Friday, July 31, 2009

The Beckham Experiment

I have just begun reading "The Beckham Experiment" by Grant Wahl. As a soccer player, coach, and fan, I am thoroughly intrigued with how soccer is viewed in America. The David Beckham phenomenon transcends sports and reaches in to pop culture in interesting ways. Wahl seems to sense this as he introduces the book-

"If there was ever a book about American soccer that demanded to be written, this was the one, in large part because it was about not just the sport but so much more: the engineering of American celebrity, the powerful seeking more power, the clash of cultures and American exceptionalism. For years, too, I had craved the chance to chronicle the ongoing inside story of a team, to do more than just parachute into town for a couple days for a snapshot magazine story. It was one thing to interview Beckham in Madrid on the eve of his American arrival, when optimism reigned and he had as much buzz as any Hollywood blockbuster. But it would be quite another to interview him underneath the stands in Columbus, Ohio, on Buck-a-Brat night after a Galaxy loss in October."

Such a book promises to give some helpful cultural insight. I'll report what I learn periodically.

Thanks for the advice Pope Pius X....NOT

So I'm studying the Papacy as part of my doctoral studies and I came across the catechism of Pope Pius X on a theological website I frequent, who by the way, is deemed a "Saint" in the Roman Catholic Church. I found this notable section of his catechism:

28 Q. Is the reading of the Bible necessary to all Christians?

A. The reading of the Bible is not necessary to all Christians since they are instructed by the Church; however its reading is very useful and recommended to all.

29 Q. May any translation of the Bible, in the vernacular, be read?

A. We can read those translations of the Bible in the vernacular which have been acknowledged as faithful by the Catholic Church and which have explanations also approved by the Church.

30 Q. Why may we only read translations of the Bible approved by the Church?

A. We may only read translations of the Bible approved by the Church because she alone is the lawful guardian of the Bible.

31 Q. Through which means can we know the true meaning of the Holy Scripture?

A. We can only know the true meaning of Holy Scripture through the Church's interpretation, because she alone is secure against error in that interpretation.

32 Q. What should a Christian do who has been given a Bible by a Protestant or by an agent of the Protestants?

A. A Christian to whom a Bible has been offered by a Protestant or an agent of the Protestants should reject it with disgust, because it is forbidden by the Church. If it was accepted by inadvertence, it must be burnt as soon as possible or handed in to the Parish Priest.

33 Q. Why does the Church forbid Protestant Bibles?

A. The Church forbids Protestant Bibles because, either they have been altered and contain errors, or not having her approbation and footnotes explaining the obscure meanings, they may be harmful to the Faith. It is for that same reason that the Church even forbids translations of the Holy Scriptures already approved by her which have been reprinted without the footnotes approved by her.

Pretty wild stuff for the successor of Peter to say, don't you think? Just sayin'

The Wife of My Youth

Today Shari and I celebrate 16 years of marriage together. I love her way more than I did 16 years ago. She grows more beautiful with each year.

I just read Proverbs 5 as a devotional of sorts. It serves as a warning against adultery, something every man needs including this one. I love this part-

Drink water from your own cistern,flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad,streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone,and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed,and rejoice in the wife of your youth... -Proverbs 5:15-18

I am totally rejoicing in the wife of my youth today. I am rejoicing in God's grace that has blessed us these many years. Don't get me wrong, we don't have a June and Ward Cleaver marriage. We struggle with various issues just like all married couples do. We're very different people from different backgrounds and those differences are magnified over the years, not eliminated. Still, by God's grace we have never doubted God's clear providence in bringing us together and calling us to stay committed to each other. I don't know what the future holds and I never underestimate the power of sin in my life, but I sincerely hope that God grants me the grace to be faithful to Shari and lay my life down for her more consistently than I do. Her strong, yet submissive spirit compels me to love her more.

For all the men reading, pick up Proverbs 5 and mull it's wisdom and depth.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Boston Roid Sox

The report out today is that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were among the 100 MLB players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs back in 2003.

This is not surprising info to me at all. I knew with the recent Ramirez revelation that Boston was just as guilty as any team, if not more.

While everyone was jumping all over my beloved Yankees the silence from Boston was deafening. Now we know why.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Staggering Comments from Current Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg

Several sources alerted me to a relatively recent Time interview with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her position in favor of abortion is well known, what may not be so known is what she reveals below. I view this as absolutely staggering and atrocious.

Q: If you were a lawyer again, what would you want to accomplish as a future feminist legal agenda?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.

Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.

See the rest of the article for yourself. It's typical pro-abortion garbage with no reference to the voiceless human being that will be dismembered but this statement about population growth in "populations that we don't want to have too many of" is surreal and sick.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Octavius Winslow on Living for Christ

In addition to having a sweet name, Octavius Winslow said some pretty exciting things about living for Christ. One of my personal appeals to the young people I coach and disciple is to not be mediocre for God. In that light, I love what Winslow says here:

"Is my Redeemer thus magnified in me before the world and the Church? Oh, aim for a high standard! Do not be a common-place professor. Do not be an ordinary Christian. Shun not to be singular. Dare for the glory of Christ to come out of the world, not to touch the unclean thing, and to be separate, set apart for God alone. 'Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit! so shall you be my disciples.' Thank God for the little, but, oh, aim for the 'much fruit!' -strong faith, ardent love, self-consuming zeal, unreserved obedience, holy, and entire, and supreme surrender. 'From me is your fruit found.' Your union with Christ, your living in Christ, your close adherence to Christ, your constant drawing from Christ, will be found to involve the happy secret of that great fruitfulness which brings most glory to the Triune God. Come- drawn by grace, constrained by love, attracted by the glory and the preciousness of Jesus- come now to that one 'altar which sanctifies both the giver and the gift,' and as you lay yourself upon it, body, soul, and spirit, exclaim with the apostle, 'Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.' The solemn vow is taken! The holy surrender is made! It is seen, it is heard, it is ratified in heaven. May you be so strengthened from above, 'that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ,' is the devout and fervent desire of one who, with you, through time and through eternity, hopes to unite in the grateful, adoring, and never ceasing hallelujah, 'Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift!' "

Sunday, July 26, 2009

El Piojo Golazo!

Brian and I were fortunate enough to be on hand for the Wizards/Galaxy game last night. We got to see one of the best goals of the year from Kansas City's Claudio Lopez.

Lopez is a a well-traveled veteran from Argentina who has played in all the major leagues of soccer. After the game he said this was one of his greatest goals ever. It's a dandy.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Boettner on Preaching the Gospel in light of Election

"The decree of election is a secret decree. And since no revelation has been given to the preacher as to which ones among his hearers are elect and which are non elect, it is not possible for him to present the Gospel to the elect only. It is his duty to look with hope on all those to whom he is preaching, and to pray for them that they may each be among the elect. In order to offer the message to the elect, he must offer it to all; and the Scripture command is plain to the effect that it should be offered to all."

- Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

Friday, July 24, 2009

You won't believe this Wedding...

A woman pastor!!!



I have been praying for our church to be driven like the Apostle Paul. To this end I am preaching a two-part sermon on Redeemer's mission and vision. I don't know what you think about missions and visions, for me they represent a purpose statement with a dream about the effect of living out such a purpose.

I also think mission and vision statements should be directly connected to the commission King Jesus gave us through the Apostles before ascending to the right hand of His Father, where He now rules. There are two biblical passages that drive me, the leadership of Redeemer, and hopefully a good number of the church family.

The first passage comes just as Jesus is about to ascend in to heaven after his triumphant resurrection from the dead. He spent well over a month preparing His followers for this moment. He had previously promised to send the Holy Spirit to empower them for service, so mixed with a certain level of anxiety concerning His impending departure had to be great anticipation regarding what life would look like after the resurrection and under the direction of King Jesus from His Father's side. What instruction would Jesus give His soon to be supernaturally empowered disciples? What would He call us to do?

Matthew 28: 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Just awesome. He sends us on our way making disciples. Truly a Great commission. Please note that he doesn't send us in our own power but by His authority and promised presence. The Apostle Paul, who wasn't present at the moment of the commission, clearly got the message first hand from one or more of the other Apostles because his life was driven by the discipleship mandate given by Jesus. Approximately 20 years after Jesus uttered the words of the Great Commission, the Apostle Paul summed up His earthly ministry and toil in Colossians by saying-

Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Do you see the connection between these verses?

The maturing of God's people is the driving motivation behind Paul's toilsome ministry efforts. He describes Himself as "struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me". Again, just awesome.

Ultimately the purpose for each believer growing in Christ, indeed becoming "complete" or "mature" is to bring glory to God. There is no greater endeavor- to glorify God is to enjoy Him. As we mature in Christ and help others to do the same, we bring God glory. The best part- He empowers us. It's His work. All the glory is very much His.

So, my prayer for you reading this, is to be driven just as Paul was. Life's way too short to live any other way.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Door posts

Uncle Daren built my sons most of a fort during a couple different visits to our house. It took him a while but my threats to turn it in to a hunting blind motivated him to anchor it in our back yard. I had to finish the roof so there is no question where the weakest point of the structure is. We still hope to put siding and shingles on, but to protect the exterior in the mean time I thought we should stain the entire fort. It would be a great chance to teach the boys to be a painting crew.

Questionable judgment for sure.

I set the boys up with their materials (paint bucket, brushes, step ladder). They started well but soon seemed to be getting more paint on themselves than the fort. I admit to becoming a bit ticked as I saw them get messier and messier. Pretty hypocritical of me since I am a messy painter myself. I was really ready to read AJ (the oldest) the riot act about the mess he was making (wrecked a brush and all the clothes he was wearing) when he said something that took me back. He said, "Dad, look...we painted the doorposts just like the Israelites did." I asked him what that was supposed to mean. He said, "It's a picture of Jesus' blood covering our sins".
Hard to yell at AJ after that explanation.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Health Care Reform observation

On a day when a government "expert" has concluded the ridiculous recent bailout/stimulus monstrosity will cost an additional 23.7 trillion dollars in the long run, I am struck with how absolutely asinine President Obama's plan to reform health care is.

Health care costs in the United States are drastically askew and a significant drag on our economy. I get that. Most people get that. The problem is- how can it be fixed in an effective, equitable way without lowering the quality of care we have in this country?

One way it shouldn't be fixed, it seems to me (and I could be wrong), is the way President Obama proposes. Essentially he wants to move toward federalizing (a big fat red flag should be flying when you see this term) health insurance with people making a household income of more than 280K paying higher taxes to fund the massive expenditure such a program would cost.

I have been trying to read through the pages of text, it's confusing to say the least. One thing is clear- if this bill or one similar is passed, it will add an incalculable new level of bureaucracy that has to cost millions and probably billions in the near term. Who knows how much in the long term? Further, how can more bureaucracy help with health care quality? Does anyone think it will? Seriously? It's unfathomable as to how this will lower health care costs to say nothing of the sense of class warfare it will promote when the "rich" are taxed 5.5% more than they already are to pay for all of it. Of course, just today Douglas Elmendorf from the congressional budget office essentially said even with a huge tax hike, the proposed bill can't be paid for. Another unfunded mandate? No way.

On the point about "class warfare", which I think is promoted by any re-distribution of wealth tax structure: how will most doctors react to having their taxes raised to pay for the patients they are treating? Think about it. Many doctors make $280K annually, lots make more- and deservedly so in my opinion. They are in the demographic that will be forced to foot the bill for this monstrosity of a "health" plan. It has to be weird for them to think of the multiple ways their income will be reduced under this system. In addition to government regulations on fees they can charge, they'll be taxed at a higher rate, and will very likely have to work more hours with more patients coming to see them for non-essential treatments because it will supposedly be so cheap.

You have to think such a system will de-motivate some pretty bright people from being doctors. This can't be good for our country's health care situation.

In general the health care crisis in the United States isn't about the quality of care that is available. Where else would you want to live when facing a medical crisis? The problem is cost. Right? There has to be a better way than Obama is promoting.

Is there a fool left who thinks the federal government can improve the quality and efficiency of anything? Thankfully the most recent polls show support for this wrong-headed plan slipping. It is true as the President so often says- we cannot afford to nothing. But it is more true that we cannot afford to do what he suggests.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Wrestle while you can

This past week an seminary colleague and friend died after a decade long battle with a rare form of cancer. Dan LaGue was only 46 but he packed more eternal value in to those years than many people who have been able to live much longer.

Dan committed to serve Christ as a missionary around the time he was 20 years old. He served with Campus Crusade for Christ for the rest of his life. He travelled abroad to many places but seemed fixed on Hungary as the place God would have him stay for some time. Instead he was diagnosed with cancer less than 2 years after moving to Hungary and returned to the States for treatment, but he didn't stop ministry. He actually enrolled in grad school to further his theological training. I met him at Covenant Seminary where we were classmates around 1997. Shortly after I moved to Kansas City he came also and continued on staff at Campus Crusade, teaching at various local churches, including a Church History course at Redeemer, all the while waging an ongoing battle against cancer. Dan and Carol enrolled all their children at Westminster so I have been able to see them regularly. Coaching two of their sons has been a real treat. To be sure, Dan wasn't scared of dying, nor did he resent God's Will for His life. Some people pay lip service to the Sovereignty of God, others live it. Dan did the latter. In the midst of his experience he wrote a great little brochure on dealing with affliction to comfort people struggling like he was. I have multiple copies and have given it out many times.

Dan had a tremendous wife, loving extended family, church family, and many ministry colleagues and friends. Despite the fitting grief of the moment, there was a clear, unmistakable, underlying joy about Dan's homegoing this week, especially at the visitation last night and memorial service earlier today. I only knew Dan slightly compared to so many others, but I am thankful for my contact with him these past 10 plus years.

Something in particular struck me today as I sat in the memorial service contemplating the riches of eternity with Christ against the backdrop of our temporal earthly existence and the pain of being separated from one we love. I was struck with my need to live every second for eternity.

You might think living for eternity means studying the bible more, teaching better, preaching more profoundly, sharing Christ with more people, etc. While those things are eternally significant and part of my life and calling, they are not the only activities of eternal significance. The man who led the memorial service spoke of how Dan loved to wrestle and play with his three boys (yep, Dan has three sons...that hits home). In the last few years Dan was too weak to wrestle with them. How he would have loved to wrestle with his boys just a few more times! Not so much for his sake, but for his sons sake. Don't get me wrong, as his young sons mature (his youngest is 8 years old) they will look at their father's time with fondness and appreciation, despite how short it was. Dan did everything he could for his family, so it's not like he squandered opportunities. Even as recently as a few months ago he had friends wheel his hospital bed in to the Westminster Gym to see his middle son play a basketball game. That was the last time I got to talk to him. He laid in his bed at the end of the gym watching his son play. Dan squeezed all the juice out of life he could, his sons will remember that.

So this is what I'm taking from today, among other things- I need to wrestle with my sons while I can.

None of us will live one second less or more than God ordains, but while we have breath, let each of us remember that people are eternal, meaning they will live forever. Spending time with the ones we love and are called to disciple is always a good use of the time God is giving us. Many times when my little boys say "Dad, will you play with me" or "Dad, let's wrestle" I will say "Not now...I'm tired...I'm busy...etc.". Thanks to Dan, I'm going to do my best to not put them off.

I'm going to wrestle while I can.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ridiculous double standard, etc.

This shows how ridiculous things have gotten on several levels. First, the racism of Boxer's approach. Imagine if a Republican took this kind of angle with someone? Second, the foolish way "green" philosophy is driving the spending of money.

There's more...see for yourself.

Thanks Roger!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blanco does it again

Blanco is my favorite player in MLS. At age 37 he is still full of tricks and while he doesn't go a full 90 minutes as much as he used to, he still figures in to many Chicago Fire wins.

Yesterday the Chicago Fire advanced to the Superliga final (a tournament made up of U.S. and Mexican clubs) with the free kick goal below. He also assisted on the Fire's first goal by Brian McBride.

To the lay person this goal may look unspectacular. To anyone who is familiar with the art of free kicks, it's a thing of beauty.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

American League Dominance

While not a big fan of "All Star" games, I enjoy any event that reminds me of the Yankees historical dominance. Last night's American League All Star win over the National League was a warm reminder of the general superiority of the American League and by extension, the awesome franchise that is the New York Yankees.

The American League won its 13th All Star game in a row 4-3 last night with the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, throwing the final pitch to seal the deal. Making the win extra sweet was the venue- the "new" Busch Stadium, home of the only National League franchise that may deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Yankees. Ah yes...the Yankees...

In case you have forgotten or happen to be sadly under informed, Wikipedia gives it straight- the New York Yankees of the American League have played in 39 of the 104 Series through 2008 and have won 26 World Series championships, the most of any Major League franchise and exactly one quarter of all World Series titles won to date. For the National League, the Dodgers have appeared in the Series the most at 18 times (9 each in Brooklyn and Los Angeles), but have won the Series only 6 times (once as Brooklyn, five times as Los Angeles). The St. Louis Cardinals have represented the National League 17 times and have won 10 championships, which is the second most of any Major League Team. The Chicago Cubs have the longest streak of not winning the World Series, with their last championship coming in 1908.

Think about it- the team with the second most championships (St. Louis) in Major League Baseball has barely over one third of the Yankees total winnings.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gluttony, Body Image, Health, Self-control, etc.

To be honest and frank, I'm glad the sin of gluttony is allowed in the church. I've struggled with it most of my life.

About two years ago I tipped the scales at my highest weight ever, 240 pounds (pic on the left). At that time I started to commit my eating habits to the Lord with the accountability of some people I trusted. Over the past 24 months my weight has gone up and down, but my basic eating and exercise habits have improved and the overall trend in my body weight has been downward.

This morning during a physical I weighed in at 195 (pic on the right from last Thurs.), a milestone I haven't experienced in over 13 years- the last time I was under 200 pounds. I feel healthy and exercise discipline is going well right now, but I still struggle with making food an idol.

Here's an interesting observation about all this- Today on Facebook I listed my status as having achieved the goal of getting under 200 pounds for the first time in 13 years. In response several friends said "Great job!" and "Keep it up". It's the "keep it up" part that intrigues me. How does one interpret such an encouragement? It brings a chuckle because I know people are totally well-meaning, but are they saying "Great...but don't stop, you really need to lose more"? Maybe they mean "Well now, that's good, but dude, you're still pretty pudgy"?

I just find body image issues so interesting. I don't think I have ever been terribly insecure about being "husky" (I even had "Toughskin" jeans that said so when a kid), it's been my lack of control about how much I eat that has convicted me constantly. So discovering that I apparently still look like I need to lose weight is downright interesting to me. Am I making too much of this? My heart rate, blood work, and blood pressure were right where they need to be, but I apparently don't look like it? I can run circles around several skinny people I know, but apparently I still don't look just right?

The truth is, the charts tell me I should be 175 for my height. I haven't been that weight since my second year of college. I think staying under 200 is a difficult but possible goal. My past tells me this will be a constant struggle. So, I don't write this post with any sense of finishing a goal but rather noting an interesting phenomenon about the way we view ourselves and possibly the way others see us. I also post this as an encouragement for those who like me, struggle greatly with self-control in the area of food. Any periods of victory over the temptation to over-eat are opportunities to praise God and ask for continued grace.

Great time at Horn Creek

For the third straight year our family enjoyed a great time of refreshment and fellowship at Horn Creek.

In addition to five families from Redeemer coming, Shari's parents and brothers came.

Highlights included white-water rafting, climbing Horn Peak again, hiking every day, and absolutely destroying Shari on the hanging log.
I could not recommend Horn Creek family camp more highly.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jesse Lee Peterson on Michael Jackson's death

I don't know much about Jesse Lee Peterson, but check out what he said recently-

In the days following Michael's death, his father, Joe Jackson, held a press conference with none other than Al "The Riot King" Sharpton. Sharpton took center stage and babbled about the need to protect Jackson's legacy and focus on the "positive." This race hustler was up to his old tricks of using code language to tell blacks that, after all, Michael Jackson was black, and we can't let white folks question his character or bizarre behavior.Sharpton then took to the podium at the Staples Center during Michael Jackson's memorial and proclaimed in a phony loud preachy tone, "Michael taught the world how to love." He said to the Jackson children, "There wasn't nothin' strange about your daddy, it was strange what your daddy had to deal with" (i.e. racism).
We've seen this before with O.J. Simpson. Every time a black man is exposed or publicly rebuked, so-called black leaders begin to stoke the flames of racial animosity. In this case, celebrities like Jamie Foxx played the race card. Foxx said of Michael Jackson during a recent appearance at the BET Awards, "We want to celebrate this black man – he belongs to us – and we shared him."What if when Elvis Presley died, a white person got on TV and said, "This white man – he belongs to us." See how ridiculous that sounds?
It's 2009 and most, not all, black people have become the real racists. Over the past 50 years or so, whites have confronted and come to terms with whatever issues they had regarding race, and they have largely overcome those issues. Many blacks, on the other hand, have nursed their anger over real or perceived injustices of the past and seriously hate white people.It's unfortunate that the Jackson family has allowed race to be an issue by selecting a race hustler like Sharpton to become their spokesman.Sharpton is a one-trick pony. He's not concerned about the Jackson family or about giving the tormented soul of Michael Jackson a respectable memorial. He's after money and self-promotion. This desolate and empty shell of a man who has made a fortune blaming "whitey" has nothing to offer but racially divisive words. Blacks mocked Jackson for disfiguring his face with plastic surgery. Now, Sharpton, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jamie Foxx and others want America to respect and recognize this "black" man? Give me a break!Sharpton is already calling on the U..S. government to commemorate Jackson with a U.S. postage stamp. This is sick and godless! There are plenty of real heroes more deserving who've sacrificed for this great nation. We have soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan bleeding and dying, their remains returning home with no fanfare or recognition.
Too many black people are morally bankrupt and lack God in their lives, so they're treating the deceased Jackson as the third coming of the Messiah. (Barack Obama being the second!)Michael Jackson was many things – "hero" wasn't one of them. I'd never buy his stamp!

CNN is so lame

I readily admit there is no such thing as an unbiased news source but here's another example of why CNN is so terribly lame.

Most people will remember President Bush's visit to Africa a few years back where the various news outlets showed repeated video of him dancing with African greeting parties. That's how they roll in Africa when a foreign head of state visits. So Obama goes to Africa recently and receives the exact same kind of welcome and CNN's host makes it sound like it was a unique, even "unprecedented", display to welcome the "chosen one" to Africa. What a joke CNN is.

I love the response he gets from Mabuse.

Happy 500th!!!

Now let us fall down before the majesty of our great God, acknowledging our faults, and praying that he would make us more conscious of them, so that we are led to true repentance. May we continue to tremble before his throne, and be confounded within ourselves; yet still assured that he accepts us in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The remission of our sins is guaranteed if we seek it in true faith, without stepping aside to the right hand or to the left. We must follow the way that he has shown us, and we cannot go astray if the Sun of Righteousness lights our path. May he show this grace, not only to us, but to all peoples and nations on earth. - John Calvin

In my absence a most profound anniversary took place- the 500th year since John Calvin's birth.

Calvin was born on July 10, 1509. He was French by birth but carried out the bulk of his ministry in Geneva, Switzerland. In my opinion John Calvin was the greatest of the 16th Century Reformers and one of the greatest minds God ever placed in His Church. I never go one week without reading something from one should.

Friday, July 3, 2009

See you in a Week

My family is heading to Horn Creek Family Camp in Westcliffe, Colorado where I'll be speaking to a great group of family campers.

Lord willing, I'll blog at you when I return.

The Council of Orange on Grace

Caesarea of Arles who presided over the Second Council of Orange in 529 AD

I am a student of Church History. My recent reading and studies are focusing on the period between 500 and 1000 AD. On one hand the legalization of Christianity under Constantine (313 AD) was a good thing- less persecution for professing believers, an opportunity for the Church to gather itself organizationally, and a general expansion of it's outreach. On the other hand, after Constantine there seems to have been a decline in biblical scholarship (coinciding with the overall cultural decline and fall of Rome) and a growing lust for power by various ecclesiastical leaders, particularly regional bishops. While the subject of a future post, the notion of a prime bishop or "Pope" comes from this wrestling for power among bishops. When tracking the preservation and promotion of the biblical doctrines of grace, the years between 500 and 1000 are generally dark. There is at least one profound, encouraging exception where the biblical doctrines of grace are rightly discerned in the midst of a confused time.

The Second Council of Orange in 529 AD was an outgrowth of the controversy between Augustine and Pelagius from 120 years prior. To put it simply, this controversy had to do with the degree to which a human being is responsible for his or her own salvation, and the role of the grace of God in bringing about salvation. The Pelagians held that human beings are born in a state of innocence- that there is no such thing as a sinful nature or original sin.

The Council of Orange dealt with the Pelagian-fueled doctrine that the human race, though fallen and possessed of a sinful nature, is still "good" enough to able to lay hold of the grace of God through an act of unredeemed human will. The Council held to Augustine's view and repudiated Pelagius. Note one powerful statement by the Council of Orange-

If anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, or that we can be saved by assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the effectual work of the Holy Spirit, who makes all whom He calls gladly and willingly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray from the plain teaching of Scripture by exalting the natural ability of man, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, "For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, "Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God" (2 Cor. 3:5).

Despite this clear statement by various church leaders in 529 AD at Orange, the church drifted toward Pelagianism- a relatively common slide when biblical authority and sufficiency is neglected or marginalized by the "wisdom" of man. As the Roman Catholic Church grew in political power and influence it declined as an instrument of the grace of God that rightly handled the Word of Truth. Despite the above statement from Orange receiving "Papal Sanction", the doctrines of Pelagius gained more ground than those of Augustine during this 500 year period. Eventually, during the Reformation, the doctrines of Grace rightly understood at Orange were re-discovered.

Every era of the Church will struggle with a pull toward a man-centered "gospel" (which is no gospel at all). Despite this constant tug away from grace, God continuously grants reformation and revival making good on the promise of Christ to build His Church.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cell phone Karma

Apparently this has circulated for some time, but today's the first time I saw it. Thanks Roger!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


You could not have gone anywhere this week without getting a full dose of the life and career of Michael Jackson. Having grown up in the 80's all the clips of Jackson have brought back many memories.

Jackson was a tragic figure on many levels, but one thing can't be taken away from him- he was a phenomenal dancer, I dare say unmatched. Aside from the annoying crotch-grab, his moves were mesmerizing. Here's a short clip that captures some of his signature moves.