Saturday, March 31, 2012

The voting prowess of the state of Florida on (not so) brilliant display

I am posting this not to make a comment on the Trayvon Martin case, because I do not know the facts. It's a tragedy that a young man was killed, that much is for sure.

I am posting this because the CNN reporter does a great job with a bizarre interview.  It is also worth a look so you can fully understand the quality of the representatives being elected by some of our states.

You really do have to watch the whole thing to appreciate.

Wow Florida. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Timothy Cardinal Dolan on Religious freedom

Timothy Cardinal Dolan is the best thing to happen to the Roman Catholic Church in America in a long time. He is a stellar spokesperson for his church. Notice how "in touch" he is with his church and her relationship with the cultural trends and connected politics.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pelosi: Obamacare is "entrepreneurial".

Wow. So, quit your job and do "whatever"'ll still have health care (whatever that means any more). Desperate times in the good ole' U.S.A.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Carl F.H. Henry on Divine Revelation

I have just begun the last of my reading and writing assignments for my Doctor of Arts in Religion degree.  It is Carl Henry's six-volume magnum opus- God, Revelation, and Authority.  I have just started volume 1 and it's excellent.

A summary of Henry's basic thesis is found in this quotation from the late scholar-

"That if we humans say anything authentic about God, we can do so only on the basis of divine self-revelation; all other God-talk is conjectural."

HUGE Supreme Court Ruling today or tomorrow

Today the Supreme Court of the United States will be discussing and deciding how much power the federal government has in forcing Americans to purchase a product or enroll in a government program.

It has to do with President Obama's health care overhaul from two years ago and it will be one of the most important rulings the Supreme Court has ever made.

As a pastor-lawyer friend of mine just said, "This case has far greater implications than merely the expense, or even the hassle. If we can be forced to buy something by the government, it will never end. If you think that is a stretch, remember this: the case law that is purported to require 310 million Americans to purchase health insurance (likely 10% of their income per year), started with a farmer and a couple of chickens in the 1930s."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ambrose of Milan on Gold

The story of Ambrose is quite fascinating.  He was serving as governor of the region that included the city of Milan. At that time, in the mid fourth century, Milan was about as culturally important as Rome.  He was a brilliant, well-spoken, statesman.  Arianism (an anti-Trinitarian heresy that teaches Jesus is not God which undercuts the effect of Christ's substitutionary atonement among other things) was still plaguing parts of the church, particularly in Milan.  The death of the Bishop of Milan, who was given over to Arianism, prompted a huge argument about his replacement.  Ambrose went to Milan as a peacemaker and before he knew it, despite not having been baptized or recognized as a Christian officially, was petitioned to be the new bishop!!  After some time Ambrose agreed.  He was baptized and made Bishop of Milan.  Ambrose was already an skilled orator and within a relatively short time became an effective preacher of the Word and pastor of he people.  Augustine famously credits Ambrose with contributing to his own conversion to Christianity.

According to one account, shortly after Ambrose’s installation as bishop, the nearby region was ravaged by a band of Goths. Refugees flocked to Milan, and there was news of many captives for whom the Goths were demanding ransom. Ambrose’s response was to order that funds be raised for the refugees and for ransoming the captives by melting some of the golden vessels and other ornaments the church possessed. As you might guess, this created a storm of criticism. Note Ambrose’s response to his critics:

 “It is better to preserve for the Lord souls rather than gold. He who sent the apostles without gold also gathered the churches without gold. The church has gold, not to store it, but to give it up, to use it for those who are in need...It is better to keep the living vessels, than the golden ones.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

I haven't posted on anything related to politics lately.  The whole situation is just so depressing.  Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination and earn the right to run against President Obama next November.

If gas prices keep going up and unemployment goes over 9% right around election time, he can beat Obama. Otherwise, I think Obama will win quite easily. My gut is saying Obama will win again.

Frankly, Romney would only be a slight improvement over Obama...I think.

Here's a pretty funny parody.  Some of the material is off color and not for kids, but it's the kind of satire that I think makes a solid point worth noting.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Moody's new vision statement from Dr. Nyquist

I went to a relatively small college, compared to the state schools so many in our church have gone.  With March Madness upon us, the enthusiasm people have for their favorite colleges is at a fever pitch.  Personally, I've never gotten in to going crazy for a college, especially with the worldview condition of most state colleges today.  I know people are gung ho about their  Alma mater, mostly because it helps them professionally for their school to be prestigious I suppose?  For me, I'm as proud of Moody as any major university booster club president, but unfortunately for Moody, most of her alums don't go on to make lots of money to send back.  Despite turning out relatively poor (monetarily) alumni (the majority of Moody's graduates go in to some kind of vocational Christian services), they are largely donor based and offer a very affordable education for ministry students. People that are in some way touched by Moody's ministry, know her value and give.  In addition to the college and seminary, Moody also has a publishing house and huge radio ministry.

The big state schools and the prestigious ivy league colleges may boast of all sorts of worldly accolades, success, academic scholarship, and famous graduates, but when the scales of eternal significance are weighed, everyone will see the true value of a place like the school D.L. Moody founded.

For me, I'm proud to have gone to Moody Bible Institute and have never regretted going there for a second.  Frankly, I would be ecstatic if any of my children decided to go to Moody.  Moody is a great place for learning God's Word in relationship to God's world with a view to equip the church for reaching the globe for Jesus.  Of course, I like that Moody has a great soccer program also, they won the NCCAA II national title this year under my beloved coach, Joe Harding.

Moody is not Reformed, as such.  They are from the uniquely American brand of evangelicalism known as dispensationalism.  At the same time, regarding the doctrine of salvation, they are pretty Reformed.  There is some diversity on the faculty regarding the whole of Calvinism, but there are several Calvinists on faculty.  In my time there I got very little resistance to my Reformed views (after all, Reformed = Biblical...and Moody is a BIBLE institute)...from teachers anyways.  A Reformed Christian can navigate at Moody well enough and come out equipped with a strong knowledge of Scripture and a good introduction to theology. Additionally, and very importantly, Moody requires and encourages student involvement in local churches while they are students.  I taught Sunday School in an inner city, Hispanic church for one year, then helped start and lead a youth group for another three years at that same place.  Moody is in the heart of Chicago, so it's a shocker for rural or suburban students who come there, but a good shock.

Moody has lacked stability at the president position since Dr. Stowell left six or seven years ago.  Joe Stowell was a superb president and served for 20 years.  Michael Easley took his place, but health issues forced his resignation after just three years as president.  In 2009 Paul Nyquist was called to be he new president and he's been going after it hard for these last three years.  The video clip below is Dr. Nyquist's recent unveiling Moody's revamped mission and vision statement.  As an alum of Moody, I'm excited for where the school is going.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jonathan Hill comparing Calvin and Luther

I am reading Jonathan's fine book "The History of Christian Thought" where he offers this apt comparison of John Calvin and Martin Luther-

In almost every way Calvin was wildly different from Luther, a man he admired but never met.  Where Luther was passionate, charismatic and prone to exaggeration, Calvin was quiet and thoughtful, with a far more stable character.  His writings give no hint of profound personal struggles of the kind that plagued Luther.  He was also a generation younger than the German Reformer, and he inherited the central tenets of Protestantism rather than helping forge them.  

Where Luther was a fiery prophet, Calvin was a logical systematizer.  His great work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, remains the most important and influential work of Protestant dogmatics ever written.  

Calvin's theology was, in essence, the same as Luther's, especially in his insistence on Scripture alone as the basis of theology and practice.  But in systematizing and restating the Protestant faith, he gave it quite different emphases.  He believed more or less the same things as Luther, but not in quite the same way.  These different emphases would mean that Calvinism-the Reformed Church-would be quite distinct from Lutheranism.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Masterpiece Theater by Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi, at age 24, continues to out do himself.

Yesterday, in a Champion's League game, he scored five goals and added an assist. This has never been done in the history of Champion's League play. I think we are watching the greatest footballer to ever play, with all due respect to Pele and Maradona. Again, Messi is only 24. He has not hit prime.

<a href='' target='_new' title='Lionel Messi&#39;s record five-goal day' >Video: Lionel Messi&#39;s record five-goal day</a>

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kirk Cameron Kerfuffle

I have never seen a Kirk Cameron TV show or movie.  I don't suppose that will change despite a recent dust up over comments he made on the Piers Morgan show.

As a Christian, I really hate that we've become known as "anti-abortion" and "anti-gay" people.  All people have things they oppose or are against. It seems like only Christians are primarily labeled with the "anti" moniker.  I know it's because abortion and the gay issue are hot cultural topics and any bible-believing Christian will have a pretty strong view on these issues.  So Kirk Cameron does an interview to promote his new film-which has nothing to do with either of these issues- and the interviewer goes right to his position on homosexual practice.  How fair is that?  When Morgan interviews celebrities who have no problem being promiscuous and fathering all sorts of children out of wedlock, does he drill them with questions on that?

I grant there are some prominent Christian voices who disproportionately beat the anti-gay drum, but regarding Cameron's honest answer to an irrelevant question, why all the outrage?  Since when did speaking peacefully and politely about an ethical issue not fall under free speech?  Labeling a person "homophobic" because they happen to disagree with homosexual practice is a cheap tactic to end a legitimate, rational, discussion.  See my take on that here.

Anyways, Kirk Cameron released a statement (that I am sure he had help constructing) on Facebook worth reading-

I recently was asked to join Piers Morgan on CNN for an interview about my new film “Monumental.” During that discussion, I was asked to express my views about homosexuality, gay marriage, and abortion. While that was not the agreed-upon purpose of the interview, I was pleased to answer Piers’ questions as honestly as I could. 

In some people’s eyes, my responses were not sufficiently "loving" toward those in the gay community. I can only say that it is my life's mission to love all people, and that I expressed the same views that are expressed clearly and emphatically throughout the Judeo-Christian scriptures. As a Bible believing Christian, I could not have answered any other way. I’ve been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally) in the wake of condemnation by some political advocacy groups. 

In the case of one of my gay friends, we regularly talk and have healthy and respectful debate. We learn from each other, and serve others alongside one another. I thank God for all of my friends...even when they hold very different views on issues of faith and morality. I do not, however, believe that the right way to advance our views is to resort to name-calling and personal attacks, as some have done to me. 

I also believe that freedom of speech and freedom of religion go hand-in-hand in America. I should be able to express moral views on social issues--especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years--without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach "tolerance" that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square. 

I hope more than a few people could see the large volume of secularist morality being imposed on me. In any society that is governed by the rule of law, some form of morality is always imposed. It's inescapable. But it is also a complicated subject, and that is why I believe we need to learn how to debate these things with greater love and respect. To the thousands of you who have written me letters of encouragement... thank you! And to those who would like know how to further your support, please gather your friends and family, and join me as I seek to show you our true “National Treasure,” at the live, nationwide viewing of “Monumental” on Tuesday, March 27th ( Sincerely, Kirk

Monday, March 5, 2012

Happy Birthday A.J.!

Today is my eldest son's birthday. He turns 13. Wow, I am old. 

Dear A.J., 

The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but God’s mercy and kindness will not depart from you. 
Neither will the covenant of His peace be removed from you. 
May God supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory. 

 Love, Dad

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Two funny things happened to us on the way to Presbytery...

So, a bunch of us elders from RPC headed down to Wichita for our quarterly Presbytery meeting and the funniest two things happened to us...Good thing Scott Creecy is such a good driver!!

The girly screaming you hear in the above clip was from Pastor Brian Hough while holding Elder Travis Shanahan tightly as he prepared to die.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The interesting role of Andrew Breitbart

Andrew Breitbart died suddenly yesterday.  He made his mark chiefly as a blogger, but most certainly deserved the title of journalist.  I wouldn't endorse Andrew Breitbart's worldview but I greatly appreciated the role he played in American culture.  The man was fearless and principled.  These are virtues largely missing today.

Breitbart wouldn't stand for the monopoly of perspective dominating and controlling most of the mainstream media. He refused to be silent while a certain ideology seemed to shape the public and political narrative of the country.  He described himself as a Reagan conservative with an affinity toward libertarianism.  That resonates with me.

On a much deeper level, I hope he moved away from his Jewish faith upbringing and embraced Christ as Savior before he died.  Only God knows.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thankful for a spiritual oasis...

We are well in to 2012 and I'm still reeling from 2011 (even a bit of 2010!).

The last two years have been about as turbulent as Shari and I can remember. The challenging economic times have certainly made church life more complex, so that’s on my mind. My knee injury and surgery in late 2010 has really altered my activity level, something I am still trying to figure out quite honestly.

Then, it has been a strangely unsettled time for us since the passing of my father in May. I still get pretty sad about it regularly. We are trying to sell my mother’s house and our house in order to buy something for all of us to live together. Mom will need her space and we’ll need ours, so we're trusting God for just the right place. We are excited about the prospective move-not the moving process itself-but being in a more suitable place. Of course, this is a tough time to sell a house.

We are also in the final stages, Lord willing, of adopting our foster baby (who's now an unbelievably cute toddler). She has been such a blessing to our family! I have to chuckle every once and a while about having her. I told Shari after Jordan was born, “We’re done”!  My father was 40 when he had me, I always told myself I wanted to have my children younger, before my thirties if possible. Well, here I am at forty (and a half) with a little baby girl. The Lord does have a sense of humor. After this, we’ll still do foster care, but we’re done with having our own! Did I just say that?

I am also in the final sections of research and writing to complete my Doctor of Arts in Religion. This doctorate has been the most challenging intellectual exercise I have ever undertaken, I underestimated how much time I would have to devote in relation to my ministry responsibilities, but it has been tremendous for my personal study discipline. I would very much like to finish it in 2012.

Add to these things our oldest son is turning thirteen next Monday. He asked me to get him an electric shaver for his developing whiskers. Wow! Did I mention I am 40 (and a half)?

There’s so much going on with us, how about you?

Do you know what is such a joy and comfort in the midst of feeling so unsettled? Our church family. We find Redeemer to be such an oasis for our souls. No matter what is swirling around us, there is a steadiness and regularity about our church life and family that is reassuring and encouraging. Each Monday when I come in to the office, I can’t wait to crack open my bible to the gospel of Mark and get fired up for the next Sunday. All the ministry stuff that happens during the week invigorates me. Sure there are frustrations. Yes I feel stressed at times. I’m sure we all experience these things. At the end of the day, on those occasions when Shari and I can relax after putting the kids to bed, we look at each other with a sense of gratitude for how God has called us and placed our family here.