Sunday, November 08, 2009

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Soldiers of Christ' based on 2 Timothy 2:3-4. Are we prepared to follow our orders and be willing to lay down our life as a soldier in the the Lord's army?

(Hmmm...there seems to be a lot of dust around here.)

Saturday, September 05, 2009


David Weaver hits this one out of the park:
They did what pastors all over the world have learned to do, they copied what they saw major contemporary pastors wear. That quickly turned into “contemporary pulpit cool.” A new tradition; a contemporary fashion dogma was born. Now pastors feel compelled to speak with their shirt out even in churches that minister to businessmen in suits. They all look alike. Some have become fashion trendsetters with their own line of “church cool clothing.” It really came into focus recently as I flipped through the channels and saw a young man standing on a stage dressed a certain way and immediately I said to myself, “He’s a pastor.” Sure enough it was a religious program and he was a pastor of a “contemporary church”, whatever that is.

Fighting the 'oppressive' status quo leads to its own unassailable status quo. Tuck in your shirt.

[Thanks to JMB for the link]

Thursday, September 03, 2009

"JUSTICE CONSISTS of finding out a certain thing due a certain man and giving it to him. Temperance consists of finding out the proper limit of a particular indulgence and adhering to that. But charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all." -- from G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


After the debacle that was the Today's New International Version (TNIV) a few years ago, Zondervan has announced a full revision of the best-selling NIV:
The top-selling Bible in North America will undergo its first revision in 25 years, modernizing the language in some sections and promising to reopen a contentious debate about changing gender terms in the sacred text. The New International Version, the Bible of choice for conservative evangelicals, will be revised to reflect changes in English usage and advances in Biblical scholarship, it was announced Tuesday. The revision is scheduled to be completed late next year and published in 2011.

"We want to reach English speakers across the globe with a Bible that is accurate, accessible and that speaks to its readers in a language they can understand," said Keith Danby, global president and CEO of Biblica, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Christian ministry that holds the NIV copyright.

But past attempts to remake the NIV for contemporary audiences in different editions have been plagued by controversies about gender language that have pitted theological conservatives against each other.

The NIV is facing a challenge from the English Standard Version, which is a more conservative/literal translation but also very readable. The NASB, too, revised its language last decade, so the NIV is somewhat behind the curve on this. I am not anti-NIV as many are, although I wouldn't personally be comfortable using it as a primary study or pulpit translation. For me, the ESV gives me readability but combines that with a concern for a more literal translation.

A revision of the NIV is a major event in Bible translation. Let's hope they don't blow it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

'GOOD BEATS UPON THE DAMNED incessantly as sound waves beat on the ears of the deaf, but they cannot receive it. Their fists are clenched, their teeth are clenched, their eyes fast shut. First they will not, in the end they cannot, open their hands for gifts, or their mouths for food, or their eyes to see.' --C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Friday, August 14, 2009

MORE WITH 'INDIANA' the audio blog/podcast The Book and the Spade where Luke Chandler discusses his recent work at the Elah Fortress dig in Israel via telephone interview. The second half of the interview airs next week.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

DON'T MISS THE ADVENTURES OF 'INDIANA' CHANDLER at Luke Chandler's blog. Luke and his father Royce are spending three fun weeks working as volunteer excavators at an archaeological dig in Israel. It looks like a blast, and I would love to be there. Luke does a great job of providing Biblical context for the various sites he's able to visit on his site seeing trips. It's well worth reading all of his updates (and watching the videos).

Monday, July 06, 2009


I leave for my fifth trip to India today. You can follow my exploits at 'Alan's India Blog', on the Hickman Mills Church website.

Monday, June 29, 2009


The world was shocked by the terror attacks on Mumbai last Thanksgiving where 166 people were killed and key targets were hit. I was planning for a January trip to India when the attacks happened, and they prompted our group to postpone that trip until July. Richard Watson of the Telegraph has a chilling article on what happened. He certainly indicates that questions remained unanswered despite official Indian insistence to the contrary.

I land in Mumbai next Tuesday.

The Vatican is claiming that ancient bone fragments have been confirmed to be those of the Apostle Paul:
Pope Benedict XVI said scientific tests confirmed shards found in the underground chamber at the church of St Paul's-Outside-the-Walls in Rome were from the apostle.

Saint Paul was said to have been buried with Saint Peter in a catacomb on the Via Appia, one of the Roman roads which leads out of the city, before being moved to a basilica which was erected in his honour.

For centuries it was believed that his remains were buried beneath the basilica's main altar, which was covered with a slab of marble inscribed in Latin with the words Paulo Apostolo Mart – "Paul, apostle and martyr".

The theory gained credence in 2006, when Vatican archeologists discovered a white marble sarcophagus hidden beneath the floor of the basilica – the largest in Rome after St Peter's at the Vatican – after four years of excavations.
It took three years for archeologists to subject the remains to the first ever scientific tests and establish that they belonged to Saint Paul, a Jewish Roman citizen from Tarsus, in what is now Turkey.

Pope Benedict XVI announced the findings during a service at the basilica, as Rome prepared to celebrate the Feasts of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

"This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul," he said.

Well, it would be nice, no question. But one can't help but have skepticism in the face of a centuries old relic tradition that include a forest of shards of the one true cross.

That someone is buried there I do not doubt. Even that the carbon dating is accurate I can't challenge. But that we can without question--or even with strong probability--identify these remains as those of Paul's is still very much in question. This does not sound like a first century burial of a poor executed man to me:
He said experts had drilled a tiny hole in the sarcophagus, which has remained closed for nearly two millennia, to allow inspection of its interior.
Inside they found "traces of a precious linen cloth, purple in colour, laminated with pure gold, and a blue coloured textile with filaments of linen," Benedict said.

Certainly, a reburial is possible. But when did that happen? More questions have been raised than have been answered.

In related news, the Vatican has also released a fourth century fresco identified as the oldest known image of Paul. And, while intriguing, we must remember that it would have been created 300 years after his death by someone with no knowledge of what he actually looked like.

I'm just a wet blanket today.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'My Father and Your Father', from Jesus' words to Mary following His resurrection. Christ, our Brother, has a unique relationship with the Heavenly Father as the only Begotten Son. Because of what our Brother was willing to do for us that we could not do for ourselves we can be adopted as sons, crying out 'Abba, Father!'

Sunday, June 07, 2009

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'God's Righteous Judgment' from 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12. Those who do not know God and have not obeyed the gospel have much to fear from God's vengeance, which shall be revealed by Jesus and His angels. Let us, then, emulate the Thessalonians who were growing and increasing in faith and love.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Self-identified Christian President Barack Obama spoke to the Muslim world in Cairo in an effort to smooth over perceived US-Muslim schisms. In the process the President has discovered a remarkable new Presidential responsibility:
Mr Obama said: “I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."
Who knew? I don't recall that being in the Presidential job description. If anyone has a quote where the President declares it is also his responsibility as President to fight against negative stereotypes of Christianity (his professed religion) please post a link in comments.

And a little Obama speech trivia: In today's speech he quoted from the Koran three times. Since he has been President the total number of quotes from the Bible: three.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


A couple in San Diego County have been ordered by county officials to stop having friends over for a Bible study or face massive fines:
Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary have been told that they cannot invite friends to their San Diego, Calif. home for a Bible study — unless they are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to San Diego County.

"On Good Friday we had an employee from San Diego County come to our house, and inform us that the Bible study that we were having was a religious assembly, and in violation of the code in the county." David Jones told FOX News.

"We told them this is not really a religious assembly — this is just a Bible study with friends. We have a meal, we pray, that was all," Jones said.

A few days later, the couple received a written warning that cited "unlawful use of land," ordering them to either "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit," the couple's attorney Dean Broyles told San Diego news station 10News.

But the major use permit could cost the Jones' thousands of dollars just to have a few friends over.

The Joneses understand the need to fight the order:
"The implications are great because it’s not only us that’s involved," Mary Jones said. "There are thousands and thousands of Bible studies that are held all across the country. What we’re interested in is setting a precedent here — before it goes any further — and that we have it settled for the future."

The couple is planning to dispute the county's order this week.

Of course, if they were just having some folks over to grill out this apparently wouldn't be a problem. Or maybe if they were having their weekly meeting of, say, Oprah's Book Club then no big deal. But say a prayer or pull out the Bible and clearly the state suddenly has an overpowering interest to stop it.

In a country with a guaranteed freedom of religion and freedom to assemble it's ought to shock and frighten us that both of those things suddenly can become illegal in our own homes.

UPDATE: County officials now appear to be backing down.

[Thanks to Beverly for the links]

Monday, June 01, 2009

George Tiller performed over 60,000 abortions

Infamous late-term abortion doctor George Tiller was shot to death on Sunday while serving as an usher at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas. A suspect was apprehended within hours.

Tiller gained noteriety for his promotion of late-term--third trimester--abortions of viable babies on the grounds of the 'mental health' of the mother. This website claims to document his abortion activities (Disclaimer: I have no connection with the linked site nor have I vetted it for content).

Now Tiller's supporters will turn him into a martyred saint for the grand cause of abortion. Tiller's killer has himself wrongly committed murder, for which he must pay the just penalty. Both of these men, Tiller and his shooter, should have remembered the Biblical principle of Genesis 9:6, which God Himself gave to Noah:

"Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image."

Let us understand that there are consequences for disregarding the value of a creation made in the very image of God. No one, abortionists or abortion opponents, are justified forgetting that.

The recession necessarily affects churches, too, as they are primarily reliant on voluntary giving. The Lexington Herald-Leader has a rundown on how different relgious groups and organizations are dealing with the recession. The focus turns out to be more on seminaries and denominational superstructures rather than indidividual congregations, but some wise words from Prof. Timothy Paul Jones:
"What's most important for churches to do at this time is to return to their core calling as a congregation," Jones said. "Ask, 'What does God want us to do and to be in this community?' Then make cuts in ways that strengthen and highlight that vision rather than undercutting it."

It's worth a look.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

PREACHING THIS MORNING...‘An Excellent Wife Is the Crown of Her Husband’: Thoughts On Finding a Spouse. God is not neutral on the subject of the mate we select, and we can't be, either!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Our Memorial Day'. Just as God established a memorial day--and a new beginning--for Israel with the Passover, so we, too, celebrate our Passover--Jesus Christ--in a memorial Lord's Supper each first day of the week.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


University of Kentucky scientists will attempt to 'unroll' a scroll turned into charcoal by the famous Vesuvius eruption that destroyed Herculaneum and Vesuvius:
On Aug. 24, 79 A.D., Italy's Mount Vesuvius exploded, burying the Roman towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii under tons of super-heated ash, rock and debris in one of the most famous volcanic eruptions in history.

Thousands died. But somehow, hundreds of papyrus scrolls survived — sort of — in a villa at Herculaneum thought to have been owned at one time by Julius Caesar's father-in-law.

The scrolls contained ancient philosophical and learned writings. But they were so badly damaged — literally turned to carbon by the volcanic heat — that they crumbled when scholars first tried to open them centuries later.

The remaining scrolls, stored away in Italy and France, haven't been read — or even unrolled — since 79 AD.

Now, a computer scientist from the University of Kentucky hopes that modern digital technology will allow him to peer inside two of the fragile scrolls — without physically opening them — and unlock secrets they have held for almost 2,000 years.

Brent Seales, the Gill professor of engineering in UK's computer science department, will use an X-Ray CT scanning system to collect interior images of the scrolls' rolled-up pages. Then, he and his colleagues hope to digitally "unroll" the scrolls on a computer screen so scholars can read them.

"It will be a challenge because today these things look more like charcoal briquets than scrolls," Seales said last week. "But we're using a non-invasive scanning system, based on medical technology, that lets you slice through an object and develop a three-dimensional data set without having to open it, just as you would do a CT scan on a human body."

This is fascinating--and extremely important--stuff. It's mind-boggling to imagine what might be in those scrolls, surely some contain writings lost to history since Biblical times. Let's hope the attempt is successful.

As both of the regular followers of Theosebes recall, I have made several trips to India in the past few years. Our group was scheduled to go again this past January, but the trip was postponed in light of the Mumbai terror attacks in November. It was the opinion of the Indian brethren we are in contact with that the terror attacks were aimed at destabilizing the current government, led by the Congress Party, in view of the elections scheduled for this spring. The feeling was that after the elections, the likelihood of more attacks would drop. The good news is that not only are the elections now over, but the incumbent Congress Party--led by Sonia Gandhi--gained seats in parliament. This ought to help maintain stability in India, and also lessen the influence of the Hindu radicals who have increased pressure on Christians in recent years. I am scheduled to return to India in July, and am looking forward to helping the brethren there any way I can.

Friday, May 15, 2009


The latest Gallup Poll on the issue of abortion shows that a majority of Americans are pro-life:
A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.

The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.

The findings are, frankly, very surprising, although very encouraging. Let's pray that the trend continues and bears tangible fruit.

O-merica comes to Notre Dame this weekend as the President is slated to speak at the Catholic university's commencement ceremony. Understandably, some Catholics have expressed concern that the President's radical support for abortion is not consistent with the goals of a Catholic university.

In light of the President's recent appearance at Georgetown University, which eagerly covered up religious symbols in an effort to appease the President's sensibilities, it seems that Catholic critics are correct that the Catholic universities are in crisis. At least, that is, if one imagines that their purpose is to be dedicated to training Catholics to be faithful in a hostile world. However, the Notre Dame mission statement makes no mention of Jesus, God or even the church. It does mention developing "an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings", however.

But what this really brings to light is that religious institutions outside of the local church eventually act just like 'temporary' government programs--interested only in their own existence, prestige and continuation. From Harvard and Yale (remember that they were once religious, and very conservatively so) to the YMCA and now to Notre Dame and Georgetown, the lure of worldy prestige and wisdom eventually overshadows their founding mission, no matter how well-intentioned.

Theosebes has long tried to follow Madonna and her Kabbalah (*cough*) convictions. The latest rumors have her marrying a man named Jesus, however, now her spokesmen are saying otherwise:
Madonna and her boy toy Jesus have no plans to get married, a spokesperson for the singer tells In Touch magazine.

“This is completely and totally not true,” her spokesperson says.

Is Madonna to be denied happiness in another lifelong commitment? Is Dan Brown to be denied having Jesus really marry (and to someone named Madonna!)?

Whatever happens, Madonna's Kabbalah faith will see her through.

Oh, and Jesus's spokesmen--apostles?--have made no comment.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Georgetown University (hey, aren't they Catholic?) complied with White House demands that a Jesus symbol be covered so that it did not show during a speech given by President Obama:
Georgetown University says it covered over the monogram “IHS”--symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ—because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university on Tuesday and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there.

“In coordinating the logistical arrangements for yesterday’s event, Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage,” Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications at Georgetown, told

“The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they’ve done for other policy speeches,” she added. “Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn’t high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context.”

Well, if you don't want Christian symbolism then perhaps you could give your speech somewhere other than at an institution that is not affiliated in some way with a church, perhaps, say, at the White House on the other side of town. And perhaps the University should be a little less 'respectful' to a government official who wants Jesus's name covered up.

But covering up Jesus seems a small price to pay for the worldly prestige of having the President speak at your college, doesn't it?

Monday, March 09, 2009


President Obama reversed the Bush Administration's ban on government funding for embryonic stem cell research today, claiming a 'consensus' had been reached that it was the right thing to do. According to Obama, it was time to move beyond letting morals and ideology get in the way of scientific research:
Obama says that in recent years, the government has forced a false choice between "sound science and moral values." He says "the majority of Americans -- from across the political spectrum, and of all backgrounds and beliefs -- have come to a consensus that we should pursue this research"....

In addition to reversing the stem cell funding ban, Obama says he is directing the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for making sure that "we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions."

At the same time Obama assured everyone that while stem cell research was okay, cloning was beyond the pale:
He adds that "we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society."

But on what basis does the President make such a statement? Because, he states, human cloning is "wrong". After condemning restricting resarch because of ideology and morals, he turns around and does the same. But these are his lines, which appears to make it okay. What if it is determined that best way to cure Disease X is through some form of human cloning? I'm sure somewhere such research has its strong advocates.

Science itself is a morally neutral thing. The reality is that we cannot afford to let science (no matter how 'promising' it might be) dictate our society's morals and ethics, and any society with a clear moral vision should understand that.

*We will, for the sake of this argument, exclude the possibility that "stem cell research" currently polls better than "human cloning".

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New study links alcohol to cancer

For the past several years the media has enjoyed encouraging that 'drink a day' in order to fight heart disease. Now a new study shows a strong link between even moderate alcohol consumption and cancer risk:
A new study involving nearly 1.3 million middle-aged British women -- the largest ever to examine alcohol and cancer in women -- found that just one glass of chardonnay, a single beer or any other type of alcoholic drink per day increases the risk of a variety of cancers....

Even among women who consumed as little as 10 grams of alcohol a day on average -- the equivalent of about one drink -- the risk for cancer of the breast, liver and rectum was elevated, the researchers found...

In any group of 1,000 U.S. women up to age 75 who consumed an average of one drink a day, the researchers calculated, there would be 15 extra cancers; two drinks per day would result in 30 extra cancers, and so forth.

The risk appeared the same regardless of whether women drank wine, beer or any other type of alcohol. Allen noted that even less than one drink per day may increase the risk.

"There doesn't seem to be a threshold at which alcohol consumption is safe," she said.

Yet, as noted above, that's certainly not the message that people have been getting:
"I thought drinking wine was good for you," said Mirella Romansini, 27, of Chevy Chase, outside Paul's liquor store in Northwest Washington. "Now they are saying it increases your risk for cancer? Yes, I would say I'm surprised."

That's because she's been told in media story after media story that it is good for you. And the reality is, cancer is probably the least of your worries with increased alcohol consumption.

Want the health benefits of wine with none of the risk? Then stick with the grape juice.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Must I Forgive?'. What is our attitude toward forgiveness? Can the Christian afford to withhold forgiveness? "For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I don't usually post off theme items here, but since it's my blog I can do what I want. This morning I ran my first ever 5K, which was something of a personal accomplishment for me, so I thought I'd brag a little. The past months of running, working up to it, have, however, been instructive in light of Paul's use of running analogies in his epistles. I kid you not that I've thought about them a lot while hoofing it through the suburban streets of Missouri. At least one write-up on the spiritual implications of running will make it to Theosebes.

Below is your humble correspondent heading for the finish line. Run time was around 30:10. This was a charity 5K for a local boy who recently had a tumor removed. More 5Ks are in my future, I hope.

Monday, January 19, 2009


My friend Larry Seward who is a member at Hickman Mills where I preach and also a reporter for NBC 41 in Kansas City is blogging from the Inaugural in Washington, DC.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'I AM...the Vine' from John 15, the last of a series on Jesus' I AM statements from the gospel of John. Jesus came as the true vine, a fulfillment of all that God had hoped for Israel, the failed vine (Jer 2:21). If we abide in Him we can produce fruit for the glorification of the Father and be a friend of Jesus.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Last week I posted that I was pondering Proverbs 14:4. After pondering for awhile, this bulletin article emerged.

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. –Proverbs 14:4

Everybody—well, most everybody—likes a clean house or office. In the kitchen we like the pots and pans put away, the counter wiped up.

The farmer, too, likes a clean barn. It’s satisfying to look into the stall and see order and calm. And, as with the proverb, if the oxen are gone then there’s no reason to worry about having to do the job again. There’s no spilled food or water. There’s no (very) unpleasant manure. What is clean and orderly will stay that way.

But what happens if you want to cook a meal in that clean kitchen? Or what if the farmer decides that his purpose isn’t to have a clean and orderly manger, but rather to produce a bountiful harvest?

We have a common saying that I believe parallels what the proverb is getting at: If you want to make an omelet you have to crack a few eggs. The purpose of a kitchen isn’t to be clean, the purpose of a manger to be orderly. The purpose a church isn’t simply to have a calm veneer.

Now we understand that, as the oft quoted passage states, that “all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40), and that “God is not a God of confusion” (14:33). These are verses that regulate corporate worship, however. The proverb is speaking of something else.

People, especially people dealing with sin and temptation, are messy. There are complications—life happens. If we want, as Jesus came to do, to seek and save the lost, then we’re going to find a lot of messes to deal with. If we want to plant and water (1 Corinthians 3:6) and go to harvest (Luke 10:2) there’s going to be some mud tracked in for those abundant crops to be produced.

I have seen churches where everything was calm, predictable and very, very dead. Nothing happened…ever. But the manger was clean, and that made some people happy. Those churches lost their goal. They were good at cleaning house, but not very good at building one (1 Corinthians 3:10f). Yes, neatness and order is good, but not at the expense of inhibiting the harvest that is the purpose and lifeblood of any church.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Deacons: Appointment & Roles'. During our recent elder appointment three of our deacons became elders leaving us with a shortage of men serving in that capacity. This lesson explores the Biblical role of deacons along with thier qualifications.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox."
--Proverbs 14:4

Sunday, January 04, 2009

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Spiritual Warfare 2009' in keeping with our congregational theme for the new year. We will be emphasizing the spiritual battle we are in throughout the year. This morning I will be speaking on making sure we are spiritually fit for the battle that is raging for our souls.