Friday, April 25, 2003

The Baptist Creed?-Two items came up on my radar in the last week or so. The first is the running battle to maintain what the Southern Baptists see as Biblical orthodoxy. The SBC has move away from merely insisting on having the Bible as their creed and have taken particular stands on a number of issues. The current flap has the SBC insisting that missionaries sign The Baptist Faith and Message document. Some people are upset that the SBC is making a conservative stand on the issues and some are upset that they are setting up something akin to a Baptist creed. It might help to look at the document to see if it's out of line for a good evangelical to sign it. On paper, I'm still a Southern Baptist, for I didn't get a chance to join Midland's New Life Vineyard before moving to Florida and will be officially joining the Lakeland Vineyard in the very near future. So, here's my take on the BFM. The document has fairly straight-forward Reformed theology about God and Man. A few eyes might be raised at section I on the scriptures
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
That looks OK to me, but it might not to a liberal. Section II looks at God, with subsections on God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Even a Bapticostal can breathe easy on II-C's take on the Holy Spirit-"At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church." That statement doesn't preclude the modern expression of the gifts mentioned in Acts nor does it mandate them, thus Bapticostal Southern Baptists are possible under this code. Section III looks at man; it comes down on the Calvinist side of the aisle "Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God." Section IV looks at salvation, but this leaves some room for an Arminian counter attack-"Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord." No universalists or "there are multiple ways to God" people need apply. Section V looks at "God's Purpose of Grace"- It falls into the once-saved-always-saved camp "All true believers endure to the end." It does hint at free will- "Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end." So far, so good. There isn't anything here so far that would scare off most evangelicals. Section VI, the section on the Church, is where things get dicey. It sets up only two ordinances of the church, baptism and communion and lays out a congregational polity-"Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons." Most of us are clear to this point, but here comes the first big bombshell "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture." Quite a few evangelical denominations, including the Vineyard and the Assemblies of God, allow for women pastors. However, it's easier to defend a male-only pastorate via the Bible than to defend a co-ed pastorate and the SBC has chosen the easier exegetical route; that's a post in itself to come later. Section VII is on Baptism and the Lord's Supper, fairly standard evangelical stuff, other than noting that baptism is for believers, differentiating themselves from conservative infant-baptizing groups. Section VIII on the Lord's Day is rather unobjectionable, with the loosely-worded phrase "Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ." That will allow for a lot of things that a Baptist's conscience can live with. Sections IX on the Kingdom of God and section X on Last Things are surprisingly unobjectionable; the issue of pre or post-millennialism is ducked, as is pre- or post-tribulation. Section XI on Evangelism and Missions isn't a problem-causer but Section XII on Education has a good fight-starter at the end
In Christian education there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility. Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute. The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists.
A professor at a SBC-affiliated college will need to teach with the Bible in mind; that will make some liberal-leaning folks nervous, as will the purpose-of-the-school clause. Sections XIII on Stewardship and sections XIV on Cooperation raise few, if any, red flags. The end of the Cooperation section leaves the door open for ecumenical efforts-"Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament." Some liberals won't like section XV-"The Christian and the Social Order." This is a biblical call to political arms, but isn't just a right-wing document
All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.
That paragraph hits on most of the Christian conservative political buttons, but also stands against racism and greed and looks to help those in need. Unless you're a militant abortion-rights or assisted-suicide fan, that seems to be something most people can agree to. Section XVI on Peace and War is interesting. The opening paragraph is interesting
It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.
The kicker here is "principles of righteousness;" peace without righteousness may be counterproductive. Might the war with Iraq bring us closer to putting an end to war than not going to war? Section XVII on Religious Liberty seems to have a healthy respect for the First Amendment as originally intended and leave little for disagreement. However, section XVIII on The Family might ruffle a few feathers.
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
Taken fully in context, a Christian marriage is one of mutual servanthood, the husband serving the wife’s needs and visa-versa. In fact, the husband has the harder of the two roles, as he’s supposed to love his wife like Jesus loves him, while the wife merely has to match her devotion to God; pray for a real godly wife, guys. However, if you take that out of context and just focus on the wife’s obedience, you have the guy lording it over his wife. If the guy doesn’t exhibit servant leadership, he doesn’t deserve submission. Could I sign that document? I think so. Strangely, it’s the section on peace that gives me the most trouble. Some might balk at the male pastorate and others might balk at the wifely submission, but their doesn’t seem to be much, if anything, in there that goes against basic Biblical concepts. Some of the people who refuse to sign it are doing so on an anti-creedal stance, that even if it’s correct, they shouldn’t be forced to sign it. This won’t be the last battle over this, as this will be used to force a number of battles with liberal missionaries or seminary pastors.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 2:1-5(NASB)
1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
I spend most of yesterday in bed sleeping off a sinus infection; I seem to be over it and am looking forward to getting back in the classroom today. However, while I was resting yesterday, I got a comforting feeling that I sometimes get when I'm really sick; it's a kind of empowering weakness that allows you to unconditionally rest and allow the duties of the world to go away. This perverse thought went through my brain-
Generic acetaminophen- $3.50 for 500 Generic antihistamines- $2.25 for 48 Not having to teach your 12:35 Investments class-priceless
Not that I'm a slacker, but I have been struggling to get a lot of things over to my Investments class, especially when it comes to practical investment research in the Web era; there's a big part of me that has to fight off the shame of being a Ph.D. in Finance who hasn't done any investing due to low student-level income most of my life and paying off debts. That feeling of empowering weakness from the upper respiratory crud (and some TLC from Eileen) allowed me to pray through that bad, nagging guilt about my lack of practical investment knowledge. That same empowering weakness needs to be applied to our witnessing. Remember that you're not going to win anyone over to Christ on your own. Ain't gonna happen. You and the Holy Spirit have a good shot. The less cocky we are in our knowledge and wisdom, the more the Holy Spirit can use us. The weaker we are, the more the Holy Spirit can use us. That's hard for most of us to hear, for the denizens of the Blogosphere are as a group far better educated and intellectually sharper than the average bear. Don't be afraid to be weak of to feel stoopid in the spiritual realm, for that's when we can be the most effective, for we have no choice but to rest in the Holy Spirit's abilities. It's easier for Him to carry us when we give into that empowering weakness we're not flailing away on our own.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Midday Musings-I could use some prayers-I'm home with a upper-respiratory bug with a headache, congestion and a low-grade fever; it's merely a Bothersome Acute Respiratory Syndrome (BARS) for now. Antihistamines and acetaminophen seem to be helping. Speaking of SARS, the Canadians are steamed over a WHO travel advisory posted for Toronto. "It is safe to travel to Toronto" says one public health official. Yes, it's safe to travel to Toronto, but is it safe to be there once you get there? Most likely, yes, but the health people are trying to save lives, not save the tourism industry. It's now time for the "road apple map" now that Yassir (That's My Baby) signed off on a cabinet for PM Mahmoud Abbas. As Han Solo once said, "I've got a bad feeling about this." This is going to give Yassir a better rep than he deserves and will cause a "peace process" to meander along for another year or two without doing anything. Now that the Iraq war is winding down, Dubya's turning to his tax cut and showing up Voinovich in Ohio. Can you say "Primary challenger," boys and girls? Is John Kasich ready to get back into politics? Ken Blackwell might be a good choice, too.

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 26:6-11(NASB)
6: Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, 7: a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. 8: But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, "Why this waste? 9: "For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor." 10: But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11: "For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12: "For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13: "Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her."
Worship of God isn't a waste. We have the poor around us, and we're supposed to help them as well, but our primary purpose is to worship God and make more disciples for Him. Helping the poor is a commandment, and a important one (check out the tail end of chapter 25), but worship trumps service. Another example that comes to mind was Mary and Martha, where paying attention to God was more important than getting dinner ready. In this case, it was an extravegant sacrifice of worship that was being praised. Tame worship doesn't get noted here, but the all-out worship gets noticed two thousand years later.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

The GOP Should Copy the Dixiecrats-in one minor way. Josh Claybourn, among others, is reporting on the 2004 GOP convention coming after Alabama's filing deadline, possibly forcing President Bush to run as a write-in candidate. Why couldn't the Alabama GOP say that they're going to have Dubya as their candidate regardless of what the national party does? If I remember correctly, the Democratic party substituted pro-Jim-Crow candidates for the national nominee in Southern states more than once back in the 50s and 60s. Not a great precedent, but one to think about.

This Week in Blog History-Jean-Marie Le Pen surprised a lot of people by coming in second in the first round of the French Presidential elections. Le Pen didn't improve much on his 17.3% showing in the runoff. -"There's no room for bigots and anti-Semites in the Le Pen campaign. Those positions were filled years ago." My first stint of professorial advisor; getting Matt Rubush to take Greek. This fall, I can take Greek, as it's in the morning and my classes as a professor are all PM. Martin Roth started to show up on radar, asking me questions that lead to this Blogging FAQ. Prompted by Chris Burgwald, I had a good essay on the Armor of God. Jonah was plugging for a war with Iraq a year ago, but I felt that he was a bit over the top while agreeing with him.
Given the likelihood of his possesion of WMDs and the increasing likelihood that he or a allied terror group will use said weapons against us in the future, I think a very defendable case can be made that it is worth the carnage to get rid of Saddam, doing unto others before they do unto us. I don't think President Bush will take this personally and say in effect,"My name is Inigo Dubya. You shamed my father's name. Prepare to die." He simply has to make the case that a beligerant, nuke-packin' Saddam can not be allowed to stand.
AOL wrote off 54 billion (cue Carl Sagan "billions and billions") dollars worth of goodwill, prompting a discussion of the overratedness of synergy.

The Other Clash of Civilizations-I was meditation on the differences between the US and European economic systems in preperation for my Micro class this afternoon. Here are some general areas where the two cultures diverge. These are generalities that may occasionally verge on stereotype, but are useful to look at. Individual versus Collective Responsibility- The first primary difference is that the US system assumes that people can fend for themselves unless otherwise noted while the European system assumes than people need to be looked after, that the state is the primary source of well-being rather than the individual. This will lead to making welfare more generous and easier to get and make health care a public good. Top-Down or Bottom-up- In the US system, power flows from the public to the government; the assumption is that individuals have control over things unless otherwise noted and that things are legal unless they are made illegal. In European settings, without an assumption of limited government, government control is more expected and acceptable. Uniformity versus individuality-European culture is more group oriented; monopolies or government-run businesses are more accepted. The Japanese have this quirk as well, one oft-cited proverb is “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” Conversely, the US has a greater appreciation for individuality. It takes a certain rebel spirit to leave one’s home country and come to a new land; with the exception of those of us whose ancestors were brought over as slaves, most Americans are descendants of independent-minded risk-takers who immigrated to America. Risk-Taking versus Risk Aversion-Given the immigrant nature of the US, we’re descended from risk-takers. People in the US seem to have a higher-tolerance of risk than Europeans do. Thus, the European economies will tend to have a more conservative (as in status-quoian) approach to starting new businesses or taking chances in existing ones. Cooperation versus Competition – Many Europeans (and Americans) see our free-market system as encouraging selfishness and greed at the expense of the greater good. The American would counter that while cooperation on civil projects is good, the efficiency and innovation and responsiveness to consumer needs that economic competition creates outweighs the downsides of competition. Tradition versus Innovation-The “creative destruction” of free-market economics does in a lot of traditional items, as the closure of Cyprus Gardens just brought home to Polk County. Family traditions die when the woods you used to tromp around it as a middle-schooler is now part of a new subdivision or the restaurant that you always went to on Grandpa’s birthday went under. However, innovation usually means a better selection of things to buy; we always complain when our favorite TV show gets cancelled or the old mom-‘n-pop drug store gets bought out by the national chain, but we don’t stop to thank the system that made room for the good new show or when the new megamart has the stuff you need at 15% less than before. If the public at large wants something to stay open, they can keep that tradition alive by making it partially or totally a public good; the State of Florida is looking at buying part of Cypress Gardens. Another example is support for family farms which are economically inefficient but which hold a warm place in the public psyche. A free-market system isn’t designed to be controllable, and that makes a lot of people nervous. People are free to leave their hometowns, leave their careers and other aspects of their life. For societies that are used to having a place for everything and everyone, the dynamic nature of the marketplace replaces the stability of the system that they’ve grown up with. Quality of Life versus Economic Progress-A good example of this is American fast food versus European slow food. A ten-minute hamburger may be better than a two-hour five-course meal if you have a “better” use for the extra time. Is the five-course meal better than the QwikieBurger? Yes, but a QwikieBurger and a game of basketball or a QwikieBurger and a prayer meeting might be better that the two-hour five-course meal. We will do things in a quicker, harder-working, less-traditional manner, but we do it quicker and more efficiently. We don't have as much vacation time, but we do have higher pay. We do give us some traditions and have a somewhat more tense existance, but we have more freedom and more material goods to show for it.

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 23:10-12(NASB)
10: "Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11: "But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12: "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
Many of our best statesmen took the term "public servant" to heart; Truman and Lincoln come quickly to mind, people who kept their humility even as they got to the big desk. A good pastor or church leader needs to remember that they aren't any better positionally than the rest of the flock. They may have a better knowledge of the Bible, a better prayer life and more adept at evangelism than the average parishioner, but in the big picture, they're merely a servant of the church and the Church. I remember the Wednesday morning of the Word, Spirit and Power conference; I was on spring break and had dropped Eileen's car off at the muffler shop and Eileen at her worksite in Lakeland. With my duties at church for the conference starting at 9:30, I decided to bring my laptop and get some work/play done at church, getting their a little after 8:00. The pastors were busy cleaning the church; Pastor Dave gave me a broom to help out, but he was vacuuming the carpet while our music minister was mopping up the tiled parts of the church. That wasn't delegated to some maintence committee, the pastors were in there getting their hands dirty as domestiques. In Tour de France-type bicycling, each team has a star and a number of domestiques, or servants, who help break the wind and keep the stars of other teams honest, letting the star be less fatigued and ready to sprint out and get the glory at the end of the race. Everyone who works for the kingdom will get yellow jackets in Heaven, not just the most showy televangelist.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Weekend at Alan's-Dubya is reupping Alan Greenspan for a fifth term as Fed chair. Thanks to Simone Koo for the heads-up, who thinks he's a bit too frail for the job
If he does get renominated, the reason is solely because Bush is afraid to lose the election of 2004 for economic reasons. Personally, I think he needs to surround himself more competent economists and appoint them to important positions to devise ways to better implement/invent government policies. Greenspan has been there long enough, I think.
I don't think it's 2004 that he has in mind, it's 2003. A Greenspan renomination is a slam-dunk, while nominating someone else will require a knock-down-drag-out set of hearing that will have the Democrats grilling the new chairman-designate about his macroeconomic theories. That's political capital he'd rather not spend right now. For all the trouble Dubya has with John McCain, he seems to have taken his advice uttered in the 2000 primary season
...I would not only reappoint Mr. Greenspan. If Mr. Greenspan should happen to die, God forbid, I would do like they did in the movie Weekend at Bernie's. I would prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him and keep him as long as we could.
Given his health, that's not too far from the truth, for Greenspan may well expire before his next term does.

Afternoon Musings-Google Fun-"FARC gorilla columbia"-Sorry, the last great marxist gorilla was in Southeast Asia, the Viet Kong. Whoever hit the French with a clue stick, thank you very, very much. They're offering to get rid of (or at least suspend) trade sanctions on Iraq.
France led the opposition to the U.S.-led war against Iraq, along with Russia, Germany and China. But [French UN Ambassador] de La Sabliere said before the meeting that the Security Council "must take into account the new realities on the ground."
It's hard to say that with your mouth still full of crow, isn't it, Mr. Ambassador? Were the French looking at another can of diplomatic whuppin' heading its way and wanted to quit while they were behind? Mutant Ninja Virus-SARS looks to be a tougher [insert explative] than I thought, mutating like crazy. That makes creating a vaccine hard, since it presents a moving target for antibodies. It's killed off almost 100 in both Hong Kong and China proper and might be hard to contain. Canada has already had 14 people die; the Toronto-based outbreak has now led one cruiseline to bar Toronto-area customers as well as those from Hong Kong, China and Singapore.

Damning With Loud Praise-Derb has an interesting article on evolution and people of faith, ending with this paragraph after giving a list of competent Christians
Life, however, often consists of making a choice between unsatisfactory alternatives. Invited to choose between having my kids educated, my car fixed, or my elderly relatives cared for by (a) people of character, spirit, and dedication who believe in pseudoscience, or (b) unionized, time-serving drudges who believe in real science, which would I choose? Invited to choose between a president who is (a) a patriotic family man of character and ability who believes the universe was created on a Friday afternoon in 4,004 B.C. with all biological species instantly represented, or (b) an amoral hedonist and philanderer who “loathes the military” but who believes in the evolution of species via natural selection across hundreds of millions of years, which would I choose? Are you kidding?
He doesn't want to read e-mails debating evolution, but he presents a false premise that creationists are scientific dunces. I'll present this post from February back when the Michael Dini (refused to give recommendations to creationists) story was in play as well as this post from Moira Breen, a secular blogger who pointed out that being a creationist doesn't bar someone from being a good scientist or even accepting the microevolution that creates mutant drug-resistant bacteria and viruses. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Derb, but do a little better homework on your science next time rather than just doing an A-to-Z acrostic of various academic endeavors.

Low Savings=Optomism About the Future?-I've been on an international economics/finance kick in my classes as the semester comes to a close, for the standard textbooks in both microeconomics and investments always seem to wait until the tale end of the book to cover international stuff. If a business textbook has N chapters, chapter N-1 will likely be International X and Chapter N will be Current Trends in X or Professional Ethics in X. If we look at a flow of currency, the flow of dollars into US will be from buying goods, services and investments or just giving money to someone in the US (unilateral transfers in international econ-speak) while the flow of dollars out will be people buying goods, services and investments or from unilateral transfers overseas (the orange-picker from Mexico sending money back home or the cash sent to help build a Honduran church your congregation’s sponsoring). Those two flows will be equal, barring changes in the amount of dollars being held overseas. Setting unilateral transfers aside for the moment, a trade deficit (where the US imports more goods and services than it sells overseas) will be offset by an investment surplus. Why does the US run a chronic trade deficit? One big reason is the low political risk and high growth prospects in the US. The rest of the world likes us so much, they’re buying the country. We’re a better place to invest than most other countries, for there’s little fear of having their investment seized by leftists or having our economic system collapse. Also, a thriving economy will lead to greater opportunities for the average investor. Our inflation-hawk Fed makes sure that the US dollar retains its value. The other big reason that a lot of party-poopers on both the left and right point to is that low US savings rate compaired to that of the rest of the world.Part of that is likely due to our consumer culture and the easy availability of consumer credit, but another part is our upward mobility and confidence in getting larger salaries in the future to pay those loans back with and still have time for retirement savings. People in more stagnant economies have less reason to expect a brighter future and will play things closer-to-the-vest, borrowing less and saving more. I got myself in a little trouble talking about Lebron James' Hummer in my Investments class, for it got us off on a five-minute tangent on basketball rather than the intended example of Mama James borrowing against her son's soon-to-be-millionaire status. People in the US are more likely to go into debt when they feel secure that their incomes will go up in the future. When your thoughts on economics are how the pie is divided up rather than how big we can get the pie to grow, you'll tend to have a more pessimistic view of the future and more saving to meet that more-dystopic future.

Legally Wrong but Morally Right?-The libertine lobby would like to make Rick Santorum's latest rant into Trent Lott 2.0.
If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything,"
Not quite true. Bigamy and polygamy would assume that the state would recognize plural marriage, which doesn't seem to be on the table. Having the right to have sex with someone doesn't assume that you have the right to have that relationship be given special benefits by the state. Likewise, legalizing same-sex sodomy (I think the issue here is that sodomy laws in Texas only apply to same-sex couples while in other states the laws came be applied to heterosexual couples as well) doesn't change the laws on incest or adultery. It might well be true that a legal system that is willing to grant the legal right to homosexual activity will be willing to do away with other taboos that are written into the legal code, but different logic would be required to do away with these laws. However, I don't think you can link this legally flawed expression to Lott's support of the 1948 Dixicrat ticket. Only a single-digit minority would be willing to support Jim Crow today, while a plurality of people would support a heterosexist world view. It may seem as bad as Jim Crow to the gay lobby (you didn't get arrested on a charge of Living While Black, although they could trump-up other charges to the same effect) but the merits of a homosexual lifestyle are still an issue actively at play, while segregation is a known evil that nearly everyone agrees is wrong. The libertine left would like to equate heterosexism (or the less accurate but more popularly-used "homophobia") to racism in order to have the good will of the Civil Rights Movement to rub off on them, but such rhetoric only plays with people open to the idea of homosexuality being an OK thing. [Update 1:45PM-Ben tacked this at the same time this morning and knocked one into the cheap seats, including showing South Park laying a can-o'-whuppin' on N@MBLA and this keeper "When I watch Ken Burns, I don't see too many people picking cotton because of their private, consensual sexual activity."]

Rearview Mirror-Good joke told by the Victory Church pastor at the Larnelle Harris concert Sunday. His wife was spending too much money at the mall, and he told her the next time she was tempted to buy another dress to say "Get behind me, Satan!" Next day, she comes home with yet another dress. "I was in the dressing room and the Devil hopped on my shoulder and say 'That dress looks gooood on you." "Did you tell the devil to get behind you." "I did. He said 'It looks even better from the rear.'"

Edifer du Jour-Isaiah 53:1-8(NASB)
1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
The Easter sunrise service used this passage as one of their readings. I couldn't help my mind skipping to Carman's The Champion when verse 5 was read
When He said, "By His stripes they're healed," the devil shook! He screamed, "Sickness is my specialty. I hate that healing junk!" God said, "You shut your face, I wrote the book!"
Yes, He did. Verse two predicted that Jesus would come as a ordinary man; people weren't drawn to Him by His godlike looks but His spirit and His acts. However, only a relative few were drawn to Him; the rest found it expedient to kill him off. Even today, the idea of God coming in the flesh to die for us all is a radical concept; even the idea of God acting in the world at all is novel. Yes, for this scoffing, mocking world, God sent a part of Himself to die. At Golgotha, he put part of Himself in a spiritual decontamination chamber and dumped the sin of the world onto Jesus to have the sin die permanently and his son die for about 36 hours. John 3:16, anyone? -"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." More than just a son, Jesus was/is part of God who was sent to bear that burden and save us all. You want to see agape on the hoof? There it is.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Midday Musings-Now I'm getting a notch more nervous about SARS. It seems to be spreading faster than people expected and the mayor of Beijing was shown the door as a result. The other scary thought is the mutation of SARS into a more virulent form that kills more than just the elderly. I had pooh-poohed the idea of this having a significant negative affect on the economy, but if it gets any bigger, it may do a number on international travel, especially to and from Asia, and on international trade. Check out this BBC headline on General Garner's arrival in Baghdad-"Interim 'leader' tours Baghdad." The headline writers felt the need to distance themselves from the concept that the US civilian administrater might be a leader. The article talks about Garner being a "facilitator not a ruler," which might lead credence to the quote in the title, but modern American management lingo, being a facilitator is to help your subordinants get their job done rather than micro-manage things. Here's a Fox piece that give the half-full take on Garner's arrival Here's another great quote from that BBC piece-
Groups representing the majority Shia Muslim population have already said they will not co-operate with a US administration and are boycotting talks led by Mr Garner.
Well, groups representing the majority female population of the United States have already said they will not co-operate with a US administration, yet our government moves along just fine.

Edifier du Jour-Romans 11:33-36
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
It was an odd verse to use for Easter, but Pastor Dave’s sermon yesterday focused on the glory and majesty of God and the need to worship him. In the NIV, this passage is labeled Doxology, which if you break down the roots of the word, means the study of (-ology) glory (doxa). Dave’s sermon idea is that your theo-logy is incomplete without some doxo-logy; a head knowledge of God needs to be coupled with a sense of wonder, awe, praise and worship of Him. As a kid growing up in the Methodist church, I knew of the Doxology (“Praise Him from whom all blessings flow …”) that we sung as the offering plates were being brought up from the back. However, it was a word that took on a particular meaning rather than a general meaning of a piece of praise. We need to study God’s majesty and glory to remind us how big He is and how small we are. Sometimes we get a bit too relational with God, focusing on God as a nearby person who we can have a personal relationship with god, and forget how magnificent God is.Give verses 34 and 35 a second look. Do you want to play Monday morning quarterback with God? That’s not a good career move, but one we do far too often. Can we outgive God? If not, don’t get smug about the donation check and/or the hours you spent helping out your church. God is still our Abba Daddy, but he’s the ultimate Big Daddy.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Let's Play Three-A busy Easter for Eileen and I. We started out with a sunrise service at Bok Tower Gardens with about 2,000 people. Eileen was part of the Lake Wales Chorale that sung at the service, which was good if a bit liturgical. A conservative Presbyterian pastor from the church that sponsors the Chorale gave the meditations, which was a spot-on message of Jesus being the way, the truth and the light; that's the answer to Pilate's question that echo in the post-modern age-"What is truth?". One line that stuck with me was his mentioning a C.S. Lewis story where he talked with a agnostic who thought that his hope of heaven was wishful thinking; Lewis replied that his hope that God wouldn't punish him for his disbelief was wishful thinking. We then headed over to Lakeland for our regular Vineyard service. Eileen and I were helping out at the welcome desk, handing out bulletins, newcomer packages (if you like praise music, take in a Vineyard service, we give out CDs in the welcome package) and keeping the desk stocked with blank name tags. However, my tag didn't want to stick to my white dress shirt, losing three of them in the course of twenty minutes; I was doing a MC Hammer homage with "Too slick, too slick to stick." Pastor Dave gave a good sermon in Romans 11 on God's glory (stay tuned for tomorrow's Edifier for more) with a lot of ad-libbing for testimonies and ministry time; I felt Toronto had come south, with some uncontrolled laughter, shouts and a few bodies on the floor. After lunch with the Coeys (our finance class had the day off) and a well-earned nap (4:30 alarm for the sunrise service), we went over to Lakeland's Victory Church this evening for a Larnelle Harris concert. Victory is a textbook AoG megachurch, with a 3,000-seat sanctuary holding a pair of 20-by-30 TV screens, 30-member praise orchestra and an 100-member choir. That's what my sister's Christian Celebration Center would like to be when it grows up. We got there 40 minutes early for the no-ticket-love-offering concert and saw their announcements go Powerpointing on the big screens; a ministry for just about every demographic group; If you're not allergic to megachurches or evidential tongues and are in the Lakeland area, it might be a church worth checking out. The choir was professional-grade; with a full string section in its orchestra, they could do complex arraignments live rather than use Brooklyn Tabernacle karokies and with vocalist that that are top-shelf. Larnelle was Larnelle, both a great vocalist, showman and praise leader, but he left out a lot of stuff he could have performed from a 5-Grammy-12-Dove two-decade-long career. I'd of loved him to do I Miss My Time With You but he did do some show stoppers of Amen, O Happy Day and I Just Seen Jesus with a young gal from Victory Church taking the Sandi Patti part without losing a inch of quality. One doggoned good day.

Edifier du Jour-John 20:1-9(NASB)
1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." 3 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. 6 And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
He has risen. He has risen, indeed.

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