Friday, June 30, 2006

"Rest Assured that Our Church is Anglican Now" -- A Pastor's Statement of Heartbreak and Hope

The breakup of the US Episcopalian church is beginning:

Christ Church Episcopal in Plano, Texas -- drawing the largest weekly attendance of any Episcopal church -- announced its decision to leave the Episcopal Church USA [ECUSA] on June 24. The church's decision came just hours after the conclusion of the denomination's General Convention in Columbus, Ohio [see articles below].

As the Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry and the church's vestry explained, their decision came in light of the fact that the ECUSA General Convention refused to adopt the two measures demanded by the world-wide Anglican Communion -- an absolute moratorium on the election and consecration of openly-homosexual persons and bishops, and a statement of repentance for having elected and consecrated the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

From the statement released by Rev. Roseberry and the vestry:

The mission of Christ Church is to make disciples and teach them to obey the commands of Christ. The direction of the leadership of the Episcopal Church is different and we regret their departure from biblical truth and the historic faith of the Anglican Communion.

As the vestry of Christ Church, we declare our intention to disassociate from ECUSA as soon as possible. We are thankful for the shepherd role of the Right Rev. James Stanton and his standing in the Anglican Communion, and we regard him as our apostolic leader.

We assure the clergy, staff and congregation of Christ Church that throughout this process we will continue to worship, teach, pray and study as we have in the past with renewed and vibrant commitment to the mission of Christ Church. Read More.

Arab-Americans mostly Christian




Thursday, June 29, 2006

Does Ministry Fuel Addictive Behavior?

Interesting, it's not just pastors that can suffer this fate. Anyone who is struggling can fall into an addictive behavior, be aware, and be accountable.

by Sally Morgenthaler

Most church leaders know me as the woman who writes and speaks about worship. What only a few know is that I have spent the last decade experiencing the effects of my spouse's sexual addiction, an addiction that began in late childhood and was never treated.

As untreated addictions go, my husband's escalated. In the 1990s, his secret life overtook his life as pastor and resulted in a felony sex offense: molestation of a child by a person in a position of trust. The girl was my daughter's best friend who lived next door; a special needs teen who was eight years older than my daughter, but her exact mental age: eight.

What an unspeakable tragedy. This young woman is still living with her parents, afraid of men, incapable of living a normal life. And the damage didn't stop there. My daughter's childhood was shattered. She entered her teens without a father, the memory of what father she'd had tarnished beyond recognition. At thirteen, my son assigned himself the role of man-of-the-family, and has carried way too many burdens into his adult life.

Image-driven pastors learn how to edit their real lives for public consumption. In the heat of stress or in the wear and tear of the mundane, the veneer will wear through to what is really there.

I never imagined such a nightmare.

Since the offense had actually been a series of about fifty molestations over a two-year period, and since the victim was an underage, special needs child, my spouse's bail topped that set for some murder suspects. He was convicted, incarcerated, and subsequently sentenced to eight years in a halfway house for sex offenders. To date, he has served five of those years.

I became a separated (and subsequently divorced) parent; a single woman with baggage the size of a small continent, and sole provider for my children. What had looked to outsiders like television's 7th Heaven somehow morphed into film noir: American Beauty.

Addiction of any kind leaves its marks. Yet the mark we carry that is more embossed than any other is that of God's faithfulness.

Over the past eight years, my children and I have been healing. Much of that healing has come through loving family and friends. More has come through a marvelous local congregation, giving me a new reason to hope about the church in a broken world. Most significantly, however, our progress into wholeness has been the result of an intentional re-shaping of who my children and I are as a family: consciously deconstructing unhealthy family patterns (we are a no-secrets, truth-telling family), as well as adopting a practice of radical presence: being there for each other at unprecedented depth and levels of sacrifice.

Another component of my own healing has come from studying the addictive process (its precursors and effects). Reflecting upon our family's bizarre journey in light of recent research on sex addiction, I began realizing that others may benefit from what we have experienced. Redemption and transformation are at the heart of the gospel. God is in the process of redeeming our family's journey, our descent into addiction's vortex.

And God never wastes a journey. Read More.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dean: 'We're About to Enter the '60s Again'

How would you like to re-visit the 60's? Cousin Dean would.

America is about to revisit one of the most turbulent decades in its history, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told a religious conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. "We're about to enter the '60s again," Dean said, but he was not referring to the Vietnam War or racial tensions.

Dean said he is looking for "the age of enlightenment led by religious figures who want to greet Americans with a moral, uplifting vision."

"The problem is when we hit that '60s spot again, which I am optimistic we're about to hit, we have to make sure that we don't make the same mistakes," Dean added. See Video

Anger over the Vietnam War and the country's escalating racial tensions made the late 1960s one of the most painful eras in American history. Republican Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, following the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sen. Robert Kennedy, as well as the riot-marred Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Read More.

My meeting with Al Pearn

Having a nice discussion about blogs with the Al Pearn the HD9 candidate for the House in Oregon. Update later.

Update: Interesting talk. Discussed the economy, education our housing problem in Florence. Seems like a very nice guy who is quite well informed.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ears and Eyes for News

Now a follow up from the last entry on "news." I happen to agree with this post, I beleive that it is important for Christians to remain informed. Albeit as long as they are using good sources and not something like The National Enquirer or the New York Times.

Joe Carter has a post up today called “Now…This” Daily News and the Death of Wisdom. As with most of what he writes, it’s thoughtful and very well executed. However, it happens this is an area I’ve spent some time thinking and writing about. As a matter of fact, I hope to one day soon begin a book on this topic, tentatively titled “A Christian Reads the Newspaper.” So in a spirit of friendly conversation, I want to disagree with some of what he has said.

Joe’s piece starts with the following question:

Why do so many people buy into the ridiculous notion that a daily diet of “current events’ is anything other than a mindless (though perhaps harmless) form of amusement?

He then goes on to argue that the central quality of News is change. That news itself is really a symptom of a certain mindset, one which is constantly looking for the next thing without ever really learning from the last thing. This idea of news as change is certainly true in a sense. The word “news” itself is simply new with an “s” on the end of it, the “s” suggesting an endless stream of new moving ever forward into the future. This is just the sort of thing I think Joe has in mind. And as far as it goes, I certainly agree that this would seem to be an unpromising conduit of lasting wisdom...Read More.

“Now…This”:Daily News and the Death of Wisdom


Why is Dan Rather not considered one of the wisest men in America?

Perhaps I should substitute “intelligent” or “knowledgeable” for “wisest”, though I suspect the reaction would be the same. The question appears random, even absurd. But consider: Last week Rather announced he was leaving CBS News, ending a 56 year career as a reporter and broadcaster. His career spanned from the assassination of JFK to the Iraq conflict. He covered eight U.S. presidents and hundreds of global leaders. He witnessed hundreds of conflicts, from Cold War battles abroad to Civil Rights struggles a home. A conservative estimate would be that he spent roughly 75,000 hours reporting, researching, or reading about current events.

So if that level of intimacy with the news does not make Rather notably more wise, intelligent, or knowledgeable, then what exactly is the benefit? And what do we expect to gain by spending an hour or two a day keeping up with the latest headlines?

Tell people that you rarely read blogs, listen to talk radio, or watch reality TV and they will make no general assumptions about your lack of intellect. Tell people you never watch TV news (“I prefer reruns of Seinfeld.”), rarely listen to radio news broadcasts (“I’m usually listening to an audiobooks instead…”), and only read newspapers on Sundays (“…mainly for the comics and book reviews…”) and the reaction will be quite different. They will automatically peg you as a person who is ill-informed, out-of-touch, and possibly even anti-intellectual. The same people who would dismiss the notion that Dan Rather is an cosmopolitan intellect, will automatically assume that their forms of entertainment make them wiser, smarter, or at least “better informed” than you...Read More.

God is the measure of relevance

This is good:

The philosopher Gabriel Marcel once distinguished between approaching life as a problem and entering it as a mystery.

This sounds like a distinction between science and religion, but it’s not. There are plenty of scientists who view the world with awe and wonder, as an object of beauty rather than calculation, and plenty of religious folk who treat their scriptures as textbooks with all the answers at the back.

Indeed I’d suggest that the fundamental malaise of contemporary Christianity is precisely its substitution of a problem-solving God for a God who is ultimate mystery.

For many people, God is a god who answers my questions, satisfies my desires and supports my interests. A user-friendly god you can access and download at the push of a prayer-key, a god you can file and recall when you need him (which gives “Save As” a whole new meaning!). A utility deity for a can-do culture. Evangelism becomes a form of marketing, and the gospel is reduced to a religious commodity.

The real God is altogether different. He is not a useful, get-it, fix-it god. He is not “relevant”, he is the measure of relevance...Read More.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Rise of the Antitheist

From Albert Mohler:

Intellectuals have largely reacted to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 with a mixture of moral confusion and ideological denial. The root of this moral ambiguity, even in the face of undiluted terror and unquestionable evil, is a particularly dangerous form of moral relativism – relativism buttressed by intellectual prestige.

Rejecting this moral relativism as both dangerous and intellectually bankrupt, Christopher Hitchens took many observers in the literary and political worlds by surprise when he became an ardent supporter of the "War on Terror" and declared himself the sworn enemy of any relativistic ideology that would confuse the evil of terrorism with the good of freedom.

Hitchens, born in England in 1949, made his reputation as a man of the radical left. At one point, he clearly identified himself as a Trotskyist, and his formative intellectual influences have included radical theorists such as Noam Chomsky. Nevertheless, the events of September 11, 2001 transformed Hitchens' worldview. He calls for a firm line of opposition and military action against Islamic extremism and every other form of terrorism, as well as what he calls "Theo-Fascism."

Nevertheless, the most interesting dimension of Christopher Hitchens' thought is not the transformation of his political theory, but the contours of his radical atheism. In an interview with World magazine, published in its June 3, 2006 edition, Hitchens declares himself the enemy of all religious belief. Read More.

Inversions in Philippians

Interesting background on reason Paul wrote Philippians:

Here’s one way to think about what Paul’s doing in Philippians.

Having prayed for the church in Philippi to “know which things matter most,” he calls them to re-direct their attention from What Doesn’t Matter Much to What Matters The Most. The argument form is basically “don’t look over there, look over here,” which is a hard argument to win. Consider a time when you’ve taken a problem to somebody for advice, and instead of solving your problem they have told you, “your real problem is that you are paying attention to this thing; instead, try just ignoring it and paying attention to something else more important.” Even when they’re right, it’s hard advice to follow.

In the ancient world, one version of this argument was the consolatio genre. Writing in the mode of consolatio (as Cicero, Seneca, and later Boethius did, for example), a writer would persuade his listeners to seek comfort in the midst of affliction by performing two actions simultaneously: avocatio and revocatio. People who were suffering needed to have their minds called away from (a-vocatio) the affliction (which gets worse the more you think about it), and called toward (re-vocatio) something greater and more fruitful. Avocatio plus revocatio produces consolatio: don’t think about that, think about this. (If you’d like to follow up with some real scholarship on how this ancient genre informs Philippians, here’s a good book, the one that alerted me to these categories.)

In the hands of hedonists, this argument could be pretty facile. Epicureans, for instance, used to argue that when you were in pain you should do a little hedonistic calculus and set your mind on future pleasure. Another way consolatio could go wrong is by being a mere strategy of escapism (though come to think of it, if you can’t use escapist literature in prison, where can you?).

In Philippians, however, Paul is doing something nobler. Read More.

American theocracy

The religious left on the rise?

"YOU cannot get more brazen than holding a political rally in a church. Last week, more than 1,000 religious activists gathered in a splendid old one in Washington, DC, to talk politics. They discussed their spiritual agenda for America, swapped stories about power struggles within their party and travelled to Capitol Hill to lobby congressmen.

But this was not another example of the religious right on the march. A striking number of the men looked as if they were taking part in a beard-growing competition. Many of the women were in shocking pink. The speakers included a wilderness guide-cum-meditation teacher and a shaman who specialises in helping activists to “access spiritual wisdom”. One speaker worked the crowd into a frenzy with rhetorical questions (Does God believe in invading Iraq? Does God believe in cutting taxes for the rich?) before urging them to “hug your neighbour” and “show some love”. The Southern Baptist Convention this was not." Read More.

Big is the word for Africa's Christians

This is the wave of the future. Christianity is well on its way to becoming non-white and living in the southern hemisphere:

LAGOS, Nigeria -- It's eight hours into the service, and the congregation is still dancing. Shout, they're told. Yell out to the Lord. Their cries melt into a muggy night with the odor of sweating bodies, jasmine and the tropical musk of the Nigerian bush land.
"Hallelujah," rumbles the head pastor as the church band kicks into a new number. "Hal-le-luuuuuuu-jah."
Even from the heights of the pulpit, he can't see the far edges of the crowd. More than 300,000 people have come for the once-a-month, all-night, Pentecostal-style revival, led by a preacher most simply call "Daddy."
Given the standards of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, it's just an average turnout.
Think big. Think very big. Then think bigger.
This is the face of 21st-century Christianity: big, restless -- and African. There is no better symbol of it than the Redeemed Church and the insatiable ambitions of its guiding hand and pastor, the Rev. Enoch Adejare Adeboye. The savvy one-time mathematician leads the fastest-growing Christian movement from a continent that is rapidly putting its stamp on the faith around the world.
The Redeemed Church is a prime lesson in the shifting currents of Christianity. Centuries after the Gospel was brought to sub-Saharan Africa by colonizers and missionaries, the faith is coming back to the West. The forms are passionate and powerful. So potent, in fact, that clergy from Westminster Abbey to the Vatican are fretting about how to keep pace, and the Protestant-dominated World Council of Churches, always wary of Pentecostal and evangelical sects and denominations, is treating these new groups as if they were an invading army.
They are called by various names -- Pentecostal, afro-evangelical, charismatic, Christian renewal -- and are attached to a wider trend, as similar movements pressure so-called mainline denominations in Latin America, Asia, North America and parts of Europe.
But Africa -- by population, energy, youth and other measures -- is widely considered the key. Many theologians say the "African century" of Christianity is under way.
If so, then populous and English-speaking Nigeria is its spiritual homeland, and churches like Mr. Adeboye's are its vanguard. Its driven leadership, loose global oversight and staggering cash flow make up precisely the formula that so alarms many traditional denominations.
Improbable dream
What began as a living-room Bible study in 1952 is now a juggernaut -- a university, movie studio, satellite television and a wi-fi Internet provider. Now add to that millions of followers in more than 90 nations, including footholds in China and even Dallas.
Recently, close to 1 million worshippers turned out during three days of sermons and healing services to coincide with the birthday of Mr. Adeboye (A-day-BOY-ye), who turned 64 but maintains an athlete's physique and a few touches of gray in his hair.
In a rare interview, Mr. Adeboye explained where he hopes to go from here -- "At least one member of the church in every household in the whole world."
The dream, however improbable-sounding, has some genuine underpinnings. There's no bigger draw in Christianity at the moment than the century-old Pentecostal movement and its offspring, which can differ in styles of worship but share beliefs in the active presence of the Holy Spirit to heal and bestow other life-altering gifts.
The broad Pentecostal/charismatic/evangelical family accounts for about a quarter of the world's nearly 2.2 billion Christians, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity in South Hamilton, Mass.
Critics say such churches are often based on shaky or even cynical theology. Scripture, they claim, is used to enrich pastors through the so-called "Prosperity Gospel," which teaches that God favors material wealth and smiles most on the generous givers to the faith.
Africans are further exerting their influence inside established churches. The worldwide Anglican Communion is being torn by advocacy of homosexual bishops and clergy and blessing of same-sex "marriages," and conservatives, led by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, are resisting these dramatic changes in faith and practice. At the Vatican, there are nine Africans among the 120 cardinals younger than 80 -- the age limit for taking part in a papal election. The African figure has reached as high as 13 papal electors in the past decade.
"You want to see where Christianity is heading?" said Campbell Shittu Momoh, an author on Nigerian religious affairs. "Come look at Nigeria. It's already here."
Religious hothouse
It's impossible to miss.
Banners for revivals, sermons and blessings dot nearly every street in Lagos, a teeming flatland of tin-roof shanties and rain-streaked concrete high-rises. The churches carry names such as the Cherubim & Seraphim, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles, and the Full Gospel Business Men's Assembly of God.
This religious hothouse has nurtured hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of new churches among Nigeria's 61 million Christians. In 1981, Mr. Adeboye inherited a church that had grown only modestly from its roots in the parlor of its founder, Pa Josiah Akindayomi, an illiterate preacher with a gift for dramatic oratory in the native Yoruba language.
Mr. Adeboye took the title of "general overseer," or G.O., and immediately pushed for expansion. He told followers to plant churches anywhere they could and quickly became known as Daddy G.O. as he sent envoys across Africa and into Nigerian communities in Britain, the United States, Canada and elsewhere.
The top pastors take their style cues from Daddy G.O., who favors well-tailored Western suits but slips into African prints when he projects an ethnic touch. His smooth baritone can shift from precise, professorial English to the rapid-fire patois of the slums.
That craft and charisma helped the Redeemed Church break away from the pack in Nigeria's crowded spiritual marketplace. The church outran its rivals as it pursued a goal of putting a church within a five-minute walk of every home in poor nations and a five-minute drive in wealthier countries. It gained important access to capital and clout in Nigeria through prominent followers, who include governors and bank executives. Later, the church tapped into the power of broadcasting, the Internet and Nigeria's video-movie industry known as Nollywood.
"The church in Nigeria is very, very disciplined and focused," said Dickson Adeyanju, the chief religion correspondent for the Guardian, the largest newspaper in Lagos. "That sets them apart."
Missionary work
The Redeemed Church claims 5 million followers in Nigeria and 250,000 abroad. Mr. Adeboye has set a goal of 50 million -- roughly the size of the entire Assemblies of God fellowship (another, older Pentecostal group) around the world. In the United States, 7,000 people attended the Redeemed Church's annual conference last year in New York's Madison Square Garden.
In less than six years, Redeemed Church missionaries have helped start nearly 30 churches. A world map marks them with pushpins in Hawaii, Bulgaria, Pakistan and so on across six continents. Pastor Brown Oyitso traveled to China last year to establish a second church in the southern Guangzhou region.
"The fire of African evangelism is spreading," Mr. Oyitso said.
But how effective a weapon will Nigerian missionaries be in spreading the faith over the long term? There are obstacles. The Redeemed Church and other African groups, for instance, still struggle to move past their base of immigrants and attract significant non-African followings off the continent. If the problem cannot be overcome, the Redeemed Church and its smaller brethren will likely remain a powerful -- but fragmented -- voice in global evangelism.
"This church has a tremendous strength and credibility with Nigerians at home and abroad," said Allan Anderson, professor of Pentecostal studies at the University of Birmingham in Britain. "Can it translate to non-Nigerians? This is the big test."
The old religious mainstays in Nigeria -- the Roman Catholics and Anglicans -- are overshadowed nearly 2 to 1, and Pentecostals and other evangelicals widen the gap year after year.
Aggressive strategies
Just a few minutes at an Adeboye service at his Redemption Camp campus in Lagos demonstrates why. Packed buses pour in all afternoon.
Eve Akindabe, a 35-year-old seamstress who was raised as an Anglican, does some hemming work as she waits to worship. She's been giving a monthly tithe -- worth about $10 -- for five years.
"Why did I join Daddy's church? Take a look around," she says, waving her hands at the crowds. "Daddy inspires. Daddy tell us Jesus is right here to help improve our lives. The Anglican church was all about, 'Don't do this, don't do that.' Daddy is all about possibilities and making breakthroughs. It deals with heaven, but also the here and now."
That mass popularity is just what unnerves the established pillars of Christianity. No one knows how deeply the Pentecostal-inspired churches will change the faith. They only are sure that it's happening, and Africa is the engine.
The Vatican's main envoy for Christian unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, summed up the concerns at a major conference on the faith's future in February. How, he asked, can churches deal with movements that have no unified theology and "very aggressive" strategies?
He had no clear answers. Instead, the nearly 4,000 delegates went home to their congregations with an image provided by the host World Council of Churches: The demographic center of Christianity is located now near Timbuktu, Mali, in northwestern Africa, and drifting south each year. From the Washington Times.

When getting arrested is fashionable

From LGF :

NABLUS, WEST BANK — Mohammed Kharaz wanted to get away. He longed to escape the stretches of boredom broken by intense eruptions of violence that are a teenager’s life in this strife-ridden city. So, for a break, he got himself thrown into an Israeli jail.

The idea wasn’t even his, the 17-year-old confesses. He first heard it from a kid who sat beside him in class: If you get yourself arrested by the Israeli army, they send you to a prison with digital television, interesting books and even a decent soccer pitch. In short, everything you don’t find in Nablus, a city cut off from the rest of the West Bank by a series of Israeli military checkpoints.

To Mohammed, it sounded like a dream vacation. So on Feb. 25, he tucked a kitchen knife under his shirt and headed toward the concrete barriers and metal turnstiles that block the road south to Ramallah.

It played out just as his friend described. When he got to the front of the long, slow-moving line of Palestinians seeking to leave Nablus, an Israeli soldier told him to lift up his shirt. With a sniper’s rifle pointed at his chest, Mohammed pulled out the knife.

“Two soldiers jumped on top of me and started beating me up, but I didn’t care,” Mohammed recalled. “Getting arrested was like a fashion trend. It was the thing to do.”

It’s the latest peculiarity in a region already full of contradictions: Palestinian youths, who speak openly of their hatred for Israel, willingly putting themselves into Israeli custody because life in jail is seen as being better than life at home.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Fainting Warrior

Concerning Christians and sin. Sunday night Spurgeon.

Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 23rd, 1859, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon
At the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.

"O wretched man that I am I who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."—Romans 7:24, 25.
F I chose to occupy your time with controversial matter, I might prove to a demonstration that the apostle Paul is here describing his own experience as a Christian. Some have affirmed that he is merely declaring what he was before conversion, and not what he was when he became the recipient of the grace of God. But such persons are evidently mistaken, and I believe wilfully mistaken; for any ample-hearted, candid mind, reading through this chapter, could not fall into such an error. It is Paul the apostle, who was not less than the very greatest of the apostles—it is Paul, the mighty servant of God, a very prince in Israel, one of the King's mighty men—it is Paul, the saint and the apostle, who here exclaims, "O wretched man that I am!"
    Now, humble Christians are often the dupes of a very foolish error. They look up to certain advanced saints and able ministers, and they say, "Surely, such men as these do not suffer as I do; they do not contend with the same evil passions as those which vex and trouble me." Ah! if they knew the heart of those men, if they could read their inward conflicts, they would soon discover that the nearer a man lives to God, the more intensely has he to mourn over his own evil heart, and the more his Master honors him in his service, the more also doth the evil of the flesh vex and tease him day by day. Perhaps, this error is more natural, as it is certainly more common, with regard to apostolic saints. We have been in the habit of saying, Saint Paul, and Saint John, as if they were more saints than any other of the children of God. They are all saints whom God has called by his grace, and sanctified by his Spirit; but somehow we very foolishly put the apostles and the early saints into another list, and do not venture to look on them as common mortals. We look upon them as some extraordinary beings, who could not be men of like passions with ourselves. We are told in Scripture that our Saviour was "tempted in all points like as we are;" and yet we fall into the egregious error of imagining that the apostles, who were far inferior to the Lord Jesus, escaped these temptations, and were ignorant of these conflicts. The fact is, if you had seen the apostle Paul, you would have thought he was remarkably like the rest of the chosen family: and if you had talked with him, you would have said, "Why, Paul, I find that your experience and mine exactly agree. You are more faithful, more holy, and more deeply taught than I, but you have the self same trials to endure. Nay, in some respects you are more sorely tried than I." Do not look upon the ancient saints as being exempt either from infirmities or sins, and do not regard them with that mystic reverence which almost makes you an idolater. Their holiness is attainable even by you, and their faults are to be censured as much as your own. I believe it is a Christian's duty to force his way into the inner circle of saintship; and if these saints were superior to us in their attainments, as they certainly were, let us follow them; let us press forward up to, yea, and beyond them, for I do not see that this is impossible. We have the same light that they had, the same grace is accessible to us, and why should we rest satisfied until we have distanced them in the heavenly race? Let us bring them down to the sphere of common mortals. If Jesus was the Son of man, and very man, "bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh;" so were the apostles; and it is an egregious error to suppose that they were not the subjects of the same emotions, and the same inward trials, as the very meanest of the people of God. So far, this may tend to our comfort and to our encouragement, when we find that we are engaged in a battle in which apostles themselves have had to fight. Read More.

Church Clones -- A Problem?

Should two churches look alike?

"A friend of mine, Lance Ford, asked on his blog whether churches that look like their sending church are a problem.

We definitely have subcultures in the US, so amongst similar strata, we will have churches that look alike - this has happened throughout American history. People need to worship God from where they are, i.e. their own culture, so this is not inherently a problem. However, even with subcultural similarities, no two churches should look the same. Why is that? Any church that looks too much like their parent church runs the risk of violating the priesthood of all believers and 1 Cor.14, where everyone gets to share their gifts with one another. How so?" Read More.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Examining Emergent

Really good site that gives a good overview of the emergent church. It lists the main people who classify themselves as emergent. Link.

Talking Too Much

My sentiments exactly. HT Michelle Malkin

A Letter to a Friend

Very good confession of what it can be like in leadership positions with a Church. This is a heartfelt letter apologising for an inappropriate attitude by the Purple Pastor. Well worth the read.

Calvary Chapel Albuquerque

One of the saddest things I have been keeping track of is the major problems with Calvary Chapel Albuquerque. Whatever the issues (and there are many) they need our prayer. There has been a huge church split and the repurcussions will continue for sometime. In spite of it all we serve a big God, who can restore and take away bitterness. To all at the Phoenix Preacher, may the peace of God be upon you.

Friday, June 23, 2006

'End Times' Religious Groups Want Apocalypse Soon

Now this is really interesting, it seems like there is always some new apocalyptic movement happening. It also is not just A christian issue:

For thousands of years, prophets have predicted the end of the world. Today, various religious groups, using the latest technology, are trying to hasten it.

Their endgame is to speed the promised arrival of a messiah.

For some Christians this means laying the groundwork for Armageddon.

With that goal in mind, mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission: to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus' message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.

In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a far different vision. As mayor of Tehran in 2004, he spent millions on improvements to make the city more welcoming for the return of a Muslim messiah known as the Mahdi, according to a recent report by the American Foreign Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.

To the majority of Shiites, the Mahdi was the last of the prophet Muhammad's true heirs, his 12 righteous descendants chosen by God to lead the faithful.

Ahmadinejad hopes to welcome the Mahdi to Tehran within two years.

Conversely, some Jewish groups in Jerusalem hope to clear the path for their own messiah by rebuilding a temple on a site now occupied by one of Islam's holiest shrines.

Artisans have re-created priestly robes of white linen, gem-studded breastplates, silver trumpets and solid-gold menorahs to be used in the Holy Temple — along with two 6½-ton marble cornerstones for the building's foundation.

Then there is Clyde Lott, a Mississippi revivalist preacher and cattle rancher. He is trying to raise a unique herd of red heifers to satisfy an obscure injunction in the Book of Numbers: the sacrifice of a blemish-free red heifer for purification rituals needed to pave the way for the messiah. Read More.

BloggerCon Boosts the Blog Boom


Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says

This is a significant bridge for the Church to address, people today are lonely and lack any form of community. Now it is time for the Church to be the Church:

"Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.

A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two.

The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties -- once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits -- are shrinking or nonexistent. In bad times, far more people appear to suffer alone.

"That image of people on roofs after Katrina resonates with me, because those people did not know someone with a car," said Lynn Smith-Lovin, a Duke University sociologist who helped conduct the study. "There really is less of a safety net of close friends and confidants."

If close social relationships support people in the same way that beams hold up buildings, more and more Americans appear to be dependent on a single beam.

Compared with 1985, nearly 50 percent more people in 2004 reported that their spouse is the only person they can confide in. But if people face trouble in that relationship, or if a spouse falls sick, that means these people have no one to turn to for help, Smith-Lovin said.

"We know these close ties are what people depend on in bad times," she said. "We're not saying people are completely isolated. They may have 600 friends on [a popular networking Web site] and e-mail 25 people a day, but they are not discussing matters that are personally important." Read More.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Second Coming of Superman: or Super Jesus

A look at the upcoming movie Superman Returns and its Christian themes:

Thank you Hollywood. Thank you Warner Brothers. Thank you director Brian Singer. Thank you for leaving me and my church alone!

Next week the highly anticipated film “Superman Returns” debuts in theaters. Early reviews are incredibly positive, and some are predicting the return of the original superhero to the silver screen will break box office records. But the web is also chatting about the movie’s apparently overt Christian themes. That made me wonder—why didn’t I receive any marketing materials at my church? Why no posters, toys for the children’s ministry, or helpful super-sermon ideas? Why wasn't America's comic book messiah marketed to Christians?

CNN’s entertainment page is running an article titled “Jesus Christ Superman” that discusses the film’s Christian credentials. Billed as a sequel to the original movie directed by Richard Donner in 1978, “Superman Returns” has a digitally resurrected Marlon Brando playing Superman’s “heavenly” father that has sent is only son to earth as a “light to show the way.”

In the new film, directed by Brian Singer, Superman returns to Metropolis after an absence of five years just in time to rescue humanity from cataclysmic destruction—a story line that could be seen as symbolic of Jesus’ death and resurrection or his eschatological second advent. In one scene the man of steel is stabbed in the side with a kryptonite shard just as Christ was pierced by the Roman’s spear. And another scene shows Superman with outstretched arms reminiscent of Jesus’ crucifixion. Read More.

The Gospel According to Electronic Culture: What if the medium really is the message?

Thought provoking:

Whenever we in the church debate new methods of communicating the gospel, or alternative ways of doing church it ends in a predictable turn. There is a point in these conversations when a person, hoping to end the debate once and for all, says “The methods must change as long as the message stays the same.” So it would seem as long as we preserve the unchanging message, any method is fair game. This serves as a kind of evangelical rally cry for methodological innovation.

If they are feeling particularly sophisticated, they may go on to explain that, “Our methods, in and of themselves, are neither good nor evil, it is how we use them that determines their value.”

Meaning, if we pipe pornography through the Internet it’s bad, but if we post the Four Spiritual Laws there the Internet is good. We assume that any medium is simply a neutral conduit for information, like the plumbing in our house. The tubes are of little consequence unless they spring a leak. So as long as we are communicating the unchanging message of the gospel, every technology or method can be good. This tends to be our most nuanced conclusion.

Unfortunately, it fails to account for what our media and methods truly have the capacity to do and undo. And so we encounter them with the proverbial slip on the banana peel. We remain quite oblivious to the ways our message and our minds are being shaped by our methods and media.

The reality is, our methods are in no way “neutral,” they have a staggering, yet hidden power to shape us regardless of their content. This is what Marshall McLuhan meant when he observed “The medium is the message.” And it stands in direct contradiction to our evangelical rally cry. In other words, our media and methods have an inherent bias and a message of their own that has little or nothing to do with their content. Read More.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Adolf Did Or, Schindler's List in Slapstick

Interesting how a movie, even one targetting kids can have more than one meaning:

It has been said that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Indeed, humankind’s endeavors to document the past for the sake of educating future generations are one of the species distinguishing features. Examples are myriad, ranging from primitive cave paintings, hieroglyphics, epic poems, monuments, on through our more modern documentaries and national holidays. Enter into this list Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and written by Jeffrey Price and William S. Seamen, the popular children’s movie combines live action with animation in order to tell the story of a ’toon wrongfully accused of murdering a human. Beneath the film’s “loony” plot and glossy, Technicolor veneer exists a cleverly wrought allegory on the Holocaust that will help to perpetuate the important lessons of that terrible atrocity for audiences old and new.

The filmmakers immediately draw a connection between the unfortunate circumstances of Roger Rabbit and the events of the Holocaust by placing the action of the movie in the 1940s. While the viewer is denied a concrete declaration regarding the year of the setting, the style of dress, the automobiles, and the music of the film are all from that decade. Notable as well are the post-Prohibition bar (which serves as the backdrop for one of the film’s most memorable scenes), and the expressions that color the characters’ speech. In one typical exchange, Roger asks a familiar taxi cab, “Benny, is that you?” to which the disgruntled Benny sarcastically replies, “No, it’s Eleanor Roosevelt.” Read More.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Christians on Football Film: Give Us a G!

Apparently it is now PG to have Christian film!

A low-budget, inspirational football movie made by Baptist pastors in Georgia has triggered a flood of attacks by Christian groups that accuse Hollywood's main trade association of penalizing the film by giving it a PG rating.

In the last week alone, the Motion Picture Assn. of America, which oversees the rating board, has been swamped with more than 15,000 e-mails arguing that "Facing the Giants" deserves a more family-friendly G rating. The complaints — the number of which may be 10 times the previous record for reaction to a ratings decision — say the movie is being unfairly targeted for its religious themes.

The filmmakers say they were told that those themes had prompted the PG rating. MPAA officials deny that was the reason.

Across the Internet and on talk radio, religious groups and conservative commentators have seized on the rating flap as evidence that Hollywood is anti-Christian. And the third-ranking House Republican has written to MPAA Chief Executive Dan Glickman demanding answers.

"This incident raises the disquieting possibility that MPAA considers exposure to Christian themes more dangerous for children than exposure to gratuitous sex and mindless violence," said Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Read More.

Calvary Chapel : No “Purpose” No More

Not quite sure what to make of this:


A Shift Among the Evangelicals

E.J. Dionne Jr. on the Southern Baptist election. Interesting:

Sometimes very important elections receive very little attention.

When the Southern Baptist Convention elected the Rev. Frank Page as the group's president at its meeting this week in Greensboro, N.C., the news appeared on the back pages of most secular newspapers -- or it didn't appear at all.

But Page's upset victory could be very significant, both to the nation's religious life and to politics. He defeated candidates supported by the convention's staunchly conservative establishment, which has dominated the organization since the mid-1980s. His triumph is one of many signs that new breezes are blowing through the broader evangelical Christian world.

No, this is not some liberal victory. Indeed, the Baptist Press reported that Page went out of his way to tell reporters that he was not elected "to somehow undo the conservative resurgence" in the convention. But he also signaled that the spirit he hopes to embody is quite different from that of the angry, right-wing, politicized preacher who has been a stock figure in American life for more than two decades.

"I believe in the word of God," Page said. "I'm just not mad about it." Read More.

The Beginning of the End of the PCUSA?

This is sad, but not surprising:

"It looks like my denomination, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., felt envious over the recent attention given to the Episcopal Church as it faces the possibility of schism. Thus we decided to get our fair share of the spotlight by acting rather like the Episcopalians. Even as recent actions by the national leadership of the Episcopal Church has brought that denomination to the brink of division, so have recent actions of the General Assembly of the PCUSA.

Today's General Assembly cast two historic votes. The combination of these votes looks almost schizophrenic to anyone not familiar with the peculiar dysfunctionality of the PCUSA. On the one hand, the General Assembly voted by a strong majority (405-92) to leave the so-called "fidelity and chastity" section of our constitution intact. In plain language, the Book of Order of the PCUSA states that all ordained officers in the church must practice "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness" (G-6.0106b). This is a standard that, until today, every leadership body in the church was expected to apply without exception to every leader and potential leader. Period. This is what the General Assembly reaffirmed with a resoundingly favorable vote." Read More.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's a Sign!

Standing Tall on Character

Good article from Neil Cavuto at Fox:

He's a modest man. He’d probably would hate the fact I'm writing about him, so I'll keep it to first names: David.

He’s modest, but rich — very, very rich. You wouldn't know it, of course. Frankly, he dresses like an absent-minded professor. The threads on his suits are worn. His ties are hopelessly out of style. He looks like he sleeps in his clothes and even awake, looks like he sleeps all the time.

I think most people have no idea who this little old man is. Just that he seems to wander... a pile of newspapers tucked under one arm, sometimes — not all the time — a cup of some cheap coffee in the other.

David doesn't do Starbucks. He doesn't seem to do fancy restaurants. Clearly doesn't buy fancy clothes. He doesn't seem much impressed with that stuff, even though he could well afford that stuff.

In a room of Wall Street loud mouths, this day, David doesn't say a word this day — barely a word any day. He smiles and nods, as others boast and brag. Read More.

Homeless Depot: A Moral Alternative

Home Depot, the nation's largest home-improvement chain, was accused in a Federal lawsuit today of discriminating against the homeless. "The very existence of Home Depot is offensive to the sensitivities of people without homes," says Nadine Strossen, head of the ACLU who filed the case, adding that the word "home" itself smacks of racism, bigotry, and intolerance and thus should be treated as hate speech. The suit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of seven homeless people, some of them of color, squatting in an abandoned building next to the Home Depot parking lot in the Coney Island area of New York.

"We hope to win a ruling that would make it a class-action suit on behalf of all homeless who ever laid their eyes on the insensitive Home Depot sign and felt offended and/or excluded as a result."

Officials for Home Depot, based in Atlanta, retorted by offering a settlement. "If the ACLU wants to build an alternative national chain called 'Homeless Depot' to counterbalance our chain, we will help them with expertise and supplies," a spokesman for Home Depot said. "We will provide an assortment of items for all your homeless needs - blankets, begging cups, cardboard boxes, pre-fabricated begging signs, and Smell-in-a-Can products."

The ACLU dismissed the offer, saying that such project might get them bogged down with lowly business matters, distracting from the noble cause of supervising an even redistribution of wealth. "But we like the idea," Nadine Strossen declared. "The ACLU will make sure the Court orders the company to build a nation-wide chain of Homeless Depot stores and to pay the homeless to hang out, er, scratch that... work in them."

HT: The Peoples Cube

U.S. Episcopalian Leaders Reject Temporary Ban on Gay Bishops

This ought to get interesting:

Ohio — Episcopal clergy and lay delegates Tuesday rejected a demand from fellow Anglicans that they temporarily stop electing gay bishops, leaving little chance the proposal could be revived at a national church meeting.

Anglican leaders, angered by the 2003 consecration of an openly gay Episcopal bishop, had asked the Episcopalians pass a moratorium — at least for now — on homosexuals leading dioceses.

But in a complex balloting system, a majority of the Episcopal House of Deputies voted against the measure, which church leaders had seen as critical to keeping the embattled Anglican Communion together.

The critical debate in the Episcopal Church came on a day when another American Protestant denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), coincidentally planned to decide on whether to allow leeway on the ordination of gay clergy and lay elders and deacons. Read More.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Jihad in the days of Jefferson

Just goes to show that jihad has been around awhile:

Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation
By Joshua E. London
John Wiley & Sons

A fledgling republic without a navy, the United States seemed ripe for the picking. In 1783, Muslim pirates - the sea-faring terrorists of their day - began attacking American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean, and the following year, the Moroccans captured a brig called Betsey and enslaved its crew. Soon afterwards, the ruler of Algiers declared war on the US, a declaration backed up by marauding corsairs.

The situation worsened with each coming year, but for the life of them, the Americans could not figure out what they did to make themselves so hated. In May 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then both diplomats in Europe, met with Tripoli's ambassador to London. Why did the North Africans attack ships of a country that had done nothing to provoke such hostility, the two asked him.

The response was unnerving. As Adams and Jefferson later reported to the Continental Congress, the ambassador said the raids were a jihad against infidels. Muslim privateers felt "it was their duty to make war upon them [non-Muslims] wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could as Prisoners, and that every Mussleman [Muslim] who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise."

The Americans now had two choices: pay tribute or fight the pirates. Read More.

Troop redeployment to Okinawa?

John Murtha's plan for troop redeployment to Okinawa from Iraq. Notice how close Okinawa is, and of course the troops could redeploy quickly!

Palestinian divestment and the Presbyterian Church


The leftist/Palestinian political push for divestment from Israel--in other words, to institute the campaign waged against apartheid South Africa in the 1980's--is on the verge of being dealt a severe body blow.

Two years ago, the 216th General Assembly jumpstarted mainstream acceptance of a movement long sought by Arab and Muslim activists to equate the Jewish state with apartheid South Africa. The 500+ plus voting members of the Presbyterian church overwhelmingly approved a measure "to initiate a process of phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel." Jewish and Christian leaders alike heaped scorn on Presbyterians, though Muslim and Arab groups were giddy. For the past two years, pro-Palestinian organizations have used the momentum provided by the Presbyterian vote to encourage various intstitutions, such as universities, and other Christian denominations to follow suit.

Initially, divestment efforts seemed to be gaining a head of steam. But no university thus far has taken the bait, and almost all other churches persuaded to sign on have resisted. At several regional religious conferences over the past year, in fact, votes on divestment have been turning more and more against embracing the policy, resulting in a string of defeats for pro-Palestinian forces.

Just over an hour ago, the 62-member Peacemaking and International Issues Committee voted overwhelmingly to apologize for its action of two years ago and no longer officially endorse divestment. Much like the procedures of Congress, this "recommendation" must now be taken up by the 534 voting members of the full assembly, who can amend it, ratify it as is, or defeat it. Read More.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Female chief makes Church history

This, honestly is a non issue for me. I have no problem with women in ministry. This is however only one issue among many that is plaguing the Episcopal church. The homosexual agenda is the bomb that is going to blow up the convention. It's sad but in the US the Episcopal church is becoming irrelevant, they are down to only 2.4 million members with an average age over 65. Unless they actually reclaim christianity they will cease to exist within 2 generations.

The US Episcopal Church has chosen a woman as its next leader - making it the first church anywhere in the Anglican denomination to do so.

Katharine Jefferts Schori narrowly won a vote among her fellow bishops at a governing General Convention meeting.

The choice must still be approved by delegates at the convention, where the bishops' vote is normally backed.

The choice could prove controversial - most other Anglican Churches around the world do not allow women to be bishops.

The bishops voted 95-93 to back Ms Schori after a number of ballots, AP news agency reported. A total of seven candidates were in the running for the post. Read More.

Sunday Night Hudson Hornet

The SBC Resolution on Alcohol

This will stir up a hornets nest!

"A few days ago the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution on alcohol that expressed, in part, their "total opposition to the . . . consuming of alcoholic beverages." (The whole resolution can be read here.)

I'm not sure how wise it is to pass resolutions that functionally condemn the actions of Jesus (John 2; Luke 7:33-34; ) and Paul (1 Tim. 5:23). I'm also not sure it's very wise to prohibit that which God has given as a gift (Deut. 14:26; Ps. 104:15)." Read More.

Happy Fathers Day!

Al-Qaeda Cell Planned to Attack Subway With Poison Gas, Says New Book

This is really interesting, it also shows that the US was very fortunate not to have been attacked again.

Two months had passed since 9/11, and at the highest levels of government, officials were worrying about a second wave of attacks. CIA Director George Tenet was briefing Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in the White House Situation Room on the agency's latest concern: intelligence reports suggesting that Osama bin Laden and his No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had met with a radical Pakistani nuclear scientist around a campfire in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Absorbing the possibility that al-Qaeda was trying to acquire a nuclear weapon, Cheney remarked that America had to deal with a new type of threat—what he called a "low-probability, high-impact event"—and the U.S. had to do it "in a way we haven't yet defined," writes author Ron Suskind in his new book, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11. And then Cheney defined it: "If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis ... It's about our response." Suskind writes, "So, now spoken, it stood: a standard of action that would frame events and responses from the Administration for years to come."

In the following excerpt, Suskind describes the government's reaction to information about a different WMD threat: hydrogen cyanide gas. As in the rest of the book, he illuminates the constant interplay and occasional tension between the "invisibles," the men and women in the intelligence and uniformed services actually fighting the war on terrorism, and the "notables," high-level officials who "tell us that everything will be fine, or that we should be very afraid, or both." Suskind, who won the Pulitzer Prize as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, wrote the 2004 best seller The Price of Loyalty, an inside look at the Bush Administration. In The One Percent Doctrine, Suskind finds that the notables and the invisibles have at least one thing in common: a "profound sense of urgency." Time's exclusive excerpt: Read More.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Christian defined:

"Throughout this book, I often refer to Christians and Christianity because I am a Christian and I have a fairly good idea of what they believe, but the term is intended to include anyone who subscribes to the Bible of the God of Abraham, including Jews and others."

-- From a footnote on pg. 3 of Ann Coulter's new book Godless.

HT: Evangelical Outpost

The Bloggers' Favorite Southern Baptist

Here's an update on bloggers and the Southern Baptist Convention, seems the story has been picked up by TIME magazine. This does show that the power of the new media has made itself known among certain denominations. I see this as a positive in allowing other voices to be heard in the church that normally would be silenced.

"For those who follow the internal politics of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) somewhat less avidly than the NBA playoffs or even the World Cup, perhaps the most interesting news out of their annual meeting, held this week in Greensboro, N.C., is that bloggers elected a president.

Of course, it's really more complicated than that. The SBC, the largest (with nearly 16 million members) Protestant denomination in the country, has been run for the last 27 years under the very tight control of a handful of aging "rebels" who purged the denomination of most of its moderates in the 1970s and '80s, turning it into the ultra-conservative organization it is today. The succession process was usually about as exciting as the Kremlin’s used to be: someone was anointed, and he won, unopposed.

This year, however, that all changed, with the upset victory of Dr. Frank S. Page, a megachurch pastor form Taylors, S.C. The establishment’s original choice, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, ran into early trouble, over an SBC policy calling for members of the leadership to earmark more of their churches' budgets, perhaps 10 percent, to the SBC's Cooperative Program, through which member churches contribute to the Convention and its programs. Floyd’s church gave less than 3 percent.

Pounding this and other issues home was a new power bloc in the Convention: bloggers. Southern Baptist-focused blogs began popping up about a year ago, when a group of younger (under 40) Baptists frustrated at the inaccessibility of the levers of power began meeting to discuss their concerns. Suddenly about a dozen blogs bloomed, perhaps the most influential being, run by Rev. Marty Duren, a younger Georgia pastor. Last year they publicized a gathering that eventually put together a manifesto called the Memphis Declaration, which consisted of a list of Public Repentences, many of them for the SBC's arrogance within and outside its organization, and even included a repentance for "having condemned those without Christ before we have loved them." Read More.

Welcome Phoenix Preacher

Welcome Phoenix Preacher readers, hope you enjoy what you see.

Truth and Authority on Larry King Live

Comment from Challies on the Gay issue and the Church. Link

CNN LARRY KING LIVE: Gays in the Church?


KPA Air Force Command Warns against U.S. Ceaseless Military Provocations

Our Air Force is being threatened!

Pyongyang, June 16 (KCNA) -- The Air Force Command of the Korean People's Army released today the following report on the ceaseless military provocation perpetrated by the U.S. imperialist warmongers: The U.S. imperialist warmongers committed one more military provocation by infiltrating a strategic reconnaissance plane into the sky above the DPRK's economic waters on June 16.
At around 8:00 Friday an "RC-135" of the U.S. imperialist aggression forces illegally intruded into the sky above the waters of the DPRK east of Chongjin, Hwadae and Riwon and spied on its strategic targets for hours, being refueled in the midair.
The ceaseless illegal intrusions of their strategic reconnaissance planes on spy missions have created an imminent danger of military clash in the sky above those waters.
The KPA Air Force warns them once again that should those planes persist in their reckless air espionage despite its repeated warnings, they will not be able to escape the same end as that of a tiger moth fated to perish in the flames and the responsibility for that will wholly rest with the U.S. imperialist warmongers.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Crying Shame: Charlatans

This is so true and disgusts me to the core:

You’ve probably heard it on Christian television before. An evangelist opens his Bible, reads a Scripture and then suggests that you send an odd amount of money to keep your favorite program on the air for another month.
He begs. He pleads. He cries. And then he tells you that if you hurry and give right now, “while God is stirring the waters,” the Holy Spirit will reward you in an extra-special way.

I’ve heard different amounts suggested—such as $64.11, or $72.14, or $53.24, to correlate with some obscure Old Testament Scripture reference. The implication is that if you write a check for this magical amount, God will release some kind of special blessing on you, such as the salvation of loved ones or the quick sale of a house.
To the untrained ear this may sound like a formula for blessing. Actually it is more akin to superstition—or worse, witchcraft. It’s not even remotely biblical, but those of us in the charismatic movement are so used to tolerating such shenanigans that we think this is standard procedure for fundraising.
Some ministers who raise money for Christian television stations have succumbed to the infamous “debt reduction” tactic. It goes like this: “God says that if you will give a $1,000 sacrificial offering right now (God always seems to be in crisis mode in these situations), you will supernaturally get out of debt! The miracle anointing is here! You can release it by writing that check! And we take credit cards, too!”
Talk about voodoo economics. This kind of manipulation is actually against the law in Canada. The U.S. government allows American evangelists to get away with it, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. It is a spiritualized form of arm-twisting.
And believe it or not, it is getting more blatant and bizarre. Read More.

Hat tip: Smart Christian

Bloggers and Christianity

Interesting comment on how blogging is changing the Southern Baptist Conference.

"Fortunately I was unable to attend the Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, NC this year. I have never been one for formal meetings and resolutions. I would have to admit though, it has been one of the more interesting conventions since the 80’s and thanks to the bloggers who attended I know more than the Baptist Press. We all knew that there would be some controversial things talked about, but one thing that has peeked my interest is how many references to bloggers were made at the convention. (some examples here).

Apparently some of the more seasoned SBC heads are none too pleased with bloggers. I’m not sure if it is that some of “the little people” now have a voice, or that we haven’t all sat in the proverbial Amen corner, but rather have voiced some “Oh me’s” at the current leadership, and some of the in house politicking and bad policy that has been going on for years. Either way I say they only have themselves to blame." Read More.

Update: Seems TIME magazine has gotten in on the story.

Update: Welcome Phoenix Preacher readers!

Ann Coulter

Coulter's new book "Godless" has hit the #1 in the New York Times. While agreeing with "some" of what she says I cannot agree with her tone and hatred.

She claims christianity but doesn’t act like it. Also to say that the left is godless, yea so what? Most aren’t even asking the question if there is a God. She is preaching to the converted, the left won’t even listen to her just as the right (correctly) doesn’t pay any attention to what Kos, or Moore say. They all have become irrelevant to the other side.

All this to say, while I may agree with some of what she says I reject how she says it. The Anchoress makes an interesting statement:

"She’s never been my cuppa, as I have written before. While she is whip-smart, I’ve never liked her because Coulter tends to overdo - she routinely loses sight of boundaries of common decency. She goes too far and discredits herself and the values she says she espouses.

I must say, my skin crawled to read some of her statements. To me she is embodying everything I currently cannot abide in the “conservative movement,” the arrogant presumption of absolute moral certitude (which is ugly, ugly, ugly coming from the left, so honey, it’s not pretty when it’s from the right, either), combined with the sense of over-confidence which is sending so many on the right into a self-destructive Roy Moore/Tom Tancredo plunge off a cliff."

As a Christian I never want to lose the boundary of decency. Jesus came for all, both left and right. While politically I may be on the right I do not and will not hate those on the left. Disagree, yes. Hate, and reject as people? No.

Vietnam, Watergate and Rove

Interesting, the polarization on both the right and left is disturbing. What is equally disturbing is the tendency of many to blame the US without even knowing all the facts (ala Murtha). The cry of the US coming under a new tyrranical government and we are heading for a dictatorship is absolutely absurd. I you have ever lived in another country you know just how good the US is.

Michael Barones article brings out the point that we can't view government or politics only through the lense of Vietnam and watergate:

"It has been a tough 10 days for those who see current events through the prisms of Vietnam and Watergate. First, the Democrats failed to win a breakthrough victory in the California 50th District special election--a breakthrough that would have summoned up memories of Democrats winning Gerald Ford's old congressional district in a special election in 1974. Instead the Democratic nominee got 45% of the vote, just 1% more than John Kerry did in the district in 2004.

Second, U.S. forces with a precision air strike killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, on the same day that Iraqis finished forming a government. Zarqawi will not be available to gloat over American setbacks or our allies' defeat, as the leaders of the Viet Cong and North Vietnam did.

Third, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced that he would not seek an indictment of Karl Rove. The leftward blogosphere had Mr. Rove pegged for the role of Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. Theories were spun about plea bargains that would implicate Vice President Dick Cheney. Talk of impeachment was in the air. But it turns out that history doesn't repeat itself. George W. Bush, whether you like it or not, is not a second Richard Nixon." Read More.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Captured documents in Iraq

This from Lileks.

(Herewith is document #2322, obtained during recent raids following the strike on Zarqawi’s HQ)

From the desk of Abu Yassin al-Noobei, Al Qaeda #1 in Iraq as of 11:17 AM this morning.

Greetings in these trying times. Thank you for the many encouragements and gifts, especially the box of delicious dates, although I must note that one of the dates has been beeping softly since I opened the package. If this is some manner of insect, I request that you refrain in the future from –

Tarry a moment; there’s a plane overhead; wonder if it’s a

(Rest of document is burned)

(Captured document #2323J)

From under the desk of Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, Al Qaeda’s #1 man in Iraq as of 14:41 this afternoon

In the name of Allah the merciful and peaceful, I bring you news of pitiless vengeance. Victory is near! Thanks to the bombs of the Crusaders – Satan curse their on-board guidance systems - Zarqawi has been delivered to heaven, after a brief detour through a window frame. I know all the joyous martyrdoms have made for a hectic week. Personally, my face aches from smiling and my teeth hurt from all the cake, and I have a cramp in my hand from all the paperwork. (On behalf of HR, I would request that you cut down on the number of wives, as it makes pension disbursement rather complicated.) At the risk of dampening your commendable ardor, however, I would request that everyone refrain from glorious dying for a few weeks while we regroup.

This does not mean we are not winning. Some people look at a man who has been gravely wounded and see him as half defeated; I look at him and say he is half martyred.

Nevertheless, there are issues that need to be addressed.

The Crusaders have made several dozen raids since Zarqawi’s release from mortal concerns, and each raid leads to more. I must repeat: stop printing out Google Maps and leaving them around. At least clear your browser history, brothers.

You may have read reports that Al-Zarkawi had in his position a tiger-skinned negligee at the time of his glorious. This is Infidel propaganda. He was a man of highest moral standards. The suggestion that he made his bride, whom he nobly made full with child when she was 14, wear such a sinful garment is meant to weaken your spirit, and make you think of slim dark-eyed ripe women draped in the clothing of wild beasts, lips parted, exhaling the softest perfume of –

All warriors must take three cold showers a day, not two.

Making a whistling sound with a descending pitch in my presence was funny the first time. We all had a good laugh. It is hereby forbidden.

Our attempts to win the hearts and minds of impoverished Iraqis are not helped when you buy the extended warranty on a car you intend to explode.

Finally, patience is our ally. We need not defeat the Americans, only outlast them. Have they not abandoned every battlefield they ever entered? Besides Germany, Japan, Korea, Kosovo and Afghanistan, of course. But just as they left Somalia when their “Democrats” took power, so will they leave Iraq when the criminal Zionist Bush regime is replaced by a slightly less criminal, albeit equally Zionist, Democratic regime. The Democrats wish to quit the war and return to their important issues, such as permitting men to marry, have a child with the cloning of cells, and then abort it. Such a people cannot fight; they can only beseech the United Nations to send Danes to frown from great distances. And I need not remind you that no one was ever killed by a 226 kilogram laser-guided Dane.

Patience, my brothers. All we need to do is saw off enough heads, and they will lose theirs without the blade touching their tender throats. Now if you will excuse me, I need to speak with my bodyguards. One of them is making that whistling sound again. If I told them once, I told them

(document ends)

This is satire by the way.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Chapter 1 - "Political Correctness:" A Short History of an Ideology

This is very interesting.


Political Correctness — The Revenge of Marxism

From my perspective PC is the new censorship. This article takes it a step further and states it is a form of brainwashing. Interesting. This is a long but important article. Read!

"I have heard people who have grown up in former Communist countries say that we in the West are at least as brainwashed by Multiculturalism and Political Correctness as they ever were with Communism, perhaps more so. Even in the heyday of the East Bloc, there were active dissident groups in these countries. The scary thing is, I sometimes believe they are right.

But how is that possible? Don’t we have free speech here? And we have no Gulag?" Read More.

Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe


"Scientists have an independent obligation to respect and present the truth as they see it," Al Gore sensibly asserts in his film "An Inconvenient Truth", showing at Cumberland 4 Cinemas in Toronto since Jun 2. With that outlook in mind, what do world climate experts actually think about the science of his movie?

Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

But surely Carter is merely part of what most people regard as a tiny cadre of "climate change skeptics" who disagree with the "vast majority of scientists" Gore cites? Read More.

Who Killed Jesus?

Good article and timely. The classic line is that the Jews killed Jesus. John MacArthur shows quite convincingly that all, Jew, Gentile were responsible for His death. There is no place for anti-semitism in Christianity.

"The murder of Jesus was a vast conspiracy involving Rome, Herod, the Gentiles, the Jewish Sanhedrin, and the people of Israel—diverse groups who were seldom fully in accord with one another. In fact, it is significant that the crucifixion of Christ is the only historical event where all those factions worked together to achieve a common goal. All were culpable. All bear the guilt together. The Jews as a race were no more or less blameworthy than the Gentiles." Read More.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Interpreting Ancient Manuscripts

Ever wondered how the New Testament is translated from the Greek? This site will tell you how it's done!


The Theme of Romans: Leon Morris

A good article on why Paul wrote the book of Romans from a solid scholar. This is not an easy read, but well worth the trouble.

"To the question “What is Romans all about?” a variety of answers might be given, and, in
fact, have been given. Most students see the Epistle as concerned basically with the salvation
of man. Sometimes this is understood in general terms,1 sometimes in terms of the gospel,2 or
perhaps with specific reference to justification." Read More.

Dad jailed after allegedly giving beer to child

Stupid and Sad:

"Forty-five-year-old Brett Morse of Dayton, Minnesota is jailed on charges of child neglect and child endangerment.

Morse is accused of getting drunk and passing out while babysitting his two-year old boy and four-year old girl. Police say he has also given his boy beer and left his four-year-old girl home alone.

"Supplying alcohol to a two- and four-year-old, even if it's a sip of beer - or can of beer as alleged here - is dangerous," Hennepin County Sheriff's Inspector Bill Chandler said.

Chandler says when police arrived they had a hard time waking Morse - who was sleeping naked on his bed with one child while the other had the run of the home. Earlier in the day he allegedly left one child alone for a while.

Chandler said, "we all know how much mischief a child by them self ... can get into - so home alone is a very dangerous thing with a four year old."

In the criminal complaint against Morse, he is quoted as telling authorities that on the day in question he drank eighteen beers and had given some to his two-year-old boy and did leave his four-year-old alone. Morse reportedly told investigators on other occasions he had given his kids beer when they became fussy.

Morse had bail set at $10,000.

Sheriff's officials say they're continuing to investigate other, unspecified, allegations against Morse.

Morse's wife, as well as a neighbor, had alerted authorities of Morse's behavior. However authoriteis say the children have been placed in protective custody."

(Copyright 2006 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Introduction to Romans

Good read to get us started on Romans.


John A. Witmer


This letter is the premier example of the epistolary form of writing, not only in the Pauline body of material and in the New Testament but also in all of ancient literature. It stands first in every list of the Apostle Paul’s writings though it was not first in time of composition. This bears witness to the importance of the work both in its theme and in its content. It may also reflect the significance of the location of the letter’s first readers, the imperial capital of Rome. In addition a possible tie grows out of the fact that the Book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome so that his letter to the Romans follows naturally in the order of Bible books.


That Paul is the author of this letter is denied by almost no one. Even the ancient heretics admitted Romans was written by Paul. So do the modern (19th century and later) radical German critics, who deny many other facts in the Scriptures. Paul identified himself as the author by name, of course (1:1); but that is no guarantee of the acceptance of his authorship, since he did that in all his letters, including those for which his authorship is questioned or denied. In Romans Paul referred to himself by name only once, in contrast with several of his other letters; but a number of other internal details support Paul’s authorship. He claimed to be of the tribe of Benjamin (11:1; cf. Phil. 3:5). He sent greetings to Priscilla and Aquila (Rom. 16:3), whom Paul had met in Corinth (Acts 18:2-3) and left in Ephesus (Acts 18:18-19) on his second missionary journey. Paul referred to his journey to Jerusalem with the love gift from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia (Rom. 15:25-27), facts confirmed in the Book of Acts (19:21; 20:1-5; 21:15, 17-19) and the epistles to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:1-5; 2 Cor. 8:1-12; 9:1-5). And Paul mentioned several times his intention to visit Rome (Rom. 1:10-13, 15; 15:22-32), a fact also confirmed in the Book of Acts (19:21). These confirming coincidences between Romans and Acts in particular support Paul as the author of this letter.


Acceptance of the unity and integrity of Romans is another matter, however. A number of critics from Marcion to the present have questioned chapters 15 and 16 or parts of both as belonging to the letter. Chapter 16 is a special target, in part because of Paul’s greetings to Priscilla and Aquila (v. 3), who were last seen settled in Ephesus (Acts 18:19, 26). But the couple had previously lived in Italy (Acts 18:2) and had left only because of an imperial decree. Their return to Rome when circumstances permitted is reasonable. The major Greek manuscripts support the unity of the letter, a position endorsed by the overwhelming consensus of scholarship.


A valid question does exist concerning the identity of the recipients of this letter. Paul simply addressed it “to all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7); he did not address it to “the church in Rome.” That a church did exist in Rome is obvious, because Paul sent greetings to the church that met in the home of Aquila and Priscilla (16:5). Probably several churches were in Rome; perhaps this multiplicity of churches is why Paul addressed the letter to “the saints” instead of to “the church.”

Were these believers in Rome Jews or Gentiles in ethnic background? The answer is both. Aquila, for example, was a Jew (Acts 18:2), as were Andronicus, Junias, and Herodion, all three identified as Paul’s relatives (Rom. 16:7, 11). According to Josephus and others a large Jewish colony lived in Rome (cf. Acts 28:17-28). But Rome was a Gentile city, the capital of a Gentile empire in which all Jews, believing and unbelieving, formed a small minority. In addition, though Paul never failed to witness and to minister to Jews, his calling from God was to be “the apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13; cf. 15:16). So it is reasonable to conclude that his readers were mostly Gentile in background.

This conclusion is supported by evidence in the letter. Paul addressed Jews directly (2:17), and he included Jewish Christians with himself when he spoke of “Abraham, our forefather” (4:1, 12). On the other hand Paul directly said, “I am talking to you Gentiles” (11:13). Several additional passages indicate that Gentile Christians made up a segment of his readers (11:17-31; 15:14-16). In fact the implication from 1:5, 13 is that Paul considered the Christian community in Rome predominantly Gentile.

Since the Apostle Paul had not yet visited Rome, how had the Christian faith been introduced to the city? Apparently no other apostle had yet reached Rome, in the light of Paul’s stated purpose to be a pioneer missionary and to open virgin territory to the gospel (15:20). In particular, it is evident that Peter was not in Rome at that time because Paul expressed no greetings to him, a grievous error if Peter indeed were there.

Perhaps a partial answer to the founding of the church at Rome is the fact that “visitors from Rome” (Acts 2:10) were in the crowd that witnessed the miracle of Pentecost and heard Peter’s sermon. Some of them probably were among the 3,000 converts that day and returned to Rome as believers in Jesus Christ to propagate their faith. Other believers migrated to Rome through the years since Pentecost, for Rome was a magnet that drew people from all over the empire for business and other reasons. Aquila and Priscilla are good examples. They had lived in Italy before (Acts 18:2), and undoubtedly returned as soon as circumstances permitted. Phoebe (Rom. 16:1-2), apparently the courier of this letter, is another example. She did not go to Rome primarily to deliver Paul’s letter; she delivered Paul’s letter because she was making a trip to Rome. In fact, Phoebe’s planned trip to Rome was undoubtedly the specific occasion for Paul’s writing this letter. Humanly speaking, Paul seized this opportunity to communicate with a group of Christians he was deeply interested in and planned to visit as soon as possible.

Just as Paul’s absence of greeting to Peter in chapter 16 is evidence that Peter was not in Rome at the time, so his numerous greetings to individuals (28 persons are named or referred to, plus several groups) reveal the impact of Paul’s ministry on the establishment and the development of the church in Rome. Many of the believers there were Paul’s converts or associates in other parts of the empire. As a result Paul had a proprietary interest in the Christian community of Rome. He considered the church there one of his, as this letter bears witness.

Place and Date.

Though Paul never named the city, it is obvious that he wrote this letter from Corinth, Cenchrea (16:1) being its eastern harbor. The letter was written at the close of Paul’s third missionary journey during the “three months” he was in Greece (Acts 20:3) just before his return to Jerusalem with the offering from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia for the poor believers there (Rom. 15:26). After leaving Corinth, Paul was in Philippi during the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Acts 20:6) and desired to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost (Acts 20:16). The letter was written, therefore, in the late winter or early spring of a.d. 57 or 58.


While Phoebe’s projected trip to Rome (Rom. 16:2) was undoubtedly the specific occasion for Paul’s writing this letter, he had several objectives in writing. The most obvious was to announce his plans to visit Rome after his return to Jerusalem (15:24, 28-29; cf. Acts 19:21) and to prepare the Christian community there for his coming. The believers in Rome had been on Paul’s heart and prayer list for a long time (Rom. 1:9-10) and his desire to visit them and to minister to them, unfulfilled to this point, was finally about to be satisfied (1:11-15; 15:22-23, 29, 32). Therefore Paul wanted to inform them of his plans and to have them anticipate and pray for their fulfillment (15:30-32).

A second purpose Paul had for writing this letter was to present a complete and detailed statement of the gospel message he proclaimed. Paul was eager “to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome” (1:15) and he wanted them to know what it was. As a result in this letter Paul accomplished what Jude desired to do, “to write to you about the salvation we share” (Jude 3). Perhaps Jude was kept from doing this because Paul already had, for Romans certainly is a very full and logical presentation of the Triune Godhead’s plan of salvation for human beings, from its beginning in man’s condemnation in sin to its consummation in their sharing eternity in God’s presence, conformed to the image of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

A third purpose for writing this letter is not as obvious as the first two. It is related to the tension between the Jewish and the Gentile segments in the Christian community at Rome and a possible conflict between them. Paul was hounded in his ministry by the Judaizers, who followed him from city to city and sought to lead his converts away from liberty in the gospel (Gal. 5:1). The letter to the Galatians is Paul’s classic though not his only response to the Judaizers. Their attacks on Paul incorporated physical violence about the time this letter to the Romans was written (Acts 20:3). Whether the Judaizers had reached Rome before Paul or not, the Jew-versus-Gentile issue looms large in this letter. Paul did not take sides, but he carefully set forth both sides of the question. On the one hand he emphasized the historical and chronological priority of the Jews—“first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Rom. 1:16; cf. 2:9-10). He also stressed the “advantage . . . in being a Jew” (3:1-2; 9:4-5). On the other hand he pointed out that “since there is only one God” (3:30), He is the God of the Gentiles as well as the God of the Jews (3:29). As a result “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin” (3:9) and alike are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive and propitiatory sacrifice. Furthermore, in order to bring believing Gentiles into His program of salvation, extending His grace to all human beings, God temporarily halted His specific program for Israel as a chosen nation, since that nation through its official leaders and as a whole had rejected in unbelief God’s Son as the Messiah. During this period God continues to have a believing “remnant chosen by grace” (11:5) “until the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (11:25) and God takes up again and fulfills His promises to Israel as a nation.

Related to the Jewish-Gentile tension that runs throughout this letter is a muted but definite undertone that questions God’s goodness and wisdom and justice as seen in His plan of salvation. No complaints against God are voiced, but they are implied. As a result this letter to the Romans is more than an exposition of Paul’s “gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24), a declaration of God’s plan of salvation for all human beings by grace through faith. It is a theodicy, an apologetic for God, a defense and vindication of God’s nature and His plan for saving people. It sets God forth “to be just and the One who justifies the man who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). It exults in “the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (11:33) and challenges the readers, “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (3:4).


Growing out of Paul’s three purposes for writing this letter (especially the latter two purposes), is the theme of the work. In the simplest and most general terms it is “the gospel” (1:16). More specifically it is “a righteousness from God” which “is revealed” in that gospel and is understood and appropriated “by faith from first to last” (1:17). This “righteousness from God” is first the righteousness God Himself possesses and manifests in all His actions; and second, it is the righteousness that God gives to human beings by grace through faith. This involves an imputed righteous standing before God (justification) and an imparted righteous practice and a progressively transformed lifestyle, the latter due to the regenerating and indwelling Holy Spirit of God (regeneration and sanctification). Practice is consummated and conformed to standing (glorification) when a believer in Jesus Christ through death and resurrection or through translation—“our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (8:23)—stands in the presence of God “conformed to the likeness of His Son” (8:29). God’s program of salvation for people will not fail because it is His work, and “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

cf. confer, compare
v. verse
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL