. We sing, “Glory to the newborn King.” But do we truly recognize that the baby lying in the manger is appointed by God to be the King, to be either the Savior or Judge of all people? He is a most threatening person.

Malachi foresaw his coming and said, “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.” As long as we can keep him in the manger, and feel the sentimental feelings we have for babies, Jesus doesn’t disturb us. But once we understand that his coming means for every one of us either salvation or condemnation, he disturbs us deeply.

What should be just as disturbing is the awful work Christ had to do to accomplish the salvation of his people. Yet his very name, Jesus, testifies to us of that work.

That baby was born so that “he who had no sin” would become “sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The baby’s destiny from the moment of his conception was hell—hell in the place of sinners. When I look into the manger, I come away shaken as I realize again that he was born to pay the unbearable penalty for my sins.

That’s the message of Christmas: God reconciled the world to himself through Christ, man’s sin has alienated him from God, and man’s reconciliation with God is possible only through faith in Christ…Christmas is disturbing.


Don’t get me wrong—Christmas should be a wonderful celebration. Properly understood, the message of Christmas confronts before it comforts, it disturbs before it delights.

The purpose of Christ’s birth was to live a sinless life, suffer as our substitute on the cross, satisfy the wrath of God, defeat death, and secure our forgiveness and salvation.

Christmas is about God the Father (the offended party) taking the initiative to send his only begotten son to offer his life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that we might be forgiven for our many sins.

As Smith so fitly concludes his column:

Only those who have been profoundly disturbed to the point of deep repentance are able to receive the tidings of comfort, peace, and joy that Christmas proclaims.
Amen and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Forgotten Word?

Tim Ellsworth has some good reflections on saying "No" to our kids:

One of the most difficult things about parenting is knowing where to draw
the line when it comes to buying things for my kids.

On one hand, it
gives me great pleasure to provide good things for them. But yet, I don’t want
to spoil them, and I don’t want them to grow up with any kind of entitlement
mentality.

While I know there are undoubtedly times when I cross the line, I think
too many parents make “crossing the line” more the rule than the
exception.

...

In short, children need to learn what “no” means. Parents need to teach
them. It won’t kill you. Otherwise, we’ll raise a generation of kids who will
grow up to be insufferable, spoiled adults, and we have too many of those
already.


Read the whole thing.

Don't Waste Your Church

Going Giftless at Christmas?

Shaun Groves just completed a 4-part series entitled "Going Giftless." He's got some good points that are well worth considering.

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Many Paths to Heaven?

From AlbertMohler.com:
Are American evangelicals abandoning the exclusivity of the Gospel? A new report out from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that many evangelical Christians are, at the very least, badly confused about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today reports:

Most American religious believers, including most Christians, say eternal life is not exclusively for those who accept Christ as their savior, a new survey finds.

Of the 65% of people who held this open view of heaven's gates, 80% named at least one non-Christian group - Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists or people with no religion at all- who may also be saved, according to a new survey released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

This most recent report, released today, clarifies a report issued earlier this year. That earlier report became the cause of some controversy because some researchers questioned the accuracy of the responses, since some of those surveyed may have confused other Christian denominations for other religions.

In releasing this updated report, the Pew Forum isolated the question and made it far more specific. Those who affirmed other ways of salvation were then asked to specify what they meant. As USA Today reports, the vast majority of those who affirmed other ways of salvation went on to specify "Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists or people with no religion at all" as valid options.

The report indicates that 52% of those belonging to churches and denominations that teach that Jesus is the only way of salvation reject that teaching.

Mohler was interviewed for the USA Today story:

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, calls the findings "a theological crisis for American evangelicals. They represent at best a misunderstanding of the Gospel and at worst a repudiation of the Gospel."

And:

Overall, the new findings are "an indictment of evangelicalism and evangelical preaching," said Mohler. "The clear Biblical teaching is that Jesus Christ proclaimed himself to be the only way to salvation."

Mohler sees behind the statistics the impact of pluralism and secularism in U.S. society and the challenge of facing family and friends with "an uncomfortable truth."

"We are in an age when we want to tell everyone they are doing just fine. It's extremely uncomfortable to turn to someone and say, 'You will go to hell unless you come to a saving knowledge of Jesus,' " Mohler says.

High Stakes Gamble

LifeSiteNews.com carries a story about a UNICEF report about daycare, with some troubling data:

The report observes that "most children in the developed world are spending their earliest years in some form of care outside the home.” According to the organization, “80 per cent of children aged three to six are in some form of early childhood education and care outside the home,” and “about one in four under the age of three are also cared for outside the home — with the proportion rising to one in two in some countries.”

The report concludes that, "To the extent that this change is unplanned and unmonitored, it could also be described as a high-stakes gamble with today's children and tomorrow's world."

...

The most comprehensive study done in the US was released last year and found that the more time children spent in center-based care before kindergarten, the more likely their teachers were to report such problem behaviors as "gets in many fights," "disobedient at school," and "argues a lot." (See "Largest US Child Study Finds Early Child Care Linked to Aggression and Disobedience": http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/mar/07032607.html).

Other studies have found everything from increased frequency of illness to impaired social and emotional development in children attending preschool centers.

“The biggest eye-opener is that the suppression of social and emotional development, stemming from long hours in preschool, is felt most strongly by children from better-off families,” said UC Berkeley sociologist and co-author Bruce Fuller, who performed research on the question in California in 2005.

Economic Policy

Check out this interview with President Bush:

"I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system"? I've been expecting this country to become the United Socialist States of America, but I never expected it to come under President Bush's watch.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Shoes

Warning: If you don't like sarcasm, don't read this post. From the blog, What Christians Like:
Does the whole world know about the song "Christmas Shoes?" I assume this tender ditty about a boy trying to buy pretty shoes for his mama in case she dies and meets Jesus, is an international smash hit. Maybe it hasn't spanned the globe yet though so I posted a video clip of it below.

According to the Internet, which is always 100% accurate, this song took four years to write. I have a hard time believing that because it has the air of three songwriters sitting in a "cheesy song laboratory," trying to concoct the most emotionally manipulative song ever. And when I hear it come on the radio I immediately rip my stereo out of the dashboard and throw it in a river. If I'm not near a river, a small "crick" will suffice.

But what if I'm wrong? What if it's actually the greatest song ever written? What if despite all my sarcasm and all the other great blogs that have already joked about this song, it's actually the most important song our generation has ever experienced? What if Christmas Shoes is the greatest song ever written?

Here are five reasons I think that might be true:

1. You can sing it to every other Christmas song.
This year, I've secretly been playing a game of "What would Christmas Shoes sound like if it was another song" in my head. For instance, Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is you?" That one becomes "All I want for Christmas is Shoes." Or, "Carol of the Bells," the Ding Dong song becomes "Here are some shoes, these are some shoes, do you like my shoes, my mama's shoes?" Try it, it works with any song.

2. It's got its own movie.
Name me three other Christmas songs that have been turned into “made for television movies” starring Hollywood's Rob Lowe? You can't, can you. (Sure, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman are songs and movies, but was Lowe in either of those?) Here's how CBS describes it, “In this heartwarming holiday drama, a workaholic attorney crosses paths with a young boy on Christmas Eve and rediscovers the true meaning of love, life and the holiday season." Wow, that's powerful right there.

3. It's got its own book.
I really hope that when my book comes out in 2010 someone will make a song version. (Preferably to the tune of Prince's "When Doves Cry," "This is what it sounds like when you side hug.") You know you've got a good song when there's a book version as well, even though Publisher's Weekly describes the book as "Two couples find their lives transformed by a Christmas gift in a gooey holiday parable that leaves no stone unturned in its pursuit of tear-jerking moments." I promise my book will not be gooey.

4. A little kid sings at the end of the song.
Who doesn't like that? We Christians love when a chorus of children come in at the end of a song. Especially if it's a sweet little kid that says "mama." As I've said before, if I ever have an audio book made of something I write, I'm going to have a really adorable third grader read the last chapter. Hopefully, Christopher Walken will agree to read the first 20, but to close it out on a strong note, I feel an 8-year old is in order. At least I get that sense from all of the Christian songs that end with a choir of kids.

5. It's played fairly often on Christian radio during the holidays.
It's available. Don't you hate when you hear about something good and you can never find it? You google it and ask your friends and no one knows where to direct you to enjoy this magical thing you're looking for? Don't worry about that happening with the Christmas Shoes song. It's currently played every other song on some Christian radio stations. So it's easy to find. That's a nice thing, right?

OK, I confess, I don't love that song, but I do wish I was signed up for the iTunes affiliate program and not just the Amazon.com one, because right now, I imagine readers are buying the Christmas Shoes song like some sort of delicious hot cake. And with the money I earned I'd probably buy my cat Sir Scratch a Lot, some new feline fancy feet socks in case he meets Jesus tonight. He was hit by a car while saving a wheelbarrow full of orphans and nuns that was stuck in the middle of the street. I think this might be his last Christmas with us and those socks are just his style.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Probably my favorite Christmas hymn, I shared the lyrics two years ago. Here it is, performed by Jewel, featuring scenes from The Nativity Story:

Bethlehem Morning

I love Christmas music. I hope to share some of my favorites in the next week or so. Here's one of them, "Bethlehem Morning." First, performed by Silvie Paladino:



Or click here to hear my 2nd favorite version, done by Sandi Patty. (My favorite is listening to my sister sing it.)

Eschatology of Parenting

Some good words from Russell Moore about parenting (taken from his blog, Moore to the Point):

Yesterday I helped a toddler clean up a 44 ounce cup of Coke Zero he’d spilled everywhere (yes, it was mine; and no, there were not 44 ounces left remaining in it when he found it). I answered forty questions about whether Jesus made Lego blocks (so stay tuned for my new sermon series on “The Logos and the Legos”). And I disciplined a tantrum thrower and a sulker.

All of that was about the end times.

When we think of Christian eschatology, we tend to think first of prophecy charts or apocalyptic novels, but nothing is more eschatological than parenting.

A parent disciplining a child, for instance, communicates to the child the discipline and judgment of God in ways deeper and more resonant than any Sunday school lesson (Heb 12:5-11). A parent who will not discipline a child for disobedience, or who is inconsistent in doing so, is teaching that child not to expect consequences for behavior.

In short, a parent who will not discipline is denying the doctrine of hell.

At the same time, a parent who disciplines in anger or with harshness teaches a judgment of God that is capricious and unjust. An abusive parent, worst of all, ingrains in a child’s mind a picture of God as a ruthless devil who cannot be trusted to judge justly.

Parental discipleship and discipline ought always to have repentance and restoration in view, picturing a God who is both just and the justifier (Rom 3:26). Discipline should be swift and fair with quick reconciliation between parent and child. Long periods of “time out” do not communicate the discipline of God; they communicate the isolation and exile of hell.

Parents who spend time with their children, especially at meals, demonstrate something of the harmony they want their children to long for beyond this life. It’s a longing to eat at another Father’s table in the kingdom of Christ.

Moreover, we should teach children to respect and acknowledge authority, attributes necessary for citizens of a democracy for a short time, yes, but more necessary for subjects of a kingdom forever. Teaching children to refer to adults as “Mr. Smith” or “Mrs. Jones” or “Pastor Doe” and to say “sir” and “ma’am” (or the culturally equivalent signifiers of authority) is about more than politeness. It is training children to recognize proper hierarchy and authority when the veil is lifted and we see face to face.

Those of you who are parents probably grow weary and discouraged sometimes. I know I do. It seems as though you’re not “getting through” sometimes, that your children aren’t responding the way you thought they would. Keep hugging. Keep kissing. Keep chastising. Keep teaching. This is a long-term project. You’ve got a long-term project in front of you. And there’s a lot at stake.

After all, parenting isn’t about behavior modification. It’s about Christian eschatology.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Is Adoption Missional?

Posted at the Q Ideas blog:
Johnny Carr, National Director of Church Partnerships for Bethany Christian Services, explores the intentionality and service of adoption. Johnny adopted his first son, James, a deaf child from China, in 2005.

I guess the first thing is to define missional. "Missional" is one of those junk drawer buzzwords that has become common in our Christian vocabulary with several definitions floating around. Wikipedia says that "missional" is a missionary-term that describes a missionary lifestyle, and I guess that is as good a definition as any. To live "missionally" is to express the Gospel holistically in the way you live - every day and in every thing. It is a way of life, not a program. It means living like Jesus lived. If you know much about Jesus you know that includes helping to meet the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of others. Living missionally means making a conscious decision to live each day with others in mind, rather than yourself.

In other words, YES - adoption is missional.

Recently, I was speaking with a lady who had asked her church for financial help for their adoption. The church leader responded that the church did not help with "optional" things like adoption. The pastorĂ¢€™s perspective seemingly saw adoption more like consumption than ministry. He saw adoption as a want - much like I want an iPhone. He was not viewing adoption from the perspective of the child.

When I meet with Pastors to discuss adoption ministries, I will often ask them, "Who does adoption help?" The typical response is "infertile couples." That is when I lovingly explain that adoption primarily helps children. Whether the child is an orphan from war, genocide or disease in Africa; whether the child is an orphan due to abuse and neglect and the state has severed the rights of his/her birth parents, or whether it is a new born baby that was born due to an unplanned pregnancy - adoption is (or, at least, should be) always about the health and best interest of the child. Unfortunately, many Christians are focusing on adults (us) rather than the child (them).

When adoption is seen through a child's eyes, it is easy to see the missional nature of adoption. In fact, this may be the ultimate missional decision because adoption is a lifetime commitment. Many people today are adopting children with special needs. Some of these children will never grow up to be independent. The people who are adopting these little ones know that they are making a decision today that will affect the rest of their lives. Instead of raising a couple of healthy kids, sending them off to college, and then sailing off in their motor home into retirement, they will be serving the least of these until one of them "retires" into eternity. That is truly missional.

Someone once said missional living was "religion without all the junk added," I thought that was interesting in light of James 1:27, "Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (NIV)

There are many different perspectives on the best ways to care for orphans, but with 143,000,000 orphans in the world today, something must be done by followers of Jesus Christ. Only 1-2% of these children will be adopted. We need many strategies that will best fit the cultures, values, and environments of the places where these orphans live, and adoption is a one great strategy.

Adoption is not the one-stop cure all for the orphan crisis, but it is a strategic and effective mode to care for the orphans of the world. It's also a commitment of sacrifice, a holistic manifestation of the Gospel, a missional posture and a service to Christ.


Bethany is an international team of nearly 900 people actively involved in ministering to the needs of children, young people, and families. With over 75 offices nationwide and international ministries in 13 other countries, Bethany touches the lives of more than 30,000 people each year. Bethany is supported through fees and gifts received from individuals, churches, corporations, and foundations. Bethany is known by many as an adoption agency, but our family-focused ministries also reach people struggling with unplanned pregnancies, infertility, and a multitude of other human hurts.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Penal Substitutionary Atonement

In reading Gerald Hiestand's recent post at entitled "Saved from the Savior," I tried to pick a couple of parts to share. But I kept adding, and soon had each paragraph. So here's his post in full:
I’m finishing up The Nature of the Atonement (eds. Beilby and Eddy). The book presents four differing views of the atonement—the Christus Victor view (defended by Greg Boyd), the kaleidoscopic view (Joel Green), the healing view (Bruce Reichenbach), and the penal substitutionary view (Tom Schreiner). Each author is given a chapter to defend his position, followed by a response from the other three contributors.

While there is a significant amount of disagreement between the four contributors, what I found interesting is that Boyd, Green and Reichenbach are fairly united in their criticism of penal substitution (perhaps Reichenbach less so). With one voice, they call into question the very idea that humanity needs to be saved from God. This is seen perhaps most clearly in Boyd’s chapter and subsequent responses. In defending the Christus Victor view, Boyd argues that the cross of Christ is about being saved from Satan and the evil spiritual ‘powers,’ rather than from God. The idea that we need to be saved from God, Boyd argues, is a misread of Scripture. “The New Testament concept of salvation,” he writes, “is centered on our participation in Christ’s cosmic victory over the powers [Satan]. It does not first and foremost mean ‘salvation from God’s wrath’ or ‘salvation from hell’ as many Western Christians mistakenly assume” (p 35).

This seems to be a fairly common criticism of penal substitution. God is love, the argument goes, and he does not need to be paid off or placated. The cross is about God saving humanity from evil powers (Boyd), the effects of sin (Reichenbach), or a combination of both (Green). But it’s not about humanity being saved from God’s vengeance or wrath. After all, God is the Savior!

But such thinking misses a key element of God’s salvific activity. Let’s recount the Passover.

Moses, as the mediator of God’s wrath, has stretched out his hand over the land of Egypt and brought destruction upon Pharaoh’s kingdom. Yet Pharaoh will not yield. Not to worry, the Lord tells Moses. One last plague is coming, different from all the others, and with this plague Pharaoh will fold. But the difference with this plague will not merely be the degree of its severity; the difference will be in who delivers it. With the plague of the firstborn, God himself will come to visit the land, directly and without a mediator. This is a significant escalation in the conflict. Amidst the terrors of darkness, in the black of night, Yahweh will descend upon the land, a sword of judgment in his hand. Yet a problem presents itself. The Israelites have called in fire on their own position. The nearness of their God is both a blessing and a bane—the fire that will consume their enemies threatens to consume them as well.

God is for the Israelites, but they have not been properly for him. They have joined the opposition and sided with the enemy—an enemy God is determined to crush. But God is gracious in the midst of his vengeance. Another ark of salvation is prepared in the midst of a second flood of vengeance; the blood of a lamb is shed and God’s people are delivered once again…from God. We, like the Israelites in Egypt, need to be saved from our Savior.

And that’s a basic point of penal substitution—that God, in his willingness to save us from the power and dominion of sin—must also somehow save us from himself. Any view of the atonement that fails to grapple with this uncomfortable—yet distinctly biblical—reality, falls short.

Just another terrific post from the guys at Straight Up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fight FOCA

I'm not normally a fan of online petitions, but this is one I've signed. I'd encourage you to go to their website and read up on Fight FOCA, and watch the video on the right side of the screen. Then, if you so desire, scroll down and sign the petition.

UPDATE:

I've been reading some of the bill. (The Senate version & House version are basically identical.) Wow. Here's just a little bit, with my responses:
(1) The United States was founded on core principles, such as liberty, personal privacy, and equality, which ensure that individuals are free to make their most intimate decisions without governmental interference and discrimination.
I thought the first "core principle" that the U.S. was founded on was life. Seems to me like without life, one cannot really experience liberty or personal privacy.
(6) In countries in which abortion remains illegal, the risk of maternal mortality is high. According to the World Health Organization, of the approximately 600,000 pregnancy-related deaths occurring annually around the world, 80,000 are associated with unsafe abortions.
So roughly 13% of women who die from pregnancy-related causes are associated with "unsafe" abortions. That pales in comparison to the 100% death rate of aborted babies.
(7) The Roe v. Wade decision also expanded the opportunities for women to participate equally in society. In 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (505 U.S. 833), the Supreme Court observed that, `[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.'.
I'm not a biologist, but I'm pretty sure that women have always been able to control their reproductive lives. As have men. It's called abstinence. It may not be easy, but it's 100% effective.
(10) Legal and practical barriers to the full range of reproductive services endanger women's health and lives. Incremental restrictions on the right to choose imposed by Congress and State legislatures have made access to reproductive care extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many women across the country. Currently, 87 percent of the counties in the United States have no abortion provider.
How does abortion fall under "reproductive care"? If it's not a baby, there was no reproduction. And if it is reproduction, and therefore a baby, then it's most certainly not caring for what has been reproduced. Did I miss Planned Parenthood's new motto, "We kill because we care"?
(11) While abortion should remain safe and legal, women should also have more meaningful access to family planning services that prevent unintended pregnancies, thereby reducing the need for abortion.
Again, let me point to the 100% death rate for aborted babies (not what I'd call "safe") and the much maligned "family planning service" known as abstinence.
(12) To guarantee the protections of Roe v. Wade, Federal legislation is necessary.
No it's not. Courts do not establish law. They merely decide how law is applied in individual cases. Legislatures and voters establish law. It's part of the separation of powers of the government.
(13) Although Congress may not create constitutional rights without amending the Constitution, Congress may, where authorized by its enumerated powers and not prohibited by the Constitution, enact legislation to create and secure statutory rights in areas of legitimate national concern.
What about "legitimate national concern" about the lives of babies?

SEC. 6. RETROACTIVE EFFECT.

    This Act applies to every Federal, State, and local statute, ordinance, regulation, administrative order, decision, policy, practice, or other action enacted, adopted, or implemented before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act.
There you go - there's the kicker. The Senate's version of the "no matter what" game I used to play with my brother when we were kids. Only back then we were usually talking about who was the better athlete or whose favorite team was better. Not quite the same seriousness as killing babies.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Serbian Abortionist Become Pro-Life Activist

From LifeSiteNews.com:
The Spanish daily "La Razon" has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former "champion of abortion." Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after spending 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

"The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue," the newspaper reported. "Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares."

In describing his conversion, Adasevic said he "dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. 'My name is Thomas Aquinas,' the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn't recognize the name."

"Why don't you ask me who these children are?" St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

"They are the ones you killed with your abortions,” the Dominican saint told him.

"Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions," the article stated.
Read the whole thing here.

The Supremacy Of Christ


(HT: Vitamin Z)

Christ Alone

Some good words from David Block at Vincit Omnia Veritas:
Our society claims that tolerance or rather blind acceptance is the law of belief that all men must accept today. They say, “If your meaning of truth works for you great, just as long as it doesn't get in the way of my truth. After all, with so many religions and beliefs systems out there how can you know if there is a right or wrong one? In the end it doesn't really matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.

But the cry of Christians has always been what Peter says in Acts 4:12, that, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” and as Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Why do we Christians say these things? To the world this seems unfair, unjust, arrogant or even bigoted. Christians say these things because Jesus said theses things about himself. Jesus said that he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one gets to God except by him. Jesus also said that “unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”

Why do we need Jesus to be the only way? The Bible teaches that we are all separated from God due to our sin and the breaking of God's law. Because God is just he must see that every law breaker is justly punished which means the death penalty. We owe God a debt that we could only pay with our eternal deaths. But fortunately, for us God is also loving and so he sent Jesus to pay that debt. Jesus died and took upon himself the full penalty of his people's sin. He is the only way and the only truth because Jesus was the only one willing and able to do this for us. No other religious leader, like Buddha, Mohammed or Confucious even claimed to take the penalty of sin for us let alone rose from the dead to prove that what he said was true; but Jesus did.

There is a huge gap between the Christian view of Jesus and other religions. Atheism, deism or pantheism sees Jesus as just a man, if he existed at all, Christians call him God. Jews say that Jesus was not the Messiah, Christians say he was. Muslims say that Jesus didn't die on the cross but Christians do. Hindus claim that God has and is incarnate multiple times over, Christians believe that God has only been incarnate in Jesus. Buddhists believe that the world will be perfected when we do what is right. Christians know that apart from God, no one can do what is right. So there are really two options left. Choose your own system of belief or popular religious leader and pay for you sin by yourself for all eternity or Jesus can pay it for you. Looking at the price that Jesus paid how could anyone say that believing that he is the only way is unfair or arrogance? We rejoice that there has been a way made to God at all.

So the question is: Do you believe in Christ alone?

Washington's New Administration

This one's particularly for my brother, a Washington Redskins fan. This article speaks of the immense differences between former 'Skins coach, Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs, and current rookie coach Jim Zorn. And then ...
Zorn and Gibbs do have this in common: They both love Jesus Christ.

“He is a biblicist,” said Seattle Seahawks chaplain Karl Payne, who has known Zorn for years. “In other words, if the book says it, you need to deal with it. He is far more concerned about being biblically correct than politically correct. He’s not ashamed of Christ.”

Zorn grew up in a family that thought Christianity consisted of doing good and attending church on Easter. As a high school junior, his perceptions were rattled when his girlfriend dumped him, citing the desire to date a Christian boy. Before long, Zorn started attending a Youth for Christ club.

“I realized I had no idea what Christianity was all about,” Zorn said. “I had a decision to make about the info I had. It wasn’t about saying it; it was about believing the info I had about Jesus and if he is the Messiah. I decided for Christ early in my senior year.”
Read the whole thing here.

Obama On Faith

Christianity Today has posted the full transcript of an interview that Cathleen Falsani did with then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, as he was running for U.S. Senate. I found these questions & answers to be most interesting:

OBAMA:
I am a Christian.

So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith.

On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences.

I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of six and 10.

My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim.

And I'd say, probably, intellectually I've drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith.

(A patron stops and says, "Congratulations," shakes his hand. "Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Thank you.")

So, I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.

And so, part of my project in life was probably to spend the first 40 years of my life figuring out what I did believe - I'm 42 now - and it's not that I had it all completely worked out, but I'm spending a lot of time now trying to apply what I believe and trying to live up to those values.

...

FALSANI:
Do you pray often?

OBAMA:
Uh, yeah, I guess I do.

It's not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I'm constantly asking myself questions about what I'm doing, why am I doing it.

...

FALSANI:
Have you read the Bible?

OBAMA:
Absolutely.

I read it not as regularly as I would like. These days I don't have much time for reading or reflection, period.

...

FALSANI:
The conversation stopper, when you say you're a Christian and leave it at that.

OBAMA:
Where do you move forward with that?

This is something that I'm sure I'd have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they're going to hell.

FALSANI:
You don't believe that?

OBAMA:
I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.

...

FALSANI:
Do you believe in sin?

OBAMA:
Yes.

FALSANI:
What is sin?

OBAMA:
Being out of alignment with my values.

...

FALSANI:
What are you doing when you feel the most centered, the most aligned spiritually?

OBAMA:
I think I already described it. It's when I'm being true to myself. And that can happen in me making a speech or it can happen in me playing with my kids, or it can happen in a small interaction with a security guard in a building when I'm recognizing them and exchanging a good word.

Read the whole thing here.

Who Would Have Thought?

For anybody who might have questioned my stance on never voting for any of the Congresspeople who voted for the $700 billion bailout bill (see here), here's one reason I took that stance:
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he plans to introduce a bill Monday that would effectively put the brakes on the $700 billion financial rescue plan signed into law last month.

Sanders, who voted against the bailout package, lambasted the Bush administration for the way it's implemented the program thus far.

"I have very serious concerns as to how the Bush administration is spending the first $350 billion they were provided," Sanders said in a statement Monday. "The second $350 billion tranche must not be spent in the same way."

It's unclear how many other lawmakers would go as far to back a plan to halt the rescue program.

At the same time, criticism of the rescue program has been sharp.

Disapproval on Capitol Hill only grew last week, when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that the department no longer plans to buy up banks' toxic mortgage-related debt - a key part of the plan when it was first pitched on Capitol Hill. Instead, Paulson said he plans to focus on actions that could boost the consumer finance sector, and thereby help consumers gain better access to student and auto loans.

Lawmakers have slammed Treasury for the about-face, saying it raises questions about whether Treasury has a clear roadmap for how to make best use of the funds. Meanwhile, leaders in the House and Senate have steadily called on Paulson to force banks receiving government funds to adhere to tougher executive pay limits and requirements on lending.

(read the rest here)
You mean it might not be a good idea to give one person a blank check with no oversight? You mean it might not be a good idea to just "do something" without actually taking time to think about and discuss what you want to do and the potential ramifications? Who knew? Funny how these Lawmakers who "slammed" the Treasury had no problem passing the bill that contained little oversight. Perhaps they should have read it before they voted on it.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Savior Sibling Thoughts

Last week I posted part of an article reminding me of a concept I've heard termed "savior sibling." (If you haven't already, read my previous post here, or the full article here.) I still haven't had the time to fully develop my thoughts, but wanted to post some before I forget.

The thrust of my thoughts result from the following portion of the story:
... Twenty-six eggs were fertilized and began to develop. Ten were genetically compatible. Two of those were disease-free, and both were implanted in CeCe's uterus in case one of them didn't develop.
I hate to use the phrase "collateral damage" here, since no real "damage" is intended, but that's what comes to mind. In order to cure their son's sickle cell anemia, 26 embryos were created. Two were allowed to continue to develop. The article speaks of CeCe's "guilt" at being pregnant with the twins, whose purpose was to save Carmani (this guilt was said to fall away after their birth), but there was no further mention of the other 24 embryos.

If I may, let me take a moment to detach my comments from the Boozers. I know that a single article cannot tell the whole story, cannot tell all the Boozers thought, did, and felt. I cannot imagine the hurt and anguish that they must have gone through.

So instead, I want to focus on the telling of the story. I think this speaks to the flippant way we view the miracle of life. We now have medical advances such as in vitro fertilization and advanced in utero diagnostics, so that we can tell (to various levels of certainty) if an embryo is a genetic match for a sick sibling, or likely to have Down syndrome, or even what gender the baby is very early in development. With the results of these tests we can decide whether or not a developing baby is worthy of life or not. We can convince ourselves that creating 26 embryos to try to have one baby to save another child is worth it, even if it means all the other embryos are frozen indefinitely (with the possibility of further attempts at implanting by in vitro), thrown out, or destroyed in research.

Back to the Boozers - my heart breaks for Carmani. My heart breaks for Carlos & CeCe having to watch their son go through a life threatening ordeal. My heart breaks for them going through the uncertain process of in vitro. My heart rejoices that Carmani has been cured. I hope that the whole family will glorify their Creator for years to come and ultimately enter into His rest. But my heart breaks for those other 24 embryos.

In closing I have a question. What do the following words have in common?
  • Zygote
  • Embryo
  • Fetus
  • Newborn
  • Infant
  • Toddler
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
These are simply stages of development that we all have gone through (assuming a purely adult readership). Why should any particular stage(s) have any more or less "right to life" than any other? Why should it be okay that, in America, more than 80 percent of babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted? Would we allow this with newborns/infants? Toddlers? Teenagers? Senior citizens? I really didn't intend to go on this much, but I'm reminded of a story that I heard from Glenn Beck and posted on my blog in November of 2006:
I want to share a story with you about a baby that was born -- baby Knauer -- born blind, missing an arm and a leg. The parents were just beside themselves.

The dad decided he's going to write and ask for some help because all the doctors weren't helping. They wrote somebody who is pretty powerful, and they trusted him. And they said, "Please, can you help us put our child into a better place? Please remove the burden on us."

Well, he saw the pictures. He read the letter, talked to the parents, flew out to meet with them, just filled with compassion, tears filling his eyes. He said, "I will personally give you my personal doctor to review the case." The doctor came back and said absolutely no justification for keeping this child alive. The baby was allowed to die.

Who was that compassionate, powerful man who so graciously put that baby boy to sleep? You probably guessed by now it was Adolf Hitler. Baby Knauer was the first victim of the Holocaust. Hitler later signed a decree permitting the euthanasia of disabled infants based on this case and creating a panel of expert referees which judged the infants and found out which ones were eligible for death.

Once he was through with the babies, the elderly were next. As it has been said over and over again with tragedies regarding the Holocaust: Never again.

NFL Power Rankings

I've been trying to have some fun with politics recently, but even laughing at politics is depressing sometimes. So how about some good old fashioned sports fun, courtesy of ESPN's Sports Guy? Here are a couple of samplings from his latest NFL Rankings:
26. St. Louis Rams
A.J. in St. Louis sent me this: "Jim Thomas is our Rams beat writer. In his weekly chat, someone asked, 'After the year, what position(s) do the Rams need to address via the draft and free agency?' Jim responded, 'Everything but punter and place-kicker.' Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 St. Louis Rams!"

25. Cleveland Browns
If you don't think this is the worst-coached half-decent team in the league, you didn't see the Browns blow a 10-point lead Thursday night to an atrocious defensive team that was down to a backup fullback as its only running back. (Actually, you probably didn't see it -- you could see the game only on the NFL Network. Great.) I remember this past Sunday when Fox's Rich Gannon said, "You can't second-guess Romeo Crennel here." I won't even tell you the context. Just know that, yes, at all times we are allowed to second-guess Romeo Crennel. Even if he's single-handedly disarming three gunmen during a bank robbery as I'm lying on the floor with my hands behind my head.

24. Houston Texans
I quit the Texans. Didn't think I could, but I did. They can't win on the road. Also, this quote from new starting QB Sage Rosenfels did me in: "I have been a backup for eight years. So if there's 32 teams in the league times eight years, that's 256 times that teams have said, 'This guy is not our starter.' So, yeah, I think there are some [naysayers] out there." I'd like to add myself to the list, Sage.

19. Chicago Bears
My West Coast fantasy team has something in common with the 2008 Bears: We both got finished off by Kyle Orton's ankle sprain. I ended up losing by three points last week because I started Orton over Donovan McNabb and got only one half out of him. Now, I'm 3-6 with four devastating losses: Brady going down eight minutes into Week 1; the DeSean Jackson premature espikeulation game; Kellen Clemens throwing a last-minute pick to San Diego's D to beat me; and last week, when I lost in the final minute of Monday night. At least I know I'm done, whereas Bears fans have to talk themselves into Rex Grossman for a few weeks.

My big epiphany: Really, the fantasy football season isn't fun. Winning is OK; losing is agonizing. You constantly feel awful about your choices and your bad luck; it's the only exercise that causes arguments with friends you normally never would argue with; and you spend roughly a kazillion hours managing your team for the 10 percent chance that you might win your league. There's just not a ton of upside. It's almost like smoking cigarettes -- it started out with good intentions, and it's something to do, and it can be fun in the right moments, but ultimately, there are an inordinate amount of moments when you find yourself leaning out a window in 20-degree weather to puff out a quick cig as your nose gets frostbitten, or bumming a cig from a group of horrible girls and then feeling obligated to talk to them, or waking up in the morning and coughing up your right lung. Really, it's more harm than fun. And yet, we continue to do it. And love it. This entire paragraph made me want to smoke.
(Side note: I had this epiphany after my first son was born. And I haven't looked back. Fantasy freedom feels pretty good to me.)
17. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is my runner-up for the 2008 Halfway MVP. Look at the Saints right now: They have below-average talent; they lost their two best skill-position guys for weeks at a time; they had to deal with the potential of another hurricane in Week 1; they lost a home game to play in London; they're in the toughest division in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE; and somehow, they're 4-4 and favored on the road this Sunday against an underrated Falcons team. It has been Brees and Sean Payton, and that's really it. Speaking of halfway points, let's take a commercial break before the second half of the column.
    Saaaaaaved byyyyyy zerrrrrr-ohhhhhhhhhh.

    "Now, for a limited time only, you can get amazing zero APR financing on your favorite Toyota."

    Saaaaaaved byyyyyy zerrrrrr-ohhhhhhhhhh.

    "That's 0 percent financing on 11 different models! Featuring Toyota's legendary quality. No other car brand can make this offer. So hurry in now, and see how much zero can save you on a brand new Toyota."

    Saved by zero! Saved by zero!

(By the way, I did that off the top of my head. We are reaching the point that I am two weeks away from stopping by my local Toyota dealership, buying a brand-new Toyota Tundra with zero APR financing, driving the car off the lot, doing a U-turn, then plowing it through the front window of the dealership at 60 mph while screaming, "SAVED BY ZERO," like the guys from "Red Dawn" screamed, "WOLVERINES!" Cut down on the ads, Toyota. We're not kidding. You know why you haven't see John Mellencamp in two years? He's trapped in the basement of some frustrated baseball fan who dressed him like the Gimp and keeps him in a trunk after hearing "Our Country" for the 700,000th time. Look, we're all ecstatic that the guys from the Fixx are getting royalties again. Just tone it down. We get it. Zero APR financing. Heard you loud and clear.)
(Another side note: Just to say I can't add anything to the Sports Guy's commentary on the most annoying currently running commercial.)
9. Washington Redskins
What a humiliation! Monday night, hours before the election, Steelers-Skins … and the place was packed with Steelers fans! How does that happen???? Redskins fans deserve a paragraph as short as their owner.

Myths About The Great Depression

Andrew Wilson shares "five interrelated and durable myths about the 1929-39 Depression":
  1. Herbert Hoover, elected president in 1928, was a doctrinaire, laissez-faire, look-the-other way Republican who clung to the idea that markets were basically self-correcting.
  2. The stock market crash in October 1929 precipitated the Great Depression.
  3. Where the market had failed, the government stepped in to protect ordinary people.
  4. Greed caused the stock market to overshoot and then crash.
  5. Enlightened government pulled the nation out of the worst downturn in its history and came to the rescue of capitalism through rigorous regulation and government oversight.
In light of the recent problems in the economy, and the rhetoric of the Presidential and Congressional races, I'd encourage you to read the whole thing. If you'd like to read more about the Great Depression, I'd recommend The Forgotten Man, by Amity Schlaes. I have yet to read the book myself, but have heard much about it and much from Ms. Schlaes herself, that I do not hesitate recommending it.

Election Aftermath

I know - I'm late. As a blogger, I failed to live up to my contractual obligation to write about the election either Tuesday night or Wednesday. Since I've already failed, I'll just rip off others. First, the lighter side, from the Onion:


Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are



And now, for something completely different. Thabiti Anyabwile posted the following as a guest post at Between Two Worlds. I've reproduced it here in full because I couldn't leave any of it out:
Thabiti Anyabwile is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and blogs at Pure Church. He is the author of three books: The Faithful Preacher, The Decline of African American Theology, and What Is a Healthy Church Member? He lives with his wife and three children in Grand Cayman.
I remember as a middle-schooler watching the film, “The Day After.” It was, at the time (the height of the Cold War), a rather alarming film about the prospect of nuclear war. We watched with rapt attention as mushroom clouds, frantic citizens, traffic jams, blinding light, and nuclear fallout destroyed “life as we knew it.”

It strikes me that many Christians have been watching this election like middle-schoolers fearfully paralyzed at their first look at nuclear realities. Our fear of nuclear destruction was warranted. The Christian anxiety about this election is not.

So it’s the day after the election, and your candidate didn’t win. Aside from the natural nauseating post-game let-down feeling, what are you to think and feel? Here are a few quick thoughts:
1. Remember that President Barack Obama is not just the first African-American president, he is also the 44th white President. There will no doubt be many associations made between his skin color, assumptions about his race, and a host of successes or failures during his presidency. But let us Christians avoid such errors. Let us avoid saddling this one man with the responsibility of representing a “race” of people, or saddling the people with this one man’s failures or achievements. Let us be good theologians and attribute all that President Obama is to either his fallen nature or to the work of grace in his life. We may all celebrate in his achievement, and we may all recognize in him things fundamental to human nature—not to “race.” His presidency is as much a testament to the progress of all Americans as it is a proud moment for African Americans.

2. Keep working on the issues you care most passionately about. There is no reason to think that President Barack Obama can overthrow the will and work of God in the world. So what if he is the most pro-choice/pro-abortion candidate in history? Isn’t God still the most pro-life God in all creation? The man in the presidency has changed; our Lord has not. So we keep laboring in the cause of justice knowing that the Sovereign Lord is just as likely (maybe more likely!) for His glory to do with a President Obama—who so clearly opposes his will in many areas—greater things on the abortion front than He might do with a professing Christian president. God may yet bring to Himself more glory in prevailing on the abortion issue by making the most sizeable and godward progress during the administration of one who is so decidedly against His will! That would be just like Him: raise the opposition to demonstrate more His glory. Put your hope in the living God!

3. Pray for those in authority over you. No really; pray for him. Consider that when Paul instructs the church to pray for those in authority he then directly connects such prayer with the ability of the church to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). One wonders how much of the peace- and godliness- and holiness-destroying circumstances in our country stem from the absence of prayer for those in authority. Our prayer meetings are empty. Our pastoral and personal prayers are self-centered. We barely feel the urging emphasis of Paul when he assigns “first of all” importance to “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving” on behalf of our leaders. Can there be any wonder that our leaders so often serve themselves and not the people? And can any man stand against the will and power of God when the Lord’s people really pray for them? No they cannot. Really; they cannot. Pray for President Obama with the full assurance of faith.
So, it’s the day after the election. Things have changed, in some obvious and more subtle ways. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! God’s election of you, if you’re a Christian, has not changed. His purpose to conform you to Christ has not changed. You really have won all that matters for eternity. That’s not to downplay the importance of some issues discussed in this election. But really, if McCain had won, how would your day today be in reality any different than your day yesterday? The laws today would be the same laws yesterday. Your work would still be before you. You haven’t lost any ground yet. Perhaps you’ve been given greater incentive to pray, reminded of what matters eternally, and in those things shone a more fruitful path forward. The Lord omnipotent reigns. Rejoice in full assurance!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Rock Yo Mama!

Just a couple of videos to get in the mood for President Rock Yo Mama (at least that's how my nearly 2 year old son says it) and the United Socialist States of America:





The first video would be a lot funnier if it were a Saturday Night Live sketch instead of an actual United States Senator (Charlie Rangel of New York).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Savior Sibling"

Ever heard the phrase "savior sibling?" If not, I'd encourage you to educate yourself. It's a concept pregnant with moral & ethical controversy. I was reminded of the idea by a story on ESPN.com about Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer and his family. Carlos and his wife CeCe have a son Carmani who was born with sickle cell anemia, and they were told that there was no known cure. The story has many things I could comment on, but I don't have the time right now. It's a heart wrenching story that I wouldn't wish upon anybody. But the following paragraphs stuck out to me:
Finally, at a clinic in Atlanta, she heard something new. Doctors there had been doing bone marrow transplants for years and recently had been eradicating sickle cell anemia, among other blood diseases, with the procedure. It was a revelation, a possible way out.

She went back to the library and the phones to study up on bone marrow transplants and learned an infant sibling who could donate cord blood (rather than bone marrow), rich in stem cells, from an umbilical cord would offer the best chance of a successful transplant and a cure.

But a second pregnancy for CeCe and Carlos would mean the risk of a second child born with sickle cell disease. And there would be no guarantee that a second child, or a third, or even a fourth, would necessarily be both free of the disease and a genetic match for Carmani. They couldn't risk it. They began talking about in vitro fertilization and genetic screening instead.

CeCe pulled together a team that included an in vitro specialist, Dr. Michael Jacobs in Miami, who would biopsy the Boozers' developing fertilized embryos and later perform an in vitro fertilization; a geneticist, Dr. Mark Hughes in Detroit, who would test those embryos in order to determine which of them were sickle-cell free as well as genetically compatible with Carmani's immune system; and a transplant expert, Dr. John Fort at Miami Children's Hospital, who would transplant the sibling's cord blood into Carmani's system, replacing his bad stem cells with healthy ones. Twenty-six eggs were fertilized and began to develop. Ten were genetically compatible. Two of those were disease-free, and both were implanted in CeCe's uterus in case one of them didn't develop.

Six weeks later, the Boozers learned they had twins on the way.
I'd encourage you to read the whole story and share your thoughts. I'll try to share mine when I have some more time.

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh would pay $7.

The eighth would pay $12.

The ninth would pay $18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers, he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).

The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20', declared the sixth man.

He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10!'

'Yeah, that's right', exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!'

'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'

'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.

Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.

For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

(HT: Douglas Wilson)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Marxism

My brother's looking forward to Marxism. I'm looking forward to Obamanation. (Can someone ask John Hagee if Daniel 9:27 is supposed to read "... an Obamanation that causes desolation ..."?) We're just not sure what kind of Marxism we might be facing. Here's what my brother prefers:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Great Quote from John Stott

"Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance). Indeed, 'only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross', wrote Canon Peter Green, 'may claim his share in its grace.'"--John Stott, The Cross of Christ, page 60
(HT: Josh Harris)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Starving Saints

James MacDonald has a good post at Straight Up:
The legitimate mission of evangelism, the job of the ‘church dispersed,’ has replaced the worship of God by His people and the edification of the saints, the biblical objectives of the church ‘gathered.’ Truth is diluted or displaced by self generated ‘talks’ on perceived issues of importance. These inventions come from communicators who regard their own thoughts more highly than God’s Word, sadly somehow believing that they are assisting the work of the gospel by avoiding the words of the Lord Himself. Such arrogance; go figure. These same messages so lacking in biblical truth are aimed at an audience that too often has no concept of what they are missing. Starving and they don’t even know it. Junk food is all they have ever known, and they have no reference point to relieve their hunger or remedy the ache in their gut. The thing that is missing, the thing they are longing for, the only thing that will feed them is what God’s Spirit was sent into the world to bring . . .
Read the whole post here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Does He Know?

Warren Buffett wrote an interesting Op-Ed piece recently for the New York Times.
THE financial world is a mess, both in the United States and abroad. Its problems, moreover, have been leaking into the general economy, and the leaks are now turning into a gusher. In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary.

So ... I’ve been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I’m talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. (This description leaves aside my Berkshire Hathaway holdings, which are all committed to philanthropy.) If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities.

Why?

A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now.
I particularly enjoyed these two paragraphs, near the end of the piece:
Today people who hold cash equivalents feel comfortable. They shouldn’t. They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value. Indeed, the policies that government will follow in its efforts to alleviate the current crisis will probably prove inflationary and therefore accelerate declines in the real value of cash accounts.

Equities will almost certainly outperform cash over the next decade, probably by a substantial degree. Those investors who cling now to cash are betting they can efficiently time their move away from it later. In waiting for the comfort of good news, they are ignoring Wayne Gretzky’s advice: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”

Weakside Linebacker?

When I first saw this play on ESPN, it looked fairly innocent - a ref getting caught in the middle of a play. However, check out this angle:

Campaign Video

I've posted a couple of these before, but here's a compilation of funny clips from the campaign trail, put together by Trevin Wax:

Ouch! Obama slips up and talks about his “Muslim Faith” instead of Christian faith in an interview on ABC.

John McCain promises to veto beer. Prohibition anyone?

At a campaign rally, Joe Biden tells wheelchair-bound Chuck Graham to stand up. I know people say Obama is a Messiah, but this might be a little too much!

McCain claims Putin is President of Germany.

Terry Moran on Nightline goofs up and says Barack Obama has two dads. Yes, that would definitely go down in the history books.

Obama has visited all 57 states of America.

McCain’s going after Osama to the gates of hell. I wonder if he’ll have that smile on his face once he gets there.

Barack Obama introduces Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.

McCain sings “Bomb Iran” and then tells reporters who question him to lighten up and “get a life.”

Obama gets lost without a teleprompter.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Economic Crisis

Tim Ellsworth has an interesting take on the economic crisis, suggesting that the crisis could be good for the nation. Here's his conclusion:

Could the threat - or even the existence - of an economic depression be enough of a reality check to return us to a point where selfishness is not the predominant characteristic of our nation? Would it refocus us and make us reconsider what's important in life? I can't say for sure. But am I willing to put up with an economic downturn - perhaps even a depression - if it means a brighter future for my children? If it means a future in which they feel more connected to their neighbors and communities? If it means a future in which they recognize the value of the eternal more than the temporal? If it means a greater emphasis on the wholesome and the upright, rather than the decadence and filth that mark so much of American society?

If a depression is what it takes to achieve that, then bring it on. It's a price I'm happy to pay.

Read the full piece in the Jackson Sun.

Socialism

Bret McAtee makes a great observation at The Backwater Report:

Presently, the bottom 40% of income earners pay zero income taxes. The top 20% pay 80% of all the federal income taxes. Therefore, it is not possible to give the bottom 40% a tax cut because they pay no money to the government. So this begs the question: How is Barack Obama proposing to give a tax cut to 95% of Americans?

The truth is that he is not going to give a tax cut to most Americans; it is not possible. Instead, he is going to give welfare subsidy to the bottom 40%. This subsidy Obama is calling a ‘tax cut,’ but in reality it is a tax increase in an attempt to redistribute wealth.

McCain doesn't escape unscathed, either. Here's the very next paragraph:
However, the problem is that the Republican candidate is likewise offering socialistic solutions in the time of a desperate economy. McCain’s proposal that the Federal Government buy up bad mortgages is disastrous. Home ownership is no more an American right then is health care and the government guaranteeing bad decisions on purchased homes penalizes those who didn’t make bad decisions on home purchases. In point of fact, McCain’s proposal on buying bad mortgages with a view to negotiating mortgages downwards is an incentive for all of those who are paying mortgages to suddenly discover they can’t afford their mortgages. McCain’s proposal is socialist insanity.
Read the full post, titled "Socialists Everywhere."