Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Christian Pick-Up lines

I love the Wittenburg Door, the only Christian satire magazine.
Only thing is, because I've lived out of the U.S. for so long, there's a lot of satire I don't get.
But that Christians are a constant source of good satire is clear and pretty funny in and of itself.

This issue helps young Christian men pick up girls in a spritually wholesome way.
I wish I was young enough to try it.

Pick-up lines range from beginner-level, such as the favorite, "Do you want to start a Bible study with me?" to professional-grade, "In Koine Greek you would be known as babelios-dynimo. I've studied the ancient language for three years just to be able to tell you that truth with confidence." (Do not attempt this line unless you have actually studied Koine Greek.)

"Can I have your number? God told me that if I have faith when I ask I shall receive." (Matt. 6:7)

"Miss, I believe that if you were to count your ribs you'd find you have one of mine." (Gen. 2:21-23)

"Excuse me? Would you hold my hand as I pray? I believe that so long as you're standing with me, God will grant me anything I ask." (Matt. 18:20)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Conservapedia

Jon Swift, one of my favortie bloggers - no, make that my favorite blogger, including myself - has written a great piece on something I had not heard about yet. Conservapedia.
I took a look at it myself today. Really unbelievable and amusing.
Conservapedia bemoans Wikipedia's biases (anti-Christian and anti-American), but manages to say clearly on the main page: Conservapedia is an online resource and meeting place where we favor Christianity and America.
That's not bias?
Just for fun I looked up Copernicus.
Copernicus is described as having made the stunning claim that the earth revolved around the sun, opposing the views of science and the church of his time. Copernicus did make some unforgiveable mistakes, however: he thought the planets moved in circular revolutions and that the sun was stationary.
Conservapedia reports that most Protestant countries reacted negatively to the theory of Copernicus because it clashed with the Biblical truth that the sun had stood still for a while in the time of Joshua.
This illuminating article concludes with the assertion that To this day, most Protestant countries reject the Copernican theory.

I had not realized there were Protestant countries today.
I'm glad I found Conservapedia. Thanks, Jon.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Worst foreign policy mistake in history

"Things getting very nasty in Washington. Today the White House denied an assertion by Senator Harry Reid that the Iraq war is 'the worst foreign policy mistake in U.S. history.'
The White House said, 'You have to realize that President Bush has two more years in office.'"

--Conan O'Brien

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Are we winning?

This in the news today about a resurgence of Al Qaeda.
Not really surprising.
Up until recently Buish has been saying that we are significantly crippling Al Qaeda. Apparently not.
It has already been announced that we are not winning in Iraq, probably soon he will have to announce we are not winning against Al Qaeda either.
I would use the word crazy to describe this if it weren't so dangerous.

Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.

The new warnings are different from those made in recent months by intelligence officials and terrorism experts, who have spoken about the growing abilities of Taliban forces and Pakistani militants to launch attacks into Afghanistan. American officials say that the new intelligence is focused on Al Qaeda and points to the prospect that the terrorist network is gaining in strength despite more than five years of a sustained American-led campaign to weaken it.

The concern about a resurgent Al Qaeda has been the subject of intensive discussion at high levels of the Bush administration, the officials said, and has reignited debate about how to address Pakistan’s role as a haven for militants without undermining the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president.
Last week, President Bush’s senior counterterrorism adviser, Frances Fragos Townsend, went to Afghanistan during a Middle East trip to meet with security officials about rising concerns on Al Qaeda’s resurgence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, an administration official said.
Officials from several different American intelligence and counterterrorism agencies presented a consistent picture in describing the developments as a major setback to American efforts against Al Qaeda.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sad but funny

If it wasn't so sad you could make it really funny...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Press Conference 2

Yesterday I said I'd quote some from Bushes' press conference of yesterday.
This post will be a little longer than normal, because I am quoting from the transcript.
The first subject has to do with the reliability of the intellingence telling us that Iran is sneding weapons to and meddling with the situation in Iraq.
It seems to me a most reasonable question and, in the light of the intelligence mistakes upon which the war in Iraq is based, absolutely necessary that we can trust the intelligence information we are getting. There is nothing political or negatively critical about the question. It is perfectly reasonable, and one we are most interested in.
That question was asked at least twice yesterday, and received no answer.
It is at least scandalous that no answer was given, and also alarming. Read it for yourself:

Q Thank you, sir. I'd like to follow on Iran. Critics say that you are using the same quality of intelligence about Iran that you used to make the case for war in Iraq, specifically about WMD that turned out to be wrong, and that you are doing that to make a case for war against Iran. Is that the case?
THE PRESIDENT: I can say with certainty that the Quds force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed our troops. And I'd like to repeat, I do not know whether or not the Quds force was ordered from the top echelons of government. But my point is what's worse -- them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening? And so we will continue to protect our troops.
David, our strategy is comprehensive in order to resolve problems that will affect our own peace and the peace in the world. And the biggest problem I see is the Iranians' desire to have a nuclear weapon. As you know, we've been dealing with this issue ever since you've been covering me, and pretty much ever since I've been the President. And we've made it very clear to the Iranians that if they would like to have a dialogue with the United States, there needs to be a verifiable suspension of their program. I would hope that they would do that. I would like to be at the -- have been given a chance for us to explain that we have no desire to harm the Iranian people.
But my focus is on making sure that this weapon is dealt with, the program is dealt with in a constructive, peaceful way. And we'll continue to work toward achieving our common objective with other nations in the world in a peaceful way.

Q. What assurances can you give the American people that the intelligence this time will be accurate?
THE PRESIDENT: Ed, we know they're there, we know they're provided by the Quds force. We know the Quds force is a part of the Iranian government. I don't think we know who picked up the phone and said to the Quds force, go do this, but we know it's a vital part of the Iranian government.
What matters is, is that we're responding. The idea that somehow we're manufacturing the idea that the Iranians are providing IEDs is preposterous, Ed. My job is to protect our troops. And when we find devices that are in that country that are hurting our troops, we're going to do something about it, pure and simple.

He gives us no assurance that the intelligence now is of a better quality than that of five years ago. None.

I also mentioned how difficult it is to understand Bush. If you have some time, try to figure out his answer to this question.

Q Mr. President, do you agree with the National Intelligence Estimate that we are now in a civil war in Iraq? And, also, you talk about victory, that you have to have victory in Iraq; it would be catastrophic if we didn't. You said again today that the enemy would come here, and yet you say it's not an open-ended commitment. How do you square those things?
…The reason I described that is that no matter what you call it, it's a complex situation, and it needed to be dealt with inside of Iraq. We've got people who say civil war, we've got people on the ground who don't believe it's a civil war. But nevertheless, it is -- it was dangerous enough that I had to make a decision to try to stop it, so that a government that is bound by a constitution, where the country feels relatively secure as a result of a security force that is even-handed in its application of security; a place where the vast resources of the country -- this is a relatively wealthy country, in that they've got a lot of hydrocarbons -- is shared equally amongst people; that there is a federalism that evolves under the Constitution where the local provinces have got authority, as well; and where people who may have made a political decision in the past and yet weren't criminals can participate in the life of the country; and is an ally in the war on terror. In other words, that there is a bulwark for moderation, as opposed to a safe haven for extremism.
And that's what I would view as successful.

Now only 704 days.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Press Conference

I'm listening live to the Bush press conference today.
He really does simply avoid answering some pretty straightforward questions.
Some of what he says is really absolute nonsense.
Some of it is not understandable.
The English continues to be butchered.
It's an embarrassment.
When the text is printed, I'll comment more specifically.
Only 705 days, my counter tells me.

Children and the Kingdom

Today UNICEF published a report entitled: An overview of child well-being in rich countries.
It is an assessment of the wellbeing of children and adolescents in econcomically advanced nations.
On the front page are these words:

The true measure of a nation’s standing is how well it attends to its children – their health and safety, their material security, their education and socialization, and their sense of being loved, valued, and included in the families and societies into which they are born.

The older I get, the more I think this is correct. When we as families cannot or will not provide a safe place for our children, we fail miserably, however rich and powerful we may be.

It is interesting that Holland takes the first prize, having the highest average ranking.

The United Kingdom and the United States find themselves in the bottom third of the rankings for five of the six dimensions reviewed - Britain last and the U.S. next to last.

The U.S. has the higest number of children in households with less than 50% of the median income, and ranks, in that category, last.

My sermon this coming Sunday will be on Jesus' parable about Kingdom as a mustard seed that provides a nesting place for the birds of the air. Where the Kingdom is, people - and children - are safe.

Should give us a lot to think about. Where is Gods Kingdom now really?

Why are children so safe in "secular" Holland, and so unsafe in "Christian" America?

And what are you doing to promote the wellbeing of the next generation?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Derailed

Yesterday I had a conversation with someone about what it is like when things get difficult - either temporarily or for the long haul.
I used the example of a train that is derailed. It's not going anywhere (for a while).

What you don't need is someone who makes all kinds of suggestions about what you could/should have done to prevent the derailment.
It also doesn't help if those around you say or think look, you derailed the train, get it back on the tracks yourself, and when things are running again I'll catch up with you.
You need someone who bends down to help you without saying too much.

Sometimes you need more than one person.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Deadly Sins

This list of the deadly sins of preaching as given by John Ortberg and reproduced on Out of Ur. Good stuff, and so relevant.

1. The temptation to be inauthentic

We want to present an image to others that makes us appear more holy, intelligent, or godly than we actually are. In the end this is a foolish pursuit because the truth of who we are will always leak out.
2. The temptation to live for recognition
After finishing a sermon the question that runs through most of our minds is, did they like it? But we need to learn to root our identity in something other than applause. Ortberg cited Dallas Willard’s ability to present his material and give no thought to people’s reactions. He’s like a child who releases a helium balloon. He says what God’s given him to say, and simply lets it go.
3. The temptation to live in fear
What if I fail? That question plagues many pastors. But there is a difference between failing at something and being a failure. You are not a failure. Again, our identity must been hidden in Christ and not our accomplishments.
4. The temptation to compare
With the radio, television, and the internet our generation faces this temptation more than any previous generation. Our culture of celebrity pastors causes us to compare ourselves to others. This does nothing good for the soul.
5. The temptation to exaggerate
This seems closely linked to temptation number one. Overstating facts is how we often try to manage our image and appear better than we are. John also linked this to plagiarism—passing someone else’s story, sermon, or idea off as our own to win approval.
6. The temptation to feel chronically inadequate
7. The temptation of pride
Having people listen to you give a monologue every week can make you prideful. The antidote? A wife. (Ortberg’s joke, not mine.)
8. The temptation to manipulate
Having a pulpit and speaking the words of God might give some a power rush. We mustn’t use our position to manipulate people into doing what we want them to do.
9. The temptation of envy
This seems related to number four, the temptation to compare. But envy carries the nuance of desire and ambition. We not only compare ourselves to another preacher, but we seek to achieve what they have. Such selfish motivations will undermine our spiritual health.
10. The temptation of anger
John read this quote from Henri Nouwen that says it all:
Anger in particular seems close to a professional vice in the contemporary ministry. Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following. They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who do come for coming without enthusiasm. They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be. This is not an open, blatant, roaring anger, but an anger hidden behind the smooth word, the smiling face, and the polite handshake. It is a frozen anger, an anger which settles into a biting resentment and slowly paralyzes a generous heart. If there is anything that makes the ministry look grim and dull, it is this dark, insidious anger in the servants of Christ.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Contrast

If you have some time, check out these two videos.
One is emerging church.
A little, like, too much, like, vague, for me, like, what are these guys like really saying?
The second is selling someone a product based on fear - fear of hell. Can you imagine how succesful a counselor would be using this approach to save a marriage on the rocks?
(I did like the girl who wouldn't admit that "cursing" was such a sin. She stood up to them.)
Been there, done that.
Won't do it again.


Publish

Death by Ministry

From Mark Driscoll, the following information about pastors in America.
When have you last prayed for your pastor and his wife?
When have you last encouraged your pastor and his wife?

Pastors

• Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
• Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
• Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
• Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
• Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
• Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
• Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
• Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.

Pastors' Wives

• Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
• Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
• The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.