A Rocha – a Christian conservation effort

A Rocha USA seeks to establish a nationwide network of local conservation efforts that provide Christians and all others a way to get involved and make a real difference where they live.

They will be making a presentation at Partk St Church, Sunday, Sept 7, 2:30 PM. A Rocha USA’s nationally known speaker Dr. Matthew Sleeth, author of Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action, speaks on Creation care at churches, campuses and a variety of venues around the country. Order online from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. (Dr. Sleeth will not be speaking at the Park St Church event)

Is anyone out there interested in going to this workshop with me? Post a comment, and I will be in touch.

John Piper on NT Wright – What’s at stake?

I have cut and pasted the transcript from the interview with Piper at www.desiringgod.com concerning his evaluation of Wright’s view of justification. You can listen to the interview by here.

I am wondering why evangelical Protestants keep wanting to throw away the doctrine of justification through faith alone apart from the works of the law. It seems that everywhere I turn it is under fire from those whose very existence this truth has nurtured. The only other option is for our obedience to actually be at least partly the grounds for our acceptance with God. This is the position of the Roman Catholic church. That doesn’t make it not true. But it does point out the genetics of the position.

For peace of conscience it is important not only to know that Jesus saves. It is as important to know HOW he saves. And this is where the truth of justification comes in and its attendant truth, the imputation of the righteousness of Jesus. By his death on the cross sin is forgiven and by his obedience the holiness of Jesus is credited to my account.

While some may feel these formulations can be improved upon and qualified, we must be very careful. A mist in the pulpit becomes a fog in the pew. What the newer evangelicals want can be obtained without throwing away this time-tried understanding of salvation. Here is the interview:

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Sarah Palin for VP? How about President????

Here is James Dobson’s response to the selection of Sarah Palin as the VP nominee by McCain.

Earlier this year Dr. Jim Dobson, President of Focus on the Family made news when he announced on “The Dennis Prager Show” that he “cannot and will not vote for Senator John McCain.” Today, on The Dennis Prager Show, the conservative leader changed course and announced his enthusiastic support on the heels of the announcement by Senator McCain of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.

Dennis Prager: I have a guest here who’s extremely significant in American life, whether you call it American political, certainly American religious life, one of the best known Christians in America— Dr. James Dobson who is president and founder of Focus on the Family…. The last time you were on was a very serious conversation about your feeling at the time that you just couldn’t vote for John McCain, and where do you stand now?

Dr. James Dobson: Well, Dennis, I shared with a colleague just a few minutes ago exactly what you said about the period of time when Ronald Reagan had broken onto the scene and I was in Washington D.C. the day he was inaugurated. That was one of the most exciting days of my life, because everything that we had hoped for and been working for had come to pass. I feel very much that way today. Maybe that’s an overstatement. Maybe time won’t validate it, but this is a very exciting and encouraging day for conservatives and pro-family activists. I am just very, very pleased.

Prager: In light of that, may I infer that when you enter the voting booth—and I am putting you on the spot. I fully acknowledge, and you’re certainly free to say it’s a secret ballot you don’t want to say, but you’re too public to really get away with that, so what’s the story right now?

Dobson: Well, you know I did a radio program about a month ago with Dr. Albert Mohler, and we talked about what was at stake in this election and our concerns about the policies that Barack Obama would implement. The more I hear the more I learn, the more concerned I am, and so on that program Dr. Mohler and I talked about the fact that John McCain is not the perfect candidate. He’s certainly would not be my choice and, for over a year, I did not feel that I could vote for him. But I said in that radio program that “I can’t say it now”—which was then, because I didn’t know who his vice presidential choice would be, and he if would come up with Lieberman or Tom Ridge or somebody like that, we’d be back in a hole again. But I said for the first time “I might, I might.” And some people call that a flip-flop. If they do, so be it. Campaigns are long. You get information. You find out what the choices are. So I’ve been moving in John McCain’s direction. I don’t know if anybody cares, but for me…

Prager: Plenty, plenty of people care and that’s why I am having you on. I care, many people care and you have a lot of followers. You have earned the right to that respect. So are you prepared to say, “Folks, look, given this pick and all I have learned about what would happen with a Democratic victory we have no choice, but to enthusiastically work for the McCain-Palin ticket?”

Dobson: You know, I have only endorsed one presidential candidate in my life and that was George Bush in the second term after I had watched him for four years. I did not do that in his first term. So I’m very reluctant to do that. You marry a politician you can be a widow pretty quickly.

Prager: That’s right.

Dobson: But I can tell you that if I had to go into the studio, I mean the voting booth today, I would pull that lever.

Prager: Well this is a very big deal

Dobson: And that’s a long way’s from where I told you a year ago.

Prager: No kidding. No kidding. I am honored that you used this show to make that statement.

Dobson: You know, Dennis, the things that concern me about John McCain are still there. I made those comments not just based on emotions, but based on his record and some of the things that took place—embryonic stem cell research, and other things, the campaign finance, and other things. Those are still there. So, there’s still concerns. But I tell you, when I look at the choices that are ahead and what the implications are for this country, and now especially with this selection, with just an outstanding V.P. candidate as a running mate, I tell you what I am relieved and very excited.

Prager: Well, if you’re very excited given your previous reservations then I have to believe, and certainly based on the handful of calls I’ve been able to take the first hour before my “Happiness Hour,” I took the calls and people were so excited, palpably excited. Jim Dobson, and I got to tell you… if your base is energized then that is the biggest nightmare that the left has.

Dobson: I was just with about 300, maybe 400 people in a large auditorium, and they put Sarah Palin’s speech on the screen and we sat there and watched. I’m telling you it was electric. These were conservatives, you know. They were mostly Christian, but not all of them were. I mean to tell you, it set that crowd on fire. If that’s any indication, I think we are going to see some things.

Prager: We sure are. Well, you made my day. I just want you to know that.

Robin Mark concert and my “am I the youngest one here?” experience

Robin Mark is a don bryant fav. His “Days of Elijah” keeps me pumping on the stairmaster long after any other trick wouldn’t do it. Robin was in concert last night and eight or so of us Coasters went and enjoyed the music.

I felt like I was at one of those Peter, Paul and Mary concerts where the whole audience wept at the songs but preferred to remain seated – the arthritic hip, you know. My wife, who is no praise worship buff, leaned over and commented the virtual absence of any twentysomethings. I saw some grandmothers getting it on and some very overweight fiftysomething men taking up a chair and a half. But no younger people.

Some years ago I had a praise team member at our church get a little rough on me about singing this “irish crap,” referring to Robin Mark’s stuff, making a strong point that it was old. I was incensed and not a little mystified about the comment. I thought that our church was at least better than the “Paul Baloche-the Early Years” kind of music. Last night demonstrated that, though her comments were a bit tougher than needed, she was more right than me. Who came out to hear Robin Mark? People in their fifties.

I am one of those who can’t get the “music=worship” formula. It’s important. I tremendously enjoy it. And I can’t see myself ever going to a Gaither homecoming. But I have never given music that kind of weight, enough weight to beat up a church about the kind of music it sings. I am way too much a “sermon man.” I will always remain a “sermon man.” I can’t be a “eucharist man” or “music man” or “liturgy man” or any other variety. When a man stands in front of me with an open Bible and uses it to part the clouds and see heaven open, then I am satisfied.

Warren, McCain and Obama at Saddleback

By the way, before I comment on the forum tonight, let me note that Warren didn’t cave in and wear a tie. I had told my wife that if he wore one, I was going to turn off the TV.

Like so many commentators said tonight, this is perhaps the best “debate” format we have seen. Same questions posed by the same moderator without any “gotchas” going on from questioners or rivals. We saw how the two candidates answered the same questions in an atmosphere that was about as safe as politics can be. Good job, Warren.

Warren didn’t shy away from some hot-button topics. While he has a niche as a moderate evangelical who has chosen to emphasize poverty and illness as much as abortion and same-sex marriage, it was clear at the forum that he didn’t believe these lightning rod issues should be avoided. He stated the questions well and then let the candidates say their piece without interruption.

Some impressions:

1. Obama was too slow and McCain sometimes too quick. It is clear that Obama is interested in a more philosophical answer that takes into account complexities. On the question of whether or not there is evil, he wanted to be clear that we don’t answer that question as people who just face evil “out there” but who experience evil “in here.” McCain’s response was a recommitment to find and kill OBL. In response to the energy crisis Obama was thinking about the next 25 years plus. McCain was a “drill here, drill now” answer. There is something emotionally gratifying about McCain’s ready responses. Obama seems more ready to slow us down and seek something we can be committed to for the long term.

2. I don’t think Warren’s “world and life” questions were incisive enough. In Jim Sire’s The Universe Next Door, Jim gives the 7 questions any worldview must answer. I think Warren’s purposes might have been better served if he had asked some of those questions rather than asking them about their faith commitments, or at least in addition to their faith commitments.

3. In dialogue Obama becomes tedious. In speeches he can be inspiring.

4. I loved the question about choosing to go against your own self-interests or those of your party to do what you believed to be the right thing. Obama demonstrated he is not a risk taker. I fear that McCain loves risks too much. But it seems clear to me that McCain is more ready to lose.

5. The crowd (congregation?) was more in McCain’s corner.

6. Obama’s handling of the abortion issue was abysmal. A prochoice candidate should do better than that.

7. Obama kept his eyes on Warren – a dialogical atmosphere. McCain kept addressing the crowd – a “”hey, I’m talking to you” kind of feel. I liked Obama’s style for that format, even if his eye contact was very poor and his speech halting. McCain felt like a train that couldn’t be slowed down.

McCain “won” this round. There was too much Dukakis in Obama. But both candidates will live to fight another day.

And thanks, Rick, for a making this happen. You put a lot on the line and did us proud.

C-Span interviews War Vets who have lost appendage

Here is the link. I have been watching the story of Michael Oreskovic who lost an arm and spent a very long time in 2005 at Walter Reed Hospital. The in’s and out’s of recovery are a major story. The constant operations, the constant drugs, the physical therapy, the prosthesis that doesn’t really work, the pressures on the extended family. Michael was not married when injured so his family had to step in. From Oregon, with a mother already very sick, the family had to reach out all the way to Washington, DC. The financial devastation to the family was severe as the father had to temporarily live near his son to provide care. The family pressures worsened the mother’s condition. The sister had to postpone college – no money. The whole experience is like a domino phenomenon. The father takes to drink. The injured son takes to drink and drug use. Getting caught up in the bureaucracy of medical care. The experience of constant phantom pain from the hand, arm and elbow that are no longer there. The son living at home for a while, which has its own set of pressures. It just goes on, and on, and on, and on. It is the story of people trying not to go down roads that will lead to destruction and learning to live with pain. It’s not pretty. There are a lot of people who really care and do their best to be there. But at best it is a story of people gasping for air.

I think that keeping our eyes open to pain is painful.

I’m not sure I can handle moral outrage against John Edwards

People are plenty mad at John Edwards. First, he’s a lawyer. (Sorry, I had to get that in!!) Second, he cheated on a wife with whom he went through the loss of a son. Thirdly, he cheated on a wife who is facing a life ending cancer. Four, he ran for President while knowing how easily things could have been derailed once the news got out. I could go on. Lots of us people do.

But people who have done recovery can’t be surprised. They know good people do dumb things that hurt lots of people. Recovery people have antibodies to the “how could yous”. They know how people could. They’ve read the Bible. They’ve found Christ while in the miry clay. They have drunk their money away, spent their kids’ college education money, gambled away the house, been filled with seven demons, acted in anger, said words that can’t be recalled, hardened themselves against others’ needs, overlooked cries for help and went on their next binge to get away from it all. Go to any recovery meeting of Christians and John Edwards is small potatoes. No gasps, surprises or shaking of heads in disbelief.

There is one thing else they know. If John Edwards wants to walk in the light again he is not going to have much company. The church stands for morality and can’t be seen as compromising. Most of his friends are gone and won’t be back. Politicians are sad he got caught, but once caught, the liability isn’t worth it. Society can’t risk their leverage. But he will always be welcome to a recovery meeting. Not because they have gotten use to sin and have no standards. But because they know sin and how deceptive are its ways. Everyone is game. And God is gracious to those who lose that game. They can’t afford moral outrage. There’s to much work to do. By the way, they aren’t critical of the consequences that will come upon Edwards. They will say such actions deserve the strong censure. But they will say that is not the end of the story.

So, welcome to recovery, John Edwards. And you are invited, too, Elizabeth. A lot of damage has been done and the soul work you are going to have to do will take a miracle. It’s not going to be easy being around a lot of people who are absolutely glad that what’s happened to you hasn’t happened to them. Quite frankly, you might need a different group.