Major League Annoyance

A couple baseball players are appearing before a congressional hearing on steroids today. Among them my old pal Sammy Sosa. Go Sammy.

I just wrote the Anti-Itch for this Sunday and I nailed baseball as being a tool of Satan! He messes up everything, sometimes we miss just how much he’s tinkered with us. My real problem is with how much he tinkers with the Cubs, who have now lost Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, their two decent pitchers, for an indefinite amount of time. They’re done.

It makes one re-evaluate one’s time. Should I even bother wasting the time and money on them this year? Aren’t there better things to do? Is this called redeeming the time? Or is it called just sick and tired of being stomped on by the stupid Cubs who could really care less about me? Or is it just Satan trying to depress me? Or is it a mob conspiracy?

You never know. The only thing you can know is that Satan likes having fun with us and his temptations come left and right. But there is hope. Sunday I’ll talk about hope for hopeless times.

March Madness

Time is running out! Games start tomorrow around noon. If you’d like to enter the March Madness Bracket Contest, you better let me know quick. I’d hate to have you miss your opportunity and have to wait a whole year for your next opportunity.

Entering the contest is non-binding, free, fun, cheap entertainment and a source of ego gratification and or humiliation depending on if you’re me or not and since you’re not me, you can expect some humiliation. However, tribulation works patience, patience experience and experience hope. I’m just trying to help you along in your spiritual growth. Don’t miss this opportunity for significant growth!

Gene Pool of Bethesda

A new study says that genes may determine how religious a person is. After reading the article, I’m not quite following how that conclusion was arrived at, but that is their stated conclusion.

I suppose Calvinists could use this to show that God creates people to be saved and people to be damned. Seems to fit nicely. (Sorry, I’m still reading that book on Calvinism and it’s influencing my thoughts.) However, the study has not identified any sort of gene or any real proof of what they are attempting to say.

A minor point within the article is that it stated that religious people “tend to share other personality traits, although it is not clear whether these arise from genetic or environmental factors. These include the ability to get along well with others and being conscientious, working hard, being punctual, and controlling one’s impulses.”

Well that’s nice, at least we’re maintaining something positive. Perhaps this striking similarity has to do with the mind of Christ? Nay.

Traffic Lights Turn Blue Tomorrow

If there were no king and every man did what was right in his own eyes things would be bad. Here’s an example.

Officials are worried about traffic-light changers getting in the hands of wrong people. These devices are sold to emergency vehicle operators and funeral homes to enable people to change a traffic light from red to green as far as 1,500 feet away.

However, these devices are now being sold on the internet for $1,000 and cheaper knock-offs for $200 raising concern that civilians could get hold of these things and wreak havoc.

It would be kind of fun but it could also kill people. Guess we should have a king.

Dangerous Potlucks

Our government has lots of time on their hands apparently. There has been a new spat of laws coming out giving churches trouble over holding potlucks. No seriously.

Minnesota–potlucks are exempt from food safety laws as long as food is not prepared in the church kitchen.

Wisconsin–if a church holds more than 12 potlucks in a year they have to get a restaurant license.

Indiana and Illinois–non-profit groups must hire certified food handlers to serve any food. Illinois reviewed the law after churches protested and churches are now exempt

Potlucks are particularly dangerous according to the Iowa Food Policy Counsel because (1) food left at room temperature for too long; (2) inadequate food preparation; (3) inadequate food storage or heating; and (4) the presence of large numbers of people.

Oh boy. We spend all this time and money legislating potlucks, but at least our taxes are low and our schools are fully funded. Oh wait. . .

Rapture Update

A grocery store chain in Germany is going with a new fingerprint scanning device to allow shoppers to pay for groceries with a finger. Shoppers need to register one time with their credit card and bank information, plus a fingerprint, and they are good to go.

Grocery store head kazookies say the new technology can not be abused. Until Germans start getting their fingers cut off that is. I’m just sayin, I’m just sayin. I’m ready, are you?

TNIV

The London Telegraph is reporting that the New International Version is being published today. The TNIV has been in the news constantly since news of its revisions came out. About 7% of the NIV language is being adjusted, some of which has been adjusted right out of accuracy.

Most of the changes are harmless, Mary isn’t “with child” she’s “pregnant.” Stuff like that seems fine to me if you’re going for a more readable translation. However, they do mess with some of the male gender specific words and seem to have a bit of an agenda in their translation. In other words, I wouldn’t recommend this Bible and I have yet to find anyone else who would who doesn’t stand to make money by doing so.

Mysterious Ways

The man who shot up a Georgia courtroom held a woman hostage for seven hours. During this time together, the woman began witnessing to him. She read portions of the Bible as well as portions of A Purpose Driven Life. A quote from the article:

she urged him to consider the fact that he was still alive a “miracle.” “You’re here in my apartment for some reason,” she told him, saying he might be destined to be caught and to spread the word of God to fellow prisoners.

Through her words, she was able to calm him, remove herself from danger and convince him to turn himself in. That’s some impressive work! Faith does come in handy.

March Madness

On a much happier subject, March Madness Brackets are out! If you’d like to partake in bracketology with a group of people, send me your e-mail and I’ll send you an invite to a Yahoo pick ’em group. All you need is a Yahoo ID and that’s pretty easy to get. It’ll walk you through the whole thing to make your picks and have some fun.

Mourning Church

More information is coming out of the shooting in the Living Church of God service. Seven people were killed and then the gunman killed himself. His motive has something to do with losing his job and being upset over a sermon he heard two weeks ago.

One of the most disturbing aspects is this quote from one of the church attenders who had relatives killed. “I wanted to know where God was when this happened. He was supposed to be everywhere. He could have at least been there.”

It’s hard to know what to say really. It’s sad, just sad.

Bond of Unity

Keeping the unity in the church is not easy. Many things can cause division: following people, faulty doctrine mixed with stubbornness, feeling superior to lesser mortals, etc. The only way to have unity is if we are all putting into practice our position in Christ.

A church service of the Living Church of God (an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God) was broken apart yesterday when a man came in firing shots, killing many including the minister. How’s that for unity? It will be interesting to see if the motive for the crime is ever found out. The man who did the shooting was affiliated with the church somehow.

The unity in Christ is so beautiful and perfect and yet so easily destroyed. Let’s endeavor to keep the bond of unity by remembering our position in Him.

Jordan Baptizing

This is not about Michael Jordan. This story has to do with people in the Middle East being concerned that the Jordan River is drying up.

About 90% of the water in the Jordan river is being diverted to various water usage programs. This will also threaten the Dead Sea which is also in danger of drying up, it has shrunk 30% in the last five years. On top of that, 20% of the remaining water in the Jordan is heavily polluted. Of course, as with all things in the Middle East, Palestinians claim that Israel is taking 80% of the water and is to be blamed.

Good thing John the Baptist didn’t come to Israel today. Of course, Israel would have an easier time crossing the Jordan today.

Tolerable Prayer

While the US government is debating whether the Ten Commandments can be displayed, the Dell corporation, as well as Intel, are making concessions to religious people allowing them to pray at work.

Of course, the reason why is because Muslims wanted to pray, but still. Corporations are allowing their employees to express various forms of worship as long as they don’t force their beliefs on others.

So, I guess that’s a good thing as long as Christians get the same rights. We’ll see.

More Calvin

Reading the Calvinism book still. Came up with a brilliant point, 2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Calvinism seeks to prove that God’s will is forced on us with no choice of our own. This verse alone seems to refute that belief. The Lord is NOT WILLING that any should perish. Hello!

I’m all for God and I think He is in ultimate control of everything, but we don’t know everything that He’s going to do. Thus, we are accountable to do the right thing with what we do know from Him. God knows who will be saved, we don’t, thus, we’re accountable. Perhaps I’ll get into predestination next at Thursday Night Bible Study. It’s interesting to see how people have massacred the teaching over the years and really how simple the answer is.

Falling Dollar = Falling Missionaries

The dollar has been falling in comparison to European currency and many African currencies. This is creating a problem for US funded missionaries and mission organizations. In order to provide missionaries with $60,000 of spending capacity for their mission, they have to be sent $80,000.

The answer to the problem is, of course, raise more money. Raising more money, of course, costs more money! Some missions organizations have had to begin cutting expenses and streamlining operations with the possible future of cutting missionaries and missions.

RBC supports the Doeblers in Greece, which is in Europe by the way, and they are obviously one of the missionaries effected by this economic trend. Unfortunately, many churches are looking inward at this time, taking care of their own, paying their mortgages, pastors, doughnuts, etc. Meanwhile, missionaries are struggling to make ends meet. It’s a tough call, you can see both sides. The question is–what is RBC going to do?

Funny Link

It’s Friday, we all need a little something to laugh about. I was sent this link by a musical friend of mine. It’s pretty funny. Check it out.

British Intelligence

Foreign ministers seeking to serve in Britain must now take a test showing that they know about British culture and prove that they have sought to integrate with other faiths.

The reason for the new law is to keep anti-Western civilization ministers from preaching, meaning primarily Muslims. But since they can’t just come down on Muslims, because the British government has integrated all faiths, all ministers are subject. Here’s the quote that interests me from “a spokesman.”

“The reason for this is the potential influence which ministers of religion can, because of the respected position which they occupy and also through the preaching and pastoral functions which they may fulfill, exert among their congregation in favor of moral behavior and good relations”

Because ministers are so influential, a debatable point, the government has to make sure they are teaching people to do good! Oh my. If the secular government has to regulate a religion’s affinity for teaching good, we’re all in trouble.

Suave Castro

You thought our government spent money strangely. Fidel Castro made a two-hour speech to throngs of cheering women for International Women’s Day. What was the point of his two-hour speech?

For two-hours he talked about the virtues of rice cookers and explained that the generosity of the Cuban government, which appreciates women immensely, is going to provide a rice cooker for every home! Almost makes me want to move.

Can you imagine if one of our esteemed Presidents told women hat he appreciated them so much he was going to give out cheap microwaves? He’d get his head chopped off. Those dictators can sure get away with some things.

Reminds me of the female slave concept, otherwise known as concubines, which men thought would be a good deal. However, there’s some major problems with the concept and no matter how many men revert to that tendency, it never works. I think you have to stick with the Bible on this one and use some of that love stuff. However, if a rice cooker expresses your love, I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

Habitual People

People are creatures of habit. We can be trained easily. A web site study has been done to see where people most often look on their computer screens when viewing the internet.

This link will take you to a picture showing the hot spot where people look most often on their computer screens. As I was looking at the picture, I noticed that my head was propped up on my hand that was propped up by my arm on my leg and my head was directly in front of the hot spot!

I’m just like everyone else. It’s amazing how we all fall into the same mentality and behavior and there’s usually a reason why. In this case, the beginning of the web page is over there, we can scroll down and keep our eyes on one spot, it’s also the same spot you begin looking with a book. It makes sense, that’s why we do it.

But we need to be careful of this tendency to fall into behaviors because it “makes sense.” Not all issues of faith “make sense” and sometimes, you’ve got to break the mold and take a leap. Do something a little different. Add some excitement to our fight of faith, which often isn’t much of a fight because we’re not really using faith.

Evil Cookies

A man was arrested in New York for selling Girl Scout Cookies with his daughter without a permit.

It’s good to know that with all the evil in the world we are doing our utmost to squash this dangerous tendency.

Informative Reading

Calvinism and Arminianism (not to be confused with ArmEnianism which is the act or result of being from Armenia) are two extreme views of God’s sovereignty and our will. Both are wrong in their extremes and both are right in their minorness! The Bible presents both, so to be one or the other is to miss half the Bible.

Dave Hunt has tackled the subject of Calvinism in his book What Love is This?. I would recommend it highly. There’s too much to detail here, I’d just end up rewriting the book, I have other things to do. If you’re interested in the Church History behind the development of Calvinism and the influences on Calvin himself, this book tells it like it is.

If you are a Calvinist, you will hate this book! The reader reviews on Amazon are a fun read in themselves. Calvinists hate it, others love it. I love it! He rips it pretty good and he rips Calvin even more. It’s fascinating to see how beliefs and doctrines, held for so long, got their beginning and how frequently those beginnings were not scripture, or if it was scripture, it was really bad, biased translations of scripture. It’s important that we are aware of where what we believe comes from.

Our trust is to be in God, not man. Make sure that’s where it is, especially when listening to me.

Two Masters

Kenya has long been a hot spot for missionaries. Kenya has also been a hot spot for really high taxes. Kenya has also been a hot spot for missionaries trying to get out of paying those really high taxes. For years they have been claiming exemption because they are missionaries.

But no more! Now the Kenyan government is realizing all these missionaries have not been paying taxes and it’s payback time. They can go back as far as 7 years to get back taxes. If that’s the case, some of these missionaries will be paying more in taxes than they will be getting in salaries.

There are three responses missionaries have–pay them if you can, leave, or stay and refuse to pay taxes to an immoral government. I like how they make moral stands that save them money! Why not just say you don’t want to pay taxes? Anyway, I wonder if this is what Jesus had in mind when He said “No man can serve God and money.”

Get Ready

The London Times reports that a new study on chip and pin credit cards has not reduced credit card fraud, instead it has increased it. Security specialists thought that using a PIN number would make it harder than forging a signature but apparently thieves didn’t get the memo. They’re having no trouble.

I have a great solution to the problem, why not just put the credit card chip in our hands? No one can steal it, it won’t require a PIN or a signature, just your hand. Oh but wait, they could just cut your hand off. Well, OK, just put it in our foreheads.

I’m just sayin, I’m just sayin.

Images and Icons

Judges 17 and 18 shows how a Levite got sucked into idol worship and we wonder how one of the chosen ones to serve God could get sucked into something so destructive. Yet images and icons, sometimes called idols, have always played a part in religion.

The first thousand years of Christianity there was a great debate over the use of icons. The iconoclast (destroying images) controversy sprang up in an attempt to purify the Church of icons. Art has always been a part of Christianity from the fish symbol, to the cross and to the development of churches and their decor.

But soon these images left their role as artistic representations and became idols–images made for the express purpose of worship. In the Eastern Orthodox Church the first Sunday of Lent is known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy. This day was established to celebrate icons in the church. Here is the official hymn of the Sunday of Orthodoxy:

From you, O Mother of God, the indescribable Word of the Father was incarned and accepted to be described. He restored the obscured image of God in man, uniting it to Divine beauty. So that we, now, use both images and words in confessing our salvation.

In other words, the reason icons are acceptable is because Christ became one. That’s some creative interpretation right there. But using icons, idols or images as a means of worship always leads to worshipping something other than God. Which is why, if you’ll notice, the above hymn is addressed to Mary, not God. Case and point.

One of the points of this morning’s message was–be tolerant of sinners, show them love and the kindness of God because we’re all sinners and we all need the love.

Many religions and churches attempt to force people to stop sinning by punishing them, otherwise known as legalism. Six Muslim women in Germany have been killed by their families because they are leaving their religion and choosing to adopt a more Western lifestyle.

The latest victim was shot at a bus stop by her brothers.

Sure, grace gets attacked often about being too lenient and too permissive, can be easily abused and people will take advantage of liberty, which is all true. But grace does not lead to people killing each other! I would rather side with grace that allows a few mess-ups than a legalism that will shoot you for one mess-up.

Pretty much at the same time I was complimenting Sammy yesterday, he was in the process of being ejected from his second game with the Baltimore Orioles. Sammy shared some choice words with the umpires after disagreeing over a strike-three call and was booted from the game.

Ah yes. Again, let me say, “way to go Sammy. Hope you enjoy your new home.” I also hope the fine folks from Baltimore enjoy their new franchise player.

Sammy Update

Sammy Sosa made his debut for the Baltimore Orioles yesterday in a spring training game. I just want Baltimore fans to get used to Sammy hitting home runs like he did yesterday–when the game is all but over, his team is losing and the home run has little if any impact on the overall game. No one has hit 570 more worthless home runs than Sammy Sosa.

However, as a good Christian man maintaining a testimony, in the spirit of Romans 12:18-20, let me just say, “way to go Sammy. Enjoy your new home”

The indicator of male aggression has been found–the length of your fingers. If your second finger (ring finger) is shorter than your fourth finger (pointer) that means you were exposed to more testosterone in the womb and thus will be more aggressive in life.

Interesting. Me, the idiot I am, measured my fingers just to see. I must say, I’m a bit disappointed that my ring finger is longer than my pointer finger, meaning I’m just a shlub I guess. A nice shlub though. A relaxed, non-aggressive shlub. But shlub none-the-less.

Give me a break. I suppose we know where this is going–we can measure the length of fingers in baby boys in the womb and just abort all the aggressive ones and then there will be peace on earth. Then you’ll be getting spam e-mails about “Need more aggression? Need ring finger reduction surgery?” Ah yes, the future looks bright.

Young Male Aggression

An 8-year-old has been arrested at his school for a tantrum resulting from being told he couldn’t go outside to play with other students. He head-butted his teacher, started throwing chairs and desks and then kicked the assistant principal.

The importance of learning how to listen should never be underestimated. We spend lots of time learning how to speak, write, and communicate our thoughts but we spend very little time teaching ourselves or kids to listen. The only way to learn is to listen, not to communicate your own thoughts–you already know those!

But I suppose with this youngster we just have to accept his behavior because that’s just his personality. Right. The article did not report on the lengths of his fingers.

It is now feared that the Anglican Church (The Church of England) will be splitting soon over the homosexual issue. It is amazing to me how many churches are becoming more churches over this issue. How much more clear can the Bible be on a subject?

Of all the things that I have heard that split churches, it is always amazing to me how few of those reasons are actually doctrinal issues. I have heard everything from music choice, color of the new carpet, personality or power struggles, location of new building, homosexual issues (which is more or less an argument over lifestyle not over what the Bible says), etc but you never hear much about churches splitting over doctrine anymore.

The condition of the “church” today, and I use that term loosely, is sick. The lack of biblical knowledge or even concern for what the Bible says would make Jesus turn over in His grave. Good thing He rose again. Please do your pastor a favor and spend some time in the Bible today, memorize a few verses, study a few Greek words, something, anything to get more familiar with your source of Truth.