Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Around the Horn

Leading off with two articles on the origin of the universe. In the first, a brief report is given of a speech by Stephen Hawking about the big bang without God. Hawking asks,

“What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?”

The answer is no. Hell is a part of creation, and therefore is not something God was doing before divine creation. And hell is not for people who asked such questions. It is for people who have sinned against God.

In the second (part 1 and part 2), Michael Buratovich at BioLogos writes two articles on why biological evolution is good science. Having read this, I am not sure what to say. Is this really all it takes to convince people? Is this kind of stuff (in either article) considered strong?

At third, Shai Linne responds to an response. Shai Linne has a song about false teachers in which he names some, including Paula White. White’s son responds to Shai Linne in defense of his mother. Shai Linne’s response is well done. It is gracious and strong. It is to the point and worth emulating. If you are going to accuse someone of false doctrine and false teaching, come with clear facts. Shai Linne does that.

Last today is a good article on singing in church. It is entitled “Why Men Have Stopped Singing” but it probably applies to all. New songs (whether new because they are lost to time or newly written) should be incorporated into corporate worship. But we should sing them enough to get familiar with them. Remember, just because you (the leader or planner) are very familiar and feel like you are oversinging it, the congregation probably won’t remember it for the first several times.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Required or Not?

Here are two lines from an actual church constitution:

As an act of obedience, born-again believers should be baptized subsequent to their profession of faith in Christ as Savior. (Matt. 28:19; I Cor. 11:23-33; Acts 18:8).


Persons who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and who are in agreement with the doctrinal statement, covenant, and constitution of this church are invited to become members. Baptism by any mode shall not be a prerequisite.

What is interesting is that (1) the doctrinal statement affirms believers’ baptism, (2) church membership  requires agreement with the doctrinal statement, but (3) baptism is not a prerequisite for membership.

This doesn’t seem to work.

If you agree with the doctrinal statement then you agree that you should be baptized after profession as an act of obedience, and failure to be baptized is disobedience.

Yet baptism is not a prerequisite for church membership.

So if you aren’t baptized as a believer, aren’t you disagreeing with the doctrinal statement, and thereby precluded from membership?

Or are you just rebellious and defiant? (Which I presume is worse.)

I am not sure how to parse this. Anyone have any help for me? Does your church practice this way? Do you know how this works in practice?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mr. President, Have You Nothing to Say?

The USA Today reports:

"The president does not and cannot take a position on an ongoing trial, so I won't as well," White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Monday.

Obama is "aware" of the case but it would be inappropriate for the president or White House to weigh in on an ongoing legal proceeding, Carney added.


Is this the same president who had no trouble taking a position on the ongoing legal proceeding known as gay marriage? Nobody’s dying over that one. Why wasn’t it inappropriate then?

When a gunman shot up a theatre in Colorado, he spoke up, traveled out there, and met with families.

A gunman shot up a school in Sandy Hook and he still hasn’t stopped talking about that. In fact, he is pushing for new laws because of it.

But when it’s dozens (perhaps hundreds) of little babies and their mothers, he develops lockjaw? Or laryngitis?

When it was Trayvon Martin, the president said if he had a son, it would look like Trayvon.

Guess what, Mr. President. Many of those little babies killed by Gosnell look just like you too.

They never had a chance to don a hoodie or to enroll in school at Sandy Hook. They never saw a movie in a theatre, or even on a DVD.

And there were more of them than Sandy Hook, Aurora, and Trayvon Martin combined. Every day. Day after day.

Yet you can’t bring yourself to speak a word about this horrible atrocity?

Where’s your moral outrage?

Perhaps there isn’t any because this is about abortion rather than guns.

Of course, abortion kills far more people.

Guns killed twenty-six people at one school in Connecticut in December.

Abortion has killed that many since you started reading this. And abortion will continue unabated and unchecked, regardless of the gun laws you get passed.

One reason is because you, Mr. President, won’t speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Gosnell is only part of the problem.

People like you, Mr. President, also part of the problem, perhaps even a bigger part. Gosnell was one man running one operation in Philadelphia.

You have the power of the bully pulpit, the power of legislation, and the power of the media. You have influence over thousands, even millions.

And you think it is inappropriate to speak up when dozens of little African-American and White babies have been brutally murdered after they were born alive?

What good is a voice if you won’t use it to speak up for the least and most vulnerable among us?

What will it take to get you to condemn this modern holocaust?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Around the Horn

At first, this writer sounds a strong note on priorities when he writes about the relationship between church and sports—not professional, but kids.

At second, Dave Doran writes about the grace of God when his son (a high school senior) got hit by a semi-truck going 55 miles per hour. He hits a theme I have spoken of before, namely that God is always good. We sometimes talk about the blessing of God only in the good times. Where do the others come from? Is God not being good when bad things happen?

At third, David Murrow writes about church planting. It’s worth a read and some consideration, even if you don’t buy fully into it. I am in favor of church planting, but a little strategy and partnership is at least worth a look.

And last, here is a really disturbing article about a trial that isn’t getting much publicity. Abortion continues to be a major tragedy of epic proportions. If this story were to get more visibility, it might result in some outrage. It should.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Outrage of Reason

For some reason, I was looking at some old blog articles I had written and came across this quote in a comment from a self-professed atheist in 2008.

"Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason."

--Christopher Hitchens

I had to laugh at the humor of it. The contradiction of science and the outrage of reason are the basic building blocks of the atheism Hitchens professed.

The only reason science works at all in any intelligible fashion is because there is a God who created an orderly world. It outrages reason to assert that all that we see around us is the product of blind chance and randomness.

There is nothing reasonable about atheism.

The only thing that can explain anything is the existence of the Christian God as described in the Scripture.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Thoughts on “The Game”

The NCAA Championship Game was last night.

Louisville defeated Michigan by six in a pretty good game. It’s the first complete game I have watched in several years. Having grown up in ACC country in the days of Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Lefty Driesell, Jim Valvano, and the like, it’s hard to get excited about the college game today.

But I watched it anyway, with no rooting interest.

At half time I tweeted that everything was going Michigan’s way and if it evened up, they could be in trouble.

Well, it didn’t really even up.

But Louisville came on strong. They went on a strong run at the end of the first half to take the lead and then go into the half down by one.

Louisville played a strong second half, and pulled away by ten, and eventually won by six.

Overall, it was a good game between two good teams.

A lot of people are complaining about the officiating. It wasn’t as bad as many are saying. There were some missed calls to be sure. But there always are. And it’s a lot easier for us sitting at home without a whistle (at least a whistle that matters), who get to make calls with no ramifications and then see if a replay confirms our call. Game officials don’t get that.

Louisville had three or four people in foul trouble by the middle of the second half, and Michigan had one. Then Louisville had five or six, and Michigan had two.

The officiating was perhaps best summed up in this: Without about five minutes to go in the game, Louisville had ten fouls against them, and Michigan had four. So whatever the case may be, Michigan can’t really complain.

The fouls only evened up because Michigan was intentionally fouling at the end.

Going into the game, I thought Louisville was the better team, even without Ware. I thought their defense was tougher. That was borne out, and is probably one reason why they had so many fouls.

In short, Michigan got outworked by a better team. And those are the two reasons they lost.

Yes, the call against Burke on the block was troubling, although the only replay they showed looked like he led with his forearm into the chest. But it was probably a bad call. It wasn’t the only one, and it wasn’t a turning point. Even if they get that call, they still have to make up six points, something which was not going to be easy in any case.

By the way, if you want to see that block done right, look up Tayshaun Prince against Reggie Miller.

Michigan was probably outcoached. Burke sitting on the bench for the bulk of the first half was a problem. As a coach, you have to expect your best players to be the best players. And you have to trust the National Player of the Year to play. You go with what got you there, and Beilein didn’t do that. Burke could have sat a long period in the second half just as well as in the first, and he may not have had to.

On the other hand, having Burke in the game at the end when you have to foul immediately was boneheaded. Burke had four and couldn’t foul.

In other words, Beilein had Burke out when he should have had him in, and had him in when he should have had him out.

And he didn’t know the foul/bonus situation.

Those are major coaching failures.

But rest easy because Michigan was in this game only by a coaching error. Bill Self of Kansas violated the primary rule of basketball: Never get tied by a three at the end of the game. Foul and send someone to the line for two at best.

If Self takes care of business there as he should have, Kansas is playing this game instead of Michigan.

At the end of the day, Louisville was the better team. They were stronger, played harder, and were better coached. That’s the reason they were the overall #1 seed.

In my view, the officiating in college basketball is way too loose. It is inconsistent because they allow so much contact and then call contact sometimes.

In my opinion, the game would be better if they started calling it right. Yes, it would hurt at the beginning of the season, but a few weeks in, the teams would learn to play with it. The game would be cleaner. It would flow better. And it would be more exciting to watch.

Ah well. There’s always next year.

At least there was for Louisville this year.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Around the Horn

At first, a lot has been said about church names and whether or not a church should have a denominational identity such as “Baptist” or “Methodist” or whatever in it. Most of what has been said has no basis outside of the mind of the speaker. Ed Stetzer comes along with some research that says it does matter. You might be surprised at why. Check it out.

At second, Shaun in the City gives ten observations about church from an outsider’s perspective. It’s worth reading and considering. I think many pastors and church leaders never have this kind of thought. They are like me: They have been in church since Methusaleh was a pup. They have never been an outsider. Hey friend, it’s not wrong to think about how other people see us. And it’s not wrong to help them out.

At third, Thom Rainer gives eight questions for church health. They are pretty general. In fact, they are almost too general to be helpful. Thom would do a great service by enlarging on each one in a blog post, saying how it might be judged or measured, and how it might be corrected.

At last, The Second Nature Journal is a new journal that looks interesting. I don’t remember who pointed it out, but I look forward to reading it.