Thursday, April 20, 2006

God and/or the Girl?

From Challies, I learned about a new reality show getting ready to air called "God of the Girl." He explains that the show follows four young men as they wrestle with the decision of whether or not to train for the priesthood, knowing that this will require a life of celibacy. Larry King hosted a show on the topic and invited John MacArthur to sit with several Roman Catholic priests to discuss the upcoming television show. You can read the entire transcript here.

To give a taste, I'll let Tim Challies tell you what he saw when he watch Larry King's interview:

"For the first few minutes of the broadcast, King spoke with the four men who will be featured in God or the Girl?. He then asked questions of Anthony Podovano, a Roman Catholic theologian and author and Father John Bartunek, who is a Legionnaire of Christ (whatever that is) and rejected evangelicalism in favor of crossing the Tiber and becoming a Catholic priest.

"He then turned to MacArthur. And this is what I love and admire about John MacArthur. MacArthur did not beat around the bush. He did not spend a few sentences seeking common ground and affirming his love and respect for Catholic tradition before addressing what he feels is error. No, he just waded in."

I think from a biblical standpoint we need to readdress this issue on a couple of fronts. Number one, according to the New Testament, you can't be a pastor unless you are the husband of one wife and have proven that you're able to manage your household well.

The apostle Paul also said that one of the false doctrines, he called doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4, is forbidding to marry. There is no biblical basis for this whatsoever. You can't use Jesus as an example. He's God in human flesh.

There is no biblical foundation. In fact, Paul said it's better to marry than to burn. So, you put a priest in an impossible situation, then stick him in a confessional all day to listen to people reciting all their sexual sins and I think that's just way over the top if you expect somebody to live a pure life with that kind of temptation thrown at them.

MacArthur "then provided the historical basis for the Roman Catholic requirement of priestly celibacy. "I don't think it's a biblical idea at all and it came, as Father Manning noted, because priestly families were building fortunes and in 1079 when that became law at the Lateran (ph) Council, it was because Rome started seeing that money was being kept in these massive families. If you don't have any children, you can't pass on anything."

A few minutes later he spoke of the tremendous blessing of marriage and family.

I took God and the girl. And my life -- my ministry is aided by my wife and her faith and my children and my grandchildren, who undergird what I preach by the life they live.

They are the greatest support in my ministry. They give confidence to my -- I'm not an island. They see me in a real world and they see my family surrounding me and they know what my life is like because it manifests itself in them.

John MacArthur - ya gotta love him.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I Sent This Email to ESPN

ESPN's SportsCenter used to be a highlight for me. It was the place I could go to get information about sports - the sports I love to follow. Now when I tune into ESPN, I have to wade through the fake urbanized stylings of Stuart Scott. I almost need a "Scott-to-English" dictionary to translate his phrases like "break off a little sumpin' sumpin'" and "holla at a playa when he's in the street" and "I'm busting open some white meat! Gonna move some furniture!"

What on earth does that mean?

Anyway, I was watching the tube Sunday night (April 16) when Scott said something that caused several different reactions in me, enough to send an email to their ombudsman George Solomon (I couldn't find email addresses to anyone else). Here's what I wrote:
I was watching Sunday night's SportsCenter when I heard Stu Scott make this reference to a highlight using a "preacher-voice": "There is a God and His Son is Jesus." Normally I would appreciate this sentence but to use it in reference to a sports highlight mystifies me. I want to ask Scott this simple question: "If he thinks it is OK to do that, then would he also say 'Allah is God and his prophet is Mohammad'?" I find it hard to believe that he would do that. I find it even harder to believe that ESPN would allow it.

I found this quote on your HR page: "It is imperative that ESPN's workforce reflects the diversity of cultures, thinking and perspectives of its current and prospective fans and customers."

I don't think you mean that when you allow Scott to keep saying these types of things.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Arena Football League turns to Bible

In UNI-WATCH, a regular feature of ESPN's Page 2 that focuses entirely on the detailed information surrounding the uniform design of rofessional and collegiate sports teams (it's really a LOT more interesting that it sounds), we read the following:
Just when you thought you'd seen everything, check out the latest news release from the Arena Football League: "For the first time in sports history, a professional franchise will wear Bible-themed jerseys during a game. On Saturday, May 5, the Birmingham Steeldogs will don jerseys with the name of Bible hero Samson embroidered on the front. Specific Bible chapter and verse references will be created by combining the names and numerals on the backs of each player. Steeldogs offensive specialist Kerry Wright regularly wears number 1, so on May 5 the name on his back will change from 'Wright' to 'Genesis,' in reference to Genesis chapter 1.

Free Bibles will be handed out, so those in attendance can search to find the Bible references on the jerseys of each Birmingham player. The Bible-themed jerseys are the latest creations of Christian Throwback Jersey Company of Birmingham."
I wonder how long it will take for the ACLU to get involved in this one???

Christian Mapping - America and around the world

Go here to see a very interesting representation of where Christians live in North America and around the world. These maps are also broken down to show where the Baptists, Lutheran, Charismatics and Mormons live.

You can go here to see the maps in higher resolution.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

My Understanding of Free Will

From the TeamPyro blog, a very good explanation of the free will of man:
"You DO have more than one option. What you do not have as an unredeemed sinner is the moral capacity to choose the right option. Sinners HATE God and have no taste for righteousness. Therefore they will never make a righteous choice.

No one is denying that they have a choice. What we're denying is the idea that their wills are inclined neither to good nor to evil, so that they have an equal capacity to choose either way.

In other words, free choice can exist even when the will is determined. Look at it like this:

Let's set before a horse two meals. One is a bowl of raw horse meat and the other is a manger of hay. Set him completely free, and let him choose which lunch he will eat. Can you guess which meal the horse will choose? He will choose the hay *every time.* His will is governed by his desires, and the desires are shaped by his nature.

Now take the same two meal options and set them before a dog. Untether the dog and let him choose what to eat. What will the dog choose for lunch? He will choose the horse meat *every time.* Why? Because his nature determines his desires, and his desires govern his will.

In other words, both the will of the dog and the will of the horse are *determined* by something other than the will itself. There is no possibility that they will choose any way other than what their nature dictates. And yet they are perfectly free to choose, without compulsion, between the choices that are set before them.

So it is with fallen man. He is free to make his choices apart from any external compulsion. And yet every person ever born of human parents chooses to sin. Why? Because our nature determines our tastes. Our will is *free* to choose because it is not under any external compulsion. And yet it is also *determined* by our nature and inevitably chooses evil.

So there's a true kind of 'free will' that Calvinists affirm--but we deny that the will is free to determine itself.

In other words, you cannot change your nature by an act of the will (Jer. 13:23). The human will is inexorably bent toward evil. We cannot ultimately make any other choice. And in yet the moral choices we make, we choose freely and are therefore responsible for what we choose. This is not really that hard a concept, but the sinful mind does not want to receive it."
So, you're probably wondering, "How does anyone ever get saved - choose Christ?"

God changes that person's will - we call that regeneration. God makes that person a new creation. God takes out the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh. THEN, and only then, does man have any sort of desire to choose to follow Christ and because his nature desires it, he WILL do it. So, yes, I do believe a man has to choose Christ (make a decision for Christ in that "hour of decision), but he's never going to do it until God does something first.

This, then, is what we call "irrestistible grace." There is no sense of "dragging someone kicking and screaming into the heaven against his will," as so many want to caracature Calvinism thought.

Any thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Questions?

United 93

Universal Studios is going to release a movie on April 28 called "United 93," a film about the terrorist attack on that third plane that was to hit the Capital or White House on September 11, 2001. It's causing a little controversy, as you can read in Newsweek. Here's a quote:
Featuring no voice-over and no famous actors, it begins with images of a beautiful morning and passengers boarding an airplane. It takes you a minute to realize what the movie's even about. That's when a plane hits the World Trade Center. The effect is visceral. When the trailer played before "Inside Man" last week at the famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, audience members began calling out, "Too soon!" In New York City, where 9/11 remains an open wound, the response was even more dramatic. The AMC Loews theater on Manhattan's Upper West Side took the rare step of pulling the trailer from its screens after several complaints. "One lady was crying," says one of the theater's managers, Kevin Adjodha. "She was saying we shouldn't have [played the trailer]. That this was wrong ... I don't think people are ready for this."
The article goes on to say this remarkable thing:
The real United 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field after 40 passengers and crew fought back against the terrorists who had hijacked the plane. Writer-director Paul Greengrass ("The Bourne Supremacy") has gone to great lengths to be respectful in his depiction of what occurred, proceeding with the film only after securing the approval of every victim's family. "Was I surprised at the unanimity? Yes. Very. Usually there are one or two families who are more reluctant," Greengrass writes in an e-mail. "I was surprised and humbled at the extraordinary way the United 93 families have welcomed us into their lives and shared their experiences with us."

Al Mohler on "Raising Teens in Media Culture"

Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, recently spoke three times on raising teenagers in a media-saturated culture. You can get the online: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Ten Commandments on ABC

This Monday and Tuesday, ABC will air a new television series called "The Ten Commandments." The site starts with this line:
One biblical figure is revered by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. His name is Moses (Dougray Scott, Arabian Nights), the man who rose in power to defend a people, to free them, and to live in history like no other…
The trailer for the mini-series should be ready to view soon by clicking here. Until then, you can go to the ABC site and view their "Top Five" upcoming shows.

The director promises this show to be most historically accurate presentation of the life of Moses to date. However, at the same time, he says things like this:
I am doing my interpretation of Exodus. The great thing about the Bible is that it’s interpreted every day in a different way.

Our version will leave the viewer with a totally new interpretation of who Moses was and the importance of the Commandments themselves.
But then he says this:
This will be the most biblically accurate telling of the story to date. I insisted on accuracy. Even before the cameras started to roll there was a great deal of research put into the writing of the screenplay. We utilized the expertise of learned scholars from both the Christian and Jewish faiths, and we incorporated newly uncovered facts, both archeological and biblical, into the storytelling. These biblical experts also lent their expertise to the recreation of Egypt, the wilderness, and provided detailed descriptions of wardrobe and religious paraphernalia. The accuracy continues into the way we have designed the film. The era of Ramses II was one of the riches times in Egypt’s history, so the sets have to be built huge. You can’t cheat on these elements. Some films recently rely on CGI for the crowd scenes. In our production, we have approximately 20,000 extras, all dressed in detailed costumes.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Gospels and the Gospel Of Judas

Once again, the mainstream media got a whiff of something that had the potential to be damaging to the Christian faith and fanned that smoldering ember into a roaring flame. I'm talking about the nonsensical articles on the gnostic manuscript called "The Gospel of Judas" discussed so much in yesterday's newspapers and on Katie Couric's "I hate everything about Christianity" Today show on television.

Here's a good resonse to read.

If you want a LOT of research on the Gospel of Judas, go here.

ABC News covered this same story over a month ago and basically got it right.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Major League Millionaires

ESPN has just released the names and salaries of every single Major League Baseball player earning one million dollars or more this year (yes, JUST this year). Any guesses as to how many millionaires are on that list???

No one?

It's 409 players. That includes such noteworthy players as Olmedo Saenz of the Dodgers and Jay Witasik of the Athletics.

That's 409 players out of 800 players (32 teams times 25 players each), which is 51.1% of all players. I wonder if any other occupation pays its labor force so well?

The top three players on the list are all Yankees: Alex Rodriguez at $25,680,727; Derek jeter at 20,600,000; and Jason Giambi at 20,428,571. Do you think it bothers Giambi that Jeter makes $171,429 more than he does? The Yankees also have two other players in the Top 11: Mike Mussina is the league's best paid pitcher ($19million) and Randy Johnson is the third best paid pitcher ($15,661,427). Andy Pettitte (former Yankee) is the second best paid pitcher ($16,428,416).

Barry Bonds is fourth with a salary of $20million on the nose.

The Yankees have a total of TWENTY-ONE of the millionaires, as do the Red Sox.

The Dodgers have sixteen millionaires. The Cardinals - 14. The Royals - THIRTEEN?!?
The Braves AND Pirates - 11. The Twins have eight. The Marlins have but TWO.

Man, if only I could have hit the ball!!!

Jesus Walked on Water . . . Technically

Doron Nof, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University, has finally figured out how Jesus managed to "walk on water." Here's his explanation, which will be published in the April edition of the Journal of Paleolimnology (has your copy come in the mail yet???):
An unusual combination of water and atmospheric conditions in what is now northern Israel could have led to ice formation on the Sea of Galilee.

Nof used records of the Mediterranean Sea's surface temperatures and statistical models to examine the dynamics of the Sea of Galilee, which Israelis know now as Lake Kinneret.

The study found that a period of cooler temperatures in the area between 1,500 and 2,600 years ago could have included the decades in which Jesus lived.

A drop in temperature below freezing could have caused ice -- thick enough to support a human -- to form on the surface of the freshwater lake near the western shore, Nof said. It might have been nearly impossible for distant observers to see a piece of floating ice surrounded by water.

Later in the article, he said, "If you ask me if I believe someone walked on water, no, I don't," Nof said. "Maybe somebody walked on the ice, I don't know. I believe that something natural was there that explains it."

So, his BELIEF led him to find a natural solution - ANY natural solution - to dispel any semblance of supernaturalism. Is that how science is done these days? Start with a faith-based supposition and work until the evidence you "discover" supports that belief?

Jim Bublitz over at Laodicea has an interesting take on that, writing, "That reminds me of the story of the little old lady who taught Sunday school. She was told by one of her students that the crossing was really 'no big deal' because the Red Sea was only waist deep. Her response was 'Glory to God! How amazing!' When the students questioned her response, she said 'I just think it's so amazing that God was able to drown all of Pharaoh's men in such shallow water.'"

Monday, April 03, 2006

Damning with faint praise

A while back I posted about the athiest who put himself on EBAY, promising to go to a Christian church once for every ten dollars of the winning bid - which was just over $500 (50 churches). He's keeping a log of his visits here, filled with commentary on those visits. It's pretty eye-opening and the pastors he critiques have taken to responding to his praise/criticism. We can all learn some things about how we "do church" and how we look to a world that "doesn't get us."

Anyway, in his latest post, he opens up a bit on a personal note and in doing so, has this to say about his affinity for watching Houston mega-church pastor Joel Osteen on television:

Well, first the positive. I enjoy watching Joel for the same reason many Christians don’t watch him– it’s Christian-lite! He’s not solely dependent on the Bible to make a point. Instead of using the Bible to write a sermon, it always seems to me that he wrote the sermon with a life lesson in mind, and then consulted the Bible to back up his points. And I walk away from watching him thinking, “I do need to make better use of my time!” instead of “I should read Mark because Chapter 2 (or whatever) said some interesting things about Jesus.” Obvously, the former sits better with Atheists.

Another great part about Joel is that while he leads the king of all megachurches, I’m not drawn to him on TV because of the extravagant setup of his church/basketball arena. Unlike other megachurches that depend on the sheer enormity of itself to bring people in, I’m drawn to Joel’s message. You could have him speaking in a tiny room with an audience of 4, and I know he’d speak the same way with the same passion.

Compare that with his thoughts on James Dobson:

The icing on this whole cake is reading my Focus on the Family newsletter. And I say this without trying to politicize anything. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Dan Savage and his advice column Savage Love (typical advice: If your wife is not satisfying you, go have an affair), because I find him to be funny. He may take it too far at times, in my opinion, but he stresses the importance of personal freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Dobson, on the other hand, stresses complete control and the pursuit of Heaven. I like to read what he says because he is a man that’s so well-respected in his community. But he also despises everything I stand for, and since I think I’m a good person, I can’t understand why he feels that way. Well, I know why he feels that way… but I can’t understand why people like me don’t make him stop and think he might be a *little* bit wrong…

I hope this guy never hears me and "likes" it! Here's his moral of the story, according to the EBAY Atheist:

Christianity works best for non-believers when we hear stories that sound like something we would see or do. Joel tells me to not be dishonest by telling a story from his college days (Hey, I went to college, too!) and then supports his message with a story from the Bible. Dobson tells me I shouldn’t be dishonest because Proverbs 6:16-19 says so (as he does in the April issue of Charisma). Period. Who would I be more inclined to listen to?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Bounce! Who knew?

I read this online. I haven't tested this yet but it half of these things do what they say, I may have to stock up on the fabric softener.

My mail carrier told me that the US Postal service sent out a message to all letter carriers to put a sheet of Bounce in their uniform pockets to keep yellow-jackets away. All this time you've just been putting Bounce in the dryer! It'll do more:

1. It will chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them. It also repels mice.
2. Spread sheets around foundation areas, or in trailers, or cars that are sitting and it keeps mice from entering your vehicle.
3. It takes the odor out of books and photo albums that don't get opened too often.
4. It repels mosquitoes. Tie a sheet of Bounce through a belt loop when outdoors during mosquito season.
5. Eliminate static electricity from your television (or computer) screen.
6. Since Bounce is designed to help eliminate static cling, wipe your television screen with a used sheet of Bounce to keep dust from resettling.
7. Dissolve soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a sheet of Bounce.
8. To freshen the air in your home - Place an individual sheet of Bounce in a drawer or hang in the closet.
9. Put Bounce sheet in vacuum cleaner.
10. Prevent thread from tangling. Run a threaded needle through a sheet of Bounce before beginning to sew.
11. Prevent musty suitcases. Place an individual sheet of Bounce inside empty luggage before storing.
12. To freshen the air in your car - Place a sheet of Bounce under the front seat.
13. Clean baked-on foods from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The anti-static agent apparently weakens the bond between the food and the pan.
14. Eliminate odors in wastebaskets. Place a sheet of Bounce at the bottom of the wastebasket.
15. Collect cat hair. Rubbing the area with a sheet of Bounce will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.
16. Eliminate static electricity from Venetian blinds. Wipe the blinds with a sheet of Bounce to prevent dust from resettling.
17. Wipe up sawdust from drilling or sand papering. A used sheet of Bounce will collect sawdust like a tack cloth.
18. Eliminate odors in dirty laundry. Place an individual sheet of Bounce at the bottom of a laundry bag or hamper.
19. Deodorize shoes or sneakers. Place a sheet of Bounce in your shoes or sneakers overnight.
20. Golfers put a Bounce sheet in their back pocket to keep the bees away.
21. Put a Bounce sheet in your sleeping bag and tent before folding and storing them. It will keep them smelling fresh.

The 1836 get 86ed!

Speaking of politically correct mascots, have you heard about the Houston soccer franchise? The Major League Soccer team from San Jose moved to Houston and they tried to find a new name. They eventually settled on "1836." Not the 1836ers, just the number: the 1836. Pretty lame!

However, the lameness is not what got people upset. The year 1836 just happens to be the year that Texas seceded from Mexico after quite a few bloody battles. Remember the Alamo? That event occurred in 1836.

Well, it appears that the Mexican residents of Houston know their history pretty well, too. They got upset. They put political pressure on the SOCCER team and the soccer team collapsed under the weight. They eventually changed their name to the DYNAMO.

My question is this: What about all the British-Americans living in Philadelphia and beyond? Are they going to go after the Philadelphia 76ers?