Archive for March, 2006

24- Bauer Basics

Actually, there are Jack facts.  Some of them are quite funny.  If you enjoy the show, as the Cavfamily does (well, not my daughter) you may like them.

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I keep hearing this from evangelicals.  That’s right, Leviticus 19.

33 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (ESV)

Somehow people think this should apply to illegal or undocumented immigrants. They fail to correctly exegete the passage (its historical context) and make appropriate epochal adjustments in their application.

  1. The Israelites were initially invited into Egypt (Genesis 45). They were not citizens of Egypt, but were welcomed there by the government. Obviously this all changed after Joseph’s death, and a new Pharaoh came to power.
  2.  Nations then did not normally have closed borders.  But they did have troops at the border along the trade & travel routes. Let us also remember that the people have the rights and entitlements.  There were not government schools, no welfare, no health care benefits etc.  Neither were there WMDs that could be smuggled in.
  3. This passage should be applied to those who enter this country legally.  We should not treat them unfairly since they speak a different language, have different customs, or have a different skin color.  We should not abuse them, but show them love and kindness.


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The Sheep Crib takes umbrage to the outcry over using another's sermons in 2 posts.  Personally, I find his logic lacking, to say the least.  And he has a conflict of interest, as one who provides sermons for others.  But mostly, he just muddies the waters (I was trying to leave a comment, but was unable to.

The issue is not about doing proper research in preparing a sermon.  We should, and must.  At least I was taught to, since the Spirit has been teaching the Church the meaning of Scripture for 2,000 years.  I'd be irresponsible not to do research.

The issue is not distributing copies of sermons by preachers from by-gone eras.  Again, the Church benefits greatly by reading sermons by Luther, Spurgeon, Burroughs etc.  Those collections or pamphlets do not misrepresent themselves.  You know Whitefield wrote and preached it.

The issue is not itinerant lay preachers in 3rd world countries.  I understand that men w/out training, and holding down full-time jobs may utilize such things to reach those who would not otherwise be reached.


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The New York Times has an articlediscussing the impact of HBO's latest morally-corrupt show- Big Love.  In the article they report on what some polygamy advocates thought of the portrayal of such a marriage.  They weren't too keen on the sex scenes, but otherwise thought it great.

With the push for gay marriage in full gear, can the push to toss aside this boundary marker be too far off?  I fear not. 

And once again, those who want to affirm the historical understanding of marriage (though there are anomalies) will be painted as hate-mongers.  Although most polygamists are 'religious' people from extreme, out of the mainstream cultic groups, the most avid advocates will probably not be.  They will learn how to emotionally blackmail the weak-minded with the false dilemma they present.  Don't want abortion, then you must hate women.  Don't want gays to marry, then you must be a homophobe.  Don't want polygamy, then you must be (I can't imagine, yet).  And who wants to be known as a misogynist, homophobe?  Not most people.

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CJ Mahaney writes about he prepares his son for worship.  We could all benefit from that personally, and pass it on to our children.

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Morning Wake Me Up

Suffering from a mild migraine, I needed something to get my blood flowing.  So the J-Girl and I rocked out to my new U2: Vertigo 2005- Live in Chicago DVD.  City of Blinding Lights and Vertigo got our blood flowing, and ready to start a new day.

If you can’t afford to see U2 (which I couldn’t) at least I can pick up some DVDs and live vicariously.

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They’re Done

Wally's look just about says it all.

But… the baseball season begins in less than a week!  Go Sox (the Red ones).

Speaking of sports, in a post on March Madness, CJ Mahaney includes how to teach your kids to live out their faith in the midst of competition.  Good stuff to remember.

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From chapter 2 of God is the Gospel: Piper spends some time uncovering the truth that basic to the Great News is the fact that there is a living God and that we can turn away from our worthless idols to love Him (Acts 14:15).

“In a world so full of brokenness and sin, there simply can be no good news if God does not break in with kingly authority.”  God is the only one who can undo what has been done by Adam.  The penalty weighs heavily on us all, and is inescapable.  Someone from outside of this mess, yet with authority over it, must enter the situation to set things aright.

“The actual experience of a particular person’s being saved is not part of the gospel.  But that experience happens when the person believes the gospel, and part of what they believe is the promise that on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus they will be saved.”

The Great News is objective, not subjective.  Meaning it is something outside of us that has happened, and the implications of that event.  When this Great News is believed, we do have a subjective experience as a result.  This subjective experience must be rooted in the objective reality of the Great News.

“The King must die before he reigns.  Otherwise the justice of his reign would only bring judgment and not salvation.”

Hence our incredible need for the Savior of whom the Great News speaks.  Apart from the substitutionary atonement Jesus’ arrival is Incredibly Bad News.  And it will be for all those who persist in unbelief upon His return.

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From God is the Gospel

“The good news is that the King himself has come, and these enemies have been defeated, and if we trust in what he has done and what he promises, we will escape the death sentence and see the glory of our Liberator and live with him forever.”

Piper continues to note how this can free us from our self-pity in our suffering, and empower us to love those who are suffering.

The Great News is amazingly simple at one level, but amazingly complex at others.

“Gospel doctrine matters because the good news is so full and rich and wonderful that it must be opened like a treasure chest, and all its treasures brought out for the enjoyment of the world.  Doctrine is the description of these treasures.”

That certainly recovers doctrine from the stuffy setting of academia.  I’ve utilitized the answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism to inform me about the joy and benefit of doctrine.  True doctrine enables me to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  It is not just for my head, but also for my heart- that it may sing a song of freedom and inexpressible joy.

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"We can no more be a Christian and have nothing to do with the church than we can be a person and not be in a family. … It is part of the fabric of redemption."

Eugene Peterson in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

This about sums it up for me.  I couldn't say it better.

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I am quite skeptical of all the predictions of global warming (see my earlier post on this).  And I am not along (whew!).  Evangelical Outpost includes some data, including quotes from an old Newsweek article.  Glenn Beck has a pdf of that article.  His site also has a Times of India article pointing out that is really a big guessing game, with little or no basis.

New research by German & Swiss scientists indicates that the trend toward warming has little or NOTHING to do with us.  It is actually that the sun is burning hotter than before All this to say, the so-called scientific concensus does not exist.  We have no way, really, of knowing if this is a cycle, or a trend or an anomalie.  So, perhaps we ought to avoid dogmatic and fear-mongering statements.  History (the global cooling panic from the 70’s) ought to make us wiser.  But it is a great ‘political’ issue.   This issue is not as clear cut as some make it out to be.  Lobbyist/activist beware- you may jump on an ill-fated bandwagon.

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Another Bad Dad

Here’s the story.  I can’t conceive of much that would make me forget my daughter is in the back seat.  Perhaps we need to add a new category for the Darwin Awards- those most likely to end their bloodlines by bad parenting choices.

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Let me begin by saying that every pastor in the world ought to read John Piper’s God is the Gospel.  Most of what passes for preaching and teaching doesn’t seem to be even close to the message of this book.  It is humbling.  Thoughts from & on the info.

“If the enjoyment of God himself is not the final and best gift of love, then God is not the greatest treasure, his self-giving is not the highest mercy, the gospel is not the good news that sinners may enjoy their Maker, Christ did not suffer to bring us to God, and our souls must look beyond him for satisfaction.”

And this, indeed, is what most of us evangelicals do.  We do not seek to enjoy God in our worship, sports, work, sex life etc.  We do not view these things as pointing us to God.  We treasure the things themselves, or, worse, ourselves.  In my margin I wrote “Above All” the very popular song which exalts us over God’s glory in Jesus’ mind.  We make too much of ourselves, and therefore rob glory from God.

“The saving love of God is God’s commitment to do everything necessary to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying, namely himself.”


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Snails Have Hands?

According to a study released in the Royal Society Biology Letters, left-handed snails have an advantage over right-handed snails in defending themselves from predators.  I’m not sure how they ascertained this since I’ve never been high-fived by one, or been waved off before I poured salt in it.  Does this mean that as a left-handed person, do I have an advantage over right-handed humans in defending myself from predators?  The world may never know.

Does this open up a new genre for desperate movie producers?  Attack of the Kung-Fu Slugs?  Slime or Be Slimed?

Would they have to avoid slo-motion photography since then it would move agonizingly slow?  I’ll stop now.

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I read The DaVinci Code (2003) last year.  It was a fascinating novel, but its viewpoint was not very novel.  As most are aware, he’s being sued by the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail (which I owned, and read part of as a young, clueless Christian).  I will not here expose the numerous factual errors perpetrated by Mr. Brown here.  Others have documented the falsehoods put into the mouth of Professor Teabag and Robert Langdon.

I am currently reading The Covenant of the Flame (1991) by David Morrell.  Members of the Mithraistic cult are killing polluters around the world.  The protagonist, Tess Drake, met a man who was killed by this cult.  In his apartment she saw, and photographed a statue.  The cult is now trying to kill her before she discovers their secret.  So, we have nominal Catholic Tess, visiting her old Art History professor and his wife to see if they know the meaning of this strange and obscene statue.

They tell her about how the Catholic church has destroyed the cult, and taken over many of its symbols (hmmmm- sound familiar).  Then they bring up the Albigensian cult, which Pope Innocent III had exterminated in a crusade.  They bring up the final battle near Montsegur (ah, wait a minute… I read about that recently) and a secret treasure that was spirited out at the last minute.  They mention the various theories as to what that treasure was.  The characters mention the Grail myth.  “Those latter theories were made popular in a book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail.  But those latter theories are nonsense, of course.”  The reason being that the Albigensians were not related to Christianity (which is true), but to dualistic religions of the Middle East.

Same type of book with the same type of characters in the same type of circumstances talking about the same OBSCURE event (you usually only hear about these guys in Church History).  The only thing that is different is what the treasure was.  If I had not read these stories in such a short span of time, I probably never would have noticed.  Have I lost my mind?  Well, I did contact Mr. Morrell through his web site.

Update: I got a very quick response from Mr. Morrell.  He notes the trial has revealed that Brown’s wife, who is his researcher, often does not note the sources.  Apparently they also have material similar to Morrell’s Fraternity of the Stone in Angels & Demons.  I may have to read Fraternity of the Stone to see if I can spot it.  So, you can all rest- I haven’t lost my mind.

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[Since Justin Taylor blogged about a new article on this subject, I thought I’d pull this out of the archives.  He connects buying papers in seminary with pulpit plagiarism and ghost writing, as does Jared Wilson.   Additionally, Collin Hansen and D.A. Carson have written about pulpit plagiarism. ]

Between Two Worlds brings this problem to our attention.  First he links to Oversight of Souls, which laments an article encouraging pastors to use the sermons of other, better preachers.  Second, he links back to an old post of his from April 2005.  At that time, E. Glenn Wagner had recently resigned from one of the larger churches in Charlotte, NC for doing this.  I’m sad, because I have benefited greatly from his books.  Maybe he was so focused on his writing ministry that he neglected his pulpit ministry.  I don’t know.

Read the comments in both links- they are telling.  This is a huge problem.  Sadly, one reported that many of the pastors of the faster growing churches do this.  If they credited the sources, and the people knew they weren’t putting in hours studying the text, fine.  But these guys typically don’t do that.

As a pastor, I believe I must spend time understanding the text, and my people.  If I utilized another’s sermon- I would rob myself, and my future ministry because I am not grappling with God and the text.  I may have a “better” sermon, but I won’t be a better Christian or better pastor.  I view this as a means of grace, not just a task to be completed.  I would also be tempted to not exegete my people, applying the text to their circumstances.

My sermons may not be as good as those used by pastors who plagiarize, but I sleep well at night (well, sometimes).  This is one thing I will not have to wish the Savior did not see when I stand before His white throne.  Unfortunately, there will be plenty of other things.

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Boston.com reports about a toddler left in the car while his father visited a strip club.  30 minutes later, the young boy toddled into the club looking for his father.  The threatened monsters did not eat the boy (though a father this corrupt may have beaten him), but the monster of lust is clearly destroying this family.

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Kick in the ….

Yeah…. this is right up there with Damon signing with the Yankees.  I could live with the Packers, but the Colts…..

Who’s to say why.  It could be the repeated use of the ‘franchise player’ tag.  It could be the desire for more moolah than the Patriots wanted to offer (that is their mantra- don’t overpay, don’t overpay…).

Either way, another hero from the 3-time Super Bowl champs is out of the door.  Hey, this is sounding like a Red Sox piece.

The only thing that could make this worse is if we bring in Vanderjerk- the big-mouthed chokers whose place Adam Vinatieri took.  So long, Adam.  Thanks for the memories (preserved until the end of my life on DVD).

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I was sent this music video.  It is from a bunch of white boys doing hip-hop and hangin’ at the key sites in East Polk County.  If you’ve spent time here, you’ll laugh.  If not, you’ll get a quick tour of the places you probably don’t want to go.  And you too will wonder, “Why would anyone choose to live there?”

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Afghan Agony

I picked this much ignored story from Between Two Worlds, but Michelle Malkin has much more info on it.  Bottom line: an Afghani who converted to Christianity 16 years ago while doing aid work in Pakistan, has been denounced during a custody battle (what, a divorce???).  If convicted of converting from Islam, he faces the death penalty.

This makes me lament the loss of US lives even more.  Apparently they didn’t get the memo on freedom (and we never got the oil).  Honestly, this is very aggravating.  Apparently their problem with the judiciary is the opposite of ours. Michelle has info on what you can do, if so moved.

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