Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I love Chick-fil-A

The Jesus Story Book

This is by far the BEST children's Bible devotional i have ever seen. I have been through it with our kids three times and will probably read it to them again this year. This book is so good i would even recommend it to adults to read. it does something no other devotional does - it ties every Bible story back to Jesus. Awesome! It shows how every story in the Bible is about Jesus. Here is a short video that explains it

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Top Ten Books of 2009

Best Books of the Year

Ok I read a lot of books each year & I don't even remember which ones I have read this year or not but I a looked at my 2009 reading pile and tried to give you a top ten. (I would be glad to loan you any of these books)

1. Money, Greed, and God "Why Capitalism is the solution and not the problem" by Jay Richards

Maybe I am just an idiot when it comes to how the economy works but this book was very enlightening & informative - especially given the times we are in! The book is structured around 8 common myths of capitalism like: "Isn't capitalism based on greed?" and "Doesn't Capitalism lead to an ugly consumerist culture?" Jay Richards, the author, is from Acton Institute that is producing some excellent stuff from a Christian worldview (see also Acton's "Environmental Stewardship")

2. Counterfeit gods "The empty promises of money, sex, and power, and the only hope that matter "by Tim Keller

Tim Keller is, hands down, my favorite preacher to listen to right now. I probably have 200 of his sermons on my iPod right now. His three books: The Reason for God, Prodigal God, and Counterfeit gods, are all excellent, but you really need to hear him preach. Unfortunately his sermons will cost you 2.50 to download! But there are some free downloads on his site. God to -sermons store

3. 5 Cities that Ruled the World "How Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, & New York shaped Global history by Douglas Wilson

I first heard about Doug Wilson when he was debating Christopher Hitchens (see the excellent documentary "Collision") and I was very impressed with him. On a whim I picked one of his books that looked most interesting & it turned out to be excellent. Needless to say I we be picking up more of his books this year.

4. (tie) Total Truth "Liberating Christianity from its cultural captivity" by Nancy Pearcey & I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist by Fran Turek

Both of these books are re-reads for me so maybe they don’t belong on the list but I spent so much time in them this year I thought they should be on my list. As for apologetic & worldview books these two are 'musts' in my opinion

5. Unlikely Disciple "A sinner's semester at America's holiest university" by Kevin Roose

As someone who went to three Christian institutions of higher learning (names left out to protect the innocent) this book was hilarious & so powerful. It is about an atheist student at Brown univ. who decides to transfer to Liberty Univ (did I say o would leave names out?) to write a book about all the backward, hate filled, crazy evangelical Christians he met. He was very surprised that most of the students were normal and in fact he liked them! He does not come to faith & many of his conclusions are shockingly naïve & elitist but as one who spent a semester at Liberty it was a great read.

6. (tie) The unfolding Mystery & Preaching Christ in all of Scripture both by Edmund Clowney

These two seminal books really opened my eyes to seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. They lead to a 8 week sermon series on 'seeing Christ in the OT." It was like a whole new world was opened up to me when I read these books. The entire Bible is about Jesus Christ.

7. God is Back "How the global revival of faith is changing the world" by John Mickletwait & Adrian Wooldridge

This book is so valuable because it is not written from a Christians' point of view. One is a nominal catholic and the other an atheist, both work for the 'Economist' magazine. I think the book was first written as a counter to Hitchens & Harris & Dawkin's attacks on Christianity. But here is a excellent reply not form within the 'Christian camp' but from outside observers that see validity and excellences of Christianity.

8. Evening in the palace of the King "Bach meets Fredrick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment" by James Gaines

Gaines does an excellent job not just contrasting Bach with Fredrick but more importantly contrasting the Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment. I knew very little about Bach and nothing about Fredrick before I read this book and learned so much about them & their times.

9. The search for God and Guinness: a biography of the beer that changed the world by Stephen Mansfield

I just finished this book this week and it was excellent. How many of us know the history of beer? Arthur Guinness was a committed Christian who started hundreds of Sunday Schools all over Ireland, funded hospitals & orphanages, and treated his employees to free health care! He was greatly influenced by Wesley & Whitfield. I've always liked drinking Guinness and now that I have read this it is now my favorite beer (sorry Blue Moon).

10. Columbine by Dave Cullen

This is the definitive work on the terrible Columbine tragedy. Can you believe it has been 10 years since this happened! And now this book comes out to put all the details in order but still no answer of how Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris could have done such a thing. Cullen reports that Harris was most probably a psychopath and Klebold suffered from depression but the reader is still left with many questions at the end of the book.

Well there you have it. Let me know what you think.

Christmas Witness

In yesterday's sermon we talked about Anna in Luke 2:36-38. She was devoted to Worship, Waiting & Witness (you have to love the alliteration - its what tall those years in Bible school taught me!) I closed with our Christmas witness & used Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas special as our example. Here is the clip I was talking about. (can you believe they still show this in my son's school! How did this slip by?)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oral Roberts

As many of you know Oral Roberts passed away this week. There is not too much i know about him, except one story about him locking himself in some tower until someone donated millions of dollars because God told him to. (not sure is it is a true story or not) But i came across this excellent reflection by Albert Mohler president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

here is his conclusion
(read the whole thing here:

"But the greatest tragedy in all this is the perpetuation of prosperity theology, passed on by Oral Roberts to a new generation. I am thankful for every sinner who came to know the Gospel of Christ through the preaching of Oral Roberts, and I heard him preach about salvation in ways that were true and powerful. But I can only lament the prosperity theology that he leaves in his long shadow."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Matthew's Begats

A few Sundays ago i played Andrew Perterson's "Matthew's Begats" the whole album is really good - its called 'behold the Lamb of God' and this is coming from someone who usually hates christmas music

Just added to my reading list for 2010

youtube video on the book "Signiture in the Cell" by Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Saw these two articles on the Drudge Report tonight
seems some hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit
and found all this damning evidence about global warming
check them out

Pictures from Haiti

Here are some photos from Haiti i took with my phone
(& yes i had good reception most of the time)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mission Trip to Haiti

Tammy & I and a Team of about 15 from our church are off to Haiti tomorrow. Please pray for us and our team. I will be preaching Sunday in Bon Repos, a town about an hour north outside Port-au-Prince. The team will also be running a dental clinic & a medical clinic in the mountains.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Abby Johnson, Fighting for Life

Two Reviews

Collision: Well first off this is not really a debate but more of a documentary on several debates. It switches from venue to venue, following a theme or question not a particular debate. The overall question that is brought up again and again (did they repeat the same debate each night?!?) is the basis for morality. Hitchens, the atheist, has a well developed morality but claims it does not come from God but was passed on by evolution. And somehow this evolutionary morality applies to all people in all places. He repeated goes back to the OT story of Israel whipping out the Amlikites & claims this genocide shows God is really wicked. Murder is wrong because evolution says so?!? To which Wilson consistently & rightly replies "Why do you care?" How can an atheist have universal binding moral principles for all people? Wilson says in one clip that Hitchens is getting into the theist's car  and driving it into a tree!
Taking the Thesit of Christian's morality and judging them by it! Which is fine if you admit you got morality from God in the first place.

It is excellent & I highly recommended it - only drawback is that it is a bit too long (90 min) and at times the editing is jumpy & disconnected. The viewer cannot always stay wit hthe editing. the editing might be a bit too 'cool.' The movie really makes me want to watch a full debate between these two without any editing.

Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller is really one of the best books I have read this year. Here are sonme quotes:

“The human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.”

"We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life.”

"We never imagine that getting our heart's deepest desires might be the worst thing that can ever happen to us."

"If we are not willing to hurt our career in order to do God's will, our job will become a counterfeit god."

What then is an idol? “It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”

How to beat an idol: "Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol...If you uproot the idol and fail to 'plant' the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back."

"The idol of success cannot be just expelled, it must be replaced. The human heart's desire for a particular valuable object may be conquered, but its need to have some such object is unconquerable.

How do you tell if you have idols?

1. Look at your imagination. What do you think about in the privacy of your heart?
2. Look at how you spend your money. Patterns of spending reveal idols.
3. Look at what you are really living for. What is your real–not professed–god?
4. Look at your most uncontrollable emotions. When you pull your emotions up by the roots, you will often find your idols clinging to them.

This is a nice short book packed with profound Biblical truth.  I think it would make a great sermon series..........

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

9 Ways to know the Gospel of Christ is True

9 Ways to Know the Gospel of Christ Is True

November 6, 2009 By: John Piper

1. Jesus Christ, as he is presented to us in the New Testament, and as he stands forth from all its writings, is too single and too great to have been invented so uniformly by all these writers.
The force of Jesus Christ unleashed these writings; the writings did not create the force. Jesus is far bigger and more compelling than any of his witnesses. His reality stands behind these writings as a great, global event stands behind a thousand newscasters. Something stupendous unleashed these diverse witnesses to tell these stunning and varied, yet unified, stories of Jesus Christ.

2. Nobody has ever explained the empty tomb of Jesus in the hostile environment of Jerusalem where the enemies of Jesus would have given anything to produce the corpse, but could not.
The earliest attempts to cover the scandal of resurrection were manifestly contradictory to all human experience—disciples do not steal a body (Matthew 28:13) and then sacrifice their lives to preach a glorious gospel of grace on the basis of the deception. Modern theories that Jesus didn't die but swooned, and then awoke in the tomb and moved the stone and tricked his skeptical disciples into believing he was risen as the Lord of the universe don't persuade.

3. Cynical opponents of Christianity abounded where claims were made that many eyewitnesses were available to consult concerning the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
"After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:6). Such claims would be exposed as immediate falsehood if they could. But we know of no exposure. Eyewitnesses of the risen Lord abounded when the crucial claims were being made.

4. The early church was an indomitable force of faith and love and sacrifice on the basis of the reality of Jesus Christ.
The character of this church, and the nature of the gospel of grace and forgiveness, and the undaunted courage of men and women—even unto death—do not fit the hypothesis of mass hysteria. They simply were not like that. Something utterly real and magnificent had happened in the world and they were close enough to know it, and be assured of it, and be gripped by its power. That something was Jesus Christ, as all of them testified, even as they died singing.

5. The prophesies of the Old Testament find stunning fulfillment in the history of Jesus Christ.
The witness to these fulfillments are too many, too diverse, too subtle and too interwoven into the history of the New Testament church and its many writings to be fabricated by some great conspiracy. Down to the details, Jesus Christ fulfilled dozens of Old Testament prophecies that vindicate his truth.

6. The witnesses to Jesus Christ who wrote the New Testament gospels and letters are not gullible or deceitful or demented.
This is manifest from the writings themselves. The books bear the marks of intelligence and clear-headedness and maturity and a moral vision that is compelling. They win our trust as witnesses, especially when all taken together with one great unifying, but distinctively told, message about Jesus Christ.

7. The worldview that emerges from the writings of the New Testament makes more sense out of more reality than any other worldview.
It not only fits the human heart, but also the cosmos and history and God as he reveals himself in nature and conscience. Some may come to this conclusion after much reflection, others may arrive at this conviction by a pre-reflective, intuitive sense of the deep suitability of Christ and his message to the world that they know.

8. When one sees Christ as he is portrayed truly in the gospel, there shines forth a spiritual light that is a self-authenticating.
This is "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 4:6), and it is as immediately perceived by the Spirit-awakened heart as light is perceived by the open eye. The eye does not argue that there is light. It sees light.

9. When we see and believe the glory of God in the gospel, the Holy Spirit is given to us so that the love of God might be "poured out in our hearts" (Romans 5:5).
This experience of the love of God known in the heart through the gospel of Him who died for us while we were yet ungodly assures us that the hope awakened by all the evidences we have seen will not disappoint us.

Thoughts on Ft. Hood Terrorist

It is amazing how all the media (I've seen at least) have refused to call Major Hasan a terrorist - and refuse to link any thing back to his Muslim faith.  Even in the face of the overwhelming evidence. 

Dr. Phil quoted in WSJ
shocked Dr. Phil, appalled that the guest had publicly mentioned Maj. Hasan's Islamic identity, went on to present what was, in essence, the case for Maj. Hasan as victim. Victim of deployment, of the Army, of the stresses of a new kind of terrible war unlike any other we have known. Unlike, can he have meant, the kind endured by those lucky Americans who fought and died at Iwo Jima, say, or the Ardennes?

The quality and thrust of this argument was best captured by the impassioned Dr. Phil, who asked us to consider, "how far out of touch with reality do you have to be to kill your fellow Americans . . . this is not a well act." And how far out of touch with reality is such a question, one asks in return—not only of Dr. Phil, but of the legions of commentators like him immersed in the labyrinths of motive hunting even as the details of Maj. Hasan's proclivities became ever clearer and more ominous.
To kill your fellow Americans—as many as possible, unarmed and in the most helpless of circumstances, while shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great), requires, of course, only murderous hatred—the sort of mindset that regularly eludes the Dr. Phils of our world as the motive for mass murder of this kind.

The New York Times:
When Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan did that in Fort Hood, Tex., last week, many Americans had an understandable and, in some ways, admirable reaction. They didn’t want the horror to become a pretext for anti-Muslim bigotry.

So immediately the coverage took on a certain cast. The possibility of Islamic extremism was immediately played down. This was an isolated personal breakdown, not an ideological assault, many people emphasized.
Major Hasan was portrayed as a disturbed individual who was under a lot of stress. We learned about pre-traumatic stress syndrome, and secondary stress disorder, which one gets from hearing about other people’s stress. We heard the theory (unlikely in retrospect) that Hasan was so traumatized by the thought of going into a combat zone that he decided to take a gun and create one of his own.
A shroud of political correctness settled over the conversation. Hasan was portrayed as a victim of society, a poor soul who was pushed over the edge by prejudice and unhappiness.
There was a national rush to therapy. Hasan was a loner who had trouble finding a wife and socializing with his neighbors.
This response was understandable. It’s important to tamp down vengeful hatreds in moments of passion. But it was also patronizing. Public commentators assumed the air of kindergarten teachers who had to protect their children from thinking certain impermissible and intolerant thoughts. If public commentary wasn’t carefully policed, the assumption seemed to be, then the great mass of unwashed yahoos in Middle America would go off on a racist rampage.
Worse, it absolved Hasan — before the real evidence was in — of his responsibility. He didn’t have the choice to be lonely or unhappy. But he did have a choice over what story to build out of those circumstances. And evidence is now mounting to suggest he chose the extremist War on Islam narrative that so often leads to murderous results.
The conversation in the first few days after the massacre was well intentioned, but it suggested a willful flight from reality. It ignored the fact that the war narrative of the struggle against Islam is the central feature of American foreign policy. It ignored the fact that this narrative can be embraced by a self-radicalizing individual in the U.S. as much as by groups in Tehran, Gaza or Kandahar.
It denied, before the evidence was in, the possibility of evil. It sought to reduce a heinous act to social maladjustment. It wasn’t the reaction of a morally or politically serious nation.

Imagine if this was some crazy fundamentalist christian!?
Listen to Franky Schaffer say the real danger is middle age white American Christian men!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

No one laughs at God in a hospital

i saw this a few months ago and it really moved me

Prosperity Gospel on the Skids?

Interesting article in Christianity Today this week. Seems the health & wealth teaching in America is ‘suffering’ a bit.

But the spread of this teaching is still prevalent in places like Africa and Latin America. Check out this very telling video.

The Prosperity Gospel from The Global Conversation on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dinesh D'Souza VS Peter Singer

Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, is one of the most famous atheist in the world today. In my view he is by far the most consistent atheist out of all the famous Darwinian atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc). He actually carries his evolutionary thinking to its logical conclusions. He famously has said things like: a pig is more valuable that a human baby & parents should be able to kill their children up to 28 weeks after birth. I find him to be the best representative of atheism. He does not try and incorporate theistic moralism into his atheism.

Dinesh D'Souza looks like he is about 15 years old but is sharp as a tack and one of the best debaters & writers on a Christian world view today. His excellent book "What's so great about Christianity" is a mandatory resource for anyone serious about defending their faith. I stumbled on these debates on the web & they are excellent. Below is the opening statement from D'Souza - the rest of the debate is on yourtube or here:

Three reasons to root for the Yankees

Here are my top three reasons to root for the Yankees to win the World Series

1. If the Yankees win history tells us that it will turn the economy around

From the Wall Street Journal:
"Since 1930, the Yankees -- who would clinch their 27th World Series trophy with a win tonight -- have been a harbinger of average 5 percent GDP growth in years following a series victory."


" Win or lose, just an appearance by the Yankees in the World Series seems to foretell the next year’s growth. The economy grew an average of 4% in years after the Yankees lost the World Series. We’d also note that the last time the Yankees played the Phillies in the World Series (the Yankees won in four games) the economy grew a robust 7.7% the following year."

Read the whole things here:

2. If the Phillies win history tells us we are headed to more financial hardship

From the Philadelphia paper The Intelligencer
"The 2008 champion Phillies sparked the current economic turmoil and unemployment spike. Just as the Phils concluded their September run last year to overtake the Mets, the Dow Jones lost 778 points in the biggest single-day point loss ever, knocking out $1.2 trillion in market value"


"The annual deficit has increased by $1 trillion since Brad Lidge struck out Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske to clinch the 2008 World Series. With the team poised for another crown, President Barack Obama, the most famous White Sox fan, was asked about providing a potential bailout to the Yankees to thwart the Phillies attempt at baseball domination and economic annihilation.
"Hey, look over there, it's Fox news," the president replied.

Read the whole thing here:

3. The Biggest Reason

Derek Jeter
enough said

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Action Movie of the Year

The Documentary/Move - "Collision" came out this week
I have it on order
This trailer cracks me up
What type of movie is this?
looks like Quintin Tarrantino filmed it with the slow motion walking to the helicopter
Can't wait to see it

The difference between men & women

Book Reviews

"Evening in the Palace of Reason" by James Gaines was an excellent read. The only draw back for me was that I did not know all the music lingo like: cannon, or counter-point, or catabasis, or fugue.. you get the point - I am musically illiterate! But the really great thing about this book was the contrast between Fredrick the Great & Bach (the chapters alternate between the two) and how they both represent the clash of two very different worldviews. Bach was a product of the reformation, a deeply religious man that was hard as nails (he had terrible relationships with everyone especially his sons) and Fredrick who was a product of the enlightenment & the age of reason - severely abused as a child he turns into an exact image of his father. The book is centered on the one event in which Bach (a few years form death) is called on to play for Fredrick and unbeknownst to him Fredrick has written an impossibly complicated musical piece with three (count em three) fugues. Bach plays the piece perfectly on the spot basically blowing everyone away. Gaines writes very well and really brings history alive - if you can read it and not download a bunch of Bach's music (which I am listening to as I write this) you are a better person than me.

"The Reason for Sports" by Ted Kluck was a big disappointment. I thought it would be a Biblical argument for way sports is important - how God can use it to draw us to Him - and how we as Chriatians can participate to the glory of God and use it in a redemptive way. What it turned out to be was a complication of the author's articles in the Christian sport's magazine "Sports Spectrum." Plus Kluck comes across as very snug and not even a fan of the sports he is covering. He sounds judgmental & his cynical point of view wears on the reader. I was disappointed

"Angel Time" by Anne Rice was a quick read. I read it basically in one night (no World series Friday night) and it was pretty good. It was the story of a hit man turned assistant to an angel (I know sounds wacky). Rice writes about redemption & forgiveness even for Lucky the Fox who kills without remorse. It involves time travel & monks (but I don’t want to give it all away). It a good book to pick up when you want something fun & engaging but there is a lot of violence depicted in it. I am interested how it will be received because of its very strong message of redemption & its obvious Christian bent.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From Vampires to Jesus

Anne Rice is best know for her vampire novels which introduced the vampire Lastat. Think of the Tom Cruise & Brad Pitt movie "Interview with a Vampire." She wrote around 20 or so vampire & witch books. But recently she has been writing about Jesus. Two excellent books on Jesus "Out of Egypt" and "Road to Cana" trace Jesus' childhood to adulthood. Her third book on the life opf Christ "The Kingdom of Heaven" is due out shortly. She has also written "Called Out of Darkness" about her own spiritual journey.

From the Publisher's Weekly:
When Anne Rice stopped crafting stories about vampires and began writing about Jesus, many of her fans were shocked. This autobiographical spiritual memoir provides an account of how the author rediscovered and fully embraced her Catholic faith after decades as a self-proclaimed atheist. Rice begins with her childhood in New Orleans, when she seriously considered entering a convent. As she grows into a young adult she delves into concerns about faith, God and the Catholic Church that lead her away from religion. The author finally reclaims her Catholic faith in the late 1990s, describing it as a movement toward total surrender to God. She writes beautifully about how through clouds of doubt and pain she finds clarity, realizing how much she loved God and desired to surrender her being, including her writing talent, to God. Covering such a large sequence of time and life events is not easy, and some of the author's transitions are a bit jarring. Fans of Rice's earlier works will enjoy discovering more about her life and fascinating journey of faith. (Oct. 7)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

In the appendix to "Out of Egypt" she list her Biblical influences which include: N.T. Wright, D.A. Carson, Craig Bloomberg, & St. Augustine

She is quoted in the Wall Street Journal Nov 12, 2005. Talking about the extensive research she did on the historical Christ by reading the works of the most respected scholars. She was amazed at how weak their arguments were:
(referenced in Keller "Reason for God" p.99)
Some books were no more that assumptions piled on assumptions…. Conclusions were reached on the basis of little or no data at all… The whole case for the non-divine Jesus who stumbled into Jerusalem and somehow got crucified … that whole picture which had floated around the liberal circles I frequented as an atheist for thirty years - that case was not made. Not only was it not made, I discovered in this field some of the worst and most biased scholarship I'd ever read.

Check out her own website here:

I just picked up her newest book "Angel Time" and am excited to read it.
Kirkus review writes:
"Time travel, ultraviolence and medieval madness—divine intervention rendered fantastically by Rice... With two marvelous reimaginings of the Gospels and a spiritual autobiography recently extending her range, Rice revisits the shadows of her vampire classics; now, however, with her return to Catholicism, her sinners vie for redemption... Angelically inspiring. Devilishly clever."

How to Guard against False Teachers

Spotted this on the web this week
& thought it went well with last Week's Sermon:

Last Week's Sermon Text:

2 Timothy 3:12-16
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

How do we guard against False Teachers? The Scriptures!

More on Benny Hinn here:

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Wall of Separation between Religion & Sports?

Two weeks ago USA TODAY ran this article on religion & its influence in sports. The writer is afraid of Christians who believe the 'far right theology' of eternal punishment for those who die apart from faith in Jesus Christ.
Again we are seeing the systematic & deliberate push to get all things 'Christian' out of the public sphere. Religion belongs in private & what right do we have to be public with what we believe! Christians are intolerant if we do not believe like the writer & what he says is 65% of Americans. Or perhaps he is being intolerant pushing his view on Christians!?
I am reminded what a former professional football player told me once. When he was in High School he was the only Christian on his team, in college many of his team mates were believers and by the time he was a pro player almost the whole team claimed to be Christians.

How can the influence of Christianity be anything but good in the sports world?


"And I'd like to thank God Almighty"
(Article from USA TODAY - Monday Oct 12, 2009)
By Tom Krattenmaker

October is the sports fan's Promised Land.
America's pastime (baseball) enters its sprint toward the World Series, and the sport that is America's pastime in more than just name (football) has fans transfixed from coast to coast.

Anyone who watches pro and college football or follows the drama of the baseball playoffs can't help but notice something else that often competes for our attention amid the passes, pitches and home runs: religion..

Players point skyward to the Almighty after reaching the end zone or home plate, star athletes voice thanks and praise to their savior after a big win, and sports heroes use their media spotlight to promote the Christian message. (See University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his eye-black, touting Scripture.)These are the outward signs of a faith surge that has made big-time sports one of the most outwardly religious sectors of American culture.

Far less visible, but worth knowing about, are the infrastructure and strategy of the sports-world evangelicalism that powers these pious displays. Athletes' expressions of Christian faith reflect decades of hard work by evangelical ministries to convert players and "coach" them to use their stature to promote a particular version of conservative Christianity.

Christian chaplains are embedded with all the teams in professional baseball, basketball and football — and many college teams as well — to provide religious counseling, Bible studies and chapel services. Given the misbehavior and self-seeking that plague sports, who could doubt the benefit of bringing moral guidance and a broader perspective to locker rooms and clubhouses?

The good with the bad

But Jesus' representatives in sports aren't just practicing faith. They are also leveraging sports' popularity to promote a message and doctrine that are out of sync with the diverse communities that support franchises, and with the unifying civic role that we expect of our teams. Typifying the exclusive creed taught by many sports-world Christians is the belief statement published by Baseball Chapel, which provides chaplains for all major- and minor-league baseball teams. Non-believers in Jesus, the ministry declares, can look forward to "everlasting punishment separated from God."

Urban Meyer, Tebow's coach at Florida, has praised his quarterback's faith-promoting ways as "good for college football ... good for young people ... good for everything." Such is the rhetoric usually heard from those who defend sports-world Christianity as wholesome and harmless.

But should we be pleased that the civic resource known as "our team" — a resource supported by the diverse whole through our ticket-buying, game-watching and tax-paying — is being leveraged by a one-truth evangelical campaign that has little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us?

Having researched and thought about Christianity in sports for the better part of a decade, I am impressed by the good that's done by sports-world Christians. Jesus-professing athletes are among the best citizens in their sector, and they commit good deeds daily in communities across this country.

These sports stars, like all Americans, have a right to express their faith.

Evangelical players and ministry representatives in sports aren't out to harm anyone, of course. On the contrary, they see themselves as fulfilling the Bible's Great Commission ("Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:19). In this sense, their mission is pure altruism: They seek to share the gift of eternal life.

But there's a shadow side to this. If their take on God and truth and life is the only right one — which their creed boldly states — everyone else is wrong.

Not a mere abstraction, this exclusiveness sometimes morphs into a form of chauvinism and mistreatment of non-Christians. Witness the incident with the Washington Nationals baseball team in 2005, when the Christian chaplain was exposed as teaching that Jews go to hell. Then there was the New Mexico state football team, which was the target of a religious discrimination lawsuit in 2006 after two Muslim players reported being labeled "troublemakers" and were kicked off the team by their devoutly Christian coach. The case was settled out of court and the students transferred.

It's not just non-Christians who might have a thing or two to say about this exclusive theology. According to a December 2008 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life, 65% of American Christians believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. Our pluralism is a defining and positive reality of American life — but not one that is much valued by those who define the faith coursing through the veins of sports culture.

One size doesn't fit all

As anyone who has seen Tebow on television would know, broadcasters cannot find enough superlatives to describe him. What's not to admire? He plays with a rugged, infectious enthusiasm. He's a born leader. He's a Heisman Trophy winner and a two-time national champion. He spends his off time speaking at prisons and doing missionary work in Asia. It's good to see he has mended from his concussion and returned to action.

But there's more to his story. Tebow does his missionary trips to the Philippines under the auspices of his father's Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association. The Tebow organization espouses a far-right theology. Its bottom line: Only those who assent to its version of Christianity will avoid eternal punishment. The ministry boldly declares, "We reject the modern ecumenical movement."

The Tebow organization's literature estimates that 75% of the Philippines' inhabitants "have never once heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ." This in a country where more than 80% of the citizens identify themselves as Roman Catholic.

In making and acting on rigid claims about who is or isn't in good standing with God, the Bob Tebow organization is working at cross purposes with the majority of Americans — indeed, the majority of American Christians — and their more generous conception of salvation.

Certainly, Tim Tebow must be applauded for the good he does working on his father's missions, but he should be seen, too, as one who promotes a form of belief that makes unwelcome judgments about everyone else's religion. Let's not forget the twinge that is felt by sports-loving Jewish kids and parents, for example, or by champions for interfaith cooperation, when adored sports figures like Tebow use their fame to push a Jesus-or-else message.

Is sports-world evangelicalism really "good for everything"? Certainly a lot, but not everything. Not if you're Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, non-evangelical Protestant, agnostic or anything else outside the conservative evangelical camp.

Tom Krattenmaker, a writer based in Portland, Ore., specializing in religion in public life, is a member of the USA TODAY board of contributors. He is the author of the new book Onward Christian Athletes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Calvin on Big Business (no not that Calvin)

The Man from George Street

This video blew me away! Example of the power of commitment & persistence in evangelism, even when you do not see the 'fruit.' (sometimes it takes 40 years) This video will bring you to tears to hear of this man's faithful witness. Oh that we would live to be famous in heaven!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bach Meets Frederick the Great

I came across this book recommendation from the blog "Cranach" by Gene Veith (He is the Provost and Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, & the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary) so i ordered the book & just got it yesterday - I can't wait to read it & will let you know how i liked it. Check out his blog:
Here is his review:


I have just finished a book that I am going to count among my favorites of all time. It is that good. You have GOT to read it. It’s entitled Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment by James A. Gaines.

In 1747, Frederick the Great–the king of Prussia, patron of Enlightenment rationalism, and military strongman–invited Johann Sebastian Bach, now an old man three years from his death, for an audience. Frederick fancied himself a musician and scorned the old-fashioned polyphony that Bach was known for in favor of music with a single pleasant melody. Frederick, who enjoyed humiliatating his guests, had composed a long melody line full of chromatic scales that was impossible to turn into a multi-voiced canon (that is, a “round”: think “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” with different groups starting at different times) and told Bach to turn it into a fugue (an even more complicated “round”). Whereupon Bach, on the spot, sat down at one of the new piano fortes and turned it into a three-part fugue. The flummoxed King said, in effect, OK, turn it into a 6-part fugue. A few days later, Bach sent him a 6-part fugue and more than a fugue, “A Musical Offering” that rebuked Frederick and all of his Enlightenment notions with the Christian faith.
This book tells about that confrontation and the events in each man’s life that led up to it. Gaines, in effect, gives us a dual biography, with alternating chapters on each subject. We learn about Frederick’s miserable childhood with an abusive father, the previous king (who, at one point, had his son’s best friend beheaded and made him watch, thinking that he would be next). Then we learn about Bach’s happy childhood in a Christian home. We learn about Frederick’s unhappy and childless marriage. Then we learn about Bach’s family, in which he was a loving husband and father of 20 children. We learn about Frederick’s decadent love of the arts and his infatuation with the Enlightenment, and his mutual admiration society with Voltaire. Then we learn about Bach’s deep Christian faith and his orthodox Lutheran theology. We learn about Frederick’s ascension to the throne, his turning Prussia into a military powerhouse, and his unprovoked wars against his neighbors for nothing more than his ego. We learn about Bach’s career at courts and churches, his stubborn integrity that caused him to battle with virtually all of his employers, and, despite occasional musical respect, how he died in obscurity with his music all but forgotten. We also learn about the aftermath, how Frederick’s legacy would blossom but burn out under Hitler. And how Bach was rediscovered by Mendelssohn in the 19th century, whereupon he has become recognized as arguably the greatest musical composer and one of the greatest artists in any form ever.
The author, James Gaines, is a journalist–a former editor of TIME–and so, though he knows his music as an amateur classical musician, he writes not with scholarly heaviness but with a lively and enjoyable narrative flair. And his secular background makes the book all the more remarkable for what it says about the relationship between Christianity–indeed, Lutheranism–and art. Gaines suggests that Bach was a greater man and a greater creator than Frederick precisely because of his faith. Bach was transcendent because he built his life on something transcendent.
Gaines shows how Bach’s view of music goes right back to Luther. For them and other Christians of their time, music was quite literally a sign and measure of God’s created order in the universe. Bach and Luther favored polyphony–many voices going on at the same time, whether in the multiple but unified melodies of canons and fugues, or in the phenomenon of harmony–because it imaged forth the unity-in-diversity that is everywhere in creation; indeed, in existence itself; not only that, but in the Godhead Himself.
Gaines also draws on the Bach scholarship that demonstrates how music in this tradition encoded specific meanings. In Bach’s final “Musical Offering” to Frederick, he includes 10 canons, which are emblematic of the Ten Commandments (”canons,” laws, get it?). He includes a caption in one section that refers to how the notes ascend like the King’s glory, except that the notes go nowhere and turn into the most melancholy of melodies. He thus says through his music that Frederick may think himself “Great,” but his glory goes nowhere, that he will end only in death, that he doesn’t stand up very well to those Ten Commandments. Bach works in chorale motifs and church music–which Frederick hated–but which give this king his only hope. Yes, Bach was using his music to witness to this august secularist King in his palace of reason.
You will learn a lot about music and a lot about history in this book. It is also one of the best books about the relationship between Christianity and the arts that I have ever come across. It also illuminates the relationship between Lutheranism and the arts. Gaines keeps bringing Luther into his story, to the point of saying that Bach and Luther had the same personality (intemperate, stubborn, no-comprising, but also warm and sensitive and devout). We learn surprising things, such as the way Enlightenment skepticism had a rather harder time in Lutheran countries than in those of other theologies, since Lutheranism had already developed a vigorous intellectual tradition that had thoroughly worked out the relationship between faith and reason. We also learn about the magnificent use of music in Lutheran worship that was unique to any other religious tradition.
And we confessional Lutherans can also appreciate what Gaines does not go into, that Frederick the Great, with his religious “toleration” was literally the grandfather of the Prussian Union, that ecumenical amalgamation and theological watering down of the state church in the name of enlightenment principles, that two kings later would send orthodox Lutherans fleeing to America and other New Worlds. Gaines also makes outstanding use of Bach’s notations in his Calov Study Bible, which happens to be owned by Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and which I have held in my hot little hands.
So drop whatever you are doing and buy this book. You will be glad you did

Even Atheists live by a Theistic Worldview

I came across this commentary in the excellent Christian news magazine 'World' (If you do not have a subscription I would highly recommend it)

Notice that just like Peter Singer, Bertrand Russell, although a committed atheist who wrote, "Why I am not a Christian," lives by a very theistic worldview. Stealing 'God's Words' if you will, to make his point. What can the words "loves," "beliefs," "devotion," "inspiration," "genius," "despair," and strangest of all, "soul." mean to a committed Darwinian atheist? Aren’t we all just "the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms?"

Remember one test of the validity of truth is that it conforms to reality; it explains reality. Just by how Russell & Singer live their lives points to a theistic worldview. Follow their actions not their words

Early in college I read Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian. Russell, 93 years old when I read that book, died five years later in 1970. He was a British philosopher and one of the founders, with A.N. Whitehead, of analytic philosophy.
One great benefit of going to a good Christian college is that you read important bad books with the help of wise Christian scholars. Most 19-year-olds are not ready to navigate the sophisticated arguments of seasoned skeptics. But with the guidance of a seasoned Christian thinker, the navigation can be profitable. It was for me.
Russell stressed the absoluteness of physical matter. In other words, if you trace the origin of everything all the way back, you arrive at impersonal matter, not personal spirit: Matter, not God, is absolute. This meant, for Russell, that there is only material existence.
This produced one of the bleakest views of human life imaginable. Here, he says, is "the world which science built for our belief."
That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of the universe in ruins. . . . Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built (Why I Am Not a Christian, editor Paul Edwards [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957], p. 107).
It doesn't take too much assistance from a wise teacher to help a 19-year-old see something odd in this. Tragically odd. Triply odd.

First the language he uses seems borrowed from another worldview: "loves," "beliefs," "devotion," "inspiration," "genius," "despair," and strangest of all, "soul." To be sure, he insists that these are all "but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms." Really? Why would material atoms collide to create a language affirming realities beyond matter? It is an odd creation of Russell's world.

Second, did Russell really say to his crying children (he had three) that their sorrows were the unfortunate collocation of atoms? Did he say to any of his three wives, in the best of their affections, "This is only the collocation of atoms?" In other words, did he live his philosophy? Or was he playing 20th-century academic games?

Third, when he says, "Only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built," it seems to be laboring to sound poetic and meaningful. Even at his lowest moment of self-annihilating philosophy, he cannot repress his God-like self.

The vision of life revealed in the Bible explains more of what we experience than the materialism of Bertrand Russell. It makes more sense out of the material and immaterial, the impersonal and the personal, and puts a solid foundation under the soaring eloquence of Russell's contradictory despair.
Yes, we die. And there is darkness and sorrow. For those who see only that, there will be something much worse than Russell's "extinction in the vast death of the solar system." That is not what hell is.
But for believers, the despair and futility are swept away in the dawn of Easter Sunday.
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. . . . But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:17-20).
I thank God for the unshakeable, hope-filled truths of the Bible. And I thank God for wise Christian scholar-teachers who led me through the swamps of academic unbelief so that I could see how inauthentic its play-actors were.
Some people reject Christ because there are hypocrites in the church. I keep coming back to Him because there is so much academic gamesmanship in the university.

Copyright © 2009 WORLD Magazine October 24, 2009, Vol. 24, No. 21
Read the whole article here:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pet Party Planner

Do we have a theology of Work?
Are their jobs that are off limits to Christians?
Should a Christian be part of a company or business that promotes sin or dishonest gain?
And who gets to decide what jobs are 'Christian' or 'godly?'
Can a Christian work with a clean conscience for wallstreet? or an oil company? or a beer distributer?
Can a Christian work at a job that caters to our self-indulgent society?
(example i used was a Pet Party Planner) (don't know if it even exists but could a Christian be satisfied and hold that job & work for the glory of God at it?)

CS Lewis wrote:
"All the same, the New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian Society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that we are to be no passengers or parasites: If man does not work, he ought not eat. Everyone is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one's work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. And there is to be no 'swank' or 'side', no putting on airs. To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist." (HT: Fred)

I think we seldom think about our work in a Biblical Framework
These are hard questions
The 'lines' are not clear
I wonder if we have even thought about them

It would be interesting to hear where you might have drawn the line for yourself and your work


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is the church known for truth or good values?

I came across this quote reading Lesslie Newbigin "To tell the truth"

 "It is widely thought in modern societies that the Christian Church is not so much a source of true knowledge as it is an agency which stands for good values and which is supported because it does so. …. I am troubled by the fact that evangelism is - in effect - equated with revival, with a return to values which have been forgotten and need to be reaffirmed. It is not so often acknowledged that evangelism means calling people to believe something which is radically different from what is normally accepted as public truth, and that it calls for a conversion not only of the heart and the will but of the mind. A serious commitment to evangelism, to the telling of the story which the church is sent to tell, means a radical questioning of the reigning assumptions of public life. It is to affirm the gospel not only as an invitation to a private and personal decision but as public truth which ought to be acknowledged as true for the whole of the life of society."

Are we all about the second commandment "love thy neighbor"

at the expense of the First "Love the Lord your God?"

Are we calling people to be nice to each other or are we calling them to the truth?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Amusing Ourselves to Death

A Great book that I recommend highly (although a bit dated) is Neil Postman's "Amusiong ourselves to Death" I was rereading this week in preperatiuon for the sermon and was struck again by this quote inthe introduction.  (Postman is comparing to opposite views of the futrue - Orwell's "1984" & Huxley's "Brave New World)
You tell me which one is more accurate

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared that truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us."

Also check out the illustrated version of this quote here:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This week in the Wall Street Journal

Check out this article in today's WSJ
This is exactly what we were talking about last sunday
**Notice Peter's Singer's inconsistencies**

"When the poet Matthew Arnold wrote of faith's "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar," the thought was that scientific inquiry had forever undermined claims to certitude. In hindsight we see Arnold was only half right. In place of Genesis we now have scientism—the idea that science alone can speak truth about man and his world.

In contrast to the majority of scientists whose wondrous discoveries seem to inspire humility, today's advocates of scientism can be every bit as dogmatic as the William Jennings Bryans of yesteryear. We saw an example a week ago, when the New York Times reported that many scientists view "outspoken religious commitment as a sign of mild dementia."
The reporter was Gardiner Harris, and the object of his snark was Francis Collins—the new director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins is perhaps best noted for his leadership on the Human Genome Project, an effort to map the genetic makeup of man. But he is also well known for his unapologetic talk about his Christian faith and how he came to it.
Mr. Harris's aside about dementia, of course, is less a proposition open to debate than the kind of putdown you tell at a private cocktail party where you know everyone in the room shares your orthodoxies. In this room, there are those who hold that God cannot be reconciled with what science has discovered about the human body, the origin of the species, and the beginnings of the universe. The more honest ones do not flinch before the implications of their materialist principles on our understanding of human dignity and human rights and human freedom—as well as on religion.
In 1997, for example, an International Academy of Humanism statement in defense of human cloning—whose signatories included scientists such as E.O. Wilson, Francis Crick and Richard Dawkins—went out of its way to attack the special dignity of human beings. "Humanity's rich repertoire of thoughts, feelings, aspirations, and hopes seems to arise from electrochemical brain processes, not from an immaterial soul that operates in ways no instrument can discover." They concluded "it would be a tragedy if ancient theological scruples should lead to a Luddite rejection of cloning."
Here's the problem: Almost no one really believes this. Not, at least, when it comes to how we behave. And the dichotomy between scientific theory and human action may itself have something to tell us about truth.
That's not to deny electrochemical brain processes and the like. It is to say that much as we may assent to the idea that we are but matter in motion, seldom do we act that way. We love. We fight. We distinguish between the good and noble and the bad and base. More than just religion, our literature and our politics and our music resonate precisely because they speak to these things.
Remember Peter Singer? Mr. Singer is the Princeton utilitarian who accepts scientism's view that human beings are not fundamentally different from animals, just more complex. In his thinking, those who cannot reason for themselves or have lost their self-awareness have no real claim to life. Yet when Alzheimer's struck his mother, he paid for care to prolong and sustain her life. The irony is that an act that does him credit as a son must discredit him among those whose principles about life he claims to share.
To put it another way, while we talk about the clash between God and science, in practice it often comes down to disagreements about man and morals. The boundaries are not always neat. Many Americans who are indifferent to faith will confess they find themselves challenged as they try to raise good and decent children without the religious confidence their parents had. The result may not be a return to religion but a healthy agnosticism about agnosticism itself.
I once had the opportunity to interview one of my heroes, Sidney Hook. This was a man whose commitment to his atheism and secular humanism was beyond question. One example: A doctor saved Mr. Hook's life by going ahead with an operation against Mr. Hook's wishes. Mr. Hook recovered—and promptly published an op-ed taking his doc to task.
It is possible, of course, to imagine a good society in the absence of a belief that man's dignity comes from his being fashioned in God's image. Something of the sort would have been Mr. Hook's ideal. Yet in his writings, the Almighty in whom Mr. Hook did not believe makes an extraordinary, one might say miraculous, number of appearances. When I asked him why he was not more dismissive, Mr. Hook replied that he was never comfortable with the dogmatism of the village atheist.

Perhaps he thought it "a mild form of dementia."

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Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A17