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.