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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Thank the President for Appointing Judicial Conservatives to the Supreme Court

Today is an exciting day! Judge Samuel Alito won confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 58-42. You helped make this happen. Thank you.

I have a special opportunity for you to communicate with President Bush. But you must act now.

Take time today to send a letter of support to President Bush for keeping his promise to appoint judicial conservatives to the Supreme Court.

Your letter will be hand-delivered to the President on Wednesday afternoon at the White House by TVC Executive Director Andrea Lafferty. Time is short. Act now!

Monday, January 30, 2006

14 Shades of Red

I've never seen Senator Kennedy move quite like that.

Education: Defining the Problem

This is part one of the series American Education: A Crisis Demanding Leadership.

It won't take long to realize that there is a problem in American education.

Americans spend more than $500 billion per year educating 47.6 million students in 94,112 schools. On average it costs taxpayers $8,000 to educate each student. The money comes from three primary sources: 42% local, 49% state, and 8.4% federal.

In inflation-adjusted dollars, America is paying over 72 percent more today than it did in 1980. Even since the 1999-2000 school year, education spending has increased from $389 billion to the previously mentioned $500 billion. This would be well spent money, except there has been absolutely no increase in the quality of education nor in the results in the major educational categories.

Consider forth grade acheivement, only 31% are proficient in reading, 32% are proficient in math, 29% in science, and 18% in American history. The vast majority of students are not competent in basic subjects! The educational proficiency decrease as students get into older grades. Compared to our international counterparts, "American 8th graders ranked 19th out of 38 countries on the 1999 international mathematics comparison and 18th out of 38 countries in science. In combined scores of mathematics and science literacy, 12-graders in the United States ranked 18th out of 21 countries on the TIMSS 1995 assessment." While these numbers don't sound bad superficially, it is instructive to note that the US spends more than virtually all other nations on education only to yield a declining rank.

John's Stossel's revealing 20/20 report, highlights this international discrepancy: Watch: Belgians call American Students Stupid.

Politicians in the previous three decades have offered countless solutions to the declining competitiveness of the American student on the global market. Practicaly all solutions involved one key component: throw money at it. At the risk of being called stingy, their political opponents offered competing 'reforms' auctioning off our kids futures as though they were a piece of furniture.

One of the lies of socialism is that government money solves problems. Politicians feed their constituencies the line, "Vote for me and I'll take care of your children." Allowing the parent to disengage from the process, the government kept throwing money at education like money was going out of style. Throw money at it (get elected) and watch the returns. But when the test scores didn't come back increased, the mantra of more money was heard; when more money was given and test scores didn't increase, "the test must be racist".

But is it any surprise that government programs don't work? FEMA doesn't work, Health and Human Services doesn't work, intelligence doesn't work: nothing the government does succeed (except the military). Big government education is a death sentence to the future of America.

More money simply does not compensate for a host of other deficiencies. The idea that money compensates for quality of teachers, involvement of parents, facilities, or whatever is a lie. To prove that money isn't the answer, this principle takes any 'underprivileged' child at his school. His students succeeds and he spends far less than the national average: Watch One Successful School Spends Remarkably Less Money

The answer is bigger than money. The education system in America fundamentally broken in terms of quality, efficiency, and curriculum. In regards to curriculum, the National Governors Association listened while Bill Gates said, "“America’s high schools are obsolete. By obsolete, I mean that our high schools—even when they're working exactly as designed—cannot teach our kids what they need to know today. Training the workforce of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today's computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. It's the wrong tool for the times.(cite)”

If the bravest politicians know its broken and even if they knew how to reform it, why wouldn't they? One reason is because of powerful education unions. Not only have unions like the Education Association (NEA) become the powerful, sole defenders of the status quo, they have also lost track of their original mission of improving schools. This article highlights their liberal distractivism: NEA Money Laundering Engenders Outrage in Millions. Also, watch: Education Unions are a Problem. For more on the state of education and the role of Teacher's Unions, watch Cato's "The Worm in the Apple: How the Teacher Unions Are Destroying American Education".

Admittedly, the National Education Association is an easy target because of their opposition to change. But the problem is greater than the liberals at the NEA; government schools simply do not work.

Statistics used are from the National Clearinghouse for Educational Statistics. ABC's 20/20 report on education by John Stossel was used as were resources from the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute.

Read Part 2: School Choice: Saving America for our Children

Tim Kaine's Giving What?

Tim Kaine is VA's newly elected governor and tomorrow night he will offer the democrat response to the President's State of the Union Address. This guy has been in the spotlight for about 10 seconds, and he gets to address the nation. Could it be because he was able to beat his gubernatorial competitor, Jerry Kilgore, who's poor debating style and a few too many negative ads caused him to lose his 15 week lead in the polls? Gee, what a rising star Kaine must be.
Can you imagine their thought process?

The setting: Capitol Hill Democrat Strategy Headquarters. Sitting around a conference room table are the icons of the liberal left.

"Well, the nation's pretty sick of all the Senate Democrats...." says Howard Dean.

"Loser," she thinks before Senator Clinton says, "Hmm...well, I don't want any of my competitors getting the stoplight."

"We need someone to say he's corrupt...and a Nazi," Dick Durbin pipes in.

"Shut up, Dick," Ted Kennedy spouts off. "Where's my...uh, coffee? How about that nice little girl visiting Venezuela? Cynthia...something?"

"I'd love to give the response." says Harry Reid. "I could say something creative like, 'This administration is corrupt--the most corrupt....ever.'"

"I bet you would love to give the response." Senator Clinton says prompting a silent chuckle among the entire group of Democratic leaders.

Senator John Kerry begins to talk. No one's real sure what he said, because they stopped listening about 10 months ago.

"What about that nice young boy from Virginia." Barbara Boxers suggests. "Kennedy something."

"...uh. What? Did someone say my name?" arousing Kennedy from a sleeplike state. "Uh, sure, I'll give it."

"Shut up Ted." Dick Durbin Says.

"I'll tell you something, Dick. The Kennedy name...."

"Boys, boys." Senator Reid says to assuage the stirring controversy.

"Ah, yes." Dean says with his eyes squinting as he fiddles with his thumbs on his lap. "Timothy Kaine." Silently he thinks, 'My only real accomplishment. I wonder how much mileage I could get out of him. The better he looks, the better I look. Hmm...that's a nice picture of dogs playing poker. I don't think I've ever....'

"Well," Senator Clinton interupts, "I'm for him." Leaning over to Senator Leahy whispering, "How do you think he would be as a running mate?"

"Would you please get your mind on your Senate career, Senator Clinton." Leahy responds causing Clinton's eyes to light up with fire.

Suddenly, Leahy spontaneously combusts causing a shocked moment of silence.

"Weeellll....Tim Kaine it is," Harry Reid says, "If that ok with you Hillary."

"Oh, sure, whatever." she responds.

And the room quickly and quietly empties.
Ok, here's the disclaimer that nothing above really happened and it's all just my imagination. But Seriously....Tim Kaine? I'm so glad I'm not a Democrat.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

American Education: A Crisis Demanding Leadership

The defining issue for our nation is the direction and quality of education. Right now, we're failing.

On RightFaith, I will begin my first series of posts on education. It will dabble in the moral, but it will focused on policy, planning, and leadership for the 21st century. I bring plenty of experience and expertise on the subject; additionally, I will be drawing from the literature of more enlightened minds. I hope you enjoy it. To illustrate my concern, here's a quick statistic:
American students fizzle in international comparisons, placing 18th in reading, 22nd in science and 28th in math — behind countries like Poland, Australia and Korea. But why? Are American kids less intelligent? (cite)
Links to this weeks published research will appear on this post each day. So by linking to this post exclusively, you will avoid linking to each individual report. Contact me with your questions or recommendations.

Part 1: Defining the Problem.
Part 2: School Choice: Saving America for our Children
Part 3: School Choice: Sustaining American Exceptionalism
Part 4: Gay Activism in Public Schools
Part 5: Fighting Gay Activism in Public Schools

Appendix A: Examining the Complex Relationship between Christians and Homosexuals

Friday, January 27, 2006

Reconciling the OT and NT; Therapist Chick seeks answers

Therapist Chick writes:
I'll try this again, first time blogging. JR, I don't know how you feel about this, but I am wondering if God requires differently from OT believers and NT believers. God's truth remains the same. But OT believers seem like cavemen in their faith, more externalized with sacrifices and rituals, etc. In the NT believers have the Holy Spirit to guide them from within with maybe more capacity (Doesn't the Bible reference in Jeremiah 31 or 32 that 'there will come a time when no man/woman will need to learn or be taught the law for it will reside within them.') This may be the reason that OT believers were mandated to go in and annihilate whole towns of people and their livestock while NT believers are instructed by Jesus that 'he/she who lives by the sword will die by the sword.' It seems like OT believers don't have the 'soul' or sensitivity and had to learn everything the hard way. Wonder what difference would mean to individual responsibility back then and now? Perhaps after Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, more IS required of believers now. Just a thought. Regards,
First of all, i had to read your name as it showed up in your comment, "therapistchick," before i got it. i kept reading something different and I was like "why in the world would she name herself THAT?"

you ask a question that I want to be able to answer clearly, let me know if I need to clarify.

Man's Predicament; God's Desire
Consider the entire Bible the story of a people who need a relationship with God and a God who wants a relationship with people. The story is broken up into two parts: the OT, the NT. Worship is the expression of this relationship with God. When there is no relationship, a person cannot worship. Because of sin, which breaks the relationship, it is impossible to worship. God goes to extreme ends because He wants to restore the relationship. In our story, God wants people to worship him in the manner HE tells them--not vice versa (this is important). Sometimes the actors in the story tell HIM how they are going to worship and He doesn't like that. Sometimes they don't worship at all. So, they mess up; and he wants to get their attention so that the relationship can be restored for mutual enjoyment

The Signficance of Sacrifices
So, God instituted the sacrificial system. The Law (or sacrificial system) was the manner with which man approached God. Any infraction of the Law was sin. Sin completely separated man from God and needed to be atoned for through a sacrifice. The sacrifice acted as a covering (kaphar) over man’s sin so that a partial relationship with God could be restored (Lev. 1:1-9). These sacrifices were a reflection, or mirror, of Christ’s later work upon the cross (Heb. 10:4)

When Christ died and was resurrected, the opportunity for a complete relationship of man with God became possible. No longer did a sacrifice act as only a covering over man’s sin—the sin was removed (Heb. 10:1-18). Christ’s work on the cross is the avenue with which a sinner may have a restored relationship with his Creator (Rom. 3:21-24).

Sacrifice + Faith = Relationship
The sacrifice alone did not have the power to restore the relationship with God (Heb. 11:14). The one who sacrificed must also have faith in God. Faith that God is exactly who He says He is; faith that He will do exactly what He says He will do; faith that trusts Him to fulfill His promises. In the Old Testament economy, a person needed faith that would sacrifice even though the details of the sacrifice were unknown. God instructed the people to sacrifice animals, even though they did not know the details concerning Christ’s future sacrifice. This was an exercise of faith.

Remember, worship is the expression of a relationship with God. Based upon God’s command, Abraham was ready to sacrifice Isaac even though he did not understand the details simply because God said do it. According to Abraham, the sacrifice (Heb. 11:17-19) was worship (Gen. 22:5). Abraham had a relationship with God and was expressing it through his sacrifice. He had faith in God to fulfill His promise, even though Isaac—the son through whom the promise was to come—was about to be killed. Abraham’s "sacrifice" was his act of worship.

Christ's sacrifice is absolutely central to worship. Sacrifices in the OT, that mirrored (or pointed to) Christ’s NT sacrifice, was the act the Lord deemed necessary to restore the relationship with sinful man in the Old Testament economy because they acted as the substance (or action) of faith in God and ultimately are fulfilled in Christ! Sacrifice, coupled with faith, restores the relationship. A sacrifice is the expression of the human desire to restore the divine relationship and is needed to maintain the relationship. Without sacrifice, man would be separated from God because of His sin. There would be no forgiveness of sin without sacrifice. Therefore, in the Old Testament economy, sacrifice is necessary for worship to be authentic.

Christ's Fulfilled the Foreshadowing of the Old Testament Actions
Sacrifice is still required for worship in the New Testament economy. Let no person tell you that we do not need to sacrifice. We do. But, why are there no Christians lining up in Jerusalem, Colorado Springs, or Rome waiting to make an offering? The reason that we do not see these long lines is that Christ fulfilled the sacrifices and the feasts.

Every part of the Hebrew religion, Judaism, pointed to Christ. For example, the Temple was the meeting place between God and man. The Temple mirrored Christ’s role. Christ came and fulfilled the Temple’s purpose and He became the meeting place between God and man. Instead of people going to the Temple, believers go to Christ (John 2:18-21, 4:21-23)! Not only the Temple, but Jesus also fulfilled the Old Testament Feasts (John 7:37-39). Believers are fulfilling the Old Testament by being born of the spirit. Also, the Passover festival and the sacrificial lamb are fulfilled in Christ because He is the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world and there is no longer any need for a Passover. He is our Passover (John 1:29, I Cor. 5:7). Jesus is the High Priest of high priests (Heb. 4:14-15). We no longer sacrifice because Jesus is the eternal sacrifice for our sin (Heb. 9:11-15). All parts of Judaism are shadows of things that were to come. Shadows that could not be grasped, but the reality of them is found in Christ (Col. 2:16-17, Heb. 10:1)! Everything, including the manner of worship, changed when Christ came and fulfilled the Old Testament. Christ fulfilled the Old Testament means of expressing and maintaining their relationship with God.

The Expression of Relationship with God Today
In the lives of believers living in the 21st century, how do we worship? This is the key question. Sacrifice is still necessary for worship to be authentic. Sacrifice is still the action that is the substance of our faith. From the beginning of the Law until now, this has not changed; but the object that is sacrificed has changed. No longer do we sacrifice lambs, bulls, or goats. The manner in which we worship, the expression of our relationship with God, is still through sacrifice; but, the sacrifice is now our lives in service (Rom. 12:1-2). As in the Old Testament economy (despite their ignorance), Christ’s sacrifice is still central to worship. Just as the Old Testament sacrifices pointed forward to Christ’s sacrifice, the sacrifice of our lives point back to Christ’s sacrifice. Christ is central to worship. This sacrifice of our life in service is rooted in love, and is directed towards the ones that God loves. By loving one another we are fulfilling the second greatest commandment. By sacrificing our lives for our neighbors, thus, loving them, we are loving God because God loves them.

God’s divine love towards us drives us to worship Him. But, we must come to worship Him on His terms—not on our own. Our response to His love, His sacrifice, is to sacrifice our lives, in love, to one another (I John 4:11, Rom 12:1-2).

Our Sacrifice Points to Christ
Our act of worship is to present our lives as living sacrifices—dead to self-life and to the pattern of this world.
“I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom. 12:1-2).
Immediately following these verses, Paul begins to talk about spiritual gifts and the body of Christ. Why? He is teaching the Roman church how to worship! He is teaching them how to express their relationship with God.

Love is valuing another person more highly than yourself leading to action for the other person’s sake. God’s love and glory were displayed most visibly at the cross. Our greatest display of love toward God is through sacrificing our life in service to the one’s that God loves, because we love them and because we love God. Our motive for worship is love. Our worship to God is not based upon an emotion; rather, it is based upon our love for Him.

Our Worship
How does a believer know how to sacrifice or worship? Imitation. No longer is our example of how to live the Law; rather, it is Christ. Scripture gives the most awesome illustrations of worship. Entire sections of Scripture are devoted to showing the Christian how to worship. Ephesians 4-6 are about the Christian life and loving people. The following are examples of how we can love one another:
4:1-3 “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…
4:25-32 “Lay aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin…He who steals must steal no longer; but, rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome talk proceed from your mouth…Be kind to one another tenderhearted forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
5:1-22 Be imitators of God…walk in love…there must be no filthiness and silly talk or coarse jesting…Be not partakers [with sons of disobedience]…understand what the will of the Lord is…do not get drunk for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…
Then, the author of Ephesians begins addressing specific groups of people. He talks concerning wives and husbands, children and parents, masters and slaves, etc… Philippians 1-2 is about expressing our relationship with God and with our neighbors. First and Second Corinthians and the Gospels all show us how to live our lives in worship to God. The Scriptures teach believers how to worship the Lord, or express their relationship with the Lord, by sacrificing their lives for other people. The Scriptures teach us practical truths that instruct us on the principles of how to worship. Sacrificing for another person is showing your love for them, and by showing your love for other’s you are showing you love for God. Scripture teaches us the worthy sacrifice.

Therapist Chick, sorry about the verbosity and redundancy; but I wanted to make sure to communicate key points clearly. When you talk about "written on our hearts," you're talking about the Holy Spirit which only a few people in the OT experienced and only at key times. It is, however, a mistake to view to radical a distinction between the old and new testament; it is more biblical to see it as a continuation. Remember, Christ said that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Christ didn't make it obsolete, he fulfilled it's high requirements and feasts. So, when we read things of the OT that we don't understand or think of in modern terms as archaic and incompassionate, it is often helpful to ask what does this teach us about God, Jesus Christ looked at through the eyes of a fulfilled law. When you said, "Perhaps after Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, more IS required of believers now" you're probably right. I hadn't thought about that however I would be cautious in adding to Scripture or tagging on righteous requirements for salvation.

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Santorum: The Senator Strikes Back

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid accused Senator Rick Santorum of unethical activity involved with the K Street Project and made racial slurs based on his Italian heritage. That doesn't seem very nice.

In response, Senator Santorum wrote this letter. In it he politely blasts Reids hypocrisy and confronts his racism.

Why I Wouldn't Make a Good Liberal

Humor was found this morning as I opened my comments to this post where chet said, "Put your beliefs into actual practice and you'll make a great liberal." I'm sure he meant it as compliment or at least in the best possible manner; yet, after restraining my laughter and coming to my senses from the lack of oxygen, I thought I'd exposit for him and all the primary reason that I would not make a good liberal.

The significant difference between me and a liberal is that I believe that Bible means what it says and that God, having the authority to tell me how to live my life, does so through the Bible. Liberals hate any authority other than themselves. Their system of ethics is derived completely from their feelings or what they call, "a sense of right and wrong". They have to create systems for belief like the Humanist Manifesto (and when that didn't work another one), which they then use to actively justify abortion and euthanasia; Their "hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world" (Col 2:8) becomes their religion.

The Bible's standard is unmoving though its application changes with time. The differences between the conservative and liberal approaches to interpreting the Bible is similar to the difference between an originalists' interpretation of the Constitution and a "living Constitution." Originalists believe the Constitution, the actual words, have a meaning from which everything stems. Living constitutionalists believe that its meaning changes with time and that we can warp its words, forgetting about original intent, and force their interpretation into whatever they choose (ie, the hidden right to privacy = abortion). The hermeneutical approach is very similar.

Through time, the Bible acts as an anchor, external and eternal in its origin, for our faith. It says the same thing today as it did hundreds of years ago. The original intent of the Author remains significant and is the strength for the life of a believer in Jesus Christ.

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Bush, NSA, and Common Sense

Just to be clear: If you have a good chat with one of Osama's buddies, I don't care where you are--I want the government taking action to protect America.

Civil rights and the privacy of citizens is important but takes a back seat to making sure another 9.11 doesn't happen.

Vice President Cheney explained it this way: If someone in America is talking to someone in another nation, and one of them is a suspected Al Qaeda member, the NSA might be listening. I have no problem with that--none--whatsoever; frankly I don't think the majority of Americans do either. This is just another part of the bash-Bush media/democrat agenda.

Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act--Take Action Here

On February 1, 2004 Janet Jackson exposed herself on national television during Superbowl XXXVIII. The event highlighted the downward and accelerating spiral of indecency on our public airwaves. Thousands of people called for a crackdown on broadcast indecency. The public outcry helped to pass the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act overwhelmingly. This Act would increase fines levied by the FCC to make them economically significant, not the slap on the wrist they are today.

On February 16, 2005, this Act was reintroduced as H.R.310 and it once again sailed through the House, 389-38. Since then Ted Stevens (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, has held three sets of hearings on featuring broadcast companies opposed to realistic fines. Family and consumer groups have been shortchanged in these hearings. These hearings have resulted in no action, just another chorus of "It's not my fault; it's the parents' fault for not monitoring what's on our shows."

Chairman Stevens makes the ludicrous claim that this legislation does not have the support of the Senate, despite the fact that a similar bill passed last time by a vote of 99-1. The public is demanding realistic penalties for indecency violations and the FCC has the authority to issue them -- the only hindrance here is the Senate.

H.R. 310, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), has languished in the Senate for a full year. Chairman Stevens has admitted the House legislation does not have to go through his committee, but he has stopped efforts for a full Senate vote. This bill would raise the fine for indecency from $32,500 to $500,000 per incident -- and, more importantly, make the possibility of license revocation a reality for violators.

Broadcast indecency is already against the law; the real issue is strengthening enforcement. It's time to tell the Senate that action on H.R. 310 is essential.

Please sign this petition to Senator Stevens to ask him to support efforts to bring H.R. 310, the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, to a swift vote before the full Senate. Let's pass this law before Superbowl XL.

French Parliamentarian Fined for 'Homophobic' Hate Speech

While France is not America, the agenda of homosexual advocates remain the same: eliminate all opposition to homosexuality, by force if necessary. This French politician was fined 6000 Euro's for saying, "Homosexual acts are socially and morally inferior"

Effectively, thought control has come to France in the from of a 'hate-crimes' legislation. In his defense he said, "...To describe a behavior which is not beneficial for society is not discriminating against those who make the choice of homosexuality (cite). His point is right; heterosexual sex yields the benefits of children for society--homosexual acts do not.

This hate-crimes legislation is similar to that which Washington State has passed and which the House of Representatives has passed in America. By elevating, 'sexual orientation,' to civil rights status, homosexual can now control your thoughts--in France at least.

State of the Union (the first two minutes)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress: Thank you for your service to the United States of America.

Everyday, in nations around the world, citizens and leaders look to the resources of this nation to promote freedom, respect humanity, and encourage civility. The positive contributions from this government and this nation’s private citizens are felt from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka. We have been given a trust by the people of this great nation and a responsibility more humbling than our individual elections.

Gathering in great halls and making eloquent speeches does not earn the respect or endear the hearts of our citizens. The people of United States and peoples around the world expect results from this government; tonight we have the opportunity to address the world with one voice saying, “We will deliver.”

Five years ago when we met together, our national priorities were excellent schools, quality health care, a secure retirement, a cleaner environment, a growing economy, and a stronger defense. With your help, I have signed into law education reform, clean environment reform, tax cuts for every citizen, a prescription benefit plan, and have strengthened the ability of our military to respond in a rapidly changing world.

During this time, we have been attacked by an enemy seeking to destroy us, the families of our nation, and our allies around the world. With your consent, we have taken the fight to the enemy and have committed to our citizens, “We will defeat the ideology of evil and we will stand against those who threaten our allies.”

Some have suggested that the cost is too high and we should abandon the fight. Proposing that we hand victory to terrorist and desert our friends and allies, they have suggested that we relent in our pursuit of the enemy. This will not happen on my watch.

And yet, while we pursue one enemy we must be vigilant to guard against another that seeks destroy our Union and the strength of this nation from within. This enemy plots and plans in back rooms of this monument to democracy; when unleashed it attacks the foundations upon which this republic was built. This enemy seeks power through partisan bickering and is content only when progress has surrendered its allegiance to the throne of timidity.

While this nation faces the most serious challenges in its history, some in this room are content to trade progress toward a solution in favor of division and partisanship. I reject this ideology and am asking members of Congress to join together in working toward solutions.

Tonight, I will draw your attention to the most serious concerns that face our citizens and our nation. Accompanying this discussion of problems, I am taking the first step toward progress by suggesting solutions. I am asking Congress to take the second step by entering the dialogue of ideas. Without delay, I call upon both houses of Congress to pass a bipartisan, joint resolution committing to address these problems before the end of this Congressional term.

The people of this nation expect nothing less of its government than to end its partisan bickering and work toward solutions…

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Life's Tragedies; From Theory to Reality

Here in the blogosphere it easy to talk about faith and life's tragedies in a theoretical sense; but for the people living through tragedy, theory lacks value:
LAKE BUTLER, Florida (AP) -- Barbara and Terry Mann were supposed to complete their adoption of a 20-month-old boy on Thursday. Instead, they were planning funerals for him and their other four children -- all killed in a fiery car wreck.

The accident Wednesday, which also killed two young relatives, cast a pall over this small town of about 2,000 people in northern Florida. After hearing of the accident, Barbara Mann's grief-stricken father suffered a heart attack and died.

"It's hard to fathom what it's like to lose five children, two nieces and a father in one shot. It seems like a burden too big to bear (cite).
I am thankful to learn from this article that several had invited Jesus into their lives (What does that mean?). While this may assuage the grieve slightly, nonetheless, this is an example of an opportunity for the church (universally speaking) to be relevant in facing tough issues about life's tragedies together.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Knowing God through Relevant Churches

I am waiting for the pastor who is compassionate enough to stand behind the pulpit, look lovingly at his congregation, and say, “Life is hard. It is a gift that we did not ask for and brings troubles that we would rather avoid.”

Let’s admit it; life is hard. Death and sickness are hard to talk about, think about, and observe. Mounting bills when there is no money and no additional income expected creates a fearful expectation of the future. It is tragic when innocent people suffer physically, emotionally, and socially, in the hands of evil people. It is hard to wake up some mornings and get out bed. It is hard when friends, who we thought we knew, talk bad about us when they thought we weren’t listening. Betrayal, death, fears, and so much more are difficult parts of this existence we call life.

I haven’t found that pastor or that church. My guess is that neither have the “69-94 percent of Christian youths [who] forsake their faith after leaving high school (cite)” So, we are all left wondering, when will the church authentically address issues that are common to every person?

I was reading blogs last night about the “emergent church”. I hate labeling spiritual movements and this is just about as bad as any of them. It’s a term that’s been used since the 1970’s (which speaks to the generation came out of, causing further skepticism). Frankly, after last night’s reading, I’m not any closer to understanding how to differentiate an ‘emergent church’ from Rusty Nail Baptist Church down the street; though I do know to look for white men with goatees. One word, however, keeps popping up: relevant.

When I was a getting ready to leave for college, I visited various churches all over my hometown. My ten-Sunday experience was enlightening as I learned the differences between denominations. In two and half months, only a few were what I considered to be relevant in addressing life issues. I know it’s hard to be a pastor because so many demands are placed upon these spiritual guides, counselors, and teachers. On top of the forty (plus) hours worked per week, they have to show up every Sunday, dressed nicely and wearing a smile. I don’t envy pastors. But, what’s the point of preaching and teaching if the congregation dismisses the church as irrelevant to their life? More significant than sermon delivery style (which is sometimes used as a crutch for absent substance), what’s the point if the message lacks substantive relevance?!?

Perhaps, I am coming across more strongly than I intend so let me make this clear: the power of God to pierce people’s hearts and change lives transcends the words and actions of any one person. Furthermore, the preaching of the Bible is never accompanied by God’s absence. When the Word is preached, God’s changes lives.

But, if the effectiveness of persuasion lies at the intersection of life and Scripture, might that be a good target? When someone can say, “Hey, that’s me,” followed by an exegetical exposition about what the Bible says or how God perceives it, wouldn’t the church’s effectiveness increase? The Bible was written by real people for real people and it has within it messages for life’s greatest struggles. Why be afraid admit that struggles exist and that we all deal with them? Strength can be garnered by authentic believers seeking relevant answers together.

The Bible gets a lot of flack these days from Christians and non-Christians for being confusing, irrelevant, and written by a bunch of dead guys who were probably liars. An Italian court is even deciding whether Jesus really existed. While I don’t suggest that a Sunday morning service is a place to talk about the historicity of the canon and textual criticism, I wonder if the church perpetuates this myth by presenting the Bible as moral stories that don’t answer the hard questions and daily struggles of life.

Karl Barth said he preached with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. In this simple statement, he speaks directly to the need for relevanct churchs. The other side of this, of course, is not to water down the message of Bible with the passing headlines that people won’t remember in a few days. But, death, betrayal, fear—those issues common to humanity—transcend the headlines and are opportunities for the church to speak with authenticity to our greatest need. As any pastor will tell you, at these moments, when these issues weigh heavily on a person's heart, people often take the next, or first, step in their relationship with God.

During my undergraduate degree, I had the opportunity to study the Bible continuously; I took it. I could offer a fine rebuttal to those with whom I disagreed on this or that theological issue. Later, the Holy Spirit showed me that it was at the time when I was the best theologian, that I was the furthest from the Lord; quite ironic if you ask me. It wasn’t until I realized that the messages in the Bible were not exclusively provided for me to win an intellectual argument, instead the messages were there to change me and they did. I know first-hand that the Bible is relevant and addresses daily struggles.

When life is hard, we need an authentic church that understand life’s struggles and can relate God’s relevant perspective through his Word to those ready to know God.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Do Christian Leaders Peddle Soft-Core Socialism?

There are a lot of problems in the world and Rick Warren wants to solve them all; ok, maybe not all of them--yet. Last year he rolled out his PEACE Plan that aims to "Plant churches, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation" (cite). The PEACE plan combines the biblical mandates of the church, to plant churches and develop leaders, with the message that the Christians should also meet the social needs of the world. His concerns, motivation, and plans are noble to be sure.

February's issue of Christianity Today includes Andrew Paquin's, professor at Colorado Christian University, response to Mr. Warren's PEACE Plan. In typical academic fashion, he first calls upon his superior credentials as a "development professional and human-rights advocate" then puts Warren in his place as an amateur and novice, "Warrens' sudden access to vast resources must not be mistaken for expertise..." (cite) Instead of using his opportunity to address whether the Bible indeed mandates a response from the church to the social needs of a country, specifically Rwanda, Paquin takes an unexpected turn.

Ignoring years of warfare and corruption, Paquin says that Rwanda’s biggest obstacle to economic and social stability are the “injustices” of American agricultural trade policies. Attacking American policy is not new for higher education, but I would hope that constructive dialogue, at a minimum, would come from a Christian university. Blaming America for another country’s perpetuating poverty is a lie that I’d expect from a liberal democrat, but not from a professor at a conservative institution. To be clear on the issue, just as the nation is beginning to understand the need to become independent of foreign sources of energy, Paquin’s suggestion puts our national security further at risk by making America more dependent on foreign resources (cite).

Following this brazen suggestion, Paquin ridicules Warren for associating with the President of Rwanda. And while he may be correct in labeling President Kagame a corrupt official who may be responsible for “stripping Congo of its natural resources… mass rape, burning villages, and murdering civilians,” it seems unjustified to question Warren’s association with President Kagame. In my opinion, this cheap shot lacks qualitative value in addressing the issue; but, drawing attention to corrupt individuals actually provides a platform for the best solution for Rwanda. But first a few questions…

What church built Chinese universities? Was it the church that made India one of the fastest growing technological centers in the world? Who is more responsible for the increasing wealth of these countries, the church or the people? I appreciate that Warren and Paquin want to address the needs of people in poverty, but I question both of their methods and look to these nations as my proof.

India and China, while admittedly both still plagued with serious moral and social problems the accompany atheistic governments, are overcoming their social deficiencies (poverty, sickness, and education) by lowering corruption, increasing freedom, and building an infrastructure that can support a growing economy. They are now providing their own teachers, doctors, and with the assistance of Western companies, their people are starting to come out of poverty by the millions. They are addressing their own social problems without the help of the church.

The soft-core socialism that Christian leaders propagate does not solve social problems; it creates a culture of dependency. Increasing dependence on foreign aid does not decrease poverty. In much the same way that welfare has failed generations of Americans, countries that rely on American wealth to address their social problems fall short of addressing their greatest need. Providing doctors to the sick may heal the sick; but while producing valuable short-term results, it lacks the capability of addressing the long term needs of the country.

So, what good is the church? The church must maintain its focus on the power of God to change lives through Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is particularly effective in changing countries because of its power in changing individuals. Using doctors and teachers and achieve this goal is legitimate and effective; but, it must always play a subservient role. If the Gospel is effective in changing lives in Rwanda, then the corruption so prevalent will decrease as people learn to distinguish between right and wrong. As corruption decreases, the freedom that the Christian faith professes (and American democracy depends) will create a culture of freedom. This freedom will be built on the virtues of the Christian faith in the hearts of changed individuals.

As freedom takes root in the heart of the people, Rwanda will begin to express their own ingenuity in addressing their own social problems. They won’t need American wealth, they will create their own. By harnessing the power of freedom, they will establish their own infrastructure that consists of teachers and doctors while addressing the needs of their most vulnerable citizens. If we are effective in planting churches and developing leaders, then Rwanda’s own will assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation—regardless of American policy.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Voting Your Religion--or Not?

RCP blog discusses Mitt Romney's 37% problem. That is, in a recent poll by the LA Times (for what it's worth) 37% of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon.

So I'll ask you:
Is there a religion that, if a politician openly professed, would cause you to not vote for them (check all that apply).
No. Religion isn't an issue.
Yes. Christianity.
Yes. Judaism.
Yes. Islam
Yes. Atheists.
Yes. Agnostics.
Yes. Cults.
Yes. Jehovah's Witnesses
Yes. Mormonism.
Yes. Other.
Free polls from Pollhost.com

UPDATE: The radio conversation now makes sense in light of this story at JackLewis.net about Mormon Governor of Mass. Mitt Romney.
Romney says his Mormon Religion is plus in this article.
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A Theology of Anthropology: The Bible on Life, Abortion, and Euthanasia

The words abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research don't appear in the Bible. But just like we can the rights to 'life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness' from the Bible, we see that God values all human life. From this, Christians see principles that direct their views on the sanctity of human life.

Men and women were created in the image of God (Gen 1:27); we are distinct from animals who cannot reason (Jude 1:10). His imbued image in men and women acts as is a metaphoric "crown of glory and honor", second only to God himself (Psalm 8:5-8).

Before our conception, our lives have a purpose; it is not our birth that gives us value it is God's pre-planned purpose for our lives (Jude 1:10; Ps 139:16, Gal 1:15).

God values pre-born babies and watches them develop (Ps 139:16), has created the development process (Ps 139:13), and is intimately involved during the pre-birthed stages (Psalm 119:73). The Bible uses very special words to describe God's active role in this process like "knit me together" (Ps 139:13), "your hands...formed me" (Ps 119:73), "clothed me with skin and flesh, and wove me together with bones and tendons" (Job 10:11). It is because of his value of human life at this stage that he is intimately involved in directing it.

When a pregnant woman is hit causing pre-mature labor, God considers it a crime punishable by a fine. If that baby dies, that person punished as though it were murder (Exodus 21:22-25). In fact, the Bible calls unborn babies "children" (Luke 1:41 & 44, 2:12 & 16, Exodus 21:22)

God values men and women, not because of their age or ability, but because it is his image that he imbues into them and because of his purposes for their lives.

God purposes for Caleb, Simeon, and Anna were not diminished by their old age but He fulfilled His purpose in them while they were elderly (Joshua 14:10-12; Luke 2:26; Luke 2:36-37). In no way does God diminish the value of people because of their age or capacity, instead it exalts age and all the physical changes that come with it(Prov. 20:29). Because age is not considered, the value of life does not diminish with age (Job 1:21).

In fact, the elderly are given the task of being an example of, and teaching, faithfulness to God (Job 12:12). Younger people are instructed to respect the elderly and honor the old (Lev 19:32).

The Bible says that we are not to direct our death (Deut 32:39) it is God who appoints for us a time to die (Heb 9:27). The Lord alone is responsible for taking and giving life (Job 1:21); all other actions are consider murder and thus forbidden (Exodus 20:12).

Murder is forbidden because the image of God is imbued into every person regardless of physical characteristics; therefore, the taking of life is met with the most serious consequences (Exodus 21:12; Gen 6:11). [While taking of life is always serious, Randy and Chet had an exchange about the Biblical justification for killing in self-defense; it is here Exodus 22:2] In fact, it is wrong to even curse at another person because they are made in God's image (James 3:9).

There are 2 examples of suicide or assisted suicides in the Bible both by men whose wickedness had overtaken them. Saul fell on his own sword; when that didn't kill him he asked another to finish him off, but the individual refused preferring his own death rather than killing another (1 Samuel 31). Abimelech is another example. After being hit in the head with a stone, he asked another person to kill him. While it doesn't make a judgment on the morality of his assisted suicide, it makes it clear that it was his wickedness that drove his actions (Judges 9).

The single most convincing argument for euthanasia is that suffering is alleviated. But, the Bible says that our conscious existence does not end at death instead it continues seamlessly into the next stage (2 Cor. 5:8). Therefore, up to moment of death we have not completed the work to be done in the body. Part of this work is to glorify God (1 Cor 6:-19:20). Another part of this work is found only in suffering. While many look at the suffering involved with a nearing death, God looks sufferring as the last, but valuable, lessons. Christians are told to value suffering and various trials because it refines our character. Because God is interested in the quality of our character, we should consider suffering in all its forms with joy and rejoicing. It is only through suffering that we attain the fullness of our humanity (Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4; Heb. 12:11). Suffering also builds a purifying, hopeful expectation for heaven.

Humans are unique because God created us and imbued his image into us. Because of this, only God has the just claim upon when life can be taken. The unexpected loss of life is tragic always; this is a topic for another day. The taking of life is forbidden on all terms, abortion and euthanasia, except God's.

Now we move into the realm of my perspective based upon these principles....

There are times when the life of a mother is at risk, few but real. At these times, I believe I am not qualified to make the decision about right and wrong because I don't see a clear picture in the Bible. However, it could be justified as a form of self-defense, but again those tough decisions are for others to judge. In the case of rape or incest, I do not see any justification for the termination of life; just because a pregnancy was not wished does not diminish the value of the new created life.

Based on what I see in the Bible, I don't believe that mental or physical handicaps, or long-term or short term disabilities diminish the value of life or the image of God within the person. In 2 Samuel 21, Mephibosheth had a permanent physical disability that rendered him useless to that society; but, instead of David taking his life it was exalted. In fact, though not to be thought of in utilitarian terms, handicap people contribute greatly to those who work with them.

I also make a distinction between active euthanasia (AE), and passive/reversible (PR) euthanasia, passive/irreversible (PI) euthanasia. AE, (the most commonly thought of form of euthanasia) is the putting the death through unnatural means and I consider murder. PR euthanasia would be withholding common medical assistance, such as intravenous food, oxygen, or antibiotic, for someone still living who would otherwise be healed or maintain life on his or her own. Withholding this food, water, or antibiotic is a form of murder. Lastly, PI might be sustaining a comatose person through a ventilator who would otherwise naturally die. While I don't suggest the Bible makes these distinctions, I view them as real and to be considered distinct.

Now your thoughts....
The Independent Conservative takes a look at the "health to the mother" arguement here.
Higgaion asks, "Is the Bible anti-abortion?" He looks at a NYTimes article on the subject.

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End of the Spear (followup)

This is a followup to this post--specifically Edward's comment.

Hi Edward, welcome to RF. Here's the gist of my argument:
1. Chad Allen wants to be known as a gay activist.
2. The missionaries were known for their sacrificial committment to Jesus Christ and the Bible.
3. Allen marginalizes the Bible both by his sexual preference and in his 'faith'; thereby flagrantly contradicting the message of the missionaries.
4. The distincition between the missionaries and the Allen produces a insufferable credibility gap.

An actor's credibility is very significant in casting for a movie. Do you believe John Wayne would make a good tinkerbell? "Slow down there partner while I sprinkle some fairy dust on you." Of course not.

For their own sake, a production company should take the whole person into account when measuring how the target market will gauage an actor's credibility for a certain role.

Edward says that I'm "throwing the baby out with the bath water and your missing a chance to experience and incredible film and at the same time send a message to Hollywood that these kinds of stories matter." Maybe he's right; or maybe I'm sending the message to Hollywood that their actor's lifestyle choices have consequences.

The lie that Hollywood (generally, not necessarily this production company) wants you to believe is that sexual preference is no big deal, that homosexual person is as normal as a heterosexual person, and there are no consequences of sexual lifestyle choices. I will reject this proposition in every form that it occurs.

For another injection of common sense, see Right Wing News on Brokeback Mountain.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Burning Bridges & End of the Spear

The story that inspires the movie 'End of the Spear' is awesome. An isolated tribe came to know about Jesus because missionaries had a great love for Jesus and were compelled to tell others about Him no matter the cost.

Unfortunately, the beautiful story is mired in controversy because the lead role is gay activist, Chad Allen. "Christians loved the film Chariots of Fire, but the lead role of Eric Liddell was played by Ian Charleston, a gay man. Another great performance in that film was given by Sir John Gielgud, a homosexual man who was probably the greatest Shakespearean actor of the last century. Similarly, the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy was played by Sir Ian McKellen, who has also been known as a homosexual activist" (cite). So what's the big deal?

At issue is the lifestyle gap between Allen and the Ecuadorian missionaries Ed McCully, Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian. The missionaries believed the Bible means what it says in every area; they believed that the message of Jesus Christ applies to everyone. Allen marginalizes the Bible both by his sexual preference and in his 'faith'. The distinction between the missionaries' faith and Allen's produces an insufferable credibility gap.

Allen spoke of his faith,
"These days I judge all of my actions by my relationship with God of my understanding. It is a deep-founded, faith-based belief in God based upon the work that I've done growing up as a Catholic boy and then reaching out to Buddhism philosophy, to Hindu philosophy, to Native American beliefs and finally as I got through my course with addiction and alcoholism and finding a higher power that worked for me."
The Bible rejects this type of syncretistic, mixing of religions,
"You must not bow down to idols or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a [passionately exclusive] God" (Exodus 20:5).
The Colossians to whom Paul wrote were adding messages onto the Gospel of Jesus Christ so he wrote, "
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ Jesus....Such regularations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value..." (Colossians 2:8 & 23).
The exclusive message of the Gospel must not to be mixed; God guards his identity as the only one to whom we must worship. Clearly, Allen's message contradicts this truth.

His homosexual activism also produces a gap between himself and the message of the missionaries. The Bible is clear that certain behavior is associated with people who do not enter the Kingdom of God:
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance--as I told you before--that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God(Galatians 5:19-20).

But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you...And coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. For know and recognize this: no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God (Eph. 5:3-5).
Sexual immorality and the other sins listed above are not characteristics of those who will enter heaven (the Kingdom of God); thus, I call them 'sins of disbelief'. A lifestyle centered around sins of disbelief cannot be reconciled with the lifestyle of a Christian because obedience to what God says is a manifestation of faith and a person's love for God. Sins of disbelieve manifest an individual's rebellion against God and what God says in the Bible. Believing what God says about Himself in the Bible is important; knowing this and practicing homosexuality, pre- and extra-marital sex, murder, sorcery, etc., say to God, 'I don't believe what you said is true'.

Don't misunderstand me, sins of disbelief can be forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ just as other sin; but a necessary pre-quel to God's unqualified forgiveness is recognition of sin and the need for forgiveness.

To be clear, no perfect person could have been casted for this role because everyone deals with the sin associated with being human. It is the remarkable difference between the lifestyles of the missionaries and the homosexual lifestyle of actor Chad Allen that seem to produce create a credibility gap from which this movie will ultimately suffer.

Chad Allen talks about "building-bridges" between Christians and homosexuals.
You know, I made this movie with a group of conservative Christians who do not agree with my expression of sexuality. But we said to each other, I will walk with you accepting your differences, and we can create together. I will give you your space to respect you fully. They don't need to take away from my freedom, I don't need to take away from theirs. And I am so proud to have done that. That's the kind of bridge-building I think we can get to.
Recognition of human rights and respect are important in the relationship between Christians and homosexuals. However, bridges that lead to endorsement are unacceptable and must be burned.

Is Allen's role in the End of the Spear an implicit endorsement of homosexuality by this Christian production company? Jason from SharperIron.org emailed me this morning with new information regarding the movie, End of the Spear. He details a conversation he had with the movie's producer and director. It is very clear, they did not know he was a homosexual activist when they casted Allen but would not have changed their decision based upon this information. You decide.

So, is it bad that End of the Spear was made? Well, anytime that the Gospel is preached regardless the motive, it is a good thing. A more important question is, "Is the message of Jesus Christ clearly portrayed?" It appears that the answer is no; SharperIron.org will have more on this by Wednesday.

Ultimately, End of the Spear is just another Hollywood fantasy that lacks credibility and has no redemptive value. It is most unfortunate that it portrays one of the most significant missiological events in the 20th century; it may have been better left exclusively to our imaginations.

Also discussing this: Sharper Iron, Contend 4 the Faith, Challies, Pensees, Musings From the Two Shed Gomer, Reformed Baptist Thinker, Between Two Worlds Albert Mohler.

President Calls 'March for Life' Participants

Via Telephone
12:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Nellie, thank you very much. I appreciate the invitation to speak. I'm calling from Manhattan, Kansas. (Applause.) Sounds like you got some good folks from Kansas there. (Applause.) I want to thank everybody there -- if you're from Kansas, or anywhere else in our country, for your devotion to such a noble cause.

You believe, as I do, that every human life has value, that the strong have a duty to protect the weak, and that the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence apply to everyone, not just to those considered healthy or wanted or convenient. These principles call us to defend the sick and the dying, persons with disabilities and birth defects, all who are weak and vulnerable, especially unborn children. (Applause.)

We're making good progress in defending these principles, Nellie, and you and I are working together, along with others, to build what I've called a culture of life. One of my first acts as the President was to ban the use of taxpayer money on programs that promote abortion overseas. (Applause.)

We're making good progress in defending these principles, Nellie, and you and I are working together, along with others, to build what I've called a culture of life. One of my first acts as the President was to ban the use of taxpayer money on programs that promote abortion overseas. (Applause.) I want to thank you all for getting that ban on partial-birth abortion to my desk, a bill I was proud to sign -- (applause) -- and a law which we are going to defend -- and are defending -- vigorously in our courts. Because we acted, infants who are born despite an attempted abortion are now protected by law. Thanks to "Laci and Conner's Law," prosecutors can now charge those who harm or kill a pregnant woman with harming or killing her unborn child, as well. (Applause.)

We're vigorously promoting parental notification laws, adoption, teen abstinence, crisis pregnancy programs, and the vital work of our faith-based groups. We're sending a clear message to any woman facing a crisis pregnancy: We love you, we love your child, and we're here to help you.

There's more work to be done. The House has passed a bill to ensure that state parental involvement laws are not circumvented by those who take minors across state lines to have abortions. And the United States Senate needs to pass this bill so I can sign it into law. (Applause.)

We also must respect human life and dignity when advancing medical science, and we're making progress here, as well. Last month, I signed a pro-life bill supporting ethical treatment and research using stem cells from umbilical cord blood. I also renew my call for Congress to ban all forms of human cloning. Because human life is a gift from our Creator and should never be used as a means to an end, we will not sanction the creation of life only to destroy it.

By changing laws we can change our culture. And your persistence and prayers, Nellie, and the folks there with you, are making a real difference. We, of course, seek common ground where possible; we're working to persuade more of our fellow Americans of the rightness of our cause. And this is a cause that appeals to the conscience of our citizens, and is rooted in America's deepest principles -- and history tells us that with such a cause, we will prevail.

Again, Nellie, thank you for letting me come to speak to you. Tell everybody there that I ask for God's blessings on them and their families, and, of course, may God continue to bless our grand country. (Applause.)

Americans on Call -- Eliminating the Demand for Abortion

I don't know anything about this group; but wanted to pass this along....

WASHINGTON, D.C.— A handful of local law students came up with an idea...last week. Today, they are launching it at the March for Life. This idea has the potential to transform America as we know it. It puts Americans on Call.

One of the founding members of the movement put it this way: "I was a 19 year-old guy who didn't want my girlfriend to go through with the abortion, but I was paralyzed with fear about how my family would react. I needed someone to turn to. If I had some visual symbol of all of the people willing to help me get the help I needed, the story might have been different."

Americans on Call will proudly wear that symbol – an invitation to women and men in unplanned pregnancies that they are available to help, that they have the resources or know where to find them, and that they will support these new families.

As the March for Life demonstrates, the resources and the will to snuff out abortion in this country are already in place. The only trouble is that women in need are not always aware of these resources. Americans on Call will bridge that gap. Find out how at www.abortionends.org.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Welcome to Sanctity of Life Sunday...

...I'll be your guide to the blogs best posts on this day when we celebrate life. If I've missed your blog, let me know and I'll be happy to add it.

The Seasons of Kat Superfly, Pro-Life Blogs, Red Guy in a Blue State, RealChoice, Freedom to Live, Cross Blogging, Daisy Cutter, legal redux, WriteWingBlog, Catholic Fire, Life at the Frontier, A Catholic Life, Daddy Hoo, VERITAS! Sharon Hughes, LaShawn Barber's Corner, Journaling Through the Valley, ASCENT, House of Horrors, St. Peter's Helpers, Broadcast Team Blog, PathToHoliness, Dad's Corner, Charity Grace, PRESBYTERIAN THOUGHTS: living a well-thought-out life , Spirit of Adoption, Two Edged Sword, Challenging Thoughts for Changing Times, Living the Gospel, God Save America, A view from the sacristy, Rachelle's Space, verbum Dei, The Land of Ozz, The Rebelution, Badger Blogger, TRUTH BE TOLD, bLogicus, ~alamoth~, Helen’s Light, JOLLYBLOGGER, Pro-Life With Christ, Freedom Watch

News Stories: Pro-Life Advocates Mourn Roe v. Wade Abortion Decision With Events, Rallies Mark Roe V. Wade Anniversary, States Step Up Fight on Abortion, States of Confusion, Marchers' renewed hope, Abortion Rights at the Forefront on 33rd Anniversary of Roe Vs Wade, Abortion under heavy fire, Thousands Walk for Life in San Francisco

Friday, January 20, 2006

My Evangelical Agenda

I was recently interviewed by phone and found myself answering, “I’m a conservative, evangelical Christian. That’s how I would define myself.” Tragically, these terms that ought to provoke images of the love, compassion, and concern of Jesus Christ in my mind get distorted by my political and social reform convictions. I lose focus sometimes.

My false assumption in labeling myself a conservative, evangelical Christian is that people understand that Jesus’ message is not primarily political in nature, it is personal. Jesus Christ is more interested in changing lives than in changing laws. On Larry King Live this week, Albert Mohler said, “We don’t preach a gospel against homosexuality; we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Of this priority, I need to be reminded.

The Bible calls Christians the ‘salt of the earth’; one of the properties of salt is that it keeps the food from spoiling—it’s a preservative. As evangelicals become involved in shaping laws and preserving morality in society, it is important that we not allow our identity to be defined by the issues but by Christ in us. Just this week, the progressive author Rick Warren said, "I'm so tired of Christians being known for what they're against." His frustration is a symptom of the church’s neglected priorities.

The accusations that Christians want to ‘turn America into a theocracy’ or ‘Christianize America’ represent the rhetoric of confused individuals and are flat wrong; but the blame falls partly on Christians who have lost sight of souls and salvation in their zeal for being salt. Evangelical Christians are not a political issue committee; they are primarily life redefinition counselors for those without hope.

To be clear, Christians have a responsibility to influence the moral statements that government makes through law—but not by taking it over, restricting freedom, and imposing faith. Instead, the Christian faith requires freedom; and, American freedom requires the virtues espoused by the Christian faith. The best way to impress those virtues into our society is not through the imposition of faith; it is through the evangelical agenda, one changed heart at a time.

My Opinion vs. God

I don’t know about other bloggers, but as my affection for blogging has grown, I started filtering news and life through the question of whether it’s “blogable” or not. I think it’s normal; preachers say the same thing about whether something is preach-able or not; musicians and politicians the same. While I think it is completely valid for Christian bloggers to blog with ‘the Bible in one-hand and the newspaper (what’s a newspaper?) in the other', I have recognize a deficiency in my blogging.

The borders between faith, tradition, and politics are sometimes fuzzy especially for the evangelical Christian who believes in a worldview integrated into every aspect of our lives. My deficiency then: If I take a position on an issue, am I suggesting that God feels the same way about it? For example, if I post that abortion is wrong. Is that my opinion or God's? And, this represents a fuzzy border: abortion is political issue with moral implications of spiritual consequence. If I'm going to defend my position on abortion, I should make it clear where my opinion begins and God's ends. I haven’t always done this; but, especially with a blog like RightFaith, I think I need to do better.

Oh, and especially within my comments. This week I contemplated getting rid of them (partly for the reasons I outlined in an earlier post, but also) because it’s my nature to rip into those whose arguments are vulnerable, often sarcastically. I try to scale back the rhetoric of my comments, then they lose qualitative value, and then I find myself posting a compromised comment that is generally off subject—‘argh,’ that’s frustrating. But, I’ve digressed.

As I sat in the hair salon this morning, thinking about blogging, I reflected on one of Erica’s comments. In reference to defining myself in traditionalists, as opposed to secular progressive, terms, she said:
Which traditions? Whose traditions? You say traditions like we're all supposed to have the same ones and know which ones you're talking about….so there isn't any such thing as a set of traditions that is unique to America. And no, your traditions are not universal, nor do they posess some magical property that makes them more special than anybody else's traditions.
Though there is a bit of ignorance in Erica’s statement, there is also a bit of common sense: defining yourself in society’s terms lacks permanence because society’s definitions change (ie. today’s Republicans look very different from the Republicans of Lincoln’s day though they share the same name).

Francis Schaffer talked about the Catholic Church’s error in elevating traditions and the papacy over the Bible because as the inspired, inerrant Word of God, the Bible acts as an external reference whose definition for morality is unchanged by contemporary standards whereas the edicts of Pope are changed, updated, and defined—though I’m inviting disagreement here—by contemporary challenges. The Bible’s unchanging status doesn’t make it irrelevant; no, it makes it trustworthy. It is going to say the same thing tomorrow as it did today; it is not going to sway with man’s shifting opinions.

Sometimes, Biblical applications are explicitly stated: do not murder. The Bible is pretty clear on the subject and only the most devout postmodernist could avoid its clear implications.

Other times, the Bible addresses issues implicitly; for example, the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that comes from the Creator is not stated explicitly. You can’t find these words in the Bible, but the principles are there from which this can be derived.

But, at other times, the Bible is silent on a contemporary subject: is the flat tax more moral than the fair tax? “And the Bible survey says…” nothing—the Bible doesn’t share God’s opinion on the subject, as far as I know, and we are left to use our understanding of morality and finance to determine American tax policy.

Sometimes, technology changes and requires a different application of Biblical principle than we had earlier anticipated. For example, using cell phones in a movie theater tops the most annoying practices list. Well, cell phones didn’t exist in Bible times, but being considerate of others like we would have others be considerate to us, is a widely known Biblical principle.

Because there are differing levels of explicitness, I think it is important to differentiate between these levels in the content addressed on RightFaith. I haven’t done this and I’m afraid that my reasoned opinions could come across as though I were making a statement from the Bible. So, I’ll do better.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

States defining marriage traditionally

Yesterday, the Virginia House of Representatives voted to advance a bill defining marriage between one man and one woman to the State Senate. I congratulate them on their wise decision seeing as though the majority of Virginians are traditionalists.

The people are united in defining marriage between one man and one woman. In 2006, 10 states (Alabama, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, Arizona, California, Florida, and Illinois; [DE, IN, IA, MA, MN, NJ, NM, NC, and WA have amendments pending in 2008]) will take action to define marriage traditionally bringing the total (if passed in each state) to 29 states where the people have voted not to legalize same sex marriage.

More significatly perhaps is the overwhelming nature of support that each passed initiative has received. Time after time, when the issue comes before the American public, they resoundly reject the secular progressive agenda. In no state have the people chosen to permit same-sex marriage.

Hawaii 69%
Nebraska 70%
Arkansas 75%
Georgia 77%
Kentucky 75%
Louisiana 78%
Michigan 59%
Mississippi 86%
Missouri 71%
Montana 66%
North Dakota 73%
Ohio 62%
Oklahoma 76%
Oregon 58%
Utah 66%
Kansas 75%
Texas 75%

Liberal, homosexual activists dismiss the traditionalists as extremists and hate mongerers. They try to say that in 20 years, no one will even think about someone's sexual orientation. But, they are wrong. This issue is going to be decided by majority decisions of the people through voting and not a few extreme secular progressivists who want to turn America into modern-day, postmodern Europe.

UCLAProfs.com: Exposing Liberal, Proselytizing Profs

UCLA Threatens Legal Action Against Conservative Activist

In a classic David and Goliath story, UCLA alumni Andrew Jones is taking on his alma madre over the issue of wacky, couch-jumpers for the liberal agenda. His site, UCLAProfs.com, exposes individual professors backgrounds, petitions signed, letters and articles written, and all other manifestations of radical activism. Now, UCLA may bring suit against one of its own threatening, among other things, copywrite infringement.

The self-perpetuating, liberal culture of colleges and universities rewards like-minded professors with tenure. Thus, liberals promote liberals who then promote liberals under the guise of, "Well, these individuals are more correct than their conservative counterparts." While many students rebel against this liberal indoctrination (evidenced by the shifting trend in the number of conservative students emerging from colleges), other weakminded students become their activists clones.

Luck is wished and kudos are given to this alumni who loves his alma madre.

Kentucky Governor Backs Intelligent Design in Schools

In his State of the State Address on January 9, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher made a brief reference to his support of teaching intelligent design in public schools:
"As I close, let me recognize Kentucky’s veterans. You have served to protect our liberty and the freedom that spurs our quality of life in this nation. Please know that this administration is committed to supporting you. And where does this freedom come from that many have died to protect? Our founding fathers recognized that we were endowed with this right by our creator. So I ask, what is wrong with teaching “intelligent design” in our schools. Under KERA, our school districts have that freedom and I encourage them to do so. This is not a question about faith or religion. It’s about self-evident truth (cite)."
"For 16 years, Kentucky law has allowed educators to teach evolution and creationism — and now the newer concept of intelligent design — side by side, even allowing teachers to quote Bible passages. But almost no one does.

"A Kentucky School Boards Association survey last November asked the state's 176 school districts whether their teachers taught or discussed intelligent design, said Brad Hughes, an association spokesman. Not one said it did.

Educators say evolution and intelligent design are avoided as classroom topics for many reasons -- fear of controversy, conflicting viewpoints, confusion about Kentucky's law and an emphasis on topics, such as evolution, that are on state tests(cite)"

The radical left wing imposes its perspective by judicial fiat and everyone recognizes it; wanting to avoid the lawsuits teachers avoid the subject instead of addressing it. Infringement on a teacher's academic freedom comes in many forms including fear. Communistic indoctrination and control through intimidation are the preferred methodologies of the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. When will a teacher, principle, and school board stand up to their bullying?

RIGHTFAITH: Where everything favors the stewardship of patrimony. All content is believed to be correct but may be amended based upon new information. The content of this page may be republished with proper citation without the expressed consent of the author. This site is not, in any manner whatsoever, associated with the religious philosophism from the Indian penninsula. All comments or emails to the author become the property of the author and may be published or deleted without notice or reason provided. Copyrighted 2005.

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