May 19, 2004

Christian Carnival is Up!!!

Head on over to Back of the Envelope for this week's Christian Carnival. I've got to say, every time I read one of these, I find new blogs to read. Pretty soon, I won't have time to do anything but read blogs and write mine.

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May 18, 2004

What Kind of Pray-er Are YOU??

Spare Change is proving to me that I need to read it daily. Read this post, and ask yourself -- what kind of pray-er am I?

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Rebecca St. James is "sad" for Britney


This article on CNN pretty much says it all.

I feel sorry for Britney. She's marketed herself based on pure sexuality -- how long can that last? Of course, I don't feel TOO sorry for her -- by the time that marketing scheme stops working, she'll be filthy stinking rich. Then she can retire and campaign for feminist causes, bemoaning the plight of American women who are treated like sex objects.

I'm glad that RSJ spoke her mind. Of course, there's always the "she had to know that every news source in the world would pick up on this interview, and run with it. Is she just after publicity?" And I'm cynical enough to have thought that at first. It won't get her new fans, since her "target demographic" are usually Britney's big fans. It won't make her more popular in Christian circles -- she's already huge there. And the statements are VERY consistant with her lifestyle, and her associations with groups like The Silver Ring Thing.

Britney Spears is stuck. She is too far down this road to go back if she wants to have a career. Maybe RSJ's statements will make young girls think about a few things, though. There IS another way, and it's working all over the world.

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May 17, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 2:1-12


Mark 2:1-12 ESV And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. (2) And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. (3) And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. (4) And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. (5) And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." (6) Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, (7) "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" ( And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? (9) Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? (10) But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the paralytic -- (11) "I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home." (12) And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"

People are still bringing the sick to see Jesus -- he's nothing more than a healer to many. I love the story of the paralytic whose friends brought him to see Jesus -- they knew that Jesus could help their friend, and they got him to Jesus however they could!

They got something rather unexpected. Instead of healing, Jesus forgave the man's sins. People were in shock. They knew what Jesus was claiming, even then! It amazes me that people claim Jesus never said He was God -- right here, He is claiming a power that God alone has -- the power to forgive sins. He doesn't say "God has forgiven you". He doesn't say "Be good and you'll be OK". He actually, right then and there, forgives the man's sin. And then confronts the people around Him with their own thoughts!

Which is easier to say? Neither one is particularly difficult to pronounce, so that isn't Jesus' point. I can walk around all day and say to people "Your sins are forgiven", and it means nothing. I can still say it, though. Nobody will know I'm lying until they stand before God and He informs them that they were deceived. How do you show authority? How do you show people that you are the One who can forgive sin? Jesus shows them. He has power over illness and disability.

He also shows us why He did the healing miracles. It wasn't just to make people well -- I'm sure there were many people in Israel at that time who never received healing. He wasn't doing it because people aren't supposed to be sick, or that believers aren't supposed to be sick. He did it so that the people would know that He had the authority from God to forgive sins. It was a calling card, so to speak. To emphasize His point, He heals the paralytic, who walks out of the house praising God.

I've noticed that repeatedly, the people who Christ heals leave Him praising God. They knew Who had healed them. These Jews, who had never worshipped anyone but God, left praising the God who had healed them. Maybe they thought that Jesus was merely His instrument. That all changed that day in Capernaum. Jesus laid claim to the authority to forgive sins, and His ministry was never the same. People had to decide to follow Him NOT based on His healing, but based on who He said He was.

We have to make the same choice today. Do we simply follow Christ because we wnat to have the 'Get Out of Hell Free' card? Because Jesus is "the Good Guy"? Or do we follow Him because we believe His claims to be God. We accept Who He is, and we have faith in what He did for us, and trust only in that for our eternal salvation. Following a God that is simply a cosmic gumball machine is not an option. That god is not the God of the Bible, or of Christianity. I'm not really sure that god is worth worshipping at all. Thankfully, my God is much more than that.

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Christian Carnival Alert!!

HEY YOU!!!!!

Yeah, you. Sitting there eating Fritos and writing your blog. You want fame? You want fortune?

Then get a real job. You want people to read your blog? Then send it in!!!

This week, the Christian Carnival is hosted at Back of the Envelope -- the first blog I read every day (and I'd say that even if my blogroll wasn't in alphabetical order! Send an email to him at cranksha@ece.rochester.edu, including the following information:

Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Description of the Post

Do that, and before you know it the blogosphere will be singing your praises .... well, they'll know who you are, anyway. Hey, it's a start! So get writing, and send it in!

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MGM -- Do They Really Get It??

MGM has a new movie coming out called "Saved!". The movie is about a Christian teen (Jena Malone), attending a stereotypical Baptist high school, who becomes pregnant when she tries to "convert" her gay boyfriend by having sex with him. Of course, she instantly becomes an outcast at her school -- the "good kids" don't like her anymore since she's now a dirty, rotten sinner. The essential plot of the movie, as near aas I can tell, is that Christians aren't tolerant, they don't love sinners, and you'd better watch out or they're gonna get you.

In and of itself, I have no real issue with the movie. I've known Christians who treated pregnant classmates in just that way. I know far more, though, who treated everyone with compassion, just as Christ did. I am, of course, used to Hollywood trying to tweek Christians, and it seems that this movie just capitalizes on the current trend of Christian-bashing. I don't really expect anything more out of Hollywood -- that's why I can be pleasantly surprised with things like The Passion of the Christ.

The problem I have is that MGM is apparantly hoping that Christians will like this movie. I am a former marketing major. I have always enjoyed advertising and marketing -- and if I may brag for a minute, I was pretty good at it. I would love to meet the marketing idiots who saw this movie and said, "Hmmm. Christian kids beat down the poor pregnant girl. The whole high school is Baptist, and they're hypocrites. The conservative Christians should love this one. Lets market it to them!". If I were in charge of production at MGM, I'd have an entirely new marketing department by the end of this week.

Reading some reviews of the film, one thing becomes obvious -- the filmmakers don't know anything about the evangelical "subculture". The movie is lettered with stereotypes, right down to the preacher, who has an affair with one of the kid's parents. It would be nice if Hollywood would actually do their research when they make a movie about us, but I guess that's hoping a little too much.

I'm not sure how offensive the movie would be -- I have to agree that there are Christian kids who act just like the kids in the movie; uncaring, unsympathetic, comdemning, etc. Of course, that describes just about any group of teenagers that I've ever been associated with, Christian or not. And maybe, in the end, that will be the salvation of this movie's box office. It will give the non-Christian kids someone to point at and say "I may not be a Christian, but at least I'm not as bad as they are! Look at me -- I'm tolerant!".

And in the end, nothing changes. More people to look down their noses at Christians -- none of whom actually act anything like the people in the movie. Another stereotype, so that people don't have to be bothered to actually find out what other people are really like. Sounds like more of that tolerance stuff to me. The more tolerance I see, the more I realize that Christians have it down pretty well -- in fact, the Spanish Inquisition was probably more tolerant than anyone in the last hundred years.

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May 16, 2004

Just What the Heck is a Fundamentalist, Realy, Anyway

I could have subtitled this "Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism part 100", and I promise that I'll get off this soapbox very soon. I found this over at the Fundamentalist Forums, and thought I'd share. Be sure to read the whole thread -- and I'm going out looking for Jerry Sutton's book tomorrow.

i'm going off to bed now -- I'll have some more commentary on this later on Sunday.

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Just a quick note

I don't know how much I'm going to write tonight. We're on the road again, and the Internet access is limited. Also, I'm finding out that the caps keys on this laptop stick, so I'm going to have to do some editing when I get home to the real computer.

I've also got a template redesign in the works -- I'll put a sample up somewhere so everyone can see it and comment on it when I get it finished. Possibly by Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how much I can do while my kids are taking finals next week. It will address some issues that people have brought to my attention, but that I haven't really known what to do about until now (I'm learning to use style sheets, so I can correct some of the messy HTML code I've written here).

Well, I'm off looking through my blogroll to see if something inspires me. If not -- more Mark study tomorrow -- we start Chapter 2!

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May 15, 2004

Christians and Public Education

I've been hearing a lot about this article lately, so I figured I'd throw my two cents out there for everyone to read. You can also go here to read a running debate I've had with someone (I am phoenix, so you know). AND there's a good discussion of the topic here.

First of all, there ARE Christians in public schools -- my wife and I both teach in a public school. In fact, my wife took a LOT of flack over her decision to not teach in a Christian school -- she views it as a mission field, and I know that this year she has had an impact on several students. Christians are fighting for the soul of American public education.

There are also always going to be Christian kids in public schools. Let's ignore the kids who just can't afford the tuition. What about the kids whose parents are not Christians? What are they going to do? These are questions that I'm not sure have been answered -- at least not anywhere I'm reading.

Should we simply abandon public education to the Enemy? That's what we're doing. We're throwing up our hands and saying "There's nothing more we can do". We are doing the same thing that the fundamentalists did in the 70s and 80s when they abandoned the Southern Baptist convention. It's taken almost 20 years for conservatives to win that fight. We don't have 20 years to reclaim public education.

I am all for Christian schools, and even home schooling -- for the right reasons. If the public schools in your area do a lousy job of preparing your kids for life after graduation, then it's your duty to put your kids somewhere else. But if you are concerned about the moral decay of public schools, think about trying to help solve the problem. If you shelter your kids from what is happening in public schools (and I teach in one -- I know what is happening in them), what is their reaction going to be when they have to function in the real world? Will they be able to deal with people who are ideologically opposed to them, when they have never faced that opposition before?

Who is going to train them? Parents. Like Jen says over at blogs4god -- if you have enough time to be able to commit to homeschooling, you have enough time to be involved in your child's public school education. Know the teachers, and make sure they know you. Find out where potential problems may lie. Work out solutions before the problems happen. Make sure your child knows WHY they believe the way they do -- not just what they believe. Make sure they understand what is being thrown at them in school, and why people believe the way they do. Let them know how to interact with people who oppose their beliefs -- so that they can have an impact on their classmates.

And remember that there are Christian teachers out there who are going to be there for your kids -- a support group, if you will. You might not even know who they are -- after all, Ezekiel didn't know there were 10,000 followers of God in the nation; he thought he was the only one.

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May 13, 2004

Most Popular Translations

I'm doing this partly to promote my poll (I REALLY want to find this out, and so far I only have 6 votes -- I KNOW there are more than six of you out there!!!)

Ellison Research did a study on what Bible versions were preferred by various denominations. There are some surprising results -- including the fact that there are a LOT of new, modern translations that the ministers polled were not familiar with.

One of the nice things about e-Sword is that you get a TON of different translations. I don't use them all -- I tend to stick with the MKJV, the KJV, and the ESV for English. But I have access to many of the newer translations, so I can at least evaluate them, and let people know the strengths and weaknesses of each. It was interesting to see that the ministers polled also were willing to recommend translations based off different text forms (Alexandrian vs. Byzantine, mainly).

Everyone has their favorites. I tend to favor more formal equivalent or literal translations over dynamic equivalent. But I'm not going to condemn people who disagree with me. I may criticise their choice of translations if I think that it's an especially weak one, but for the most part, I'm glad to see people reading God's Word -- whatever translation they choose.

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Let's Hear It for the ...... ACLU??

It IS the American Civil Liberties Union. And in this case, an American's civil liberties were violated. But since it was a Christian kid's rights, I guess a lot of people thought it wasn't going to matter to the ACLU (popularly referred to as the Atheists, Communists and Liberal's Union). Thankfully, they were wrong.

The ACLU seems to be trying to show that it is not a biased organization, in spite of a track record that would indicate just that. And I LIKE the fact that everyone is getting an education about what exactly is legal when it comes to religious speech.

I had kids tell me last year that they weren't allowed to read their Bibles for silent reading in class. I told them the teacher was wrong, and that if they wanted to read the Bible nobody could stop them. Turns out, the teacher hadn't said anything -- the kids assumed that they couldn't do it because of the whole "freedom from religion" nonsense. I think we need to make sure that teachers and students understand the idea that "free exercise" means just that -- we are free to exercise our religious beliefs, as long as they don't interfere with anyone else's. Kids pray every day in school -- I see kids asking the blessing at lunch tables every day. If the ACLU can help educate people, and let them know what they CAN and CANNOT do, then I say, "Welcome Aboard!"

What took you so long?

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May 12, 2004

Today in Church History

(Actually, this is more like yesterday in Church History.)

May 11, 1816. New York. 28 different local Bible Societies gathered together to form an organization that would help them to work together more efficiently. May 11 marks the day that they voted to form the American Bible Society. By years end, 41 different regional groups had joined it in it's effort to "encourage the wider circulation of the Holy Scriptures throughout the world". Interestingly, they were committed to distribute Bibles with no commentary or footnotes in them at all.

Since then, the Society has pushed to make sure that Bibles are available throughout the world -- a goal they have since been joined in by the Gideons. They have produced Bibles in thousands of foreign languages, and have been influential in the spread of the Gospel internationally.

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Err America -- Liberal Talk Radio at it's best

My third all political post -- but this one DOES have some religious tie-ins, so it doesn't really count.

I just finished skimming this NY Daily News article. I wish I could say I was shocked, or disappointed, or even surprised. I can't.

They don't like us. At all. And they aren't very good at differentiating between liberals and conservatives when it comes to Christians. I can't think of very many devout (or even semi-devout) Christians who wouldn't be offended by what was aired. I've said it before -- this must be that "tolerance" thing that I hear so much about. I can do that, too -- but I won't stoop to that level of ignorance.

I say let them have their radio station. Make sure it's broadcast all over the country. I want people to hear what these idiots actually have to say -- that's the best way to make sure that they are marginalized into obscurity. Which is exactly where they belong.

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Christian Carnival

The Christian Carnival is up over at Spare Change. I've never read Spare Change before, but that may have to change (no pun intended!) -- it's a great, well-written blog. There are some great entries over there -- including several from blogs on my blogroll! My article on Fundamentalists and Evangelicals from the 6th is up over there, so tell your friends (or your enemies, I'm not picky!), and head over there and read some great stuff from around the blogosphere!

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May 11, 2004

Don't forget the POLL!!!!

Poll right here!! It will be up until the 17th, so get in on it now!

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The Fundamentals and Inerrancy


This link has a copy of chapter 21 of The Fundamentals, which discusses the idea of inspiration, and defends the idea of verbal inspiration. A lot has been said on this subject already throughout the blogosphere, so I decided it was time to add my two cents.

Does inspiration automatically lead to inerrancy? If we hold to the doctrine of inspiration, that is, that the Scriptures are inspired (literally theopneustos, or God-breathed) by God, can we believe that these Scriptures contain mistakes? Many people point to apparent contradictions in Scripture as evidence that it is not inherently. Many more people have researched the contradictions and found that there are reasonable, logical explanations for them, and that inerrancy is not affected one bit by any of them.

I like the word theopneustos -- 2 Timothy 3:16 is the only place it occurs in the Bible. The idea of something being breathed out by God is fascinating to me. How did it happen? Did God come down like He did on Sinai, and carve the words into stone? Did He prompt the writer, telling him what to include and what to leave out? Did He simply monitor what the author was writing, and nudge the writer in the correct direction? Or was it something different -- something that is so totally different from anything we can experience that we cannot really know how it was done until we see Jesus in Heaven?

Inerrancy, to me, is very important. If the Bible is not inerrant -- if it isn't free from error, trustworthy in all it's claims -- how can we use it as the final authority for our faith? To me, sola scriptura relies on a Bible that is dependable, reliable, and free from error. If an error is possible, how can we be sure that e are following the part that is error-free? When we say that All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God -- how do we know that that part is one of the correct parts?

One of the things I am learning in reading on this subject (and I'm just getting started on it) is that when we interpret Biblical passages, we have to understand the genre that they are written in. When quoting a Psalm, for example, we must remember that we are quoting poetry, and treat it accordingly. We must also remember that Hebrew poetry is different from American poetry, and we must take that into account, too. If God inspired the writers, didn't He also inspire the method, the genre, of writing? Otherwise, why do we have poetry, apocalyptic writing, history, prophecy, biography, and epistles? Why not just one long narrative? There is a reason for each style of writing in the Bible, and we need to learn that reason. When we do that, we can understand why some numbers are different in different accounts of events, and why some figures of speech are used, etc.

I believe that the Bible is inspired by God, and that it is free from errors -- unless that error is an error of interpretation. The fault is then ours, not God's.

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I really have nothing to say ...

... about the beheading in Iraq.

I've tried to think of the words, and I can't. Jared over at Exultate Justi, however, has found words. Good words. Words that need to be heard.


Go here and read.

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May 10, 2004

I'm Romans!

You Are Romans
You are Romans.


Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to The Great Separation (which you need to read, if you don't already!) for this quiz.

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Study of Mark: Mark 1:40-44



Mark 1:40-45 ESV
(40) And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean."
(41) Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean."
(42) And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
(43) And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once,
(44) and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them."
(45) But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

Look at the faith of this leper! He knows that Jesus can make him clean. He has heard of the miracles that Jesus has been doing, and he knows that the same can happen to him. On the other hand, we usually have faith that something isn't going to happen. We follow a Saviour who defeated death -- we should expect Him to perform miracles. But we should expect them to be for His glory -- not ours.

Jesus touches the man. This doesn't seem like much to us, but to the people of Christ's time, it was a major deal. By touching the leper, Jesus made Himself ritually unclean, by the standards of the Pharisees. This is a great picture of what He did for us at Calvary -- "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)".

And still, Jesus doesn't want to draw attention to Himself because of the healing. He commands the man to tell nobody what happened, but to present himself to the priests, so that he could be declared clean. He doesn't want a horde of people following Him trying to see what new trick He's going to do -- He wants people to follow Him because they believe in His teachings, and know Him for who He is. He wants them to understand the mission of the Messiah.

As before, when the news gets out, Jesus doesn't capitalize on it. Instead, he goes out alone, to wait for the buzz to die down so that He can get on with the business that His Father has planned for Him.

We spend a lot of time trying to put on a show. We want people to notice us, to pay attention to us. We even write blogs thinking that people all over the world want to read what we have to say. We need to remember our mission -- to go into all the world, to preach the Gospel, to baptise, to disciple. Some of us are better at certain parts of that than others, but we all need to remember that it's not only the Great Commission. It is (if I can go all Star Trek nerdy on you for a minute) the Christian's Prime Directive. Our continuing mission. And we don't do it for our own glory -- we do it to give honor and glory to God, who has chosen to allow us to take part in His plan.

That finishes up Chapter 1 of Mark. Next Monday, we go on to Chapter 2, and I'll start using bigger sections of Scripture than I have been so far. Otherwise, this study will take a LOOOONG time to finish.

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A POLL!!!

Yes, I've been cruising the Net trying to find cool new things to do to my blog, and this poll is one of them!! The poll will be valid for one week -- you will only be able to respond one time in that week. I'm curious about this, and I hope I get a good response.







Free polls from Pollhost.com
Which English translation of the Bible do you use the most?

1611 KJV
1769 KJV
NKJV
NIV
ESV
NASB
RSV
NAB
NLT
Other (leave me a comment to specify)


  


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