Thursday, June 28, 2007

Miss Frankenstien lives: The Big Stem Cell Lie

This morning, I woke up to find this headline on Docs: Embryo-Free Stem Cells Possible. My first thought was well duh! What do you think we have been talking about when we referred to adult stem cells. Alas, that is not the case, instead we have scientists who are once again more concerned with whether they can do something than rather if they should do something.

Hoping to bypass the ethical objections of Pro-Lifers, a group of scientist tried to do an end around by skipping the needed sperm to create an embryo. Technically speaking we have no recourse in this matter because scientists have stated that a new human life starts at conception; however, in this case, conception technically does not occur because there is no sperm involved and thus as they see it removes ethical concerns. In response to this paper, Ronald Greene, a bio ethicist, states
"People will see that these are activated eggs ... they do not of themselves ever develop into a human being," he said. "This is not anything biologically or morally like a human embryo, and it's a very good way of trying to provide human embryonic stem cells that does not involve the destruction of an embryo."
He couldn't be farther from the truth. They do have to destroy a human embryo. Regardless of the means of conception it is no less human than the next person. What will be needed is an update to our definition of conception to include artificial and unethical means.

To answer your question, "what did they do?" I will briefly state they artificially induced oocytes to engage in parthenogenesis or reproduction without a male. Parthenogenesis does not happen in humans but it does happen in many different animal and insect species. Scientists consider the resultant offspring to be unique individuals which genetically speaking is undeniable.

The result of parthenogenesis is a weird sort of sibling. Why? This is because in parthenogenesis the oocyte is tricked into xeroxing its DNA so that it has the prerequisite number of chromosomes and then can be tricked into believing it was fertilized. This sibling then is totally unique despite having an uncanny resemblance to her sister.

The short of it is these scientists have created human embryos via an unnatural means, for humans, in order to kill them in the attempt to harvest embryonic stem cells. As if it were not bad enough they want to kill an innocent person just to play mad scientist they have to go and create a Miss Frankenstein to do it. Unlike math you cannot cancel out a negative with another negative.

I just hope people get on the ball and realize just how horrible this procedure is. Pass this warning along folks because the politicos are going to play this one up as an ethical source of embryonic stem cells.

Link to the actual paper at Cloning and Stem Cells

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

They Are Here!!!

I am happy to say I have 23 boxes sitting in the hall outside of my office. To my great surprise within 2 months we have raised the money, purchased, and received delivery for 300 copies of LSB. Now all we need is for our Senior Pastor to come back from vacation and we can do the dedication and start using them.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Preaching To The Unbeliever

Rick Warren, purpose driven church growth guru, recently wrote an article for to offer tips on preaching to the unchurched. Now, I am no fan of Warren but he does occasionally get things right. In some ways, I think that this is one of the rare moments.

Tip #1. You should provide an outline with the scriptures written out.
This makes a lot of sense. I am not an auditory learner and I struggle to remember things that I heard but when I can combine seeing with hearing I retain it much better. Not to mention as he points out studies show that people remember better when they can see it and are encouraged to write their own notes. Now this doesn't mean the idiotic write down the missing word outlines. I hated them as a layperson and I hate them as a pastor. But a useful outline can be worth its weight in gold. We do not use printed outlines but we do Power Point outlines. I will admit this is a mixed bag concerning usefulness. The one thing that I really like about it is that when I quote or reference a Scripture passage it can go up on the screen and people don't have to rummage through the pew bible. A point in which Rick will agree.

Tip #2. You should plan your titles to appeal to the unchurched.
I'll be honest sermon titles are an after thought for me. In fact, if it wasn't for the expectation to have a title I wouldn't bother. But if you are going to use titles it is very helpful to have useful titles that are catchy. One, they catch the eye and two, people don't have to guess about your main point. It also makes sense to not develop titles that only a lifer could understand such as, "The Road to Emmaus" Just how many people are going to understand what that means, now on the other hand "The Road to Hope" they could understand. Plus, it is a great lead into the proclamation of the Gospel.

Tip #3 You should systematically preach in a series.
A little bit of predictability in your preaching schedule never hurts. This tip can work for preaching a series or preaching the pericope. Because of the nature of our set up I normally have my text and general idea down a month in advance. I haven't tried it yet but it could be helpful to publish up coming sermon texts. Anyhow, what this predictability does is make it easier for your parishioners to invite people because then they know what is coming and what will likely speak to their friend. Granted when you preach good law/gospel sermons they can count on the people getting a good dose of solid preaching, but when they can bring them to a sermon where their problems are the problems you address in your sermon it is all the better.

Tip #4. You should be consistent in your preaching style.
Amen. I know people think how boring to be consistent, but there is a fair bit of truth to this tip. I speak from the experience of a hard learned lesson. I came straight out of seminary all fired up to try different ways of preaching a text and I lost the people and ended up hurting my own ministry as a preacher. Thankfully, I am serving with a pastor who has 25 years of experience and is a pretty good preacher himself and he is helping me hone my skills. I pretty much now follow the same basic format.

A story that addresses explores the issue in a manner people can relate.
The ideal picture of the issue.
The failure/inability to achieve the ideal.
Focus on specific sins that interfere with the ideal
The restoration of the ideal in Christ.
(optional) Our calling to live out our life in Christ by mirroring his ideal.

I am not saying this is the only way. Use what ever works in your cultural context, but keep it law/gospel focused. I am also not saying don't play around with your style, just limit how often you take a novel approach.

Don't be afraid to use humor, and yes even emotional stories, but remember you are not called to be a comedian or to be a talk show host. You are called to proclaim the good news, so make sure your illustrations serve the text and not the other way around.

Tip #5. You should choose your guest speakers very carefully.
I don't know about you but we don't have many guest preachers. Kind of hard to justify the expense when we have two pastors and a retired pastor. The exception is we started this year to bring a professor in from the seminary to lead a seminar and preach on Sunday.

Monday, June 25, 2007

VBS Is Over

Phew. VBS is done. We had over a hundred youngster and over half were not members of our church. How this will pan out I don't know, but I can feel good in that the kids received a lot of exposure to the Gospel this week. VBS is fun but I can honestly say I am glad it is only one week.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pastors' Wives Changing Role has an interesting article on the changing roles of the pastor's wife. I was wondering how you view yourself? Do you view yourself as a ministerial partner? Independent or able to pursue your own ministry interests? Behind the scenes support?

One pastor's wife that I know, once shared that she could not view herself as independent of her husband's ministry because people saw what she did in light of his ministry.

Call me old fashion but I cringe at the idea of pastors' wives being ministerial partners. Mainly because he is the one called to serve as the pastor. Also, in this day and age it causes confusion with so many churches abandoning the Bible in order to fit in with the expectations of the world.

Monday, June 18, 2007

VBS This Week!

Howdy all!

Our VBS is this week and it is eating a lot out of my time so I don't know how much I will be able to post this week. So, don't think that I have dropped off the face of the earth. Just busy. I promise to be back up to my normal pace next week.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust

Another church body has given up the ways of God for the ways of the world. The Christian Reformed Church voted to ordain women and thus have deepened the divide between themselves and orthodoxy. May God preserve his remnant and rescue people from the ways of the world.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I Don't Know If I Can Wait That Long!

Robert Jordan, mainstay of every fantasy lover's library, has a working title and projected finish date for the last book of his epic Wheel of Time series. Barring the death of Robert Jordan, a real possibility as he has amyliodosis, it should be out in early 2009. According to RJ this is going to be the longest book of the entire series as he does not have a convenient stopping place. I have long followed the exploits of Rand, Perrin, Mat and co. and I can't wait for the end. Any how the next book is currently titled A Memory of Light

What a Conundrum

An interesting study has been released by the UN about abortion and infanticide. (When will they learn that they are one in the same?) Guess which portion of the population is at the greatest risk from this wonderfully liberating procedure. Girls. In many countries it appears that girls are far more likely to be aborted. Funny, this procedure feminists feel must be protected for the sake of women everywhere is being liberally used to eliminate women. Of course, they are not even acknowledging the role of abortions in the problem. You see it is the fault of evil patriarchal societies.

You silly feminists, it is never that simple. The valuing of a male life over that of female is only part of the problem. The other part of the problem is readily available abortions. If they weren't so easily had then girls would be safer. If you want to protect girls as you say you do then work to ban abortion. Just think it is only a matter of time before it happens here in the US with our desire for cookie cutter families.

Why You Should Be Involved In a Congregation

Rebellious Pastor's Wife has posted an excellent look at the congregation through the lens of the Gospels.

The congregation of believers has been created for the benefit of mankind. It is the place where we can be connected with the Gospel of Christ. Namely through the Office of the Keys, that we Christians have been given the great gift to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to our fellows and know that Christ, the God who keeps his promises, has promised to forgive them also.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

God's People Respond

It is always a joy to see God's people respond to a need. A month or so ago, I wrote that we were going to get the LSB but first we were going to need to raise the money. Well less than three weeks ago we started raising the money with a goal of 5700 and as of last Sunday 6100 had been given to the hymnal fund. At the same time we were raising money for equipment to start an informal evening service. Think bible study with music. People also responded nicely to the free will offering taken at a church lunch. All of this has made me quite happy and also feel vindicated. All those naysayers telling me people don't give to free will offerings, you have to charge'em to make money. A view I am happy to say is changing after I challenged our Outreach ministries to take only a freewill offering for the dinner they hosted during lent.

Now as happy as I am, I am also very baffled. Why? Because, we have a significant shortfall between our approved budget and offerings. I won't say how much but I will say it is a very big number. I am curious as to why they give so readily in these cases above but when it comes to regular offerings they are lagging so far behind.

Monday, June 11, 2007

And They Sacrificed Their Children For Their Idols

One of the most despicable religious practices ever conceived by man is the sacrifice of their children. Today, I would be very surprised to find anybody who would condone such religious acts. The reactions of people in criminal cases involving children give strong evidence to this fact. We take strong actions against anybody who would seek to harm a child i.e. To Catch a Predator, unless the harm that befalls the child comes in the guise of a sacrifice to the god of self. The god of self manifests himself in many ways, fear, selfish desire, unwillingness to accept the consequences of one's actions just to name a few. And when women seek to appease the god of self they visit the priests of the god of self in order to sacrifice their child upon her altar. For you see that is what abortion ultimately is, the sacrifice of a child to the god of self.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Why Evolution and God Driven Creation Cannot Co-Exist

John Edwards, Democratic presidential candidate, likes to believe that the idea of God creating the universe and the Theory of Evolution can co-exist. His beliefs reflect the attitudes of many Christians who wish to maintain their faith while not appearing ignorant and stupid to the world around them. So, they make a proverbial deal with the devil and compromise on the creation account, saying oh sure God created it but he used evolution to accomplish his goal. It does have a certain appeal particularly for people such as myself who believe that science can be in service to God's will and help us to be better stewards of His creation. However, the two ideas cannot mesh together for one simple reason. Evolution presupposes a process of creation by purely naturalistic means. Whereas, the Biblical account presupposes divine intervention (go figure, eh?).

The two are mutually exclusive. Either God created all living creatures or he didn't. There is no middle ground. People have countered that God guided evolution. Bah! The Genesis account gives lie to this idea. How? When God created the universe he called it good. Good in the vocabulary of God means perfectly pure, no mistakes, no errors. Evolution on the other hand is based on the mutation of the genome. Mutations by their very nature are deviations and are impurities. Our bodies have been equipped with mechanisms to correct and prevent mutations. God would not call a process based on impurity, good. He would call it bad. Look at what he did with Adam and Eve, when they brought about impurities in the Garden of Eden after they listened to the serpent. They were declared dead because of their impurity and summarily kicked out.

There is another part that gives lie to the idea that evolution and Divine creation can co-exist. Evolution claims that modern man is the result of a gradual transformation from an ape-like ancestor that we share with modern apes. This cannot be true if the Genesis account is true. The one time Genesis goes into any detail is when it talks about the creation of Man. In the second chapter we see that God forms man personally with His own hands and gives him a spirit through the breath of life. This passage negates any possibility that man is the result of evolution. Again I can hear the conciliators saying but that could mean He personally guided the evolutionary process. Oh please, how does forming man out of clay equal guiding evolution? It doesn't.

Evolution and Divine creation cannot co-exist because they are by their very essence mutually exclusive. This, of course, does not take into account that science is wasting its time trying to prove the means of origin through the use of faulty data, but that is a discussion for another post.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Faith Saved My Marriage

Or so claims Hillary when discussing her husband's inability to not have sex with those women. The question I have to ask is faith in what? Her faith that he was her ticket to power?

If you want to read more check out

Taking all bets

The shuttle is supposed to launch this weekend. Yet, NASA being NASA I have to wonder, will it go up this weekend? And just to make it interesting I am opening a launch pool. I have my money down for Saturday after a two hour delay because a rare seagull has landed on the orbiter. What is your bet?

All bets will not be refunded nor will any money be payed out because no money will be taken. Dr. Luther does not endorse gambling of any sort. See you at the casino.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Church-sponsored yard sales and other profit-making activities - yea or nay?

On a message board I frequent, someone mentioned they felt that a church-sponsored yard sale was unBiblical. A couple of other posters were confused, and didn't understand where that belief came from. While I'm not sure I would consider it *unBiblical* to have a sale at the church, I do think it would ill-advised.

My pastor growing up was very hesitant about allowing yard sales and such that were at the church property or otherwise "church-sponsored". He only allowed an annual sale as a *youth* fundraiser (and even that he wasn't thrilled about), with the proceeds going to the youth involved, and nothing to the church proper. My understanding is that he felt it was too close to the moneychangers at the temple, and it just looked bad to be using the church to make a profit for the church, no matter what good cause it would be used for - or ostensibly used for - which is the real issue. There is too much a chance of having - if not the reality of, then at least the appearance of - financial impropriety. However, if a group of members organized a sale on their own time and their own property, and donated the money to the church, he would have had no problem with it.

By and large, I do agree with his reasoning. Thankfully, this hasn't been an issue at our church, as far as I know, but I wonder how many other people would agree or disagree - or, most likely, just never considered the topic at all.

"Committed Relationships"

What is a "committed relationship"? It is nothing more than a buzzword created to normalize that which is deviant. Most of the time you see the term used in the context of homosexual relationships. The idea is to play off the human emotions elicited by a positive term such as committed. The word "committed" is generally regarded as positive because it evokes a trusting feeling that makes us feel safe. Unless, of course, you mean being committed to the funny farm, but then even that can make us feel safe. Commitment is a good thing, however, when used in the modern context of committed relationship it rarely means a good thing. It is a classic example of calling something good which is in reality bad. Typically, I have heard people excuse couples living together by saying at least they are committed to each other. Bah! If they were committed they get the legally binding piece of paper declaring them to be married.

This brings me to my next point. It used to be that marriage was the penultimate symbol of commitment, so in years past if you wanted to say you were committed you got married. Not anymore. Now it is just a means to get health insurance. People approach marriage with about as much commitment as there is spelling ability in the Clinton campaign. A fact which is illustrated by the abysmally high divorce rate. Rather than making a commitment to better themselves and work through the problems, people bail through the easy route of no-fault divorce. Couples now request vows that no longer say "till death do us part," now they want "until love does end." With the collapse of marriage it is no wonder people want to slap the label of committed relationship on deviant behavior.

Maybe, that is answer. No, not giving deviant behavior a new label. Rather we need to restore marriage as the safe place of commitment. Dismiss no-fault laws and reward those who seek to be committed to a person outside of themselves.