Worldview

Reason and Revelation: Why Christians Need Philosophy
The debate continues about how much Christians should use natural law arguments to defend traditional marriage. In this article one of the authors of What is Marriage? argues that our natural moral knowledge in some ways precedes revelation and helps us to understand it. Personally, I’m for using every tool at our disposal.

2013 Was A Terrible Year for Evolution
This Christian College professor is depressed because while most Christian colleges are now quietly teaching evolution, “Evolution did not fare well in 2013.”

The year ended with the anti-evolution bookDarwin’s Doubt as Amazon’s top seller in the “Paleontology” category. The state of Texas spent much of the year trying to keep the country’s most respected high school biology text out of its public schools. And leading anti-evolutionist and Creation Museum curator Ken Ham made his annual announcement that the “final nail” had been pounded into the coffin of poor Darwin’s beleaguered theory of evolution.

Can I admit that I enjoyed this teacher’s misery?

On the same subject, here’s Al Mohler’s take on the clash of worldviews in the Ken Ham v Bill Nye debate.

Sex Education Videos Will Be Rated Following Parental Outcry
Starting later this month, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will decide whether school sex education videos should be rated PG. The decision follows a BBFC research report, which revealed that a growing number of parents are pulling children from sex education lessons.


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Communicating Clearly and Creatively
A conversation between two bloggers that I admire and enjoy.

What Happens to Our Brains When We Exercise and Why It Makes Us Happier
There’s a lot of good news in this encouraging article. For example:

So really, you can relax and don’t have to be on the look-out for the next killer work-out. All you have to do is get some focused 20 minutes in to get the full happiness boost every day.

Delaying Marriage and Same Sex Attraction
Here’s a brave and challenging post from Lore Ferguson on how delaying marriage and being overly-cautious can result in problems for some women. We’re such creatures of extremes aren’t we? If the Devil can’t get us by committing too early, he’ll get us by delaying too long.

Dear Donald Miller
Jonathan Leeman appeals to Donald Miller to return to the church, while Denny Burk explains why to leave the church is spiritual suicide.

Pastoral Leadership and Conflict
A few years ago, Dave Early surveyed a group of twenty-five successful, veteran pastors who were leading a variety of healthy churches.

I asked a few simple questions. One of the questions was, “Please list the three things you did not learn in seminary, but wish you had.” I was surprised that there was one response given by all of them:Learning to resolve conflict effectively.

Toxic Leaders in Our Ranks
Dorothy Greco calls us to learn from the army’s investigation into the kind of toxic leadership that led to 30 US soldiers stationed in Iraq committing or attempting suicide in 2009. According to the Army’s manual, toxic leadership includes:

A combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance. This leader lacks concern for others and the climate of the organization, which leads to short- and long-term negative effects.

The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest…. Prolonged use of negative leadership to influence followers undermines the followers’ will, initiative, and potential, and destroys unit morale.


10 Reasons Why Abortion Rate is Down

The US abortion rate fell by 13 percent from 2008 to 2011, and reached the lowest rate since abortion was made legal in 1973. If these figures are true, we ought to be thankful for the mercy of many thousands of lives that are living and breathing as a result. And let’s remember, at just under 1.1 million murders a year, the numbers are still horrific.

But what’s caused this reduction? There’s no one thing, but analysts and commentators have suggested a number of contributory factors:

1. Republican state legislation: Laws requiring abortion clinic standards to raise their hygiene and surgical standards ave caused many unscrupulous clinics to close their doors (is there such a thing as a scrupulous abortion clinic?)

2. Improved birth control: People are being extra careful with contraception because they realize that in such tough economic times they cannot afford to risk getting pregnant.

3. Contraception technology: New kinds of long-term intrauterine devices, means people aren’t relying on pills and condoms that sometimes fail.

4. Shift in public attitudes: In 1996 56% of Americans were pro-choice and 33% pro-life. By 2013, only 45% called themselves pro-choice while 48% were pro-life.

5. Ultrasound: Early pregnancy scans make it harder for people to deny what they are seeing is a real human life.

6. Information: The pro-life movement have managed to make far more people aware of the horror of abortion procedures, and especially of late-term abortions.

7. Kermit Gosnell: The horrific conditions and practices in some abortion clinics have appalled even pro-abortionists.

8. The “Juno Effect”: Some think that Juno, the movie about a pregnant teenager who chooses to keep her child may have persuaded younger women and girls to prefer adoption or motherhood to termination. Other films and TV shows have also, probably unwittingly, exposed abortion motives and procedures.

9. Planned Parenthood’s Agenda: I’m a bit wary about these statistics showing a drop in the abortion rate as they are published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, research arm of Planned Parenthood. I’m suspicious that the pro-abortion movement senses the momentum moving against it and is trying to use statistics to argue that the numbers are reducing because the problem is being fixed by present policies and practices. “So no change required,” they say.

Remember that abortion providers are not required to report statistics. The Washington Post reports that, “The Center for Disease Control draws from state health department reports, and its data are incomplete. For example, California — responsible for an estimated 17 percent of abortions nationwide — does not gather data on the number of abortions.”

10. The Morning After Pill: The morning-after pill aborts by preventing implantation but it’s not counted in these statistics. It’s estimated that 5 million women used this pill between 2006-2010. There are also other easily available drugs that are not approved for use as abortion drugs but which an unknown number of women are using.

So it’s a real mixture of reasons that produce a real mixture of emotions. Cynicism about the stats and fear about how they will be used; joy about (m)any lives saved, anger at the continuing slaughter; gratitude for some of the reasons behind the drop, disappointment at some of the other reasons. Above all, prayer that our politicians and judges will be convicted in their minds and hearts of this horrific sin, publicly repent, make abortion as illegal and illogical as slavery, and make it no longer necessary for caring citizens to spend their days and nights standing outside “clinics” with Babies are Murdered Here signs.


Worldview

The US “Puts Moderate Restrictions on Religious Freedom
Despite the first amendment stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” 225 years later, “the United States places a ‘moderate’ level of restrictions on religious practice compared to the other countries in the world. According to Pew, the U.S. saw a marked increase in hostility toward religion starting in 2009, and this level remained consistent in the following years.”

America has harsher restrictions than roughly 130 other countries. Places allegedly more free than the U.S. include Serbia, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—not exactly traditional strongholds of democracy.

Sexual Freedom As A Secular Sacrament
Rod Dreher comments on the campaign to ban male circumcision in Scandanavia.

1. This illustrates that the claim frequently made by secular liberals that their worldview is values-neutral and therefore more just is a sham. It’s not that secular liberals are morally wrong in any of their particular claims, but only that they are wrong, and self-deceptive, to claim that their values are in any sense neutral.

2. It is telling that the reason the Scandinavian doctor gives for suppressing traditional Jewish and Muslim practice is that it stands to decrease sexual pleasure later in life….For many secular liberals, sexual freedom and pleasure is the summum bonum of life, and must be privileged above all else, including religious liberty.

3. If my country should ever threaten my right to practice the fundamentals of my religion as Scandinavian countries are threatening their Jewish and Muslim citizens, it will become my enemy. That will not mean civil war, as it once did in the US, but if a significant number of Americans come to think of their government as an enemy of their faith — and I think this day is coming, in my lifetime — we will be living in interesting times.

Cancer Tidal Wave Coming Warns WHO
The globe is facing a “tidal wave” of cancer, and restrictions on alcohol and sugar need to be considered, say World Health Organization scientists.

It predicts the number of cancer cases will reach 24 million a year by 2035, but half could be prevented.

The WHO said there was now a “real need” to focus on cancer prevention by tackling smoking, obesity and drinking. The WHO’s World Cancer Report 2014 said the major sources of preventable cancer included:

  • Smoking
  • Infections
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity and inactivity
  • Radiation, both from the sun and medical scans
  • Air pollution and other environmental factors
  • Delayed parenthood, having fewer children and not breastfeeding

The World’s Smallest Engine Runs on an Atom
And if you need a bit of a “pick-me-up” after cancer, sexual freedom, and restrictions on religious freedom, marvel at this incredible illustration of Psalm 8 dominion.

Evangelicals: Alone and Exiled in Hollywood
A discussion of the double standards in Hollywood that led to banning Joni’s song from Oscar consideration. Considering the morals in the vast majority of Oscar winning films…

It’s almost funny to see how incensed the Academy can be and how finely wrought the ethical code of the left-leaning organization can be when it comes to evangelicals, a group they routine despise, ridicule, or reject outright.  All it takes is a mere whisper of sin exposed by some columnist, and a song about God is suddenly toxic, yanked from consideration for an award.

And how about this for a conclusion:

There is no use singing to the deaf. Especially when they are programmed not to hear anything but their own voices.


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We Need To Come To A National Consensus on Airplane Seating
This article is so funny. But the problem is not. Especially if you are 6ft 3in without high heels on. I must confess I have resorted to the old push my-knees-deep-in-the-back routine at times, much to my wife’s embarrassment.

Babies Are Murdered Here
R.C. Sproul Jr. thinks we’ve been way too polite and careful in our anti-abortion rhetoric.

We Can’t All Be Beautiful
Karen Swallow Prior: “Part of the value of beauty is, in fact, its rarity. So it’s not surprising that only 4 percent of women across the globe describe themselves as “beautiful,” in a study commissioned by Dove. Yet 72 percent of the girls in the survey reported that they “feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful.”"

What Is Marriage?
Mike Witmer: “Last week I explained to my daughter that she was no longer allowed to watch the Disney television show, “Good Luck Charlie.” She understood that we love gay people and appreciate the many good things that they may contribute to society, but we don’t like how Disney is openly trying to force children to accept homosexual marriage as a normal, lifestyle choice.”

Sneering Calvinists
Derek Rishmawy, recently come to embrace the doctrines of grace, pleads: “If you’re really a Calvinist and believe you’ve received knowledge of the truth by the sheer grace of God, which is what a Reformed view of knowledge teaches, then be patient with those who don’t see it. God has been (and is currently being) patient with you in some area as well. So stop sneering and ask God to humble you enough to be helpful to those offended at or wrestling with those doctrines you now hold dear.

Why I’ll Never Be A Mommy Blogger
Me neither, but for a different reason.


We Become How We Worship

Yesterday, we looked at G.K Beale’s insight that We Become WHAT we Worship. Today I’d like to go a step further than that to say, “We become HOW we Worship.”

Worship is so powerful that we not only take on the image of what worship, but we also take on the image of the manner and style of our worship. So it’s not enough that we worship the right God, the God of the Bible, we must also worship the right God in the right way, the biblical way. And if we do so, we will become what He wants us to be – remade in His image.

Truthful
For example, the truth of God’s Word should be at the center of all worship. We read the Word, sing the Word, pray in accordance with the Word, and hear the Word preached. True Worship is truthFULL. And if our worship is truthful, we also will be truthful in our daily lives. Truthful worship on a Sunday makes for a truthful Monday to Saturday.

Spiritual
Much worship today aims primarily at stimulating and exciting our physical senses. If we can provide a colorful spectacle for the eyes, spectacular musical sounds for the ears, a pounding beat to impact the body and get the adrenaline running, then the emotions are stirred, and there’s a sense of elation and excitement. But if we become how we worship, such sensual, emotion-driven, thrill-seeking worship will produce sensual, feeling-focused, thrill-seeking Christians.

Spiritual worship does not aim primarily at the physical senses and the emotions (although it should have a secondary impact on them) but it primarily addresses the mind and seeks to impress the soul with divine truth about eternal facts. It demands thought and interaction with the Word of God and lifts people out of this world of sense and time, into the spiritual and eternal dimension.

And if our worship focuses on the spiritual, on spiritual truths, that’s the kind of people we will become Monday to Saturday. We will live in the spiritual realm, we will sustain and guide our souls with the abiding truths of God’s Word, we will be aware of eternity and the presence of God.

Reverent
If our worship is full of humor, frivolity, jokes, and casualness, we shouldn’t be surprised if that’s the kind of character that will be produced in the worshipers.

But if our worship is reverent, respectful, and careful, that will be reflected in our characters through the week.

Now this can go way too far, of course. If worship is morose, fearful, joyless, hopeless, and miserable then worshipers will become like that too. Any church that specializes in putting people in fear, in limiting hope, in minimizing assurance, is going to produce people that are like that in their daily lives – fearful, suspicious, cold, unfriendly, hopeless, and unhappy.

Christ-Centered
God has set forth His image perfectly in His Son. He is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3). Therefore, if we are to become like Jesus, and we become what we worship, we must make Christ the focus of our worship. We hear Christ’s Word, we preach Christ, we pray in Christ’s name, and we sing of, to, and with Christ in our songs.

Believing
If we become how we worship, the more we exercise faith in Sunday worship the more faith we will have Monday to Saturday. The more we trust in the Lord in church, the more we will trust in him in the world. Faithless and life-less Sunday worship produces faithless and lifeless Christians at home, at work, and in the community.

All this underlines that if worshiping the true God in the true way is the biggest formative influence in our lives, then let’s prioritize worship, especially the corporate gatherings of God’s people on the Lord’s Day.

And let’s also ensure that we and our children are in churches that not only worship the one living and true God, but also where God is worshipped in a truthful and lively way.