January 29, 2006

Podcasting Preachers

I am a huge proponent for churches having a podcast. I've been producing one for my own church (which hasn't been updated in a while, due to hosting issues, unfortunately), and I think it's a great way for local churches to expand their ministries to people who may never set foot in a church building.

One of my biggest gripes is that so few "big" preachers podcast. They have their tapes, which are offered on their web sites, but they don't have a podcast. The recording is there, but so many of them would rather charge people for it. I've never understood that. I've always chalked it up to a lack of understanding of what a podcast is.

One of my favorite preachers is podcasting now. Alistair Begg is offering daily podcasts of his radio show. Head over to the Truth for Life podcasting site and register. It's free, and they'll give you the RSS feed address so you can plug it into your favorite podcastcher. If you have iTunes, you can just search for Truth for Life in the podcast section and subscribe straight from there.

John MacArthur is also podcasting. You can subscribe to the GraceLife podcast using this RSS URL (thanks, Phil!)

Al Mohler also podcasts his daily radio show. More information is at his website -- the link to subscribe to the podcast is on the right.

Fill those iPods you got for Christmas with good programming. And don't forget about the Pewcast and Sunday at First Baptist -- I've just about got the hosting problems worked out, so both will be updated VERY soon!!!

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January 28, 2006

On Parents and Adoption

38 and a half years ago, a woman found out she was pregnant. She had become pregnant while separated from her husband -- and he was not the father. They had reconciled, but the child was now an uncomfortable reminder of something they both would rather forget.

She was not a teenaged girl experiencing her first pregnancy; she was a mother already, and in her thirties. She didn't have to answer to her parents for what she did. She wasn't concerned about what the father would say. She had options.

She chose to give the child up. To carry the baby in her womb for nine months, and deliver it. She delivered it on January 26, 1968, at a bit after 6 in the morning.

And never saw him again.

Just wanted to post a quick thanks, and let her know I turned out just fine.

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Prayer Request

Be in prayer for Dr. Al Mohler and his family. His father in law passed away this past week, and Dr. Mohler preached the funeral.

The sorrow of losing a parent is only tempered by the assurance that you will meet again in heaven.

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One Year Anniversary

No, not mine, or even the blog's. I'm talking about the one year anniversary of the SBC Bloggers Aggregator. I started this off because of an idea Adrian Warnock came up with, to aggregate specific groups/denominations of bloggers so that people seeking a specific type of blog could find them easilly. I had a half dozen or so blogs to start off with, and wondered if it would ever really take off.

I just added my 40th member a few days ago. And you'll notice that none of the SBC big-wigs have been added yet. I decided that I would contact each blogger personally by email to invite them, or accept current SBC members who wanted to join. And I just haven't asked Al Mohler or Russ Moore if they want to join yet -- and the site has probably slipped under their radar. I'll get around to asking the SBC leadership if they want to be included later this year -- probably before the convention.

If you haven't read any of the blogs I've included in the aggregator, you need to head over there and do it. Things are hopping right now!

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Where in the World is Coudersport?

For a while, I've been noticing something odd. Whenever my site logs ME in as a new visitor (sometimes the blocking cookie gets misplaced or deleted, I think), it shows me coming from Coudersport, Pennsylvania. I've never been there and have no idea where it is. I figured it was something odd with Statcounter, but it just happened on someone else's site.

I guess the IP number shows up as being based there. I figured it was pretty close, but I was wrong. It's over 450 miles from here, in northern Pennsylvania.

So I'm asking the techno-savvy readers out there -- WHY in the WORLD is it showing up like this????

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January 27, 2006

Exposing Sin, Applying Grace

From the Reformation 21 blog, quoting Sinclair Ferguson:

Truth to tell, exposing sin is easier than applying grace; for, alas, we are more intimate with the former than we sometimes are with the latter. Therein lies our weakness.

I think this explains why so many Christians do what they do. Why we leave our wounded on the battlefield. Why we'd rather find reasons to separate from each other than find ways to work together. We'd rather expose sin.

Sometimes I think it's simply because we like to know that other Christians are sinning -- even doing things worse than what we do ourselves. We'd rather expose the preacher down the street for his financial problems than deal with the fact that we cheat on our taxes. We'd rather hear about how the televangelist was caught in sexual sin than deal with our own addiction to pornography. It makes us feel better if someone else is doing it, too.

We also do it because we get hurt when people are exposed. We're angry when our favorite preacher is exposed as a mere human, dealing with temptations daily. We feel let down, we're hurt, and we want them to pay. So we pile on. And we hunt others that have the same problem. We don't want to extend grace.

And we do it because we've been attacked ourselves. I see this in many of the comments on the IMB/Wade Burleson controversy: former Southern Baptists who are feeling vindicated now that the dogs have been loosed once again. Many of them are trying to keep their "Told ya'"s quiet, but it's clear from reading that the sentiment is there.

It's a self-perpetuating thing. We don't show grace, we aren't shown grace. We aren't shown grace, we don't show any. Somewhere, the cycle has to stop -- but we aren't willing to stop it.

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January 26, 2006

The Digital Content Protection Act of 2006?

From the EFF:

Fair use has always been a forward-looking doctrine. It was meant to leave room for new uses, not merely "customary historic uses." Sony was entitled to build the VCR first, and resolve the fair use questions in court later. This arrangement has worked well for all involved -- consumers, media moguls, and high technology companies.

Now the RIAA and MPAA want to betray that legacy by passing laws that will regulate new technologies in advance and freeze fair use forever. If it wasn't a "customary historic use," federal regulators will be empowered to ban the feature, prohibiting innovators from offering it. If the feature is banned, courts will never have an opportunity to pass on whether the activity is a fair use.

Fair use redefined. "Historic use" will kill innovation. "Historic use" is a joke. Write your senator about this now while it's still in draft.

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January 24, 2006

Quick Questions

Just a question or two for the more politically saavy:

Which is a bigger drain on American jobs -- illegal immigrants who are taking jobs that we really don't want to do anyway, or corporations who are taking jobs overseas by the hundreds legally?

What is middle class? Lou Dobbs says that the Ford layoffs are a blow to the middle class families in America. Union auto workers make $45 to $50 per hour -- that's between $90,000 and $100,000 per year. If that's middle class, then I'm living in abject poverty.

When did they end the earned income tax credit? Oh -- they didn't? Then why do I hear so much about tax breaks for the poor? They pay no taxes.

Just ranting here. I'll do some real blogging later on. I don't do politics very much (unless you count the SBC stuff I've been doing lately), so every so often I have to vent.

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January 19, 2006

IMB Event Horizon

In his immortal classic Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, in book 2, Douglas Adams writes of a world whose economy was crushed because of something called "Shoe Event Horizon."

Many years ago this was a thriving, happy planet - people, cities, shops, a normal world. Except that on the high streets of these cities there were slightly more shoe shops than one might have thought necessary. And slowly, insidiously, the number of the shoe shops were increasing. It's a well-known economic phenomenon but tragic to see it in operation, for the more shoe shops there were, the more shoes they had to make and the worse and more unwearable they became. And the worse they were to wear, the more people had to buy to keep themselves shod, and the more the shops proliferated, until the whole economy of the place passed what I believe is termed the Shoe Event Horizon, and it became no longer economically possible to build anything other than shoe shops.

I was looking through my blog stats today, and was kind of surprised by what I saw. Ever since I started blogging about the IMB/Wade Burleson controversy, my hits have increased by about 20% each day. Now, that's not as big an increase as it sounds, but it's still significant. The number of hits I get from searches on the subject, and from other blogs who are talking about it, is fascinating to me.

It got me thinking about the Shoe Event Horizon, and it's application to blogging. There are some events and some subjects that, once people start blogging them, end up taking on a life of their own. Traffic increases, and bloggers, being the attention hounds that we are, write more about that subject. Blogs start up just on that subject. And it continues.

I'm not saying that the topics aren't important -- I think that this current controversy is very important for all Southern Baptists , especially those of us who are going to be in Greensboro this year. It's just an interesting sociological phenomenon. I think that we're close to the IMB Event Horizon, where many of us aren't willing to write on any other subject lest we lose the new audience that we've found. I wonder how many will stick around ...

I wonder if the Internet will ever hit Blog Event Horizon -- where there are so many blogs that it becomes unfeasable for anyone to introduce any 'Net application not geared toward bloggers. Of course, some people think we're already there.

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Local Church Autonomy -- the 'A' in Baptist

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. -small";>From the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message

The autonomy of the local church is one of the distinctions that separate Baptists from most other Protestants. There is no centralized authority that has any jurisdiction over a local church -- the churches decide individually what doctrines they adhere to, what they teach and preach, what materials they use, etc.

Even within the Southern Baptist Convention, each local church is autonomous. The national Convention does not tell us what to do -- in fact, the purpose of the convention each year is for the local churches to establish the direction of the Convention as a whole.

But is it Biblical? Briefly, let me offer some Biblical support for the idea of local church autonomy. more...

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No More Valedictorian?

Just heard on CNN that Pinellas County in Florida is no longer awarding the valedictorian medal. A quick Blingo search revealled that many other school districts are doing the same. "It's too competative," they say. "We want to emphasize that everyone is equal."

Time to pull out my favorite short story. "Harrison Bergeron" should be required reading for teachers AND students. It shows us that, no matter how bad competition might be, and no matter how much better we all feel if everyone is equal, it really doesn't work in real life. We need to accept the fact that there are people who excel, and people who don't. The people who do are going to be rewarded for their abilities in life, and the people who don't won't be rewarded.

Mainstreaming in education has given us a society that accepts mediocrity. There are no more "honors" or "advanced" classes, so there is no motivation to achieve. Smart kids get good grades with little effort. Kids who need the help don't get it, because there are too many other kids in the classes who don't need help. Teachers can't spend class time focusing on one or two kids who don't get it. They can't spend class time trying to challenge the gifted kids. The majority of their time has to be spent with the majority of the kids.

When I was in school, there was no mainstreaming. The advanced kids were in advanced classes. We did more work, and wrote more papers. We were challenged. The kids who needed extra help got that help, because they were in separate classes. And we actually learned things -- all of us did.

We are so worried about offending someone, telling them that they aren't "gifted" or that they need extra help, that we are sabotaging their education. We worry more about self-esteem than self-sufficiency. And then we wonder why our kids don't learn.

This needs to change. We need to reward performance, and do something to help kids who aren't performing. We need to give kids something to shoot for, rather than making the target so big that anyone can hit it.

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January 18, 2006

Book Review: The Secret of the Swamp King

Book two of the Wilderking Trilogy opens with Aiden Errolson serving in the court of King Darrow of Corenwald. Actually, it opens with Aiden and Darrow's son Steren hunting a wild boar, but Aiden is, in fact, at court. Aiden is loved by everyone at court -- everyone except Darrow.

Darrow is tired of hearing about how heroic Aiden is. About how he defeated the giant Golia -- I mean Greidawl, and helped drive the Pyrthan invaders out of Corenwald. He's threatened -- he thinks Aiden is after the throne.

So he sends Aiden on a quest, to prove his loyalty. Aiden is sent to retrieve a legendary flower that is said to have the ability to cure the King's depression. But the flower is located in the heart of the Feechiefen Swamp -- and nobody who has ever entered the swamp has come out again.

Aiden isn't worried -- he has the friendship of the feechies, and the mark to prove it. But as he progresses, he grows more and more worried. There's something wrong in the Feechiefen Swamp -- there are feechies who pay no attention to the feechie laws, and who use metal weapons. And there's a new king in the swamps.

The Wilderking.

I enjoyed this book even more than the first one. For one thing, it's less derivative than the first book, even though the close friendship between Aiden and Steren was predictable, as was Darrow's depression and hatred of Aiden. But the focus of this book is on the feechies -- which should please Rogers' fans.

The feechies really make this series. Their simplicity, their sense of honor, and their commitment to their values illustrate everything that is wrong with civilizer society. And they're really funny to read -- especially out loud.

This series is high on my must-read list. I've got to make sure I get a copy of Book 3 (Amazon says it should be out in May of this year) so I can find out how this ends.

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Book Review: The Bark of the Bog Owl

There is a distinct lack of good fiction geared toward young people, specifically ages 10-14. Harry Potter isn't an option for some families. Artemis Fowl isn't nearly as well-known (which is unfortunate).

Now there's another option. Jonathan Rogers has written The Wilderking Trilogy, and offers us a series for young readers that is fun, exciting, and based on Christian ideals and principles.

Book 1, The Bark of the Bog Owl, was actually released back in 2004. The premise is familiar to Christians -- a young boy, Aiden Errolson, tending his father's sheep, is chosen by a mysterious prophet to be the next King -- the Wilderking, who comes to lead his people back to prominence in the world, and to reclaim the traditional ideals that the people have forgotten.

The only real weakness in this first book is that the main plot is far too predictable. Once I read that Aiden was a shepherd, I had a feeling that this would be the story of King David retold. Then the Phillist -- I mean, the Pyrthens -- show up with their "peace treaty," which leads to war. Then Aiden goes to his brothers at the front carrying cheese and other food. And guess what? There's this giant ...

That said, I really enjoyed this book. The subplots involving the aboriginal "feechies" is very enjoyable, especially the Feechiefeast that Aiden enjoys. The characters are familiar, but still deep. It's going to be interesting to see Aiden mature over the course of the next two books, and it's a relief to read about a boy who is actually boyish -- he likes to roam, play, and have adventures. He's a twelve-year-old who writes to the King volunteering his services as "an adventurer." And suddenly, he's got a huge responsibility dropped on him. He reacts the way any normal kid would react.

Rogers has a Ph.D in 17th Century English Lit, but this book reads as if he'd spent his academic career studying 18th Century American literature instead. The differences in dialect between feechie and 'civilizer' are distinct, American dialects, and the setting certainly reminds me of the American southeast -- fitting, since Rogers grew up in Georgia. The series has promise, and after I finished this book I was relieved that I'd gotten the second one to review as well. THAT review will be up in a half hour or so ...

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January 17, 2006

Happy Trogday +4

OK, so this is WAY far afield of the general topic of this entire blog, but I cannot let this event go unnoticed (even though I'm 4 days late).

Friday, January 13, 2006 was the third birthday of everyone's favorite burninator, Trogdor. Celebrate by watching this Flash-media montage. Or maybe you'd like to see the first appearance of Trogdor. Or even play the game.

And I have kept my promise to post something non-SBC-related. Homestarrunner is about as far from the SBC as you can get...

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I Was Afraid of This ...

{And I promise to blog something nonSBC related later today.}

Ryan DeBarr over at xIFBx has a heartbreaking story of a missionary couple who have been asked to resign because of the new policies at the IMB.

Ryan and I come from similar backgrounds in fundamentalist churches; in fact, he attended the church I was baptized in (though he was there after we moved south). And I think we're both getting an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu with a lot of things that are happening right now in the SBC. We're forgetting that there are some things worth fighting for, and some things that we need to simply agree to disagree about.

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January 16, 2006

Baptism

And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?"
(Acts 8:36 ESV)

And Phillip answered and said, "The International Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, because you must be baptized in a local church."

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Principles and Integrity

This is a sermon that all of us need to hear. In light of the IMB/Wade Burleson controversy, it is educational for all of us to hear these words from Bro. Burleson. Many things have already been said, here and elsewhere. Much more will be said in the weeks to come, before the annual meeting of the SBC in Greensboro, NC later this year. Motivations will be questioned and accusations will be made. What is said in this message needs to be heard by every Southern Baptist. But it's valuable for all Christians to hear this, as a man stands on his convictions in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

{edit: Note that Burleson STILL does not name names or discuss confidential information. Still no evidence of slander or any wrongdoing on his part, other than disagreeing with the power lobby on the trustee board.}

(Hat tip goes to Ryan at xIFBx)

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January 14, 2006

Teddy, Teddy, Teddy

Ted Kennedy, that paragon of Democrat virtue, has been Onioned.

The distinguished senator from Massachusetts read from an alumni publication the following statement (and, as always, emphasis has been added)

So a 1983 Prospect essay titled "In Defense of Elitism," stated, quote, "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic. The physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports. And homosexuals are demanding the government vouchsafe them the right to bear children."
The article appears in PDF format at Senator Kennedy's own web site. Go there, and read the whole thing, and see if YOU can tell what the senator apparently couldn't.

It's satire.

Of course, that last sentence couldn't POSSIBLY have given that away. I know that Senator Kennedy thinks that the government has a lot of power, but even HE should know that the government doesn't have the power to vouchsafe ANYONE the right to bear children. That, after all, comes from a higher authority.

Tip o' the hat (if I was wearing one) to James over at PCCBoard.

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January 13, 2006

Best. Joke. Ever.

I love blonde jokes, so I just HAD to pass on this one. It's a classic.

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Interesting Quote, and some Background

I read an interesting post concerning the whole IMB controversy today at Scott Bridwell.com. The most interesting was a quote from a current IMB trustee, as published in The Northwest Witness associational paper. more...

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