Saturday, October 25, 2014

Encouragement to pray

And if you meet with troubles
And trials on the way,
Then cast your care on Jesus,
And don’t forget to pray.*

God the Father. Matthew 6:9; John 1:12; Jeremiah 33:3
Who He is. He is not only the Creator and Ruler of the universe, He is our Father. He is not a distant deity. We are in a relationship with Him.
What He does. He invites us to pray and promises to answer.

God the Son. Hebrews 4:14-16; Romans 8:34
Who He is. He is the Son of God, and He is our great High Priest. He is a priest made like unto sinful man, but has no sin. He knows and He feels our infirmities.
What He does. He intercedes for us. His standing as a substitutionary offering and a compassionate High Priest motivates us to come boldly to the throne of grace.

God the Spirit. John 14:26; Romans 8:26
Who He is. He is our Comforter, our Teacher, our Guide. 
What He does. He teaches us to pray, and intercedes for us when we know not how to pray as we ought.

Jesu, my Savior, Brother, Friend,
On Whom I cast my every care,
On Whom for all things I depend,
Inspire, and then accept, my prayer.**

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us

* Excerpt from John Leland, 1793, in "Heavenly Armour," No. 129 in The Sacred Harp, 1844
** Excerpt from a 7-stanza hymn by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) in Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1742

Friday, October 24, 2014

Calvin Coolidge, and other quotes

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence." -- Calvin Coolidge

"From the Cross flows an abundance of grace. From the Christian should flow an abundance of compassion." -- D. L. Payton

“Unresolved anger is like drinking poison expecting the other person to get sick.” -- Gary Smalley

“Everything in time, everything in eternity, in this world and in the world to come, are all on your side, who are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” -- J. C. Philpot

“If you are separated from the world by being brought into the wilderness; if you are passing through trials and afflictions; if you are exercised with a variety of temptations, and are brought into that spot where the creature yields neither help nor is painful; but it is profitable, because by it we learn to look to the Lord and the Lord alone.” -- J. C. Philpot

"Bible study is not just learning, it's living." -- copied

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Philosophy Matters, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 4 Ways Theology Is Practical for Everyday Life -- "If we can’t explain why theology matters, we have a problem."
* Confederate officer's wartime diary decoded -- "The just-cracked code...was to protect gossip from the front lines."
* Debating God: Notes on an Unanswered Question -- "What was the point of talking to a bunch of philosophers about religious belief?"
* How many soldiers were involved in the American Civil War? -- "In a country that contained approximately 31 million persons during the time of the war, over 3 million were enlisted as soldiers. Of that three million plus, about 2.1 million fought for the Union while approximately 1 million fought for the Confederacy...More Americans died in the Civil War than in all other conflicts combined."
* The Affect of Sherman's Actions in Georgia on Andersonville Prison -- "Andersonville Prison commandant Captain Henry Wirtz was arrested and charged with war crimes...He was the only man executed for crimes during the Civil War."
* The Eva Braun story: Behind every evil man... -- "The Eva Braun who has until now only made sporadic and brief biographical appearances comes across as someone whose most remarkable quality was her emptiness..."
* Why Philosophy Matters for Christians -- "...philosophy matters for Christians because many of the debates are about the 'big questions' of human existence."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wendy Davis for governor...


Time is running out on the Texas gubernatorial race, and apparently Wendy Davis is getting desperate. One of the first signs of desperation was attacking the guy in a wheelchair. Republican candidate Greg Abbott has long been confined to a wheelchair since an accident left him partially paralyzed. If a broad sense, if Davis attacks Abbott she is attacking a guy in a wheelchair. But that aside, she decided to go directly after the wheelchair. Who is her campaign manager, and is he or she still employed? Actually there was a legitimate concern in the ad that opens with the shot of an empty wheelchair and complaining about Abbott. But, really, who thought this approach would fly with the public?

The legitimate concern is the possible hypocrisy of Abbott -- he sued after his accident and won, but may have fought to deny the same kind of justice to other accident victims. I believe that is a fair question for Abbott to answer. But the ads by Davis simply don't sell to the Texas public. 

Now perhaps Davis is in dire straits. Recently she has implied that Greg Abbott opposes interracial marriage -- despite the fact he is married to a Latina. Not enough, another article shows that Wendy Davis hyperventilates, attacks Greg Abbott over dildos.

That writer concludes that “Wendy Davis, the Texas Democrat known as 'abortion Barbie,' never learned the first rule about holes. Digging them, that is...”

[Note: This post should not be considered an endorsement of Greg Abbott, but an anti-endorsement of Davis.]

Can the Hitching Post deny homosexual marriages?

Advocates of same-sex marriage have long said that they want the right to marry, but aren't interested in forcing religious officials to consecrate those marriages in violation of their own religious beliefs. Apparently some same-sex couple in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, does think this way. 

This month the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage. This apparently makes gay marriage legal in the state (at least barring the Supreme Court ever weighing in on the issue) and changed some of the outlook of city anti-discrimination ordinances. Friday, October 17th the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel was contacted by a man wanting a same-sex wedding. The chapel turned him down. This put Donald and Evelyn Knapp, who own and operate the wedding chapel, in violation of a 2013 Coeur d'Alene discrimination ordinance. "Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time." (Up to 180 days in jail and $1,000 per day in fines, and the ADF claims "each day the Knapps decline to perform a requested same-sex wedding ceremony, they commit a separate and distinct misdemeanor, subject to the same penalties.") When it was passed, opponents of the ordinance said, for example, that the rule would "discriminate against those with religious beliefs, especially in the business world, by forcing them to go against their conscience for the benefit of a select few."

In 2013 Coeur d'Alene passed an ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. This includes housing, employment and "public accommodation". The city's position seems to be that since the Hitching Post is a for-profit business, this is a matter of "public accommodation" and they will be required to perform homosexual weddings. The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Knapps. Attorney Jeremy Tedesco contends that “The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.” He asserted, “The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines.” According to ADF, punishing ministers under this ordinance violates both the US Constitution and Idaho's Free Exercise of Religion Protected Act.

Backers of the Knapps call the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel a "ministry" and point out that they are ministers of the gospel (though not pastors). Online sources state that the Knapps are ordained by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a Pentecostal denomination. Opponents contend that this is not a freedom of religion issue because Churches are not being forced to perform same-sex weddings, and that this is a for-profit business.

The lawsuit is a preemptive attack by ADF to prevent the city from enforcing the ordinance re the Knapps (i.e., they have not yet been fined or jailed). To me it seems pretty clear that the Knapps are ordained ministers and that they run a for-profit business -- that is, the purpose of the Hitching Post is to conduct wedding ceremonies for paying customers. I can't confirm that last part for sure. It seems that the excitement caused by this uproar has brought so much traffic to their website that they have exceeded their band width.

I found it interesting that the HuffPo crowd is spinning this that it not a church that is "being forced to perform same-sex weddings." Technically they are correct, and we should note the other side has their spin too (e.g., referring to the wedding chapel as a ministry rather than a business).* But as a Baptist minister I can say that it is ministers and not churches who perform weddings -- and they often are paid for their service. I don't pretend to know how it works in other denominations, but in my case I alone -- with my conscience -- decide whether or not I will marry someone. If the Knapps, as ministers, become unable to choose whom they will marry -- even if they do it for profit -- how long will it be before other ministers are herded into the same corral? 

Don't worry about the "slippery slope," you say, we won't go there. Really? Homosexual marriage has been part of a creeping agenda. With every victory comes a new iteration as the movement takes courage and remakes itself. First it was civil unions. We just want the same legal advantages as marriage, it doesn't matter what you call it. I said then that the passing of civil unions would prove that will not satisfy. Now having legal homosexual marriage does not satisfy (some, at least). We don't just want those who want to perform such marriages to perform them, we want those who don't want to perform them to perform them as well. At least that's what this Coeur d'Alene Hitching Post casesays to me. I'm not sure why it shouldn't?

Links to news and opinion on Coeur d'Alene and the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel

* I think groups like ADF may over-sensationalize issues such as this in order to "boost their ratings" among their supporters, as well as gain new supporters. (Groups on the other side do this too.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Man Comes Around

There's a man going around taking names,
And he decides who to free and who to blame.
Everybody won't be treated all the same.
There'll be a golden ladder reaching down
When the Man comes around.

Johnny Cash's The Man Comes Around is an intriguing mix of half talking/half singing that is recognizable to a lot of people -- at least in its opening lines, "There's a man going around taking names, And he decides who to free and who to blame." It has numerous biblical references which leave me wondering exactly what Johnny believed and what he meant. Generally it must speak of the judgement day, but specifically I'm not sure. 

What do you think?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Freaky coincidences, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 6 Ways to Benefit from Reading Genealogies -- "Most Christians inwardly, if not outwardly, groan when they arrive at a genealogy in their Bible reading. This is a shame."
* 14 Freakiest Coincidences Of History -- "Very rarely, we witness or hear about moments that amaze us with how weirdly coincidental they are."
* Catholic Bishop: 'Homosexual Relationships' Destroy 'Identity' of Man and Woman -- "Archbishop Zbigevs Stankevis...said foreigners, including the U.S. government, are trying to impose a pro-gay agenda on Latvia and other East European countries..."
* Pastor who admits to having AIDS and sleeping with parishioners won't step down -- "A pastor in Alabama is refusing to step down after confessing to having AIDS, sleeping with church members without telling them about his HIV infection, taking drugs, and misusing funds."
* Rights group asks for probe into shooting range that refuses to cater to Muslims -- "This is more than enough loss of life on my home soil at the hands of Muslims to substantiate my position that Muslims can and may follow the directives in their Koran and kill here at home."
* Slave photo discovered from Robert E. Lee's home -- "It's extremely rare to have an identified photo of an enslaved person."
* When guys find out I’m a virgin -- "Dating is hard — especially when you're a 26-year-old woman who wants to save sex until marriage."
* Why Are You Tired All The Time? -- "While the benefits of a good night's sleep are well documented, chronic and more ambiguous tiredness afflicts millions of people over 50."
* Why I Want My Range to be a Muslim Free Zone -- "One mistake in judgement on my part could cost innocent people their lives."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Gone to the country

Local Nacogdoches humorist and lawyer Bob Murphey observed that rural is a relative thing. As best I remember, his story went like this:
Murphey was called upon to repossess a refrigerator. He drove out of town into the country. He pulled up at a bank on the side of the road and then followed a small trail into the woods to find the house. He found a rope to swing across the creek that ran in front of the house, then walked up to the front door. What did he find but a note on the door that said...
"Gone for the weekend. Gone to the country."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Quotes from here and there: wise, witty, weird and wild

“It’s déjà vu all over again.” -- Yogi Berra

"Let us do with any other philosophy what we will, but let us not hesitate to accept all that the Scriptures teach...There are many true things in and out of the Bible beyond our satisfactory explanation. Let faith apprehend even where the finite mind cannot comprehend. " -- B. H. Carroll

"It doesn't take a lot of strength to hold on. It takes a lot of strength to let go." -- J. C. Watts

"Everyone tries to define this thing called Character. It's not hard. Character is doing what's right when nobody's looking." -- J. C. Watts

"Our success has not been as complete as we could desire, but God knows best." -- Robert Edward Lee

"I would rather spend Sunday morning in a saloon than sitting in a church under the preaching of a modern Higher Critic." -- Cyrus I. Scofield

"Sometimes stress is the desire to excel in disguise." -- Kasi Dickerson

"Only shallow people know themselves." -- Oscar Wilde

"A highly intelligent man should always choose a primitive and stupid woman." -- Adolf Hitler

"It would be wrong for me to identify one of my children as my favorite. To pick one as favorite is necessarily to relegate all of the others to secondary status. In the same way, even from my childhood, it has always felt wrong to me to try to pick out a favorite verse of the Bible." -- Bart Barber