Friday, July 29, 2005

It was a dark and stormy night . . .

You probably recognize those words from the typewriter of Snoopy. Actually, he borrowed them from the opening line of the 1830 novel "Paul Clifford," written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Now, there is an annual prize given outto the entrants who can write the worst opening sentences to imaginary novels. Here are this year's winners (er, . . . losers). Entrants included:
  • Glen Lawrie from Korea writes words that Rick can use to sweet-talk Darla: Billy Bob gushed like a broken water main about his new love: "She's got long, beautiful, drain-clogging hair, more curves than an under-the-sink water trap, and she moves with the ease of a motorized toilet snake through a four-inch sewer line, but what she sees in me, a simple plumber, I'll never know."
  • Ken Aclin of Shreveport, LA: India, which hangs like a wet washcloth from the towel rack of Asia, presented itself to Tex as he landed in Delhi (or was it Bombay?), as if it mattered because Tex finally had an idea to make his mark and fortune and that idea was a chain of steak houses to serve the millions and he wondered, as he deplaned down the steep, shiny, steel steps, why no one had thought of it before.
  • Bryan Semrow of Oshkosh, Wisconsin: Captain Burton stood at the bow of his massive sailing ship, his weathered face resembling improperly cured leather that wouldn't even be used to make a coat or something.
  • Eric Winter of Minneapolis: It was high noon in the jungles of South India when I began to recognize that if we didn't find water for our emus soon, it wouldn't be long before we would be traveling by foot; and with the guerilla warriors fast on our heals, I was starting to regret my decision to use poultry for transportation.
  • Kari Stiller of College Station, Texas: Patricia wrote out the phrase 'It was a dark and stormy night' exactly seventy-two times, which was the same number of times she stabbed her now quickly-rotting husband, and the same number of pages she ripped out of 'He's Just Not That Into You' by Greg Behrendt to scatter around the room -- not because she was obsessive compulsive, or had any sentimental attachment to the number seventy-two, but because she'd always wanted to give those quacks at CSI a hard time.
  • Mark Hawthorne of California: A column of five hundred Roman foot soldiers - a column held together by the plaster of courage -- advanced on a teeming sea of rebellious slaves -- slaves who had, ironically, built most of Rome's columns, although they actually used lime and not plaster to cement the structures, and though it is perhaps more historically precise to describe the soldiers' column as bound by the lime of courage, that doesn't really have the same adventurous ring to it.
  • Alf Seegert of Salt Lake City: "Wet leaves stuck to the spinning wagon wheels like feathers to a freshly tarred heretic, reminding those who watched them of the endless movement of the leafy earth-or so they would have, if only those fifteenth-century onlookers had believed that the earth actually rotated, which they didn't, which is why it was heretical to say that it did-and which is the reason why the wagon held a freshly tarred heretic in the first place."
  • Kristen Harbuck of Bozeman, Montana: She walked toward him, her dress billowing in the wind -- not a calm and predictable billows like the sea, but more like the billowing of a mildewed shower curtain in a cheap motel where one has to dance around to avoid touching it while trying to rinse off soap.

Mitsy Rae of Danbury, Maine was the runner-up: "When Detective Riggs was called to investigate the theft of a trainload of Native American fish broth concentrate bound for market, he solved the case almost immediately, being that the trail of clues led straight to the trainmaster, who had both the locomotive and the Hopi tuna tea."

And the winner is Dan McKay of Fargo, North Dakota: As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual.

Another Bible to consider.

On second thought, maybe not. Go here to purchase your very own "Black Country Bible." Here an excerpt:
Wile the shepuds wus waatchin' oover thayer flocks..a brite lite shon all rahnd 'e ...

I believe the cake has been taken!

I've seen some strange things in the local Christian bookstores (like "Christian" Testa-Mints breath fresheners?!?!). But this item probably wins the prize for the doofiest use of "Christian-izing" some product. What type of Christian would actually buy this product and think that they are doing anything biblical in doing so? Here is a blurb from the website:
In-Souls™ inserts are designed to provide a tangible support to assist Christians to literally "walk in the word of the Lord." Worn in the right shoe, each one provides a related scripture and affirmation. To enhance the spiritual walk with God, the inserts help one to "stand" on His Word, meditating on it day and night. Inserts may be alternated daily to help cultivate the word of God in your life. Look for other In-Souls sets to cover a variety of topics – from trust, obedience, patience and redemption to marriage, work and body image.
For JUST $6.99, you can elevate your walk with Christ to untol heights. You can step all over concepts like LOVE, FAITH, WISDOM or SALVATION.

OR SAVE EVEN MORE by getting the FOUNDATIONAL STEPS FOUR PACK for just $25.00.

Of course, you also need your Christian socks for just $5.00 per pair!

And don't forget to give this "Christian entrepreneur" your hard-earned money to get your "Christian" air freshener.

AND THAT'S NOT ALL. Act now and you can purchase your exclusive "In-Soul Journal" to record every step you take that you take in [Jesus].

Now I must go. I think I'm getting ready to throw up!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Another neat math trick: multiplying by 11

You likely all know the 10 rule (to multiply by 10, just add a 0 behind the number) but do you know the 11 rule? It is as easy! You should be able to do this one in you head for any two digit number. Practice it on paper first!

To multiply any two digit number by 11:

  • For this example we will use 54.
  • Separate the two digits in you mind (5__4).
  • Notice the hole between them!
  • Add the 5 and the 4 together (5+4=9)
  • Put the resulting 9 in the hole 594. That's it! 11 x 54=594

The only thing tricky to remember is that if the result of the addition is greater than 9, you only put the "ones" digit in the hole and carry the "tens" digit from the addition.

For example 11 x 57 ... 5__7 ... 5+7=12 ... put the 2 in the hole and add the 1 from the 12 to the 5 in to get 6 for a result of 627 ... 11 x 57 = 627

Again, practice it on paper first!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Monday, July 25, 2005

Parents with Daughters - READ THIS!!!

Al Mohler is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His wife, Mary, has written a twelve-page pamphlet called "Modeling Modesty." It can be found in downloadable PDF form at Mohler's website. Moms and Dads, PLEASE READ THIS ARTICLE!

Rick Warren & Purpose Driven Hardball

Way back on June 13, I wrote this article about the marketing strategy for "The Purpose Driven Life." The "pyro-marketing technique" is a type of so-called "viral marketing" as it is based on passing information from one person to the next. This is in opposition to marketing that relies on mass media advertising such as television commercials.

Greg Stielstra has also studied the success of The Purpose Driven Life as well as other modern phenomena such as The Passion of the Christ. Stielstra is Senior Marketing Director for Zondervan, the company that published Warren's book, and was a member of the team that handled some aspects of the marketing for The Purpose Driven Life.

Stielstra has now written PyroMarketing : The Four-Step Strategy to Ignite Customer Evangelists and Keep Them for Life and Rick Warren doesn't like it. Tim Challies, a blogger of great renown, writes more about this. You can go to his site to read more about it.
At that time the publication date for the book was June 15 of 2005, a date which has long-since passed. I was eager to read more about PyroMarketing, so when the date passed and it was still not available I began to wonder what had happened. Only a small amount of investigation showed that not only was the book still unreleased, but there was no mention of the book or its author on the web site of HarperCollins, the company that was to publish it. Neither was it listed as one of their "Upcoming Books." A web site dedicated to the book,, which is registered to DDM Marketing & Communications now says simply "Coming this July." Information that had at one time been available, such as PowerPoint presentations and Adobe Acrobat documents, as well as what appeared to be an early draft of the book's introduction, had been removed.

Required Reading?

Touchstone Magazine reports that a reader has alerted them that their high-school freshman son will be reguired to read Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" this fall when school resumes. This is amazing. The Da Vinci Code is a totally fictitious work that tries to pass itself off as historical scholarship. Instead, it is so full of errors to make it laughable. For instance, we read in this book that "more than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament … Who chose which gospels to include? … The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine" (p.231).

Aside from this and other errors, the real damage is done in the very premise of this book.
The book revolves around a a ‘conspiracy theory’ with the help of some very powerful (and almost believable) real-life players—Leonardo Da Vinci, Opus Dei, and modern goddess-worshipping ‘historians’ who prefer the faked gospels to the real thing. You see, the Holy Grail turns out not to be a chalice, but a person. The Holy Grail is a woman—Mary Magdalene—who married and bore children to Jesus. And there she is, for all the world to see, in Leonardo’s famous painting of The Last Supper—in the place of honour, at Jesus’ right hand.

For the more knowledgeable, the story really falls apart when Brown claims the Gospel of Mary Magdalene to be an ‘unaltered’ (p.248) and therefore true account of these events (yet even the words he quotes from it betray its fraudulence). However, this Gnostic ‘gospel’ is known only from three fragmentary manuscripts, and dates from the middle of the second century at the earliest. Before this or any other Gnostic ‘gospel’ was written, the church far and wide recognized the authority of the four canonical gospels. But a less knowledgeable soul might easily be duped.

So, in schools where anything that smacks of Christianity is outlawed, it is going to be REQUIRED that students read a book that trashes the Christ and Christianity. I wish I could say I am shocked but I'm not!

For sites and resources that offer good critiques of this book, try these on for size:
Good books to purchase for further study:

The Monkey Retirement Home

On October 24, 2000, as Bill Clinton's last days in office wound down, a bill was passed in Congress. You probably didn't hear about it but you are paying for it.
Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), along with 4 U.S. Senators, introduced the Senate version of, the "Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection Act." S. 2725 on June 13, 2000. During his introduction of the bill, on the Senate floor, Senator Smith said "This is the humane, ethical, and fiscally responsible way to handle the question of what to do with a surplus of intelligent animals who have contributed to the knowledge of science and the health and well-being of humanity." This bill had 24 cosponsors. On September 20, 2000 the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved S. 2725 by a unanimous voice vote.
It appears that there are a lot of chimpanzees that are "retiring" from their lives in the science labs and they needed a place to go. So our government created a "rest home" for these animals that sounds pretty nice. According to a sister site to Touchstone Magazine, we discover that:
Chimp Haven is a $30 million, 200-acre facility and will serve as a template for the nationwide "system of sanctuaries" mandated by Congress to accommodate the country's growing number of surplus chimpanzees. The retirment home features in-house veterinarians, behaviorists, enrichment specialists, and daily caretakers, as well as fresh running water and cross-ventilation, multiple windows and skylights, hammocks made of neatly crosshatched sections of used fire hose, bedding of warm blankets and hay, vanity mirrors, TVs, VCRs, and DVD and CD players. Interestingly enough, while chimpanzees in the wilderness are now officially designated endangered, those in captivity are not, each chimp costing American taxpayers $10,000 a year to maintain.
So, in an age where our senior citizens struggle to get by on reduced Social Security and fight to afford health care and drugs, we would rather cater to a luxurious lifestyle for monkeys. I guess if you believe these animals are our long-lost relatives, it makes sense to treat them even better than we do our own.

This looks promising!

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has just put out their first online magazine (an "e-zine") and it looks like something you'll want to bookmark and read each month.

In their first feature article, J. Ligon Duncan has a great article entitled "Do We Need A New Perspective On Justification." Other regular features include:

The Front Desk features Rick Phillips, who tackles the historical roots, distinctive theology, and major authors of the New Perspective on Paul in this three part series.


Books, books and more books. Shelf Life is dedicated to the review of the titles impacting the evangelical world today.


Looking for more? From the Archives offers helpful essays and powerful sermons from some of the giants of the faith. Spurgeon. Sproul. Calvin. Bonar. They’re all here!


Counterpoints will offer cultural insights from some of the leading pastor/scholars of today. Carl Trueman, Phil Ryken, Derek Thomas, and more.

Prayer Group Arrested for being Stupid

According to the website, a small group of young adults were arrested while praying in front of the White House. This article seems to say the whole event was planned. Here are some excerpts from the article:
A small group of teenagers and adults gathered for prayer yesterday in front of the White House. The young adults came from across America to pray for the president, specifically that he would choose pro-life Supreme Court justices. They began their prayer session across the street from the White House.

"We'll pray here," Brandi Swindell, of Generation Life told the group. "Then after that we will go across the street and kneel in prayer, and there are some members of our group that are willing to peacefully risk arrest." That area closer to the White House is a restricted zone. The public is allowed to walk through, but not stop for long.

As they prayed there, the U.S. Park Police moved in and roped off the area. The officers warned them three times to move.

This has been reported in the news that these individuals were being "persecuted for their faith." That is not the case. Read the article again - closely. There is much wrong with it, as this article by Steve Camp points out.

It is not against the law to pray in America. It is not against the law to pray in Washington, DC. It is not against the law to pray in front of the White House. It is against the law to stop for an extended period of time in front of the White House. Everyone should understand this, especially in the day we live. It seems this group went to Washington for the express purpose of getting arrested. They should be congratulated on accomplishing their goals.

According to reports, the officers apparently warned them three times to move on, but they would not. At one point, Lt. Pat Smith of the U.S. Park Police announced to the group over a bull horn: "You must leave the enclosed portion of the White House sidewalk now. All persons remaining in the enclosed portion of the White House sidewalk will be arrested." We know what happened next. They were arrested but not for being a Christian. They were arrested for breaking the law and being insubordinate to the authorities.

This is shameful. This group of believers blatantly disregarded the words of the apostle Paul, who told us in Romans 13, where he writes:

1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
According to Paul, these individuals were not "standing up for Christ." They were bringing dishonor to His name by willingly rebelling against the practical and reasonable law that keeps our President safe.

They disobeyed the words of Jesus. Christ told us in Matthew 6:5-6 that:

5 "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Is there any doubt that prayer seems to be a pretense for garnering attention to their cause? If they were serious about praying for the President, they could do that at any time and in any place. There is no special dispensation that comes from proximity to the White House.

In I Peter 2, the apostle gives us another command that this group rebelliously cast aside:

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
You might be tempted to think that this is a biblical case of civil disobedience. It is not. The ONLY time a Christian can usurp the authority of the government is when the government is forcing you to do something Christ condemned or the government forces us to stop doing something that Christ commanded. For example, if the government told us that it was illegal to pray, we would have to disobey and continue praying.

However, this group was not arrested for praying. They were arrested for being in the wrong place for too long and disregarding the directions of the security forces. They could have obeyed the authorities and moved back across the street and continued to pray.

The members of this group are being held up as admirable men and women standing firmly and strongly for the Christian cause. To the more discerning mind, they got what they deserved.

Friday, July 22, 2005

I'm psyched about this!

You might not be excited about this but I am anxiously awaiting this fantastic resource. It is a "reverse interlinear." If you don't know what that is, here is Crossway's explanation:
This state-of-the-art reverse interlinear New Testament, created in partnership with Logos Research Systems, breaks with the convention of traditional interlinear texts by keeping the English as the top line entry and placing the Greek text underneath it. This approach allows you to see firsthand the accuracy with which the translators of the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV) rendered the Greek text.
They will also give you the morphology of each word and transliterations of all the Greek words for easy pronunciation. Too bad it will not arrive until late October.

Here's a link to an early peek at the first few verses of Romans.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


This falls into the category of "You gotta see it to believe it!"

For the third year in a row, Susie Lockheed can return to Santa Barbara, Calif., with a rather inauspicious award: Ms. Lockheed owns the world's ugliest dog. The pooch, Sam, a 14-year-old Chinese crested, is almost ugly beyond description. What the dog lacks in hair (and it has almost no hair) it makes up for in warts. Below its neck hangs a droopy fold of flesh, and Sam's smile is crowned by a set of snaggle teeth. The judges were said to have recoiled in horror at the sight. "People are always horrified when I kiss him. He may turn into a prince yet. He's definitely a toad," Ms. Lockheed said during the World's Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin fair. "I always thought he'd be great on greeting cards or on a commercial for Rogaine."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Great Math Trick

I just learned a quick and easy way to multiply any two numbers from 11-19 in your head in seconds. Here's how:
  1. Say you want to add 15 x 13. Put the biggest number on top (with your mind's eye).
  2. Draw the shape of Africa around the 1-5 on the top and the 3 on the bottom.
  3. Add these two numbers and add a zero (now we have 15+3=18, add 0= 180
  4. Now mulitply the digit on the bottom right (3) and the top right (5) and you get 15.
  5. Add the two numbers you now have (180 + 15) and you have the final answer (195).
With a little practice, you can do everything from 11x11 to 19x19 - all inside your noggin.

What the TV didn't show last night

Many of you watched the Presidential press conference where President Bush introduced Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. Perhaps you also noticed President Bush seem slightly distracted at one point. Here is what caught his eye that the cameras did not show:

While President Bush was announcing the nominee, Roberts' son decided to do a little jig right then and there. You must applaud the judge and his wife's ability to remain calm. How do you think you would react if your child decided to "do his thang" on national television at the White House?

When is a "good deal" not a good deal?

If you go to, you can find this book: "What is Reformed Theology: Understanding the Basics" by R.C. Sproul. It is a great book and I highly recommend if you have ever struggled with the teachings of the Reformed faith in regards to salvation. One of the things that makes this book so good is that the first half gives a good overview of the principles that made the Reformation what it was: centered on God, based on God's Word alone, committed to faith alone and devoted to Christ alone. Outstanding stuff.

Then, in the second half of the book, Sproul gets into the specific theology of Reformed soteriology. Like myself, Sproul has disdain for Calvinism's traditional mnemonic device: TULIP. Instead, Sproul discusses humanity's radical corruption (Total Depravity); God's sovereign choice (Unconditional Election); Christ's purposeful atonement (Limited Atonement); The Spirit's effectual call (Irresistible Grace); and God's preservation of the saints (Preservation of the saints). Again, truly good stuff. I hope you'll read it.

Now, what is the good deal? On the page linked to above, Amazon gives you to option of buying the $10.19 Sproul book with another Sproul book: "Grace Unknown: The Heart of the Reformation." You can buy both books for $23.78.

I have "Grace Unknown" and it is another outstanding book. It was one of the primary books God used to move me from my man-centered semi-Pelagianism to the God-centered gospel that is the Reformed belief (others included Sproul's "Chosen By God" and Geisler's "Chosen But Free" which led me straight to the superior "The Potter's Freedom" by James White).

All this sounds like a good deal, right? Wrong. The problem is the little fact that "Grace Unknown" and "What is Reformed Theology" are the exact same book, just re-titled. Basically, in this great deal, you are paying double for the exact same book.

I wonder how long it will be until Amazon catches this error.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I Guess It Had To Happen Sooner or Later

The producers of such television shows as Monster Garage, Monster House, BIG and The Deadliest Catch (a ten-part show on crab fishing up in Alaska) has a new show in the works. The new show is called PULPIT MASTERS and it is intended to be the homiletical equivalent of American Idol. Initial auditions were held recently in Dallas, Texas to begin the search for "the next great American preacher." Their own website has this to say:

“Pulpit Masters” is officially underway! We’re back in the office after our first audition/casting session in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and it could not have gone any better. We were blown away by the number and diversity of people who answered our call to “show up, sign in and speak out!” The breadth and scope of inspirational messages they shared was truly overwhelming and we want to thank everyone who participated. For everyone else around the country who is interested in climbing onboard the “Pulpit Masters” train and trying out for the show we ask you to keep visiting the website for updates. We will be heading out to other cities soon for more auditions. Our goal is get as wide a selection of contestants as possible so we will be visiting cities and towns all across this great land. Stay tuned!

“Pulpit Masters”
Original Productions

Do you think we can get Skip to sign up and speak out?

This is how it is done!

After reading about the utter failures of very prominent Christian pastors and evangelists to uphold the gospel in the public forum of Larry King's interview program, I wondered if any Christian leader would do better. One already has.

Read through the following transcripts to see how John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in California, interacted with King and his guests. Outstanding!
  1. Who Was Jesus? (December 24, 2004) Panel included Deepak Chopra, Pastor John MacArthur Father Michael Manning, Dennis Prager and Jon Meacham
  2. What Happens After You Die? (April 14, 2005) Panel included Pastor John MacArthur, Father Michael Manning, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dr. Maher Hathout, Mary Ann Williamson and Ellen Johnson.
  3. God and Good vs. Evil (April 22, 2005) Panel included Dr. John MacArthur, Deepak Chopra, Father Jim Keiter, Plus Char Margolis and Roger Depue
Here is a sample from the second one:
LARRY KING: John MacArthur, what happens had you die?
JOHN MACARTHUR: Well, when you die, you go to one of two places. According to scripture. You go out of the presence of God forever, or you go into the presence of God forever.
KING: Depending?
MACARTHUR: Depending upon your personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which is according to the Bible the only way to enter heaven.
KING: So therefore a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddhist will not go to heaven?
MACARTHUR: Christian theology and the Scripture says that only through faith in Jesus Christ.
Why couldn't Joel Osteen say that?

Then we have this exchange:

WILLIAMSON (the "spiritualist"): . . . All the great religious systems speak about life after death, speak about the fact that the goodness with which we live our lives -- you know when Ellen talks about how important it is to live well on the earth, the great religious systems agree with her. Life is for the living. And it's not that we are to concentrate on death rather than life. It's that while we live loving lives and try our best to be the people that God would have us be, then after we die, and also while we're on this earth, I think that the condition of the state of God's love isn't as different after as it is -- as we think. . . .
JOHNSON (President of "American Athiests"): However -- however, to Mr. MacArthur, the price for eternal life and life after death is obedience to church doctrine. So you must live a certain life in preparation for that life after death. That I totally reject. I am not going to...
KING: What do you think?
MACARTHUR: I reject that completely.
JOHNSON: There is a way to get...
KING: Hold it, hold it, Ellen. What is -- you said you have to believe in Christ.
MACARTHUR: Well, yes -- the only way to heaven -- and at this point I respectfully disagree with the rabbi. Nobody can live a righteous life. The Bible says that no one can obey the law of God. No one.
KING: So no one is going to heaven?
MACARTHUR: So no one can go to heaven on their own merits or on their own works. I don't care how many good works they do. The New Testament is crystal clear on the fact that...
KING: So a bad guy who believes in Christ, he's going to heaven, and the good guy who doesn't is going to hell.
MACARTHUR: But when he truly believes...
KING: That don't sound just.
MACARTHUR: But when he truly believes -- Larry, we don't want justice. Justice...
KING: You don't want justice?
MACARTHUR: No. It sends everybody to hell. We need grace. We need forgiveness. We need mercy. Only those who ask...
Be sure to read the second one, it gets real good. Here's a part where they talk about 9-11 and God's role in that:
KING: Don't you question it, John MacArthur -- when 9/11 occurs -- don't you question your faith?
MACARTHUR: No, I don't question my faith.
KING: The guys who took the plane into the building didn't question theirs either. And they....
MACARTHUR: I don't like that association too well.
KING: Wait a minute. They didn't give their ultimate gift?
MACARTHUR: No because...
KING: They did not give their life?
MACARTHUR: I understand that God allows death. That does not mean that I take the side of a perpetrator of murder and slaughter.
KING: I'm not telling you to take their side. I'm saying is, did they have a belief?
MACARTHUR: Oh, sure. Sure. A misguided, a severely misguided one.
KING: In our opinion it was misguided, of course. But why is the death tragedy if death is good? Why is tragic used in the word death.
MACARTHUR: I'll answer that very simply. Nobody died in those towers that wasn't going to die anyway. Death is a reality. And the message is Jesus told the story, he said there were some people worshipping in the temple: pilots -- soldiers came in, sliced them up, their blood mingled with the sacrifices, it was Passover. They said to Jesus, were they worse than anybody else? Jesus said you better repent or you will also die and perish. And they said, a tower fell and killed 18 people in Saloam (ph), were they worse than everybody else because they were crushed? And Jesus said, you better repent or you'll likewise perish. The Bible says you die and after this the judgment and then heaven and hell. And you're not going into eternity as energy, you're going as a person.
KING: Ellen, how does an atheist view 9/11?
JOHNSON: If you are a person who thinks that there is a creator who is -- it is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent and then you make excuses for this all-powerful being for allowing 9/11 to happen, for allowing TWA flight 800 to plunge into the Atlantic Ocean, for allowing over 100,000 people to die in -- with the tsunami. If you can then excuse your God for being asleep on the job, then when a member of the clergy, the same members of the clergy ask you to pray, to pray for anything because God answers prayers, forget about it.
Finally, here are some amazing statements from the athiest (she has great faith to believe this is true!):

KING: We got to take a break. Ellen, what do you believe about Jesus Christ?
JOHNSON: Well, I'm here to give the reality point of view, I guess. Because the reality is there is not one shred of secular evidence there ever was a Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ and Christianity is a modern religion. And Jesus Christ is a compilation from other Gods: Horas, Mithra, who had the same origins, the same death as the mythological Jesus Christ.
KING: So you don't believe there was a Jesus Christ.
JOHNSON: There was not. It is not what I believe. There is no secular evidence that JC, Jesus Christ, ever existed.

Stay away from Asheville in early September

At the website for the "Institute for Religion and Democracy," we hear from disturbing news from teh United Methodist Church. Here is a summary of the news from their own source:

Lake Junaluska, the official conference center for the United Methodist Church’s conservative Southeast Jurisdiction is hosting a four-day pro-homosexuality rally September 2-5. Lake Junaluska is located near Asheville, North Carolina.

Called “Hearts on Fire,” the convocation is organized by Reconciling Congregations, the main pro-homosexuality lobby group attempting to overturn the United Methodist Church’s teachings on marriage and sexual ethics.

Since Lake Junaluska’s own internal rules require it to rent its facilities only to groups that share the ‘mission’ of the United Methodist Church, it seems highly inappropriate to rent those facilities for a rally for same-sex ‘marriage,’ homosexual clergy, and various exotic forms of sexual expression.

Mark Tooley noted that Lake Junaluska probably would refuse to rent to a convention for casino employees or tobacco growers, in deference to United Methodist beliefs regarding gambling and smoking. “But for some reason, opposition to United Methodist teachings on one of the foremost issues confronting our culture today – the definition of marriage – did not disqualify the ‘Hearts on Fire’ event,” Tooley noted.”

The conference hopes to attract 400 attendees to hear seven bishops: Susan Morrison, Melvin Talbert, Joseph Sprague, Sally Dyck, John Schol, Minerva Carcano and Richard Wilke. Other speakers will include openly lesbian United Methodist minister Beth Stroud, San Francisco same-sex “marriage” convenor Karen Oliveto, and Erin Swenson, a male Presbyterian minister who had a sex-change operation and now professes to be female.

Reconciling has declared that "Hearts on Fire" will include a "rainbow community of faithful lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual disciples committed to justice!"

According to Lake Junaluska guidelines, "Groups using our facilities should have a mission compatible with Lake Junaluska Assembly and The United Methodist Church, its Discipline and Social Principles."

The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline affirms God's love for homosexuals but calls homosexual practice "incompatible with Christian teaching." Human rights for homosexuals are supported, but the church denies ordination to practicing homosexuals, refuses funding for pro-homosexuality advocacy, forbids same-sex unions, supports civil laws defining marriage as a union between man and woman, and declares that "sexual relations are only clearly affirmed in the marriage bond."

"Hearts on Fire" and its sponsors publicly disagree with all of these United Methodist stances.

The Big Announcement is Coming

According to the Washington Post,"the president is set to announce his Supreme Court nominee tonight at 9 p.m. ET. The name of the nominee remained unknown. While many Republican strategists are anticipating that his choice will be Judge Edith Clement of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, other observers were cautious about speculating."

This will get the ideological war machine running at a fever pitch. You can expect histrionics that will make Election 2004 look like a little girl's tea party!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Amazing Software

Go to this website (Google Earth) and download the software and be amazed. Google has mapped much of the earth and you get to enjoy a C.T.U. type command of your own satellite view of the planet. Of course, some areas are better mapped than others. For instance, you can get a great view of downtown Charlotte and can follow I-77 north past Huntersville and then at one point right before Mooresville (I think), the maps get fuzzy and everything looks like a grove of trees. Here are some of the places I "visited":

.Here is the "blur" between civilized Charlotte and primitive Statesville.

Here is a map of the National Mall at Washington, DC. Some people thought that this map software was dangerous because terrorist might use it to create terror. That terribly underestimates those men.

Here is the football stadium of the Carolina Panthers. I can't remember off the top of my head exactly what this stadium is called right now. Of course, it doesn't matter. Thanks to one of my biggest pet peeves, no matter what this place is called now, it will be called something different before long. I've seen two games here (thanks, Chuck): the Panthers lost to Green Bay and New Orleans.

Here is downtown Pittsburgh showing the stadiums for the world's greatest football team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and one of the world's worst baseball teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Several men from our local fantasy baseball league had tickets to a game in Pittsburgh in the first of August when the Dodgers came to Steel Town. Alas, that fell through thanks to some shoddy ticket-sales by the Pirate front office.

Here is a map of part of the campus of North Carolina State University. I spent four good years here getting edjumacated. I spent the first three years in Lee Dorm, right beside the baseball field and the railroad tracks. I was there to see one ACC championship. Good times. Good times.

Finally, here is the Don Cesar Hotel and Resort, site of some great memories. Ambra and I spent our thirteenth anniversary in St. Petersburg, Florida in this incredible place. The sand was white, the water was somewhere between clear and blue and the kids were hundreds of miles away in North Carolina.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Going to Church in the Ark

If you ever drive through I-68 near Frostburg, MD, be sure to have your camera ready because a local pastor had a VISION:

Night after night in April, May and June of 1974, Pastor Richard Greene had a vision in which he saw a large ark located on a hillside and people coming from all over the world to see it.

Through this repeated vision, God told Pastor Greene to build his congregation’s new church as a replica of Noah’s Ark. The church was to be built as a sign to the world of God’s love and the soon return of Jesus!

It's a massive undertaking. The website declares that the Ark is being constructed to the specifications of Noah’s original Ark--450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. To give you a better idea of what that will look like--Imagine a structure one and half football fields long and three stories high!

Sadly, the ark is still incomplete!

1776 - Lessons Learned/Remembered

I finished David McCullough's "1776" yesteday and accomplished two things: I immensely enjoyed it and I learned several things. The book looks huge but of the 386 numbered pages, only 299 are text (the rest are filled with source notes, a bibliography and an index). A serious reader could polish this off in about two days. A slow reader can complete in a little over a week.

As you can imagine, the book covers the year of 1776 when so much change was occurring in this new land. McCullough stays true to his purpose and does not give any accounting of earlier battles such as Lexington and Bunker Hill. He mentions some of the goings-on at Ticonderoga and some West Virginia battles but deals primarily with what happened in this single year.

I learned of the amazing development of this young country by the time the Revolution was in full swing. Accounts of the early seige in Boston reveals a pretty advanced city, as does the account of the battle in New York towards the end of the year.

I learned that the original purpose for the Revolution was not primarly, if at all, on independence. The English citizens over here wanted to be "left alone" and afforded some semblance of respect and individual rights. On July 5, 1775, the Continental Congress adopteds the Olive Branch Petition which expresses hope for a reconciliation with Britain. They appealed directly to King George for help in achieving this. However, in August, King George III refuses even to look at the petition and instead issues a proclamation declaring the Americans to be in a state of open rebellion. The idea of complete and total severance from England occurred much later in the year, culminating in the Declaration of Independence.

I learned that America was fiercly divided on the subject of independence. Many citizens remained loyal to the King and despised the "rebels." Many who fought in the "rebellion" likewise despised these "cowards" who wished to remain "slaves" to Britain. The nation was cut in two philosophically (some things never change!).

I learned that the Declaration was actually signed on August 2. Here's a recount of those events:

On June 7, Richard Lee, a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, presents a formal resolution calling for America to declare its independence from Britain. Congress decides to postpone its decision on this until July. On June 11, Congress appoints a committee to draft a declaration of independence. Committee members are Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Livingston and Roger Sherman. Jefferson is chosen by the committee to prepare the first draf of the declaration, which he completes in one day. Just seventeen days later, June 28, Jefferson's Declaration of Independence is ready and is presented to the Congress, with changes made by Adams and Franklin. On July 2, twelve of thirteen colonial delegations (New York abstains) vote in support of Lee's resolution for independence. On July 4, the Congress formally endorses Jefferson's Declaration, with copies to be sent to all of the colonies. The actual signing of the document occurs on August 2, as most of the 55 members of Congress place their names on the parchment copy.
I learned of some individuals who played tremendous roles in the war that usually escape our education and generally have left our memories. I learned of Nathaniel Green, who served as Washington's right-hand man throughout and whose absense due to illness left Washington in the lurch. I learned of William Howe, whose slow methodical planning for the British helped us immensely.

Sadly, we get only scant information on the more well-known Fathers such as Ben Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. I'd love to have more information of the events happening in Philadelphia while the war was raging in Boston, New York and Delaware.

I learned that George Washington was positively human. He suffered from despair and made tremendous military mistakes. Yet, in the end, he was the perfect man for the job at hand - simply a tremendous leader and American figure.

I also saw how God orchestrated so much in this endeavor. One such event was in a planned retreat from Brooklyn during the night of August 29. The Americans were incredibly outnumbered as Britain boasted of over 15,000 men in New York alone. Their ammunition was spoiled from heavy rains. The army was divided in half by some brilliant British maneuvering and the British fleet controlled the waters with a vast flotilla with hundreds upon hundred of gusn. Retreat was the right move and it was an honorable move. Doing it under the cover of night was a tremendous risk and could backfire drastically and easily.

The first American troops to leave were those with the least experience, along with the sick and wounded. They left around 9:00 PM. No one knew what was going on - to keep the British as much in the dark as possible. The leaders in the ranks thought that Washington was ordering a surprise attack and were amazed at the foolishness of such a decision, considering the condition of the men. Slowly, one by one, they realized what was going on.

The first troops could not cross because of the swift current. They had to simply stand and wait. Around 11:00 PM, the northeast wind died down "as if by design" according to McCullough. Then the wind shifted to the southwest and they took off. Some men from Massachusetts crossed the mile-wide river up to eleven times, carrying troops, supplies, horses and cannons. The boats were so loaded that the river was only inches from flowing over the top of the sides of the boats. They did all this in pitch dark with no running lights. Everything was covered in rags, including the cannon and wagon wheels. Talking was absolutely forbidden.

Troops toward the rear kept fires going and created enough of a stir to keep the British thinking all was normal. As the night began to turn to day, it appeared the mission would not be completed. At daybreak, the movement would be detected and those left behind would be annihilated. I'll let McCullough describe what happened next:

Incredibly, yet again, circumstances - fate, luck, Providence, the hand of God, as would be said so often - intervened.

Just at daybreak a heavy fog settled in over the whole of Brooklyn, concealing everything no less than had the night. It was a fog so thick, remembered a soldier, that one "could scarcely discern a man at six yards distance." Even with the sun up, the fog remained as dense as ever, while over on the New York side of the river there was no fog at all.

At long last, Mifflin and the rear guard and the troops at Fort Stirling were summoned (these were the last men). "It may be supposed we did not linger," wrote Alexander Graydon.

Major Tallmadege, who with his regiment was among the last to depart on the boats, would write later that he thought he saw Washington on the ferry stairs staying to the very end.

Graydon estimated that it was seven in the morning, perhaps a little later, when he and his men landed in New York. "And in less than an hour after, the fog having dispersed, the enemy was visible on the shore we had left [behind].

In a single night, 9,000 troops had escaped acorss the river. Not a life was lost. The only men captured were three who had hung back to plunder.

Finally, I learned why the famous "Crossing of the Delaware" was so important. After the debacle in New York, American morale was at its lowest in a period of time repeatedly referred to as "dark" by McCullough. At the end of the year, the period of enlistment would come to an end and a majority of the army would be free to return home. If that happened, the cause was over.

On Christmas, Washington took 2,400 men across the Delaware. He then conducted a surprise raid on 1,500 British-Hessians (German mercenaries) at Trenton, New Jersey. The Hessians surrendered after an hour with nearly 1,000 taken prisoner by Washington. The Americans suffered only six wounded (including future president Lt. James Monroe). The victory provides a much needed boost to the morale of all American Patriots.

For a quick timeline of what happens next in this war, go here and here.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The 50 Most Influential Churches in America

The Church Report, the resource for Christian leaders, pastors and para church executives, just released its issue containing the "Top 50 Most Influential Churches in America." I imagine all of you can name the top two.

Go ahead.


Time's UP!

The top two are 1) Saddleback Church (Rick Warren, Pastor) and 2) Willow Creek (Bill Hybels, Pastor). The magazine explained its work by saying:
The 2005 survey was sent to 2,000 church leaders with the goal of ranking the nation’s fastest growing churches and churches with more than 2,000 weekend attendance. The 127 churches nominated for the 50 Most Influential Churches survey were located in 32 states and represented 27 affiliation groups and/or denominations.
Some interesting stats:

Half of all recommendations centered around the two most frequently named churches: Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church. More than 75 percent of all participant recommendations centered around the top five churches: Saddleback; Willow Creek; North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA); Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX); and Lakewood Church (Houston, TX). Almost half of the top 50 churches, and seven of the top 10, are still led by the founding pastor.

Regionally, California led with 21 churches, followed by Texas with 13 churches and Georgia with nine churches. More than half of all the churches (84 churches) average 2,000 or more in weekend attendance, and 48 of those churches average 5,000 or more in attendance.

A statistical breakdown reveals the following denominational info:
14% Southern Baptist
12% Independent (charismatic)
12% Independent (non-charismatic)
10% Other Baptist
8% United Methodist
6% Episcopalian
38% Other: Independent Christian, Foursquare, Assemblies of God, COGIC, and Calvary Chapel

After reviewing the BIG TWO, the next several "top" churches include:

  1. Saddleback, Rick Warren, Lake Forest, California
  2. Willow Creek Community Church, Bill Hybels, South Barrington, Illinois
  3. Northpoint Church, Andy Stanley, Alpharetta Georgia
  4. Fellowship Church, Ed Young, Jr., Grapevine, Texas
  5. Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen, Houston, Texas
  6. Brooklyn Tabernacle, Jim Cymbala, Brooklyn, New York
  7. The Church of the Resurrection, Adam Hamilton, Leawood, Kansas
  8. The Potter's House, TD Jakes, Dallas, Texas
  9. Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, Michael Slaughter, Tipp City, Ohio
  10. New Life Church, Ted Haggard, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Other churches/pastors of interest include:

12. Leith Anderson, Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
14. Robert Shuller, Crystal Cathedral Congregation, Garden Grove, California
19. John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota
22. Charles Stanley, First Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia
28. Jerry Falwell, Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia
33. Ed Young, Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
38. D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
39. Greg Laurie, Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, California
50. Bob Russell, Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky

Churches that somehow missed the cut: Grace Community Church (John MacArthur); First Baptist Church Jacksonville (Jerry Vines); Prestonwood (Jack Graham) and Western Avenue.

It appears the best way to make the cut in this list is to hold an annual meeting of some kind on your church property. Here's some revealing information from the article:
Churches receiving the highest number of recommendations tend to be churches that offer conferences that share leadership, organizational, staffing and ministry principles, priorities and procedures with other church leaders. Eighteen of the 20 most frequently listed churches have at least one annual conference.
Of course, a great problem is our infatuation with size. I think the smallest church on this list averages a couple thousand. There are hundreds and hundreds of "influential" churches all across the country that are ignored because they only reach a few hundred or fewer people each week. It is good to know that the Lord knows of their work!

Books You Won't See Soon

The Internet Monk recently posted on "Books that WON'T be published anytime soon." Some were quite amusing. Other bloggers have joined in the fun and I've listed some of the best below. Some will make sense to you, others will not.
  • Humor for the Pulpit by John Piper
  • It Doesn't Matter and What If It Did? by Al Mohler
  • Systematic Theology by Benny Hinn
  • Slain in the Spirit by John MacArthur
  • Tattooing: The Devil's Own Artform by Derek Webb
  • Topical Preaching 101 by Al Mohler
  • What I Really Believe by Brian McLaren
  • Becoming The Woman of His Dreams by Joyce Meyers
  • Attractive Web Design by James White and the Alpha & Omega Staff
  • What's Wrong With Rick Warren? by Richard Abanes
  • Living on a Budget by Joel Osteen
  • Towards a Modern Form of Textual Criticism by Peter Ruckman
  • The Trinity: Explained, Defended, and Applied by Phillips, Craig, and Dean
  • Perpetual Poverty: Why I Took My Vows by Creflo Dollar
  • I Am Only A Man by Kenneth Copeland
  • 1 Corinthians 14: A Model for Worship by the pastoral staff of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship
  • SALVATION! The Best Choice I Ever Made General Editor: Wayne Grudem (With contributions from John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Albert Mohler, and James White. Introduction by Phil Johnson)
  • Biblical Hermeneutics: You Can't just Make Stuff Up by Bruce Wilkinson
  • Play the Field! by Joshua Harris
Some I thought of:
  • The Exegetical Fallacies of Calvinism by Norm Geisler
  • Calvinism Defined and Defended by Adrian Rogers
  • Demons I Don't Know By Name by Win Worley (see here)
  • The Regulative Principle of Worship by Rick Warren (see here)
  • Sometimes I Need a Good Cry by John Eldredge
  • You're Still Here?: The False Teaching of the Pretribulational Rapture by Tim LaHaye
  • The Christian's Guide to Regularity by Mrs. Benny Hinn
  • Fulfilling Your Dreams Through Good Credit by Ron Blue and Larry Burkett and Dave Ramsey
  • The Perfect Disney Vacation by Richard Land and Don Wildmon
  • How To Put the "Fun" in Fundamentalism: Happy Times at Longview by James Spurgeon (see here)
  • NIV Positive: The Christian's Guide to Modern Bibles by The Staff at Gullion's

Found only in your local bookstores:
  • Three Points and a Poem by Skip Cartin
  • Powerful Points: New and Exciting Ideas for the Powerpoint User by Skip Cartin
  • All God's Creatures: Why Christians and Hunting Just Don't Mix by Philip McGaha
  • Children's Sermons That will Bless Your Socks Off by Carrie Allen
  • Why Christians Should Avoid Motorcycles: Jesus, Legion and Hogs by Brian Burgess
  • 1,oo1 Great Welcome Messages by Mark Collins
  • The Order of Worship: How to Organize and De-Clutter Your Office by Rodney Harrison
  • To The Point: A Succinct Guide to Less Lengthy Sermons, Lessons, Blog Posts and More by Jeff Spry
  • Phone Etiquette by Jeff Spry
  • Plumbing by Jeff Spry
  • The Deadly Dangers of TIVO by Jeff Spry
  • Hide Or Seek?: Twelve Can't-Miss Ideas to Building Your Own Seeker-Friendly Mega-Church by Jeff Spry
  • How To Win in Fantasy Football co-written by Chuck Nantz, Mike Cline, Andy Rosenbalm, Bruce Roberts, Hank Dahl, Ben Bryan, Rick Cline, Mark Mahaffey, Kenny Morrison and Greg Davis
Can you think of any other books you probably will not see any time soon?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Crazy Cooter says, "Stay Home!"

Ben Jones played "Cooter" on the old "Dukes of Hazzard" TV show. He also served as in the United States Congress from the Fourth District of Georgia and served two terms before redistricting took his seat. He recently posted an open letter on his website and gave his own review of the upcoming "Dukes" movie:

Unless they clean it up before the August 5th release date I would strongly recommend that true blue Dukes fans hold their noses and pass this one up. And whatever you do, don't take any youngsters to see it. As plain as I can put it, the only thing this movie shares with our show is the title. Oh, they do have the General Lee flying through the air, although according to the New York Times, they didn't even use stunt drivers.

Sure it bothers me that they wanted nothing to do with the cast of our show, but what bothers me much more is the profanity laced script with blatant sexual situations that mocks the good clean family values of our series. Now, anybody who knows me knows that I'm not a prude. But this kind of toilet humor has no place in Hazzard County. Rather than honoring our legendary show, they have chosen to degrade it.

It appears these "good ol' boys" that were "never meanin' no harm" have left the 80s and moved into the more depraved 21st century. I remember watching this TV show EVERY Friday night but don't remember a lot of details. As a child, much of what we saw went right over our heads. I remember Daisy Duke but can't remember the dialogue and the sexual innuendo, if there was any to start with. I think Enos didn't catch whatever was siad.

It appears to me that a greater concern would be a show about moonshiners showing a blatant disregard for the law and constantly evading the cops. Of course, the "authorities" of that county were pretty crooked, as well (kind of a "sheriff of Nottingham" type situation).

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More crazy "Christianity" from The Door

The Wittenburg Door has been around for years and years. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, sometimes revealing, always controversial. They are the ones that Benny Hinn is suing for running the clip of his wife "preaching" about "receiving" the Holy Ghost. They have a collection of clips from various television ministries that originally ran on a Comedy Central (isn't that sad?) segment called GODSTUFF.

This could possibly offend some of you (so don't watch if you are easily put out) but I don't think the commentators are mocking authentic faith - only the false, devilish, puny rantings of seriously deluded gospel-peddlers who long ago sold their ministry to the highest bidder. I do know that my faith is NOTHING like the silly juvenile unbiblical excesses I see in these videos. It reminds of what Moses might have seen when he came down off the mountain and saw the Hebrews dancing around that golden calf.

I have absolutely no problem exposing the abject ecstatic paganism that exists as worship in their ministries. They revel in things the Babylonians would be embarrassed to see. The two emotions I feel are anger towards these hucksters and charlatans and pity for their deceived audiences around the world!

Here you get to see such stalwarts of the faith as:
  1. Kenneth Hagin (the granddaddy of all this sort of nonsense) "blows over" an entire section of people with his "Holy Spirit-powered breath" and "gospel cackle."
  2. Kenneth Copeland (the heir to much of Hagin's heresy) rolling on the floor of a worship service laughing like a hyena
  3. Don Swaggart dancing through the congregation of a London church and another minister "inflicts the mother of all stomach cramps upon a couple of spirit-filled yuppies."
  4. Bob Tilton uses the Holy Spirit to read x-rays.
  5. Marilyn Hickey (scary) is a self-proclaimed "growth-tumor-wart woman" (Wasn't she in Superman 4?) and she remembers seeing an "eye growth" fall off into some woman's hand.
You can see all that and more on this website. Then just tune in to the lunacy on TBN and watch even more. Better yet - DON'T!

I am STILL blown away, speechless, stunned!

You have GOT to see this. I'm still in a state of absolute disbelief. The link will take you to a RealPlayer video of Benny Hinn's wife "preaching." It's more like she's pacing maniacally back and forth, back and forth, back and forth across a stage - hopelessly out of breath. Then, in the first few moments, she lets loose with one of the more shocking statements you'll ever hear from a "preacher." If this weren't so incredibly and pathetically sad, it would be hilarious.

Other words by way of application: ladies should stop thinking about their "stinkin' high heels" and run with God; you gotta "rev it up" and then, of course, the most obivous point of the sermon - well, I'll let you hear it yourself!

I'll let the website tell you more about it:
Televangelist Benny Hinn is threatening to sue the religious satire magazine The Door for the video clip it is distributing that shows Hinn's wife, Suzanne, preaching at their former church in Orlando, Florida. She says if you're a lifeless, blackslidden Christian, you need a . . .

Monday, July 11, 2005

At least two more bad days!

I got HOOKED on "24" this past year. My wife and I couldn't wait for Monday nights at 9:00 to see what would happen next. Then we watched Season 1 on DVD, watching four-to-six episodes at a time. Then I watched Season 3 by myself. After watching the first six episodes with Ambra, I watched eight episodes on a Tuesday night and the final TEN episodes on a Wednesday night, finishing at 3:45 in the morning. They're that good!

I found some good news for all you other 24-philes out there from
With "24" about to wrapits most-watched season to date, 20th Century Fox TV has inked a seven-figure two-year deal with series co-creator and co-showrunner Bob Cochran.

Bono and Christianity

Here is an excerpt from a book called Bono in Conversation, the new book of interviews with U2's front man by Michka Assayas. This is from a chapter called "Add Eternity to That," in which Assayas shows interest in talking about Bono's religious beliefs, and challenges him with the idea that the only people who really wreak havoc and terror upon the world do so because of religious convictions. He's implying, really, that religion is the source of many of the world's woes, so wouldn't we do better just to abandon it?

Assayas: Appalling things seem to happen when people become religious at too early an age or when their experience of life is nonexistent. Don't you think?

Zealots often have no love for the world. They're just getting through it to the next one. It's a favorite topic. It's the old cliché: "Eat s*** now, pie in the sky when you die." But I take Christ at his word: "On Earth as it is in Heaven." As to the first part of your question, in my experience, the older you get, the less chance you have to transform your life, the less open you are to love in a challenging way. You tend towards love that's more comforting and safe.

Assayas: As I told you, I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that's normal. It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven't heard you talk about that.

I really believe we've moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn't make it clearer for me.

You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so will you sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s***. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… It’s not our owngood works that get us through the gates of Heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy , in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says, No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no, I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had King of the Jews” on his head, and was they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that’s farfetched…
Lots of people are confused about Bono and his faith. This answers some questions, raises some others. What do you think?

I thought 20 was pretty good!

Back in high school, two friends and I learned the value of PI to twenty decimal places. Don't believe me? Here it is:


I really don't know why we did that. We even tried to put "Pi Club" in the back of our senior yearbook where they listed everyone's accomplishments, right beside my sophomore year in the Rook Club (what a GEEK!). They caught it and the "Pi Club" didn't make it in the book.

But twenty is nothing. Recently, a psychiatric counselor from Japan memorized and repeated Pi to 83,431 places. The 59-year old broke his old record by a little over 54,000. It took about eleven hours to do it all.

I wonder who the poor man was who had to sit and listen and verify each and every digit!

The Big Move

From the Lakewood Church website, we learn that the mega-church made its big move into the former COMPAQ Center, (which used to be the home of the Houston Rockets):
On the site of the former Compaq Center in Houston, the clock has been ticking on a miracle. At the new Lakewood Church Central Campus, construction has been moving forward, planning has been intense, and our expectations have been high. The scope of the project has been unlike anything ever done before - A church with no limits...and no outreach that stretches the imagination and opens doors to the power of God to change millions around the world. Join us as we open the doors to the new Lakewood Church July 16-17.
You can go HERE to look at the floorplans for this amazing facility, purchased and reconstructured for church services at a cost of $75 million.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Lynn Swan to throw hat into ring?

ESPN's Len Pasquarelli reports he hasn't made an official announcement yet, but people close to WR Lynn Swann believe it's a fait accompli the former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and Hall of Fame member will seek the Republican nomination in the 2006 Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. Swann five months ago formed a political committee, "Team 88," named for his familiar uniform number. He has a campaign office in Pittsburgh and recently staged a fundraising event at Heinz Field. But the biggest indication Swann intends to seek a nomination that would then pit him against Democratic incumbent Ed Rendell in what likely would be a hotly contested governor's race is he is confiding to some of his former teammates that he will run.

Could this happen in America some day?

Click here to read a truly horrifying story of the unnecessary torture of a Christian missionary by North Korean authorities. It makes me wonder how the Church in America would react if the government would start acting in this manner. What do you think would happen?

Friday, July 08, 2005


Did that get your attention? Here is a very interesting article from Touchstone, a pretty good place for information on all kinds of meterial. The article is called "Bodies of Evidence: The Real Meaning of Sex is Right in Front of Our Eyes" by Frederica Mathewes-Green. There is much confusion in our society on the role of sex and the primacy of sex in our lives. Much of this confusion stems not only from a lack of understanding of God's design for sex but even what NATURE tells us in sex (of course, nature is also determined by God as well - it's just the non-believer doesn't see it that way).

Here are a few of the main points:
  1. NATURE'S MEANING: Whether we attribute extra meaning to humans or not, we are at least animals, sharing this planet with many other kinds of creatures. From that perspective, the “meaning” of sex is pretty obvious. It’s reproduction. Every living creature has two primary drives: first, to sustain its own life (which includes seeking food, shelter, and safety), and second, to pass on that life to a new generation.
  2. FACE TO FACE: This is shown by another way humans are unique. We’re one of the very, very few mammals able to have sex face-to-face. Seeing each other’s faces means something—not just during sex, but all the time. We are dependent on reading each other’s faces; in fact, we can’t resist looking at faces. We seem to be programmed that way. Researchers have found that if a newborn baby is shown a set of different geometric shapes, his eyes will always go back to one that shows an oval with two dots toward the top—that is, a very rudimentary face with eyes. The baby will stare at those dots, those “eyes,” and ignore squares, triangles, and rectangles placed alongside it. Consider this: The baby has been in a womb all his life, and has never before seen a face. But the minute he comes out, he knows what to look at. We’re made that way.
  3. SEX FOR A LIFETIME: Let me say something about “for a lifetime.” That’s a leap. Why not just have a relationship for a little while? After all, it only takes a few minutes to conceive a child. Why should the father stick around at all? Most mammals don’t form families that include monogamous dad. Bambi never saw his father until he was nearly grown. Most mammals mate and then part, and the mother raises the child alone, or as part of a herd. There’s evidence for why this isn’t best for human babies, however. It has to do with how very, very premature human newborns are, in comparison with the children of other species. A newborn deer struggles to its feet and goes over to its mother to nurse. But a newborn baby won’t walk for a year. He won’t talk for much longer, and can’t provide for his own food and safety for many years after that. This heightened vulnerability means that a human newborn requires more intensive parental care than other mammals do, and for a much longer time. You have to keep in mind that the task of reproduction isn’t finished at the moment of birth.
  4. SITTING TOGETHER: Years ago, I was up in a theater balcony looking at the crowd below, and it suddenly struck me that there was a pattern all through the audience. This is one of those things that’s so obvious you don’t notice it. What I saw was that everywhere a man and a woman were sitting next to each other. These couples were of all different ages; many had gray hair. I think that brings us back to the mystery of faces: the need to connect, the real “meaning of sex.” The initial impulse of sexual attraction is physical pleasure. It’s an inborn impulse, like grabbing a candy bar because it’s sweet. But deeper levels of resonance are also involved. Humans are different from other mammals. We don’t just want someone for a night. We’re looking for someone we can spend a lifetime with.
There's more but she raises some very interesting and poignant points in the issue of human sexuality and why much of what passes for "sex" in this day and age is so unnatural.

Another good article in the same issue is found here and it is "Designed For Sex: What We Lose When We Forget What Sex Is For" by J. Budzizsewski.