Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Blood Letting Begins. A good sign that Calvinism is truly in resurgence in the SBC is that the Arminians have noticed and have started to try and squelch the movement. Two of the leading Arminians are the Caner brothers. Ergun of Liberty University and Emir of the undergraduate school at Southwestern Seminary. They are vocal opponents, although I not think they are always accurate.

Now, the Caner brothers have decided to have a tag team match. Their opponents in the debate will be Tom Ascol of the Founders and James White, a leading apologist. It is billed as "Baptists and Calvinism: A Debate at the New Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia". Ascol and White are brave to go into the lions den for the debate. It is scheduled for Monday, October 16th, 2006, at 7pm.

James White is formidable in writing and in speech. The Caners will have their hands full. Unfortunately, it probably won't matter. The crowd will be dominated by Liberty University folks who won't come to learn but to cheer their dean. Those who do come to learn will hear some good stuff.
First Things has an interesting article about what a sad little place Baylor University has become since running off Robert Sloan. Having such a disparaging article in a prestigious publication will further diminish BU's image.
I'm a Wanted Man. At least, that's what tells me. They send me an email regularly, telling me how many people are looking for me. I'm up to 29. That's about how many people have ever read this blog.

My guess is there are many Larry Thompson's to look for and the 29 include all of them all over the world. I truthfully cannot think of 29 people who would care where I was enough to look. I did live in a lot of places, but I have lived here for 28 years and haven't had 29 phone calls this year. And that counts the 5 calls from the Mexican lady that kept calling my cell phone 2 nights ago and could not understand me saying "sorry, wrong number".

It is interesting, though, how we get older and wonder where someone is and try to find them. "I wonder how old so and so is doing?" We did not care enough to keep track of them, but now we go and look for them. I guess, as we get older, we realize that relationships and friendships really are more important than career ladders, so we try to resurrect them.

If you want to find someone bad enough, you can. I had the urge a few years ago. I had a really good friend in junior high in a small town in which I lived. I found someone who knew where his father lived. I called his father and got my old friend's address. I wrote him. He never replied.

I'm not going to pay Reunion dot com to see if the searches for my name are really for me or some handsome high school friend folks want to reconnect with. But I understand the urge. I think I'll just put more effort into keeping the friends I have.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A fun blog:
The Religious Congregations and Membership study published in 2000 by the Glenmary Research Center revealed that the Southern Baptist Convention grew at a rate of 5 percent from 1990 to 2000. That sounds ok until you consider this. Wver that same decade, the Presbyterian Church in America, PCA, grew by 42.4 percent. The Evangelical Free Church grew by 57.2 percent.

The question is why. As Baptistis adopted the church growth method and seeker friendly worship styles, our growth rate slowed dramatically. However, people continue to tell us if we do not embrace these ideas more firmly, we will not grow. Remember the definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Or, think of it as the announcement from the pilot who said I have good news and bad news. The bad news is our instruments are broken and we do not know which direction we are going. The good news is, we are making really good time.

Part of the question the SBC should answer is, where id the PCA and the EFC get is members? Neither are known for evangelism to the extent the SBC has been. If the answer is, they are getting their membership from SBC churches, someone needs to reevaluate.

I do not know the answer to the question. I do know many members of my SBC church have left for a local Bible Church that has become quite popular, especially with the professional set.

I guess also, to be candid, I am not a good barometer for what makes a good church, because I am tired of most of the gimics and productions. I am more in the mood for simple. Give me good preaching and let me sing a few good songs and let me go.
This is not going to help his case. Zacarias Moussaoui testified today that he and Richard Reid were supposed to hijack another airplane on 9-11 and fly it into the White House.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Good news. Todan the Afghan court dismissed the case against Abdul Rahman, arrested for being a Christian. The government said he would be released soon. The further good news is they did not decide he was insance, although the exact reasons seem a little murky. The spokesman said it was due to a lack of evidence, het Rahman has repeatedly confessed his Christianity.

God bless Condolezza Rice for putting pressure on President Karzai. Thanks also go to our allies, particularly Germany and Italy for thepressure they applied.
Now we will have to hope he is not murdered in jail or by militants stiffed bup by their blood thirsty ministers.
Buck Owens died yesterday at the age of 76. If you are 50 or so, you will at least remember him as the co-star, with Roy Clark, of Hee Haw, the television show devoted to country and corny.

Owens really sang Hillbilly music more than country music. It had the twang and whine that onnly Hillbilly has. I know this from experience.

My father really liked Hillbilly music. When I was very young, we always traveled at night so the car would not overheat and neither would the passengers. My mother would often go to sleep and my father would change the radio station, if he could find it, over to some Hillbilly station. I would ride along in the back, staring at the West Texas flatlands, listening to the Chuck Wagon Gang, the Carter sisters, Flat and Scruggs and others.

The music was appropriate to the travel. You drove over miles and miles, in the dark, staring at flat land and listening to someone sing through their nose about their troubles.
Here is the rest of the chapter 7 study (1 Corinthians)

7:17-24 More on the Status Quo

17Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts. 20Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. 21Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave. 23You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.

Paul makes an interesting statement here, that a person should stay in the situation they are in. The need for this statement might come from the fact that Jesus taught the equality of people before God, which might have given rise to the desire to escape slavery. For example, Galatians 3:28 says “There is either Jew nor Greek, there is neither salve nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” He says this is the place God assigned to him and to which God called him. Curtis Vaughn said the word translated “assign” here means to be apportioned his share in something. This idea is pretty counter cultural for America, where almost everyone wants to live somewhere else, work somewhere else, look like someone else and be married to someone else.

Do you think your situation is accidental? Here Paul said you were called to it and assigned it. If that is the case, then God has a purpose for you in your present situation. It is not so important that you try to change your situation as that you live for the glory of God while in this situation. Paul said “keeping God’s command is what counts”.

When we are in a difficult situation, we usually cry out to God for deliverance. We say “please get me out of here”. But God may want you there. You are where you are on assignment for Him. So, obey his commands and live for him in your situation. Your witness will shine brighter in a difficult situation than in an easy one. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus said “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” In Ephesians 6:6-8, Paul specifically says “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye service, as people pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as t the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”

Paul does say a couple of interesting things concerning freedom from slavery. He said if you were able to become free, to do so. That is probably because the free man may serve God without restrictions. But, he did not advocate running away or violating the law. Remember that he intervened for Onesimus by writing a letter to his master, Philemon, but he still made Onesimus return to Philemon even though Paul had become attached to him and benefited from him. In Philemon 12 he said “I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion, but of your own free will.”

Some people criticize Paul because he did not condemn slavery. But, what you see is that Paul was not interested in politics or changing the world order any way other than winning men and women to Christ and teaching them to live for him. It is a lesson we could learn today, as many churches and ministers are spending more time on politics than on evangelism and ministry. Fred Fisher wrote “The gospel will work and has worked its social reformations, but it has done so in the manner of leaven rather than by revolution.” +++++

Paul also said not to become a slave if you are free. He did this on theological grounds, though, not political, for he said you had already been bought with a price, paid for by Christ, so not to submit yourself to bondage.

Paul also applied this principle to circumcision, saying the circumcised man need not change and neither should the uncircumcised man. For circumcision is not a sign of belief in Christ and no longer matters. In Galatians 5:6, Paul said “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, buy only faith working through love.” In Galatians 6:15, he said “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision but a new creation.”

I think this again points out the Christ often calls us as believers, not to exercise our rights, but to sacrifice our rights for the sake of the gospel. God will often exalt us as believers. Plus the good habits of Godly living often translate into success. But God may also call us to stay in a difficult job for his purposes. He may also bring us financial challenges for his glory and for our good.

7:25-29 The Time Is Short

25Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. 26Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. 27Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. 28But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

29What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

32I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

This sounds like the answer to another question submitted by the Corinthians. Paul here reiterates his advice about marriage. It would be good to stay single, but it is not a sin to marry. Why does he value singleness so much? He based it on “the present crisis” or “distress”. He did not tell us what the crises was, but the Corinthians were living or were about to live in a time that was difficult for believers in some way. Because of the times, he felt the single person better able to cope. What is the crisis?

Paul felt the time is short. In verse 31, he said the world in its present form is passing away. He lived in expectation of the return of Christ and the end of Earth in its present form, so he wanted to make every moment count for Christ. He had a real sense of urgency. He wanted to impart that sense of urgency to the Corinthians, so that they would live for Christ and the gospel as their first priority.

Paul also realized that a married person’s interests are divided. Married people must be concerned about their spouses, it is their duty. Single people can devote themselves totally to the Lord. Paul prized undivided devotion to the Lord.

Jesus made similar statements, so Paul is not really going out on a limb here. For example, in Matthew 8:21, another of the disciples said to him [Jesus], “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their won dead.”

In Matthew 10:37, Jesus said “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” As much as the Bible extols the worth of the family and the duty to preserve it, he says it must not eclipse our love for and devotion to Christ.

7:36-38 More Rules For Marriage

36If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.

There are different approaches to the interpretation of this passage regarding who the virgin is and who it is addressed to. I read it to you in the English Standard Version, and it appears here to address a man who is engaged to a virgin. But, the NASB adds the word daughter, and interprets the passage as addressing the father about his duty toward his virgin daughter. The word “daughter” is in italics, meaning the word in not in the original Hebrew, but is implied. The NIV makes the opposite assumption, and says the “virgin he is engaged to.”

Paul here says that it is good to get married for those who want to get married, and good for the one who does not want to get married. I think Paul is speaking in the context of serving Christ, not extolling bachelorhood. It is better not to marry if you are doing it to devote yourself to the service of Christ, conditioned on the premise that you can do it without being consumed with passion or lust. It is not saying it is better to forgo marriage so you can cat around or indulge yourself on your income with no responsibilities. The Bible clearly sets forth the Godly pattern of a marriage between a man and a woman, producing Godly children.

7:39-40 Marriage Ended By Death

A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

Paul shows us that the rule that marriage is permanent is ended with the death of a spouse. The remaining spouse is released from the bond of marriage and may remarry, as long as she marries a believer. Paul would still prefer the widow to remain single.

Finally, Paul claims to have the Spirit of God, so we do not treat his advice as a private opinion or conjecture, it is still the inspired word of God.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


7:1-9 Should We Marry?

1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Paul begins this chapter by turning to matters about which the Corinthians wrote him. Since he has been on the topic of sexual immorality, he works that question in.

So, remember that Paul wrote chapter 7 in the context of his discussion of sexual immorality. He, therefore, presents marriage as the alternative to sexual immorality. There are other places where Paul discusses the spiritual duties of spouses and other topics, (such as Ephesians 5) but not here. He did not seek to write a full commentary on marriage, but rather sought to answer specific questions sent to him. We also have a bit of a handicap to our understanding of this passage because we do not know the exact questions that the Corinthians submitted to Paul. It could be that the first question is: should Christians get married? This may have been partly motivated by the thought that Christ would return soon.

There is also some disagreement as to how to treat the words “it is good for a man not to marry”. Most translations set it out as an express teaching from Paul. Others, however, put these words in quotation marks to indicate it is a quote from the letter the Corinthians sent to Paul and is part of their question he will seek to answer.

The word for “man” here is generic (“anthropos”). It is not the word for “husband” (aner).

It may also have been motivated that some philosophies taught that marriage or sex was wrong, or at least not the preferred state. Others maintained that people have a duty to get married.

It appears from verse 7 that Paul was single and wished everyone could handle that. Down in verse 32 he explained why, which is basically that it allows one to devote themselves completely to God. But, he realized that was not the case.

Here are the things he says about marriage in these first 7 verses:

1 – it is good to be abstinent, which Paul equated to being single, but immorality and lust are not acceptable for the single person. So, marriage is good. Paul recognized in verse 7 that not everyone has the gift of abstinence. For those who do not, they should marry. It is better to marry than to burn with passion.

2-spouses have a duty to meet each other’s sexual needs. That duty exists, according to verse 5, except where the spouses mutually agree to abstain for a time and devote themselves to prayer. Present here again is the idea of the Christian giving up his or her own rights, saying that neither the husband nor wife owns their own body, but it belongs to the spouse.

7:10-16 Maintaining The Status Quo

10To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

It appears the question in verses 10-11 are: can believers divorce? This came up principally because some believed they needed to leave their families and devote themselves to Christ. In answer, Paul basically said “no”, but, if they do separate or divorce, they cannot remarry. Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.

This teaching is the same as that of Jesus. He condemned divorce in Matthew 5:31-32, 19:9, Mark 10:2-12, and Luke 16:18. In verse 10 of our present passage, Paul emphasizes that this is a command of the Lord and not himself. He is passing along the teaching of Jesus.

You will also notice that Paul does not mention the exception for divorce stated by Jesus in Matthew, for adultery. I do not think Paul is trying to overrule Jesus in this matter. Rather, it is not the question at hand. The issue here was not that the spouse had committed adultery, but whether marriage was compatible with Christianity. In other words, now that I am a believer, should I divorce my spouse and commit myself solely to Christ, or should I stay married to my believing spouse?

The next question, in verses 12-15, may have been, if I become a Christian, should I leave my non-Christian spouse? Again, Paul answered “no”. However, in verse 15, he said, if the unbelieving spouse leaves, to let him or her and the believing spouse is not bound in that instance, which I take to mean that the believing spouse can remarry.

There are two reasons given for not divorcing the unbelieving spouse. First, Paul said the unbelieving spouse will be sanctified through the believing spouse, and that their children will be holy. What does this mean? It is not clear what Paul means here, but the idea seems to be that Christians married to unbelievers worried that their marriage was unholy, that they might be polluted by it and that their children would be an unholy product of that marriage. Paul said that would not be the case, but that God would recognize and honor the marriage of a believer and the children produced by that marriage would be legitimate, even if the spouse was not a believer. (Baptists do not usually teach covenant theology, but CT would teach that children of the elect are born into the covenant, just as the Jewish child was. Since one parent is a believer, or part of the covenant, his or her child will be also.)

This is written primarily in the context where one of the spouses became a Christian after the marriage. Paul instructed Christians in 2 Corinthians 6:14, not to be bound to unbelievers so that we would not have these problems. The current passage is not in contradiction to that instruction, but is an instruction of how to deal with the situation once it has occurred.

Second, he said in verse 16 that the marriage might result in the salvation of the unbelieving spouse.

In verse 12, Paul said this part of the message came from him, not the Lord. Some people use that to say that the first part of this passage, where Paul is referring to the direct teaching of Jesus, is authoritative, but the second part is not. I do not agree with that idea. Paul was an apostle and taught with that authority. We also know that all scripture is inspired by God, so I do not think we can separate scripture by who said it. Since it is scripture, obey it and, when we do not obey it, we confess it as sin.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Arthur Winston is 100 years old. He retired on his birthday after 72 years of employment with the City of Los Angeles. In all that time, he took 1 sick day, to take care of things after his wife died. He does not expect to lie around in retirement, though. He said he would find work to do and keep busy, because lying around would kill him for sure. What a guy. Lots of people could take him as an example. Instead, lots of people think work is an evil to be endured. God gave us work. He gave Adam work to do before sin existed, having stewardship over the Garden and the animals. In effect, Adam was initially in charge of ruling the earth for God. Certainly, work became harder after sin entered the world. Everything became harder. Still, man is made to work. When he doesn’t work, he gets into trouble. Mr. Winston stayed out of trouble for 72 years and plans to continue. God bless him.
Here is a fact to tuck away about the war on drugs. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia supplies more than half of the world's cocaine and more than 60 percent of U.S. cocaine. That’s some revolution. Fortunately, about 50 of these guys have been arrested and should be extradited to the U.S. for trial.

The Taliban in Afghanistan was also known for financing its operations with drugs. It is interesting they do not mind selling heroin, but do mind if you cut your beard or want to educate your daughter. You have to keep your priorities straight, don’t you?

One thing Muslims, and Muslim dominated governments, do not want you to do is become a Christian. That is much, much worse than becoming a drug dealer. So, Afghanistan is trying to convict and execute 41-year-old Abdul Rahman for becoming a Christian 16 years ago. The Afghan constitution is supposedly based on Islamic Law, commonly known as Sharia. Sharia mandates death for rejecting Islam. I’m guessing they are a little insecure about being able to keep people in the faith.

The U.S. and other Western nations are not too happy about this turn of events, hoping as they were that Afghanistan might join the 21st century. There are four countries with troops in the country, helping stave off the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They are the U.S., Germany, Canada, and Italy. All have Christian backgrounds and Christian populations. Certainly, many more Christians have fought to liberate Afghanistan than Muslims.

The U.S. has made its objections known to Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah while he is here for talks on our strategic partnership. "I know that it is a very sensitive issue and we know the concerns of the American people," Abdullah said. He has, though, tried to maintain that the Afghan government had nothing to do with the case.

The other three nations have voiced their concerns, also.

Afghans seem to be somewhat sensitive to the issue. They are now claiming that Rahman may be mentally unfit and cannot be tried. He is scheduled for a psychological examination. It is a bit of a shame they will go for this dodge rather than stand up for religious freedom.

Unfortunately, this may not be the end of the problem for Rahman. Clerics are calling for Muslims to kill him if the government will not. Their thirst for blood is insatiable.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Here is a fact to tuck away about the war on drugs. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia supplies more than half of the world's cocaine and more than 60 percent of U.S. cocaine. That’s some revolution. Fortunately, about 50 of these guys have been arrested and should be extradited to the U.S. for trial.

The Taliban in Afghanistan was also known for financing its operations with drugs. It is interesting they do not mind selling heroin, but do mind if you cut your beard or want to educate your daughter. You have to keep your priorities straight, don’t you?

One thing Muslims, and Muslim dominated governments, do not want you to do is become a Christian. That is much, much worse than becoming a drug dealer. So, Afghanistan is trying to convict and execute 41-year-old Abdul Rahman for becoming a Christian 16 years ago. The Afghan constitution is supposedly based on Islamic Law, commonly known as Sharia. Sharia mandates death for rejecting Islam. I’m guessing they are a little insecure about being able to keep people in the faith.

The U.S. and other Western nations are not too happy about this turn of events, hoping as they were that Afghanistan might join the 21st century. There are four countries with troops in the country, helping stave off the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They are the U.S., Germany, Canada, and Italy. All have Christian backgrounds and Christian populations. Certainly, many more Christians have fought to liberate Afghanistan than Muslims.

The U.S. has made its objections known to Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah while he is here for talks on our strategic partnership. "I know that it is a very sensitive issue and we know the concerns of the American people," Abdullah said. He has, though, tried to maintain that the Afghan government had nothing to do with the case.

The other three nations have voiced their concerns, also.

Afghans seem to be somewhat sensitive to the issue. They are now claiming that Rahman may be mentally unfit and cannot be tried. He is scheduled for a psychological examination. This might be coincidence, but it seems like a way to get out from under this problem. However, it does not solve the problem. The fact remains that this country, as most Muslim countries, refuses to give the basic human freedom of worship to its citizens.

It should also be yet another wake up call to the rest of the world. Muslims are not going to coexist with Christians willingly.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Some people do not know the difference between Martin Luther and Martin Luther King. And the work for the government.
U. S. Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsyvania told the Philadelphia Inquirer this week that Osama bin Laden died in Iran. Weldon is the one who brought out the story of "Able Danger" last year. That is the story U. S. military intelligence identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist threat well before the 9/11 attacks.

Weldon claims to have a source from Iran that is the same one who served as a source for the Able Danger information.

I hope he is correct.
Chuck Colson writes about the real Patrick of Ireland, for whom St. Patrick's day is named. It has nothing to do with shamrocks, wearing green or drinking green beer. Read it here.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

WHOOP! Aggies over Syracuse. First Aggie win in NCAA since 1980. Way to go, Coach Gillespie.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

CHRISTIAN COUNTERCULTURE PART II. The second point made by the interviewees in the article on Christian Counterculture was that Christianity is about rebellion. But this is not true. Rebellion is about adolescence. It is about saying there is no authority by which I will abide.

Sin is about rebellion. Adam rebelled against God by disobeying his commands. We all rebel against God. We call that sin.

Rebellion against culture is usually just rebellion against authority. It usually means I will dress different and listen to different music. I will not embrace your values. This is not necessarily because your values are bad, but more so that I want to have my own and don't want you to tell me what to do.

Christianity is not about rebellion, but about abandonment and devotion. We do not rebel against the culture, we abandon it. We leave behind all that would bind us to the world so that we may embrace Christ. The Bible is clear that children are to honor their parents, not rebel against them. But, Jesus called men to abandon their parents, leave the comfort of parents behind, and follow him. He called people to abandon their money and their rights and their destinies to take up the cross and follow him in total devotion.

Jesus did not rebel against the Romans, even though many people wanted him to. He did not teach rebellion and neither did Paul. In fact, Paul taught obedience to the government, to the church elders and to parents. Both, however, taught abandonment and devotion. Paul considered every thing as garbage compared to the riches of simply knowing and following Christ.

The skate board, the do rag or the Van Dyke beard will not bring you to a pure and simple relationship with Christ. But, abandoning the pretenses and accouterments of your culture or subculture and embracing Christ will.
Digging through the pile of "un-read" newspapers this morning, I ran across an article in Sunday's Startlegram about "Christian Counterculture". The article was reporting lite, but basically mentioned briefly several supposedly counterculture christian movements, mostly built around a certain style of music or skateboarding.

Those movements are not really counter-culture, but sub-culture movements. Similar to the Jesus Movement, although they deny it, they are involved in a sub-culture and they impose it on their practice of Christianity. Although they complain about suburban culture and that everyone in the church has a house and two cars, to be in their church you have to like a certain type of music, dress a certain way, and speak a defined and limited lingo and have the right kind of facial hair.

It is really trite. Pardon the bluntness, but I lived on the fringe of the Jesus Movement in college. It was not all bad, and did attract some new people into the faith. It did, in some cases, seek a purer and simpler Christianity. But, as things progressed, it degenerated into stupid bumper stickers, music that imitated the music popular with college students at the time and a dress code. Sure, the code did not include coats and ties or panty hose. But you were not accepted into the groups if you did not have long hair, bell bottom jeans and funky shoes. It was good for me, because I was a fashion hippy. By that I mean I did not do drugs or believe in free love, but I really liked the clothes. The Jesus Movement allowed me to be a fashion hippy and a Christian. That made you a Jesus Freak, by the way.

The only thing more trite than a skateboard church trying to maintain it is radical and pure is the 40 and 50 year old who thinks he can imitate the dress, lingo and facial hair and appeal to the kids on that basis.

Pardon me for being jaded. One thing about living a while is, you see things continue to come and go, and people try to tell you it is new, when it is not.

Pure and simple faith would be a devotion to following Christ to the extent of divorcing yourself from culture and counter culture. When you do that, let me know. Otherwise, it's just the same old thing: youthful rebellion against the parent's generation.

Been there, done that and threw away the t-shirt.

Monday, March 13, 2006

1 Corinthians 6

6:1-8 Believers as Judges

1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! (English Standard Version)

Paul continues his discussion of the church. He has been discussing its purity. Then he discussed its authority, saying the church should discipline the believer who is living in sexual immorality. Now, in chapter 6, he continues his discussion of church authority by discussing disagreements between believers within the church.
In verse 1, he condemns the practice of taking a fellow saint before the secular legal authorities in a civil law suit. His use of the word “dare” in verse 1 is an expression of shock. He says the saints have the best ability to judge. He knows this because saints will judge: (1) the world; (2) the angels.

Also, some commentators say “judge” here is the same as “rule”. The saints will rule over the world. This is stated in Psalm 49:14 and Daniel 7:22, 27, and Revelation 2:26-27. However, the context here is clearly judging.

2 Peter 2:4 says “for if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment…” We might infer from this that we will judge the fallen or rebellious angels. Paul seemed to know this as a matter of revelation.

Since this is so, how could you not judge disputes? In verse 2, he says these are trivial cases compared to judging the world and judging angels. So, sending disputes between believers to the courts is a failure for the church.

Then, he said it would be better to suffer the wrong than to take a fellow believer to court. Here we again see that much of the Christian life is about giving up rights, not asserting them. This is similar to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:39-42: “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

This is another continuation from the practice of Old Testament Israel. Beginning with Moses, they set up their own judges for their disputes, and no Israelite would have thought of going outside to Gentiles to judge disputes. Here Paul calls the non-believers the “unrighteous” or the “unjust”. Even after the Jews lost their authority over civil government, they appointed arbiters who handled their disputes within the community so they would not bring each other before the courts of the Gentile pagans.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt gave a speech this weekend in which he recommended that Americans stock canned tuna and powdered milk in anticipation of an outbreak of avian flu.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

From “The Riddleblog” comes this unsurprising but dismaying story of the ignorance of doctrine among pastors. Riddleblog reports that Shane Rosenthal went to the National Pastor's Convention in San Diego. He interviewed a number of attending pastors. Here are the results. What follows is a direct quote from Riddleblog.

When Shane asked, "are you familiar with the doctrine of imputation?"
33% were "familiar," 67% said they were "unfamiliar."

When Shane asked "is justification by works, faith and works combined, or faith alone?"
0% (thankfully) responded "by works." 25% responded "by faith and by works," while 75% responded "by faith alone."

When Shane asked "Is justification a one time declaration or a life long process?"
49% said that justification is a process, 31% said a declaration, while 14% indicated that is was both. 6% were not sure.

When Shane asked, "What are we saved from?
43% said "ourselves." 24% said from "sin and death" while 17% said (correctly) that we are saved from eternal judgment or the wrath of God. Another large group were not sure about the question and some admitted to have never even given this subject any thought.

The blog is by Kim Riddlebarger of the White Horse Inn.

These are basic doctrines of the Protestant faith and doctrines that formed the backbone of the Reformation. It is bad enough that most laymen cannot answer these questions, but, for pastors, it is unconscionable.
From "The Right to Ridicule" by Ronald Dworkin:

"So in a democracy no one, however powerful or impotent, can have a right not to be insulted or offended."

Even Muslims.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Americans are not "evolving". This will cause some dismay in the educational and scientific communty, and give Richard Dawkins indigestion.

A Zogby International poll shows 69 percent of Americans believe public school teachers should present the evidence both for and against Darwinian evolution.

The poll also showed that only 21 percent think biology teachers should teach only Darwin's theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it.

It is not just one group of Americans, either, in case you thought the survey only addressed Bible Belt Fundamentalists. In fact, a majority of Americans in every sub-group were at least twice as likely to prefer this approach to the current science education strategy of presenting only Darwinism. For example, 88 percent of Americans 18-29 years old were in support of teaching both, as were 73 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independent voters, 69 percent of African-Americans, 70 percent of 35-54 year-olds (Yea team!)and even 60 percent of Democrats.

Nonetheless, our schools continue to ignore public opinion and push their agenda. The silent majority should begin to shout.

Even within the scientific community, there are questions on evolutionary theory. More than 500 scientists with doctorates signed a statement expressing skepticism about Darwin's theory of evolution. The statement includes an endorsement by members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Russian Academy of Sciences.
I'm sorry blogging has been light. I have been working around the clock, including 18 hours on Thursday, due to an evening board meeting. Also, most of the computers at work now block blogs. I may be able to get some remote blogging done. I am working on it.

Meanwhile, I have hooked up the new computer. It is a Dell. I love the new flat panel monitor. I got it all to work, including the Internet, which I get through cable. I did not get the router to work, yet, though.

I had to go buy a new printer today. The old one was not compatible. I bought one with fax capability and a port to connect to the digital camera. I think it will be nice.

I have some posts written and will try to post them asap. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The port controversy (ships, not wine), while appearing to cause discomfort for the President, is providing discomfort to a presidential candidate who is married to a former president. As usual, they were playing both sides of the fence and are dealing with the consequences of inconsistency. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has criticized the President over the issue. She either did not know, or did not think we would find out, that hubby was involved in the deal.

Bill Clinton evidently advised Dubai on the deal when he was traveling to Pakistan. He also tried to get the UAE to hire his former press secretary, Joe Lockhart, as a spokesman for Dubai Ports World. According to Robert Novak, other Democrats aligned with the Clintons also lobbied for DPW. Clinton owes Dubai a favor. It contributed to Clinton’s library in Arkansas (no jokes please, we already did all those). It also paid him big fees to come and speak there.

Novak, in a column posted yesterday, makes a great point. How will Bill’s dealings impact Hillary in her campaign for president? The answer is, no one knows until it happens, because no one, including Bill, knows what Bill will do, and no one but Bill knows what he has done that has not been discovered yet.

The possibilities are endless.

As a "Take It Or Leave It" exclusive, my correspondents in Washington have obtained tapes from the NSA of Hillary talking to Bill long distance in Pakistan about the problem. Here is the transcript.

Hillary: Bill! Why didn't you tell me you had lobbied Dubai on this deal?

Bill: Hillary, I swear I did not have relations with that country.

Hillary: You are going to ruin everything. How can we be president again if you screw things up? You do want to be in the White House again, don't you? After all, we still have a lot of their furniture.

Bill: The White House is kind of stuffy, but I did want to be in the Senate Wives Club.

Hillary: What did you say?

Bill: I'm sorry, you're breaking up. Phone service here is cut off by the protestors. It's President Bush's fault. (static noises)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

This should make you comfortable at night. Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa.