Monday, 31 March 2008

Earth Hour - Just Wonderin'

This is not an editorial, or an opinion, or a judgement -- just a question.

I wonder if anyone has ever studied which puts more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the electricity for lightbulbs to light a church, (let's say if one were enviromentally consciencious and used just the bare minimum lighting needed), or the total number of candles used during a candlelight service.

Just Curious, (but come to think of it, it probably is an editorial question)

Take Care

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Hour of Whose Power?

I happened to catch Robert Schuller's program on TV this morning. Now, generally I am rather neutral on Dr Schuller -- not in agreement with all he says, or the emphasis on his, "Possibility Thinking" ministry, but not vehemently against it either.

His theme this morning was, "Confident Living," and he used as his text, Philippians 1:6,
...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
But he used the text more in the sense of what God can give us the power to accomplish in our lives.

Then a caption appeared on the screen,
Nothing can do for you what faith in God can do for you.

And he used the example of Tolstoy, who was driven to the verge of suicide before he came to faith in Christ,
Tolstoy came to faith in God and the rest of his life was fantastic.

And then this shocker,
If it could be proven to me that there is no God – that Jesus was a fake, and I could live my life over, what would I do? Even if I knew it was a lie, I would do exactly the same thing. Because of what it’s done for me – what it does for me. I would believe exactly the same thing because look what faith in God has done for me. I believe in something if it works.

You see, the object of his faith does not appear to be God, but faith in God. The whole purpose of faith as I heard it in his message today is not true biblical faith, but a means to a better, more successful life here, even if the object of this faith does not exist! The only reason for faith is not to glorify God, but what faith can accomplish for us,

And finally, to top it all off (unless there is a translation that actually reads this way, in which case I truly do apologize), he proceeds to confuse two verses of Scripture. He says, with his fist raised in the air for emphasis,
“You will be quoting another bible verse, 'I know whom I have believed and am persuaded…'"
...which is 1 Timothy 1:12

...and then makes that a part of Romans 8:29,30 …
"...that neither life nor death nor angels nor principalities not powers nor demons… etc."
And by the way, I believe he even misquoted that. I had the sense that he felt that the way he quoted it would be more effective than the original. In any case, it seems to me that someone who has been pastor of such a huge television ministry for thirty seven years should know, or at least regard scripture better than that.

The message is Here... (although I don't know how long the link will last.)

But I can't remember when I have seen a more brazen, or disappointing, misstatement of the message of Christianity than I saw this morning.

Take Care

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Earth Hour - Interesting Post and Comments

From Musings From the Muse
When consumers, in large numbers, do something unpredictable, it can cause havoc with the generation system...
...My point has more to do with the unintended consequences of our actions than to lecture on the electrical utility. It is easy to form 'good' ideas that you think will have positive results, but when those ideas are made with some ignorance you may cause unintended consequences.

Frankly, I am now convicted that I should turn every light and appliance ON tonight, just to provide a balance.

Take Care

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

For the 'n'th, Time, Poverty is a Moral Problem

...but not in the way a liberal might say it. It's not that poverty itself is immoral. Poverty is just a fact, albeit an unfortunate one. It is neutral.

What I am saying, as I have said repeatedly here, is that one of the greatest causes of poverty is the decline of morality in our society. I am somewhat concerned, if that is the word to use, troubled, perhaps just a little uneasy,that my Edmonton church links to an organization that seems to be beating the tired old drum that says child poverty can be solved by simply having the government give more money to the poor. They call for:
1. expand affordable housing;
2. build a universally accessible child care system;
3. raise minimum wages and increase the availability of good jobs and living wages;
4. increase the Child Tax Benefit to $4,900 per child, per year and ensure that all low-income children receive the full benefit of this program.

However, they are completely missing the point.

Here... from the City Journal, is an article that gets much closer to the nub of the matter,
Marriage seems to be the defining characteristic of economically successful families. With out-of-wedlock birth rates in America soaring, so that many traditional families aren’t so much breaking up as never getting started, the percentage of children living with cohabiting parents is growing. Yet these kids are three times more likely to be in poverty than the children of married parents. The data actually demonstrate that poverty rates for families headed by two unmarried parents more closely resemble the poverty rates of single-parent families than those of two-married-parent ones.

And again...
Something about the marriage certificate—a sense of long-term commitment, family stability, perhaps—makes an economic difference. Research shows that married workers exhibit more job stability and make greater wage gains than cohabiting parents, a sort of “marriage wage premium,” as some economists dub it.

And more...
Given that a significant body of research now shows that children raised in two-parent, married families do better in school, are less likely to wind up in jail, and are less likely to end up on welfare, the startling racial divide in marriage tells us that a new generation of children, especially blacks, are growing up destined to struggle academically, in the job market, and in forming their own families. And policy prescriptions like a higher minimum wage or tax credits are unlikely to help many of these kids. What they mostly need is another parent—usually a father.

Read the whole article. It's worth it... because it's absolutely true. Unfortunately, it's not politically correct to acknowledge it.

Take Care

Monday, 24 March 2008

What Nonsense!

(I changed the title from my original post.)
Here is more nonsense from John Shelby Spong from On Faith
My newest book, Jesus for the Non-Religious, just released in paperback, is written for those people who are committed to the Jesus experience, but because they are citizens of the 21st Century cannot twist their minds into First Century pretzels in order to say “I believe” to the traditional explanations offered by the biblical writers. Rather I seek the reality of the Jesus experience that made these explanations seem appropriate.

He then goes on to list belief in the Virgin birth, the feeding of the five thousand, the physical resurrection of Jesus, the ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as examples of "first century" thinking.

This is an example of what I have called chronological, or cultural arrogance. It displays the paternalistic attitude that people of other times or other cultures were ignorant boobs and we 'enlightened' twenty-first century white people know so much better now. Well, for Mr Spong's information, people in the first century didn't believe that women could have children without having had sexual relations with a man either. And they wouldn't believe that a few loaves and fish could feed a multitude, or that a dead man could be raised to life after three days in a tomb. But God can do things that men think impossible, and he doesn't need Mr Spong's belief or permission to have done them.

The first century had their own Spongs too. They were the chief priests and Pharisees. Skeptics who didn't believe in miracles then wouldn't believe in them now. And people who don't believe in them now wouldn't have believed in them then either.

Take Care

Must One Believe in the Resurrection to be a Christian?

From Albert Mohler...
This was the question asked for the end of the past week by the editors of The Washington Post and Newsweek for the "On Faith" conversation. Here was the question as stated by the editors: "Do you have to believe the resurrection is literally true -- that Jesus came back to life in his body -- to be a Christian?"

Let me express some thoughts of my own. In my opinion, the question is slightly misphrased. It is worded in a way a non-believer might pose it, as a sort of test, to a Christian. I think it reflects an unbeliever's rather adolescent view of Christianity. I think the question for Christians to ponder might better be, "Will a Christian believe in a literal, physical resurrection?" I think the answer to this question is, "Yes."

You see, I don't think the 'belief' is a matter of one's choice or will. A non Christian cannot believe it. But a Christian, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, I won't say, 'must' believe it, but I will say, 'will' believe it. Because that belief is from God Himself. We don't choose to believe it or not to believe it. Once God has revealed a certain truth to us, we cannot help but believe. We simply know it, and we cannot any longer deny it. In other words, to give what might be considered a frivolous example, once it has been shown to us, and we come to know, that one plus one equals two, we cannot ever again truly disbelieve it.

I may have mentioned this before, but I can remember quite clearly my first day of school. The teacher held up a card with some black markings on it and asked if anyone knew what it said. I didn't have a clue, but another young student knew and put up his hand. "Mother", he said, and it was absolutely true. Now, to me, the markings meant absolutely nothing at the time, but now, I cannot look at the letters, M,O,T,H,E, and R, in that order, without knowing what they say. I cannot not know what they say, ever again. But without someone telling me what they said, I would not know.

In the same way, without the witness of the Holy Spirit revealing to us the truth of the resurrection, one cannot truly believe it, to the point of the complete confidence that a true Christian has about it. But once we have been given that assurance, and have absorbed it as truth, we will come to the point where we cannot ever again truly deny it.
"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthian 2:14)

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom..." (1 Corinthians 1:25a)

Take Care

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Taking Christ out of Christianity

As seen in the previous post, some people risk their lives for Jesus Christ...

And some people, like Rev. Gretta Vosper of Toronto's West Hill United Church, spit in his face...
That triumphal barnburner of an Easter hymn, Jesus Christ Has Risen Today - Hallelujah, this morning will rock the walls of Toronto's West Hill United Church as it will in most Christian churches across the country.
But at West Hill on the faith's holiest day, it will be done with a huge difference. The words "Jesus Christ" will be excised from what the congregation sings and replaced with "Glorious hope."
Thus, it will be hope that is declared to be resurrected - an expression of renewal of optimism and the human spirit - but not Jesus, contrary to Christianity's central tenet about the return to life on Easter morning of the crucified divine son of God.
Generally speaking, no divine anybody makes an appearance in West Hill's Sunday service liturgy.
More Here...

"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1)

"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves." (2 Peter 2:1)

h/t: Ellie M. commenting on the Anglican Essentials blog.

Take Care

Pope Baptizes Prominent Muslim

Some people are willing to put their lives on the line for the Christian faith...
Under a widespread interpretation of Islamic legal doctrine, converting from Islam is apostasy and punishable by death...

"Islam" means, "peace."
Yeah, right.
More Here...

Take Care

Monday, 17 March 2008

Easter Greetings

Having posted critically in the past regarding messages from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, I feel compelled, in fairness, to reproduce here the Easter message bearing both his name and that of the National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Easter greetings from the Primate and the National Bishop
March 17, 2008

Dear Friends in Christ,

With gratitude for all that God has done for us in Christ, we join you in the journey of Holy Week. It takes us "from the glory of the palms to the glory of the resurrection, by way of the dark road of suffering and death." (p 297, The Book of Alternative Services) As the days pass the drama heightens.

Through the liturgy we recall the last supper, the agony in the garden and the trial. On Good Friday we are following Jesus hour by hour, and moment by moment. As he hangs on the cross we cling to his words, forgiving all who look to him in faith, caring for his dear mother, thirsting for refreshment, longing for love's redeeming work to be finished, commending his spirit into the hands of his Father. As he breathes his last there is silence - in our hearts and throughout the whole Church. Our Lord, as the Apostles' Creed puts it, is "dead and buried."

And then comes the night when the Church gathers in vigil awaiting the joyous message that, "He is risen! Alleluia."

So begins the great 50-day festival of Easter. With joy we hear the stories of the Risen Lord greeting Mary Magdalene, inviting Thomas to believe, calling Peter to shepherd his flock, opening the scriptures and breaking bread at an inn in Emmaus, breathing upon the apostles and sending them into the world in the power of the Holy Spirit. As people of faith, we find ourselves in these stories.

For Holy Week our prayer is that as Christ gave himself for us, we may give ourselves to him through lives of faith and abiding commitment to his gospel of love.

For Easter our prayer is that we may know joy, peace, and hope in the Risen Lord, and that "by his grace, we will be enabled to show the power of his resurrection in all we say and do." (Proper for Second Sunday of Easter p 32,Evangelical Lutheran Worship)

In Him,
We are sincerely yours,

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson
National Bishop
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate
The Anglican Church of Canada

Take Care,

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Obama's Pastor and other inconsistencies

Thanks to Doug Wilson for the inspiration for this post.
...the United States government is actively involved in trying to kill black people by means of Planned Parenthood. Look at the eugenics movement, Margaret Sanger's view of "human weeds," the enormous amounts of tax money that goes to Planned Parenthood, and the disproportionate number of black infants who are slaughtered. You don't have to be, as they say, a rocket scientist. So the Rev. Wright and I agree that our government is trying to kill blacks. The difference is that he opposes the way they aren't doing it, and supports the methods they have actually chosen to get the job done.

Barack Obama is now jumping through hoops to distance himself from remarks from his pastor of 20 tears, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Among pastor Wrights remarks is the accustion that the U.S. government invented AIDS to target black people. Now, as ridiculous as this accusation may sound, there are, in fact, organizations in the U.S. whose policies are specifically slanted toward the elimination of African Americans, and they have not only Obama's blessing, but his outright assistance.

The thought porcesses of liberal thinkers are characterized in no small measure by inconsistency, even hypocrisy, and these in many areas of thought and life. Here are a few I see:

Railing against child poverty and at the same time encouraging its causes.

Railing against the results of lack of sexual education while at the same time promoting teen sexual behaviour, and scoffing at the most effective means of avoiding teen pregnancy and STD's: abstinence.

The Anglican/Episcopal churches of North America calling self-righteously for tolerance, patience and unity, while launching lawsuits and discipinary actions against those who, in all conscience, differ with them.

I'm sure you can think of many more.

Take Care

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Knock, Knock

Who's there?

Interrupting Cow.

Interrupting C...


Thanks (or not) to my kid, Jen.

Take Care

"The Worst of Both Worlds"

Here is a comment on a previous thread from Pastor Terry Stauffer that I thought was worth posting on its own,
Those who try to keep the shell without the truth find themselves in the worst of both worlds. Pure secularlism sells (obviously) and the truth has appeal, but a secularized religion is doomed to failure.

In a church that purports to be Christian, the liberals' drive for relevance makes them completely irrelevant; members of a club of declining membership. If the church becomes the same as the world, what's the point of having the church? And yet, what seems to be happening in some areas of the ACoC is not merely a desire to make the Christian faith more relevant. It is a push for a completely new religion. It is a drive toward paganism. It is grasping at the original lie of the garden, "you will be like God." It is wanting a form of godliness, but denying the true God and His power.

Take Care

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

A Little Comic Relief

I thought I'd get away from all the ACoC soap opera shenanigans. You can keep up much better Here... and Here... anyway.
this is the famous Monty Python "Argument" sketch. I may not be the world's greatest Mony Python fan, but I think this is hilarious.

I have posted a short version here. If you have even less of a life (or more time to waste), the full sketch can be seen Here...

Take Care

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Sunday Service in Oakville

St. Hilda's Anglican Church in Oakville ON was one of the two parishes that recently voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and seek alternate oversight. The diocese of Niagara immediately appointed 'administrators' and launched court action, ostensibly to provide for 'faithful' members of these parishes who wished to remain affiliated with the Anglican Church of Canada and the diocese of Niagara.

Because the court in Hamilton temporarily awarded exclusive use of the church facilities to the 'breakaway' congregations, the diocese, in a bit of a snit (if you ask me), rushed to set up alternate services close by the two parishes, even though there are other Anglican churches within minutes' drive of both. The one in Oakville was to be held in the public library. Obviously, I think they were just trying to prove a point. Well, a point was certainly made. I only hope it was taken. Here, from Michael Daley is an account of the alternate service in the library:
The room that was rented in the library can only hold about 30 people.

Fortunately, overflow facilities were not needed. Only Brian Ruttan (the diocese appointed administrator, JK)and his wife showed up, along with 2 observers from St. Hilda’s. When Brian picked up his guitar (he) lost his entire congregation since the observers left.

It may be tempting, it is certainly easy, to gloat, but I think we need also to pray for the leadership of the diocese of Niagara, and all others who have wandered from the truth, that they might come to a knowledge of the truth, see their error, and come under conviction for their persecution of those who are standing firm for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Take Care

PS. Yes, we pray that those who oppose the truth will come to rcognize their error, but until they do, praise God for their disappointments!

Friday, 7 March 2008

It is late in the day for this, but would you please pray for the election of Bishop of Edmonton tomorrow (Saturday March 8). I don't know what is appropriate to say here, but I have a sense that the diocese might just pick a bishop who will lead them the same direction of much of the rest of the church, that is, away from the truth and into error. If I am wrong in this, may I be forgiven for thinking this way, and forgiven for expressing those thoughts here.

That having been said, I can't escape the feeling that this may be a part of a continuing, 'shaking out' process, the beginnings of which we have already seen in places like Niagara, Ottawa, New Westminster and elsewhere in the Anglican world. The verse that keeps recurring in my mind and will not depart is this:
Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
"Come out of her, my people,
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;(Revelation 18:4)

I expect to be returning to Edmonton and my Anglican church home this summer. What kind of hornet's nest awaits, I do not know. What I do know is that God is in control. His will will be done.

Take Care

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

This is Too Good to Pass Up

From "Musings from the Muse"...
The Superior Court of Ontario decision on the two parishes in Niagara - that is, should the Diocese be allowed to hold worship services in the parish buildings -- is now published. This part of the judge's decision shows the transparent paucity of the diocese's case.
The Diocese says that it wishes to conduct services for a certain number of parishioners who left the parish before the votes because they were not comfortable with the direction the incumbents were going, and who wish to return to their ancestral church, to which they are highly attached, now that it is under Diocesan control. I find that implausible...
...Rev. Wells (for the diocese? JK) describes these former parishioners in her affidavit as “conservative Anglicans”. It was clarified for me in argument that this means Anglicans who tend to the doctrinal view of the defendants. It... seems unlikely to me that persons who are highly attached to their ancestral parish would leave because of doctrinal agreement with the incumbent, and then wish to return once he has been replaced by a trustee with whom they disagree on doctrine.

Take Care

Doug Wilson Has a Way of Saying Things...

Doug Wilson talks of rituals Here.... His context is baptism, but he mentions the ritual of the marriage ceremony. Referring to the groom, he says,
Before the ritual he is morally obligated to keep his hands to himself. After the ritual he is morally obligated not to.

Made me smile.

Take Care

Alan Perry Appeals to Ignatius to Support the Liberal Cause

As usual, I'm a few days behind current events in my posting. An article in the Toronto Star has, among other things, "...Anglican canon law expert Rev. Alan Perry" appealing to letters by Ignatius from the early second century to claim that Christians owe their unquestioning and unconditional loyalty to their local bishop.

The ACoC liberals do indeed seem to be grasping at straws to support their case. The letters of Ignatius (he wrote seven of them as he was being taken to Rome, where he was martyred) can be found Here. (Click 'Next' for the rest of the letters, 'Prev' for some commentary on them.) Reading them, it think it is clear that he was writing to particular churches, encouraging them to be faithful their own particular bishops. I think it is a stretch to apply them to all churches over all intervening history. Perry, as I understand him in the Star article, would have us ascribe to these letters the same authority as Scripture, which of course, they are not. And of course, there's also the fact that liberals seem to call on tradition and history only when they think it helps their case, completely ignoring it, whistling and gazing skyward when it doesn't, which is most consistently the case.

More analysis of the Star article can be found Here

Take Care

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Jackson Browne - The Late Show

This has always been one of my favourite Jackson Browne songs, mainly for the insightful lyrics below. What brought it to mind was a situation recently when someone I care for very much seemed to be let down by 'friends.'

Everyone I've ever known has wished me well.
Anyway that's how it seems, it's hard to tell.
Maybe people only ask you how you're doin' cause that's easier
Than lettin' on how little they could care.

But when you know that you've got a real friend somewhere,
Suddenly all the others are so much easier to bear

By the way, you may recognize the background singers. They are the Eagles.

That's all,

Take Care

Opening Song This Morning

From everlasting to everlasting You are God
From everlasting to everlasting You are God

In holiness You stand secure through culture's shifting sands
Unchanged by all the vanities of man
And as the nations rise and fall Your sovereignty remains
You are, You are, You are the One True God

In faithfulness your love extends through times of turbulence
Adopting those who call upon your name
And every generation joins in songs of grateful praise
You are, You are, You are the One True God
© 2004 Integrity's Hosanna! Music Brian Doerksen & Matt Unrah

I thought it timely, all things and current events considered.

Take Care