Sunday, August 31, 2008

Michael Moore finds reason to believe in God




I believe people like this are referred to as "useful idiots."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Trig Paxson Palin


I posted a link to this article back in May but considering current events I thought it was worth posting again.



The Palins never considered aborting the baby. That means that Trig Palin is now is a very rare group of very special children, because it is now believed that the vast majority of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth are being aborted.

Modern diagnostic tests are driving a "search and destroy mission" to eliminate babies judged to be inferior, disabled, or deformed. Some experts now believe that up to 90 percent of all pregnancies diagnosed as having a likelihood of Down syndrome end in abortion.

Back in 2005, ethicist George Neumayr commented: "Each year in America fewer and fewer disabled infants are born. The reason is eugenic abortion. Doctors and their patients use prenatal technology to screen unborn children for disabilities, then they use that information to abort a high percentage of them. Without much scrutiny or debate, a eugenics designed to weed out the disabled has become commonplace."

The Palins would not even consider aborting their baby. "We've both been very vocal about being pro-life," Governor Palin said. "We understand that every innocent life has wonderful potential."

She loves her baby boy and is proud of him. "I'm looking at him right now, and I see perfection," Palin told the Associated Press. "Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?"

Some ethicists now go so far as to argue for a "duty" to abort a baby with a Down diagnosis. This is an assault upon the dignity of every human being. The fact that so few Down syndrome babies now make it to birth is a sign that America is making its own pact with the Culture of Death.

- Al Mohler

Friday, August 29, 2008

When Prayer Becomes Political



Any Thoughts?

Is it appropriate for a Christian to invite people "of other faith traditions" to pray to their own god?

Is it appropriate for a Christian to refer to false doctrines and idolatries as "other faith traditions?"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Pastor's Regrets

The Catholic Church rebukes one of its own

Nancy Pelosi probably wishes she had not publically commented on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and its history and teaching regarding abortion. She has been receiving a steady stream of rebukes from various officers in the Church since her ill-informed foray into theology and church history.

Check out this article from apnews.com.


Politics can be treacherous. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked on even riskier ground in a recent TV interview when she attempted a theological defense of her support for abortion rights.

Roman Catholic bishops consider her arguments on St. Augustine and free will so far out of line with church teaching that they have issued a steady stream of statements to correct her.

The latest came Wednesday from Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, who said Pelosi, D-Calif., "stepped out of her political role and completely misrepresented the teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to abortion."

It has been a harsh week of rebuke for the Democratic congresswoman, a Catholic school graduate who repeatedly has expressed pride in and love for her religious heritage.

The Providence of God in Sickness and Suffering


Those of you who know me know my affection for Charles Spurgeon. His life and ministry is a worthy subject of study for any Christian but especially for those serving in full-time service to the Gospel.


Gordon Cheng has posted some excellent reflections on Spurgeon's life, particularly his daily struggle with sickness and various other sources of suffering. It's well worth the read.


For further reading:

Spurgeon by Arnold Dallimore


Lectures To My Students by Charles Spurgeon

Majesty in Misery (3 Vol.) by Charles Spurgeon

Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is Protestantism Dead?


As a regular reader of First Things I was quite interested in Joseph Bottum's article in the August/September issue - "The Death of Protestant America."


Check out this helpful commentary by Al Mohler on Bottum's observations.




In the course of his article, Bottum offers a sophisticated and compelling sociological and theological understanding of what happened to the churches of the Protestant Mainline. He offers a lament that the American experiment is now robbed of a central support.

"We all have to worry about it, now," Bottum reflects. "Without the political theory that depended on the existence of the Protestant Mainline, what does it mean to support the nation? What does it mean to criticize it? The American experiment has always needed what Alexis de ­Tocqueville called the undivided current, and now that current has finally run dry."

What can replace it? Bottum suggests that neither Catholicism (with its "vast intellectual resources") nor Evangelicalism (unable to offer "a widely accepted moral rhetoric") can replace what America's Protestant identity once provided.

Indicatives & Imperatives

Imperative - "Indicating authority or command; urgent, necessary" (Webster's). An imperative is a statement of what one must do.

Indicative - "Designating that mood of a verb used to express an act" (Webster's). An indicative explains what is true. It is not a command but expresses the rationale behind the command.

“The great gospel imperatives to holiness are ever rooted in indicatives of grace that are able to sustain the weight of those imperatives. The Apostles do not make the mistake that’s often made in Christian ministry. [For the Apostles] the indicatives are more powerful than the imperatives in gospel preaching. So often in our preaching our indicatives are not strong enough, great enough, holy enough, or gracious enough to sustain the power of the imperatives. And so our teaching on holiness becomes a whip or a rod to beat our people’s backs because we’ve looked at the New Testament and that’s all we ourselves have seen. We’ve seen our own failure and we’ve seen the imperatives to holiness and we’ve lost sight of the great indicatives of the gospel that sustain those imperatives. Woven into the warp and woof of the New Testament’s exposition of what it means for us to be holy is the great groundwork that the self-existent, thrice holy, triune God has — in Himself, by Himself and for Himself — committed Himself and all three Persons of His being to bringing about the holiness of His own people. This is the Father’s purpose, the Son’s purchase and the Spirit’s ministry.”

- Sinclair Ferguson

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Splendid Theater

“In the cross of Christ, as in a splendid theater, the incomparable goodness of God is set before the whole world. The glory of God shines, indeed, in all creatures on high and below, but never more brightly than in the cross, in which there was a wonderful change of things—the condemnation of all men was manifested, sin blotted out, salvation restored to men; in short, the whole world was renewed and all things restored to order.”

John Calvin

Donald Miller's prayer at the DNC




Any Thoughts?

Recent Posts

Certainly you have noticed that some of my recent posts have concerned the issue of abortion. The rationale behind this is the fact that, this being an election season, abortion is in the news quite a bit. Also, abortion is one of the most crucial moral issues of our time. Since the passing of Roe Vs. Wade America has aborted some 50 million babies. The numbers are so immense that it is easier to dismiss the issue all together. It's a bit like trying to contemplating the distance between earth and Alpha Centauri. It is just too much.

As the previous post helps to demonstrate, abortion is not a political issue. It's about God. Certainly, there are political implications because we live a country where our laws are written by men and women we elect to public office. I am sorry that one political party has been the primary champions of abortion. But that should not keep people of good conscience from speaking out.

As many of you know I do not "do" politics from the pulpit. I don't endorse candidates. I don't endorse political parties. The church must carefully avoid being co-opted by politicians. This is a problem on the both the right and the left. But to speak out on abortion is not a violation of this principle because the morality and theology of abortion transcends politics.

Personally I will not vote for a pro-choice politician. Some will criticize me for being a one issue voter. But I submit that we are all one issue voters. It just depends on what the issue is. For me, abortion is an issue of such moral urgency that I cannot support a candidate who does not have the moral clarity to recognize this fact. The "one issue voter" criticism is a bit like saying to Mary Lincoln, "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

Abortion is about God

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Ignorance and Immorality of Abortion


On this week's edition of Meet The Press, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demonstrated not only her ignorance of church history but the twisted morality that lies at the heart of abortion. Here is a portion of Mrs. Pelosi's interview with Tom Brokaw:



MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you're looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, "Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?" what would you tell him?

REP. PELOSI: I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator--St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child--first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There's very clear distinctions. This isn't about abortion on demand, it's about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and--to--that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don't think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who've decided...

MR. BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it...

REP. PELOSI: I understand that.

MR. BROKAW: ...begins at the point of conception.

REP. PELOSI: I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That's why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must--it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to take--you know, we have to handle this as respectfully--this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been--and I'm not saying Rick Warren did, because I don't think he did, but others will try to.

When human life begins "shouldn't have an impact on a woman's right to choose." As outrageous as it sounds this is not the minority opinion among the pro-abortion crowd. When life begins is something they have no desire to talk about because it has no impact on their feelings about abortion.


Check out this helpful post from the guys at Triablogue. It refutes Mrs. Pelosi's historical fallacies.

The DNC and Religion

Check out this article on the presence of faith and religion at this year's Democratic National Convention.

"At the first official event Sunday of the Democratic National Convention, a choir belted out a gospel song and was followed by a rabbi reciting a Torah reading about forgiveness and the future.

Helen Prejean, the Catholic nun who wrote "Dead Man Walking," assailed the death penalty and the use of torture.


Young Muslim women in headscarves sat near older African-American women in their finest Sunday hats.

Four years ago, such a scene would have been unthinkable at a Democratic National Convention. In 2004, there was one interfaith lunch at the Democratic gala in Boston."

Interestingly...
At Sunday's service, Bishop Charles Blake, head of the predominantly black Church of God in Christ and a self-described pro-life Democrat, said Barack Obama should be pressed to "elaborate upon his stated intention to reduce the number of abortions by providing alternative programs."

Fear not little flock


As Jesus was sending out the seventy-two disciples on mission ahead of him he said, “I am sending you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). This does not seem to be the best recruiting strategy. It is a portrait of vulnerability if ever there was one. It is akin to Jesus saying, “I am sending you out as swimmers among the great whites.” The contrast between lamb and wolf is stark. It is the contrast between gentleness and violence. It’s the contrast between predator and prey. Is there doubt what happens when lambs are exposed to wolves? One writer put it this way: “We are called to be lamb chops to a hungry world.” Commentator John Noland writes, “The vulnerability of those sent is a mirror of Jesus’ own vulnerability and is to be similarly met” (551).

In Luke 12:32 Jesus comforts his disciples with these words: “Do not fear little flock for it is the Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Jesus does not comfort the “little flock” with promises that he will make them a huge, well armed, and mighty flock. His pleasure in giving them the kingdom is connected to the fact that they are not great and mighty as the world defines those terms.

This seems to always be God’s pattern. He purposes to use the weak things and the despised things to confound the powerful and the proud. Joseph, although he rose to great influence in Egypt, arrived there only after a long line of betrayals and suffering. Moses, having risen to the heights of power in Pharaoh’s Egypt as a young man was not ready to be used by God until after he had lost his power, status, and self-assurance. It was not until Moses lacked all confidence that he could do what God called him to do that he was truly ready.

Judges chapter seven tells us of Gideon and the army of 300. Once God had whittled the army down to 10,000 men He gave Gideon one more way to further reduce the number. God told Gideon to take them to the water and watch them drink. The ones that lapped the water would be the ones who would make up the fighting force. All others would be sent home.

Now, there is nothing superior about lapping water like a dog. It has been theorized that in drinking that way the soldiers were demonstrating greater watchfulness and would therefore make better soldiers. But this is not the point of the story. The seeming arbitrariness of the selection process underscores the fact that God’s goal was simply to make the army smaller thereby heightening their weakness. God was not trying to recruit a particularly elite team of special forces. He was ensuring that the victory He would achieve would not be a cause for human pride.

The apostle Paul was no stranger to weakness. Prior to his conversion Paul was a respected member of the Jewish ruling counsel. He was well educated and zealous. His adherence to the law was impeccable. If any Pharisee had reason to boast it was the man formerly known as Saul. But Paul came to understand that anything that fueled his confidence in his own flesh was ultimately a loss for the cause of Christ.

As a Christian, Paul endured great suffering and harassment. He knew the constant pressure of caring for churches. He even knew the pain of betrayal. But through it all Paul was eventually able to say, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

Those of us raised in the church are at a bit of a disadvantage in that we are no longer shocked by the apostle’s words. But think about it for just a moment. Can you imagine boasting in weakness and insults? Can you imagine expressing gratitude for injuries received to the extent that they make you more dependent upon God? I was once told by a man dying of cystic fibrosis, “Anything that makes me realize how much I need Jesus is a friend.”

Above all these examples stands the cross. Never has there been a more despised thing; a more foolish thing. Paul writes,“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:20-21). The apostle goes on to remind the Corinthians, “not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” All of this, Paul writes, please God who delights to use what the world deems weak, foolish, and nothing in order to bring an end to human pride.

In his book Too Good to be True Michael Horton writes:

“The theology of the cross sees God only where God has revealed himself,
particularly in the weakness and mercy of the suffering…We look for God in powerful places; in health, wealth, and happiness; in perfect families and prosperous nations, but God is truly to be found in the weak things of the world. In other words, we are talking about a theology for winners versus a theology for losers…

“In our Redeemer’s years on earth, the God who had created heaven and earth was now incarnate. He started out dependent on a poor couple barely capable of providing for their own basic needs. As Jesus approached his messianic vocation, John the Baptist announced, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). So from the very beginning, Jesus lived under the shadow of the cross. It was not only on Good Friday, but from the moment he assumed our flesh and endured our shame, that he began to suffer for our redemption…

“So we already see the paradox emerging: the Father expresses his greatest pleasure in his Son precisely at those moments when the storm clouds of Good Friday gather on the horizon. The crucifixion is not something that happens to Jesus on his way to doing something else, like showing us how ‘good guys finish first,’ or how to make a difference in the world, or how to be a successful leader.”

Friday, August 22, 2008

Donald Miller to pray at DNC


Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz will be praying at this year's Democratic National Convetion. Christianity Today inverviewed Miller about the opportunity to pray at the DNC. They also asked him questions about issues such as abortion and homosexual marriage.



Where do you stand on issues like abortion and gay marriage?

The issue of abortion is a very sensitive one and it’s an important issue. I look at from a perspective of, what’s the best that we can do. As we elect a Republican House and Senate, and as we elect Republican leadership in the executive branch, we see very little changes on that issue. We’re electing someone who agrees with us on abortion, being sort of a tragedy in our country, and yet can’t get anything done. It’s kind of like saying, I want a pilot on my plane who feels this way about abortion, but he can’t fly the plane. The executive branch doesn’t have that much power, it has some power, but it doesn’t have much power. You look at the reality of that and say, what can I do to defend the sanctity of all human life, including the living, and the marginalized and the oppressed and the poor? What can we do to better social conditions so that less women are put in situations where they feel like they need to have an abortion. What does looking at the issue holistically look like. I hope the Democrats will listen to those of us who lean toward pro-life and those changes can be made.

In terms of gay marriage, I see it as a constitutional issue. Until we become a theocracy, I think that judges should look at it from a constitutional issue. Whether I think homosexuality’s wrong, personally? America is not God’s country. It’s not considered a Christian nation anymore. You have to look at everybody, not just Christians and say, what are the rights of these people based on this constitution. That’s another difficult issue as well. I get a bit frustrated when the evangelical position is reduced to two issues. So many other issues are not a concern to us. What happened was, in my opinion, the Christian positions has been reduced in order to manipulate us. If we give them these two issues, we can do whatever we want.



Any Thoughts?

After reading the interview I have a few follow up questions:
1. What does it mean to "lean pro-life"?
2. Why is it that when conservatives mix God and politics it's dangerous?
3. Why is it okay for political liberals to talk about their candidate being God's man?
4. Does Donald Miller really believe that the Muslim world not liking the U.S. is a recent phenomena?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How specific is our worship?

Good thoughts from Jared over at The Gospel-Driven Church blog.

We trust not because "a God" exists, but because this God exists.-- C.S. Lewis, “On Obstinacy in Belief”

Yes!

As the segment of ostensibly evangelical worship directed somewhere roundabouts "a God" who cares about our feelings and who wants us to tap into the "divine potential" in all of us grows and grows, more and more determined evangelical worship redirects to "the God" who has a name, who rules and loves and saves in history, who can be accessed and enjoyed through the divine Person of Jesus.

I've sat through some Christian worship services that could've been directed toward Allah for all we knew. We have shaved off the specificity (to better comfort) and slouched away from intentionality (to better entertain) and consequently we have ceased, in N.T. Wright's words, "rehearsing the mighty acts of God" in our corporate worship.

"Telling the story, rehearsing the mighty acts of God: this is near the heart of Christian worship, a point not always fully appreciated in the enthusiastic, free-flowing worship common in many circles today. We know God through what he has done in creation, in Israel, and supremely in Jesus, and what he has done in his people and in the world through the Holy Spirit. Christian worship is praise of this God, the one who has done these things."
-- N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Russell Moore on "Snuggling a Manequin"


Check out THIS POST by Russell Moore on "the cosmic lostness of a fatherless life." He comments on the book A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs. It's a bit creepy but profound nevertheless. Moore writes:


Recently I came across one of the saddest passages I've ever read. Writer Augusten Burroughs writes in his new book, The Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father, about growing up with his distant, neglectful father. One part, in particular, was so raw as to make me almost cringe as I read it.


Burroughs writes about how, as a seven year-old child, he realized that whenever he'd try to crawl in his father's lap, his dad would push him away. He writes that his father wouldn't even look at the boy as he stared straight ahead at the television screen. The little boy kept a scorecard on a clipboard of how many times his father refused to cuddle with him, and it was close to 100 percent of the times attempted.


Hungering for his father's presence, the boy took one of his father's shirts and a pair of pants from his parents' closet, stuffed the clothes with towels and pillows, and lathered it with his father's cologne.


At night, he would snuggle up against this father mannequin, pretending to be held and loved. He writes that one day his mother found the dummy, and simply returned the clothes to the closet, the pillows to the bed.


Burroughs concludes: "Over time, my father's scents faded from the pillows until there was nothing left of him at all."

Flawed Leaders


Earlier today I was talking with one of the guys on staff about Leading With A Limp by Dan Allender. I read it a year ago or so and it made a pretty deep impact on the way I think about leadership. Anyway, I pulled my copy off the book shelf and read a few portions this afternoon.

In a chapter entitled "No More Jackasses" Allender begins by quoting from the book of Ecclesiastes:


Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
I saw the tears of the oppressed -
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors -
and they have no comforter.
And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.
But better than both
is he who has not yet been,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.

And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's evny of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.


"The book of Ecclesiastes is thick, blood-red meat to a world that prefers the more easily digested milk of simple solutions. If the writer is accurate, the motivation of most leaders is not greed or even power, but envy. It is not inaccurate to say people live for the 'green,' but the green is not money. It is envy.


"The passage that opened this chapter suggests that envy is what breeds the oppression of the weak and that envy is the reason the oppressed have no comforters. In fact, it is better to have never been born that to have to suffer a world made mad and cruel through envy. Envy makes a human heart beastly - like an ass.


"Note the difficult message being delivered to those who have power: if you exercise power and authority over others, you are probably an oppressor. We leaders misuse our power when we envy what we perceive others possess and then attempt to take it from them. Envy arises because we are not grateful for how God has written our world or for how he has blessed us. Envy comes from a sense of inadequacy and emptiness rooted in our woundedness. The more a person is driven by emptiness and inadequacy, the more self-centered and violent that person will become - and the more oppression he will bring into the world."


Allender's description sounds pretty bleak. Perhaps he paints with too broad a brush. But when I pull back the curtain of my life to see what is deep inside I find myself identifying with the flaws, wounds, and outright sins that Allender identifies as common among leaders.


More later...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Al Mohler on the Saddleback Forum


Check out this helpful post from Al Mohler on Saturday evening's civil forum at Saddleback.


"With the press pushing the event as a "new face" for American evangelicals, I was not overly hopeful. Given the hype, I was positively unhopeful. But . . . the event turned to be quite worthwhile after all. I still have deep reservations about identifying the event so closely with a church, but the conversations really did get to urgently important and controversial issues, and Pastor Rick Warren handled the conversations with aplomb, demonstrating both civility and candor.


"Pastor Warren's questions ranged from the deeply personal to the overtly controversial. He often asked questions that made it difficult for the candidates to avoid giving direct and revealing answers. He let the candidates speak for themselves...


"But, not everyone is pleased. Writing in the editorial pages of USA Today, columnist DeWayne Wickham complained that the event was too overtly Christian. "What we need in the White House is a devout believer in this nation's democratic principles, not the vicar of Saddleback," he asserted.


"The "vicar of Saddleback?" Neither of these candidates is running for that office. That comment reveals more about DeWayne Wickham's commitment to a secularist vision of politics than about the Saddleback event."

Take and Read


Some books never lose their relevance. Here is one that could have been written yesterday:



You can get this classic now for just $6.50. It is a book I highly recommend.


During the 1930's Machen was one of the most notable New Testament scholars in the world. He founded Westminster Theological Seminary and left behind a number of significant and lasting books and other writings.

New Links

Check out some of the new links in the "Bible and Theology" section of this blog. Among the new links are:

Best Commentaries

New Testament Gateway

Religion Online

Kudos to Saddleback

I must confess that I watched the Saddleback forum with Senators McCain and Obama rather reluctantly. I am not a fan of most politicians and televised "debates" are usually not debates at all. But the Saddleback forum was different. Rather than having one minute to avoid answering a direct question the candidates were given the time to answer thoughtfully and thoroughly (if they so chose). By the time the forum ended I came to the conclusion that the format was far more helpful than any of the major network debates (which are not debates at all). So, kudos to Rick Warren and Saddleback for what was a truly helpful service to those of us who plan on voting in November.

Investor's Business Daily has commented on the Saddleback forum. Check out the article HERE.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Extinguishing Hell?


Check out this article by Al Mohler on the diminishing belief in hell among evangelicals.


"Undoubtedly, much of this can be traced to currents in the larger culture, where non-judgmentalism, a therapeutic view of life, and a thoroughly modern view of fairness lead many to reject hell as a place of everlasting torment and punishment for those who never come to faith in Christ.


"As Professor Segal observed, "They believe everyone has an equal chance, at this life and the next." Thus, "hell is disappearing, absolutely."


"That this is true within the culture at large is not surprising. But when those who claim identity as evangelical Christians begin to modify the doctrine, this should set off alarms.


"No doctrine stands alone. There is no way to modify belief in hell without modifying the Gospel itself, for hell is an essential part of the framework of the Gospel and of the preaching of Jesus. Hell cannot be remodeled without reconstructing the Gospel message.


"Here is a sobering thought: Hell may disappear from the modern mind, but it will not disappear in reality. God is not impressed by our surveys."

Abortions in U.S. have declined

At Saturday evening's Saddleback forum Senator Obama asserted that under George Bush abortions in the U.S. have not declined. Actually, abortions in the U.S. are at their lowest rate in decades.

Check out this story from U.S. News and World Report.

"The actual number of abortions dropped to a new low, with 1.2 million abortions in 2005, compared to a high of 1.6 million abortions in 1990.

"The report does not include an analysis of why the levels have continued to decline. "We don't regard [the findings] as good or bad," Jones said. "It's a descriptive study."

"The abortion rate for 2005 was 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. In comparison, the rate was 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women in 1981, 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women in 2000, and 19.7 abortions per 1,000 women in 2004."

What else is 'above his pay grade'?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saddleback Forum

I just watched the forum at Saddleback with John McCain and Barrack Obama. In my mind there is absolutely no comparison between the two candidate's performance this evening. I will let you imagine who I believe won the day. One of the men displayed a great deal of moral clarity and leadership while the other avoided answering questions directly and wandered about in an almost stream of consciousness style of communication.

Your thoughts?

Friday, August 15, 2008

John Piper - Some Shepherds Shame the Name of Jesus

More Weekend Fun

A Little Weekend Fun

Try THIS out for a weekend project.

When Dawkins Doesn't Like Darwinism

Check out this good post from Creed or Chaos on Richard Dawkins' self-contradictory conundrum.

Obama's Disturbing Record on Abortion

Check out this article in The Wall Street Journal by John Fund.


"It turns out that while in the Illinois legislature, he voted against a bill that would have defined a fully born baby who survived an abortion as a "person." The concept isn't that controversial even among liberal Democrats. Senator Barbara Boxer of California, the Senate's leading pro-choice champion, urged her fellow Democrats to vote for a federal version of the same concept back in 2001, saying such a provision did not impinge on the rights enshrined in the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. The Born Alive Infants bill eventually passed the U.S. Senate by 98 to 0.

"But in the Illinois Senate, when Mr. Obama chaired the Health and Human Services Committee, records show a bill consisting of exactly the same language two years later was voted down by six to four. Mr. Obama was one of the legislators opposing it."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Discernment from a rather surprising source

Check out this powerful article in, of all places, Charisma Magazine concerning Todd Bentley.

Sinclair Ferguson on Imputed Righteousness

Todd Bentley in Action

Spiritual Subjectivism

Things have been goofy in Lakeland, Florida in recent months. Todd Bentley, the charismatic revivalist, prophet, and healer has brought his lunacy to Ignited Church. Check out this article in Christianity Today.

This points out the danger of, among other things, the spiritual subjectivism that is rampant in evangelicalism. When we begin to say, "Who are you to question my experience?" the inevitable outcome is Todd Bentley-type foolishness. But what is happening in Lakeland is not simply foolish. It is destructive. How many sick and hurting people have gone to see Bentley, only to not make it on the stage? How many people will live with the burden of being told that their cancer persists or their child died because they did not have enough faith?

From Islam to Jesus

Check out this story from Fox News about the remarkable conversion to Christ of the son of a prominent Hamas leader.

Death by Love

Thursday, August 7, 2008

When pastors promise what they can't deliver

This promotion from Rod Parsley is just another reminder of how bad hermenuetics and bad theology leads to bad practice. At what point are the people in these prosperity churches going to finally say, "The only one it's working for is the guy we're giving all our money to!"?

Also, instead of "sow your seed," I wish these guys would just say, "Gimme your money!"

That's My King!

Paul Tripp on the Power of Words

The Power of Words

Monday, August 4, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn 1918-2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was not only a towering intellect but a courageous man. Check out these tributes:

Albert Mohler

He was born in 1918, the very year following the Soviet Revolution. That same year the Communist Party began to create an extensive system of political prisons and concentration camps known as "gulags." Solzhenitsyn would bring the reality of Soviet oppression to the world's attention through his writings, including a 300,000-word history of the camps, published as The Gulag Archipelago. As author Joseph Pearce reflected, "Thus it was that Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the Gulag Archipelago were born within weeks of each other, children of the same revolution."

John Piper

No one did more than Solzhenitsyn to expose the horrors of the failed communist experiment in Russia. Hitler’s purge would pale, if such things could pale, when compared to ten times the carnage in Stalin’s gulags.

Review of "90 Minutes in Heaven"

Check out Tim Challies's review of Don Piper's "90 Minutes in Heaven."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Triumph of the Sensational OR Did Don Piper really go to Heaven?

I am letting you know up front that this post is going to make some of you mad. You will accuse me of being judgmental, critical, skeptical, etc. And, to a certain extent, you would be right. However, as someone called to be in service to the truth I believe I have to speak out when the church is confronted by error from within.

I received an email today from Lifeway, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. It reads in part:

We are currently scheduling Don for June and July of 2009! Allow this wonderful brother to share with your church on a Sunday or a revival service. He offers real hope and biblical solutions to a searching world!!

Dear Pastor Todd:
Hi there and greetings in the strong name of Jesus! Please visit Don's web site (www.donpiperministries.com) and order the amazing book "90 Minutes In Heaven". It is a New York Times best seller with over 3,000,000 in print! The book has brought hope and healing to countless lives! Don has been Recommended by Life Way Christian Resources and Family Christian Bookstores. His book is also carried at Walmart. He has spoken at many evangelical churches from around the world and has been endorsed by Bill and Gloria Gaither; the late Dr. James Kennedy of the Coral Ridge Ministries among many others. Prayerfully consider having Don come share in your church on a Sunday or in a revival se rvice. Don Piper is now scheduling for the 2009 calendar year! Your church will never be the same! Contact me personally for more details!


Now, to my question: “Did Don Piper go to heaven?”

I doubt it. Let me rephrase that: I SERIOUSLY doubt it. I am a skeptic. Perhaps I’m a little jaded but I do not believe that Don Piper spent one minute in heaven much less ninety. How can I say that? Simple. I find the entire notion that God took Mr. Piper to heaven and then sent him back so he could tell us that heaven is really there to be unbiblical and utter nonsense. Does everyone whose heart stops beating get sent off to the place of eternal bliss or damnation only to be yanked back the moment that doctors are able to get their hearts going again? Is clinical death the equivalent of dead-as-a-doornail death? Hebrews 9:27 says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…”

Piper has said, "I like to say that I came back by popular demand. People prayed me back from the gates of heaven. People prayed me back from death's door. I'm here because people asked God for me to be here." Is this biblical? Can we “pray people back” from heaven? Does it matter if we get something like that wrong? Can we afford to be sloppy about our theology of heaven, death, prayer, etc.? Besides all of that, there is an eternity of difference between coming back from the “gates of heaven” and returning from “death’s door.” And this gets to the heart of my problem with Don Piper’s story. I have no doubt he was knock, knock, knockin’ on death’s door. But for biblical reasons I do not believe he was called back from the courts of heaven.

Let me back up just a moment. DON Piper, not to be confused with JOHN Piper (someone worth reading), is the author of the bestseller “90 Minutes In Heaven.” The book has sold about 5 gazillion copies. It has also proven to be an impressive marketing tool having produced a number of spin-off products. There is also the ubiquitous devotional book based upon “90 Minutes” for those who are apparently bored with the Bible. I am still waiting for the “90 Minutes Shofar” to accompany the “Prayer of Jabez Prayer Shawl.”

One of the things that trouble me about the whole 90 Minutes in Heaven phenomenon is that it reveals contemporary evangelical’s boredom with the Bible. Simply put, the Word of God seems to be insufficient for Christians today. I have been told by wonderful people that “90 Minutes in Heaven” helped comfort them after the loss of a loved one. I want to tread carefully here. But when did the Bible stop being a sufficient means to comfort us with the blessed hope of heaven?

This is a far cry from biblical commentaries and books of theology and doctrinal instruction that simply seek to expound upon the Bible’s teaching. What Piper’s book, and others like it, seeks to do is supplement what the Bible says with something more exciting. After all, who wants to read about Jesus’ promise to prepare for us a home when a contemporary writer can tell us what it looks like because he’s been there? Contemporary Christianity’s infatuation with the sensational has led to innumerable errors and outright heresy. History is pockmarked with would-be messiahs, prophets, and teachers who enrich themselves selling stories of their dreams, magical cures, and flights of fancy.

I can hear the protests. “Todd, isn’t it worth it if one person comes to know Christ because of Don Piper’s book?” I will answer that question thusly: People will not come to know Christ because they read “90 Minutes in Heaven.” Period. The means God uses to bring men and women to faith is the Word of God. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17; cf. 10:8-14).

Jesus spoke to this issue. In Luke’s Gospel Jesus recounts the story of the rich man and Lazarus. You will remember that both men die. The rich man goes to hell and Lazarus is welcomed into the arms of heaven. Not wanting his five brothers to die and go to hell, the rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to warn them. “Surely,” the rich man reasoned, “if they see someone back from the dead they will believe.” It certainly makes sense. But Abraham’s response is almost shocking: “They have Moses and the Prophets [the Scriptures]; let them hear them…If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:19-31).

That’s right. The Word of God is more powerful than the testimony of someone returning from the dead.

I do not know anything about Don Piper. I do not know whether or not he actually believes he went to heaven for 90 minutes. His sincerity or lack thereof makes little difference to me. What matters to me is that hundreds of thousands of Christians seem to need a fanciful tale to offer them comfort or spiritual sustenance. What matters to me is that many Christians have spent more time reading pages from Don Piper’s books than God’s Book.

Now, to those who would say, “Who are you to question his spiritual experience?” I simply say, “I am, I suppose, his brother in Christ.” If a brother in Christ will not question his experience in light of God’s Word then who will? If I claim that God has given me the power to raise the dead or heal all forms of cancer then I would hope that a brother or sister would want some sort of confirmation. I hope that more would be expected from me than just, “Trust me. It’s all there in my book. And by the way, who are you to question me?”

Read the Bible my friends. Live within its pages. Also, read good books by Bible-saturated men and women. Spurgeon said of John Bunyan, “Prick him anywhere and he bleeds ‘bibline.’” Read The Pilgrim’s Progress and you will know what Spurgeon meant. The “Christian” publishing industry is going to continue to churn out fluff, even garbage and businesses like Lifeway Christian Book Stores will be waiting in the wings to sell it.

There are however a few outstanding publishing houses committed to God-centered, biblically faithful books that truly edify and instruct the people of God. Among them are…
Crossway
Banner of Truth

Christian Focus
Evangelical Press

Also, check out the “Good Places to Buy Books” section of this blog.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Getting Rich with Ken

Check out this story on prosperity false teacher Kenneth Copeland. Copeland, one of the leaders of the heretical word-faith movement has grown fabulously wealthy by peddling his fasle doctrines to uninformed and uneducated masses. He has grown rich on the multiplied millions of crumbs sent in by his gullible audience.

"His ministry's 1,500-acre campus, behind an iron gate a half-hour drive from Fort Worth, is testament to his success. It includes a church, a private airstrip, a hangar for the ministry's $17.5 million jet and other aircraft, and a $6 million church-owned lakefront mansion."

But Ken isn't the only one getting rich. Click on the link above and read the entire story.

Counterpoints - Homosexuality and Anglicanism

I have posted on the division within the Anglican Communion before and will continue to because it is an historic and decisive moment in the body of Christ. Our brothers and sisters within the Anglican Communion who are holding fast to the Gospel and biblical standards of morality are taking a courageous stand. In this BBC presentation the archbishop of Kenya and a bishop from the U.S. present two very different visions.

Also, check out this important op-ed published in the Times of London. It was written by Rev. Henry Luke Orombi the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda. Referring to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury Orombi writes:

"Anglicans may say there are four “Instruments of Communion,” (the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Lambeth Conference; the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting). But de facto, there is only one - the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"The peculiar thing is that this one man, who is at the centre of the communion's structures, is not even elected by his peers. Even the Pope is elected by his peers, but what Anglicans have is a man appointed by a secular government. Over the past five years, we have come to see this as a remnant of British colonialism, and it is not serving us well. The spiritual leadership of a global communion of independent and autonomous provinces should not be reduced to one man appointed by a secular government."


Be sure to read the entire article. Strong stuff!