Tuesday, June 20, 2006


My buddy, Madison Grace, is featured in Southwestern News, the magazine published by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Madison is looking for a church to pastor, so get this guy while you can.

Here is an interesting blog post on young Calvinists in college and why they are growing in number.

It is a good article. The only short coming is that the writer just cannot bring himself to consider that it is simply a movement of God.

North Korea is at it again. This time it appears they are threatening to launch a missile that has enough range to strike the California coast. NK launched a missile in 1998 that flew over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. Since NK has been working to develop nuclear weapons, there is more concern than usual. The missile is 115 feet long, weighs 65 tons, and is a multi-stage missile.

No one is exactly sure what North Korea is doing, though. Some think the missile is more suited to civilian use, as opposed to military. I’m not sure you can make a clear distinction these days. Evidently, the launch of the missile was detected by surveillance rather than an announcement. Only after complaints by several countries did North Korea say anything about the launch.

The United States, Japan and Australia have cautioned NK not to launch the missile. This was supported by France (further indication of better relations between the U.S. and France), which called for a firm and just international response. By which I assume he does not mean nuke them until they glow. Kofi Annan actually took time off from his nefarious duties at the U.N. to make a vague statement to the effect that everybody was worried about NK’s actions.

China, which often acts like a big brother to the unruly, and slightly insane, NK government, was unable to get any information out of little brother about its intentions.

NK signed a missile testing moratorium agreement in 1999 and renewed it in 2002. They are now saying that expired in 2003 and they are not bound by it. It is so hard to get a good contract with a crazy dictator, isn’t it?

The Director of NK’s Foreign Ministry now says “this is a matter of national sovereignty and no one has the right to criticize it.” Actually, Lee, we all have the right to criticize it. It is only in repressive dictatorships like yours where people do not have the right to criticize it. So, consider yourself criticized.

That felt good.

Also, I might add that more powerful countries usually have the right to criticize smaller, less powerful countries, a right that comes with might.

The United States is acting to protect itself, as it should. The Pentagon activated its ground based missile interceptor system. It also dispatched two Navy warships near NK to detect the launch and trigger the interceptor missiles. Our missiles are located in Alaska and California. If the missile comes this way, it will be a good test of our defenses. There are 11 missiles devoted to this defense, so there are 11 chances to shoot down the NK missile.

My guess is this is another of the frequent, if not annual, blackmail attempts by their dictator to get more food and other relief aid sent to NK, which cannot feed itself because of its repressive policies and obsession with spending on its military. Literally millions of North Koreans survive on international food aid because the government is too incompetent to feed them. NK also gets technology and trade benefits to behave. It is known to be engaged in counterfeiting and money laundering. It is in effect a criminal enterprise operating as a government, for the benefit of its dictator and his buddies, and to the misery of its people.

Here are several observations. First, a rogue state can still hold the world hostage if the leader is willing to play brinkmanship and the rest of the world does not want to do what it takes to hold it responsible for its actions. Iran has learned this from NK. Second, the U.N. continues to be useless. Third, China does not want to join the rest of the world in resisting this madman, but uses NK as a buffer from the West. Fourth, the U.S. and France are working together again, if quietly. Fifth, we should pray that God would bring some relief to the poor citizens of North Korea.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Happy Birthday to C. H. Spurgeon. Some day I will be able to thank him for his posthumous contributions to my spiritual life. Today I thank God for him.

“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Psalm. 104:14-15 He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustain's his heart.


Matthew 15:10 Jesus called the crowed to him and said, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean', but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean'."

I'm just askin'.


I got this email today:

It's sad but true; your body cells are constantly decaying
and dying every second of every day.

So much for trying to cheer me up on Father's Day.


I received this letter today from an old friend that had been through some hard times.

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and
then -- just to loosen up. Inevitably, though, one thought led to
another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone -- "to relax," I told myself -- but I knew it
wasn't true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally
I was thinking all the time.

That was when things began to sour at home. One evening I turned off
the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night
at her mother's. I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and
employment don't mix, but I couldn't help myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau, Muir,
Confucius and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused,
asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?"

One day the boss called me in. He said, "Listen, I like you, and it
hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you
don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job."

This gave me a lot to think about. I came home early after my
conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confess, "I've been thinking..."

"I know you've been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!"

"But Honey, surely it's not that serious."

"It is serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as
college professors and college professors don't make any money, so if you
keep on thinking, we won't have any money!"

"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently.

She exploded in tears of rage and frustration, but I was in no mood to
deal with the emotional drama.

"I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared
into the parking lot with NPR on the radio and ran up to the big glass

They didn't open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that
night. Leaning on the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a
poster caught my eye, "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it

You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinkers
Anonymous poster.

This is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss
a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last
week it was "Porky's." Then we share experiences about how we avoided
thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just
seemed...easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking. I think the
road to recovery is nearly complete for me.

Today I took the final step............ I joined the Democratic Party

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Steve McCoy thinks that bloggers elected the SBC president.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Frank Page tapped into the feelings of many Southern Baptist lay people and many younger conservative pastors and seminary professors when he said "there is a serious disconnect between the leaders of our Southern Baptist Convention and the rank-and-file". He tapped in deeply enough to be elected SBC president. The word "disconnect" is somewhat like saying the Grand Canyon is a pretty fair hole in the ground.

Page is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., which no doubt helped him with local voters. In fact, he grew up in Greensboro. We'll call it home court advantage.

Page also said "Some perceive that there is a well-oiled machine, filled with power-hungry politicians, running the show, while the vast majority of loyal, supportive people are left without any voice and/or influence. While this observation may or may not be true, there is a serious perception of disconnect and distrust….Many of us are tired of seeing the same names on committees year after year…Many of us are losing patience with the perception that a few people control everything in the Southern Baptist Convention."

Another position that made Page attractive was his statement that doctrinal conditions for leadership in the SBC should not exceed the Baptist Faith and Message, a direct shot at the International Mission Board, which has expanded requirements into areas that make some pretty nervous.

Another selling point is Page’s support for the Cooperative Program. A big problem for Ronnie Floyd was that he was seeking to lead an organization his church does not support. Mr. Rogers called and said “can you say hypocrite?” We cannot maintain missionaries on the field if we all keep our money to build fire trucks to baptize in.

I think lay people, in particular, would like to see more transparency and openness in the governance of the convention. Everywhere you go in Baptist life, there are secrets. The group in power keeps knowledge to itself like the CIA. Your church staff keeps secrets about staff behavior and performance within its ranks, your denomination does the same. People don’t like that. If they give and serve, the deserve to know the truth.

Page talks a good talk about inclusiveness. He has said he wants to pull together the different factions in the convention, including Calvinists, Emergents and others. We’ll see.

Here is the Page quote to Tad Thompson about reformed theology in the SBC: “Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a Calvinist. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not Arminian. I do believe that this issue needs to be discussed openly and honestly.” I’m not sure how you are not an Arminian if you are not a Calvinist. There must have been a meeting where the Arminians made this up, because Patterson shot the same bolt. There are those who think Patterson must have Arminus confused with Armani, but professors at the seminary tell me otherwise. (Personally, I kind of like the Sproul joke about what do you call a 4 point Calvinist – an Arminian.) It’s kind of like being called a liberal these days, no one wants to admit to it. But, Patterson has admitted to it in other venues, including urging Arminian scholars to write books. Yes, I do understand the oxymoron.

Page even trots out a version of the old saw politicians used to claim they were not racists. You know, “some of my best friends are Blacks”. He said “one of my dearest friends in this state is a five-point Calvinist. I can work with almost anyone if they have a sweet spirit, an evangelistic heart, and a commitment to the integrity of God’s Word.” Even a Calvinist!

Again, we’ll see. It is the same guy that wrote: “The downside of this resurgence (of Calvinism) is that many people are falling into a trap set long ago. Manmade doctrines always fail. When any person or person begins to adhere to the teachings of one person, they join the company of many others who have made this serious mistake. It is most grievous to see a large number of individuals accept without question the doctrine of John Calvin in regards to salvation.”

This is truly an expression of ignorance. This is more shameful given the man puts Ph.D. after his name. Reformed theology is hardly the work of one man. The strain runs through him, for sure, but there are hundreds, including many of the valiant Puritans that brought Protestant Christianity to America and kept it alive. You might remember Jonathan Edwards, Machen, Hodges, Schaeffer and others. You might remember a pretty fair country preacher named Spurgeon, or the first missionary from England, William Carey. This list is too long and for Page to make such a claim is rather breath taking.

It is also not a man made doctrine. No one cites the Bible more than a Calvinist. It is an absurd claim. It is an insult to every reformed Baptist out there, and there are quite a few.

So, like I said, we’ll see.

Frank Page has been elected president of the SBC. He got a slim majority over the other 2 candidates on the first ballot. Most will see this as a victory of the younger pastors over the older group that has been in control, headed by Paige Patterson and others. It is a stinging rebuke of the power brokers who have constantly narrowed the field of those who have input into the convention.

What remains to be seen is whether Page will really make a difference. He has written a book opposing Calvinism. Will he be able to accomodate the sizable Calvinist minority in the convention? Will he really broaden the tent, or will he just have a different whipping boy?

Hopefully, next year we won't be singing the song by the Who: meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Monday, June 12, 2006


My Bible study class just finished 1 Corinthians 14. I posted the notes here yesterday. As we discussed the issue of speaking in tongues, I explained cessationsim, the idea that the "sign gifts" ceased with the death of the apostles, and continualism, the idea that all of the gifts are present today as they were in the early church.

I told the class I thought that Baptists were largely "practical cessationists", that is, they may say they believe in the existence of the sign gifts, but they live and practice as if they did not.

One of the candidates for SBC president, Jerry Sutton, wants to take us closer into full cessationism, it seems. Sutton wants to write the policy of the mission board, outlawing the practice of the "private prayer language", into the Baptist Faith and Message.

Although this would not affect the rank and file to a great degree, since most laymen ignore the BF&M completely, but it would affect seminary professors and staff members of the convention, who must sign off on the BF&M to keep their jobs.

Since most of the messengers from my church are from Southwestern Seminary, don't look for a lot of votes for Sutton from Travis Avenue Baptist Church.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Steve McCoy is blogging from the convention. Most of the time I would rather not know, but this year I have a morbin fascination with it. I think it is because I expect an anti-Calvinist push back and some muscle flexing by the old guard against the younger pastors. I know, call me a cynic.

It appears, though, that President Johnny Hunt delivered on both in the first sermon of the convention.

Another interesting fact is that Rick Warren didn't show for his sermon, but sent a video instead. It would be interesting to know what that is about.

You can read Steve's full report here.

One sixth of the human race will watch the World Cup Soccer championship.

I will be in the other five sixths, but I still find the number impressive. It is much more than the number of those of us who will be watching Alias reruns.

I just got back from church. We met tonight in the youth building, for effect I guess. Two of the four air conditioners were out, so it was hot. We have a lovely sanctuary, but no.

How did the do church in the summer before a/c? It couldn't have left much for the preacher to threaten them with. How much hotter could hell be, after all?

We are really spoiled, aren't we? We want everything to be just right. In contrast, the Engaged Daughter (yes, the one I used to call the College Daughter) went to Rwanda last summer on a mission trip. Many of the Christians there meet outdoors or under an arbor. My mom used to talk about Brush Arbor Baptists, who were too poor for a building, and just built arbors from scrub brush.

Yet, people came and were converted, and church members came and worshipped. Often, we come and don't worship, despite air conditioning, rehearsed music, water fountains and seat cushions.

The fact is, the one who really wants to worship - will. He or she will worship wherever they are whenever they feel they should. Paul and Silas worshipped in prison, as do thousands across the world every day. People worship in homes, in fields, in sick beds and wherever they find themselves.

Those who don't want to worship - don't. It doesn't matter how comfortable the setting, how good the music or whether you serve designer coffee.

Worship comes from the one who loves God and knows him. Nothing else works.
1 Corinthians 14
Prophecy and Tongues

14:1-5 Prophesy Benefits More Than Tongues

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

Paul said to “pursue love”. Here is a way you could do that. Write down all the characteristics of love that Paul gave in chapter 13. Ask God to show you which ones you do not possess. Ask God to change you so that you do possess those traits. Then, seek to live them out.

Paul also said to desire spiritual gifts. We should desire God’s empowerment to serve. It is not an intellectual endeavor, but power from the Holy Spirit to serve the church.

Paul shows a preference for prophecy over tongues. This is what he talks about for the rest of the chapter. His first comparison is that no one understands the tongue, unless there is an interpretation. Its function, then, is primarily to build up the speaker, not the church.

In contrast, people understand the one who prophesies, and he builds up the church, and brings encouragement and consolation to the believers.


6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

Paul continues in the same vein here, saying that even musical instruments have distinct sounds so people know what they are. It speech is unintelligible, it doesn’t help anyone.
Paul knows the Corinthians are eager for “manifestations of the Spirit” and that is why they are attracted to tongues. They want to exhibit their spirituality. But Paul says, instead, seek to excel at building up the church. That is what Christian live is all about.

14:13-19 The Unfruitful Mind

13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider [2] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

If you are going to speak in tongues, Paul said to pray for an interpretation, so that people will know what you are saying and benefit from it. Praying or speaking in a language you do not understand may be praying or singing in your spirit, but your mind is not benefited, it is not fruitful. Calvin uses the word “understanding” instead of mind. You can imagine, if someone came here from another country and preached in his native tongue, we would all be left totally unaffected, except for thinking him to be a nut. This was a criticism for years that Protestants leveled at Catholics. The mass had to be observed in Latin by church degree, yet no one spoke or understood Latin. It’s worse than an adult trying to understand “teenspeak”.

20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign [3] not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to be mature thinkers. Notice that he has referred to the mind as important in the exercise of faith. It is not all about emotion. Our thinking is important.

We can be infants in evil. We should not be experts in that. I love to meet a person who is simply not aware of many evil things. They are innocent. It is so refreshing. Jesus said something similar to this in Matthew 10:16-20.

But, while we may be infants with regard to evil, we are to be mature in our thinking, as adults.

Paul then refers to Isaiah 28:11-12, although it does not seem an exact quote. He refers to the Law, I think, meaning the Old Testament in general. In that chapter, Isaiah voices the complaint of the Lord that Israel has become so corrupt that trying to speak to them is like trying to teach an infant. They had lost the ability to listen to the Lord’s word.

Then, in verses 11 and 12, to which Paul refers, he says that since they will not listen to me, they will be taught be foreigners, referring to the coming invasion of the Babylonians. God would speak to Israel through the Babylonians and they would learn his lessons that way. Paul’s reference to that passage is to bolster his instruction not to think like children.

Verse 22 is a little difficult for me to untangle and fit in with the following verses. Paul said that tongues are signs for unbelievers, but prophecy is a sign for believers. The words of prophecy convict believers and unbelievers, because they hear the word of God. But, not so much with tongues, for people who don’t know what you are doing will think you are crazy. So, how is it a sign for unbelievers? Maybe it is a judgment on them for not understanding, or it is a miracle that will get their attention (Chrysostom). And the early believers did manifest the Spirit by tongues, so that was a sign they had converted. It also allowed unbelievers from other countries to hear the gospel in their own language.

In contrast, prophecy will bring conviction, even to the unbeliever. If the secrets of his heart are revealed, he will fall on his face and worship God. I saw an example of this type of prophecy once at a retreat. A young man got up to speak during a sharing time. During his talk, a pastor got up and told the man he was speaking in the flesh and should sit down and repent. The young man did so and it had a profound effect on the whole group.

Prophecy in the sense of speaking God’s word can have the same effect. Hebrews 4:12 tells us the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thought and intentions of the heart. I am sure most of us have had more than one moment of being cut to the quick by the Word.

I think it would be great if unbelievers would walk into our worship service, fall down and worship God, and say “God is really among you”.

14:26-33 Orderly Worship

26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

First of all, look at the picture of worship in the early church that is revealed here. You see group participation. There were hymns, lessons, revelations, tongues (at least in the Corinthian church) and interpretation of tongues. Acts 2:42 gives us a picture of the early church in Jerusalem. It says there was teaching by the apostles, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers. They attended the temple daily. The Corinthians evidently met in houses. Acts 18:7 says they met in a house next door to the synagogue, after being kicked out of the synagogue. The house belonged to a God fearing Roman, Titius Justus.

There were no church buildings at this point. Stephen even said, in Acts 7:47, “Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?” The last part of that is a quote of Isaiah 66:2.

Paul sets some rules for order in worship. You get the feeling that there might have been some competition going on. He limits the participation to 2 or 3 speakers of each sort. He puts on 2 additional limitations. First, the tongue speaker should not speak unless there is an interpretation. However, he does not forbid the tongue speaker totally, but says to keep silent and speak to himself and to God. This sounds a bit like the prayer language that some speak of. Paul seems to allow for this even if our mission board does not.

Second, speakers should be one at a time. You can’t really learn anything if everyone is speaking at once. There should not be confusion, but peace.

14:34-35 The Role of Women

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

This is pretty controversial today. These 2 verses form whole theologies of women in ministry for some, saying that women cannot do a variety of things in ministry. It is interesting to me that few of those same folks require their women to wear hats in church. Why is one (hats) cultural, but the other (speaking) is theological?

One commentator said the wearing of hats was no longer a sign of submission, so it was not necessary in our culture. I think the same could be said for women speaking, it is no longer considered a lack of submission to their husband’s authority, other than in Fundamentalist circles.

Paul does say this is the practice in all the churches. He says in the next section that he is speaking a command. He also couches this instruction as a matter of submission to their husbands. They should not speak in church, but talk to their husbands at home. I guess another problem today would be that many women do not have a husband at home, and many more do not have one who could answer their questions.

Outside of the worship service itself, can women teach or preach? Women’s ministry has become huge in Evangelical life. There are many women who teach in large ministries, such as Beth Moore, or Ann Graham Lotz. Calvin seem to find the rule applicable only to the regular worship service. He said “This, however, we must understand as referring to ordinary service, or where there is a Church in a regularly constituted state; for a necessity may occur of such a nature as to require that a woman should speak in public; but Paul has merely in view what is becoming in a duly regulated assembly.”

There is some Biblical precedence for this. For example, when Apollos came on the scene, he was preaching, but only knew the baptism of John. Acts 18:26 tells us Priscilla and Aquila took him and explained to him the word of God more accurately. Priscilla is named first here and is given equal credit in the instruction.

14:36-40 Paul’s Authority and Summary

36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

Paul again appeals for decency and order in worship. He also claims this as a command from the Lord. This again is his assertion of apostolic authority.

He says that the Corinthians are not the only ones to experience God by hearing his word. That seems to be to say that they should be guided by what the other churches are doing.

In summary, we are told not to forbid speaking in tongues. But, we should desire prophecy more, and we should do all things decently and in order.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Christianity Today has an interesting article by Tim Keller on the need for Christians to live in and affect urban areas.

The Dallas Morning News has an interesting article on Southern Baptist bloggers and their effect on the convention. Read it here.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


CNN is actually showing video from one of the planes that dropped the bomb on Zarqawi. It is interesting in that the plane if off to the side of the target. If you watched those WW II films, you always saw it from directly above. These smart bombs can be dropped and then they find their target.

It is a little bizaree on CNN. They move from this story to entertainment news, showing pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and breathlessly talking about their baby and if they will get married. Then it is Iraq and the war, then it is whether J-Lo is pregnant and shopping for maternity clothes.

No wonder the Arabs think we are weird.

Maybe CNN is from Austin.

I am in Austin for a seminar. There is a campaign here to keep Austin weird. I thought if I came here, they would accomplish that for a couple of days.

Al-Zarqawi has been killed in Irag. The U.S. dropped two, count them, two, 500 bombs on his safe house. The identified him by fingerprints and facial scars. It is a wonder they could find that much after the bombing.

Someone will surely take his place, but it is still a significant strike for the forces of freedom.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Denmark’s Flemming Rose of Denmark's Jyllands-Posten, wrote an interesting editorial for Der Spiegel dealing with political correctness in Europe. Rose is the man who published the Mohammed cartoons that caused riots around the world.

Rose said the following. "Europe must shed the straitjacket of political correctness, which makes it impossible to criticize minorities for anything -- including violations of laws, traditional mores and values that are central to the European experience," Rose says. "Europe's left is deceiving itself about immigration, integration and Islamic radicalism today the same way we young hippies deceived ourselves about Marxism and communism 30 years ago.

"It's time for the Old Continent to face facts and make some profound changes in its outlook on immigration, integration and the coming Muslim demographic surge. After decades of appeasement and political correctness, combined with growing fear of a radical minority prepared to commit serious violence, Europe's moment of truth is here," he says.

Canada falls victim to excessive political correctness also. In the publications of the recent arrests of several persons assembling the materials to make bombs and planning attacks, there was no mention that the criminals were Arabs. Canadian media did not mention it, but the New York Times has printed that six of the 17 people arrested attended the same mosque, the Al Rahman Islamic Center for Islamic Education.

Although to a lesser extent, the same could be said for America. Many do not want to admit there is a Muslim agenda that is promoted on our own soil. It is time to wake up, admit the truth and deal with it. There is no need to over react, but persecuting Muslims who have no agenda other than to live and work here. But there is a need to act to protect the country against those who would destroy it.

Women should be particularly concerned, as the radical version of Islam subjugates women to such an extent that western women should be appalled. Christians and Jews should certainly be concerned, as they would be persecuted by any substantial Islamic minority, much less a majority. Remember that in most Muslim countries, it is actually illegal to convert from Islam or to preach any other religion. This is often punishable by death.

Today is the big day. June 6, 2006 is being noticed because you can make 666 out of it if you leave out some zeros. Most superstitious people do not have a problem leaving out a few zeros, or other numbers or facts, to get the mystery factor working for them.

The Genesis of the interest in this number is in Revelation. Revelation 13:18 says "This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six."

Most writers of apocalyptic literature today believe the Beast is the Antichrist and that he is a specific person. Many scholars believe 666 is a code based on the use of numbers to represent Hebrew letters. In English, for example, such a code would use “1” for “A”, “2” for “B” and so on.

Many think the number therefore stands for Nero, one of the Roman emperors who persecuted Christians. That, of course, is not nearly as sexy as believing it really applies to someone in our time or in the future who will take over the world as in the cartoon “Pinky and the Brain”. Every night Pinky would say “what will we do tonight, Brain?” And Brain would say “the same thing we do every night; "try and take over the world”.

Maybe if you wrote “Pinky” in “Greek” and counted the letters it would be 666. Now that would be exciting.

Further dampening the eerie factor is that later manuscripts changed the number to 616.

Lots of people are observing and using the phenomenon. Many folks are fearful or superstitious. Women are asking their doctors to keep them from delivering on that date for fear they will have a devil child or be cursed in some way. It is fruitless to point out to them that the Apostle John, who wrote about the 666 business, did not use the same calendar we do today. Raptureready.com raised its "rapture index" at 156, and says to "fasten your seatbelts".

Felix Just, a professor of theology at the University of San Francisco, and a Jesuit priest, has a website called "666-Numbers of the Beast" that has a lot of information on 666. I hope to look at it tonight.

Tim LaHaye, who has made more money and sold more books based on interest in the end of the world is taking full advantage by publishing yet another book that will come out tomorrow. His web site promotes his new book "The Rapture" by saying "06.06.06 Will You Be Ready." I guess he read the Rapture Index to. Tinny Tim says that the signs in our society of the approach of the 666 antichrist are worrisome. So many books, so little time, I guess.

LaHaye also said "I don't think that people understand that 666 is not a good time." Well, it was certainly a good time for you to market your book!

LaHaye probably wouldn’t like this comment applied to him either, but heh. American University astronomer Richard Berendzen said "What it really does is use some coincidence of some numbers for commercial gain. It's superstition and money when it comes down to it. And that's about as satanic as you can get." Ouch.

Ann Coulter is also using the date to release her book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism", but I suspect the choice of date is more to take a jab at liberal democrats (ok, oxymoron I know) than anything else.

The counter-weight to LaHaye’s book is probably the release of the movie remake "The Omen" tomorrow.

The most creative and enthusiastic might be the leaders of the town of Hell, Michigan. They are having a big celebration. The mayor, who just happens to own a souvenir shop, is the biggest promoter.

Nobody is more fired up than John Colone, the town's self-styled mayor and owner of a souvenir shop. He is selling 666 T-shirts and mugs. He has stocked 666 of them. Colone is selling them for $6.66. He is giving away certificates to show you've celebrated June 6, 2006, in Hell. There is a children’s play area in town cordoned off by the Gates of Hell. They are 8 feet tall and look like flames. When they close, they form a devil’s head.

Maybe the best advice is this from Jack Horkheimer of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium. He said "If it really spooks you, you can stand on your head, and it'll be 999."

Sunday, June 04, 2006

1 Corinthians 13
Love, The Most Excellent Way

And the end of chapter 12, Paul said to desire the higher gifts. Then, he said he would show a still more excellent way, more excellent than even the higher gifts.

13:1-3 Love Or Nothing

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, [1] but have not love, I gain nothing.

You are nothing, and your gift is nothing, if you do not have love.

3 words for love: Eros, Philia, Agapao. We are discussing "agapao" love, a self denying love. Eros love is sexual love. Philia is brotherly love.

The command to love is not new: greatest commandment in Matt. 22:34-40 and John 15:12-13.

13:4-6 What Love Is

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Not defined by feelings, but by its traits.

Patient = long tempered, not quick to take offense or retaliate

Kind = related to patient, it is gentle and merciful. It does good to those who do harm. You need this if you have or work with kids.

Does not envy = not jealous or having wrong feelings about others. In Luke 9:46, disciples argue over who is the greatest. 1 Corinthians 12:26-suffering and rejoicing together.

Does not boast\is not arrogant or proud = proud person is hard to be around. Luke 18:9-14, Pharisee and tax collector.

Not rude – Christians should be the most considerate and well mannered people.

Does not insist on its own way – willing to let others have their own way-church is a group of people and you won’t always be able to get your own way and your way will not always be best

Not irritable

Not resentful

Does not rejoice in wrong doing (committed by others)

Rejoices with the truth-in contrast to wrong doing

Bears all things-annoyances and troubles

Believes all things-is not suspicious, gives the benefit of the doubt, never loses faith

Hopes all things-always hopes, or hopes in all circumstances

Endures all things-perseveres in persecution, suffering and adversity.

13:8-13 Love is the Eternal Theme

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Spiritual gifts will end. They are given for a purpose, and when that purpose is fulfilled, they will cease. We may argue about when that will be, when the Bible came or when Jesus comes, but they will cease.

Paul listed prophecy, tongues and knowledge as all ceasing. When we are with the Lord, we will know and understand all we need to, so we will not need to prophesy for we will know him. In heaven, the curse of Babel will be removed and we will all be able to communicate without the need of tongues.

Starting in verse 11, Paul gives some analogies. The first is children. They are cute in their childish thinking, but childish thinking and acting is not cute in an adult. The lesser is put away in favor of the greater. The analogy is that we are like children now, in a state of immaturity. But, when Christ comes, we will be mature, so we will not need the gifts.

The, he speaks of seeing dimly in a mirror. Mirrors were not as clear then as today, and you did not get a perfect image. But, face to face, you see someone clearly. Today we might make the comparison to a video screen that is far away, or has a fuzzy picture. When Christ comes, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is. There is again an analogy of moving from the imperfect to the perfect, doing away with the need for the gifts.

Love, however, will last forever. Love is eternal. It has always existed because God is love. The Father loves the Son. Francis Schaeffer said:
God could create by a free act of the will because before creation there was the Father who loved the Son and there was also the Holy Spirit to love and be loved. In other words, God had someone face-to-face with Himself in the three Persons of the Trinity. (Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis In Time and Space, Ch. 1)

So, in heaven, the Father will continue to love the Son, the Son will love the Father, they will both love us, and we will love each other.


The context of this passage is the operation of the church. We are to love each other in the body of Christ with this unselfish kind of love. What would that look like? How would you start this today?

Also apply it in your other relationships, such as your marriage. How would that work?
J. I. Packer said: "We have much more to learn, but God has no more to reveal than he has revealed in Jesus Christ." The Book of Hebrews tells us that God has revealed himself through his son. We are done. We need no more.

There are those who always want to add more, however. There are the Mormons with their “another testament”. There are the Bible Codes guys with their secret messages and decoder rings. There are the Pentecostal preachers who get new revelations from God, even if they contradict the scripture. There are New Agers who get messages from God and publish books about them.

We don’t need them.

Any of them.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Canada has discovered that its low profile in the world has not kept it off the terrorist radar screen. Authorities recently arrested a cell intent on making bombs. They were Arabs. They planned to blow up targets in cities.

Hopefully, the Canadians will wake up and smell the coffee.