Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ultimate Impudence

Ahmadinejad wanted to visit Ground Zero and "lay a wreath", and he seems surprised that NYC officials have denied the request (at least for now).

Columbia University, however, will allow this maniacal ruler of an extremest, terror sponsoring state to address faculty and students at the University's World's Leaders Forum. In defense of his decision to allow Ahmadinejad to speak,
Columbia President Lee Bollinger said,
[This is part of] Columbia's long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate.
Men like Ahmadinejad are not interested in debate. They have one goal: to spread propaganda. This will not be an intellectual exchange of ideas. No one will convince Ahmadinejad that Israel has a right to exist, that the Holocaust was not an elaborate pro-Zionist fabrication.

It's enough that we let the man into the country. No US organization or institution should provide this fool with a pulpit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Baseball History

On this day in baseball history Ken Griffey and Junior Griffey hit back-to-back homeruns. That's right. Father and son playing for the same team, at the same time, in the same lineup, back-to-back in the batting order, hit back-to-back homeruns.

Back to back wackety wacks are special, but they are not unique. Likewise, there
have been plenty of father/son tandems in MLB. Rarely, however, have the two played simultaneously; let alone for the same team. An athlete's career span is normally such that one would never expect to see a father and son actively playing a sport at the same time. In 1989, Ken Griffey and Junior Griffey made baseball history as the first father and son to play simultaneously in MLB with Senior playing for the Atlanta Braves, and Junior playing for the Seattle Mariners. It is at once a testament to Senior's longevity and to Junior's unusual early entry into the big leagues. Seattle signed Senior the following year, and on this date in 1990 the two made history again when they became the first father-and-son team to hit back-to-back homers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Daddy Daycare

I know that this is two consecutive posts featuring a Varvel cartoon, but I thought this one was exceptionally well done. Not only will I provide you with the cartoon, But I'll also quote the cartoonist:
Taking for granted that a lot of what is seen in these televised hearings is just grandstanding for constituencies, it's still annoying to watch these politicians act like spoiled brats. Some of the questions were legitimate and deserved to be asked. But the arrogant tone and bullying tactics in which they were shot at General Petraeus was uncivil and rude. He is a four-star general for heaven's sakes. He's earned some respect. Most of these Congressmen just want their face time and they try to Bogart the interrogation by talking over the general's answers. So yes I drew them as babies.
Whether or not one agrees with the President's handling of the War, it is frustratingly obvious that the majority of our elected leaders, from both sides of the aisle, are more interested in politics than in leading this nation. Pointing fingers and bemoaning the inadequacies of others is always easy. Working with others for the good of all involved is a lot harder.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering September 11

How could we ever forget?
September 11 was "the moment" in of my lifetime that I will always remember, not only the event but what I was doing, where I was, how I and all those around me responded. Well do I remember my pain. I hurt for those people who felt that plummeting to their death was preferable to being burnt alive. My heart grieved for the families who endured sleepless, stress filled nights wondering if their loved one(s) had miraculously escaped; only to eventually discover what they already knew but hated to realize. I burned with anger that anyone would have the audacity to attack us on our soil, and to do so in such a cowardly manner was nearly more than I could bear.
I remember pulling my wife and my boys close to my side. Even though I regularly tell my wife and my boys that I love them, I remember using that phrase with a greater frequency, and hugging and kissing them with each use of it.
I remember the respect I had (and have) for the emergency workers who tirelessly worked, and in many cases sacrificed their lives, doing their duty.
There is so much more. Memories that are as fresh and vivid today, six years later, as they were on that beautiful September day in 2001, and that is another memory. I'll never forget how gorgeous September 11, 2001 was. It was a clear, bright, clean, crisp day. The temperature was wonderfully comfortable. It was the type of day in which it is easy to sit back and think, "All is well in the world."
But all is not well.
That is what I hope I never forget. I hope that, as a Christian, I will never be lulled into complacency. That I will never be so comfortable in this present world that I will be immune to the fact that every day, every breath is a gracious gift of the Father; an opportunity, not only to smell the roses and enjoy His majesty, but to reflect the glory of His Son and to proclaim the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray that I will never forget that God the Father commands all people everywhere to repent. That He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed. That Man is Jesus Christ, God the Son, and we may be assured that this will happen because God has raised Him from the dead.

Monday, September 10, 2007

You're Under Arrest for Too Much Salt!

Talk about your offended palates.

Kendra Bull is a McDonald's employee at a Georgia McDonald's. Over the past weekend she was arrested for heavy hamburger saltage. At least, that is how I term the charge, but the official charge is:
City public information officer George Louth said Bull was charged because she served the burger ''without regards to the well-being of anyone who might consume it.''
It's about time the police cracked down on those McDonald's hamburgers!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Re-visitng What the Bible Says ABout Tongues pt. 2

This is the second post in a two part study on the issue of tongues. The article is written by Darrell W. Sparks, Pastor of the Dearborn Baptist Church of Aurora, IN.

“… Every man heard them speak in his own language …” (Acts 2:6d)

What is the gift of tongues? Simply put, the gift of tongues is the ability to speak in a human language that one has never studied or learned. While the gift of tongues is never actually defined in Scripture, it is clearly described in Acts 2:4-12. People from all over Europe, Asia, and Africa were present, and each one heard some of those one hundred twenty members of that first church preach the gospel in their own language. Later, Paul affirmed this evangelistic purpose of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:22 when he wrote, "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not."

The “sign” was, no doubt for Jews who, according to 1 Corinthians 1:22, " … require a sign." How were tongues a sign to unbelieving Jews? 1 Corinthians 14:21 is a quotation of Isaiah 28:11-12. The prophet Isaiah was predicting judgment upon Israel, in the form of foreign invaders. Jeremiah 5:15 says, "I will bring a nation upon you ... whose language thou knowest not." In that sense, the gift of tongues was a sign to unbelieving Jews that judgment was coming because of their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. It happened in A.D. 70. The Romans leveled Jerusalem and God's judgment came to the Jews. Tongues then were a judgment upon Israel and a blessing to Gentiles who were permitted to hear the gospel in their own tongue. They signified that God had begun a new work that encompassed the Gentiles. The Lord would now speak to all nations in all languages. The barriers were down. And so the gift of languages symbolized not only the curse of God on a disobedient nation, but also the blessing of God on the whole world. Tongues was therefore a sign of the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. With the establishment of churches, a new day had dawned. God would speak in all languages. But once the period of transition was past, the sign was no longer necessary.

The Bible never states that the “tongues” in 1 Corinthians is any different from the “tongues” in Acts. Thus, there is only one kind of tongues. The “Law of First Mention” is generally a sound hermeneutical principle. The “Law of First Mention” basically states that when something is defined at its first occurrence or mention in the Bible, you can take it that same way in all subsequent mentions unless otherwise explicitly stated. For example, I don't need to know what baptism means in 1 Corinthians if I know what it means in the gospels.

The first and only time that anything like a definition of tongues is found in Scripture is in Acts 2[1]. Clearly, the meaning of tongues on the Day of Pentecost was the supernatural ability to speak in a foreign language. For a brief moment, what God had done at the tower of Babel - confounding the languages - was reversed, so that men from all over the world would hear the gospel message and a declaration that Jesus Christ is Lord.

The second occurrence of speaking in tongues happened in Acts 10:43-46 at the house of Cornelius. The Lord repeated Pentecost, so to speak, at the house of Cornelius so that all would know that the church was to include Gentiles as well (see Acts 11:15-17). What happened in Acts 10 was the same thing that had happened in Acts 2 – “… on them, as on us at the beginning. The expression of the gift of tongues, then, in Acts 10, was identical to what happened in Acts 2 – the supernatural ability to speak in a foreign language. The only other occurrence of tongues in the historical books is in Acts 19. Based on the paragraph that begins in Acts 18:24, I believe that these men were not saved until this moment. Thus, tongues again is associated with evangelism. The speaking in tongues here is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit as at Pentecost and at the house of Cornelius. It is noteworthy, that whenever tongues appear in the Book of Acts, there is always at least one apostle and Jews who are present. After Acts 19, the only other mention of tongues in the New Testament is found in 1 Corinthians 12-14, and not in any other epistle – even those which make reference to spiritual gifts – Romans, Ephesians, and 1 Peter.

Why was the gift of tongues present at Corinth? With Corinth's unique position on the isthmus between mainland Greece and the Peloponnese, sailors and citizens from all over the Mediterranean world would either live or work there. Ships would often dock on one side of the isthmus, have their cargo carried four miles overland to be put on other ships in order to avoid the treacherous sailing around the land mass. The world came to Corinth, and God graciously gave many in that church the gift of tongues for the purpose of spreading the gospel.

Thus, even if a sound exegetical argument could be made from 1 Corinthians 13:8ff for the continuation of supernatural sign gifts, the gift of tongues would simply mean that there would be some missionaries who would not have to attend language school because they had been gifted by God to speak in a language they had never learned! Are there any such missionaries?

[1] Actually, the first mention of tongues is in Mark 16:17 (some have questioned the manuscript evidence for the final paragraph of Mark – it is missing from the older manuscripts but found in later ones). I am not an authority on manuscript evidence. Assuming, as I do, that it is indeed part of the canon of Scripture, I observe that it is not defined in this text. The Lord Jesus simply promised that believers would, among other signs, speak in new tongues without explaining exactly what that means. This promise of the Lord Jesus was fulfilled completely during the first century. If we demand that verse 17 is still for today, we must also demand that verse 18 still be for today.

“…Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not…” (1 Corinthians 14:22)

Among the many problems present in the church at Corinth included the misuse of spiritual gifts. Thus, in 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul addressed the subject of spiritual gifts – their proper use and their potential misuse. 1 Corinthians 14 amounts to a list of guidelines for the proper exercise of the gifts of prophecy and tongues.

The forty verses that comprise I Corinthians 14 make a comparison between these two gifts - prophecies and tongues.

Remember, the Corinthian church had something that we do not have. There were still apostles, men who had visibly seen the resurrected Christ, when Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. There are no apostles now. We have something that they did not have. There was no New Testament then. There is a complete New Testament now. The Corinthian church existed during a time in which supernatural sign gifts were available; we do not.

Paul's writing to the Corinthian church in chapter 14 about prophecies and tongues is similar to Paul's writing in chapters 8 -10 about eating meat offered idols. It deals with a specific problem that that church faced but one that we do not presently face. However, there is still plenty for us to learn from I Corinthians 14. This chapter has some practical principles about life in the church - about our edification of each other and our witness to unbelievers in the assembly of the church.

To understand this chapter it is necessary to make a few general comments.

First, there are three basic truths about tongues that this chapter teaches:

  • Their position- Tongues are secondary to prophecy (vv. 1-19).
  • Their purpose- Tongues are signs to unbelieving Jews (vv. 20-25).
  • Their procedure- Tongues should be done systematically and orderly (vv. 26-40).

It seems that this alone reveals the error the modern day Charismatic Movement. In the mind of most Charismatics, the gift of tongues is not secondary; it is the most sought after, the most desired "gift"[1].

The modern Charismatic Movement often does not obey the clearly stated commandments of I Corinthians 14 (v. 37b). For instance, the most that could speak tongues in an assembly was two or three (v. 27) and then only one at a time and an interpreter must be present or there should be silence (v. 28). According to verse 34, women were forbidden from speaking in tongues and prophesying in the assembly. In general, the assembly was not to be chaotic, but orderly. Although I cannot speak about every charismatic church or service, generally speaking, from my limited knowledge, these commandments are not adhered to in the modern charismatic movement. I conclude therefore that since they do not follow the clear commandments of scripture, it only reveals that the modern day tongues movement is in doctrinal error.

There are a few statements which, if lifted out of I Corinthians 14, and read alone will give a very sympathetic sound to tongues. For example, I Corinthians 14:5 - I would that ye all spake with tongues - sounds good alone. But you should understand that Paul is wishing the impossible (see 12:11:30) for the purpose of emphasis. Verse 18, taken alone sounds sympathetic to tongues. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.” In context however, it is clear that all Paul is saying is that God had supernaturally empowered him to speak in foreign languages as he traveled proclaiming the gospel and that he was qualified to comment on tongues. The only other verse that sounds sympathetic to tongues is a phrase from verse 39 - "and forbid not to speak with tongues." Paul is making a concluding, summary statement to the effect of, "If you meet all the standards that I have stated and follow all the commandments and guidelines that I have written, then I do not forbid you to speak in tongues.

Some people take the some of the words of this chapter and describe tongues as for private devotional use and personal worship (vv. 2-4, 14a-b, 28b). Exegetically, that is not what the text says. There is nothing in this text to support the idea that there is a different kind of tongues taught in 1 Corinthians than taught in Acts 2. Tongues was an evangelistic gift so that unbelievers could hear the gospel in their own language. I Corinthians 14:22 declares that tongues are for a sign to unbelievers.

The entire purpose of any spiritual gift is not to worship God but to minister to others for God (12:7). The problem arose when the Corinthians began to use their gifts indiscriminately and for their own benefit. They would speak in tongues when no one else there could understand. They would pray in tongues. So 1 Corinthians 12-14 is Paul's correction and can be summed up as 1) you must never use tongues when no one can understand you. Either be quiet or make sure an interpreter is present. 2) You must use tongues to proclaim the gospel to unbelievers.

Those who use statements in 1 Corinthians 14 to make tongues a private devotional language, in fact, are saying the exact opposite of what Paul is saying in 14:13-19! (This private prayer language idea also hints of Gnosticism’s secret knowledge). Paul says that praying in tongues without understanding makes one's mind "unfruitful" (v. 14). Is that the desired effect? He further says that he chooses to pray with his spirit and his mind. Now if he just said that praying in a tongue makes his mind unfruitful, and if he now says that he chooses to pray with both his spirit and his mind, the only conclusion one can draw is that Paul is saying it's better to pray with words and a fruitful mind than to use the gift to express what you don't understand. He even goes so far as to call them "children" in their thinking for their use of the gift in this way (v. 20a).

Thus, the statements in verses 2-4, 14a-b, 28b are intended to be sarcastic. It can be hard to see sarcasm in the Scriptures but it is definitely present. 1 Corinthians 14:36 is an obvious example. 1 Corinthians 14:2 is also sarcasm, not a prescriptive or normative statement with almost imperative force. That simply doesn't jive with rest of the chapter, especially after he just told them to grow up in chapter 13! In all candor, Paul's statement in 14:4 that the one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself ought to be enough to settle the argument. In the verse immediately preceding it and in the one immediately following it, Paul contrasts this use of tongues with the superior motive of edifying, encouraging, and comforting others. Where in Scripture are we ever told to use our gifts to edify ourselves? This is akin to Satan's first temptation of Christ, that He use His power to satisfy Himself? Yet Jesus' life was so others-centered that He never got angry for how He was treated. He never asserted His rights. He never used His miraculous power to satisfy or comfort Himself. Why would we ever think that God has given us gifts to give us the warm fuzzies? I love the Holy Spirit, and I am offended by those who want to reduce Him to “a buzz.” (By the way, I am not alone in this understanding of the passage[2].)

In these verses Paul is saying that the whole purpose of spiritual gifts and the whole purpose of speaking is to communicate something that can be understood by everyone who hears it. Why speak in the presence of the assembly something that everyone cannot understand and why speak in private words that you yourself cannot understand? Paul is not commending their tongues as a private worship language but criticizing their tongues as, at best, something which only God can make any sense of.

1 Corinthians 14 is not promoting tongues as a private prayer language or anything else. It is promoting edification, understanding, and order in the church as a powerful means of witnessing to the lost.

The Scriptures clearly teach that there is only one kind of “tongues” as a gift of the Spirit. It is the supernatural ability to speak in foreign language. The gift of tongues was never intended to be a private prayer language; its purpose was always exclusively evangelistic. With the end of the apostolic era and the completion of the canon of Scripture, the gift of tongues ceased.

[1] In attempting to better understand the other view, I picked up at the bookstore a couple of booklets. One is called "Why You Should Speak In Tongues" and the other is "The Bible Way To Receive The Holy Spirit". Both of these booklets state that tongues was the most desirable gift.

[2] John Stott, John MacArthur, Hershael York, Paige Patterson, and others

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Nepalese Airline Maintenance

I am no mechanic. I am not mechanically inclined. There are not too many things that I do well with my hands beyond throwing and catching a ball or turning the pages of book. Because of that I am not usually critical of folks who are mechanically inclined. I like those people. I need those people.

I think I could qualify for an airline maintenance position with the Nepalese airline system. What you are about to read is an actual Reuters news story. I am not making this up:
Officials at Nepal's state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft, the carrier said Tuesday...The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft Sunday at Nepal's only international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said.
Now that's reassuring.

You can be sure that I will never fly on that airline!

Neutered Wolverines

That giant "thud" sound you heard was the furious fall of the neutered Michigan Wolverine football program. They have fallen from a pre-season rank of #5 to...well, let's just say you'd need a good P.I. to find them now. If you follow sports at all you have heard about the University of Michigan's humiliating home loss to Div. 1-AA Appalachian State. I love their ignoble defeat for a couple of reasons. First, it's great to see these powerhouse programs who schedule teams from the lower divisions get upset. With all due respect to the Appalachian State program - they have won the 1-AA crown multiple times - D1 teams have no business scheduling 1-AA programs. Too bad Youngstown State didn't do the same thing to the Luckeyes...I mean Buckeyes. Second, it's always good to see these arrogant programs receive their comeuppance.

Yesterday I received an email which had the following pictures attached. I enjoyed them so much I thought I'd share them with you. Enjoy!

(P.S. I have a good friend who, for some odd reason, is a Michigan fan. The fact that he routinely revels in the less than stellar play of my beloved Hoosiers was a huge motivating factor for this post. By the way, if you life posters, maybe you should visit this site.)