Saturday, August 25, 2007

Obama: Muslim or Christian


Not long ago I started seeing blogs with political cartoons that suggest that Barak Obama is Muslim. I would think this would be discussed in the mainstream media as well in the blogosphere so it bore checking out. According to the The Caucus, a NY Times political blog, Obama is a Christian and attends Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 West 95th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60628. Their worship center is the photo above.

I'm not saying that Obama and I would agree on everything doctrinally, but if he claims the name of Christ, I will take him at his word that he is a Christian. Then dialog starts with agreement that Christ is God incarnate, that God is three in one, that sin is our most fundamental problem and the atoning sacrifice of Christ is the solution. It seems less than generous to label Obama a Muslim because his father was a Muslim. It appears to be a ploy to discourage voter enthusiasm for Obama given that Islam is not the mainstream religion. Perhaps those making this claim are latching onto the fact that Obama's father was Muslim and then later became an atheist. Obama as far as I can tell claims the name of Christ.

Unlike other countries of the world, the US has no religious identity recorded by the federal government as an official status. Religion is not built into our political system but it is a component of our social fabric. Many take this to mean that ecumenical agreement is the religion of the US, which of course is still simply choosing one religion over another. The rules of how various religions participate in the social fabric are changing with the rub of new situations, new religious ideas, and new doctrines. The concept of the dominate religion of the culture is hotly debated in civic tones. The key concept in this debate for many secular thinkers is that there is no dominate religion, we have freedom of religion in the US. And for many, this has changed from freedom of religion to being free from religion even in the expression of others. In essence this becomes a religious idea in and of itself. Many of my fellow Christians feel that Christianity is the dominate religion of the US but others are free to practice their own religion too. I would see both ideas as flawed because Christ says that His kingdom is not of this world. He transcends earthly, human government. While some Islamic thinkers do have the goal of gaining a political position for Islam, to be fair some Muslims are closer to deists in their thought. So, Islamic thinkers have a similar spectrum of thinkers as does mainstream America, some seeking religious domination while others seek broad agreement. As Christians, since Christ Kingdom is not of this world, how do we vote for people with different religious views? I think we can all pray for national leaders regardless of religious affiliation, but how do we vote? Should I vote for someone as an olive branch to heal racial strife in the land? (I do see race relations as an important moral issue, but should I vote that way? I have an African-American friend who will probably vote for Obama because they are from the same "community".) I think as Christians we often need to practice the same types of service as Daniel who refused to engage in false worship, served a dominate government which oppressed his people the Jews, and was faithful to seek God above all else. I still don't think this tells me how to vote, but the goal is not to dominate the culture. Participate in the political process? YES. But should I vote for someone who may choose to put the church of Jesus Christ in a lesser position in society? Should I vote to be dominated? It is one issue among many that has to be weighed in choosing a candidate.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

All The Glory

You can listen to the song I am about to blog about at http://www.willpavone.com/. All The Glory by Will Pavone is a refreshing worship song because it uses words of we use to describe our own desires and surrenders them to Jesus. While I often enjoy the language of Scripture to describe my prayer life and my walk with God, Will Pavone has captured something that a lot of praise music misses, a sense of self that recognizes it's selfishness and then turns that to worship.

He also does some interesting switching up of the verses just to make things interesting.

If you are looking for a fresh praise song, check this one out.




All The Glory
By Will Pavone


All of my affection,
All of my attention,
All of my devotion,
I bring
to you.

All of my existence,
All of my ambitions,
All of my allegiance,
Will be
for you.

CHORUS:
All the glory
be to Jesus.
Songs of praises
rise to thee.
Lift your voices.
shout the chorus.
Render praises
to our King.

All of my affection,
All of my attention,
All of my devotion,
I bring to you.

CHORUS

You are my Lord, my Rock.
You are my Lord, my Rock.
You are my Lord, my Rock.
You are my Lord, my Rock.


All of my existence,
All of my ambitions,
All of my allegiance,
Will be for you, for you, for YOU!

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah to our King.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah to our King.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah to our King.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Repost from Reformation 21



Check out this discussion between the Baptist point of view and a Presbyterian point of view. I know David Coffin so appreciate his having been a party to the discussion. By the way, this image to the left is one of the oldest images of baptism. You will notice the immersion is done by standing in the water, not dunking. The post is not about mode of baptism but statements of agreement between the two points of view.






In the summer of 2001 Mark Dever (SBC) and David Coffin (PCA) held a public conversation at Capitol Hill Baptist Church on baptism. They came up with the following 17 statements that both on them agreed on:

1. No one disagrees with professor baptism (except Quakers).
2. This is a subject of great import.
3. There are clear commands for and examples of professors' baptism in the New Testament.
4. This fact is not evidentially determinate of the question (i.e., it does not preclude infant baptism).
5. God's Word alone should settle the matter (but we do not mind using history as confirmation of a biblical pattern).
6. There are no command for or clear examples of infant baptism in the New Testament.
DC: Uncertain about the word "examples." What do you make of household baptism (Philippian jailer, Lydia, etc.)? These examples are problems only for baptistic Christians
MD: There is not reason the first reader of the text should not refer to baptism of believers. For example, the word was preached to the Philippian jailer's whole household.
7. Baptism was appointed by Christ to be of permanent value in the Christian church.
8. Baptism is a rite of initiation; the Lord's Supper is a rite of continuance.
9. There is no articulation of a Reformed understanding of infant baptism before Zwingli.
DC: Someone in 250 AD would not have thought baptism to be salvific.
MD: Didache suggests that believer's baptism was assumed in the early church.
10. Infant baptism is widely practiced by the late second second AD
MD: By this point of time, church fathers assumed baptismal regeneration.
DC: Their words only mimic biblical language.
MD: Guidelines for believer's baptism exist in second century AD.
DC: This is perfectly understandable in a missionary enterprise.
11. There are some who are baptized who are not in fact saved.
12. There are some who are not baptized who are in fact saved.
13. There is a regular temptation of the visible church to trust in the outward rather than the inward.
14. God can create faith in a child before that faith is evident.
15. The texts urging "believe and be baptized" or referring to "household" baptisms do not of themselves constitute conclusive evidence for either side.
16. The covenant made with Abraham is an administration of the covenant of grace. Nothing in this particular administration violates the general covenant.
17. Children of believers enjoy particular privileges and have special obligations.
MD: Do not treat your children as if you presume they are elect.
DC: Tell them that they are disciples in the school of Christ. By virtue of Christ's command to the contrary, they will in some way be lacking if they have not been baptized

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Psalms As Theology

Psalms have been something that I have for years thought was a balance in Scripture. Paul's letters reach the mind and makes you wonder, but certainly when the Lord told us the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might, he meant to include that we should love the Lord with our emotional aspects of our being. So the Psalms seemed to be a solution or balance with those who might make Christian religion an egg head, mind centric sort of thing. But I recently read through the Psalms with refreshing insights. For the first time I saw the Psalms as theological. Take for instance, Psalm 65:2 tells us that, "When iniquities prevail against me, you (God) atone for our transgressions." In this we see substitutionary sacrifice for sin. It points to God being the source of the atonement, not man. Another Psalm with theological insights is Psalm 82:8 where it says, "Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations." This give rational for God judging all nations because he shall inherit all nations. There is a hint of all nations coming to the Lord of Glory, being some what of a foreshadowing of the Great Commission.

Feasting on the Psalms without finding theology is sort of like eating a sandwich without tasting the meat. It is good to have a tomato, lettuce and mayo on a sandwich but you need some bacon or salami to bring it all together. Theology in the Psalms brings it all together.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Calvary Chapel Ocean City, NJ

We had an exciting time at Ocean City, NJ. Our goal was to have a restful time. If you want pictures or other details you will need to visit here, here, here, here, here, here, or here.

So part of what I love on vacation is visiting a new church. Calvary Chapel Ocean City was a great worship experience. As all five of us came in, someone asked his friend, "Did a bus just let people out or something?" I did not tell them that we did not even have all our crew, since Annalee has gone to live in Illinois with her loving husband and Corrie was back in Glen Burnie holding down the fort and working at the hospital. Ryan from Pennsylvania sat next to me. He was just visiting also. Visitors at worship during the summer is a thriving ministry for the congregation. The sanctuary had folding chairs which were just about filled to capacity when we got there. Just a few minutes later, they started packing worshipers into the overflow room who are linked via a video feed. While crowds can intimidate me if I'm competing for space, I felt at home and with a group of friends who I had just met. There were ushers well identified and who were helpful. They gave out bulletins but there was no order of worship in it. There was no need. We sang, took up an offering and announcements, then listened to preaching.

Music

The worship music was forceful and moving for me. I don't think it connected as well with my teenage daughters. I'm guessing that the music connected well with me since I had worship at a Calvary Chapel in Monterey for about 18 months. So I was in sort of homecoming situation and riding on the high of nostalgia. Jeanie, I believe was her name, led a band of several musicians. The wall to wall packed room of worshipers helped with the acoustical effect and the worship was heart-felt. I did not know all the songs but the words were projected on the white wall at the front. Each song had a distinct moving background which contributed to the experience of singing in worship.

Preaching

Pastor Matt Stokes preached from Colossians 3:10-17. He did a verse by verse running commentary. He was careful to not speak down to his audience and was careful to point out that he struggled with sin in ways his congregation did. His style was down to earth, invigorating, and used humor in an engaging way. He made several references to pop culture. I came away from the sermon thinking ensure I am not adversarial with those in the body of Christ.


Radio
While on the island I scanned the band for radio stations. I found one that I liked, The Voice 92.7. I noticed that several of the pastors who preached on this station were Calvary Chapel pastors so I started wondering if the station was a low power station, and indeed it is. I really enjoyed the music. It has a different sound and beat that I am used to in praise music.

According to Pirate Jim who is the author of the webpages called Radio-History.com: New Jersey FM Radio History, Calvary Chapel Ocean City owns a low power FM station, WLOM-LP 92.7. I never heard the call letters used, nor are they on the website. Station could use a larger webpage explaining the owner and mission of the station. The Calvary Chapel Ocean City page regarding radio station does have a good program guide but it is unclear who owns the station. Some radio enthusiast would be interested in that aspect of the station regardless of the program content.
WLOM-LP - 92.7 FM, Ocean City
WLOM-LP was one of the first LPFM's to be granted a CP in New Jersey in June 2002.
The station is owned by the Calvary Chapel Of Ocean City.
WLOM-LP went on the air in December 2003 with a Christian format.
I did later see in the Calvary Chapel Ocean City bulletin that 92.7 FM The Voice is owned by the church.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bible Reading at the Beach

I'm reading my Bible each morning on the porch of our beach condo. I had already started reading Genesis through part of Joshua before I got here. I just finished 2 Samuel this morning. Here are a few insights from the past week's reading.

1. Joshua and others were told to be strong and couragous. Those who were not strong and couragous were not following God's will. I think the message for anyone reading the book is "What ever you had finds to do, do with all your might," assuming of course that you are working within a godly framework.

2. The children of Israel wanted a king like the nations around them. They got what they wanted but it did not have a good result. Saul turned out to be a good looking leader who became very self centered. Lesson for everyone, becareful that you don't seek to follow the things of the fame world.

3. David was a man after God's own heart. He depended upon God to establish his kingdom, not his own smarts. He waited for God to act. Likewise we need to be aware that what we want needs to show the grace of God blessing us.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Evangelicals Support A Two State Solution To the Middle East Crisis


Pastor Bob Roberts of Northwood Church is party to a letter to the President supporting a two state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Often evangelicals have been strong supporters of Israel for biblical reasons with the unintended outcome of disenfranchising Palestinian Christians. This disenfranchisement has led to numerous conversions to Islam by young people who came from families who were Palestinian Christians. I think the sentiment is that the Muslims care about the Palestinians while the West sides with Israel. If you want to read more follow the link to Northwood Blog called My Northwood or follow the link to this New York Times article.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

So I'm Not Too Addicted

As I have blogged before, I was totally addicted to coffee and I both desire and am scared of coffee today. I go by and smell it but then never want to go back to having to have it to get through the day. I don't know that my blogging is going that way.






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San Diego Singles from Mingle2