6 years, 3 months of his 7 year sentence has been suspended. (click here) He will be free by 2008.
The problem has reached epidemic proportions. Political correctness has prevented decisive action from being taken. (click here )
Joe Smith reviews the movie 300. (click here) Every bloke who has seen this movie seems to want to take up arms and die bravely in battle. Clearly it is tapping into something...
Al Stewart is being consecrated as the new bishop of Wollongong tonight. He's a good bloke. (click here)
This is the website for the Emerging Church I visisted a couple of weeks ago. (click here) I admire the way the EC uses the web - I want to incorporate some elements into the new version of our website...
As many of you know, I see my boys once a fortnight, which is standard for these situations. I used to pick them up on Friday night of my week, but recent circumstances have meant I have not been able to pick them up until Saturday afternoon, greatly reducing my time with them. I've effectively gone from 2 nights/fortnight to just 1.
There has been another issue troubling me. I see one of my great responsibilities as developing their spiritual lives, and it has bothered me that they only attend church once a fortnight when they visit me.
I recently proposed to the x that I pick the boys up on Saturday evening of my "off-week". This gives me back 2 nights/fortnight with the boys and allows me to take them to church. She has agreed, and this Saturday night is the first under the new arrangement. It means a lot of extra travel for me, but I decided it is worth it. I really only have a few more years before they are grown, and I must make the most of them.
By GK Chesterton. I haven't read it, but Chesterton is such a marvellous writer that I am sure it is very good. (click here)
Below we were talking about an apologetics discussion group, possibly run via Skype. Now, my current committments would really make it impossible at the moment to commit to a regular time every week, but here is an alternative. How about every week I "sticky" a different apologetics question at the top of my blog? We can then discuss possible solutions to it in the comments thread - and would probably get a much greater cross section of comment.
Here's another little idea; to preserve ego's in the robust debate, anyone who wants to contribute must do so under an alias. Perhaps the name of a dead philosopher.
I rather like this idea. I'll see if I can get it going...
I love the net. This morning I linked to MJ's review of "The Pelagius Book". Check there now, and you will see that the author himself has commented on the review. ( click here)
This looks like a useful pre-evangelistic course - I think there is a gap in this market. (click here) MMs recent "Six Steps" course may well cover the same ground...
Looks fascinating. (click here) Not surprising that the author is repulsed by what he perceives to be Augustines fatalism - that's what everyone stumbles over.
The whole "free will" thing is a perennial issue for the church, and especially for those of us to believe God is completely sovereign over the affairs of this world. How do we avoid the charge of fatalism?
Interestingly, some secularists have this problem too. I'm reading "The Blank Slate" by Steven Pinker. Pinker is criticized on the grounds that his biological reductionism leads to an absolute determinism. He has a pragmatic response - stop making decisions for a few days and see what happens! Christians who believe in God's sovereignty could say something similar.
But here's how I look at it. Free will is a subjective experience - perhaps the ultimate subjective experience. Therefore, we have precisely as much free will as we feel we have. Somehow this is experience of free will is comprehended within the sovereign reign of God (and, I suppose, biological determinism!).
Oh yeah, I notice that MJ has finally succumbed to using a classic "MySpace shot" for his profile...
IR is going to be a bit of a minefield for Kevin Rudd as well. He has yet to declare his hand - look for the government to engineer it's own scare campaign once he does. ( click here)
Wayne Swan makes a compelling case for investing in broadband infrastructure. (click here) The government is coping a hammering on this issue. I predict a monumental backflip in the next couple of months, and the issue to be neutralised by the election...
- Does God exist?
- Is the Bible true?
- Wasn't Jesus just a great religious teacher?
- Did Jesus come back from the dead?
- Hasn't science disproved Christianity?
- Why does God allow suffering?
- Doesn't "faith" mean believing without evidence?
- Can miracles actually happen?
- What about people who have never heard about Jesus?
- Aren't other religions just different ways to God?
- Won't God accept good people?
- How could a loving God send people to hell?
- What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
- What about all the terrible things Christians have done?
Well, it's been an exciting week for the new church web site. We received nearly 7,000 hits last week, which is well over triple the normal number. Will be interesting to see how things level off. I'm in the process of adding a whole lot of sermons to the sermon library, it will be very cool. Check back often! ( click here)
Results from the NCLS survey suggest the diocese is far less evangelistic than many of us assumed. (click here) Changes are needed, I'm not sure what though...
For a number of years the Federal government has been quietly changing the Family Law system to give men a better deal after a marriage split. New figures show that separated Dads are much more involved in their children's lives than 10 years ago, and more Dads than ever are being awarded custody of the children after divorce. ( click here)
I salute the ALP propoganda machine - they have managed to pull a massive con on the public in the area of Industrial Relations. It has been a masterful scare campaign, and the achievement is even more astonishing given how robustly healthy our job market continues to be. As Peter Hendy notes in the Oz -
"There might be 265,000 new jobs created in one year but union bosses insist the legislation is bad for jobs. Wages might be up but they say wages are being cut. Penalty rates and overtime continue to be paid by employers but they say these are being ripped away. Disputes are at a record low but they say the laws are divisive. Agreements are up but they say Work Choices produces conflict.
More women than ever are in the workforce but they say women are worse off. Unemployment is at a record low (4.6 per cent) but they say the low paid are losing out. The job security index is at a record high but they say workers are in fear of their jobs. Jobs are increasing in every sector and almost all parts of the country but they say it's only the resources boom that makes things look good."Read the whole article here. (click here)
David exegetes the purpose of the Law from Galatians. (click here) The Reformers called this the "first use of the law", and they identified two other uses...
Finally watched UFC 63 on the weekend with the ladz. Not the strongest card I've ever seen, but there were some ok fights. I enjoyed Penn vs Hughes. A lot of people said that Hughes was lucky to get the win, but I don't agree. He weathered the early storm then got the most dominant mount I've ever seen in the third round - Penn couldn't do a thing.
Part 2 of my series on divorce and the church. Lots of personal stuff, lots of good advice...
Some very helpful tips in this article, many of which I use. (click here) You will do yourself a great favour if you learn to speed-read - especially if you are a student or pastor. Your comprehension will increase, trust me.
Ok, the following paragraph will be of interest to Martial Arts buffs only.
Had a good work out at kickboxing tonight - as always. I have to decide where to go with this, as just the cardio stuff is getting a bit dull. I could go the full Muay Thai route, and possibly take up sparring. The other possibility is to start learning Brazillian Jui Jitsu. The owner of the the gym I go to is a world class Pancrase and Shooto wrestler. He fought Frank Shamrock! He is mates with Randy Couture!
There is another intriguing possibility. Not too far away is the Sinosic-Perosh Martial Arts Academy. Elvis Sinosich is a world class MMA fighter, who has had several bouts in the UFC. He beat Jeremy Horn! He fought Tito Ortiz for the Light Heavyweight championship! This guy is the real deal - I've watched a few of his fights. His partner, Anthony Perosh, has also had a fight in the UFC, and is (I believe) under contract for another. Would be kinda cool to go somewhere where the guys you watch on TV are instructing...
Hmmm...will think about it...
The Guardian has credited Neil (One Salient Oversight) as the first blogger to suggest that Bob Woolmer was murdered. (click here) We are not worthy...
A fascinating article discussing how the internet has changed marketing. (click here) There are implications for anyone seek to put out a message...
We sang "Blessed" by Matt Redman on Sunday night, and the congregation nearly lifted the roof off the church. It's a wonderful, anthemic song. And contemporary people like anthems - it is a part of our recent musical heritage. They stir us, and lift us, and encourage us like the great hymns used to for our great great grandparents. Pentecostal churches have been BRILLIANT at writing wonderful anthems. More conservative churches less so. We need to work hard at finding good anthems for our meetings - and writing our own anthems as well...
Here is a link to Dominic's memorial address for Morgan Mellish. (click here) Really moving, compassionate but also convicting. Well done, my friend.
Here is a link to our Old Testament talk library. (click here) A bit underdeveloped, will have to do some more OT...
Click here. Hmmm...I'm reading between the lines, but it sounds like MM might be publishing an anthology of the Dean's weekly articles to the Cathedral. That would be pretty cool, I reckon...
Desiring God ministries are giving 30,000 copies of "Don't waste your life" to new army recruits. What a great idea! (click here)
Interesting comment on Generation Y. (click here) Seems like a bit of a justification for selfishness to me. But maybe I'm just a "GenX technological pragmatist"...
Really enjoyed church tonight. I thought the music sounded excellent - and the congregation was in fine voice. Sam from the fountainside was preaching, a good sermon on Romans 14. He started the sermon by lighting up a cigarette and smoking it for a couple of minutes. Heh. Sam, I thought you would have mentioned the Beer Appreciation Society for sure...
My latest PODCast - the first in a multi-part series on the church and divorce, as I share my personal experiences. Pretty hard hitting. Mature audience only.
Woah, tired. Great weekend, but tiring. These things always are. We did 15 songs (with minimal rehearsal time), but they went ok. Now I've got about an hour to revive before rehearsal and playing this evening! haha - I love it though! Great series by Con on Zechariah - sorry, we didn't record it. Lotsa fun playing games, chatting etc with everyone too. V. good weekend, well done Ro and Nae.
Click here. Interesting lecture by Don Carson. One surprising thing he said - that the requirement of "hospitality" excluded those men who were not socially inclined, who did not like spending time with people. Those men who want to spend all their time in their studies with books are not good eldership material, in the opinion of Carson.
If, when I die, I unexpectedly find myself still conscious, standing at the gates of heaven to be judged, I shall say this:
"You who created me, gave me a mind to reason. When I used that mind, I did not find You, and instead found much reason that You must not be. If You are going to damn me for eternity for using the mind You gave me then I shall accept my punishment, for any being that would do such a thing is not deserving of my respect, let alone my love."
If that is pride, so be it. If you can not choose to whom you submit, on your own terms, you are a slave.
I just want to draw your attention again to the CCEC Youth web site. (click here) This is an excellent example of how a ministry can create a really, really cool website using a blog. I'm pretty sure they used WordPress for their blogging software.
A study suggests that the way someone walks affects their attractiveness to the opposite sex. (click here)
Oz readers will be aware of the death of journalist Morgan Mellish in a plane crash in Indonesia last week. Dominic will be speaking at the memorial service at the cathedral next week. The service will likely receive national media attention, so please pray that he will speak wisely, and with grace and power.
"One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn't possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it" (from "Fundies say the darndest things")
This is a very insightful discussion. A number of things they said rang true for me. I'll be interested to hear David's take on it. ( click here)
Michael Horton's "The White Horse Inn" have interviewed Mark Driscoll (click here) and put his book "The Radical Reformission" on their Recommended Reading List!!!! I find this so surprising - Horton usually has such a dislike of pop culture. On the other hand, Driscoll is bringing Reformed theology to many people - Horton would be very in tune with that.
Ligonier Conference is making a vidcast available for free. (click here) Speakers include John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, Al Mohler, and John MacArthur. Will be worth checking out.
A clever video. (click here) A bad, anti-intellectual/anti-faith message though. Let's be plain - if all you are doing is "trying to live like Christ lived", you have no inheritance in the kingdom. It is faith alone that will secure salvation...
We had our church AGM yesterday. The best thing about it was that we managed to keep it down to about 90 minutes. As someone said to me, it is good to be part of a church where everyone is going in the same direction. These things are painful when everyone is arguing. I've been elected to church council, and also to represent the parish at synod. I may do a Challies-style liveblog of the latter event...we'll see...
My latest PODCast. I share the story of my conversion. Get's kinda heavy toward the end, pretty personal.
Click here. Have my US friends got onto this guy yet? He's an Australian evangelist - and I reckon he's great! He's basically podcasting his books, bit by bit, which is an excellent marketing strategy.
Here is the direct link to J-Walk 01. (click here) It's very cool - be inspired youth group leaders!
I told you a week or so ago about GameMaker. I downloaded it to help the boys build some computer games. But, of course, I got hooked on it and have built the first stage of a scrolling shooter I am quite proud of. Here is a screen shot -
The JWs have biblical proof. (click here) Look at this sample of their sparkling exegesis -
"The Bible does not say that cats were not present at Herod's birthday party when John the Baptist was beheaded. History shows that cats were most likely present at this tragic party that Jehovah did not approve of. Clearly then, as loyal Christians, why would we even want to associate with animals that are without a doubt of such bad influence, remembering how true are the Bible's words: 'Bad associations spoil useful habits'! -1 Cor. 15:33."
Following are some characteristically perceptive comments by "The Pirate", a contributor at BHT -
Dispensational premillennialism gets Israel wrong because it gets the Church wrong, and therefore it gets Christ wrong as well. Eschatology is not a minor point of theology. Sure, we can argue over the details of how the end will come down. The prophecies are obscure. But when you’ve got a theology that posits a saving covenant that exists outside of and alongside that proclaimed in the Gospel, a Church that’s not grafted into Israel, an Old Testament that didn’t reach its fulfillment in the Cross, and a ceremonial administration that didn’t pass away in the death of Christ, you’ve missed the boat.
I should answer his four questions, so that I’ll be cool, too:
1. “Is the Old Testament A-Millennial?”
If this means “not proclaiming a millennium of political reign prior to the judgment of all nations,” then yes. Truth, justice, and the worship of God are established by the coming King. No talk of a millennium here. By the way, the return from exile and the rebuilding of the temple was fulfilled under the administration of Ezra. The King came and continues to rule.
2. “Were the Jews in Jesus’ day amil?”
One big point of the Gospel of Matthew is that what the Jews expected the fulfillment of the OT to look like was way off, so this question is irrelevant.
3. “Was Jesus a-mil?”
Jesus answered questions of the kingdom by pointing to himself and saying “It’s here.” I think that means “yes.”
4. “Were the Apostles a-mil?”
I guess so. They weren’t chiliasts, and they didn’t seem to expect a worldwide political hegemony of Reformed Christianity, either.
I don't usually read too much at the Boars Head Tavern, but there is a whole heap over there about Macarthur's address. (click here) I imagine you will see a whole lot of Arminian/Revivalist pre-mills come out in support of Macarthur. This is gonna muddy the waters a bit...
Saw the following interesting comment on the Riddleblog. It makes a distinction between "Reformed Baptists" and "Calvinistic Baptists" that I wasn't aware of.
#1 JM is not a Reformed Baptist. John Piper is not a Reformed Baptist. Most SBC calvinists are not Reformed Baptists.
#2 From personal observation, most Reformed Baptists are amillennial.
#3 The confusion of "Reformed Baptists" with "Calvinistic Baptists" is common but incorrect.
#4 Reformed Baptists are 1. Covenantal, 2. Sabbatarian, 3. practice the Reg. Princ. of Worship, 4. Non-dispensational (regarding Israel/Church, the uses of the Law, the doctrines of grace, the nature of sanctification, etc.), 5. Non-charismatic
Mark Dever traces the debate from the 19th Century. Very interesting reading. (click here) BTW, I've listened to a lot of Mark's interviews now, and I very much like his sense of humour. Very dry and ironic...
The discussion below got on to this topic. Here is an essay by Warfield - "The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture". (click here )
FIDE-O strike back at Macarthur's attack on Calvinistic amillenialism. (click here) Actually, the whole theo-blogosphere has lit up. Expect to hear much more about this.
Purgatorio has pretty much closed. (click here) It really was legendary in the evangelical blogosphere...
The Bulletin does a mini-expo on Hillsong. (click here) Will be worth picking up. Seems that much of the material comes from a disgruntled former member.
The problem is, this attitude often goes too far, and Christians wanting to be faithful to the gospel proclamation become suspicious of *any* attempt to do good works. At most they are regarded neutrally.
John Stott has said that for a Christian, evangelism and social responsibility are like "two wings of a bird". That is, they must function together, in harmony and balance. He strongly rejects good works done simply as a bridge to evangelism - good works are an end in themself.
Mark Dever has said he is nervous about Stott's characterisation of good works. It can never be loving to *not* tell someone the gospel. so Dever seems to suggest that good works are only ever justified as a means to evangelism.
The emerging church says evangelicalism has been reductionistic in it's understanding of the gospel, rejecting the implications beyond heaven/hell. Yet the EC, in rejecting conversion language, has effectively rejected evangelism. To use Stott's metaphor, if evangelicals have clipped one wing off the bird, the EC has clipped the other wing off.
For me, these are important questions as we consider what shape our church is going to take in the local community in the future. I've mentioned before that I am starting a divorce recovery/support group at church - it has already been approved by church council and has the warm backing of the pastors. We also run a depression support group at church, which I would like to see promoted in the community.
I haven't figured out how to fit evangelism and social responsibility together in a coherent system. But I feel absolutely convicted that we should be doing good works in the community, and I will continue to push that line. I do not fear that we will lose our "gospel edge" because I have confidence in our preachers, and I feel that evangelism is buried too deeply in the nervous system of the church to be easily dislodged.
Interesting times ahead...
Was just listening to a Dever interview with Piper. Piper was talking, passionately, about his longing for thousands and thousands in the Twin Cities to come to Christ. I feel the same way, to a smaller scale, for our own little part of Sydney. It seems to me that God is starting to pour out His blessing on our little church. There is a confidence burning in my heart that He will do great things in the next few years...
David told me this is pretty good. (click here) The ABC have certainly been innovators in this field.
"The survey of the biblical and historical material is thorough and careful and leaves me in no doubt that, if one wants to excise sacrificial language from the atonement or remove the substitutionary aspect, one does so against the overwhelming testimony of the scriptures and the tradition." Click here
A good day today. Church in the morning, played bass, heard a good sermon on "Faith Alone", chatted to some people. In the afternoon I finished reading "The Blue World" (an excellent Jack Vance book), did some work on a book review for SC, and had a nap. In the evening I went to see DavidC preach at his church in Epping. It was my first experience of an "Emerging Church" style of worship, and it was very interesting. I will doubtless blog some more about it some time. Got back to my church in time to catch up with some people. Was really delightful to see how full the place was, and how many new faces were there. Chatted to some people, went to the pub for a drink and home. The Sabbath is a blessing!
In church today, David asked an excellent question about the intermediate state. The following link helpfully discusses the Reformed position. (click here )
Click here. I'm not surprised - the guidelines released by the government were very restrictive. I fear that liberal churches will find them a good fit, however...
There has been a remarkable resurgence in this godless region of Sydney - the region where I live. SC has a good feature on this. ( click here)
Click here Introducing God is now being used in about 2,500 churches. Dominic gets invited to speak at conferences by Presys, Baptists, Lutherans, Reformed and Anglicans right across the country...
Typically our after church music in the evening is "soft rock Christian" - I'm sure you know the type. But it's been suggested it would be better to play secular music, and something a better grungier. My own thoughts were POD and Linkin Park, but they are a few years old now. What do my 20-something readers suggest?
A very thoughtful and helpful discussion from Pulpit Magazine. (click here) Their reasoning seems solid to me...
Click here. My boys can't believe how primitive the graphics were. Harry once asked if they had telephones when I was little..!
According to the UK "CarbonNeutral Company" (click here), I can become CO2 neutral for about $10/month! I might even kick in $11/month, and then Gaia will owe me...