Today is August 31, which may not mean that much to you, but to a large group of people it’s a date they’ve been waiting for. Various political groups have identified August 31 (a31) as their rallying day to protest the Republican Convention in New York. More power to ’em, the first amendment gives us all the right to be a general nuisance.

However, what I think is particularly amusing is that this day was organized by anarchists! I didn’t know anarchists could organize. Here is their organized web site. They only give general information as they want you to come to their meeting in person to take action, they don’t want “The Man” to find out what they’re up to. Along with anarchists is a whole list of fine Americans exercising their rights. Good luck to ’em!

I wonder what it is in people that makes us want order. Hmm. Even anarchists need order to accomplish something. Boy oh boy, if only I could think of some reason why people desire order. Guess it’s just a random fact.

Philip Yancey has become my favorite Christian thinker. I don’t agree with all his theology but the man thinks and his writing inspires others to think. That’s all you can ask really. I am currently reading his book Soul Survivor. It is kind of an autobiography of Yancey and his upbringing in a racist, fundamentalist Southern church and how it almost made him give up on Christianity. But he recounts several lives which changed his and made him stick in with Christianity. Among his list is Gandhi, who was no Christian but probably better than anyone in history, lived out the principles of Jesus’ life, according to Yancey.

It is a common thought in Christianity that you can only learn Christian principles from Christians. However, very few Christians actually demonstrate Christian principles. It is unfortunate that Christians are not really known for being Christ-like. When Martin Luther King Jr. (another of Yancey’s heroes) and his group were trying to get attention directed at racial intolerance, they were accused of being Communists. The reason for this is that Communists taught the brotherhood of man. Seems like “there is no difference” is a Christian principle, why weren’t they accused of being Christian? Because Christians aren’t known for that.

Yancey does a fine job of analyzing the world through a Christian lens yet without the typical Christian “happy happy joy joy” outlook. He deals with reality and that’s refreshing.

Although our President is a warmonger, peace organizations report that peace is spreading throughout the world. Casualties due to war have been declining over the years to the lowest point since before World War II, with only 20,000 deaths last year.

Although it seems like this is good news, it will be the idea of world peace which will serve to bring us together, will give the anti-christ a platform to work with. Not that war is the answer, I’m just saying. There is also the notion of wars and rumors of wars, but peace is the real danger. A one world government won’t happen with war I’m guessing.

It’s fascinating to watch the whole thing come about.

To see how your pastor and other allergy sufferers are doing today, check out pollen.com and type in your zip code. Yuck. I can’t wait until winter.

During the men’s marathon at the Olympics today a whacko ran out and pushed the leader of the race into the crowd. The whacko was wearing a sign which said something like “Israel, a fulfillment of prophecy.”

Turns out this guy had also run out into a grand prix race. He is in his 50’s, a retired priest believed to have mental issues. He said he needed to stop the race in preparation of the return of Jesus Christ. Since this happened I’ve been searching the Scriptures for any mention of a marathon race being stopped in preparation for Christ’s return. To this point I’ve come up empty. Psalm 19:5 is the closest I get.

I just finished reading Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. Wow, what a book. I’m not even sure where to begin expressing my thoughts on it. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book which affected me so much, I’m not even sure how it’s affected me, I just know it has! I’m sure my thoughts will come out in sermons and these entries in the next few weeks, sor t of like that dumb persecution book!

Krakauer set out to do a history of Mormonism but was soon diverted into researching a murder involving two Mormon Fundamentalist brothers. Krakauer then shows how Mormonism has been marked with violence and what leads these people to such weird conclusions.

In so doing, Krakauer opens up religion in general to the same investigation. Who’s to say when God speaks and when He doesn’t? Are all people who believe in God insane?

A captivating read, like watching a car wreck, that’ll really get you thinking. I would recommend it to all people who find religion interesting or who enjoy being disturbingly depressed.

A Winnipeg man died two years ago in his apartment and was only recently found. His pension check was automatically deposited and his rent and utilities were automatically withdrawn so everything was current and no one bothered to check where he was.

A newspaper in his apartment was from November of 2002 and his calendar was also opened to November of 2002. His family tried to contact him last summer when they were in town for a wedding but he “wasn’t home.”

Another strange example of how lonely some people are out there. Everyone assumes someone else is taking care of others and often no one is. One more call for the church to wake up and meet people.

Alice Cooper has found himself in the news. Cooper was a heavy metal “singer” for years and has reportedly converted to Christianity. Recently he said that he thought rock stars who endorsed political candidates and did political fund raisers were traitors.

He said what now?

He was questioned on what he meant by “traitors” and he clarified by saying they weren’t traitors against the US or the government but traitors to rock and roll. Oh, I see. He said he doesn’t think people should vote for a candidate because a rock singer said so. It’s hard to argue with that logic. I would go one step further and say we shouldn’t do anything any rock singer says at any time.

Christianity Today has an article up about the top selling Bible studies of the year. What you will notice about this list is that 10 out of 11 have nothing to do with the Bible! There are studies on Mel Gibson’s Passion, The DaVinci Code, Gay marriage and the Tolkein films.

What this clearly shows is that Christianity is mostly about the world rather than about the Bible or that one guy named Christ. They should call them film studies or social issues studies, they certainly aren’t Bible studies. One thing I attempt at our Bible studies is to indeed study the Bible, which I have always found to be a nice touch.

I just read Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s book The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. For as annoying as her voice is and her radio program is, she wrote a fine book. Every couple should read this book together and follow its instructions. Every guy who is interested in a potential wife should have the woman read it, if she doesn’t like it, break off the relationship!

Schlessinger says that men are easy, we’re straightforward and here’s how best to treat one–men want approval, appreciation and acceptance. It mainly boils down to respect. So many women these days beat up their men and their men can’t keep them happy and they’re never satisfied. This is all part of trying to rule the roost and get her own way. It doesn’t make either person happy.

Although Schlessinger blames this all on the feminist movement, it all goes back to the Fall where Eve was destined to struggle against her man. Women are still struggling and men are still giving up. A book like this can open up great discussion but it also may lead to more trouble if you’re already far down the road of problems. But, as far as your pastor is concerned, this book is right on.

Special Agent 4600 sent me this story about an upcoming movie starring Ellen Degeneres as God. Something tells me I won’t be seeing that one. It strikes me as interesting that Ellen Degeneres does a lot of thinking and comedy about God (according to this article). I wonder why that would be?

I am reading a book by H. L. Mencken who is a curmudgeon of the first rate and he hates just about everything. One of the things he hates most is God and Christians. But why does he keep talking about God? Why does he especially note the failings of believers? People’s phobias reveal interesting things. Hurting people can’t stop thinking about God.

This week’s issue of Newsweek is about the Bible and archeology. It’s main point is that the Middle East is being blown up and archeology is becoming increasingly difficult. They make small mention of the John the Baptist cave because, well, that’s probably not real big anyway.

Newsweek takes a few shots at the Bible, of course, it doesn’t do that bad of a job discussing issues involving the Bible and archeology. There is a basic underlying belief that the Bible is just cute little myth which doesn’t help win any points with us Bible believers. But for a secular, commi-pinko, Darwinian, socialist, humanist, materialistic rag, it aint bad.

I saw this article on computer id chips being embedded in people’s skin and thought you might be concerned. The chips are used to identify people and make it easier to deny access to areas and protect information. It would also be an aid in getting medical information and help to curb identity theft.

And, just so you can rest easy at night, rest assured that the benefits “far outweigh” any Orwellian concerns, says the article. Right. It’ll all make perfect sense and be too good to not do.

I’m ready; hope you are too!

I feel I have to apologize for yesterday’s sermon. I wasn’t feeling so well throughout and never felt like my brain ever showed up. But as one kind sympathizer put it, “We never even noticed.” So that’s good.

I forgot so many points yesterday that I don’ t even know where to begin. It’s a good thing every week has a new Sunday. So, I’ll wait til next week!

I am reading John Stossel’s new book called “Give me a Break” based on his reporting for ABC and 20/20. He deals with junk science, the scam of lawyers, news reporting, abuse of government, and all manner of stuff. It is rather an entertaining read if not depressing.

It’s funny to see human nature at work and how we strive to get our way no matter how many people we must step on to get there. He had a quote at the head of a chapter by George Bernard Shaw which says, “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most me dread it.” Amen to that.

People enjoy having others tell them what to do. We enjoy being beaten down victims. We enjoy having pity parties and making everyone feel so bad for us and our poor widdle feewings. Having the guts to stand up and do something is very difficult. And all those who sit by just try to stop you because you make them look bad.

One of the greatest virtues of Christianity is that it expands your line of sight beyond your own skin. It wakes you up to a world and to looking for eternity. Without those views, what people will do to each other is scary, sick, and tragic.

One of the topics we discussed at TNBS last night was giving. It just so happens that Christianity Today has an article on their web site today about excuses Christians use to explain their lack of giving. I think it’s a fairly comprehensive list and they give biblical reasons why those excuses just may not cut it with God. Enjoy.

In another story I mentioned right here several months ago about the Bush campaign asking churches to send in their membership mailing list, this story is still in the news. I guess I wasn’t the only one who was slightly put off by this idea. Although, as you may recall, when I wrote a letter to a leading Christian publication they responded that this was a tactic of the anti-Christian media (which I still have no idea what that has to do with anything, not to mention it was in Christianity Today as well).

Anyhow, a group of leading Christian ethicists from American seminaries have come out against this tactic and give their reasons for so doing. Things like–it’s a blatant violation of the law which says a church cannot promote any politician. The Republican defense has been–well, African American churches support Democrat candidates. Which is true and has always made me wonder how they get away with it, must be the liberal bias in the media.

However, I was unaware of the new ruling stating that two wrongs do indeed now make a right. As long as you’re breaking the law like everyone else I guess it’s not breaking the law, kind of like speeding. Anyway, I won’t be sending our mailing list in anywhere, unless I can get a candidate to fix that pot hole on River Road. . .

In a story I mentioned in the Anti-Itch Meditation back when it happened, the minister from Milwaukee who killed the autistic boy during an exorcism has been sentenced. After suffocating a child to death, the minister gets 30 months in jail with 7 1/2 years of probation. The exorcism involved large amounts of physical contact including several people holding the boy down while the minister laid across the child’s torso until eventually the child couldn’t breath anymore.

Misinterpreting your Bible has dangerous side effects. Not understanding the distinctions of dispensations and how God’s program has changed over the years can lead to death. Just thought you should know.

Boy, I wish I had a John the Baptist rookie card, he’s all over the news. Christianity Today has an article about the John the Baptist cave and they are sort of throwing a damp towel over the whole thing. First off, it’s really not that exciting of a find, there is no proof that John was ever in it. Second, there have been other John the Baptist finds, like finding his head and full skeleton, which make everyone skeptical because they are basically jokes. We’ll just have to see. If your faith is resting on great archeological finds, be careful!

Since everyone else is talking about John the Baptist, I might as well talk about him too. I find it interesting in Luke 3 that several people ask John the question, “What shall we do then?” This is a fine question, a question which is asked a number of times in Scripture from people who desire to serve the Lord.

What is striking is that John gives a different answer to each person’s asking of the same question. Many believe that God has the same answer for each of us. We think that there must be a magic formula we can all use to follow, obey, manipulate, connive, etc, God. But it doesn’t work that way all the time.

Spiritual growth is an individual thing. I can’t tell you how to do it fully. There are issues you struggle with that I don’t and things you don’t struggle with that I do. What works for me may not be it for you. That all being said, there are some basic things we all start with–salvation is only in Christ be grace–and there’s one thing we’re all striving for–to be conformed to the image of Christ. But how we all get there may be different since we are all different.

The Cave of John the Baptist is a new book being published this week. It is about an archeological dig in Israel, in a cave which is believed to have been used by John the Baptist. The cave has paintings on the side which tell the life of John and was also used for ritual cleanings and was perhaps a place where John may have baptized followers. You can form your own conclusion by reading the article.

Life is full of mysteries. One that has crossed my mind over the years has been–why do shower curtains stick to your leg and keep coming after you when you turn the water on in the shower? Well, now I know! A smart scientist wondered the same thing and did some big research to answer the question. Now I can rest.

Here is some more peace, unity and happy thoughts from the Olympics–a British tourist has been killed by an allegedly speeding Olympic athlete. He is free on bail and is free to still compete. And, in a great note of brotherhood, the alleged speeding killer says he feels no guilt.

My goodness, no guilt?! Even if he were totally innocent how could he not feel any guilt? I know that’s just legal language but still. I was hoping our Olympic athletes who are showing us virtue and love actually did.

More proof that we have too much time on our hands: 115 guys were arrested for illegal gambling. Go ahead and guess what they were gambling on? Bug fights. They used crickets to fight. They face a $1,200 fine and possible three months in jail. Hope they had fun. At least when they are in jail they will have a proven way to pass the time!

Here’s some good brotherhood and happy thoughts from the Olympics–an Iranian Judo guy refuses to go up against a judo guy from Israel, as they don’t recognize Israel as a nation. Ah yes, peace and harmony and the unity just warms your heart doesn’t it? I know my heart is warm, oh wait, I went to Burger King yesterday, never mind.

I saw a bit of the Olympic Opening Ceremony last night. I missed most of the fruity weird stuff at the beginning. What always strikes me is how world peace and unity is always emphasized by the speakers and commentators. Meanwhile, Israel gets booed, Palestine gets a huge ovation, one guy dropped out of the Olympics because he was scheduled to wrestle an Israeli and his country refuses to acknowledge that Israel has a right to be a country, and then there are always the doping and drug scandals and this year is no different.

Sports has always played a big part in societal evolution. Race differences were first addressed on the athletic field, economic principles are experimented on teams first–profit sharing, salary caps, etc, and other innovations in technology and so forth. The Bible makes it known that the world will be “united” in what appears to be peace and I believe sports will play a major role in that.

But just like the cheesy talks about unity and brotherhood which cover up the harsh reality of world politics and other scandal, the peace in the end times will be fake as well. People are more susceptible to propaganda today more than ever. People believe what they hear most, not necessarily what is true. This trend will continue as the world giddily skip its way into Armageddon. Have a nice day.

The Gospel According to Spider Man” is a TIME magazine article talking about the ever growing relationship between Hollywood and Christianity. It addresses the new fad among pastors which is to show movie clips to illustrate points (Lord knows the Bible doesn’t have nearly enough illustrations) and the recent success of Mel Gibson.

I’m not sure this new relationship is going to help the Church as much as we may hope.

Hollywood has basically found out that Christians keep and spend more money than they give away and thus are loaded. They are figuring out that if they throw us a bone, we’ll throw millions of dollars back at them. Hollywood is perhaps the most immoral place on the globe, current-day Sodom, and Christians support it just as much as the non-Christian. How is that good again?

“Come out from among them and be ye separate” apparently isn’t understood because we can’t find a good movie clip to illustrate it.

Charles Walgreen began working in his teens and almost as soon as he started working he started getting fired. It took him 15 years to figure out what he wanted to do and to stick with a job. It took him 20 more years to open up 400+ Walgreen stores.

The power of a person with “this one thing I do.” What we could accomplish as a church if we decided on our one thing. What you could do with your life if you had your one thing to do. Instead we find multiple things to do and numerous distractions that keep us “average.”

The Apostle Paul had “this one thing I do” and he turned the world upside down and his books are still best-sellers!

Jerry Falwell has been upset lately about a few websites in his name. Jerryfalwell.com was a parody site mocking Falwell and he tried to sue them to get them off, but it didn’t work. But then they remembered that they copywrited his name so they went back to court and this time they won.

Now he’s upset about another website fallwell.com which is spelled “fall” rather than “fal” and is put out by a homosexual group who says that Falwell’s attacks on homosexuality breaks up families. Falwell wants this site down too.

I’m all for a guy being able to protect his identity and so forth but if I were looking up something on Jerry Falwell, seems to me I could be able to tell if the site was against him without him having to sue them out of existence. Seems to me the Bible has some bits about not taking people to court, turn the other cheek, etc. Perhaps he could spend his resources on something better than making his name special.

I don’t know, I’m not in his shoes, it just seems to be counter-productive. The only reason I’ve mentioned these web sties is because he’s mad about them! I wonder how many visits these sites have gotten since the hubbub began? Sometimes it’s best just to be quiet and let the world go on and focus on your focus.

In one of the saddest stories I’ve seen in awhile, a 500 pound woman died the other day after rescuers cut her out of her home only to find that her skin was actually grafted into her couch. She called in reporting she had trouble breathing. Rescuers quickly saw that they were in for a fight with a powerful stench and complicating circumstances to get her out of the house to proper medical facilities.

Someone had to be getting food for her. It is estimated that she hadn’t been off the couch for 2-5 years! Who would allow this to happen to someone? All the lonely people, it’s sad how we can ignore them.