Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Oh, Lifeway! Why?

I just got a copy of "The Source," the sales paper for Lifeway Christian Stores. On page three are some ideas to "honor the dads in your church with key reminders of their faith." There is a leather bookmark and a keyring shaped like a cross and then this item:

Here's the ad copy: "Based on Jeremiah 17:7, this tire gauge is a unique way to remind the fathers in your church of God's love. Each gauge features a cross and 'Jesus' is engraved on the handle."

You know, it's one thing to sell air pressure gauges. That is fine and good. However, it is another thing altogether to sell cheap air pressure gauges and slap the name of the Creator of the Universe on it and sell it as a religious item. That act borders on tawdry. No, it doesn't border - it crosses completely over that line.

However, the tackiness of the product aside, what really bothers me is the misuse and abuse of Scripture. The copy says "Based on Jeremiah 17:7." I have to wonder what exactly is based on that Old Testament passage. Jeremiah wrote, "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him."

How can a tire gauge, a flashlight or a keychain be based on this passage? I just don't think the Weeping Prophet had in mind to build in a man the confidence that his tires were properly inflated!

Jeremiah might be weeping all the more now.

Now, if Lifeway could come up with a "TYRE" gauge!!!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Interview with SBC Presidential Candidate - the "other one"

For many people in the Southern Baptist Convention, the election of the president is a foregone conclusion. Several denomination and seminary leaders have already come out in support of Ronnie Floyd. However, recently another pastor has thrown his name into the ring - Frank Page of Taylors First Baptist Church in South Carolina.

Tad Thompson, an SBC blogger in Arkansas, made a name for himself a few weeks back by sending several questions to Floyd that Floyd did not answer. Thompson sent the same questions to Page and got answers to all the questions within several hours. We might just have an honest-to-goodness election this summer in Greensboro instead of the typical coronation!

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Say it ain't so!

If you watched the season finale of "24" on Monday night, you saw some satisfying scenes: Jack commandeering a Russian sub, Jack teaching an engineer the proper technique to slit a bad guy's throat, Christopher Henderson getting his come-uppance, a really cool stare-down from Jack to the kidnapped President and finally President Logan getting JUSTICE RIGHT NOW!

There was also a tender scene at the end of the show where CTU Director Bill Buchanon gave Chloe a picture of her with Edgar Styles, her friend who died when the Centox nerve gas was unleashed in CTU HQ ASAP PDQ.

However, what you might have missed was the scribbling on the back of the photo. The camera stayed there a little long and I was able to pause the TiVO (thank you, Lord, for my TiVO) and I took some digital photos. Can you decipher the "top-secret CTU code"? Maybe this is why CTU is so easy to infiltrate and escape - they utilize third-grade note-passing codes!!!

Photo 1 - Chloe opening photo - just to show you the context:

Photo 2 - Closeup of "coded" message:

Photo 3 - Closeup of some "secret numbers" (perhaps a Chinese fortune cookie):

Photo 4 - Closeup of Jack. He's got the Chinese right where he wants them!

I called the "fan phone," being the 24-nerd that I am. It connects you to a Nextel phone but it was "full." So, we have seven months to see what happens next to Jack. Hopefully we'll learn more about the Graham and the Bluetooth Gang, the location of Wayne Palmer and Aaron Pierce, the ability of Hal Gardner and vice-president !MIKE NOVICK! to govern the country.

Jack vs the Chinese army - sounds like a fair fight!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

She'd Better Be Glad . . .

Madonna had better be glad that Christians don't react like Muslims when their faith is affronted.

Go here to read and see an image of how "Halfway through her accustomed set of costume changes and simulated sex acts, [Madonna] performed her '80s hit "Live to Tell" while affixed to a mirrored cross and wearing a crown of thorns."

I Guess That's That!

In Miami, the Associated Press picked up this story about a "political endorsement." Here are the pertinent quotes:
A reverend who introduced Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist during a breakfast with other pastors Monday said the Lord came to him in a dream two years ago and told him Crist would be the state's next governor.

The Lord Jesus spoke to me and he said 'There's something I want you to know,'" said Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach. "'Charlie Crist will be the next governor of the state of Florida.'"
At a meeting with other pastors, Dozier introduced Crist this way:
"I introduce to you, as the Lord Jesus has said, the next governor of the state of Florida, Charlie Crist," Dozier said.
WOW! Why should we even bother holding an election down there? How did Crist respond?
Crist's first words were, "Well, as they say, the praise doesn't get any higher."

"It's the most amazing thing anyone's every told me," Crist said. "It's beyond overwhelming, but the reverend has a very strong faith in his heart and he's a good man. I'm very grateful for his help and his support and his belief."

And what of his opponent:
Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who is opposing Crist in the primary, wouldn't comment on the remarks after the event.
And why should he? What could he possibly say to a statement like that? Of course, Gallagher and two other candidates were there. They were all running for the same office and it appears that at least Gallagher shares Crist's moral values and Christian beliefs.

This brings up a more important issue. More and more, people are talking like this, invoking God as a source for all sorts of things. Recently, Pat Robertson said that God "told him" that tsunamis will hit the northwest coast of the United States sometime this year.

God told him that in January but Robertson didn't tell anyone until a few weeks ago. When did God get so "fuzzy in the details"? God told Jonah "Forty days and Nineveh is destroyed."

Sometimes, it is not so blatant. When Johnny Hunt nominated Ronnie Floyd for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention, he opened with this statement: “With strong conviction in my heart under God’s Holy Spirit-led leadership, I will nominate Dr. Ronnie W. Floyd…”

Now, this is obviously Hunt's personal conviction but, as another has said, the wording here is subtly implying that to disagree with this nomination is to disagree with the Holy Spirit. What if another pastor, also a believer indwelt by the same Spirit, is "led by the Spirit" to nominate another? Does the Holy Spirit give contradictory "suggestions"?

Later, Hunt said Floyd "called me last Wednesday and informed me that he will humbly accept this nomination due to God speaking to him dramatically through Acts 16:6-10. He never sought it one moment, but was drafted supernaturally to let me nominate him to be our next president."

In the same way, what if another pastor, also a believer indwelt by the same Spirit, is "spoke to dramatically" by this passage to run himself or to nominate another?

The author of this passage had one thing in mind - to tell the readers of the events of Paul's life. That is all that can be inferred from this passage. Interpretation is easy. This passage deals with Paul's unsuccessful attempts to enter Bithynia. Instead, we read that Paul had a vision of man from Macedonia saying "Come over to Macedonia and help us." In verse ten, we see that "After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them."

I'm sure that's how Floyd would interpret this passage. However, application is more difficult. Some passages are easy to apply - "steal no longer." This passage is different. It is "descriptive," not "prescriptive." I'm do not think that this passage speaks to the nomination to SBC presidency.

We all get "feelings" but there is just NO WAY to know if that "peace" comes from the Lord or from your own personal desires or maybe from eating a Hershey bar with all those released endorphins running rampant through your system.

Here are three good books that will help you escape the pagan ideas of "iscovering" God's will:
Floyd clarifies some of those quotes here and it is very obvious that he is a man of great character and love for the Lord. The issue I am addressing is not Floyd's ability to be a great leader for the SBC - I'm sure he will be, if elected.

However, the issue that needs to be addressed is the assumption that we can speak for God about anything based on a subjective feeling of "peace" that we can't adequately define. If it is the "peace that passes all understanding," who are we to say we understand it?

We do it all the time, myself included.

I, for one, will attempt to better edit my "theological language."

Friday, May 19, 2006

John MacArthur's Pulpit

While many churches have gone to lucite pulpits in some attempt at relevance, the pulpit used by John MacArthur at Grace Community Church is ginormous. It is also famous as one of the first pulpits built on a hydraulic lift, capable of being raised and lowered into the platform.

Phil Johnson, blogger extraordinaire and right-hand man to Johnny Mac, wrote about the pulpit here. The pictures he speaks of in that past can be found here, along with the dimensions (just in case you wanted to build one yourself).

Finally, here is one confessional post from a former church member and custodial staffer at Grace. He tells of "riding the pulpit."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Da Vinci Code: Help from Unexpected Source

This week, the most recent edition of U.S. News & World Report, no true friend to Christianity, has come out exposing the mistakes in Dan Brown's book, The Da Vinci Code, and the upcoming movie of the same name (which opens Friday, May 19).

The magazine spends a lot of time debunking the "historical facts" of the book and movie. This is amazing. I hope this magazine remembers this article this Christmas and next Easter when the next round of articles from the "Jesus Seminar" start making their annual appearances to question the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. For some reason, I don't think USN&WR will be so kind to my faith at that time. But this edition is a nice start.

The article quotes Ron Howard, the director of the movie, who refused, along with Sony, to put up a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie claiming it is fiction:
Why all the fuss over a movie and a novel? "This is a work of fiction," Ron Howard, the movie's Academy Award-winning director, told the Los Angeles Times. "It's not theology. It's not history ... Spy thrillers don't start off with disclaimers." Brown, the book's reclusive author, has sent mixed messages regarding the proportions of history and make-believe in his book. Although he declines interviews now, he told National Public Radio during a 2003 publicity tour that the book's characters and action are fictional but that "the ancient history, the secret documents, the rituals, all of this is factual. "He also told CNN at that time that "the background is all true."
The article goes on to dispel historical "facts" and statements about the origin of the New Testament and other statements denying Jesus' alleged marriage and Jesus' deity. Regarding the latter, the article says this:
In Brown's version of history, the early Christians thought of Jesus as "a great and powerful man but a man nonetheless"--a mere mortal. It was the Roman Emperor Constantine, according to Brown's fictional scholars, who imposed the doctrine of Christ's divinity on the church at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. And the emperor did so largely for political purposes: He wanted to unify the empire around the Christian faith, which he recently had come to embrace.

But as Catholic writers Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel point out in their book The Da Vinci Hoax, "any historian, whether Christian or not, knows that the early Christians most definitely believed that Jesus of Nazareth was somehow divine." The central issue at the Council of Nicaea, they note, "was not whether Jesus was merely human or something more but how exactly his divinity ... was to be understood."

Finally, regarding basic facts of history, the article has this to say:

The debunkers have gone after other "howlers" in the book's historical representations. On the opening page, for example, Brown declares as "fact" that the Priory of Sion, depicted in the book as a European secret society founded in 1099 and the prime keeper of the Da Vinci Code secrets, "is a real organization" and that "parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets" and listing its members were discovered in Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale in 1975. Among the Priory of Sion's members: Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci. In fact, the Priory of Sion's documents were conclusively proven in the 1990s to have been part of an elaborate hoax. The society itself, as Brown described it, never existed.
The website then posts a page that offers the following:
Just how much of this is true? Just in time for the movie, U.S. News separates fact from fantasy on a range of Code-related questions, from the inner workings of Opus Dei to the truth about Mary Magdalene. Answers are based on a U.S. News Special Edition, Secrets of the Da Vinci Code, and on the book on which the special edition is based, Secrets of the Code: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries of the Da Vinci Code, edited by Dan Burstein. Think you know the answers already? Click on the links to the right and test your knowledge of the world of the Code.

However, in the link to the "Truth" about the Church (of course, they're talking about the Roman Catholic Church), the writers made this statement:
The historical Jesus was essentially a Jewish rabbi, teacher, or spiritual leader. This statement is unlikely to sit well with Jews or Christians. But for a long time after Jesus's death, his followers were not necessarily perceived as believers in a religion that was fundamentally different from Judaism.
Hence my despair for the annual Christmas and Easter articles!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Who Said It? Part 10

OK, let's try again - this one is WAY out there:

There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. A revival is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means—as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means. . . . A revival is as naturally a result of the use of means as a crop is of the use of its appropriate means.

Christians and the Lottery - Part 2

When talking about the lottery, I've heard some ask, "What's the difference between the lottery and using the stock market." Let's examine that question:

Gambling refers to a wager or a bet in which each player agrees to risk losing some money or material possession to other players for the chance to win the money or material possessions of those same players. There is no compensation to the loser.

In this definition, there are four components that must exist for gambling to take place:
  1. A game of chance or skill - You need some sort of contest where the outcome is uncertain. This could be a professional sport, a game of poker or guessing if the next person to come out of the grocery store is a woman or man.
  2. Stakes - You need to place something at risk, either money or something else of material value.
  3. An agreement - This is usually called "the bet" or "the wager." Each player agrees to risk losing his possession in exchange for the opportunity to take the possessions of the others.
  4. A lack of fair compensation - The loser gives up everything and gains nothing. It really is "winner takes all."
Let's put this definition to work in certain examples:
  1. Simply living life: I've heard one make the incredible logical leap of saying that the lottery is OK because "life itself is a gamble." This confuses RISK with gambling. Not all risks involve gambling. You don't place wagers on whether or not you can cross the street. You don't bet with another that you will make it through the day. There is no agreement to take someone else's possessions in these things. This leads to a closely related argument...
  2. Insurance: However, there is not wager and there IS compensation. The whole purpose of insurance is to provide compensation when you "lose the bet." Even if no loss occurs, you have gained a peace of mind knowing you would have been compensated. Without getting into whether or not certain types of insurance are wise investments, the point here is that owning insurance policies is not gambling.
  3. Farming or owning a business: Again, you run the risk of losing money but there is no wager and there is compensation. There is no agreement to take other people's money or property without just compensation. The intent is to produce goods or services of benefit to others in exchange for monetary compensation. Both sides win. In gambling, only one side wins.
  4. The stock market: Stock is a means for people to become a part owner of a company. Buying stock is no more gambling thatn ownership of any other company or business. The intent is to make a profit by helping a company with capital to produce their product or service as a benefit to customers. Investers receive compensation in the form of dividends. When stock is sold, both buyer and seller agree on the price. There is no wager and no agreement to risk loss at another's expense. If the price is deemed unfair, the deal is broken. It must be admitted that it is possible to gamble or sin in the stock market but the simple act of buying/selling stock is not inherently sinful gambling.
See "" for more information.

Christians and the Lottery

The lottery has come to North Carolina. We were the 42nd state to start playing the game and the last state on the east coast to do so. The lottery commission says that the goal for the state is $1.2 BILLION in sales this year. About $420 million of that amazing amount will supposedly find its way to our public schools.

To meet this goal, they need to sell
$3.3 million in tickets PER DAY. The Charlotte Oberver noted that after the first 22 days, $80million had been sold. This amounts to $3.6million/day. North Carolinians have caught the fever.

I do not want to argue the political, economic or educational benefits/detriments of the lottery. That was all hashed out in the fight to bring the lottery to the state. We lost that fight. Now the question for Christians is "Should I participate?" I do not think Christians should play the lottery.

Borrowing from John Piper and several other resources, here are reasons why a Christian should not participate in the lottery:

1) The Bible teaches us not to want to be rich.

Paul wrote in I Timothy 6:9-12 that “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

This passage teaches us to use our money in a way that will bring us the greatest and longest gain and help us pursue our full and lasting pleasure. John Piper wrote that “The evils in the world come not because our desires for happiness are too strong but because they are so weak that we settle for fleeting pleasures that do not satisfy our deepest souls but in the end destroy them.” The root of all kinds of evil is that we are the kind of people who settle for the love of money instead of the love of God (v.10).

Christians are not to be motivated by greed or a desire for money. Christians live for a GREATER gain – CONTENTMENT is the WAY. If your godliness has freed you from the desire to be rich and has helped you be content with what you have, then your godliness is tremendously profitable (1 Tim. 4:8). Godliness that overcomes the craving for material wealth produces great spiritual wealth. So what verse 6 is saying is that it is very profitable not to pursue wealth.”

The desire to be rich is SUICIDE for your spiritual life. The heart that is focused on money is not focused on God. The Bible says if ever so clearly: THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL KINDS OF EVILS.

Proverbs 23:4-5 says “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.”

2) It is wrong to wager with a trust fund.

Suppose I had to go away for six months on a mission trip. During that time, I gave you access to my funds to pay my mortgage, pay my bills, kids’ tuition, etc. Suppose you then you decided to take MY MONEY and play gambling games with it. Would you say that is RIGHT OR WRONG?

Good stewards do not handle their master’s money in that way. They have NO RIGHT. Christians believe that EVERYTHING we have is a trust from God. Paul asked in I Cor 4:7 “What do you have that you did not receive?” He stated again in I Cor 6:19 that “you are not your own. You have been bought with a price.”

3) It is wrong to support something that preys on weaknesses and cultivates sinfulness.

Many of you begin daydreaming when you hear about the lottery. You start thinking of what you could do with $200,000 or a million dollars. If you had not read this, that thought would still lie dormant. That greed and covetousness would lie latent in your heart.

The lottery is a system that preys on your human sinfulness and cultivates within you sinful thoughts and desires that otherwise would not be active. The sins the lottery brings to the surface of your life include the following:

i. The lottery encourages the breaking of first commandment, which says we are to have no other God in this world. It is possible that the lottery will take over your mind and be all that some think about. Matthew 6:24 says that “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

ii. The lottery encourages the breaking of the tenth commandment, which tells us we are not to covet. However, coveting is exactly what we do when we hear about the lottery. We think “She won $100K, I wish I could win $100K” Luke wrote that we are to “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

iii. The lottery encourages foolish financial decisions and life soon spirals out of control. On the radio and television you hear only of success stories. You only see the guy with the giant cardboard check. What of hundreds of thousands who don’t win? What of those who lose control? It’s like the beer commercials on television. The beer companies only show young and fit 20somethings enjoying a life of activity and leisure. They do not show the alcoholic hitting on his wife and wasting his money. The desire to be wealthy and to spend the newfound wealth is a recipe for disaster. Proverbs 13:11 tells us that “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”

iv. The lottery encourages people to dream of laziness and slothfulness. What do most people say when dreaming of winning lottery? They say (and you’ve probably said), “I’ll never have to work again.” Nothing fosters sin as much as IDLENESS. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23 that “Whatever you do, work for the Lord – serve God.” Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonaisn 3:10 that “If a man won’t work, he won’t eat.”

v. The lottery encourages people to look for unrealistic solution to very real problems. You might have very real problem of DEBT. You might have very real problem of SPENDING. It took a while to get into debt – it will take a while to get out of debt.

vi. The lottery encourages people to think unbiblically that they can “give a little” and “get a lot.” In the lottery, it is possible to spend a dollar and win a million. However, the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:6 that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

vii. The lottery encourages people to count on LUCK instead of GOD’S PROVIDENCE. People spend average of $150/year on lottery tickets. The odds of winning the Mega Millions are 1 in 135,145,920. Buying two tickets bumps your odds only to 2 in 135,145,920. If you bought 10 tickets per week, it would take you 259,000 years to purchase enough tickets to WIN ONCE. To save that $500,000 nest egg, you'd have to tuck away a little less than $100 a month starting at age 21. What's more likely: that you can find an extra $100 a month -- or that the 1-in-several-million odds of even the smallest seven-figure jackpot suddenly tilt in your favor?

viii. The lottery encourages thinking “It is better to receive than to give.” The backers of the lottery want to make you think you are “helping education.” That’s not true. YOU want to win a million dollars. If you really want to help education – GIVE TO EDUCATION. Give to the PTA. Buy supplies for your school. Perhaps you think that if you win, you can give it to your church. If you go to our church, WE WILL NOT TAKE IT KNOWINGLY. As Piper said, we will not salve your conscience by taking your plunder or assist you in your spiritual suicide. We will gladly accept and use the widow’s penny! God doesn’t need it and it doesn’t HONOR him anymore than giving money from a drug sale or bank robbery.

ix. The lottery encourages discontentment. Iinstead of thanking God for what they do have, lottery players often complain about what they do not have. Hebrews 13:5 tells us to “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

Monday, May 15, 2006

Who Said It? Part 9

Speaking on the subject of original sin and the depravity of man, someone once wrote the following:
"Moral depravity cannot consist in any attribute of nature or constitution, nor in any lapsed or fallen state of nature. . . . Moral depravity, as I use the term, does not consist in, nor imply a sinful nature, in the sense that the human soul is sinful in itself. It is not a constitutional sinfulness"

"[Sinners] are under the necessity of first changing their hearts, or their choice of an end, before they can put forth any volitions to secure any other than a selfish end. And this is plainly the everywhere assumed philosophy of the Bible. That uniformly represents the unregenerate as totally depraved, and calls upon them to repent, to make themselves a new heart"
Any guesses as to the originator of this quote?

Fire Truck Baptistry Rebuttal

Jeremy Roberts is an M.Div. student at Southwestern and serves as an intern to Jack Graham at Prestonwood Baptist in Dallas. He also used to serve as an assistant to Ronnie Floyd. With all the attention given to Floyd's church over the past several days, Roberts rises to the occasion to give a response (a personal one, not an official one). You can read it here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Back in the day . . .

Everybody remembers paying a small pittance for gas "back in the day." I distinctly remember paying about eighty cents for a gallon as a high school senior, filling up my 1977 Toyota Corolla for less then ten dollars. However, as you can see in this graph, I was really paying about $1.60/gallon in 2004 dollars.

In fact, that 25 cents a gallon your parents paid in 1950 is equal to about $2.00/gallon in 2004 dollars. I'd like to see an updated graph.

Greensboro Convention Is Gonna Be Messy

Southern Baptists from across the country will descend on North Carolina this summer for the annual gathering at the convention. This is the fifth time the SBC has held their annual meeting in North Carolina but the first time since 1916 in Asheville.

There are many topics that will bring much heated discussion this June and one is the election of our new president. Johnny Hunt was supposed to be nominated (and the way it works these days - to be "nominated" is to later be "coronated" - there is no "election). For some reason, Dr. Hunt withdrew his name from consideration. At the same time, Dr. Hunt nominated Ronnie Floyd of the First Baptist Church of Springdale, Arkansas (yes, the "fire-engine-baptistry" church).

Since then, Dr. Floyd has had no end of trouble. First, he agreed to an interview on a Baptist blog (see questions here) then suddenly declined.

Meanwhile, much is being made of a recent recommendation by the Executive Committee that a person should not be nominated to denominational office unless the church in which he serves gives at least ten percent to the Cooperative Program. The Florida Baptist Witness just published an article saying that this new rule means Floyd can NOT be president because his church gave a total of 0.27% to the CP last year.

This blog shows all the hard-n-fast numbers:


Undesignated Receipts

Cooperative Program


















































































*Data for these two years does not differentiate the church's
CP participation from its total missions expenditure for the year

Of course, this does not take into account other types of giving, such as Annie Armstrong, Lottie Moon and giving that bypasses the state convention.

Stuff like this reminds me of why I will NEVER work in denominational politics.

Dark or Light?

Just in case you don't know what the people of the Bible looked like, a company called TRAIN UP A CHILD, INC. has created two distinct sets of biblical action figures. One set of Jesus, Joseph, Mary, David, Goliath and the rest are very pale white-skinned figures. Another set of the same people have very dark skin.

Which ever one gets purchased, this much is true - it's guaranteed to be tacky!!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Are you ready for Mother's Day?

If you haven't finished your shopping for your mother or wife, here's a fresh idea from the great minds of the modern church:

Only $30 for two of them.

Operators are standing by!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Confusion over the Fire Truck Baptistery

There was some confusion over the existence of the fire-truck baptistery at First Baptist Springdale, Arkansas over on the Founder's Blog. One gentleman wrote in the comments that he attends the church and has never seen the alleged fire truck. Then others pointed out the the fire truck was merely an IDEA that they had but never actually realized. Some pointed out that kids are "baptized" only in a metaphorical way, not as an official ordinance of the church.

Tony Kummer, a children's minister in Hanover, Indiana, then did a little research and came up with this information:

Two witness confirmation?

Baptist Standard reports this is a fire truck baptismal.

A quote from the Houston Chronicle

Second Baptist is not the only church that is adapting amusement attractions, said Bruce Barry, president and CEO of Wacky World. His first church work came two years ago with an Arkansas congregation.

He acknowledges, though, that he was stunned when First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark., asked him to design a "Toon Town" children's sanctuary.

But he took the challenge and created characters that yell and scream as clocks spin crazily and water towers explode with water spouts. He designed a fire truck that holds a baptistry for kids. Once a child is baptized, a bell rings and he or she is sprayed with confetti.

"It is a pretty big deal to get baptized in Springdale, Ark.," Barry said.

The Rev. Ronnie Floyd, pastor of the 12,000-member congregation, said Toon Town, geared for first- through third-graders, and a space-theme Planet 45 for fourth- and fifth-graders have led to an increase in children's attendance from more than 400 children to 500.

More than 150 children have been baptized since the opening of the new children's worship center. Floyd said the majority of children are baptized in the main sanctuary's baptistry while some prefer the firetruck christening.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What would you say if I told you . ..

that there is a Southern Baptist church that got a former Disney designer to revamp their children's ministry area. Here's is how it is described:
Christianity Today (June 8, 2000) and other news sources have reported on what appears to be a new trend in some large evangelical churches. First Baptist Church in ____________, _____ hired a well-known former Disney World designer of children's amusement rides to design two "high tech sets" for elementary age worship areas: Toon Town for first-through third-graders, and Planet 45 for fourth- and fifth-graders. The fully animated cartoon town has 26-foot-tall buildings. The rationale behind the $270,000 project is summed up by the church's children's minister: "Putting a talking head in front of kids for an hour doesn't work ….This is a visual generation. We need to use technology to the max." That includes a special baptistry which is built around a fire engine. When a child is baptized, the sirens sound and confetti is fired out of cannons.

When kids enter the rooms, a music video is playing on a giant screen in front, and they can amuse themselves at a row of nonviolent video game screens along walls. Once the service starts, "it's 90 minutes of mostly frenetic activity, akin to a live television variety show from the 1950s. In Toon Town, buzzers and bells sound, lights flash from the ceiling and from car headlights on the set, bubbles come out the top of a giant bucket and fill the room, confetti streamers squirt out onto the first few rows, and mist is sprayed onto the crowd." According to the designer, Bruce Barry, "It's just like going on a ride at Disney World."
I am sure the intentions of this church are good and noble but what of the end result? What do you think of this approach to the evangelization of children?

. . . . . . .

On a related note, the Fall 2000 edition of the Founders Journal, Mark Dever (pastor of Capital Hill Baptist in DC) interviewed Paige Patterson (now the President of Southwestern Seminary). They discussed this very method of children's ministry. Here is an excerpt:
Dever: I heard about one church recently, and I don't know if you know about churches like this or not, in order to encourage baptisms among children the baptistry is shaped like a fire truck and they've got confetti cannons that go off whenever a kid is baptized. Do you know about any of this?

Patterson: This is my first time to hear this. This is blasphemous!

Dever: Anyway, it's a church in America. It's an evangelical church and they mean to preach the gospel so I want to be real quick to say their intentions are good. That's going to get kids of course, because they want to come forward, get in the fire truck and make the confetti cannons go off.

Patterson: I do not view [positively] the huge number of child baptisms that Baptists are now guilty of--Baptists are some of the worst paedo-baptizers there are.
I don't know if I'd call it blasphemy but it's obvious Dr. Patterson does not like the practice. This is interesting because of some of the news coming out regarding the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro this summer!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Who Said It? Part VIII

Somebody STOP ME!!! PLEASE!!!

OK, last one from this bunch:
"Holy Spirit said something to me and I had to go like a mad man and looking in the Word. He says, ‘God’s original plan is that the woman was to bring forth children out of her side.’ What? You know that there is nowhere in the Bible but where God gives birth out of His side. Jesus gives birth to the church out of His side. Adam gives birth to his wife out of his side. It was sin that turned the thing around. And it was sin that transformed her flesh and her body."

Who Said It? - Part VII

Same crowd, different participants!

PERSON 1: "Adam was a superbeing when God created Him. I don’t know whether people even know this, but he was the first superman that ever lived. (PERSON 2 is heard laughing on the set.) First of all, the Scriptures declare clearly that he had dominion over the fowls of the air, the fish of the sea, which means he used to fly."

PERSON 2: "Wow!"

PERSON 1: "Of course, how can you have dominion over the birds and not be able to do what they do?"

PERSON 2: "Whoa, I mean, wait a minute. PERSON 1, wait a minute."

PERSON 1: "I’ll prove it to you. The word dominion in the Hebrew clearly declares that, if you have dominion over a subject, you can do everything that subject does. In other words, that subject, if it does something that you cannot do, you don’t have dominion over it. I’ll prove it further. Adam not only flew, he flew to space. He used to be . . . He, He, He, He, He, He . . . with one thought He’d be on the moon."
Well, I guess that "proves" it!

Wait, no it doesn't! Read that last statement again:
"I'll prove it further. Adam not only flew, he flew to space..."
THAT'S PROOF in this fairy-tale world of their's???

Who Said It? - Part VI

Boy, once you get started with these, they're like Pringles - you can't stop!!!

PERSON 1: "He doesn’t ever draw a distinction between himself." (PERSON 3 agrees in the background.)

PERSON 2: "Never, never. You never can do that in a covenant relationship."

PERSON 1: "You know what else that settles then tonight. This hue and cry and controversy that has been spawned by the devil to try and bring dissent within the body of Christ that we are gods. I am a little god."

PERSON 2: "Yes, yes!"

PERSON 1: "I have His name. I’m one with Him. I’m in a covenant relationship. I am a little god."

PERSON 2: "Critic, you are anything that He is."

PERSON 1 (heard under the words of PERSON 2): "Critic, be gone."

PERSON 1: "Yes!"
When do people meet in "little worship services" to worship these "little gods"?

Here's another statemnt (free bonus) from PERSON 1:
"God’s reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself and in the Garden of Eden, He did that. He was not a little like God, He was not almost like God, he was subordinate to God, even. And Adam was as much like God as you can get . . . And I want you to know something. Adam in the Garden of Eden was God manifested in the flesh."

Who Said It? Part V

OK, these are probably pretty easy but they are at least revealing:
PERSON 1: "I was shocked when I found out who the biggest failure in the Bible actually is."

PERSON 2: "Okay."

PERSON 1: "You know everybody you ask, you say, ‘Who’s the biggest failure?’ They say, ‘Judas.’ Somebody else will say, ‘No, I believe it was Adam.’ Well, how about the devil?"

PERSON 2: (unintelligible sound of amazement.)

PERSON 1: "He’s the most consistent failure . . . but he’s not the biggest in terms of material failure and so forth. The biggest in the whole Bible is God. . . . Wait, wait. Don’t you turn that set off. You listen to us. I told you. . . . Now, you sit still a minute. You know me well enough to know I wouldn’t tell something I can’t prove by the Bible. "

He lost His top ranking of most anointed angel, the first man He ever created, the first woman He ever created, the whole earth and all the fullness therein, a third of the angels at least. That’s a big loss, man! I mean you figure up all of that, that’s a lot of real estate, gone down the drain.
"Now, the reason you don’t think of God as a failure, He never said He’s a failure. And you are not a failure until you say you are one."
Sadly, the best thing to come out of that conversation was "unintelligible sound of amazement."

However, in thinking of this quote, it appears to make a lot of sense for the free will theist and their more consistent cousin, the open theist. If God is going to grant libertarian free will to His creatures, then He is obviously taking some kind of "risk" that they will or will not love Him.

Do angels have "free will" in that libertarian sense that many want to assume for themselves? Here's a good article from the Pyromaniacs that attempts to address that issue: HERE

Who Said It? - Part IV

Here's a triple-header: a conversation between three people.

Any guesses? Try for ALL THREE!

PERSON 1: "The force of faith is in the spiritual realm a great deal like certain forces in the natural realm. It is a spiritual force, like gravity is a natural force, and electricity is a natural force of power."

PERSON 2: "A measurable natural force."

PERSON 1: "It’s a measurable force, it’s conductible, it’s perceptible to the touch . . . Faith is a spiritual force, it’s perceptible, . . . it is a tangible force, it’s an invisible force, so is gravity, but it is there."

PERSON 2: "So is electricity . . . Does God use faith?"

PERSON 1: "Surely."

PERSON 2: ". . . See, here is the sore spot. There are those who say . . ."

PERSON 3: "Not with him." (speaking of

PERSON 2: "Not with you." (lots of laughter follows)

PERSON 3: "Not with God."

PERSON 1: ". . . the fact. No, I’m not sore at God at all and I don’t think He’s sore at me . . . I haven’t done anything to Him."

PERSON 2: ". . . The critics say God is God, He doesn’t have to have faith; He doesn’t exercise faith. He doesn’t use faith. He’s God. He’s the object of faith."

PERSON 1: " . . . Wait a minute, what does that mean? Object of faith. I don’t know what that means."

PERSON 3: "I don’t either."

Just thinking here - I'm pretty sure they don't know what "object of faith" means! And a whole lot more!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Who Said It? Part III

This quote seems appropraite considering the political wrangling going on these days. Who said it?
"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Who Said It? Part Deux

Try to guess the originator of this quote from a very accessible and available book. You might even have heard it on the radio (WMIT for the NC people who read)!

Where is this place represented by "outer darkness" in Jesus' parables? To be in outer darkness is to be in the kingdom of God but outside the circle of men and women whose faithfulness on this earth has earned them a special rank or position of authority (italics in original).

The "outer darkness" represents not so much an actual place as it does a sphere of influence and privilege. It is not a geographical area in a kingdom where certain men and women are consigned to stay. It is simply a figure of speech describing their low rank or status in God's kingdom. . . . Now, imagine standing before God and seeing all you have lived for reduced to ashes. How do you think you would feel? How do you think you would respond? Picture yourself watching saint after saint rewarded for faithfulness and service to the King--and all the time knowing that you had just as many opportunities but did nothing about them. . .

We do not know how long this time of rejoicing and sorrow will last. Those whose works are burned will not weep and gnash their teeth for all eternity. At some point, we know God will comfort those who have suffered loss.

Sounds almost like purgatory, doesn't it?

Any guesses?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hank Hill and the Mega-Church

On "King of the Hill," it appears the "pew situation" might lead Hank Hill to change churches. His wife wants to visit the local mega-church. A few quotes:

Hank: That place is too big. What does it have - 5,000 some odd members.
Peggy: And it pampers ALL of them . . . dry cleaning.
Hank: If I wanted to go that route, I could just walk around the mall and think about Jesus.

Some hippie: I don't go to church, church goes with me. I worship when I'm drinking a beer, digging a hole or fishing for trout.
Hank's airhead daughter: Wow, that's beautiful.
Hank: Louann, I happen to know that's asinine.

Who Said This? Part I

Can you guess who said this quote?
I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that doctrine.
The answer comes later, unless someone gets it right. (No "googling.")

How to Tell if you are a "Sound Christian"

Over at the Calvinist Gadfly, Steve Camp posted this article from Puritan Thomas Hooker:

1. If you can mourn daily for your own corruptions and failings committed, yet so as to be thankful for the grace received.
Romans 7:24–25: “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord . . . So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

2. If you are grieved for the sins of the times and places wherein you live.
Ezekiel 9:4: “And the Lord said unto him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.’”

Psalm 119:136: “Rivers of water run down mine eyes because men keep not Thy law.”

2 Peter 2:8: “For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day, with their unlawful deeds.

3. If when you mourn for the sins of the times, you take heed that you are not infected with them.
Philippians 2:15: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

Acts 20:40: “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this untoward generation.’ ”

James 1:27: “Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

1 Peter 4:4: “Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.”

4. If you endeavor to get victory over your corruptions, and are daily more circumspect over your ways, and more fearful to fall in time to come.
1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means when I have preached to others I myself should be a castaway.”

Psalm 39:1: “I said I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue. I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked are before me.”

Job 40:5: “Once I have spoken, but I will not answer thee; yea twice, but I will proceed no further.”

Philippians 2:12: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in mine absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Proverbs 28:14: “Happy is the man that feareth always.”