Sunday, March 30, 2008

Christian vs. Muslim Views on the Crucifixion

The Islamic view is that Jesus was a prophet, but that he himself did not die on the cross. The Islamic perspective is that each person bears the burden of his sins alone -- and that repentance and obedience to God's commands are the means of redemption.

Check out this short blog post by Gene Veith for more on this contrast with Christian understanding of redemption.

It's important to understand these fundamental differences.

Limited Government

Charles Kesler writes clearly about what should be meant by limited government -- which is not the same as small government or weak government. I think every US citizen should be engaged in this conversation.

This Specific Truth Will Make You Free

Melinda at STR makes the great point that many people mistakenly quote John 8:32 out of context by saying "The truth will make you free."

If you read this in context, you will see that the truth Jesus refers to is that Jesus himself is the Truth -- a specific, objective truth, not a relativist or subjective truth.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Go an a High-Information Diet

The folks at LifeHack have a great blog post about the difference between input and information, titled "Go on a High-Information Diet."

There is excellent counsel here for godly men to absorb. We live in a world of people who are under-informed, and stuffed to the gills with unhelpful "infotainment."

We need men who are good thinkers working with solid, useful information -- to analyze complex situations, solve problems, create new opportunities, and especially to serve others.

The article gives excellent strategies to assess the information quality of any source.

Godly men also work from a biblical worldview, so make sure your Bible intake is turned on full! Read systematically. Read broadly. Read deeply, repeatedly. Be a man of The Book.

If you need a process for learning how to think wisely using Scripture and applying it to real-world situations, check this out.

But...This Isn't Universal

I read through the transcript of Senator Obama's speech on race and give his rhetorical skills high marks, and his courage (he goes much further than most politicians would go). I'm still of the opinion that he wants to associate with a church body that espouses serious hate towards others. (It's not a race issue, in my mind, but about hate and anger towards others.)

Let me draw your attention to one section:

"In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well." (Italics mine)

It's curious to me that no one challenges this statement -- the Golden Rule is uniquely Christian, and not universal across "all the world's great religions." This is not found in the Koran, or in Hindu texts, or in Buddist thought. Some say that Confucius wrote a similar admonition, but not all agree. Jesus died for people. Mohamed, Moses, and Confucius did not.

Perhaps this is another sign of biblical and religious illiteracy and ignorance in contemporary culture?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What Are You Missing in the Bible?

(Note: this is a cross-post from my blog for Bible teachers...)

Check out this 30 second awareness test:

So what are you missing in the Bible, because you see only what you are looking for?

Let's face it, our minds are "fearfully and wonderfully made," and yet we have to work hard to overcome our natural tendencies. Build these into your study plans:

1. Read systematically, not just your favorite passages
2. For passages that you are teaching, read them over and over and over again -- two or three times a day for several days
3. Work through those passages in reverse order (it's amazing how many new things will occur to you)
4. Read passages aloud
5. Ask "What is this not saying?"
6. Check cross-references and related passages (tools like the Thompson's Chain Reference Bible are great for this work)

These study habits will help you uncover what casual reading misses! And you'll be better prepared to bring "fresh bread" from the Word to your hungry students.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Men, hang in there. If doubts and weakness creep in, be a man. Stand up straighter, take deep breaths in Christ, and continue on. Stay in step with the Holy Spirit. You are stronger than you know, bolder today than before, and more gentle than you ever dared to hope -- when you are in the Lord.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


"Persistence isn't using the same tactics over and over. That's just annoying. Persistence is having the same goal over and over." -- Seth Godin

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God!

Check out this cool free software: Google Sky

Amazing views of the stars. Surely, God is powerful and wonderful!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Insights from David Mamet

David Mamet, one of the best screenwriters and playwrights working today in my opinion, shares some insights into human nature, and his transition on political views after many years as "brain-dead liberal" (his words).

Caution: some bad language.

I'm impressed that he wrote this essay, and that the Village Voice published it with a title like "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal' " I assume the strength of his reputation carried it.

One of the curious reactions from adults who actually read the Bible is that it is full of amazingly imperfect people -- people just like me. The Bible puts little or no varnish on human flaws. And as David Mamet points out, the US Constitution arranges a government model on the assumptions of imperfect people running it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

25% of Teenage Girls with STDs?

The CDC released a study that concludes 1 in 4 teenage girles have at least one sexually transmitted disease.

Several people have asked "Really?" See comments on this blog post for responses about the validity of the analysis.

Even if they are off by a factor of 2, it would be 1 in 8 girls, still an astoundingly high number. Keep in mind, too, this is not worldwide, but in the US. There are certainly places in the world where it could be even more frequent.

I know abstinence campaigns come under heavy fire from some quarters, and do not always have perfect results. But the facts are undeniable. The incidence of STDs among those who stay sexually pure before and during marriage approaches zero.

Career, Vocation, Etymology, and J.I. Packer

Consider career and vocation, based on the etymology of the words:

Career comes to English from 15th century French, carere, which was a circular racetrack. We get the English word "careen" from the same root word. You can go very fast in a career, there may be cheering fans, and it can be exhilirating, but you don't necessarily go very far.

In contrast, the English word vocation comes from the Latin vocare, which means voice or calling. Pursue your calling.

Remember that corporations are legal entities without a soul. They can only offer environments for careers, they cannot create a calling. A lot of corporations today are desperately trying to inject soul (they might call it "desirable corporate culture") into their corpus.

Short videos worth your time: J.I. Packer speaks briefly on work as ministry, and about vocation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Amazing Audio Library

Check out this amazing collection of hundreds of free audio messages -- searchable by topic, Bible passage, or speaker! Recommended.

Discipleship Library

HT: Brad Roth

Monday, March 10, 2008

"I have had enough, Lord!"

Perhaps the best unanswered prayer in the Bible is in 1 Kings 19:

"[Elijah] came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."

Our gracious Lord, who answered Elijah's prayer about rain and fire from heaven to demonstrate his power, did not answer this prayer for death. Instead He gives Elijah what he really needs: a reset.

Many times in teaching roles and leadership roles we come to points where we feel like saying, "I have had enough, Lord!"

And God will deal graciously with us as He did with His servant Elijah:

1. He strengthens us with what we need (angels provided Elijah with food and drink twice -- see 1 Kings 19: 7-8)
2. He gives us time to listen (Elijah traveled 40 days and nights to Horeb. The Lord certainly could have spoken with him after a day or 5 days, but Elijah needed time to be prepared to hear clearly.)
3. He checks our mission and alignment ("What are you doing here Elijah?" v. 9b) and even if we get all whiny and complainy as Elijah did, He demonstrates his power and presence to us.
4. He provides new orders and guidance (Elijah didn't get any sympathy -- it would not have helped! -- but was told to go annoint Hazael and Jehu and Elisha v. 15-18)

Leaders are looking for help. I suspect Elijah heard the Lord say, "Yet I have reserved seven thousand..." and thought "Really? Where are they?" So do not be discouraged if you don't see the workers yet, but keep praying.

Elijah's God is our God. And He likewise deals with us, as we need it.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

But...Easter is Coming

More snow in Iowa. I think we're up to 58" here this long winter. Yesterday I was reminded of the White Witch's curse in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: "Always winter, and never Christmas."

And then I said to myself, "But...Easter is coming!" And that makes all the difference.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Yes, We Can!

I'm horrified by the latest Obama video. It's creepy. The lesson of history is when you hear crowds of adults chanting like this (O-bam-a, O-bam-a, O-bam-a...), run for your life. That's unthinking mob-speak. It's true that Senator Obama did not produce this video, but he has also not condemned it.

Sherif Gergis takes another tack on "Yes, We Can!" with his open letter to Senator Obama.

"As a legislator, you have opposed every effort to protect unborn human life. Shockingly, you even opposed a bill to protect the lives of babies who, having survived an attempted abortion, are born alive. ... Can we become a society that does not sacrifice some people to help others? Or is that hope too audacious? You have said that abortion is necessary to protect women’s equality. But surely we can do better. Surely we can build an America where the equality of some is not purchased with the blood of others. Or would that mean too much change from politics as usual?Can we provide every member of the human family equal protection under the law? Your record as a legislator gives a resounding answer: No, we can’t. That is the answer the Confederacy gave the Union, the answer segregationists gave young children, the answer a complacent bus driver once gave a defiant Rosa Parks. But a different answer brought your father from Kenya so many years ago; a different answer brought my family from Egypt some years later. Now is your chance, Senator Obama, to make good on the spontaneous slogan of your campaign, to adopt the more American and more humane answer to the question of whether we can secure liberty and justice for all: Yes, we can."

Prosperity "gospel"

John Piper speaks firmly against the popular prosperity "gospel." Worth much more than the three minutes it will cost you.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Are We Running Out of Oil?

It's common wisdom that we're running out oil. But when? At what rate?

Check out this article, "The World Has Plenty of Oil" for some insights into current known resources, extraction efficiencies, consumption rates, and timelines.

"The world is not running out of oil anytime soon. A gradual transitioning on the global scale away from a fossil-based energy system may in fact happen during the 21st century. The root causes, however, will most likely have less to do with lack of supplies and far more with superior alternatives. The overused observation that "the Stone Age did not end due to a lack of stones" may in fact find its match.
The solutions to global energy needs require an intelligent integration of environmental, geopolitical and technical perspectives each with its own subsets of complexity. On one of these -- the oil supply component -- the news is positive. Sufficient liquid crude supplies do exist to sustain production rates at or near 100 million barrels per day almost to the end of this century."

You can find corroboration about oil supplies and consumption in this wikipedia article.

The World in 2009

Victor David Hanson points out that irrespective of who is in the White House, not everyone in the world will like America.

"When President George Bush leaves office, will America once again be liked by most of the world? Not necessarily, since most current problems are either already getting better or not our fault. When the next president takes office in January 2009, he or she will be confronted by a world that either understandably appreciates America or for self-interested reasons will challenge it."

Talking with Athiests and Doubters

I hope that you regularly talk about Jesus with athiests and doubters. It can be pretty intimidating at times, and one of the biggest hurdles is knowing where to start. That's why I'm suggesting you check out "A Wallet, A Dollar, and the Existence of God" as an example. These free example videos (and PDF transcription) from will not only give you ideas about how to share the reasonableness of the existence of God, they will strengthen your own convictions.