Wednesday, February 28, 2007

dangerous dating

This article suggests that singles may be looking for love in all the wrong places if their dating habits result in statements such as the ones listed below.

1. “I’ll have one more round in case that special someone shows up.”

2. “I didn’t intend to have sex last night—I’m not sure how it happened.”

3. “I’m too hung over to go to work today. I think I’ll call in sick.”

4. “I’m nervous about my date tonight. Better down a little ‘liquid courage’ before going out.”

5. “I only got drunk last night because I was trying to keep up with my date.”

why I reject evolution

Disclaimer: BELOW I HAVE SHARED WHY I DON'T BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION. I INVITE YOU TO DISAGREE OR CHALLENGE MY LOGIC. I'M NOT ATTEMPTING TO PROVIDE THE ULTIMATE LEAK-PROOF ARGUMENT AGAINST EVOLUTION, BUT AM PUTTING MY REASONS FOR REJECTING IT INTO WRITING TO HELP ME CLARIFY MY OWN THOUGHTS IN A WAY THAT WILL MAKE ME BETTER ABLE TO COMMUNICATE THEM.

When I was in jr. high, high school, and college I remember being taught the theory of Darwinian evolution as if it was verifiable fact. I have since become convinced that it is not at all true. Some of my reasons are obviously religious ones. Here they are:

1) GODLESS BEGINNINGS - From what I understand, evolutionary theory is committed to the trying to explain the origins of the world, our race, etc. through natural causes alone. Since I believe in the supernatural, I have neither need nor desire to try to understand the world as if there is no God. Any supernaturalist should consider that when the possibility of God is thrown into the mix, then the need for the theory of evolution no longer exists.

2) APE-MAN GAP - In my mind I just can't wrap my head around how man could have evolved from apes. Sure, I may have almost as much body hair as an ape. But the fact that I am typing a sentence on a man-made computer alone demonstrates the humongous gap between apes and men. And if survival of the fittest is true, and we are a later stage in the evolutionary process, then why do apes still exist at all? The gap between apes and men is far too great for me to be able to believe in the plausibility of our common ancestory. This may seem like a weak reason to some folks, but logically I just can't make the connection.

3) FOSSIL RECORD - It would seem that if evolution were true then there would be an abundance of fossils that demonstrate transitory stages in evolution. Paleontologists have known for decades that these fossils simply do not exist. The more fossils that are found the greater the distinction becomes between fossil groupings. This has forced evolutionary paleontologists to come up with theories such as Punctuated Equilibrium. To me this idea takes a much greater leap of faith to believe in than I could imagine a naturalist being willing to take.

4) IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY - This is the idea that some things are so complex that they could not function at all in a simpler form. Micheal Behe expounded on this idea in his book Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. The human cell, which Darwin was unable to study in great depth, is irreducibly complex and could not have functioned at all unless all of the parts were present from the beginning. In other words, the cell could not have evolved.

5) EVIDENCE OF DESIGN - In so many areas of study, researchers examine data to see if there there is evidence of an intelligent design behind what they see. If an archaeologist finds a small piece of a clay pot, he considers it enough evidence to begin to believe that an intelligent being created it. When someone dies, examiners examine the body to see if the death was by natural causes or if there is evidence that a murder occurred (which is death by intelligent design). When a building burns down, investigators examine where there is evidence that points to arson, or if the fire was an accident. Arson equals fire by an intelligent designer. Contrary to what many believe, the Intelligent Design movement is not a religious movement, but it is a movement within science that says when we look at the complexity of the world, there is clear evidence that points to an intelligent designer. Who would look at something like Mount Rushmore and pretend that it could have occurred by natural causes? Then why would we look at something like a human brain or a human cell and imagine that it could have occurred by natural causes.

6) LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES - As sad as it is, the logical consequences of Darwinian evolution are that some living creatures should die for the sake of the survival of the fitter creatures. This is called the survival of the fittest. If one was committed to this worldview, in my opinion, then destroying people who are inferior in physical or mental ability would be the logical and even the right thing to do. This is what Hitler thought when he convinced his followers that the Jews were subhuman and that the human race would be better off if the Jews were destroyed. The very fact that this idea is so offensive to our minds tells me that evolution is not true. Evolution would say that ideas like compassion, altruism, and love are merely concepts that evolved over time and continue to exist because they aid the survival of the one showing forth the quality. I'm not ignorant of the fact that Christians have done horrendous things throughout history. But I will say that the logical consequences of following the teachings of Christ, though not always carried out, are wonderful and good.

7) SCIENTIFIC DISSENT - This has been a big eye opener to me. When I was taught evolution it was presented as if every intelligent person believed in the theory. I now find out that there are thousands of PhD. level scientists who reject the theory of evolution. There is NOT a scientific consensus about evolutionary theory. For just a couple of examples check out these websites:
http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/
http://www.pssiinternational.com/

8) MICRO VS. MACRO - From what I understand, microevolution is the idea that change takes place within a given species. For example, human beings are taller than they were a century ago. Macroevolution says that the same changes that have taken place within a species over billions of years actually created every species. No one I know denies the findings of microevolution. However, this in no way validifies the theory of macroevolution.

9) EARTH'S UNIQUENESS - The planet we live in is so strangely and uniquely suited for life. So many things had to be just right for life to exist. The odds of it happening by natural causes are so preposterous that I don't buy it. Many scientists do not either. For a few examples go to http://www.privilegedplanet.com/links.php.

10) INFORMATION TRANSMISSION - Many scientists point out that the universe is not merely made up of matter but also of information. In my mind, the large amounts of information in every bit of human DNA needs another explanation besides evolution.

I am obviously not a scientist. I have received some of the information that has led me to reject the theory of evolution from Christian sources who as I am are committed to a supernaturalist worldview. I also have Christian friends who embrace the theory of evolution as the way that God created humankind. I don't doubt their Christian faith or their commitment to seeking true knowledge. I speak for myself alone in saying that I just don't buy Darwinian evolution anymore.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

schism

Episcopalian leaders would rather divide from the greater Anglican community than agree to uphold historic Christian positions. Read more.

Monday, February 26, 2007

does Al Gore practice what he preaches?

You decide.

how to survive a nuclear attack

I came across this interisting article by Shane Connor about how to survive a nuclear attack. Here's a blurb:
What possible good news could there ever be about nuclear destruction coming to America, whether it is dirty bombs, terrorist nukes or ICBMs from afar?

In a word, they are all survivable for the vast majority of American families, if they know what to do beforehand and have made even the most modest preparations.

Tragically, though, most Americans today won't give much credence to this good news, much less seek out such vital life-saving instruction, as they have been jaded by our culture's pervasive myths of nuclear un-survivability.

Most people think that if nukes go off, then everybody is going to die, or will wish they had. That's why you hear such absurd comments as: "If it happens, I hope I'm at ground zero and go quickly."

good movie

This is a good movie. I saw it this weekend at a youth retreat I took some kids to.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Osama wants Prince Harry "dead or alive"

Read more.

Andy Stanley on optimal church size

I came across this blog post about Andy Stanley's church(es) where Andy actually jumps in and gets involved in the comment stream. The thing that stood out about what he said was his church's philosophy on the optimal size for a church. I think he has a great point.
Our theory is that a church should be allowed or encouraged to grow large enough to sustain a viable high school and middle school ministry. A successful student ministriy requires critical mass in order to capture and keep the attention of their target audience. So the question becomes, how many aduilts are required to generate critical mass for a student ministry? That depends upon the demographic of a community.

If you are a twenty six year old seminary student with a couple of kids in diapers that may not sound like a great answer. But if you are a church planter with 150 people and one of your elders just informed you that her family is leaving because you don't have anything for her thirteen year old, it makes painful sense.

Parents will put up with a lot in big church if thier teenagers feel connected to a student ministry.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rob Bell's accuracy challenged by Asbury prof

Have you ever listened to Rob Bell and been inspired and challenged and impressed, but then thought in your heart: If Rob Bell's re-interpretation of Jesus as a first-century Jewish rabbi is accurate, then how come Rob and one or two of his close friends are the only ones who know anything about it?

Here are two very gracious critiques of Rob Bell's accuracy in biblical interpretation by Asbury professor Ben Witherington III: ONE TWO

I appreciate that Ben doesn't bash Bell, but does issue some important challenges to his biblical interpretation.

(Thanks to Gloria Deo for the links!)

five universal fears / the need for clarity in leadership

In The One Thing You Need to Know, Marcus Buckingham (borrowing from Donald Brown) identifies five fears and five corresponding needs which are universal to every member of the human race:
1. The Fear of Death (our own and our family's)-The Need for Security
2. The Fear of the Outsider - The Need for Community
3. The Fear of the Future - The Need for Clarity
4. The Fear of Chaos - The Need for Authority
5. The Fear of Insignificance - The Need for Respect (pp.134-146)

Buckingham suggests that leaders need to focus on alleviating Fear #3, and to do so by providing clarity. He writes,
"By far the most effective way to turn fear into confidence is to be clear; to define the future in such vivid terms, through your actions, words, images, pictures, heroes, and scores that we can all see where you, and thus we, are headed. Of course you may have to tweak your descriptions of the future to accomodate unforeseen cirsumstances, but these tweaks, these small adjustments, must always be commuicated with great vividness. Clarity is the antidote to anxiety, and therefore clarity is the preoccupation of the effective leader. If you do nothing else as a leader, be clear." (pp.145-146)

Monday, February 19, 2007

huh?

I came across a link at Locusts & Honey to a bunch of actual snippets from courtroom interrogations. Here are a few samples:
________________________________

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
________________________________

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty-one...
________________________________

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Would you repeat the question?
________________________________

To read more, click here.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

night


Last night, I read Elie Wiesel's book Night. Its the story of his survival of the Holocaust at age 15. Its only 119 pages, so I could read it one night. The main feeling that I had as I read it was: I have no idea what it means to really suffer.

Friday, February 16, 2007

God and Israel

Last night I watched Schindler's List for the first time. It was incredibly moving. What more can be said.

I just read an article by David Brickner of Jews for Jesus about God's commitment to the nation of Israel. It really touched my heart, especially after just watching Schindler's List.

the one thing you need to know

I read a very interesting book this week called The One Thing You Need to Know by Marcus Buckingham. I came across his stuff about a year and a half ago when I learned that many churches use his StrenghsFinder to help congregants find effective ways to deploy their gifts for God.

In this book, Buckingham gives research-based principles for different areas of life. Here are a summary (with the understanding that you'll buy the book if you want to get a better grasp on them):

The one thing you need to know about...
- how to have a happy marriage:
Find the most generous explanation of each other's behavior and believe it. (p.22)

- how to be a great manager:
Discover what is unique in each person and capitalize on it. (p.83)

- how to be a great leader:
Discover what is universal and capitalize on it. (p.132)

- how to have sustained individual success:
Discover what you don't like doing and stop doing it. (p.257)

He spends a lot of time showing how his research has disproven many popular myths. One of the myths that he believes is very common is that leaders are made and not born. He disagrees and says that leaders are born and not made. He says that the two most important characteristics of a leader are optimism and ego. (pp.63-69)

Buckingham proves that the most common formulas for sustained individual success fall short. Those common formulas are:
1) Find the right tactics and employ them.
2) Find your flaws and fix them.
3) Discover your strengths and cultivate them.

And concludes that the only formula that will work is to "Discover what you don't like doing and stop doing it." (pp.227-260)

I'm not sure of Buckingham's religious convictions, and he is not trying to make religious statements. As a former researcher for the Gallup organization he is reporting what he has observed.

One could obviously argue that it would be possible for God to call someone to do something that he/she didn't like to do or call a person with a weak ego to leadership. How this fits in with how God calls us to live and pursue "success" will have to be considered in detail by people who find this materal useful. I did like the book though and found several helpful principles that God may use in my ministry if he so wishes. I recommend the book.

paleontology disproves Darwin

Read this brief article about how paleontology disproves Darwinian evolution and then help me understand why anyone would believe in Darwinian evolution.

Rick Warren's Christian blogger list

Check out Rick Warren's Christian bloggers list.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

keeping Jesus #1

Here's a link to a good little Rick Warren article about keeping Jesus Christ our main priority. Here's a blurb:
Jim Elliot, the missionary martyred by the Indians down in Ecuador, said, “He is no fool to give up that which he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.”

So what are you afraid to give up? What’s gotten out of priority in your life and in your ministry? Has a relationship with Christ been replaced by your ministry goals?

thoughts on church assimilation

Check out this 5-minute video clip where pastor Erwin McManus discusses his thoughts about church assimilation in the post-modern era. I like his idea that mobilization and assimilation should be the same thing.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

snowfall and leadership

The entire town of Pontiac is shutting down because of the massive snowfall going on, so I'm going home! Before I do, I thought I'd share a quote that I shared with a friend at breakfast this morning as we were talking about leadership. He really liked it. Its by Lovett Weems.
Organizations get the leadership they deserve, not the leadership they need.

Monday, February 12, 2007

good article on Hell

The new Christianity Today has a good article on Hell. Here's the opening paragraph:
God would not be party to anything as sordid as torture; Christians can agree on that. However, theologians are divided about how eternal judgment is not tantamount to such.

the downfall of Darwin

Darwinian evolution, a "theory" that has long been taught as fact to young trusting minds, is no longer considered credible by an ever-increasing number of top scientists. Read more here. It seems utterly deceitful to teach young people something which has such little evidential support as though it were indesputably true. Educational systems must stop closing the minds of young people if they will continue to exist and be effective.

Thanks to Brian Bill for the link.

Friday, February 09, 2007

simple church

I had a chance to read this book earlier this week. This is a book based on research that shows that the churches that are most effective in makes disciples have a simple and very clear process to making disciples.

Instead of having a mission statement, a purpose statement, a vision statement, and different mission/vision statements for different programs in their churches, they had one statement that succinctly summarized their disciple making process. It was a simple statement that everyone knew. Most of the statements involves three components:
1) connecting people to God
2) connecting people to other Christians
3) connecting people to service.

Then with this simple purpose/process statement, all of the church's programs were built around one of the points. Usually it looked like this
1) connecting people to God (through a worship service)
2) connecting people to other Christians (through a small group)
3) connecting people to service (through a ministry).

If a program didn't fit up within the defined purpose/process it was either thrown out or hopefully never allowed to exist. All of the different ministry areas (youth, children, adult) used the same process and the same statement and very similar programs.

There's more to it, but this was the main point of the book as I understand it. My friend Brian Bill recommended this book to me, and I recommend it to anyone who is struggling with an overprogrammed busy church and wants to be more effective in making disciples.

boys to men

For my birthday this year, my older brother gave me a book entitled Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis. He had read it and found it very helpful. I got the chance to read this short but powerful book yesterday on my day off and found it very inspiring.

Lewis and some friends made the observation that modern culture doesn't have a right of passage into manhood. He offers some ideas for how men can help their sons transition into adulthood with meaningful ceremonies (such as having godly men gather to encourage them and pray over them... nothing too far out).

He also says that young men need a biblical vision for authentic manhood. He builds it on Scripture. Here's a list of his "Manhood Principles" without explanation.

A real man...
#1 - rejects passivity
#2 - accepts responsibility
#3 - leads courageously
#4 - expects the greater reward...God's reward.

Read the book for a thorough explanation of these principles and why they are so important. I recommend it to every man who has a son.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

11 minute emerging church video

Check out this video about Solomon's Porch over at Steve McCoy's blog. Its a much different way of doing church than what most of us are used to!

more on the Christian convictions of Superbowl coaches...

Click here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

what is a "missional church"?

There are so many labels out there that can be applied to churches and Christians that I have a hard time keeping up with all the definitions of terms. One of the more recent labels is "missional." Here's an article that I just received that helps define this new label.

after the game...

I found this inspiring article by Ross Maak at The Pearcey Report website. Here's a blurb:

"After the game, (Indianapolis head coach) Tony Dungy came into the locker room and asked the media to respect his wishes and turn everything off," Anders said. "Then he says he wants to end the season the same way they've ended every game this year - with a prayer."

Then he leads the team through a prayer. Not just a 'Thank-you-Lord-for-allowing-us-to-win-this-game prayer, either. This was a meaningful, powerful, deep, deep prayer with players saying things like 'Yes, Lord' and so on throughout."

Then, when it was over, he got every single player in there to recite the Lord's Prayer in unison. It was almost like he had converted the entire team into born-again Christians."

P.S. So that I'm not misunderstood, I was not rooting for the Colts!

too close to home

I just received an email from Church World Direct with this ad from Stewart Signs that had the above picture in it. It had a caption that said "GOT ROOM FOR GROWTH?" This picture hits very close to home for so many mainline churches.

A good friend of mine told me about a worship service he attended at a United Methodist Church a couple of weeks ago. He described the incredibly high ceiling of the majestic sanctuary, the long wooden pews, and how it looked as if it could easily seat 1000. But then he told me that at the contemporary service he attended there were only about 25 people. Supposedly there are a couple of times in the year when they get up to around 50, but normally it stays around 25, and that number includes the pastors and the praise band.

I'm not even poking fun at the church my friend visited. Its just scary how this sign company meant to develop an ad that looked ridiculous and ended up with a picture that very accurately depicts the struggle that many mainline churches face. On the other hand, I wish we could say we were as racially diverse as the tiny congregation pictured above!

God help us all!

Monday, February 05, 2007

This coming Sunday I'm preaching on Jeremiah 17:5-10 which contains these verses I love so much:

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
8 He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

These are two verses worth committing to memory.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

super bowl shuffle

give it your best shot guys... I remember getting the record of the Super Bowl Shuffle for Christmas in 1984... alas... that was when David Lee Roth was still with Van Halen. A lot has changed since then.

PLUS: Check this out. What is the NFL hoping to accomplish with this?

Friday, February 02, 2007

BibleWorks tips? anyone?

I just got BibleWorks 7. I've never been a BibleWorks user and am stoked about learning to use it. There's so much there. Does anyone have any BibleWorks tips for getting started?

keep dreaming

In the lastest Ministry Toolbox, Rick Warren shares some helpful words to people who've stopped dreaming:
Every person, every ministry, and every church needs a dream. If you’re not dreaming, you’re dying. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a great person. I believe there are only ordinary people committed to great dreams. When an ordinary person is committed to a great dream, it makes that person a great person. If you want to be healthy, you’ve got to have a dream to live for.

Maybe you’ve been in ministry for so long that you’ve forgotten how to dream. Or maybe you’re just stepping into ministry and you’ve never spent the time contemplating what God might want to do through your life. Or maybe you’re somewhere in between. Regardless, here are eight steps to help you find God’s dream for your life. They are the same steps I went through in developing God’s dream for Saddleback.
For the eight steps, read the entire brief article.

Jeremiah - the movie

Last week I preached on the call of Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 1:4-10). On Tuesday morning a friend loaned me a set of Bible-based movies. Wednesday night my wife and I watched Jeremiah and really enjoyed it. Afterwards we both went immediately to our Bibles and looked up passages that were portrayed in the movie.

I won't say that this movie is perfectly accurate, but I will say that it is good historical fiction that helps paint a picture of what kind of struggles the young prophet might have faced, and also helps the viewer understand the historical setting of the life and times of Jeremiah the prophet. Although I couldn't find anything on the web saying that Patrick Dempsey who played Jeremiah is a Christian (or a Jew for that matter), I thought he did a terrific job in this role. Its a long way from Can't Buy Me Love, which was one of my favorite movies when I was in Jr. High.