Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sprint's Simply Everything Plan $99

The mobile carrier I have been with for eight years has finally offered a plan that I might be interested in that I do not have to go through the retention department to get. Every two years I call back to renew my plan and I negotiate. This last time we had to have plenty of text messages (my wife is a nurse (physician extender) and speaks in that language back and forth constantly with the doctors for which she works) and we did not want to pay more than we paid for our last retention plan. Granted.

Now they are offering everything but the kitchen sink for $99. Unlimited voice, unlimited data, e-mail, Web surfing, Sprint TV, Sprint Music, GPS navigation and push-to-talk. Considering that their current $99 single phone offering only has 2,000 minutes per month- no extras, that is a big leap for the underdog company that has had issues setting itself apart from the other big name companies.

You can read more here.
You can check out Sprint's website here.

Some questions:
-Do you own/use a mobile phone?
-What do you do most with your mobile phone?
-What would be your ideal plan?
-Are you concerned about the studies that say you risk brain cancer or infertility due to mobile phone usage?

Theory Of Dark Energy Suffers Setback?

Whiskers of carbon found in ancient meteorites could hold clues to the earliest days of the solar system. More controversially, they might cast a shadow over the concept of dark energy, the unknown force that seems to be accelerating the expansion of the universe.

Fries and Steele also suggest that these whiskers might have been pumped out into deep space by the solar wind, and that the combined whisker output of many young stars might have filled interstellar space with whiskers.

If so, they might have some relevance to dark energy. The unexpected dimness of distant supernova explosions at certain infrared wavelengths was what first led astronomers to the conclusion that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, and the proposal that some form of mysterious "dark energy" is to blame.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Do you think this finding poses a threat to the answer that the dark energy theory has provided?
-Do you think that Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland is right, they assume too much in their "whisker" theory?
-Is there a more viable alternative than dark energy that does not include the whisker theory?
-With theories constantly being shot down or changed based on data, should we place our money on any of those cards?
-Is there anything that is constant we can count on?

Lucky Or Unlucky? Your Call

A newborn baby girl survived an ignoble birth after slipping down the toilet bowl of a moving Indian train onto the tracks when a pregnant woman unexpectedly gave birth while relieving herself on Tuesday.
"My delivery was so sudden," said the Bhuri Kalbi, the mother of the infant, born two months prematurely. "I did not even realize that my child had slipped from the hole in the toilet."

Most toilets on Indian trains are filthy chutes emptying directly onto the tracks.

The child is doing well but in intensive care due to the premature birth.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-If you were the mother, what would have went through your mind upon regaining consciousness?
-Do you think that Hinduism regards this incident differently than Christianity? (What would some differences be?)
-What kind of luck must you have for this to happen to you?

Mom Treats Son Like Pet: "Bird Boy" Speaks Avian

According to reports from Russia, the 7-year-old 'bird boy' has spent his life in a flat filled with bird cages with a mum who treated him like one of her pets.
Pravda said the boy's 31-year-old mum did not talk him and treated him like a bird, forcing him to learn avian language.

Volskaya said: “When you start talking to him, he chirps."
And she added that the boy becomes frustrated at not being able to communicate and flaps his arms.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Why do you think a mother would treat her son this way?
-What should be the punishment for something like this? Should there be?
-How should he be introduced to society?
-What do you think his view of the world is?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Silicon, The Alternate Human Womb

Trials of a "silicon womb" that holds test-tube embryos inside the womb to expose them to more natural conditions will shortly begin in the UK. Researchers say the new device may produce better quality embryos and reduce the need to harvest so many eggs from infertile women.

In standard IVF, eggs harvested from a woman are fertilised in the lab and allowed to develop in an incubator for 2 to 5 days. The healthiest embryos are chosen to be transferred into the uterus.

The new device allows embryos created in the lab to be incubated inside a perforated silicon container inserted into a woman's own womb. After a few days, the capsule is recovered and some embryos are selected for implantation in the womb.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-What are your thoughts concerning IVF in general?
-What are your thoughts concerning the discarded fertilized eggs?
-Do you consider them human life (fertilized eggs)?
-Do you think this new technique will be beneficial to humanity?
-Do you think adoption should be a more viable option (and a more needed option)?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Materialism Is Hurting Our Children

Children feel under pressure to own the latest designer clothes and computer games and most adults believe the "commercialisation of childhood" is damaging young people's well-being, a poll said Tuesday.

A survey by GfK NOP for the Children's Society showed that out of the 1,225 adults questioned, 89 percent felt that children are more materialistic now than in previous generations.

You can read more here.
You can see the poll results here.

Some questions:
-If materialism is truly harming our children, why would we ignore it and go about our busy, consumer driven lives?
-Do you think that God allowing such things as a materialistic-driven society is in a way giving "us" what we want and in the same instance giving us the consequence of our heart's desire? Similar to the meat that fell from the sky that the Israelites ate and died?
-How do we turn from such a culture as this?
-What do you teach your kids about materialism? What does your actions teach them?

Monday, February 25, 2008

I Need Your Help

Seeing how Stage6 is pulling the plug, I need another site to host my videos. Quality wise, there is not an equal so I am considering Flash based encodes as opposed to DivX encoded files.

So, I need for you to view these two videos and do the following:

1. Test the controls and options.

2. Comment on their user-friendliness attributes and their not so friendly attributes.

3. Do you find that one's quality is better than another? Full Screen?

4. Give me your overall opinion.



Stage6 From DivX Is Shutting Down

This is a sad day for me. I rely heavily upon the Stage6 site for sharing my videos and embedding them in my website. Thursday is the last day for Stage6 so I will need to either find another site to upload my videos to or host them on my own server.

If you want to download any of them, you better do it before Thursday.

Here is the link.

Here is the shut down notice.

Any suggestions on other video sites? I am starting to use Vimeo but there is a file size limit.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Should Never Have Had An Abortion

An artist killed herself after aborting her twins when she was eight weeks pregnant, leaving a note saying: "I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum."

Emma Beck was found hanging at her home in Helston, Cornwall, on Feb 1 2007. She was declared dead early the following day - her 31st birthday.

Her suicide note read: "I told everyone I didn't want to do it, even at the hospital. I was frightened, now it is too late. I died when my babies died. I want to be with my babies: they need me, no-one else does."

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Do you think there should be some counseling before any abortion is performed?
-Do you think those in favor of abortion downplay the psychological effects aborting a child can have on the one carrying the baby?
-Why does society accept abortion but not accept measures to prevent pregnancy such as abstinence?
-Do you think abortion is a reflection on our culture and its pursuit of instant gratification without consequences?
-Do you think she will be with her babies in a capacity in which she can care for them?

Friday, February 22, 2008

39 Year Old Man Pretends To Be A Female High School Student

A [39 year old] Japanese man was arrested for trespassing this week after turning up at a high school dressed in a girl's uniform and a long wig, local police said.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Can you imagine the conversation that ensued at the local police station?
-What was this guy thinking?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Remember This Guy? No Peeing Standing Up

I posted a youtube video a week ago or so of him here.

The below is a transcripted portion of a sermon taken from Pastor Steven L. Anderson who founded Faithful Word Baptist Church. The context surrounds this form he posted on their website concerning supporting missionaries. The transcript below is a response to the form that was filled out by a certain missionary seeking funding.

Are you an Independent Fundamental Baptist? "Yes"

Do you believe the King James Version of the Bible is the Preserved Word of God? "Yes"

How many hours have you spent soul winning in the past month? "?"

How many people have you won to the Lord in the past month? "0"

How many people have you won to the Lord in the past week? "0"

Now I just don't understand how somebody has the audacity to send this to me and say will you, hi my name is Jimmy and I will take all you gimme why don't you send me money every month to go be a zero. Now I don't understand, this just blows my mind, but then it gets even worse. This is what he says, I don't keep track of numbers. Okay, this is what he is saying here: I just do what the Lord is telling me to do. I do a radio program twice a week and an inmate newsletter and I visit the inmates, so he doesn't keep track of numbers right? Okay, page 2. Remember, this is the guy who doesn't keep track of numbers, he just doos, he just does what God tells him to do. Okay, well let's see this. This is his letter to me telling me why I am supposed to support him right? I'm not going to read this whole thing alright? I just highlighed the parts that are applicable. Listen to what he is talking about. Thus the Second Chance Christian Newsletter was born. It started with my testimony as a four page newsletter (that's the first number) and grew to a 63 page booklet. It says from May 2004 to April 2005 we have mailed out 814 Sunday School lessons and almost 50% completed it and returned. From January 2004 to April 2005 1,073 Bibles and Bible related books have been shipped throughout the United States and Canada. During the first 10 months the website had over 175,000 hits. Wow. This guy doesn't keep track of numbers at all does he? [listener laughs] He's telling me how many people click on his website. 175,000 clicks on his webiste and I pass out 813 Bibles...

How many people have you won to Christ sir, missionary that's supposed to be winning the world to Christ? I'm paying you to preach the gospel, not to mail somebody a bible that they can put on a shelf... [account of the Ethopian Eunuch recounted]... People don't like keeping track of numbers because its not a lot of fun keeping track of zero's. It gets boring after a while. Just writing zero, zero, yeah, I wouldn't get exicted about that either. You know, I'm reading this guy, it says here, this is from his pastor, this is his pastor's recommendation to show me why he is so "he has a burning desire to see souls saved". Wow. [laugh] The only thing that's burning are the people in Hell that he didn't preach the gospel to because he is lazy as Hell. That's what's going on.

You can hear the rest of the "sermon" here.

Some questions:
-Is it okay for pastors to criticize ministries of which they know little about?
-What was a major flaw of the Pharisees? Did it involve prejudging?
-Is there a difference between disciplining members of the body and judging them according to the Word and judging other believers based off a questionnaire that provides nothing but numbers and a couple yes's or no's?
-Do you think this pastor or this church would have supported William Carey (father of modern missions) in missions? He did not see a single convert for 7 years.
-How should we measure the work of missionaries? Of Pastors?
-Do numbers skew the grand picture of God's will? (see Carey's link above)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Note To My Women Readership: Age Gracefully

Please do not undergo the knife for a vain pursuit of beauty. Age gracefully. Embrace it. It befalls us all and women who can come to grips with gracefully growing older in our "stay young forever" culture are far more attractive than those who seek to postpone the inevitable by way of the knife. Sure, your surgeries may not end up like the one pictured here but why subject yourself to such procedures?

I for one will be just as satisfied with my wife when she is old and gray as I am now when she is young and youthful. Our physical bodies will suffer the consequences of time and give way to the grave, but love and hope endure. Don't chase what you can never catch ladies. Age gracefully.

You can read more on Ms. Wildenstein here.

Some questions:
-If you are a woman, would you consider getting plastic surgery? Why or why not?
-Do you think the benefits outweigh the risks?
-Do you think that the underlying culprit in getting plastic surgery is self-worth issues?
-If self-worth is the root issue, should we attempt to address that issue as opposed to the surface bandage that is plastic surgery?
-Where do you think our worth comes from? In other words, how are we satisfied?

Biblical Buffet: An Atheistic Understanding Of Conservative Christians

...perhaps the Bible isn't a great moral compass after all.
Sadly, the Bible is filled with instructions we now find shocking and repulsive, far too numerous to list here. Don't look to the New Testament for help. Jesus makes it clear that he came to fulfill the old laws, not destroy them (Matthew 5:17).

The hypocrisy of conservative Christians is astonishing. They take a salad bar approach toward the Bible. They pick out the bits they like, considering them to be ultimate truths that are undeniable (i.e. sodomy prohibitions), while simultaneously ignoring or "reinterpreting" the passages considered disturbing.

A quote attributed to Jesus in Matthew 19:24 is a personal favorite. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Despite the clarity of that passage many conservative Christians relentlessly push for tax cuts that benefit the richest Americans, while largely ignoring the poorest families. Wealthy religious conservatives, like Bush and his ilk, must really like the camel's chances.

John Bice goes on to address such passages of scripture as those that deal with disobedient children and stoning them as well as how women should be silent and contrasts those passages with the "Back to the Bible" mentality he says is a passion for conservative Christians. His main point is that if Christians are going to be bigots concerning homosexuality and the like, Christians need to be consistent in that Jesus did not come to do away with the law but to fulfill it. So, why do Christians interpret away the "harder" teachings of the Bible while adhering to homosexuality being wrong, promiscuity being wrong, living together outside of wedlock, etc., etc.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Do you think that Mr. Bice has painted a fair picture of the teachings of scripture?
-Do you find his arguments cherry picked and out of context, or does he make a good argument for the antiquity of scripture's moral compass?
-Should this be a line of argument the atheist should embrace against Christianity at large?
-If you are a Christian, how would you answer Mr. Bice?
-How should the Bible be understood concerning such passages as those brought up in the article?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Providence of God in the Midst of a Storm

Below is a video I completed for Union University. It is a mini-documentary that lasts around 23 minutes. It attempts to give a brief history of the tornadic activity in Jackson, TN as well as document the events leading up to the tornado that devastated Union, what it was like in the dorms during the destruction and the aftermath it left behind. I end the video with a short explanation of how God is to be understood in light of the $40 million in damages sustained to the university and the miraculous fact that there were no losses of life on campus.

It is encoded as flash and is at a standard definition quality.

If you would like to see the file in High Definition (1920x1088) please visit here under "Documentary". You may need to download the DivX web player if you haven't done so already. It is safe, you just may not want the yahoo toolbar, if not, just uncheck it during the install process.

The Providence of God in the Midst of a Storm.

Stuff White People Like: New Blog Addition

# 62. Knowing what's best for poor people.

White people spend a lot of time of worrying about poor people. It takes up a pretty significant portion of their day.

They feel guilty and sad that poor people shop at Wal*Mart instead of Whole Foods, that they vote Republican instead of Democratic, that they go to Community College/get a job instead of studying art at a University.

It is a poorly guarded secret that, deep down, white people believe if given money and education that all poor people would be EXACTLY like them. In fact, the only reason that poor people make the choices they do is because they have not been given the means to make the right choices and care about the right things.

A great way to make white people feel good is to tell them about situations where poor people changed how they were doing things because they were given the ‘whiter’ option.

I just added this blog to my sidebar. It lists out things that are predominantly "white" and seeks to give an explanation as to why. I find it humorous and very explanatory :) Enjoy the addition.

You can read the blog here.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Format War Is Over!

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toshiba Corp is planning to stop production of equipment compatible with the HD DVD format for high-definition video, allowing the competing Blu-Ray camp a free run, public broadcaster NHK reported on Saturday.

Toshiba is expected to suffer losses amounting to tens of billions of yen (hundreds of millions of dollars) to scrap production of HD DVD players and recorders and other steps to exit the business, Japan's NHK said on its website.

No one at Toshiba could be reached for comment.

The format war between the Toshiba-backed HD DVD and Sony Corp's Blu-Ray, often compared to the Betamax-VHS battle in the 1980s, has slowed the development of what is expected to be a multibillion dollar high-definition DVD industry.

Toshiba was dealt a blow on Friday when Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it would abandon the HD DVD format, becoming the latest in a series of top retailers and movie studios to rally behind Blu-ray technology for high definition DVDs.

Toshiba plans to continue selling HD DVD equipment at stores for the time being but will not put resources into developing new devices, NHK said.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne, editing by Mike Peacock)

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Does this affect you one way or the other?
-Did you care who one the format war?
-Do you think this will help prices go down or delay price drops for Bluray?

Friday, February 15, 2008

When The Lights Go Out

That is the title of a new song collaboration between Derek Webb and his wife Sandra McCracken. It is a great melodic blend of passionate vocals and upbeat tempo with driving, meaningful lyrics. What is more, this the first collaboration on a CD project by Derek and Sandra and it is duo I think I will be wanting to hear more of in the coming years. The album is called Amersand EP.

Here are the lyrics:

When the Lights Go Out

I see her in that dress right before I knew her name
She slowly walking to me right before our lives were changed
Maybe I’ve gone crazy maybe I’m still in love
Each night I change what happened I change how it was

When the lights go out
You can hear the sound
Of your heart beat slow
And the memories glow
When the lights go out

That summer raised my lifeline
It’s the only thing that’s real
I’m frozen in the subway
Just a cog in the wheel
If life is for the living and love is for the strong
I don’t know how I got here but I know where he belongs

When the lights go out
You can hear the sound
Of your heart beat slow
And the memories glow
When the lights go out

In the middle of this circus
You’re the thing that gets me through
So I dive beneath the surface and close my eyes and see you

When the lights go out
You can hear the sound
Of your heart beat slow
And the memories glow
When the lights goes out

You can hear the sound
Of your heart beat slow
And the memories glow
When the lights goes out

When your heart beats slow
And the memories glow
When the lights go out

Currently the CD is not available for sale just yet (it will be) but I believe you can order it (and an immediate download of the songs) on Derek Webb's website. Very much worth the 6 bucks they are charging for it.

You can buy it and listen to samples here.

First For Friday

In light of the recent tornado that devastated our community last week, I would like to pose this question: Why is evil permitted?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Atheism Remix: Mohler Confronts The Atheistic Challenge To Christian Theology

Last week I had the great honor of presenting the W. H. Griffith Thomas Lectures in Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. I greatly enjoyed my time on that historic campus and the opportunity to visit with Dr. Mark Bailey, the seminary's president, as well as many professors and students.
My lecture series was entitled "Atheism Remix: The New Atheism as a Challenge to Christian Theology."

You can watch these great lectures here.

Some questions:
-Are intelligent skeptics helpful or hurtful to Christians? (I find them helpful)
-Do you find that when presented with an alternate view of reality, you seek to find out your world view's stance on the matter?
-What do you think of Albert Mohler's lectures?
-Should we even be investing ample amounts of time to share with hostile skeptics the truth of the gospel with educated reasoning when so many others are "easier" to share with?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lady Sues Best Buy For $54 Million Due To PC Loss

Is your laptop worth $54 million? Raelyn Campbell of Washington, D.C., is suing Richfield-based Best Buy for that amount after it lost her laptop computer while it was in for repairs.

You can read more here.
Or you can visit her official blogspot on the ordeal here.

Some questions:
-Does her circumstance warrant $54 million in compensation?
-Is there ever a time when one should sue for an exuberant amount of money?
-If a company (or its employees) lie to you, does this entitle you to sue if "just" compensation is provided? (if it does, I need to sue Gateway before the statute of limitations goes into effect)
-Do you think this publicity hurts Raelyn Campbell more than it helps her case or do you think it brings to light practices employed by big chain retail stores?

Heather Martin's Account Of Being Trapped During The Tornado

The below is an unedited email sent by Heather Martin, a Union Univeristy student who was trapped in her dorm room bathroom after a devastating tornado wreaked havoc on Union University's campus. I know it is long, but it is worth the read and encouraging.

How lucky we were...Our God is truly awesome!This amazing testimony is from Heather Martin. She was at Union University the night of the tornado (2/5/08). She is from Erin, TN and was a homeschooled student. Praise God the students are all safe!Well, most of you have probably heard by now, my school, Union University was hit by an F4 tornado this past Tuesday night (Feb. 5, 2008). Thanks for all the calls and messages. I will try to talk to you all as time and my emotional state allows. I don't know what reports you have read, but I was one of the 15 students who got trapped in the wreckage. I was in my dorm room with one of my roommates (Kellie), the 3 girls from upstairs, and my mentor from church. About 2 minutes before the tornado hit, my other roommate (who is an RA) ran in and told us to get in the bathtub. We barely made it. Our ears popped, my mentor (Julie) looked at me and said, "We have to get in, NOW!" -- then the lights went off. I was the last one in. My legs didn't quite make it before the building collapsed on us. I have not yet found words to describe the actual tornado, the noises, and the pressure. Maybe one day I will. We felt our bodies being compressed and compressed, and then it stopped. I couldn't move. We made sure everyone in the tub was alive. It felt like we were miles from outside -- it was pitch black. My initial thought was, "this is where I'm going to die -- there is no way the rescuers will get to us in time". Then, I assessed my physical state. My body was twisted and contorted into a position that I plan on never attempting again...I think God placed me in there just so, because I don't know how else I could have fit. I had a pocket of air against Julie's legs. I couldn't feel my legs because they were pinned between the edge of the tub and all the debris on top of us. I thought through what my death was going to be like. I realized I was probably going to pass out first, and then I would be with Jesus. I've always wondered what my "last thoughts" would be. As one who has struggled in the past with doubts about salvation, I have always wondered what my last moments would be like. All I can say is, God was there. I knew He had me. And I knew He was either going to save me unto Himself or He was going to save me for a little more time here. I began to pray aloud, I prayed for peace, for the ability to trust Him. I started accounting for everyone who was in the tub. At that point I realized that someone under me was near the point of death (from her breathing). Then, I called out Julie's name and realized it was her. My heart sunk at that point. I didn't think my heart could bear losing another friend. I started praying for her out loud, telling her to keep breathing, God was with her. I was so afraid she was going to die underneath me. I think I even asked God to take me if He took her. Every time I moved, she either couldn't breathe or she had excruciating pain. I tried to stay as still and calm as I could. I know God was managing my thoughts for me at that t point t. I could NOT panic...and by His grace, I didn't. I found out later we were trapped for 45 minutes. One of the other girls in the tub had her cellphone and was actually able to call 911. I honestly only felt like I was in there for 10-15 minutes. I don't know if I ever lost consciousness or if God just allowed it to seem shorter. I was told later the rescuers had to use a backhoe to remove the initial debris. None of us remember that -- again, that was by God's grace. We would have been terrified had we heard that. When the rescuers started digging us out, it was terrifying. Julie's neck was exposed in such a way that one wrong move and it would have snapped...she was still having lots of trouble breathing. At one point, the rescuers could see my face and I was screaming out to them...telling them I was not panicking but there was a girl under me and I could not move or she would die, and that they needed to lift the debris a and not slide it. Once they broke through to us, they got everyone out in about 10-15 minutes. I was the last because my legs were stuck and I couldn't feel them or move them. Julie and I ended up needing to go to the hospital. But neither of us had to stay overnight. It was a night of chaos. And yet, God was in the midst of us. We were buried in a tangled mess of wreckage and yet He knew how each board, each piece of brick and rubble was placed. For example, right next to my legs was a ended up keeping just enough pressure off my legs so that I did not lose them. I haven't gotten all my feeling back, but I'm walking around. I know I have mentioned God a whole lot throughout this note. I know many of you who are reading this do not know Him and may think I'm a bit odd. But it comes down to this, there is NO other explanation as to why I am alive today other than, God had His hand over us. He kept just enough pressure off. He didn't let me panic. Was I scared?? Yes -- terrified at first. But at one point, my friend Kellie said "Heather, it's gonna be okay". And a sense of peace came around us. I know God was with us that entire time. And He did give me a sense of peace -- it kept me from panicking, it all owed me to speak up for Julie when the rescue started. My life has been a little screwy recently. I've struggled with trusting God. I've struggled accepting the fact that He loves me unconditionally. But God was with me. He showed me how to trust Him in the rubble -- in the chaos. I know I have some long days ahead. There are sounds stored in my memory that I'm not aware of until I hear them again. I freak out at some very random times and I'm not sure what all the triggers are. But this is what I'm holding onto -- God is not finished with me yet. He still has a purpose for me here on earth a little while longer. And the One who sustained me through the nightmare of Tuesday night will continue to sustain me, to love me unconditionally, to comfort me, and to hold me when I'm scared. And knowing that is what allowed me to get out of bed this morning. He is a good God. If you don't know Him, you need to. He loves you. He wants to know you intimately, and He wants you to know Him intimately. Like I said earlier, I want to talk to each of you. I am quite fragile emotionally -- so it may be a while. I'm at home -- have some fabulous painkillers -- will probably not have to take them except for at nighttime today. So, my body is healing. Just feels like a building collapsed on it...:) I love each of you. I do not have a new cell phone yet. I will post my number when I get one.

C. J. Mahaney Conftronts Rob Bell's Erroneous Doctrines

Today’s pastor is given the challenging task of discerning error that comes published in hip packaging from Christian publishers, authored by professing Christians.

So many errors, so little time.

In executing this responsibility, pastors must discern whether the influence of the individual and the gravity of their error necessitate research and evaluation by a pastor. Today I want to explain one particular concern and give you an inside look at how I approach this difficult task.

Mahaney goes on to point the reader to Greg Gilbert's critique of Rob Bell's NOOMA videos (here are some examples) and gives four biblically guided priorities for those in positions of pastors/elders/overseers.

Here are his four biblically guided priorities. Read the article to see meat behind them.

1. Protect your people.

2. Prepare your heart.

3. Preach sound doctrine.

4. Pray for Rob Bell.

You can read more here.

Here is an excerpt from Greg Gilbert:
Once you get past the razzle-dazzle of the videos’ style and really listen to what Bell is saying, you start to wonder if maybe they’re not so good after all. Watch the videos with a discerning eye, and certain questions start nagging you: What’s the cross for again? Why did Jesus die? How do you become a Christian? Hold on—did he just say that everyone has the Spirit of God living in them already? Jesus has faith in me? I am the gospel? What in the world does that mean?

You can read more from Gilbert here.

Some questions:
-Do you think Greg Gilbert is right?
-Why should we invest time guarding against unsound teaching?
-Do you see anything wrong with the NOOMA videos? What about after reading Greg Gilbert's critique?
-Do you find these four principles worthwhile?
-Is it arrogant to call another "christian" out if they teach something slightly different than you would?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jackson, TN Tornado Links To Photos, Information & The "Why's" That Follow

With the number of posts on this blog continually growing concerning the recent tornado and its aftermath, I thought I would take a moment and organize the posts a little better for you.

1. This link will take you to all Jackson, TN tornado related posts.

2. This link will take you to all Jackson, TN tornado pictures and video.

3. This link will take you to Jackson, TN informational posts regarding the tornado.

4. This link will take you to thought provoking questions and answers concerning the "why's" of the Jackson, TN tornado damage and destruction (mainly dealing with God).

5. This link is a direct link to the Union University Recovery website where Union staff (Tim Ellsworth) has been faithful to update the students and public on the going-ons concerning the recovery process for Union in these days following the tornado disaster.

Please continue to pray for our community and help out in any way you can.

No Peeing Standing Up

[No one] stands up and pisses against the wall like a man, and I'm going to tell you something, that's what's wrong with America.

First seen on Silent Holocron.

It appears that one can draw talking points from just about anything and make them say whatever one wishes (see example above).

Some questions:
-Should context matter when preparing a sermon?
-How should application be arrived at?
-Should it matter the original author's intent?
-Do you consider the above "good preaching"?

The Reason For God Reviewed By Challies

“If you come to recognize the beliefs on which your doubts about Christianity are based, and if you seek as much proof for those beliefs as you seek from Christians for theirs—you will discover that your doubts are not so solid as they first appeared.”
-Timothy Keller
This is the thesis of a new book by Timothy Keller titled: The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Tim Challies has written a review on this book over on his site and he gives it good marks aside from a few secondary issues. The book is for skeptics and those who love them and it attempts to lay out an argument for God. Challies goes on to discuss the chapter breaks:
In the first seven chapters Keller looks at seven of the most common objections and doubts about Christianity and discerns the alternate beliefs underlying each of them. This section is titled “The Leap of Doubt” and answers these seven common critiques:

1. There can’t be just one true religion
2. A good God could not allow suffering
3. Christianity is a straitjacket
4. The church is responsible for so much injustice
5. A loving God would not send people to hell
6. Science has disproved Christianity
7. You can’t take the Bible literally

In the second half of the book, titled “The Reasons for Faith,” he turns to an examination of seven reasons to believe in the claims of the Christian faith.

1. The clues of God
2. The knowledge of God
3. The problem of sin
4. Religion and the gospel
5. The (true) story of the cross
6. The reality of the resurrection
7. The Dance of God
You can read the entire book review here.
Some questions:
-If you have read this book, what are your thoughts concerning it?
-Can God's existence be proved?
-Why do so many humans believe in some outside of themselves (God or gods)?
-Why is it reasonable to have faith in the God of Christianity? (If it is not, can you answer Keller's arguments?)

Hardship Builds Character

Beverly Absher was teaching a continuing studies class at Union University when a cell-phone caller told her the tornado was northeast of the campus.
Her phone quit working as she rushed students into a Hammonds Hall stairwell. Everyone was fairly calm – just concern for loved ones at home. Absher said the students had to realize their lives and those of their loved ones were in God's hands.
As the category EF-4 tornado touched down on Union’s campus, the building began to shake. The tornado generated so much force that the students were amazed to come out of Hammonds Hall after the storm passed and see the devastation. Absher’s second-floor office in Hammonds was destroyed.
They all knew God had protected everyone, Absher told the congregation at West Jackson Baptist Church.
The tornado that devastated Union University, Feb. 5, was the...

You can finish the story here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More Aerial View Photos Of The Tornado's Destruction

Rob Perrin has put together a fly through tour of the tornado's path as well compiled a bunch of high quality aerial photographs of the tornado's destruction. He has plotted out the course on a google map and made the tour very interactive.

You can view all the pictures here.

You can take the fly through tour of the destruction here. (You will need Quicktime to view this.)

You can view the map with the tornado touchdown points plotted here.

Lesson In Perspective

This week has been a lesson in perspective and a reminder of the power and total sovereignty of God. I have been reminded of the book of Job so many times this week and how the Lord allowed Satan to sift him so that ultimately, the Lord would be glorified. I have so many thoughts; and yet, I think I will shift now from the introspective to the practical...

You can read the rest of Susan's thoughts here.

More Union University Tornado Pictures

More pictures of the tornado aftermath to Union University can be found on Shoot Memphis.

You can check out her photos here (also check out the link to the flicker account).

Attempting To Understand God's Providence In Light Of The Recent Tornadoes

Does God have a plan for His creation and for the beings He has created? Does this plan include the course of human history and the affairs both large and small of our lives?

The Scripture declares that God does indeed have such a plan - an eternal purpose which springs from the eternal counsels of His own will and finds its teleological end in the glory of God and the good of His chosen people. This plan and the advancement thereof is often referenced as the Providence of God.

You can read more by Klay Aspinwall here.

If God Is All Powerful, Then Why Does Evil Exist?

One man who claims to be a Christian calls into question God's sovereignty. Another man who claims to be an atheist calls upon human reasoning and asks for definitions of "evil" and "good". Another man who claims to be a Christian takes the orthodox route and attempts to explain what church fathers have attempted to explain for centuries. Here is an excerpt from one of the comments by Klay Aspinwall, a former student of Union University.

I would say that God decreed to allow the Fall that He might also decree to provide redemption. In this drama of fall-and-redemption the glorious attributes of God are most clearly seen in eternity. His righteousness and justice in the destruction of evil and punishment of wrong.

His grace, mercy, and love in the salvation of many repentant sinners.A pristine world that had never known struggle, sin, evil, and sorrow would not be a completely "perfect" world...

You can read a lot more here (especially in the comments).

The Blessings Keep Flowing

The Union community was strengthened on Sunday by taking time to gather with our various congregations across the area on Sunday to praise God for his faithfulness and to thank him for his goodness and mercy to us...

A major step forward toward finding housing for Union students took place on Sunday evening when the Englewood Baptist Church voted unanimously to allow us to use the Old English Inn for residence life space this spring (and next fall if necessary). For this amazing gift we are grateful...

You can read the rest here.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I Watched Heroes Do What Heroes Do

This is the title of a journal entry by Ben Dockery, son of David Dockery, campus minister to Union University.

Timmy Brister recieved an email from Ben and here is an excerpt from that email:

My friends,
“I watched heroes do what heroes do…”
That was the name of one of the best ‘journal’ entries I have ever written. At 3:15 a.m., about 8 hours after we stormed onto campus minutes after the skipping tornado bounced through campus, I sat in bed after visiting recovered students in the hospital and thought with my keyboard. Unfortunately, my computer died forty minutes into the streaming, and I lost the entry.

You can read more on Timmy Brister's site here.

Atheist Poses Question Concerning Union University

Klay Aspinwall, a former student of Union and graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, tackles the question head on and speaks to the issue from a biblical standpoint.

If you visit his blog at the link below, you should see a lively debate and discussion concerning this very topic. Please see the excerpt below.

Some recent questions were raised by an atheist acquaintance concerning the devastating tornadoes that swept through West Tennessee. He was disturbed that Christians affiliated with Union University continue to praise God for His providential protection given the fact that 51 people in other areas died in these storms. In an effort to lampoon the apparent contradiction he offered the following:
There are 4 possibilities…
1. The weather can’t be controlled by God.
2. God chooses not to control the weather.
3. God controls the weather, thereby killing 51 people with the tornadoes.
4. There is no God controlling the weather.

See Klay's response and interaction here.

Friday, February 8, 2008

More Videos Of The 2008 Tornado Destruction

Tim Ellsworth has posted several Union University youtube videos concerning the destruction caused by the tornado as told by the students who were there. Very heart fealt and touching.

You can view them here.

More Tornado Damage Pictures Of The Jackson, TN Area

A class IV tornado came through Jackson, TN around 7:00p.m. I was watching that particular cell on the radar as it was coming from Memphis, TN. It was traveling along I-40. We live very close to I-40...

You can read more and see more pictures from Tina Todd here.

Klay Aspinwall Asks Pertinent Questions Concerning Tornado Devastation

Klay Aspinwall, former student and alumni of Union University discusses the recent tragedy suffered by Union University.

Klay asks some good questions concerning God's providence and the destruction of the tornaodoes that devastated Union's campus and interacts briefly with them. You can read some excerpts below. is where our theology of prayer is tested. Is prayer truly powerful and helpful?


...our theology of suffering is tested here. Can an all-benevolent God send such destruction upon His servants and justly use their testing and suffering for His own glory's sake?

You can read more from Klay here.

Some questions:
-What do you think of Klay's analysis?
-Do you disagree? If so, on what grounds?
-What does scripture say to such an end as this?

More Official Updates From Union University

More on Ethopian Union Student Mikias Mohammed (featured in a post below marked by a picture of an arm with a hospital wristband) can be read here.

Government officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, visit Union University's campus. You can read about it here.

Union University President, Dr. David S. Dockery, expresses his heart for the displaced students and why they are of primary concern. You can read about this here.

Union University Student's Pictures & Reflections Of Tornado Damage

To the left is a photo taken by Mark Inman and the story that accompanies the photo follows.
I asked Mikias about his hospital experience.

I have been the hospital a few times. Typically, after getting back into everyday life, people asked me what happened while I was there. My explanations usually consist of some sort of summary of my injury (with hyperbolic descriptors to give my particular story a certain "heroic" ring) as well as a detailed description of how the doctor treated my particular problem.

Mikias' account was much different. Actually, I still do not know what happened while he was there. I asked if he was confused, to which he responded with a mean "yes." But he went on to tell the stories of the other families in the hospitals, and of the pain he saw in their tears. He told specific stories he heard while he was there, including one about a kid who was suffering from potential kidney failure.

This "others centered" way of thinking is somewhat alien in the American context. Mikias' response to his particular experience during this disaster is seasoned with peculiarly redemptive sentiments. This is the beauty of the gospel as it is embodied by one who is being conformed to the image of the Son.

To see more pictures taken by Union University student Mark Inman of the February 5th tornado destruction, click here.

How Long O Lord? The Tornados In Light Of D. A. Carson

The below excerpt is taken from a book by D. A. Carson titled: How Long O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil. He tackles this issue head on and gives compelling, biblically-based arguments for the conclusions he reaches. This has been by far the best handling of the topic on suffering and evil from a Christian perspective that I have read. I encourage you to pick this book up, especially if you want a biblically grounded understanding of suffering and evil and how they fit into creation ruled by a sovereign God.

A pastor is cutting his front lawn. He looks up from his task just in time to see a heavy dump truck back out of his neighbor's driveway--right over the neighbor's eighteen-month-old son, who had been squatting behind the huge tires. The pastor accompanies the hysterical mother and ashen father to the hospital in the ambulance. There is no hope for the little boy; he has been crushed almost beyond recognition.

Where is God?

After five years of marriage, Jane wakes up in the night to find her husband Dan poking her, and pointing to his mouth. As she hauls herself out of sleep, she realizes that her husband has awakened to find he cannot speak, and is badly frightened. A quick phone call to the doctor issues in a swift trip to the hospital. The next day, the surgeons operate for cancer of the brain. They cannot get much of it. The trauma of the surgery is worse: it wipes out all learned memory. Dan no longer knows how to read and write; he cannot recognize his infant son. yet somehow the operation has administered such a shock that the cancer stops growing. Dan's personality, however has been altered; he is frustrated, angry, irritable, and needs someone to watch him twenty-four hours a day. After three years of minimal recovery; the cancer starts its insidious growing again, and kills dan four months later.

Where is God?...

If you have questions concerning the recent tornados that devastated parts of the mid-south including Jackson, TN and Union University, this would be a great book for you to pick up and read so as to obtain a biblical understanding of such events.

You can read a little more here.
You can purchase the book here.

Some questions:
-How would you answer the question: "Where is God?" in the situations above?
-How does scripture answer these questions?

Moving To An Essentialist Mindset

The below is an excerpt taken from President Dr. David S. Dockery's daily Union update.

It is important for us to recognize that we must move to an "essentialist" mindset for the remainder of the spring semester. This is a different way of thinking about our work at Union University, but it will hopefully allow us to have the right framework to think about the many changes that are forthcoming, some of which, I am sure, we have yet even to consider.

Everyone continues to have a wonderful spirit of hopefulness as we face the challenging days ahead. We must think differently, even as we claim the same "Union spirit" that has been so important for our community in days past. Above all, we must continue to think in an "other-centered" way, so that we think about those things that are good for all, and those about us, even as we ultimately place our trust and hope in our providential God, who will guide us each step of the way.

You can read the rest here.

John Piper Speaks To Disaster

While John Piper is speaking in reference to the bridge collapse in his home city, I find it parallels our current situation here in Jackson, TN with the recent tornado damage. Please take the time to read it and glean from it as he urges us to look towards God in light of this disaster.

Below is an excerpt:

At about 6 PM tonight the bridge of Interstate 35W over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed. I am writing this about three hours after the bridge fell. The bridge is located within sight of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Most of us who minister at the church cross this bridge several times a week. At this point I don’t know if any staff was on the bridge. Desiring God offices are about a mile from the bridge.

There are no firm facts at this point about the total number of injuries and fatalities. When we crossed the bridge Tuesday on our way out of town, there was extensive repair work happening on the surface of the bridge with single lane traffic. One speculates about the unusual stresses on the bridge with jackhammers and other surface replacement equipment. This was the fortieth anniversary of the bridge.

Tonight for our family devotions our appointed reading was Luke 13:1-9. It was not my choice. This is surely no coincidence. O that all of the Twin Cities, in shock at this major calamity, would hear what Jesus has to say about it from Luke 13:1-5. People came to Jesus with heart-wrenching news about the slaughter of worshipers by Pilate. Here is what he said.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than
all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

Jesus implies that those who brought him this news thought he would say that those who died, deserved to die, and that those who didn’t die did not deserve to die. That is not what he said. He said, everyone deserves to die. And if you and I don’t repent, we too will perish. This is a stunning response. It only makes sense from a view of reality that is radically oriented on God...

You can read the rest here.

Some questions:
-What are your thoughts concerning the events that occurred here in Jackson, TN?
-Where do you see God in all of this? Why?
-What does scripture say concerning God's role (or lack thereof) in natural disasters?
-Do you think that John Piper's understanding and application is correct?

Tornado Photographs Compiled By The Jackson Sun

The Jackson Sun has a page with several photo galleries and user submitted photos and video.

You can view them here.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Is God Sovereign Over Tornadoes?

By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen.

Job 37:10-13

In his book, Is God Really in Control?, Jerry Bridges recounts a story amazingly similar to the events of this past week [Union University being devastated by a tornado]. Here is an excerpt with his commentary that I believe to be really helpful when thinking about God’s power over nature and providence in our lives.
From the chapter “God’s Power Over Nature,” Bridges writes:

You can finish reading Timmy Brister's post where Jerry Bridges addresses "Why bring God into chaos and suffering such as this?” here.

No More Volunteers Are Needed Until Monday

For more information and who to contact for volunteering to help clean up Union's campus, please see here.

Luther Hall: Where Is It?

View Larger Map

If you are looking to volunteer tomorrow or Saturday, or wish to bring supplies as outlined on the UU Recovery site, look to the map above for where you should go.

Schedule of Events: Car Retrieval, Belongings Pick Up, Volunteer Help

The below is taken from the most current update on the UU Recovery site.

On Thursday, Feb. 7 our efforts will focus on helping students remove their vehicles from the campus.Students and parents should report to the Chi Omega house to work with student life teams to retrieve their vehicles between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

All personal belongings will be bagged and tagged so that students can retrieve their undamaged personal goods beginning on Feb. 18.

Faculty, staff and community volunteers who want to participate in the cleanup process are encouraged to report to Luther Hall at the south end of the university campus at 9 a.m. on Friday and/or Saturday, Feb. 8-9.

Union University friends who wish to help our students during this time of crisis are encouraged to support the university through the designated disaster relief fund or by providing gift cards to Wal-Mart, Target, Lowe’s or Home Depot for our students. Please send all monetary and gift card donations to:

Union University Disaster Relief Fund
1050 Union University Drive
Jackson, TN 38305

Gifts of gloves, trash bags, rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows and other materials needed to assist with the cleanup should be taken to Luther Hall.

For more on ways you can help, click here.
For the most up to date information directly from Union, please see here.

Why Did God Allow This?

Timmy Brister writes on this very topic. It is a worthwhile read and will help to ground your thoughts in a Biblical understanding of why "bad things happen to good people".

Here is an excerpt:

Whenever disaster strikes, such momentous times inevitably afford the opportunity to think about the bigger questions in life–you know, the kind of questions we typically ignore in the day-to-day rush to triviality. Questions like, “Is God really in control over everything?” or “Why does bad things happen to good people?” or “If your God is a good God, then why does he allow such evil to occur?” Questions like these we cannot overlook, though we often do when it is only partly cloudy with a gentle breeze.
Such a question came about from an anonymous commenter on
the UUEmergency blog yesterday. While not knowing the sincerity or motivation of such a comment, I think it is something onlookers, perhaps non-Christians, are asking. The person asked,
“What did you do to incur His wrath?”

Timmy goes on to deal with this question in a thought-provoking, biblically-guided way. I encourage you to read it.

You can read the rest here.

Pictures From The Night Of The Tornado

You can see more photographs from the night of compiled by Cam Tracy of Union University here.

Want To Know How You Can Help Union?

Tim Ellsworth has listed several ways to help.

You can read about them here.

Selected Photos Of Union University's Tornado Damage

Aerial Shots Of Tornado Damage To Jackson, TN

Click the image below to see the individual photos.

Tornado Aerial Photos of Jackson, TN

Photos courtesy of Jeff Gray.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Some Videos Pertaining To The Tornado Damage

List Of Sites With Information & Pictures

1. UU Emergency Website

2. Tim Ellsworth

3. Timmy Brister

4. Anew and Afresh

5. Union's Website (it is up and running now)

Official Union University Emergency Information Site

Cam Tracy has set up a blog site for getting information out to the general public including clean up information, etc for Union.

You can view it here.

Today A Day Of Assessment, Tomorrow A Day Of Work

Union University will launch a major clean-up effort Feb. 7 after taking a day to evaluate damage inflicted on the campus by a tornado that struck Jackson, Tenn., early the evening of Feb. 5.

"Today is a day of assessment," said Union President David S. Dockery in an open letter Feb. 6. "Initial efforts to help students return to their homes or to a safe place also have started today and will continue throughout the week. A major clean-up project will start on Thursday."

University officials also are at work drafting an "intermediate strategy" to help get classes underway again on Feb. 18, Dockery said, despite the fact that almost every building on campus sustained significant damage during the storm.

Fifty-one students were treated for injuries and nine were kept overnight in a local hospital, university spokesman Tim Ellsworth said. Seventeen buildings received some kind of damage, and the roof was torn off a main academic building. Student residences were almost completely destroyed. Thirteen students trapped in the rubble were free after a five-hour emergency effort.

"By God's providence, no lives were lost," Dockery said. As many as 3,300 students had been on campus earlier in the day before classes dismissed.

Dockery recalled a 2002 tornado that struck the campus, causing $2.6 million in damage, and said this one was "15 times worse than that." The process of rebuilding will be "lengthy and extensive," he said.

You can read the rest here.
You can keep up with what is going on at Union University here.

Photos From Ground Zero: Union University

Here are more photos from today (February 6, 2008) at Union University and the surrounding area in Jackson, TN.

These photographs were obtained by way of a media press pass from WNWS for joint usage. Please, if you are in the area, do not go there unless you have a reason for being there.

Note: additional pictures will be added to this post (the slideshow and the picture below), so check back often. I will post them as they come in from those in our community.

The direct link to these pictures hosted on my google web albums account can be found by clicking on the picture below.

Union University & Surrounding Area Tornado Damage

Please note: There are more pictures and information on this blog concerning the tornado. To view them, click here and scroll down.

Continuing Coverage Of The Tornado Aftermath

WNWS FM Newstalk Radio of Jackson, TN has been doing a great job of keeping the public up to date on the entire situation concerning the February 5, 2008 Tornado Devastation and it is being done in a very respectful way. It was good to have them on the air last night giving up to the second updates on the situation.

You can listen live to them as they continue to discuss the situation and give public notices concerning school closures, housing availability to those affected by the tornadoes, traffic conditions, calls from listeners, etc.

You can listen here.
You can visit their website here.

Union University Official Updates Concerning The Tornado Aftermath

Until Union University gets their website back online you can find official updates here.

Even More Damage

More Damage To Union University From The 2008 Tornado

Union was hit extremely hard and prayer is definitely a worth while use of time. I don’t know how else to explain it, but when you look at the pictures of the destruction (and see it with your own eyes) it is nothing short of a miracle that no one died at Union.
We had several people over and we huddled in our basement and prayed for those at Union and around the surrounding areas. We recieved several text messages from students stating that dorms were collapsing along with others saying that people were trapped while others were okay. We are thankful to our Lord that no one died and that He did indeed answer our prayers.
I have here some pictures I took this morning of the damage around Union University in Jackson, TN. I have not been able to get an internet signal to post until now. The devestation is substantial and upon talking to officials on Union's campus, it appears that unoffically school may not start back up this semester as there is no where to house students. It is also estimated that 12 out of 16 or so buildings will need to be demolished due to damage. Please continue to pray for those who are affected by this.
You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.

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Damage To Jackson TN From 2008 Tornado

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Tornado Damage To Union University

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Damage Around Union Area In Jackson, TN

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tornadoes Hit My Alma Mater Yet Again

A powerful storm system with multiple tornadoes collapsed the roof of a mall in Memphis, trapping people inside, and trapped students in dormitories at a college in Jackson, the Nashville Tennessean reported on Tuesday.
A least one fatality was reported, the newspaper said, and other media reported dozens of injuries, some serious.

Our house is only about 6 miles from Union. We suffered no damage during the first wave. We have another one coming. Please pray for us. 9 students remain trapped at this hour at Union and the campus is completely demolished. Jennings Hall is without a roof, the dorms were demolished and miraculously no one has died there. There are other areas around the city that were hit hard such as a nursing home and others. Hopefully this next wave will not bring any more damage to our area. Tornadoes have hit Jackson back in 2003 and 1999 and brought about tremendous damage.

Please continue to pray for us and for those who will be affected by this for months to come. Thank you.

You can read more from Reuters here.
You can read more from the Baptist Press here.
You can see some of the first pictures of the damage to Union University here.

Backroom Dealing During Super Tuesday

Romney, who addressed the state GOP convention in person Tuesday, comfortably led the first ballot at the convention, leading to a three-way second ballot contest between the three contenders.

Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic reported Tuesday that, after the first ballot, McCain’s campaign called his supporters there and urged them to vote in favor of Huckabee.

“Unfortunately, this is what Senator McCain’s inside Washington ways look like: he cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney’s campaign of conservative change,” Beth Myers, Romney’s campaign manager, said in a statement.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-What do you make of this?
-Should this matter to you?
-Are our elections really democratic?
-If the allegation is true, what do you think McCain's reasoning was?

Bhut Jolokia: Why?

Okay, here is the situation after two bites: My tongue is absolutely on fire but numb at the same time. How can something be numb and on fire simultaneously at the same time? I don't understand that one.

Some questions:
-Why do this to yourself?
-More importantly, why is the Wall Street Journal sponsoring it?

Department Of Children And Families Spokesman Arrested On Child Porn Charges

The head of the Department of Children and Families, "horrified and shocked" by the arrest of his agency spokesman on child-pornography charges, Monday ordered a review of personnel records for all DCF employees.

DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey briefed reporters at DCF headquarters about the arrest of Al Zimmerman on eight counts of soliciting two boys for sexual purposes.

Butterworth, who fired Zimmerman last Friday, said he sent a message to all department employees — urging them to "work with your heads held high" — and said the incident does not reflect on DCF's work in protecting children in foster care, the elderly and other needy Floridians.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Can we keep things like this from happening?
-Does this lessen your trust in your local child protective service agencies?
-What punishment should Zimmerman be subject to if found guilty? Should his punishment be any more severe due to the nature of his job?
-What do you think will be the fallout from this incident?

LIberals, Show Evangelicals Some Love!

At a New York or Los Angeles cocktail party, few would dare make a pejorative comment about Barack Obama’s race or Hillary Clinton’s sex. Yet it would be easy to get away with deriding Mike Huckabee’s religious faith.

Liberals believe deeply in tolerance and over the last century have led the battles against prejudices of all kinds, but we have a blind spot about Christian evangelicals. They constitute one of the few minorities that, on the American coasts or university campuses, it remains fashionable to mock.

Scorning people for their faith is intrinsically repugnant, and in this case it also betrays a profound misunderstanding of how far evangelicals have moved over the last decade. Today, conservative Christian churches do superb work on poverty, AIDS, sex trafficking, climate change, prison abuses, malaria and genocide in Darfur.

Bleeding-heart liberals could accomplish far more if they reached out to build common cause with bleeding-heart conservatives...

I read it first at Denny Burk's blog.
You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Why do you think Evangelicals are not tolerated when tolerance is the battle cry of the liberals?
-What are your thoughts about the New York Times article?
-Do you find the author's comments right on or is he over simplifying the issue?
-How do you see this issue being overcome or can it be?

I'm The Mom. I'm The Dad. And I'm The Mom Too?

Scientists believe they have made a breakthrough in IVF treatment by creating a human embryo with three separate parents.

The Newcastle University team believe the technique could help to eradicate a whole class of hereditary diseases, including some forms of epilepsy.

The embryos have been created using DNA from a man and two women in lab tests.
It could ensure women with genetic defects do not pass the diseases on to their children.

However, such research has brought about opposition due to the nature of the research and the fact that they are human embryos.

Josephine Quintavalle, of the pro-life group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said it was "risky, dangerous" and a step towards "designer babies"

"It is human beings they are experimenting with," she said.

"We should not be messing around with the building blocks of life."

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Do you think the pros outweigh the cons?
-Would you be willing to accept such a treatment if you knew that your child could bypass genetic problems that could threaten the child's life?
-Do you think this is a step towards designer babies?
-Does the ends justify the means?
-So, how does one determine the mother?
-What if the donor mother decides she wants a relationship with the child later on, how ethically should that be handled?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sermons: Agents Of Change

Sermons can be great things. We can also make them hindrances and stumbling blocks. What do I mean you ask? If we simply listen, discuss and go about our merry way, we have done a diservice to scripture and we sin. We must apply the Word of God to our lives. If in fact we are believers, we should examine our lives in light of the message given, based on the exposition of scripture, and repent when neccessary; be encouraged when we hear of our Savior's sacrifice and our God's love; feel the weightiness of the Lord's spoken word to us and rejoice when the cause arises. In other words, we should leave from the sermon changed. It should not just be another theological discussion. It should not be just another Sunday morning. We should look for ways to apply what was said to our lives so that we grow in our sanctification (becoming like Christ) and the body (of believers) is likewise strengthened. Of course it helps when that application is drawn directly from the text preached.

We must be growing in sanctification. We must be willing to humble ourselves before our great and just God. We must be willing to circumvent our wants and desires and exchange them for His wants and desires. We must submit to the glory of God.

With that being said, this past Sunday one of our elders preached a sermon on the latter half of Romans chapter 15. It was preached expositionally and application was given at the end and included the Lord's supper (as it is every Sunday). I have thought and prayed about this since then and have come to the conclusion that I need to make a change in my life. I need to pray for those I don't even know. I need to pray for those whose only bond to me is that we are both under the headship of Christ (and that is enough to pray for them). I have neglected those who are out spreading the gospel in foreign lands and here at home. Instead I have focused on my local church, my family and friends (which are not bad things) and sat aside those who risk their lives daily to share the gospel because they wish to be obedient to the scriptures- to God.

Therefore, I am going to start praying and interacting with those who are brothers and sisters in Christ on a weekly basis so long as the Lord leads me to do so. I think I will not reinvent the wheel but utilize what is already out there such as Prisoner Alert.

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in our local endeavors and there is certainly nothing amiss about doing such. But, if we neglect our brothers and sisters who need our prayers and support, when we have the ability to both pray and support, I think it is to the detriment of the Kingdom.

May the Lord keep me faithful to pray and minister to those who are taking the Gospel to the utter most parts of the earth and in so doing, may I not neglect those who are right here amongst me. Lord swell up within me a passion for your Church world wide while grounding me in faithful service to your local Church so my account before you may be one that is pleasing to your ears. May I not pursue one to the detriment of the other; keep me balanced in this endeavor you have graciously laid on my heart. Be glorified.