Sunday, April 30, 2006

US preps for 'Day without an Immigrant'

On May Day, it is estimated that millions of immigrants and allies will participate in "The Great May 1st Boycott." Protesters will stay home from school, avoid work, and cease engaging in commerce in order to demand amnesty for the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants in the US.

Juan Jose Gutierrez, national coordinator for Latino Movement USA, is one of the lead organizers of Monday's planned boycott.

ANSWER, a coalition civil rights groups says, "Let's show the government, corporations and racist politicians that a powerful, united people's movement has the power to win civil rights, workers' rights and make history. . . . No business as usual on May 1!"

CNN describes the organized boycott (here).

An Pro-Anarchy website describes the protest (here).

Ready or not--the necessity of a balanced immigration policy will be accelerated by this protest.

United 93--In Living Color?

Todd Beamer, husband, father of three, and American hero, will be remembered as one of the brave of September 11 that suffered death on Flight 93.

In this week's WSJ, Todd's father, David writes (here) of the importance of this weekend's release of "United 93" (see trailer here), the film that depicts the events that led to the end of the flight heading toward Washington, D. C., on 9/11.

The movie (official website here) received a restricted rating, which will detour many viewers. CT reviewed the movie positively (here).

Also, a portion of the profits from the movie will go toward the Flight 93 Memorial Fund (here).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Golden Tongue in weekend paper

On Pascha (Easter) night in the Eastern Church, Orthodox Christian Church ministers do not preach their own sermon but rather preach the homily on the Resurrection by John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, a man considered by most to be one the greatest preachers in the history of Christianity.

The homily, translated by Mark Arey, pastor of St. John Chrysostom Greek Orthodox Mission, appears here in Nashville's The Tennessean.

Its Easter--for the rest of us...

According to my calendar, last week was Easter. But to the other half of the Christian world, it was today.

The Reason? Western churches use the Gregorian calendar, while Orthodox churches use the older Julian calendar.

Both agree that the resurrection occurred on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox, as established by the Council of Nicea in 325.

The calendars do, however, occasionally coincide. Both sides celebrated together in 2001 and 2004, and will do it again in 2007.

Pentecostals celebrate centennial

Here, Jeff Weiss at the Dallas Morning News discusses the centennial history of Pentecostals, calling them "America's most successful spiritual export."

In his article, he notes, "Pentecostalism has thrived despite having two early core doctrines proven wrong. Early Pentecostal leaders believed that Jesus was returning soon. That urgency explained why they expected help from the Holy Spirit in the form of the gift of languages – the ability to speak to all peoples of the earth.
Jesus hasn't returned. And the "languages" turned out not to be earthly. "Glossolalia," or speaking in tongues, is now usually described by believers as a "private prayer language." But to outsiders, it's gibberish."

Interesting, or those who know me well, "Hmm."

Full Court Press Begins Early for SBC 2006

In this weekend's Star-Telegram, early coverage of resolutions that may appear on the floor of the SBC stirs the waters of the DFW metroplex, here in the buckle of the Bible-belt.

Here, a pastor from Arlington's Parkview Baptist Church, which is aligned solely with the conservative Southern Baptist Convention of Texas, articulates his objection to recent IMB board action to remove a trustee who wrote a dissentious blog after board action had concluded.

Knowing the issues and decisions that have been publicly discussed this year in both the IMB and NAMB will prove vital for comprehending the conversation at this year's convention.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday...

Christians around the world draw together this Sunday to celebrate the power of the resurrection, and to worship the Risen Lord.

No services are held on Saturday to celebrate his burial, because the day of his entombment marks to the pinnacle of his humiliation in death.

Many overlook the significance of this day, looking back to Friday and the magnitude of the crucifixion. Similarly, we look forward to the great day of triumph in new life and resurrection.

But in 1 Cor 15, the apostle identifies three acts in his historic work: his death, his burial, and and his resurrection.

Consider the burial of Jesus and its meaning for the work of Salvation. The burial of Jesus marks the culmination of his suffering. His burial demonstrates the extent of his death as well as the last stage of his mediatorial work of returning to dust, just as the first Adam had. Thus, his burial was an act of Christ sharing in the humiliation and harm of the grave, and not merely to prove He was dead.

In his burial, Jesus removes the terrors of death and the grave by suffering the descent into this humiliating locus, redeeming the grave and sanctifying it for His glory.

So this year, consider the grave and the burial of Christ. Consider your grave, and the extent of your humiliation suffered in this world and in your daily dying to Him. Then, as you are reduced to ashes and dust, Sunday comes with greater anticipation.

After suffering the pangs of burial you long for the restoration found in resurrection. Then, like Paul, the day between Good Friday and Resurrection Day will carry with it great significance in your own life--for it's the day you're reduced to nothing. Then--and only then--He can raise you in newness of life through the stone-moving power of His resurrection.

Consider the burial of Christ.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pagels forsakes truth, bows to the pressure of sensationalism

Discussions around the world this week peaked concerning the gospel of Judas. In today's NYT (here), Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton, relishes the discovery of this new 'twist' on Jesus' ministry.

Unlike Irenaeus, who called this work and those like it heresy and blasphemy, Ms. Pagels sees this work as one that "explodes the myth of a monolithic Christianity."

She concludes, "Those of us who go to church may find our Easter reflections more mysterious than ever."

The only mystery this 'professor' needs is the one revealed in power that Paul explains in Rom 16:25ff and 1 Cor 2.

Today, that mystery is revealed through powerful gospel preaching, not through the discovery of some aberrant papyrus.

"Pro-Life Nation"

In today's NYT, Jack Hitt constructs graphic and disturbing account of the underground abortion industry in El Salvador, a country where all abortion is illegal. He uses the tragedies of illegal activity and death to build a case for keeping abortion legal in the US, asking rhetorically, "Who would ever want this kind of crime in the US?"

Dark and detailed with gore, the nine-page rant functions as a construct of an abortion advocate who believes that being "pro-life" means that one must be prepared to deal on a national scale with this magnitude of death through blackmarket abortion. This end is inevitable, he screams, if the US ever considers pro-life legislation.

He asks the question, "What happens when you completely criminalize abortion? Over the last eight years, El Salvador has found out."

Though lengthy, you should read this article to understand the mind behind the abortion agenda.

See the article (here). Caution: Contains very graphic description of procedures.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

"The Church of Global Warming"

In this article, Mark Tooley demonstrates the flaccidity of preaching in many of our nation's pulpits.

Just a taste:
"How can America repent for its complicity in Global Warming? The "repentance" required by the Religious Left includes all the demands of the secular Green Left: comply with the Kyoto Accord, reduce economic growth, regulate the economy more, increase taxes, reduce U.S. sovereignty, maximize U.S. aid to the supposed global victims of America's pollution and greed.

"Perhaps, then, a benevolent Mother Earth will withhold her anger, and spare a repentant America and the rest of the world from Her divine judgment of Global Warming, with its rising sea levels, withering crops, increased disease and pestilence, and, as Archbishop Williams warned, "billions" of deaths.

"That's the prophecy of the Religious Left. More traditional religionists will recall, with the Psalmist, that the earth is the Lord's footstool, and it is not the fragile porcelain imagined by some ardent secularists and religious faddists. God may indeed judge the world, but the sins that provoke Him might be more serious than purchasing an SUV or occasionally voting Republican."

See the whole article (here).

Forbes whips up on Bono, Blair, and the G-8 Gang

Remember last year when British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for enormous increases in aid to Africa at July's G-8 meeting in Scotland?

In the upcoming issue of Forbes, Steve Forbes offers an Economics 101 primer that should cast some light on why throwing (only) money at needy areas around the global marketplace will never satisfy their real needs.

He discusses AIDS, Malaria, Oil money, taxation, and other subjects in this brief.

See the article (here).

Document is genuine, but does it tell the Old, Old Story?

A swarm of media coverage has enshrined the Judas 'Gospel', but when conservatives and the NYT staff agree on the truthfulness of this document, I think we can all agree this is an open-and-shut case.

See (my friend and NT colleague) Denny Burk's coverage (here).

See (my friend and TX colleague) Jim Hamilton's coverage (here).

See the NYT piece here. Ben Witherington, Craig Evans, Elaine Pagels (Princeton), and Donald Senior (president, Catholic Theological Union) are among those cited.

McCain's Bona Fides Secure Faldwell's Blessing

After accepting an invitation to deliver Liberty University's commencement address, Senator John McCain's time with Jerry Faldwell enabled the two to put their "issues" behind them.

In his campaign-style trip around the country, McCain seeks to sow his conservative oats on every issue from abortion to permanent tax cuts.

A Faldwell quote from the NYT coverage on McCain's travels:

"I've felt since I first knew about him that he stood on the right side of the ball on social issues," Mr. Falwell said. "I don't think he has changed his views. He is certainly pro-life. He clearly is an advocate of the husband-female family, he does not support same-sex marriage. I know of no reason I could not support him."

As his campaign trail brightens, I look forward to hearing more straight-talk from this maverick who seems more moored than meandered lately.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

'Gospel of Judas' papyrus discovered

A codex of the 'Gospel of Judas' has been authenticated and is considered the most significant nonbiblical text found in the past half century.

The discovery of the leather-bound Coptic codex was announced by the National Geographic Society at a news conference in Washington today. The 26-page Judas text is said to be a papyrus copy made around 300AD, of the original 'Gospel of Judas,' written in Greek the century before.

Scholars from Harvard, Princeton, and various other graduate schools with Coptic and Gnostic Studies divisions are interviewed in the NYT (here).

PDF excerpts of Judas document.

Explore the Document.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

WWIII (Worship Wars, again)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the worship waters, you hear the dreadful sound of one generation sinking their teeth into another's worship. This time, Chuck Colson's well-written editorial (here) has created quite a firestorm in blogdom (HT: JTaylor). In his editorial entitled "Soothing Ourselves to Death," Colson critiques the lyrics as those that could be exchanged between highschool sweethearts.

Sam Storm (here) provides a respectful (and respectable) critique.

In times like these, we all need to remember that worship should direct us toward Christ and engage us in seeking Him. His truth is always relevant, and never dry, dusty, and despondent. Never an end in itself, may the music we choose serve to point others toward Christ and His gospel. Without that, all music lacks purpose.

Thank your lucky fins

In the most recent issue of Nature, a group of scientists detail the discovery of several well-preserved fossil specimens of what they're calling a "fishapod," or the link between fish (aquatic life) and tetrapods (lit. "four-legs," or land animals).

[Excursis: In the illustration, you will find the scientists' explanation of how the anterior appendage evolved from fin to fingers. Its as easy as 1-2-3--give or take twenty million years.]

According to this group of scientists, the animal, Tiktaalik roseae, lived about 375 million years ago, spanning the period between a fish called Panderichthys (385 million years ago) and tetrapods known as Acanthostega and Ichthyostega (365 million years ago).

Described as the "Missing Link," this fish that crawled out of water is the latest stopgap for scores of scientists and researchers who continue to search for meaning and purpose in the telos of the cosmos.

My hope is that, like me, those scientists some day would be confronted by the foolishness of the unfossilized cross and the forgiveness found only in the living Lord Jesus Christ. My prayer is that they would find in Him the end for which every fossil bed was laid--His glory.

This cosmos is filled with many wonderful and mysterious creatures, and Christians should consider these fossil discoveries treasured finds, too. We should glorify God, that in His grace, he chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise (1 Cor 1).

Then, instead of thanking Tiktaalik tonight, you can turn to His Word (Job 38-41), and marvel at the Creator that answers when you ask Him a question. And instead of "thanking your lucky fins," you can worship the God who created this fishapod not as a stopgap, but as a testimony to His glory, pointing his modified fin toward the Christ who created Him.

Flu Pandemic Simulator

My entire family has been ravaged by the flu this week, suffering with influenza related symptoms like never before. With that in mind, you may want to consider how quickly the new-flu can fly.

In this fascinating brief, a group of scientists demonstrate how our country would suffer in a H5N1 (common name: bird flu virus) pandemic.

You can watch the movie here.

"Cap the Knife" remembered

Caspar Weinberger was laid to rest yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery, beneath an oak with a view of the Pentagon he once led.

The list of greats in attendance reads like a page from a 20th century World History textbook: Margaret Thatcher, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ed Meese, Frank Carlucci, John Poindexter, Jack Kemp, James Schlesinger, and other Cold Warriors of the late 20th century.

Also, from more recent memory, VP Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Joint Chiefs chairman John Vessey, national security adviser William Clark, energy secretary John Herrington, deputy defense secretary Will Taft, former navy secretary, John Lehman, publisher Steve Forbes, Richard Perle, Fred Ikle, Richard Armitage, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace.

This was a renunion of the personalities that brought an end to the Soviet Union and the Cold War. Through Cap's strength and strategy, the Reagan administration saw the end of "the wall" as well as the liberation of Eastern block economies from communist oppression.

For a photo journal and more, the Post has several great links (here).

'Delayed' Departure

For democrats, Tom Delay's announcement that he would not seek reelection brought cheers and excitement to an otherwise morose bunch.

For the round-up on recent celebrations, read Howard Kurtz's work in today's WP (here).

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Evangelism Explosion of the Worst Kind

If you're wondering what America thinks about evangelicals, just tune in to this clip from reality television show "Trading Spouses." In this scene, the Christian mother returns from spending time with the non-Christian family.

Warning -- this is not a model of evangelistic outreach.