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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

the Cross in 1 Peter 3

a passage i'll be teaching on soon

This last Sunday I faced a fairly simple and straightforward passage: 1 Peter 3:8-12. It is a call to grace filled relationship: humility, unity, brotherly love, and the like. It is a call not to take revenge. It is an application of Psalm 34 and the pursuit of life. How does the Gospel fit into this? How can people see the Savior with faith and apply his work to their own lives?

God gave us grace to see this as we discussed the passage. The general pattern would be to preach an outline, to define each idea as clearly as possible, to illustrate it clearly. The goal would be people walking away with a clearer understanding of their duties. But is that what Peter had in mind?

Here is what we found: The cross is the center of the passage -- starting in 2:13 and going through 4:6. The Savior's sacrifice is there twice (2:21-24 and 3:18). We asked: How is Peter reflecting on the cross here?

The passage is about relationship -- and so is our redemption. How do we tie those two together?

It seems that Peter is calling them to relate to fellow Christians and to non-believing opponents in the same way that God has related to us. As I preached this I developed the meaning of the text and also pointed out that what Peter was defining was impossible for us. Then I noted that Peter is describing the Savior's relationship with us. We then spent considerable time meditating on the death of Christ and its fruit entirely from the perspective of relationship.

The question was this: How did God respond to us when we were offensive? How did God respond to us when we are rebels? We looked at the life of Jesus and considered how he treated his followers (who were, like us, stupid) and his enemies (who chased him his entire public life). It was amazing to consider the amazing, utterly grace filled, response of Jesus to his enemies and his friends.

I concluded with this: every difficulty in relationship is a window into our Savior's love, into his grace. We then applied this to various issues in relationship...

Post-modern evangelism

regarding post modern evangelism

And that brings me to my second observation -- whatever thinking we may do about how modernity has shaped our theological categories -- we must have the humility to recognize that the first centuries of the church were in non-modern culture. And in the midst of that culture, the Christians and their pastors made the truth so clear that they were martyred for the faith. A commitment to theological vagueness is a dishonor to those whose clarity brought their death.

And if we travel to places in the world where our Western modern world-view is utterly foreign (let's go to the heart of Hinduism in India or Buddhism in Sri Lanka) -- what do we find? We find brothers and sisters hated and persecuted and put to death because they bear clear testimony to the Gospel.

I get the impression from my reading that this kind of clarity is outmoded for our new day. I don't think so. Yes, we need to speak clearly and connect the dots of people's lives to the Gospel -- and we need to critique their world-view and show that it really finds its true hope in Jesus. But I don't think the problem is merely that we need to rethink the Gospel for a post modern time, I think the problem may be we need to renew our courage for the Gospel. Is there a fear of being clear enough to bring offense? What truth will we die for?

This means the second litmus test is this: am I prepared to die for the truth of the Gospel?

1000th post

i started this blog in the midst of the battle for Terri Schiavo's life in march 2005. in 22 months i've managed to produce 1000 posts, almost 2 per day, although i don't post daily. if there's nothing to say or something better to do, i won't post. i've had over 7000 hits since i added my hit counter in Nov. 2005. technorati ranks me in the 60,000th range. my tagging on the earlier posts are pretty weak but the tags show my priorities in blogging...
church
persecution
India
African-American
emerging church
abortion
homosexuality
house church
theology
politics
human rights
prayer
Islam
missions
book reports

and i guess these topics say something about me. but all those other topics on the side bar and in the zoom cloud add some more details. today's quote on my google home page is by George Bernard Shaw, "The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time." my high school english teach told us to write what we know. i know i don't write much, i mostly quote. something i did write got a lot of hits, the review of the Christian Mormon dialogue. nothing got close to the hits i got on kuppies and pittens. i hope some of those random hits turned into regular readers. lately i've had abundant hits on Tim Keller and hell. just last week, George Will's article about his son with Down Syndrome has attracted alot of attention. i think many of my readers come from the Pro-life blog aggregator which i'm glad i am a part of. in case one wonders where i get most of my links, i use the Feedblitz service to send me a daily update of all the blogs i read. i enjoy it much better than an RSS reader. i like it because it is static and removes me one step from instantly commenting on a blog in a knee jerk fashion. i suggest you also subscribe not only to this blog with it but all the others you read. if a blog has an RSS feed, Feedblitz can collect for you. angry commenting has certainly decreased on this blog since i insisted on identification.
thanks for sharing life here.

Haggard's accuser visits his church

and is graciously received.

Avoid the dangers of Scientology

Avoid the dangers of Scientology according to this writer's personal experience and research...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Beth's wise observation

Eric reports that Beth observed"doesn't it seem like americans are politically active when it concerns issues of sexuality but politically passive when it concerns issues of freedom?"

Saturday, January 27, 2007

classes at my church

now our church has a blog... my pastor does too...so does the youth pastor and the youth group. we have a radio station too that has live streams

glocaltrekker: small units and multiplication

at the Glocal Trekker blog by a mega-pastor Bob Roberts, Jr.
Where faith has exploded, it has never been because of the multiplication of mega-churches, but of smaller churches from 50 to 200. This happened in the early church, Europe, American history, and now it is happening in Asia. Nothing wrong with a mega-church if that’s what God has for a church. NorthWood is a mega-church, BUT to not know history is to make some major mistakes. Second, they don’t understand the nature of movements. Movements are personal and viral. Where movements have emerged, it hasn’t been because of the large, but because of the small. There is a difference between a fad and a movement. A fad is a short-lived growth spurt based on mass hype and enthusiasm. A movement is a long-term growing tsunami gathering every drop of water that will change the landscape of everyone and thing it touches.

So . . . I’m at a conference called Faith Forward at the Crystal Cathedral and I meet this young pastor David Phillips. His church isn’t a hundred and he walks up to me and begins talking and tells me what his church has already planted and how many they are planning to plant every year. HE’S THE SECOND GUY I’VE MET WHO IS AT A SMALLER CHURCH THAT HAS MADE CHURCH MULTIPLICATION A PRIMARY FOCUS! NorthWood started planting when we had 300, and, at the time, I thought we were too small. Mark Harris is a pastor in Tucson, Arizona. His church runs around 150 and has planted 18 other churches that when their total is combined represents around 4,000 people.

helpful thoughts on the U.S.

John Armstrong found an important quote recently.

I admit the statement struck me immediately with a sense that I needed to reflect on it further. I thought about it for some time today and then took down my dictionary to think about it more deeply.

The words I refer to are those of founding American father Alexander Hamilton, who created our central treasury, and in some ways gave to us the concept of a central federal government that developed after the Civil War. Hamilton is not, by any stretch of imagination, my favorite founder. But here is his quote that stopped me in my tracks today: "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one."

Disgrace? The word means a loss of favor or a downfall from a position of respect. It also refers to a cause of reproach or a thing or person involving dishonor. So, if I read Alexander Hamilton correctly, he is saying a nation that prefers to become a reproach, or to be deliberately deceived, or to willfully dishonor itself rather than face a serious or real danger, is likely to be mastered by a tyrant or a despot. Have we reached that point? Only God knows. I do wonder. I can't think that our civilization can stand for many decades given the moral vacuum we have created and generally now accept. The church is not guiltless in this turn toward disgrace since it has lost its saltiness and deep and true love for both the good and the just.

Friday, January 26, 2007

rescuing the child prostitutes

a first person account of the work of the International Justice Mission who tries to rescue children from sex markets....
The theology I learned at seminary in the northwest suburbs of Chicago didn’t seem to add up to much in South Asia sitting across from a little girl moments before she was raped. I would have long since conveniently buried this experience beneath a mountain of rationalizations if I hadn’t looked deep into the vacant eyes of a 12-year-old sex slave and vowed never to forget. Her expression cannot be purged from memory and sometimes my mind plays tricks by imposing her face on some little girl walking in the mall or playing at the park. Returning to my past world of ignorance would relieve my grief but I can’t go back, it no longer exists.

There are some details about my rude awakening in South Asia that I cannot relate to you. I traveled with a small band of highly trained professionals from International Justice Mission, which covertly deploys operatives around the globe, rescuing victims of horrific human rights crimes, usually involving children. I saw Batman Begins, but didn’t realize there are actually people who risk their lives under cover of night swooping in amidst the horror to save innocent young lives from the clutches of evil.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

6 y.o. girl rescued from Cambodian sex market

from CNN

She was sold to a brothel by her parents when she was 5. It is not known how much her family got for Srey, but other girls talk of being sold for $100; one was sold for $10.

Before she was rescued, Srey endured months of abuse at the hands of pimps and sex tourists...
Srey was rescued from the life of a sex slave by Somaly Mam, a former prostitute who runs shelters for the victims of Cambodia's sex trade. Somaly has rescued 53 children, so far. Many of them have profound psychological trauma. Some clearly are mentally ill...

One girl at Somaly's shelter appears especially disturbed. She was rescued after being imprisoned for two years in a cage, where she was repeatedly raped.

She needs psychiatric care, but there is none available. Somaly says she does her best to give this girl love and support, but that it's not easy with so many other needy children around...

Asked what the future holds for Srey, Somaly stroked the girl's hair and paused.

Srey is HIV-positive, she said.

In such a poor country, without decent hospitals or medical care, Srey's future is bleak. Somaly just hopes she can make this girl's life bearable for as long as it lasts.

O Lord, let your kingdom come and your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bible geo-caching

i'm reading through the Bible in 90 days. i'm finishing judges today. i've learned alot about Bible geography this month. keeping everything close together in time as i read it has enabled me to keep things in context in my head, including where all sorts of places are. some places aren't on my back of the book maps so i tried the Bible map site today. it's not great, but its not bad either. thanks to Boundless for the link.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

George Will and his son who has Down Syndrome

amazing essay in Newsweek by George Will wondering why doctors think he'd be better off if killed in the womb... i am over-quoting, but fear the article might not remain online very long...
Jan. 29, 2007 issue - What did Jon Will and the more than 350,000 American citizens like him do to tick off the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists? It seems to want to help eliminate from America almost all of a category of citizens, a category that includes Jon...The ACOG guidelines are formally neutral concerning what decisions parents should make on the basis of the information offered. But what is antiseptically called "screening" for Down syndrome is, much more often than not, a search-and-destroy mission: At least 85 percent of pregnancies in which Down syndrome is diagnosed are ended by abortions....Jon, a sweet-tempered man, was born the year before Roe v. Wade inaugurated this era of the casual destruction of pre-born babies. And he was born just as prenatal genetic tests were becoming routine. Since then, it has become routine to abort babies like Jon because they are like Jon. Without this combination of diagnostic advances and moral regression, there would be more people like Jon, and the world would be a sweeter place.

Jon was born at the end of the era in which institutionalization of the retarded was considered morally acceptable, but in what was still an era of gross ignorance: In the first year of Jon's life, a network-television hospital drama featured a doctor telling parents of a Down syndrome newborn that their child would probably never be toilet-trained. But ignorance lingers. There are doctors who still falsely counsel parents that a Down syndrome person will never read, write or count change. Such doctors should not try to get between Jon and his USA Today sports section.

In 1972, the odds were heavily against Jon's living as long as he already has lived. Just 25 years ago, the life expectancy of Down syndrome people was 25. Today, because of better health care, better mental stimulation in schools and homes, and better community acceptance, their life expectancy is 56.

Jon has a disability, but he also has some things most men would like to have—season tickets for Nationals and Orioles baseball, Redskins football, Capitals hockey and Georgetown University basketball. He gets to and from games (and to his work three days a week for the Nationals at RFK Stadium) by himself, taking public transportation to and from his apartment.

Jon experiences life's three elemental enjoyments—loving, being loved and ESPN. For Jon, as for most normal American males, the rest of life is details.

Monday, January 22, 2007

good analysis on Sunday NYT pro-abortion article

Get Religion comments on an article i was scanning today...

...Anyway, the piece is long, but not terribly illuminating. What pro-lifer is going to read the above few lines and feel their perspective is being given the benefit of the doubt? What pro-choicer will read the same without feeling a sense of self-satisfaction? What has been gained by that little swipe that is, in my experience, completely inaccurate in any case?

Bazelon tracks precisely one woman — Rhonda Arias — who says abortion was bad for her — and only very lightly, in the context of how the same woman now is an evangelical minister who counsels and ministers to other post-abortive women in prison. She gives lots of details about the woman — her past abortions, her preaching style, her emotional religiosity, her messed up childhood, etc. — and yet because the perspective of the author is so clear, it makes it hard to trust that her descriptions are in good faith. Rather, I kept wondering why this was the woman Bazelon chose as her lead/only anecdote. Bazelon also mentions the religious affiliations, mostly Roman Catholic, of many of those working to counsel women after their abortions.

What annoys me more than anything in abortion coverage is how the stories are always so political. This story is entirely political — about the politics of the abortion movement and (without realizing it, it seems) about the politics of the science surrounding whether or not post-abortion syndrome exists. And the reporter takes precisely the angle you would expect from the New York Times Sunday Magazine. I’ll note that it’s not the same angle I’d expect from the New York Times’ daily paper.

Like most people (statistically speaking) I have many friends who have had abortions. And while the vast majority of these friends remain pro-choice, they would be the first to tell you that the procedure’s effects are profound and long-reaching. Not so long ago, I was privy to a conversation with four pro-choice women who had their first or only abortions over a decade ago. They all spoke of effects that remained with them. Abortion-related nightmares; frequent remembrances of how old their child would be; etc. None of these women are pro-life. But because of the politics surrounding abortion, their situation — shared by millions of American women — receives no balanced coverage. Such after effects are picked up on as proof of abortion’s evils by pro-lifers and ignored for the same reason by pro-choicers...

Indian teen dies for his faith in Christ

from bosnews
a former Hindu died in the neighboring state of Madhya Pradesh as he was allegedly thrown off a train by militants of the Bajrang Dal.

Bansi Lal, 18, died of his injuries January 12, three days after the incident, AsiaNews agency reported. Police officials said initially that the incident in Devas district appeared to be a "case of suicide" but local Christians said too his death was the "latest example of religious persecution by Hindu extremists."

The young man converted to Christianity from Hinduism two and half years ago and had reportedly been threatened ever since as even his family did not approve of his decision.

roe v. wade anniversary

today, in 1973, abortion was made legal. justin taylor shares a video of what the effects of this legality has on our littlest citizens. be warned, you need a strong stomach to watch this. more images of babies killed in the philosophy of the culture of me can be found at abortionno.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

the Nigerian church

article summary at Crossroads. it seems that the large Islamic presence is really good for the church in Nigeria.

i deleted a post

i found out today an article i linked to was quoting a racist, and even if he makes a good point, unless he's repentant, i don't want to white wash his racist past...

Friday, January 19, 2007

signs of the apocalypse

absolutely hilarious and tragic from Worldmag blog
The letter "X" may soon be banned from Saudi Arabia after the country's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ruled against Amru Mohammad Faisal, a Saudi businessman who asked to trademark the English name "Explorer" for a service he was providing. The commission nixed the name because religious experts deemed the letter "X" suspiciously similar to a cross. Faisal mocked the commission in a newspaper article, wondering if they were going to ban the plus sign in mathematics, in order "to prevent filthy Christian conspiracies from infiltrating our thoughts, our beliefs, and our feelings."

dating and kissing

the Boundless blog asks if kissing is sinful? my wife and i also refrained from kissing...

OK, that's perhaps a needlessly inciting headline. But it does get us to focus like a laser beam on the morality of kissing someone you're not married to.

The point in Scott Croft's article, published this morning on Boundless, is that kissing as typically practiced within modern dating relationships is sexual in nature, and that there's no place for sexual activity outside of marriage:

God's design of sex doesn't merely include the act of sexual intercourse. It's also everything that leads up to that act, and everything on the sexual continuum is meant to end in that act. It's called foreplay, and it's a fundamental part of God's design for sex. To borrow (and embellish) an analogy from Michael Lawrence, sexual activity is like a down-hill on-ramp to a highway. It's one way, you gather momentum the second you enter it, and according to the Great Engineer's design of the highway system, there's only one reason to get on it.

It's a difficult teaching. But as I've mentioned before on this blog, I was able to practice it when I dated the girl I ended up marrying. And that proves that it's not impossible to put this teaching into practice.

Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. Biblical, and therefore beneficial? I'd say yes.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

51% not married but...

Boundless blog looks at the NYT's numbers on calculating 51% of women aren't married...
They arrived at that number by including "women" as young as 15, women whose husbands are deployed overseas, women who are currently separated and widows. They want us to believe marriage is on the outs.

today's bike ride

this morning, sunny, extra layers, no wind, 16F. going down hills hurt my forehead from the wind chill. my water bottle had iced up by the end of my 20 minute ride. i'm looking forward to the above 30F temps this afternoon for my ride home. why? no pain, no gain. no biking, no blood pressure lowering, no wallet fattening from no gassing up the car, no contribution to global green house gases, no quiet, no radio, no finding a dollar bill on the road, no sense of accomplishment.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

imperfect embryos: one answer to the problem of evil

more reflections on aborting the imperfect, from Challies,

[Matthew] Henry draws a final application: "the intentions of Providence commonly do not appear till a great while after the event, perhaps many years after. The sentences in the book of providence are sometimes long, and you must read a great way before you can apprehend the sense of them." Those who abort their children do not read to the end of those long sentences. Rather, thinking selfishly and looking only a few words ahead, they make the terrible decision to end a life, destroying the gift of God. Henry also writes "Those who regard [God] not in the ordinary course of things are sometimes alarmed by things extraordinary. How contentedly then may a good man be a loser in his comforts, while he is sure that thereby God will be one way or other a gainer in his glory!" (You may, as I did, have to read that last sentence a few times to gain the sense of it.) Those who choose abortion are unwilling to lose their comforts that God may gain His glory. This glory may not be miraculous as it was in the case of the man born blind, but God is glorified in every life that enters this world. Every one of us testifies to the Creator's wisdom, power, love and goodness. Countless millions have been destroyed and tossed away and we have never been able to rejoice in the gift of life God gave them. We have not been able to marvel in the attributes of God displayed so clearly in their lives.

When we abort those who are infirm, physically or mentally, we destroy boys and girls, men and women, in whom we ought to see the works of God displayed. We miss out on marvelous opportunities to see the works of God displayed in their lives. We miss opportunities to see God's glory increase, even if this involves a requisite decrease in our comfort. This ought to be a small price to pay.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

issues with racial reconciliation in CT

Christianity Today has a book review of Reconciliation Blues with some provocative thoughts,

I know many of my white friends and colleagues, both past and present, have grown irritated by the black community's incessant blabbering about race and racism and racial reconciliation. They don't understand what's left for them to do. "We have African Americans and other people of color on our staff. We listen to Tony Evans's broadcast every day. We even send our youth group into the city to do urban ministry. Can't we get on with it already? Haven't we done enough?"

I can empathize. I know that black people are tired of the blabbering as well. I would love to move on. Somehow, though, on our way to racial resolution, we've gotten stuck in the rut of familiar patterns. These patterns lead us to believe we've accomplished something simply by, for example, hiring a person of color or speaking to a person of another race at church or hugging someone we don't know at a conference 300 miles away from home. These types of gestures are good and necessary. But we should not let symbolism displace the purpose of the acts themselves.


an even more dense yet just as provocative piece called Catching up with a Dream appears also.

Rivers is less generous: "Much of the current race-relations discourse, like what happens at Promise Keepers, substitutes fundamentalist hugfests for the kind of deep, substantive dialogue that has a genuine impact on institutional decisions and public policy. Too much of the reconciliation rhetoric of white evangelicals focuses on interpersonal piety without any radically biblical conception of racial justice."

Oberlin College religion professor Albert G. Miller believes the church has a watered-down understanding of King's vision. "I think we are stuck in our image of King at the 1963 March on Washington," he says. "The 'I Have a Dream' King was a kinder, gentler King. There was a more complicated man that evolved after that point who was very frustrated with what he saw with the limited progress of blacks. In his latter days, King was not just protesting for blacks to eat at the lunch counter, but for blacks to have employment at the lunch counter and to own it."

Cheryl Sanders, professor of Christian Ethics at Howard University and senior pastor of Washington's Third Street Church of God, concurs. "The problem with the Dream language is that it draws attention away from the reality of what King was speaking about throughout his life. There's a danger of only seeing him as a dreamer, and if we only see him as a dreamer, we too easily let ourselves off the hook from dealing with the realities that he was dealing with."

Toward the end of his life, King returned to his Baptist theological roots, "stripping himself … of Protestant liberalism's pieties," writes Willy Jennings in BOOKS & CULTURE (March/April 1998), emphasizing the words of Jesus and the coming judgment.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Psalm 23

EEaYF has a great post on Psalm 23
Psalm 23

“The Lord is my Shepherd
That’s Relationship!

I shall not want
That’s Supply!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
That’s Rest!

He leadeth me beside the still waters
That’s Refreshment!

He restoreth my soul
That’s Healing!

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
That’s Guidance!

For His name sake
That’s Purpose!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
That’s Testing!

I will fear no evil
That’s Protection!

For Thou art with me
That’s Faithfulness!

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me
That’s Discipline!

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
That’s Hope!

Thou annointest my head with oil
That’s Consecration!

My cup runneth over
That’s Abundance!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
That’s Blessing!

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
That’s Security!

Forever.”
That’s Eternity!

Face it, the Lord is CRAZY ABOUT YOU!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

religion of the Bible is a missionary religion

Guy Muse quotes from The Whole Christian', "Proceedings of the International Conference of Christian Medical Students", ed. Lee Moy Ng (London: ICCMS and Christian Medical Fellowship, 1980), p. 46. to remind us...
There are the five parts of the Bible.

The God of the Old Testament is a missionary God, calling one family in order to bless all the families of the earth.

The Christ of the Gospels is a missionary Christ; he sent the church out to witness.

The Spirit of the Acts is a missionary Spirit; he drove the church out from Jerusalem to Rome.

The church of the epistles is a missionary church, a worldwide community with a worldwide vocation.

The end of the Revelation is a missionary End, a countless throng from every nation.

So I think we have to say the religion of the Bible is a missionary religion. The evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable. Mission cannot be regarded as a regrettable lapse from tolerance or decency. Mission cannot be regarded as the hobby of a few fanatical eccentrics in the church. Mission lies at the heart of God and therefore at the very heart of the church.

A church without mission is no longer a church. It is contradicting an essential part of its identity. The church is mission.

letter from a jail in Alabama

more specifically a jail in Birmingham, written by a preacher in 1963, who was held for advocating for equal treatment for people with a tiny genetic variation resulting in darker skin pigment...

I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I. compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place In Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through an these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation...

PMN talking to MLK

The Post Modern Negro writes

I wonder what my prayers would look like if an Evangelical Protestant like myself was allowed to pray to canonized saints.

I wonder what my prayers would look like if they were addressing slain prophet Martin Luther King Jr..

What would we talk about?

Of course…good Pentecostal that I am I would expect two-way communication. I would expect a response from the person I am addressing.

But if I could pray to St. Martin what would the conversation be like?

Although I do not believe in praying to saints (no disrespect to my Catholic brothers and sisters) I wonder what a prayer session with St. Martin would be like.

Can you imagine that?

This weekend on the eve of observing Dr. King’s b’day I will be hosting three prayer sessions with Saint Martin. Each day I will begin with an opening petition. I will begin tomorrow.

What will he say to me?

day 1 has begun

Friday, January 12, 2007

interesting movie

just stop and think is not unlike those nooma videos...a guy walking around (with a surfboard) and talking about God.
unfortunately, you only have to look for nooma on you tube and you'll see alot of knockoffs. rob bell had a good idea and everyone jumps on the bandwagon. high production. good message. but it's time for the parodies. they are on you tube also. in the world of the new media, ideas get old too quick.
as for just stop and think, it also comes with alot of resources on other religions. good stuff

faith in darwin

from the point

n astute reader noted that a Darwinist proponent would respond with their standard mantra, "absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence,” while holding that, in regards to God, “absence of evidence IS evidence of absence.” He’s quite right, as I’ve found in a number of dialogues with materialists. When I point out their little double standard the fun begins.

against embryonic stem cells

the newly elected US Congress wants to override the President's veto of support for ESC (embryonic stem cell) research, despite the great news about amniotic stem cells that came out this week. so for a quick review, here is the argument against using ESC from CADRE comments. (short summary-they're people)
For those of us who accept this argument and believe that the people supporting ESC research are killing an innocent human being when they destroy the embryo to obtain its stem cells, the logic is clear. We understand that there are reasons to believe that ESC research might -- maybe, possibility -- result in some types of treatments for spinal cord injuries (ala, Christopher Reeve) or Parkinson's Disease (ala, Michael J. Fox) or Alzheimer's Disease (ala, Nancy Reagan's views about President Reagan) or any number of other diseases, but we have a very difficult time supporting the killing of another human being to do so.

By analogy, there are people out there who suffer from kidney or liver diseases where there lives could be saved or improved by a kidney or liver transplant. Of course, that doesn't give anyone the right to go out and kill another person to remove their liver or kidney for that transplant. We don't allow our compassion for the suffering of one person to allow the killing of another to ease that suffering. The ends don't always justify the means -- especially when the means involves the death of another human being.

wonderful summary on NT Wright

Jim Hamilton gives a wonderfully gentle critique of NTW. here is a snippet

When I read Paul’s letters, it sure sounds like he’s dealing with legalism.

Correct. Wright likes to set statements that Paul makes in the wider context of the whole story of the Bible. This wider story often controls Wright’s interpretation of Paul’s words—to the exclusion of the words themselves.

Okay, so if Paul isn’t confronting works based righteousness, what is he confronting?

In Wright’s system, justification isn’t about “getting in” or “becoming a Christian.” Instead, justification is about being identified with the community God is going to vindicate when the final verdict is handed down. So the important point is not an individual conversion experience but participation in the community God is going to justify. So in Wright’s view, the “works” that Paul is opposing are not things people do to earn God’s favor, they are things people do to be part of the community. For Wright, circumcision in Galatians is a badge of membership in the community. In this scheme, faith, rather than “works of law,” is the badge one wears to signify one’s membership in the community.

Is this really what Paul means?

Well, if you read Galatians from Wright’s paradigm, you might be able to make the words Paul uses mean what Wright says they mean. The question is whether Paul means for the words to be understood this way, and to determine that we have to compare what Paul says in Galatians with what he says elsewhere. The question is whether Paul says things in other places that cannot fit Wright’s scheme. If so, the concepts in Galatians probably don’t mean what Wright says they do.

Well, does what Paul says elsewhere fit Wright’s scheme?

That’s something that we all have to engage in Pauline theology to determine. Read Romans 9:30–32 for yourself:

ESV Romans 9:30 “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works.”

This language about having a “righteousness that is by faith” as opposed to pursuing a righteousness “based on works” sure makes it look like we get declared righteous, justified, by God when we believe. How does Wright understand this?

The traditional protestant understanding has been that Jesus took our sin and we get his righteousness. In other words, our trespasses are imputed to him, and he suffers for them in our place. Likewise, his righteousness is imputed to us, and we stand before God clothed in his righteousness. Several texts in the New Testament, taken together, lead to this position (Rom 4:1–8; 5:12–21; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Cor 1:30; Phil 3:9; Rom 9:30–10:4, see Brian Vickers’ book, Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness).

Wright’s system only works if Paul is not talking about the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Without imputation, Wright’s view that justification means being identified with the community that will be vindicated makes sense. Wright doesn’t believe that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to believers.

Ouch. That’s some cause for concern, but lots of scholars push the envelope. Why are people so exercised about Wright?

He’s not only a capable scholar at the highest technical levels, he’s taking his message to the people. Here’s a guy who is writing a 6 volume Theology of the New Testament (Christian Origins and the Question of God) that will make him the most influential NT scholar since Bultmann, and he’s also putting his views in dozens of little popular books for mass consumption. On top of that, he’s a charming speaker with a British accent, and this accent, of course, makes everything he says sound right.

But that’s not all. Evangelicals love him not only for the way he dressed down the Jesus Seminar but for his masterful defense of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Further, his first book was actually a defense of the Doctrines of Grace published by Banner of Truth. So he seems to come from the evangelical fold, and this can make his ideas even more attractive.

in utero vids on you tube

the boundless blog notes the presence of intentionally pro-life videos on you tube of early 2nd trimester babies.
They show 4D footage of pre-born children in the womb.

First of all, the ultrasound images are amazing. These are 16-17 week fetuses, nowhere near ready to come out of the womb, yet they look like fully formed babies. It really makes the answer to the question, "What is it?" quite obvious.

Since it is obvious that a child in the womb is more than a lump of tissue, the debate really comes down to one thing: choice. Last year I wrote an article called, "Sanctity of Human Choice." In it, I address the reality that a woman's right to choose has become the most important factor in the abortion debate.

Honestly, I think the idea of choice goes way beyond abortion. In our society we have exalted our "right" to do what we want above others' feelings, our own good and, in the case of abortion, above the sanctity of life itself. The way so many people think about abortion is really just a symptom of a culture that has become obsessively self-involved.

January is Sanctity of Human Life Month, and I think it's so crucial for us to take the issues of life and choice seriously. For more information, you can check out the Web site, Be A Voice.

Also, here are the links to those YouTube videos; they're pretty amazing:

Women's Rights

Don't Tell Me How To Live!

Life...

If I Am...

a redemption story in Glamour mag

amazing story at the Breakpoint blog

Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Glamour -- what kind of articles do you expect from those magazines? The usual answer would be "the kind from which you want to shield your child's eyes at the grocery checkout line." And "'feminist' rantings about sexual empowerment in any and every form -- and line of work."

Well, Glamour started the year with an unexpected gem about redemption and restoration -- and changing the culture (H/T Thunderstruck). An article about Harmony Dust tells her story from abused child to stripper to a redeemed life in which she now runs Treasures Out of Darkness to reach out to women caught in the stripping industry. (Warning: an instance of profanity, descriptions of stripping.)

And rather than praising stripping as an "empowering" alternative for women "in charge of their bodies," Glamour presents the "industry" as Harmony sees it, which is exactly as it is: a "soul-killing" trap.

Although Treasures started with a budget of zero—“all we had was the church’s copier”—today it operates with a $10,000 grant and has 100 volunteers; Harmony would like to take the group national. The Treasures office, located in Harmony’s house, gets hundreds of calls and e-mails each year, and now offers services beyond phone help. “We will go with women to their first drug or alcohol counseling session,” Harmony says. “We have assisted girls with their resumes and provided job referrals. There are times when a caller has driven to my house late at night, just to talk.” Not all the calls are from strippers. “I recently met with a woman who asked me to support her after leaving the porn industry,” Harmony says.

This is what redeeming and restoring the culture looks like.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hugo Chavez - head in the sand

two questions of Mr. Chavez. do you read communist history? do you care how many lives are sacrificed before failure is acknowledged?

here's a brief article at the Acton Institute

India: beating on the clergy

from Compass Direct

MUMBAI, India, January 10 (Compass Direct News) – Seven youths beat Pastor Robert Kennedy of Bangalore in Karnataka state on Sunday (January 7), after asking him to “pray for a sick friend.” The pastor required 16 stitches to his head and back after the assault.

In neighboring Andhra Pradesh state, Hindu extremists beat two pastors on January 6 and 7, and another on December 28, after warning them to cease Christian activities in their villages.

Pastor Kennedy and the small congregation of Jesus Preeti Church had gathered for worship for about and hour on Sunday morning when seven young men entered the house church and sat down. They talked among themselves, and one of them made calls on his mobile phone as Kennedy preached.

At about 12:30 p.m., when the service had ended and the believers had left, the youths approached Kennedy and asked him to accompany them to the home of a sick friend who needed prayer.

Since the house was supposedly nearby, Kennedy asked some of the young men to bring the patient to the church for prayer.

As three in the group made their way towards the front door, the others turned on the pastor and beat him severely.

“Suddenly all four attacked me, slapping my face, back and chest,” Kennedy told Compass. “One of them grabbed the microphone stand and struck me across the back, causing a deep gash, and blood began flowing out.”

The three who had not yet left the church came back and slapped the pastor, who had fallen to the floor. They then struck him with the circular base of the microphone stand, causing severe bleeding.

“They said to me, ‘You were telling everyone that Christ shed his blood – now you do the same,’” Kennedy added.

The youths also beat a church member identified only as Rajendran, who by chance returned to the church.

Kennedy believed his assailants were members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or some other Hindu extremist group, since “they were mocking the teachings of Christ.”

Ten minutes after the assault began, the youths left. Rajendran called for assistance from other church members and Kennedy was taken to a nearby clinic, where he received 13 stitches to his back and three stitches to his head.

Kennedy later filed an official complaint at the Rajgopal police station. At press time no arrests had been made....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Roman hypocaust

a friend and reader who works in the HVAC industry directed me to the ancient Roman radiant floor heating method, the hypocaust

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

radiant floors again

another Northern European invention. closed loop warm air circulation in a concrete floor, Legalett. i had written about another system earlier, but it was a warm air system that circulated in the floor before blowing out of registers into the room.

Monday, January 08, 2007

amniotic stem cells

Joe Carter reports
In a remarkable medical breakthrough, scientists from Harvard and Wake Forest report that they have discovered a new source of stems cells that have the ability to create muscle, bone, fat, blood vessel, nerve, and liver cells in the laboratory. These newly discovered stem cells, which they have named amniotic fluid-derived stem (AFS) cells, may represent an intermediate stage--“halfway houses”--between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. The research, which has been ongoing for the past seven years, was reported in yesterday’s Nature Biotechnology....


ESC: [embryonic] Requires destruction of a human embryo to obtain cells.
AFS: [amniotic] Obtaining cells is ethically unproblematic.

ESC: If genetic matches for transplantation could be obtained at all, it would come from the creation and destruction of cloned human embryos.
AFS: Genetic matches for transplantation can be obtained from discarded placentas.

ESC: Therapeutic uses impeded because they are tumorigenic.
AFS: Do not produce tumors.


an open letter to Living Stream Ministry and the "Local Churches"

Living Stream is another aberrant off-shoot of Christianity and tries to establish itself through the court system.


Living Stream Ministry and the "local churches" (also known as The Lord's Recovery), both founded by the late Witness Lee, have been involved for decades in legal and theological controversies with noted Christian institutions and leaders. In light of this history of litigation and conflict, we the undersigned make this public appeal.

Because the following statements by Witness Lee appear to contradict or compromise essential doctrines of the Christian faith, we respectfully call on the leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the "local churches" to disavow and cease to publish these and similar declarations:

If the leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the "local churches" regard evangelical Christians as fellow believers, we request that they publicly renounce the use of lawsuits and the threat of lawsuits against evangelical Christians to answer criticisms or resolve conflicts. The New Testament strongly discourages the use of lawsuits to settle disputes among Christians (see 1 Corinthians 6:1-8).

If the leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the "local churches" do not regard evangelical Christian churches, organizations, and ministries as legitimate Christian entities, we ask that they publicly resign their membership in all associations of evangelical churches and ministries.

In either case, we respectfully request that the leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the "local churches" discontinue their practice of using litigation and threatened litigation to answer criticisms or settle disputes with Christian organizations and individuals.


signed by a long list of evangelical scholars and leaders

Sunday, January 07, 2007

GM's plug-in electric car 2.0

it's still at the concept stage...

Introduced at the North American International Auto Show here, the Chevrolet Volt will draw power exclusively from a next-generation battery pack recharged by a small onboard engine -- if the technology is ready in two or three years.

"We have a thoroughly studied concept, but further battery development will define the critical path to start of production," said Jon Lauckner, a GM vice president for product development.

The Volt is designed to run for 40 miles on pure electric power, making it marketable for everyday family use.

For the average American driver who drives 40 miles a day, or 15,000 miles a year, the Volt will require no fuel and lead to an annual savings of 500 gallons of gasoline, GM said.

Unlike current gas-electric hybrids, which use a parallel system twinning battery power and a combustion engine, the Volt will be driven entirely by electric power.

GM has some bad history to atone for with electric cars. the question is, can environmentalist paupers afford it?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

movie review: the color of paradise

The Color of Paradise is an Iranian movie with subtitles. It's about the blind son of a widower. The father's village culture can't "see" past the disability, so he must hide his son in order to get married again. but who is the blind one? deep and hard questions are asked about God. its the problem of evil. it is powerful.
i love these middle eastern movies. it is so refreshing to look at the world without American lenses on.

Friday, January 05, 2007

call him Master! what?

a horrific story from 20/20 about domestic violence and the years long spiral of abuse and the last straw till she escaped. the worst part is the video the father insisted the son film while he abused her for an hour, which she eventually used in his criminal case, which ended up in his sentence of 36 years. her co-workers heard her call him "master" on the phone.

1 peter 3 refers to this practice of Sarah, but what is the context?

The Example of Holy Women of Old (3:5-6) Bible.org

5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. 6 Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.93

A “gentle and quiet spirit” is totally the opposite of the spirit of the contentious wife of Proverbs (see Proverbs 21:9, 19). The spirit or disposition which underlies submission is of crucial importance. Peter turns our attention to the “holy women of old,” not to remind us of how they dressed but to point to their submissive spirit, their source of true beauty. Notice these women were submissive to their “own” husbands, not because their trust was in their husbands but because their hope was in God. They trusted God to work through their husbands and to work in spite of them. Their hope, like every Old Testament saint (see Hebrews 11), was not in this life but in the kingdom of God to come. Their hope was in God alone who would bring it to pass.

Sarah is the one woman Peter identifies by name. Quite frankly, I would never have picked Sarah for she always seemed to be a kind of feminine counterpart to Lot. As I read Genesis 16 and 21, I find Sarah a little hard to like. She, like Lot and every other saint, was not a perfect saint. But she did exemplify the submissive spirit of which Peter speaks.

Peter refers to Sarah calling Abraham “lord,” as recorded the one time in Genesis:

9 Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “Behold, in the tent.” 10 And he said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. 12 And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” 13 And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear [a child,] when I am [so] old?’ 14 “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 Sarah denied [it] however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh” (Genesis 18:9-15).

Sarah may have called Abraham lord at other times, but this instance is especially noteworthy. Peter has been contrasting inner beauty with outer adornment and the beauty of a “gentle and quiet spirit.” This passage in Genesis illustrates Sarah’s spirit.

The angels have come to Abraham’s camp and been invited to stay for a meal. They then announce to Abraham that at this time next year Sarah will have a son. Sarah seems to have been eavesdropping, for when she heard the prophecy of a son, she laughed to herself. The words recorded in Genesis 18:12 are the words Sarah thought to herself. She did not speak them aloud, although the Lord was aware that she laughed inwardly.

Most of us speak respectfully to someone’s face, even if hypocritically. But Sarah spoke to herself calling Abraham “lord,” indicating the way she really thought of him. In her mind, Abraham was not “the old man,” but her master, her lord. And she, as it were, was his servant. In her heart, she was submissive to her husband, which made her a beautiful woman and an example for all to follow.

Abraham is sometimes referred to as the “father” of those who believe in Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile by birth (see Romans 4:11-12; Galatians 3:7, 16, 29; Hebrews 2:16). Here, Sarah is called the “mother” of all those women who walk in her footsteps and who respect and obey their husbands: “and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

If I understand the passage correctly, “without being frightened by any fear” parallels the earlier expression of a “gentle and quiet spirit.” Some Christian psychiatrists speak of the “typical hysterical female,” a characterization I am not certain I like. Peter talks about the godly Christian wife as being exactly the opposite. She is not hysterical or panic-stricken about the future,94 for her hope is fixed on God. She calmly and quietly submits to her husband,95 knowing God’s purposes will be achieved because of or in spite of her husband.

Can you imagine leaving your homeland, your family, and all of your friends to go to a place God has not even yet revealed (see Genesis 12:1-3)? How many times did Abraham come to his wife to tell her God had instructed him to do what appeared to be foolish? As far as I can tell, Sarah was never present when God gave Abraham his instructions (except this one time in Genesis 18). It could have been a most terrifying thing to have been married to Abraham and follow him without being frightened by any fear. But Sarah did submit to Abraham, first in her spirit, and then on a day-by-day basis.96 For this, she became an example of godly submission to all of us.


there is a contrast in this very same passage though regarding husbands...
from Emotional Abuse and your Faith blog
1 Peter 3:7 You husbands, in like manner, live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman, as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life; that your prayers may not be hindered.

The Author of this article has a different view of what some seem to target on when people speak of the weaker vessel.

So we’ll follow a little tangent before answering your question. Notice this verse’s context. Peter was urging Christian wives to recognize their husband’s headship. He encourages them to do so even if their husbands are unbelievers. In such circumstances, Christian wives weren’t to give in to the fear that their unbelieving husbands will abuse their headship. Left unspoken is the confidence Christian woman have that the Lord knows how to protect his own.

Peter now continues by urging Christian husbands to let no such sinful abuse of headship be found among us. Peter urges Christian husbands to be considerate as they live with their wives. Then comes the phrase we’ll discuss which lists one reason a Christian husband shows such consideration.


The verse above says that men and woman are CO-HEIRS to God's grace. Since women are equal in that way she should be treated with loving consideration. The verse also says if men ignore this fact that their prayers will be hendered. Pretty darn good reason to NOT abuse your headship wouldn't you say?

Peter closes by warning Christian husbands who may be tempted to ignore this encouragement. If we neglect such consideration, we don’t just damage our relationship with our wife. We damage our relationship with our God. We "hinder [our] prayers." If I live as an inconsiderate head towards my wife, I am asking my Head to treat me that same way! That’s enough to send all Christian husbands to Christ’s cross to confess our lack of consideration. Only there in forgiving grace do we find the power to treat our wives as the co-heirs of grace they truly are.


The author says that the husband's don't just damage their relationship with the wife, but they also damage their relationship with God. If I treat her "LESS THAN" I will be asking God to treat me as so! OUCH! The author is correct when mentioning its a pretty darn good reason to make sure you treat your spouse as God would have you treat them!

Why ask Christian husbands to be considerate toward their wives? As far as our bodies are concerned, the wife tends to be at a physical disadvantage. Peter appears to be warning Christian husbands not to abuse their physical strength so as to cause in "the weaker partner" the fear unbelieving husbands often cause. We don’t have to read too many headlines to understand this warning!


It seems the weaker vessel means the women's physical makeup, and it doesn't mean "weaker" in a derogatory manner as some attempt to spin that. It would make sense also! Why would God wish his co-heirs in Grace to be abused just because their physical strength is not there compared to man's? It doesn't mean women are LESS THAN, but made differently! Its says in scripture in many different places to help those in trouble, sick, hungry, and weak both in body and spirit! We are not to help them in this LOFTY way, as in we are BETTER, BIGGER, STRONGER than you! We are to be doing that because of consideration, respect, and love that God wishes us to show towards all! Why would God mean it differently towards wifes/women just because of their physical strength? I feel sorry for the men I hear out there speaking of this differently. Peter warned in this passage what happens to them. If people would feel the spirit of the words, instead of taking things so legalistically they would be much better off! I see so much talk of how woman are LESS THAN, and as we can see that meaning seems to have got a bit twisted!

The author ends by saying:

But I’ll finish by pleading with all who read this verse not to get "stuck" on its "weaker" part ("weaker" only by our mis-perception). As Christian men and women see the beauty of a passage that exalts us as "heirs together of God’s gracious gift of life."

in conclusion, abuse is not acceptable in the Christian marriage, neither physical or emotional and needs to be repented of and often needs intensive counseling, even more than what a pastor alone can provide. marriage is a picture of Jesus' love for his church. with that concept in mind, we see why Christian marriage vows are so intense. Jesus is the highest standard.

blessed with a Down's child

another story describing the blessing of parenting a Down's Syndrome child
(HT: Veritas Forum)

and many of us are wondering why we allow parents to abort children with Down's

Yesterday, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a press release recommending that all pregnant women, not just those over 35, be offered screening for Down syndrome. Unstated but implicit in this statement is the assumption that mothers carrying children with Down syndrome will want the option to abort their babies. After all, who would want to let live a child who will likely have multiple health issues and may never be able to live independently? What a burden.

But to all those parents who have brought Down syndrome children into this world and lovingly raised them, I say thank you. Thank you for Janine, who was surprised and delighted anew each time she "met" me to realize that our names rhymed. Thank you for Beth, who enthusiastically and loudly answered the rhetorical questions in the pastor's sermon. Thank you for Clifford, who made a joyful noise to the Lord from the balcony of the church. Thank you for letting us share in the unbridled joy of your children, who remained children in all their infectious enthusiasm long after their bodies had passed that stage. Thank you for giving other children the chance to know someone "different" and to realize that different is okay. Your choice for life has enriched us all.

pray for your missionaries

Guy is a missionary and he wants prayer for stuff that m's i talk to often need prayer for too. so pray for Guy, but also pray for your friends who are m's.

James 5:16 exhorts us to, "confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed..."

As we begin a new year, I have many sins to confess in my life...I need to be healed...will you pray?

My list includes: resentments, supressed anger, weariness, tired of the battle, longing to be elsewhere, lack of love for the people we are called to serve, laziness, spiritual dryness, passionless prayer and devotional life...

I don't mean to imply that God is not at work around us and in us. He is doing many wonderful things. I am indeed grateful for what I see are clear blessings and His presence and working in our lives.

But where is the joy I once knew in the Lord? Where is the passion for souls? The thrill of being one of his servants? What happened to the creativity and energy I used to have for serving Him? I don't know.

TSK gives blogging advice

all about getting yourself noticed in google,

Thursday, January 04, 2007

free MIT classes

what do you want to learn?

evolution disproved

"We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true." Robert Wilensky

increasing Muslim conversion to Jesus

The American Daily reports
“More than 10,000 Muslims accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior throughout India during the last year. The Bible Society of India publishing thousands of New Testaments for the Muslims with their own terminology and vocabulary in different Indian languages and Tazi language.

“Pastor Paul Ciniraj Mohamed, the Director of the Salem Voice Ministries, is one of the key persons of the Bible translators of the Bible Society of India to reach the Gospel to the Muslims. He is in the midst of persecution. Recently also he was threatened by the extremists to count down his days along with the whole family.

“In Iraq, more than 5,000 Muslim converts to Christianity have been identified since the end of major combat operations, with 14 new churches opened in Baghdad, and dozens of new churches opened in Kurdistan, some of which have 500 to 800 members. Also, more than one million Bibles shipped into the country since 2003, and pastors report Iraqis are snatching them up so fast they constantly need more Bibles.”

No doubt much of the evangelism success with Muslims is due to intercessory prayer. Those believers in the free world have offered heaven their own petitions for divine truth to be revealed to Islamics. God has blessed those intercessions with practical, real-life conversions to Christ.

“Thousands of Muslims turned to Christ and worshipping Lord Jesus in Morocco, Somalia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Maldievs.

“Around a million believed in Jesus over the past decade in Egypt. The Egyptian Bible Society used to sell about 3,000 copies of the JESUS film a year in the early 1990s. But last year they sold 600,000 copies, plus 750,000 copies of the Bible on tape (in Arabic) and about a half million copies of the Arabic New Testament.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

against New Years resolutions

 we talked about this today at work church
I have to admit that I have no fondness for New Year's resolutions. It has been my experience that they have two possibilities. Either I will fail to keep my resolution (perhaps not immediately, but after a time) and will therefore feel shame, or, I will discipline myself to achieve the resolution and feel a sense of pride in the accomplishment. Neither shame nor pride is a healthy state for the soul.

But I have found it only takes a slightly altered attitude towards resolution-making to avoid these ends. Instead of New Year's resolutions I have experimented with crafting a list of prayers for the New Year. Thus, if I do not act in conformity to the prayers I pray--for example, if I pray to stop sinning in a particular way but take no steps to avoid the temptation--the proper response is repentance. If God answers my prayers, the proper response is thanksgiving. Both repentance and thanksgiving are healthy states for the soul...


book report- Pol Pot: anatomy of a nightmare

i'm sure my vacation reading choices are abnormal and a sign of some psychological issues. Philip Short has written an excellent biography with insights into the genocidal mind of Pol Pot. Before he changed his name, after Stalin's custom, Pol Pot's name was Saloth Sar.

"The Cambodian revolutionaries could care very little about Communism. It was only a means to an end. The end was the overthrow of the monarchy, personified in Prince Sihanouk. Hence, although Marx's theory was the workers would overthrow their oppressors, Cambodia had very few in the working class which the Communists couldn't rally so the revolution had to come from the peasants. Subsequently, as in most Communist thought, the refusal of reality to conform to theory meant that the workers had been wrecked, "by 1965 they decided that the factories had been 'infiltrated' and 'the workers transformed into enemy agents'. From then on, factory workers were systematically refused admission to the Party...The problem with this approach was that it stood Marxism on its head. To Marx, the industrial proletariat represented progress; the peasantry represented backwardness and petit-bourgeois extremism...To Sar, the was out of this difficulty was provided by Buddhism...To 'proletarianise' the peasantry, all that was needed, in this Buddhist-inspired scheme of things, was 'proletarian consciousness'. Class, which to Marxists everywhere else, including the Chinese, was determined by a person's economic activity, was for Cambodian communists a mental attribute." (p.149)
Short foreshadows forebodingly, "Theravada Buddhism is intensely introspective. The goal is not to improve society or redeem one's fellow men; it is self-cultivation, in the nihilistic sense of the demolition of the individual...Both within the Party leadership and among the rank and file, the grammar of Theravada Buddhism permeated Khmer communist thought, just as Confucian notions helped to fashion Maoism. In neither country was this a conscious undertaking...But just as Mao ad sinified Marxism, Sar gave it a Buddhist tincture." (p.150)
The Cambodian Communists party needed the assistance of their historic enemies, the Vietnamese but constantly chafed under them. When a right wing coup arose, the Vietnamese urged an alliance with the Prince, but on another side of Cambodia a similar situation taught Sar a lesson. "The fate of the Indonesian Communist Party, which had supported Sukarno, gave legitamacy to this new strategy. After his overthrow, some 300,000 Indonesian Party members ad been slain in anti-communist massacres. The lesson for Sar was that the bourgeoisie could not be relied on. The Vietnamese strategy was wrong. It was not possible for the communists to 'live together with Sihanouk' because the contradictions between them were too deep." (p.164) It seems to me that culturally, lives are cheap in Southeast Asia. Pol Pot later caused the deaths through famine and oppression of 3 to 5 times as many people. Mao similarly was responsible for at least 10 times as many deaths. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to matter what the political power, the means cannot be obstructed by the living.
The Cambodian party made its efforts at brainwashing through "the methods [of] 'criticism and self-criticism', manual labor, and the study...'learning by heart and reciting' - of Communist Party texts. Criticism and self-criticism took place at so-called 'lifestyle meetings', held in small groups, usually twice a week but in some units every evening. Members of each section met together - kitchen staff, for instance; or guards; or cadres who worked together in the same bureau - under the leadership of an older member, and each in turn would publicly confess his errors in thought and deed since the previous session." (p.233) The individual lost his privacy and slowly his identity. "The aim of these 'introspection meeting'. as they were also called, was to make the participants look into their own souls and strip away everything that was personal and private until their individuality was leached out, their innermost thoughts exposed before their peers and existence outside the group made meaningless. Mutual surveillance and denunciation were a key part of the process, which required a climate of perpetual vigilance and suspicion. Like monks at confession, opening their hearts to God, the young Khmers 'gave themselves to the Party', becoming one with a revolution which, in theory at least, replaced all other relationships." (p.234) Like a good cult leader, Pot was able to make himself the only person that anyone could trust.
For those not willingly joining the revolution, such as the urbanites who were expelled from the cities after their capture, their identities could be shredded also. "For those who survived the march and the spot checks to which former army officers and civil servants were subjected, there remained one further test. When they reached their home villages, or in some cases even before, adult deportees were required to write a short autobiography. This was a technique devised by the Chinese Communist Party in the 130s to test applicants for Party membership and as a vehicle for self-criticism during rectification campaigns. In the 1940s and '50s the Viet Minh went a step further, making the repeated writings of life-stories the central plank of a sophisticated process of indoctrination aimed at non-communist intellectuals. The Cambodian communists took the process to its logical extreme, eventually requiring everyone in the country to write out a personal history describing their family background, their activities since childhood, and above all how they had spent the years when Lon Nol [the right wing coup leader] was in power. Educated people were judged by the style and language they employed as well as the content of what they wrote. Scribes assisted the illiterate. As ever, Khmer Rouge cadres promised clemency, assuring all who had held posts in the republican administration that, if the were honest about their past, the new regime would make use of their talents. Many fell into the trap...Former military men, civil servants, architects, doctors, engineers, lawyers, schoolteachers and university students were sent for 're-education'. For the first two categories, this was often a euphemism for death...In a commune in the supposedly liberal East, sixty former civil servants and professional people underwent a three-month 're-education course' consisting of intense physical labour, a starvation diet and repeated interrogations. All but three died." (pp.279-280)
Returning ex-patriot Cambodians who willingly came back to join the revolution were also in need of re-education. "The ultimate aim was to demolish the personality, 'that hard, tenacious, aggressive shell which in its very essence is counter-revolutionary', as on Khmer rouge cadre put it; the preferred method, a 'surgical strike' to destroy 'the individual', who, in contradistinction to 'the people', defined as the embodiment of good, was seen as the root of every imaginable evil. Personality was a 'property of the bourgeoisie, whereby they crush the masses...It is what enables them to throw out their chests and hold their heads high...It is the stuff of which imperialists and colonialists are made.' The ultimate goal for a Khmer Rouge was ' to have no personality at all'. To eradicate it, the 'strike' was directed at the individual's most vulnerable point - his family relations, perhaps, or educational background of ties with a foreign country - in order to decondition him, liberating his behaviour from the acquired reflexes of his former life, before building a new persona on the basis of revolutionary values. The process was repeated with increasing refinement, through self-examination and public confession, until a new man emerged who embodied loyalty to Angkar [the Khmer Rouge], alacrity and non-reflection." (pp.317-318)
Of course the message went on and on. "For now, the nightly message was 'to work hard, produce more and love Angkar', to 'build and defend the nation' and to reject the selfish, individualistic values of Western-style capitalism. It was government by incantation. the village leaders knew their lines so well, on man noticed, that 'every time they spoke they put the punctuation marks exactly where they had been the day before.' The repetition was deliberate, the cadres emphasized. It was designed, like a Buddhist sermon, to 'impregnate' people's minds so deeply with a single idea that there would be no room for any other." (pp. 323-324)

this nightmare was played out as a proxy fight between the USSR and China. Vietnam was the former's proxy and Cambodia the latter's. China was threatened by a Soviet presence in their underbelly. Nixon was warming up to China. The US hated the Vietnamese who had embarrassed them and preferred the genocidal maniac over the less barbourous Vietnamese. But it was the Vietnamese who finally invaded Cambodia and put Pot out of power, though he fought on with aid from the right wing government of Thailand. Eventually, Pot's armies turned on him and joined the new puppet government of the Vietnamese. They finally saw through the insanity. Their ancient enemies treated them better than their own leadership. Pot was captured and condemned to house arrest in the Northern jungle of Cambodia and died in his sleep, in 1998, never brought to justice. The current government is full of former Khmer Rouges and is corrupt, but relative to Pot's not insane. Three of his army commanders were executed. Two others await trial. One, Mok, was a Buddhist priest. Another, Deuch, the director of the Khmer Rouge torture center, has become a born-again Christian. It seems in reviewing several of these communist regimes, corruption, although awful, is benign compared to ideology. Exploiters need a population to rape, ideologs, only want pure followers who can make the utopia a reality. the former can be rational, the latter don't need reason or reality.

these examples are greater than communism. visions of utopia that crush underneath so many lives is found even under the banner of Christ. and the techniques that Short thought partially explainable on the Cambodian culture are used in Western Christian cults too. but the buddhist inspired cult of Scientology shares similar techniques. i say this not to pick on Scientology, but to show that the Western mind is not immune from the pursuit of utopia at all costs.

Jesus saves us to a relationship with him and each other

church planting is church finishing

at the Glocal Trekker blog
Another thing to think about. So, so much emphasis on starting a church, but the reality is that’s only a 2 to 3-year process. How does what we teach enable someone, not just to start a church, but to "complete" it? Maybe we should change the term to "church finisher" rather than "church starter!" The goal cannot be to inspire lots of people to start churches. The measure cannot be the hype, the conference, the launch, but the measure is the church ten years after it is planted. If that were the case, I promise you, it would change how most people teach and how we plant churches.

representational repentance

in Daniel 9, Daniel repents of the sins of his people.

9:3 So I turned my attention to the Lord God to implore him by prayer and requests, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 9:4 I prayed to the Lord my God, confessing in this way: “O Lord, great and awesome God who is faithful to his covenant with those who love him and keep his commandments, 9:5 we have sinned! We have done what is wrong and wicked; we have rebelled by turning away from your commandments and standards. 9:6 We have not paid attention to your servants the prophets, who spoke by your authority to our kings, our leaders, and our ancestors, and to all the inhabitants of the land as well. (NET)

and it's always been a puzzling thing to me. how does Daniel's repentance of something he didn't do move God? but at Bible study at work (AKA work church) some griping was heard regarding unethical behavior by leaders. and i thought, stuff like this rolls downhill. if those of us lower down the food chain adopted an unethical approach, justified by those above doing it, then an awful unethical cycle ensues, but if those of us not directly guilty apologize for those above, the cycle is broken. the sin may not go any further. no i didn't enslave any Africans. i didn't kill any Native Americans. but like Daniel, i can apologize for those who's heritage i share who did those things. i can help break a cycle.

i'm sorry for the African slave trade and the exploitation of the Native Americans, especially for those acts done in the name of my Lord Jesus.

abortion lies in NYT

Michelle Malkin reports on inconvenient truths


Authorities found the dead baby hidden in a box wrapped in bags under the bed of Mrs. Climaco. Moreover, Lifesite reported, forensic examination showed that it was a full term normal delivery. The child was breathing at the time of birth. The official cause of death was asphyxia by strangulation.

Turns out Hitt's main sources of info came from a pro-abortion group called IPAS. The group would profit from legalized abortion in El Salvador since it sells abortion vacuum aspirators.

Hitt's translator consulted for IPAS, which ran a fund-raising campaign to free Carmen Climaco and bring her to the United States. They've yanked it from the site, but here's a cached version touting the NYTimes piece.

Pro-abortion groups recycled Climaco's story, citing the NYTimes bogus propaganda to scare up opposition to any abortion restrictions here.

The Times' pro-abortion poster child is a woman convicted of infanticide. But the Times, questioned by its own public editor, refuses to acknowledge Jack Hitt's false reporting.

There is "no reason to doubt the accuracy of the facts as reported," the editors imperiously told Calame. They refuse to issue a correction, publish an Editor's Note, or inform their readers of the ready availability of the court decision that exposes Jack Hitt's deception about the Climaco case.

Calame concluded that "Accuracy and fairness were not pursued with the vigor Times readers have a right to expect." Translation: The Times slung bull and they refuse to clean it up. The Times' Climcao-gate, like AP's Jamilgate and Reuters' Fauxtography scandal and CBS's Rathergate, will go down in MSM history as yet another case of textbook media malpractice.

Will they ever acknowledge the truth about Carmen Climaco?

Monday, January 01, 2007

how are Northern clime houses built outside of the US?

 i was wondering these things and came up with some cool links
Scandinavian Homes in Ireland builds a passive house
Canadians have a voluntary standard called the R-2000 home and the Envirohome
one Canadian blogs about his ICF contractor issues but is coming around to a happy ending
he tried to use a radiant floor product called Warmboard, which sounds interesting as its not a concrete floor, but the contractor's crew incorrectly installed it...
finally, i'm intrigued by this enviroboard construction panel made out of rice and wheat waste. unfortunately, the website doesn't have enough info...
surfing around turns up that other companies are doing similar 
things, agriboard, for instance. the product is the same as particle board
but made from waste straw, but more expensive.