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.