Thursday, March 31, 2005

I Want My Western Bacon Cheeseburger

I can't vouch for the veracity of this 911 call, but if it's a fake it's fooled better journalists than I.

Hardees Western Bacon Cheesburgers are better than BK's, anyway.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

He's Lucky He Isn't Married

Can't take original credit for the headline, unfortunately. That goes to James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.

Read My Blog and Rewire Your Brain

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The State of the Judiciary

Yesterday the Colorado Supreme Court overturned a death penalty decision because jurors discussed verses of Scripture. This new horizon in the abatement of religious freedom follows another stunning development in our judicial system: the influence of foreign law.

Related articles include an editorial from Texas Senator John Cornyn, a story describing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's public condemnation of this trend, and a fascinating video available via RealPlayer of a debate between Justices Scalia and Stephen Breyer on the topic.

The only way this problem is going to be solved is if the American people make it clear that we expect our judges to enforce the law and our Constitution based on the framers' intent. The Constitution demands that the Senate give "advice and consent" on presidential appointees. Many of our Senators are ignoring this responsibility for political purposes, and judges like Scalia are being blocked from the bench. Contact your senators and insist that all presidential judicial appointees receive a floor vote.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Scientists Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing

"I am quite conscious that my speculations run beyond the bounds of true science."

This quote from Charles Darwin headlines an advertisement in World Magazine for the "Uncommon Dissent Forum" in Greenville, SC, this August 4-6. It's a series of lectures at the Palmetto Expo Center on the latest evidence concerning Darwin's speculations. Lecturers include Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box. More info at Piedmont Travel's web site.

If anyone in Greenville can attend all or part, I'd love to post a guest blog.

It's "Davey"

Maybe it's the editor in me. I just can't stand to see Dan Davey's name spelled Davies. Dan Davey is the pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, VA and president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary also of VB, VA.

Here are a few grammatical variants for your reference:
    Possessive: Dan Davey's church

    Plural: Dan Davey and his family=the Daveys

    Plural Possessive: the car of the Davey family=the Daveys' car

I do know a man named Nigel Davies, the Australian pastor who represents Positive Action For Christ in the land down under. And that is a truly lame segue into a shameless promo.

Friday, March 25, 2005

For the Record: My Advanced Directive

This morning FoxNews ran a brief interview with George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo. He was making the point that it was time for the Schiavo family to stop their appeals. The lynchpin of his argument was, "Terri doesn't walk. Terri doesn't talk. She can't be rehabilitated."

Just in case any of you are around when I can't walk, talk, or have any chance of getting better, I would like the standard for killing me to be just a tad higher. By my count (correct me if I'm wrong), Walter Fremont has written three books since he has been unable to walk, talk, or have any hopes of rehabilitation from his ALS.

I'm not saying don't pull the plug on me regardless of whether I'm brain dead or persistently vegetative. I can only say that right now my personal preference under those circumstances would be to die and be with Christ. As Paul said (even in the midst of his active prison ministry), that would be "far better" (Philippians 1:23-24). But since when does what I would prefer serve as the arbiter for morality? Paul had the confidence to say that it would be beneficial for the Philippians if he were to continue his ministry. Coincidentally, Paul wrote three books--1 and 2 Timothy and Titus--after his letter to the Philippians.

Unfortunately, I lack his apostolic confidence. The simple fact is that I do not know, and cannot know, how God might intend to glorify His name even through the prolonging of my infirmity. May He give grace and wisdom should one day require it on my behalf.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Seductiveness of Numeric Success

So, how many people has your church baptized this year? How many decisions were made at your camp last summer? How many people came forward when you preached?

These past couple days I've been reminded of all those questions and the natural impulses behind them. Those of you who blog (unless you're made of finer clay than I) know what it is like to write something and hope that someone reads it. I post a few semi-random thoughts. I give a little thought to what features I can add to the site that might be helpful. Then it hits me--I absolutely must, MUST know how many people are skidding by my little plot of cyberspace. So I go find some html code for a counter feature and sign up with some faceless entity that will no doubt spam me mercilessly despite my rejection of all "special offer" requests.

All that simply to ponder how seductive is the affirmation that people just might care enough to read what I have to say. How easily that motivation can creep so subtly into our ministries.
What will people think of me if I share a testimony Sunday night? What if I admit to all my spiritual infirmity in some area? Will this sermon illustration make people think I'm funny (no matter if it makes the point of the text)? Will it make them walk the aisle? How will this decision about how we do church affect our attendance?

How long could we go on?

Now, it would be easy to make a blanket condemnation of nose-counting, but somebody was running the abacus in Acts 2:41.

Here's where I see the distinction: motivation. Perhaps that is obvious, but the balancing act is Ringlingian. Are we making ourselves big or our God big? Notice the passive voice verb in Acts 2:41 translated "there were added." My immediate suspicion that this is an arrow pointing to divine power is confirmed in the text a few verses later following a narrative of the growth of the Jerusalem church. Verse 47 concludes, "And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved" (ESV, emphasis mine).

For now, I'll have to fight my thirst for acclaim. I seek God's grace to instill in me a growing desire for that day when my awe for Him will be complete and I will see what John saw in Revelation 7:9-10--a great multitude of worshipers from all the peoples of the earth, and no man will be able to count them all.

And no one will try.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Why I Formerly Loved Baseball

Apparently we don't heal as quickly when we're off the juice.

Reagan Audio Archives

I should have been alert enough to get this online in February in celebration of President Reagan's birthday, but now will have to do. Click here for access to a whole pile of MP3 downloads of Reagan's speeches, including the Berlin Wall speech, the Challenger disaster speech, his farewell speech at the 1992 Republican Convention, and the clip from his press conference where he talks about passing legislation outlawing Russia and starting the bombing in five minutes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A Twist in the Hermeneutical Spiral

This morning in our staff devotions at Positive Action we beta tested the format for our Manna: Volume 4. It's essentially a God-focused approach to daily study in the Word. Frank Hamrick had us use 1 Peter 1:1-12 as our test passage. I've read that passage a gazillion times, so I don't know why some things jumped out at me now more than before. Maybe it is the clarity of the ESV.

Take a look at verses 10-12:
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,
11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.
12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

In other words, this passage teaches that the Spirit revealed to the prophets that their writings were intended for Peter's audience. Granted, their oral messages had an ancient audience of Israelites. Those messages had a specific historical intent. I believe, and the 1 Peter passage seems to agree, that the prophetic books that became part of the canon carried an authorial intent that was distinct from the message God intended the prophets to deliver to ancient Israel. This distinct intent would be a message for the NT church. (Dare I say New Covenant believers?) More on this later when I talk about my class on Old Testament Theology with John Sailhamer. The big idea is that the Spirit intended the writings of the prophets to be used by the church. I can't remember that I've ever heard anyone in my background deal with this passage thoroughly. Am I missing something here?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Unanswered Questions in my Mind on the Terry Schiavo Case

When I wrote to the editor of the RM paper, I felt a little guilty for not dealing with the "life" issues. But here's why I didn't. I simply don't know enough about all the complexities of this case to speak anywhere near authoritatively. There are too many unanswered questions in my mind.

  • Is rehab possible? Has it been tried? Who's right about this--the parents and their doctors or the husband and his?

  • What is a reasonable physical level of physical deterioration to make feeding tube removal ethical?

  • Do the rights of a husband include the right to terminate life?

  • Is there a difference between terminating care for a brain dead person and a persistently vegetative person?

  • Is the husband's testimony that Terri said she would never want to be in this state credible in light of his apparent motivations? If he didn't care about the money, he could divorce her. (Jesus' teaching on divorce and fornication doesn't seem to be a guiding principle in his life.)

  • Is federal intervention going too far? Does the argument hold water that "if death row inmates get a hearing with the U.S. Supreme Court, Terri should too"?
  • March Madness and Rising Tides

    Please give me One Shining Moment. Somebody. Just one. Like these:

  • Bryce Drew, Valparaiso, 1998. The Play. Stunning upset of Ole Miss on the way to the Sweet 16.

  • Drew Nicholas, Maryland, 2003. Nicholas' crazy, running, flopping 3 from the baseline at the buzzer saved the defending national champs from a huge first-round upset at the hands of UNC Wilmington.

  • What's with the name Drew, by the way?

    My point is, of the 48 games played this weekend, can anybody name a buzzer-beater to win the game? Sure, Vermont and NC State hit some big shots late to take leads, but Syracuse and UConn blew their chances to win or tie the game on buzzer shots in those games. Maybe my memories of the good old days are glowing in comparison to the haze of my general cynicism for the things of today. But it sure seems like everyone is busy losing games these days rather than winning them. Somebody hit a shot, for crying out loud.

    There is a point to all this, believe it or not.

    I have been impressed over the past month by the brilliance possessed by so many of my web-friends. They have challenged me not to settle for a comfortably steady plodding towards truth, but to pursue it as for a hidden treasure. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," spoke the prophet Hosea in chapter 4, verse 6. But what knowledge? A brief scan of the book shows that people perished for lack of a knowledge of God.

    Perhaps the NCAA tournament is no less exciting if games are lost by missed shots rather than won by made ones. But if rising tides lift all boats, surely ebb tides lower them all, as well. I'm convinced that we (I) have allowed ourselves (myself) a life of comfortable ease. We've satisfied ourselves with Solomon's vanities because we're still pretty erudite and passionate about our faith compared to the culture of Barna's evangelical world. To those of you who have challenged me: Grace, peace, and thanks to you. To myself: Don't allow a dumbed-down world to let you settle for floating slightly above low tide. To us all: Let's not define our success as being more dedicated to truth than the rest. Hit the shot. Succeed through success, not just by less abysmal failure than our neighbors.

    P.S. Bitzer was a banker.

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

    Perils of the Herd Instinct

    One of the great challenges of today's conservative evangelicalism is dealing with the tension between unity and doctrinal purity. We need to draw lines, but what are the right lines, and where are the right places for those lines to be drawn? What are the pitfalls of making the lines the "main thing"? For some of our brethren, the lines tend to become an idol, and those within the lines can become a comfortable clique.

    To my shame, I have only recently returned to reading C.S. Lewis after nearly two decades away. Reading not long ago in his Screwtape Letters, I came across a passage in a letter from the demon Screwtape to his nephew and protege, Wormwood. It speaks poignantly to our tendency toward fear of man and the love of mutual adoration:
    Any small coterie, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a hothouse mutual admiration, and towards the outer world, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the 'Cause' is its sponsor and it is thought to be impersonal. Even when the little group exists originally for the Enemy's own purposes, this remains true. We want the Church to be small not only that fewer men may know the Enemy but also that those who do may acquire the uneasy intensity and the defensive self-righteousness of a secret society or a clique.

    C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, Number 7

    Saturday, March 19, 2005

    One Bible Belt Christian's Case for Euthanasia

    I'm in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Pages upon pages of Baptist churches in the phone book. You might be tempted to think that the liberal chokehold on the news media would be different here. Not so as demonstrated by this editorial in our local paper. My letter to the editor is below. I don't hold it up as an example of eloquency--just what I threw together in 15 minutes.

    Dear Mr. Herrin,

    Ray Watters clearly has some axes to grind. If you want to make him feel better by letting him do that on the editorial page of your newspaper, I suppose you have that right. However, your decision to print yesterday's editorial on Terri Schiavo was reprehensible for two reasons.

    First, it is factually inaccurate on several points. 1) She is not unresponsive. Check the facts. 2) She is not brain dead. 3) She is not in a coma. I'm including for your information a link to an article from the Medical College of Wisconsin on the difference between a persistent vegetative state (Terri's condition) and the states of being comatose or brain dead.

    Medical College of Wisconsin article

    Is it somehow unfair to assume that your the rest of your news team is as careless with the facts as your copy desk chief?

    The second reason your decision was reprehensible is because of the cavalier nature with which Watters deals with life and death issues. I realize that our society will never find unanimity on these ethical issues. Thinking people will always disagree. But Watters' condescending dismissal of people who are trying to defend life--even that which is severely damaged--is obtuse and unworthy of publication. Glossing over complex moral issues does nothing to advance the conversation. And concerning his closing comment, I really don't know what to say. For that matter, I really don't know what Watters meant. I do know this: If you are going to publish an editorial that longs for "the brutal finality of a gun," you need to offer me some substantive justification for such a brash statement.

    Mr. Herrin, please give me a good reason to believe that my subscription to your newspaper is supporting more responsible journalism than has been demonstrated this week.