“Love your enemies?” Oh, Jesus was probably just being sarcastic.

I’m kidding, of course.  I don’t think Jesus was being sarcastic when He commanded us to love our enemies.  I used that title to point out two things:

  1. It is easy for people to play games with scripture if they don’t follow some basic rules.  Most scripture-twisting isn’t as transparent as above, but it is just as error-filled and destructive.
  2. The Bible passage in question is so challenging that our minds can work overtime trying to ignore it.

First, I’m reminded of Dalmatian Theologians who think that the Bible is only inspired in spots, and that they are inspired to spot the spots.  I also think of Advanced Dalmatian Theologians, who add the myth that God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.   They use phrases such as “God is still speaking,” but they don’t mean that God still speaks through his Word (that would be a true statement).  They think He is still revealing new truths to the church and changing doctrines taught in the Bible.

So if they can play that game, why not use it to avoid the hard lessons Jesus taught, such as loving our enemies?  Why not pick that as one of the verses that you don’t think Jesus really said?  That would sure make life easier!

Second, this passage has to be one of the most challenging in the Bible. 

Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Love your enemies?  Pray for your persecutors?  Those seem impossible!  And Jesus really drives the point home by telling us how it takes almost no effort to love those who are loving us.  Non-believers can do that, so we haven’t really accomplished anything until we go beyond it. 

Then He tops it off by saying we must be as perfect as God!  If anyone reads that as a checklist, such as Note to self: Be perfect like God, then I think he’s missed the point.  We should aim at perfection in obedience, of course, but unless one is delusional that command should take you to the foot of the cross.  I can’t be perfect for 10 minutes, even when I’m sleeping.

Another challenge is using the word love in the proper context.  The love Jesus referred to is not a pampering, indulgent love, but the agape love where you have someone’s long term best interests at heart. 

It doesn’t mean you roll over and give your enemies whatever they want.  Loving your enemies doesn’t mean you stop loving your friends and neighbors as well.  For example, you still need a justice system to protect people from criminals.  There is nothing un-loving about that.

And if you really love your enemies you’ll want them to know some eternal truths, such as how they are sinners in need of a Savior and that if they die without faith in Jesus then they’ll spend eternity in Hell.  I think it is safe to say that the people who had Jesus severely beaten and nailed to a cross could be described as his enemies.  So was He all huggy-kissy with them?  Hardly.

John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.

If you love people enough to tell them the truth they may think you are the enemy.  When Paul scolded the Galatians for false teachings they didn’t appreciate it. Did that stop him?

Galatians 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Galatians 4:16 Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?

A close friend’s career was damaged by a non-believing co-worker, yet he found a way to pray for him.  It made an amazing difference in his life, as it liberated him from hatred. 

How do you manage to love your enemies?

The Apostle Paul: Two major salvation lessons

There is a fabulous paradoxical combo-lesson about salvation from the life of Paul: (1) If someone as bad as Paul can be saved, then so can we and (2) If someone as good as Paul needed to trust in Jesus to be saved, then so do we.  In other words, he was so bad but not beyond salvation and so good but couldn’t earn salvation.

I was reading Philippians last night and thinking about how I like the Apostle Paul.  I appreciate his writing and especially his passion in conveying the word of God.  He gets a bad rap for allegedly being anti-female, but if you read him properly and in the context of his culture, he was quite the feminist (in the good sense).  A woman in a Bible study once said, “I don’t like Paul.  He’s a chauvinist.”  I thought to myself, “I’ve got bad news for you.  You’re wrong, and he wrote much of the New Testament.” 

Paul had perhaps the most dramatic conversion experience ever.  He went from a full-time job of persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist for Christianity of all time.  That would be like Osama Bin Laden quitting terrorism to head up the Anti-Defamation League.

Paul’s life has at least two great lesson about salvation, though it is powerfully important how different they are:

1. If someone as awful as Paul can be redeemed, there is hope for us.  Jesus’ sacrifice covers all our sins if we will only repent and believe.  In Acts 9:5, Jesus said that Paul was persecuting Christ himself.  Paul went about terrorizing, jailing and murdering Christians as his day job.  If his sins can be forgiven, so can yours.

2. If an outstanding Jew like Paul still needed Jesus to be saved, then so does every other human on the planet.  Consider Philippians 3:4-6:

. . . If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” 

Paul had the ultimate Jewish resume — part of the chosen people, well educated, zealous, very righteous on human terms and so much more.  He had all that going for him but He still needed Christ.  If such a stellar Jewish person like Paul had to have faith in Jesus to be saved then, then so do we.  (Side note: What makes any Christian think we shouldn’t witness to Jewish people?)

Don’t swallow the stereotypes.  Read Paul (and more!) and learn for yourself.  Rejoice in the truth that just like him, you need to be saved and you can be saved.

Here’s a pro-choice position I support: School choice

This is some encouraging news out of L.A., where 250 of 800 public schools are going the charter route – Cracking the education monopoly.  It must have been difficult to overcome the anti-choice union opposition.  Good for these parents!

We have a winner . . .

tactics. . .in the contest to give away a copy of Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl: Matthew from iPandora is the winner!

My youngest daughter picked a number at random to determine the winner.  She is part way through the book herself and knows a few of the tactics (Full disclosure: I offered her a $20 incentive to read it). 

Matthew’s energetic entry, while much appreciated, did not play into the decision:

Ohh Ohh, Pick me! Pick ME!

Congratulations, Matthew.  I’ll send you an email separately to get your address.  Thanks to everyone else who entered.  I’ll have another giveaway soon.

Even if you didn’t win I encourage you to consider reading the book. Greg Koukl leads Stand to Reason, my favorite apologetics ministry.  They have a great balance of grace and truth, chock full of great bits of knowledge but just as much focus on how to think clearly and how to use an artful manner to convey that knowledge.  If you aren’t listening to their Podcast I encourage you to check it out.

The tactics aren’t manipulative.  They focus on asking questions and listening, so you are sure you aren’t misstating someone’s views and you know why they believe what they do.  Then you use questions to point out any flaws in their reasoning.  He coaches you on how to avoid “steamrollers” who are pushy and won’t listen to you.  He also provides many examples of logical fallacies you’ll encounter when talking with people about Christianity.

I’ve used these techniques a lot — mostly in person, because online I tend to take shortcuts and get too fact-heavy (not that I’m using a wise strategy in those cases).  These tactics have helped me navigate conversations with multiple people from virtually every religion, cult or non-religion (e.g., atheism) without starting any jihads. 

Perhaps I shouldn’t mention this, but the tactics would work for non-Christian convictions as well.  They are pretty universal.

Roundup

I am not making this up: Dave Barry on free speech and his opinions about a quote of his being banned from a campus dorm room door.  What a bizarre place American universities have become.  Politically Correct nonsense and the “right not to be offended” are beyond parody.  He is correct that people are rightly afraid to say what they think.  In just a generation we’ve lost true free speech.

Video of “Christian” community organizing group chanting “Hear our cry, Obama” and “Deliver us, Obama.” 

I have such contempt for liberal theology and how it advances views opposite of those of Jesus on virtually every major issue.  They can’t even get the “help the poor” part right, as they ask the government to take money from neighbor A to help neighbor B instead of just helping neighbor B themselves.

But to take phrases like “Hear our cry, Lord” and “Deliver us, Lord” and substitute Obama’s name for “Lord” is a new low for them.  But hey, at least they are being honest about whom they worship.

Why do the Heathen rage?  — Some good tips on how to respond to International Blasphemy Day.  I’m sure they’ll give equal time to Islam.

First, take no offense. Refuse to play into the game plan of those sponsoring International Blasphemy Day.  The Lord Jesus Christ was and is despised and rejected of men.  Our Lord bore the scorn heaped upon him by his enemies. Christianity is not an honor religion. Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not commanded to defend his honor, but to be willing to share in the scorn directed to him. Is the servant greater than his master?

. . .

Second, mourn the blasphemy. The warning of Jesus is clear — blasphemy has eternal consequences.  The worst form of blasphemy is the refusal to hear and believe the Gospel.  For that sin there can be no forgiveness. We must mourn the blasphemy, not because honor is at stake, but because souls are at stake with eternal consequences.  God will ultimately and perfectly defend his honor.  On that day, there will be no escape for unrepentant blasphemers.

Third, see this observance for what it really is — an unintended testimony to the existence of God and the foolishness of those who deny Him.  The sheer foolishness of a blasphemy contest with t-shirts and mugs betrays the lunacy of it all.  They can do no better than this?  One testimony to the power of God is the fact that his self-declared enemies come off as so childish and manic. The heathen rage and God sees the foolish grasshoppers.

Their stated goal was to:

In the words of the RNS report, the goal is “to expose all religious beliefs to the same level of inquiry, discussion and criticism to which other areas of intellectual interest are subjected.”

I would have no issues if that is all they really wanted.  But they tip their hands with the blasphemy contests. 

Guest post: The Day of the Covenant

Welcome to another guest post, this one by Michael (aka Racing Boo).  I enjoy Michael’s thoughtful and often humorous comments so I asked him to do a guest post on a topic of his choice.  I hope you read and enjoy a fascinating look in to the history and politics of South Africa. 

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December 16 is a public holiday in South Africa, celebrated officially as such for more than a century. Today it is called the ‘Day of Reconciliation’, but for most of those years it was known as the ‘Day of the Covenant.’ It was on this day in 1838, on the banks of the Ncome River in what is now the Kwa-Zulu Natal province, that the Boer leader Andries Pretorius led the people under his protection and leadership in making a vow, binding on future generations. If God would deliver them from the attacking Zulu impis (fighting units), they would henceforth celebrate the day as a Sabbath, and build a church to honour his name.

The Boers were farmers (that is the literal meaning of the word) who had left the frontier farms of the Cape Colony to escape the British rule that was entrenched by the early 1800s, and the endless border wars with the native Xhosa. They were strict Calvinists, descended from French and Dutch settlers who had fled religious persecution in those countries during the preceding two centuries. The British had little time for them, and offered them no protection, so they took their cattle and all their possessions loaded into their ox wagons, which were houses on wheels, and began the trek northwards. That word, perhaps the only word from the Afrikaans language to make it into mainstream global English, means ‘to pull’ or ‘to move’ in the sense of moving from one area to another, in this case boldly going where no (white) man had gone before.

They soon encountered other indigenous tribes of the region, in particular the mighty Zulu nation, the ‘people of the sky.’ The Zulu king at the time was Dingane, who had come to power in 1828 after assassinating his famous and even more notorious half-brother Shaka. One of the Boer leaders, Piet Retief (my wife Nadia is a direct descendant of one of his daughters), left the area of the Tugela River in February 1838 in the hope that he could broker permanent boundaries for the Natal settlement with Dingane. At the royal kraal near present-day Eshowe, an agreement was signed, ceding land in return for the recovery of some 7000 head of cattle stolen by a rival local chief, Sekonyela. Dingane then invited Retief and his men (there were about 100 in total, including his son) to a feast, which lasted several days. They were obliged to leave their weapons outside the enclosure.

Dingane put on a military display for his guests, but the climax of this was not a friendly goodbye. From a nearby hilltop, during a sudden silence, Dingane raised his stick and shouted “Bulalan’ abathakathi!” – Kill the Wizards! There are eye-witness accounts from the Zulu side, as well as one Boer who managed to escape with his life as he had been left outside the kraal to guard the weapons. One can only imagine the fear and terror of that moment, enhanced by the ululating kikiza cry of the women. Retief was apparently the last to die, and he fought back to the last breath.

The reasons for this massacre (apart from Dingane’s treachery, that is) are the subject of much speculation. It is believed that Retief may have unwittingly broken an obscure tribal law by retaining some of the cattle recovered from Sekonyela. Another explanation is that on the night before the massacre, the Boers had rounded up some of their horses outside the kraal in preparation for departure the follwing day. Dingane would have heard the sounds of the hooves at night, and there was a belief that wizards of the white race rode on horses at night. Whatever the reasons, the white settlements of Natal were now in trouble. Dingane sent his impis to attack several encampments, including one at Weenen where 500 men, women and children were killed. The settlers then called for help from another Boer leader, Andries Pretorius, asking him to leave the Cape Colony and come to their aid against the Zulu.

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Atheist debater objects to his own book being quoted

Wow, this is one of the more bizarre debating events I’ve heard of.  See the video of Debate 101: the Schooling of Dan Barker.

Dan Barker has made a career out of being a  former minister.  The skeptics love guys like him and Bart Ehrman.  I mean, you can easily ignore all the people who convert from atheism to Christianity (a la yours truly) but if you catch a few going the other way that is the ultimate proof of Christianity being false, eh?

The weirdness occurred when Barker interrupted James White when White quoted Barker’s own book, which was for sale in the lobby of the venue where they were debating (so it wasn’t like Barker had repudiated it).

The debate was whether Christianity is just a copycat religion.  That argument is really bad on many levels, but what was worse was how Barker rudely and proudly objected to his own material being quoted.

Also see Dan Barker: Yes, I’ve Made the Same Argument for Seventeen Years. So What?

Roundup

Too funny: Oh Crap. My Parents Joined Facebook.   I post that as an unapologetic Facebook “creeper” (my daughters’ term) who enjoys the humor, photos and updates from the pages of his children.   We try not to abuse the privilege by posting stupid and/or too many comments, though I imagine that it is a purely subjective assessment on our part.

Eco-fascist celebrities exposed as hypocrites– surprise!  Translation: “I’m a rich, important celebrity who frequently travels on planes for work, pleasure and to tell you that you aren’t important enough to travel on planes, and that traveling on planes is the worst thing you can do to the environment.”

The Pugnacious Irishman (is he still as pugnacious as before or has marriage mellowed him?) had a great post on how Christians should respond to the atheists’ anti-God bus sign campaign.  Short version: Don’t whine because they are using the public square to advance their views, just ask some good questions and have some answers of your own.  It isn’t hard to expose their faulty foundations if you do a little work.

Let’s see: A knee patch was considered unsafe “because the device often failed, forcing patients to get another operation,” but it was approved after ““extreme,” “unusual” and persistent pressure from four Democrats from New Jersey” who just happened to get significant donations from the manufacturer.  Go figure. 

But all the politicians said they weren’t influenced by the money!  Sure.  The law of reciprocity is a very well proven phenomena of human nature.  The Hare Krishnas give you a flower for a reason.  They know that even if you know you are being manipulated you’ll still have an impulse that you must listen to them as “repayment” for their “gift.”  So never be fooled into thinking that large donations don’t generate changes in behavior.

But you can totally trust these folks not to lie to you about health care reform.

Yes, I know that Republicans do the same sort of things.  It just shows how ridiculous our campaign finance process is and how naive voters are to put up with it, and why we always, always, always need to fight government growth.

One free crime!

Super Policeman Mike catches bad guys with 1,375 POUNDS OF MARIJUANA. Cheech and Chong couldn’t even claim that was for personal use, so they were obviously big dealers.  So of course they go to prison for a really long time, right?   Not exactly:

It has been nearly 2 years since I seized this jackpot of green-ness. Know what the perps got for it? Probation and $5,000 fines! Pathetic!

That’s sad, but I’m not surprised.  I run an Internal Audit group.  We catch people stealing thousands of dollars of cash and/or property and they get no jail time plus an interest free loan — i.e., they pay back part of what they stole over time, but if they can’t afford to pay it back there are no consequences. 

One thief was a convicted felon who we fired after an external agency informed us of his record.  Turns out his record was past some sort of arbitrary time limit so he sued and we hired him back.  His repayment for our employment of him was to steal as much as he possibly could. And after his arrest he threatened physical harm to employees at the company.  Not exactly a serious case of repentance. 

Did he do time?  Nope, once again the prior felony was too old to hold against him.  Will he pay back the money?  Doubtful.  The sentence will require it but all he’ll have to do is claim he can’t afford it and he’ll be off the hook.

You really don’t want the public to know that you get one big “free” theft before you see any jail time! 

Please pretend you never read this post.

Is this legal for the Capitol Hill Switchboard to do? — UPDATE — IT WAS A LEFT-WING SCAM

UPDATE — Some good news — it wasn’t the real Capitol Hill switchboard.  Kudos to the Stop the ACLU site for posting a prominent correction.  That is one of the reasons I trust them and various other conservative sites.  When they make a mistake it isn’t put on page 19 in small font, if published at all.  It is front and center.  Here’s the whole story.

I have finally tracked down what this number is. Apparently it is a left-wing group that uses this 1-800 number as a re-direct to the Capitol Hill switchboard. You call the number, hear the message, and then it re-directs you to the real switchboard. The message is not being hosted on the government service.

This is not the normal number of the Capitol Hill switchboard.

Well, we have gotten to the bottom of this Capitol Hill switchboard number business. It is really the work of a left-wing group called Families USA. They are trying to pass off this 1-800 number as that of the switchboard, but it is not. (Here is an ad from a few years ago where they feature the number.)

But isn’t it interesting how these lefty groups have to lie to their own people? I mean, they are selling this as the number to “contact your Reps and Senators” as if it IS the Hill switchboard. This lefty group is even misleading its own folks! Brazen, eh?

 —–

And what would the media and the Left have thought if the Bush Administration had done it?

See Capitol Hill Switchboard Illegally Being Used to Push Obamacare?   I called it myself and confirmed that this is the message you’ll get before being patched through to your members of Congress:

Thank you for calling your Representative and your Senators.

Please urge them to vote yes on health insurance reform. Because the American people can no longer wait for more choices, lower costs, and coverage we can count on.

The best comment:

I have to say, this message is frightening. We can’t even call our representatives without being hit over the head by the socialized healthcare message. Not to mention the fact that the message is a bald-faced lie. Obama’s plan will not give us “more choices,” Obama’s plan will not “lower costs,” and Obamacare will not give us better coverage.

Off to prison (ministry)

I’m going to be participating in a Kairos Prison Ministry weekend in a couple weeks so thought I’d re-run this overview.  If you have any interest in this or other prison ministry programs, I encourage you to check them out.  They may not be for everyone, but you won’t know for sure until you try.  There are roles inside and outside the prison for men and women.  See the links at the bottom of the post.  God is doing great things through this powerful ministry for the inmate and the volunteers.  Please pray for the whole weekend.

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kairosjesusbehindbars.jpgMatthew 25:36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

This is a follow up to the Off to prison (ministry) post.  The Kairos prison ministry weekend went really well as did the follow up session the next Saturday.  We were at the Carol Vance unit in Sugarland, Texas, a medium security unit (though it seemed more like medium-light to me).

I am looking forward to the monthly follow-ups.  We’ll go see the prisoners for a couple hours one Saturday morning per month.  If we just met them once on the Kairos weekend that would have been good, but it is more meaningful if we can visit them repeatedly.  I’ll probably do one of the weekend events each year from now on.

There are so many things to like about this ministry.  It is an opportunity to share the Gospel with those who aren’t believers (No one is pressured, though.  One guy at my table was a Muslim but he really soaked it all in and was very appreciative).  [2009 update: The Muslim gentleman ended up converting to Christianity!] Many of the participants are already Christians, so it is a great opportunity to fellowship with and encourage them.  And it is just an all-around way to share God’s love with people who are often depressed and forgotten.  It is educational in laying out Christian principles for living.  It helps teach them how to love and forgive others (and themselves).

But even without all that, the proven reduction in recidivism would make the preparation, the weekend and the follow up worthwhile.  Based on statistics from larger sample sizes, 33 of the 42 participants would have returned to jail within 5 years if they hadn’t gone through this program.  Going through the weekend program cuts that down to 15, and it goes down to 5 if they all participate in the follow up program. 

So roughly speaking, that will be 18-28 less people returning to prison once they are released.  That’s a tremendous cost savings, but more importantly it means a lot less victims and a lot less pain and heartache for the prisoners and their loved ones.

Kairos doesn’t advocate for either the prisoners or for the criminal justice system. A transaction took place between the state and the prisoner. The prisoners did the crime and are now doing the time, so we don’t get in the middle of that. We just reach out with Christian love to all and with Christian fellowship to believers.  We try to show that they aren’t forgotten.

There is also a Kairos Outside program for the moms / wives / girlfriends of the prisoners.  It is completely free, including transportation to the event and childcare if necessary.

Random highlights and observations

I never get tired of watching lives transformed by Christ.   

All of the presenters prayed with an inmate who had already gone through the Kairos program.  Before my talk I got to pray with a man who was 14 yrs. into a 17 yr. sentence.  We had lots of talks at the tables, but I appreciated the one-on-one discussions the most.

Lots of time was spent educating them on how to conduct their own “Prayer and Share” accountability groups.  These are vital to keep them supporting one another and growing in their faith. 

Several of the outside volunteers were was inmates themselves.  Their presence and message lets the inmates know that change is possible.

Watching otherwise reticent prisoners really light up during the songs.  I was playing guitar so I got to see their reactions. 

You could really see the pain and regret in eyes of many of them.  They are haunted by not being there for their families. 

There are a lot of good programs available for them to improve their chances of success when released – mentoring, Bible studies, Toastmasters, and more.

We make it a point not to ask why they are there or how long until they will get out (if ever), but they sometimes offer it up during discussions.  Most of the infractions were from violence and/or drugs.

Each prisoner got a bag of hand-written letters from everyone on the team plus others.  Some prisoners got more mail in one sitting than they had received their whole lives. We left the room when they got the letters. The leader said the reactions were strong – ranging from stunned to weeping to being like kids at Christmas. It made writing the 42 personalized letters worthwhile.  One older gentleman was still talking about the letters the next Saturday.  He was going to keep them forever and re-read them. 

There was a rather large former gang member who, in his words, laid down his flag and accepted Christ over the weekend. He got choked up at the closing ceremony and was joined by one brother, then two, then three, then about fifteen surrounding him and supporting him. Then he came over to his ~80 yr. old table leader who was standing in front of me. The former gang member gave him a big hug and affectionately said, “Hey Old School.”

Some guys commented on how they not only felt the love but learned how to love and how to forgive. During testimonials and discussions we learned that many didn’t have dads or had dads who were unloving and lousy role models. The other prisoners were their family.

One of the key exercises involved “forgiveness cookies.”  Volunteers make many thousands of homemade cookies for the weekend.  There is a continuous pile at each table, and the prisoners get a bag every night to take back with them.  On Saturday night they are given an extra bag and told to give them to the person they need to forgive the most.  The next morning we heard many touching stories of what people did with the cookies. 

Many participants were already Christians and knew the Bible better than we did. 

Other than our presentations, we didn’t have to say much.  We mainly got them talking.  The theme for the team is listen-listen-love-love.   

Most of the serving (food and otherwise) was done by prisoners who had already participated in a Kairos weekend.  I was impressed with their servants’ hearts and how much they cared for their fellow prisoners.

Most things in prisons are viewed from the perspective of “inside” or “outside” the prison walls. But as I pointed out to several prisoners, God looks at the world as those who are inside his kingdom vs. those who are outside.   From an eternal persepctive there are just people with forgiveness of sins and eternal life and people without them.

Doing something new typically takes you outside your comfort zone. Being in the prison wasn’t that stressful for me, though. What was more challenging was just meeting and interacting with dozens of new people from morning until evening (I’m somewhat of an introvert, so I find that exhausting).

It was a joy to serve with friends from church and to make some new friends from other churches.  My good friend Steve did a fantastic job leading the weekend.  We were thoroughly prepared and everything went smoothly. 

As Steve would say, “It’s official: I have now hugged more men in my life than women.”

Carol Vance Prison visitation tip: Don’t wear all white unless you want to stay permanently.

More links

Kairos of Texas 

Prison Fellowship

To find ministries in your area, check out the links below (or just call your local prison – they may have other ministries going as well)

Kairos locations in Texas

Kairos national ministry map

Prison Fellowship Field Offices

Notice any differences . . .

 . . . between the G-20 protestors and the conservative marchers in Washington, D.C. a couple weeks back?

Did you notice any differences in how the media covered them?

Go see Hot Air » Blog Archive » Video: CNN discovers what an unruly protest looks like.

So many denominations!

I saw another blog make the claim that there are an inordinate number of Christian denominations. 

According to a quick Google search, there appears to be over 38,000 different Christian denominations.

Yes, there are many denominations. No, there aren’t 38,000. In fact, the previous urban legend claimed that there were 33,000, so I see that the figure has grown recently.

The definition of what makes a denomination can be fluid, so I’m not sure what the real figure is. But I think the solution is simple: Whoever claims a number should defend the number. Whoever claims 38,000 should have a list of them all, right? Otherwise, how do they know it is 38,000?  I’ve seen Catholics use the 33,000 figure to “prove” that they are the real church, and I find their logic to be transparently faulty.  Again, just ask them for the list of 33,000, including names of the denomination leaders.

You can also use the 80/20 principle to see if it even matters that there are a lot. Add up the figures for the top denominations (say, 30 or so) and see what percentage that is of the total estimated Christians. Then divide the remaining estimated number of Christians by 37,970 and see how many people per denomination you get. I think the number will be pretty small, thus proving that even if there were 38,000 then the members per denomination would be insignificant.

Of course, I think that estimates of the number of Christians are as inflated as the 38,000 figure — especially in the U.S. Lots of people check the “Christian” box but are anything but in terms of beliefs.

I think the denominational differences are unfortunate, but sometimes overblown. Yes, some falsely consider themselves the “one true church,” but many do not. They just recognize that they have different beliefs on non-essential issues (e.g., predestination, forms of baptism, forms of communion, etc.). I attend a Methodist church but would never claim it is the one true church. If I meet Presbyterians or Lutherans I don’t try to convert them to Methodism.  So we aren’t quite as divergent as people think. 

And as Lone Wolf Archer noted:

The religious (and non-religious) world often misuses the term “denomination”. Denominations aren’t necessarily “different beliefs”, but they have have their own governing board or governing body that directs the various congregations. 

I used to do lunchtime Bible studies at Compaq and we’d have a great diversity of people by all measures, including denominations.  But you would have had a tough time guessing what denomination anyone was based on the discussions.  When we just read the biblical texts there was more agreement that you’d expect.

I enjoy serving in CareNet Pregnancy Center and Kairos Prison ministries as well, which both have Bible-believing Christians from many denominations who work together seamlessly to advance the kingdom.

The number of denominations doesn’t prove that Christianity isn’t true, any more than the divergent views of atheists proves that there is a God.  The “one true church” is made up of people who have authentically repented of their sins and put their faith in the real Jesus.

Roundup

TV anchor’s baby defies terminal diagnosis 

Doctors diagnosed their son with holoprosencephaly, a severe malformation of the brain….

The doctors were WRONG!

I know several people who had similar things happen.  Sometimes the bad news really is bad.  Sometimes it isn’t.  Many doctors steer any potentially problem cases towards abortion to make sure they won’t get sued.  But don’t be like Dr. Nick Riviera of The Simpsons and say, “Just to be on the safe side, we better pull the plug.”

One of many reasons why a mother shouldn’t abort her baby with an adverse prenatal diagnosis is so she won’t be plagued with guilt and doubt the rest of her life when viewing heartwarming stories like the following. Note that abortion was recommended, standard eugenic protocol these days.

You can read and sign the Manhattan Declaration here

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

For some concerns about this declaration, see this piece by James White.

My favorite Podcast: Stand to Reason.  Check it out and subscribe if you like it.

Obama breaks another promise.  He supported the good war in Afghanistan but has done nothing for almost a year.  Fred Thompson is right: At this point, Obama lost a winnable war.  Plenty of time for talk shows and trying to get the Olympics for Chicago, but no time to do his job as Commander in Chief.

Roundup

The reason for the season?  Sin.  Same as last year.  Same as next year.

Luke 19:10 (ESV) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

And God created Darwin — thorough review of a book exposing the scientific flaws of Darwinism.  A sample:

A disturbing quote is from a children’s book, Wonderful Egg (recommended by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the American Council on Education, and the Association for Childhood Development), which shows how a bird hatches from a dinosaur egg: “It was a wonderful new kind of egg. And when it hatched, it hatched into a baby bird, the first baby bird in the whole world. And the baby bird grew up to be a beautiful bird with feathers. The first beautiful bird that ever sand a song high in the tree tops of the new green world of long, long ago.” Schmidt is so right on when he says, “When fables turn into facts, and receive accreditations from educators and scientists, one must fear for the future of science and for our children.”

Hey, I agree with Ted Kennedy’s abortion position — uh, that is, his position before he switched to the dark side.  Of course, I agreed with Planned Parenthood’s anti-abortion position as well — that is, until they discovered how profitable death was.

Spaulding was what today would be called “pro-choice,” and Kennedy, at that time, was passionately opposed to abortion. So when the subject came up, the senator was in full voice. He screamed, “Don’t tell me there isn’t enough love in the world to care for all the unwanted babies.” He mentioned that adoption agencies had waiting lists.

Excellent summary of ClimateGate – Read the whole thing.  The Global Warming industry is built on a hoax designed to force the failed model of socialim on the world. Sadly, it appears to be working, and at a rapid rate. Evil leaders, an ignorant and gullible electorate, a complicit media and unethical scientists make a dangerous mix.

For example, last year the BBC environment reporter Roger Harrabin made substantial changes to an article on the corporation website that asked why global warming seemed to have stalled since 1998 – caving in to direct pressure from a climate change activist, Jo Abbess.

‘Personally, I think it is highly irresponsible to play into the hands of the sceptics who continually promote the idea that “global warming finished in 1998” when that is so patently not true,’ she told him in an email.

After a brief exchange, he complied and sent a final note: ‘Have a look in ten minutes and tell me you are happier. We have changed headline and more.’

Afterwards, Abbess boasted on her website: ‘Climate Changers, Remember to challenge any piece of media that seems like it’s been subject to spin or scepticism. Here’s my go for today. The BBC actually changed an article I requested a correction for.’

Last week, Michael Schlesinger, Professor of Atmospheric Studies at the University of Illinois, sent a still cruder threat to Andrew Revkin of the New York Times, accusing him of ‘gutter reportage’, and warning: ‘The vibe that I am getting from here, there and everywhere is that your reportage is very worrisome to most climate scientists … I sense that you are about to experience the “Big Cutoff” from those of us who believe we can no longer trust you, me included.’

But in the wake of Warmergate, such threats – and the readiness to bow to them – may become rarer.

‘A year ago, if a reporter called me, all I got was questions about why I’m trying to deny climate change and am threatening the future of the planet,’ said Professor Ross McKitrick of Guelph University near Toronto, a long-time collaborator with McIntyre.

‘Now, I’m getting questions about how they did the hockey stick and the problems with the data.

‘Maybe the emails have started to open people’s eyes.’

Hat tip: Wintery Knight

Roundup

Headline: Teacher Steals IPOD in Public School–Student Laughs – we need more teachers like this.

Amazing(ly bad) Leftist video shown to countless schoolkids — Lots of gross errors and unrestrained bias.  She’s like the alter ego of the crazy Texas guy on The Simpsons who lives to destroy the environment.  The problem is that he is a cartoon character and an obvious parody.  She is real and being shown by the authorities to your kids.

But wait, there’s more: School Kids Taught to Praise Obama: Lyrics and Analysis – Super creepy.   This verse may sound familiar to you, though the original was about Jesus, the real Messiah.  “In his sight?!”  Think about this, people.  Teaching public school kids to praise Obama the same way church kids are taught to praise Jesus?

Hmm, hmm, hmm
Barack Hussein Obama
He said red, yellow, black, or white,
All are equal in his sight

Watch me Get the ACORN Lawsuit Dismissed in 15 Minutes (or Less) – ACORN just can’t get enough attention drawn to their failures so they are suing journalism heroes Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe.  Great move, ACORN.  More opportunities for the public to watch the videos.

Nice job by Sarah Palin in laying out why conservatism is so preferable to Liberalism.

We don’t believe that human nature is perfectible; we’re suspicious of government efforts to fix problems because often what it’s trying to fix is human nature, and that is impossible. It is what it is.

Lack of government wasn’t the problem. Government policies were the problem. The marketplace didn’t fail. It became exactly as common sense would expect it to. The government ordered the loosening of lending standards. The Federal Reserve kept interest rates low. The government forced lending institutions to give loans to people who, as I say, couldn’t afford them. Speculators spotted new investment vehicles, jumped on board and rating agencies underestimated risks.