Sunday, December 30, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Our Resolution: Finish the Course'. As we face a new year, we must make it our resolve that no matter what gets in our way, we will finish the course and receive the great prize our Heavenly Father holds for us.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


As many of you are celebrating in the New Year Monday night I should be somewhere over the Atlantic on the way to my fourth India trip. As always, I'm looking forward to seeing the brethren there and praying we can have doors of opportunity open to us.

Travel to India wouldn't be, well, travel to India without something dramatic going on. Two years ago it was the Mumbai train bombings, last year it was a massacre committed by separatists in the Northeast. This year it is anti-Christian riots in Orissa state:
Twelve village churches were burned and ransacked in eastern India over Christmas as Hindu extremists clashed with members of the Christian minority.

One person died and more than 25 were injured in the violence in Orissa state.

It was sparked after Hindu hard-liners objected to the scale of a Christmas Eve prayer vigil, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference in New Delhi....

The violence is part of periodic flare-ups between Christians and followers of India's dominant religion who accuse the missionaries of trying to convert low-caste Hindus.

Missionary activity is a source of serious tension in parts of India where hard-line Christian groups talk of "liberating" low-caste Hindus.

Rising anti-missionary sentiment has caused several Indian state governments to pass anti-conversion laws which India's Christians - who represent 2.5 per cent of the country's 1.1 billion population - are fighting in court.

On the bright side, none of us are traveling to Orissa state. However, this year one of our team members ran into visa problems, the first for anyone in our groups traveling to India.

A lot of the unrest is a reaction by the fundamentalist Hindus against modernization. They view Christianity as a Western religion in many ways. Of course, the real threat to them isn't Christianity, but secularism resulting from a more educated population. Few educated individuals are going to believe Hindu mythology with much fervor. It's much easier to riot against something tangible like Christianity than secularism.

Please pray for our safe journey and that our time in India will go well. I hope to post updates here as Internet access and time allows.
building hit by lightning

I received an email from a friend asking for prayers for the Pierce Lane Church of Christ in Dyersburg, Tennessee. Their building was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. The church is largely comprised of elderly members who are now faced with some hard decisions. Please pray for them and for the Lord's work in that area.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


The Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England (well, just below the queen) and top dog in the worldwide Anglican fellowship, has created a bit of a firestorm about a reference to the nativity 'legend'. Here is what Dr. Rowan Williams (aka, the AoC) had to say:
During an interview on Radio Five, the Archbishop of Canterbury dismissed the well-known version of events as legend saying: "Matthew's Gospel doesn't tell us there were three of them, doesn't tell us they were kings, doesn't tell us where they came from.

"It says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that's all we're really told."

Turning to the topic of when Jesus was born, he said it was 'very unlikely'that there was snow.

He said there was no evidence of animals present - a popular theme of Christmas cards.

He dismissed the idea that the star of the North stood still in the night sky - because stars just don't behave like that.

For good measure, he added Jesus probably wasn't even born in December. He said: "Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival".

Well, now of course there wasn't snow. But is it also groundbreaking to point out that there is no indication of how many wise men there were? Or that they weren't kings? Or that they weren't there on the night of the birth of Jesus? In fact, they may have been there up to two years later, as that was the target age of Herod's massacre. One must commend Dr. Williams for actually paying attention to the Biblical account rather than to Christmas songs for his information.

Now as far as how stars 'behave', well in this instance they 'behave' however God directs them to. And for animals, He was laid in a manger (Luke 2:7, 12, 16), although it's unlikely any cows bowed down to Him.

But the real question for the Archbishop is, was Santa really there kneeling before the manger?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


In the face of Presidential candidates like Huckabee and Romney, apparently atheist voters feel disconnected from the political process:
One presidential hopeful is a preacher, another proudly Mormon, and most openly tout their Christianity. In an arena where faith can make or break a politician, the one in 10 Americans who profess no religion feel left in the cold.

"They're very disconcerted," said Darren Sherkat, an atheist sociology professor specializing in religion at Southern Illinois University.

"They're horrified by both the Democratic and Republican rhetoric surrounding religion -- that people who are not religious ... are immoral, that they're not qualified to serve in public office," he said.

Well, they do have Hillary don't they?

At any rate, while Huckabee and Romney do little to inspire (me), I do hope at least this much is true:
[Margaret Downey] claims atheists are "the fastest-growing minority in America."
And I thought the article was trying to highlight some sort of problem.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Fans of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings can rejoice that Peter Jackson is planning to produce not one, but two Hobbit movies in continuity with his Lord of the Rings movies. Yes, there are quibbles with Jackson's adaptation of LOTR, but honestly I don't think it could have translated to film any better than it was. Let's just hope he will be able to bring in the same cast from LOTR for The Hobbit. And I have no idea what he's going to do for the sequel.

From the official website:

The two “Hobbit” films – “The Hobbit” and its sequel – are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with the intention of “The Hobbit” release slated for 2010 and its sequel the following year, in 2011.

Fans have been hoping for this for awhile, and to whet your appetite there are some fan produced trailers on YouTube (see here and here for a couple).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...from 1 Peter 1:10-21, 'Gird Your Minds'. Our salvation demands that we be in constant readiness for spiritual action.

Friday, December 14, 2007


British Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims have given the go-ahead for Christians to acknowledge Christ during the Christmas season:
Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims joined Britain's equality watchdog on Monday in urging Britons to enjoy Christmas without worrying about offending non-Christians.

"It's time to stop being daft about Christmas. It's fine to celebrate and it's fine for Christ to be star of the show," said Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

"Let's stop being silly about a Christian Christmas," he said, referring to a tendency to play down the traditional celebrations of the birth of Christ for fear of offending minorities in multicultural Britain.

If non-Christians think it's okay to acknowledge Christ, then maybe Christians should believe them. (And not just in December.)

Christians not apologizing for being Christians--what a novel idea!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I had seen the previews for the upcoming movie The Golden Compass, and it certainly seemed interesting on first blush. I wasn't really familiar with it, but the production level was obviously high, and I like a well done fantasy type movie such as it appeared to be. Then I received one of those dreaded email forwards claiming the movie was anti-religious and actively promoted atheism. I greet such emails with (well-deserved) skepticism, and turned to Internet myth debunker,, which proceeded to confirm the whole thing. I then happened to see a brief interview with the author Philip Pullman on the Today show, who was asked directly about the atheism issue in the books. He began a song and dance about letting readers make up their own minds about what a book is about. That, of course, confirmed the whole thing again.

The direct target of the book is the Catholic Church, which is up in arms about it, although the director admits to toning the book's attacks for the movie version:
The author's attack on organized religion has been toned down for the film, in a bid to attract as wide as audience as possible, something director Chris Weitz has acknowledged.

"In the books the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic Church gone wildly astray from its roots," Weitz wrote in the British Daily Telegraph.

But "if that's what you want in the film, you'll be disappointed," he warned.

However, the sanitized version of Pullman's book has failed to appease the Catholic League, which gathers some 350,000 members, and which has already been sending out leaflets denouncing the film.

"The Catholic League wants Christians to stay away from this movie precisely because it knows that the film is bait for the books," said president William Donohue.

"Unsuspecting parents who take their children to see the movie may be impelled to buy the three books as a Christmas present. And no parent who wants to bring their children up in the faith will want any part of these books," he added.

Now I'm no alarmist about such things. I have no problem with, for example, the Harry Potter books and movies (I own and enjoy all of them), but the agenda of The Golden Compass seems quite clear and openly aggressive. My children certainly won't be seeing it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"I WILL give thanks to the LORD with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonders." --Psalm 9:1

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


For the second time evidence has surfaced that Atlanta megachurch leader Earl Paulk was engaged in some extra curricular activity:
The 80-year-old leader of a suburban Atlanta megachurch is at the center of a sex scandal of biblical dimensions: He slept with his brother's wife and fathered a child by her.

Members of Archbishop Earl Paulk's family stood at the pulpit of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church a few Sundays ago and revealed the secret exposed by a recent court-ordered paternity test.

In truth, this is not the first — or even the second — sex scandal to engulf Paulk and the independent, charismatic church. But this time, he could be in trouble with the law for lying under oath about the affair.

The living proof of that lie is 34-year-old D.E. Paulk, who for years was known publicly as Earl Paulk's nephew.

"I am so very sorry for the collateral damage it's caused our family and the families hurt by the removing of the veil that hid our humanity and our sinfulness," said D.E. Paulk, who received the mantle of head pastor a year and a half ago.

One certainly does not revel in someone else's exposed weakness. However, we also need to face the reality that sexual infidelity is all too common among those who ought to be--or claim to be--spiritual leaders. The circumstances leading to this public paternity test certainly do the 'Archbishop' no credit:
A judge ordered the test at the request of the Cobb County district attorney's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which are investigating Earl Paulk for possible perjury and false-swearing charges stemming from a lawsuit.

The archbishop, his brother and the church are being sued by former church employee Mona Brewer, who says Earl Paulk manipulated her into an affair from 1989 to 2003 by telling her it was her only path to salvation [emphasis added, NAC]. Earl Paulk admitted to the affair in front of the church last January.

In a 2006 deposition stemming from the lawsuit, the archbishop said under oath that the only woman he had ever had sex with outside of his marriage was Brewer. But the paternity test said otherwise.

Now there's just no excuse for such exploitation of a spiritual position. Certainly one wonders about the gullibility of Ms. Brewer to fall for such a line, but Paulk's actions confirm every stereotype the world wants to believe about the religious.

As we've discussed many times, our faith cannot be in men, even men who seem spiritually strong from the outside. And while forgiveness ought to be a defining characterstic of the people of God, there is also a point when people demonstrate that they are unworthy of leadership positions. Church shouldn't look like a Jerry Springer show parody.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Will Theosebes be next?

Two religious beat writers have thrown in the pen--and their faith--after seeing religion up close:
Two leading religion journalists — one in Britain, one in the United States — have quit the beat in recent months, saying they had acquired such a close look at such scandalous behaviour by Christians that they lost their faith and had to leave.

Stephen Bates, who recently stepped down as religious affairs writer for the London Guardian, has just published an account of his seven years on the beat in an article entitled “Demob Happy” for the New Humanist magazine. Bates followed the crisis in the Anglican Communion for several years and even wrote a book on it, A Church At War: Anglicans and Homosexuality.

“Now I am moving on,” his article concludes. “It was time to go. What faith I had, I’ve lost, I am afraid – I’ve seen too much, too close. A young Methodist press officer once asked me earnestly whether I saw it as my job to spread the Good News of Jesus. No, I said, that’s the last thing I am here to do.”

Considering what they witnessed--the Episcopalian row over homosexual priests and the Catholic sex abuse scandal--one can understand their problem. Of course Bates saw the Episcopal Church as intolerant toward homosexuals (!), which makes one wonder about his 'faith' to begin with.

This does highlight a problem Christians have struggled with for centuries. I have seen Christians do disappointing things, sometimes to one another, sometimes to me. It is always upsetting (at least it ought to be), but we need to remember where our faith is to be placed and what it is to be based on. Paul writes, 'Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.' My faith has to be God focused and Scripturally anchored. I cannot place my faith in men nor in a church.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'An Imperishable Inheritance' from 1 Peter 1:3-9. God has caused us to be born again--or begotten--for an inheritance that will never fade.

Friday, November 09, 2007


My youngest daughter Claire (now 22 months old) is often provided with Teddy Grahams by her mother during morning services as a snack. This is particularly the case when my daughter has slept late (our motto: let sleeping toddlers lie). Recently Claire was sitting with a lady at church who was giving my wife a Claire-free break. Claire knows that she has to wait until Daddy gets up to preach before the Teddy Grahams are broken out. That morning as I walked up to the podium an excited Claire exclaimed, 'Cookie time!'

Somehow we seem to be sending the wrong message...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I've long been fascinated by the story of Pompeii. Now Pompeii has come to Birmingham. If you're in the area I'm sure it's worth seeing. I'll report back when when I finally get over there.

And there does seem to be a theme to today's posts.
Get all your mummy news here

The most famous Egyptian pharoah of them all has finally been revealed:
King Tut's buck-toothed face was unveiled Sunday for the first time in public - more than 3,000 years after the youngest and most famous pharaoh to rule ancient Egypt was shrouded in linen and buried in his golden underground tomb.

Archeologists carefully lifted thae fragile mummy out of a quartz sarcophagus decorated with stone-carved protective goddesses, momentarily pulling aside a beige covering to reveal a leathery black body.

The linen was then replaced over Tut's narrow body so only his face and tiny feet were exposed, and the 19-year-old king, whose life and death has captivated people for nearly a century, was moved to a simple glass climate-controlled case to keep it from turning to dust.

In other mummy news, studies on the South American 'Llullaillaco Maiden' mummy has found that she and her sacrificial companion were prepared for their demise for up to a year:
New studies of the child mummies show that the children chosen for a one-way trek to a summit shrine, some time between 1470 and 1520, were groomed for death over a period of about one year.

The team, led by Dr Andrew Wilson at Bradford University, analysed hair samples taken from the heads and from small accompanying bags of four mummies....

The team studied DNA and isotopes (chemical signatures) from the hair samples, which give a unique snapshot of diet at different intervals: more than a year before death, the children ate vegetables such as potatoes, suggesting a peasant background. Subsequently it was enriched with plants such as maize, considered an "elite" food, and protein, likely to be dried llama meat.

A boy king and child sacrifices, remnants of long dead cultures preserved for our study centuries later. They also stand as reminders that regardless of our earthly status or burial finery we all end life in death.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'The Silence of God'. God's silence on a matter does not mean blanket authorization for whatever man can imagine. As Moses told Aaron after Nadab and Abihu had been been consumed by fire for their impertinence, God must be treated as holy. Believing that we are co-authors of Scripture with God is not the best place to start.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The closest I ever came to believing in ghosts was when I lived in Mecosta, Michigan working for Dr. Russell Kirk. Trust me: You would have begun to consider the possibility, too, after a night alone in the vast Kirk manse. Dr. Kirk not only believed in ghosts, he wrote about them, and who can turn down a good ghost story? ISI has archived a number of Dr. Kirk's lectures, but also his reading of his own award winning ghost story, 'A Long, Long Trail A-Winding'. Suitable listening for Halloween, and it's nice to hear his voice again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Little girls aren't just dressing up as ghosts and witches this year:
Gabby Cirenza wanted to be a referee for Halloween. The outfit she liked had a micro-mini black skirt and a form-fitting black and white-striped spandex top held together with black laces running up the flesh-exposing sides. She looked admiringly at the thigh-high black go-go boots that could be bought as an accessory. And she thought the little bunny on the chest was cute....Gabby is 11....

Gabby eyed the Sexy Super Girl but decided against it. A friend at her Catholic school had worn that costume for a Halloween parade and pulled the already short miniskirt way up to cover her tummy. "That didn't look very good." But Gabby did like the Aqua Fairy, a vampy get-up with a black ripped-up skirt, black fishnet tights and blue bustier that comes in medium, large and preteen. A medium fits a child of 8....

Gabby pointed to the Fairy-Licious Purrrfect Kitty Pre-Teen, which, according to the package, includes a "pink and black dress with lace front bodice and sassy jagged skirt with tail. . . . Wings require some assembly."

At least Gabby's mother has a little perspective:
"Absolutely not," said her mother, Cheryl. "That is so not happening."...

Cheryl Cirenza shook her head in exasperated disbelief. "This is all so inappropriate. It's really disturbing," she said, eyeing a wall of such girl and preteen costumes as Major Flirt in army green, the bellybutton-baring Devilicious and a sassy, miniskirted French Maid, pink feather duster included. She'd just turned down her 13-year-old daughter's request for a Sexy Cop outfit. "When I was their age, I was a bunch of grapes."

In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, receiver of a rock in his trick'r'treat bag: "Good grief!"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...from 1 Peter 1:1-2, 'Scattered Aliens'. Chosen by God, set apart by the Spirit and sprinkled by the blood of Christ to be citizens of heaven itself.

Friday, October 26, 2007


As All Hallow's Eve approaches, a poll finds out who really believes in ghosts. If you're a liberal Catholic who never goes to church your odds are pretty good:
Those things that go bump in the night? About one-third of people believe they could be ghosts.

And nearly one out of four, 23 percent, say they've actually seen a ghost or felt its presence, finds a pre-Halloween poll by The Associated Press and Ipsos....

About one out of five people, 19 percent, say they accept the existence of spells or witchcraft. Nearly half, 48 percent, believe in extrasensory perception, or ESP.

The most likely candidates for ghostly visits include single people, Catholics and those who never attend religious services. By 31 percent to 18 percent, more liberals than conservatives report seeing a specter.

I'm convinced it must have been a malevolent spirit who put those rocks in my trick-or-treating sack.

[Thanks to S.B. for the link.]

Monday, October 22, 2007


Sometimes there are repercussions to what might appear to be harmless:
Wild monkeys attacked a senior government official who then fell from a balcony at his home and died Sunday, media reported.

New Delhi Deputy Mayor S.S. Bajwa was rushed to a hospital after the attack by a gang of Rhesus macaques, but succumbed to head injuries sustained in his fall, the Press Trust of India news agency and The Times of India reported.

Many government buildings, temples and residential neighborhoods in New Delhi are overrun by Rhesus macaques, which scare passers-by and occasionally bite or snatch food from unsuspecting visitors.

Last year, the Delhi High Court reprimanded city authorities for failing to stop the animals from terrifying residents and asked them to find a permanent solution to the monkey menace.

Part of the problem is that devout Hindus believe monkeys are manifestations of the monkey god Hanuman and feed them bananas and peanuts — encouraging them to frequent public places.
So far I've actually seen more Hanuman statues than I've seen monkeys in India, but when I do see one I won't be feeding it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I'm preparing for my fourth trip to India, and although I've gotten better about it each time I still always overpack. I succumb to the 'but I might need it' syndrome. No more! I've decided to go light--very light.

As always, the Internet holds a host of information; I want to direct you to a couple of places to start. First is the wonderful website by Doug Dyment. It's an eye-opening experience. Taking the One Bag concept into the blogosphere is the One Bag One World blog with updated tips, reviews and links. Both are highly recommended. And I'll be posting more on my personal light travel revolution as time goes on.

Vatican News Service says yes.

Theosebes is not so sure.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


The university founded by tent revivalist cum educator Oral Roberts may be brought down by his own son, now accused of living the high life on the university's dime:
Richard Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors' expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter's senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.

She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as "underage males."

God, apparently, is telling him to deny it.

Meanwhile, his father is shocked at such charges:
Oral Roberts was blind-sided by allegations that the university he founded was being exploited by his son and daughter-in-law, the aging televangelist said Tuesday in his first public comments on the case.

Roberts phoned CNN's "Larry King Live" to weigh in on the accusations leveled in a lawsuit by three professors who claim they were fired from Oral Roberts University for questioning the school's spending and students' involvement in a political campaign.

"Like my son says, it was a surprise and sort of a shock, but we have been through some tough experiences in building Oral Roberts University in the 1960s, and we have surprised them all and have built a university that we believe is for the glory of God," Roberts said,

Roberts, 89, spoke from his home in California as his son, Richard, and daughter-in-law, Lindsay, sat on King's set in New York.

I suspect this is going to get ugly.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


As I mentioned in Sunday's post, I appointed elders at the Wilsonville church this past Sunday. It was the result of years of labor extending back to the time before I even arrived here.

I believe that it is the role of the evangelist to set things in order according to Paul's instructions by appointing (ordaining) elders. That does not mean arbitrarily choosing men and forcing them on the congregation. Following the example of the selection of the Seven in Acts 6, the congregation put forward men in keeping with the Scriptural qualifications. Although that example is not identical to the selection and appointment of elders, there we find guiding principles. An office, in that situation a temporary one, was created by the apostles, qualifications were given and the church put forward men in keeping with those qualifications. The apostles then appointed them to the work. We emulated that process in our appointment of our elders.

On Sunday I spoke to the congregation about our duties to submit to the leadership and example of the men selected. I then spoke again of the roles and duties of the elders themselves. I then asked the men to come forward, read a list of those roles and duties and asked them if they would fulfill them. Upon their agreement, I said the following:
In accordance with my role as an evangelist, in keeping with the considered selection of this congregation consistent with the revealed qualifications of Scripture, I appoint and ordain you overseers of the Lord's church in Wilsonville, Alabama, and commend you to the Lord in whom we believe.
I know there have been times when the installation of elders in some places has only gained a mention in the opening announcements of a church service. I believe it's a more significant event than that, and we would do well to mark the occasion of overseer appointment with some solemnity.

The interesting blog GetReligion has a post on the recent protests by the Buddhist monks in Burma. Of course, things have not ended well for them, as reports are that thousands of bodies are being dumped by the Burmese military.

Several Burmese preachers have traveled to the classes we have conducted in India. They are good and eager men. They have encouraged us to visit them in Burma, an invitation we knew at the time would likely be impossible to honor. I even went so far as to look over a Myanmar (the name the military has given Burma) visa application. It requests an uninterrupted work history. I'm pretty sure that would have knocked me out right there. Of course, it wouldn't be safe for any Westerner there now. In the face of the violence it is encouraging to know that there are native Christians there seeking to follow God's will and teach others. That is the true hope of Burma.
POWER at least sounds impressive, doesn't it? That's the name of the new blog by my friend Bill Robinson. It's worth repeated visits.

I must be making this blogging thing look easy. Everybody seems to think they can do it.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Scientists have discovered another unique feature that makes the earth livable, a huge underground oxygen store:
A mineral that acts like a sponge beneath Earth's surface stores more oxygen than expected, keeping our planet from becoming dry and inhospitable like Mars.

The key to the abundant oxygen storage is the mineral majorite, which exists deep below Earth's surface in the mantle. Without the oxygen stockpile, Earth would probably be a barren planet hostile to life, authors of a study suggest in the Sept. 27 issue of the journal Nature.

The researchers examined majorite in the lab under conditions mimicking the Earth's deep interior and also near the planet's surface. The results showed that under deep-Earth conditions of high temperature and pressure, majorite stores large amounts of oxygen. When the temperature and pressure were decreased, as occurs near Earth's surface, the majorite decomposed and released the oxygen.

"The Earth's upper mantle can store, therefore, much more oxygen than previously expected," said lead author Arno Rohrbach, a doctoral student at the University of Bonn's Mineralogical Institute in Germany.

What another amazing coincidence necessary for life on earth. It's almost like it was all planned.

Well, some already have, but with the propect of pro-abortion candidate Rudolph Giuliani being the Republican nominee, some on the Religious Right are considering a third party candidate:
The group making the threat, which came together Saturday in Salt Lake City during a break-away gathering during a meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy, includes Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who is perhaps the most influential of the group, as well as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie and dozens of other politically-oriented conservative Christians, participants said. Almost everyone present expressed support for a written resolution that “if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate we will consider running a third party candidate.”...

A revolt of Christian conservative leaders could be a significant setback to the Giuliani campaign because white evangelical Protestants make up a major portion of Republican primary voters. But the threat is risky for the credibility of the Christian conservative movement as well. Some of its usual grass-roots supporters could still choose to support even a pro-choice Republican like Mr. Giuliani, either because they dislike the Democratic nominee even more or because they are worried about war, terrorism and other issues.

Leaving the GOP is a sensible solution. How many times have we heard the imperative that we need just one more Supreme Court nominee from the GOP to turn the tide, yet the current court is composed of seven Republican nominees to only two from the Democrats. But in the end, if the Religious Right does pull out, the impact would be slight as I don't think they really have their heart in it.They've been conditioned for too long to imagine the GOP is the solution despite the fact that they have rarely delivered/

Sunday, September 30, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...actually, appointing this morning. Today we will appoint elders for the first time at the church in Wilsonville. This is something I have focused a lot of attention on over the past four years that I have been at Wilsonville. Two good men have been selected by the congregation, and I believe they will do a fine job shepherding this church.

I am structuring the sermon around the congregation's responsibilities toward the elders followed by a discussion of the elders' obligations. Both men will then come forward to be installed and speak to the congregation.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

or throw stones, either

Presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani isn't the first person you would expect to cite Scripture, but he's eager to refer to his favorite Biblical passages on the campaign trail:
Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani compared the scrutiny of his personal life marked by three marriages to the biblical story of how Jesus dealt with an adulterous woman.

In an interview posted online Friday, Giuliani was questioned about his family and told the Christian Broadcasting Network, "I think there are some people that are very judgmental."

Giuliani has a daughter who indicated support for Democrat Barack Obama and a son who said he didn't speak to his father for some time. Giuliani's messy divorce from their mother, Donna Hanover, was waged publicly while Giuliani was mayor of New York.

"I'm guided very, very often about, 'Don't judge others, lest you be judged,'" Giuliani told CBN interviewer David Brody. "I'm guided a lot by the story of the woman that was going to be stoned, and Jesus put the stones down and said, 'He that hasn't sinned, cast the first stone,' and everybody disappeared.

"It seems like nowadays in America, we have people that think they could've passed that test," he said. "And I don't think anybody could've passed that test but Jesus."
If you find any problems with his exegesis, perhaps you shouldn't be so judgmental. Surely a quick reading of the Bible will confirm that 'live and let live' is what it's all about.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


After reports of the purging of religious books from prison libraries surfaced, the US Department of Prisons is putting the books back:
Facing pressure from religious groups, civil libertarians and members of Congress, the federal Bureau of Prisons has decided to return religious materials that had been purged from prison chapel libraries because they were not on the bureau’s lists of approved resources.

The bureau had said it was prompted to remove the materials after a 2004 Department of Justice report mentioned that religious books that incite violence could infiltrate chapel libraries.

After the details of the removal became widely known this month, Republican lawmakers, liberal Christians and evangelical talk shows all criticized the government for creating a list of acceptable religious books.

The bureau has not abandoned the idea of creating such lists, Judi Simon Garrett, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail message. But rather than packing away everything while those lists were compiled, the religious materials will remain on the shelves, Ms. Garrett explained.

In an e-mail message Wednesday, the bureau said: “In response to concerns expressed by members of several religious communities, the Bureau of Prisons has decided to alter its planned course of action with respect to the Chapel Library Project.

I'll point out that it was after the problem was posted on Theosebes that the reversal was made. Coincidence? You decide...

Monday, September 24, 2007


For years, based on their imaginative premillenial eschatology, American evangelicals have thrown political and financial support at the modern nation of Israel. It's support Israel has welcomed, of course, and the coalition of evangelicals and American Jews has been a major player in Republican foreign policy for at least a generation. This successful--albeit theologically questionable--alliance is facing a growing rift over a holiday celebration:
Israeli rabbinic authorities have abruptly called on Jews to shun a major Christian tourism event, baffling and upsetting evangelical groups that traditionally have been big supporters of the Jewish state.

More than 6,000 Christians from more than 90 nations are expected to arrive in Jerusalem this week to take part in the 28th annual Christian celebration of the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, according to the event's organizers, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

Thousands of Christians take part in the celebration annually, as do Israeli lawmakers, government representatives and ordinary Israelis. Rabbi Shlomo Goren, a former chief rabbi, personally welcomed participants one year.

But this year the chief rabbinate urged Jews to stay away from the event, saying some of the groups want to convert them to Christianity. Proselytizing is illegal in Israel.

"According to information that has reached the chief rabbinate, there are participants in this conference who convert Jews to Christianity and perform missionary activity throughout the year," said Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook, the chief rabbi of Rehovot, who took part in committee discussions of the matter. "This is against the law, so the chief rabbinate is calling upon Jews not to take part in the conference."

Okay, the first question is, what are these self-identified Christians doing celebrating a Jewish holiday? Was Galatians somehow removed from their Bibles?

The second question is, what did these Jewish leaders think they were getting with all of this evangelical support? Although their conception of the return of Jesus and the kingdom itself is completely wrong, they still do believe that Jesus is the Messiah (well, at least I think so, even though they're celebrating Jewish holidays). Paul, a Jew, went to the synagogues for the express purpose of demonstrating to his fellow Jews that Jesus (a Jew) was the Messiah that God had promised would come to the world through (you guessed it!) the Jews!

Somehow I'm not feeling sorry for either party here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


In a government attempt to remove potentially 'militant' religious material, many prisons are being systematically purged of most of their religious reading material:
Behind the walls of federal prisons nationwide, chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries.

The chaplains were directed by the Bureau of Prisons to clear the shelves of any books, tapes, CDs and videos that are not on a list of approved resources. In some prisons, the chaplains have recently dismantled libraries that had thousands of texts collected over decades, bought by the prisons, or donated by churches and religious groups.

Some inmates are outraged. Two of them, a Christian and an Orthodox Jew, in a federal prison camp in upstate New York, filed a class-action lawsuit last month claiming the bureau’s actions violate their rights to the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons, said the agency was acting in response to a 2004 report by the Office of the Inspector General in the Justice Department. The report recommended steps that prisons should take, in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, to avoid becoming recruiting grounds for militant Islamic and other religious groups. The bureau, an agency of the Justice Department, defended its effort, which it calls the Standardized Chapel Library Project, as a way of barring access to materials that could, in its words, “discriminate, disparage, advocate violence or radicalize.”

Ms. Billingsley said, “We really wanted consistently available information for all religious groups to assure reliable teachings as determined by reliable subject experts.”

So much for faith based initiatives.

Government officials have raised the ire of devout Hindus by suggesting that the monkey god Hanuman did not use a monkey army to build a land bridge to Sri Lanka:
A 30-mile chain of limestone shoals called Adam's Bridge connecting India with Sri Lanka has become the unlikely centerpiece of a political drama. Devout Hindus believe that the Ram Sethu, as they call it, was constructed by a monkey-army led by Lord Hanumana to enable Lord Rama to cross over to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita, who had been kidnapped by the Lankan king, Ravana. Scientists, however, say it is a natural structure that joined Sri Lanka to the Asian continent during the last Ice Age.

When the government submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court last week saying "mythological texts" could not "incontrovertibly prove" the existence of Lord Rama or the simian construction of the Ram Sethu, all hell broke loose. Opposition Hindu hardliners held spirited demonstrations accusing the government of "hurting Hindu sentiments" by suggesting the gods were mythological figures. The government was forced into damage-control mode — two senior officials were immediately suspended, an inquiry was ordered, and the affidavit was withdrawn. The controversy reached such heights that NASA was obliged to declare it had nothing to do with the use of its photos by some Hindu groups to imply that Adam's Bridge was 1,750,000 years old and hence synchronous with "Ramrajya" — the golden period of Lord Rama's rule.

Here's a picture of yours truly along with everyone's favorite monkey god from this past January. He certainly looks fit enough to build a land bridge.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

why evolution, of course

Evolutionists faced with the reality of man's innate moral sense have developed a solution to the puzzling conundrum of its existence. You guessed it--evolutionists have credited it it to (drum roll...) evolution!
At first glance, natural selection and the survival of the fittest may seem to reward only the most selfish values. But for animals that live in groups, selfishness must be strictly curbed or there will be no advantage to social living. Could the behaviors evolved by social animals to make societies work be the foundation from which human morality evolved?
Well, maybe it could. If God is excluded from consideration then evolution is the only possible explanation for our existence and everything related to it, of course. But as always, the answer is rigged before the question is asked.

The article talks about too much focus on the rider rather than the elephant. The reality is evolutionists simply don't wish to acknowledge the proverbial elephant in the room: God as Creator.
then start praying

Redbook magazine (okay, no I don't read Redbook magazine, but a Theosebes reader apparently does; name withheld to protect the guilty) tells us '5 Things Super-Happy Couples Do Every Day', and considering the source one of them is mighty surprising: prayer:
In another University of Chicago survey, this one of married couples, 75 percent of the Americans who pray with their spouses reported that their marriages are "very happy" (compared to 57 percent of those who don't). Those who pray together are also more likely to say they respect each other, discuss their marriage together, and -- stop the presses -- rate their spouses as skilled lovers....

After two 1,000-mile moves, the birth of three children, and two job changes, all in the past four years, those difficult decisions had begun to take a toll. So when Beth asked Doug, a nonreligious and self-proclaimed man of science, to try praying with her, he figured they had nothing to lose.

"I soon found that praying together brings out a real sense of selflessness and humility," Doug says. "When you're praying for each other, not yourself, you're focused together and speaking from the heart on a whole different level. I would never have predicted this for us, but it really works."

Of course, the article focuses on the husband and wife, but just imagine how one's relationship to God is improved. And imagine how willing God is to answer our prayers when we actually pray them. I suspect Redbook may be on to something.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

FAITH & THOUGHT, Shane Scott's new blog, is up and running. Shane is an old friend (by 'old' I mean he's older than I am) and a fellow Kentuckian (although he has been known to support IU on occasion). Shane currently is discussing his decision to switch to the English Standard Version. Maybe he'll convince me to do the same (but all my Powerpoints have NASB-u!).

Monday, September 10, 2007


The Christian Post is reporting a young woman in the African country of Eritrea was tortured and killed for refusing to renounce faith in Christ:
Christians have been left outraged by the death of a young woman in Eritrea allegedly tortured to death in a military facility for refusing to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ, reported the persecution watchdog ministry Open Doors.

Migsti Haile, 33, died this past Wednesday at the Weaa Military Training Center and is the fourth Christian known to have been killed this way in the past year.

Open Doors said Haile was tortured specifically for refusing to “sign a letter recanting her faith”.

It is believed she spent 18 months in prison “under severe pressure” since she and nine other single Christian women were arrested at a church gathering in Keren.

The latest news of persecution will further increase international pressure on the Eritrean government to take action to guarantee religious freedom.

At least 2,000 mostly Christian evangelicals are detained in Eritrean prisons, police stations, military camps and other facilities, including even shipping containers, according to a number of human rights groups. The Eritrean government, however, has denied any such abuses.

Obviously, such reports are difficult to substantiate, but they certainly aren't outside the realm of possibility at all. It's easy to forget how comfortable we have it.

Friday, September 07, 2007


New 'anti-harrasment' laws meant to protect homosexuals have church officials in England concerned about lawsuits:
The Government is proposing to introduce the laws to protect individuals from hostile or humiliating “environments” as part of an overhaul of discrimination legislation.

But Christian lawyers and the Church of England warned that Christians could face legal action if they offended gays by expressing the traditional teaching that homosexual sex was immoral.

The row follows the bitter battle last year over the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which many Christians fear will erode religious freedom and are part of a growing secularisation of society.

The Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship said that the new proposals, which may be included in a Single Equality Bill, could allow gays to sue if they heard a sermon that condemned homosexuality.

It added that while a church could “gently refuse membership” to an unrepentant, practising homosexual, “that person, if they felt that they had been put in a 'humiliating position’, could sue the Church.”

This is the angle that secularists are going to use to go after church doctrine they find not in keeping with modern open-mindedness. Of course, as always, open-mindedness never includes toleration of long-standing religious views.

It can happen here.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

TEMPLE MOUNT THOUGHTS by Ferrell Jenkins at his travel blog.

Nepal Airlines may have figured out a solution to those bothersome airport delays--sacrifice a goat:
Following technical problems with one of its aircraft, Nepal's state-run airline has sacrificed two goats in a bid to appease the sky god.

Nepal Airlines sacrificed two goats in front of the troublesome Boeing 757 in an offering to Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god.

The carrier, which has two Boeing aircraft, has had to suspend some services in recent weeks because of the problem.

The goats were slaughtered at Nepal's only international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said.

"The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights," Raju K.C., a senior airline official, told Reuters.

Guess what was then served on the in-flight meal?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Jesus said, "Beware of the leaven of the Saducees and Pharisees." Today I suspect He would include Reform Judaism in His warning. The Reform wing is ready to release a new prayer book that is designed to include everyone. Well, everyone except anyone who might take God or the Bible seriously:
Now the nation’s largest Jewish movement, Reform Judaism, is preparing to adopt a new prayer book that was intended to offer something for everyone — traditionalists, progressives and everyone else — even those who do not believe in God.

The changes reveal a movement that is growing in different directions simultaneously, absorbing non-Jewish spouses and Jews with little formal religious education while also trying to appeal to Jews seeking a return to tradition.

Traditional touches coexist with a text that sometimes departs from tradition by omitting or modifying some prayers and by using language that is gender-neutral. References to God as “He” have been removed, and whenever Jewish patriarchs are named — like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so are the matriarchs — like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.
It seems like Reform Judaism is in desperate need of serious reform.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

'THE RIGHT THING TO DO as of right now,' says Michael Vick, who accepted a plea agreement on charges of conspiracy in a dog fighting ring. What is the right thing to do 'as of right now'?
"We all make mistakes," said Michael Vick. "Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I reject it ... I found Jesus and turned my life over to God. I think that's the right thing to do as of right now."

There you have it. Finding Jesus may be the new rehab. Quick--somebody tell Lindsay Lohan!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

BOMBINGS IN HYDERABAD....last night at least 40 people were killed in two bombings. Nineteen unexploded bombs were discovered as well. One of the bombs exploded near the hotel we stayed at the last two trips to Hyderabad. Some related pictures are here.
PREACHING THIS MORNING...from Psalm 50, 'The Judgment of God'. All of creation, from rising sun to setting, are called before The Mighty One. The first to stand before His judgment are His 'godly ones'. He begins to testify against them. He reminds them that He does not need their sacrifice, but desires their reliance. The the wicked step forward. They have confused God's attitude with their own: 'You thought that I was just like you.' They have no right to call upon God's statutes and covenant. But this judgment is not final; it is a warning. The one who 'orders his way aright' will be shown 'the salvation of God'.

Friday, August 24, 2007


The release of personal writings from Mother Teresa have caused controversy over the faith of the woman beatified, and soon to be sainted, by the Catholic Church:
Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 and was beatified in record time only six years later, felt abandoned by God from the very start of the work that made her a global figure, in her sandals and blue and white sari. The doubts persisted until her death.

The nun’s crisis of faith was revealed four years ago by the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postutalor or advocate of her cause for sainthood, at the time of her beatification in October 2003. Now he has compiled a new edition of her letters, entitled, "Mother Teresa: Come be My Light," which reveals the full extent of her long “dark night of the soul.”

“I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul,” she wrote at one point. “I want God with all the power of my soul — and yet between us there is terrible separation.” On another occasion she wrote: “I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing.”

Are these the understandable doubts of someone working in the midst of great poverty and suffering or are they indicative of something more?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

'TEIXEIRA TRIBUTE' UPDATE at the Montgomery Advertiser. The snowball grows!

The same issues that have plagued the 'mainstream' (read 'liberal') American denominations have (unsurprisingly) also infected their predominantly black counterparts:
For years, disputes over homosexuality have convulsed predominantly white Protestant denominations -- Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian and Presbyterian -- but they have only recently hit black churches.

"It's going to be a real challenge," said the Rev. Carlton W. Veazey, minister at Fellowship Baptist Church in the District and founder of the annual National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality. "We're just beginning to really deal with it."

Most major historically black denominations have taken strong stances against homosexuality.

The National Baptist Convention USA Inc., the nation's largest predominantly black denomination, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church forbid clergy from officiating at ceremonies for same-sex couples, and Pentecostal denominations such as the Church of God in Christ consider homosexuality a sin. The Progressive National Baptist Convention, of which Covenant Baptist is a member, has not taken a stand on homosexuality or same-sex unions.
As long as churches choose to reflect the culture rather than seek to be salt and light within the culture the same thing will play out in generation after generation. Israel showed us repeatedly that seeking to be like the nations around them only leads to disaster.

Monday, August 20, 2007


A couple of young Christian men I know (Auburn students, but don't hold that against them) are now enjoying their fifteen minutes with their Tribute to Mark Teixeira on YouTube. Their song has been played at actual Braves games and on national TV on TBS. Word is that the pair are scheduled to play live at an upcoming Braves game. We'll assume none of this will interfere with school or (especially) some upcoming wedding plans (a certain young lady would not be pleased).

We're also hoping that enough money will be made to purchase the guitar player jeans without holes in them.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

THE PAN-INDIA PHOTOESSAY at is worth a look.

A retiring Catholic bishop has a solution to the religious divide,everyone should call God 'Allah':
A proposal by a Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands that people of all faiths refer to God as "Allah" is not sitting well with the Catholic community.

Tiny Muskens, an outgoing bishop who is retiring in a few weeks from the southern diocese of Breda, said God doesn't care what he is called.

"Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him? It is our problem," Muskens told Dutch television.

If it doesn't matter, then why don't Muslims simply call God 'God' or 'Yahweh'? One suspects that in their mind it most certainly does matter, which Muskens understands very clearly, thus the suggestion. Not surprisingly, Muslims endorse the idea:
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, backs the idea as a way to help interfaith understanding.

"It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God," Hooper told "I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths."

...The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago supports the idea.

“I think it will open up doors,” said Janaan Hashim, a spokeswoman for the group representing more than 400,000 Muslim Americans in the Chicago area. “Language is a man-made limitation. I think what God cares about is how we fulfill our purpose in life.”

But Muslims don't really believe that language is a man-made limitation (well, neither do Jews or Christians--tower of Babel, anyone?). Muslims believe the Koran was revealed in Arabic and it can only be properly understood in Arabic.

Needless to say, not all Catholics support the notion:
"I'm sure his intentions are good but his theology needs a little fine-tuning," said Father Jonathan Morris, a Roman Catholic priest based in Rome. Morris, a news analyst for FOX News Channel, also called the idea impractical.

"Words and names mean things," Morris said. "Referring to God as Allah means something."

It certainly does. The Muslim conception of 'Allah' allows for no place for the Word, revealed to us as the Son, who is fully divine, fully God.

Muskens's proposal is simply another instance of Western Christianity looking Islam in the eye and then blinking without hesitation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


A soldier in Iraq found that carrying his Bible came in quite handy:
US soldier serving in iraq believes his Bible saved his life after it stopped a sniper's bullet.

22-year-old Army Private First Class Brendan Schweigart had his Bible tucked in a pocket beneath his bullet proof shield when he was shot with a high powered rifle while on a mission in Iraq.

The bullet missed his vital organs, came out his chest, and lodged in his Bible before it could do more damage.

I suspect that's a copy he'll be hanging on to.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Have you felt a distance from God? Have you considered sorting your trash?
At 8 on a Saturday morning, just as the heat was permeating this sprawling Orlando suburb, Denise Kirsop donned a white plastic moon suit and began sorting through the trash produced by Northland Church.

She and several fellow parishioners picked apart the garbage to analyze exactly how much and what kind of waste their megachurch produces, looking for ways to reduce the congregation's contribution to global warming.

"I prayed about it, and God really revealed to me that I had a passion about creation," said Kirsop, who has since traded in her family's sport-utility vehicle for a hybrid Toyota Prius to help cut her greenhouse gas emissions. "Anything that draws me closer to God -- and this does -- increases my faith and helps my work for God."

Counting a megachurch's carbon footprint without question can draw one closer to God. I mean, how could one conceive that it could not?

And who revealed this truth to Kirsop and her fellow congregants? Why her preacher, none other than Joel Hunter:
"I did sense this is one of these issues where the church could take leadership, like with civil rights," said Northland's senior pastor, Joel C. Hunter. "It's a matter of who speaks for evangelicals: Is it a broad range of voices on a broad range of issues, or a narrow range of voices?"

Does anyone "speak for evangelicals"? Do evangelicals need someone--or a group of someones--to speak for them? Perhaps the number of volunteers for this job outweighs the need.

Or just maybe, rather than sorting their trash churches could be concerned with reaching out to the lost, encouraging the saints and helping their needy. Those are jobs we seldom have enough volunteers for.

[Thanks to theosebes reader Wild Bill for the link]

Monday, August 06, 2007


Well, really more inconsequential than you can imagine. Anthony Doerr ponders the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, and urges us to do the same:
So. The Earth is massive enough to hold all of our cities and oceans and creatures in the sway of its gravity. And the sun is massive enough to hold the Earth in the sway of its gravity. But the sun itself is merely a mote in the sway of the gravity of the Milky Way, at the center of which is a vast, concentrated bar of stars, around which the sun swings (carrying along Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc.) every 230 million years or so. Our sun isn’t anywhere near the center; it’s way out on one of the galaxy’s minor arms. We live beyond the suburbs of the Milky Way. We live in Nowheresville.

Just so.

And not only are we in Nowheresville, Milky Way, the Milky Way itself isn't anything special:
[T]here are enough stars in the universe that if everybody on Earth were charged with naming his or her share, we’d each get to name a trillion and a half of them.

Even that number is still impossibly hard to comprehend—if you named a star every time your heart beat for your whole life, you’d have to live about 375 lifetimes to name your share.

The point of this is, in the grand scheme of things you and I are even less than a speck of dust in the desert. Doerr believes that this ought to give us perspective. That this picture "should probably be in every church". He's probably right, but for the opposite reason he thinks.

We are nothing. Just as the Preacher of Ecclesiastes finds despair in the vanity of the meaningless of life, so much so that he "hated life", so the Hubble Deep Field picture will inevitably force the same conclusion. Except that, as the Preacher discovered, we do have meaning. We do have purpose. We find in the fact that God created all of this for you and me. And we find meaning in being created in His image.

The Deep Field image stands as a testament to life's futility without our Creator. And it stands as a magnificent statement of the wonder of the Being who spoke all that the Hubble could ever see into existence.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Commitment to the Kingdom' from my series on The Sermon On the Mount. Jesus warns us that materialism will cloud our spiritual vision, distracting us from the commitment we must have to God's kingdom. We must not worry over material things, but rather trust in God's provision.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Where did Christian rock come from? From the Jesus freaks, of course:
The Christian embrace of hip youth scenes can be traced, like so much, to the cultural ferment of the 1960s. Given that we are all weathering a Summer of Love flashback, it might spice up the tired images of the Haight Ashbury rebels to realize that a few of them were Christians. These mystic hippies sparked the mass Jesus People movement, which injected a distinctly Christian feeling for love and apocalypse into a counterculture already up to its mala beads in love and apocalypse. By the early 1970s, a new Jesus had hit the American mind—communal, earthy, spontaneous, anti-establishment. And this Jesus continued to transform American worship long after the patchouli wore off, inspiring a more informal and contemporary style of communion and celebration that, while holding true to core principles, unbuckled the Bible Belt from American Christian life.
There are some ways in which that influence can be good. I'm sure one could trace attitudes from that period that helped break down many of the old denominational allegiances and loyalties that had a negative affect on religious thinking. That itself is a two-edged sword, of course. It often leads to a sort of antinomianism that makes every man a law to himself. And this, regrettably, is where our religious culture has traveled to in many ways.

(Thanks to Theosebes reader Mitch for the link.)

With the conclusion of the Harry Potter, Bob Smietana finds that Christ begins to break through. (Warning: Story spoilers at the link).

Thursday, August 02, 2007


The Getty Museum is returning forty antiquities to Italy:
After long negotiations, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has agreed to hand over 40 objects from its antiquities collection that Italy contends were looted from its soil, the two sides said on Wednesday.

A fifth-century B.C. statue of a cult deity usually identified as Aphrodite, one of the Getty’s prized pieces, is among the works to be returned to Italy, the Italian Culture Ministry and the museum’s governing trust said in a joint statement. But discussions on the fate of another statue, a fourth-century-B.C. bronze of a young athlete that was pivotal to the breakdown of earlier negotiations, have been temporarily put aside so that an Italian court can conduct an inquiry on how the artifact was found and how it left Italy in the 1960s.

This is part of a healthy process, I think, although it seems that there also needs to be a provable provenance, and even then probably a statute of limitations.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Forget Star Wars or Spiderman, Walmart is ready to offer Biblical action figures:
Instead of Spiderman or Bratz dolls, children in the US could soon be clutching a talking Jesus toy, a bearded Moses or a muscle-bound figure of Goliath.

From the middle of August, Wal-Mart, the biggest toy retailer in the US, will for the first time stock a full line of faith-based toys.

Actually, our daughters have had some prophet figures (complete with scrolls) for a couple of years. They really like them. Goliath and Samson I have no issue with. I'm not a big fan of a Jesus action figure, though. For obvious reasons, Jesus is different. Of course, the knock is that children will create fictional scenarios from historical figures.

What this really shows is the power of the religious community's buying power. If it wouldn't sell, Walmart wouldn't carry it.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Apparently if you superimpose 'The Last Supper' with its mirror image, and both are made partially transparent, a barely visible image of a woman holding a child appears. And to think we've missed it all these years.

Just in: If you completely change all the images in 'The Last Supper' you can get this. There's no question Leonardo intended it this way.

On a newly discovered blog (ie, newly discovered by me), Tertium Quid (my favorite political party) ponders the Southern accent and our moden society's attempt to homogenize it away.

From Burke to Kirk and Beyond has officially been placed in my favorites.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


A former church trustee and choir members has been caught with his hand in the collection plate:
A longtime member of a Union County church has been charged with stealing about $28,000 from the Sunday collection plate over an 11-year period.

William J. Biunno, 71, a former trustee and member of the choir at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church allegedly took the money during Sunday mass after it had been collected from parishioners, police Sgt. Vincent Gagliardi told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's newspapers.

The church caught on late last year after one official noticed something unusual on footage from a surveillance camera inside the house of worship, authorities said. Since the camera wasn't at a good angle to see all of Biunno's actions, church officials added other cameras that clearly showed Biunno pocketing the money.

Maybe the church needs to start taking debit cards instead.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

IN OUR HOUSE of three daughters we have voted 'no' on Jones, and grammar isn't the main problem.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

PAGANS ARE DISTRESSED in England over the Cerne Abbas giant's new friend. Why, he'd probably like a donut.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I LIKE TO STAY behind the curve on technology, so I've just lately explored YouTube a little. When in India there's often a lot of early morning sleeplessness that leads to channel surfing. I've found that each trip has a commercial that I associate with it in my mind. They overplay commercials there, too! So I've discovered that YouTube actually has these commercials, though not in the best quality. I guess you can't have everything. So, if you're bored sometime today you can watch commercials for 7-Up, chewing gum and a job site. The song from the last one got stuck in my head pretty much the whole time on the last trip.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'The One True Church: What Is It? Who Is It?'. In light of the Vatican's restatement of the Catholic position of primacy of the pope and insistence upon apostolic succession are their claims correct? What we find in Scripture is that Jesus did not found a perpetual institution, but rather a people bound together by covenant based on His revealed word. Where we find a commitment to the word implanted, there we will find Christ's people, His one true church.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


We've all run into passages where translations differ somewhat. This can be frustrating, of course, but it can also be illuminating. I personally think comparing translations is one of the best ways to get at the meaning of text. It's often better than trying to over-research the etymology of various words in the passages. It's an approach that can create more problems than it solves as all sorts of possible--but highly unlikely--meanings are imported into the passage.

What's the best way to approach such a situation? Drew Kizer does an excellent job in analyzing Malachi 2:16, comparing the traditional translations with the English Standard Version's different take on a commonly used passage. I agree with his conclusion, but I think he also shows how to take a calm, open and reasoned approach to such a situation.

[And yes, I'm only a month late in reading his post. Sorry, Drew!]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Dismissing open-ended ecumenism, Pope Benedict (aka, Joseph Ratzinger) has reaffirmed the primacy of the Catholic Church:
Benedict made unity with Protestant and Orthodox churches a priority of his pontificate in his first message as pope in April 2005.

"However, if such dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve not just the mutual openness of the participants, but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith," the document said.

Central to that identity is the idea that eastern or Orthodox churches were suffering a "wound" because they do not recognize the primacy of the pope.

It said "the wound is still more profound" in "communities emerging from the Reformation" -- the Protestant and Anglican churches.

These were "not Churches in the proper sense of the word", but rather "ecclesial communities", it said.

The Vatican acknowledged that this teaching had "created no little distress in the communities concerned" and recognised the "many elements of sanctification and truth" in other Christian denominations.

But only Catholicism could be seen as the one "Church of Christ", it said, adding that it was "difficult to see how the title of Church could possibly be attributed" to them.

Insistence on the primacy of the Catholic Church--which in this reading is essentially one and the same with the primacy of the pope--is the position one would expect the Catholic Church to take. Although many are dismayed by this hardline position, should one expect the pope to issue a statement essentially stating 'we're not really sure we're right'? There has been far too much hand-wringing in religion, particularly on core doctrines as important as the Divinity of Christ, for example. If one does not believe the religion he practices is right, then why not sleep in on Sunday? Well, such a logical conclusion is exactly what has caused many in our modern world to do just that.

Ultimately, though, the claims of Catholic primacy are based on a pointless adherence to institutional age. It boils down to the idea that 'we're right because we exist.' I would suggest a better standard: 'we're right because we're doing what God reveals in His word.' The Catholic Church is a self-created institution that shows little similarity to the church illustrated in the New Testament, the church that Jesus promised He would build.

If you want to know who is following God according to His plan, then compare what is being done to His revealed word. That is not a comparison the Catholic Church--or many churches at all--would invite.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


The longknives are out in opposition to Surgeon General nominee Dr. James Holsinger. The NYT takes the normal position of endorsing abnormality and calling normality abnormal in their editorial of condemnation:
The Senate Health Committee will have to dig beneath the surface on Thursday to consider the nomination of Dr. James Holsinger to be surgeon general. Dr. Holsinger has high-level experience as a health administrator, but there are disturbing indications that he is prejudiced against homosexuals....

What’s troubling is the view he once expressed — and may still hold — on homosexuality, through his activities as a lay leader in the United Methodist Church. On the church’s judicial council, he supported a minister who refused to allow a gay man to join his congregation and argued that a lesbian minister should be removed because church doctrine deems the practice of homosexuality to be “incompatible with Christian teaching.” His supporters say these rulings should not be read as his personal views because the council can’t change church doctrine. However, some council members opposed his views, and the bishops later rejected one decision.

Any deviation from accepting deviant behavior must be stamped out. With President Bush already weakened politically, I suspect this nomination will be pulled. On the other hand, he's a lame duck, anyway--what does he have to lose?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Finding the Answer In God' on Psalm 63. Even in a dry and weary land God is there. Even kings gain glory by honoring this God. We will only find the answer in Him.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Where did all these house cats come from? (I ask this question to my wife sometimes when our cat is sitting defiantly in my chair.) DNA tests indicate they all came from five females thousands of years ago:
Five subspecies of wildcat are distributed across the Old World. They are known as the European wildcat, the Near Eastern wildcat, the Southern African wildcat, the Central Asian wildcat and the Chinese desert cat. Their patterns of DNA fall into five clusters. The DNA of all house cats and fancy cats falls within the Near Eastern wildcat cluster, making clear that this subspecies is their ancestor, Dr. Driscoll and his colleagues said in a report published Thursday on the Web site of the journal Science.

The wildcat DNA closest to that of house cats came from 15 individuals collected in the deserts of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the researchers say. The house cats in the study fell into five lineages, based on analysis of their mitochondrial DNA, a type that is passed down through the female line. Since the oldest archaeological site with a cat burial is about 9,500 years old, the geneticists suggest that the founders of the five lineages lived around this time and were the first cats to be domesticated.

This seems to be a perfectly plausible scenario, although unproveable in its details. But while we find the house cat developing from a particular species of wildcat, what we also find is the cat came from, well, a cat. This is 'micro-evolution' in action, but evolutionists generally refuse to recognize the distinction. The reason? Since micro-evolution is easily demonstrated they can point to it and say, 'See--evolution is proved!' The problem is while we might prove a cat came from (surprise!) a cat, it is a bit more difficult to prove an extrapolation that a cat came from something else entirely.

Is evolution true? Well, it all depends on the evolution one is talking about.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'The Model Prayer' on Matthew 6:8-15 from my series on the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus casts prayer as a kingdom tool to help bring the kingdom by recognizing God's authority and our dependence upon Him in matters spiritual and physical.

In a move I don't recall having ever seen before, Alabama Governor Bob Riley has issued an official prayer for rain proclamation:
Governor Bob Riley is encouraging Alabamians to pray for rain.

The Governor has issued a proclamation declaring June 30 through July 7 as "Days of Prayer for Rain" in Alabama, and he is asking citizens to pray individually and in their houses of worship for rain.

"Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady during times of difficulty. This drought is without question a time of great difficulty for our farmers and for communities across the state," Governor Riley said.

In a time with outright government hostility toward religion such an official recognition is to be applauded. The proclamation reads:
WHEREAS, throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady during times of difficulty:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Bob Riley, Governor of Alabama, do hereby encourage citizens of Alabama to pray daily for rain and proclaim June 30 - July 7, 2007 as Days of Prayer for Rain.

During this time, I encourage all Alabamians to pray individually and within their houses of worship for sufficient rain.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Archaeologists are set to announce the positive identification of the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut:
A single tooth and some DNA clues appear to have solved the mystery of the lost mummy of Hatshepsut, one of the great queens of ancient Egypt, who reigned in the 15th century B.C.

Archaeologists who conducted the research, to be announced formally today in Cairo, said this was the first mummy of an Egyptian ruler to be found and “positively identified” since King Tutankhamen’s tomb was opened in 1922.

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, said Monday in a telephone interview that the mummy was found in 1903 in an obscure, undecorated tomb in the Valley of the Kings, across the Nile from modern Luxor, and had been largely overlooked for more than a century.

Dr. Hawass said the identification of the well-preserved mummy as Hatshepsut (pronounced hat-SHEP-soot) was made a few weeks ago when a CT scan of a wooden box associated with the queen revealed a tooth. The tooth, he said, “fits exactly” into the jaw socket and broken root of the mummy of an obese woman originally found in Tomb 60 at the Valley of the Kings, the necropolis for royalty in the New Kingdom before and after Hatshepsut’s reign.

“We therefore have scientific proof that this is the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut,” Dr. Hawass concluded, citing primarily the tooth but also current DNA analysis suggesting a family relationship between the obese woman and Ahmose Nefertari, the matriarch of 18th dynasty royalty.

Other Egyptologists not involved in the project said that the finding was fascinating, but that they would reserve judgment until they had studied the results of the DNA analysis and had some of the evidence confirmed by other researchers.

“You have to be so careful in reaching conclusions from such data,” said Kathryn Bard, an Egyptologist at Boston University.

This is a fascinating discovery. The description of her as 'obese' certainly deviates from the Cleopatra-esque drawings I remember from my 6th grade text book illustrating 'Queen Hat' (as my teacher called her).

This should prove to be interesting as more information is released.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Friend, former classmate and Theosebes reader Dr. Sean Busick is quoted on 'The Swamp Fox'--Francis Marion of South Carolina--in the latest Smithsonian magazine. Congratulations, Sean!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Episcopal Priest Is Both Muslim and Christian

Ann Holmes Redding, an Episcopal priest for 20 years, has now also embraced Islam:
Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest.

She does both, she says, because she's Christian and Muslim.

Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she's ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she's also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Islamic prayers left her profoundly moved.

Well, it's a bit hard to know where to start in unraveling such a mess, but to stay on point we have this observation:
"There are tenets of the faiths that are very, very different," said Kurt Fredrickson, director of the doctor of ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "The most basic would be: What do you do with Jesus?"

Christianity has historically regarded Jesus as the son of God and God incarnate, both fully human and fully divine. Muslims, though they regard Jesus as a great prophet, do not see him as divine and do not consider him the son of God.

Indeed. The role of Jesus is impossible to reconcile. What could possess someone to do this? Well, Ms. Redding explained it best:
"It wasn't about intellect," she said.
Just so!

[Thanks to Jeff at Truth-In-Love for the link]

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Recognizing that the 'pastoral needs of motorists' need to be addressed, the Vatican has issued a 10 Commandments for Drivers:
The Vatican on Tuesday issued a set of ''Ten Commandments'' for drivers, telling motorists not to kill, not to drink and drive, and to help fellow travelers in case of accidents.

An unusual document from the Vatican's office for migrants and itinerant people also warned that cars can be ''an occasion of sin'' -- particularly when they are used for dangerous passing or for prostitution.

It warned about the effects of road rage, saying driving can bring out ''primitive'' behavior in motorists, including ''impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy, loss of sense of responsibility or deliberate infringement of the highway code.''

It urged motorists to obey traffic regulations, drive with a moral sense, and to pray when behind the wheel.

Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the office, told a news conference that the Vatican felt it necessary to address the pastoral needs of motorists because driving had become such a big part of contemporary life.

He noted that the Bible was full of people on the move, including Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus -- and that his office is tasked with dealing with all ''itinerant'' people -- including refugees, prostitutes, truck drivers and the homeless.

''We know that as a consequence of transgressions and negligence, 1.2 million people die each year on the roads,'' Martino said. ''That's a sad reality, and at the same time, a great challenge for society and the church.''

The document, ''Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road,'' extols the benefits of driving -- family outings, getting the sick to the hospital, allowing people to see other cultures.

But it laments a host of ills associated with automobiles: drivers use their cars to show off; driving ''provides an easy opportunity to dominate others'' by speeding; drivers can kill themselves and others if they don't get their cars regular tuneups, if they drink, use drugs or fall asleep at the wheel.

Uh-oh. My car is due for a tune-up, but thankfully it didn't address how fast I can really drive in a 55 MPH speed zone.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


The Delcambre, Louisiana has passed an ordinance banning baggy pants:
A mayor in the US state of Louisiana says he will sign into law a proposal to make wearing saggy trousers an act of indecent exposure.
Delcambre town council unanimously passed the ordinance earlier this week making it a crime to wear trousers that show underwear.

"If you expose your private parts, you'll get a fine" of US$500 (£254) Mayor Carol Broussard said.

Offenders will also risk up to six months in jail.

Speaking of people who wear saggy trousers, Mr Broussard told the Associated Press news agency: "They're better off taking the pants off and just wearing a dress."

Perhaps there is hope for our nation.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Continuing the 'I Told You So' files, three years ago Theosebes brought up the issue of Christian persecution in Iraq (see here and here). It seems the problem has not gone away:
An al-Qaida-affiliated insurgent group is giving Christians in Baghdad a stark set of options: Convert to Islam, marry your daughters to our fighters, pay an Islamic tax or leave with only the clothes on your back.

A U.S. military official said American forces became aware of the threats only last month and now have erected barriers around the largest Christian enclave in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood in an effort to protect its residents.

Christians in Baghdad refuse to discuss the threats for fear of retribution. But in Syria, where thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled, tales abound of families that were killed or driven from their homes because they either refused or couldn't afford to pay the jizya, a tax usually levied on non-Muslim men of military age that's been part of Islam for more than 1,000 years.

Of course, things weren't always this way in Iraq:
Iraq long had been home to thriving Christian communities, primarily Assyrians and Chaldean Catholics, who trace their roots to ancient Mesopotamia. Some of Saddam Hussein's closest confidants were Christian, including his foreign minister, Tarik Aziz. Christian communities were prominent in many major Iraqi cities, including Mosul in the north and Basra in the south.

Baghdad had major Christian enclaves in the central neighborhood of Karada, the eastern mostly Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad and nearby al-Ghadir and the notorious Sunni-dominated Doura in the capital's south.

As Iraq has descended into chaos, however, many Christians have fled, joining an estimated 2.2 million exiles, including 1.4 million Iraqis now estimated to be living in Syria. At least 19,000 Iraqi Christians have registered in Damascus with the United Nations refugee agency, and thousands more are thought to have sought shelter there, but have yet to register.

A Christian Iraqi legislator estimated Tuesday that a half-million Christians have fled Iraq since 2004.

"What is happening today in Iraq against Christians is shameful," Ablahad Afram Sawa said in an impassioned statement read to Iraq's parliament by its speaker. He said Christians hadn't faced such oppression in nearly 2,000 years. "Most of the churches in Baghdad have closed their doors," he added.

Let us pray that the freedom to worship God as He intended through His Son will can flourish in Iraq.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Back in March Theosebes predicted that General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wouldn't be long for the job after his comments condemning homosexuality in the armed forces. Three months later Pace is retiring. Now whether or not the remarks were directly tied to him being forced out is unclear, but it's unlikely that someone who holds such sensible views can stay in a position of power for long.