Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Free: Advanced Pro-Life Apologetics Course by Scott Klusendorf

Originally posted here.

From the link above:

The complete lecture notes for my sessions are here and the links to the videos are below. (Dr. Scott Rae taught the other half of the course. His sessions, dealing with reproductive technologies and end of life issues, are found here.)

Content Overview: Successful pro-life apologists pursue four essential tasks. First, they clarify the debate by focusing public attention on one key question: What is the unborn? Second, they establish a foundation for the debate, demonstrating to critics that metaphysical neutrality is impossible. Third, they answer objections persuasively. Fourth, they teach and equip.


Session #1: What is the Issue--The Nature of Moral Reasoning (52 Min.)

Session #2: What is the Unborn? (1:08)

Session #3: What Makes Humans Valuable? Part 1: The Substance View of Human Persons (52 min.)

Session #4: What Makes Humans Valuable? Part 2: The Religion Objection (15 Min.)

Session #5: Who Makes the Rules? Abortion: Law, Metaphysics, and Alleged Moral Neutrality (38 Min.)

Session #6: What is my Duty? The Bodily Autonomy Arguments of Thomson, Boonin, and McDonaugh (54 Min.)

Session #7: Catholic Social Justice Teaching and Other Objections (46 Min.)

Session #8: Equipping Yourself to Engage at Your Church (46 Min.)

1. Gilbert Meilaender, Bioethics: A Primmer for Christians (Eerdmans, 2005)

2. Agnetta Sutton, Christian Bioethics: A Guide for the Perplexed (T&T Clark, 2008)

3. Scott Rae, Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics (Zondervan, 2009)
4. Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture (Crossway, 2009)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Learning from the wise men at Christmas

An article I wrote was published in our local paper today.

Learning from wise men at Christmas – by Pastor Chris Meirose

At Christmas we give attention to the cradle in the manger, but the cradle is meaningless without a cross that followed.  So each time we see the cradle, we should remember that Jesus’ birth would soon be given its full meaning by His death and resurrection.

Matthew 2:1-12 tells the story of some wise men who paid Jesus and His family a visit some time after that first Christmas.  They were following a star with an understanding of some of the Jewish prophecies that foretold of a Messiah who was to come.  Did the Wise Men know all the details and how all these prophecies would unfold?  Doubtful.  They were merely allowing the Lord to lead them in what they did, where they came, and what they gave.

There are a lot of lessons we can learn from this passage.  Perhaps the best thing these wise men did in this story was that THEY CAME TO JESUS.  Matthew 2:11 – “11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary”.  They left the palaces of whatever kings they were serving at the time, and made their way to meet the newborn king.  They knew the proper way to show respect for a king was to come in person and present themselves to Him.  Likewise, the gift that God deserves from us, and wants from us, is US.   He wants us to present OURSELVES to Him this Christmas season.  That hasn’t changed in 2000ish years.

Then once they came to Jesus, notice what they did in verse 11, THEY BOWED BEFORE HIM.  Matthew 2:11- “and they bowed down,”.  They showed the kind of respect due a king, they acknowledged His authority and importance.  They humbled themselves before Him, even though He was just a young child.  When God comes to you in whatever form or size we should bow before Him.

And the wise men didn’t just stop & bow down, but they also WORSHIPED HIM.  Matthew 2:11 - “and worshiped Him,”.  Humbling themselves, bowing down before kings was the usual way of showing respect.  However, this time they went beyond the normal, they didn’t just kneel down, they worshiped Him.  They recognized He wasn’t merely a human being.  They were worshiping Jesus as He really is, GOD in the flesh.  This Christmas we all need to do likewise and heed the invitation of the Christmas carol: “O come, let us adore Him.”

One final thing I’d love for us to learn today from the wise men in the Christmas story is - THEY WENT AWAY DIFFERENTLY THAN HOW THEY ARRIVED.  Matthew 2:12 – “12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”  The “practical” explanation is that they went back in a way they would not be killed by Herod.  But the “spiritual” explanation of this is found in the Jewish tradition of going home through a different gate in Jerusalem than whichever one a person came through when arriving to worship at the Temple.  So if you came through the East gate, you might leave through the South gate.  It was to signify that they had truly worshiped that day, they had been in the presence of God.  The fact that Matthew records the fact that the Magi went home a different way was not lost on the Jewish readers of the Gospel he was writing to.  These well educated, important and distinguished men were transformed by their encounter with the Immanuel – God with us.  Let us also be changed in this season as these men of long ago were by Christ.

This year let us all keep in mind that the true way to celebrate Christmas, to worship Christ, is to let Him bring change in your life, a fresh awareness of His love for you, and to allow Him to work His perfect will within you and through you.  It’s all about Jesus.

If you would like to know more about First Congregational Church you can visit us on the web at or join us for worship at 10:00AM each Sunday and 8:45AM for Sunday School (starting again in January), visitors are always welcome!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

MN Vikings - Exceeding expectations?

I'm a fan of the NFL.  Specifically of the Minnesota Vikings.  Having grown up in South Dakota, and now living in Minnesota, it came by proximity if nothing else.  My favorite NFL team for many years was the Detroit Lions due to my fandom of Barry Sanders.  Those years of many disappointing teams prepared me well to become a Vikings fan.  Disappointment is familiar to both organizations.

In August during the NFL training camps, I sat down and looked at the Vikings 2012-13 schedule to project out my own expectations of this team.  Down the list I went, adding up wins and losses.  Considering which teams projected to be good, where we might eek out a road win, and whether any of our divisional foes were vulnerable.  I even tried to factor in that Percy Harvin might have migraine issues again.

When I tallied it all up, gave weight to a still developing quarterback and Adrian Peterson coming off a major ACL/knee injury, considered that the defense was looking vulnerable at the end of last season, I came to the conclusion that the Vikings would finish 6-10.  And I was happy with that record.  I thought it was progress for this team, and it would be a platform from which to build upon.

Then we got into the season this year, and Adrian Peterson proved yet again he is a superior physical specimen.  Ponder's first game of the year he went 20 for 27 and 270 yards to 7 different receivers.  Percy Harvin showed he cold be a change of pace from the backfield and a dangerous threat even on a bubble screen.  Three games into the season we shocked the San Francisco 49'ers which further raised expectations - not a win that I foresaw (though I also expected to beat the Colts in week 2).

It could have been easy at that point to get really excited.  To adjust up my expectations.  But I resisted.  Barely.

From there it has been up and down, especially for Christian Ponder.  Ponder has had 3 games where he failed to reach triple digits in yards passed.  5 games with less than 120 yards passing (3 of which have come since Percy Harvin was injured).

The defense has been frustrating. I went to the Tampa Bay game in the Metrodome, and it was nothing but frustration as Doug Martin was a one man wrecking crew.  Didn't help that punter Chris Kluwe stunk the place up that night as well.  But they have struggled to get pressure on the QB like they have in the past few years.  Jared Allen is dinged up (shoulder) but it is more than that.  To the credit of the DB's though, I think they have improved significantly with Harrison Smith being a very big key to that improvement. 

My other observation from the Bucs game was that Ponder has zero time to throw the ball.  He was is self preservation mode all night, and by the end of the game looked a little shell shocked.  While some of the issues this season have been him being inaccurate, I think an equal part has been spotty protection and receivers (outside of Harvin) who just aren't top shelf material, or at least they haven't shown it yet.

So as of today, the Vikings are in the playoffs hunt sitting at 7-6 on the heels of a HUGE win over the Chicago Bears last Sunday.  The Vikings have been good at home and not so much on the road, and they travel to a beatable St. Louis Rams team this weekend.  The Rams have been playing well of late, so it'll be interesting to see how it goes.  It is an indoor stadium which tends to help the Vikings somewhat, though the advantage is probably neutralized since the Rams are accustomed to it as well.  I'm going to pencil in a narrow win by the Vikings, bringing us to an astonishing 8-6 which will further raise the bar for many people's expectations.

The following week brings the Houston Texans - in Houston.  While I think the Texans may limit the number of snaps for some of their key players, I still think they play hard enough and long enough to defend their home field.  Vikings drop to 8-7.

The final game is the much hated Green Bay Packers in the Dome.  This far out it is difficult to say if Green Bay will have anything to be playing for in this game.  I imagine they'll rest their key players some, and possible quite a bit if the game doesn't matter to their positioning in the playoffs.  The Vikings have a shot at winning this game, probably moreso than the Houston game.  I'd still put it at 50/50 at best, but for the time being I'm putting it down as a win with how well the Vikings played the Packers at Green Bay two weeks ago.

That would put the Vikings at 9-7.  Had you suggested that when I predicted 6-10 at the beginning of the season, I'd probably have laughed at you.  And while it may be 8-8, or even 7-9 when the season closes, I can't help but remark that the Vikings have exceeded my expectations for this season.  Sure I've been frustrated with Ponder, pondering whether he's the QB of the future.  But at the close of the season, I know I'll look back and think that there was little to be disappointed in overall.  Sure I'd like a different coaching style.  Sure there were games I'd rather not have a QB in the game and just direct snap to Adrian Peterson 50 times.  But really, they've done well in my book.  Everything from here on is gravy in my opinion.