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.