Monthly Archives: November 2009

Thoughts on the Global Church

Rick Warren in a USA Today interview: “I could take you to 10 million villages in the world where there is nothing but a church. The church has more locations than all the WalMarts and Starbucks and everything else combined. It has more volunteers. The church was global 200 years before anyone started talking about globalization.”

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Ten Minutes with the President

President Obama granted short interviews to a variety of news outlets while in China. I caught bits of three of them.

Major Garrett of Fox was incredible, touching on a lot of substantive areas–health care, Afghanistan, Israel–in a very short time and getting good answers. I understand that, unlike most Fox reporters, Major Garrett is well-respected among other journalists.

Chuck Todd of NBC asked good questions, too. I like Chuck Todd.

Meanwhile, the CNN guy spent his time getting Obama’s reactions to the Sarah Palin book, and asking if he was going to run again in 2012. What was that about? You get 10 minutes with the President, and those are your questions? Fluff?

Major Garrett threw in one question about Palin: “Yes or no: are you going to read the Sarah Palin book?” Obama said probably not, and Garrett moved quickly to a question about Israel. Good job. That’s what a serious journalist would do.

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Patriots Meltdown: I Couldn’t Say it Any Better

Tim Graham, writing on ESPN: “The New England Patriots stated their case that they deserve to be known as the AFC East’s best team. And then they puked all over themselves.”

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Critiquing NFL Helmets

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I’ve been musing about NFL helmet design for the past few weeks, trying to decide which helmets I liked the best. And the results are in.

1. Rams. I’ve always thought the big-horn-sheep thing gave the Rams the best helmet. Actually, it used to be better, with the horn curling around toward the middle. I don’t like the current design as well, but included it because of my historical fondness.
2. Vikings. The dual wings have been part of the helmet for a long time. No sense changing something that works. I actually like it better than the current Rams helmet.
3. Buffalo Bills. I think this is a real sharp design.
4. Colts. Simple, timeless, easily-identifiable.
5. Steelers. I don’t understand this design, with the three stars or diamonds or whatever they are. What’s it have to do with “steelers”? But I’ve always liked the helmet. Look intimidating, for some reason.
6. Packers. A simple G, green on yellow. Several helmets just use initials from the team. This would be my favorite. Though I don’t know why they stopped with just the G. Why not GB?

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7. 49ers. I don’t know how you illustrate “49ers,” so a simple SF works.
8. Raiders. This logo looks mean. The Raiders have a mean reputation. Pussycats for the past several years, but their helmet still works.
9. Giants. Just the initials, but it works for me.
10. Bengals. Great design, using the bengal tiger stripes. I used to like it a lot better than I do now.
11. Dolphins. The dual stripes across the top make this helmet work for me, not just the logo.
12. Saints. Not sure what that symbol is, but it makes for a distinctive helmet.

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I’ll give honorable mentions to the Eagles, Chiefs, Seahawks, and Redskins. I could easily put the Chiefs helmet in the second 6, though I’m not sure which one it would displace.

About the Cowboys helmet: What’s with the star? What does that have to do with anything?

And the all-time worst, most boring helmet definitely goes to the Cleveland Browns.

All the other helmets are stupid.

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Book: 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe

10DumbThings150.jpgI just finished Larry Osborne’s book, “10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe.” This is a follow-up to his book “Spirituality for the Rest of Us” (which I read under the title “A Contrarian’s Guide to Knowing God”). “Spirituality for the Rest of Us” was better, but this sequel is well worth the cost. Anything to make you think about what you believe.

Both books take things we long-time Christians have grown-up believing, and asks, “Is that really true?” And then explain why it’s not true. We’re not talking about basic doctrines, such as the virgin birth, miracles, authority of the Bible, etc. Rather, here are the chapters in “10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe.” I asterisked my favorites.

1. Faith Can Fix Anything *
2. Forgiving Means Forgetting
3. A Godly Home Guarantees Godly Kids *
4. God has a Blueprint for My Life
5. Christians Shouldn’t Judge
6. Everything Happens for a Reason
7. Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide
8. God Brings Good Luck
9. A Valley Means a Wrong Turn *
10. Dead People go to a Better Place *

Osborne describes these as spiritual urban legends. “They become almost impossible to refute because ‘everyone’ knows they’re true. Anyone who dares to question their veracity gets written off as spiritually dull, lacking in faith, or liberal.” My favorite chapters were: 3, 6, 8, and 9.

I consider myself an independent thinker, a person who typically questions what he hears. But as I read this book, I was kicking myself over the things I’ve NOT questioned, but just accepted because other Christians spout them. Accepted, because it’s ingrained into our Western Christian culture. This book won’t make you abandon your Christian beliefs. Rather, it’ll help bring you into closer alignment with what the Bible actually means. We should never be afraid of truth.

The Bereans didn’t just take Paul’s words as Gospel. They tested them, to see if they lined up with Scripture. Osborne’s books do the same for 21st Century Christians. He takes the glib sayings we throw around and investigates whether or not that’s what the Bible actually says.

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After 18 Years, RNC Opts Out of Abortion Coverage

Guess whose health insurance plan includes elective abortion? That would be the Republican National Committee. It’s been part of their plan since 1991.

Michael Steele, RNC chairman, took quick action upon learning about this. “I
don’t know why this policy existed in the past, but it will not exist
under my administration. Consider this issue settled.”

This came to light via a Politico story. That’s right. If it hadn’t been for the evil liberal press, the RNC could have been spared this embarrassment and continued merrily along with their insurance plan.

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Atheists to the Rescue (Thank God)

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If Pam and I get raptured, what happens to Jordi and Molly? How can I enjoy eternity knowing that my cats–my KIDS–are trapped in our house with limited food and water?

But God has provided. To the rescue: Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA. This service, run entirely by atheists, is committed to caring for left-behind pets. The website says:

You’ve committed your life to Jesus. You know you’re saved. But when the Rapture comes, what’s to become of your loving pets who are left behind? Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you’ve received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.

We are currently active in 22 states. Our representatives have been screened to ensure that they are atheists, animal lovers, are moral / ethical with no criminal background, have the ability and desire to rescue your pet and the means to retrieve them and ensure their care for your pet’s natural life.

The cost: $110 for the first pet, $15 for each additional pet at the same residence. This is good for ten years. If the rapture doesn’t occur within ten years, they keep your money. And being atheists, they are quite confident of keeping it.

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A Church is More than Sunday Morning

Tim Stevens, executive pastor of Granger Community Church, wrote a blog post called “A Crowd is Not a Church.” It included this paragraph:

For some reason, people who have attended church for many years will come to a weekend service and believe they have visited our church. I tell people all the time: The weekend is not the church. It is a crowd. We are doing everything we can to draw the biggest crowd we can–and then turn it into a church.

It’s easy to pass quick judgments on a church. I do it when I visit a different church:

  • “They weren’t very friendly. Nobody talked to us.”
  • “I didn’t get much out of the message. It’s a superficial church.”

I suppose people do that with Anchor. Maybe they have an unusually good experience on that one visit. Or maybe it’s a disappointing (but not typical) experience, and they decide Anchor isn’t for them.

But as Stevens says, what happens on Sunday morning is only a glimpse. It’s a crowd, not the church. I’m glad that Anchor is a whole lot more than a weekly crowd.

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Cyber Attacks

Tonite, 60 Minutes did a superb extended segment on cyber-terrorism–the ability to use the internet to inflict damage on the United States (and other countries). For instance, take out the electrical grid, or cause a collapse of the economic system. We’ve integrated the internet into so many vital parts of American life, and that offers many opportunities for geeky meddling.

In his excellent book “The Inheritance,” David Sanger finished with three chapters (14-16) in a section he called “The Three Vulnerabilities.” These were scary chapters, showing how vulnerable we are to three specific types of attacks: nuclear, biological, and cyber. Chapter 16 was about cyber-attacks.

Sanger reveals incidents from the Bush years that most of us haven’t heard about. His opening chapter tells about our success in penetrating Iran’s internet system to learn nuclear secrets. We also altered data and databases on a computer used by Al Qaeda operatives, which helped lure them into a trap. When it comes to cyber stuff, nobody’s better than the USA.

In cyberwar, Sanger points out, “Attackers have almost all of the advantages. They get to pick from thousands of possible attacks. Defenders have to protect against everything, including attacks they can’t imagine.”

Interestingly, while the Chinese are the second-most sophisicated when it comes to cyber-attacks (the US is the best), they are considered somewhat deterred. “If the cash registers at Wal-Mart flip off, it’s only a matter of time before China’s exports take a hit. If the markets freeze up, it’s going to be hard for the Chinese finance ministry to sell off their American treasury bills.”

So if they damage our economy, they damage their own. That’s the one positive aspect of being so indebted to the Chinese. An official told Sanger that they aren’t worried too much about the Chinese. “They’re deterred. It’s the rest of the world I worry about.”

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For Your Sunday Afternoon Football Viewing Pleasure

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