Thursday, November 10, 2011

All Men Seek Hapiness

True happiness is only found in a relationship with Christ

Pascal Pensees (#148)
“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.”

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blaise Pascal's Pensees

From Blaisie Pascal ‘Pensees’:

'the only thing that consoles us from our miseries is diversion, and yet this is the greatest of our miseries. For it is mainly what prevents us from thinking about ourselves, leading us imperceptibly to our ruin, without it we would be bored, and this boredom would drive us to seek a more solid means of escape. But diversion amuses us and guides us imperceptibly to death"

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tim Hawkins is Funny!

Tammy had a chance to see Tim Hawkins at the Woman of Faith conference.  He gets funnier and funnier ever time we hear him. Enjoy



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

“Death . . . is Life’s change agent.”

—Steve Jobs, Commencement Address at Stanford University (June 12, 2005)

Check out the link to Job's commencement address, its well worth the read
(HT: J.F. & J.T)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

IBM Super Computer Watson

If you remember last February IBM's super computer Watson won at the game show Jeopardy against the best and the brightest including Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings.  Imagine if after it won it declared: "There is no such thing as mankind" Going on to report it evolved from a more primitive machine; the toaster! Ridiculous! how could a man made machine declare its creator did not exist.  And yet many will deny God is their Creator

Monday, August 1, 2011

Encouraging article from NY Times

From Nicholas Kristof:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/opinion/sunday/kristof-evangelicals-without-blowhards.html?_r=2

Centuries ago, serious religious study was extraordinarily demanding and rigorous; in contrast, anyone could declare himself a scientist and go in the business of, say, alchemy. These days, it’s the reverse. A Ph.D. in chemistry is a rigorous degree, while a preacher can explain the Bible on television without mastering Hebrew or Greek — or even showing interest in the nuances of the original texts.

Those self-appointed evangelical leaders come across as hypocrites, monetizing Jesus rather than emulating him. Some seem homophobic, and many who claim to be “pro-life” seem little concerned with human life post-uterus. Those are the preachers who won headlines and disdain.
But in reporting on poverty, disease and oppression, I’ve seen so many others. Evangelicals are disproportionately likely to donate 10 percent of their incomes to charities, mostly church-related. More important, go to the front lines, at home or abroad, in the battles against hunger, malaria, prison rape, obstetric fistula, human trafficking or genocide, and some of the bravest people you meet are evangelical Christians (or conservative Catholics, similar in many ways) who truly live their faith.

I’m not particularly religious myself, but I stand in awe of those I’ve seen risking their lives in this way — and it sickens me to see that faith mocked at New York cocktail parties.

Friday, July 29, 2011

How many young people leave the church after High School?

this question has been debated and researched for some time
no matter where you get the data the news is not good
found this on http://www.conversantlife.com/theology/how-many-youth-are-leaving-the-church

These are the most recent and most cited studies that I could find:

88%: The Southern Baptist Convention's Family Life Council study in 2002

70%: LifeWay Research study in 2007 (LifeWay also found only 35% eventually return)

66%: Assembly of God study (again, I can't find the actual study, only references here and there)

61%: "Barna study in 2006 -- "Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf..."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This is AWESOME

What if kicking a soccer ball could produce electricity!?

Monday, July 11, 2011

160 million 'missing' women

Mara Hvistendahl’s in her book:  Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, reports ".... a sobering update on the gender imbalance that is growing ever-more prevalent around the world, but especially in Asia. As a result of sex-selective abortion by families desiring boys, India has a ratio of 112 boys for every 100 girls; in China it’s 121 to 100. (The “natural” sex ratio is 105 to 100 and biologists consider anything over 106 to be "impossible.") With the passage of time and continued population control measures in, especially, India and China, she puts the number of “missing” women at more than 160 million. The number is so high as to be practically incomprehensible, but Hvistendahl puts it in perspective: It’s more than the entire female population of the U.S..." 


(quoted from: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2011/07/08/unnatural_selection_by_mara_hvistendahl_is_the_doublex_book_of_t.html) 





Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Crowd or the Cross


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Last Week's Sermon was on Mark 3:7-35
This Video sums it up very well 
 

The Hound of Heaven

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Exactly Right

From http://www.biblemesh.com/blog/2011/06/13/yes-heaven-is-a-real-place-but/
HT: http://takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com/

The book "Heaven is for Real" is about a boy who spent 3 minutes in heaven with Jesus.  It has sold almost 2 million copies and is #1 on NY Times best seller list.  If we want to know about heaven why aren;t we going to the Scriptures? This is from the Bible Mesh Blog:

"Aside from the fact that, as Bill Hybels once wisely pointed out, you don’t lead with your best “weird God story” when you’re trying to evangelize someone, I am more bothered by the high regard and sheer enthusiasm many well-intentioned lay evangelicals are affording to Todd Burpo’s book. Nor am I embarrassed by the discussion of evidence for the afterlife, having written about it previously, and commending Dinesh D’Souza’s fine book about the subject along the way. What bothers me about the reception of Heaven is a Real Place is what it says about the relatively low view of the sufficiency of Scripture among evangelicals today. In other words, it’s not good enough for us to hear about heaven from the holy apostles, Church Fathers, and trusted commentaries on Scripture. No, we need a little boy sitting on Jesus’ lap to tell us that instead. Then we will believe it. And that phenomenon ultimately bodes ill for everyone who really does love the Bible: pastors, teachers, parents, and yes, even children."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Judgement Day this Saturday?!

From Al Mohler's blog
http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/05/16/the-end-is-near-the-false-teaching-of-harold-camping/


"Harold Camping is now warning the world that the Day of Judgment will begin at about 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, 2011. The 89-year-old founder of Family Radio has made such pronouncements before, most recently in 1994. He now says that he simply miscalculated then, but he is absolutely certain that he has the right calculation now. You have been warned.
Actually, millions of people in America have been warned through Camping’s radio program and by means of the more than 1,200 billboards his ministry has put up across the nation. According to press reports, Family Radio has put up 2,000 billboards in other nations, as well.
Camping is no stranger to controversy, but this one has caught national and international attention. He was wrong before, but this time he is absolutely certain that he is right. As he told New York magazine:
If you know the Bible and this statement confuses you, you are in good company. Harold Camping believes that God has revealed to him the exact dates of biblical events and the timeline of the judgment. He says that God revealed some “exquisite proof” that enabled him to determine a “finished product” timeline that ends on May 21, this coming Saturday.“God has given sooo much information in the Bible about this, and so many proofs, and so many signs, that we know it is absolutelygoing to happen without any question at all. There’s nothing in the Bible that God has ever prophesied — there’s many things that he prophesied would happen and they always have happened — but there’s nothing in the Bible that holds a candle to the amount of information to this tremendous truth of the end of the world. I would be absolutely in rebellion against God if I thought anything other than it is absolutely going to happen without any question.”
As Michael S. Rosenwald of The Washington Post explains, Camping “says he came up with the very precise date of May 21 through a mathematical calculation that would probably crash Google’s computers.” Further, Camping’s mathematical formula “involves, among other things, the dates of floods, the signals of numbers in the Bible, multiplication, addition and subtraction thereof.” As many have noted, the math seems to make sense only to Harold Camping.
Yet, in a strange way, this just serves to affirm Camping in his teaching. On his website he states:
However, it was not until a very few years ago that the accurate knowledge of the entire timeline of history was revealed to true believers by God from the Bible. This timeline extends all the way to the end of time. During these past several years God has been revealing a great many truths, which have been completely hidden in the Bible until this time when we are so near the end of the world.
These “true believers” turn out to be Harold Camping and his disciples. Others, even professing Christians, will be in big trouble when Saturday comes, he believes.
The Christian church has seen this kind of false teaching before. William Miller and his Adventist followers (known, surely enough, as Millerites) believed that Christ would return on March 21, 1844. In the 1970s, popular Christian preachers and writers predicted that Christ would return on various dates now long in the past. All this is embarrassing enough, but now we have the teachings of Harold Camping to deal with. Given the public controversy, many people are wondering how Christians should think about his claims.
First, Christ specifically admonished his disciples not to claim such knowledge. In Acts 1:7, Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” In Matthew 24:36, Christ taught similarly: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
To state the case plainly, these two verses explicitly forbid Christians to claim the knowledge of such dates and times. Jesus clearly taught that the Father has not revealed such dates and timing, but has reserved that knowledge for himself. It is an act of incredible presumptuousness to claim that a human knows such a date, or has determined God’s timing by any means.
Second, the Bible does not contain hidden codes that we are to find and decipher. The Bible has been given to us in order that we might know the truth, and the truth is clearly revealed in its pages. We are not to look for hidden patterns of words, numbers, dates, or anything else. The Bible’s message is plain and requires no mathematical computation for its understanding. The claim that one has found a hidden code or system in the Bible is an insult to the Bible as the Word of God.
Third, Christians are indeed to be looking for Christ to return and seeking to be found faithful when Christ comes. We are not to draw a line in history and set a date, but we are to be about the Father’s business, sharing the Gospel and living faithful Christian lives. We are not to sit on rooftops like the Millerites, waiting for Christ’s return. We are to be busy doing what Christ has commanded us to do.
In Hebrews 9:28, we are taught that Christ will come a second time “to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” That is the faithful Christian response to the New Testament teachings about Christ’s coming. The church is not to be arrogantly setting dates, but instead to be eagerly waiting for him. Of that we can be truly certain.


Are You Amazed?

Here is the video i closed the service with on Sunday

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama bin laden

Every morning at 7:00 am my wife faithfully turns on the Christian radio channel and we all get the pleasure of listening to 'beat the toaster' and 'bible of not' with the appropriate witty banter between the hosts interspersed with Christian lite rock music.

Today i was half listening while toasting my bagel hoping to retreat back into the living room for my morning fix of news & sports when i heard a caller refer to his wife being killed in 9/11 and that he was praying and hoping for Osama's salvation all these years! He hoped that perhaps he had accepted Jesus as his savior before he died.  I really don't know how to process that.  i never once prayed for his salvation and quite honestly find the idea of him being in heaven hard to take to say the least.  Got me thinking: what is the proper Christian response to Osama's death?

came across this article by Warren Smith who writes for the excellent magazine "World"
http://online.worldmag.com/2011/05/03/what-is-the-christian-response-to-bin-ladens-death/


On Sunday night I was checking Facebook and email one last time before heading for bed. Both my profile and my in-box were lit up with messages saying that President Obama would address the nation at 10:30 p.m. Well . . . so much for an early bedtime.
I ended up watching the speech announcing Osama bin Laden’s death and writing a couple of articles about it. One of the stories summarized reactions that almost immediately started coming in from around the world (see sidebar to Mindy Belz’s Web Extra report).
But the next day I said to myself: Yes, these are the reactions of our politicians and pundits, but what should be the appropriate Christian reaction? As it turns out, this is not so easy a question. The Bible has much to say on the subject, some of it difficult to reconcile. Consider this:
“The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong” (Romans 13:4, NLT).
The Psalms, too, have much to say about the punishment of evildoers. In the interest of brevity, here’s just one verse of many:
“At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked” (Psalm 75:2, NLT).
Governments are established by God. Punishing evil is their job, and we should take satisfaction in our own government’s role in seeing that justice was done. So, given this, there is certainly no reason not to celebrate Osama bin Laden’s death.
On the other hand, we must acknowledge that bin Laden, as violent and reviled as he was, was surely just a man like me. As distasteful as it is to contemplate, none of us is so different from him. Compared to a holy God, my righteousness and bin Laden’s alike are as “filthy rags.” Further, Scripture is clear that we are to love not just our friends, but also to “love our enemies.” God, I’m sure, takes no pleasure in the death of someone who has rejected Him. In fact, he so much as says so here:
“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11, NIV)
Mark Twain once said, “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” Twain is, as usual, winsome and witty—and completely opposed to Scripture. If God takes no pleasure in bin Laden’s death, should we? I’m guessing not.
So what should our response be? I certainly think we can and should celebrate the excellence, professionalism, and courage of the Navy SEALs who accomplished their mission. I think we should be grateful that an evildoer is now no longer able to do his evil in the world.
But I also think we should be careful not to gloat. We should guard against triumphalism and pride. As a young man, Osama bin Laden drove fast cars and played soccer. There was a time when he was not so different from you and me.
Somewhere along the way pride overtook his life. It became his undoing. He became his own final authority. We should not think that we are immune from these same corrosive effects of pride. If we do, we may come to a time in the future when we find ourselves—both as individuals and as a country—committing the same kinds of monstrous evil that became bin Laden’s undoing.
So can we celebrate that justice was done? Said more bluntly: Can we celebrate Osama bin Laden’s death? I think the answer to that question is yes. But let us remember his ignominious death with grateful and even humble hearts, mindful that but for God’s grace, so go we all.

Say it ain't so Superman!

Superman is renouncing his American Citizenship because he doesn’t want to be accused of being part of American government policy.  Who is next? Captain America? 



Friday, April 22, 2011

Sunday's Coming

Ive probably put this up before but its still good

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Resurrection Apologetics

Resurrection Apologetics
Good stuff on the ressurection by Dr. William Lane Craig
HT: Justin Taylor



Monday, April 18, 2011

Haiti Pics
















This is the almost complete orphanage that can house up to 100 children, right now there are just over 50.
















Here are some of the kids

















This is the solar water purifier and the source of all the electricity at the orphanage.  It was donated by the city of Raway NJ after the earthquake and is worth over 100,000

















This is Pastor Ronald's unfinished house on the orphange property
















This is a view of the Orphanage property, it is 3 arches with a 10 foot wall around it
















This is Pastor Ronald (bottom right) and some of his pastoral staff, pastor Tilage (top left), and pastor Roman (top right).  Pastor Ronald is really a Bishop who presides over more than 30 churches.

















This is Pastor Ronald's main church is Bon Repos, it is being fixed up after the earthquake

















This is the church i preached at in Hinche, there were over 500 people there

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Haiti Trip

Last Weekend i was in Haiti to preach at a Church Conference in a place called Hinche, about 4 hours outside Port-a-prince.  Here is a video my partner on the trip took, Larry.  You can see shots of the ride for the airport, the orphanage children & the church choirs (about 10) at the conference, then me preaching.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Soul Surfer

i remember two years ago browsing the Camp of the Woods (Christian retreat center in upstate NY) book store on a rainy day looking for a new Bible for Gabby who was 8.  i came across this really cool looking Bible for girls (pink cover w/ flowers, button latch, etc) and in it was the story of Bethany Dillion a girl who lost her arm to a shark while suffering.  It was here testimony and story.  Gabby thought the Bible was cool as well as Bethany's story so we bought it.  Well i was pleased to learn that they were making a movie about Bethany but also a little weary knowing how Hollywood tones down any Christian message. I heard on a web site that they had blacked out the Words Holy Bible on the dad's Bible in one scene so people would not know he was reading the bible.  (hopefully not true).  The movie comes out Friday and the review i read to today is encouraging (http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/ckozlowski/2011/04/06/reviews-soul-surfer-affirming-tale-of-surf-faith-your-highness-crudely-wastes-natalie-portman/
here is the trailer:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Don't Mess with Bald Prophets

This has always been for me one of the weirdest passages in the Bible, from 2 King chapter 2

Which could lead to this warning:


Koran Burning

As you know Terry Jones, the Pastor from Florida, went ahead last week and burned the Koran which led to Afghan President Karzi condemning him and calling for his arrests which then then to the killing of more than 30 people. Many questions surround this episode for me: How do we as Christians separate our political positions and freedoms as citizens from our faith? Was what Jones did wrong and how was it wrong? What was Jones' purpose? What happens when one day Christian Pastors are accused of starting riots & inciting violonce for preaching truth?

and on and on it goes...

On Gene Veith's blog there is a good discussion going on over it - check out the comments
here is the link:
http://www.geneveith.com/2011/04/04/koran-burning-leads-to-murders/

Friday, April 1, 2011

Idea for New Sign

i've been told people love a short sermon

Saturday, March 26, 2011

5 Ways to make your kids hate church

This is excellent
from: http://theresurgence.com/

1. Make sure your faith is only something you live out in public

Go to church... at least most of the time. Make sure you agree with what you hear the preacher say, and affirm on the way home what was said especially when it has to do with your kids obeying, but let it stop there. Don’t read your bible at home. The pastor will say everything you need to hear on Sundays. Don’t engage your children in questions they have concerning Jesus and God. Live like you want to live during the week so that your kids can see that duplicity is ok.


2. Pray only in front of people
The only times you need to pray are when your family is over, Holiday meals, when someone is sick, and when you want something. Besides that, don’t bother. Your kids will see you pray when other people are watching, no need to do it with them in private.


3. Focus on your morals
Make sure you insist your kids be honest with you. Let them know it is the right thing for them to do, but then feel free to lie in your own life and disregard the need to tell them and others the truth. Get very angry with your children when they say words that are “naughty” and “bad”, but post, read, watch, and say whatever you want on TV, Facebook, and Twitter. Make sure you focus on being a good person. Be ambiguous about what this means.


4. Give financially as long as it doesn’t impede your needs
Make a big deal out of giving at church. Stress the need to your children the value of tithing, while not giving sacrificially yourself. Allow them to see you spend a ton of money on what you want, while negating your command from scripture to give sacrificially.


5. Make church community a priority. As long as there is nothing else you want to do
Hey, you are a church going family, right? I mean, that’s what you tell your friends and family anyways. Make sure you attend on Sundays. As long as you didn’t stay up too late Saturday night. Or your family isn’t having a big bar-b-que. Or the big game isn’t on. Or this week you just don’t feel like it. Or... I mean, you are church going family so what’s the big deal?

Link:
http://theresurgence.com/2011/03/26/5-ways-to-make-your-kids-hate-church?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheResurgence+%28The+Resurgence%29

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Where do our rights come from?

lately i have been catching up on some TV shows i've missed (mostly 'the event') on demand.  The commercials inserted by NBC are mostly of the cable Chanel MSNBC and their 'lean forward' campaign (what ever that is).  and they have this one commercial that really riles me up.  They quote from the declaration of Independence but leave out the most important truths. Here is their version:

“We hold these truths to be self-evidentthat all men and women have certain unalienable rights
life, liberty, pursuit of happiness.
And the freedom to believe that while history’s gotten us this farour best days are still ahead.

Notice what they leave out?
Here is the original text:

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable rights,
that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Where do our rights come from?
Do they originate with us?
Are these rights relative?
Do they relate to everyone for all time?
Scary




Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

There is nothing more important, more precious, more protected, to the Westernized man/woman than their FREEWILL. The Supremacy of free choice. Don't you dare mess with man's absolutely autonomy from any authority. Man must be absolutely free. This often pops up in the church especially when we speak of God's will for us. Do we choose God or has He chosen me? Is my life and eternity already predetermined/predestined? What about my freewill? If I don’t choose first than am I simply a robot or pawn? This is why there was so much potential in the movie Adjustment Bureau. There was the 'Chairman' who planned out everyone's lives, and his 'agents' (or angels) who made sure the plan was followed exactly. Unfortunately the movie takes the easy way out and freewill wins, or love wins in the end. I guess i did not get it as i was comforted by the fact that my life may have been planned out. That God has determined my life's direction is a glorious thought to me. That God is His sovereignty has chosen me! That God has absolute sovereignty over man is a reason for praise not fear. Reminds me of something Jonathan Edward's Wrote:


“From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God’s sovereignty … It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God…
      And there has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, from that day to this so that I scarce ever found so much as the rising of an objection against it, in the most absolute sense…. I have often since had not only a conviction but a delightful conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceedingly pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God."


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Napoleon on Jesus

I came across this quote yesterday while looking for something else:

Napoleon's assessment of Jesus:



"You speak of Caesar, of Alexander, of their conquests and of the enthusiasm which they enkindled in the hearts of their soldiers; but can you conceive of a dead man making conquests, with an army faithful and entirely devoted to his memory? My armies have forgotten me even while living, as the Carthaginian army forgot Hannibal. Such is our power.”


“I know men and I tell you, Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this hour, millions would die for him.”


“I search in vain history to find similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach the gospel. Neither history nor humanity, nor ages, nor nature, offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or to explain it. Here everything is extraordinary.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Unraveling of Rob Bell

In the new book "Love Wins" Rob Bell presents the old heresy of Universalism in a new wrapping.  it is amazing how well Bell answers questions without really saying anything of substance.  Bashir (interviwer) pegs it when he says:

“You’re creating a Christian message that’s warm, kind, and popular for contemporary culture. . . . What you’ve done is you’re amending the gospel, the Christian message, so that it’s palatable to contemporary people who find, for example, the idea of hell and heaven very difficult to stomach. So here comes Rob Bell, he’s made a Christian gospel for you, and it’s perfectly palatable, it’s much easier to swallow. That’s what you’ve done, haven’t you?”




Places to find reviews of Bell's Book:
http://www.russellmoore.com/2011/03/15/the-blood-drained-gospel-of-rob-bell/
http://www.dennyburk.com/revising-hell-into-the-heterodox-mainstream/
http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2011/03/love-wins-or-god-wins.html
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/03/14/rob-bell-love-wins-review/

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Planned Parenthood

Notice how caustic and violent their rhetoric is? How many of them call babies 'born fetuses?'

Notice how many talk to aborting the baby (not fetus)? is this admitting it is indeed a baby?
It is clear from many of the interviews abortion is only for convenience.
"Abortion is Healthcare" certainly not for the baby!
Planned Parenthood and abortion providers know their rhetoric is not working anymore, so they will become more and more extreme and angry.
scary stuff

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Amish Forgiveness

Notice from this interview (given at the time of the shooting) the emphasis on a community of faith that enables & empowers forgiveness through teaching and modeling forgiveness.  Is it overstating it to say that we cannot truly forgive unless we are part of a strong faith community that teaches Biblical forgiveness and lives it out? Forgiveness is a work of the Holy Spirit, it is supernatural, and it is taught in the Bible and modeled in the church. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Forgiveness

Last Sunday the Sermon was on Forgiveness from Matthew 18:21-35 (the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant) A power parable about forgiveness. I used as an illustration the Forgiveness of the Amish Community after the shooting where 10 girls were shot and 5 killed. Quotes from the Amish community:

"I hope they stay around here and they'll have a lot of friends and a lot of support," Daniel Esh, a 57- year-old Amish artist and woodworker whose three grandnephews were inside the school during the attack, said of the Roberts.

Enos Miller, the grandfather of the two Miller sisters, was with both of the girls when they died. He was out walking near the schoolhouse before dawn Wednesday — he said he couldn't sleep — when he was asked by a reporter for WGAL-TV whether he had forgiven the gunman. "In my heart, yes," he said, explaining it was "through God's help."

A Roberts family spokesman said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them.

Amish community members visited and comforted Roberts' widow, parents, and parents- in-law. One Amish man held Roberts' sobbing father in his arms, reportedly for as long as an hour, to comfort him



Forgiveness is truly a miracle. I wonder how I would have reacted. The following video is about a man killed and cannibalized a small boy and is up for parole. The father of the boy says if he is let out he will kill him.. I have to admit my thinking is much more in line with this father than the Amish. Thank God He does not give us what we deserve for our sins! Forgiveness is Truly a supernatural thing, a miracle.




HT: B.H.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

For the Fame of His Glory

I can remember being in seminary in 1996, Columbia SC, and one of my classmates telling me about this new book called "Desiring God" by a guy named John Piper.  The book came up again in a discussion in our church small group later that week. We didn't have much money at the time but i went out and purchased a copy and read it in 2 days in our trailer home.  No other book outside the Bible has had a greater impact on me and my thinking and theology than "Desiring God.  Basically the introduction and first chapter of the book was like an atomic bomb in my heart - still is.  The one phrase that was burned into my heart "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." This is Piper's theme for the book, his ministry, and his life.  He has written many other excellent books since then but they are all facets of this one sentence.  When anyone asks me my top ten books the first is always Desiring God. 

All that to say how eager i was to pick up the new book "For the Fame of God's Name, essays in honor of John Piper."  It is an excellent read but what i most enjoyed was the personal stories about John and his life. I wish there had been more.  It is a good book.  But if you are looking for something to change your life read "Desiring God" first.  And certainly check out his outstanding website http://www.desiringgod.org/ Listen and watch him preach and i guarantee you will be impacted. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The World's Most Typical Person

The World's Most Typical Person is a 28 year old Han Chinese Man, there are 9,000,000 of them

(These National Geographic videos are always fascinating)
HT: Abraham Piper

Friday, March 4, 2011

Morning Joe and Tim Keller

Its good to see Tim Keller on Morning Joe again, it appears to be a regular Friday segment.  Its also to see how much influence Pastor Keller is having on NYC and the power brokers in that city.  This past week i saw Keller on Fox News and before the interviewer began she told the audience she went to Keller's church and also Joe Scarborogh goes to his church.  Anyone who can bring Fox News and MSNBC together must be doing something right! 


BYU Basketball

One of the big stories this week in the sports world is that the BYU basketball team kicked off one of its star players for breaking their honor code. BYU is the school for the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). It came to light that he had had sex with his girlfriend. This has totally baffled many of the sports casters and newspaper writers. BYU's standards from their website:


Be honest
Live a chaste and virtuous life
Obey the law and all campus policies
Use clean language
Respect others
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
Participate regularly in church services
Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code

I find it refreshing and commendable that a university still has an honor code and still takes it seriously. (This will probably cause the team to lose its number one seeding in the tournament.) I think it is safe to say that the Mormon Church is probably a more moral church than the Christian church (generally speaking) (Just look at their honor code) but they are far from the orthodox truth of true Christian faith. We must always remember that we are not saved through our morality but ONLY by the grace of God

Titus 3:5
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,

So i must commend them for sticking to their standards but condemn anyone who thinks that morality equals salvation.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Last Two Reads

"Coming Back Stronger" is the autobiography of Superbowl winning, Saints Quarterback Drew Brees.  It a pretty good read as far as sports autobiographies go. I was impressed at Drew steady Christian witness through out the book.  In the Epilogue Drew gives his advise for living, points like: Don;t give up, find a mentor, etc.  even these were focused on God.  Its a quick read and encouraging.  It amazes me how many professional athletes claim to be Christians, this one appears to really back up the talk with his walk.  Still not a Saints fan though - Go Giants!


"Saving Leonardo" is written by the excellent writer Nancy Pearcey who wrote the book "Total Truth"  This is much in the same vine as Total Truth and the first few chapters read like a summary.  Especially with the upper/lower tier view of truth.  But the bulk of the book is an excellent critique and evaluation of the Arts and Media through a Christan World view.  It reads allot like a text book and would be an excellent resource in a college level class on the arts - certainly not for the faint in heart - but i know i will be using it in years t come as a valuable resource tool.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Get Low

Tammy and I saw this movie the other night and it was excellent.  Its a story of guilt and shame and the need for forgiveness and redemption.  Duvall plays Felix Woods a man who has punished himself by isolating himself from the world for 43 years.  He tries to pay for the guilt he feels but does not find forgiveness.  In one memorable seen with the local pastor he is asked if he has been forgiven and he replies that he has paid and the pastor tells him he cannot pay for forgiveness it is free but must be asked for from Jesus.  Later in the movie Felix says, "They keep talking about forgiveness. "Ask Jesus for forgiveness." I never did nothing to him." But at the end he does confess and ask.... pretty powerful stuff


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bono Interview

I have always been a huge fan of U2 and followed Bono's Christian musings for some time.  He has said some really amazing things about his faith and the power/beauty of grace.  Most of his most resent thoughts come from the book "Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas" i recently found some lengthy excerpts on line on http://www.thepoachedegg.net/the-poached-egg/2010/09/bono-interview-grace-over-karma.html
Notice the influence of CS Lewis especially the 'Liar, Lunatic, Lord' argument

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don't let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that's my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that's not so easy.


Assayas: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn't so "peace and love"?


Bono: There's nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that's why they're so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you're a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.


Assayas: Speaking of bloody action movies, we were talking about South and Central America last time. The Jesuit priests arrived there with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.


Bono: I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It's often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship. Why are you chuckling?


Assayas: I was wondering if you said all of that to the Pope the day you met him.


Bono: Let's not get too hard on the Holy Roman Church here. The Church has its problems, but the older I get, the more comfort I find there. The physical experience of being in a crowd of largely humble people, heads bowed, murmuring prayers, stories told in stained-glass windows


Assayas: So you won't be critical.


Bono: No, I can be critical, especially on the topic of contraception. But when I meet someone like Sister Benedicta and see her work with AIDS orphans in Addis Ababa, or Sister Ann doing the same in Malawi, or Father Jack Fenukan and his group Concern all over Africa, when I meet priests and nuns tending to the sick and the poor and giving up much easier lives to do so, I surrender a little easier.


Assayas: But you met the man himself. Was it a great experience?


Bono: [W]e all knew why we were there. The Pontiff was about to make an important statement about the inhumanity and injustice of poor countries spending so much of their national income paying back old loans to rich countries. Serious business. He was fighting hard against his Parkinson's. It was clearly an act of will for him to be there. I was oddly moved by his humility, and then by the incredible speech he made, even if it was in whispers. During the preamble, he seemed to be staring at me. I wondered. Was it the fact that I was wearing my blue fly-shades? So I took them off in case I was causing some offense. When I was introduced to him, he was still staring at them. He kept looking at them in my hand, so I offered them to him as a gift in return for the rosary he had just given me.

Assayas: Didn't he put them on?

Bono: Not only did he put them on, he smiled the wickedest grin you could ever imagine. He was a comedian. His sense of humor was completely intact. Flashbulbs popped, and I thought: "Wow! The Drop the Debt campaign will have the Pope in my glasses on the front page of every newspaper."

Assayas: I don't remember seeing that photograph anywhere, though.

Bono: Nor did we. It seems his courtiers did not have the same sense of humor. Fair enough. I guess they could see the T-shirts.
Later in the conversation:

Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that's normal. It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven't heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we've moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn't make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I'd be interested to hear that.

Bono: That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep s---. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there's a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let's face it, you're not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That's the point. It should keep us humbled . It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That's a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it's close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world's great thinkers. But Son of God, isn't that farfetched?

Bono: No, it's not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: "I'm the Messiah." I'm saying: "I am God incarnate." And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You're a bit eccentric. We've had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don't mention the "M" word! Because, you know, we're gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you're expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he's gonna keep saying this. So what you're left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we're talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we've been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had "King of the Jews" on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I'm not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that's farfetched

Bono later says it all comes down to how we regard Jesus:

Bono: If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s--- and everybody else's. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that's the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

Advice to Billy Ray

Billy Ray Cyrus' interview with GQ (see older post) is creating quite a ruckus, he is understandably not getting much sympathy - i enjoyed this article in National Review http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/260122/billy-ray-knows-best-kathryn-jean-lopez
here is one of the quotes that really struck me:

Glenn Stanton, author of Secure Daughters, Confident Sons, offers advice, “Billy Ray needs to gather his courage — man up — and do what his heart is screaming at him to do. . . . He, like all dads, needs to saddle up, ride in and be the protector of his daughter from a predatory world. And I am not talking about being overprotective, that’s not helpful either. But as Billy Ray explains in the profile, he has only been riding in after the damage to mop up the mess. That won’t do and it hasn’t. His daughter needs him, even if it seems she’s sending the message that she doesn’t.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

Christian Divorce Rate

One of the stats that Preachers and Christan Writers LOVE to Quote is that Christians get divorced at the same rate as everyone else. I know i have quoted this before in my sermons (i wonder if it goes back to Barna or Gallup). This stat has become unquestioned by all in the evangelical world but i have to admit i always found it a bit suspicious. I always thought it was for people who may have said they believed in God but not truly born again Christians. Well its good news that someone is actually researching this stat and the findings might surprise you.

Here is the article from http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=34656


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)--"Christians divorce at roughly the same rate as the world!" It's one of the most quoted stats by Christian leaders today. And it's perhaps one of the most inaccurate.

Based on the best data available, the divorce rate among Christians is significantly lower than the general population.


Here's the truth....


Many people who seriously practice a traditional religious faith -- be it Christian or other -- have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population.



The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice. Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes -- attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples -- enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.


Professor Bradley Wright, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut, explains from his analysis of people who identify as Christians but rarely attend church, that 60 percent of these have been divorced. Of those who attend church regularly, 38 percent have been divorced [1].


Other data from additional sociologists of family and religion suggest a significant marital stability divide between those who take their faith seriously and those who do not.


W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, finds from his own analysis that "active conservative Protestants" who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans [2].


Professor Scott Stanley from the University of Denver, working with an absolute all-star team of leading sociologists on the Oklahoma Marriage Study, explains that couples with a vibrant religious faith had more and higher levels of the qualities couples need to avoid divorce:


"Whether young or old, male or female, low-income or not, those who said that they were more religious reported higher average levels of commitment to their partners, higher levels of marital satisfaction, less thinking and talking about divorce and lower levels of negative interaction. These patterns held true when controlling for such important variables as income, education, and age at first marriage."


These positive factors translated into actual lowered risk of divorce among active believers.


"Those who say they are more religious are less likely, not more, to have already experienced divorce. Likewise, those who report more frequent attendance at religious services were significantly less likely to have been divorced [3]."


THE TAKE-AWAY


The divorce rates of Christian believers are not identical to the general population -- not even close. Being a committed, faithful believer makes a measurable difference in marriage.


Saying you believe something or merely belonging to a church, unsurprisingly, does little for marriage. But the more you are involved in the actual practice of your faith in real ways -- through submitting yourself to a serious body of believers, learning regularly from Scripture, being in communion with God though prayer individually and with your spouse and children, and having friends and family around you who challenge you to take you marriage's seriously -- the greater difference this makes in strengthening both the quality and longevity of our marriages. Faith does matter and the leading sociologists of family and religion tell us so.
--30--
Glenn T. Stanton is the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., and is the author of the new book, "Secure Daughters Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity" (Multnomah, 2011).


1 Bradley R.E. Wright, "Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You've Been Told," (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010), p. 133.


2 W. Bradford Wilcox and Elizabeth Williamson, "The Cultural Contradictions of Mainline Family Ideology and Practice," in American Religions and the Family, edited by Don S. Browning and David A. Clairmont (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007) p. 50.


3. C.A. Johnson, S. M. Stanley, N.D. Glenn, P.A. Amato, S.L. Nock, H.J. Markman and M .R. Dion "Marriage in Oklahoma: 2001 Baseline Statewide Survey on Marriage and Divorce" (Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma Department of Human Services 2002) p. 25,