Thursday, May 28, 2009
update July 1: it came back.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Francis of Assisi is said to have said, "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words."
This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough—that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it.
The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it. And those two contra-facts tell us something about the spirit of our age.
I highly commend the rest of this article.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Image by matt [sucka MC] via Flickr
Image via WikipediaCame across a great resource to read through the Bible or portions of it in a daily fashion with portions sent to you by email, Bibleplan.org
They also link to other reading plans. They offer many versions and languages as well. As Kevin would say, "Nice."
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
When do we get to talk about how the behavior of men on virtually every measurable level has gotten worse since abortion was made legal across the United States? Men are more likely to leave women today, more likely to be abusive, less likely to care for the children they father, and less likely to consider the consequences of their sexual behavior. Up to 75% of marriages that have a disabled child end in divorce, and most of the time it is the man who walks away from his family. When do we get to talk about men being encouraged to act like men rather than petulant, irresponsible, selfish little boys?
When do we get to talk about the cultural expectation that a mother is expected to abort her baby with an identified disability in the womb? Doctors, nurses, social workers assume a diagnosis of downs syndrome or spina bifida means a woman should terminate the pregnancy. What do you call a 90% abortion rate, Mr. President? If it were babies of any ethnicity, you would rightly call it genocide. What do you believe about families in this situation, Mr. President?
Finally, Mr. President, you said yourself that "the strong too often dominate the weak." Please explain to me, Mr. President, who is more weak and thus more worthy of your protection as the leader of the free world than a baby in his or her mother's womb?
But, of course, I'm just part of that opposition not really worthy of your attention or of 'Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.' How did you put it?
"You'll hear talking heads scream on cable, and you'll read blogs that claim definitive knowledge, and you will watch politicians pretend they know what they're talking about."
I am even more concerned that he creates a false dilemma in his speeches rather than addressing the core problem. His policy decisions are anything but nuanced or seeking a middle ground, but he seems to want us to believe he has found common ground.
For example, from his speech on Sunday:
"And yet, one of the vexing things for those of us interested in promoting greater understanding and cooperation among people is the discovery that even bringing together persons of good will, bringing together men and women of principle and purpose -- even accomplishing that can be difficult. . .
. . . Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved."
We should not be drawn into such a spurious argument as not wanting to relieve the suffering of a child with a disease like diabetes. Of course we want that - the difference is that it should not come at the expense of another person's life. (And, by the way, we are against embryonic stem cell research - nobody is against stem cell research that does not involve the destruction of a human being. Another example of not dealing with the issue fairly on the President's part). This does not make it "an admirable conviction." It makes it a core principle of protecting the weakest among us from those who are more powerful and would do them harm.
Or, more graphically, my son's autism, blindness and mental retardation will not allow him to be an economically productive member of society. Does that mean we should harvest his kidneys, liver, heart and lungs for other, more worthy children?
If that thought turns your stomach, you must answer the core question of why - is it simply because his mother allowed him to be born, thus securing his rights to his own organs? Or is it something more fundamental.
The greatest guide and comfort comes from knowing that God is sovereign over all his creation...
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation's policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures, Americans -- and, in particular, Republicans -- seem to be taking a step back from the pro-choice position. However, the retreat is evident among political moderates as well as conservatives.
It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public's understanding of what it means to be "pro-choice" slightly to the left, politically. While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Some women, I am learning, are uncomfortable discussing their spiritual gifts if they are not identical to how they function in their roles, because for them these gifts might overshadow what they perceive to be the true functions of a woman, wife, or mom.The post is partly inspired by a book review at her personal blog.
Yet Paul had no problem with any member of the church desiring spiritual gifts; therefore, giftedness and function/role ought never to be pitted against each other, especially in this way. How a woman is a wife and a mom and how she serves within the body of Christ will both be impacted by her personality, her interests, her talents, and her gifts. Enabling a false distinction between the two creates a dualism God never intended.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Napolitano's defense of state secession ignores the example of West Virginia, which seceded from Virginia, and northern Alabama counties which unsuccessfully tried to secede. He also fails to mention voting fraud in many Confederate states that seceded even when the will of the voters was contrary. I highly recommend Bitterly Divided, which I blogged on, by David Williams.
The latter half of the book was good as it recounted the never ending depredations African-Americans endure, and sets Jeremiah Wright's famous jeremiad in context.
What is Dred Scott's revenge? I think it is the election of Barak Obama to the presidency. The author doesn't actually say, but he is hopeful that Obama signals a post-racial America. I doubt it but I do think it's a healthy step away from our racist heritage.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
However, why is the war-hawk earthling a white guy but his peace seeking opponents are a black president and a female advisor? Why did the amoeba people learn from their war years but the earthlings didn't?
A child might only see the conflict between nature lovers and greedy, land hungry invaders. I saw the white invasion of the americas. Unfortunately, the American Indians did not have an answer for gunpowder, steel, or germs. Someone should write a book about that. Someone did. But one could read anything into the movie. Perhaps a Dutch citizen would perceive the Muslim immigration to their country in this movie. The solution in the movie for co-existence is an earthling ghetto, where they can have their oxygen. But they have their little space ships to cruise the planet with the amoeba people. The movie ends with a pan over the Terran horizon showing clusters of treetops where the amoeba people live and the dome where the humans live. Is this the realist view? Is coexistence only possible by segregation?
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work. 3:2 They must not slander anyone, but be peaceable, gentle, showing complete courtesy to all people. 3:3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. 3:4 But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, 3:5 he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, 3:6 whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. 3:7 And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”The good news is Jesus saved us from the consequences of our sins, hell, and to a life of good. Paul has little tolerance for those who want to destroy the fellowship within a church by quarreling over stupid stuff. We can't earn our salvation, so circumcision won't help. We aren't saved based on our heritage, so genealogies don't matter. As I've heard well said, God has no grandchildren. However, our behavior proves our words true or false. Earlier in the letter Paul writes, Titus 1:16 They profess to know God but with their deeds they deny him, since they are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good deed. When our deeds deny our Savior, we need to repent.
Is there ever an occasion to divide in the church? Yes. If the leader is leading people away from Jesus and the simplicity of the good news, then get away. If you are going to warn others, make sure you are right, because you deserve ejection otherwise.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Here is my new bike review from April 2007, 2 years ago. I still think the Huffy Star-Spangler would be my ideal bike.
I bought a recumbent bike last month from Actionbent and have been using it for my commute. here is a picture of the Jet Stream 2, understeering.
i've been a bicycle commuter for years but last summer i developed at work a bad case of tendinitis in both wrists which made riding painful. one day i longed for my old Huffy Star Spangler with the banana seat and the hot rod handle bars and pined for the good old days. then i remembered seeing kids on bikes that look like choppers. soon i was on the internet learning about bent bikes. there are many varieties on the theme out there. unfortunately, all my research was online because there were no shops around here selling them. i figured though, this style of bike was my only opportunity to resume riding. i read many bike forums. i read many websites. this website, the Bicycle Man, by a Christian bike shop owner is very helpful. turns out that bents are expensive. they are a niche product for people who aren't conventional. the kind of people who run barefoot, for example. that led me to ebay. when you search for bent bikes there you end up with alot of exercise machines. but finally i tuned my search to just road bents. i understood that understeering made the learning curve a little steeper to the bent experience. but i also thought it would be the least stressing on my wrists. understeering is indeed very comfortable now.
even on ebay the bents were pricey except for some old bikes and some like the actionbents. this is what i ended up with. i didn't even try to put it together. i'm not up to sizing chain and running brake cable. my local bike shop owner was very helpful. it seems that my legs are shorter than the average actionbent buyer. so the tube needed a few inches cut off. but now i'm riding regularly.
it has taken some getting used to. i'm still slow up the hills. i'm still slower to work. my knees did hurt in the beginning. with the pedals out front and a hard back to provide resistance it is easy to pedal harder than standing on the pedals. i still have some difficulty starting off balance. it is still a little wobbly. and one thing that i realized on the ride this morning. i wish i had extra money to get the bike with a suspension. my ride is bumpy. it's full of storm drains, potholes, frost heaves, etc. and although the seat is cushy, with the warmer weather and fewer layers i feel all those bumps in my back. it's kind of like a massage, but one you aren't ready for. i realized on my conventional bikes, i can stand on my pedals to go over the bumps and let my knees absorb the bumps, which isn't an option now.
therefore, i like my ride, but next time i get a bike i'll get a bent with suspension.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
I have another friend who is also a musician. Justin has an acoustical folk sound but Ryan AKA Serious Griggs raps for Jesus. He partnered with a great brass rock band and added his talents which has a great video.
Joe's Jottings has a great post on the difference between religion and gospel.
Friday, May 01, 2009
2 Thess. 3:6-15 3:6 But we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from any brother who lives an undisciplined life and not according to the tradition they received from us. 3:7 For you know yourselves how you must imitate us, because we did not behave without discipline among you, 3:8 and we did not eat anyone’s food without paying. Instead, in toil and drudgery we worked night and day in order not to burden any of you. 3:9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give ourselves as an example for you to imitate. 3:10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this command: “If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.” 3:11 For we hear that some among you are living an undisciplined life, not doing their own work but meddling in the work of others. 3:123:13 But you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing what is right. 3:14 But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely with him, so that he may be ashamed. 3:15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. Now such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and so provide their own food to eat.The undisciplined or unruly life gets you distanced from the family. I'm not sure Paul is saying, "kick the idle brother out," and he's not saying, "treat him like a tax collector," instead he says, "treat him like a brother, BUT give him wide berth and warn him." There is some other things going on in that church. They caught "end times fever." Some of them reasoned that Jesus' imminent return negated any reason for keeping a job. Instead they should go around telling other people to get ready, but they ended up being busy bodies, not evangelists. They were leading lives without discipline, a topic that started this series on church discipline, like small children. Immaturity is not too far removed from lack of self-discipline. Paul points to his own example of working while evangelizing. He's a little frustrated that he explicitly taught them that feeding and labor go hand in hand. He even instructed them about this in his previous letter. He told them to warn the idle, 1 Thess. 5:14, as well as to mind their own business and work with their hands as a witness to their neighbors, 1 Thess. 4:11-12. But some bozos in the church neglected all that. Paul wants to bring them to shame, not to alienate them, but to shock them back into productivity.
Titus received a similar instruction from Paul for the church in Crete. In Titus 1 he writes, 1:12 A certain one of them, in fact, one of their own prophets, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 1:13 Such testimony is true. For this reason rebuke them sharply that they may be healthy in the faith. Their problems aren't exclusively laziness, but it was still worthy of a sharp rebuke.
In summary, if you are a slacker who belongs to a church, your church is obliged to warn you to get on the stick. If you won't, then they are to distance themselves from you in order to shame you into repentance. Jesus' return is not an excuse to get lazy. Having a church family that could support you is not a reason to take advantage of that. The church's resources are for people in need such as widows and orphans. He instructs Timothy on this in 1 Tim. 5:3-16. If you are able to work, you should be working. If you are idle, you weaken the church and it needs to keep you at arm's length. Sorry, but you need to grow up, get a job, and act like an adult.