Sunday, November 30, 2008

PREACHING THIS MORNING...actually should be 'Appointing This Morning' as the focus today will be on appointing new elders at the Hickman Mills church. Several months of teaching and preaching have thankfully resulted in three new overseers being selected to serve. We will be blessed with an eldership of eight fine men, for which we are very grateful.

This will be the second elder appointment I have done in 14 months, the last one at Wilsonville, Alabama.

Monday, November 24, 2008


In India's Orissa state, the location of a recent spike of Christian persecution, fundamentalist Hindus are offering a bounty for Christian leaders:
Extremist Hindu groups offered money, food and alcohol to mobs to kill Christians and destroy their homes, according to Christian aid workers in the eastern India state of Orissa.

The U.S.-based head of Good News India, a Christian organization that runs several orphanages in Orissa — one of India’s poorest regions — claims that Christian leaders are being targeted by Hindu militants and carry a price on their heads. "The going price to kill a pastor is $250," said Faiz Rahman, the chairman of Good News India.

A spokesman for the All-India Christian Council said: “People are being offered rewards to kill, and to destroy churches and Christian properties. They are being offered foreign liquor, chicken, mutton and weapons. They are given petrol and kerosene.”

Ram Madhav, a spokesman for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the largest hardline Hindu group, denied the claims. “The accusation is absolutely false,” he said.

Orissa has suffered a series of murders and arson attacks in recent months, with at least 67 Christians killed, according to the Roman Catholic Church. Several thousand homes have been razed and hundreds of places of worship destroyed, and crops are now wasting in the fields.

Such persecution is illegal in India, but it's a matter of local enforcement. If the elected leadership doesn't care they simply look the other way. It's time for the government to step in here.

As I've stated before, Christianity is a convenient scapegoat for the fact that the younger generation are less dedicated Hindus. Their real problem is the rise of education, modernity and 'material agnosticism'. Their children aren't, by and large, becoming Christians, but rather becoming middle class.

[Thanks to Theosebes reader Eric for alerting me to the bounty story.]

Unlike his predecessors, President-elect Barack Obama finds the gym more attractive than church services:
President-elect Barack Obama has yet to attend church services since winning the White House earlier this month, a departure from the example of his two immediate predecessors.

On the three Sundays since his election, Obama has instead used his free time to get in workouts at a Chicago gym.

Asked about the president-elect's decision to not attend church, a transition aide noted that the Obamas valued their faith experience in Chicago but were concerned about the impact their large retinue may have on other parishioners.

"Because they have a great deal of respect for places of worship, they do not want to draw unwelcome or inappropriate attention to a church not used to the attention their attendance would draw," said the aide.

Both President-elect George W. Bush and President-elect Bill Clinton managed to attend church in the weeks after they were elected.

Does that raise the question of whether a messiah should go to church or should the church come to him?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Living For the Will of God' from 1 Peter 4:1-11. As we put aside the ways of the world, we order our life to fulfill the will of God. God directs us to be focused toward serving Him by serving one another just as Jesus Himself showed.

This evening...'James: Brother of Jesus', a biographical look at one who went from skeptic to martyr.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Infuriated by the surprise (to them) rejection of homosexual 'marriage' in three strates on election day, homosexual protesters have been flexing their muscles in California hoping to stop an approved state constitutional amendment:
More than 20,000 protesters spilled into the streets of Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and even Modesto on Saturday in mostly peaceful demonstrations over passage of Proposition 8, the statewide ballot measure that bans same-sex marriage.

The unfolding street scenes underscored the racial and religious tensions that have surfaced since Tuesday's vote threw into question the legality of 18,000 marriages of gay and lesbian couples and foreclosed the option for any more.

Police estimated that 12,500 boisterous marchers converged about 6 p.m. at Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards in Silver Lake near the site of the former Black Cat bar, which the city recently designated a historic-cultural monument for its '60s role as home of the local gay rights movement.

Particular targets for protest in California have been churches, particularly Mormon churches and temples. This attempt to silence religious opposition is now including an attempt to silence religious opposition of any kind to homosexuality:
About 100 people stood in front of First Baptist Church of Dallas on Sunday morning to protest Dr. Robert Jeffress' sermon, "Why Gay Is Not O.K."

Carrying signs bearing the words "I'm Gay and It's OK" and "Christ Taught Love Not Hate," the protesters lined both sides of San Jacinto Street in front of the downtown church.

They sang "Jesus Loves Me" and cheered when passing motorists honked their horns and waved in support.

"Most of the people here are Christians, and they're taking offense at the Baptist Church trying to say how Christ's love should be interpreted," said Patrick Hancock, who attended the peaceful protest. It was organized earlier this week when someone noticed the sermon topic on the church marquee.

It sounds like the minister has a good grasp of the issue:
Dr.[Robert] Jeffress said the purpose of his sermon was to "let Christians know what the Bible says about this important topic, and to reaffirm that any and every sin can be forgiven."

Dr. Jeffress addressed what he called two "myths" about homosexuality: that prohibitions exist only in the Old Testament, and that Jesus never condemned this behavior.

During one of his three Sunday morning sermons, he cited New Testament passages that he said condemned homosexuality, including Romans 1:27. It speaks of "men, leaving the natural use of the woman, [who] burned in their lust one toward another."

Dr. Jeffress acknowledged that "Jesus never used the word homosexual." However, he said, Christ condemned homosexuality by affirming Old Testament truths and by upholding God's plan for human sexuality – "one man and one woman in a marriage relationship."

And we can be assured that there will be no end to this expanded assault on religion:
"The No on 8 people didn't want us to use the word 'bigots.' But that's what they are, bigots, bigots, bigots," Tyler said, bringing a round of cheers from the growing crowd. "We will never be made invisible again. Never again will we let them define who we are."

This is now turning into a struggle for religious liberty itself. The homosexual movement is going on the offensive, and they see Christians as the obstacle blocking their goal.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'The Hope That Is In You' from 1 Peter 3:8-22. Through the resurrection of Christ we are to be a humble people of fearless hope. As an appeal to a good conscience before God, we submit ourselves to the saving waters of baptism that we might, like Noah, be separated from sin and death.

This evening...'The Handwriting On the Wall' from Daniel 5. Belshazzar learned not to mock the God of heaven. No matter how impregnable the walls around us seem, nothing can protect us from the judgment of God.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


In what would seem to be a counter-intuitive result considering Tuesday's overall election returns homosexual marriage was defeated in three states, two of which went for Obama:
In California, where same-sex marriage had been performed since June, the ban had more than 52 percent of the vote, according to figures by the secretary of state, and was projected to win by several Californian news media outlets. Opponents of same-sex marriage won by even bigger margins in Arizona and Florida. Just two years ago, Arizona rejected a similar ban.
Of particular interest is who supported the bans:

Exit polls in California found that 70 percent of black voters backed the ban. Slightly more than half of Latino voters, who made up almost 20 percent of voters, favored the ban, while 53 percent of whites opposed it.

Apparently minorities aren't buying homosexual marriage as a so-called civil rights issue, while whites are happy to go along with it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Having switched over to the ESV from the NASB as my default translation earlier in the year I figured, hey, I need new Bibles--right? Right. Work with me here. It happened along about that time that I became a regular reader of Mark Bertrand's fine (yet very, very dangerous) weblog Bible Design and Binding. It turned out to be a costly confluence of events. As a result I am now three ESV Bibles richer, yet much cash poorer.

Earlier, I reviewed my ESV from Allan in tan highland goatskin. Yesterday my Cambridge Pitt Minion in brown goatskin arrived. I've not had much time to spend with it, but here are some early impressions and pictures.

The first thing that jumps out is how small the Pitt Minion is. It's a palm sized Bible, and will be great for stuffing in a coat pocket or briefcase. I can see that this one will be used a lot when I need to grab a Bible and run. The text pages are a bit more refined in their design than the Allan's, a better balance of margins. The text also seems to pop out on the page better on the Pitt Minion, which is good since the type is relatively small.

Of course, Allan uses a pre-done text block so the real comparison between the two comes at the binding. The cover on the Pitt Minion has a nice feel, and the brown color is elegantly understated. But the feel of the leather is like night and day compared to the Allan's. While the Allan's is supple and buttery, the Pitt Minion has a slight roughness to it, the spine is tighter and the cover is stiffer out of the box. The Allan's has a leather backing to the cover while the Pitt Minion uses what appears to be vinyl. I think it comes down to the fact that as nice as the Pitt Minion is (and it is nice--don't get me wrong!), it still seems like a factory Bible while the Allan seems more handcrafted. Of course, you'll pay twice as much (or close to it) for the Allan.

But they are different Bibles for different purposes. And one shouldn't hold against the Pitt Minion what it is not. What it is is a very well executed Bible that is quite handsome, and likely will be more versatile for me than the Allan's is. I think with use and time much of the stiffness will work itself out as well. Perhaps I can check back in with it in a year. One last quibble: I'd love it if the Pitt Minion had two ribbon markers rather than one. Ribbon markers are so useful, and they have to be cheap to add.

Before the pictures, a dream Bible: Pitt Minion size in single-column format and bound by R.L. Allan in their tan goatskin with raised bands thrown in for good measure (and three ribbon markers, of course).

Back to reality, here is the Bible that is:

ESV Pitt Minion

ESV Pitt Minion

ESV Pitt Minion

ESV Pitt Minion text

Pitt Minion-R.L. Allan mini-stack:
Pitt Minion with Allan's

Pitt Minion with Allan's

Sunday, November 02, 2008

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Drinking Dangers: The Christian & Alcohol'-- Proverbs 20:1 tells us, 'Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.'

This evening, 'The King Who Ate Grass', from Daniel 4. God is at work in our world and ultimately will humble those who do not acknowledge Him.