12.31.2008

Happy New Years and some end of the year thoughts


As the year comes to a close, I wanted to share my thoughts on 2008 as well as thank a few people along the way. I saw that when times get tough, God is still there to help. I had a tough time this year because I was trying to finish school, and had some personal issues to deal with. There were times when I just lost what little hope I had. But then, in big and small ways, as I prayed to God, people would come along to help with a kind word, a prayer, and in a few cases, some much needed money. God was good through the hands of many people.

I got to taste the political process. It seems that we all did. In an almost soap opera fashion, politics got played out on the radio, in print and on T.V. We saw winners, losers, underdogs, plumbers, Pallin’s and Obamamania. I didn’t get all I’d hope for, but I did see our process at work, and am still glad to be a part of this great nation.

I finally graduated from college. Let it be a lesson to you, that if I can graduate, you can too. It took me longer than it should have (really!) but I see that even the time I took was not entirely wasted. I’m planning on going to Seminary to get my Mdiv and can’t wait to get through that process (hopefully not in 7 years like it took for my B.A.)

This year, the new media became even more main stream. From Facebook to Twitter, from Gmail to Google Reader (and the entire Google family), we got connected. I promise not to become part of the twitterati, digiratti or even the technoratti. If I do, feel free to call me on it.

The blog has also become prominent in our culture. I’m sure you know it, but I don’t think we’ve touched the surface of what blogging or even twittering will do or become. But with all the change, I hope we don’t lose the human touch. That is, I hope we don’t lose our soul to cyberspace (or in cyberspace). I plan on blogging even more this year and can’t wait to hear from you.

Most of you don’t know that I struggled with changing churches. I had three--yes three—churches to consider. But after much prayer, I found a place I can call my home and a Pastor I can gladly follow. May we all be so fortunate.

Many friendships carried me through a lot of the year. I can only be grateful to God for a few I’d like to mention. My pal Alexia for being ever so patient with me, and always taking care of me in ways I don’t think even she knows. Jonathan Chan, whom I’ve known for 8 years, also came through for me in big ways. Keep being yourself pal, you’re one of God’s special people. Melissa Stent, I apologize for keeping you up late at night, but thanks for indulging me when I want to talk. Lisa Ames, you truly are wonderful person. Your words have meant a lot to me this year. In more ways than you’ll ever know. I’m very glad to know you. Miguel Martinez. Thanks for being there. Seriously, you have cleared my mind when I’ve been confuzzled. The FCC family. Thanks for letting me tag along and help out. You guys rock. James, listen to your mother! And thanks to you both for being so cool. As always my Parents were there for me. I don’t know where I’d be without them. They are more than wonderful. They are saints. Many more could be named, to you I say: thanks :)

I hope to read a lot more and bring more book and movie reviews. I also plan on blogging as a vocation, so pray that I could do that. Also tell your friends about this place and feel free to find me on twitter. I am also glad to have started NewReformation.ning.com, it’s been great to see so many people get together and fellowship. I hope to see even more this next year.

Happy New Year, and many blessings to you all. I leave you with this verse

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

12.25.2008

Christmas is rooted in worship

 
 One of the few things that stands out at Christmas, more than any holiday, is the music. We don't really sing about turkey at Thanksgiving (unless you're Adam Sandler) or fireworks on the 4th of July.. But Christmas is different. Yes, some songs are about snow, the tree, or even Santa, but if you listen to the songs of Christmas, the majority point to CHRIST. It's no surprise that at the first Christmas, singing was so prominent. There were Christmas Carols on the first Christmas. They were songs of worship, for this newborn king. Luke  records:
 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"

 And Mary said:
   "My soul glorifies the Lord
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

 for he has been mindful
      of the humble state of his servant.
   From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
      holy is his name.
 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
      from generation to generation.
 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
      he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
      but has lifted up the humble.
 He has filled the hungry with good things
      but has sent the rich away empty.
 He has helped his servant Israel,
      remembering to be merciful
 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
      even as he said to our fathers."
Luke 1:39-55
Before he was even born, he was inspiring songs about his near birth! This was no ordinary birth. 
And yet a few months later, John the Baptist would be born, but not without a song. Zechariah , John's father, was struck mute for not believing GOd (unoike Mary) and at the time of his son's birth a song comes forth. Luke continues
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him.
 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
 "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
      because he has come and has redeemed his people.
 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
      in the house of his servant David
 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),

 salvation from our enemies
      and from the hand of all who hate us—
 to show mercy to our fathers
      and to remember his holy covenant,
 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
      and to enable us to serve him without fear
 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
      for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,

 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
      through the forgiveness of their sins,
 because of the tender mercy of our God,
      by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
 to shine on those living in darkness
      and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the path of peace." Luke 1:64-79
He tells John (merely a few days old) what his life will be: a pointer to the Savior of Israel.  Pretty big news for a one week old! You'd think a few songs would be enough, but as the first Christmas finally arrives, the singing takes on a whole new dimension. Having just given birth, God himself, makes sure someone knows about what just happened. Luke continues
 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 "Glory to God in the highest,
      and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

If ever Angels had something to sing about, it would be the birth of the King of Kings. ANd who can forget what happened a week after his birth. Luke writes:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
      you now dismiss your servant in peace.
 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
      and for glory to your people Israel."
 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:25-32; 36-38
This child brought worship to God and to himself before during and after his birth. Is it any wonder that we still worship him today? I hope that in all you do today, when you sing a Christmas carol, you'll remember that  today you sing songs about a very special child. The one who brought God's peace to man.

12.24.2008

Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel



One of the oldest hymns around.

David Wells on the church in the West

I go to Africa every year because I serve on the board of a Christian foundation which is building orphanages for children, most of whom have been left behind by AIDS. I am always struck by this paradox, if that is what it is. Here in America we have everything, but despite everything we have (Bibles, church buildings, theological education, colleges, money, know-how), the evangelical church is weak and stumbling. In Africa, amidst great poverty and disease, illiteracy and deprivation, rampant independency and woeful alliances with traditional African religions, there is still to be found courage, vibrancy, and a Christian testimony to the truth of God that is striking by Western standards. Let us not forget who saved the Church of England from their pathetic willingness to capitulate to the homosexual agenda. It was the African bishops, not those from America or Europe! God, you know, does not have his hands tied simply because we in America have all the money!

12.22.2008

Why I like Christians

Flickr by Eric Lafforgue

In the last week a few influential blogs have posted their reasons for not liking Christians. As someone who has suffered at the hands of Christians, I can feel some of their pain, but I disagree with lots of their reasons. This one just seems unfair. Seriously, Christians hate anyone with money? Are you kidding? I've seen them treat people with lot's o cash better than the guy that's been a regular member for years (which is equally sinful and a violation of what James tells the Church to do). The one about Christians not dreaming big dreams is WAYYYY unfair. He can't
see any ones heart, and really, dreams come in all shapes and sizes. I think this is similar to the whole working mother critique, that a stay at home mom has thrown her life away (or that a working one can't be a good one). Seriously, cheap shot. (I might, add he starts off with a section about Christians being bitter, and seriously this whole post smells of it). To his credit he did own up to the fact that he himself had done those things as well.To be fair the one about Christians being being ok with mediocre music and art is a bit fair. To that all I can say is: come back Rembrandt!

This post however, did strike a few chords with me. It's actually a bit fair. He mentions Christians being lousy tippers, and having a friend who owns a restaurant, it's true. Many Christians do belittle others and then expect them to hear the greatest story ever told. Not cool. Still, at times it does seem a bit unfair.

So, why do I LIKE Christians? OK, defining them as Conservative Christian Evangelicals, or CCE's, (I have a sneaky suspicion the previous posts meant those kinds of Christians and of which I can identity) here we go:

1. We stand up for the unborn.
In a time when a lot is being said about everything under the sun, the unborn have seemed to gone out of style. Guess what? They are still something worth fighting for, and the pro-life movement owes much to CCE's.

2. Traditional Family
I got into it with a gentleman over at Between 2 Worlds over this very issue. He believes Christians should lay off gay people. Agreed, we should target all sinners, no matter what their sin is. No matter, someone asked him what he would do if his son came home one day from school and he told him that it was ok for a kid to have two mommies or two daddies. If the Church is supposed to model life in the Kingdom, then we should applaud those take God's family ordinance seriously. I have a friend right now who's family is not functional. I asked him how it was going back home, and he said it wasn't home. His fellow believers at our Bible college have become his family. I'm PROUD to be a part of that.

3. Music
I'll admit it, I don't really listen to Air1 as much as I used to. I catch it from time to time. Bottom line, Christian music is lacking at times. I will say, that that is changing. But for all the great songs that Coldplay, Dashboard Confessional, and yes my beloved U2 can muster (OK they get a pass with 40), none of their songs are songs are going to be sung on Sunday morning. Better is One Day was written from the CCE camp, as was Amazing Grace and Indescribable.

4. Education
With the founding of Westminster Seminary, Biola, APU, Dallas Seminary, and Southern Baptist Seminary in the last 100 years, it is safe to say we take education seriously.

5. Books
Granted, C.S. Lewis is no longer writing, but Christians bookstores are filled with some good books (although I prefer the theology books). As a matter of fact, you don't see too many Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim bookstores, but Christian bookstores are everywhere, and granted they may be filled with some bad books, at least they are promoting literacy and education.

6. Theology
Some things are just worth fighting for. Isn't it possible that the reason we take our theology seriously is because we know what sorts of horrible misrepresentations of God occur when we don't? And that is idolatry of the worst kind. As A.W. Tozer put it, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us". To strive to think the best and highest of GOd is every Christians duty. I will say, CCE's at times can be overly dogmatic about secondary issues like clothing and hair style's, going to the movies, secular music etc...

7. Comfort
WARNING: this one is a bit hit or miss. But, when I hang out with CCE's I don't have to worry about one of them asking me the overtly weird question about my sex life (like if my gf and I are sleeping together), or get offered a joint (this one is a general rule of thumb, remember: stuff happens!) or have going to a strip club as one of the options for the evenings activities. So take this one with a grain of salt, but really, I've only been made uncomfortable with these kinds of issues by my non-CCE friends.

8. Prayer
OK, a valid critique is that we say we fast and pray and then do whatever we want. But not always. On another note, whenever someone has a big need, asking to pray for them, or in a group, isn't a big deal. If it's with a good group, they offer it first. Asking it with my non-Christian acquaintances to pray when the tire pops is a bit odd. Though most people are open to prayer when it's one-on-one. (They also open up and share a lot about their personal life!)

I could mention a few others but I hope those suffice. Every group has problems, even CCE's! But, God loves even them. I hope we can too.

So what should Rick Warren pray?

 
So in light of Rick Warrens controversial invitation to speak at Barrack Obama's inaguration, there has been a lot on line for and against  his appearance. I have to admit, I'm somewhat mixed on this. Should he go there in the spirit of praying for those in authority (or for your enemy!) in light of Romans 13? And what about the equally difficult position of asking a Holy God to bless a man who is pro-choice, for embryonic stem cell research, and gay rights (though not gay marriage it would seem)? Here's pastor (I think) Beth Quick's thoughts on Warren being there (honest I might add):
And then on the other hand, as I've been reflecting, I wonder: I consider not allowing gay and lesbian persons to marry, or restrictions on adoption, or restrictions in the church on ordination, etc., to be oppressive human rights violations. Injustices. Inequalities that are wrong. What if Obama had chosen someone to pray at his inauguration who supported other violations of human rights? I find it harder to answer these questions. If John McCain had been elected, and chosen a pastor to pray who had racist views, would that be ok? Many people shy away from a comparison between racism and heterosexism, but I don't think the analogy is inaccurate. And so I'm just not sure, not sure what 'slot' to put my disagreement with Rick Warren in.
 Her response is telling for two reasons. She obviously differs with Warren's views, but isn't entirely put off with him there. But her difficulty is that he is a heterosexist (it seems very implied). Her pos tis very honest, and she wonders where all the hoopla was when both Obama and McCain met with Warren earlier this year.

The second response comes from Todd Dreher of Crunchy Con Blog. Funny to be sure.
Pastor Rick Warren, who favors civil unions but not full marriage rights, is actually a moderate in this debate. That means two-thirds of all Americans with an opinion on the subject are against same-sex marriage. Yet Rick Warren is somehow too extreme to pray at the Inaugural? Somebody's living in a bubble, and it ain't Rick Warren.

Joseph Farrah of World NEt Daily has this to say (and worth thining about)
Barack Obama is opposed to any and all restrictions on the killing of unborn children and has pledged to work against the few that remain. In fact, as a state legislator in Illinois, he pushed a law that would require the killing of babies born alive after unsuccessful abortions.
I would hope you, a pastor of the gospel of Jesus Christ, would also call that evil.
I’m trying to imagine Jesus giving an invocation at the inauguration of such a man. I think you will agree, it’s unimaginable.
So why are you ready, willing and eager to do this thing?

So what say you? Should he or shouldn't he? What would YOUU DO IN THIS SITUATION? What do I think you ask? I think............to be continued. 

12.21.2008

MIssional Church?




OK, if you haven't been paying attention to the blogosphere, (or Google Trends) you no doubt have heard that the word of the day is MISSIONAL. For many, this word is associated with Emergent (and in some ways this is post-emergent) and in some circles it is being seen as the rise of something new (as well as theologically responsible). I've seen see it on the blogs of people like Dan Kimball (who has a new missional network developing that will be based on the highly evangelistic Lausanne Covenant) and even at Monergism, the Reformed (and Reformed friendly) Missional voices of Driscoll, Keller and Stetzer are beginning to be heard. So what is this?

It would seem (according to Google Trends) that somewhere in the last two years in this country, Canada and Australia, people have begun to wonder the same thing. And as a result, ministry in the west is taking a new direction. I think this is very important. Most statistics show that this country is already losing people its Christian population (to say nothing of the spiritual desert Europe is in). We are starting to see the West as a mission field again. Thus many are starting to think like missionaries again. I'm glad that I'll soon to be joining the SBC because this has always been their ethos. They were begun by Reformed Missionaries (the Founders) and they have a branch dedicated to missions in this continent too!

I'm glad to see Reformed people are playing a role is this shift. Thanks to people like Tim Keller, and Mark Driscoll. If you can think of anyone else let me know in the comments. The more I look into it, the more I know I will have to say about it. But for now, here are a few places that have gobs and gobs of info for you to think about
JR Woodward's blog
Simply Misional Blog
Ed Stetzer's Blog
The Resurgence
Acts 29 Network
Monergism Articles

Lots to think about, but as I read Stetzer's book (Breaking the Missional Code) and other books on the subject (I'll be going though the Redeemer Church Planting manual with my Pastor this year) I know I will have more to say. Stay tuned.

12.20.2008

When being relevant isn't enough


From Carl Trueman at Reformation21. This is in response to the huge stir- up Barrack Obama has caused by inviting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaguration.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that the day is probably not far off when those who regard homosexual practice as wrong will be consistently presented as the moral, cultural and intellectual equivalents of white supremacists.  Al Mohler (who seems to have spent the whole week writing or speaking on the issues of Lisa Miller and Rick Warren) has pointed out that this issue is set to shatter any possibility of traditional, biblical Christians being considered cool.   You can have the hippest soul patch in town, and quote Coldplay lyrics till the cows come home; but oppose homosexuality and the only television program interested in having you appear will soon be The Jerry Springer Show when the audience has become bored of baiting the Klan crazies.  Indeed, evangelicals will be the new freaks.
 I have been thinking over the last year on Christianity and culture. D.A. Carson poses a very interesting question in his book on the subject. Paraphrasing it, the question is this: would C.S. Lewis have been the way he was had he been raised in the killing fields of Cambodia instead of England? Why that matters to this issue is that no matter how comfortable we are in this culture, it's changing. A changing culture will require us move differently. Trueman believes we have  a few options.
1. We could give into the cultural impetus to accept a lifestyle that is un-biblical (which some have done). I should add, that just because we don't accept said lifestyle does not  mean we can't be friends, nice or have to ignore those who are gay (If we did how would we witness to them?).
2. Completely demonize people who are gay and reduce them to a concept, a label or their orientation alone-like these people do (I might add, this is horrible). As Trueman says, people are more complex than that. 

So what do we do? I would suggest we pray and love our neighbors. In tough times, Peter had these words:
13Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
 --1 Peter3:15-17

12.19.2008

Top 10 "Top 10" Lists for 2008

 
 Well as the year comes to a close, no doubt many of you have seen many top 10 lists. Well I figured I'd give you my top 10 top 10 lists. that is, 10 lists I found that I just had to share with you. Well, here we go.  
Topless Meeting. Got your attention? According to TIME, this word made the rounds this year. It means a meeting sans laptops, or any other electrical devices.  I particularly liked Nuke the Fridge (Indiana Jones reference) and PUMA.
From Parables of a Prodigal World (why can't emergents have nice short names?) the title alone should make you laugh. And Emergents do knowhow to laugh at themselves. What I found interesting is that the number one article deals with the fact that the word "emergent" should probably be dropped. I like missional myself (and am leaning more in that direction). Some great posts include 50 Reasons you're probably not emergent, a critique of Joel Osteen by Pastor Jared Wilson (after Osteen's wife had an "incident" on a plane).   
From pastor Jared Wilson's Gospel Driven blog, I found this fascinating. He cites 11 things that show something is in the air. Something many of us have sensed. Number one? Young Restles Reformed People (like your pal Fusion!). He also includes better Christian Music (I'll withold judgment on that for now) and the rise of the Pastorpreneurial class (cool word huh?). I like that. Sort of. But I am not as opposed to the professional side of ministry as I once was. I think it serves a purpose. Read this article. It is great. 
From urinals.net Need I say more? Check out the Felix.
5. Top 10 Evangelical News Stories
From Christianity Today, the stories that got us thinking. I was particularly moved when I heard about Iraqi Christians and the persecution they face. Plese continue to pray for them and ask the govenrment to help them. It was also a big year for Tod Bently. Unfortunately, what starteed as a bang, ended as a wiper. He's not seperated from his wife, and left many wondering what happend to the anointing. Sad to say, anointing or not, we're still sinner saved by grace. Yet we still sin.

6. Top 10 Countries By Robot Population Density
From Neatorama, we find out which countries use the most robots. All I can say is, that when the Terminators attack, you better not be in Asia!

7. Top 10 Movie Flops Turned Classic
Some movies age like a fine wine. Other's come out with a bang, but lose their pizzazz after their first viewing. From Scene-Stealers, a list of movies that aged well, despite being flops. On this list are a few surprises including The Wizard of Oz and Citizen Cane. A few that aren't so surprising (but worth watching) are Office Space and Donnie Darko.

8. Stephen Kings 10 Best movies of 2008
Trust the man, he knows his movies. Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Mr. King gives us a look at his favorites from this last year. I like them. Especially with Dark Knight at number 1, followed by Slumdog Millionare and Wall-E, I saw I agree with Mr. King.

9. Best Journalism of 2008
From Culture11 (a blog you should be visiting). A list of this years best journalism. Some of these are quite funny. For example, Best Court Reporting goes to: Dispatches from the R. Kelley trial. I'd put a link, but it is pretty graphic reading, though very funny too.

10. Best Books of 2008
Over at Provocations and Pantings, Timmy Brister gives us a list other people's best book list (I sense a pattern). Here are Tim Challies gives his 8 fave books, including: The Reason for God, Christless Christianity and The ESV Study Bible. I would add Why We're Not Emergent and Christ and Culture revisited by D.A. Carson.

OK, one last one.....

Fusion's Favorite Blogs and Websites

1. New Reformation
 OK, shameless self-promotion, but I have enjoyed working on this page. Go visit, and join in on the discussions, posts, and blogs. Tell a few friends while you're at it.

2. IGoogle
If you don't have Gmail, Docs, or Reader, I pity you. Getting a Gmail account made my internet life much more interesting.

3. Monergism.com
One of the best theology websites I've ever seen. If you're reformed, go visit it.


4. Culture11
A collection of great blogs. Young Reformed people should take a liking to it. I especially like Alan Jacob's blog.


5. Between Two World's
Justin Taylor (editor of the ESVSB) just keeps cranking out great articles, interviews and links. I say visiit it a lot.

6. Twitter
This was the year of Twitter. Go, get an account and find me at twitter.com/frankfusion. Step back, and get addicted. I've been surprised to see some very well known people on there. Al Mohler, Ed Setzer and Mark Driscoll come to mind. Some pretty funny people are on there. Including: Fake John Piper and Fake Charles Spurgeon.

7. Facebook
This was the year of facebook as well. It made it to the list of many countries' top 10 searches for 2008. That's gotta be good.

8. Problogger
Blogging as a career? This is where you go to find out how. Buy this guys' book too.

9. Popurls
Think Drudgereport times a hundred! As my friend Jonathan Chan told me, it's a bit of a snapshot of what's big on the internet right now. Info junkies will thank me.

10. Alltop
Inspired by Popurls, this page is a little more organized, and you can search by topic. Great to see what's hot in church news.

Well, thanks for following along, and feel free to add, comment and

12.18.2008

Flashback Friday's (On Thursday!): 80's Nintendo Edition





Ahhhh Nintendo. I remember spending many hours playing game after mind numbing game on it, and learning all about secret passages, hidden levels, cheats, and just learning to spend hours in front of a T.V. screen. Well, things haven't changed that much. Today, Mario and Luigi are still fighting the forces of evil with the help of Wii. Who knows, I may yet play Mario Brothers with my own kids at this rate. So, I wanted to ask: what were your favorite video games growing up? Here are a few of mine:

Ah Mega Man 2. Play it today, and it is STILL a great game. And seriously, the theme music is just amazing. Funny that that kind of music is popular today. Another reason to thank the Japanese.


Here is a guy beating the original Mario Brothers in less than 5 mins. Blasphemous, I know. This game was supposed to make you work hard all afternoon before you gave up trying to get to Koopa's level (that or get yelled at by your parents because they said you would get a seizure). Either way, this game is still a classic and you can't beat that sound track. Mario Brother's was, for many of us, our first taste of video game action. In a way, it also taught us a thing or two about life: if at first you don't pass the level, try, try again.



Ok, I can't find a good visual of the game, but you played this game for one reason: that song! It's so cool. So Russian. Was this a Russian Game? Seriously, this is what they tortured their kids with? Well, It was a fun game to play when I was a kid, and I occasionally play it on igoogle. This game is addictive.


Before Mortal Combat, before Street fighter, we got our fix of video game violence with Double Dragon. I had DD2 and we made it to the final level ONE TIME! As we were about to fight the final boss and flip this game (as was the vernacular at the time) someone dropped my NES system :( We never got that far in the game again. Oh well. I guess one day when I get a Wii, and download DD2, I'll try and do it again.

This History of Search

How did people search for information before Google? Or even the internet? I'm sure for many of us, that is hard to imagine, but it was possible. From Chunk It, the Evolution of Search. If you're an info junkie like me, then you'll enjoy their brief history of search, and their thoughts  on the future of search.

12.16.2008

A Response to Dinesh D'souza

So who gets into heaven and why? According to Dinesh D'souza, only God knows, and they may not have to know Christ to do so. Last week while listening to Dennis Prager I caught his interview with Mr. D'souza about his new book: What's So Great About Christianity? . (A book I might recommend in time, withholding judgment so far). One of the questions he and Mr. Prager discussed was who gets into heaven. I guess at this point, seeing that Mr. D'souza was put forth as a Christian expert (His page would indicate he's Roman Catholic) he gave an answer that would be in line with what Prager believes. Here's an example:



So what was Dinesh's answer to the same kind of question? It came along these lines:

1) Abraham is mentioned as someone in heaven (referring to Abraham's bossom) and he never had faith in Christ.
2) We're never told who is in Heaven.
3) And what about that good Hindu who just never got a chance but lived in line with the law of Moses?(not an argument but an assertion that is supposed to settle the matter)

As a response to the first answer, I quote Paul himself as he states in Romans 4
1
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God.3What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”


I believe that answers two of Mr. D'souzas arguments. namely that Faith is required (Not by works of the law, Moses' or otherwise) but also that Abraham believed God. I might add, by even bringing Abraham up, doesn't that at least tell us whom IS in heaven? Now he might wonder about all people who believe in God and have faith in him. But I ask: which God? Again, Paul tells us in Galatians 3:
6Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Notice that All people have to come to faithin the same God as Abraham did, and have the same kind of faith to have the same end: being in God's family (which will eventually be with him in Heaven). Notice also that this good news (gospel) is what Abraham believed (In embryonic form it would seem because is says Scripture anticipated the whole story). He believed the gospel, now that we have the full version, that alone is what saves people. It alone is the bridge to being in God's family. And if you don't believe me, let me quote Hebrews 11. In the great chapter of faith it tells of the end of those who believed:
14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.16Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Sounds a lot like Heaven. I refer you to Revelation 4 as well:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.

10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”

God himself has taken the initiative to save a people for himself. Who are they? Those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:12-13)

As for people who live in accord with the law of Moses? Romans 3:

9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.10As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;

11there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.

12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”

We'd better take a closer look at what the Bible says about who does and doens't go to Heaven. To ignore it is to ignore God's master plan.

12.12.2008

The Creative Christian



Are you creative? Is that even important? I think more and more that we get set in our ways. We stop learning to think creatively, and give into the status quo. It's easy to do. But I think that as Christians, we should exercise the full creative abilities God has given us. Doing show, we show forth the very creativity that is in God. So, if you are in ministry (and if anyone needs to be creative it is someone in ministry) here are a few websites I've found helpful.
Boost your creativity with these pages:

http://www.innovatorstoolkit.com/download/ (free templates with 50+ exercises to stimulate your thinking-go get the book as well)

http://thebackofthenapkin.com (Read the book, visit the website for some free downloads)

http://lateralaction.com/ (cool blog with some fun creative ideas)

http://www.innovationtools.com/Articles/ArticleDetails.asp?a=155 (a HUGE list of creative thinking websites-go here first)

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_01.htm (how to mind map)

http://www.mindmeister.com/ (mind mapping page)

http://www.text2mindmap.com/ (text based mind map-cool)

http://thinkinghow.com/ (more ideas)

http://lifehacker.com (Just plain fun)

I might add, that part of this post in inspired by an event that I will
be takng a part of. I'll be representing Let My People Read! and New Reformation. The event is known as Idea Camp A hybrid conference where the speakers will also be dialogging with the attendees. So it will be a sort of round table discussion as well as a Q and A session and networking meeting. Like I said, hybrid! I'm sure I won't agree with all the speakers, but I think that listening to other people will be helpful to my own thinking. Admission is free, just join the page and you are registered. Join in on the forums as well.

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Mary the mother of Christ


For Reformed Christians celebrating Advent we read this week
Luke 1:26-38 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.


If you didn't notice, Mary's first supernatural encounter was with an Angel. If you know your OT, angels didn't always mean something good. They were there to destroy Sodom and Gomoroah, in Isaiah an angel destroyed an army, and well, lets just say the list goes on. But on this occasion, angels delivered a message about a long awaited Savior. So why are people still talking about his Mom?

What is the lady of Guadelupe? If you follow Wikipedia it states:

Our Lady of Guadalupe, also called the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra SeƱora de Guadalupe or Virgen de Guadalupe) is a 16th century Roman Catholic icon from Mexico representing a Marian apparition. It is perhaps Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image. Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast day is celebrated on 12 December, commemorating the account of her appearances to Saint Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City from 9 through 12 December 1531.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol of significant importance to Catholics. She is recognized as "Patroness of the Americas". The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the second most visited Roman Catholic shrine in the world.

The Virgin of Guadalupe has also symbolized the Mexican nation since the Mexican War of Independence. Both Miguel Hidalgo and Emiliano Zapata's armies traveled underneath Guadalupan flags, and Our Lady of Guadalupe is generally recognized as a symbol of all Mexicans. The Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes once said that "...one may no longer consider himself a Christian, but you cannot truly be considered a Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe."[1]

Nobel Literature laureate Octavio Paz wrote in 1974 that "the Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery".[2]

Sad to say, to this day you will hear more of the the lady of Guadelupe, and less of Christ on spanish TV this time of year. Even now I've already heard many announcements on Spanish TV (thanks to my Dad's TV habits) advertising one event or another involving the lady. (SOmeting we would never do in the US if you think about it). Can anyone discredit the apparitions that Juan Diego had of the lady? I don't know. I do know, that when you let a miraculous experience alone guide your religious life, you end up with Mormonism!


More so, the real question to ask is this: what would Mary have wanted us to do with her and her son? Thankfully when we come to the Bible, we are not left without an answer. Today's Advent reading tells us:
John 2:1-11 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.


Two things to note. After the gospels, she is never mentioned again. James the brother of Christ is however. Also, note that this was written by John. If you recall, Jesus asked John to care for his mother at the cross. John 19:26-27 says
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said, " Woman, behold your son!". Then he said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour, the disciple took her into his own home.
John tells us about Mary and Jesus' encounter at Canaan. Having lived with the woman, if he had wanted to add anything else about Mary, this was the time. John did record her words from that day at the wedding, words we would do well to live by: do what Jesus commands. She pointed to him, not to herself.

12.10.2008

Team Pyro Does it again!

Frank Turk of Team Pyro has written a very (VERY!) lengthy response HERE to the recent pro-gay marriage Newsweek story. This is definitely the tip of the iceberg. If we as a church think we can ignore this, we do so at out own peril. We must learn to develop a cogent biblically based response to the new gay movement.

Other responses

Al Mohler
James White

12.08.2008

New Blog Alert!!!!!!

If you have the time visit Alan Jabob's page at Culture 11. Culture11 is in itself an interesting blog for young thinkers to visit as well. It was good of them to invite a season English Professor from Wheadon to contribute his thoughts. I dare say he seems to be as well read as Al Mohler (who has an impressive blog himself). Check out his inaugural post. Here's a quote from his first post

Hello, and welcome to a new blog about technologies of reading and research and, well, knowledge. I’m not going to turn this first post into a manifesto, because manifestos tend to be a lot more boring than they’re meant to be, and in any case if you hang around you’ll see what I’m up to. But in brief:

I’m a fifty-year-old professor of English and therefore, as you might suspect, a lifelong reader. Books and magazines have been near the core of my identity since I learned to read at age three. I love the printed word and think that it embodies a set of technologies whose virtues can’t be replaced by other media. But I also have a deep interest in and attachment to the online world; I tend to get pretty excited about what I can do, what I can learn, what I can read, and in general what I can experience online.


Visit his page and tell him I sent you. Oh I should add that he likes books as much as I do, so thats one other reason I endorsed him here.

12.01.2008

World AIDS Day




On world AIDS day, I wanted to share with you a few thoughts on why we as a church must do something about this. Jesus speaks in Matthew 25:36, 40, 45-46

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Notice that the unrighteous are sent to eternal punishment for not doing these things. The righteous are counted as people who do what verse 36 says. Visit WorldVision for a really thought provoking interactive program they have where you get to see what it's like to have AIDS in Africa, as well as the stereotypes and stigma those infected have to face. Many of them got it because their parent got it and passed it on to them, many are infected as a result of rape, and others as a result of their own sinful decisions. Many of them are orphans and single mothers. I hope you consider donating to WorldVision, as they are a ministry I trust with the work they are doing in Africa. And when you can, please pray for the Continent of Africa and the people there who are dying of this terrible disease.