Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Os Guiness and doubt

Tim Challies pointed me to a post where Os Guiness is being interviewed mainly on the subject of doubt in the Christian life. The following is an excerpt from his book , now called "God in the Dark." I find it very helpful to understand how doubt is normal to the Christian life.
“Christianity places a premium on the absolute truthfulness and trustworthiness of God, so understanding doubt is extremely important to a Christian. Of course, faith is much more than the absence of doubt, but to understand doubt is to have a key to a quiet heart and a quiet mind. Anyone who believes anything will automatically know something about doubt. But the person who knows why he believes is also in a position to discover why he doubts. The Christian should be such a person.

Not only does a Christian believe, he is a person who ‘thinks in believing and believes in thinking,’ as Augustine expressed it. The world of Christian faith is not a fairy-tale, make-believe world, question-free and problem-proof, but a world where doubt is never far from faith's shoulder.

Consequently, a healthy understanding of doubt should go hand in hand with a healthy understanding of faith. We ourselves are called in question if we have no answer to doubt. If we constantly doubt what we believe and always believe-yet-doubt, we will be in danger of undermining our personal integrity, if not our stability. But if ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt. If doubt is eventually justified, we were believing what clearly was not worth believing. But if doubt is answered, our faith has grown stronger still. It knows God more certainly and it can enjoy God more deeply.” (pp. 15-16).

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Beauty

I was just sitting outside at a local Starbucks, catching up on some reading, when a car drove by. Out came the shout, “You’re all a bunch of slaves.” Now, I’m guessing he thought everyone that hangs out at Starbucks is addicted not just to their coffee, but the atmosphere that it creates. His assumption is, that we worship this environment, therefore we are slaves to it. And I’m sure he thought he was not a slave to anything. He is above that.

I really wish he could have stopped, because I would have loved to have a conversation with him. I would ask him ,“Do you really think you’re not a slave to anything?” The truth is, he’s on to something. What we worship, what consumes us, does enslave us. But, the problem is, he probably thinks he is not controlled by anything that way. But that is lie. And I can say that with full confidence though I have no idea who he is.

Whether it’s hipster non-conformity, punk rock defiance, or any other independent feeling, that in itself can be, and will be worshipped. We’re all worshipping something: wealth, fame, recognition, intellect, sports, jobs, family, relationships, moral purity, etc. The key is to acknowledge whatever “that” is and ask the question, “Is it worthy of all my affection?”

Ironically, at the moment of the outburst, I was reading a paragraph by Plotinus about beauty. He says that there is the “good” that every soul desires. And he says that it is beautiful. Though, I don’t think he was trying to talk about God, he ends up describing what happens when you encounter Him, the greatest beauty that’s ever existed. Check it out:
“...one sees with one’s self alone That alone, simple, single and pure, from which all depends and to which all look and are and live and think for it is the cause of life and mind and being. If anyone sees it, what passion will he feel, what longing in his desire to be united with it, what a shock of delight! The man who has not seen it may desire it as good, but he who has seen it glories in its beauty and is full of wonder and delight, enduring a shock which causes no hurt, loving with true passion and piercing longing; he laughs at all other loves and despises what he thought beautiful before...If then one sees That which provides for all and remains by itself and gives to all but receives nothing into itself, if he abides in the contemplation of this kind of beauty and rejoices in being made like it, how can he need any other beauty?”
"For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary." (Psalm 96:5-6) "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:34)

I thought we didn't have a gas shortage

Just an FYI. For most of you reading this blog, you're probably here in the metro Atlanta area. And you've surely been exposed to the craziness around the gas pumps. Well, my tank was on E today, so I've been looking out my window all day at the BP across the street to see when gas would come in. I can now report that I was victorious. But, it took some time. Here's the flow of the afternoon.

3:10 - A coworker runs down the hall to tell me she spotted the gas truck pull in to BP.
3:11 - I am in my car and in line to get gas. There are about 20 cars in front of me (that I can see).
3:40 - I have not moved an inch. People are out of their cars, wondering what's going on. I have spent the last 29 minutes playing solitaire on my phone.
3:45 - Every gets back in their car with excited faces. The gas is soon to come.
3:50 - Still no movement from anyone.
3:55 - Finally, I start move up a car length.
4:05 - I get up to the entrance of the gas station. I see the fuller story. Not only is my line trying to get gas, but two other seperate entrances (one of which I don't think is an actual entrance) are bringing cars in. At this point maybe 60 cars are at this gas station of 16 pumps.
4:13 - I'm only 7 cars away from a pump. I see maybe 2 or 3 pumps on our side are out of order. I call my friend Ashley, and we chat about various things including the craziness in the financial world the last few days. I assure her our bank is very stable.
4:22 - I've finally arrived! I begin pumping.
4:32 - 10 minutes later, I've only got about 5 gallons. It's...moving...very...slowly. Also, I text my friend who works for the governor that he should tell Mr. Perdue, that there is a gas shortage, despite what he thinks.
4:45 - gas starts spewing out the side of my car, letting me know that my car is most likely full of gas.
4:46 - I finally leave the gas station an 1 hour and 35 minutes later, after filling up 17.4 gallons costing me $78.40. Hooray!!

Now, Sonny Perdue could be telling the truth, but it just doesn't make sense that people would wait for hours to get gas just to "top off." That's just my 78 dollars and 40 cents.

God's sovereignty and our responsibility to evangelize

Tim Challies has a really good post dealing with the much debated issue of God's sovereignty in salvation. Should we evangelize if we believe that God is fully sovereign in bringing someone to Christ? Yes. Why? Read below:
"To be consistent with Reformed theology we must say that if a person is one of the elect, he will come to faith and repentance. It is divinely predestined that this will happen and it is impossible for it not to happen. But God has not shared with us two vital pieces of information. He has not told us just who the elect are and how they will be brought to repentance. He has decreed that we are to share the message with everyone, in every way possible (within the bounds He sets in His Word). Charles Spurgeon once said "if all the elect had a white stripe on their backs I would quit preaching and begin lifting shirt tails" (or something to that effect). God has not put a visible mark on the elect, so we are to treat all men as if they are among the elect, and are to share the Gospel far and wide. We need to share it with a sense of urgency...

It is not difficult for a Christian to know if he has, indeed, evangelized. He has done so if he has proclaimed the message of sin, death, Savior and forgiveness. If he has done this he has evangelized successfully. He cannot and must not evaluate his efforts in the light of who responds to the message. Don Whitney likens the evangelist to the mailman. The mailman has fulfilled the obligation of his job when he has delivered the mail to me. The measure of success in his job is to carefully and accurately deliver the message. How I respond to the letters I receive is none of his concern. And the same is true of the evangelist. He faithfully delivers the message and leaves the results to God.

Ultimately we need to understand that God has not seen fit to share with us exactly how human responsibility and Divine sovereignty interact in evangelism. While we need to always remember that God is the only one who can bring about salvation, He has decreed that we will be the instruments He uses to take the Good News to the world. And that is what we must do, all the while asking God to equip us to be worthy ambassadors for Him."
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another good summary of financial crisis

Jim Manzi gives us his take. As I've read a ton of articles about all this mess, this was one of the more interesting and big picture articles.

Larry Munson, UGA announcer from 1966-2008

There's already been a bunch of articles relaying to everyone the sad news that Larry Munson, the voice of the Dawgs, has retired. As I was reading over a few of them over on ESPN, I found myself getting goose bumps reading through some of the plays he called. He had a voice and a vocabulary that really brought the game alive. Here are three of my favorites.

This call came in 1980, UGA's championship season. We were playing Tennessee.
"We hand it off to Herschel. There's a hole. Five, 10, 12. He's running over people. Oh, you Herschel Walker! My God almighty! He ran right through two men. Herschel ran right over two men. They had him dead away inside the 9. Herschel Walker went 16 yards. He drove right over orange shirts just driving and running with those big thighs. My God, a freshman!"
This also came in 1980, as we were trailing Florida in Jacksonville, 21-20 in the 4th quarter.
"Florida in a stand-up five, they may or may not blitz. Belue third down on the 8. In trouble, he got a block behind him. Going to throw on the run, complete on the 25 to the 30. Lindsay Scott 35, 40. Lindsay Scott, 45, 50, 45, 40. Run Lindsay! 25, 20, 15, 10, 5 Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! ... Well, I can't believe it. 92 yards and Lindsay really got in a foot race. I broke my chair. I came right through a chair. A metal steel chair with about a five-inch cushion. I broke it. The booth came apart. The stadium. ... Well the stadium fell down. Now they do have to renovate this place. They'll have to rebuild it now. This is incredible. You know this game has always been called the World's Greatest Cocktail Party. Do you know what's gonna happen here tonight? And up at Saint Simons and Jekyll Island and all those places where all those Dog people have got those condominiums for four days? Man, is there going to be some property destroyed tonight! 26-21, Dogs on top! We were gone. I gave up, you did too. We were out of it and gone. Miracle!"
The following call came back in 2001. It's probably become Munson's most famous call. I remember it very clearly. I was a sophomore and over at a friend's apartment. We had the TV on but muted, and Larry was bringing us the action. We were on the road at Tennessee and trailing by 4 in the 4th quarter. Tennessee scored and left us with about 50 seconds and one timeout. After going the length of the field, we only had time for one more play:
"Ten seconds. We're on their 6. Michael Johnson turned around asked the bench something. And now, Greene makes him line up on the right in the slot. We have three receivers. Tennessee playing what amounts to a 4-4. Fake and there's somebody. Touchdown! My God, a touchdown! We threw it to [fullback Verron] Haynes. We just stuffed them with five seconds left! My God almighty, did you see what he did? David Greene just straightened up and we snuck the fullback over! Haynes is keeping the ball! Haynes has come running all the way across to the bench. We just dumped it over, 26-24. We just stepped on their face with a hobnailed boot and broke their nose. We just crushed their faces!"
Also, check out Marisa's blog for a great video montage that is played before each home game that has Munson narrating.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spiritual Disciplines lead us to the enjoyment of God

I'm still reading through a book about spiritual disciplines by Dallas Willard (see right sidebar for more info). One of the reasons I wanted to read the book in the first place was my perceived inability to rightly engage in them. In college, I was blessed by a ministry that showed me how to meet with God and how to get to know Him. Through disciplines such as bible study, scripture memory, prayer, fellowship, and evangelism, I grew in my understanding of who God was.

Over time however, I slowly began, without even me knowing it at the time, to equate my position in Christ to the doing of these spiritual disciplines. Ultimately it was a self-righteousness that was creeping in and distorting my view of who God was. After leaving college, and thus the constant accountability of a fellowship to continue in practicing these disciplines constantly, I began to become a little more lazy. And then I began to recognize that I had practiced many of the disciplines in college for the wrong reasons. I began developing a bad taste in my mouth for anything that I would count as a discipline for fear of doing it legalistically.

I believe I'm slowly starting to build up these disciplines again in my life in a healthy way, though it hasn't been easy. And in reading this book a few moments ago, I was struck and encouraged by what Willard has to say about all this. He says:
"Jesus was a master of life in the spirit. He showed us that spiritual strength is not manifested by great and extensive practice of the spiritual disciplines, but by little need to practice them and still maintain full spiritual life. To have misunderstood this point was the fundamental and devastating error of Christian asceticism in the Western church from the desert fathers up to the time of the Reformation. Yet when we look closely and continually as Jesus, we do not lose sight of this one fundamental, crucial point-the activities constituting the disciplines have no value in themselves. The aim and substance of spiritual life is not fasting, prayer, hymn singing, frugal living, and so forth. Rather, it is the effective and full enjoyment of active love of God and humankind in all the daily rounds of normal existence where we are placed. The spiritually advanced person is not the one who engages in lots and lots of disciplines, any more than the good child is the one who receives lots and lots of instruction or punishment."
That is a glorious truth for you and I to hear. How often I have focused on the disciplines themselves without understanding the end result enjoying God. He goes on to say this:
"The need for extensive practice of a given discipline is an indication of our weakness, not our strength. We can even lay it down as a rule of thumb that if it is easy for us to engage in a certain disciplines, we probably don't need to practice it. The disciplines we need to practice are precisely the ones we are not 'good at' and hence we do not enjoy."
May God give us strength to practice disciplines as we seek to enjoy Him.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Abortion and a woman changed by the gospel

Ray Ortlund recently posted this video. It's a brief interview with a girl who was supposed to be aborted years ago, but survived. She's now a pro-life activist and shares a little bit of her captivating story. It's a pretty sad reality to hear what really happens to babies who survive abortions, and then are put to death outside the womb.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good Summation of Financial World...and lemmings

Being in the banking industry, I am overloaded with information about all the financial chaos going on. I ran across this post over at Justin's blog today and thought it was a pretty good analysis of recent happenings, all from a Christian's perspective. So, if you don't know much about what has gone on in the last several months regarding the economic world, check it out.

Also, I wanted an excuse to put up a video that I saw yesterday, and because of the above post I have it. Abraham Piper posted a funny video about lemmings. And the above interview mentions this herd mentality of many people and of lemmings. Check out this post to see what I mean. How crazy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Shack revisited

I thought I was tired of hearing all the arguments for why I should or should not read "The Shack." I posted briefly about it a couple of months ago, after reading a pretty helpful review by Tim Challies. And over the summer have talked to countless people who have read it, all offering very strong arguments for why I should read it and why I should not read it.

On Friday, I listened to someone else talk about it. It was a sermon given by Michael Youssef, pastor at Church of the Apostles here in Atlanta, entitled "Uncovering the Shack." I was intrigued that he starting off by saying that this was only the 3rd time in 25 or 30 years of his preaching ministry that he interrupted a sermon series to cover a random topic. And it was clear over the entirety of the message that he was quite passionate about exposing some of the dangers of the book to his church, even though he knew he would probably be upsetting many.

To clarify, I still haven't read the book, and I don't plan to. That's because I could think of a thousand books that I would rather read for the literary quality or the theological sharpening. But I certainly don't condemn anyone who reads it and even likes it. My only hope with this post is to further encourage discernment.

Click here for the link to the sermon.

God will lift up your head

A few of my friends are wrestling with God right now. God often seems far from them. They lack joy in Him. I also deal with these emotions many times. But, I know the preaching to myself, instead of listening to myself, is the way to victory over these feelings. I find the following hymn to be an encouragement and great truth to preach to yourself when you find that the darkness is heavy in your life.
Give to the winds thy fears,
Hope and be undismayed.
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears,
God shall lift up thy head.

Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears thy way;
Wait thou His time; so shall this night
Soon end in joyous day.

Far, far above thy thought,
His counsel shall appear,
When fully He the work hath wrought,
That caused thy needless fear.

Leave to His sovereign sway
To choose and to command;
So shalt thou, wondering, own that way,
How wise, how strong this hand.
by Paul Gerhardt

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ray Boltz and worldview

Tim Challies responds to this news article that reports on Ray Boltz coming out as being gay. Tim does an excellent job at pointing out some huge worldview implications for us:
"There are essentially two ways that humans can understand the world. The first way is the way we all understand the world until the Holy Spirit intervenes in our lives and gives us new eyes to see. This worldview is I-centered. I am the center of my own universe and the arbiter of all truth. I may not vocalize things in just this way and may not even think them quite like this, but it is ultimately what I believe. I believe that I am capable of looking at the world and understanding the way it works--who God is, who I am, the relationship between us, and so on.

The other way of seeing the world is God-centered. Here I acknowledge God as the center of all that exists and the arbiter of all truth. Everything that is true and everything that is knowable has its source in Him. Thus I can only interpret the world properly by rightly acknowledging God. This is, obviously, the biblical worldview. It is God who tells me who He is, God who tells me who I am and God who declares the terms of the relationship between us.

The first worldview allows me to acknowledge as truth only what I want to believe about myself; the second worldview requires me to acknowledge as truth what God says about me. The first worldview has to have as its premise that I am ultimately good while the second has as its premise that God is ultimately good. In the first view I sin against myself while in the second I sin against God. The contrasts could hardly be more pronounced."
Yesterday, I was having a conversation with someone about Reformed theology, and this idea came up. We often put our experience over what God's revealed Word says about reality. This can be very dangerous. Tim finishes his thoughts this way:
"Sadly, Boltz has an I-centered worldview. He declares without apology that he is gay and, digging a knife into God's back, says that it is God who has made him this way. He rejects God's assessment and instead assesses himself by his own standards and declares that he is good. He piles sin upon sin, accepting his homosexuality as good, rejecting God's declaration that it is sin, divorcing his wife, living that homosexual lifestyle.

The lesson to me in all of this is the importance--the life and death importance--of seeing the world not through my eyes but through God's. God has given us the Bible which allows us, like a pair of glasses that somehow illumines blind eyes, to see the world as He sees it. Through the Bible I find that I am not good but am instead utterly depraved. Incredibly and humiliatingly, I find that I have no ability to properly see and understand reality without Him. I find my desperate dependence upon Him to comprehend what may seem so plain and so obvious. I find that I need Him to interpret reality for me because, without Him, I'll get it wrong every time. I need God to teach me to see myself."
Read the whole thing.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Citizens of both the CIty of God and the City of Man

First off, as my third post today, you can probably tell it's been a really slow day. Not much else to do, other than read different blogs and articles. Maybe the economy will pick back up Monday, and our bank will allow us to start lending money again.

Anyway, once again, Justin Taylor pointed me to a great article. This time it's by Joe Carter as he writes about combining Christianity with politics. As an evangelical Christian, he believes they should mix, but believes it's often done poorly. He comes up with ten points that I think make it a valuable article to read. Here are a few paragraphs:
"1) As a matter of political liberty I believe there are justifiable reasons to support such issues as prayer in schools and public displays of religious symbols. But I can't imagine that on the Day of Judgment I'll hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant--you have faithfully fought to keep the Ten Commandments in the courthouse." More likely we'll all be asked why we didn't spend more time concerned about our neighbors in Darfur or fighting the global AIDS pandemic. Perhaps we should rethink our priorities and put the first things first.
3) In a classical statement of ecumenicity, St. Augustine once said, "In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love." Those of us on the religious right should adopt a similar principle and clearly define the boundaries between what is essential and what is non-essential in matters of policy and politics.

Protecting the sanctity of innocent human life and defending the traditional definition of marriage are clearly essentials. Those matters are based on principles that can be clearly derived from our traditions and holy texts. Other issues, however, are often less opaque. For example, can someone be a part of the "religious right" and not support the war in Iraq? The fact that question can even be asked shows how we've muddied the waters. While I personally think that, on the whole, the war was morally justified and a necessary humanitarian intervention, I can respect those who disagree. Indeed, the alternate opinion may be as rooted in Biblical and conservative principles as, I believe, is my own position to be. We must be careful and deliberate about where we draw the lines of political heresy.
10) Our beliefs are often informed by tradition and sacred texts. This does not, as our ideological opponents often claim, make them invalid. But it does make it necessary to translate them into common political vernacular when we bring them into the public square. Premising a political argument on "Because the Bible says so…" is rarely effective or convincing. Fortunately, God provides us general revelation--conscience, rationality, empirical observation--which is often more effective in expressing his foundational principles in a way that all people can accept and understand. We must use these tools to make obvious the connections that are often overlooked. For instance, we can use logic to show how same-sex marriage affects children and religious liberty or use empirical research to show how family structure influences poverty. It is not enough to be correct in our views; we must also be persuasive.

And finally, we must recognize that America is not a "Christian nation", though we should aspire to be a nation where those of us who are Christians are admired as good and noble citizens. America is not a "shining city on a hill", though we should let our light of freedom be a shining example for the entire world. America is not the "greatest blessing God gave mankind", though it is a great nation worthy of our conditional adoration. Patriotic sentiment has its place but we mustn't let it expand beyond its acceptable borders. We are citizens of both the City of God and the City of Man and must always be careful not to confuse the one for the other."

What rappers are really saying

This is funny.
Thanks Arnold for the video.

Episcopal bishops confused and ultimately UNloving

This article, provided by Dr. Al Mohler, is just sad.
"The most senior California bishops of the Episcopal Church came out in favor of same-sex marriage in the state on Wednesday. The bishops then called on voters to defeat Proposition 8 -- the constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

From the statement released by the bishops:

'As Episcopal Bishops of California, we are moved to urge voters to vote “No” on Proposition 8. Jesus calls us to love rather than hate, to give rather than to receive, to live into hope rather than fear. On Tuesday, November 4th, voters in California will be given the opportunity to vote for or against Proposition 8, which would amend the state’s constitution to reserve marriage as only between a man and a woman. Since the California Supreme Court’s ruling in May that civil marriage should be provided to all of the state’s citizens whether the genders of the couple are different or the same, faithful gays and lesbians have entered into marriage as the principle way in which they show their love, devotion and life-long commitment to each other. Furthermore, marriage provides these couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexual couples take for granted.

Proposition 8 would reverse the court’s decision and withdraw a right given. Proponents of Proposition 8 have suggested that this amendment to the Constitution would protect marriage. We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage. Rather, the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike. Society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment.'"
Dr. Mohler then provides some of his thoughts:
"Tellingly, the bishops offered no substantial biblical or theological defense of their statement. Instead, the bishops relied upon generalized language about "the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy." They added that these should be celebrated and affirmed "to gay and straight alike." The Bible contains absolutely no generalized affirmation of monogamy. Indeed, the Bible commands monogamy in marriage, defined without question as the union of a man and a woman. The "Christian values" the bishops cite in favor of their support of same-sex marriage are aberrant abstractions from the biblical text, from the Christian tradition, and from the moral witness of the church.

The church is not to respect what the Bible clearly identifies as sin. Furthermore, some loves are explicitly prohibited within the Scripture. The bishops stood to endorse activities and relationships that every previous generation of Christians had understood to be sin. No previous generation has been confused about the issue of gender with respect to marriage. The bishops announced their defiant stance against Scripture, tradition, and the practices and beliefs of most Christians worldwide -- including most within their own Anglican Communion."
"For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." - Titus 1:7-9

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Political Stomachache

I've read several little articles this morning that are getting me frustrated. Erik has a good post that talks through Joe Biden's issue on abortion.
Biden: For me, as a Roman Catholic, I’m prepared to accept the teachings of my church….I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society.

Brokaw: But if you, you believe that life begins at conception, and you’ve also voted for abortion rights…

Biden: No, what a voted against curtailing the right, criminalizing abortion. I voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously based view that it’s a moment of conception.
So whatever you believe you can't take into the public realm? That does not make sense.

Also, I saw these next two articles discussing Sarah Palin over at Justin Taylor's blog.

Here's a snippet from this post:
"So while I respect Palin's decision to raise Trig, that's all the respect she will get from me. I don't see eye-to-eye with her on anything else: energy, guns, sex education and of course a woman's right to choose. Her supporters say that Trig signals that she practices what she preaches. Her decision to make her own choice but not grant it to others is a sign of her hypocrisy."

Finally, here's a string a quotes from this post:
"Belief in god, like getting pregnant, is a private matter between consenting adults (or one consenting adult and one or more deities) and is no one else's business. I am on record in this blog (and have not budged an inch) as not objecting to any candidate's religious views.

But I object strongly when anyone (and especially anyone with political power) tries to take their theology out in public, to inflict those private religious (or sexual) views on other people. In both sex and religion (which combine in the debates about abortion), Sarah Palin's views make me fear that the Republican party has finally lost its mind.

Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman...She does not speak for women; she has no sympathy for the problems of other women, particularly working class women.

Joe Biden's views are most relevant to the question at hand, since, as a Catholic, he shares much of Palin's embryological theology: he believes life begins at conception. But he has gone out of his way to insist that he would not impose his personal views on others, and has indeed voted against curtailing abortion rights and against criminalizing abortion. That is the right answer. It's in the Constitution. It's not in the Bible, or the Qu'ran, or the Bhagavad Gita. It's in the mother-lovin' Constitution."
(Sigh) It boggles my mind that people are still so one-sided in their pluralisic beliefs. They gladly state that no one can impose their certain views on them while at the same time condemning others becuase of their view.

I need a Pepto Bismol

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

John Piper to preach through John

I'm pretty excited about this. Having sat under his teaching during the 8 years or so he preached through Romans, I know this one should be just as enriching. He lists six reasons why he's going through it, but the seventh caught my attention. He says:

"Finally, I am hungry for Christ. I feel the way John Owen did near the end of his life. When he died, he was writing a book called Meditations on the Glory of Christ. He wanted to be focused on the main reality of the universe in his last years. So do I. In this book Owen said,
'The revelation...of Christ...deserves the severest of our thoughts, the best of our meditations and our utmost diligence in them.... [W]hat better preparation can there be for [our future enjoyment of the glory of Christ] than in a constant previous contemplation of that glory in the revelation that is made in the Gospel.' (Works, I, p. 275)
Amen. How better can we be made useful for the world, or ready for heaven, than to give our “best meditations and our utmost diligence” to the revelation of the glory of Christ?

No book in the Bible has a more sustained focus on the glory of Jesus Christ than the Gospel of John."

Mark Cuban

I thought this interview with Mark Cuban was...well, interesting. If you don't know, he's the owner of the NBA team Dallas Mavericks, big investor in HD technology, and basically a entrepreneurial billionaire. The title of the article gives it away, but at the end of the interview he actually says, "When I die, I want to come back as me."

So, I guess I sort of agree with him, but the promise of being made new is much more exciting to me than just being myself after I die.

Monday, September 08, 2008

RTS and the awkward man

I'm taking a class starting this weekend at RTS here in Atlanta. It's a history of philosophy class that I'm pretty excited about. I've already begun some of the reading, and I just read the following in Plato's Republic, chapter 7, as he's discussing the famous "cave". I think there is some truth here for me as a Christian. What do you think?
"Nor, again, is it all strange that one who comes from the contemplation of divine things to the miseries of human life should appear awkward and ridiculous when, with eyes still dazed and not yet accustomed to the darkness, he is compelled, in a law-court or elsewhere, to dispute about the shadows of justice of the images that cast those shadows, and to wrangle over the notions of what is right in the minds of men who have never beheld Justice itself"

Christian Guitar Hero?

This post is dedicated to all my worship leader friends out there. It comes from the Stuff Christians Like blog. Apparantly there is a "Christian" Guitar Hero coming out soon. And Prodigal Jon suggests that maybe "Praise Band" should come out after that. In doing so, he comes up with some hilarious elements that he would include in the game if he were creating it. It pokes fun a little bit at the worship leader stereotype that at least prevelant here in north Atlanta.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Christian art?

My friend Whitney posted some very profound thoughts on a post of hers recently. It's all about not how there really is no such thing as "Christian" and "secular" art. Check it out.
When people would come to C.S. Lewis and say “oh you wrote the Chronicles of Narnia, you’re a ‘Christian artist’ how wonderful, how did you do it?” He would say that some people thought that he began by asking himself “How could I say something about Christianity to children”, and then he fixed on fairy tails as an instrument to do it. Then he collected info about child psychology and which age group he’d write for. They thought that he then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out symbols to embody them. “What moonshine, I couldn’t write like that.” And then he says do not ask what do children or readers want or even what do they need. It’s better not to ask those questions at all. He says NEVER start with a moral and then try to come up with a story. Rather, let the images and stories that come into your mind and move you, tell you their own moral. “For the moral inherent in them will rise from whatever spiritual roots you have succeeded in striking during the whole course of your life”

What pearls. He’s saying, "don’t you dare gather up some Christian truths, and then come up with stories or art to get them across” That would be bad art. It would be sanctimonious and pedantic, as TK would say. He is wanting us to ask ourselves “Have I worked every single aspect of the gospel down into the roots of my life, has every feature of the gospel story sunk so deep into the roots of my life that the images that come to me, that move me, simply bubble up out of that?”

Nietzsche and doubt

Arnold posted a good reflective quote on Nietzsche not being consistent.
Nietzsche’s [claim] was that our desire for truth above utility is just one of the many symptoms of human weakness and lack of self-reliance: we are incapable of carrying the burden of our solitude and asserting our will as the ultimate ground of everything we believe; we cannot bear the realization that we are self-grounded, unprotected by any universal order of things.

But on this point, as in most other areas of philosophizing, he was not consistent: he glorified the spirit of doubt, but failed to see that if there is no such thing as truth, there cannot be doubt either. My act of doubting implies that I believe something to be true, but am unable to decide what that something is. If we get rid of truth, doubt becomes impossible.
- Leszek Kolakowski, Metaphysical Horror, p. 29

"That's interesting"

I am guilty of throwing around these two words all the time. Becuase I try to avoid conflict and disagreement, I often cover up my disagreement by saying "that's interesting." Although, I also say it when I think something is actually interesting. I need to get better at all this.

Anyway, I read the following at this site and thought it was pretty funny. It describes me (and you?) very well.
"If you've ever worked in a corporation, you've heard this phrase. This term is so large and undefined that when someone shows you an idea at work you can say "that's interesting" and it can mean everything from, "I like that idea, I think we should turn it into a project" to "that is the worst idea I have ever heard in my life." Try it today, you can use it in almost any situation. Someone spills a coke in your computer keyboard, "that's interesting, the vowels don't work anymore." Someone offers to give you a raise and an office with a door, "that's interesting, I would like a promotion."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Moravian missionaries

Stories like this remind me of what's really important.
(HT:Ray Ortlund)