Friday, December 17, 2004
The point of the speech: most news making science is junk, including global warming. There is no real science to global warming, just fear and speculation wrapped in the cloak of "science."
Very interesting read....and an accurate criticism.
Friday, December 10, 2004
The radicals Muslims in the Nederlands (a.k.a. "Holland") were planning to attack the red-light district in Amsterdam. However, the guy sent to recon the area, described as a "radical Moroccan pizza deliverer" was found out before the attack was launched.
Let's just hope that this doesn't lead to radical Algerian fry cooks attempting to get jobs at the Amersterdam McDonald's...
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
The bottom-line is that going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was very unpopular in the Muslim world, and the big-wigs in the Pentagon have the poll results to prove it.
While most of us may think that this is only stating the obvious, it is interesting to read the conclusions posted by Kos and his followers...
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Seems as if the Palestinians really don't want peace after all (only the most extreme left-wing idiot ever thought there was even a chance of it...) but instead are just buying time until they can deal a death blow to Israel.
In his article "The False Dawn of Peace,": "Steven Stalinsky states the following:
"Some members of the Palestinian establishment close to Arafat are now stating in public that he never really wanted peace, and instead considered the Oslo Accords a strategy to destroy Israel in phases. It was reported on November 21 that Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, discussed a meeting he held with Arafat shortly before the latter's return to Gaza from Tunis. When Atwan criticized the Oslo Accords, Arafat reassured him: 'The day will come when you will see thousands of Jews fleeing Palestine. I will not live to see this, but you will definitely see it in your lifetime. The Oslo Accords will help bring this about.'The moral of the story: never trust a terrorist...
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Recently, Dan Rather announced his resignation from CBS, no doubt due to his passing off very bogus forgeries of George W Bush's National Guard documents as real news.
Well, David Burge at the 'Iowahawk' blog has now come out with a wonderful paradoy of Rathergate based on the great holiday movie "It's a Wonderful Life." The title: It's a Dan-derful Life
Monday, November 29, 2004
In the course of the discussion, Marc asked me: "What country will be next on Bush's pre-emptive strike list?" I said I thought Iran or North Korea, but serious doubted that either would be hit by anything more than a rapid strike, not invasion.
Well, Michael Leeden of National Review Online talks in his article Europe's Ritual Dance about how Europe's appeasment efforst concering the Iranian nuclear bomb program may in fact be working to the Iranian's advantage, as Iran stalls for more and more time. It's as if France, Germany and the UK are all tyring to do their best imitation of Neville "Peace in our time" Chamberlain.
Our one REAL hope: a military strike on the reactor used to create the uranium. (Just don't ask the Isrealis to do it...) But of course a damaged reactor will not cease a weapons program, just delay it. Perhaps the real answer is a regime change in Iran...
Saturday, November 27, 2004
The day started becoming a national day of celebration during the American Civil War. It was President Abraham Lincoln who was urged to issue a proclomation declaring the last Thursday of November as a national day of "Thanksgiving" in 1863, just a few months after the decisive Union victories at Gettysburg, PA and Vicksburg, MS.
In 1864, Lincoln again issued a proclomation calling for a national day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, but something extraordinary happened that turned it into a lasting national tradition.
A man in New York, first only known by the initials "GWB," decided that the troops serving on the front lines should be able to partake in a Thanksgiving feast like those celebrated in the northeast. So he and a group of others arranged for massive amounts of turkeys, chickens, apples, and other food be transported to the Union forces in Virginia. Talk about a moral booster! The food drive for the soldiers was a tremendous success, and served to unify the Union in a way that all other attempts failed to do. (Students of history understand that the "Union" was anything but during the first several years of the Civil War...)
For more about this interesting story, click here: James S. Robbins on Thanksgiving & War (National Review Online)
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Santa Fe 0-6-0T "Docksider" Steam Engine
If any of your out there in Bloggerland are wondering what to get me for Christmas, I'd really like a Lionel Santa Fe 0-6-0T "Docksider" steam engine (Lionel Part# 6-28624) with the new, improved electronic whistle and realistic smoke coming from the smoke stack.
Unfortunately they are hard to find on the Internet, but any authorized Lionel dealer in your neighborhood would be happy to order one for you.
And for those who are feeling a little extra generous, a matching caboose would be nice...(scroll down the page to see it...)
WorldNetDaily: American Christians to prevent 'Eurabia'? Geopolitical expert Jack Wheeler sees AMERICAN missionaries rescuing Europe"
Dr. Jack Wheeler is one of the most interesting and original people you're ever likely to come across. He, like many other people, are seeing that Europe is endangering iteself by trying to align itself with the Arab Middle-East, and allowing the immigration of Muslims into their countries in ever increasing numbers.
Of course Islam isn't Europe's only problem, their famed "tolerance" is just a code word for what is more correctly termed hedonism. As history has demonstrated repeatedly, hedonism is the highway to destruction. You think the lesson of Sodom and Gamorah would ring some bells, but then again you'd have to be familiar with the Bible to know that story, and too many Europeans wish to distance themselves from the Bible or any other book that might place limits on their immoral behavior.
Every Christian minister I know of who has extensively traveled and visited Europe says the same thing: it's a religious and moral wasteland. That's not to say there's not some very committed and caring Christians in Europe, but rather that there influence is small, if not irrelevant.
So what is Dr. Wheeler's prescription for dealing with the moral demise of Europe? Christian missionaries from AMERICA!!! Sounds strange, I know, but his argument is a good one.
The reason why Islam is becoming increasingly militant and hostile to just about every other culture and religion on the planet is due to their sending out "missionaries" who are spreading the "gospel" of militant Islam. It is no secret that the Suadis are the chief financiers of this effort.
So, if Islamic missionaries can have such a major impact for evil, perhaps American Christian missionaries can have the same impact for good!
While I'm sympathetic to Dr. Wheeler's plan, I personally believe that the Europeans are far too complacent about their slow, steady decline to want to change. But it wouldn't hurt to offer them a choice...
Monday, November 22, 2004
It seems that before the trouble with the Soviet invansion and subsequent trouble with the Taliban, the Kabul Museum of Afghan history had a tremendous collection of artifacts that spanned thousands of years of history, and were worth many millions of dollars.
Of course war came to Afghanistan, and the museum was looted, bombed, and generally neglected. The artwork and treasures gone, and most people thought gone for good.
But a remarkable thing has happened....the museum has re-opened, and the treasures and artwork thought completely lost are now coming back to the museum! How is this possible? The key is an Afghan tradition known as the "key-holder."
To read about this remarkable story, click here: National Treasures -Preserving Afghanistan's history
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Abraham Lincoln, throughout most of his life, was not a Christian though very familiar with the Bible and Christian principles. But when he visited the the battlefield of Gettysburg several months after the battle had taken place, a significant thing happened that caused him to dedicate his life to Christ. This is his short testimony:
"Shortly before Abraham Lincoln was murdered by John Wilkes Booth, an Illinois pastor asked President Lincoln, 'Do you love Jesus?' President Lincoln responded, 'When I left Springfield I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there gave my heart to Christ. I can now say I do love the Savior.' "
Source: The Iron Pen #60
Friday, October 08, 2004
The entire CIA report on Iraq and their program to develop Weapons of Mass Destruction can be found at the following link: Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq�s WMD: "This report relays the findings of the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction." Be forwarned that the report is HUGE and will take about a half hour to download with high-speed internet access. If you have a dial-up, don't even try it.
Of course the American New Media is broadcasting that this report states that there were were no stockpiles of WMD's in Iraq--which is true.
There were definately weapon development programs in place, and Sadam DID have stockpiles of WMD's that were destroyed in the 1990 Gulf War. He's been trying desperately to restock, but was prevented from doing so by the sanctions placed on him after the war.
Sadly, the sanctions were being routinely violated by France, Russia and China who were making backdoor deals with Saddam, and flooding him with cash. That cash went into weapon procurment, and kept his WMD programs alive. He did not have quite enough cash and equipment to begin building WMD's again, but he was certainly well on his way to achieving that goal.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
In other news....
I really like The Message. Though not a "proper" Bible translation, it does a fantastic job of communicating the essential elements of scripture in very straight-forward language.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about. First, Colossians 2:6-7 from the heavy-weight champion of modern English translations, The New International Version (NIV):
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live in him,
rooted and built up in him,
strengthened in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.
Now here is the same passage from The Message:
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward:
Just go ahead with what you’ve been given.
You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him.
You’re deeply rooted in him.
You’re well constructed upon him.
You know your way around the faith.
Now do what you’ve been taught.
School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it!
And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
Yes, the NIV is much closer to the orginal word-for-word Greek, but The Message is far better at communicating the essential truth of the passage.
OK, now I'm going back on break....maybe I'll blog again in October...(yeah, right...)
Sunday, September 12, 2004
EDITORIAL: New century finds a new journalism
If you're a media buff - and who isn't, in America in 2004? - then circle Thursday, Sept. 9, on your mental calendar. Because that's the day weblogs came into their own.
And politics and journalism never will be the same.
What happened Thursday is that webloggers or "bloggers" latched on to a controversial "60 Minutes"/CBS News story - and then worked the thing, with a stubbornness and tenacity that would have done credit to a pack of bulldogs or a turn of snapping turtles - or, yes, an army of investigative reporters.
As a result, CBS was forced to respond within a single news cycle. And although the network eventually stood by its story, more holes are showing up in the thing almost by the hour, and there's a fair chance the network will have to retract.
This may have been the first time a TV network was forced to respond so quickly to an Internet critique. But it won't be the last time for America's networks, newspapers or other institutions, because bloggers now are responding to events not as opinion writers but as fact-checkers and skilled reporters.
Here's the short form of what happened. Wednesday night: CBS's "60 Minutes" program broadcast a powerful and damaging report about President Bush. A young George W. Bush pulled strings not only to get into the Texas Air National Guard but also to be eased out without fulfilling his obligations, the report claimed.
And among other things, it cited a handful of newly uncovered documents as proof.
That's when the bloggers - especially conservative bloggers - chomped down. CBS posted copies of the incriminating documents online. But within hours, a poster named Buckhead at www.freerepublic.com saw that the documents looked more like the product of 2004 word processing than a 1972 typewriter.
Power Line, a Twin Cities-based weblog - it's at www.powerlineblog.com and is well worth reading, especially if you're new to the weblog phenomenon - posted Buckhead's comments. Then, in a clattering crescendo of keystrokes, the issue exploded in cyberspace. Soon www.indcjournal.com had interviewed a "forensic document" specialist who agreed the documents likely were fakes. Then www.littlegreenfootballs.com retyped the memos using Microsoft Word and showed them to be a perfect typographic match. Then retired Air National Guard officers and enlisted clerks weighed in, noting that the memos broke many 1970s-era rules of military style.
And that was only a hundredth of it.
The most amazing thing is that these developments could be followed in real time by anyone owning a computer. CBS issued periodic statements throughout the day Thursday, but by Friday, the cyberweight of the bloggers' (and, by then, talk-radio, TV and newspaper) reports couldn't be ignored. So Dan Rather on "CBS Evening News" defended the original report.
But a Saturday cybertour found more experts frowning at the documents, more newspapers publishing their own critical reports and even a CBS source or two walking away from the original story.
If CBS winds up retracting, the credit will have to go to the "blogosphere," a new and powerful force in journalism. Twin Cities blogger James Lileks of www.lileks.com said it best: "The Internet smells blood and leaps, and that has turned the game around, for better or worse."
Tech Central Station - Blogs v. 60 Minutes (and my thoughts about the incident becoming known as "Rathergate")
Currie points out that the forged documents CBS used to discredit President Bush were themselves discredited by a host of unknowns in the blogosphere! Just a bunch of average Joe's, like you and me, who knew a thing or two about word processors and fonts.
For those who don't know, the blogosphere is where you are at this moment, if you're reading this online at www.theodicy.blogspot.com. Theodicy is a blog, a nick-name for "weg log." The vast numbers of blogs on the internet are known collectively as 'the blogosphere.'
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FORGED MEMOS
Since stumbling across the story about the forged memos, (while reading some of my favorite blogs!) I've been thinking about the ramifications of this story. It is truly a historical moment for many, many reasons; but most importantly it clearly demonstrates how the mainstream media will no longer be able to pull a fast one on the American people. Of course the Internet has been FULL of articles and postings from average, non-journalist citizens contradicting stories in the professional newsmedia for many years; but it is amazing how CBS's memo story was being debunked on the Internet BEFORE IT EVEN AIRED THIS PAST WEDNESDAY NIGHT! This is a major victory for the blogosphere (people like me & you) and a horrible defeat for the professional mainstream media.
This also shows just how desperate the Democrats have become. It is no secret that 85 to 90% of all American journalists are Democrats, and for those who cover a political beat, the number approaches 100%. Of course they want their guy, John Kerry, to win the election, which makes it rather difficult for them to cover the news objectively, to put it mildly!
So CBS, thinking they could help their candidate--who is falling behind in the polls--goes with a majorly bogus story to discredit President Bush, thinking no one would notice that the documents used as the foundation of their story would be analyzed to the nth degree, well before the story was broadcast on TV.
For many people, this only demonstrates what they already knew: the major American news networks (with the notable exception of Fox News) are working for the Kerry campaign as unpaid volunteers--and not very adept volunteers at that. If there's any story that can possibly damage President Bush in the eyes of the American voters, it gets a major television special. If there's any story that could possibly hurt their candidate, (like 250+ of Kerry's former boatmates stating that he lied about his service in Vietnam) the story gets burried, unless they decide to do a hit piece against those who are discrediting their candidate.
The amazing thing is that no matter what his supporters in the news media try do to help him, John Kerry ends up being his own worst enemy. It is common knowledge that most people who are supporting Kerry are really just wanting to get rid of Bush. In other words, they don't like Kerry so much as they hate Bush for starting the war in Iraq. So Kerry has become the focus of the anti-war vote.
Yet a majority of Americans--even if it's a slim majority--support the war effort, and are grateful that the events of 9-11 have not been replicated on American soil. And they correctly credit President Bush for going on the offensive against terrorism, rather than waiting for the Sears Tower to be blown up. The recent events in Jakarta and Beslan only underscore the wisdom of offensive, decisive action.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
9/11: it was only three years ago today. Many more terrorists attacks have happened since then, most recently in Beslan, Russia and Jakarta, Indonesia. Let us remember what President Bush said soon after that horrible day, that the war on terrorism was going to take time and perseverance. Let us not grow weary of this battle, but continue to pray and take action until those who participate in this demonic evil are ultimately vanquished.
Friday, September 10, 2004
THIS IS A MUST SEE!!!!
Someone has put together a simple Flash demonstration showing how a Air National Guard memo alledgedly typed-up in the early 70's looks exactly like a document created by Microsoft Word!!!
Just click on this link: ImageShack - Hosting :: 60minbusted.swf and then simply watch the screen, the animation plays automatically.
The CBS television show "60 Minutes 2" used the forged documents to discredit President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Gaurd, but all they've succeeded in doing is destroying what little creditability they have.
Also, a major who shared an office with Lt. Col. Killian says that they also both shared the same secretary, who was the only one with a typewriter in the office--an old manual (not even electric!) typewriter.
In this article, it is reported that the source of obviously forged documents that CBS used to denounce President Bush's service in the Air National Guard came from John Kerry's campaign and the Democratic National Committee!
Today, CBS stands by the authenticity of their documents, and REFUSES to name the source who gave them to the network!
This is really getting interesting! I think it's time for Federal law enforcement officials and the FCC to get involved.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
However....the documents they are using to support these allegations are very bad forgeries! The people at the Free Republic web site first noticed it, after CBS posted copies of the documents on the Internet.
For more information, see this link: New Questions On Bush Guard Duty [CBS USES FORGERIES TO SMEAR THE PRESIDENT!!!!!]
Having served in the U.S. Air Force, one quick look at the documents posted by CBS were enough to convince me they were fakes. No typewriter ever existed in the Air Force or Air National Guard that could print proportionally spaced Times Roman font! That capability did not exist before the first Windows PC's and laser printers started to be used, starting about 1992, TWENTY YEARS AFTER the date that appears on these memos! There are also various mistakes in the formatting of abrevations, dates, and other details no typist in the military would ever make, especially one who worked for a commanding officer!
It's bad enough that CBS News wants to throw mud on Bush's time in the Air National Gurad, but using forged documents to do it is just too much! What were they thinking???
It should be noted that NO ONE who has served with Bush in the Air National Guard has come forward to say ANYTHING the least bit critical about him. This is in contrast to John Kerry, where over 250 of his former commrades-in-arms have come out stating that Kerry has grossly over-stated his "heroics" while serving in Vietnam. They also can't stand the fact that he slandered all the men who served in Vietnam by calling them war criminals and barbarians--charges he made in the early 70's to gain favor with the anti-war crowd. Now Kerry wants us to forget about his years in the fore-front of the anti-war movement, and think his four months in Vietnam qualify him to lead the war on terrorism!
Kerry has been blatanly anti-war and anti-military for over thirty years.
Just got a new book that I think might interest some folks. The title is "The Birth Of The Church: FROM JESUS TO CONSTANTINE, AD 30-312 from BakerBooks.
The book, as the title implies, is an overview of the first 300 years of Christianity from an EVANGELICAL perspective! Should be interesting. I'll write a review of it when I'm finished (which might be sometime in December of 2010 from the way my "books to read" pile is growing!)
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
I feel I need to take a break from blogging for a while. I hear my soul telling me I need a time of quiet and solitude, away from distractions (like my computer!) and to just focus on my relationships, primarily to God, secondly to everyone else!
So peace be to all of you, and I'll be posting again in a week or too...
General George S. Patton on prayer, as told to his chaplain (from The Patton Society web site:
Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by Praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that's working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part, or margin in everything, That's where prayer comes in. Up to now, in the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy. Simply because people prayed. But we have to pray for ourselves, too. A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working--it's his "guts." It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don't know what you it, but I call it Religion, Prayer, or God.
He talked about Gideon in the Bible, said that men should pray no matter where they were, in church or out of it, that if they did not pray, sooner or later they would "crack up." To all this I commented agreement, that one of the major training objectives of my office was to help soldiers recover and make their lives effective in this third realm, prayer. It would do no harm to re-impress this training on chaplains. We had about 486 chaplains in the Third Army at that time, representing 32 denominations. Once the Third Army had become operational, my mode of contact with the chaplains had been chiefly through Training Letters issued from time to time to the Chaplains in the four corps and the 22 to 26 divisions comprising the Third Army. Each treated of a variety of subjects of corrective or training value to a chaplain working with troops in the field. [Patton continued:]
I wish you would put out a Training Letter on this subject of Prayer to all the chaplains; write about nothing else, just the importance of prayer. Let me see it before you send it. We've got to get not only the chaplains but every man in the Third Army to pray. We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that hold defeat or victory. If we all pray, it will be like what Dr. Carrel said [the allusion was to a press quote some days previously when Dr. Alexis Carrel, one of the foremost scientists, described prayer "as one of the most powerful forms of energy man can generate"], it will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in Heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power.
Monday, September 06, 2004
The following is a little article that was enclosed with my purchase of books from "The Little Way” Catholic bookstore. The article explains how the store got it’s name:
We have been asked often how we chose the name “The Little Way” for our store. It was named for St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as “The Little Flower.” She devised a prayer-filled approach to life that has helped many. She called her spiritual walk The Little Way. It is deceptively simple, in short it is to seek out the menial job, to welcome unjust criticisms, to befriend those who annoy us, to help those who are ungrateful, and to give to those who only take. For her part, Therese was convinced that these trifles pleased Jesus more than the great deeds of recognized holiness. The beauty of The Little Way is how utterly available it is to everyone. From the child to the adult, from the sophisticated to the simple, from the most powerful to the least influential, all can undertake this ministry of small things. The opportunities to live in this way come to us constantly, while the great fidelities happen only now and then. Almost daily we can give smiling service to nagging co-workers, listen attentively to silly bores, express little kindnesses without making a fuss.
We may think these tiny, trivial activities are hardly worth mentioning. That, of course is precisely their virtue. The are unrecognized conquests over selfishness. We will never receive a medal or even a thank you note for these invisible victories in ordinary life, which is exactly what Therese would encourage us to pursue.
An incident from her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul” show the hiddenness of “The Little Way”. One annoying sister managed to irritate Therese in everything she did. Rather than avoid this person she took her Little Way to heart and treated this sister as if she loved her best of all. Therese succeeded so well in living her Little Way that after her death the sister remarked that she did not know what she had done to win the affections of Therese so completely. I am sure Therese was pleased to know this.
Before he started running as the Democrat presidential candidate, John Kerry was more of a hawk on Iraq than Bush!
The documentary is available for viewing through the website, for those who have the bandwidth to watch it.
"Clearly, for Benedict, God is not something to be achieved; God is a presence to be responded to but to whom without that presence, we cannot respond. God isn't something for which spiritual athletes compete or someone that secret spiritual formulas expose. God is the breath we breathe. It is thanks to God that we have any idea of God at all. God is not a mathematical formula that we discover by dint of our superior intelligence or our moral valor. God is the reason that we can reach God. It is to this ever-present Presence that the Rule of Benedict directs us. It is to God already in our lives that Benedict turns our minds. The Hasidim tell the story of the preacher who preached over and over, 'Put God into your life; put God into your life.' But the holy rabbi of the village said, 'Our task is not to put God into our lives. God is already there. Our task is simply to realize that.'
The words of the Rule are as fresh on this point as the day they were written. The fact is that we still compartmentalize God. We tell ourselves that we are working on reaching the spiritual life by saying prayers and doing penances and making pilgrimages and giving things up. And we keep score: so many daily masses, so many rosaries, so many fastdays, so many spiritual books read, so many conferences attended equal so many steps toward the acquisition of God. The Rule of Benedict sets us straight. God is with us, for the taking, but not for any spiritual payment, only for realizing what we already have."
"The person who prays for the presence of God is, ironically, already in the presence of God. The person who seeks God has already found God to some extent. 'We are already counted as God's own,' the Rule reminds us. Benedict knows this and clearly wants us to know it, as well. A dull, mundane life stays a dull, mundane life, no matter how intent we become on developing spiritually. No amount of church-going will change that. What attention to the spiritual life does change is our appreciation for the presence of God in our dull, mundane lives. We come to realize that we did not find God; God finally got our attention. The spiritual life is a grace with which we must cooperate, not a prize to be captured or a trophy to be won.
"But, the Rule implies, we have been given a grace that is volatile. To feel it and ignore it, to receive it but reject it, the paragraph suggests, is to be in a worse situation than if we had never paid any attention to the spiritual life at all. For disregard of God's good gifts, Benedict says, for refusing to use the resources we have for the upbuilding of the reign of God, for beginning what we do not intend to complete, the price is high. We are disinherited. We lose what is ours for the taking. We miss out on the life we are meant to have . We are dealt with, not as children of the owner who know instinctively that they are meant to grow into new and deeper levels of relationship here, but as hired help in the house, as people who look like they are part of the family but who never reap its real benefits or know its real nature. In failing to respond to God everywhere God is around us, we may lose the power of God that is in us."
'Because I believe in God'
Some attributed the storm's weakening to answered prayers. Frances forced the cancellation of church services across much of the state, but seven people ventured out to attend a service at Miami Lakes United Methodist Church.
"It's still the Lord's day," the Rev. Mark Caldwell said. "It's our destiny to show the world we can come here and be thankful."
At a mobile home park in north Fort Pierce, Timothy Fellows emerged from the storm to find a neighbor's trailer demolished but only a fence down on his property.
"My trailer survived!" the barechested Fellows shouted as he walked through his yard. "Because I believe in God. Even my mailbox survived. That tells you something."
Radar map of Frances from 10:50 pm EDT.
Well, all the Frances prayers have paid-off! The hurricane-turned-tropical storm is now about 30-40 miles to the west of Tampa, and the winds have diminished to a mere 65 m.p.h. There is some concern that Frances might regain hurricane status before it turns north towards the Florida pan-handle.
My prayers are that the storm continues to diminish.
Fortunately, the damage done by Frances was surprisingly light for such a huge storm. Most damage came from the uprooting of trees more so than the wind and rain. At this time there are no reports of injuries due to the storm, and only one possible death.
While the damage done to property might be wide-spread, all the people who live in that area are safe, mainly due to a widely enforced evacuation.
Pastor Sergey Totiev, a local pastor in the Beslan area, whose children were held as hostages in the school, spoke by phone today to Sergey Rakhuba, vice president of Russian Ministries. Sergey Rakhuba also spoke with Pastor Yuri Sipko, the president of the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists, who is also in Beslan and was an eyewitness to yesterday’s events. Here is a summary of their discussions.
Pastor Totiev confirmed that Anya, his 8-year-old daughter, was killed. Azum, one of his sons, is being treated in hospital where doctors are trying to preserve vision in both of his eyes. His niece, Madina, has left the hospital and returned to her home. She has not spoken and is in a state of shock. Sergey and his brother Taymuraz had 8 children in the school during the ordeal. The five other children remain missing. Many children were sent to a larger hospital in Vladikavkaz. But the area surrounding Beslan is now sealed off, so he is unable to travel to that city and search for the remaining children in his family.
Pastor Totiev said that he fears that the number of dead may be as high as 500, but no one yet knows. Some of the bodies will be difficult to identify because of the explosions that were set off at the school. He estimates that 60 percent of the dead will be children.
The hostage-takers seemed to be highly skilled, and the action appeared to be a well-planned and carefully orchestrated event, with many explosives stored at the school during a time of remodeling during the summer. There are still an estimated 50 kg. of unused explosives at the school site that, if detonated, could blow up the entire neighborhood. Pastor Totiev reports that 27 hostage-takers were killed, three are in custody, and four remain at large. Nine of the hostage-takers appeared to be neither Chechen, Russian or Ossettian, but of Arab descent.
Pastor Totiev wants to express heartfelt gratitude for people around the world who have prayed for him, his brother, their children and all the people who are directly affected by this terror.
Yuri Sipko, the president of the Evangelical Christian-Baptist of Russia, journeyed to Beslan, and was present as bodies were being pulled from the debris. He reports that it will be impossible to identify many children and adults. He is inviting all Baptist churches in Russia not just to pray, but to also financially support the community in Beslan irregardless of religious affiliation because of the many financial needs—for caring for the injured, burying those who died, and helping the community at large recover from this tragedy.
Russian Ministries has established a Terror Relief Fund to help the community in Beslan with spiritual and physical needs. You may give online, call toll-free 1-888-462-7639, or mail your gift designated for Terror Relief Fund, to Russian Ministries, P.O. Box 496, Wheaton, IL 60189.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Radar picture of Hurricane Frances at 1:24 pm EDT.
Unbelievable! This hurricane is HUGE! Most of the state of Florida is being pounded by this monsterous storm, which came ashore last night (Saturday, 9/5/04), and is still hovering over the center of the state.
No one in has ever seen anything like this.
To make things even worst, Frances is a very slow moving system, and is dumping rain by the foot onto an already water-logged state. It is quite possible that Frances won't be through with Florida until Tuesday, when it should pass over the pan-handle portion of the state on it's way to Alabama.
My prayers are that the LORD will calm this storm!
And while Frances pounds Florida, another brand-new Hurricane, IVAN, has just formed in the mid-Atlantic...
Friday, September 03, 2004
Atheism per se did not exist until modern times. The Greeks and Romans had defined an atheist not as someone who disbelieved in God but as someone who rejected the traditional gods who protected the social order. Hence Socrates was an atheist, and so, in the eyes of the pagan Romans, were the early Christians. Almost everyone in the ancient and medieval worlds believed in a deity or deities. Atheism as we now know it, McGrath explains, grew up in one specific place, Western Europe (and its outposts in America and elsewhere), as a phenomenon of a specific time, the dawn of modernity, and as a reaction against a specific religion, Christianity. The roots of atheism, McGrath suggests, lay paradoxically in that primal phenomenon of Western modernity, the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers' efforts to purify the institutional church in order to make it more concordant with their vision of Jesus' authentic teachings generated a loss of trust in institutional religion in general. Furthermore, McGrath argues that the Reformers, by focusing upon the Bible as the sole source of God's revelation, effectively desacralized both the natural world and the secular human world, which in the integralist medieval Catholic view had been equally saturated with God's sacred presence. With the Reformation, "God became an absence in the world," writes McGrath.Charlotte Allen, "Believe It," National Review 13 Sep. 2004.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
I just wrote a review of John Eldreges's new book "Epic." It is currently on display at the Barnes & Noble.com web site, under the pen name "Theoron." I sent it to Amazon.com as well, and hopefully it will be published by them soon.
For your consideration, I'm posting my review right here. Enjoy!
A review of the book “Epic” by John Eldredge
Upon beginning to read Eldredge’s latest book, I found myself with a knife in one hand, a razor in the other, ready to cut, shred, slice and dice my way through--what I had falsely believed-- was going to be another milquetoast, week-kneed “inspirational” piece of nonsense foisted upon the unsuspecting masses. How very wrong my initial perceptions were! Rather than cutting and ripping my way through this book, I found my self pleasantly delighted by each wonderful page. I can honestly say that this is the best little book I’ve read in the past year.
What is it about certain stories that capture the imagination and adoration of so many people? Just in the past fifty years or so, we have had the great pleasure of being blessed with many wonderful stories, both in book and film, like “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Star Wars,” “The Matrix,” “Titanic” and a host of others. Something about these films and stories spoke to us on a deep, emotional level, bypassing our analytical minds and moving upon us in a genuinely spiritual fashion. Eldredge has discovered the common theme that unites all these wonderful stories, and shows us how they all are very similar to the Greatest Story Ever Told.
Could it be that all these famous, well known stories have become so popular because there is something in us that wants, or possibly even knows that they are true? Whether it be the heroics displayed upon the decks of the sinking Titanic, or the courageousness of two lonely little hobbits trekking across forlorn lands to destroy ultimate evil, there is something about those stories that we wish were true for ourselves. But what if these stories could, in fact, be speaking of a reality that is available for us? Is it possible that we too could live “happily ever after” upon completion of a heroic deed? The surprising but honest answer Eldredge gives us is a resounding “yes.”
The ultimate story of all history is that of the God/man Jesus. Here is a man who lived a simple, but powerful life. He was a champion and a friend to many, and a bitter enemy and a thorn in the side of a few. But those few were the power-brokers of the day, and decided it would be convenient to do away with this miracle worker who so rudely upset their conscience. But the miracle worker, so quickly and violently put to death, had one last message he wanted to deliver before he left this planet: death is NOT the end, but the beginning of Real Life.
Eldredge correctly points out that films like “Titanic” and “Gladiator” succeed because they plainly show that there is life after death, there is a happy ending no matter the tragedy. Isn’t that what we long for, hope for, pray for? Our lives are not just meaningless little accidents that are the results of random chemical reactions, but we are here for a purpose, not matter how wonderful or horrible the circumstances around us. But the purpose does not reach it’s ultimate fulfillment until we’ve reconciled with the Son of God.
In this short, six chapter book, Eldredge presents us with God’s plan of salvation. But though he quotes from the Bible where appropriate, the book never, ever becomes one of those dry, dull theological treatments that read more like a recipe for meatloaf than an introduction to the living God. Theological terminology has been banned from this book, and it is all the better for it. Rather than aiming at the brain, Eldredge correctly and expertly aims at the heart, and hits the bulls-eye page after page. This book is the finest gospel presentation I’ve ever come across in my many years of Christianity.
But there is a group who will hate this gem of a book, who will easily find tremendous fault with it. They would be the modern Pharisees of today, the holier-than-thou religious folk who can’t stand a presentation of Jesus that can’t be read without a theological dictionary in one hand and a King James Bible in the other. Poor folks, they will be greatly missed (not!)
If I could, I’d give “Epic” one hundred stars. Five just isn’t enough.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
A very interesting passage from the preface to the book The Desert Fathers. The context is the radical seclusion of the Desert Fathers, and how they related to the rest of hummanity through their seculusion:
At first one might feel the heroic way of these desert giants is too far removed from the quest of the everyday seeker living in this world's society. However, the fathers and mothers themselves, along with their early historians, sought to make it clear to us that this is not the case. Noteworthy in this regard is the rather lengthy account in the chapter entitled "History of the Monks of Egypt" of the last days of the fabled desert hermit Abba Paphnutius. We are told that as his end approached he "entreated the Lord that He would show him his like upon the earth." And whom did the Lord show the saintly father? A street musician who had been a thief, the very busy headman of a local village, and a wealthy Alexandrine merchant. The historian goes on to tell us that, as the priests gathered around the dying saint, he told them:(Helen Waddell, The Desert Fathers. Preface by M. Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O., Random House, New York. p. xv-xvi)All that the Lord had revealed to him, saying to them that no one in this world ought to be despised, let him be a thief, or an actor on stage, or one that tilled the ground, and was bound to a wife, or was a merchant and served in a trade: for in every condition of human life that are souls that please God and have their hidden deeds wherein He takes great delight: whence is it plain that it is not so much profession or habit that is pleasing to God as the sincerity and affection of the soul and honesty of deed. And when he had spoken thus about each in turn, he gave up his spiritThe final word of a great and saintly father--a teaching could not be given greater emphasis.
Monday, August 30, 2004
Our sick fish is now feeling much better.
I previously posted a blog about our sick black-finned Tetra tropical fish, who came down with the dreaded "ich." Well, he has now fully recovered, and spent only seven days, not fourteen, in his "hospital" tank. He's currently enjoying the scenery in our new five gallon tank, and keeping a couple of scissor-tail rasboras company. The little guy is doing extremely well, and as long as he stays healthy, I will be moving him to our 10 gallon community tank in early October so he can join his two black-finned Tetra companions.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Last month I read the book Gettysburg: Day Three by Jeffry Wert. He writes about the entire third day of the battle of Gettysburg; the day that was climaxed by the famous and foolhardy "Pickett's Charge." At the beginning of the fourth chapter of the book, there is a quote from an observer of the battle (from New York state) that has haunted me ever since I read it:
"The man who made the good soldier was not the swaggering swash-buckler, not the street brawler, but the respectable plain man who at home had always done his duty, faithfully, whatever it might be."This small quote, written soon after the battle of Gettysburg had ended, is one of the most interesting insights into the battle that I've come across. Why so? Because it goes completely against the grain of all that we are led to believe. It's not the average Joe who wins the girl and saves the day in books and film, but rather the swash-buckling, handsome young man who laughs in the face of danger and throws his life away with reckless abandon. Of course this is not a modern ideal, nor is this a particullary American point-of-view, rather it is common to man, and Americans have simply done the best job of packaging and selling this particular perception.
(One very interesting counter-example of this idea are the American super-heroes, especially Spiderman and Superman. Their creators went out of their way to show how these heroes were the most ordinary of men when not dashing around saving beautiful women from peril: Clark Kent the newspaper reporter, Peter Parker the photo-journalist and student. In a way, the duality of their natures made the characters far more interesting and appealing...)
On a real-life battlefield, the idealized male leading-man is not exactly who wins the battle, despite what we often mistakenly believe. Rather, according to this account from the observer from New York, the soldiers who won the battle of Gettysburg were simply those who stayed at their posts, doing what they were suppose to do: defend their ground against enemy attack. (The anonymous observer's comment was directed toward the Union troops he observed in the Gettysburg battle, who were on the defensive.)
Contemplating this quote for some time, I realize that what is true for real-life battle, is also true for spiritual battle. It's not the TV preachers and big name pastors who will carry the day against the forces of evil (though sometimes these leaders certainly do help) but at the end, it will most likely be the common man, who only aspires to do his God-given duty, that will be the force that made a difference.
In the culture of serious Christianity--whether it be Protestant, Catholic, evangelical or whatever--there has always been a desire to place certain people on pedestals because of their outstanding contributions to the Christian religion. Whether it be St. Patrick, Mother Teresa, Smith Wigglesworth or D.L. Moody, we often idealize those great heroes of the faith who we want to be like. Of course this is, again, common to man, and all faiths and systems have their heroes that they look to as shining stars.
Amazingly, when God came to earth, he did not come as a superstar living a plush life and tended to by one thousand servants. He did not have a fancy chariot which he rode around in, carrying him from venue to venue as he healed people and prophesied in front of large, adoring crowds.
Rather, when God came to earth, he came as a poor man, a child to rather obscure Jewish parents who were not wealthy in the least. When God began his ministry here on earth, it was that of an itinerant preacher who went around a true homeless person, counting on the hospitality of others for his food and housing.
Though he could have been high priest, king, emperor, or any other title he desired, God chose rather to not have any title at all. Though his followers called him "rabbi," it was not meant as a title, as we think of titles, but rather a simple description of what God did while on earth: teach. We give God all sorts of titles now-a-days--and rightfully so--but there is nothing about his demeanor while on earth that demonstrates he was looking for titles.
At no time did he do anything to assert his rightful authority over others, though come Judgement Day, everyone will have to bow to him! As a matter of fact, he did not even go so far as to rid himself of a traitor within his midst: Judas. His lack of control, and his complete lack of authority over men is striking when you think of it. The only thing he took authority over was demons, and then only when directly confronted. No doubt he could have rid the entire earth of demons with a word, but rather chose to limit himself to driving them out of people, and usually only those who stood directly in front of him.
The quote from the Gettysburg observer could just as easily apply to Jesus as it could to the brave Union soldiers who simply stood and did what they were told. Perhaps that is the ultimate lesson for us Christians: not to pursue the superstar world of ministry, but simply be obediant to that which we know we must do.
The quote from Wert's book reminds me of the following passage from Luke's gospel:
“Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
Luke 17:7-10 NIV
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Bobby had a very simple message for those of us at the conference: God is going to be dismantling everything man has built into his church. For many of us, this was a very, very welcome word of encouragement!
Very little of what passes for "church" in America has anything to do with God! There are lots of plans, programs, controls and other things that are promoted, but very little power is present...very little indeed.
Those of us who have become discontent by what we are seeing in the church are being made that way by God himself. He is fostering a kind of 'holy' discontentment upon his people, so that they will be agents of much needed change.
Well LORD, bring on that discontent! May that be the fuel that brings YOU back into your church!
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Aqua really likes his moneywort aquatic plant. He often rests on the leaves of the plant like a bird pirching on a branch! This picture helps explain why people really enjoy having these fish: their colors are incredible.
Here's a picture of Aqua's home, a 2.5 gallon "Mini Bow" aquarium, sold at almost every pet store under the sun as well as Wal-Mart. As you can plainly see, Aqua's tank is well equiped. Here's a list of what he's got, where it came from, and the price.
- Mini Bow 2.5 Aquarium (PetSmart - $28.00)
- Blue aquarium gravel (PetCo)
- Moneywort aquatic plant (PetSmart - $1.99)
- Greek Column (PetCo - $0.99)
- Castle ornament (PetSmart - $1.99 on sale)
- Thermometer (Wal-Mart $1.17)
Aqua himself came from a small privately-owned petstore in town called "Birds and Beasts."
The black monolith behind the moneywort is a in-tank Tetra-brand Micro "Whisper" filter that came with the aquarium. You can see Aqua in the upper right-hand corner by the thermometer.
No, I didn't add dish soap to Aqua's water! This is a picture looking down into his tank, and clearly shows another of the peculiar traits of betta fish: bubble nests. Yes, Aqua himself created those bubbles as a nest for betta eggs. Amongst betta fish, males are stay-at-home dads, building the nest and caring for the young while the mother quickly swims away after laying the eggs. Aqua doesn't have a mate, so I'm not exactly sure why he felt it was necessary to make a nest! Perhaps it's just his way of putting a "seal-of-approval" on his new home.
Here's another view of Aqua showing off his long flowing fins and tail. It's easy to see why these are called "veil tail" bettas.
A final shot of Aqua sitting in front of his castle, enjoying his new home. In the background you can make out other fish from a neighboring community tank that serves as the backdrop to Aqua's aquarium.
All pictures taken with an Olympus D450 Digital Camera, available light used for all photos except for the betta bubbles.
This poor little tropcial fish is in the hosptial!
While taking some pictures of our freshwater tropical fish today, I noticed one of the Long-finned Black Tetras had small white spots on his body, like someone had sprinkled him with salt.
The fish is a newcomer to our community fish tank, and never really looked all that good from day one. A quick check of the Internet for fish diseases helped me to realize that the poor little Tetra was suffering from the dreaded "Ich," short for Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. This is a fatal disease--if left untreated--caused by a single-celled parasite.
The picture above is our little sick Tetra in his "hospital tank" The hospital tank is a 2.5 gallon all-glass tank that I had on hand. Since there's no gravel in the tank, you can see the grain of the pine table that his tank is resting upon--he looks like he's floating in thin air!
This guy was treated with small dose of Mardel Maracide to kill the parasites, which it should do within 24 hours. However, I will keep the fish in the hospital for the next 14 days, just to MAKE SURE the ich is gone.
None of the other fish in the community tank seem to be infected, but I dropped in one tablet of Jungle "Ick Clear" just to make sure. Hopefully I caught the disease in time before it spreads to any of the other fish.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Photo of a typical pet store Betta fish
SATURDAY 8/14/04: I did something I did not think I would ever do...I purchased a betta. betta as in betta fish, a.k.a. "Siamese Fighting Fish." Why did I buy such a silly thing? I don't know, but it's been an adventure.
I have a 2.5 gallon all glass aquarium at home that I wasn't using for anything. So I thought it would be cool to put a betta in it, along with a little gravel along the bottom and one or two aquarium ornaments.
Well, I purchased the fish, but soon realized that the fish tank needs to have a light shining in it to see the betta's rich colors--otherwise the fish looks like a dark shadow. I could not find a proper light for my mini-tank, so I found myself getting a new 2.5 gallon "Mini Bow" tank, because it included a light as well as a power filter. (I got the "'lectric lime" color...)
SUNDAY 8/15/04: I purchased some special betta fish food when I got the betta, but my betta wouldn't eat it! He'd take some in, then spit it out! Doing a quick search of the 'net, I found out that almost all bettas (along with almost all tropical fish) really like brine shrimp. So I went to the pet store and purchased a package of frozen brine shrimp to keep the betta alive and swimming. At first, he spit the shrimp out too! But I left some sitting on the bottom of tank, not knowing what else to do. Checked back a couple of hours later, and it seems as if he all the shrimp (either that, or the filter sucked them up...)
MONDAY 8/16/04: I went out and purchased a real, live aquatic plant for the betta's new home. The plant is called a "moneywort." The betta took to it immediately, and occasionally will rest on the leaves of the plant. Surprisingly, the real plants cost much less than the fake, plastic plants for aquariums.
I decided to name the betta "Aqua" because of this amazing turquoise-blue color that he has. Beautiful fish. I will try to post a picture of him in the near future...
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Monday, August 09, 2004
The book Gettysburg by Steven W. Sears
I've been recently reading the excellent book Gettysburg by Steven W. Sears. In one ofthe early chapters of the book, Sears discusses how General Lee of the Confederate Army reorganized his forces prior ot the battle at Gettysburg. I found this interesting tibbit of info on page 51:
"I AGREE WITH YOU also in believing that our Army would be invincilbe if it could be properly organized and officered," General Lee wrote on May 21, replying to a letter from John B. Hood, one of his divisional commanders. "There never were such men in an Army before. But there is the difficulty--proper commanders--where can they be obtained?" In his orders for the army's reoganization, issued May 30, Lee had to be concerned that his new choices for proper commanders would be worthy of the men they led.General Lee's concern for his army has been a concern of mine for the body of Christ in general. In all my years of being a Christian, I've encountered very, very few true leaders in the body of Christ. Most of what is called leadership I would categorize more correctly as managers of the status quo.
Being a student of history, I've noticed that the problem of leadership is a problem that goes back to the beginning of time. More often than not, it is leadership in the church, in the military, and in politics that directs the course of history. Whehter it be Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Bismarck, or even Mother Teresa; it is good leadership that makes a person I real standout historically speaking.
Of course as Christians, our ultimate example of leadership--and perhaps the best example of leadership there ever was--is the person of Jesus Christ. Yet how many of recoginize and follow his examples of leadership? Very few I'm afraid. We pay a lot of lip-service to our Saviour, but in terms of following his example there remains a lot to be desired. I know I certainly have a long way to go in this regard!
Good leadership is something to be greatly valued.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Upon visiting the Gettysburg battlefield in July, I was struck by something I always knew, but the prophetic significance of it did not strike me until touring the actual battlefield.
First of all, the Civil War battle known as "Gettysburg" was the turining point of the American Civil War. It occurred over a period of three days; July 1 to July 3 1863, with the Confederate forces leaving the field late in the evening of July 4th. Up to this time, the Confederate army won every single battle in which it was engaged.
On the end of the first day of the battle until the withdrawal of Confederate forces late on July 4th, the two armies held two north-south ridge lines that ran near the town of Gettysburg.
The Confederate forces held a ridge line called Seminary Ridge just to the west of Gettysburg. It was called Seminary Ridge due to a Lutheran Seminary that occupied the north end of the ridge line.
The Union forces held a ridge line called Cemetery Ridge that was located a little to the south of the town of Gettysburg. It was called Cemetery Ridge due to a cemetery on the north end of the ridge located on a prominent hill called Cemetery Hill. The ridge line ran south from Cemetery Hill and terminated at the foot of another hill called Little Round Top.
So, in a strange twist of divine providence, the Confederates were holding the Seminary, while the Union forces were aligned with the Cemetery!
There are some tart little jokes amongst evangelical Christians referring to seminaries as cemeteries because there are many stories of people actually loosing their faith while attending seminary, especially the more liberal ones. Here at Gettysburg, back in 1863, the punchline of an old joke was an actual battle.
Though I knew about these ridges and their names for many years, it wasn't until I actually visited the battlefield that the blinders were removed, and I first realized the tremendous irony of the names.
Cemetery Hill, Cemetery Ridge and Little Round Top were "high ground" in that they offered a nice view of the surrounding countryside. They were higher in elevation than Seminary Ridge. High ground is advantageous in warfare in that one can easily see and make out enemy formations and movements, and take appropriate action to counter their attacks. It is also difficult for infantry to attack up hill, hence winners and losers in the battle of old were often decided by those who held on to the "high ground."
The turning point of the battle, and the "high tide" of the cause of the Confederacy was an attack known as "Pickett's Charge." In this attack, 15,000 Southern soldiers left the relative safety of Seminary Ridge, and attacked the Federal positions along Cemetery Ridge.
The charge was an overwhelming failure, with the South sustaining tremendous casualties, and the Northern troops standing victorious for the first time during two years of Civil War. The 'Cemetery' prevailed over the 'Seminary.'
On July 3rd the Federal troops stood on Cemetery Ridge and the adjoining hills, waiting for the attack they knew would come. They fought a purely defensive battle, allowing the forces of the Confederacy to do all the maneuvering and attacking. While the Southerners enjoyed some small success on the second day of the battle (July 2nd), all they had gained was completely lost on the third day, July 3rd, when General George Pickett took his men into battle in one of the most famous infantry charges in history.
The prophetic lesson I learned is a simple one: the cemetery is stronger than the seminary. In other words, death is stronger than theology. No matter how good, how strong your theology is, the cemetery will still prevail. In fact, death will do more to straighten out one's theology than all the systematic theological text books ever written. Perhaps that's the reason why my favorite theologian is Thomas Aquinas, who after seeing a powerful vision of heaven while in prayer, knew that his best theological works were as straw, and stopped writing theology text books.
Now as Christians we know that there is life after death, but only after death. We still must experience the pain of death before enjoying the benefits of new life. The Lord once told me that theology is preparation for death, and the best theology is the one that best prepares a person to die, and die well.
Here in the 21st century, "dying well" sounds like a rather pessimistic idea, but in the early days of Christianity, "dying well" was a powerful evangelical tool! It is said many ancient people were converted simply by watching how well Christians met horrible deaths at the hands of the Romans.
Today's church has all but abandoned the idea of preparing us to "die well." There are plans and programs for just about every aspect of life, except for death! It is assumed that we will persevere unto death, but little is done to instruct or encourage the sheep to plan for the long term. (other than the finance ministries, but that's another story...)
The truth of the battle of Gettysburg is a lasting lesson for those who have ears to hear. No matter how much instruction we've had in theological matters, death is still the ultimate reality we must face, and the ultimate test of our theology. I have come to the realization that a lot of bad theology and theological ideas is caused when we lose site of this simple, obvious truth.
A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
--Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 NIV
Saturday, July 03, 2004
One of the most interesting philosphers I've ever read is Jacob Needleman. He's been around for quite some time, and has some fascinating books that deal with philosophy, religion and science; usually mixing all three in one book.
I'm currently reading the Needleman book entitled A Sense of the Cosmos, subtitled: 'Scientific Knowledge and Spiritual Truth.' His main thesis is that as sceintists have become more pragmatic and "scientific" in their approach to knowledge, they are actually moving further away from Truth rather than closer to it. [The capitalization of the word 'Truth' is intentional...]
His books are something I read for the shear pleasure of it...I'm not really looking to learn anything or get some sort of impartation. Yet reading Needleman's work, I find myself learning and understanding all sorts of things that I previously had little or no knowledge about.
While reading through Cosmos today, I came across this interesting quote given in the context of the Truth of the scientific quest:
We must therefore recongize that there is a great difference betweeen the wish for knowledge and the wish to satisfy desire, which is the basis of pragmatism. And that knowledge in the service of our ordinary desires may produce a very different picture of the universe than knowledge which is connected to other motives.What Needleman is saying is that we often look at reality to find answers to our preconcieved desires and wishes, and often filter out anything that does not fit in with our preconceptions.
The reason this little bit of information is so valuable for Christians is due to our guilt at employing this very type type of filtering when we look at various things, especially the Bible. Even the most conservative Bible believing Christians has a view and interpretation of the the Bible that is often at odds with what the Word really says! Examples of this are the pre-trib ratpure doctrine, most of Calvinism (reformed theology) and views on a wide variety of things. Christians, especially evangelical and charismatic Christians, are often guilty of "proof-texting" favorite verses to support their various positions, rather than looking at these verses in the larger context in which they were written.
The Bible is not a dictionary, encyclopedia or telephone book where you can just go and look up a verse or two to backup your pet position--but that is, in fact, just how we raise up and train believers, even in the best conservative theological institutions.
What's the answer for this? Better teaching, especially teaching as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, who NEVER takes anything out of context!
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Photo by Johnny Gilbert
This past Sunday (Father's Day) the family went out to DeKalb, Illinois to see a DCI drum corps show. If you have never seen a drum & bugle corps competition, you haven't lived. They are truly one of the most amazing live spectacles I've ever seen, but they are little known or appreciated by those outside of the drum corps universe.
A drum & bugle corps is what it's name implies: a band made up entirely of bugles (of all shapes & sizes...some as big as tubas!) and drums. There is also a colour guard that handles flags, rifles, swords, and various other non-musical duties.
And of course, they march as they play. But the "marching" that they do is way beyond any marching band you've ever seen. They are FAST, constantly changing positions across a football field, and playing the whole time they march in fast frenzy. There are all types of formations, and rarely, if ever do they stand in the same spot for more than a few seconds. It is a very fast & fluid performance.
All summer long, all across the United States & Canada, there are drum corps shows in various football stadiums, with all the corps competing to be the best drum corps in North America.
At the DeKalb show, the local favorite, Cavaliers, won the competition. But my sister and I really enjoyed the show put on by the Bluecoats, who came in third place.
Monday, June 21, 2004
Bill Johnson is the pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California. He is also one of my spiritual heroes. He recently published a book entitled When Heaven Invades Earth about his pursuit of a life and ministry of miracles. Johnson gets results: people are healed, prophecies are given, lives are changed for the better. How he does it is explained in the pages of his book. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a life of miracles.
While reading his book the other day, I came across a passage that seems to be the crux of everything he writes about. Here Johnson tells us in simple language what it takes to see signs & wonders in the life of a Christian:
Biblical passion is a mysterious mixture of humility, supernatural hunger, and faith. I pursue because I have been pursued. Lethargy must not be found in me. And if the average Christian life around me falls short of the biblical standard, I must pursue against the grain. If people are not being healed, I will not supply a rationale so that those around me remain comfortable with the void. Instead, I will pursue the healing until it comes or the individual goes to be with the Lord. I will not lower the standard of the Bible to my level of experience.Very powerful, and very accurate words from a man who sees great miracles on a regular basis! If we wish to see miracles in our own life, then we need to have the same attitude as that of Bill Johnson.
Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. To accept any other standard is to bring the Bible down to our level of experience, and deny the nature of the One who changes not.
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Looking back through my 2003 journal entries, I found this interesting proverb attributed to Ronald Reagan:
I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.Simple, but profound. It's so easy to be passive, to believe everything is predetermined by the hand of God and we can't do anything about it (thank you, John Calvin...) The genius of Ronald Reagan, and any other great leader in history; whether political, religious, or military; is their steadfast unwillingness to accept the status quo.
So should it be for those of us who are in Christ. Relying on your "election" by the sovereign hand of God does not mean you can now sit back and enjoy life as it passes by. Rather, Christianity is the ultimate activism, but strangely unpolitical in nature. Yet here in the United States, everyone is a politician, like it or not, and we have a duty not only to ourselves, but to our nation, to vote and support those who value life, liberty, and morality. There can be no pursuit of happiness without virtue. It was another sage in another time who perhaps came up with the best single, succint definition for happiness that I have yet encountered:
Happiness is an activity of the soul in accord with perfect virtue.
Friday, June 18, 2004
Thomas F. Madden on the Inquisition on National Review Online
Monday, June 14, 2004
I've been reading the George Leonard book entitled Mastery. Leonard is a black belt in the Japanese martial art of Aikido, a former B-25 pilot during WW2, and a jazz pianist. I understand that he also has an interest eastern religions, in particular Zen Buddhism.
So what lessons could a Christian learn from reading his book? There are many: Leonard's main thesis is what it takes to master something. It doesn't really matter what that something is, the process is pretty much the same. If I could sum up the "big lesson" of his book in one word, that word would be perseverance.
But there are other important lessons as well. Here is a quote from his book that one could easily apply to ministry:
A human being is the kind of machine that wears out from lack of use. There are limits, of course, and we do need healthful rest and relaxation, but for the most part we gain energy by using energy. Often the best remedy for physical weariness is thirty minutes of aerobic excercise. In the same way, mental and spiritual lassitude is often cured by decisive action or the clear intention to act. We learn in high school physics that kinetic energy is measured in terms of motion. The same thing is true of human energy: it comes into existence through use. You can't hoard it. As Frederich S. (Fritz) Perls, founder of Gestalt therapy, used to say, "I don't want to be saved, I want to be spent."
George Leonard. Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment. Plume: New York, 1991.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
While at the local Wal-Mart, I stopped by the sporting goods department taking a good, long look at various hunting/camping knives. I wanted a new, inexpensive fixed-blade knife with a rubberized grip. I've always owned folding-blade knives, but they can be a pain to use, especially if they don't have a locking mechanism: none of my folding- blades have one.
To my great delight, Wal-Mart had a close-out on a Buck "Diamondback" knife with a rubberized grip. And the price was right: a mere $15.
But even more delightful was a little message from Chuck Buck (chairman of Buck Knives) enclosed within the warranty card:
If you are a new Buck knife owner, "welcome aboard." You are now part of a very large family. Although we're talking about a few million people, we still like to think of each one of our users as a member of the Buck Knives Family and take a personal interest in the product that was bought. With normal use, you should never have to buy another.
Now that you are family, you might like to know a little more about our organization. The fantastic growth of Buck Knives was no accident. From the beginning, management determined to make God the Senior Partner. In a crisis, the problem was turned over to Him, and He hasn't failed to help us with the answer. Each product must reflect the integrity of management, including our Senior Partner. If sometimes we fail on our end, because we are human, we find it imperative to do our utmost to make it right. Of course, to us, besides being Senior Partner, He is our Heavenly Father also; and it's a great blessing to us to have this security in these troubled times. If any of you are troubled or perplexed and looking for answers, may we invite you to look to Him, for God loves you.
"For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son; that whoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John: 3:16
My good friends Tim and Karen Mead are heading off to Russia tomorrow. They have a ministry, Seeds for the Harvest that brings the gospel to orphans in the city of Ivanovo, a ministry that they pursue with a love worthy of Christ himself. They will be staying for only two weeks, but eventually they will be heading off to Russia, never to come back to the USA (except for a vacation!)
When I think about the death of Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and now my good friends going off to minister amongst the people of a former enemy of the United States, I am amazed at how quickly things can change in this world! In World War 2, we invaded France to help take some of the pressure off our Russian allies, who were advancing against the Germans on the Eastern front. Soon after the war, the Russians became our most bitter enemy, as they pursued a policy of enslavement of peoples around the world, and did so with a system that was openly hostile to the advancement of Christianity. Ronald Reagan will forever be known as the the one president who refused to back down to the Soviet threat, and did everything he knew how to strengthen America in every way that it could possibly be strengthened: morally, militarily, and economically.
Due the constant economic and military pressure, it was the Soviets who eventually folded up an went away, just a couple of years after Reagan left office, and George Bush 'the elder' took over.
Now Tim and Karen are going off to the former enemy of ours, and doing what they can to spread the love and compassion of Jesus amongst those children who have little more than bread to eat and a place to sleep at night.
Please visit their web site, www.seedsfortheharvest.org for more information about their ministry. And do prayerfully consider sending them a few dollars, as they do the best they can to buy provisions for the orphans while there in Russia. (Due to outrageous shipping charges and the Russian mafia, sending things to Russia from the USA is nearly impossible.) I cannot help but praise the LORD that a ministry like theirs can even exist.
Monday, June 07, 2004
Sunday, June 6th was the 60th anniversary of one of the most memorable battles of World War 2: the invasion of Normandy, France; otherwise simply known as "D-Day."
German generals knew if the invasion succeeded, the war was over. The German army had it's hands full with Russia, and was being pushed backed by a series of powerful Russian advances. Having to cope with the Russian army on one side, and the the combined armies of UK, France, and the United States on the other, would tax the German war machine to the breaking point.
Not many Christians understand the parallels between the D-Day of June 6th, 1944, and that of the crucifixion of Christ.
The crucifixion and resurrection of Chirst, and the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit, represents a spiritual "D-Day" in the history of the world. It was the death and resurrection of Jesus that broke the power of the devil, and put him on notice that his kingdom was at an end. But here we are nearly 2,000 years after the fact, and it seems as if the evil one is in the driver's seat, and the return of Christ to earth to claim his bride is a promise that will go unfulfilled.
Yet as Christians, we can take comfort in the fact that we getting much closer to 'VE-Day' (Victory in Europe) as we move further away from 'D-Day.' The devil did not give up, roll over and die just because Jesus died on the cross. If anything, he will fight even harder and more diligently as he feels the end growing closer...
This was so even during World War 2. Both on the European and Pacific fronts, the war became much more fierce and harder fought as the Allies came closer to ultimate victory. The worst battles in the Pacific campaign were amongst the very last, especially the battles of Iwo Jima and Okninawa. And before final victory in Europe, the Allies were taken by surprise at the "Battle of the Bulge" where a German offensive broke through Allied lines and threatened to undo the momentum of the invasion. Some of the greatest bloodshed came at the very end of the war, not to mention the fire-bombing of Dresden (100,000+ dead civilians in one night) and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Just as the fighting became more intense towards the end of World War 2, so too should we expect some of the most horrible fighting between the forces of light and darkness will occur right before the Second Coming of Christ. The Bible clearly warns us that it will be so.
Sadly, many have been decieved by the false doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture, made so very fashionable by the "Left Behind" books. Many people wrongly believe that God will remove "the church" from the earth before the worst of satan's schemes come to pass. Wherever this doctrine had it's origin, it certainly wasn't from the pages of the Bible. Jesus and the apostles clearly warn us that the antichrist must come first, then the great tribulation, then the return of Christ to earth, and then finally we have the rapture of those in Christ who are still alive at his coming. (Matthew 24, Mark 13)
This means the body of Christ needs to be prepared for some tremendous times of darkness still to come. This darkness will not be able to overtake the light, for that is simply impossible. But it will certainly try. Ultimately the LORD will triumph over the forces of darkness, of this we can be sure.
Our responsibility is to continue the offensive that began so long ago, and to keep moving forward until the LORD comes back to earth. The weapons of our warfare are the Word of Truth, our testimony, the Holy Spirit, and most importantly: the love of God.
It is not for us to fear the plans of the enemy, because his time is very, very short. Rather, we need to be concerned with the advancement of the Kingdom, and make sure that we do all we can to encourage each other to keep up the good fight!