Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Obama ticket would be unwise to underestimate Palin

Check out Palin on solving the energy crisis.

HT: Randy

He completes us!

Hollywood's "elite" think he'll redeem us all. The Media is doing it's best to get him elected. This video captures how ridiculous the hype is. Not for young kids though.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Will it be Palin?

There's a buzz this morning that John McCain will name the current governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Update at 9:54 AM- McCain picks Palin

Palin would be a risk due to her age, sex, and lack of Washington experience, but she might also be a great asset due to her age, sex, and lack of Washington experience.

There's no doubt about her success as governor of Alaska, not to mention her character as a person. She is firmly pro-life. My favorite Palin story has to do with the birth of her second son just a few months ago. On April 18, 2008, Palin gave birth to Trig Paxson Van Palin, who has Down's Syndrome. Palin refused to let the results of prenatal genetic testing change her decision to have the baby. "I'm looking at him right now, and I see perfection," Palin said. "Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?"

Beyond her clear pro-life stand she has accomplished numerous political victories as governor and actually enjoys an 80% approval rating in her state. She's a hunter and an athlete to boot. Let's face it, while not nearly as beautiful as my wife, she ain't hard on the eyes either. Old Johnny M could use a little youth and vibrance added to his platform, she certainly provides it.

I'm not excited about John McCain as a candidate. Palin as VP candidate might breath some supportive life in to me. We should find out soon.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moving Pains

I grew up in a community where few people seemed to relocate. My parents moved here to the KC area be closer to their grandchildren after living for 35 years in the house my father built. Such was the norm for the people I grew up with.

We moved to Johnson County, Kansas in 1997 and have learned the ways of transition and relocation watching many friends come and go usually due to job changes. I’ll tell you what- it doesn’t get any easier. Moving is painful for the ones moving and the ones saying goodbye.

Recently we experienced this again when the Prins family relocated to the Cincinnati area after spending the last 9 years in Overland Park and as members of Redeemer. I don’t mean to slight the dozens of other Redeemer families who have come and gone over the past decade because each one has been a special part of our fellowship and are missed, but Chip, Jo and children were a plugged in, deeply routed leadership family that has faithfully lived through many of Redeemer’s growing pains. We’re only 15 years old as a church and less than 12 on our current property. It’s hard for me to remember when the Prins family wasn’t an active part of our church. Moving stinks. That’s what I think.

If I had time I would develop a more technical theology of moving. Certainly God called for Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. They were supposed to subdue the earth and exert dominion over it, for the glory of God. Such activity would necessitate moving, but there is something different about moving this side of the Fall, don’t you think? Abraham was called to leave Ur to go to the promised land and it was viewed as a great act of faith. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for many years, much of this time can be characterized as painful and troubling. There are other moves in the bible, like when Mary and Joseph had to leave the Jerusalem metroplex to protect the child Jesus. It’s hard to find examples of moving that do not include relationship stress and strain. Moving is often cited as one of life’s biggest stresses when surveys are done.

Why is this so? Why is moving so hard? For the people moving, it means a journey into the unknown often without the support of good friends and family. Leaving a place where there are deep relationships to start all over somewhere else is an anxious thing. Moving can also include a painful situation they are leaving, perhaps some unresolved issues or bad memories. Sometimes, like in the case of the Prins family, it’s hard to understand why God would bring about circumstances that seem to necessitate a move, especially when life seems so settled and fulfilling on the whole. For the people saying goodbye to a moving friend or family it means realizing you may never see your friend(s) again in this life, which sounds extreme, but is the truth in many cases. There are many complex and sometimes conflicting feelings that assail everyone involved in a relationship with the ones who are moving.

Watching the Prins family transition to Cincinnati was especially trying for our family, our youngest sons Jordan and Doug are best buddies. It really hit me the week after Jo and the kids moved to Cincinnati and the time of the worship service for the Children’s Church kids to “follow the flag” had come. Instead of our Jordan finding Doug Prins and skipping out together, there was Jordy- kind of lonely looking as he walked out without his best bud. That was hard to watch, I kid you not.

It’s true that Christians are bound by an everlasting bond and heaven will bring many bright eternal reunions. It’s true that email, wireless phones, and Facebook help us stay connected with our friends who have moved, but it’s not really the same as living in community together.
The pains that come with moving are real. Our church is in an area that is quite transient so we’ll experience the strain of moves again and again. One tendency in such an environment could be resistance to developing deep relationships for fear a move will end it. I strongly urge us not to take such a posture or approach. Instead, like the Prins family did in their time at Redeemer, dive in to people. Serve the church and it’s ministries for God’s glory. Live, love, cry, laugh, and wrestle with one another. Life is too short to live in superficial relationships. I can think of few things worse than coming to the end of my earthly days and having no deep, authentic relationships with people because I was given over to a fear of inevitable earthly goodbyes.

None of us know the length of our days on earth let alone the time we will have together as a church family. Let’s live together as a people who know we are a forever family. Maybe we will only have a short time with each other on earth, but don’t we believe what is bound on earth is also bound in heaven? In that case, let’s start binding our relationships no matter what our time at Redeemer may be and let us also look forward to a time when we’ll live together in unbroken fellowship never having to say goodbye again.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where's the Papal Bull when it's actually justified?

Several people sent me a link to this telling video clip with Nancy "Church Historian and ardent, practicing Catholic" Pelosi.

Why the Pope doesn't excommunicate this lady on the spot is beyond me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Biden- A smart choice for Obama

Joe Biden for Vice President is a very smart political choice for Barack Obama.

Biden has everything Obama lacks- longevity in the Senate, congressional connections, foreign relations experience (Chairman of Foreign Relations committee), extensive judiciary committee involvement and a reputation for being a "moderate" liberal. Remind me again what Obama has besides an ambiguous "change" platform? Well, now he has Joe Biden who is more qualified to be president than he is. Make no mistake- Biden will make a McCain presidential bid much more difficult. There may be no member of Congress seen as more accomplished and well-networked than Joe Biden. In debate Biden is sharp as a tack. He has been around congressional dealings for six terms and knows how things work in Washington.

Interestingly, the Republican counterpart to Biden is probably John McCain. McCain is similarly experienced and connected, though not as able in debate. Who will McCain pick as his running mate? Most agree McCain will pick someone quite a bit younger than himself figuring that person might be the 2012 Republican nominee for president (since McCain will be 76 at that time). There are not too many young Republican leaders who can take on Biden in debate.

Biden brings a legitimacy to the Obama ticket- a smart choice for VP.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What have we come to?

I am devastated. Tell me, when does life cease to be worth living? Read and weep for America-

High Scrap Prices Threatening Demolition Derbies
Friday, August 22, 2008

REEDSVILLE, W.Va. — Mud is flying, smoke and steam are rising, and the deafening roar of V-8 engines all but drowns out 5-year-old Shelby Scott's screams. "Get out of there! Get out of there!" she yells at the driver of a battered blue Ford LTD spray-painted with the words "Hillbilly Beer Wagon." But car No. 42 stalls in the center of the tire-ringed oval, stranded while 11 others smash into each other, over and over, until only one is moving. Then Dave Cumpston climbs out of No. 29 through the space where the windshield should be and grabs a shiny trophy at the Valley District Fair Demolition Derby. It's his first win in six years, he says, and maybe his last: After a decade of building then gleefully crashing cars, the 35-year-old mechanic from Buckhannon is giving up his increasingly unaffordable sport.

Soaring scrap metal prices are making crashable cars more expensive and harder to find. Owners who used to sell their worn-out wheels for $50 to $100 are turning to scrap dealers instead, getting nearly triple the price. That creates a double whammy for drivers like Cumpston, who must burn more high-priced gasoline in an ever-expanding search zone.
"This one sat in a hayfield for six years," says Jamie Wolfe, a tree trimmer from Kingwood who drove No. 42. He bought the body for $100 and considers himself lucky; many drivers are paying $300 to $400 per car.

Demolition derbies are more than an outlet for road rage and a rite of summer in rural America: They're a mainstay of country fairs and a revenue generator for volunteer organizations like the Reedsville Volunteer Fire Company. When participation drops, so does the size of the crowd — and the host's profit margin.

The Midwest is taking an exceptionally hard hit this summer because of regional scrap-metal prices, though Tory Schutte of the Demolition Derby Drivers Association says participation is down nationwide, "easily cut in half."

Every state but Hawaii stages at least one derby a year, and Schutte, of Genoa City, Wis., is accustomed to seeing more than 100 cars at a single event. This year, there are only 40 to 50 as drivers of modest means are forced out. Aggravating their situation is growing interest by a new breed of participants — doctors, lawyers and other professionals willing to spend more money on the vehicles. Some sink as much as $5,000 into a single engine. "It's really weeded out the little guy that's building on a limited budget," Schutte says. "He's not going to be able to afford to stay in the sport."

Scrap metal prices are likely to continue to rise, says Bruce Savage, spokesman for the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a trade association for more than 1,600 companies. Strong consumption by domestic steel producers is driving up prices, along with demand from developing nations. India, Brazil, China and Korea are among those ravenous for raw materials. While scrap iron and steel prices vary regionally, Savage says they've easily doubled in the past two summers, from about $240 per ton in July 2006 to $523 per ton now.
In many places, record prices have created a sellers' market. "I get calls every day asking about the price. If they don't like mine, they go down the road and call the next guy," says Dave Smith, a 15-year employee of Elkins Iron & Metal Co., a scrap dealer in central West Virginia. "It's all about price." This week, Smith is paying about $320 for a 2-ton vehicle, but he says prices are always fluctuating. Although more money is changing hands at the Charles Caracciolo Steel Yard in Altoona, Pa., employee Lori Bagley said no one is getting rich. Caracciolo is paying car owners $120 per ton, compared with about $60 per ton two years ago. But the scrap dealer's costs are rising, too, so the profit margin is not widening. "For a while, more people brought in cars, but the regulations are tough," Bagley said, and many people don't want to go through the hassle of finding the title, removing the tires and draining all the fluids.

Back in Reedsville, a scrap dealer waits outside the pit, offering $240 per ton for cars whose derby days are over. Former driver Hazel Curtis, mother of the screaming 5-year-old, worries what the soaring costs will do to a sport she describes as "road rage, controlled." She intends to enjoy it as long as she can, even if that means traveling farther to catch an event.
"I just like to see the cars crashing ... the excitement of who's gonna stop and have to sit there and wait, whether they're gonna get squished or not," says Curtis, 43, of Kingwood. "It's just such a rush." Drivers know why the spectators show up, Schutte says. "They watch NASCAR and wait for the wrecks," he says. "We just cut right to the chase."

There are rules, and referees to enforce them: No body parts outside the vehicle. No hitting a stalled car without giving it a chance to restart. No hits to the driver's side door.
Still, Schutte says derbies let people act out their primal urges. "It's kill or be killed, and you destroy him or he destroys you," he says, "but nobody has to get hurt."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Time rolls on

My children started school yesterday. Our youngest son Jordan started Kindergarten, so all our children are attending Westminster during the day now. Can you guess who was in charge of buying their shoes this year?

As my wife walked Jordan to his class, she found herself tearing up. I made fun of her for this since our kids go to the school that our church runs, it's hardly sending them off to the unknown. Further, our children have been alive long enough to watch the church and school develop and are very familiar with the classrooms, halls, cafeteria, and all the places that would normally cause a new student anxiety. Jordan's teacher is one of our elders wives who also taught my other two boys when they were in kindergarten. Jordan very confidently entered the classroom and met up with his buddies from church and pre-school and also made a few new friends right off the bat. So again, I made fun of my wife for getting weepy over the start of this new epoch in Jordan's life.

I've been thinking today about why parents cry over such transitions. As it relates to Jordan, we're talking 3 hours of "formal" class time each day away from the home, at a place he knows very well. What gives?

I think we cry over such transitions because they mark the advance of time that cannot be stopped. We feel a bit out of control concerning the inevitable passage of time. Time spent cannot be retrieved. Our children will continue to grow and become less and less dependant on us. I think we cry because they need us less as they mature. I think we cry because we're happy they have come to a new milestone. I think we cry because yesterday is never the same as today when we are living and parenting. We can't have back what once was and we really aren't sure what comes next. Shari even told me of one mother who has older boys (the youngest is in 7th grade) crying as she watched the kindergarten students entering their class. Why was she crying? Because she remembers when her youngest went to kindergarten and simultaneously sensed how fast the years have gone by.

This morning I drove the boys in to school myself. I pulled around the circle drop-off and they all piled out to go to their classes. I rolled down the window and shouted to AJ (my oldest) to make sure Jordan got to his class alright before he went to his room. Just as I was giving this direction to him, Jordan interrupted and said "no daddy, I don't need help, I know where I'm going" and he walked off on his own.

I felt something...I confess a tear was coming, but I shook my head real fast to head off such a weak display, rolled up the window, and drove off and up to my office.

Isaac Watts was right- time is like an ever-rolling stream.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A couple follow up questions I wanted to ask...

The recent "interview" with John McCain and Barack Obama by Rick "purpose driven" Warren was a cultural spectacle for sure. I'm still processing the event and need to listen again before analyzing in blog form.

Two statements by the candidates did cause an immediate reaction in my thinking and I wanted very badly to follow up on them.

Obama's statement regarding when human rights begin-

"Whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective... answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade."

My response: Are you serious Barack? You want us to put you in the most powerful position in the world and you can't tell what a baby is? Seriously? You are asking America to give you final say over whether "the button" should be pressed but you can't discern when life begins? I'm not even asking you to say life begins at conception (though it clearly does), is it a baby in the third trimester when you still advocate allowing doctors to "terminate" it? Have you seen a baby just weeks before it's due date? Come on Barack! What a total cop out.

McCain's statement regarding when human rights begin-

"At conception"

My response: That's good John, thanks. But why do you support embryonic stem cell research then? Is political expedience the reason you oppose abortion but support embryonic stem cell research? What other decisions do you make on the basis of political expedience?

7 Characteristcs of False Teachers by Thomas Brooks (1608-1680)

False teachers are men-pleasers (Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:1-4). They preach more to please the ear than to profit the heart: "Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophecy no unto us right things: speak to us smooth things; prophecy deceits"' (Isa. 30:10). "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so. And what will you do in the end thereof?" (Jer. 5:30,31). They handle holy things rather with wit and dalliance (playful come-on) then with fear and reverence. False teachers are soul-undoers. They are like evil chirurgeons, that skin over the wound, but never heal it. Flattery undid Ahab and Herod, Nero and Alexander. False teachers are hell's greatest enrichers. Non acerba, sed blanda, Not bitter, but flattering words do all the mischief, said Valerian, the Roman emperor. Such smooth teachers are sweet soul-poisoners (Jer. 23:16,17).

False teachers are notable in casting dirt, scorn, and reproach upon the persons, names, and credits of Christ's most faithful ambassadors. Thus Korah, Dathan, and Abiram charged Moses and Aaron that they took too much upon them, seeing all the congregation was holy (Num. 16:3). You take too much state, too much power, too much honour, too much holiness upon you; for what are you more than others, that you take so much upon you? And so Ahab's false prophets fell foul on good Micaiah, paying of him with blows for want of better reasons (1 Kings 22:10-26). Yea, Paul, that great apostle of the Gentiles, had his ministry undermined and his reputation blasted by false teachers: "For his letters"' say they, "are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak and contemptible" (2 Cor. 10:10). They rather contemn him than admire him; they look upon him as a dunce rather than a doctor. And the same hard measure had our Lord Jesus from the Scribes and Pharisees, who laboured as for life to build their own credit upon the ruins of his reputation. And never did the devil drive a more full trade this way than he does in these days (Matt. 27:63). Oh! the dirt, the filth, the scorn that is thrown upon those whom the world is not worthy. I suppose false teachers mind not that saying of Austin - He that willingly takes from my good name, unwillingly adds to my reward.

False teachers are venters of the devices and visions of their own heads and hearts. "Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent then not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophecy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart (Jer. 14:14); "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Harken not unto the words of the prophets that prophecy unto you; they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord" (Jer. 23:16). Are there not multitudes in this nation whose visions are but golden delusions, lying vanities, brain-sick phantasies? These are Satan's great benefactors, and such as divine justice will hang up in hell as the greatest malefactors, if the physician of souls does not prevent it.

False teachers easily pass over the great and weighty things both of law and gospel, and stand most upon those things that are of the least moment and concernment to the souls of men. "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned; from which some have swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, and understand neither what they say nor whereof they affirm" (1 Tim. 1:5-7). "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone" (Matt. 23:2,3). False teachers are nice in the lesser things of the law, and as negligent in the greater. "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strife of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself" (1 Tim. 6:3-5). If such teachers are not hypocrites in grain, I know nothing, Romans 2:22. The earth groans to bear them, and hell is fitted for them, Matt. 24:32.

False teachers cover and color their dangerous principles and soul-impostures with very fair speeches and plausible pretenses, with high notions and golden expressions. Many in these days are bewitched and deceived, viz. illumination, revelation, deification, fiery triplicity, &c. As strumpets paint their faces, and deck and perfume their beds, the better to allure and deceive simple souls (Gal. 6:12; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rom. 16:17,18; Mat. 16:6,11,12; 7:15), so false teachers will put a great deal of paint and garnish upon their most dangerous principles and blasphemies, that they may the better deceive and delude poor ignorant souls. They know sugared poison goes down sweetly; they wrap up their pernicious, soul-killing pills in gold.

False teachers strive more to win over men to their opinions, than to better them in their conversations. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves" (Matt. 24:17). They busy themselves most about men's heads. Their work is not to better men's hearts, and mend their lives; and in this they are very much like their father the devil, who will spare no pains to gain proselytes.

False teachers make merchandise of their followers. "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" (2 Peter 2:1-3). They eye your goods more than your good; and mind more the serving of themselves, than the saving of your souls. So they may have your substance, they care not though Satan has your souls (Rev. 18:11-13). That they may the better pick your purse, they will hold forth such principles as are very indulgent to the flesh. False teachers are the great worshippers of the golden calf (Jer. 6:13).

Now, by these characters you may know them, and so shun them, and deliver your souls out of their dangerous snares; which that you may, my prayers shall meet-yours at the throne of grace.

For more on Thomas Brooks, see here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Not Leery

Sorry about so few new postings this week. I've been busy from dawn to long after dusk this week. Hopefully my schedule will lighten next week. For now I thought I would post this excellent video of athletes I am confident could not be doping. Refreshing.

Thanks Amy!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Canine separation anxiety

Another great reason not to have a dog. Check out the fun time this dog owner has leaving his house.


The U.S. men's Olympic swim team scored an unbelievable victory in the 400 freestyle relay. Some are already dubbing the victory "one of the great comebacks in Olympic history."

I'm sure you'll see the replays for years to come.

Still, not to continue my bah humbug ways, but I'm on pins and needles waiting to hear if any of the athletes test positive for some kind of performance enhancers. If it doesn't come out during the Olympics, since the testing technology is clearly behind the curve, will we find out years later?

Will the joy of victory felt today be proved empty by some future admission or discovery? I have to admit, I'm jaded about sports today. It stinks. I wish I could enjoy the Olympics with no suspicions. I envy those who are soaking in the games with great delight. When Mark McGwire "broke" Roger Maris' home run record, I remember actually shedding a tear. When it became pretty clear McGwire was a juicer, I felt pretty foolish being so happy for such a "feat". More recently in the Roger Clemens debacle I again wanted to believe the best, however it is clear the worst is most likely the case. So much for the thrills I experienced watching the "Rocket" pitch memorable games in pinstripes. The Olympics are even more difficult to discern. So many individual athletes with their own coaches and sponsorships. The margin of victory for many Olympic sports is determined by hundredths of seconds instead of goals or baskets. Tons of pressure and money on the line for amateurs trying to justify there life long training regiments. The Marion Jones revelation was another case of great national pride watching her win all those medals back in Sydney only to find out we'd been fooled...again. The list goes on.
Being a sports fan today and experiencing the exhilaration of your favorite team or individuals great play or victory, then finding out later it was accomplished by cheating is a terrible feeling. It reminds me of the poor souls in the Matrix movies. They thought they were living real lives experiencing actual emotions and senses. In reality, it was all a big facade. They were nothing more than manipulated puppets given illusions and dreams to keep them alive so that others could profit from them.

Man do I hope Phelps and co. are clean. I have to admit, I'm leery.

Friday, August 8, 2008

China is the focus now...and I believe later

Man can the Chinese throw a party! I just watched the opening ceremony for the Olympics and it's safe to say China delivered a doozy. Wow.

The climax of the ceremony is the lighting of the Olympic torch. Talk about ending in spectacular fashion! China's first Olympic superstar, 1984 gymnastics triple gold medalist Li Ning, was hoisted by wires to the top of the stadium, circled the entire circumference as though he was spacewalking, then used his torch to send a torrent of flame spiraling upward to light the Olympic flame in a huge cauldron overlooking Beijing. Are you kidding me? Double wow.

I'd like to share my most constant missionary prayer focus with you, it's China. Ever since I read a biography about Hudson Taylor I have asked God to raise up the Church in China. While I am personally very sure of my calling as a pastor to a local body of believers in America, I think the epicenter of Christianity is leaving the U.S. Asia will soon be the "center" of Christianity. China is poised to host the strongest expression of Christ's Church and I fervently hope I will be alive to see the impact such a paradigm shift in Christendom will have. I hope one or more of my sons serves as an elder in the Chinese Church some day.

I am very optimistic eschatalogically. Christ will indeed build His Church! Sure, much of the Church in America is given over to idols, but this is not so for the Church worldwide. China is a country of $1.3 billion people. Low estimates place professing believers at 200 million! That's 2/3 the population of the U.S. To profess Christ in China still costs something. When I hear the numbers of professing believers in the U.S., then read Barna's interpretation of those numbers, it's depressing. When I read of the numbers in China (even the low estimates) I get pumped. These aren't people claiming Christ to gain heatlh, wealth, or social acceptance. Quite the contrary. The Chinese Church is the kind of church God will use to advance His Kingdom in a monumental way. It reminds me of the beat down early church in Jerusalem- it eventually busted loose and turned the world upside down for Christ.
I'm telling you, keep your eye on China, God is doing something seriously spectacular there.

Just saying

I have found the reports of Islamic terrorist threats against the Olympics in China to be quite telling. Just a few variously phrased observations:

1. Give Islamic terrorists credit for consistency and commitment- there is no international event in which they wouldn't like to scare and kill people.

2. I wonder how China will handle the "processing" of any Islamic terrorists it apprehends? You think Guantanamo is hard on such folk?

3. Honestly, what other kind of terrorists are there but Islamic ones? Sure, there are psycho's like Timothy McVeigh and other mass murderers, sporadic nationalistic revolutionary groups, but what other international groups or religions sanction such widespread terrorist actions? When's the last time you heard "Budhist terrorists bomb marketplace"? Or how about, "Christian radicals claim responsibility for the downing of Flight 434"? Seriously.

4. I sense a small amount of repudiation in the American Islamic community toward the issue of "radical" Islamic terrorists, but not enough. This is why it's hard for the average person to see the difference between "radical" Islam and what some call "true" Islam. Maybe mainstream Muslims aren't that offended by so-called radical Islam?

5. As for "true" Islam, it certainly seems the "radical" wing is more in line with it's founder. Just read the facts of history.

6. If Christians were as committed to the ideals of it's founder as radical Islamic adherents are to theirs, the Geo-political picture would be far different.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Saved by grace...through FAITH

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Paul says we are saved by grace through faith in his letter to the Ephesians. A simple definition of grace is God's favor shown to those who deserve only his wrath. For grace to be grace it must be totally of God. If we contribute something to His favoring us, we could not say our salvation was by grace, at least not strictly speaking. There is something more to consider about our salvation in Christ when we say it is by grace through faith. I might be tempted to think that it is my faith that salvation depends on. God does it all, but, I must have faith. It is true, just as Scripture says- we are saved through or by faith. Isn't faith something I must then contribute? Is faith somehow a work that I do?

A generic definition of faith is a confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. On the surface, it seems like faith is something I must exercise or somehow conjure. I take faith in Scripture to mean faith in Christ. More specifically, faith in the finished work of Christ on my behalf. Again, if I must have faith, is this something I do? If so, isn't it a work? James writes something that causes more questions-

James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

James is posing a rhetorical question to which the answer is NO. If someone has no works which manifest a life transformed by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit they do not possess saving faith. A person can have a kind of faith (that is, a belief in something) yet not have saving faith. This is James' point in 2:19

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

Belief in God's existence or even some particular attribute of God does not constitute saving faith- the kind of faith that will save me from the punishment I deserve for my sins.

But wait a minute. We are saved by grace through faith. The kind of faith it takes to save me- saving faith or justifying faith- is far too great a faith for me to exercise. Frankly, if it's up to me to muster such faith, I would be lost. Further, how would that not be a work I contribute to salvation if the faith comes from me? I think the answer is actually contained in the same passage from Paul (among other places) in Ephesians. Look again keying on what is said about faith-

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Do you see what this passage says is a gift? Look closely. The passage says- "For by grace you have been saved through faith".....AND THIS IS NOT YOUR OWN DOING; IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD. What is not our own doing? Being saved by grace through faith! Therefore, the faith needed to save us is a GIFT from God. He provides the faith necessary to lay hold of Christ! Our own faith would not ever suffice. We could never believe well enough. God must give faith for us to own Christ! That's exactly what He does and that's why we are saved by 100% grace! God does it this way so that no man can boast. None of the credit for salvation is ours...none.

Think of it sort of like this- back when I was a kid delivering newspapers in Western New York an old fisherman invited me to go fishing in Lake Erie with him. I had told him I liked to fish, so he thought I would enjoy some real fishing. He was a pretty serious fisherman, the beautiful mounts that lined his garage and house gave testimony to his angling prowess. The day we were going to fish I arrived at his house well before first light, loaded my fishing stuff in to his truck and we drove 45 minutes to a long pier that jutted out into Erie. As we approached the pier I could tell this was way bigger than pond fishing for sunnies and catfish. When we started to unload our stuff I immediately noticed his huge heavy poles with rope-like line and odd looking huge hooks. I realized that my Zebco 33 pole with 10 lb test line and a small hook would not be able to catch whatever we were about to fish for. My older fishing buddy looked at my pole and asked, "what do you think you will catch with that"? He then told me we were going to try and catch Northern Pike and/or Muskies. Both were aggressive, large fish. Along the pier there were actually hollow poles made to slip your own pole down in to. If a pike got on your line, you'd need to brace yourself for the fight to get him in! I knew I was ill prepared. My pole was simply not capable of doing what I came to do. Just as I was embarrassed and despairing, the old man grabbed a pole from his truck and handed it to me. I could barely carry it! I knew this pole would work! It was not mine, it was given to me to use. I knew it would work!

I suggest that man's faith is not capable of doing what it would need to do to for our salvation. We must be given a faith by God, a saving faith, that allows us to lay hold of Christ and to rest in Him completely.

The Westminster Larger Catechism does a tremendous job describing the kind of faith that is necessary for salvation-

What is justifying faith?

Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receives and rests upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

How does faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receives and applies Christ and his righteousness.

When faith is rightly understood, it is plain to see that we contribute nothing to our salvation. Man receives none of the glory in salvation. This is why we can truly say "Soli Deo Goria"- to God alone be the glory.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Kansas City Royals Highlights...finally

I'm so proud of my local Kansas City Royals. They finally did something nationally highlight worthy- go Royals!

Sunday, August 3, 2008