Friday, April 29, 2005

YET MORE POPE BLOGGING. I know, I know. I just can’t leave it alone.

That being said, one of the things about the new Pope is that he opposes the admission of Turkey into the European Union. The Turks are not happy about this.

One of the reasons is that Turkey, although officially a secular, European country, is full of people who think it is an Muslim country.

The other reason is historical, like everything else in Europe. This year is the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, when 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks. Almost all of those Armenians were Catholic. In fact, Armenia claims to be the first officially Catholic country. Certainly, Armenians remember this. You can bet the Catholic hierarchy does, too.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Turkey will not even admit the genocide happened. On top of that, you have religious persecution in Turkey today of non-Muslims, and it makes everyone afraid the past is coming around again. Our own State Department reports that Greek and Armenian Christian communities in Turkey have had their church properties confiscated by Turkish authorities. This is not uncommon in Muslim countries, but most Muslim countries aren’t trying to get into the E. U.

Turkey has to decide what it wants to be. It could be the modern, secular nation that is part of Europe. That is what its government leaders envision. Alternatively, it could be the next Muslim state that is a theocracy, enforcing Muslim law, and persecuting everyone who is a non-Muslim. I’m afraid that is what a lot of Turks envision.

Where is the Pope in all this? He is a guy even the secular European nations have to consider and respect, for his opinion carries weight with lots of Catholics in Europe.

Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

PRAYER & FASTING Conference: "The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer Conference includes meals."

The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus."

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.
EXPLODING TOADS. Toads are exploding in Germany. As many as 1,000 toads have exploded in recent days, sending their "innards" shooting up to 3 feet in the air. (Go ahead, take a moment to stop and ponder.) This is pretty cool, in an apocalytic sort of way. I'm thinking of the plagues God sent on Egypt. No, I don't think it is because a German was elected pope.

However, if you showed a split screen of all the cardinals walking around in their red robes and caps with the exploding frogs on the other half, you'd have a pretty good start to a horror movie.


A veterinarian thinks he has it figured out. It's the crows. No, that is not another plague. Well, not exactly anyway, although if you have been in Cityview at dusk, that looks like a horror movie with all the crows flying around and screeching. If frogs were exploding too, even I might freek out and take my shirts to a different dry cleaners.


This vet named Mutschmann, of course, thinks it happens becaue the toads have been attacked by crows who want to eat their livers. It is starting to sound apocalytic, isn't it? Evidently, toads swell up in self defence, like teen age boys. But when their livers are ripped out and eaten by nasty crows, their stomachs get punctured, blood vessels explode, lungs collapse and the other organs come out, according to Mutschmann the vet.

Actually, the plague explanation now sounds simpler and, frankly, less gruesome.

So, now German toads have a new boogey man. When little toad children won't eat their vegetables, momma toads say "if you don't eat your vegetables, the crows will come and peck you and make you explode, and your guts will fly into the air and the crows will eat your liver!"

But, relax, because a few years later, toad philosphers will come along and say it was just an old toad's tale made to scare baby toads into eating vegetables and was an expression of the superstition that crows were evil when really they all just had bad crowhoods and suffered from stereotyping and if toads would just get to know them, toads would love them and crows would love them back and they would all sing kum ba ya together, at least until one of the crows pecked the toad singers and made them explode and ate their livers, cackling in toad blood lust until dusk, when they get together and say "let's go to Cityview!"
MORE POPE BLOGGING. Despite their difficulties and differences, the Russian Orthodox Church sent a delegation to the Vatican to attend the investiture of Pope Benedict XVI. The delegation also arranged to meet and negotiate.

Cyril, who is in charge of external politics for the Russian Orthodox Church met with the new Pope, now known as Benedict XVI. (There are so many people in the world with two names. I feel really left out. All those terrorists had a least two names. All the religious guys have extra names. Hmm.)

When these two groups meet, it is like a reconciliation attempt of a married couple that believes divorce is wrong, but really cannot stand to live with each other. They always say they hope great strides will be made toward reconciliation. But then they both begin to complain about the other one’s actions and defend their own as misunderstood.

For example, Alexy II of the Orthodox begins by flattering the Pope, then pointing out that he is wrong. He said “He has deep knowledge, powerful intellect and he is fearless about defending traditional Christian values among the people who are trying to remove these values, destroy them. For that reason, the pope is respected in the entire Christian world, including the Orthodox one.”

So far, so good, you say. But, he continues. “Of course, we do have theological differences.”

Then, Alexi puts the burden of reconciliation on the Pope. (See how much like marital counseling this is?) He said “I sincerely hope that the elected Pope Benedict XVI will do everything it takes to improve the relationship with ROC. It’s too early to tell what would be the concrete steps of the new head of the Roman Catholic Church, and how his activities would be reflected on the condition of Orthodox-Catholic relationships.”

One big problem is not theological, but is a turf war. Alexi continues: “I think it depends of what position Pope Benedict XVI takes toward proselytism among the Orthodox believers. His position would be the base for further development of Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. Today the biggest pain of among our church members is created by work of Catholic missionaries with poor children that were baptized as Orthodox or growing up in Orthodox families.”

I don’t know if it causes pain in Orthodox families, but it is causing pain in the Orthodox leadership as the Roman resurgence grows, especially in Russia.

Alexi said “This problem demands a clear unequivocal reaction from the Vatican. I’m sure that Pope Benedict XVI has all the necessary means in his possession to change the situation for better. “ In other words, unless the Pope puts people in traditionally Orthodox countries off limits to Catholic evangelism or recruitment, these people will keep sleeping in separate beds.Not only that, the Pope won’t even get invited to supper in the Russian house unless he changes his ways. Alexi said “The possibility of my meeting with him in Moscow will depend of which line he will take in relationship with ROC and how he will show his will.”

That Alexi is a prickly guy, isn’t he. Human nature is the enemy of ecumenism. Alexi usually has his on display.

If his deal goes bad with the Orthodox, we could probably find a place for him in Southern Baptist Leadership. The ability to make everybody mad is usually considered a credential there.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

CALVINIST QUOTE OF THE DAY. There can be no grace when there is no sovereignty. Deny God’s right to choose whom He will and you deny His right to save whom He will. Deny His right to save whom He will, and you deny that salvation is of grace. If salvation is made to hinge or any desert or fitness in man, seen or foreseen, grace is at an end. Horatius Bonar, God Reigning In Election, Watching and Waiting , August 1933.
CAREER SUICIDE. It is always interesting to watch someone commit career suicide. One such man is Sen. Ken Salazar, a Democrat from Colorado. In a television interview, Salazar called “Focus On The Family” the Antichrist.

Salazar is smarting over criticism that flip-flopped over the filibuster issue. He probably thought flip-flopping was what Democrats do, so why should he be criticized?

Initially, Salazar supported an up or down vote on judicial nominees. He gave an interview last November, so his position was recorded in a newspaper. Now, the party has gotten him in line and he opposes it and supports the filibuster. FOTF has taken to pointing that out. I guess, if you oppose a senator who wants to flip flop, you are the Antichrist. Does that mean Salazar thinks he is Christ?

As you might imagine, the Antichrist comment has Salazar in more hot water. So, what does he do about it? Remember, he is a Democrat. He flip flops again, saying he did not mean to say that, he meant to say they were “un-Christian” because they were self serving and selfish (and I guess all the other “self” words you can think of).

FOTF has dismissed Salazar's "antichrist" comment as "overheated rhetoric." That is really a very mild response. They could at least have called him “the devil incarnate” or “Satan’s handmaiden” or a vascillating syncophant, or something. It is boring to take the high road sometimes.

The career suicide comes in this manner. FOTF is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Therefore, everyone that works there gets to vote when Salazar runs again. In addition, numerous other Christian organizations have moved to Colorado Springs. They all love FOTF. Salazar better trade the flip flops for track shoes. He will need them.
HOW TO SPEND THE DAY WITH GOD. Those of you who know me know my attraction to the English Puritans. I admire them because they were so intent on living for God, seeking his glory, and applying Scripture to all areas of life. Richard Baxter was one of these. He wrote a little devotional called "How To Spend The Day With God". It does not deal with going on a retreat, but with living in fellowship with God everyday. I got a copy of this, somewhat updated by matthew Vogan, on one of my favorite sites, Here it is.

How to Spend the Day With God
adapted and updated from RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691)
by Matthew Vogan

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.

Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.

First Thoughts
Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.
Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.
Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.

Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.

Family Worship
Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.

Ultimate Purpose
Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do.

Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Diligence in Your Calling
Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:
(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness. (b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons. (c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of. (d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission. (e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work. (f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families. (g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.

Temptations and Things That Corrupt
Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.

Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.

If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.

If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.

At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.

When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you deserve eternal misery in Hell.

The Only Motive
Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.

Redeeming The Time
Place a high value upon your time, be more careful of not losing it than you would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, television, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.

Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.

Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable way before one of greater profit.

Eating and Drinking
Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be detrimental to your health.

Remember the sin of Sodom: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness" - Ezekiel 16:49.

The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those "whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their minds on earthly things, being enemies to the cross of Christ" - Philippians 3:18-19. O then do not live according to the flesh lest you die (Romans 8:13).

Prevailing Sins
If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and remain unrepentant.

Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.

Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates, subjects.

Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any other duty.

Closing the Day
Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.
This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.

May these directions be engraven upon your mind and be made the daily practice of your life.
If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death.

You can retrieve the origianl at

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

DEAR DIARY. We had yet another board meeting today. The good news is, the board authorized us to hire a firm to recruit physicians. Now, I have to draft that contract. Yesterday, I worked until 8:30 p.m. I missed the thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, and wind completely while attending meetings and drafting documents for today's meeting. Then, we began at 7:15 a. m. to review. I actually arrived at 6:30 a.m. to make sure my stuff was ready. So, I left yesterday in the dark, and returned in the dark this morning. We did celebrate by going to lunch after the meeting and breathed a little fresh air. I am heading home to see the Little Woman, whom I have not really seen since Sunday, as she worked Sunday and Monday nights. I did take her a Starbucks last night about 10:30.

I still haven't fixed the home computer, so there will likely be no blogging tonight. Sorry.

See you tomorrow.
CALVINISTIC QUOTE OF THE DAY. Without the presence of the Spirit there is no conviction, no regeneration, no sanctification, no cleansing, no acceptable works . . . Life is in the quickening Spirit. — W A. CRISWELL

Monday, April 25, 2005

EVOLVE THIS. According to a story by Allie Martin in Agape Press, scientists say they have found soft, flexible tissues inside the bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Upon breaking a thigh bone of the T. rex, scientists were reportedly surprised to discover soft tissue and complete blood cells inside the bone.

This discovery may be evidence of the creationist contention that dinosaur bones were fossilized during a catastrophic event several thousand years ago rather than million years ago, as evolutionists claim. Evolutionists estimate this fossil is 70 to 80 million years old.

Creationists point out, however, that, were the Montana fossil as old as claimed, no soft tissue should remain in the bones. The bone should be completely petrified.

This find may also contradict the claim of evolutionists that dinosaurs existed and became extinct long before the appearance of man.
THEOLOGY IN THE MEDIA. Theology is everywhere. The word “theology” literally means “knowledge of God”. Your theology is what you know, or think you know, about God.

It is interesting that, while activists and politicians, including judges, are trying to strip our society of Christianity, you hear references to God more than ever in popular discourse. That does not mean the people speaking are Christians, but it does mean they see God as active in their world.

A recent example is Shar Jackson. She is an actress who was married to Kevin Federline. Federline divorced Jackson, by whom he had two kids, and took up with Britney Spears. He married BS and she is reportedly pregnant now. No, this post is not about being fruitful and multiplying.

MTV News interviewed Jackson recently. Reflecting upon the divorce, Jackson gave a theological perspective to the whole situation. She said "It's cool," she said. "Obviously, God didn't think that's who should be in my life at this particular moment in time and that's all right."

Jackson’s statement reveals something about her theology: she believes God has control over who her husband is and whether he stays or goes.

Jackson, at least in this instance, espouses a belief in determinism. That is, she believes that God wanted her husband to leave her and made it happen. Many people do not believe God causes bad things to happen, only good things. Normally, the Calvinist is the only one brave enough to say God sends the bad stuff as well as the good stuff. It is interesting to hear it from someone in Hollywood.
CALVINIST QUOTE OF THE DAY. Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and source even of faith itself. Faith is the work of God's grace in us. No man comes to Me," says Jesus, "except the Father who sent Me draws him. . .Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation; and faith, essential as it is, is only an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved "through faith," but salvation is 'by grace.'"
DRAWING A BLANK. This is weird. When I go to blogspot to see the blog, I get nothing but a blank screen. (This happens when I teach our Bible class sometimes also.) But, when I go to Blogger I can post. Can anyone else actually see the blog?

All posts on the blog are forwarded to my email. I was trying to figure out what Levi said that made ChelleBelle think he was calling me a liberal. But, alas, I cannot figure it out without seeing the blog.

But, I don't think Levi sees me as a liberal. About the only thing liberal about me is that I try to liberally apply scripture to all parts of life. And I try to give myself to people liberally. I don't succeed at that terribly well, but I try.

Levi, I had hoped to see you at Starbucks last night. I actually went and did not see anyone I know.

More blogging later.

Friday, April 22, 2005

CALVINIST QUOTE OF THE DAY. We love God. He is our great Treasure, and nothing can compare with him." John Piper, What We Believe About The Five Points Of Calvinism, March 1985 sermon, revised March 1998.
MASTER OF THE OBVIOUS. "I'm not very dignified." Howard Dean, April 20, 2005.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

CALVINIST QUOTE OF THE DAY. We are not born again becaue we have repented and believed. Rather, we have repented and believed becaue God has given us the new birth. If our old hearts were capable of repentance and belief, then we would not need new hearts. Douglas Wilson, Future Men, page 139.
THE BIBLE CODES ARE SPREADING! They have now spread to the Koran. An Islamic scholar claims America will be destroyed by a tsunami in 2007. How does he know? BIBLE CODES, OF COURSE!!

He counted verses in the Koran, finding that America will only endure for 231 years. He read several suras he thinks speak of America's sins. (Remember America was not around when Mohammed wrote the Koran.) He reached the numbers 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed and 231. Add those two numbers and you get 2007.

I think he threw in the tsunami because it has been in the news.

I wonder if they will have him on TBN? It would be a picture, wouldn't it. On the left, you would have the Muslim scholar in robes and head dress. In the right would be Jan Crouch with a huge pink wig, long white lace dress, clutching her handkerchief. In the middle would be Paul Crouch with his cowboy suit, white hair, and reading glasses.

Actually, I think he made a mistake. I think he should have subtracted 231 from 1776, which gives you 1545, the year the Scots, under Sir Walter Scott, defeated Henry VII's English forces at the battle of Ancrum Moor, meaning that Scotland is the promised land and the Scots are special! Yeah! My McTavish ancestors would be proud.
WESLEY ON THE GRILL, PART II. In response to my post on John Wesley, linking to the article about him, ChelleBelle commented that the comments on the guy's blog showed how the debate brought out the worst in people. It is true.

The worst recent case is that of apologist James White, whose blog was blasted recently with nasty comments. There is no excuse or justification for that behavior. If your theology is sound, you should be able to present your position in clear and attractive terms. If you resort to nasty comments, it weakens your position in the eyes of most people, and it casts doubt on your character.

Peter told us to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. He added an admonition to the command when he said "but do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Chirst may be ashamed of their slander." (see 1 Peter 3:15-16.)

Good theology coupled with good behavior is winsome. Theology joined with bad behavior is questionable, even repulsive.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

CALVINIST QUOTE OF THE DAY. Now one of God's purposes for his new and redeemed community is through them to make his righteousness attractive (in personal, family, business, national and international life), and so commend it to all men. Then people outside God's kingdom will see it and desire it, and the righteousness of God's kingdom will, as it were, spill over into the non-Christian world. John Stott (Anglican Calvinist)
NOTES ON THE SABBATH II. "Similarly, our rest is not just taking a day off; the Sabbath is not meant to be a twenty-four hour coffee break. The Sabbath is a day set apart by God in order for us to appropriately reflect upon what he has done." Rev. Bryn MacPhail.
UP, UP AND AWAY. Going Postal will soon cost you more. The USPS is seeking to raise the cost of 1st Class mail from 37c to 39c.

In local postal news, the Tandy Post Office, the basement of the former "Tandy Center" will close in two weeks.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

JOHN WESLEY'S ON THE GRILL. Go here to read an interesting article about John Wesley, entitled "Ten Things You'd Hate About John Wesley and Ten Things He'd Hate About You". It's very interesting, although you might not like some of it if you really like Wesley. I think I'll buy the book.

Maybe some of my Reformed friends will write one called "Ten Things You Should Hate About Charles Finney".
CATHOLIC OBSERVATIONS III. The cardinals have been hanging out at the Apostolic Palace. It is a large Renaissance structure of frescoed galleries, apartments and meeting rooms. They swore an oath of secrecy under Michelangelo's giant fresco of Jesus presiding over the Last Judgment.

Peter told the beggar “silver or gold have I none”. Whoever sits in the chair of Peter next will not be able to say that. But, as the old story goes, neither will he be able to say “rise up and walk”.

P.S. - "YOU HEARD IT HERE" was part II.
CALVINIST QUOTE OF THE DAY. The basic principle of Calvinism is the sovereignty of God. This represents the purpose of the Triune God as absolute and unconditional, independent of the whole finite creation, and originating solely in the eternal counsel of His will. He appoints the course of nature and directs the course of history down to the minutest details. His decrees therefore are eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise and sovereign. They are represented in the Bible as being the basis of the divine foreknowledge of all future events, and not conditioned by that foreknowledge or by anything originating in the events themselves. Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Faith.
YOU HEARD IT HERE. Ratzinger has just been elected Pope. He is taking the name Bendict XVI.
CATHOLIC OBSERVATIONS II. To read what a Byzantine Rite Calvinist thinks of the papal election, go here.
CATHOLIC OBSERVATIONS I. I still think Ratzinger is the leading candidate. Some sources say he already has 40-50 votes among the cardinals. Rarely does the first vote result in an election, and yesterday’s vote was no exception as black smoke escaped the copper chimney of the Sistine Chapel. Around 30,000 people were standing around and watching in St. Peter's Square.

There are 115 voting cardinals. Election requires a vote of two-thirds of them. That means 77 agreeing cardinals will choose the 265th pope, unless the stalemate continues for 12 days, when it switches to a simple majority. That change was instituted by John Paul. It makes you wonder if he did not think a conservative could win a super majority.

Ratzinger is not going to soften his conservative image to win, however, and I admire that. At a pre-conclave Mass for the cardinals, Ratziner, who is the dean of the College of Cardinals, fired off a strong sermon calling for strict orthodoxy. He criticized relativism with an allusion to Ephesians 4:13.

Liberals in the church want to debate the religious and ethical issues that Ratzinger sees as settled by scripture and doctrine. Does that sound familiar to any of my Southern Baptist friends?

Here is the money quote. Ratzinger said the church has been shaken by numerous ideological currents. The boat has been unanchored by these waves, thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, up to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and on and on. An adult faith does not follow the waves of fashion and the latest novelty.

This will not win the votes of the American cardinals. But the recent history of the Catholic Church in America indicates some moral and doctrinal firmness is in order.

Monday, April 18, 2005

NOTES ON THE SABBATH. "But we must not mistake the means for the end. We must not think that the Sabbath is just, for the sake of being able to attend meetings. There are some people who think they must spend the whole day at meetings or private devotions. The result is that at nightfall they are tired out and the day has brought them no rest. The number of church services attended ought to be measured by the person’s ability to enjoy them and get good from them, without being wearied. Attending meetings is not the only way to observe the Sabbath. The Israelites were commanded to keep it in their dwellings as well as in holy convocation. The home, that center of so great influence over the life and character of the people, ought to be made the scene of true Sabbath observance" D. L. Moody
CAPTIVE TO THE WORD OF GOD. It was today's date in 1521 that Martin Luther appeared in the city of Worms at the summons of Charles V, whom the Pope had named Holy Roman emperor. Luther gave his famous reply: "Since your majesty and your lordship desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other- my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen."

Some say Luther launched the Reformation with this statement. It is a worthy goal to be captive to the Word of God. I recently had the interesting experience of teaching the plain words of scripture and having people tell me they were exempt from its application.

If we want to become Christlike, we must let the weight of scripture fall on us squarely, not wriggling out from under it, no matter how uncomfortable. No one is exempt.

As Paul told Timothy, all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Friday, April 15, 2005

CALVINIST QUOTE OF THE DAY. "It is a throne of grace that God in Christ is represented to us upon; but yet is is a throne still whereon majesty and glory do reside, and God is always to be considered by us as on a throne." JOHN OWEN

"For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.
God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted." Psalm 47:7-9

Thursday, April 14, 2005

CALVINIST QUOTE OF THE DAY. Let us not conceive that the agency of man can bring about one single iota of deviation from the plans and the purposes of God - or that He can be thwarted and compelled to vary in a single case, by the movement of any of those subordiante beings whom He Himself has created. Thomas Chalmers, D.D., L.L.D., Congregational Sermons, Volume II, Sermon VIII.
LOOKING BACK. David Heddle is doing a series of lessons on the history of the early church. He is teaching this in Sunday School, but is also posting the lessons on his blog. You can read it here. I recommend it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

KOINONIA BIBLE STUDY CLASS. Levi asked where the class meets. We meet in A-240. Building A is the building closest to Berry Street. If you enter on the West Side, say hello to Dr. Shamburger who is at the door greeting, walk up the stairs, and we are the first door on the right.

Or, get Josh to show you the way.

If you do not want to do that, just follow the signs to the visitors center and ask for my class. They will put a yellow "C" on your chest, but they will bring you up.

Hope to see you there!
KOINONIA SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS. Levi wants to know where the class meets. We meet in Room A-240, Travis Avenue Baptist Church. Building A is the old building closest to Berry Street. If you enter from the west side, say hello to Dr. Shamberger, who will be at the door greeting people, then walk up the stairs and we are the first room on the right.
CALVINIST QUOTE OF THE DAY. There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. Charles Spurgeon.
HAVING FUN AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. Working for the government produces moments of hilarity. I sent my laptop computer to the I.T. department because it would not come on. The technician sent me an email to ask "what was wrong with your laptop"? I replied "it would not come on".

He replied "was there anything else"? (I'll pause here for a moment to let this all sink in.)

I replied "no, when it wouldn't come on, that pretty much ended it for me".

This is kind of like telling a story about the end of the world and having the ditzy person ask "and then what happened"?

I like to end the day with a laugh, so thanks Mr. Computer Guy.
OVER A BARREL. While gas pricing are rising around town at an alarming rate, I thought would mention that crude oil prices have fallen to a seven-week low today. This happened in the wake of a government report showing that inventories of crude oil are increasing and there is also a rise in gasoline stocks before summer gets here.

Specifically, the price of a May contract for U.S. light crude fell $1.46 an is now $50.40 a barrel. Think on these things next time you fill up your car.
MY HOME AWAY FROM HOME. On my nightly jaunt to Starbucks last night, I made some new friends. (This is a good thing, for I often wear out the old ones.) I met Tim Presson, who is the new pastor of the new church known as Christ the Redeemer Baptist Church. This is a new congregation that my good friend, David Jacks, helped to start. It is unique in that the church espouses the Doctrines of Grace (Calvinism to you who are uninitiated.) David owns a unique bookstore in Fort Worth called Theological Pursuits .

I am most anxious to see how this church will fare and have been praying for it, and David, for some time. I also pray for David's wife, Millie, who is also part of this venture. They have both been attending my Sunday School class and have been very supportive while I taught Romans 9 through 11.

I have also been praying for Tim, although I had not met him. Now I have a face to go with the prayer request. The new church will begin meeting in the Marty Leonard Chapel at Lena Pope Home if you ar interested.

I also met Levi Baird, who posted a comment on yesterday's post. I met Levi a few years ago when he showed up to go to Camp Travis. All the girls were quite interested in him. Levi told me he is attending Criswell College and is a Calvinist also. It makes me wonder what is going on over there, as anothe young friend, Josh, is also there and is also a Calvinist. I think it is a movement. As you might imagine, we all were immediately engaged in a theological discussion. As reader and friend, Mel, says: it's all theology, all the time.

So, over an hour later, we left and the evening was over. It was quite fun and I look forward to more conversations with these new friends.
A POPE POOL? Would it be unseemly to have a Pope Pool at the office where you could bet on who will be the next Pope? I am picking Cardinal Ratzinger, from Germany. Here is my thinking. They need a non-Italian Pope to show they are still reaching out to the world. The Italians are not ready for an African, Asian, or South American. They want somebody old, so he will not serve a long time, and will be a transitional Pope.

Ratzinger is in his 70s, he is European, but not Italian. He is in charge of church doctrine and is a conservative.

Anyone have any other picks?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

CALVINIST QUOTE OF THE DAY. The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but of self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life (p. 33).
BLOW HARD. Today is the 70th anniversary of "The Big Wind", when a storm caused winds of 231 mph on the summit of Mount Washington.
ON THE LEGE. At the Texas Capitol, we are more than halfway through the 79th Texas Legislature. Our erstwhile senators and representatives are holding public hearings on bills. Bills are making their way out of committee to the floor of the House and Senate for debate. Nothing big has passed, but conference committees are working on some.

The biggest issue is, of course, school finance, since the courts have again held the system unconstitutional. This time, however, the court did not say how to fix it. Probably because the last fix did not work.

There are also bills pending about taxation, homeowner's insurance and workers' compensation.

Judge Steve King has a sign in his office that reads "No man's life or lands are safe while the Texas Legislature is in session." Truer words were never spoken.

There is gridlock this session also. This time it is between the House and Senate. Look for at least one special session this summer. Also look for hysteria the last week or so of the regular session. That is when they scramble to pass bills, often not reading them, and using the emergency clause to avoid the time requirements. During that time, almost anything could get passed. Gridlock might be preferable.

May God protect us.

Monday, April 11, 2005

MISSIONARY NEWS. World Magazine has an interesting article about young missionary Heather Swensen. You can read it at: This fearless young woman is a dedicated missionary in Nepal, now an extremely dangerous area. She has been arrested previously and has also been removed from the country. She was later allowed to return.

Nepal is in the throws of a civil war. The King has declared marital law and dissolved parliament. Communist rebels are blowing things up, killing and kidnapping civilians, and doing all the bad things communist rebels do everywhere they do it.

In the midst of strife, God is working (see John 5:17). While the turmoil grows, the church is growing. Ms. Swensen said one reason is that, when the government and the communists are fighting each other, they are not fighting the church.

Nepal is a Hindu kingdom, Christianity was illegal until 1993. Christians could not even live in Nepal until 1960. It is still illegal to convert or to evangelize. Not surprisingly, Christians make up less than 2 percent of the population.

It sounds grim for the church in Nepal, does it not? Well, it is not. Get this: the church in Nepal is sending out missionaries! The first team will go to Tibet. The people of Nepal have contacts in Tibet because Tibetans fled to Nepal during the Chinese invasion. The second area of outreach is to be Pakistan. The church under fire is the church on fire.

Swensen was smuggled out of Nepal in an ambulance during a miraculous escape. She plans to return to assist this fledgling missionary movement. She is a 23 year old single woman. She is also now on my list of heroes.
CATHOLIC NEWS. With the death of the Pope and the convocation to elect a new one, I thought you might be interested in a few religious facts. What are the largest Christian denominations in America? Far and away the biggest is the Roman Catholic Church with 67 million members.

A distance second is the Southern Baptist Convention, which has 16.4 million members. A distant third is the United Methodist Church at 8.2 million. The Mormons and the Church of God In Christ tie for third with 5.4 million. In fourth place, we have the National Baptist Church with 5 million members. Fifth is the Evangelical Lutheran Church with 4.9 million members. The "Separated Brethren" are running behind. It was nice of the Pope to remember us in this Last Will and Testament and even refer to us as Christians. Thanks, Vatican II.

The Roman Catholic Church is also really Roman, or at least Italian. Italy has 20 cardinals, whereas the whole continent of Africa only has 11, as does all of Asia, and the United States. All of South America, and that is a lot of Catholics, has only 21.

In case you were interested, France has 5. You have to be careful about giving them too many, as they tried (and succeeded for a time) to remove the Chair of Peter to France. They eventually surrendered, of course, and Rome recaptured the papacy.
CLONE WARS. There is a bill pending in the Texas Senate to ban human cloning. It is S. B. 943, submitted by Senator Ambrister. It makes the following behaviors subject to a civil penalty: to perform or attempt to perform human cloning, to ship, transfer or receive a human embryo for the purpose of cloning, or to perform research on a human embryo created by cloning. The penalty is not less than $500,000 and not more than $1,000,000. It is also a criminal offense, graded as a first degree felony.

If you want to prevent human cloning, call your state representative or senator and support the bill.
TRAVELING MAN. I'm back! I do not travel much, and I am glad. Last week, however, I did have to go to Houston for a seminar. I drove to Love Field and flew on Southwest Airlines. I did this because, if you drive to DFW International Airport, which is closer, you must fly on a twin prop plane. I did that last year, and decided against a repeat. It was hot, noisy, crowded, and you have to walk forever to find the plane. Sorry about that, American Eagle.

Southwest Airlines does it right. I got my ticket and my boarding pass online. I drove to Love Field, parked in the new garage close to the terminal, walked on the moving sidewalk (which is great until you get off onto the regular floor, which is like jumping off the back of a moving truck and trying to stay on your feet, while holding luggage), and got on the plane. It was painless, which is the way I like it.

I stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Houston. It is a great hotel. It and the Mansion on Turtle Creek are my absolute favorites. The staff at this hotel is so helpful and never seem to mind being of assistance.

Now that I am back, I feel a little "out of sinc". Traveling does that to me. Or maybe it is just sleep deprivation, since the Baby went to the Prom this Saturday and came in late.

The Baby was stunningly gorgeous, by the way. She wore a black and white formal, had her hair and make up done, and was so beautiful I almost did not let her leave.

One funny moment to relate: when they were telling me what all they were doing, including the after prom parties, and when they would return, I must have let the "concerned father look" show on my face for a second, because Tall Boy looked at me and said "don't worry; I'll take care of her."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Now, back to the interesting thing that happened in Sunday School. We were studying Romans 12. There are several verses in the chapter that tell us not to take revenge on those who harm us. For example, verse 17 says "repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sigh of all." verse 19 says "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

In other words, we are to leave revenge, payback, getting even, and teaching folks a lesson to God. He claims the right to even the accounts.

He commands us not only to refrain from revenge, but to seek the good of our enemies. Minister to their needs. Jesus taught, in the Sermon on the Mount, that we should bless those who persecute us and pray for them. Not only can we not wish them ill, we must wish them well and seek what is good for them. this, I confess, is a difficult standard to bear.

For years, I forgave people in a non-work situation, but operated differently as a trial lawyer. I cooperated with those who treated me well and were honest. Those who cheated or slighted me, however, I punished. Then, a year or so ago, a non-Christian attorney told me she did not think that was a Christian way to do it. That cut me. So, I read the passages teaching about this and realized she was right. I hate it when the non-Christian sees the Christian message more clearly than I, but God works in mysterious ways.

I told this story to my class also, only to have one member tell me she was exempt from this because she has a political job and must show people they can run over her. That is the way I felt for years. However, the Scripture did not make exceptions. God said he would take care of the accounts. We are to be a witness for him.

Luther said: "Every word should be allowed to stand in its natural meaning and should not be abandoned unless faith forces us to it. The literal sense of Scripture alone is the essence of faith and of Christian theology."

We should never make a snap judgment that Scripture does not apply to us. The presumption should be that it does. We should read it and meditate on it and ask God to apply it to our situation. Otherwise we miss the blessing of operating in his Word and his will.
WHEREVER GOD MAY PLACE US. Here is an interesting quote for my daughters, who sometimes worry where their call to ministry will take them in these difficult times. The quote is from a preacher, recalling his early years when he had no church.

"I walked up and down the streets of Sand Town (a poor area of Waco), knocking on doors, introducing myself and asking if the person would like to talk about Jesus ... And so many people, young and old, men and women, black, white, and tan, gave their lives to Jesus as we talked ... When I was just seventeen in Sand Town ... I discovered that nobody needs a church to preach. Nobody needs a pulpit to stand behind. The world is waiting to hear the Good News of the gospel. And what a glorious thing it is to share that Good News wherever God may place us!"

The quote is from W. A. Criswell, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas. For my Aggie readers who are also fans of Southern Seminary, Dr. Criswell received his Ph.D. from there.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

WELCOME BACK WELCOME BACK WELCOME BACK. No, I have not been on vacation. The home computer broke again (and work has been too busy for blogging). The hard drive crashed. I was smart enough to diagnose it and smart enough to call Mike to help. He is such a good friend he installed a new one for me, recovered my old files, and installed them on the new hard drive. Thanks, Mike.

This weekend was too wild to blog anyway. The Little Woman hosted a wedding shower for Suzanne the Doctor on Saturday morning. I set up the rented tables and chairs, moved the living furniture to other rooms, and "traipsed" to the florist to pick up a corsage.

The college daughter came to town and we drove, together with friend Bill Latham, to Glen Rose and the Riverbend Camp to speak at the "Godly Guy, Godly Girl Conference". We stopped in Glen Rose and ate lunch at the Two Grandmas Cafe. Bill and I share a love of cafe food. The College Daughter spied a Pie Kitchen across the stree, so we went over there and supported the local economy. Sacrificing for the less fortunate is important. I had chocolate.

At the conference, the guys were definitely divided into the A group and the B group. Oddly, the B group was largely the older guys. They had sneaked out and gone to the river, where they build a makeshift raft and tried the Tom Sawyer thing. When the sponsors retrieved them, they were hot and muddy. They really were not up for listening to an hour talk on integrity, followed by an hour talk on holiness. I'm not sure why you would sign up for a retreat that promises to be as spiritually rigorous as this one if you were not intent on using it to grow, but there you have it.

The A group had mostly younger guys, although the Baby's boyfriend, Tall Boy, was there. They were well behaved, attentive, and pretty perceptive. Yes, Mel, your son was in this group and he was quite perceptive. I am excited to watch him grow up. I think he will be a leader in the youth group.

After the talks, we drove back home. College Daughter and I ate some wedding shower left overs and talked. She also ate the leftover "trash can" spaghetti I fixed for the Ladies Class Meeting on Thursday. Then she left to return to school. I hauled out the books and worked on my Sunday School lesson all night. The Little Woman was at work. I keeled over sometime around midnight. The next thing I knew, the telephone was ringing. It was the Little Woman asking if I had set the clock forward for Daylight Savings Time. I had not, due to falling into a coma. Thank goodness she called, or I might have missed Sunday School.

I jumped up, got ready, and jetted off to church. We got into a spirited discussion over "revenge" from Romans 12. More about that later. After church, I went to lunch with friends, then back to church, then back into a coma until Monday morning. Whew.

Tomorrow I am off to Houston until Friday night. I hope I can find that internet cafe downtown and blog from there.

I left out the band concert, the color guard performance, work, and some other items that kept me busy, but you get the drift.

More later. Thanks for your patience.