Friday, February 29, 2008

Sheer Quackery

Dictionaries define quack as "a pretender to medical skill; a charlatan" and "one who talks pretentiously without sound knowledge of the subject discussed." These definitions suggest that the promotion of quackery involves deliberate deception, but many promoters sincerely believe in what they are doing. The FDA defines health fraud as "the promotion, for profit, of a medical remedy known to be false or unproven."

As far as I'm concerned:
Psychiatry = Quackery

Major accomplice: pharmaceutical companies

Any questions or complaints can go to Nathan, since he got me fired up with this.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Talk about an inconvenient truth...

Dave Walker won't win an oratory award any time soon, but he knows of which he speaks.

Have you ever had to put a freeze on your personal finances? We have, in fact, we're kind of in that mode now as we try to save for our adoption. Several times in our marriage we've had to sit down and determine how to go forward in a financially responsible way. This often meant cutting out things we were buying or activities we were doing.

So why can't our government act responsibly in this way? Our current trajectory is leading us to absolute bondage to debt.

Dave Walker has been sounding this alarm for the last 2 years, especially in light of the recent balloon in spending (like the crazy $8 trillion dollar prescription entitlement George Bush promoted and signed a few years ago). Amazingly, NO ONE is stepping up to disprove his projections. Clearly, with all things being equal, we're heading for economic disaster.

I wish I could require all government officials to take the Crown Ministries small group study!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

All Babies Automatically Safe in The Arms of God?

Here's a hotly debated subject for sure- the fate of people who die during infancy.

I appreciate John MacArthur and his ministry greatly, however I think he says more than Scripture teaches when he categorically declares all babies who die to go straight to heaven in the above clip.

I don't see how this can be proven from Scripture.

There are certainly examples of babies born to believers who are said to have gone to heaven at death (i.e. David's unborn child). Further, the children of believers are given special status in both testaments being addressed as part of God’s covenant people (Deut. 12:7, 2 Chronicles 20:13, 1 Corinthians 7:14 to name just a few). It is my conviction that based on God’s covenantal promises and dealings, a child who is born in to a Christian home and then dies before they have the ability to profess faith goes to be with the Lord. The possession of faith (in Christ) is what saves a person, not the ability to profess it (more on that thought in a moment).

I think the Synod of Dort got it right when it penned these words in 1619- “Since we are to judge of the will of God from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are comprehended, godly parents have no reason to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleaseth God to call out of this life in their infancy.”

Now, having said that and recognizing the varying opinions that exist in the Reformed Church about this matter, I also appreciate the more general answer the Westminster Confession gives to this important question:

Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons who are uncapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word. ( WCF 10.3)

Even the Westminster Confession statement, by the use of “Elect” (The Divines could have just said-"All infants" if they meant to say all infants...), implies that not all babies are elect, that some do in fact go to hell. Did I just say that? I’m afraid so, but only because I do not believe Scripture teaches universal salvation for all those who die in infancy like MacArthur states.

Here’s the deal as I understand Scripture- God gives faith (to believe in Christ) to the Elect (those chosen by God according to the good pleasure of His will, not based on anything we do), it is a gift. We cannot conjure faith, we do not muster faith, it is a gift from God. Since it is a gift, He can give it to whomever he wills, whether that person is capable of expressing that faith outwardly or not. For those who are unable to be “outwardly called”, God can still give them the faith necessary to believe in Christ- whether we the onlooker- can see it or not. Who is to say exactly what faith looks like for such a person? God is the sovereign One and can give it to whom He wills. Calvin acknowledged this mystery about faith-

“I would not wish to make the rash claim that infants are endowed with the same faith that we experience in ourselves, or have a faith-knowledge quite like ours. I prefer to leave that in suspense (Institutes 4)”

So, what happens to babies who die? I would say that babies who are born to believers go to heaven. As for babies not born to believers- I have no way of knowing. I just don’t think the bible allows us to assume that every baby who dies goes straight to heaven as John MacArthur does.

Tough subject I know, but worth thinking about.

Here Fido...Here Fido...hey, where's Fido?


Python Stalked, Then Ate Family Dog in Front of Children
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 (Foxnews)

BRISBANE, Australia — A 16-foot python stalked a family dog for days before swallowing the pet whole in front of horrified children in the Australian tropics, animal experts said Wednesday.
The boy and girl, aged 5 and 7, watched as the scrub python devoured their silky terrier-Chihuahua crossbreed Monday at their home near Kuranda in Queensland state.
Stuart Douglas, owner of the Australian Venom Zoo in Kuranda, said scrub pythons typically eat wild animals such as wallabies, a smaller relative of the kangaroo, but sometimes turn to pets in urban areas.
"It actively stalked the dog for a number of days," Douglas said.
"The family that owned the dog had actually seen it in the dog's bed, which was a sign it was out to get it," he added.
"They should have called me then, but (the snake) got away and three or four days later, I was called and went around and removed it" after the dog had been killed, Douglas said.
By the time Douglas arrived, all that could be seen of the dog was its hind legs and tail.
The zoo manager, Todd Rose, said pythons squeeze their prey to death before swallowing it whole. The 5-year-old dog would have been suffocated within minutes.
"The lady who was there threw some plastic chairs at the snake, but you've got to remember that this is about 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of aggressive muscle," Rose said.
Removing the half-swallowed dog could have harmed or even killed the python, Rose said, because dogs have sharp teeth and claws that could do the snake internal damage if it were wrenched out.
The snake was still digesting the dog at the zoo Wednesday. It will soon be relocated to the bush, Douglas said.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Where do I get me one of these?

While I prefer to hunt primarily with my bow, I do enjoy shooting guns.

This gun is awesome. Thanks to Scott for sending.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life




You can read it for yourself and take it for what it is worth. I'm not a stats or numbers guy (unless they can help me somehow), but I am told by such a person that Pew's methods for surveying are pretty scientific. Here are some interesting points made by the Pew Forum at the end of the report:


- Men are significantly more likely than women to claim no religious affiliation. Nearly one-in-five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13% of women.


- Among people who are married, nearly four-in-ten (37%) are married to a spouse with a different religious affiliation. (This figure includes Protestants who are married to another Protestant from a different denominational family, such as a Baptist who is married to a Methodist.) Hindus and Mormons are the most likely to be married (78% and 71%, respectively) and to be married to someone of the same religion (90% and 83%, respectively).


- Mormons and Muslims are the groups with the largest families; more than one-in-five Mormon adults and 15% of Muslim adults in the U.S. have three or more children living at home.


- The Midwest most closely resembles the religious makeup of the overall population. The South, by a wide margin, has the heaviest concentration of members of evangelical Protestant churches. The Northeast has the greatest concentration of Catholics, and the West has the largest proportion of unaffiliated people, including the largest proportion of atheists and agnostics.


- Of all the major racial and ethnic groups in the United States, black Americans are the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation. Even among those blacks who are unaffiliated, three-in-four belong to the "religious unaffiliated" category (that is, they say that religion is either somewhat or very important in their lives), compared with slightly more than one-third of the unaffiliated population overall.


- Nearly half of Hindus in the U.S., one-third of Jews and a quarter of Buddhists have obtained post-graduate education, compared with only about one-in-ten of the adult population overall. Hindus and Jews are also much more likely than other groups to report high income levels.


- People not affiliated with any particular religion stand out for their relative youth compared with other religious traditions. Among the unaffiliated, 31% are under age 30 and 71% are under age 50. Comparable numbers for the overall adult population are 20% and 59%, respectively.


- By contrast, members of mainline Protestant churches and Jews are older, on average, than members of other groups. Roughly half of Jews and members of mainline churches are age 50 and older, compared with approximately four-in-ten American adults overall.


- In sharp contrast to Islam and Hinduism, Buddhism in the U.S. is primarily made up of native-born adherents, whites and converts. Only one-in-three American Buddhists describe their race as Asian, while nearly three-in-four Buddhists say they are converts to Buddhism.


- Jehovah's Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religious tradition. Only 37% of all those who say they were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses still identify themselves as Jehovah's Witnesses.


- Members of Baptist churches account for one-third of all Protestants and close to one-fifth of the total U.S. adult population. Baptists also account for nearly two-thirds of members of historically black Protestant churches.

Larry Norman died yesterday

Do you know who Larry Norman is? He's the so-called "Father of Christian Rock", but musically he was much more than that. While I'm totally disenchanted with the modern contemporary "Christian" music scene, Norman was a pioneer in his day who made a significant contribution to music and culture. Norman was a Christian activist and artist who created a new genre of music.


He went home to be with the Lord yesterday after a 15 year heart ailment finally caught up to him at the relatively young age of 61 . Check out his website to learn more about him, I think he'll be appreciated more in years to come. In 2001 he was inducted in to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, here's the biography about him from that event:


THE GOSPEL MUSIC HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHY


Larry Norman is celebrating more than 45 years as a songwriter and performer. In 1956 he began writing his songs and performing them in public. He has continued to perform them all over the world. Instead of concentrating solely on America, he has toured exotic places like Russia, Lebanon, Israel, India, Hong Kong, and Japan. He has also performed in Western World countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, The Czech Republic, Poland, Holland, Britain, France, Italy, and Australia. He has sung in small clubs like New York’s Bitter End, and L.A.’s Troubadour, and also given concerts at The San Francisco Pop Festival and other outdoor festivals with crowds of up to 180,000. He has performed for The White House, twice - and in direct contrast, in Moscow at the 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium. He has headlined at venues like The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House, The Palladium and London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, which he has sold out six times; once filling it twice on the same day. Only recently has he slowed down.


For almost thirty years the press has referred to him as “the father of Christian rock” because it was he who first combined rock and roll with Christian lyrics. In the 70’s Billboard Magazine called him “the most important writer since Paul Simon.” To the church, in the early years, these accolades only deepened their doubts about him. He was banned in most Bible bookstores. But in later years he began to gain wider acceptance. Christian Artists Seminar awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award and Contemporary Christian Music Magazine named Norman's Only Visiting This Planet record the most significant and influential gospel album ever released in the field of contemporary Christian music. This kind of recognition is not new to Norman. Time Magazine once called him “the most significant artist in his field.” He has said, “I’m just an artist, reaching toward Heaven.


"His recording ministry started in 1966 when he was offered a contract by Capitol Records and found himself on the same label as The Beatles and The Beach Boys. His first single, “Riding High,” was a song about the Christian life through the Holy Spirit. His first album was titled "We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus, And A Lot Less Rock And Roll". Larry and his band People! opened for secular groups like The Grateful Dead, The Doors, Janis Joplin, The Byrds and many others. Larry was outspoken about his beliefs. His music was original and thought-provoking. Pete Townshend credited Larry's own rock-opera, The Epic, for inspiring the rock-opera, Tommy, recorded by The Who. In 1969 Larry recorded his third Capitol album, Upon This Rock, which introduced the songs “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” and “Sweet Song of Salvation.”


His style of music had been controversial for almost fifteen years before the Jesus Movement sprang up. During the Fifties and Sixties, he felt pretty much alone, but when other Christians began to write songs which were more modern and rock-based, things began to change. Larry’s broken finger, held up after each song, had become the One Way sign for the 70’s movement and his song “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” had become its anthem. The film "A Thief In The Night" used this song as part of its storyline. Other films would later incorporate his music into their soundtracks. His ministry continued to grow. Over the years his songs were translated into more than a dozen languages, including Russian and Hebrew. His music was studied in various universities and seminaries. He became friends with writers like Francis Schaeffer, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Hal Lindsey. Larry has had over three hundred cover records of his songs by other groups, including recordings by non-gospel artists like Sammy Davis, Jr. and Petula Clark. Later, even Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Black Francis of The Pixies nee Frank Black, the group U2, and Van Morrison have called themselves fans.


Larry Norman was a significant figure in American culture. He was a complex artist for sure, but his ultimate need was answered and he was never shy about proclaiming it- the forgiveness of sins he had through Christ.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy Birthday to Nico


Today my middle son, Nicolas Jon, turns 7.


Dear Nico,

God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Love,

Daddy

Friday, February 22, 2008

Cletus Take the Reel

Several things conspire to make this video funny to me: comedic parody, cheesey pop-country-culturally Christian music, redneck humor, and it's Friday.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Look what we can do


Am I the only one who thinks yesterday's shooting down of a dead spy satellite was intended to show off U.S. weaponry? Experts claim there was only a very slight chance the craft would land in a populated area or cause some kind of toxic cloud, so I have to think this was a case of a $40 million dollar "look what we can do" and a little bit of "beware" sprinkled in.

Have you seen the video? It's sweet. It looks like the Death Star blowing up.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Clear choice?


Barack Obama is tightening his death grip on Hillary Clinton so it is looking more and more like he will be the Democratic candidate for president in 2008.

John McCain is all but officially the Republican candidate for president in 2008.

I think it is very unlikely that John McCain can defeat the surging, omni-endorsed Obama. A charismatic personality like Obama tends to overshadow his positions, especially with such a perceived dirth of the same in recent years. People will jump on the Obama bandwagon without closely analyzing his extremely liberal positions. George Bush has created an appetite for an articulate, diplomatic-looking, internationally accepted, spokesman for America, and Obama fits that description more than John McCain. Never mind Obama's pro-abortion, pro-gay, pro-tolerate anything and everything, pull the troops out now, raise taxes, appoint judges like him, the bigger the government the better, mindset- he looks and sounds good, "we'll take him" say enough of the American people to elect him in November.

John McCain is a better choice than Barack Obama. Without going point for point comparing the two, liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is 87 years old and will likely retire or die in the next 4 years. I appreciate the argument from some conservatives that say electing Obama would actually force conservatives to re-find themselves as they have become hopelessly moderate, however, I don't really buy that logic. The next president will nominate a judge to the Supreme Court. I see that as a big deal. Who would you rather nominate a Supreme Court judge?

Barack Obama will choose a judge that makes Ruth Bader Ginsburg look like Ruth Graham. That's scary. John McCain would pick someone better...I think.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Andy Pettitte- an example of applying "salt"

Lift your head up Andy...

As you know, I've been paying close attention to the Major League Baseball performance enhancing drugs saga, particularly the latest with Roger Clemens. Why does it all matter? For good or bad, professional sports figures have a tremendous influence in our culture, especially upon young kids, particularly boys. I have three boys. Furthermore, professional sports serve as a microcosm of our culture. Short cuts, a win at all costs mentality, cheating, sinful pride, lying, slander, and foolish health decisions are all important matters to be concerned with and issues Christians must work to see redeemed by applying the salt of Christ. Andy Pettitte told the truth in his deposition before congressional lawyers a couple weeks ago and humbly put himself before the media and American public yesterday to confess, apologize, and talk openly about what he had done wrong concerning taking HGH.

This recent trial in baseball brings up universal realities about sin that only Christians have the power to genuinely confront. People err, sin, and make poor decisions. No one escapes being a sinful person. Only the forgiveness of Christ shown to a person allows that same person to extend forgiveness to others and ask for it themselves when the situation calls for it. Most such cases in professional sports involve unbelieving people so we shouldn't be too surprised with self-preserving lies and tactics to cover themselves. It's disheartening, but total depravity is what it is, so to speak. In cases where the offending professional athelete is a believer, like Andy Pettitte, there is an opportunity for public confession, repentance, restitution, and hopefully, restoration. The Mitchell Report revealed Pettitte was guilty of taking HGH. There was a huge opportunity to show forth Christ and praise God, Pettitte did just that. Pettitte is known to be a Christian around MLB and his teammates recognize him as a genuine believer and faithful teammate. If Pettitte had never erred in this way he would have been remembered as a strong witness for Christ for sure. However, in God's providence and by His grace, having erred and confessed so humbly as he did, I think his witness and "salt effect" on the culture of the game will be even more powerful.

Now, as a brief excursus, but related to Pettitte's need to call a press conference- I believe Andy Pettitte's recollection of a Clemens 1999 comment seeming to admit using HGH is very damning. I watched the entire hearing and read all 104 pages of Pettitte's deposition. Putting them together, I am left to conclude that Clemens is probably lying. I know for those who were pre-disposed to not believe Clemens it didn't take much to confirm their hopes and suspicions, they made their judgment a while ago. For me, it depended heavily on Pettitte's testimony as Brian McNamee is not trustworthy and there are no other eyewitnesses to Clemens supposed usage. Pettitte was a close friend who spent hours training and hanging with Clemens for the past 9 years. Surely if anyone besides McNamee knew the truth, it would be Pettitte.

It is important to note, Pettitte says very little about his knowledge of Clemens taking any drugs or vitamins. In his deposition he stated that Roger mentioned using HGH in 1999, but they did not discuss the matter further, in fact, Pettitte wasn't very sure of what HGH was. Clemens never mentioned using steroids to Pettitte, ever. According to Pettitte the two never discussed HGH again until 2005 when the Bonds case was starting bringing heat and MLB banned HGH and steroids. Pettitte had taken HGH very briefly twice, in 2002 and 2004, both times to come back from elbow injuries. Anticipating questions about his own use, Pettitte asked Clemens what he was going to say if asked about HGH. Clemens allegedly retorted- "I never said I used HGH". He told Pettitte that his wife had used the stuff, but he didn't. In the deposition Pettitte was sure he heard Clemens right in 1999 and was confused as to why Roger changed his story in 2005. So it is, Pettitte testified that he heard Clemens confess HGH use. I do find it amazing that Pettitte only heard Clemens mention using once in 9 years of training and hanging out together. Further, Pettitte never saw Clemens use anything. I was actually hoping for a more definitive testimony from Pettitte, but what he did say is damning due to Clemens adamant denial of any use whatsoever. I'm hanging tight for a while longer to make my final judgment on Roger, but I'm leaning toward believing he's a liar of the worst kind.
(end of excursus)

Unlike people like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Eric Gagne, and Miguel Tejada, Pettitte was willing to sit down, spell out what he did wrong, make no excuses, and ask forgiveness. That's what I'm talking about! The humble way in which he put himself before the public and told the truth has honored His Savior, will eventually afford him sound sleep (he may have more testifying to do) allow him to look at his family with no shame, and be a credible witness for Christ before the watching world. I was particularly impressed with his Yankee teammates who came to support him- Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera. The latter two players also profess faith in Christ.


This whole "Steroids Era" has been a blight on baseball and American culture in general. Andy Pettitte's personal response serves as an example of what applying salt means for Christians. Applying salt isn't just about confronting the sin of a culture, it's about confronting our own sin with the confidence of the gospel in full view of the culture. I think Andy Pettitte's actions give a small picture of what can and should be done by the followers of Christ in our world today. I call it an example of "applying salt".

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Bankruptcy of liberal theology

I discovered this dramatic piece over on the Brittonator's blog (http://knightscross-kh.blogspot.com/).

It powerfully illustrates how useless liberal theology is when real answers are needed most.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Caliendo Seinfeld Skit

Frank Caliendo is the most talented impressionist comedian out there. Perhaps you have seen his George Bush, John Madden, Charles Barkley, and Al Pacino impressions, but this Seinfeld skit takes them all.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hunter's Expo at OP Convention Center


Nathan and I spent some time at the Hunter's Expo at the Overland Park Convention Center this afternoon.

We were able to hear a talk by Travis Turner (a.k.a. Realtree's "T-Bone") on archery. He's a world class archer and all-around expert on bow set-ups, tuning, and shooting. Travis spoke on the archery topic of kinetic energy and it's importance for good arrow penetration on big game. He also sold me on the need to add weight to my broadheads. Simply put, the more weight front of center on the arrow shaft, the better. At the end of his talk he opened it up for archery questions, the dude is a serious archery stud. There's nothing about a bow set up he doesn't know. We got to chat with him briefly after his talk and also got our picture with him.
We also stopped by the Ross Archery booth where our good buddy Mike Osbourn is the national sales manager. Mike set up our first bows over five years ago and we remain in touch with him. He's a great guy and a brother in the Lord. He convinced me to switch to a Ross bow last season and I couldn't be happier with the choice.

I can't think of a better way to take a break from sermon prep than attending a hunting expo.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Must read: Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey


I began reading Total Truth several months back and have just recently finished it. My dear readers- you have to read this book! Total Truth is the best modern discussion of Worldview there is, but it's much more.

Nancy Pearcey, a fellow Covenant Seminary graduate, is a brilliant thinker and writer. Total Truth is one of those timely, yet timeless books that have the potential to seriously influence the Church in much the same way Francis Schaeffer did with "A Christian Manifesto" and "How Shall We Then Live". Total Truth is on the same level, I kid you not.

I need to read the book a second time and do a chapter by chapter review on this blog, however I just don't have time right now. For now allow me to list the chapter titles and subtitles to whet your appetite.

I'm serious....get this book and read it now.

Contents of Total Truth

Foreword by Phillip E. Johnson
Introduction

1. What's in a Worldview?
-Breaking Out of the Grid
-Rediscovering Joy
-Keeping Religion in Its Place
-Surviving the Spiritual Wasteland

2. Starting at the Beginning
-Darwin Meets the Berenstain Bears
-The Science of Common Sense
-Today Biology, Tomorrow the World
- Darwins of the Mind


3. How We Lost Our Minds
-What's So Good About Evangelicalism?
-When America Met Christianity -- Guess Who Won?
-Evangelicals' Two-Story Truth
-How Women Started the Culture War

4. What Next? Living It Out
-True Spirituality and Christian Worldview


Appendices
Appendix 1: How American Politics Became Secularized
Appendix 2: Modern Islam and the New Age Movement
Appendix 3: The Long War Between Materialism and Christianity
Appendix 4: Isms on the Run: Practical Apologetics at L'Abri


Interesting pastoral strategy


Don't take me for a pastoral prude, in fact, I've been preaching through Hosea for the past 5 weeks and have probably set some kind of record for saying "whore" or "whoredom" (hey, it's in the text!). Still, I have no idea what would possess a pastor to do something like what is reported below. I guess if we had "relevant" in our church name I might have a better idea why this is a good pastoral manuever. Would this challenge be instead of the "40 Days of Purpose"? The last sentence is pretty funny though.


Florida Pastor Issues 30-Day Sex Challenge for Congregation (Foxnews)
Friday , February 15, 2008

TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida pastor has a new challenge for his parishioners. It involves sex - a subject that may be taboo in many congregations.

The Relevant Church in Tampa's Ybor City has issued a 30-day sex challenge.
"It's going to be tempting and awkward at the same time for sure," said parishioner Brent Cayson. Single men and women can't have sex for 30 days, and married couples are urged to have it every day.

"If you look at studies, studies say in 30 days you can develop a habit," said Pastor Paul Wirth.
It definitely caught wives in the church by surprise.

"Our married people are far more fearful than our single people," said Wirth.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2012?


With Barack Obama running for president there has been much discussion about it being time for America's first African American president.

With Hillary Clinton running for president there has been much discussion about it being time for America's first female president.

I agree that it is time for both, that would be great, but not either of these two!

If McCain has to be president, and I'm not saying he can beat Obama, then so be it. I hope he chooses Condoleezza Rice as his running mate and she becomes a candidate for president in 2012. I can understand her not running for prez this year, she has to get some distance from her current boss. McCain is 71 years old, one term will be more than enough, thank you.

It would be harder to find a sharper, more competent woman than Condoleezza Rice. I think she would make a very good president. The fact I am looking ahead to 2012 reveals how exasperated I feel concerning 2008.

A dose of Reagan to treat what ails us

I admit, I'm growing more and more apathetic about the apparent choices for president. No originality, all fit pretty squarely in to the Democratic mold (including McCain), and their speaking is uninspiring.

To give some brief relief to my apathy I spent some time listening to Ronald Reagan speeches and interviews. The one posted above focuses on his wit, and boy did he have one.

I'm not necessarily a "Reaganite", but I did admire his leadership ability, statesmanship, and general governing philosophy.

Warm and Fuzzy Valentine's Thoughts from a Very Sensitive Guy (Part 2)


Take heed that neither lust nor rashness do thrust you into a married condition, before you see such reasons to invite you to it, as may assure you of the call and approbation of God. For, 1. It is God that you must serve in your married state, and therefore it is meet that you take his counsel before you rush upon it; for he knoweth best himself what belongeth to his service. 2. And it is God that you must still depend upon, for the blessing and comforts of your relation: and therefore there is very great reason that you take his advice and consent, as the chief things requisite to the match: if the consent of parents be necessary, much more is the consent of God.
- Richard Baxter


Though you have not mentioned the person, yet as you seem to speak as if she were not a stranger to me, I suppose I guess who she is; and if I guess right, I congratulate your choice; for it seems suitable in every respect. I have reason to be a friend to marriage; and I doubt not but if the Lord is pleased to give you a suitable partner, it will both add to your comfort, and strengthen your hands in his service. Commit yourselves, therefore, to him; act so far as he affords you an opening; consult him step by step; follow his providence close, but do not force it. We are prone to pursue things that appear desirable with too much keenness; but in his leadings there is usually a praying time and a waiting time.
- John Newton


A wife is easily taken, but to have abiding love, that is the challenge. One who finds it in his marriage should thank the Lord God for it. Therefore approach marriage earnestly, asking God to give you a good, pious girl, with whom you can spend your life in mutual love. For sex [alone] accomplishes nothing in this regard; there must also be agreement in values an character.
-Martin Luther


There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends. -Homer


Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up. -Joseph Barth


What you are as a single person, you will be as a married person, only to a greater degree. Any negative character trait will be intensified in a marriage relationship, because you will feel free to let your guard down -- that person has committed himself to you and you no longer have to worry about scaring him off. -Josh McDowell


Only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy. One is to let her think she is having her own way, the the other, to let her have it. -Lyndon B. Johnson


Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other who never forgets. -Ogden Nash


My advice to you is to get married. If you find a good wife, you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher. -Socrates


I've been married to one Marxist and one Fascist, and neither one would take the garbage out. -Lee Grant


In my house I'm the boss, my wife is just the decision maker. - Woody Allen

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Warm and Fuzzy Valentine's Thoughts from a Very Sensitive Guy (Part 1)


There are at least 5 purposes for marriage that I can think of-

1. Marriage is for relational fulfillment and intimacy

The first marriage addresses this basic purpose for marriage in the latter part of Genesis 2:18-"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.' " Literally this means "a helpmate suitable for him". Husbands and wives are to fit. They complement each other. They relate to one another. Shari fits me and is who I need to be complete relationally. According to this foundational verse for marriage, there is a certain way God designs wives so they bring completion to their husbands. Two parts that fit enjoy a dynamic, ongoing relationship. More basic to this, there is relational fulfillment in being married to my wife. Things are always interesting. I have never come to the end of figuring her out, and I'm guessing she'd say the same about me! This keeps things interesting. In addition to relational fulfillment is the unique intimacy reserved for marriage-


Proverbs 5:15-19 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. [16] Should your springs be scattered abroad,streams of water in the streets? [17] Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. [18] Let your fountain be blessed,and rejoice in the wife of your youth, [19] a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.


Sexual intimacy is special and powerful because it is exclusive. Something is not intimate if it is widespread or shared abroad. Misuse is devastating. Right use is uniquely blessed.


2. Marriage is for the bearing of children

There are certainly exceptions, however the general norm for marriage is the blessing of bearing children. Only 28 verses in to the book of Genesis we read-

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

The most effective discipleship occurs in the family. Raising godly children strengthens the Church and emboldens the witness of Christ in the world. More personally, I have found my children to be tremendous aids in my sanctification and promising hunting partners.


3. Marriage is for the elimination of loneliness

Straight up, Moses wrote (Genesis 2:18)- "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Don't get me wrong, it's better to be unmarried than to marry the wrong person, however in general, being married is very good, especially because it is a cure for loneliness. Loneliness refers to an emotional state in which a person experiences a powerful feeling of emptiness and isolation. This is not to say that every unmarried person feels lonely, but rather marriage works wonderfully, by design, to prevent and eliminate such a sense. Loneliness is a heavy burden. Even with all that was good and pure in the world before the Fall, Adam would have been incomplete and thus somehow unfulfilled had God not provided Eve.


4. Marraige is for the prevention of immorality

Scripture speaks pretty bluntly about one area marriage helps us avoid sin in:

1 Cor. 7:2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

I would further point out the general helpfulness having a godly helpmate provides. My wife has helped keep me from anger, from making poor financial decisions, and in numerous other protective ways. She is my chief accountability partner as I am for her. Shari helps my walk with Christ like no other.


5. Marriage is for societal order and health

There are three divine institutions- The Church, Government, and Family. Humanly speaking, the success and effective function of the first two depend heavily on the integrity of the last. If you are married, you are a family. Children do not make a family- a husband and wife do. Children may be added to an existing family, however, the unique one-flesh union called marriage is also properly understood as a family. Far too many families are child-centered. They should be Christ-centered with Dad and Mom as the leaders in this focus, not Dad and Mom catering to the desires of the children...but I digress, that's a subject for a different post. God’s plan for marriage and the family has been the building block of solid societies for millennia. Conversely, societies suffer when they embrace alternative forms of the family, but again, that's a subject for a different post.


More thoughts tomorrow. The warm fuzzies are abounding.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fairy Tales


Greg always manages to send me a picture I haven't yet seen. Here's a timely one!

Monday, February 11, 2008

It comes down to Pettitte


Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte have been teammates and close friends for nine straight Major League Baseball seasons. For most of these seasons they have trained side by side together, several of those years with Brian McNamee as their personal trainer.

McNamee is a known steroid and HGH dealer. He is the only person who claims to have personally witnessed Roger Clemens alleged steroid use. McNamee says he personally injected Clemens with steroids over 16 times. McNamee is also an incredibly shady character with a checkered past and list of people who will testify to his lack of credibility. Clemens, on the other hand, is a MLB icon, one of the top 3 pitchers in history, and has had no one coroborate McNamee's story to date. So far it has been McNamee's word against his, nothing else. McNamee recently handed over some nasty old syringes, bloody cotton balls, and some empty vials of steroids claiming they were used on Clemens. It's doubtful such compromised evidence (over 7 years old, kept in an uncertain storage environment) will be admissable. If O.J.'s glove didn't fit, McNamee's old medical waste certainly won't either. So again, it comes down to the word of Roger Clemens against the word of Brian McNamee.

Except for one major testimony about to be given publically- that of Andy Pettitte.

For me, the key testimony in this whole "he said-she said" affair is that of Andy Pettitte. Let's face it- Pettitte knows the truth. There is no way he and Roger didn't discuss this. For nine years they trained together. They played golf together. Their families vacationed together. Maybe they had some goofy agreement to not talk about what they were taking and to inject themselves in secret so when this day came, they wouldn't have to blow each other in? I don't know. I do know this- Pettitte is a professing believer who has been an upstanding citizen and all around honest guy his whole career. Absent some legitimate hard evidence that Roger Clemens took steroids (receipts, other witnesses, pictures, video) I am poised to believe whatever Andy Pettitte says. He has already testified privately to congressional lawyers, this Wednesday he is scheduled to be part of a public hearing on all of this and is expected to be asked questions regarding Clemens. What Andy Pettitte says is very crucial to my thinking.

If Andy says, "I don't know if Roger took steroids or HGH" it will keep the matter cloudy, because I think he's an honest guy and not knowing this about his very close friend and training buddy makes me lean toward Roger telling the truth. If Andy says, "Roger took steroids or HGH", to me, the matter is settled- Clemens is guilty.

I don't know if Pettitte's testimony would be enough for prosecutors to convict Clemens of perjury, I rather doubt it. This issue is way beyond legalities now, it's about the integrity of one of the greatest careers in MLB history. Further, if guilty, Clemens' recent aggressive actions to defend himself would have to rank with some of the most shameless, selfish acts in the history of professional sports. Shoeless Joe would look like a choir boy next to Clemens if Roger is lying. Pete Rose would appear eligible for nomination to the Supreme Court compared to a lying Clemens on this matter. On the other hand, if Clemens is telling the truth- George Mitchell and co. should be seriously disciplined for shoddy detective work, defamation, and slander and Clemens should be given immediate enshrinement in to the Hall of Fame.

Wednesday should be interesting.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What's up with the Wizards in 2008 ?


Having played, coached, and watched soccer all my life, I am particularly excited about the continual improvement of the U.S. professional soccer league- Major League Soccer (MLS). I am also thankful to live in a city with an MLS team, the Kansas City Wizards. The Wizards seem to be solidifying their commitment to stay in KC for the long haul with a new stadium complex due to begin construction in a few months, hopefully in time for the start of the 2010 season.

In the mean time, it seems like the Wizards are holding pattern a bit and not making good moves to improve their current team. Of course, having an opinion on everything, and knowing the sitemaster for the Wizards #1 fan site (Brian's Oz City ), I posted my criticism of the recent lack of sound moves on the part of management. It will likely draw the ire of some of the more ardent local fans, but it is based on some knowledge about the sport I love most.

Cause for Alarm (in fairness, the Wizards pulled the trigger on a great DP, Claudio Lopez...thus I was very happy to write a retraction of sorts here. And, I got my season tickets!

I was waiting for three events before buying my Wizards season tickets- The draft, the game schedule, and their first pre-season game. I have been disappointed on all three fronts and will not be purchasing season tickets this year. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll get to a bunch of games and do my best to support my team, but the actions of management over these last few months have been terribly disappointing. I write this only in hopes for an explanation (not just blown smoke) and hopefully to encourage reconsideration on a few fronts. I think I am saying what at least a few other fans think.

First, I am disappointed with the Wizards draft. Everyone knew we were going to lose Eddie Johnson. Johnson scored approximately one third of the Wizards goals last season and accounted for several others. A freed up Scott Sealy owes his goal scoring opportunities largely to the presence of Johnson. Like him or loathe him, there was no more impacting player on the Wizards last year than Eddie Johnson, like him or loathe him. Losing Johnson meant a major loss of goal production and would require an aggressive effort to acquire a legitimate scoring threat. What do the Wizards do? They essentially trade veteran Nick Garcia for Chance Myers and blow their first overall pick in the draft. I am not suggesting that Myers won’t turn out to be a solid player, but the immediate need was a scorer and I’m not so sure Meyer wouldn’t have still been available later in the same round. The Wizards did not draft one forward, not one. Instead they drafted six defenders, three of which could play midfield also. O.K., fine Coach Onalfo, I’ll readily admit you are smarter than me, maybe you’re thinking it’s safer and a better investment to draft and develop defenders- fine, but with all the freed up money, how about some moves for a playmaking center midfielder or a forward, perhaps a DP (heck, if LA can have 3, can’t we have one?)? Rookie Defensive midfielders will not make up for the lack of goal production caused by Johnson’s exit. What about the Eddie money now available? I’m seriously hoping the Wizards aren’t trying to mimic the Royals financial model, but it looks sort of that way. They get EJ transfer money, EJ’s freed up salary, Burciaga and Garcia’s salaries freed up, two Generation Adidas players (Myers and Espinoza), and they acquire NO ONE. Sorry, but the draft and attending lack of offensive player activity really took the wind out of my once excited for the 2008 season sails. The Wizards weren’t even .500 last year with Garcia and Johnson, they cannot be considered a better team than that going in to this season, it’s just not possible.

Second, I am disappointed with the game schedule. I am doing my best to talk up the Wizards and get friends and acquaintances to go to games. I think many committed fans are desirous of Wizards fame to be spread in our city, the potential is definitely there. Maybe it’s not the team’s fault on this, but there will be no home games in KC from April 12 to June 14! Two whole months in the season without a home game! This is absolutely stunning. What am I missing? Is it a stadium situation? This is hugely damaging. Last year April and May were two of the more exciting months of Wizards soccer. The nation team stuff hadn’t yet interrupted the season (a real pet peeve of mine), good weather, great time to get out for a game or two. This year- no home games for two months! Wow. It’s hard to think of a bigger marketing fumble than this.

Third, I am disappointed with the first pre-season game today. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t normally fret a loss this early, but I think it revealed a strategy that will likely mean this season will be very long one. The formation was a 3-5-2, one that is heavily dependent on the midfield. Midfielders in this line up must play both ways very effectively. Offensively such a line-up puts particular pressure on the center midfield to produce scoring chances for the two forwards. Usually such a line up possesses three marquee, game controlling, players laced through the middle. Conrad is the guy on defense, so we have one of those pieces for this line up. The two other middle pieces are center mid and center forward (although there are two forwards, one is the main go-to guy, like Eddie last year). What primarily worries me is the placement of Marinelli in the center mid spot. I think this reveals Onalfo’s strategy. He drafted a bunch of defenders who can play midfield, adding to several experienced players of the same ilk. He then places them around Marinelli. He must think Marinelli is the key to this offense, a 3-5-2 requires it. If Onalfo is depending on Marinelli to be the catalyst for offense, 2008 looks bleak to me. Please understand, I hope I am dead wrong about this, but Marinelli clearly is not the “new Maradona” everyone thought he was and his mysterious foot injury seems to have neutralized him significantly. He scored just one goal and had only five assists in 19 games last year. Even when he is healthy, he is not effective, and that was with Eddie up top. As for forwards, Sealy is not the go-to guy the Wizards need, either is Pore or Colombano. We know nothing about Trujillo. The Wizards lack the key transitional center mid needed to play an effective 3-5-2 and they are further missing a proven finisher up top. Two of the three key components of a 3-5-2 are missing for the Wizards, there’s no denying this. Today, with their defender-heavy line-up, they gave up four goals and failed to score at all. I am afraid this may be a sign of things to come if a couple moves aren’t made soon.

The Wizards must act during the next two months to aquire legitimate answers to these missing pieces, chiefly through obtaining players from Europe or South America. Otherwise, the only hope is that Marinelli stays healthy- something he hasn’t done for some time- and produces- also something he hasn’t done with the Wizards- and Trujillo turns out to be half as good as Eddie Johnson.

It seems like the Wizards have gone on the cheap and are possibly holding pattern until their new stadium is built? I don’t know, but I am disappointed.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

40 Year Anniversary: Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison


Even though I was not yet born, 1968 remains my favorite year for American music. There were two historic concerts that year, Johnn Cash playing and recording live at Folsom Prison in January and Elvis Presley's "68 Comeback Special" aired on NBC in December of 1968.

Johnny Cash gave one of his greatest performances at Folsom Prison, January 13, 1968. The country was experiencing a time of unrest (Vietnam, Civil Rights movement, etc). For Johnny Cash personally, he was finally able to kick his drug habit with the help of his new wife, June Carter. In reading various excerpts from him, it seems that he came to embrace the gospel around this time period, he certainly made a clear profession of faith many times in subsequent years, right up until his death in 2003. There was really no good reason to play a concert in a dangerous prison and Cash's producers weren't happy he wanted to do so. Even as publicity stunts go, playing Folsom made little sense as most of Cash's fans by 1968 were straight-laced church goers, especially with his growing connection to the gospel-singing Carter family. Playing a prison was a real risk professionally and personally for Cash.

Folsom Prison is California's second oldest prison, constructed in 1878. It was well known for it's harsh conditions, that's what made Cash reference it in his 1956 writing of "Folsom Prison Blues", easily Cash's most famous and best-selling song. While Cash had some relatively minor run-in's with the law, that song became an underground hit in prisons across the country striking a chord with men serving prison time. Many prisoners thought Cash was writing the song as a convict himself, when in fact he was only arrested once (for drug possession) and served just a day or two in a cell. Still, Cash had a certain compassion for people in prison and decided to try and serve them in some way by doing the concert in the Folsom Prison cafeteria in 1968.

I have listened to the album hundreds of times. It's a bold statement, but it might be my favorite album ever. It contains his best recorded performances for many of his usual concert songs like "Folsom Prison Blues", "I still Miss Someone", and "Give My Love to Rose". The album also contains unique recordings, hard if not impossible to find anywhere else, like "Cocaine Blues" and "25 Minutes to go". Finally, I think The Folsom Prison album has the best recording of "Jackson" ever done. Of course, this is a duet with June Carter, who in my opinion isn't a very good singer, but in this recording she does a splendid job on "Jackson".

The likes of Johnny Cash, the man in black, will not likely ever be seen again and this particular album is his best recording. I recommend viewing the 2005 depiction of Johnny Cash's pre-1968 life, "Walk the Line". The respective performances of Joaquin Phoenix (as Cash) and Reese Witherspoon (as June Carter) have been widely and accurately acclaimed. My only beef with the movie is the very slighting reference to Cash's conversion to Christianity. Also, the film ends with his Folsom Prison performance in 1968 yet Cash performed extensively for the next 35 years and became more vocal about his faith in Christ as the years progressed. Apparently his life wasn't as interesting to Hollywood when the infidelity and drugs stopped?

Johnny Cash was an American folk-country-blues genius. I'm going to listen to "Dirty Old Egg-Suckin' Dog" now....




Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Buffalo Blood Brothers


While my boys lack the seasoning of hardened Western New York snow warriors, they are obviousy from such stock. They laugh in the face of a Northern cold front.

Nico, AJ, and Jordan (above) went sledding today and dominated the hill with fierce runs, intimidating slaloms, and record-breaking speed.

Texans and Sledding don't mix


Some people from church, including our esteemed youth pastor Brian, went sledding today (while the rest of us worked). Many observed and were amused by Brian's lack of proper attire, relative difficulty navigating the upward climbs of the sledding hill, inability to cruise smoothly, and less than graceful stopping form (as evidenced by the above picture). Yes, those are sweatpants he is wearing. I think he was wearing slippers on his feet. The jacket must have been borrowed.

We love our Brian...even if his Texasness prohibits him from functioning well in such conditions.

Thoughts on Christian Education (conclusion, for now)


I would like to end my thoughts on Christian Education (for now) with a simple question- Is education that leaves out the Sovereign God and his authoritative word truly education? Education according to Wikipedia:

Education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills, and also something less tangible but more profound: the imparting of knowledge, positive judgment and well-developed wisdom. Education has as one of its fundamental aspects the imparting of culture from generation to generation.

So education shouldn't be seen as the simple relaying of facts, there is judgment involved and a certain kind of wisdom developed. Is wisdom possible apart from the knowledge of God? If you define education solely as learning, then I will agree that learning definitely happens in public education (spending 14,000 seat hours before age 18 in a certain environment will most definitely teach something). But even Wikipedia defines education as more than just imparting facts and retaining those facts. For the believer, we must understand education as it is explained and described in God’s Word. Once again, we are talking about training, discipleship, worldview-shaping, the maturing process. That’s what real education is. Consider Proverbs 9:10 for a moment. We speak of people as being knowledgeable or smart. This is a virtue, even in our day and in our society. Here is a founding principle to determine if knowledge is true. If our education is right.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Solomon is saying that for us to begin learning, we must fear the Lord. In other words, we must acknowledge God in order to have the ability to rightly receive and interpret information. One might say this proverb in another way- without fearing the Lord, there is no wisdom. Without knowing the Holy One, there is no knowledge or insight.

Christian Education, by definition, places God as the root and source of all knowledge. Christian Education begins with an admission, we are finite. To understand the world, we must seek the counsel of the infinite. The Psalmist says it as well in Psalm 110:10

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Acknowledgement of the Creator of all things allows us to study all things. We must know and acknowledge the Creator in order to know or learn or be educated. By definition, Christian Education is the only true education. Paul speaks even more specifically when addressing the relationship of Christ to "all things"-

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.


Education that leaves out the sovereign God and His authoritative Word isn't really education. By definition, Christian Education is the only true education. All other forms of "education" are actually a skewed view of reality at best.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bold


Yesterday Andy Pettitte testified to lawyers of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Pettite was silent about what he revealed when questioned after. Pettitte has already admitted taking Human Growth Hormone when recovering from an elbow injury in 2002 so the line of questions were probably more about his knowledge of other users, namely Roger Clemens, Andy's good friend.

Today Roger Clemens, arguably the greatest pitcher of this generation, also testified to lawyers of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Unlike Pettitte, who looked like he was going to a funeral and was somber on the way out, Clemens entered his interview with confidence and came out- 5 hours later- taking to the microphone and once more claiming he has never used steroids or human growth hormone.

Talk about bold! He is up a major creek if he can be proven to be lying.

My heart wants to believe Roger, my gut is confused, and my head is telling me Pettitte was stressed and silent because he knew he was about to lose a friend for telling the truth.

We'll know what Pettitte said shortly, I think his testimony is key.

Thoughts on Christian Education (Part 5)


So far I have tried to show that God's mandate to disciple our children is extremely involved and comprehensive in scope (Deut. 6 and Ephesians 6). Christian Education is a proactive endeavor(biblical discipleship- to inculcate a biblical worldview in our children) not a reaction to something (public schools are bad). Even if government schools were amoral or somehow neutral (and they are not), 14,000 seat hours before the age of 18 amounts to serious lost discipleship time in some fleeting adolescent years.


As Americans we are conditioned to think schooling is something our tax dollars should provide, a right of citizenship as it were, but we have to shake such a notion. This mindset or the idea that education is somehow the job of the government has caused the Church to give up too much opportunity in a precious, crucial, worldview-shaping area.


Once again, to visit the important goal of Christian Education, a worldview is the set of beliefs about fundamental aspects of reality that ground and influence all one's perceiving, thinking, knowing, and doing. In the previous post I posed some basic questions that should be considered, answered, and applied in the study of all subjects and academic disciplines. Looking even more closely at the elements of one's worldview, you can see why it is so very important to have these areas informed by Scripture.


The elements of one's worldview, the beliefs about certain aspects of reality, are one's


epistemology: beliefs about the nature and sources of knowledge;
metaphysics: beliefs about the ultimate nature of reality;
cosmology: beliefs about the origins and nature of the universe, life, and especially Man;
teleology: beliefs about the meaning and purpose of the universe, its inanimate elements, and its inhabitants;
theology: beliefs about the existence and nature of God;
anthropology: beliefs about the nature and purpose of Man in general and, oneself in particular;
axiology: beliefs about the nature of value, what is good and bad, what is right and wrong.


My point in all this focus on Christian Education and Worldview isn't to freak anyone out but rather to show the mandate of Scripture, the huge-but fleeting-opportunity we have to disciple our children, and the complexity of the process. Education is not just reading-writing-and arithmetic in some kind of amoral vacuum. Education involves worldview-shaping. Our worldview means everything when it comes to how we will act.

Monday, February 4, 2008

It worked in New Hampshire


It seems clear that John McCain is going to win the Republican nomination, probably tomorrow.

The Democratic nomination is not as easy to call. What does seem to be happening is a huge surge for Barack Obama. The latest polls have him in a dead heat with Hillary Clinton, the "establishment" candidate for the dems. I'm sticking with Obama to win the nomination, although it might take more than Super Tuesday to lock it up. We'll see.

Did you see Hillary's latest waterworks gimmick in Connecticut today? I know, I sound cynical, but this second timely display of tears on the campaign trail is pretty hard to believe. For the past 16 years she has been in the public eye and I don't recall ever seeing her cry. Then, in New Hampshire a couple weeks ago, feeling beat up and like she was about to lose that state's primary, bang! she's sniffling and showing how soft she is. Now, today, with a similar feeling of desperation as Obama seems to have the momentum, she pulls out the onion and bang- she's sniffling again for all the nation to see. Listen, the Clintons are skilled interpretors of the polls and the best campaigners this country has ever seen. They know what it takes to win, nothing is done with out calculation.

Hey, it worked in New Hampshire.

Thoughts on Christian Education (Part 4)


Let's consider the matter of "Worldview", specifically a "Biblical Worldview". I have offered a definition of worldview in the previous post, now I want to unpack the concept a bit.


In earlier posts I have alluded to the directive nature of Deuteronomny 6 and Ephesian 6 as they relate to mandating the discipleship of our children. Scripture is where we must begin. Explicit in the Deuteronomy passage is the time consuming, holistic nature of discipleship, please note the passage with my comments in red-


Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel (note the communal nature of this mandate) : The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (total, holistic, devotion to our God-not just a compartment of our life) . 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart (particularly the Ten Commandments and the worldview rationale given with them) . 7 You shall teach them diligently (constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind) to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Developing a biblical worldview involves a high level of reinforcement throughout the day. It cannot be reserved for 60-120 minutes on a Sunday.)

In the New Testament, Paul is writing to the Ephesian Church when he gives this important mandate-

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise) (notice Paul's explicit reference to the Ten Commandments offering a tie to the OT discipleship mandates) , 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (While much shorter than the Deuteronomy passage it is nevertheless as holistic- "bring them up" denotes a way of raising that obviously includes regular reinforcement. "the discipline and instruction of the Lord" seals the deal as it relates to being a fully integrated process of teaching and discipling.)

To these important verses I would like to add another as we think about the matter of inculcating a biblical wordview in our children (younger kids) and youth (older kids).

2 Corinthians 10: 3 For though we walk in the flesh (we are in the physical world) , we are not waging war according to the flesh (our mission is not based solely on "natural" knowledge. We depend on revelation from God- in this way, our ability to interpret the world and function is dependent on God's clear guidance). 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds (the power of God by the will of God as revealed by the Word of God). 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God (not that we do this in our own strength, but with God's Word and Spirit) , and take every thought captive to obey Christ ...(this is a key statement for understanding biblical worldview. Essentially, all knowledge must be considered in light of Christ! EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE to obey Christ. So, any "education" that leaves out Christ is deficient, to put it mildly. Learning must include connecting a given truth or fact with it's relationship to Christ)

Now, on to the matter of unpacking the concept of a biblical worldview. Let's start with Barna's definition of a worldview. Barna says a person must have the following six core beliefs to have a "biblical worldview"-


1. The Bible is God's Word

2. Jesus was/is sinless

3. The literal existence of Satan

4. The omnipotence and omniscience of God

5. Salvation by Grace alone

6. Personal responsibility to evangelize

I only site Barna here because these are the criterion he uses when surveying Christians to determine how many possess a biblical worldview. When you hear his popularly referenced statisticas, you'll know they are based on these six beliefs. I think these core beliefs are an adequate starting point but ultimately too incomplete to guage if a person actually has a biblical worldview. The first point- "The Bible is God's Word" is obviously crucial. I would like to list several subpoints under this point. There are plenty of people who would assent to the six core beliefs, however, just saying the Bible is God's Word doesn't make one know what it says and how it should effect their view of life. A biblical worldview must seek to answer many critical life questions biblically, here are a few:


1. Who is God?

2. What can we, as human beings, actually know?

3. Were did I come from and who am I?

4. What is my purpose?

5. How should I live?

6. What should I consider valuable?

7. What is man's chief problem?

8. How can man's chief problem be solved?

9. What is the meaning of history?

10. Where will I go when I die?


These are questions that have to be posed and answered biblically at every juncture of our learning experience in order to have a proper life perspective (biblical worldview). Any "educational" process that doesn't encourage or allow such questions-no matter what subject is being studied- is seriously impeding actual learing and skewing reality. Educational programs that do not include consideration of God's sovereignty (as specifically revealed in Scripture) over a given discipline actually works to skew reality for the learner.


More on worldview to come.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sweet


Any time a team from Boston loses, it is cause for rejoicing. When a team from NY defeats a team from Boston, it is downright sweet.

The subplot I like the most concerning the NY Giant win in Superbowl 42 is the vindication of Coach Tom Coughlin and Quarterback Eli Manning. Coughlin and Manning have been the subject of all sorts of criticism for the better part of two years. The cheapest shots have come from whiner Tiki Barber, the all time rushing leader for the Giants who retired last year. As he retired, at age 32 and still in top form, he blasted Tom Coughlin's coaching ability and questioned Eli Manning's intelligence and decision making as a quarterback. Now, less than a year after Barber's attacks, Coughlin and Manning celebrate their team's world championship.

Sweet...and great to see a team from Boston lose.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Thoughts on Christian Education (Part 3)



Check out this video on worldview.


I would like to take a few posts to consider the matter of a person’s “worldview” and why it is so crucial to inculcate a biblical worldview in our children- the practical fulfillment of Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6.

The above referenced video clip introduces the concept of worldview in the words of some very able teachers.

Very simply, “worldview” refers to a person’s philosophy or conception of the world and of human life. James Olthuis writes:

“A worldview (or vision of life) is a framework or set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world and our calling and future in it. It is the integrative and interpretive framework by which order and disorder are judged, the standard by which reality is managed and pursued. It is the set of hinges on which all our everyday thinking and doing turns. Although a worldview is held only by individuals, it is communal in scope and structure. Since a worldview gives the terms of reference by which the world and our place in it can be structured and illumined, a worldview binds it adherents together into a community.”

I will work to clearly define what is meant by a “biblical worldview” in the next post, for now, however, realize how vitally linked a person’s worldview is to their actions. We act upon what we believe. What we do is tied to what we think is true. I would argue vigorously the reason we see the Church have so little moral effect on our culture is chiefly due to the lack of a biblical worldview among Christians. The Barna Group surveyed the beliefs of a large, randomly selected sample of professing Christians and found that less than 10% possessed a “biblical worldview”. It seems clear that whatever Christians are doing to train their children to think Christianly, it’s not currently working. No wonder our culture is rotting- the salt isn’t salty.

“Worldview” is typically something referring to an individual’s interpretive grid for life, but such a grid should become communal as well (i.e. The Church). When a whole community shares a worldview, the influence of that community’s attending actions starts to affect the wider culture in many ways (salt enhances taste and preserves). I’m afraid much of the American Church’s worldview is confused. There is general agreement on Jesus as Savior, but the fact of his Lordship isn’t well understood. We like the concept of being “saved” by Jesus but aren’t quite sure what to think of being ruled by Him. This confused understanding of Jesus in the Church works to neutralize our effectiveness in the culture.

Worldview is absolutely critical. It takes a long time and lots of effort to develop a biblical worldview, something clearly understood by Moses and Paul when they penned Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6 respectively. The process of discipleship must start young and be holistic.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Thoughts on Christian Education (Part 2)


I have grown to appreciate and respect Al Mohler more and more these past few years. Mohler is a pastor-theologian, currently serving as president of the Southern Baptist Convention's flagship school, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mohler has written extensively, keeps a regular blog, and can be heard on the radio (The Al Mohler Program) all over the country. I enjoyed his contribution to R.C. Sproul's National Ligonier Conference last Spring and look forward to hearing him again in April at the "Together for the Gospel" conference I am attending in Louisville, Kentucky. The loss of D. James Kennedy as a national conscience-type pastor is certainly significant, however the Lord has raised up a new one in Al Mohler at just the right time.


Mohler is a key leader in the highly diverse Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The SBC is massive (17 million members) as compared to my denomination, the PCA (400,000 members). At virtually every annual meeting of the SBC, a group of people will challenge the entire convention to pull their kids from government schools. It never comes close to passing. To be fair, the same thing happens at our General Assembly every year.


I don't think much of "conventions" as they carry little, if any, authority over the practices and teachings of the various individual churches as evidenced by the presence of rank Arminians right alongside Calvinists in the SBC. Heck, Bill Clinton is a Southern Baptist. Nevertheless, as an entity, the SBC is basically evangelical and holds quite a bit of cultural sway by its sheer number of churches (over 40,000 !)and members. If the SBC were to collectively pull their children from government schools, it would be a ginormous statement to the rest of evangelicalism.


Two years ago Al Mohler addressed the issue in an excellent blog post (here). I want to provide two quotes from that post, I encourage you to read the whole article for yourself. Reading it made my appreciation for Mohler go up a couple notches. It's one thing for small-time, nobody pastor to call Christians to pull their children from government schools (who listens to loud-mouthed, Northeastern, Sicilians, anyways? Well, I guess those who don't want to sleep with the fish), but it's quite another when a evangelical heavyweight like Al Mohler says it-


With control over the public school system increasingly in the hands of the courts, educational bureaucrats, the university-based education schools, and the powerful teachers' unions, little hope for correction appears. Federal mandates, accreditation requirements, union demands, and the influence of the educational elite represent a combined force that is far greater than the localized influence of many school boards, not to mention parents. Those who doubt the radical commitments of groups such as the National Education Association should simply look at the organization's public statements, policy positions, and initiatives.


The breakdown of the public school system is a national tragedy. An honest assessment of the history of public education in America must acknowledge the success of the common school vision in breaking down ethnic, economic, and racial barriers. The schools have brought hundreds of millions of American children into a democracy of common citizenship. Tragically, that vision was displaced by an ideologically-driven attempt to force a radically secular worldview.


I believe that now is the time for responsible Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from the public schools. This strategy would affirm the basic and ultimate responsibility of Christian parents to take charge of the education of their own children. The strategy would also affirm the responsibility of churches to equip parents, support families, and offer alternatives. At the same time, this strategy must acknowledge that Southern Baptist churches, families, and parents do not yet see the same realities, the same threats, and the same challenges in every context. Sadly, this is almost certainly just a matter of time.
- Al Mohler (blog post 2005)