“And what if we picked the wrong religion? Every week we’re just making God madder and madder.”

The title is from the episode of The Simpsons where Homer decides to stop attending church.

Marge: I can’t believe you’re giving up church, Homer.

Homer: Hey, what’s the big deal about going to some building every Sunday?  I mean, isn’t God everywhere?  And don’t you think that the Almighty has better things to worry about than where one little guy spends one measly hour of his week? And what if we picked the wrong religion?  Every week we’re just making God madder and madder.

Bart: Testify!

Marge: [Groans]

In one of those odd ways where someone speaks some truth without knowing it, it reminds me of this important passage:

1 Corinthians 15:12–18 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

So the Apostle Paul seems to agree with Homer, at least in one sense: If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we are misrepresenting God – and that’s never a good place to be.   And the writers even have Homer realizing that not all religions are the same.  How do you discern which is right?  Look at the facts.

But the evidence points to the fact that He did rise from the dead, and that changes everything.

—–

As I noted in a recent post, Christianity is unique in that it is testable and falsifiable.  You can research the truth claims yourself.  Christianity involves knowledge, truth claims and faith in evidence.  Many people think religions are just a matter of opinion or are the result of “blind faith,” but that is the opposite of Christianity.

There are all sorts of apologetics resources (see the links to the right of this blog) or even simple things like the minimal facts approach, where nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements and 75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty:

  • Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
  • Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
  • Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.
  • The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others.  He converted from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist ever, despite nearly constant challenges, persecution and ultimately dying for his faith.

The Christian view that the physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts is highly supportable and logical.

Roundup

Netflix: Case For Faith & Case For Christ OnDemand

Debt has increased 5 trillion since Pelosi became Speaker of the House – But that can’t be, because she said there would be no more deficit spending.  How did she manage to increase the debt by over 50% in less than 4 years when it took over 200 to accumulate the previous amount?!

Democrat Fraud Already Evident in Early Voting

It’s not enough to beat Democrats. You have to beat them by the margin of fraud, which gets increasingly wide the more brazen the party becomes in its corruption. Democrats are the party of taking by force and trickery what others have earned. That applies not only to money but to votes.

Sad, but not surprising: Obamacare does indeed include taxpayer funded abortions.  That’s why the pro-aborts were so happy with it.  This needs to be repealed.  This isn’t pro-choice, it is pro-abortion.  Fact: Obamacare expands abortion coverage in the United States.  Shame on all those who supported the bill.

Great overview of the Robert Schuller Crystal Cathedral saga – Did the massive financial failure of his church cause him to repent of his false gospel?  Sadly, no.  He just doubled down and asked you to give more!  He says that God told him to put his daughter in charge, even though she didn’t have seminary training, so I suppose he thinks this is God’s fault.  I’ll never forget the clip of him on the White Horse Inn Podcast where he was angry at the hosts for teaching the whole Bible.

Unhinged Joy Behar on Sharon Angle (who hopefully is about to defeat Harry Reid): “This bitch is going to Hell!” Classy.  Can’t you feel the love and tolerance?  Also amusing are the other speakers saying how Angle’s opposition to illegal immigration is so racist and divisive.  They must really be upset about Obama’s “back of the bus” comments about Republicans and his telling legal and illegal Hispanics that they need to crush their enemies, the Conservative Americans.

Uh, and how many members of the view walked offstage when Joy called Sharon a bitch?  What’s that?  Zero?!

Update: Angle sent Joy a thank-you note for helping her raise $150,000.  Nice touch!

Interesting perspective on conservative gays by Hillbuzz / Tammy Bruce – Always nice to come across folks who don’t play the stereotype game.  Read it all.  I really enjoyed Bruce’s book, The Death of Right and Wrong.

The worst religious people will ever say to us, for being gay, is that they will “pray for us” because they wish we were straight…not out of some meanness, but because they believe being straight would mean a happier life and they don’t want to see people unhappy.  . . . The Left, on the other hand, threatens violence when they find out you are conservative.

Actually, we pray for any non-Christians because we want them to have the joy of being a Christian (big difference between happiness and joy), even though happiness can be fleeting for all of us.

Are Fetuses Rational? – Good response to the pro-abortion argument that it is OK to kill the unborn because they don’t have the cognitive processes of (most) people outside the womb.  Former commenter Ryan used to use this one a lot when rationalizing abortion.

Creepy quote of the week from founder of Planned Parenthood.  Her (sick) dream lives on, with funding from U.S. taxpayers.

Many, perhaps, will think it idle to go farther in demonstrating the immorality of large families, but since there is still an abundance of proof at hand, it may be offered for the sake of those who find difficulty in adjusting old-fashioned ideas to the facts.  The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.  Margaret Sanger,Woman and the New Race.

Hat tip: Glenn

Another bizarre quote, from atheist Richard Dawkins:

At some point a particularly remarkable molecule was formed by accident. We will call it the Replicator. It may not have been the biggest or the most complex molecule around, but it had the extraordinary property of being able to create copies of itself. — Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

How utterly (non-)scientific.

Hat tip: The way the Ball bounces

How to Be a Proverbs 31 Wife (or something like that) During a 50-Hour Work-Week – practical and amusing advice from Marie.

Christians being unequally yoked with non-believers = bad idea

Christians not even knowing they shouldn’t be yoked with non-believers and/or being proud of being unequally yoked = really bad idea.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) and people like United Church of Christ (UCC) spokesman Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie think it is a great idea for Muslims and Christians to meet in Geneva to build a common future.

“Christians and Muslims have a joint responsibility to contribute the very best of their theological, spiritual, and ethical resources for the common good of humanity”, stated the organizers.

The group expects the consultation to “develop concrete ways of building a common future, in order to achieve more compassionate and just societies, based on equality, co-citizenship and mutual respect”.

(I wonder if they will convince the Muslims to stop the honor killings, persecution of those who leave the faith, etc.?)

Do they have any Bible verses to back up their views?  Do none of them know their Bibles?  Or do they not care what it says?

2 Corinthians 6:14–15 (ESV) Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

When the Bible teaches not to be unequally yoked it isn’t just about not marrying non-Christians (though that obviously applies).  It means we shouldn’t pretend that we serve the same God and shouldn’t partner with them on spiritual matters.

Chuck even trots out his old sermon where he preached on John 14:6 and concluded that Jesus is not the only way to salvation.  In addition to not understanding that simple verse, Chuck’s seminary forgot to tell him about the other 100+ passages that teach the same thing — as well as the countless commands in the Old Testament not to worship other Gods.

The truth of the matter is that we all can learn from the different ways we understand the Almighty

Let’s try an example.  One way Christianity views the Almighty is that Jesus is God and that He died on the cross and rose again.  One way Islam views the “Almighty” is that Jesus is not God and did not die on the cross.  The Koran is quite explicit:

And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. Instead, GOD raised him to Him; GOD is Almighty, Most Wise. Koran, Sura 4:157-158

So how do religious pluralists reconcile those views?

We have a name for people who hold Chuck’s views: Non-Christians.  Let’s just say that Christianity may not be their forte.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends or interact with non-believers.  We wouldn’t get very far sharing the Gospel if that was the case.

Run, don’t walk, from the WCC, the UCC and any other group who thinks Jesus wants us to partner with non-Christians to serve him and especially those who can’t support the simple claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

2nd breakfast — the 3rd most important meal of the day

Or it’s corollary, “3:00 – the 2nd most important snack time of the day.”

Important diet tip: Eat often.  Seriously.  If I eat often I eat much healthier.  I only crave things like McDonald’s if I’ve gone too long between meals.

If you eat often it is easier to eat smaller portions, because you won’t be starving.

Skipping meals = bad and counterproductive.

Eat often, but with smaller and healthier portions.  Try it.

P.S. I often eat a 2nd breakfast.  I’ll have my health shake on the way out the door around 5:45 then some cereal and/or yogurt around 9:00.  Mmmmmmm.

Roundup

Just What is Behind These Suicides? — this is a very serious issue, as it impacts religious freedom as well as what is taught to children as young as 5 in public schools.

It is quite common for homosexual activists to blame suicide in their ranks on ‘homophobia’. ‘If we would just be more tolerant and accepting of homosexuals, these rates would drop’ they claim. But are these claims in fact true? The evidence seems to suggest that they are not.

A simple way to test this is to look at places where homosexuality is very much accepted, such as in nations like Holland, or cities like San Francisco. One would expect less suicide and other mental health problems amongst homosexuals in these places. But that is not the case. There is as much if not more suicide and related problems in these localities. So homophobia cannot be to blame.

. . .

But the myth that ‘homophobia’ causes high suicide rates keeps being repeated because it nicely serves in the overall cause of the militant homosexual lobby: to get mainstream acceptance of homosexuality. Indeed, by using skewed statistics, homosexual activists are seeking to win over societal acceptance.

. . .

Pro-family activist Maggie Gallagher has recently written on this very subject, and her remarks are worth repeating here: “Gay students are also more than twice as likely to report having had sexual intercourse before age 13 – that is, to be sexually abused as children. They are three times as likely to report being the victims of dating violence, and nearly four times as likely to report forced sexual contact.

“A majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) teens in Massachusetts reported using illegal drugs in the past month. (Perhaps most oddly, gay teens are also three times as likely as nongay teens to report either becoming pregnant or getting someone else pregnant.)

“Forced sex, childhood sexual abuse, dating violence, early unwed pregnancy, substance abuse – could these be a more important factor in the increased suicide risk of LGBT teens than anything people like me ever said? The deeper you look, the more you see kids who are generally unprotected in deeply tragic ways that make it hard to believe – if you are really focusing on these kids’ well-being – that gay marriage is the answer.

Sadly, many people believe that Churches contribute to gay suicides.  And in other news, MADD is responsible for the suicides and low self esteem of people who drive drunk.

Hat tip: Duane

Also see Political GLBT, Religious GLBT: one agenda in two locations and Homosexual Activists Are Exploiting Tragedies to Silence Religious Opponents

NPR Lashes Juan Williams – Hat tip: Wes

When escaped slaves were caught, they were lashed into submission. This was intended not only as a warning to that particular slave, but to the entire plantation of black servants to stay in their place.  Liberals do the psychological equivalent of this to any black person who dares to leave the plantation of liberal orthodoxy. After working over a decade for liberal National Public Radio, Juan Williams was summarily fired, publically ridiculed and told to see a psychiatrist. Liberals have a proprietary attitude toward blacks and other minorities. When anyone one of us dares contradict leftist thought, they try to punish us severely.

Timothy McVeigh: Still not a Christian.  The Juan Williams issue brought up several instances of the “Yeah, but we don’t judge Christianity because of Timothy McVeigh” meme.  Fact: McVeigh was a professed agnostic and had the poem Invictus read at his death.  Let’s just say it isn’t the kind of repentant heart you’d expect of a Christian about to meet his maker.  Do I think the Left will ever get tired of saying McVeigh was a Christian?  Nope.

Democrats deliver ballots to inmates, but miss deadline to mail them to troops — the title says it all.

Great overview of the Boston Tea Party – despite the nonstop accusations of Democrats and the media, this isn’t about racism or big corporations at all.

Academic: Jane Austen had helping hand from editor — According to my wife, apparently it wasn’t enough help, because she thinks Austen was too wordy.  No hate mail from Austen fans, please.  I’ve never read her stuff.  We’re going to watch Sense & Sensibility as part of my daughters home school English assignment.

Aljazeera infiltrates Chinese hospital to report on macabre forced abortion of 8-mo-old baby

NPR picked up on the “heartrending” story. No surprise, a commenter supportive of population control thought extreme abortions like this are necessary:

“Sounds pretty barbaric, “forced abortion.” Frank Luntz would call it “mandatory termination” or “prenatal control.” Whatever you call it, the sad fact is that it’s sometimes necessary in China because a family’s urge to reproduce represents what social psychologists call a social trap or what economists have talked about as the tragedy of the commons. Every culture will be grappling with the same problem soon. What’s good for me (more children) is ruinous to society as a whole.…

Whatever we think of mandatory abortion, the growth is unsustainable and will stop sooner or later. There are only 2 questions: How much damage will be done to the environment first, and will we do it or let nature do it?”

There’s honesty, the crux of the population control argument: Kill or be killed.

Randy Quaid, wife seek refugee status in Canada – Randy deserved at least two Oscars per film for his role as Cousin Eddie in the National Lampoon Vacation movies.  I hope he works out his problems.

Should businesses and/or the government (i.e., you!) be forced to pay for Transsexual ‘Sex-Change’ Operations?

When Feds decide health care science is too expensive – One of the huge problems of socialized medicine and its accompanying disdain for the free market is that it will stifle creativity and the invention of new drugs.  The costs are enormous to bring a drug to market.  The impact will be subtle.  No one will make a made-for-TV movie about the lives lost because a drug was not produced, but the lives will be lost just the same.  Just another example of the law of unintended consequences.

Funny and appropriate video about Barbara Boxer, made by one of the creators of Airplane! (one of my all-time favorite movies).  Always nice to see political, repentant converts in Hollywood.

Union Fires Stage Hand for Wearing USS George W. Bush Shirt – one more reasons to dislike unions.  How thin-skinned and anti-U.S. can you be?

One of many fun shots my daughter took at the zoo a couple months back.

Better news coverage through blogging

One of things I love about blogs and my Google blog reader page is that it is like getting a custom newspaper where you can actually trust the columnists.  With normal media the bias is astounding, not just in slanting what they report but in what they don’t report at all.  They did their best to mock Christine O’Donnell over her accurate statements about what the 1st Amendment actually says, but they completely ignored the countless people on the Left who were so eager to criticize Sarah Palin that they didn’t realize that here 1773 reference was tied to the date of the Boston Tea Party instead of the Declaration of Independence.

But it isn’t just that the mainstream media is wildly and notoriously biased, but that they are so error-filled as well.

When I was the controller of the Portable Division at Compaq there was an article in the Houston Chronicle about one of our new products.  There were so many errors – none significant, but it just showed how sloppy the journalism was.  An article about a ballet performance of the girls was equally error filled.  There have been many examples of this.

And with the Liberal media being 90+% wildly pro-abortion and 18-1 negative on Sarah Palin, for example, how could you hope to make informed decisions on controversial topic if you only consumed their views?

Sloppiness + rampant bias = massive train wreck.

Yet with blogging you can get perspectives and news from across the spectrum.  You can figure out over time who is reliable and who corrects any errors they make.  It results in you being much, much better informed and confident in what you are reading.

But you already knew that, right?  You’re a blog reader!

Political correctness can be deadly

Political correctness is the adult version of Jr. High peer pressure: People say things they know are false because they are afraid of being unpopular.

I urge everyone — and especially Christians — to avoid saying foolish, politically correct things.  Some people need to grow spines, or guts, or fill-in-your-preferred-body-part.

I’m not saying to be belligerent jerks about it.  Just speak the truth graciously — but speak the truth.  Don’t say things you know aren’t true.  Don’t say the opposite of what God said in his word.

Christians throughout history sacrificed wealth, freedom and even their lives rather than deny essential truths such as the deity of Christ and many still suffer greatly today for the same reasons.  Yet so many of us are too afraid to state the obvious: Jesus is God.  He is the only way to salvation, and apart from trusting in him you will spend an eternity in Hell separated from your creator and paying for your sins.  Other religions are false.  Not all Muslims are terrorists, but Islam is not a religion of peace.  God’s original plan and ideal for marriage is one man and one woman for life.  Abortion kills innocent human beings and is wrong.  And so on.

Too many people have a perverted view of love, where they view it as sentimental indulgence and use it to rationalize and even encourage sin.  That isn’t the Biblical view of “agape” love that has people’s long-term best interests at heart.

Was Jesus loving?  Of course.  All the time?  Of course.  And that means He was being loving when He spoke the truth about sin, Hell and more. People need to read all of the Bible and remember that God –who is all loving — inspired it all.  Even the parts that make us squirm in our politically correct society.  Scan the Gospels and the rest of the Bible and see how much of it would qualify as politically correct “love” in our culture.  Then decide which side you will choose.

Roundup

Study: Gay Parents More Likely to Have Gay Kids – This is important on several levels.  It demonstrates the rather obvious implications of gays adopting children, it refutes the “born that way” myth and it shows how much ideology drives “science” (just as it does in Darwinian evolution and global warming).  Read it.

Democrats get TWICE the amount of foreign contributions as Republicans – sorta puts the nail in the coffin of the pathetic and false accusations against the Chamber of Commerce, doesn’t it?

Many people behave ethically when it profits them or costs them nothing, but true ethical behavior is displayed when there is a risk associated with it.

Hilarious: Left tries to ridicule Governor Palin for “don’t party like it’s 1773 yet” tweet but doesn’t know that’s when the Boston Tea Party happened — I assume those same Lefty history buffs mocked Obama’s “57 states” comment until their throats were raw.  Still waiting for the MSM to publicize this with half the energy they used to distort Christine O’Donnell’s 1st Amendment comments (while ignoring all her direct hits on Coons).

Farcebook is just a little inconsistent on their guidelines

The social networking site facebook has allied with GLAAD to fight anti-gay references on the facebook site. You will get no argument from me when someone tries to prevent juvenile harassment and bullying of gays (I agree with Andrew Wilcow that gay people should exercise their second amendment right more frequently when faced with physical bullying and intimidation).

The wonderful people at facebook have a “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” for all facebook users. But, this is where it gets a little farcical. There are a variety of facebook groups that deal with the topic of Rush Limbaugh, and when I say “deal”, I mean things like “waiting for him to die”, hoping he “should die slowly”, etc. You get the picture.

Peer review: How much more believable than fortune telling these days? – No, that can’t be.  Scientists are the only professionals untainted by original sin and would never, ever mislead for the sake of personal gain (or to avoid losing tenure, employment or reputation).  Right?!

Wise Latina Update – elections matter.  McCain would have never put such an awful judge on the Supreme Court.

James Cameron: Green For Thee – What. A. Hypocrite.  Watch the short video and see what not-so-incredible sacrifices he’s making compared to what he expects you to do.

The abortion nurse’s daughter: Inside minds at the mill – all this and more.  Tragic.

I asked Abigail if the clinic aborted women who weren’t pregnant. Yes, she said, adding the clinic owner often joked “anyone who wants an abortion can have one, whether she’s pregnant or not!”

Evaluating different religions: 5 reasons to start your spiritual search with Christianity

pluralism.jpgI just listened to a Stand to Reason Podcast (7/12/10) where Craig Hazen outlined some provocative things to share with people who are exploring different religions.  Not only will they get people thinking, they help refute some false doctrines that Christians hold and address common objections to Christianity.  Hazen wrote a novel called Five Sacred Crossings that incorporates these themes (I’ll read it as soon as it comes out on the Kindle!).

Here are some notes from the Podcast with a few of my thoughts thrown in.  They are simple ways to encourage people to think carefully about Christianity.

1. Christianity is testable – It is open to being falsifiable.  You can research the truth claims yourself.  Christianity involves knowledge, truth claims and faith in evidence.  Many people think religions are just a matter of opinion or are the result of “blind faith,” but that is the opposite of Christianity.  Consider this passage that shows how Christianity “hangs by a thread” – i.e., if Jesus didn’t physically rise from the dead, then Christianity is wrong and you should search elsewhere:

1 Corinthians 15:12–19 (ESV)  Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

You can point them to all sorts of apologetics works (see the links to the right of this blog) or even simple things like the minimal facts approach, where nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements and 75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty:

  • Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
  • Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
  • Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.
  • The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others.  He converted from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist ever, despite nearly constant challenges, persecution and ultimately dying for his faith.

The Christian view that the physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts is highly supportable and logical.

2. Salvation is free – as C.S. Lewis noted, grace is the main distinction between Christianity and all other religions / cults.  They require works to (possibly) be made right with God, but Christianity says salvation is a free gift from God.  People like free things, and it conveys a supremely important spiritual truth in an easy to understand way.  Don’t be shy about reminding people about this.

3. The Christian worldview offers a perspective that fits the way the world really is.  Look at facts of the world and see how they line of with Christianity.  Consider the issue of evil and suffering, which Eastern religions (e.g., Hinduism and Buddhism) and New Agers treat as an illusion and which atheism cannot ground (if we are nothing but chemicals in motion then there is no true universal morality, just opinions and power).

If a Holocaust survivor described how her loved ones were brutally killed, does the typical audience shrug it off as being an illusion?  Of course not.  Deep down we know there is real right and wrong and real evil.  Christianity has an explanation for that but many major worldviews do not.

Consider how Eastern philosophies like The Secret would have you tell the woman who her problem is that she didn’t ask the universe for the right things, didn’t feel the right things or wasn’t open to receiving them.

The “problem of evil” is one of the most common objections to Christianity, but it is an even larger philosophical liability for other religions and atheism.  Christianity doesn’t try to side-step evil, it thoroughly addresses it.

4. In Christianity you get to live a non-compartmentalized / holistic life – We not only get to use our minds in worshiping and interacting with God (Acts 17:11 and more), we are told to do so.  Some religions consider reasoning to be an impediment to faith.

5. Christianity has Jesus at the center – That may sound like circular logic, but consider how universally Jesus is revered – however misinterpreted – in Islam and other religions.  Buddhism and Hinduism have plenty of room for a great teacher like Jesus.  Islam specifically refers to him and claims to believe the Bible (though they believe in error that it has been seriously mistranslated).  If nearly everyone wants to make room for Jesus and He has such a dramatic impact on the world (even to the point of our calendar being based on his birth), why not start with the religion that puts him front and center?

I would add a sixth: Since Christianity claims that there is one God and after we die we face one eternal judgment (Hebrews 9:27) you should consider it first, at least over atheism and any religion with either a concept of reincarnation or with no concept of judgment.  If atheism isn’t true, then nothing eternal matters.  If “second chance” religions like Hinduism and Buddhism are true then the worst case scenario is that you lose a little ground going into your next life.

But if Christianity is true and you don’t trust in Jesus and accept God’s free gift of salvation, then you spend an eternity paying for your sins.  

Consider matters of eternity very carefully, because eternity matters.

Roundup

My sort-of Facebook policy: I keep the comments generally light and leave the politics and heavier stuff to my blog links.  I love the banter of my kids, who are very funny.  If I want to follow the play-by-play action of a sports team I’ll use my iPhone ESPN app, so I definitely don’t need the details of plays and commentary for teams I don’t follow.

Those Pesky, Irrational, Woman-Hating Traditional Family Values – great post by Roxanne about family values.
This is a matter of life and death — good post and video about death

Deceived by ‘The God Delusion’ Former Christian Student Commits Suicide – worldviews and facts matter.

John McCain was not my first choice for President (or second, or third . . .), but I much preferred him over Barack Obama.  I’m really surprised that some people think that things would be no better under a McCain administration.  Are you kidding me?!  For starters, he would have spent $1 trillion less and would have put qualified judges on the Supreme Court.  Those alone would have positively impacted the country for decades. Decades! People get so caught up in irrelevant political details and ignore the major things that impact most people.

The Fiorina surge is on – Can Carly beat Barbara Boxer?  I hope so.  I had mixed feelings about Fiorina when she was at HP.  She was tough as nails.  Pushing the Compaq / HP merger through was an amazing feat, and she was relentless consistent in keeping her vision in front of people.

Why doesn’t the church address the issue of modesty? – Great question and answers by Randy Alcorn.  Read it all.

I’m all for sex and I think it’s great for a woman to be sexy with one person—her husband. The irony is there are cases where women have gotten so used to appearing sexy in public yet actually have no sexual relationship with their own husbands. So we have two issues going on related to the issue of modesty—modesty in public, and modesty when the Body of Christ is assembled. And this latter one is huge.

. . .

As for the part of the question asking why this is not being addressed like it should be in churches, I believe the answer is fear. I think there are many pastors and church leaders, who, like many husbands and fathers, are afraid to speak up for fear of offending women who are fashion-conscious. Some women think that to be fashionable, you have to have outfits that are sexy—including the split skirts, the very tight skirts and pants, and low-cut tops. All of these things send a message to men, and pastors are very self-conscious about speaking up because they think,There are women who will think I am a pervert for even mentioning this. “Oh, is that what the pastor is thinking about when he’s up front?”

It’s a difficult situation, but it’s an issue I believe male leaders of the home and church need the courage to speak up about and address directly. We also need godly women (especially godly women who can be reasonably fashionable and attractive in the right sense of attractive—not sexually attractive) who will lovingly challenge other women and let them know they are sending a wrong message. And if they don’t care about the message they’re sending, then something’s really wrong and they need to repent. We need open, clear discussions about this so women can become aware and understand the issue.

. . .

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has excellent material on modesty and purity. She has a wonderful booklet titled The Look: Does God Really Care What I Wear? as well as several resources about the freedom of modesty at her ministry’s website,www.reviveourhearts.com.

Coming soon to a country near you: Greek Health System Opts for Amputation as Money-Saver (Hat tip: The way the Ball bounces)

Teacher unions block volunteers from working in school libraries

 

 

 

Feminism unmasked

If the feminist movement was authentic, there would be many things you’d expect to see that don’t happen.

  • When a Jerry Brown staffer called Meg Whitman a whore, you’d expect NOW — the National Organization of (unaborted) Women – to back Whitman, not Brown.  But even though Whitman is pro-abortion, she has the audacity to oppose partial-birth abortion (aka infanticide) and supports parental notification laws (so your public schools can’t take your daughter to have your grandchild destroyed without your knowledge).  Therefore, Whitman is unsupportable by NOW, even when a male on her male opponent’s team calls her a whore.
  • They should be rejoicing about all the Republican women running for office.  But alas, they aren’t pro-abortion so NOW hates them the way they hate Sarah Palin.

The list goes on, but you get the idea.  Feminism isn’t about helping women, it is about abortion and the destruction of the family.

Taking St. Francis too literally

St. Francis’ saying that Christians should “Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words” is terrific, except for three things:

  1. He didn’t really say it.
  2. He didn’t really live it (he used words, a lot).
  3. Even if he said it and lived it, it is only accurate if used as hyperbole.

I didn’t realize until recently that he probably didn’t even say those words, so I wanted to note that while re-publishing this piece from 2006.  I hear that quote far too often, and typically used as a reason not to use words to share the Gospel.  Bad idea.

—–

Original post

I always appreciated St. Francis of Assisi’s famous quote: “Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”  To me, that means that our lives should reflect our faith in Christ.   It reminds me of the exercise where you ask, “If I were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict me?”  We all still sin, but ideally when someone learns I am a Christian he doesn’t say, “Really?!  I had no idea.”

But either I misunderstood St. Francis’ meaning or others are taking him too literally, because I often hear this phrase used as an excuse not to use words to evangelize.  The implication is that we can bear witness to the Gospel with actions alone.  I see a few flaws with that reasoning.

  • No one is so good that they don’t have to use words.
  • St. Francis still used words to share the Gospel.
  • The early church spread using words (check out the book of Acts).
  • Most importantly, Jesus used words to share the Gospel.
  • The Bible is God’s Word and we are told to use it.  Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
  • Even if you are Marcel Marceau, you probably aren’t good enough at miming to present the Roman Road Gospel verses without words (i.e., Romans 3:23, 6:23, 10:9, etc.).

Our actions can speak volumes and should be in concert with our words, but we need to be prepared with words as well.

1 Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

I heard of one guy who used the “I don’t need words to evangelize” philosophy for many years without converting anyone.  Finally, one person recognized that there was something dramatically different and better about the man’s life and said, “You’re a vegetarian, too, aren’t you?”  The man realized he needed to be a little more specific about the source of joy in his life.

As the saying goes, words without deeds are as ineffective as deeds without words.

Kairos prison ministry weekend reflections

kairosjesusbehindbars.jpg

The Kairos prison ministry weekend went really well.  As always, it was exhausting and amazing.  This is probably my favorite ministry.  I’ve never seen anything that has such broad and dramatic impacts on so many lives.  I’ll share a little background, then a few observations.  If you want more background on the ministry there is additional information at the bottom.

Overview of the ministry: It is an opportunity to share the Gospel with those who aren’t believers (No one is pressured, though).  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 and creating a Christian community wherever they are.  It helps teach them how to love and forgive others (and themselves). It has a dramatic impact on recidivism, which means less victims and lower costs for society.

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 / daughters of the prisoners.  It is completely free, including transportation to the event and childcare if necessary.

Observations from the weekend (other volunteers are welcome to leave their own in the comments section)

  • The speaker at the closing ceremony was a former Kairos participant who was paroled against great odds.  He noted how he continually and aggressively resisted the Gospel for decades.  Bibles brought in by new cell mates were thrown out of the cell or ripped to shreds and then thrown out of the cell.  But eventually he converted.  One lesson: Keep sowing seeds in people’s lives, but don’t cast pearls before swine.  Leave the results and timing to God.
  • I loved a quote passed along by one of the guys at my table (he was quoting Oswald Chambers, but I can’t find the original).  It was something like, “If you aren’t about your Father’s business where you are, what makes you think you’ll be about it where you will be?”  In other words, don’t tell yourself that when such-and-such happens you’ll be more generous, helpful, etc. if you aren’t doing those things now.  That fit in well with the talk I gave and with the general theme of the weekend to point them to have their own Christian community right where they are.
  • A prisoner at the closing ceremony told everyone to go home and tell and show your kids that you love them.  A few of the inmates came from solid homes, but most did not.
  • Another interesting moment at the closing ceremony: One guy asked how many people were raised going to church.  Lots of hands went up.  Then he asked how many were taught the Bible at home.  Most hands went down.  See Ephesians 6:4, Christians!  We need to teach this to our kids ourselves.  What they learn at church is just a bonus.
  • One guy noted how he thought love was just something in books and movies, and that he never experienced it until this weekend.
  • The birthday cakes and cards brought a lot of tears, especially by some who never had them growing up.
  • Our leader, Mark, did a great job of keeping us focused.  He noted that if all the offenders left the weekend just thinking about how nice we were to come then we would have failed.  The purpose is to get them plugged into their own Christian community and accountability relationships.
  • We took in literally thousands of cookies and other good food, which they really enjoy, but surprisingly they talked the most about the pleasures of having fresh fruit.
  • The forgiveness exercises were powerful, as usual.  There were many public apologies for wrongs done.  One offender noted how harboring unforgiveness makes it hard to pray.
  • There were lots of opportunities to coach and encourage them on what to do when they get out: Finding a good church, ensuring they have people to hold them accountable, etc.
  • Several ex-offenders were on the volunteer team as well.  It was great to have them and a tremendous example to those on the inside that success is possible.
  • I eat more cookies on one of these weekends than I do the rest of the year.  Seriously.
  • I never get tired of seeing lives transformed by the Holy Spirit.

I saw this song on my younger daughter’s Facebook page one day and thought it fit in well with the ministry theme of Kairos: Listen-listen-love-love.  Love people for who they are, not for what they have done or what they’ll become.

Here’s a previous post with more background information

Matthew 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 perspective 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.

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.  God is doing great things through this powerful ministry.

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

Roundup

Double bad news: Obamacare causes Scranton hospitals to close (where will the employees of The Office go now?!) and more importantly, was this another case of thuggery by the Obama administration to silence yet another dissenter?  Free speech?  What’s that?

Notice that he said ObamaCare was “absolutely” related to the desire to sell now.

But within 48 hours the same CEO had released two new statements, one omitting any reference to ObamaCare and a second claiming his videotaped words had somehow been taken out of context.

More than a litter bit of difference – Uh, if the Greens are on the Left why was there so much litter after their big D.C. event and so little after the conservative one?

Racist-in-chief tells crowd that Republicans are “counting on black folks staying home” on Nov. 2.  Oh, what a uniter!  I’m all tingly.  Seriously, he says things like that and thinks Tea Partiers are the racists?

Black Republicans offer hope after Barack Obama’s failures on race – Yea!  One of the brothers at the Kairos prison ministry weekend I just finished confided to me that he opposes Obama and thinks it is terrible that so many people rely on the government to take care of them.  He can’t wait to get out and work hard.  Oh, and he’s black.  And he had no idea of what my political views were.  Good for him!

-

Handwriting on the wall for churches who “discriminate” — if you are the lukewarm type, you may want to find a new religion now.  (Side note: Why don’t the mainline religions swap the Bible-believers for non-Bible believers?  After all, why quibble about denominational differences if you can’t even agree that Jesus is God, He’s the only way to salvation, etc.)

The Porn Nation – good write-up by Dan.

So it isn’t just about a woman’s “right to her body” after all.  It is the right to kill unwanted children wherever they are.  See Choice Unmasked.

When a B.C. couple discovered that the fetus their surrogate mother was carrying was likely to be born with Down syndrome, they wanted an abortion. The surrogate, however, was determined to take the pregnancy to term, sparking a disagreement that has raised thorny questions about the increasingly common arrangements.

Joyce Meyer – Another teacher to avoid – Good analysis by Glenn.  Man, that must have been painful to read all that!

QUESTION: What do you think about making “eliminating the Department of Education” a 2012 election issue? – I love it.

Amazing – ABC does fluff piece about how peaceful, moderate Muslims are the first line of defense against terrorists.  Two problems:

  1. That is ludicrous.
  2. Their “moderate” Muslim was anything but.

Nice investigation, guys.  So sad that many people actually consider you a news organization and don’t consume any conservative views.

Hat tip: James White

A must read about the global warming scam

See Scientist quits American Physical Society over “global warming scam”

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

 

Roundup

Do you want to glorify God?  Check out this great list of ways.

Why do Christians believe that Jesus’ tomb was found empty? – Very, very important question.

Follow. The. Money. — Green Is the Color of the Environment… and of Money – don’t be suckered by the Global Warming scam.

Leaders of 15 top Big Green environmental groups are paid more than $300,000 in annual compensation, according to an Examiner analysis of the organizations’ most recent IRS Form 990 tax returns.

For comparison, Charity Navigator’s current study of compensation in the nonprofit sector calculates that the median nonprofit CEO salary in the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Washington, D.C., is $164,575.

I hope this gets lot of press: New film “Waiting for Superman” is stunning indictment of unions

More about unions: As FBI Probes Possible SEIU Corruption, FEC Shockingly Gives SEIU a Free Pass

California Workers Laid Off and Their Jobs Shipped to China by Greedy Republican Democrat Jane Harman? – think this will get a lot of mainstream press coverage?

What a freak show: Author and columnist Virginia Ironside says that a loving mother would smother a sickly child with a pillow and that most adoptees would be better off dead.

Lila Rose is a hero of the pro-life movement, exposing how Planned Parenthood routinely hides statutory rape (among other things).  They must be quaking in their boots, because she has many hours of unpublished videos that expose the “rogue employee” excuse for the lie that it is.  Check out this from CNN.

Democrats in their own words covering up the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac mess — this is a keeper.  Watch Barney, Maxine et al in their fantasy world that ultimately devastated the economy.  Oh, but it was all Bush’s fault, right?