Saturday, March 19, 2005


Movement for Terri!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Senate and House members have announced a deal on federal legislation that would push Terri's case into federal court and should mean her feeding tube will be restored for some time to come. COngress will likely meet in session tomorrow to pass the bill and President Bush has indicated he will sign it immediately. Terri's feeding tube could be back Monday. Continue to pray.


Here's An Interesting Discussion

SmartChristian points to an exchange that is going on between Short Attention Span and Parableman regarding Christian blog rankings, hits, and traffic.

They both have some great an informative things to say, I recommend you read all of them. But I think Andy at SmartChristian gets down to the heart of the matter with the money quote he pulls from Parableman. I'll repeat it here:
When I think about some of the top Christian blogs, though, I just can't imagine why most non-Christians would care to read them that often. Jollyblogger and Wittenberg Gate are ministry and theology blogs. Adrian Warnock is a networker for Christian blogs. SmartChristian Blog serves as an Instapundit-like linker focusing on just Christian blogs. Apologetics blogs attract a certain audience, including skeptics who like to refute Christians, but they're not exactly what you expect the average non-Christian blog reader to be interested in. There are plenty of Christian blogs that focus just on politics, but you can get that at many blogs that don't have the religious element that many people don't want mixed with politics to begin with. So I'm just not sure what Kevin wants is something we should expect at all, even if we desired it.
This quote begs some questions

For example, is a blog with entirely political content, though written by a Christian really a "Christian Blog?' There are numerous examples of such blogs, and they are the ones with most of the traffic.

Some of my favorite blogs are about preaching -- Transforming Sermons, Stronger Church, even Adrian Warnock to some extent, but I have to agree with Parableman, who would want to read those except an avid consumer of preaching or another preacher. They have an automatically limited audience. Such is going to be the case for any blog with heavy Christian content. even though there are a lot of Christians, most of them are not heavily into aspects of Chsitianity that lend themselves readily to blogging. Pretty hard to sing praise choruses by blog.

For one thing, I do not think we need to be worrying about traffic, rather I think we need to worry about truth. Prior to yeterday my most heavily trafficed day was from a link from Hugh Hewitt. But yesterday I busted that record by about 15%. It almost all came from people doing searches about Terri Schiavo, which if you are a regular reader has become a cause, not just a topic for this blog. My passion has drawn a bigger audience than any link from the big.

In the end, blogs cannot do the job of the church. the best they can do is helo the church do it's job. The best function I can think of is the "prophetic swarm" idea that I coined some time back.

I think the best advice is to concentrate on what you are writing and how well you are writing it. Do those things well and the audience will come. If you write about things purely to draw audience, what will you have accomplished in the end except having an audience? I would rather change five lives for the better than have 2500 people listen to me and walk away.

In the meantime, here are some bloggers I am praying for today


Action Item

This story (HT: Cross Blog via Transforming Sermons) is a real ire raiser. CU cannot fire idiotarian Ward Churchill because of tenure rules, but they do fire an untenured 20 year history teacher for daring to use Christian materials in his course.

Hugh Hewitt's very funny campaign for the Presdiency of that university aside, it really is time to contact the Board of Reagents and express some outrage.


A Comic Lover

I is always good to find someone in the blogosphere that shares my love of comics. Thus this post from Insane Troll Logic demands linking. But I am forced to ask, "Where is the criticism of male superhero movie making?"


Agree And Disagree

Challies has stirred up quite the conversation with his review of Hugh Hewitt's book Blog. Tim Challies, who is a fellow Warnie Winner, was ambivalent towards Hugh's book. To his credit, Hugh links to the review and remains quite complimentary of Tim's site design. I must say that I think Hugh's magnanimity helps explain why Hugh's blog gets hits in the thousands and tens of thousands daily while Tim and I are in the hundreds.

Tim's cirticisms of the book are largely literary, which is fine, but I have to be honest -- I never heard Hugh claim to be a literary writer -- He's a communicator.
Another reviewer commented that, "The book reads like it was cranked out over a few long weekends." I suspect that may be the case.
Of course it was the case, it is so by Hugh's own admission! Hugh's goal here was twofold (I think)
  1. Sell books. Hot topic. He's on the forefront of the topic. Great opportunity. Self-serving? Perhaps, but that is how it works in America. This would, I think, be a valid criticism of a popular Chritian book selling the latest theological (more likely psuedo-theological) concept; God knows there are enough of them. But this is a book about blogging
  2. Inspire more people to blog. Why? Now here Hugh is, I think, a true believer. He believes in the "democratization" of information. I think the roots of his desire for this lie in his early training in the Nixon fold, someone who knew a great deal about the power of a vicious and idealogical press. That is purely supposition on my part, but seems valid.

Which brings up another criticism that Tim leveled:

I also wonder how plausible it is that MSM will die off. After all, bloggers do not usually create the news. Instead, they interpret the news that the MSM has already reported. Without the MSM, what will bloggers use for source material?
This belies some ignorance on Tim's part about how the MSM works. The public face of the MSM, NYTimes, WaPo, CNN, et. al., is pretty much just the distribution channel, not the producers of news. Yes they have some reporters in the field, but much of their content comes from wire and news services. It is this distribution of news that Hugh discusses, not its collection. Though bloggers have and can do that as well.

But enough about Tim, I really wanted to write about Jollyblogger's comments on the book as inspired by Tim. (HT SmartChristian) Jollyblogger does a good job of tackling Hugh's primary assertion that blogging will result in the "next reformation." I think David's points are well taken, if a bit territorial.

When it comes to the church, David is dead nuts on. Blogging cannot and will not produce a reformation -- that will require some new and appealing idea. I for one am not hoping for nor desire a reformation in the church, most of what I see developing in the church that is "new" is the kind of stuff the the reformation of the 16th century came about to combat.

However, on a purely political level, Hugh's analogy is not so unsound. the 16th century reformation changed politics forever, both in governments and in the ecclesiastical circles. The political potency of Rome prior to the reformation cannot be understated. Every king and potentate in the western world drew their authority from Rome. The reformation changed all that.

During the last era of American history, particularly since the rise of television, all who wished to exercise political power have had in some sense to draw that power from the MSM. Blogs can change and are changing all that.

I have yet to meet the perfect analogy. When pushed they all break down. Hugh's is no exception, but that does not invaildate its usefulness. In this case Hugh is right and David is right. Both of them should keep writing, and I am going to keep reading.


If Lileks Were A Soldier

In my blogroll I call James Lileks the best writer on the internet. Lileks can write about anything and make it interesting and enjoyable, but he better watch out -- someone is coming up on him.

This post from 365 and a Wake Up is what I am talking about. It's a great read all the way, but the pay off is fantastic:
Having arrived with a few minutes to spare I had the chance to strike a conversation with one of the Iraqis in the lobby. He spoke english with amazing fluency, and something about his accent seemed to be strangely familiar. Finally I asked him if he had spent time in the US and he smiled and handed me his California's drivers license. Here we were in a lobby in downtown Baghdad and the address on his license was a stones throw away from my childhood home! I made the mistake of assuming he was Iraqi and started to ask him if he had been here prior to Saddams downfall, but he politely waved the question away, puffed out his chest and said "I am Lebanese". Even a cursory glance would have conveyed the pride he felt in uttering those words. I asked him what he thought about what was happening in his country and he smiled once again, replying "these are days I will tell my sons, and their sons about". Sitting there in that small room nestled in the first outpost of democracy in the Middle East I had to smile. I think these will be these days I tell my sons, and their sons about.
Who will you tell about these days?


Prayer For Terri

If you are like me, you may be a little saturated with Terri right at this moment. I am writing this Friday night for Saturday posting, telling myself that there will not be much news on the situation tomorrow. The fact of the matter is, there is really only one piece of news remaining -- that the feeding tube has been reinserted, or better, she is receiving the therapy necessary for her to eat on her own. Anything else is just sad, hopeless, and horrific, but not news.

I have a confession, I have some understanding of Michael Schiavo. My grandfather suffered with Alzheimers and for the last 5-6 years of his life he was gone, dead in all but simple biological function. I refused to visit him in th last couple of years because it was such a pointless exercise. I prayed almost daily for his death, mostly because I wanted my mother relieved of the extreme burden she carried visitng everyday and mourning every day the loss of her beloved father.

I discussed it with my mother once and she told me his actual death would hurt her far more than the torture she was experiencing. Right now I shudder at how much more consequential his physical death was to her than to me. So, I have some empathy for Michael Schiavo.

Save for one thing, I never once contemplated lifting a hand to actually kill my grandfather. I wanted more than almost anything else in the world for his and my mothers suffering to end. But even before my mother told me how it would hurt her when he did die, I knew I could never actually do the deed, nor ask the staff at the home to do it either.

I must say it was not out of any great moral conviction either, it was out of the simple sense that I could see, just a little bit, through my grandfather's eyes. Even in his confused and addled state, I knew the thought of that pillow covering his head and the suffocation that would follow would frighten and hurt him.

I know that right now Terri is scared, hungry, and confused, and that is almost unbearable.

Joe at Evangelical Outpost has a very scholarly post on the potential for civil disobedience in this situation. I refer you to it and leave you to your own decisions.

Prayer remains our best hope. If you doubt it, read this testimony from Adrian Warnock. Please ignore his reference to me and pay attention to the effectiveness of the prayers. They can and will work.

If you are stuck about how to pray today, I suggest this.

Don't forget to call, then call again, your US Senator, your US Representative, and these key Florida State Senators. It is not too late to save Terri's life.


Comic Art

Last week in this space we looked at wings as an element in comic art. I received some ribbing for drawing a comparison between winged superheroes and angels. But I think there is something to it. If you ask most people what they associate with superhero images they will say either "tights" or "capes." What are capes, but a visual relative of wings? Why would such representations be such a strong archetype in our culture? I still contend that angelic reference is the reason. Here are some good cape pictures. By teh way, these are not necessarily good drawings, they are just well done layout for capes. The Superman picture is by Alex Ross, a painter who is hotter than hot right now. Sorry Alex, I miss ink lines.


Now Here Is A Good Attitude

This Ananova story is about a women that was left in an acupuncture clinic after it closed. I love the woman's quote at the end
"I now know why people are not recommended to try acupuncture at home, it hurts considerably more to take the pins out yourself," she said.
What? No threat of lawsuit? No complaints about the bad workers at the clinic? I want to meet this woman, I like her already.


A More Simple Gospel? -- Yes!

Adrian Warnock points out The Narrows self description as an even simpler gospel formulation.
I'm just a nobody who wants to tell everybody that there is somebody who can save anybody.
I have to agree with Adrian, this is a marvelous little statement that says so much more than its simplicity would tend to imply.

Now, I can just hear all my anti-Calvinist friends objecting to my endorsement of the "anybody." Can we just appreciate the pith and forget the theology, just this once?


There Is Dumb And Then There Is This

Ananova reports on a Urkrainian woman that tried to smuggle two bears cubs on a plane as carry-on luggage. When questioned, she claimed the cubs were dogs. I have heard some stupid lies in my time, but this really takes the cake. By show of hands, How many people are unable to tell the difference between a dog and a bear? Anyone?...Anyone?


We Need Some New Words

SmartChristian picks up on a post by Mark Byron on what is and is not "a cult." Needless to say, the conversation centers around the Living Church of God where the shootings happened last weekend. Andy and Mark are having a disagreement over whether the Oneness Pentecostals qualify as a cult.

In the strictest and earliest sense of the word "cult," even the Roman Catholic Church would qualify. At the second definition of the word is
A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
It is interesting that is the second definition because it is the traditional.

The definition as an aberrant church is a very modern rendering of the word. It is one that I think we as Christians need to do away with. When it is given this derogatory association, because of its original meaning, it smears all churches.

Byron distinguishes between "cults" that are personality driven and those that simply have bad doctrine. For the second type, there has long been a good word -- "heretic" or "heretical." This word has gone out of favor simply because it strikes people as too judgmental. Of course it is and that's the point. I think we should restore this word to our common lexicon.

The personality driven "cult" that Byron refers to is harder to hang a handle on. The first word that springs to my mind is "idolatrous," but that would not be useful when speaking with non-believers. What do you think would be a good term for this type of "cult?"


How Do We Evangelize The Hostile? Part Deux

Check out this from The Philadelphia Daily News:
The story of Ashley Smith, the Atlanta hostage who soothed a rampaging killer into surrendering without further violence, is a riveting tale of grace and humanity.

Would that it had remained just that.

Instead, it's become a testimonial for an evangelical Christian book and an endorsement of the theology embraced in the book - and that leaves me feeling alienated from what should be an inspiring tale of human transcendence.
How do we as Christians, reach out to someone with such an open hostility to the things of Christianity? I don't know for sure, but I think this person is going to have to be reached on a non-verbal level. Any mention of the things of God will create a defensiveness that cannot be overcome with more words. Only actions will speak to this woman.

I know that is a bit of a cop out for an answer. Nonetheless, the woman's words make it clear she will not listen to words of God, and I refuse to believe she is beyond God's reach. She is representative of much of the world today -- such people are our mission field.


Please Explain This To Me

You can see more of this here, though I cannot imagine why you would want to.

Friday, March 18, 2005


More Hope And Info For Terri

James Dobson just appeared on Hugh Hewitt. He will be on Hannity and Colmes shortly.

Important notes from his talk with Hugh.


More Hope For Terri

Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman just appeared on Hugh Hewitt. He was quite outraged at what is happening to Terri. Based on the stream of big time politicians appearing on Hugh this afternoon, I have to guess they have heard Peggy Noonan's message loud and clear.

Remember this though -- It is not Peggy Noonan's message it is our message! It is our voice that will win this fight. Call the US Senate -- call the Florida Senate. Pile on. Leave them breathless. Melt the phone lines. Bring the Internet to its knees. Make them listen and make them act.


There IS Still Hope For Terri

House Majority Leader Tom Delay was just on Hugh Hewitt. He proclaims hope. The legislature can still act and is working hard to do so. He said they will meet in session on Monday.

He urges calls often to the US Senate and the Florida Senate. Call them all, call them all weekend, flood the voice mail, overload the email. Make them get it done.

Rep. Delay urges prayer. It was great to hear such a powerful public person proclaim the power of prayer.

Finally, read this from RadioBlogger. Great comments.

Pray and Call -- Pray and Call -- Pray and Call


Scripture Break...

A Psalm For Those Of Us That Care About Terri

Psalm 55

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God; and do not hide thyself from my supplication.
2 Give heed to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted,
3 Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the pressure of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me.
4 My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling come upon me; and horror has overwhelmed me.
6 And I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
7 "Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness. Selah.
8 "I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind {and} tempest."
9 Confuse, O Lord, divide their tongues, for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go around her upon her walls; and iniquity and mischief are in her midst.
11 Destruction is in her midst; oppression and deceit do not depart from her streets.
12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him.
13 But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend.
14 We who had sweet fellowship together, walked in the house of God in the throng.
15 Let death come deceitfully upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol, for evil is in their dwelling, in their midst.
16 As for me, I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice.
18 He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle {which is} against me, for they are many who strive with me.
19 God will hear and answer them-- even the one who sits enthroned from of old-- Selah. With whom there is no change, and who do not fear God.
20 He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; He has violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smoother than butter, but his heart was war; His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.
22 Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
23 But Thou, O God, wilt bring them down to the pit of destruction; men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. But I will trust in Thee.


Terri's Death Watch Begins

Terri's feeding tube has been removed. Also check here. For the family's comments check here. Judge Greer has so ordered in defiance of a Congressional Subpoena. Michael Schiavo and all doctors and nurses that participated in the procedure which removed the tube have also done so in defiance of a Congressional Subpoena.

Unfortunately, such defiance does not have much in the way of consequences, nor is it straightforward or rapid to make those minimal consequences felt.

There is some hope remaining, but before I speak to that two important comments:
  1. More than ever, we have got to get the judiciary of the nation under some semblance of control. The utter defiance of Judge Greer in this case is overwhelming. Judge Greer must now be labeled openly and without exaggeration a murderer. He has been given every opportunity to stop this from happening with his integrity intact, to do this now, under these circumstances must be construed to mean that either he is in a state of revolt against the government or he has something to hide so grievous that contempt of Congress is of less consequence than what would happen in light of a full congressional investigation
  2. All of Washington is cowardly. Rather than face this issue they have evaded and done half measures. Peggy Noonan opines that the Republican majority risks that majority in their failure to act and make those acts stick.

It is indeed time to "go nuclear" on the judiciary or the public is going to nuclear on the government. Do not stop the phone calls to your Representatives and Senators and do not stop talking about this. Terri will not die right away. Hope remains.

The best hope terrestially at this point is the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Our best hope remains prayer. I know I am having a hard time getting off of my knees right now.


Terri's Subpoenas On The Move

FOXNews in the last few minutes:
House lawyers are on their way to Florida to issue subpoenas to several individuals involved in the case of a severely brain-damaged woman who was scheduled to have her feeding tube removed at 1 p.m. EST Friday.
Keep praying from further down in the story:
It was not immediately known when the subpoenas would be delivered to Schiavo's hospice and doctors, or whether the Florida health care providers would recognize them. A possible penalty for not recognizing the subpoena is to be held in contempt of Congress, a GOP leadership aide said.
The same story reports that the Florida State Senate adjourned today without action ona save Terri bill.

Blogs for Terri reports that the federal legislature is staying in session, but I can't find a source for that, the Fox story only says that the House committee will meet.


It is Fast and Furious To Save Terri

The action is almost faster that anyone can blog about to save Terri as "zero hour" approaches. Please remember, as unpleasant as it will be if the feeding tube is removed it will take the poor woman some time to die (which is part of the problem here) and there is still an opportunity to act, hope and PRAY. Here's the latest.

Federal legislative efforts failed yesterday and the House adjourned for a recess. In response, a House committee is issuing a subpoena for Terri to appear in front of a congressional committee, which should, we hope, force the medical personnel to leave the tube in until the federal government can fully investigate the matter. The USA Today telling of the story says this:
It was not immediately known when the subpoenas would be delivered to Schiavo's hospice and doctors, or whether the Florida health care providers would recognize them. A possible penalty for not recognizing the subpoena is to be held in contempt of Congress, a GOP leadership aide said.
The New York Times tells the same story with a very different slant. The passionless manner in which the NYTimes approaches this, as if it is just another congressional debate is a little amazing.

This story from My Way News is probabaly the best in covering the subpoena in particular

Both the President and the Congressional leadership have issued statements today.

The politics here amaze me. I think the Presdient's statement hits matters absolutely right on the head.
Yet in instances like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life. Those who live at the mercy of others deserve our special care and concern. It should be our goal as a nation to build a culture of life, where all Americans are valued, welcomed, and protected - and that culture of life must extend to individuals with disabilities.
That is so reasonable, it simply says that when there are doubts, err on the side of life -- how can anyone argue with that? And yet there are massive arguements. Apparently some politicians are so in love with the exercise of power that they thrill at the thought of ultimate power, power over life and death. Is there any greater proof that this is a sinful world?

What can you do today?


Let's See Here

First round of the National Invitational Tournament, VANDERBILT 67, INDIANA 60. Meanwhile in the first round of the NCAA National Championship Tournament, TEXAS TECH 78, UCLA 66. Again I am forced to ask, "Between Indiana and Texas Tech, which school has made the best decisions about hiring and firing coaches in the last 5-6 years?"

At Indiana, AD's 'top priority': meet with Davis I should hope so! If it were me, I'd meet with him long enough to help him find the door, but then I'd have done that several years ago. I just love the way this story talks about recruiting. It's easy to win with the best players -- winning with good players and a great system, now that's the ticket -- there are always good players around, but great ones are hard to come by -- and run off to the NBA.


SMACKDOWN! In The Senate

This judicial filibuster/nuclear option stuff in the senate is getting out of hand. The latest maneuver involves a bunch of speeches by the Dems to MoveOn on Wednesday. Hugh Hewitt played a good bit of it last evening on the program. Faithful sidekick Radioblogger has posted audio, or transcripts of the 'highlights."

First there was Harry Reid
The news reports today said that we want to shut down the Senate. There couldn't be anything further from the truth. You see, it is they who are doing it, not us.
Of course, the filibuster is actually the Senate doing business -- stopping a filibuster that's shutting down the Senate. Imagine that -- I've had it backwards since high school civics class.

Dick Durban was next.
And Harry came to beg the Republicans in the Senate not to turn their back on one of the most cherished values in America, not to stifle free speech. Not to end the checks and balances, which are so important to our government.
Once again, I appear to have had it wrong since high school. I remember well when I was in that class I wondered out loud to the teacher precisely what were the "checks and balances" to the judiciary? She explained to me that the expectation was that as the country moved back and forth through the political spectrum judges of different stripes would be appointed thus balancing each other out. After 40 years of judges of only one stripe being appointed, apparently the minority Democrats think that is the only stripe.

Then it was Bob Byrd's turn. I'm sorry I can't muster either sarcasm or humor for Byrd. He IS self-parody.

Ah, but then there is Barbara Boxer. She actually proposes a constitutional change
Why would we give lifetime appointments to people who earn up to $200,000 a year, with absolutely a great retirement system, and all the things all Americans wish for, with absolutely no check and balance except that one confirmation vote. So we're saying we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That isn't too much to ask for such a super important position.
More than the absurdity of the idea is the speech itself. Read it, it sounds just like what that really cute, but otherwise not-too-bright member of the high school student council would say. "Super important position" -- fer sure. And I love the reference to the salary, like it makes a difference. As if she makes so much less.

The Mighty Hillary also spoke at this shindig. That may be a fatal mistake for her Presidential aspirations. EVERYONE knows if she wants the job she has got to look centrist. In front of with this bunch is about as far from center as you can get and remain on the spectrum.

What's the first rule of holes? STOP DIGGING Apparently this bunch has not heard of that rule.


Friday Humor

Today's humor makes me laugh very hard -- I hope it does you.

Dragonball Z is a japanese comic/cartoon phenomena that made a big splash in Cartoon Network here in the US. If you ever watched the cartoon, this flash animation will make you laugh pretty hard.

Before Rathergate, before Easongate, the first great crossover from the internet to MSM was a commerical for Quizno's subs. This is wierd stuff, and the commericals only last about a week becasue nobody "got" them. They were based on this animation which is, as far as I am concerned, really funny.


SoCal Bloggers' Alliance "Rolls" Out

Last Saturday, a small group of mighty voices gathered in Southern California and the SoCal Bloggers' Alliance was born. With their fancy logo (courtesy of 'Okie On The Lam') a powerful blogroll was born -- look left and see. One of ther members said controlling this group was like 'herding cats.' Perhaps true, but once gathered their voices can be heard around the land, and those that oppose them will tremble. Besides they are a rather handsome bunch, don't you think?

These are the bloggers I am praying for today!


A GREAT Distinction

I may have just read one of the most insightful distinctions I have come across in a long time.
Most of the conversations I have encountered where Matt 7:1 comes up are conversations where the issue is toleration and not judgment. These are different issues. Judgment is a God thing, toleration isn't.
This comes from the concluding part of a four part series on "Judgement and Toleration" from Old Testament for the Church. This and this and this are the first three parts. (HT: Transforming Sermons)

Just to make sure we are all on the same page here -- "You are going to hell for that," is judgement. "Homosexual behavior is sinful," is simply intolerant.

The appeal to Matthew 7:1 when combined with the "already forgiven" stuff has done more to denude the church of any sense of morality than anything I can think of.

McCrory concludes his series with these words:
Here?s the real bone stuck in the jaw: How do you and I live in a world of sinful human beings under a heavenly judge with an earthly presence, who has judged us in Jesus Christ without making ourselves the judge? How do we hold each other accountable to righteous behavior and call sin, sin and evil, evil without assuming the role of God? This is the real question for disciples.
That is a great question, and an exciting tension to live in. Which is the point I really want to make -- it is a tension that we live in. We can't relieve it, either by actually becoming judgmental or by becoming tolerant. If we relieve it, we will miss the mark.

Before the days of quartz watches and batteries, most clocks had a spring in them. The key to making the clock run properly was to keep the right amount of tension on the spring. If one wound the clock to tight (actually becoming judgmental) the clock would break. If you let the tension on the clock relax altogether (becoming completely tolerant) the watch would run slow or not at all.

Tension is a part of our Christian life. We need to learn to relish it and live in it. In this case we need to learn to proper levels of tolerance and avoid becoming judgemental.


You Have GOT To Be Kidding

This from Hannity and Colmes last night:
Tonight, there may be a new endangered species to add to the national register -- the Easter Bunny. Several south Florida shopping malls have renamed the large, white rabbit that's handing out plastic eggs to kids with names that don't refer to the Christian holiday, like "Peter Rabbit" and "Garden Bunny".
This is just irritating. Unlike Christmas, Easter really is pretty much a Christian holiday. Most people I know that are not Christians may give their kids a little candy, but that's it. And mostly they do that so their kids will stop whining because Christian Susie got some.

There are no big time Easter specials on TV. Everyone is not walking around talking about the spirit of Easter. Easter is just not that much of a public holiday. So why do they have to take on this fight as well.

This proves the point -- this kind of action is not born out of a conviction about church and state separation, it's born out of hatred for the church. These actions are precisely the kind of bigotry and intolerance that they accuse the church of. God bless 'em.


A First Step Towards Interstellar Flight?

Do you dream of going "where no man has gone before?" I think most of us have but interstellar travel, as opposed to interplanetary travel, appears to be a technological impossibility. Without planet sized amounts of fuel, it would take so long we would have to breed new generations in space just to make the trip.

But check our this story from Drudge. Apparently the Russians are experimenting with 'solar sails.' I wonlt bore you with the details but it is essentially a way to move a space craft through space using the sun, and therefore, not carrying enormous amounts of fuel. Now of course, there is a noted absence of solar radiation in interstellar space, but at least this is a start at lowering fuel demands.


Getting to The Heart Of The Matter

This article gets right to the practical heart of matters in the great church debate. (HT: SmartChristian)
The Meeting House, a Brethren In Christ multi-site congregation that calls itself a "church for people who aren't into church," regularly invites those who don't want to "get in" to their church by making a demonstrable commitment, to "get out."

Known to church staff by the tongue-in-cheek label "purge Sundays," the invitation "to get in or get out" is viewed as a mechanism to address "Christian tourism."
This sure is the opposite of what you hear from most churches these days with "seeker services," not pushing for membership, those sorts of things. I found this idea as appealing, but still felt cautious. I wonder if it is just my Presbyterian instincts that raises the caution flag?
Then people are asked to make a choice -- to get fully committed to being integrated into normal church life -- or to find another church where they'll be able to do that.

Cavey says that just showing up on Sunday morning "is anything but integrated." Rather, being integrated at The Meeting House means being committed to a fellowship of Christians through a home church or cell group, through which individuals can practically live out and exercise the teachings they are learning on Sunday.
That doesn't sound so bad does it? All they are asking is people to really join the church.

The more I think about it, the more I think that people confuse the church and the church's mission. Let me explain what I mean by that.

The church is the body of Christ -- the fellowship of believers. The church is Christians. The church's mission on the other hand is to reach out into the world and make new Christians, new church members. If you think about that, that means the church is FOR Christians. Christians DO the mission.

This is why I am not at all convinced the mega-church seeker model is the right way to do church. This way of doing church is really FOR the non-Christian designed to make them Christians. By setting up the church in this fashion I think we do harm to Christians in two ways.

Firstly, I think we rob practicing Christians of the worship, fellowship, teaching, and preaching that they need. This tends to create stagnation in spiritual life of the churched. Much s I love the simple gospel, as a long-time Christian I want to hear more.

Secondly, if the church as an institution takes on the mission, it robs the individual Christian of that mission. Again, stagnation results in the life of a Christian. Instead of being charged with doing real evangelism and discipleship, Christians are charged with setting up chairs and working on a committee. Not that those functions are in anyway bad, but they are not the kinds of activity that are going to build depth in one's spiritual life.

I worked for Young Life in part because I really believed in the para-church as a great way to do the church's mission while leaving church for the believer. It did not work like I wanted it to because we could not find the right way to transmit the converted into the church. The result has been that of a hundred kids that said yes to Jesus in my Young Life ministry 20 years ago, probably only 5 of them would call themselves Christians today. I wonder if when the institution of the church takes on the role of the parachurch if they don't run the risk of having the same kinds of results?


This Sounds Like A Bad Decision

What do you think of this headline:

Employees Bring Own Toilet Paper to Work
A county budget crisis left the bathrooms in a municipal office building with empty soap dispensers, paperless paper towel holders and bare cardboard toilet paper rolls. Employees also complained the bathrooms weren't being cleaned.
God forbid they might, oh I don't know, cut an idiot program of two, lay a few people off. Noooooo, they cut back on toilet paper and bathroom cleaning. I make a living dealing with bureaucrats, but I had no idea their decision-making powers were this messed up.


Researchers Discover the Obvious

This from MSNBC just made me laugh when I read it.
Scientists have cracked the genetic code of the female X chromosome which is linked to more than 300 human diseases and may help to explain why women are so different from men.
I just love it when we scientists discover something that mankind has known pretty much since the beginning of well, mankind. But the real highlight of this article is this quote:
The research, which is reported in the science journal Nature, shows the Y is an eroded version of the X chromosome with only a few genes.
I think most men understand our inherent inferiority, but now that there is scientific proof that we are nothing more than 'eroded' women I figure they will just do away with us pretty soon.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Best Hope For Terri

AT THIS HOUR the MSM is reporting that Terri Schiavo is all but done for. Apparently congressional efforts both in Florida and on teh federal level are or have failed. But Drudge is reporting (warning, this is Drudge's front page and it changes constantly, best available at press time) that a congressman has requested Terri to testify in front of a congressional committe which
triggers legal or statutory protections for the witness, among those protections is that nothing can be done to cause harm or death to this individual.
Praise God someone is working hard to find a way through this. Pray hard for Terri.


Help Terri Live!

This post from Blogs for Terri calls for immediate action with the Congress. Please follow the link -- Act Now!


Things Are Happening For Terri

Prayer Works, here's the evidence. Tomorrow is the day that Teeri's feeding tube is due to be removed. Now more than ever is the time to act. Good things are happening, but not enough. We have to keep pushing.

First there is this piece from the NYTimes. It is a sympathy piece for the judge. Look, I have no doubt that he is having a hard time with all this, it is no excuse for bad judgement. I will say this, hate mail is wrong, criticism is not.

Two great big time internet media pieces yesterday and today. Both from National Review Online. First there is this one from Reverend Robert Johansen. This article finally pushed blogging and radio biggie Hugh Hewitt into a rant on teh radio last night. It did my heart good to finally hear Hugh get righteously indignant over this thing. Righteous indignation can be and often is overdone, but sometimes it is mandatory -- this is one of those times.

The other great piece from NRO is by Andrew McCarthy. (HT: Blogs For Terri) McCarthy compares the fact that courts block the use of torture on terrorists while ordering it for an innocent woman. It's devestating stuff.

If you are new to this situation, may I suggest you read this post from Info Theory. (HT: Blogs for Terri) It will get you up to speed thoroughly and in a hurry.

The best news is that The United States House of Representatives has passed a 'save Terri' law. The Senate remains, and they can act this fast. Se the actions items below and act now.

Here are the action items -- do them. Do not be discouraged at what remains to be done -- it can be done before the deadline tomorrow. And even if it is not done by then, there will still be time to save Terri's life.


Forgiven or Forgiving?

Challies had a great post yesterday responding to a speech given by Louie Giglio at the 2005 Purpose Driven Youth Conference. Apparently in the speech he
challenged the youth leaders in attendance to "remix" their prayer lives. He shared four remixed versions of typical cliché prayers many Christians regularly pray. They were: Instead of "Forgive me," pray "Thank you for forgiving me."...
Challies does a good job of addressing Giglio's speech, but I think he is missing a bigger picture.

The "forgiven once and forever" school of theological thought is moving rapidly through the church. I have heard a lot of sermons on it in recent years, most of them centering in one sense or another on the parable of the prodical son. I personally think this stems in large part out of the growing cultural obsession with 'self-esteem.' People in our cultural now hold as their primary value "feeling good about themselves." Subsuquently, if the church wants them to come in, a lot of people have decided we need to preach that God will make you feel good about yourself.

What makes me so very sad is that God does make me feel good about myself, just not like this. The prevailing school of thought seems to operate on the premise of "See you are forgiven, you can feel good about yourself." I think there is a very different premise involved, "See you are pretty much garbage, yet the God of the universe loved you enough to die for you -- feel good about yourself becasue He feels good about you!" What a difference between those two approaches! One is about me, the other is about God.

Seeking forgiveness, confessing repentance, places us in the proper relationship with God. He is the King, we are the petitioner peasants -- we can only approach Him humbly, on our knees, confessing our unworthiness. Because He is good, he will stand us up, put His arm around our shoulders and treat us as family. But that does not change our actual role. If we ever become complacent enough to stroll into His presence like we belong, we run the risk of banishment.

I seem to often harken back to the John Piper address to the Wheaton College chapel service that I posted a few weeks ago.
God is the one Being in the entire universe for whom self-centeredness, or the pursuit of his own glory, is the ultimately loving act. For him, self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he does all things "for the praise of his glory," he preserves for us and offers to us, the only thing in the entire world, which can satisfy our longings. God is for us, and therefore has been, is now and always will be, first, for himself. I urge you not to resent the centrality of God in his own affections, but to experience it as the fountain of your everlasting joy.
When we place ourselves at the center of our thoughts, as we do when we use the prayer formulation suggested by Giglio, we disconnect ourselves from the source of joy and happiness, and yes even self-esteem.


Illuminated Scripture

From my lovely wife:


Wouldn't That Be Oxymoronic?

Seeking a Kinder, Gentler New Jersey

Thus reads the headline of this story.
Bramnick and Johnson's resolution, which is waiting for a hearing by an Assembly committee says "increased courtesy and respect among residents will reduce stress and make daily tasks more enjoyable," but does not aim to legislate behavior.
I'm sure it would, but so what?


Read This!

Sometimes things are just too well done to comment on, though you want to, badly. This post from John Mark Reynolds is just such a thing.


Bloggers I'm Praying For Today

Yesterday, I started praying for bloggers. Here are some I'm praying for today:

Matt Anderson, blogging here and here with big GodBlogCon responsibilities as well.

Brad Hightower, former neighbor, fellow Warnie winner, and all around good guy.

Milt Stanley, always something good at his blog.


What Are The Ramifications Of This?

The New Scientist reports on a twins study that seems to indicate a genetic component to religiousity.
Until about 25 years ago, scientists assumed that religious behaviour was simply the product of a person's socialisation - or "nurture". But more recent studies, including those on adult twins who were raised apart, suggest genes contribute about 40% of the variability in a person's religiousness.
You have to love this. It's discriminatory to ban gay marriages because they are "born that way." "It's a genetic thing no different than race." Isn't that what we are hearing all the time. Isn't this the reasoning that gives us gay pride parades and other public displays of things that many of us would just not like to see.

Well, I hate to tell you all, but based on this, now you're going to have to let all those religious displays back into public. We're born that way.


Happy St Patrick's Day

From My Wife's Antique Postcard Collection


Why Home School?

SpunkyHomeSchool has an interesting post from this week's Christian Carnival defending her choice to home school her children. Personally, I think wanting your kids to get a decent education is all the reason necessary, but Spunky seems to have bigger ideas. She is big into Proverbs
How is a person to acquire this wisdom? By walking with the wise. Proverbs 13:20 states "He who walks with the wise becomes wiser still but the companion of fools suffers harm." As a parent, I desire to have my children walk with those that know and fear God. I cannot expect that my children will walk among fools and become wise. That runs contrary to the scripture.

One is left to wonder then "Who are the fools"? Scripture identifies two groups as fools or foolish. From Psalm 14:1, "He who has set in his heart that there is no God" and Proverbs 22:15, "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child". Where do we most often find these two groups together?

The public schools as an instituion has declared that there is no God.
I posted last weekend about the 'wise' use of Proverbs. When I read Spunky's post I could not help but think of the Sermon On The Mount - Matt 5:22 - But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

We need to be most judicious when we use scripture to make our point. It is generally wiser to let scripture make a point to us. I am all for Spunky home schooling her kids, even if it is just because she does not like the decor at the public school. There is no need to resort to name -calling to justify it.


Pride Goeth Before The Fall

Having a vanity plate that reads "TIPSY" may not be such a great idea after all. Josiah Johnson, 23, said his license plate might have tipped off the Clay County sheriff's deputy who pulled him over Friday after he left Coach's Sports Pub in Moorhead.

Now he faces third-degree drunken driving charges after his blood-alcohol level allegedly registered twice the legal limit.
Says this story from ABCNews. There is a reason they call them 'vanity plates.' I think it pays be careful what you are vane about.


Without Faith...

Unfortunately, I have been party to civil litigation on more than one occasion. It's not a happy process. The first lawyer that ever represented me is to this day a good friend and Christian brother. One of the first things he told me was "You will never see justice in civil court, we just try and move some money around to compensate." Sorta takes the appeal out filing a lawsuit doesn't it? But after my experiences, I know the truth and wisdom of his statement.

In my case more than the money, I wanted the particular individuals that committed wrong to comes to terms with their wrong -- no such luck. In the end all I could do was rely on God for justice at His timing. I wonder if a lack of faith doesn't go a long way towards explaining something like this.
The parents of a 23-year-old activist killed while trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home is suing Caterpillar Inc., the company that made the bulldozer that ran over her.
It does not surprise me that Rachael Corrie was as misguided and wrongheaded as she was when the only place her parents would turn in a crisis like this is to a lawsuit. I'm going to pray for these people.


Why Are They Leaving?

Just a Little Bit Odd posts on Out-of-Church Christians: Part 3 from this week's Christian Carnival. The author comments on an article from the United Kingdom
91% of responses followed a uniform theme that the decline in traditional Christian moral and doctrinal teaching has caused the outflux of congregations
I agree wholeheartedly that the decline cited exists. The author of the post goes on to cite some specific reasoning, they are all interesting.

Here's what troubles me, should people who 'feel' the decline be leaving the church? If we do not stay involved and fight for the soul of the church, then what? The church has gone oh so wrong in oh so many ways. I think my wife encouraged me to start this blog specifically so she would not have to listen to me rant about it so much. All the specific problems cited are right on.

But if we leave, those problems will never get any better. The world will be left with a church that does not reflect God, and then what happens. In I Kings 19, when Elijah declares to God, "I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." He knows better, he is just feeling the pressure. God listens to him; God ministers to him, but God also sends him back to do the job to which he was anointed.

Much as I hate being there sometimes, leaving church is not the answer to the church's problems.


We're Not Going To Stand For It Anymore

I love this story from New Jersey.
Some white students at a South Jersey Catholic school walked out of classes Tuesday in protest over a speech by the New Jersey Secretary of State Regina Thomas....

...Many students and faculty members walked out of the speech offended. They said that she lambasted one student for not knowing his black history and that she insinuated that the students were racist.
People, even high school students, are smart enough to know the difference between real racism (or sexism, or oreintationism, or...) and the nearly naked plays for political power that pass for anti-racist rhetoric in this day and age.

It pains me to think that things have gone this far. No one has ever moved me like Martin Luther King, Jr. could. Today, the people that claim his legacy just sound like whiners and complainers. Worse yet, they sound like the various oppressors that they seek to throw off.


On Being Childlike

The Road Less Travelled By has an interesting post, Of Childlike Prayer. courtesy of this week's Christian Carnival. I love Jen's sentiment:
We are to "pray without ceasing." Does this mean we have to be on our knees 24/7, intensely interceding on behalf of the world? No. It does mean that we should live in an attitude of humility, as if our lives are on a speakerphone conversation with God, in which either one of us can pick up the conversation at any time, fully realizing that in the moments when we are not actively engaged in conversation, the other has complete access to everything that is going on.
But I would add a caution about the difference between being "child-like" and being "childish." Approaching God in a child-like fashion does not mean we abandon our hard won vocabulary or that we set aside the powers of reason that we have developed as adults. Rather I think it means we have the same unalterable faith in the goodness of God as a child does in his or her parents. (I know, I know, there are a lot of parents that are "not good" - we're talking ideally) I think approaching God in a child-like fashion means that we have the same utter and total reliance on God that a child has on his or her parents.

Think about this. When you were a child and you wanted something, anything, did you try and figure out how to get it for yourself, or was your first instinct to ask your parents for it? What's your first instinct now? If it is not to ask God, then you do not have the correct child-like approach. (GUILTY!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


New Voices For Terri

Today I'd like to highlight some new voices, at least new to me, that are speaking out for Terri Schiavo.

What Attitude Problem quotes from a letter from the President's nephew. Accept this PROFANITY WARNING and read the comments. Someone hates the Bush family so much that they threaten abortion for purely contrarian purposes. Hatred of someone you have never met to a level where you are willing to kill innocents is not just sinful, but sick. This makes me worried that the hill we have to climb here is steeper than I thought.

The lengthily titled Into Good and Evil, the Genealogy of Minds, do you mind? posts on what will happen to Terri once her feeding tube is removed. Warning, it's gruesome. How can this possibly be called mercy. Starving and dehydrating someone in this fashion is merciful only to the people that are doing the killing. If I wasn't afraid they'd take me up on it, I'd challenged Judge Greer or Michael Schiavo to kill her with their bare hands, it really would be more merciful.

UPDATE: FOXNews reports on Michael Schiavo's appearance on Nightline last night.
Schiavo, who wants his wife's feeding tube removed, said Bush stepped into his personal life and used the case "to win votes, just like the legislators are doing right now. ... What kind of government is this?"

"It's really uncomprehensible ... for a governor to come into this without any education on the subject and push his personal views," he said during the interview, not far from the Tampa Bay-area hospice where his wife is cared for.
I see, so murder is a personal choice. If you decide someone's life is not worth living, you can take it away, no problems, it's a personal choice. I wonder if it ever dawned on Mr. Schiavo that those votes he maligns represent people who obviously care about his wife more than he does? This guy should really keep his mouth shut, he is not doing himself any favors. Back to the original post.

Here are the action items -- do them.


No Special Favors Here

Sheep's Crib posts on members of Congress whose children serve in our military in harm's way. He's right, honor is due.


Wrong Friends in Wrong Places

Chernoff posts on the friendship between Syria and China. Not so strange bedfellows.


Christian Carnival is Up!

Read all about it. Looks like a good bunch of posts.


Overlooked... my list of highlight's from Monday's Science and Christianity Showcase was Parableman's wonderful entry. My highlight's were determined based on quick scans, and is usual with Parableman's post, only deep reading will do. It is a very personal and moving examination of consequences of the fall in the physical world. My prayers are with him as he deasl with his son.


Piling On Christians

Last weekends tragic and horrific church shootings are world wide news. Unfortunately, most media is pegging this bizarre sect as typically Christian. Mark Byron does a terrific job of looking at the media coverage of the event. (HT: SmartChristian)

What is the most effective way for Christiasn to communicate to the media that like anything else, we have our oddballs, but they do not define us? Fewer people now know what being a Christian is really about to sufficiently discriminate between this clearly off-the-reservation sect and decent Christianity.


The Message and The Medium

The simple gospel IS Jesus Christ. Everything else is our coming to terms with that. Having said that, I worry about some developments in the church these days.

Barna reports:(HT: SmartChristian)
Radio and television are the most popular Christian media, but faith-related Internet sites as well as religious magazines, newspapers and books also enjoy significant exposure. Although these religious media are a supplement to a church experience for most people, millions of individuals rely upon one or more of these media as their primary source of spiritual input.
Andy harnesses this article to call for increased church strategy about blogs. Agreed, but can media, television, radio, magazines, or the internet ever be the "primary source of spiritual input?"

The term 'evangelical' now has more political meaning than it does spiritual. So much so that there is a seminar scheduled for April 4 just to help the media know how to properly use the term. (Again, HT: SmartChristian)

Why do I feel troubled by these trends? There is nothing wrong with Christians discussing Christianity in media (better not be or I am in deep trouble with this blog!) There is nothing wrong with Christians exercising their political franchise. But then there are many things that it is not wrong for a Christian to do, but those things do not define, constitute, nor comprise Christianity, nor are they an acceptable substitute for a relationship with the living God.

That word "relationship" is very important. We worship an incarnational God; a God that took on the form of man; a God who knew that the media He had provided (the law) was not enough, He had to incarnate and become the law (media).

Jesus spent a good bit of His earthly ministry denouncing the religious political institutions of the day. It is clear the Sanhedrin clung more to their institutional and political power than they did to their God -- after all, they put their God to death, in large part because He threatened that power.

What can be accomplished politically to the glory of God? We cannot bring salvation to the world through politics. The best we can hope for is to create a mission field wherein our message will be heard more easily than it might in other circumstances. In some ways I worry that Christian political action is really selfish, we want a society that is comfortable for us -- Fine, but should that be our primary concern?

We worship an incarnate God. We worship a God whose very Word was incarnate. This, in part, explains why I know the necessity of preaching but am skeptical that it alone can accomplish the transformation of our very selves that God has in mind for us.

For Christians to be active in all aspects of human endeavor is important, because that is incarnation. A Christian in the media incarnates, in some incomplete sense, the Word; likewise, a Christian in politics. That said, media and politics are not the end, but simply the milieu.

This, by the way, is why I think there is no substitute for personal devotion -- the daily attendance to reading scripture and to prayer. Such keeps us focused, not on our vocations and avocations, but on who we are in those fields.

Jesus Christ is the message, all else is but the medium.


The Best of Pravda

What A Bunch We Have This Week.

Several months ago, respectable Russian biologists made a hypothesis as concerning the present-day origin of yeti. Audacious researchers state that the unknown primate is a wild retard or his retarded descendants.
It's nice to know that politically incorrect pre-adolscent speak is a regular pat of Russian journalism.

Unique book on space exploration published in Russia

In the past, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union were actively using space for spying on each other
I thought this was a NEWSpaper. Where's the news?

The man's heart stopped beating after a heart attack, but the man did not die...The story started several years ago, when Nikolai's relationship with his wife, Lydia, started worsening.
I always knew wives had special powers over us. Thank goodness my wife would never use hers in this way.

German scientists claim that regular sex makes people smarter
But I thought it was blogging!?


Something You CAN Do

Yesterday I posted about the National Guardsman that lost his job during his deployment. Weekend Pundit has an update (mild profanity warning)that includes an action item. Follow the link and DO IT!

There simply has got to be some serious back room political infighting going on here - I cannot think of anything else that would cause people to act this petty.



According to FOXNews, a man had his house accidentally torn down.
A North Carolina man decided to check up on some Virginia property he owned — and immediately called police....

...It turned out a wrecking crew had come by over the summer to tear down the house at 212 Cleveland St., but had demolished the wrong building. Each house had been next to a different building with a red roof.
How would you like to be the claims adjuster that has to deal with this one?


Here's An Idea

Rebecca Writes about prayer. She does so rather well, I might add.
The part of Paul's example in these verses that we are least likely to follow, it seems, is telling those we pray for what sorts of things we are praying in regards to them. Yet telling those for whom we pray what specific thanks and requests we make can be a true help to them.
Here's a question -- are you praying for fellow bloggers today? I am -- here is but a few:

I pray for others, and all as well. The real power of God blogs will be found in our words because it was put here by our prayers. Who are you praying for today?


New Words

Webster's latest edition dictionary is coming out according to FOXNews. They report the addition of the term "wedgie" (you know, that thing boys do to other boys underwear) as the big news. Note however, this from the end of the story:
The additions include "Al Qaeda," "blog," "cargo pants," "irritable bowel syndrome" and "partial-birth abortion." (emphasis added)
Now that is a new word that matters!


Something To Remember...

...the next time she commits a crime.
Martha Stewart is not too happy with her latest style accessory — her ankle bracelet clashes with her clothing and makes it hard for her to exercise.
Reports FOXNews. Wish I could feel sorry for her.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Scripture Break...

Hebrews 11

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please {Him} for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and {that} He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

7 By faith Noah, being warned {by God} about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised; 12 therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, {as many descendants} as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better {country} that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son 18 it was he to whom it was said, "In Isaac your descendants shall be called." 19 He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. 32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed {acts of} righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received {back} their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 men of whom the world was not worthy, wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. 39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.


Lebanon News

I said yesterday that I was looking forward to Claudia Rosett's telling of the huge demonstration in Beirut. Here it is. As I figured, good stuff.


Too Late

I reported yesterday that the UAW had snubbed Marine Corps reservists. Well, amidst a storm of criticism they have backed-off. (HT: BOTWT) In classic military fashion the Marines have decided to park elsewhere.
Wounded by what they consider an unpatriotic ambush, the Marines rejected the union's olive branch and secured an alternative parking lot.

"I talked to Ron; I let him know that I understand he has rescinded his decision," said Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge, a top-ranking officer at the reserve infantry rifle battalion. "However, I've made my decision -- either you support the Marines or you don't."
Military people understand the importance of getting it right the first time. It's a little late to put on the body armor, after you've been hit.


More Good News From British Entertainment

From the world of entertainment comes news that Monty Python's Holy Grail has become a musical, Spamalot. the very idea makes me laugh. Or, just click here and sing along.


What Are We Talking About Here?

I am taking a little heat from my skepticism concerning Adrian Warnock's claim to transformative preaching. In the original post on this topic Adrian said this:
If I ask you to play a word association game what is the first thing that comes to your minds with the following words-


If for example the first word that springs to mind when you think of sex is "dirty" or "sin" or even "lust", dare I say that maybe your mind needs transforming. If the word sex is associated with marriage, fun, and happiness then perhaps your mind is already transformed in that area....
I responded here by saying that I was not sure that preaching could result in changes that deep. Adrian continued with this post, to which I responded with this one, quoting in part this post from 21st Century Reformation.

Today, Brad at 21st Century Reformation has left me a comment saying:
I think Adrian's position and mine are not contrary at all. Paul says this meeting with God happens through the Gospel preached.

The point is that it is God speaking through the preaching that is key. I wrote a post "part 2" of the one you are referencing on "God speaking through the preacher"
Adrian has put up this post
It is vital to understand that it is the gospel preached that is the power of God to change lives. As Paul puts it in Romans 1 "I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" Paul seems to believe that there is something in the proper preaching of the proper gospel that brings salvation to people. Spurgeon believed it, and my slow progress blogging through his soul winner book has thrown up some wonderful quotes. I believe that the biggest problem today is the absence of true preaching. There are some sites online that you can listen to preaching that is beginning to get close to what it should be. Personally like Lloyd-Jones did, I sometimes wonder whether I have ever really preached- although I am grateful to God that I have seem some fruit from my sermons.

There is something wrong with our preaching if it doesn't produce salvation. Perhaps there is something wrong with the content...
Look, I do think preaching is important, really important. I also think preaching, in this day and age, is not in general what preaching should be. I also agree that preaching can produce salvation. But that said I differentiate between salvation, shall we say ascent to the simple gospel, and transformation and renewal-sanctification-which is what I think is necessary to produce the kind of shifts in thinking that Adrian illustrated in his first post and I quote in part above.

When I said "YES!" to Jesus I began a journey, a journey of transformation that continues to today. When I began the journey if you had asked me to make a word association with "sex" -- well, let's not talk about it. But when I first read Adrian's original post and he asked what I thought of when I read that word -- I thought of my wife. But it has taken many, many years of the journey to come to that point.

Preaching did in fact produce that initial "YES!" in me, but it took a whole lot more than preaching to get me to the point where my word associations were so changed.

There is indeed a transformation that occurs at that "YES!" moment, a huge one. But in my experience, that transformation is not the kind of transformation that Adrian described in his original post, that is all I am saying. I do not want to lessen in any way the importance of the spoken Word, or the necessity of such ministry.


News From Jared in Iraq

Friend Jared Leinhart sends a missive from Iraq describing his days:
Saturday, March 12, 2005

Family and Friends,

Greetings again from Iraq. It is pitiful that I almost say that things are going pretty much the same and that includes bombs, explosions, fire fights, suicide vests, and sniper attacks. At least we have gotten into a pretty routine schedule. 1st Platoon now gets three days of Task Force Bullet/IED missions and three days of recovery time. We are getting ready to go back on missions again tomorrow but we were glad to have the last few days off.

On Wednesday, we received a call that a vehicle-borne IED (car bomb) had been placed next to an apartment building. As we arrived, we found that the car had already exploded and it and the building were still on fire. As we talked to the infantry unit that had arrived on the scene, they informed us that the car exploded before they got too close but that they had evacuated all people out of the back door. The car bomb had had about 10 artillery rounds and mortars inside before it blew up and several of the rounds had not detonated and been kicked out when the car exploded. We sent the robot up with an explosive charge and placed it next to a round that we saw near what was left of the car. When we detonated that blast, we started taking small arms fire from a warehouse about 200 meters to our right. The platoon returned fire while I worked with EOD to find and blow up a few extra rounds. While preparing another charge, we had three mortars land behind us with one being only about 25 meters away. We decided that we needed to hurry up so I had the EOD technician jump in my vehicle while we took a charge up and drop it next to the unexploded ordnance. We drove up and placed the charge next to a mortar round that had kicked out from the car bomb and then drove back to the group until it blew up. While waiting for it to blow, we started taking small arms fire behind us. While we returned fire, we saw an artillery rounds that we thought we had blown up with the first charge. For some reason it had not blown up. We quickly drove up and spotted it and another round not far away. Not wanting to spend any more time getting charges and blowing them, we decided to collect them up and take them back to our base for disposal. The EOD technician and myself got out of our vehicle and proceeded to collect up these rounds while my gunner on my HMMWV was returning fire. The round I was collecting was the larger of the two it weighed about 75 lbs. I checked the nose to make sure it would not blow up in my hands and found that it was an empty shell that did not have any explosives left in it. As I picked it up, my gloves started to smoke as it was burning hot. As I got to my vehicle, the round rolled down my hand and the tip landed on my forearm making a nice sizzling sound. I tossed (and I mean literally tossed) it into the floor of my vehicle and turned to help the EOD tech gets his loaded into the vehicle. As we loaded up and linked up with the rest of the platoon, I remembered some of the first aid classes I had learned from Boy Scouts, college, and the Army (with Mom being a nurse, she instilled a good sense of first aid in me). I grabbed a bottle of water and poured it on my forearm and hands. The fingertips and palms of the gloves had burned holes in them but by God’s grace, had only minor burns to my forearm. The medic stated that it was good that I had poured the water on it our it could have blistered up really bad. We also later found out that one of the gunners in a turret on top of the HMMWV had a round that grazed his hand. God was truly looking out for us that day.

The rest of the battalion is doing more “engineer� type missions to include putting barriers up around local politicians homes, schools, etc. They are also building a blast wall around and in the dining facility to help prevent the type of attack that happened in December. For those that are not aware, this forward operating base (FOB) has not had a dining facility since December when a suicide bomber got in and blew himself up, killing a large number of soldiers. Since then we have eaten MRE’s (meals-ready-to-eat) for lunch and a hot dinner served out of portable containers. The guys of 1st platoon are looked upon as the brave cowboys of the battalion as we have had enemy contact about 15 times compared to their one or two. The guys know that God is looking out for them with only the minor scrapes and cuts and burns that we have received. Please continue to pray for the safety of the platoon!
I too was sad to hear him say that things are about the same, but then it occurred to me that like a doctor might think everyone was sick and a cop think everyone was a crook, Jared's job will put him closest to every problem. Pray for Jared and pray for his colleagues -- Daily.


What Terri Really Faces

Yesterday's Terri Schiavo post brought this comment:
It is going to be intense regarding Terri Schiavo as this week continues. I mean intense in the sense that "we war not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers, and wickedness in high places". A verse I got very put off because it used to be bandied about so much but one that absolutely applies in this case.
It comes from friend Catez at Allthings2all. Boy are she and I on the same wavelength here. I have heard that verse quoted when someone was having trouble digging a post hole, but in this case it is serious. Never have I seen so many people determined to kill one individual. More importantly never have I seen so many wanting to do it legally. That indeed says this is a war against otherwordly powers.

On that subject Transforming Sermons provides a link to a piece from Peter Leithart that reminds us that
If God has enemies, so do we. If the world hates our Master, it will hate us too.
Has that ever been more apparent?

I have sat on this information for about a week now. I have called the congresswoman's office several times seeks comment and confirmation and they have not returned my calls. I have also called the National Right To Life Committee for confirmation and they have not returned my inquiry either. But I have a reasonable source, so I am going to go with it. This story from the Catholic News Agency reports this comment by Congresswoman Nancy Johnson of Connecticut.
She (Lori Kehoe, Congressional liaison for the National Right to Life) noted that one of the few harsh reactions came from Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) who "looked right at [Schiavo's brother] and said 'that's not long has she been in that coma and how much is it costing us?'"
That may be among the most reprehensible utterances I have heard regarding this entire affair. People may disagree, but to say such a thing to Terri's brother is nothing short of ugly and mean. I urge you to contact Rep. Johnson and tell her what you think of this unkind comment.

BlogsforTerri has the latest on the federal legilation pending, including this link to a TV spot on expected demonstrations around Terri's hospice.

Her are the action items -- don't just read them, do them.

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