Saturday, July 16, 2005


We Are Not A Demographic...

...I wish.

Much of the "rise" that evangelicalism has experienced in recent years is directly attributable to treating Christians as a demographic. You see, when you define a demographic, it is more than just a label, in our hyper-marketing age, people often choose to identifiy themselves with a demographic simply becasue they like the products and services marketed to that demographic. Thus rich white kids dress like poor black kids because they like rap music. No matter what those white kids do, they will never be black, and sometimes I wonder how much the parallel holds for many that have come to the church under parallel circumstances.

Christian book publishing has, of course, been around for quite a while. But for years it was a small business, truly motivated for ministry and not profit. I think it was the advent of modern Christian music publishing where things really started to go off the rails (though book publishing has rapidly followed suit) -- and much of that was predicated by changes in the copyright laws. It was when I started seeing copyright notices on song lyrics projected or in the bulletin in worship service that I really started to feel like there was a problem.

Now blogging ally Sheep's Crib has run across a piece from Biola University about "secular" businesses buying up "Christian" businesses, like book and music publishing.

John, as is typical for him, is direct and to the point in condemning the insertion of profit motive in front of ministry motive
...tell me how Christian firms will not be pressured to produce that which "sells" by secular owners?
I share the theory of John's condemnation, but I have to be honest and say that I think the horse left the barn on this issue a while back. John admits that Christian business has been "slipping" for a while, but I think it fell off the ledge some time back.

The fundamental question is, "Is it wrong to make money in the name of Jesus?" First of all, it is not wrong to make money, it's that qualifier where things get a little itchy.

1 Corinthians 9:11-12 - If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. (NAS)
Just because we can do something, does not mean that we should. It is obviously not "wrong" to make money in the name of Jesus, but it is better to find another way to make a living.


This Was Inevitable

A T-ball coach allegedly paid one of his players $25 to hurt an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so he wouldn't have to put the boy in the game, police said Friday.
I understand the impulse, but have never understood the reality of people trying to fashion games without competition. Whether it's inventing new games, or trying to remove the competitive element from existing ones (no scoring -- make everyone play) it has to be one of the most futile endeavors in human history. And when you see a price like this, you have to wonder if it is really worth it.

Competition is human nature, like it or not, and so is the desire to win. There is only one way I know of to change human nature - and its not changing the rules. The rules are designed to control human nature, even at it's ugliest. The rules are designed to channel our lowly natures as constructively as possible.

The only thing I know of that can change human nature is the Holy Spirit, and the only way I know for Him to get active in someone's life is for Jesus to come into play. And the only way I know that can happen is for us to reach out. Not really that complex after all, is it?


Why We Are Not "The Same"

Thanks to Assumption Of Command for the link to this story.
A routine orientation flight turned out to be anything but routine, at least for three Afghan children stranded in the middle of a flooded river near Salerno, Afghanistan, June 29.

It all started as Chief Warrant Officer James Gisclair was giving an orientation flight to a pilot new to the area. He and the new pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Nathan Scott, spotted a flash flood occurring after heavy rains hit the area earlier that day. They noticed a group of people standing alongside the banks of a flooding river, pointing toward the middle as they followed its path.

"As we looked closer we saw three kids stuck on a concrete foundation with the river rushing past them," Gisclair said. "We went back to Salerno, where we asked to go back to rescue the kids.
Which they subsequently did! When I read about 'insurgents' doing this sort of thing, instead of blowing little kids up, then I will at least deign to listen to moral equivalency arguements, though I will find them no more convincing. But until that time, we are dealing with total, undeniable scum.


Comic Art

Last week, Evangelical Outpost was kind enough to run a post by yours truly about comic book artists in his "Expert Witness" feature. Again I would like to offer my thanks to Joe.

In that post, I listed my twelve favorite artists with some comments, but I also listed some "Honorable Mentions." For the next few posts here, I want to look at those guys -- starting with George Perez. George is probabaly best know for his drawings of huge groups of superheroes, but he is pretty good at individuals like Wonder Woman as well.
This image of the Avengers by Perez is very near and dear to my heart. A few years ago when I remodeled my office I had it blown up into wallpaper and it now adorns the soffit over my bookcase/supplies cabinet.

It looks spectacular, particularly because I have a statue of Captain America on a glass shelf in the corner so that it looks very much like Cap is running out of the wall.

Last year saw a joining of giants to produce a 4 issue miniseries joining the Justice League(published by DC) and the Avengers(published by Marvel). The series was primarily a vehicle for Perez to show off his talents at drawings showing EVERYBODY!

The image below is just a taste of what came out of that series -- it was an absolute visual feast. In the words of Stan Lee -- Excelsior!

And while we are talking superheroes drop by and take this quiz on superheroes and comic books. I rather pathetically completed it in less than a minute and got a perfect score. I am pretty sure that puts me in the utter nerd arena -- if you take it and do well too, I won't feel so bad.


What Do You Get The Bomb That Has Everything?

N.M. Marks A-Bomb Anniversary

I have a pretty intense desire to visit the Trinity site -- that's where the first atomic bomb exploded. I driven as close as you can get to it without special permission, or on one of the very rare days when it is open to the public. And according to the linked piece, I am missing another opportunity this weekend.

Whatever else you may say, the atomic bomb is fascinating science, absolutely fascinating. Though I hope not in anger, I seriously hope to see one explode some day.

You may now start leaving comments calling me a "nut case" -- but I can't help it, I just find it fascinating.


The Definition Of Spin

The story as told by Yahoo News:

Rove Learned CIA Agent's Name From Novak

The story as told at Huffington Post (I archived the page since they change it frequently)

"I Heard That Too"... The 'Architect' Confirms Plame's Identity To Novak...

The only question is who is spinning who?


I May Be In Serious Trouble

In case you missed it (though how you could I have no idea) the single most important piece of information concerning the latest suspect picked up in the London bombings seems to be that he is a (drum roll please)...CHEMIST! Consider:

I could keep going, but I have to figure that's enough.

Here's what I'm wondering -- why is that particular piece of information SOOoo important? Do people honestly think that those of us trained in the field of chemistry are equipped with incidious arts that make us somehow less trustworthy - that when one of us goes wrong some great wall has crumbled?

I have to tell you all this is far more a function of ignorance about chemistry that it is a justification for fear. Yes, almost anyone trained in chemistry knows how to make explosives, but it takes a whole lot more than explosives to make a bomb - a whole lot.

I hope there is no great call for regulation of chemists, and given my impending overseas trip, I hope I don't end up on the watch list just because I have a degree in chemistry, But if I do, I will bear it peacefully.

Friday, July 15, 2005


A Place For Grace

I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have been told that I needed to be more "graceful." I am, by nature, a curmudgeon and I am prone to find fault in nearly everything -- particularly in church. Numerous are the times I have charged into the pastor's office to point out some mistake or slight or....

Sometimes I have been right to do so and sometimes I have not. I am still trying to find out precisely where that line between the two is. Lately; however, there have been some poeple in the Christian blogosphere crossing into the definitively "not right" area. I am not going to name names or mention what the issue is, it would just inflame an already combustable situation. I do want to talk about personal grace for a minute though, when do we and when don't we extend it?

We are all sinners, we all mess up, sometimes grandly, sometimes on a small scale, sometimes completely unknowingly, and sometimes it looks like it is our mistake when it is really something out of our control. Rarely have I met a Christian that makes a mistake with utter intention to hurt or demean -- it happens but it is rare.

Sometimes we compound our mistakes with further mistakes, but that too is generally unintentional. Usually when this stuff happens it is because we are so wrapped up in our own circumstances that we forget to do our best to consider the circumstances of the other.

Eph 4:26 - Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

When these things happen, the course is clear -- go to the people involved and try and work it out. I'm not saying you can always do so, but I am saying you have to try.

There is a grace and patience burden on both parties in such a situation. The aggrieved must approach the presumable offender, but this later party must be open to the approach, and willing to engage in the dialogue. When you are dismissive of someone with a beef, regardless of how silly that beef is, you just inflame things.

So, what does this say about blogging? I think it is pretty simple if you think about it.

I think I am fortunate -- I have yet to have a huge 'dust-up' surrounding this blog. I imagine there are some people somewhere upset with me, it's kind of unavaoidable, but they have not chosen to come after me about it. All my readers have my graditude for this blessing.


Genuine Mission

Tod Bolsinger is wondering, based on some CT articles, about the value of short term mission. (HT: SmartChristian) I'm going to use the same moneyquote Dr. AJ did.
Because according to the study behind these articles, short-term missions they way they are currently led in most cases, are no more effective at furthering the work of Christ in the world than the average summer camp or a personal New Year?s Resolution. In short, they are a quick ?spiritual high? that makes little difference in the life of a person, a congregation or the very people the mission trip sought to serve for the long haul.
The most interesting thing in that quote may be the slam it takes at summer camps -- although, I think the analogy is most apt. Being an old Young Life guy, summer camps are near and dear to my heart.

I will admit to never being on a short term mission trip -- largely because everyone I have known that went on one made it sound exactly like summer camp, and somewhere in my 20's I decided to quit trying to ride a spiritual roller coaster and start trying to do a steady spiritual climb.

Tod is going to try and tackle some issues to make them better, which I will leave to him. I want to go back for a minute to some issues I have been discussing recently.

Jesus came to sanctify people -- He does not sanctify activity. Sanctified people doing an activity bring sanctity to that activity, but it is, in the end, just an activity. To me that means we do not need to dress up our activities to make them look somehow "Christian." If a bunch of people from church want to go somewhere and enjoy each others company, and have a good time, and maybe work on a small construction project -- then by all means go and enjoy. God will bless you in your endeavors.

The problems arise when we try to somehow make the activity sanctified. This alone creates debate and strife becasue not everyone will think it a good idea. If we fail in that activity somehow, we now besmirch the name of God. Most often we try to sanctify an activity as a means of coercion, a way to make other people join us in an activity we enjoy, but they otherwise might not join us in. Or we do it to disguise a failing -- in this case, STM's are often a way to make it look like a congregation is active missionally, when all the time it's actual mission giving is decreasing. Most STM's are off-budget and independently funded, so they makes it look like a church is tithing, even if there is no budget money flowing to mission at all.

It's important that we remember that the Great Commission is to make disciples, that is to say people. Programs, camps, STM's, classes - any activity is but a means to that end.


Friday Humor

A middle aged woman has a heart attack and taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she has a near death experience. During that experience she sees God and asks if this is it. God says no and explains that she has another 30 years to live. Upon her recovery she decides to stay in the hospital and have a face lift, liposuction, breast augmentation, and a tummy tuck.

She even has someone come in and change her hair color. She figures since she's got another 30 years she might as well make the most of it. She walks out of the hospital after the last operation and is killed by an ambulance speeding up to the hospital. She arrives in front of God and complains: "I thought you said I had another 30 years." God replies, "I didn't recognize you."


Finally, The Truth!

Study Finds One-third of Medical Studies are Wrong

and I have a hunch this is one of them:

Sweetener 'linked' to leukaemias


Are We Becoming Cheapskates?

Email forwarding amounts to ritual gift exchange

If this is the case, I'm thinking we are!


No Sleep Here

A newly discovered planet has bountiful sunshine, with not one, not two, but three suns glowing in its sky.
And imagine the sunburn!


They Are Definitly Not Getting Our Best

Xenotransplants are serious business, whatever direction they run in.
SCIENTISTS have been warned that their latest experiments may accidently produce monkeys with brains more human than animal.
But you have to admit if this is the result, it's pretty funny.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Biblical Speculation

Adrian Warnock is wondering if the Apostle Paul met Jesus before the road to Damascus.

Adrain says "yes" for psychological reasons and quotes Acts where Paul says he spent his youth in Jerusalem. His commenters at press time say "no," elsewhile, Paul would have mentioned it in his writings when establishing his bona fides. I would remind Adrian that Jesus spent very little time in Jerusalem during His life; that unless Paul was specifically a part of the Christ's trial and crucifixion the odds of an encounter are rather low.

However, I think the question is impossible to answer in any substantive sense. There is no evidence. So, while the question is interesting and fun, pondering it is pointless save for entertainment purposes. Which raises another interesting question -- are such entertaining questions fruitful? Should they be dismissed as "not-on-point?" What after all is to be gained by discussing, "If God is all powerful, can He make a rock so big that He cannot lift it?"

Well, this later question really is just silly, but Adrain's question may not be. Anyone taking the question seriously would have either know or look up Jesus movements during what we know of His life, and the same for Paul. That certainly forces one to discover the NT narrative in a certain depth.

But on the other hand, I have seen people waste enormous amounts of energy pursuing such questions, often using them as some sort of barrier to allowing the Holy Spirit to do the real work of God in their hearts. So, in the end, it is not the question, but what we do with it, that matters.

My question no becomes, "What are you doing to make sure you stay focused on the important, but leave room to enjoy the trivial?"


Fear And Loathing In The Legacy Media

Pyromaniac got uncharacteristically political in a post yesterday, and I really liked it, but he also got characteristically down to brass tacks.
Yet the high priests and priestesses of the mainstream media remain blindly committed to their credo: moral neutrality is the one permissible dogma of this postmodern era.
Fascinatingly, if that credo truly is dogmatic, doesn't it automatically disqualify itself as "postmodern." Is not the point of postmodernism to avoid dogmatics -- but then postmodernism would just be a house of cards. Wouldn't that disappoint a lot of people.

But this story absolutely got to me. It's from Tuesday's NYTimes. It's about the (shudder) growing place of evangelicals in the Air Force chaplaincy. This sentence is amazing
The chaplains, who pledge when they enter the military to minister to everyone, Methodist, Mormon or Muslim, attended workshops on "The Purpose Driven Life," the best seller by the megachurch pastor Rick Warren, and on how to improve their worship services.
The implication is that more traditional chaplains who were "just" Roman Catholic, or Methodist, or Presbyterian or Jewish or...could somehow fulfill that pledge, but evangelicals cannot. No check that, the real point they are trying to make is that military chaplains should not really believe anything, they should just wear labels that sound like they do.

There's that tricky dogma again.


Support And Salute

Blackfive has this wonderful post with ideas on where to give money to help wounded soldiers. He suggests

Then get a hanky before you read this post from Jack Army. It's the story of the funeral procession for one of our finest that died in Iraq. Please go, there are pictures, but here's a snippet

However, the most incredible thing was what happened following the service on the way to the cemetery. We went to our cars and drove to the cemetery escorted by at least 10 police cars with lights flashing and some other emergency vehicles, with Texas Rangers handling traffic. Everyone on the road who was not in the procession, pulled over, got out of their cars, and stood silently and respectfully, some put their hands over their hearts, some had small flags. Shop keepers came outside with their customers and did the same thing. Construction workers stopped their work, got off their equipment and put their hands over their hearts, too. There was no noise whatsoever except a few birds and the quiet hum of cars going slowly up the road.

When we turned off the highway suddenly there were teenage boys along both sides of the street about every 20 feet or so, all holding large American flags on long flag poles, and again with their hands on their hearts. We thought at first it was the Boy Scouts or 4H club or something, but it continued .... for two and a half miles. Hundreds of young people, standing silently on the side of the road with flags. At one point we passed an elementary school, and all the children were outside, shoulder to shoulder holding flags ... kindergartners, handicapped, teachers, staff, everyone. Some held signs of love and support. Then came teenage girls and younger boys, all holding flags. Then adults. Then families. All standing silently on the side of the road. No one spoke, not even the very young children. The last few turns found people crowded together holding flags or - with their hands on their hearts. Some were on horseback.
I don't know what it will take, but every funeral for every soldier that dies under hostile fire in the remainder of this conflict should be so. They deserve it and more.


Illuminated Scripture

Mrs. Blogotional reports that this week's illuminated scripture was inspired by this post from Scotwise. But then Scotwise is almost always inspiring.


Get It All Here

The entire Christian Carnival for this week at "a ticking time blog."


Blooper Mania

SmartChristian had a very funny post on the "Church Bulletin Bloopers." It's recommended reading. It reminds of one I ran into years ago. It was a concert announcement in the local paper -- the concert to occur at the largest, wealthiest, most prestigious church in town. It read as follows:
This Wednesday, [Name Withheld For Reason Soon To Be Obvious] Church will be holding a Pubic Organ Concert In The Sanctuary. The Public Is Invited.
The church was home to the mayor and several state and federal congresspersons. You should have seen the fuss! Most of us just laughed.


Soda With Ice

This story reports that volcanoes have been discovered on Titan, a Saturnian moon, that spews ICE! Which, to me, makes it sound like what we used to do at lunch between two-a-day football practices in high school.

But then, this story (subscription required) says, well, you best read it for yourself.
A nutrition watchdog group asked the Food and Drug Administration to put tobacco-style labels on sugary sodas and fruit drinks, warning that consuming too much of them can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
I will agree to this if, every time this group publishes anything, or makes any speeches, the following label is allowed to appear, prominently:
WARNING: This group thinks they know better than you what is good for you, and what is not. In what they think is sheer kindness they are willing to remove all your personal freedoms. If you listen or read this, your head may explode!


Tease Your Brain

This will kill time and build brain cells. Enjoy!


Silly Question

New Scientist asks:

Do cosmic rays ever exceed the limit?

Of course they do, just ask The Fantastic Four!


Easy To Answer

Why Some People Can't Hold Their Tongues

I'm betting this was a study of bloggers of some sort.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005



First my usual blogging time was interruptted by an ill pet and then an air conditioning repair. Then Blgospot, for the first time in months, ate the post I was working on. It'll be light today. My apologies.


Raising Christians

At lunch yesterday I finished reading Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner. The book is, as it promises, themeless. It is the examination of several interesting social phenomena using the statistical tools of economics. It's interesting and I recommend it.

Among the phenomena it examines is "parenting strategies" - at least as far as academic performance is concerned. That is to say, it asks the question, "What can parents do to insure their children's academic success?" Now they are very careful to point out that the data set they have can only result in correlations, and not determine actual causes, but the results they obtain are fascinating.

They conclude that the best corollary to academic performance is not reading to a kid when they were young, or stay-at-home moms, or baby Mozart tapes. They conclude that the only reliable predictor of academic performance in a child is the academic performance of its parents. That is to say, if you are a good academic performer, odds are, your child will be as well. This is even true for adopted children although the characteristics of the adoptive parents appear much later in the academic career of the kids than in birth children.

In other words, the best way you can make sure your kids perform well academically, is for you to do so. You want smart kids? - go to college, read a a lot, get good grades yourself.

I wonder what this says about doing church and raising Christians? I wonder if the best way to make sure we are doing good mission is to make sure we are personally doing well in our relationships with Jesus?

I found this post from Unveiled Face fascinating. Mick is reviewing a book The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero. Mick's review is very mixed, with what appears to be good reason. Here's an interesting bit
Scazzero bursts forth with almost unsettling candor regarding the efforts he put in to building his church, and the subsequent fallout for both church and his family as massive problems eventually appeared - problems that the author directly attributes to a focus on "spiritual health" at the expense of "emotional health".
I would love to know how that author defines "spiritual health." I cannot help but believe that true spiritual health will result in emotional health. I am betting that he, as I know a lot of people do, are confusing "spiritual health" with "growing church." They are not synonymous.

"Success" is a difficult concept. I also think it is the concept that God most challenges in all of human existence. As fallen creatures, can we ever truly have any success? Certainly not apart from Him.

This is, I think the real lesson. If you think success is having good academically performing children, then the best way to get that is to be successful academically yourself. If success is a growing church, then we see that that has some unhealthy consequences. If success is making disciples of Jesus, then we see it appears the best thing to do is be successful disciples ourselves. Maybe it's time to spend less time worrying about the church and more time looking at Jesus.


A Political Question?

If Karl Rove resigned now would it be a victory for the Demogogicats, or would it remove from them a weapon, weak though it is, in their fight to smear the Bush Administration?

I personally don't think they are going to quit on this one. Right now they are too stuck in the 60's and early 70's. "Iraq=Vietnam" And now, you can feel it if you read the right places, they think they have a new Watergate scandal brewing. There was even a post of HuffPo yesterday (I refuse to link to it because it was so ludicrous) asking, "What did the Presdient know and when did he know it?"

If you repeat a lie enough people will believe it. This whole thing is trivial, utterly so, and the devil is in details the average American will never master. Maybe if Rove left, it would quench the storm before it really got roiling. Or maybe I am politcally naive, and they would make more hay of the resignation than if he remains. I'm just wondering?


Finding Good Science... the bathroom.
For four years, inventing a new toilet bowl freshener has been a sideline pursuit for Michael Lefenfeld, a 25-year-old graduate student in molecular electronics at Columbia. Mr. Lefenfeld's doctoral research focuses on the structure of molecules in nanoscale devices like transistors.

But his quest for a new freshener - a search inspired by his grandfather's wish for a quick way to neutralize smelly toilets - led to a surprising discovery, a way to encase sodium and other explosive alkaline metals in a powdered form of silicon gel, making them much safer to handle.
I seem to recall solving several very difficult integrals while in that room in my college days. If this guy ever succeeds, might it result in a reduction in scientific productivity?


The Best of Pravda


Filed under Russia Makes It Funny
Frogs will obviously be happy when they discover special underground passages underneath the surface of the highway. The majority of regional residents, however, will be shocked to know about such a considerable amount of money spent for the purpose to save the amphibians. Spending ten million euros on ecology is quite normal for European standards. On the other hand, the majority of both Ukrainian and Russian people believe that spending millions of euros on such ugly creatures as frogs and toads is insane.
Nothing like a little Russian common sense


Doesn't take much to make news in Russia sometimes

Russian male cat lives for 18 years without any females

We have one that is almost 20 and our vet tells us it's not that uncommon. I should also say that it is probably the lack of female companionship that has contributed most to his longevity.


Or the Dentist for that matter.
"It goes without saying that such a toothbrush will not be good in daily toothcare, but it can be successively used as a weapon to scare street hooligans off."

But this really takes the cake
Doctors will remember the patient for a very long time. The woman was hospitalized with horrible stomachache. Specialists diagnosed the uterus tumor, but the woman gave birth to a baby-girl.
You know, there is a lot of abortion in Russia, maybe they really can't tell the difference.


Make Sense Of This!

It's an article about salamanders in the Missouri with deformities. Let's start with the wonder of a statement:
"Everybody says, 'How ugly,'" Briggler said. "But they are so ugly that they almost become beautiful in your mind when you see one."
Sorry guy, ugly is ugly, I think he is riding his salamander down a river in Egypt.

Now check these out:
Jeff Ettling, a curator of reptiles at the St. Louis Zoo, said the deformities have been found on adult hellbenders -- and are not birth defects.
Followed later in the article by:
Ettling, the reptile curator, said amphibians are often the first to show ill effects from environmental change.

"If it is affecting them, it's probably going to affect other organisms, all the way up to humans,'' he said. "It's kind of a wake-up call."
They want to make a case that these deformities result from environmental change, but unless the environmental change is a guy with a hatchet cutting off salamander legs, the problems have to be genetic -- which means "birth defect." I think they are trying to say the the deformities present in adulthood.

I'm betting the "environmental change" really is close to what I said above. This is happening in a relatively small area. I bet it likely there is just a small group of really unhealthy kids around. Environmental contaminants producing this level of genetic damage in an adult is virtually unknown - no make that completely unknown, it's sci-fi stuff. This might happen in babaies getating when their moms are exposed to high levels of something, but that would be a birth defect.


How Long...

...before some leftie of gay blogger picks up this headline and shoves it in our face?

Universe 'too queer' to grasp

I need to write the speaker from which the headline is derived and discuss word choice, but he's a physicist, better at symbols than words.

It's actually a very interesting article about how most of physics, particularly quantum physics is beyond the comprehension of most, if not all. That just because we can model certain behavior does not mean we understand it. AMEN to that.

I happen to really like quantum physics, took several classes in school just doing quantum calculations, and I will readily admit to not truly comprehending how quantum phenomena actually work, I just know how to do the math.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005



Adebnego at Parableman is taking a look at Jonathon Edwards, and a lot of people are arguing with him about it:
However, I have had a number of discussions with people who argue that, whenever we look at God's judgments, we have to remember that "God is primarily love". In other words, when we want to properly understand God, including his justice and wrath, we have to begin by understanding "God is love" and then apply that to understanding all his other attributes.
He briefly answewrs this arguement rather well too:
I think this is a fundamentally flawed approach. God isn't primarily anything. He is who he is, as in his famous declaration to Moses in Exodus 3. If we elevate any one of God's attributes to primacy, it will inevitably lead us astray. If we think God is primarily love, passages about God's judgment, anger, and wrath, will sound strange and foreign to us. But likewise, if we primarily think of him as angry and wrathful, we won't properly understand why God would send Jesus Christ in order to pay the price for our sins so that those who trust in him can be saved.
Abednego is right on here, but I'm not sure he goes far enough. In the first place, the oft quoted "God is love" appears only in one chapter in one epistle, twice in I John, Chapter 4 -- that's it. When such an oft-quoted phrase is so limited in it's appearance, I would have to agree that in can hardly be used as the ultimate descriptive of God.

Furthermore, the word "love" though oft-appearing in the Old Testament, rarely if ever appears there as some that God expresses towards man, rather it appears as something between people, or that people exhibit to God. I really do not understand people that seem to argue that somehow God's fundamental character changed between the Old Testament and the New. Such a changable God is more worthy of mythology that Judeo-Christianity.

But, all that aside, the argument that love and punsihment or love and condemnation are mutually exclusive is entirely specious. Does not love desire the best for its object? Would not love, born of infinite wisdom and truth, then be willing to visit punishment on its object for its own betterment -- much as one spanks a child to prevent it from doing something harmful? Would not love be willing to condemn or kill a few for the sake of many?

Let's put this a different way would not love demand justice? Love "does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;" (1 Cor 13:6) Would not failing to condemn the condemnable consitute "rejoicing in unrighteousness?"

I am remined of this passage from "The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe."
"Is - is he a man" asked Lucy.

"Aslan a man!?"said Mr. Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Asian is a lion - the Lion, the great Lion."

"Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he - quite safe, I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."

"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."

"Then he isn't safe," said Lucy.

"Safe," said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
People who deny the judgement of God, the existence of hell are trying to turn a lion into a housecat. That is a dangerous game indeed. Lions don't tame well -- they have been known to turn on those that train them.


Proving The Maxim

G.K Chesterton (well sort of):
When a Man stops believing in God he doesn¹t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.
On the bad days, I walk into the night pen just ahead of the horses, and the flies that have enveloped them suddenly envelop me. I swat them away, thinking all the while that it's a case of mistaken identity. I'm not a horse, I think. But at a moment like that, the distinction is academic. To the flies, I am a horse, a particularly pale, thin-skinned, succulent one, and lacking a horse's ability to quiver its skin in just one spot. In that moment, the sense of human separateness slips away.
This rather poetically written "Reader's Views" from yesterday's NYTimes, is beautiful to read. It's warm and fuzzy and feels nice.

But do we really want our unique place in creation erased by adopting the perspective of an insect? I don't, I don't care how well it is written.


Good For Them

Leaders of 100 black churches are due to stage a rally at Westminster on Monday against the government's Religious Hatred Bill.

Church spokeswoman Katei Kirby said they believed the bill could hinder their freedom to preach.

"What the bill offers is a chance to gag people who want to proclaim their faith confidently," Ms Kirby said.

The Racial and Religious Hated Bill would create a new offence of incitement to religious hatred.
We've seen pastors in Scandanavian countries arrested for speaking out against homosexualityunder hate laws. I think these people are right on. Despite the assurances of authorities in England that such would not happen there, the next generation of authorities could decide differently. Hate laws are silly anyway. There is a long established legal traditon of judging intent, but not motivation, that crosses the realm into thought control.



The Shuttle is about to return to space. Here is the story and here the BBC.

I am truly grateful that America is about to return people to space under it's own power. I have to say that I am really tired of the politics of space and wish we would spend more time going there.

Deep Impact was cool, I mean check out this false color image. I think we were pretty well caught off guard by the fact that it had a "powdery surface" -- that indicates all sorts of things not previously considered, but how much better would it have been if we'd been leaving footprints instead of craters?

The cost-efficiencies of robotic exploration not withstanding, we should be in space. We should also be more willing to accept the risks involved in that endeavor. Science is learning about God's creation, and therefore, learning about God. I have a strong suspicion there are a whole bunch of things about God that we can find out there, but only if we go.


From the Edge of Taste

Many people wonder why such a seemingly well-educated and eriudite gentleman such as myself (take careful note of the word "seemingly") would have a weekly feature of this sort. For your understanding I submit to you that my parents recently presented me with the book depicted here as a gift. I think that should explain everything.


Looking Where No Man Has Loooked Before

Wouldn't it be cool to stand toe-to-toe with a black hole, to stare it in the eye and finally see what one looks like?
NO - I think it would be extraordinarily painful as incredible gravitational forces ripped me apart, likely on the atomic scale. But otherwise, it would be cool. So some guys tried to figure out how to model it on a computer and avoid those gravitational forces.

There are some pictures on the link of what Jupiter would like if there was a black hole between you and it. They are not nearly as dramatic as one might hope. Certainly not worth atomic scale deconstruction.


Now Here Is A Value Judgement

Scientists have uncovered clues about what happens in the brain to make some people "over-friendly".

US National Institute of Mental Health experts looked at differences in the brains of people with an abnormality which makes them highly sociable.

Researchers used scans to identify areas which failed to work properly when they saw frightening faces.
So what precisely is a "frightening face?" Aren't they being a little hard on some people? Isn't it compassionate to socialize with those less fortunate than ourselves?

The gist of the artcile seems to be about people that socialize past the point where they might find themselves in danger -- but have we really grown to a point in our view of society where it is possible to be "too" friendly? If so, I am saddened.


No Minced Words

Which is why Robert Bork would have probably made a great Supreme Court Justice. I loved his Sunday WSJ op-ed.
Consider just a few of the court's accomplishments: The justices have weakened the authority of other institutions, public and private, such as schools, businesses and churches; assisted in sapping the vitality of religion through a transparently false interpretation of the establishment clause; denigrated marriage and family; destroyed taboos about vile language in public; protected as free speech the basest pornography, including computer-simulated child pornography; weakened political parties and permitted prior restraints on political speech, violating the core of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech; created a right to abortion virtually on demand, invalidating the laws of all 50 states; whittled down capital punishment, on the path, apparently, to abolishing it entirely; mounted a campaign to normalize homosexuality, culminating soon, it seems obvious, in a right to homosexual marriage; permitted discrimination on the basis of race and sex at the expense of white males; and made the criminal justice system needlessly slow and complex, tipping the balance in favor of criminals.
Kind of like being slapped in the face with a dead fish, isn't it? Then there is this goody:
Democratic senators' filibusters of the president's previous judicial nominees demonstrate liberals' determination to retain the court as their political weapon. They claim that conservative critics of the court threaten the independence of the judiciary, as though independence is a warrant to abandon the Constitution for personal predilection.
If anybody ought to know about this stuff, it's Bork. Well worth the read.


Mass Hysteria

Cattle Wed in 2,000-Guest Thai Ceremony

That someone is silly enough to have a wedding ceremony for cattle is predictable - that 2000 people show up is a little scary. What do you think is in the water there?


Mike Tyson in South Dakota

Man's Ear Bitten Off in Fight Over Dog


YES!!!!!(Fist Pumping In The Air)

The comic-book adaptation "Fantastic Four" raked in $56 million during its first three days, apparently helping to end a swoon in which domestic movie revenues had been down 19 weekends in a row compared to last year's.
Given the moderate to bad reviews this movie has received, that's the best news I've read in a long time. This movie did not take itself at all seriously, and I think that is a key -- it is a superhero story for crying out loud -- it's suppposed to be fun!

Monday, July 11, 2005


A Fundamental Question

I do not doubt that we are called, as Christians, to gather and organize ourselves. We are to participate communally in the sacraments, we are to feed the poor and widows -- there is a well established scriptural derived list of activities.

I do not doubt that as a Christian, my "job" is to become the person God wants me to be, and that part of that is to find a role in the community of faith and play it.

Those are statements of principle, but the reality is oh-so sticky. There are so many different communities of faith, with so many different views of things like sacraments, and things like what my role should be in their community. This fact alone raises a terribly important question -- Which community is closest to the community that God actually desires for us?

But there is another question, of perhaps equal importance. My working within that community, and my working at my role in that community is supposed to be part of me working out my sanctification. Yet it seems like all that is ever discussed at church is how to help church, not how to help specific people in it.

At best, we endeavor to identify the "need set" of an individual and then advise them of the "program profile" that would best serve those needs. The whole thing strikes me as rather de-humanizing.

This is, in my never to be humble opinion, the heart of where the church is no different than the culture. And right now I ache over that fact.

Jesus never wrote a mission statement, nor did He define a program for the apostles to follow. Even the epistle writers never laid out a strategic plan -- they wrote much about handling specific situations with which they were confronted, but that is just it -- they dealt with the situation, not some abstract conceptualization of a hypothetical happenstance.

If you want to find where the church is going wrong these days, any church, I don't think you need to look any further than what I am discussing right here. And I am going to say this plainly -- it is a leadership problem.

When in a position of leadership it is so much easier to deal in the abstract and the programatic than it is with real people. Here is an example. (HT: SmartChristian) It's an interview with Rick Warren. He talks about "changed lives," but he does not cite a single example. He says it's about Jesus, but he doesn't name a soul in his congregation. He is full of statistics and samples, and survey results. Programs are ordered and bounded and defined and statistical. People are complex, and messy, and often ugly.

Now, for all I know Warren is very intimately active in the the lives of am immediate closer circle. I am not commenting on Warren personally here, only on the idea that I think all the "tools" he is referring to take us a step back from the human touch.

And here is the real rub. When we, as leaders, hide behind our programs and plans and documents, we don't let all those messy people touch us. At best we hope they are all getting messy with each other but we can stay satisfied with where we are and who we are in terms of working out our sancitification. The only person that ever walked the planet that was not in need of that sanctification was also the messiest -- He mucked about with prostitutes and he was killed for His ministry. Don't you think we should follow His example?


Genuine Hero

Honor is due Private Johnson Beharry. He has received the Victoria Cross for actions in Iraq. From the citation
Private Beharry carried out two individual acts of great heroism by which he saved the lives of his comrades.

Both were in direct face of the enemy, under intense fire, at great personal risk to himself (one leading to him sustaining very serious injuries).
Given the events of the past week, it is especially important to honor the bravery of our allies.


Here I go...

...I gonna get it now. I took some heat a while back when I posted on how I loved the idea of a multi-cultrual church, but that I thought intentionality about it was problem. Adrian Warnock talked yesterday about how much he liked being in a "multi-cultural" church after the London bombings. I bet he did, and I wonder if the reason is that his "multi-cultural" church is of the kind I am about to talk about?

I heard a sermon yesterday that set me to thinking. Here is one of the texts quoted. Col 3:11 - a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. (NAS) I think this passage hits precisely on the head why I am concerned about the idea of a "multi-cultural" church.

God calls us all -- of that I have no doubt. I will worship anywhere with anyone that calls on the name of Jesus, as circumstances provide, but I think this passage says the reason that works is because I share Christ with them, above all culture. When we focus on ethnicity or culture, we are not focusing on Jesus.

The objective for the church as Paul sets it in Colossians is for a church without distinction -- "multi-culturism" revels in distinction. That is what I mean when I say a multi-cultural church should not be intentional, it should happen as a result of our mutual focus on Christ, not because we set out to recognize everyone's culture.


Great News Regarding London...

...At least as far as I am concerned. First the Beeb reports
UK religious leaders have issued a rare joint statement condemning Thursday's "evil terrorist" attacks in London.

Figureheads from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths each read out parts of the statement.

"It is an evil that cannot be justified and that we utterly condemn and reject," said Sheikh Zaki Dr Badawi, of the Council of Mosques and Imams.
[empahsis added]
The Powerline reports on a Washinton Times piece.
Writing in the wake of Thursday's bombings, Tariq Al-Humayd, editor-in-chief of London-based Al-Sharq Al Awsat (The Middle East), claimed that collections were frequently solicited in London's Arab neighborhoods for terrorist causes in the guise of charities.

In a strongly worded editorial, he said that those enjoying the freedom of life in Britain had a "responsibility" to scrutinize such collections carefully, and if necessary prevent them from taking place.
If the war on terror has an ending it will be because Islam reforms. It is nice to see some moves in that direction.


Enemy Dishonor

Ma Deuce Gunner reports that the terrorists in Iraq have attacked a hospital.

I am truly flummoxed at this, this is as low as when they strapped a suicide bomb on a retarded guy during the elections. This is as contemptable as human behavior gets. These people truly need killing.



Boy, I have a huge pile of stuff for this feature, it'll be hard to edit this week.


"Global warming" is becoming the devil -- it is the evil from which all bad things eminate. But we still don't know the reality of the situation.
A stalagmite from an Alpine cave may indicate that global warming is not as unusual as many think.

Deposits laid down in the stalagmite have enabled a European team to probe past climates confirming a Medieval Warm Period between AD 800 and 1300.

The warm spell is also indicated in some studies of tree-rings, ice-cores and coral reef growth records.
This head cracks me up, but the story bears out the principle
Global Warming Might Create Lopsided Planet

Extra precipitation expected as a result of global warming could create a lopsided world in which sea ice increases around the South Pole while the far north melts away.
So, if I understand this, it's not 'global' warming, it's just 'northern hemisphere' warming?

Ah, but these take the cake
Acid Buildup in Oceans Threatens Food Chain

Global Warming Makes Sea Less Salty
Chemistry 101: when you dissolve acids in water (can you say 'acid buildup?') you also increase that solution's saltiness. You cannot have this both ways.

Thus proving my point, anything now detected in the environment that might change anything is the fault of global warming. It is the evil one.


Europe bans chemical use in toys

I'm not sure that is really safe.


Big new wind farm going has been approved for Scotland. However, as Holy Coast reports, wind farms are bird killers. (They try to fly through the propellers) This might get a little messy.


Some guy in England is gassing badgers that are destroying his farm and he is getting all sorts of heat over it. Looks to me like he is doing what man has done for thousands of years. What's the beef?


Environmental regulation is often really about wealth transfer. Here's an example from England
Plans to limit energy use by giving everyone an individual carbon allowance are being considered by the government.
Actually that's not really about wealth transfer so much as simple oppression, but this one is amazing
Billions Needed to Improve Great Lakes, Coalition Says
When I lived ont he shoresof Lake Erie in 1968-69, it was literally flammable, now you can swim in it and fish actually live there -- but they need billions? How'd they get this far?


Because It Is Mandatory

Ran across this:

Future of Salmon Leads to Dispute Over Federal Dams

Which demands that I do this:


Least Important Accomplishment

For weeks I've been windmilling in front of mirrors and limbering up my neck in preparation for excessive head banging. I'm watching my carbs and hitting the hay early. Because in four days, at the Key Club in Los Angeles, I will be representing New York against some of the fiercest competitors ever to take the stage in one of the most important events of our lives: The U.S. Air Guitar Championships.
I have played quite a bit of air guitar in my life -- I think we all have, and if it makes these people happy, then I guess I am happy for them. But is a contest in which people do nothing but pretend to do something really newsworthy, in America's "paper of record?"

I plant this firmly in the "need's a life" camp.


Least Meaningful Vote In History

Luxembourg leans to Yes on EU charter-first results

That's a little like saying, "My apartment bulding voted overwhelmingly for President Bush." Doesn't change much.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


More On Why We Fight

If, after this week's brutal attack, you still need a reason for why we fight with Islamofascism, you might want to check out this piece from The Times of London by Amir Taheri.
But sorry, old chaps, you are dealing with an enemy that does not want anything specific, and cannot be talked back into reason through anger management or round-table discussions. Or, rather, this enemy does want something specific: to take full control of your lives, dictate every single move you make round the clock and, if you dare resist, he will feel it his divine duty to kill you.
We fight because we have no choice; we fight because it is kill or be killed.

People rarely give up their religious, or near religious, convictions. That's why in the face of this unspeakable evil, there are those who, because they have a religious conviction to "peace," say we should not fight. Fine, if they wish not to fight - I won't force them. But we are fighting an enemy whose equally deeply held beliefs says they must kill me and all that I love. I'm not going to let them do that, even if it means I have to kill them first.


From The Outside Looking In

Sometimes that vantage gives one good insight, but in this case I sense that Al Mohler is using it with a bit of an "I told you so."
"The Presbyterian Church (USA) is at a crossroads," declares a recently-released document from a group of concerned Presbyterians. The Presbyterian Lay Committee [PLC] is a venerable group of conservative Presbyterians who have been working for a Reformation within their denomination for many years. Even so, the PCUSA has been moving steadily leftward, and is set to debate the issue of human sexuality yet again.
The PCUSA, in which I am ordained as both a Deacon and an Elder, is democratic to its core. The PLC's point, that Mohler reports, is that "dialogue" has replaced debate and inclusiveness has replaced the search for truth is an accurate point, but the characterization of a steady march to the left is not. That characterization ignores the huge rift that exists between the PCUSA higher ajudicatories and the average congregation. To be sure, there are some very left leaning congregations, but most of it is in the Synods and the General Assembly, and some Presbyterys.

However, Mohler with his Baptist mindset misses the real point of the PLC document - mobilization. The Lay Committee did not issue that as analysis, but as a call to action for those average congregations. Much as conservatives in the secular world are usually too busy living to engage in politics, so with the average good Christian Presbyterian. Al would serve the Body of Christ and his Presbyterian brethren much better, by joining the call instead of analyzing it as condemnation.

I have hope for the PCUSA -- we have to vote before things change and we have sent back these challenges repeatedly. If we deny people the opportuinity to bring them forward, we forsake our principles, but they have not won yet.


We Worry Too Much...'s making our kids sick.
Persistent tummy ache in some children may be linked to emotional problems in their families, a study suggests.

Researchers found the mothers of children who repeatedly complained of symptoms were more likely to suffer with depression and anxiety.
I'm sure there are some "chicken-and-egg" questions here. but logic tells me that if mom's worried a lot, then symptoms of any sort are a good way to break into her reviere. Once again, we have "proven" that which we should have known. What a way to make a living.


Gets Them Every Time

Nothing like hanging a red light in the window to attract some customers.
A newfound deep-sea relative of the jellyfish flashes glowing red lights on twitching, stinging tentacles to lure fish to their deaths more than a mile below the surface.
Interesting, but here is the really interesting part
The discovery is odd, because scientists had figured deep-sea animals can't see red light, since they live where sunlight doesn't reach and therefore have no evolutionary reason to detect the color.
Well, God forbid something to exist without an evolutionary reason. But how do they know they don't "see" red light? Maybe the red photons react with something in the sea water to produce something that fish do detect? Maybe the luminesence reaction produces a chemical that fish smell?

I don't know what's worse, the fact that there has to be an evolutionary reason, or the fact that they won't admit that there is an evolutionary reason they haven't figured out. Either way, the faith in their own understanding is tremendous, and unwarranted.


Religious Reporting Done Right

This is really ugly.
Three people have been jailed for between four and 10 years over the torture of an eight-year-old girl they accused of being a witch.
For once this ugliness IS NOT used to bash Christianity by claiming it is what lead these evil people to do this evil thing. Rather, this is the only mention of religion in the piece
Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, chair of the Council of Black-led Churches in Birmingham, said: "The African faith community has been horrified by this case of child abuse.

"Any religious practice or belief that harms children cannot be justified or excused."
Have to thank the Beeb for getting it right.

Adn while we are condemning people for doing Christianity really wrong, you might want to check this out from Scotwise.
THE brutal beating left her with deep purple bruises all over her body but a priest and two Bible studies teachers claim they were just trying to "help" the girl realise she should go to church.Chi Yeong Yun, 37, a priest at Chatswood's Open Door Church, and Bible studies teachers James Kang, 21, and Tom Chae-Young Lee, 22, pleaded guilty in the NSW District Court yesterday to assaulting Angela Kim on July 8 last year.
I'm pretty sure God has a very "special" place for people like this.


Sermons and Lessons


Jonathan Edwards was a Congregational pastor and a key figure in the eighteenth-century "Great Awakening." He is considered one of America?s greatest theologians. Born in Connecticut and educated at Yale, he ministered for twenty-three years at a church in Northampton, Massachusetts. He later became a missionary to the Indians at Stockbridge. In 1758 he was named president of Princeton University but died only a few weeks after taking office.

Edwards produced a theology of Christian spirituality for his age that blended together Lockean philosophy and his own Calvinist theology. His main concern was the question, How do we distinguish the presence of the Holy Spirit? Christian experience, according to Edwards, is a gift of God, but he spent his life working out the ways in which we define that experience. A central theme of his writings?evidenced in the following selection?is the importance of religious ?affections,? which he defined as the passions that move the will to act.


1. Engagement of the Heart

The kind of religion that God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless ?wouldings??those weak inclinations that lack convictions?that raise us but a little above indifference. God, in his word, greatly insists that we be in good earnest, fervent in spirit, and that our hearts be engaged vigorously in our religion: ?Be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord? (Rom. 12:11, modified KJV).

?And now, 0 Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? To fear the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul? (Deut. 10:12). This fervent, vigorous engagement of the heart is the fruit of a real circumcision of the heart that alone has the promise of life: ?And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your children, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul that you may live? (Deut. 30:6).

2. Holy Affection

If we are not earnest in our religion, and if our wills and inclinations are not strongly exercised, we are nothing. The importance of religion is so great that no halfhearted exercise will suffice. In nothing is the state of our heart so crucial as in religion, and in nothing is lukewarmness so odious.

True religion is a powerful thing. The power of it appears, first, in the inward exercises of the heart (which is the seat of all religion). Therefore, true religion is called ?the power of godliness,? in contrast to the external appearances of it, i.e., the mere ?form?: ?Having the form of godliness but denying the power of it? (2 Tim. 3:5). The Spirit of God is a spirit of powerful holy affection in the lives of those who have a sound and solid religion. This is why it is written that God has given his people the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

When we receive the Spirit of God, we receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost who is like ?fire,? and along with it the sanctifying and saving influences of God. When this happens, when grace is at work within us, it sometimes ?burns? within us, as it was for Jesus? disciples (Luke 24:32).

3. The Exercising of the Will

The work of religion has been compared to the doing of exercises, wherein we desire to have our hearts engaged in God. Metaphors like ?running the race,? ?wrestling with God,? ?striving for the great prize,? and ?fighting I with strong enemies? are often used to describe the exercises we engage in.

But true grace has varying degrees. There are some who are new in the faith??babes in Christ??in whom the inclination to engage in these exercises is weak. Yet every one of us who has the power of godliness in our heart will be inclined to seek the things of God. And whatever our state, this power will give us strength enough to overcome our weak inclina¬tions so that these holy exercises will prevail over our weaknesses.

For every true disciple of Christ loves him above father and mother, sister and brother, spouse and children, houses and land?yes, even above his own life. From this it follows that wherever true religion is, there is a will that moves that person to spiritual exercises. But what we said before must be remembered:
the exercising of the will is nothing other than the affections of the soul.

4. The Spring of Action

The nature of human beings is to be inactive unless influenced by some affection: love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, etc. These affections are the ?spring of action,? the things that set us moving in our lives, that move us to engage in activities.

When we look at the world, we see that people are exceedingly busy. It is their affec¬tions that keep them busy. If we were to take away their affections, the world would be motionless and dead; there would be no such thing as activity. It is the affection we call covetousness that moves a person to seek worldly profits; it is the affection we call ambition that moves a person to pursue worldly glory; it is the affection we call lust that moves a person to pursue sensual delights. Just as worldly affections are the spring of worldly actions, so the religious affections are the spring of religious actions.

5. A Heart Deeply Affected

A person who has a knowledge of doctrine and theology only?without religious affection?has never engaged in true religion. Nothing is more apparent than this: our religion takes root within us only as deep as our affections attract it. There are thousands who hear the Word of God, who hear great and exceedingly important truths about themselves and their lives, and yet all they hear has no effect upon them, makes no change in the way they live.

The reason is this: they are not affected with what they hear. There are many who hear about the power, the holiness, and the wisdom of God; about Christ and the great things that he has done for them and his gracious invitation to them; and yet they remain exactly as they are in life and in practice.

I am bold in saying this, but I believe that no one is ever changed, either by doctrine, by hearing the Word, or by the preaching or teach¬ing of another, unless the affections are moved by these things. No one ever seeks salvation, no one ever cries for wisdom, no one ever wrestles with God, no one ever kneels in prayer or flees from sin, with a heart that re¬mains unaffected. In a word, there is never any great achievement by the things of religion without a heart deeply affected by those things.

6. True Religion

The Holy Scriptures clearly see religion as a result of affections, namely, the affections of fear, hope, love, hatred, desire, joy, sorrow, gratitude, compassion and zeal.

The Scriptures see religion as the result of holy fear. Truly religious persons tremble at the Word of God. It is his holiness that makes them fear. The fear of God is a great part of godli¬ness.

So also, hope in God and in the promises of God, according to the Scriptures, is a very important part of true religion. It is mentioned as one of the three great things of which reli¬gion consists (1 Cor. 13:13). ?Happy is the one whose hope is in the Lord? (Ps. 146:5). It is spoken of as the helmet of the Christian soldier, ?the hope of salvation? (1 Thess. 5:8). It is a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul (Heb. 6:19).

7. Participation in the Blessings

So also, love is given a high place in the Scriptures as a proper affection. We are called to love God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and our neigh¬bor. The texts that speak of the importance of love are too many to mention. The contrary affection?hatred?is also a part of true religion, but in the sense that we hate sin and evil: ?The fear of the Lord is to hate evil? (Prov. 8:13).

Also, holy desire, which finds its expression in longing and thirsting after God, is also a part of true religion. ?As the deer pants after the watering stream, so my soul pants after you, 0 Lord? (Ps. 42:1?2). Jesus also said, ?Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled? (Matt. 5:6). This holy thirst is spoken of as a condition of participation in the blessings of eternal life.

Also, the Scriptures speak of joy as a great part of true religion. ?Delight yourself in the Lord, and he shall give you the desires of your heart? (Ps. 37:4). It is mentioned among the principal fruits of the Spirit of grace: ?The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,...? (Gal. 5:22).

8. A Pleasing and Acceptable Sacrifice

Religious sorrow, mourning, and brokenness of heart are also frequently spoken of as a great part of true religion, a distinguishing quality of the saints. ?Blessed are they that mourn,? said Jesus, ?for they shall be comforted? (Matt. 5:4). lt is also a pleasing and acceptable sacrifice to God: ?The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, 0 God, you will not despise? (Ps. 51:17).

Another affection often mentioned is gratitude, the exercise of which much of true religion consists, especially as exercised in thankfulness and praise to God. This is spoken of so much in the Book of Psalms and other parts of the Bible I need not mention any particular texts.

In addition, the Holy Scriptures also speak of compassion as an essential affection in true religion, so much so that all of the good characters in the Bible demonstrate it. The Scriptures choose this quality as the one which will determine who is righteous: ?The righteous show mercy (Ps. 37:21). It is our way of honoring God: ?He that honors the Lord shows mercy to the poor? (Prov. 14:31). Jesus himself said it is the way we obtain mercy: ?Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy? (Matt. 5:7).

9. Missing from the Lukewarm

Finally, zeal is spoken of as a very essential part of true religion. It is spoken of as something which Christ had in mind for us when he paid for our redemption: ?Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works? (Titus 2:14). It was also the essential thing missing from the lukewarm Laodiceans (Rev. 3:15?16).

I have mentioned only a few texts out of an innumerable multitude to show that throughout the Bible, true religion is placed in the affections. The only way to deny this claim is to use some rule other than the Bible by which to measure the nature of true religion.



First one sheep jumped to its death. Then stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff, Turkish media reported.
Mark 5:12-13 - And the demons entreated Him, saying, "Send us into the swine so that we may enter them." And He gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them and they were drowned in the sea. (NAS)

Perhaps, but spooky nonetheless.


Nanny State Warning

This is really troubling.
A man arrested when police showed up to break up a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house has filed a lawsuit, arguing he had a constitutional right to get drunk on private property as long as he didn't cause a public disturbance.

Eric Laverriere, 25, of Portland, Maine, was taken into protective custody by Waltham police and locked in a cell for nine hours until the effects of the alcohol wore off.

Legal experts said his lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Boston, is the first to challenge a state law allowing police to lock up drunk people against their will for their own protection.
Much as drunkenness is not an attractive state for a person to be in, I cannot quite believe there is a law that allows detention simply for drunkeness. We have massive civil discussion and protest about a person's "right" to die with dignity (remember Terri Schiavo?), but that same person does not have aright to be drunk in their own home when they are not a public nuisance? That's seriously wrong.


Just 'Desserts'

Nothing better to finish in meal in the summer heat than a little watermelon. Well usually.
Eley's truck was repossessed July 29, 2002, a day when the temperature would reach 98 degrees with 89 percent humidity. She had missed two payments.

The men refused to let her unload the produce. And their boss refused to let Eley retrieve her melons later that day from the yard.
Not a very gentlemanly way to do business. Repossession is sad fact of life, I am not one of those that think the "repo man" is definitionally evil -- people who make thier payments, never meet one. But people in the repossession business don't do themselves any favors when they pull stunts like this. That's what made this wonderful
Two days later, the company had second thoughts.

"The watermelons are rotting, and the smell is polluting the storage lot," the company wrote to Eley, demanding that she take her melons or pay the cost of removing them.
A court decided that the repo firm had to pay the woman treble damages for the cost of the melons. It pays to do business in a straightforward fashion.


Not What's Needed

Open wheel racing in America has suffered greatly in recent years since CART split and IRL was formed. This left Formula One as the only really top notchopen wheel league in the world. And now they are threatening to do the same thing.
Formula One will fracture into two rival series unless Max Mosley steps down as president of motorsport's governing body the FIA.

That is according to Minardi team boss Paul Stoddart, who is acting as spokesman for the rival camp in F1's political dispute.

He told BBC Sport: "If Mosley stays in F1, there will be two series in 2008."
The CART/IRL split was, in part, about returning the sport to the fans. But I don't see that in this fight, which makes it all the more awful. It's gong to be several more years before IRL gets its act fully together and it is likley NASCAR is going to have to stumble (its inevitiable, I just don't know when) before open wheel can enjoy the fan support in America it once had. I am afraid that if F1 splits, open wheel might just disappear.

Maybe it's time dirt track sprints to go national again?


You Don't Say

Brains Not Like Computers, Study Finds

But a new study finds that language comprehension is not broken up into discrete chunks. Indeed, the brain may work in a more continuous, analog fashion - in which the yes-no, on-off, one-zero precision of the digital computer is only gradually achieved.
Gee, ya think? I mean we invented base 10 math first, and most people's heads explode when you ask them to do binary math, you would think if our brains really were binary it wouldn't be so hard, or am I being too logical again?


Mysterious Blog People?!

See the Mysterious 'Bog People'

Oh, Bog People - that's very different. Never mind. I must have been temporarily possessed by Emily Latella.

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