Friday, November 30, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Short Videos on Faith and Clear Thinking

Stand to Reason posted a wonderful collection of short videos (44 at this writing) on YouTube. Most are less than 4 minutes. Greg Koukl is terrific at explaining things like the nature of faith, whether all religions are the same, how to think about the problem of evil -- the kinds of things you and I should be able to intelligently, charitably, reasonably discuss with our families, our friends, our neighbors.

Recommended. Check out the collection here:
http://youtube.com/user/STRvideos

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Following HARD After Jesus

"Once you let anybody other than Jesus tell you what to do, you begin to die.”

Read this strong post from Perry Noble about staying on course, preaching the Gospel and obeying Jesus. Every ministry leader needs this message.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Encouraging Church Signs in Europe

The overall statistics on the decline of the churches in Europe are not encouraging. But there are bright spots of hope! Kyle Wingfield gives an update on "white dwarf" churches in Europe -- smaller bodies but shining intensively.
"Megachurch" Map

Intriguing map of "megachurches" in the US.

What would a map of "God at work" look like? Can you imagine a "Google maps" type of display that allowed you to zoom in and out, to see the richness and depth of the love of God expressed in people's lives, in families, in communities, in nations?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

George Washington in 1789

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

(Source)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thinking Clearly

Stand to Reason has an outstanding group of tips to help you think clearly, derived from James Beverley. Review these yourself, share with your family. The guidance presented here will definitely help you be discerning during this presidential campaign!

Emotion does not settle issues of truth.
Tradition is not always right.
Do not give human authority figures uncritical allegiance.
Be careful of the way you use words. Words are tools. They must be used properly and carefully.
Do not force people into limited or false options.
Do not use name-calling or put-downs as a debate tactic (argumentum ad hominem).
Be careful of accusations based solely on the presumed origin of a given idea or practice (the genetic fallacy). The popularity or unpopularity of something does not make it either true or false.
The fact that something is either an old or a new idea does not automatically make it correct (chronological snobbery).
Be careful in the use of “guilt by association.” Do not dismiss good ideas or practices by letting your imagination take them to inappropriate extremes.
Be prudent when using the “slippery slope” argument (not all slopes are slippery; i.e. “b” does not necessarily follow “a” in all cases.).
Be alert to cause and effect errors (post hoc propter hoc).
Make sure that conclusions follow from adequate evidence and support (non sequitur does not follow). Do not accept clich├ęs or popular slogans uncritically.
Do not “stack the deck,” i.e. only point out observations that support your pet theory, ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
Be wary of generalization. Remember that the truth is not always in the middle.
Do not take ideas or people out of context.
Understand that spiritual discernment means being ready to admit to weakness or limitation in that very gift; being willing to abandon “shortcuts” in return for the demanding spiritual disciplines that produce lasting fruit; and resisting the temptation to judge the hearts of others.
Roundup of Recent Reading

Peggy Noonan has some excellent commentary on the challenges of the US being a "beacon to the world." Best line: "So many criticism of politicians boil down to: He's not manipulating us well enough! We need more actual adults who are actually serious about the business of the nation."

Perry Noble gives some hilarious analysis of the 14 worst church signs.

Amy Hall provides a reasonable response to one of the primary objections to Intelligent Design: it's not scientific. Philosophical naturalism limits science.
Theory of Everything?


Garret Lisi may have found an elegant way to explain how to integrate gravity with electromagnetism, the strong force (which binds protons together in the atomic nucleus), and the weak force (which controls radioactive decay), using an eight dimensional geometric lattice structure called E8. Here's a 2 dimensional slice of E8:




The math is much simpler than the string theory that's been promoted recently -- and doesn't require alternative universes.


Here's a readable New Scientist article about Garret Lisi's discovery.


Now why do I post this on this blog?

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. " Proverbs 25:2 (sometimes called the "scientist's proverb)

As researchers uncover these things, they always find great beauty and elegance, and this further showcases the glory of the Creator.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Teach the Jesus Way" Now Available

My newest product for Bible teachers is now available -- "Teach the Jesus Way." You can read my letter describing all the contents.
Caption Contest, Anyone?

Check out these amazing photos -- each captured at just the right moment. Some of them are just begging for a cute caption. Could be a good, fun activity for your dinner table.
Blackberry Psalm

David Zinger is feeling spiritual about his Blackberry:

The BlackBerry is my Connector

The BlackBerry is my connector,
I shall not sit idle
IT makes me never sit in empty meetings
IT leads me out of still downtime
IT restores my date book
IT leads me in the path of write-eousness
For IT is my companion.

Even thought I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of too much information
I fear not missing a thing
For IT is with me 24/7
The screen and keypad comfort me.

Surely email and phone calls shall follow me
All the days of my life
And I shall dwell in the house of
Instantaneous information and connection forever and wherever.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Three Kinds of Men

"There are three kinds of men, ones that learn by reading, a few who learn by observation, and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence to find out for themselves." -- Will Rogers

Tough to add any useful commentary to this one :-)

If you'd like to read more Will Rogers, check this out:
The Will Rogers Quotation Page

Thursday, November 08, 2007

MayFlower Compact Anniversary

Nov 11, 1620 -- a signal event in history! Worth reading again as the anniversary approaches.

IN THE name of God, Amen.
We whose names are underwritten, the loyal
subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great
Britain, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc., having
undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and
honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the
Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the
presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together
into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and
furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute,
and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and
offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the
general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and
obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at
Cape-Cod the 11 of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord,
King James, of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the
fifty-fourth. Anno Domine 1620.

Don't Bring Your Bibles to Beijing Olympics

New York Sun report: athletes should not bring Bibles to Beijing. Chinese officials give a goofy economic rationale. Let's just call this fear.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wise Thinking about Who Can Speak to Abortion Issue

Gary Wills is getting plenty of attention for his editorial, "Abortion is Not a Religious Issue." He argues that a woman contemplating an abortion has more authority to speak about this issue than anyone else, in particular, anyone speaking from a religious perspective.

But read this outstanding response from Steve at Stand to Reason. He carefully, logically, completely shreds Wills' arguments.

This is a good example of wise, Christian thinking in action. The tone of the response remains helpful and open to dialogue -- no personal attacks, no putting people down. Great example for us to learn from!

Monday, November 05, 2007


Arthur Kornberg


I want to recognize the death of Arthur Kornberg, enzymologist and Nobel Prize winner (1959) for the discovery of how DNA polymerase works in E. coli. He was a terrific mentor and there is a large group of active scientists who came from his lab. The genetic and biochemical approaches his lab groups developed were foundational to an entire generation of molecular biology. You can read more about him here.

As a grad student at Northwestern University I worked on DNA Polymerase/DNA Primase in yeast, and was delighted to talk with Dr. Kornberg at a conference about my work. Even though I pursued another scientific direction, I can still reach back to that conversation and feel encouraged to pursue difficult science for the joy of discovery.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Anger

I don't have this worked out completely, but I've spent some time meditating on anger. I'll be curious about your comments on this.

Anger is a natural emotion that rushes in whenever there is a perceived gap between what should be and what is. The gap doesn't have to be real. The anger does not need to be proportional to the gap.

My experience is that anger can at best showcase a problem (often a problem with me) -- it's not a solution. It might be necessary to highlight evil.

Acting in anger is not effective. Even in a physical confrontation, anger works more against me than it helps me. This is in part because anger simultaneously fixates on something (so we miss the whole picture) and also diffuses concentration (so we cannot focus power efficiently). Angry people think neither clearly or wisely.

Anger requires fuel, something to feed on, just like a fire needs fuel. Angry people can spend a lot of time finding more to fuel their anger. Anger is like a drug which fools men into thinking it feels good, even as they are destroyed. Take a bite from anger, and it can devour you.

The Bible distinguishes between righteous and unrighteous anger. It's significant that Jesus does not become angry with his executioners, nor those whom called him some awful names and accused him of being in league with the devil. However you do see his anger when someone is blocking someone else from interaction with God (e.g., the money-changers occupying the court of the Gentiles and preventing Gentiles from coming there to pray)

The antidote to anger is to shift the focus to Christ and His kingdom ways, and to stop fueling it. When we recognize our security in Christ, and no longer see people from a worldly perspective (2 Cor 5:16), then we can interact with others in non-angry ways. The cross fills the gap, rather than anger.

Note: I'm not arguing for pacificism or Mikey Milquetoast Christianity. Let our anger be like Christ's. Let our focus be on Jesus. Where bold stands and violence are necessary to stand for God and protect others, we act, but not in anger or vengeance.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Do You Agree With These Problems?

My friend Kevin Nelstead points us to "THIRTEEN CRITICAL PROBLEMS FACING CONTEMPORARY EVANGELICALISM." :

"Vast evidence of a growing doctrinal deterioration on the essentials and implications of the Gospel.
The expansion and influence of the “Prosperity Gospel” throughout evangelicalism.
The loss of the concept of meaningful church membership and the rise of the “audience-only” model of church participation.
The loss of the theological “center” in mainline churches at the precise time many evangelicals are open to reconsidering the mainline vision of worship, especially in Anglicanism.
The triumph and glorification of unchecked pragmatic entrepreneurialism, especially in worship, but in all areas of evangelical life.
The corrosive and compromised influence of Christian publishing in shaping evangelicalism, as exemplified in the rise of Joel Osteen, The Prayer of Jabez and the Prosperity Gospel.
Growing chaos in the theological and practical preparation of pastors, especially in the “emerging” church.
The failure of the “Seeker” model to use its vast resources and influence to produce a Christian counter-culture or challenge the “program centered/facilities centered” model of evangelicalism.
The lack of rising “Billy Graham” quality new leaders for the larger evangelical movement.
The failure of most evangelical denominations to broadly embrace and effectively mentor the current church planting movement.
The demise of quality Biblical preaching at the hands of technology and entertainment.
The apparently fatal infection of much of the emerging church movement with the failed theology of 20th century liberalism.
The cannibalism of evangelicalism on issues related to theological, cultural, social and political diversity. "

In every age Christians must strive to hold fast to Christ, stand firm in the message of the Gospel, from that firm stance reach widely to the world, and work in the cultures and settings where our Lord has planted us.

This calls for humble hearts and minds. Let us make sure that where we see pitfalls and concerns we use that insight to build others up and keep them on safe paths, appealing to brothers and sisters, rather than to tear down and put down and divide. Easy to write, difficult to do with grace and love. (Actually, impossible apart from Christ in us.)

I'm a Day Late!

I missed Reformation Day yesterday. 490 years ago, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. God had been working in others, too, but this is the seminal event we can see today. Hooray for the recovery of the Gospel message for all!