Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Act fast for free Piper stuff!

(HT: CoffeeSwirls)

With the generous permission of Desiring God Ministries, is giving away 60 of John Piper’s best sermons and lecture SERIES’ for free in MP3 format on a CD to be mailed directly to you. We only ask that you would cover the cost for S&H and raw materials. While in the store if you choose to purchase other materials in our store at the same time, we will ship unlimited items together with your free CD for the same low $5 flat rate shipping cost (in the USA). Thank you and may the Lord richly bless this material in the edification of you and your family.

Click here for the John Piper MP3 Giveaway!

This selection includes:

T.U.L.I.P - Seminar: (8 MP3 lectures)
51 Sermons on Romans 7 & 9
Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain (Wheaton College)

Give Bible story of creation equal time...

I was rather surprized to find the liberal Star Tribune picking this up/covering this article from the New York Times. Nonetheless, I felt it was blogworthy.


Poll: Give Bible story of creation equal time
Laurie Goodstein, New York Times
August 31, 2005

In a finding that is likely to intensify the debate over what to teach students about the origins of life, a poll released Tuesday found that nearly 66 percent of Americans say that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools.

The poll found that 42 percent of respondents hold strict creationist views, agreeing that "living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

In contrast, 48 percent said they believed that humans had evolved over time; of those, 18 percent said that evolution was "guided by a supreme being," and 26 percent said it occurred through natural selection.

In all, 64 percent said they were open to the idea of teaching creationism in addition to evolution, while 38 percent favored replacing evolution with creationism.

The poll was conducted July 7 to 17 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The questions about evolution were asked of 2,000 people; the margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.

The poll showed 41 percent of Americans want parents to have the primary say over how evolution is taught, compared with 28 percent who say teachers and scientists should decide and 21 percent who say school boards should.

Asked whether they believed creationism should be taught instead of evolution, 38 percent were in favor, and 49 percent were opposed. Those who believe in creationism said they were "very certain" of their views (63 percent), compared to those who believe in evolution (32 percent).

The poll also asked about religion and politics, among other things. Respondents agreed in nearly equal numbers that nonreligious liberals have "too much control" over the Democratic Party (44 percent agreed), and that religious conservatives have too much control over the Republican Party (45 percent agreed).

Monday, August 29, 2005

Fighting Squirrels a Sport? ESPN thinks so...

Fighting squirrels makes the news over at ESPN today. No, I don't mean squirrels decked out in tiny gloves (that'd be cool), or even a no-holds-barred Ultimate Fighting Championship squirrel bout (that'd be really cool!). I mean man vs. squirrel. If you have ever fought squirrels, you know this man's pain. My neighbors think I'm crazy because of the squirrels we have here on campus. We mostly have grey squirrels, with some black ones as well. I put bird seed on my window sill in the winter, and I live on the second floor. You might think that makes my seed safe, you'd be wrong. At first the squirrels would climb a nearby bush, and jump from the bush to the window sill (a span of 3 or so feet). So I modified the bush, smart man I am, cutting off the braches they favored for jumping, making the distance about a 5 foot jump. They still jumped, and to my disappointment did not fall the 15 or so feet to the ground below. I think they were pretending it was try outs for Cirque du Soleil. I took more off the bush, now greatly reshaping the backside of the bush. This was the middle of winter, so my neighbors might have been wondering a bit about this guy out pruning the only green thing in the area in sub zero weather. Eventually I did get enough off that they couldn't jump from the bush to the window sill. About a week later, I found a squirrel on my window sill again. The devious little bandit had taught himself to climb the brick wall. Only two of the 6 or 8 squirrels have learned how to do this, but the others are smart enough to know when the two are on the sill a lot of seed falls below. So I too resorted to Google to solve my problems. Hot pepper was the solution. So I bought the gigantic industrial size bottle of hot sauce. $1.99 for a lifetime supply of liquid fire. I started by just spicing up the snow at the base of the wall. Didn't phase them. So I began to apply it to the wall, but eventually it dries up or freezes, and they quit paying attention to it. So I decided to take it to a new level. I pulled out my Super-soaker, loaded it up for squirrel, and waited with the window unlocked. These squirrels had long since quit paying attention to me tapping on the window. The recognized me. They were laughing at me. I had to protect what little pride I had left. So up pops the first squirrel. I quietly pull off the window screen, and quickly turn the window crank and open fire. Squirrels don't like being sprayed with hot sauce. So now, each winter, I load up on hot sauce, and sit and wait. Every so often a neighbor would be walking in, and see me in the act. They always laugh. By the end of the winter, the corner of the building where I live smells like I imagine the kitchen of Buffalo Wild Wings smells like. I'm like squirrel Rambo. But it keeps them away. And it's fun. And I get to watch the birds, the Blue Jays, Cardinals, finches, sparrows, and others I couldn't even name. I especially like the Cardinals, there were 3 male/female pairs last spring feeding at my window. And the Blue Jay is fun to watch, even though he is a pig. I've never seen a bird eat that fast. And he's incredibly skittish. If he even suspects I'm watching he flies off. The Sparrows on the other hand will nearly eat out of my hand. They have such beautiful little feathers, with an iridescence if the light catches them just right.

Really, I like squirrels. I just don't like them robbing my seed. They can eat all the birds push to the ground, which is quite a bit. Try as I might, they just won't learn to use a fork. I go through almost a pound a day on the coldest days of winter, without the squirrels stealing any. With the squirrels on the ledge, I could double that amound, and not see any birds.

Helping Tim Challies run a test...

Uberblogger Tim Challies has asked us to test out his new trackback feature of his weblog. So unless you want to participate, just ignore this posting.

A brief post on Dave Tilma

Over the past few months, my blog has been visited by a number of people googling "Dave Tilma". I'm glad that you have found me (and him) interesting. I have a few things to say about Dave, and you are welcome to contact me if you want further info.

Dave is fantastic, knowledgable and skilled in ministry well beyond his years. I don't say this blindly, as I worked side by side with Dave as he poured his heart into a struggling church, helping make a youth ministry that was sick, turn into a student ministry that was ready for the future. Dave worked his tail off, and probably cut a few years off his life in the process. He spoke the truth when it needed to be spoken, he pushed when people need to grow, and he killed off things that needed to come to an end. While his ministry was short in terms of time (we were borrowing him as an interim pastor), it's impact will be far reaching, and our new Youth Minister is reaping the harvest from it. Dave has a great way of meeting people where they are, be they students, or adults. He knows how to challenge those who need to be pushed. He has an excellent grasp on scripture, and is rock solid in his theology. He is a great preacher, a great husband, and now a great father (with an adoreable daughter!) I know he has been exploring some great ministry opportunities, and if you are one of those people considering him, look long and hard at him, because he is excellent at what he does. I can't tell you he is right for your ministry, but I can tell you he is very talented, and has a burning passion for reaching the lost of this world for Jesus Christ.

Dave has not asked (nor does he know) that have said the above. He's humble enough to be embarassed by it I would guess, but it needs to be said.

Wayne Grudem - Basic Christian Beliefs

I have blogged about Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology book previously. Below is a post of Justin Taylor (Between Two Worlds) related to Dr. Grudem's great book(s).


Christian Beliefs: 20 Basics Every Christian Should Know

Wayne Grudem's 1264-page Systematic Theology was first published in 1994. In 1999, Jeff Purswell edited it down to a 528-page version, titled Bible Doctrine. Now, coming this November, Zondervan will publish a 144-page version, edited by Wayne's son, Elliot, titled Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know.

Here are the topics covered in this new version:

  1. What is the Bible?
  2. What is God like?
  3. What is the Trinity?
  4. What is creation?
  5. What is prayer?
  6. What are angels and demons?
  7. What is man?
  8. What is sin?
  9. Who is Christ?
  10. What is the atonement?
  11. What is the resurrection?
  12. What is election (or predestination)?
  13. What does it mean to become a Christian?
  14. What are justification and adoption?
  15. What are sanctification and perseverance?
  16. What is death?
  17. What is the church?
  18. What will happen when Christ returns?
  19. What is the final judgment?
  20. What is heaven?

I think that this would be an ideal book for Sunday School classes, and especially for memberships classes--as well as a wonderful tool for discipleship in the faith. Review and application questions are included.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

String theory and the problem of Evil

Below is a segment from Blogcorner preacher's John Luke. I suggest reading the whole thing, as it's an excellent post. Following that is a segment with links to some thoughts on the problem of evil from the guys over at FIDE-O. Both are blogs worth reading.

No, not that string theory, which only purports to give us a glimpse at God's underlying laws of physics. Rather, the puppet on a string theory of mankind.

What, the free will folks cry, we are all given free will by God, are we not? Yes, and no. God's revelation to us of His Son should have been the convincing event; the one thing that should convince us that our vaunted free will in no ways will be sufficient to stand when God wills otherwise.

Consider the dialogue in John 19, verses 10-11, between Jesus and Pilate, just before Pilate hands the Lord over for crucifixion:

10 So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" 11 Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin."

There's that pesky reminder of Who is always in charge. Not the Jews. Not their Roman overlords. God. The betrayal of Jesus, his mock trial before Pilate, the Jews screaming for his death, all had to happen. Judas had no free will. Pilate had no free will. The crowd, the Roman centurions, had no free will in this matter.

Does this mean that we are all mere puppets on a string, and therefore we need not worry about sin? Not at all. Just the opposite, in fact; we are to use our free will to avoid sin as much as possible. But we're all sinners, no matter how much we worry about sin. We all have sinned, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). There is none without this stain, except Jesus. The rest of us, as it pleased God then, and as it pleases Him now, will do what He needs us to do to reveal to us His eternal truths.

Was Judas a greater sinner than you or I? Likely so, insofar as God had determined, from before time, that the man Judas would not be saved, and hence was a worthy candidate for great sin. Likewise Pilate; likewise the mob; likewise (most of) the Romans who crucified our Lord. But they were merely God's agents, as we are now. God made it happen, to fulfill His promises of a savior from the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-5).
(for the rest of this post go HERE)


Many people ask this question, "Why did God create evil?" -- especially when trouble comes, when suffering invades their life. The question is a good one and worthy to be answered.

First, a person must realize that evil is not a created thing. Show me an evil. You cannot. Evil is not a thing; it is an action. Evil is something that someone does. So evil was not created by anybody, but evil is done by the will of fallen angels and mankind.

Second, God did not allow evil to be done. "Allow" denotes permission and God does not permit or condone evil. But God does let evil be done. Meaning He could stop sin from happening but sometimes does not, thus He "lets" it happen. Usually, He stops evil from happening by His restraining grace, but obviously He lets much evil happen. Why? Because in His wisdom He knows that evil will work to magnify His glory. Do we question that wisdom? No, because God is perfect and His wisdom is perfect. In other words, the perfect plan to glorify God includes evil being present temporarily in Creation. And in the mean time, all of creation groans, and we ourselves eagerly await for redemption.
(for the rest of this post go HERE)

And also from FIDE-O:

In a recent post I was asked to explain further what evil actually is. As I have noted previously, evil is not a created "thing" as much as it is an action or lack of an action. By "action" we mean that it is a deed, thought, or desire...not a tangible object. Evil is sin.

BTW: it was the Gnostics of the Second Century who believed that everything material was evil. This heresy stemmed from a view of evil as being tangible, material things. Yet, when God completed His six-day creation, He said of it that it was "good." Evil (sin) was not part of creation, but evil was possible by creatures with moral capabilities (angels and humans).

So, what is sin.

The Larger Westminster Catechism (#24) defines sin as "any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature."

Lets break this down in a brief manner:

1. "want of conformity" = that means sin is a nonconformity to the law of God; sin is an omission of an action of obedience to God's commands.

2. "transgression of" = that means sin is the action of breaking the law of God; sins of commission are when we commit actions prohibited by God; sin can be the absence of an action.

3. "reasonable creature" = sin is not even possible for the Creator but the creature; and is only possible because the Creator gave the creature the capability of moral action by a will; sin is an action only capable by a moral agent other than God.

(for the rest of this post go HERE)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Sleeping Beauty - Children's Theatre Company...

Last night myself, Banana, and her parents attended the opening of Sleeping Beauty at the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis. The production was fanstastic! The actors were exceptional, and the script well written. The actors were all some of the "favorites" of the Theatre Company, so if you have attended other plays there you may likely recognize them. I would guess the best age group for this to be 8 and up, though there was a little girl next to Banana who must only have been 5 and she really enjoyed it (and was well behaved). This was the first play in the Theatre in the post-remodel era (though the remodeling is still underway, apparently the contractor is quite a bit behind). If you are in the metro area, it's worth checking out, even if you aren't a kid!

Star Tribune Review

Blog visitors - Thanks for stopping in!!!

I was looking at some blog statistics tonight, and found this interesting one of my blog. You can view it in other ways, but the link should take you to a picture of the USA with dots for the last 100 vistors. There are a few I recognize (Bret Capranica of The Capranica and FIDE-O was the last visitor, which I know because of a red dot and his comment on my previous post), and then a few I have no idea. I've known for a while from reading incoming IP addresses that someone is reading from the Tampa area, but I don't know who. I have my pal Chris in Seattle, someone from Salt Lake City (I suppose because of my Mormon cult stuff last week), a couple from Chicago (KP?), one in Texas that is Paul, at least two in my area that are Banana and Pete (BTW Pete, you need to make that your School ID photo and your Blog Profile photo!), and then a bunch I have no clue on. Especially those on the East Coast.

I appreciate all who find there way here, and welcome you all to come back and visit and leave comments. I started this blog as a place to express my thoughts and to collect thoughts of other people who I felt were worth preserving for my own reference, and thus far I think it has been successful in that.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Give me a big machine and some dirt and I'll be happy...

Doug at CoffeeSwirls writes:

The biggest unlikely thing I’d like to do is create, or at least visit, a theme park that is designed around Tim Allen’s show “Home Improvement” from a few years back. I don’t want to see a park where the roller coasters are named after tools though. What I want to see is a park where tools are the rides.

Think about it. Would you pay good money to have access for only one day to a bulldozer and other tools that are used for road construction? How much would it be worth to fulfill the dream you have had since childhood to run over something like your sister’s Barbie doll with a real steam roller? Could a jackhammer be used as a pogo stick? What if you could push tons of dirt around just for the joy of pushing tons of dirt around? You get the idea.

The park would have to have plenty of room for the guest operators of the “rides” and some serious insurance policies or waivers would be necessary. Unfortunately this would result in a hefty ticket price, but wouldn’t it be worth it… just once?

To which I responded in his comments the following thoughts:

Oh brother, you have struck a chord with me. Every time I drive by a construction site, I marvel at the cool equipment. I think I’ve begun to annoy my fiancee with my comments about how I’d love to operate heavy machinery for a week or two. I’ll pass on the road paver, as it moves too slow and smells too bad. I want a crane, bulldozer, road grader, back hoe, earth mover experience. I want to shape, create, move, make and destroy with incredibly powerful, expensive, noisy, heavy yellow painted equipment. I want to show up for work with no sleeves for a while. I want to be able to pull out my hard hat (yes I own my own orange one), put on some gloves, and smell diesel early in the morning. I want to drink from a gigantic flip top water jug. I want heavy duty boots and orange flagging tape.
For many years I have wasted time watching people operate heavy machinery. I could watch for hours, it's captivating for me. I don't know why, I just know I'm like a moth to a light. This of course isn't my career aspirations, or where I believe God has called me and gifted me, but I sure would enjoy doing this for a week or two. Of course I'd also like to be a race car driver and a few other things, but for now I'd settle for a day behind the wheel of something big, slow, and yellow. I just want a Cat 623G or a D11R to play with for a day or two. Is that too much to ask?

And upon protest from one of my favorite readers, the following has been added....

Your thoughts on PETA...

David Martosko pointed me to the following article (of which the full article can be found HERE). As those who know me know, I am a committed meat eater. I don't like a lot of veggies (corn, peas, carrots, green beans, and a couple of others are good though) and thereby end up eating a lot of meat. I would like to get some feed back from anyone reading this as to their thoughts on the article, and maybe what your favorite veggie is and how to prepare it (maybe I'll find a new veggie that I like).


New CCF Report: PETA Offends People Of All Faiths

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been widely criticized for its campaign comparing Nazi Holocaust victims to farm animals, its blind insistence that Jesus was a vegetarian, and it callous attempts to cheapen the symbols and rituals of Roman Catholicism. But a new report from the Center for Consumer Freedom indicates that these offensive gestures are just the tip of a larger iceberg. Click here to read our press release, and then download a copy of Holy Cows: How PETA twists religion to push animal "rights."

This eye-opening report includes an inventory of scripture
contradicting PETA's claim that only vegetarians can be observant
Christians, Jews, Mormons, and Muslims.

A limited number of bound, printed copies are available to religious leaders and credentialed journalists. Just drop us an e-mail, and include your affiliation and postal mailing address.

______________(for the rest go HERE)______________________

Spiritual Geographical Stereotypes

From FOF's The Pastor's Weekly Briefing

New Research from The Barna Group explores faith in America's largest markets and has produced surprises about geographical stereotypes such as Godless Hollywood, Lost Angeles, Bible Belt, or Texas: God's Country. The report examines 28 faith factors among people in the 86 largest metropolitan areas and 27 most populous states.

Although the research shows that seven percent of the adult population of the U.S. are evangelical (15 million adults), the market with the highest percentage of evangelicals is Little Rock, Arkansas (one out of every five adults or 22%). Of the 86 largest metropolitan areas in the nation, those with the lowest proportion of evangelicals were Salt Lake City, Utah; Hartford, Connecticut; and Providence, Rhode Island. Los Angeles, Calif., had the greatest number of evangelical adults — nearly one million such Christians. In fact, there are more evangelical adults in the L.A. market than there are in the New York, Chicago and Boston metropolitan areas combined!

The state with the highest percentage of adults who are evangelical is Alabama (at 13%, nearly double the national average), and the state with the lowest is Connecticut. With regard to each state's aggregate adult population, the area with the greatest number of evangelicals is California (nearly two million). Again, Connecticut has the fewest adults who are evangelical (26,000).

The Faith By Market report explores 40 different factors among the adults located in each of the markets and states studied. Those factors include a dozen religious beliefs, ten religious practices, various religious commitments and affiliations, and a dozen demographic attributes.

For the complete report, visit

A Christian Case for Gay Marriage?

I have a great respect for Dr. Albert Mohler, for many reasons, but one of the top reasons is his ability to state things so clearly and concisely. Below is part of a lengthy post he made today on the gay marriage debate and a couple of books associated with that subject.

A Christian Case for Gay Marriage?

The mainline Protestant denominations continue to debate the question of homosexuality in extended and excruciatingly inconclusive controversy. In one sense, these liberal denominations are caught in a bind. Their members at the grassroots level, along with those pastors and church leaders who hold to orthodox doctrine and biblical concepts of sexuality, will not accept an embrace of same-sex marriage or the ordination of practicing homosexuals. A residue of biblical commitment prevents these denominations from an open embrace of what scripture so clearly condemns. On the other hand, the liberal elites in control of the seminaries, institutions, and bureaucracies of these denominations are generally committed to revisionist understandings of theology, sexuality, and church doctrine.

Unwilling to risk the financial and membership losses that would surely result from an open embrace of homosexuality, these denominations inch their way towards a progressive, if inevitable, embrace of homosexual practice. This progressive embrace of the homosexual agenda is propelled by activists who offer various rationales and arguments for the normalization of homosexual relationships and behaviors. Over time, these arguments are intended to have a cumulative effect, wearing down conservative resistance and convincing fence-straddlers of the inevitability of homosexual advance.

To read the full article go HERE.

Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage

Exodus Ministries

Love Won Out

Minnesota For Marriage

Thursday, August 25, 2005

John MacArthur - Guest Blogger on Pyromaniac!!!

Phil Johnson of Pyromaniac Blog has some how managed to convince John MacArthur to fill in for him today. I really would like to have been a fly on the wall listening to that conversation! Dr MacArthur writes about a number of interesting things, and it's well worth checking out.

Thoughts on the casualty rate in Iraq...

I used to read Power Line on an almost daily basis. Frankly, I got tired of it, as there was maybe an article or two per week that was of any interest to me personally. But John Hinderaker made a great post there the other day that I thought I would point you to (HT: Justin Taylor).

The Campus Confession Booth

What I considered a horrible idea turned into a moment of transformation.
by Donald Miller

Don Miller was a student and campus ministry leader at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, a decidely secular and highly intellectual place that Princeton Review named "the college where students are most likely to ignore God." In his book Blue Like Jazz (Nelson, 2003), Miller tells of an unlikely event that introduced him to the mysteries of spiritual transformation.

Each year at Reed they have a renaissance festival called Ren Fayre. They shut down the campus so students can party. Security keeps the authorities away, and everybody gets pretty drunk and high, and some people get naked. The school brings in White Bird, a medical unit that specializes in treating bad drug trips. The students create special lounges with black lights and television screens to enhance their mushroom trips.

Some of the Christian students in our little group decided this was a good place to come out of the closet, letting everybody know there were a few Christians on campus. Tony the Beat Poet and I were sitting around in my room one afternoon talking about what to do, how to explain who we were to a group of students who, in the past, had expressed hostility toward Christians.

I said we should build a confession booth in the middle of campus and paint a sign on it that said "Confess your sins." I said this because I knew a lot of people would be sinning, and Christian spirituality begins by confessing our sins and repenting. I also said it as a joke. But Tony thought it was brilliant. He sat there on my couch with his mind in the clouds, and he was scaring the crap out of me because, for a second, then for a minute, I actually believed he wanted to do it.

"Tony," I said very gently.

"What?" he said, with a blank stare at the opposite wall.

"We are not going to do this," I told him. He moved his gaze down the wall and directly into my eyes. A smile came across his face.

"Oh, we are, Don. We certainly are. We are going to build a confession booth!"

We met in Commons—Penny, Nadine, Mitch, Iven, Tony, and I. Tony said I had an idea. They looked at me. I told them that Tony was lying and I didn't have an idea at all. They looked at Tony. Tony gave me a dirty look and told me to tell them the idea. I told them I had a stupid idea that we couldn't do without getting attacked. They leaned in. I told them that we should build a confession booth in the middle of campus and paint a sign on it that said "Confess your sins." Penny put her hands over her mouth. Nadine smiled. Iven laughed. Mitch started drawing the designs for the booth on a napkin. Tony nodded his head. I wet my pants.

"They may very well burn it down," Nadine said.

"I will build a trapdoor," Mitch said with his finger in the air. "I like it, Don." Iven patted me on the back.

"I don't want anything to do with it," Penny said.

"Neither do I," I told her.

"Okay, you guys." Tony gathered everybody's attention. "Here's the catch." He leaned in a little. "We are not actually going to accept confessions." We all looked at him in confusion.

He continued, "We are going to confess to them. We are going to confess that, as followers of Jesus, we have not been very loving; we have been bitter, and for that we are sorry. We will apologize for the Crusades, we will apologize for televangelists, we will apologize for neglecting the poor and the lonely, we will ask them to forgive us, and we will tell them that in our selfishness, we have misrepresented Jesus on this campus. We will tell people who come into the booth that Jesus loves them."

All of us sat there in silence because it was obvious that something beautiful and true had hit the table with a thud. We all thought it was a great idea, and we could see it in each other's eyes. It would feel so good to apologize, to apologize for the Crusades, for Columbus and the genocide committed in the Bahamas in the name of God, apologize for the missionaries who landed in Mexico and came up through the West slaughtering Indians in the name of Christ.

I wanted so desperately to apologize for the many ways I had misrepresented the Lord. I could feel that I had betrayed the Lord by judging, by not being willing to love the people he had loved and only giving lip service to issues of human rights.

For so much of my life I had been defending Christianity because I thought to admit that we had done any wrong was to discredit the religious system as a whole. But it isn't a religious system; it is people following Christ. And the important thing to do, the right thing to do, was to apologize for getting in the way of Jesus.

The booth was huge, much bigger than I expected, almost like a shed complete with a slanted roof and two small sections inside, one for the person confessing and the other for the one hearing it. We built a half-high wall between the two rooms and installed a curtain so the confessor could easily get in and out. On our side we installed a door with a latch so nobody could come in and drag us away. Nadine painted "Confession Booth" in large letters on the outside.

People walking along the sidewalk would ask what we were doing. They stood there looking at the booth in wonder.

"What are we supposed to do?" they would ask.

"Confess your sins," we told them.

"To who?" they would say.

"To God," we would tell them.

"There is no God," they would explain. Some of them told us this was the boldest thing they had ever seen. All of them were kind, which surprised us.

I stood there outside the booth as a large blue mob started running across campus, all of them, more than a hundred people, naked and painted with blue paint. They ran by the booth screaming and waving. I waved back. Naked people look funny when they are for-real naked, outside-a-magazine naked.

The party goes till nearly dawn, so though it was late we started working the booth. We lit tiki torches and mounted them in the ground just outside the booth. Tony and Iven were saying I should go first, which I didn't want to do, but I played bold and got in the booth. I sat on a bucket and watched the ceiling and the smoke from my pipe gather in the dark corners like ghosts. I could hear the rave happening in the student center across campus.

I was picturing all the cool dancers, the girls in white shirts moving through the black light, the guys with the turntables in the loft, the big screen with the swirling images and all that energy coming out of the speakers, pounding through everybody's bodies, getting everybody up and down, up and down.

Nobody is going to confess anything, I thought. Who wants to stop dancing to confess their sins? And I realized that this was a bad idea, that none of this was God's idea. Nobody was going to get angry, but nobody was going to care very much either.

I was going to tell Tony that I didn't want to do it when he opened the curtain and said we had our first customer.

"What's up, man?" Duder sat himself on the chair with a smile on his face. He told me my pipe smelled good.

"Thanks," I said. I asked him his name, and he said his name was Jake. I shook his hand because I didn't know what to do, really.

"So what is this? I'm supposed to tell you all of the juicy gossip I did at Ren Fayre, right?" Jake said.


"Okay, then what? What's the game?" he asked.

"Not really a game. More of a confession thing."

"You want me to confess my sins, right?"

"No, that's not what we're doing."

"What's the deal, man? What's with the monk outfit?"

"Well, we are, well, a group of Christians here on campus, you know."

"I see. Strange place for Christians, but I'm listening."

"Thanks," I said. He was being patient and gracious. "Anyway, there is this group, just a few of us who were thinking about the way Christians have sort of wronged people over time. You know, the Crusades, all that stuff …"

"Well, I doubt you personally were involved in any of that, man."

"No, I wasn't," I told him. "But the thing is, we are followers of Jesus. We believe that he is God and all, and he represented certain ideas that we have sort of not done a good job at representing. He has asked us to represent him well, but it can be very hard."

"I see," Jake said.

"So this group of us on campus wanted to confess to you."

"You are confessing to me!" Jake said with a laugh.

"Yeah. We are confessing to you. I mean, I am confessing to you."

"You're serious." His laugh turned to something of a straight face.

"There's a lot. I will keep it short," I started. "Jesus said to feed the poor and to heal the sick. I have never done very much about that. Jesus said to love those who persecute me. I tend to lash out, especially if I feel threatened, you know, if my ego gets threatened. Jesus did not mix his spirituality with politics. I grew up doing that. It got in the way of the central message of Christ. I know that was wrong, and I know that a lot of people will not listen to the words of Christ because people like me, who know him, carry our own agendas into the conversation rather than just relaying the message Christ wanted to get across. There's a lot more, you know."

"It's all right, man," Jake said, very tenderly. His eyes were starting to water.

"Well," I said, clearing my throat, "I am sorry for all that."

"I forgive you," Jake said. And he meant it.

"Thanks," I told him.

He sat there and looked at the floor, then into the fire of a candle. "It's really cool what you guys are doing," he said. "A lot of people need to hear this."

"Have we hurt a lot of people?" I asked him.

For the rest of this article, read HERE.

Don Miller will be one of the speakers at this year's Catalyst conference in Atlanta, October 6-9, 2005. For information about Catalyst, visit:

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mormon heresy...

The major heresy of Mormonism is summed up in its central theological axiom, the doctrine of the law of eternal progression. To believe in and teach this doctrine is to be so separated from Christian orthodoxy that the unrepentant adherent is consigned to a Christless eternity. It is stated as follows:
As man is, God once was,
and as god is, man may become.
Roll that through your mind a time or two. This all starts with the LDS teaching that there are great numbers of planets scattered througout the vastness of outer space which are ruled by countless exalted men-gods who once were human like us. This may sound like Battlestar Galactica to the average person, but upon this axiom is base the entire theology of Mormonism: from the temple rituals for the living to those for their dead; from the teaching that families are forever to the pressure on parents to send theri youth to the mission field across the world.

The Mormon people are committed to a controlled program that maps out their entire lives as they seek their own exaltation and godhood, their own planet to rule and reign over.

The Mormon Jesus

To the Mormon, jesus was our elder brother who pointed the way, but he isn't The Way as we Christians understand it. To the Mormon, Jesus was the god of the Old Testament, but once he took his physical form, the had to justify or earn his own spiritual salvation through his works while int he flesh, just as each of us must. Mormonism teaches that Jesus suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, providing personal salvation (which may mean exaltation to godhood) conditional upon our obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS gospel. His death on the cross provided a general salvation, whereby all of us will be resurrected to be judged for our own works. Yet Paul says in Colossians 2 that Jesus removed those lawas and ordinances that were against us, nailing them to the cross.

It is no wonder that you will never see a cross on a Mormon chruch -- not when you see that Mormons cannot deal with its gift of grace. This is the same reason they use water for communion. They call it The Sacrament, but that water washes away the reality of the blood shed for us at the Cross of Christ.

Of course, this is just the tip of the Mormon deception iceberg.

Let me close with these thoughts:

The Mormon view of God is different than that of Christians. They believe God evolved from a mortal man.

Mormons believe and teach polytheism. Polytheism is the belief in the existence of more than one god. Mormons believe there are literally millions of gods.

Every male Mormon is striving to become a god himself. This is easily found in the writings of Joseph Smith Jr. and Brigham Young.

In the end, it boils down to who are you going to trust -- the guys who are working their hardest to become gods, or God who completed the work on the Cross, dieing for your sins, and through His graces offers you salvation? Don't mistake the Mormon zeal for Truth.

Galatians 2:16:
Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Chris and Banana

Mormon Cult info...

The following all comes from which is the online ministry of The Christian Research Institute which includes the Bible Answer Man - Hank Hanegraaff.



You’ve probably seen their well-groomed missionaries riding around your neighborhood on bikes. You’ve probably heard of Donny and Marie Osmond, and you might have even heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir — or even visited Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. But what’s the straight scoop? What does Mormonism really represent?

The Mormons, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, is now the largest U.S. cult. In fact, it boasts more than 12 million members worldwide, and over 40,000 full-time missionaries. Not to mention their splinter groups. All of this arose from the humble beginnings of a boy named Joseph Smith Jr. In 1820, Joseph supposedly saw a vision at Palmyra, New York. In it, God supposedly told him not to join any church, he said, because “they were all wrong... their creeds were all an abomination and all their professors were corrupt” (The Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 1:18,19). Three years later, he claimed the angel “Moroni” visited him and led him to some golden plates. These plates were supposedly written in “Reformed Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” After translating these plates through a pair of magical “spectacles,” the Book of Mormon was born.

This book, along with Doctrines and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price, are now considered by Mormons to be of equal authority with the Word of God “as it is translated correctly” (Articles of Faith, Article 8)

Remember that it isn’t the Christian church that is attacking Mormonism. It is Mormonism that has attacked the Christian church — believing or stating that true Christianity disappeared from the earth for over 1800 years — and let’s not forget that. Contrary to biblical teachings they also believe in more than one God, that God is a literal man, that men can become gods, that Jesus was the spirit brother of Lucifer, not to mention salvation by works and not by grace (Isa. 43:10; Mark 12:29; John 4:24; John 1:1-14; Gal. 2:14-16; Eph. 2:8,9).

Of course this inevitably leads Christians to classify Mormonism as a non-Christian cult — and its prophets, of course, are either deceived or they’re deceivers. And, by the way, to have this evidence and then not present it to the body of Christ or to Mormons is the most unloving thing you can possibly do.


Better known as Mormons, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now numbers over 9 million members in almost 130 territories around the globe. Are they really the true followers of Jesus Christ as they claim to be?

To quote one Mormon apologist: “Latter-day Saints are Christians because they emphatically believe in Christ, use His name in their official church title, and believe in the Bible and the Book of Mormon which testify repeatedly of the reality of Christ and the truth of His teachings.” Jesus Christ, no doubt, plays a central role in Mormon theology. However, Paul warns that to be a Christian, one must believe in the true Christ—the Jesus of the Bible—and not another Jesus. In fact, we would all agree with the late Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie when he says, “it matters not that people simply say they believe in Christ, or think they are followers of Moses, or the Apostles. What counts is the reality.” And the reality is that Mormons believe in a Jesus vastly different than the Jesus of the Bible.

You see, Mormonism teaches that Jesus is just one of countless other gods—a belief known as polytheism. Now, a Mormon may try to deny being a polytheist by affirming the existence of other gods, while in the same breath worshipping only God the Father. However, don’t forget Christ’s proclamation in Mark chapter 12—that God’s most important commandment is to recognize that there is only one God and only one Lord.

Where does this leave Jesus in Mormon Theology? Well, Mormons say they believe that Jesus is Jehovah, the LORD, the God of Israel, yet they refuse to pray to Him, as Jehovah Himself commands in the Old Testament (cf. Deut. 4:7; 2 Chron. 7:14; Pss. 5:2; 32:6; Jer. 29:7,12)—the same Jehovah who knows of no other God besides Himself, the One worshipped and honored by all true Christians (Ex. 34:14; cf. Matt. 2:11; 14:33; Luke 24:52). And so, judging by its own teachings, Mormonism cannot be rightly considered Christian.


Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, claimed to be a prophet of God. Was he?

In determining whether Joseph Smith was a prophet of God we need first to look at Smith’s so-called “first vision,” in which God supposedly instructed the would-be prophet to start a new church — what was to become the Mormon church. The evidence shows, however that Smith’s testimony suffers from a host of internal discrepancies. For example, the earliest recorded account of Smith’s “first vision” makes mention only of Jesus Christ, whereas other accounts report the appearance of both Jesus and God the Father, or of an angel, or a group of angels. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear to see that such conflicting reports only serve to cast doubt on the veracity of Smith’s testimony. Keep in mind that several of these accounts came from the same man — Joseph Smith himself.

Turning now to prophetic accuracy, we find that Smith fares no better than he did in recounting his alleged encounter with God. According to Deuteronomy 18:22, God’s prophets have a one hundred percent rate of accuracy — that is to say, their prophetic predictions never miss the mark. Unfortunately for Smith, such standards proved too much for him. We note, for example, that Smith predicted that a Mormon temple in Missouri would be constructed before all of the people living in 1832 pass away. This did not occur.

But even if Smith were flawless in all his predictions (which certainly was not the case), according to Deuteronomy 13:1-3 he would still not qualify as a prophet of God because he was speaking for a false god — a god other than the One revealed in Scripture. The facts lead us to draw only one conclusion: that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, but a false prophet. And remember, the irony is that it was Joseph Smith who attacked Christianity by saying that all its teachers were corrupt.


Are there some practical strategies for dealing with Mormonism? What’s the best way to witness to Mormons?

Harry L. Ropp, a Christian author who, by the way, served as a missionary to Mormons, said that creating doubt in a Mormon’s mind is an effective way to overcome ingrained teachings which inhibit Mormons from accepting the gospel. Let’s look at these teachings and consider some effective ways to deal with them.

First of all, Mormons are taught that the Bible has been corrupted through the years and is no longer reliable. In response to such claims, show that the Bible has been copied and translated accurately, and that modern scholarship has vindicated the reliability of Scripture. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946, for example, texts were found that were about 1,000 years older than any previously-known Old Testament manuscripts like the Masoretic Text. And when compared with the later texts, these writings proved to be virtually the same.

After establishing the Bible’s trustworthiness, show Mormons that they should instead focus their doubts on the Mormon scriptures. Try to concentrate on a single topic — such as the nature of God — and demonstrate the inconsistencies among Mormon doctrines and scriptures. For instance, while Mormons teach that there is more than one god, the Book of Mormon is clear in proclaiming that there is only one God.

By pointing out the internal discrepancies which plague official Mormon teaching and canonical writings, any subjective testimony that Mormons may offer concerning their scriptures becomes either minimized or nullified. And once a vacuum has been created, it may then be filled with sound Christian doctrine, further emphasizing the unbiblical character of Mormon theology. At this stage, take care to define terms since Mormonism has attached its own set of meanings to biblical persons and concepts.

When speaking with Mormons let us, above all, allow God’s Holy Spirit to direct our attitudes, our words, and our actions.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Interesting exchange with Mormon missionaries today...

Today I was arroused from a nap with the ringing of the door bell. I was enjoying a leisurely afternoon slumber on Banana's parent's front room couch. Banana's mother answered the door, and within 3 words I knew the "visitors" were Mormon missionaries. The words were "Hello, I'm Elder Anderson...." The "elder" is a dead give away. Banana's mother invited them in, and they began to ask her questions. During this introductory period, she metioned I am a seminary student. I was still laying on the couch, listening, and I began praying for these terribly misguided young men. Banana's mother asked if I would like to come and talk with them, and I replied "not particularly". This was because I was in the middle of prayer, praying that these two young men would come to see how corrupt their Mormon cult is, and how misguided their religion is. They continued to ask Banana's mother questions, and then Banana became engaged and entered into the discussion. They moved from the entry way of the house into the kitchen area, where I could still hear quite clearly all that was going on. Banana was doing a pretty good job of challenging their claims, and even came up with the argument about the closing of Scripture with the end of the book of Revelation. They kept trying to use John 10:16 as the foundation of their arguement, and Banana held her own against it. It was about this point I finished my prayer against and for these two young men, and I decided to get off the couch and enter the kitchen and join into the discussion. For the next hour+, I engaged these two men, with Banana contributing as well, challenging them in their beliefs, and challenging them to re-examine their beliefs. I explained to them how Christians DO NOT consider them Christians. They did not appreciate this, and I think they were not fully aware of this, as it caught them off guard. I challenged them on works righteousness. I challenged them on baptism and baptism of the dead. I challenged them on KNOWING that you are saved. I challenged them to examine the original Greek of the New Testament and to examine how their church perverts it to suit it's own needs. I explained to them how they are the same as the Jehova's Witnesses, and the Cult Jim Jones led (The People's Temple). I challenged the to rexamine their faith on a number of levels, but I am uncertain how successful I was. I certainly made them very defensive, and at times left them with nothing to fall back on but their canned responses. I explained to them what Cognitive Dissonence is, and challenged them to open the Bible (I suggested they get an ESV or NASB) with their Book of Morman, along with some apologetics materials (James White's Alpha Omega ministry is a good start, see below) and to begin to examine their belief structure. Banana thinks I caused them some cognitive dissonence in at least one of the two missionaries. I told them at worst, from their point of view, they will become more familiar with Christian apologetics against the Mormon church, and they will grow deeper in their Mormon faith. I told them the best case scenereo, from my point of view, is that they will see the light, come out of the darkness of the Mormon church, and enter into a relationship with Christ where they CAN know they are saved. I told them I would be praying for them, and had already prayed for them. I expressed that I had prayed that they would only find stoney soil for their false religion. So I don't know if there is a black listing of houses that Mormon missionaries no longer go to, but if there is, Banana's parents house might now be on that list. I don't think they had a very good end to their day.

Know of any good Mormon or Jehova's Witness apologetics tools? Leave a list in the comments if you have the time.


Christian Grace vs Mormon Grace

A Comparison of the Gospel of Grace

Christian Gospel

Mormon Gospel

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John
3:16) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more
grace. (Romans 11:6)
Grace consists of God's gift to His children wherein He
gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him and comply with His laws
and ordinances
would have everlasting life. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson,
pp. 353-354).
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound.
But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20). Therefore it is of
faith, that it might be by grace (Romans 4:16).
Grace is granted to men proportionately as they conform to
the standards of personal righteousness that are part of the gospel plan. (Bruce R.
McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 339).
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath
before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny
yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and
love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for
you (Moroni 10:32, Book of Mormon)
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption
that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). Not by works of righteousness which we have
done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing
of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5)
As with all other doctrines of salvation, justification is
available because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but it becomes operative in the
life of an individual only on conditions of personal righteousness

(McConkie, Mormon
, p. 408).
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,
and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved. (Romans 10:9)
Certain saved-by-grace-alone fanatics flatter their
followers into believing they can be saved through no act other than confessing Christ
with their lips (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 287).

The truth of the gospel is that God saves men freely and by His grace alone.
Adding to God's grace violates God's intention and places one under the curse of
God (Galatians 1:8-10, 5:2-4). Despite how often Mormons speak of the
gospel, they have been given a false gospel that cannot save.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

It is well with my soul

Words: Horatio G. Spafford, 1873.

Music: Philip P. Bliss, 1876. The tune is named after the ship on which Spafford’s children perished, the S.S. Ville de Havre. Ironically, Bliss himself died in a tragic train wreck shortly after writing this music.

This hymn was written after two major traumas in Spafford’s life. The first was the great Chicago Fire of October 1871, which ruined him financially (he had been a wealthy businessman). Shortly after, while crossing the Atlantic, all four of Spafford’s daughters died in a collision with another ship. Spafford’s wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone.” Several weeks later, as Spafford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daughters died, the Holy Spirit inspired these words. They speak to the eternal hope that all believers have, no matter what pain and grief befall them on earth.

It is well with my soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.


But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Wedding invitations research and stuff...

We started our evening off at Banana's workplace, where the students/camp participants put on a display of traditional Japanese Taiko drumming and dancing. We then went to a place called ArtStart where they recycle basically anything imaginable for people to purchase (cheap) to make arts and crafts from. We then went to Buca di Beppo restaurant (the one near the Mall of America) where we got the 1893 salad, the Chicken with Lemon, and a side of spaghetti and maranara. Great food. The Chicken with Lemon is my favorite dish I have ever eaten. The Chicken breasts are moist beyond belief. The lemon butter sauce with capers is heavenly. I have included the recipe below at the end of the post for anyone interested. It's simple, and the taste is out of this world. The pasta was perfectly al dente.

Following Buca's we made our way to the Galleria and spent the rest of the evening in Epitome looking at wedding invitations. Some were very nice (I prefer simple, clean, elegant), and some were absurd (costing $25 PER invitation in some cases). We are planning on making our own invitations most likely, but were getting ideas, plus perhaps we'll buy instead of make. We also bought some Pentel pens, with Copper/Bronze colored metallic ink. Our invitations will have copper undoubtedly, as it's Banana's "color". I really think wedding supplies are one of the biggest scams going. But I guess it's a once in a lifetime thing for us, so if it makes her happy, it makes me happy. We're a bit behind in this area, as our wedding is December 30th, 2005.

Buca di Beppo
Chicken with Lemon
2 six-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of white wine
4 large lemons
1/2 stick of unsalted butter softened
Small handful of drained capers

Cut three lemons in half and use for fresh lemon juice. Pour the juice
through a fine strainer.
Cut the last lemon into wedges for garnish.
Begin to heat the olive oil in a 12 inch sauté pan on med-high.
While oil is getting hot, lightly season both sides of the chicken breast
with salt.
Lightly dust the chicken breast in the flour. Shake off excess flour.
Place chicken in the sauté pan skin side down.
When the chicken is golden brown, turn over and brown the other side as
well. It is important to brown both sides to insure the chicken is
completely cooked through.
When both sides are nice and brown, add white wine and lemon juice.
Continue to cook for approximately two to three minutes. The liquid should
reduce approximately half.
Once the liquid is reduced, remove the chicken breasts from the pan and turn
off heat.
Check to make sure the chicken breasts are cooked by turning each piece of
chicken over and cutting it halfway through with a knife. There should be
no visible pink. If the chicken is not completely cooked through, place in
a 400 degree oven for five minutes to complete cooking.
Finish the sauce by placing the softened butter in the pan. Using rubber
spatula, work the butter into the sauce as it melts.
Pour sauce directly on top of chicken breasts. Garnish with capers and
lemon wedges.

Chef: Vittorio Renda, Buca di Beppo

My Jesus, I Love Thee...

Words: Will­iam R. Fea­ther­ston, 1864; Fea­thers­ton was on­ly 16 years old at the time.

Music: “Gordon,” Adon­iram J. Gor­don, 1876.

A Protestant Episcopal Bi­shop of Mi­chi­gan once re­lat­ed the fol­low­ing in­ci­dent to a large au­di­ence in one of the Rev. E. P. Ham­mond’s meet­ings in St. Lou­is. “A young, tal­ent­ed and ten­der-heart­ed ac­tress was pass­ing along the street of a large ci­ty. See­ing a pale, sick girl ly­ing up­on a couch just with­in the half-open door of a beau­ti­ful dwell­ing, she en­tered, with the thought that by her vi­va­ci­ty and plea­sant con­ver­sa­tion she might cheer the young in­va­lid. The sick girl was a de­vot­ed Christ­ian, and her words, her pa­tience, her sub­mis­sion and hea­ven-lit coun­te­nance, so dem­on­strat­ed the spir­it of her re­li­gion that the ac­tress was led to give some ear­nest thought to the claims of Christ­i­an­i­ty, and was tho­rough­ly con­vert­ed, and be­came a true fol­low­er of Christ. She told her fa­ther, the lead­er of the the­a­ter troupe, of her con­ver­sion, and of her de­sire to aban­don the stage, stat­ing that she could not live a con­sis­tent Christ­ian life and fol­low the life of an ac­tress. Her fa­ther was as­ton­ished be­yond mea­sure, and told his daugh­ter that their liv­ing would be lost to them and their bu­si­ness ru­ined, if she per­sist­ed in her re­so­lu­tion. Lov­ing her fa­ther dear­ly, she was shak­en some­what in her pur­pose, and par­tial­ly con­sent­ed to fill the pub­lished en­gage­ment to be met in a few days. She was the star of the troupe, and a gen­er­al fa­vo­rite. Ev­ery prep­a­ra­tion was made for the play in which she was to ap­pear. The ev­en­ing came and the fa­ther re­joiced that he had won back his daugh­ter, and that their liv­ing was not to be lost. The hour ar­rived; a large au­di­ence had as­sem­bled. The cur­tain rose, and the young ac­tress stepped for­ward firm­ly amid the ap­plause of the mul­ti­tude. But an un­wont­ed light beamed from her beau­ti­ful face. Amid the breath­less si­lence of the au­di­ence, she re­peat­ed:

‘My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.’

This was all. Through Christ she had con­quered and, leav­ing the au­di­ence in tears, she re­tired from the stage, ne­ver to ap­pear up­on it again. Through her in­flu­ence her fa­ther was con­vert­ed, and through their unit­ed evan­gel­is­tic la­bors ma­ny were led to God.”

Sankey, pp. 198-9

My Jesus, I Love Thee

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2005...

Last Thursday-Saturday, I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit (satellite sight: Eagle Brook Church, White Bear, MN). While I don't always agree with the theology of the speakers, I nonetheless gain a lot of good ideas and inspiration from this conference. This was my third consecutive year, and I've already made plans for next year.

Session 1: Bill Hybels - The Leader's State of Mind
Hybels is of course, the Senior and Founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL.
-Hybels gave one of the best presentations I have ever witnessed. The problem with setting the bar this high in the first session, is that it's difficult to have anything else that follows come close. Hybels spoke about a holy discontent in each of us. The thing that drive us, that lead us to our vision for changing things. Our holy discontent comes from something that we can't stand, that we are so bothered by that we HAVE to do something about it.

Session 2: Rick Warren - Leadership is Stewardship
Warren is Senior and Founding pastor of Saddleback Church, Lake Forrest, CA.
-Warren mostly rehashed things he has previously said elsewhere. He focused on acting on what you believe.

Session 3: Moso Sono - Seeing the Unseen
Sono is the Senior and Founding pastor of Grace Bible Church, Soweto, South Africa (suburb of Johannesburg).
-Sono spoke largely about the conditions in South Africa leading up to today, and the environment his church was born in. In his church there are 10-20 who die daily from the AIDS pandemic. While I found his talk interesting, it didn't do much on inspiring/training me to be a better leader. I do appreciate the work he is doing though.

Session 4: Putting Yourself at Risk: The practice of leadership - Bill Hybels interviews Eleanor Josaitis and Curtis Sliwa
Josaitis is the CEO of Focus: HOPE in urban Detroit
-Josaitis was fun to listen to. She was very inspiring, and is proof that a single person can make a difference. I was not familiar with Focus: HOPE, and I was impressed with the great work they are doing in urban Detroit. They are doing work that resonates with me.

Sliwa is the founder and president of The Guardian Angels.
-Sliwa wasn't a very good interview. He kept making fun of Hybels which got old, and the mix between his obnoxious Bronx attitude and his educated vocabulary made for some strange word choices. I would not be any different for having missed this session.

Session 5: The Story of Two Leaders: When your calling changes - Bill Hybels interviews Ken Blanchard and John Maxwell
Blanchard is an author, speaker, and consultant on leadership and management.
-Blanchard mostly summarized things he has written and been working on for the past 10 years. Not a lot new, but much of it is still good leadership material.

Maxwell is a speaker, author, and pastor.
-Maxwell also covered a lot of stuff he has written and spoke at other places on. I think an important thing Maxwell is very intentional about is adding value to people. Every time you are with someone, do something to them or for them to help improve who they are.

Session 6: Making a Great Idea Fly: An interview with Southwest Airlines president Colleen Barrett
-The issue of the customer service approach espoused by Southwest Airlines was well covered by Barrett. She was interesting, though clearly she doesn't speak before large groups like the others do. I liked her idea of hiring people for their attitude, and then training them for their skills. While obviously at the extreme bottom end this doesn't work, it generally produces people who fit well into their customer service orientated work environment.

Session 7a: Jack Groppel - The Mental Toughness of a Leader
Groppel is an expert on human performance, and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University's K.L. Kellogg School of Management
-Groppel gave what must have been a canned speach, one he's given a variation of many times. It was interesting nonetheless. I think he is right that we will respond the way in which we practice responding, that our habits and behaviors need to be developed through discipline. He's doing some stuff over at if you are interested.

Session 7b: Henry Cloud - Action Steps for Monday
Cloud is a clinical pschologist, speaker, and author.
-Cloud added onto the idea of the need for discipline in our lives. While I didn't come away from this session with much, it wasn't bad either. The 3 strongest things that motivate us are what we want and desire, what we love, and what we have to loose.

Session 8: Kenneth Ulmer - A Leader's Unshakable Resolve
Ulmer is Senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church, Inglewood, CA. This is the church that bought the Forum (where the Lakers used to play) and converted it into a church
-Ulmer spoke about how living out our calling brings honor and glory to God. While his sermon didn't teach me much, it was inspiring. Perhaps that was just a result of his preaching style however.

Session 9: Bill Hybels - These Things We Must Do
-Hybels closed with a talk on the premise of if you boiled it all down to 4 things that were essential difference makers in the church, what are they? For Hybels they were 1) Keep the vision clear 2) Get the people engaged 3) Make your gatherings memorable 4) Pace yourself for the long haul. This was an excellent session, though not quite as strong as his first session. There was a lot of good to take away and think about from this. I'm sure I'll return to my notes on this again and again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

James MacDonald on Emergent...

Rather than copy his whole message, I'll point you to it and highlight his key points. It's a brief read, worth your time no matter which side you fall on in the debate.


Why I’m Not Emerging: A Brief Response to the Emergent Church
By James MacDonald

In case you are wondering why my gratitude for the leaders of the emerging church does not translate into enthusiasm for their current emphasis and direction let me take a few words to explain why I am not emerging.

  • Because observing the bad is not a credential for guiding us to the good
  • Because God is looking for obedience to revealed truth, not just sincerity
  • Because Christ’s is a kingdom of substance, not style
  • Because the answer is Jesus, not cultural analysis.
  • Because Jesus is the purpose for the party, not the surprise hiding in the closet of respectability
I am thankful for the honest and often accurate critiques of current western Christianity flowing from the emerging church movement. I strongly desire to see them show greater promise in the arena of solutions or at least be more open to analysis from outside their community than they have been to date. (Witness the harsh rejection, rather than careful analysis of D.A. Carson’s book, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church on many emergent blogs).


I listen to James MacDonald on an almost daily basis (980AM KKMS). I really like his preaching, and generally agree with what he is saying. I think he has been fair in his critique, though he has been taken to task for it on a number of Emergent blogs.

Banana really likes Nicole C. Mullen's...

Banana is a big fan of Nicole C. Mullen's. I bought her Nicole's Christmas CD last week when I was at the Leadership Summit. Banana and I have seen her a number of times together. Once at the Target Center after a Minnesota Lynx game, once in Sioux Falls at Life Light Festival, and once at the Minneapolis Convention Center. I had to leave early for work from another music festival at the State Fairgrounds a few years ago, and missed seeing her a 4th time. Banana likes her especially because of her dancing and dancers. To state that my beloved Banana is into dance would not do her passion justice. So when I saw this article, I thought I would repost it just for her! Nicole C. Mullen's always puts on a good show, and is a really talented dancer. If she's touring in your area, check her out (and if you have children, especially daughters, take them too!)

Let all creation testify
Let this life within me cry
I know my Redeemer, He lives

One day Nicole C. Mullen was sitting in her music room, with her burgundy-colored Bible opened to the book of Job. She read about all the trials that befell him and how he was faithful nonetheless. And then she saw a familiar phrase that jumped out at her in a new way: "I know that my Redeemer lives" (Job 19:25).

"What a statement of faith," Mullen said to herself. At the time, she was struggling with personal trials of her own, but they paled in comparison to what Job faced. "If he could still proclaim his faith in the midst of misery," she thought, "then I should be proclaiming it, too." And that was the beginning of her song "Redeemer."

When she recorded her self-titled debut album, she included the song, which quickly went to the top of the Christian music charts. Its thoughtful lyrics, which celebrate the glory of God as revealed in creation and in the empty grave of Christ, won her Dove Awards for both Song of the Year and Song-writer of the Year in 2001. Mullen has since won many other honors (including Female Artist of the Year at this year's Dove Awards), released other hits, and sold more than 1 million albums. But it's still her heartfelt ode to God, "Redeemer," that moves concertgoers to tears when she sings it.

"If the Lord doesn't anoint it, it's just words," she says about the song. "I give Him the credit."

In spite of the accolades, though, Mullen is in an ongoing struggle to get her singles aired on Christian radio stations that, for whatever reason, tend not to regularly play music by nonwhite artists.

But she refuses to become bitter. "No matter what I'm going through, no matter what the issue, I know the Lord is there to see me through," she says. And she hopes everyone who hears "Redeemer" and her other songs experiences that reality, too.

Many people have told the singer that they've found hope through the message of "Redeemer." "We live in a hurting world," she says. "All of us struggle with health, money, natural disasters, and personal problems. I want people who hear my songs to know that Christ, though He is high above us, lowers Himself to be with us and in us."

Some upcoming events in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro...

Some upcoming events of note:

From the MacLaurin Institute

September 30, 2005
Toward an Intelligent Understanding of the Intelligent Design Hypothesis, Dr. Michael Behe, Lehigh University, author of Darwin's Black Box, 7:00 p.m., Tate Laboratory of Physics, Room 150, free and open to the public. (University of Minnesota)

October 7, 2005
Faith, Reason and the Knowledge of God, Dr. Gregory Ganssle, Rivendell Institute for Christian Thought and Learning. Noon, Nolte Center, Room 140, free and open to the public.

October 14, 2005
Lewis as a Transformer of Culture, Narnia on Tour (The Matthew's House Project), Dr. Daniel Ritchie, Professor of English, Bethel University, 7:30 p.m., Borders Books and Music, 3001 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, free and open to the public.

April 28-29, 2006
Christianity in a Consumer Culture, speakers include Ron Sider, Sondra Ely Wheeler, Rodney Clapp and Vincent Miller. In cooperation with Mission: Think.


Friday, October 28, 2005 at 11:30AM
Embassy Suites Hotel, Bloomington, MN

All Pastors (Senior, Associate, Youth, Outreach, etc) are invited to the Annual KKMS Pastor's Lunch featuring Christian apologist, speaker, and best-selling author, Dr. Norm Geisler.
For more information, call Kate at 651-289-4421. This is a free event.

Become A Bible Expert
Become a Bible Expert in two easy lessons with Dr. Norm Geisler. First Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN. More details coming soon!

Creation Weekend
D. James Kennedy Creation Weekend at North Heights Lutheran Church, Arden Hills, MN. Get your FREE tickets at the KKMS Broadcast Booth during the Minnesota State Fair or at all Northwestern Book Stores.


I'm borrowing the below from Tim Challies. He wrote this in a post reviewing the first chapter of Mark Driscoll book titled: The Radical Reformission.


Driscoll provides three formulas to show what happens when one of these areas is neglected:

Gospel + Culture - Church = Parachurch

Many Christians become frustrated with the church and abandon it in favor of outside organizations. While these organizations can do a lot of good, they allow people to remain disconnected from the local church. People are connected to unbelievers, but outside of a context where they can introduce these people to the wider church body. This in turns leads to theological immaturity (and I would assert it also leads to a greater possibility of theological error). Further, parachurch organizations are often organized around only one type of person (the poor, youth, etc) so they do not display the diversity of the body of Christ.

Culture + Church - Gospel = Liberalism

Some churches are so concerned with being culturally relevant that they neglect the gospel. These people convert others to the church but not to Jesus. Driscoll says that "This is classic liberal Christianity, and it exists largely in the dying mainline churches" (page 21). Many conservative Christians would also suggest that much of the Emergent church fits into this category, having forsaken the gospel in favor of culture and community. These people run the risk of loving their neighbour at the expense of loving God.

Church + Gospel - Culture = Fundamentalism

Some churches care more for the church, its traditions, buildings and politics than the spread of the gospel. While they know the theology of the gospel they rarely take it to the people. We can wonder whether these people love the lost as much as they love their buildings and traditions.


I thought this was well stated, and I am looking forward to Tim's full review. Right now I don't have the time to read an additional book, but have added Driscoll's book to my wishlist.

Thinking of putting my resume out...

Well, perhaps a bit more than thinking. You can find my resume HERE. There are a couple of long shot ministry openings I plan on applying for. I've put this off for longer than I probably should, and so I am going to become more proactive in seeking church employment. I greatly appreciate the blessings God has showered on me with my job slinging fried fish guts, but it's not getting me a whole lot of ministry experience. There are some opportunities to share my faith, both with co-workers and customers, but it's always a bit dicey unless they bring up the subject. My limitation is mostly due to location, as I intend to finish my M.Div before moving away from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. If the right ministry position came along, I would move (with my beloved Banana of course!) just about anywhere, and then finish my M.Div via Bethel's distance program. Banana is ready for change (like our pending marriage isn't enough on it's own!), she's open to moving and finding new life experiences together, wherever God may lead.

I had an informal interview with a Covenant Church pastor last week during Willow Creek's Leadership Summit. There's nothing there at the moment, but a year from now it looks to be a great opportunity. If nothing changes in my life, I would love to interview in depth at that church and see where God is leading them. I spoke with a pastor friend who is the lead pastor of a 6500+ person church, and he mentioned a couple of positions, none of which seem to fully fit who God has created me to be. I don't know if I've set my standards too high, as that is a church I have dreamed about working for. I asked him to keep me in mind if something comes up or if he hears of someone needing a guy like me.

In the end it returns to reliance upon God's grace. I will continue to trust in Him, and will pray for His leading and blessing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

God Won't Give You More Than You Can Handle

KP wrote the following on his blog The Christian Mind.

How frequently we hear these words offered in pressing times, usually preceded by the words, "Like the Bible says..." It's interesting that what many people mean by their paraphrase is something along the order of "God will keep you from being overwhelmed." But is that what is actually promised? I don't think so.

The verse that people have in mind when they say this actually has to do with temptation. Paul is warning the Corinthians against idolatry and immorality like that engaged in by the Israelites in the desert (1 Cor.10:6-11). The actual promise, found in 10:13 is that God will not let us be tempted beyond our ability but will provide a way of escape so that we can withstand the temptation without giving into sin. The emphasis of the verse is moral but this is often lost in the way we loosely paraphrase the text. (Might this be an indicator that we value a culturally-derived notion of psychological well-being more than holiness?) The believer is never justified in saying that he or she just had to sin because the temptation was too great. I like the way Ed Welch puts it in his book Depression: A Stubborn Darkness: "He will never put you in a situation where a sinful response is the only way out."

If Paul really intended to make a general statement about God never giving Christians more than they could handle, then we'd have a hard time explaining his own testimony in 2 Corinthians 1:8.9: "For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself...But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." by KP on 8/11/2005 5:07 AM

I agree with Kevin here. Good stuff. Proper hermeneutics is so important, because without it we'd all end up leading our own cults.

Monday, August 15, 2005


I was unable to attend the Minnesota Council for Biblical Leadership (a local offshoot from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) meeting last week because of obligations to another conference, but Joe Smith kindly passed on the notes from the meeting. I am looking forward to the next meeting!


Pastor’s Summit
August 11, 2005

Hamlet V. opened in prayer.

There is a conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center in January that you encouraged to attend.

The tentative name of our committee is the Minnesota Council for Biblical Leadership. A positive response was received.

Irv W. gave a review of biblical leadership.

Authoritarianism vs. Egalitarianism vs. Complementarianism.
-We are created to help each other.
-Reviewed the chart of three positions of men and women listed on the agenda and in Wayne Grudems’s book.
-Men need help to see what roles they are playing—they may not realize the role they are filling, as it may be unintentional.

How does biblical leadership impact missions? What can leaders do to inculcate biblical leadership into the missionary outreach of the church?
-In the smaller churches, i.e. Oasis, this doesn’t seem to come up
-Do you think that we just ignore the issue?
  • It is common that churches will choose not to address controversial issues.
-In missions organizations, and out on the mission field there are many women that are involved in leadership and in dominant roles.
-There is great wisdom in understating the stages of development and maturation of the church around the world. It is easy enough for us to sit around the table and make decisions for our church and come up with ideas about churches around the world, but we don’t know what is going on outside the USA. If there are no men to fill the roles, then bless the women that fill the roles.
-Our commitment to Complementarianism cannot be assumed for people around the world if they do not have the resources that we do.
-How do we differentiate within our own country? What do we do in the United States when there are no men to step up in leadership?
  • There is a process always in place to train those that come into the congregation, for example.
  • Call a defect a defect and make a point to work on it. It won’t change today, but it has to be on the list to change.
-There needs to be understanding and change to be occurring in order to expose people to the biblical truths of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
-A re-education needs to occur that will challenge the thinking of those being ministered to. Women can be and should be used in these roles.

How Complementarianism affects the “sending” issues of missions?

There should be a responsibility that falls to us as leaders in the church to raise up men to be leaders.

We need to address the issues; to allow them to be on the table.

We are a culture of extremes. Right now we have cultivated a culture of usurper women and wimpy men. Men and women need to be taught the correct biblical roles they should play. Men need to be taught to be men of God and it’ll flush out the system as a whole.

What we export becomes a model (going back to the missions questions). If the church is beginning to raise up Christians in these new areas, we must follow the plan laid out by Paul and the first church in Acts. It is also necessary to follow the model of leaders as laid out in Timothy. It is important to train up men to become leaders, even if women are the ones discipling believers.

Examples of missions organizations that have been led by women but as the disciples rise up, so must men in leadership roles.

What kind of missionaries are we sending? What if they don’t espouse this position? Do we address it or ignore it?
-We must have a standard for our missionaries, church planters, and staff
-What do we do with women missionaries? What message are you sending with a single women missionary to the culture she is being sent to?
-How are we viewing missions vs. church planting?
  • Is there any place in scripture that shows a woman that isn’t under headship? Even widows are under headship of the church.
-Somehow God has called up women to be great missionaries to the world. God may somehow recognize being under authority as an attitude. Some women find themselves ordained, called and bless by God to accept a role to bear the good news. They are under that authority—they are not doing it for the exaltation of women or for their own blessing. They are doing it for the glory of God and under His leadership. In spite of whatever understanding we come to in regards to the scripture, God can and does use those that aren’t as far along in our development to his tasks.
-We need to be very cautious to bear in mind that God is well pleased to use women along the way to continue development of the church--- though it may not square with our training.
-God can wonderfully use things that aren’t ideal—all of us! Not always necessarily the model, but God can use all things.

Should we send out single women as missionaries?
-Maybe it isn’t a theological issue, but it is now a wisdom issue.
-There are ways you can send single women to a mission field being wise, by providing them with families or other missionaries in the area.
-We don’t want to promote sending out single ladies knowing what we now know.
-It seems unwise for a church to send them out without some sort of covering or protection.
-In most other cultures, outside of Western culture, the women are not independent.
-A distinction to make—it is wise to make this decision (not sending single women) but it is not the rule.
-We wouldn’t have as big an issue of sending women out as we would a woman becoming an elder or pastor in the mission field or church plant.
-Missionaries that are coming up through training ranks must be trained in Complementarianism.
-If a woman says “God is calling” what right do we have to say that “God is not calling.”
  • oAs the church we cannot automatically endorse it. The church has a responsibility to be faithful to their calling.
  • The church must affirm the calling and plug her in the safest way possible.
  • Then do we pull back from our messages of evangelism when women are around?
  • You would not invalidate women; we just wouldn’t encourage a woman to be a “leader.” We would empower women to fill the roles that God has called them to.

When we have the discussions and as this issue becomes more public, we need to be very careful to make it clear that we maintain a belief but we are not trying to put out every fire that we ever see. We stand by our beliefs, but we do not need to make everyone adapt to our beliefs.

If nothing else, these meetings cause us to think and bring things back to the standard.

October 20th @ CEFC, we will talk about Para church agencies, Christian schools and seminaries.

Announcement via Steve G.: November 2, a group is organizing a “Christ in culture” daylong seminar to address the issue of the roles in church regarding the sanctity in marriage. It will be held at Grace Church, Eden Prairie. There will be excellent speakers mobilizing pastors in the role of the voice for the sanctity of marriage. Information will be coming in the mail.

Justin H., CEFC intern, closed in prayer.