Saturday, December 27, 2008

The church, working...

I know I spend some time on this blog talking about the church, about what's wrong and how to fix it. So here's my positive comment about something that's right with a church: this story about a church in suburban Chicago.

They get it. They understand that it's not about the buildings, or the decorations, or any of that other stuff. It's about living out the life of Christ everywhere we are: in our own lives, in our family, with our friends, in our communities.

Now everyone. On the count of 3: 1-----2-----3: Hooray, Waterfront Community Church! Hooray!

You may now return to your seats...

How's it, right?

Hey everybody! It's been almost 3 weeks since the magic of this blog blessed the interweb. But here I am, tanned, rested, and ready. Here's the rundown on what was going on in the J house for the last 20 days: I was sick, the Mighty Mrs. J was sick, all the kids were sick, I got an insane amount of work (that kept me up until 3 a.m. several nights in a row), and I had a terrific Christmas with the greatest family in the world.

So anyway, did I miss anything while I was gone?

(Does anyone know where the title of this post comes from?)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

China setting new standards for religious freedom...

This story from tells the story of Zhu Baoguo, a house church pastor in China. He was arrested in mid-October for the crime of being a leader of an "evil cult," namely Christianity. On October 30 he was sentenced to 1 year of "re-education through labor."

This is obviously wrong, but it doesn't look like the Chinese government is going to stop persecuting Christians anytime soon.

How can Christians affect what's going on over there? I see a few ways:
  • Pray! Pray for Pastor Zhu, who is going to be away from his friends and family for a while. He also has a heart condition, which makes matters worse. Pray for God's protection and comfort for him and his family.
  • Pray! Pray for the leaders of the Chinese government. The most powerful force for change in the world is still God's saving work in a person's heart. We are one revival away from seeing the end of persecution in China.
  • Inform U.S. government leaders that this is an important issue to you. We hold massive amounts of power over the Chinese if we choose to use it. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians are more concerned with pocketing money from those who do business with China than they are with how Chinese Christians are treated. Maybe those politicians need to know how we feel.
  • Remember that all that cheap stuff we buy from China comes with a heavy price, including the blood and freedom of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Keep that in mind while your doing that Christmas shopping...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Most tolerant people on earth...

Proposition 8 was on the ballot here in California last Tuesday. It was an amendment to the state constitution, saying that marriage was to be defined as only between a man and a woman. The intent was to make homosexual marriage illegal in California. It passed.

I have some mixed feelings about it, mostly because I think Christians are overly-focused on the evils of the homosexual lifestyle, while ignoring many of the other sins of society.

Since the election, relatively small groups of homosexual activists have been protesting, demanding tolerance and acceptance of gay marriage. Only, it seems that the tolerance only goes one way. Watch what happens when an elderly lady tries to express a differing opinion:

From KPSP news, Palm Springs, CA

Veterans Day...

To everyone who served, and the families who waited, hoping they would make it back home, thank you. My family is free to work, play, and worship because of what you did.

Here's a story of one of these heroes: John Ripley

Ripley passed away recently, but we are richer because he was here.

His words at the end are profound. "When you know you're not going to make it, a wonderful thing happens. You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you're going to save your butt."

I wonder how different I would live if I really understood that I'm only here for a short time, and no one here gets out alive...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

NFTW #021--A "Kingdom of God" perspective on the election; Are you a Christian atheist?

The election is over! How do Christians put everything into the right perspective?

Also, are you a Christian atheist?

Listen here:

Or download this episode by right-clicking here.

Here’s a link to Wyman Richardson’s very thoughtful blog post.

Read 1 Peter 1:17-21.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The best perspective on the election I've seen...

From Walking Together. A lot of wisdom there...

Success is Counted Sweetest by Emily Dickinson

#67: Success is counted sweetest

by Emily Dickinson

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory

As he defeated — dying —
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

"Success is counted sweetest" by Emily Dickinson. Public domain.

The real election day decision...

Finally, a look at the real issues/candidates:

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

(Not every video at Funny or Die is family-friendly, so browse at your own risk!)

Monday, November 3, 2008

What matters to me--Obama vs. McCain...

I haven't talked a lot about the presidential campaign. Mostly that's because I'm pretty disgusted by the whole system. And, between the voter registration fraud that's going on all over the country, I'm afraid we're slipping ever closer to being a third-world country, politically-speaking.

I also have a firm belief that God is totally in control of what happens. He is not bound by political systems, poll results, or voting trends. And there is no doubt He is at work, no matter who's in that fancy house on Pennsylvania Avenue.

That being said, there are a few issues that are important to me as a Christian (and not just as an American). I think they should be important to people of faith. The biggest question is one that is really foundational: what value do we put on human life?

It's an important question, and there is a portion of society that seems determined to lower the value we place on human life. (Don't believe me? Look here, here, here, and here for details.) And unfortunately, the guy who is probably going to win the election believes that unborn humans have no rights, even if they are born alive after a botched abortion.

Obama's views on life issues make it impossible for me to even consider voting for him, even if he was good on every other issue (which he isn't).

We'll know for sure what happens in just a few hours. Either way, we believers need to remember where our hope lies...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NFTW #020--Doing church vs. being the church; Becoming who you are...

One church closed last Sunday so that its attendees could “be” the church. What would it mean if we all were committed to living out a New Testament faith?

Also, are you trying to squeeze yourself into a life that doesn’t fit you anymore?

Listen to the podcast here:

Or download by right-clicking here.

Here’s the Christian Post article I read.

And, here’s 1 Peter 1:13-17 from Bible Gateway.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama cares deeply for a child--or a fetus--or whatever...

From Jill Stanek. More stuff on Obama's pretty radical views about abortion. This is from 2001, when the Born Alive Infant Protection Act was being debate in the Illinois State Senate:

So basically, Obama trusts that a doctor who was trying to kill a baby would then turn around and give that baby medical care if the baby survived the abortion? Either he is very naive, or he wants to protect abortionists more than he wants to protect babies.

Either way, I don't want him running the country...

Making infanticide safe, legal, and rare...

This video was produced by Students for Life of America. In it, a Planned Parenthood nurse is very clear about one thing: sometimes babies are born alive after abortions. The solution? According to this nurse, “They wouldn’t be able to live on its own. So, eventually, the baby does die.” Eventually.

I can't believe we're about to elect a president who supports letting babies die...

(H/T: Hot Air)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Family makes a difference through foster care and adoption...

This article and "Today" show video tell the story of Daniel and Lori O'Brien. They are 2 ordinary people who decided to open their homes and hearts to 11 foster children. They ended up adopting 7 of them, in addition to their 3 biological children.

They took in all kinds of kids: different races, kids who had been beaten and molested, kids who were deemed "unadoptable." They didn't have a lot of money, or a fancy home, but they did have what every kid needs--lots of love.

For me, there's something to be learned here. I don't know if these folks are Christians, but I do know that if every Christian family was willing to take in a child or two, there soon wouldn't be any kids left who needed homes.

Like I said in last week's podcast, we Christians really do have it in our power to live out the gospel by taking care of the neediest people on earth. Unfortunately, we instead spend countless millions on stuff we don't need, and political campaigns to pass laws that make sure unbelievers "act Christian."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Our trip to the Clipper game...

When I was younger, I went to professional sporting events pretty often. As my amigo Cap can attest, we saw the Lakers and the Kings quite often, and I saw a lot of Dodgers games (and a few Angels games too).

But I haven't gone to many in the last several years, for several reas
ons. There's just a lot of other things to do with my time. And it is REALLY expensive to go to a game, especially when you have to buy tickets for the whole family. (Not to mention the fact that my kids can each eat their own weight in hot dogs, which are also a bit pricey.)

So when I learned that the Clippers were giving away tickets to some of their preseason games, I jumped at the chance. Now, I know it's th
e Clippers, but free tickets are free tickets. Plus, I kinda like the Clippers. So, last Friday, Little MacGyver and I went down to Staples Center to enjoy the NBA action.

He had never been to an NBA game before, so he was a little excited. By "a little" I mean that he talked about it non-stop for several days before the game. And I thought his little head was going to explode with excitement when we got to the arena.

Here he is taking in the inside of the Staples Center for the first time. He's a little overwhelmed by the size of it:

This is the view from our seats:

As you can see, the place is packed with excited fans!

Here's the little man, while his daddy makes him miss part of the game so he can take pictures:

The best part was that after the game, he got to go down to the court and shoot a free throw! It was very exciting for him. He said that he was going to try to make the shot, and help the Clippers win the game. (Unfortunately, the Clippers needed a lot more help than even my amazing boy could give.) Here he is, barely visible as he heaves the ball toward the basket:

The Clippers did lose, but it didn't matter to Little MacGyver, or me. We had a blast, and we'll never forget the experience. There's no better boy to go on adventures with than my terrific son!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

NFTW #019--How Christians use their money; Your false beliefs may be dragging you down!

Christians have an opportunity to end a lot of suffering in the world. But we'll have to change the way we use our money. Will we do it?

Also, do you have false beliefs that get between you and God?

Listen to the podcast here:

Or right-click here to download!

Here is the ABP article I quote from...

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm glad we have an impartial press...

Some people think that the US media has chosen sides in the current presidential campaign. That, of course is insane, because we all know that journalists are completely objective creatures who have no interest in swaying voters.

That's why I was shocked (shocked! I tell you!) to see this picture accompanying an AP story about Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama, complete with halo:

I understand that a lot of people consider Obama a bright, shining light for America. (Although probably not these people.) But I didn't realize that he actually glows...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alabama voters are also VERY excited about the election...

In 6 Alabama counties, there are more registered voters than people living there.

Most revealing paragraph from the story:
Lucy Kynard, chairwoman of the Perry County Board of Registrars, said she wasn't sure why registration would exceed the Census Bureau's population estimate. She said the county's voter rolls are updated regularly to remove voters who have died or moved their registration elsewhere.
Me neither Lucy. There's no chance that it would be in any candidate's interests to have thousands of fraudulent votes cast for them.

Good thing I believe that our election is on the level. Otherwise, I might come to believe that there was an attempt going on to steal an election with illegitimate votes. But that could never happen in the U.S., right?


Thursday, October 16, 2008

One heartbeat away from the presidency?

Note to Senator Obama--If you are elected president, please don't let Joe Biden handle education policy:

NFTW #018--Campaigning from the pulpit; Having joy during hard times

Some pastors are endorsing presidential candidates from the pulpit. How would Jesus handle this?

How can Peter say that we can “greatly rejoice” during times of suffering and hardship?

Download this episode here.

Listen to it here:

Here's the link to the AP article I mentioned.

1 Peter 1:6-9

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ryle on Christians pleasing God...

"The only righteousness in which we can appear before God is the righteousness of another--even the perfect righteousness of our Substitute and Representative, Jesus Christ the Lord. His work, and not our work, is our only title to heaven...For all this, the Bible distinctly teaches that the holy actions of a sanctified man, although imperfect, are pleasing in the sight of God...

Just as a man is pleased with the efforts of his little child to please him, though it be only by picking a daisy or walking across a room, so is our Father in heaven pleased with the poor performance of His believing children. He looks at the motive, principle, and intention of their actions, and not merely at their quality or quantity."

J.C. Ryle, Holiness (1879)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ryle on the value of large Christian get-togethers...

I cannot withhold a growing suspicion that the great "mass-meetings" of the present day, for the ostensible object of promoting spiritual life, do not tend to promote private home religion, private Bible reading, private prayer, private usefulness and private walking with God.

If they are of any real value, they ought to make people better husbands and wives and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and masters and mistresses and servants. But I would like to have clear proofs that they do.

I only know it is far easier to be a Christian among singing, praying, sympathizing Christians in a public room, than to be a consistent Christian in a quiet, out-of-the-way, uncongenial home..."

J.C. Ryle, Holiness (1879)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

People in Indianapolis are REALLY excited about the election!

This blog post by a University of Indiana prof talks about the voter registration in Marion county, Indiana (where Indianapolis is located). Seems that a lot of people there are very excited about the upcoming election.

The post is pretty interesting. I recommend that you read it for yourself. But the interesting numbers are these: there are about 650,000 people over the age of 18 in Marion county. Of that 650,000, there are over 677,000 people registered to vote! You did read that right--there are more people registered to vote than there are people living in the county.

Typically, a little over 70% of eligible voters actually register to vote. But in Marion county, they've got about 105% of eligible voters registered!

I'm sure there must be some reasonable explanation. I mean, it's not like one presidential candidate used to work for a group that has been involved in massive amounts of voter fraud.

The new Marion county motto? "Vote early! Vote often!"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My kids' current musical favorites...

I have always enjoyed all different kinds of music, even if they weren't the popular styles of the day. That's why I love the fact that my kids enjoy listening to music that's different from what most kids are listening to. They get introduced to a lot of unusual music because their father flips channels incessantly on the XM radio in the car. And they have discovered some great music.

I've posted before about my son's love affair with Chris Tomlin's music. Little MacGyver used to listen to Tomlin on my iPod when we were leaving the YMCA. But he's found a new favorite group on my iPod, and it makes my heart proud.

Here's what he's listening to now. And, yes he asks to hear these guys all the time:

Now, my youngest, the girl formerly known as Toddler Houdini, is jumping on the music bandwagon. A couple of weeks ago, I sang a little bit of an old song to her. Then I made the mistake of showing her a video of the song on You Tube. Now, every time she comes into my office, she wants to see and sing this song. She really gets into the "Ba ba ba's" at the end:

As for DisneyGirl, she loves just about everything she hears. Music just makes her happy. Last I checked, this was still one of her favorites:

The music is crazy around our house. Doesn't anyone just watch the Backyardigans anymore?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Behavior modification vs. life transformation, part 2...

Several days ago, I wrote about some of the reasons we see such a large number of kids leave the church once they graduate high school. My basic premise is that kids leave church once they get on their own for one main reason: growing up they were performing the way their parents and church leaders expected, but their hearts were not committed to Christ. In other words, the reality of what was going on in their hearts did not match their outward performance.

Once these kids get out in the "real world" they no longer feel the need to perform the same church duties. But they've learned that the way to be accepted is to perform for others, so they conform their actions to their new friends, classmates, co-workers, whoever. We've probably all seen kids who seemed to be grounded in their faith, but then went crazy once they left the cocoon of home and church. The problem is that their lives aren't really changed at the core of who they are.

That kind of change only comes when a person has an ongoing, personal, grace-based relationship with Jesus. So, the question is: how do we help kids develop that kind of relationship?

First, we need to go back to regular teaching of the gospel. Only the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. I'm afraid we've discounted the supernatural power of God to change us through the simple gospel. No amount of preaching about rule-keeping--whether it's:
  • church attendance,
  • devotional time,
  • tithing,
  • missions trips,
  • student leadership positions,
  • or whatever--
will change lives. Only the gospel (Christ's death for our sins, burial, and resurrection) can do that.

We need our kids to understand their place in God's family. They need to know that God is at work in them, to will and act according to His good purpose. They need to know that they've been given the Holy Spirit as God's promise that He will complete His work in them.

Why do they need to know this? Well, because it's true for one thing. Also, these teachings will help them get their identity from Christ, from what God has done and is doing in them. Otherwise, they'll get their identity from what other people think of them.

Second, we need to realize that large groups (of kids or adults) aren't designed for spiritual growth. It's way too easy for people to hide in groups, or go along with the crowd looking spiritual, without ever really experiencing grace-full growth.

Real edification happens when smaller groups of people commit to each other. For kids that begins when the parents commit to praying for their children and modeling a life dependent on Jesus. In the larger church, each of us must be committed to doing what we can to shepherd the little ones in our midst. Again, not teaching them to keep the rules, but helping them see Christian life as trusting and resting in Christ's work, and learning our true identity from Him.

What's clear to me is that doing this would require major changes in most traditional churches. In many churches, you can go for weeks, months, even years without hearing what the gospel means in the life of the believer. But Christians need to hear the gospel more than they need another "7 keys to having great hair" sermon.

Also, the "bigger is better" mentality doesn't lead to spiritual growth. You may get crowds, but you can't encourage real growth. Smaller groups of people, invested in each other are key to this working.

Last, notice how little I've said about church leaders, the pastor or youth minister. Raising up kids who are filled with God's grace and Spirit is the responsibility first of the parents, then of other adults and kids who are willing to invest time and prayer in the people around them. The pastor/youth leader has a place, but it's not primary.

Any thoughts?

If you got this far, you deserve this. I'm really starting to love this song. Great lyrics...

NFTW #017--What are we spending our money ?; What is God keeping for us?

We need to pray for believers in India.

A new survey causes me to ask: What should we be spending our money on?

Also, What does God keep for us?

Listen here:

Right-click here to download this podcast!

Here is the story on the trouble in India.

This is the story of the survey on what churches are raising money for.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Are you qualified to serve God?

"The difference between Uncle Sam and Jesus Christ is that Uncle Sam won't enlist you unless you are healthy and Jesus won't enlist you unless you are sick. 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.' (Mark 2:17)"

--John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals

Saturday, September 27, 2008

WWJL: What Would Jesus Like?

I want to pass along a great blog post by Bob Cleveland over at Eagles' Rest. He made me think of something really profound that I had never considered. Namely, that we don't know a thing about the things Jesus liked. What was His favorite food? His favorite color? His favorite psalm? We have no clue.

The conclusion Bob draws is that we don't know these things because in Jesus' life, those things weren't important. His life was dedicated to serving others, not making sure that He got the things He liked.

There are a bunch of applications here. As Bob points out, Christians break fellowship over all kinds of things. If we were all dedicated to living like Jesus, most of those splits would never happen. Would Jesus break fellowship over what kind of music gets played in church, or when the rapture was going to happen? I doubt it.

Of course, if it's too hard to live like Jesus, you all could just try to do everything the way I like it. Then I would just tell you what you need to know, like what kind of music to play in church, and when the rapture will occur...

(In case you're wondering, the last paragraph was sarcasm. Except the music. It's awesome...)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The perfect porch decoration...

My son loves to go with me when I head out on an errand. So a couple of days ago, when I took him with me to the post office, he was pretty happy. So happy, in fact, that when I opened the door to leave, he had printed this in chalk on the front porch:

If you're having trouble reading it, it says, "Dad I love you/you are the best dad frum Samuel"

I like his decorating style...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NFTW #016--God is finished with you!; Do Chistians and politics mix?

Can Christians depend on government to change what's wrong with the world?

Also, I've got news: God is finished with you!

Click on the post title to download this digital gem, or listen here:

Here's the Christian Post link...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Interesting quote from Steven James...

"The crack of dawn at Easter was really the sound of chains falling away."

--Steven James, Story

So, any chains falling away in your life?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

How did I get here from there?

(Note: I recently wrote this for another venue. But since I pick up new readers occasionally who don't know much about me, I thought I'd cross-post here.)

Hi everybody! I've been a reader here off and on for a while. But I decided to jump into the forums and actually be a part of things. Here's a not-so-short version of my story. I grew up in a church that was very much performance-oriented (even though they wouldn't have ever agreed with that assessment). As a teenager, I felt a call to ministry, and that ramped up the expectations for me. Both the expectations I put on myself, and the expectations I felt God had for me.

I went through college and seminary, all the while working in various church positions. Toward the end of seminary, my wife and I decided that God was calling us to start a church. Our church started out meeting in rented halls and conference rooms.

I should say through all this work I was putting in to glorify God, I rarely felt like He was pleased with me. I had a theological understanding that He and I were at peace. I knew that I was supposed to have fellowship with Him. But He often seemed completely distant. And that just fueled my feeling that He was unhappy with me. I knew that something was wrong, but the only answer I could see was working harder. Of course, that didn't work either, and I would often just spiral into doubt and regret about my life and my faith.

After meeting in rented rooms for a while, I started becoming convinced that what was really wrong with church and my work was that we were meeting the way early Christians used to meet: in homes. So our little church started meeting in homes every week. Our meetings started being more casual and interactive. "House church" really was a good fit for us. But something still wasn't right. I couldn't work hard enough, or regret my mistakes enough, to make God approve of me.

Finally, I just had enough. I had to walk away from ministry. Since what I was doing wasn't creating a better relationship between me and God, what was the point? I sent our people off to good churches where they would be fed and happy, and my family and I kind of drifted. We met up with some house church people, and I really like the style of their meetings. (I still do.)

It's been about 2 years since I left the pro ministry. God is doing something deeper in me. At some point, I realized that God isn't that concerned about where the body gets together on Sunday. And He's not even that excited about what I do in my service for Him. What He wants is me. Not my work. Not my gigantic ministry plans. Just me.

The realization that God loves me just because He loves me is still re-shaping the core of who I am. Do I still get depressed sometimes? Yes. Do I feel like I should be "doing more for the Kingdom?" Sometimes. But what I don't feel as much anymore is the weight, the burden of God's disapproval. Because now I know, and sometimes I even feel, that I am God's beloved child. No matter what I do, say, or think, He won't ever love me more, or less, than He does right now.

I know this is overly long, so thanks for reading...And since you read to the end, here's some musical enlightenment...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Who decides which lives are valuable?

It seems like there's a lot of news this week regarding pro-life issues. Most of the news isn't good, because it seems clear that there is a growing number of people who believe that some humans have less value than others. This story comes from London, where a woman who is called "Britain's leading moral philosopher" has suggested that people suffering from dementia should kill themselves because they are "wasting people's lives."

Warnock's main argument is that people with dementia take up too much of the health care system's resources. If they kill themselves, it will free up resources for other, more "worthy" people to be cared for. At this point, she is only suggesting that people with dementia be allowed kill themselves for the common good. But it seems like a short step from suggesting to demanding. After that, maybe the English government will just decide to end the lives of people who refuse to do it themselves.

I mean, if a government bureaucrat isn't qualified to decide who lives and who dies, who is?

There are really 2 huge problems here. First, this woman sees some people not as people, but as burdens on the state. Therefore they need to go away, so the state can operate more effectively. The idea is that people are valuable if they add something to society, but should be discarded if they impede progress (as defined by the state).

Second, these issues will always be a problem when the state controls and pays for health care. This is the aspect of nationalized health care that people don't want to acknowledge. In a nationalized system, people will always be seen as burdens on the system. And some burdens just can't be carried indefinitely. They will need to be purged.

And who does the purging, and why, should be important questions in the US at a time when one major political party advocates a government-run health care system...

NFTW #015--Relationships; Adopted by God!

Another hot, steaming bowl of digital goodness!

Which type of ministry honors God more: evangelistic campaigns, or building relationships that lead to evangelism?

Also, the reality is that we are God's adopted children. What does that mean?

2 Stories from Relationships key to college ministries
Jesus calls us to sow as we go

To download the podcast, click on the post title.

Or, you can listen here:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Should Down syndrome babies be aborted?

Since John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his running-mate, there has been an ugly conversation going on among some people in this country. The conversation is about Trig, the Palin's baby who has Down syndrome. There is a segment of people who think the Palins should have aborted this baby because of his condition. I think Christians need to be aware that this thinking is out there, even if it's just a small section of the population.

This writer, who also writes columns for the Washington Times and The Atlanta Journal Constitution, makes the argument that aborting Down syndrome kids is the right thing to do because they are a drain and burden on society. He goes so far as to say, " is crucial to reaffirm the morality of aborting a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome (or by extension, any unborn fetus)..." (emphasis mine).

The danger in believing that aborting Down syndrome kids, or any kids with birth defects, should be obvious. It makes an assumption, mainly that some people have value, and some don't. Clearly, to the writer of this post, people with disabilities are a burden. And it's OK to eliminate people who are burdens.

There is an underlying assumption also, that people don't have worth just because they are people. Their worth has to be granted by someone else. But who grants worth? The government? We've tried that, in Germany and other places. It didn't work out so well.

In fact, there is only one objective for giving equal value or worth to every human being: each of us is God's special creation. That gives us worth that can't be taken away by any government, or any self-important writer.

As Christians, we should be on the forefront of the fight to see that each person is treated as valuable and worthwhile. This applies to people with special needs, of course. But it applies equally to anybody who is considered "less than" or worthless.

We can't look to political leaders to protect the rights of these people. We do have one presidential candidate who pays lip service to helping the "least of these." But I'm afraid that doesn't apply to everyone, especially the unborn. It's up to those of us who really see human life as valuable to do all we can to see to it that no one is left out when we say that "all men are created equal..."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The fine line between abortion and infanticide...

So far, I've stayed out of politics for the last few months. Mostly that's because I'm not thrilled with either major-party candidate. But there are a few issues I care deeply about. One of them is abortion. It seems like one area where there is a clear distinction between McCain and Obama.

I'm not sure how McCain would affect the abortion debate . But I'm convinced that Obama is pretty radical on this issue, even though he gives lip service to reducing the number of abortions.

Personally, I'd rather look at what someone does, rather than what they say. When Obama had a chance to vote on a bill that would ensure that babies who survive abortions got medical care, he voted against it. 4 times.

To me, that's not pro-abortion. That's pro-infanticide. Finally a group is bringing his votes to public attention. The group is called, and the ad is pretty effective.

Here it is:

The reason the ad is effective is that it puts a human face on this issue. These aren't nameless, faceless blobs. They are real, actual human babies who are being killed. I hope that this group can run the ad all over the country...

Our trip to the Los Angeles County Fair...

I love going to the fair. We used to go when I was a kid, and I think the Mighty Mrs. J and I have gone every year we've been together. Now it's even more fun because we get to share all kinds of new experiences with the kids. And the kids love it!

Mostly, the kids are happy to wander through the livestock area. (Remember, our kids are completely city-fied, so they only see cows, sheep,
and pigs at the fair.) (Oh, they see them at the market too, but in different form.) Believe me, there are much better places to be in the 100 degree heat! But they love it.

Here are Little MacGyver and DisneyGirl in the petting zoo. DisneyGirl loves animals, and she's really good with them. I can see it now: DisneyGirl on TV as the Goat Whisperer...

Toddler Houdini doesn't care much for live animals. She likes to look at them, but not to touch. But she does enjoy sticking her head through a plywood pig's head and making pig noises...

Here's all the kids in a cutout. We had a hard time getting them to look at the camera. They kept looking down to see what the picture looked like...

They also set one building up as a winter wonderland. It has ice skating, snow, and sledding. The snow is more to Toddler Houdini's liking...

One of the new experiences we have is rock climbing. Sam couldn't wait to get there. He is a really good climber! He scrambled all the way to the top...

This year, DisneyGirl joined in the rock-climbing fun. She tried very hard, and almost made it to the top. We were so proud of her!

There are a hundred reasons why I love the fair. But these days, the biggest reason is that I get to share it with the most important people in my world. They make everything I do more fun and exciting...

BTW, the man next to the Mighty Mrs. J is her dad. He went with us, and had a blast! (So did we!)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Behavior modification vs. life transformation...

A couple of days ago, I started talking about the fact that young people are leaving our churches in droves after they get out of high school. It's something that has bothered me for a while. It seems like a clear indication that we are not passing the faith on to the next generation. Some of those who leave do come back, but many do not.

So, what's going wrong?

Well, I think there's a clue found in the reasons that kids give for leaving church. (Again, I'm equating "faith" with "church" because that is so common in Christian circles. It's wrong, but common.) Some of the reasons, like they moved too far away from their church or left home to go to college, don't make sense, because they could easily find another church to attend. But 17% of the kids surveyed were honest: they said they were only going to church to please others. I believe that would be considerably higher, if more of the kids surveyed had been more reflective and honest.

And it's understandable. So much of Christianity is performance-based, and approval is given based on external behaviors. Thus, if a kid shows up every Sunday, signs an abstinence pledge, doesn't drink or party, and has a regular quiet time, he or she is considered a "Good Christian kid." The reality is that you can do all those things and more, and have a heart that's cold toward God.

And the parents are probably on the same performance hamster wheel. They are taught that good Christians do certain things (serve in church ministries, attend weekly meetings, tithe, read their Bible, etc.). To gain approval from others in the church, church leaders, and ultimately from God, they do all the things they think they should.

When kids graduate from high school, they move, they get full-time jobs, they go off to college. They still have a mindset that they need to perform to get approval. But now they are away from parents and church leaders, so they look for approval from new groups of people: co-workers, roommates, other students. So now they get that approval from those people, instead of from church activities.

The real problem, as I see it, is that we've become largely performance-based as believers. What God wants is not the proper behavior, but actual life-change. Life transformation will result in behavior change, but transformation is a lot more difficult, messier, and harder to quantify.

So how do we go from a church culture that is bent on producing right behavior, to one that is committed to seeing people changed from the inside out? I've got some thoughts on that, but it's getting late, so that will have to wait until another time.

And for all of you who made it through the whole post, here's some fine music as a reward...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NFTW #014--Emotion vs. Doctrine; What does it mean to have the kingdom inside us?

There's a fight between emotion and doctrine. Which side are you on?

And, Jesus said the kingdom of God is inside us. What does that mean?

Listen here:

Or, download the episode by right-clicking on the post title...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why kids leave church...

For years, something has disturbed me about the church in the US. (Actually, a lot of things disturb me, but let's take them one at a time.) It's this fact: according to one study, 70% of kids who grow up in church leave it after they get out of high school. Of that group, 65% don't come back.

What happens, or doesn't happen, that allows kids to walk away from something that has been such a big part of their lives? This question bothers me, because I know that if these kids were experiencing God's presence in their lives, they wouldn't be going elsewhere. (And, yes, I am equating leaving church with leaving their faith, because for many Christians, the two are linked.)

If you look at the numbers in this study, kids don't leave for theological reasons. They leave because they go to college, or they move too far away from their home church. They leave because they work Sunday mornings. Some just want a break from church, or want to hang out with their friends.

Some of the people surveyed said they left because of differences with the pastor's teachings, or because the church was hypocritical. But apparently, these kids didn't try to find a different church that was more to their liking.

Underneath all those reasons these kids gave, there's one truth that seems clear to me. These kids had the appearance of being committed, but their relationship with God is either non-existent or severely underdeveloped. That may sound harsh, but my experience is that when people who are committed to Christ leave the institutional church, they still have a desire to hang out with God's people. That desire seems to be lacking for a lot of the kids surveyed.

So how do you get whole groups of kids who can "act Christian" but are lacking a true relationship with God? That's the question. More personally, as a father, how can I keep my kids from following down that path. I want them to really know Jesus, not just act like they know Him.

I think there is an answer here, and part of it found in some of the responses to the survey I linked to. But this post is way too long already, so I'll pick this up again soon...

p.s.-If you've read this all the way to the end, here is my gift to you: possibly the greatest song ever recorded.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Knowing is not enough...

I think I've mentioned before on this blog that I've struggled to really believe God loves me. I think a lot of it stems from not having a father growing up. I never had any father-son interaction, so I never got to see first-hand what a father was supposed to be. When you combine that with growing up in a church that stressed works over relationship, you get me: a guy who has trouble in any close relationships, especially with God.

I was listening today to a podcast, and one of the speakers read a Bible verse that brings out the reason I struggle. It's 1 John 4:16:
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

My trouble? The part about relying on God's love.

I know all about God's love. I've taught it. I've preached on it. I've counseled people about it. I really do believe that God loves His children. But do I rely on it? That's a very different question.

I grew up in a church where knowledge was prized, and experience was looked down on. We were one of those Pentecostal churches, where they were acting crazy, speaking in tongues and hanging from the chandeliers. We were the "people of the book," and we valued knowing Scripture above all else.

There is nothing wrong with knowing Scripture. Every Christian needs to know and love the Bible. We should all have some understanding of basic Bible teachings. But knowledge can never take the place of relationship. At some point, we all have to go from a place of knowing about God's love to relying on His love.

How does that happen? I'm not sure I know. I don't think it's a process that lends itself to 5 steps, or 7 keys. It's probably different for everybody. I'm sure God uses the tools He usually does: prayer, Scripture, friends, circumstances. But we don't look to those tools to do anything for us.

More than anything, maybe learning to rely on God's love is a change of outlook. God wants to shower His love on us. In fact, He does shower His love on us. But we miss it, because we're looking somewhere else.

I know I've come a long way toward experiencing His love as a reality of life. But I've still got a long way to go...

Oh, the podcast I was listening to? It was Joel and Mike at Growing in Grace. If you don't already listen, try it. It is 15 minutes a week of grace-filled awesomeness!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

NFTW #013--Pushing back against the atheists; Who/What are you trusting in?

Oh, the joy! Another podcast appears to bring hope to a hurting world.

In this one, I talk about 2 groups that we've got to deal with: atheists and politicians...

Listen here:

Or, click on the post title to download...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Who do you say God is?

This is probably my last thought about the Bentley/Lakeland revival thing. Unless something new comes out, I don't see the point in beating the issue any more. But I wanted to follow up on an earlier post. I talked about the fact that so many of us are searching for a special "anointing," some unique outpouring of God's presence in our lives.

Searching for this anointing, we will seek out people who claim to have a special relationship with God. We'll buy books, go to seminars, attend revival meetings, and spend long nights in agonized prayer, all in search of that "something extra" that God has given some of His favored children.

I wonder if part of the reason why so many believers, myself included, go through this is because of our wrong view of God. Do we see God as our loving, perfect Father who stands waiting to give us all kinds of good things? Or is God distant and grumpy, Someone you have to convince to like you by your good works and devotion? How we see God will determine how we see our relationship to Him.

The truth about God is this: He already loves His kids an infinite amount, regardless of who or what they are. He will never love His children any more or less than He does now. He never condemns us. He's never disappointed in our actions or attitudes. (That thought alone is changing my life. I can never disappoint God!) He is pleased to give us the kingdom. He's given each one of His kids the Holy Spirit as a promise that we belong to Him. He is constantly at work in and around us to make us into the people He means for us to be.

We are each anointed by God, called into His special service. Every one of us has equal access to God, no matter how important or unimportant you may feel. What does equal access mean? Any of us, at any time, can crawl into our Father's arms and talk to Him, cry on Him, ask Him questions, even complain at Him. And He's never too busy to love on His kids. He gives us every good and perfect gift. Best of all He gives Himself, and He desires and grows a real relationship with each of His kids.

If you see God as Someone who is only pleased with you when you perform acceptably, you will spend your life trying to perform acts that please Him. If you see God as Someone who is holding out the "really good blessings" until you do, say, or believe the right things, you'll spend your time looking for the secrets that will unlock the blessings of God.

But if you see God as Jesus showed Him to be, you'll see that none of that work is needed. He doesn't want my right actions, or my meticulously crafted orthodoxy, or my 12 secrets to a victorious Christian life. He just wants me. And, He's happy with that...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why is it dangerous for Christians to seek after anointed leaders?

In an earlier post, I talked about the fact that according to the Bible, all believers are anointed by God. Anointing isn't just something for a few, special leaders. It's God's gift to each of His children. That post talked about why the idea that we "regular" Christians need to gain some special anointing from some chosen "leader" is unbiblical. In this post I want to touch on why it's dangerous.

I feel so sorry for Todd Bentley, his wife, and especially their children. I know first-hand what it's like to grow up in a home that's been torn up by divorce, and it's not good. I hope Bentleys can get their act together so the kids don't have to grow up in a broken home.

But there's another group that I feel almost as sorry for. It's the thousands of well-meaning believers who flocked to Lakeland. They were hoping to find healing or hope or some kind of touch from God. Now, it seems like what they got was a show, put on by an out-of-control minister. I'm sure that some of those people will be so shaken that they will walk away from the faith, too hurt to risk opening their hearts to God or His people.

And that's where the danger is. Anytime we look to leaders to impart something of God to us, we are looking for trouble. Even if a leader is called an "apostle" or they are commended by someone claiming apostolic authority (like Bentley was), they are only human. That means they are susceptible to sin and failings.

The danger seems clear to me, especially when you see Bentley's commissioning service from this past June. This service features a whole stage full of people who many consider "apostles." Each one seems determined to give a more elaborate vision of what Bentley was about to for the Lord. This was less than 2 months before his secret life became public. Obviously, these leaders who are so connected to the Lord didn't see the reality of Bentley's life.

If these "apostolic leaders" were so wrong about Bentley, can you trust them to give a prophetic word in your life? I'm not so sure.

Maybe what we need to learn from this whole thing is that God really does give us all we need to live out His life in us. Rather than spending our time chasing down this leader or that manifestation, let's ask Him to show us where He is at work in us, and the people around us.

But do we really trust that He's good enough, powerful enough, and loving enough to give us His best? Or is it safer to put our faith in a leader who here's directly from God? I think it really comes down to how we see God, and I'll have to pick up that thought later...

Friday, August 22, 2008

NFTW #012--Living in a post-Christian world; What do we do with a fallen believer?

This is 2 weeks in a row that I actually got a podcast out. Shocking!

This week I look at the California court case that upheld homosexual rights over Christian beliefs. I also go into the whole Lakeland revival thing. I'm wondering: when a Christian's private sin is exposed, how should other Christians respond?

Listen here!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Aren't we all anointed?

I wonder if part of the problem with the Lakeland event that's been unraveling is that Christians are desperate for a special touch from the Holy Spirit. So we go everywhere, looking for someone who has that "unique anointing" from God. We gather around certain teachers, or apostles, or conference speakers, or pastors, thinking they will give us that word from the Lord that we so desperately need.

That way of following Jesus is, in my opinion, dangerous and unbiblical.

It's unbiblical because it ignores the fact that we are all anointed with the Holy Spirit. 1 John 2:20-21 says: "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth." Every Christian has the Holy Spirit living inside them. The Holy Spirit is given to every believer as a sign that he or she a child of God. The Holy Spirit lives in us as God's guarantee that He will continue His work until Jesus' return.

I'm not saying that we can't learn and grow from hearing the wisdom of teachers that God has gifted. What I am saying is that the idea that we are somehow incomplete unless we receive an "anointing" from some special leader is false and unbiblical.

Yet many Christians believe that they need something or someone other than the Holy Spirit living in them to become a whole Christian. I know, because I used to be in this group, and it made me miserable.

It's sad, really. And dangerous. And it says something about what we really believe about God. But this post is getting too long, so I'll jump into the other issues in a future post...

I don't want him to grow up either...

Last night, Little MacGyver and I were sitting in my bedroom, singing some songs. He turned to me and said, "Dada, I don't want to grow up. I want to stay a kid, so I can live with you and mama forever!"

I tried to explain to him that growing up was just part of life, and that we would love each other, no matter how old he was.

But he just wants to stay a kid.

To tell you the truth, I'd love for him to stay a kid too...

Here he is at the Nature Center yesterday, being his goofy, terrific self:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We love the El Dorado nature center!

The Mighty Mrs. J has this week off, so we wanted to do some fun things with the kids. Today we went to the El Dorado Park Nature Center in Long Beach. It's a great place for city kids to enjoy some "wilderness" in the middle of the city. We go there to walk the nature trails and get away from the routine for a while.

It just so happened that I brought along a camera. (Lucky you!)

At the welcome center, kids can look at different exhibits about the plants and animals you might see on the trails. They have a collection of bones and skins from different animals. Here's Little MacGyver looking through the "eyes" of some animal. (I think it's actually a pelvis, but he doesn't care.)

DisneyGirl explores the possibility of life with antlers...

Toddler Houdini found this cross-section of a tree fascinating, for some reason.

Once on the trail, you can get up close and personal with all kinds of animals...

You can cross a small stream...

...or you can just enjoy the the wild buckwheat plants in the sunshine!

When you get tired, some nice mommy will give you a ride.

Everyone gets hungry after a long morning at the nature center!

Actually, the squirrel is on top of the lunches that came with a bunch of school kids. The bus driver wasn't paying attention, and the squirrel took advantage.

El Dorado Nature Center is a great place! Our kids love it, and when we visit, they don't want to leave...

When Christians fail, what do we do?

In regard to the whole Todd Bentley thing, I do have some thoughts on what's going on now. It does appear, from what some leaders in the Charismatic movement have said, there have been people close to the Lakeland thing who expressed concerns about what was going on. But none of these leaders were loud enough, in my opinion, in speaking out about what was going on.

This isn't to keep beating Bentley. I sincerely hope he gets the hope he needs. God still loves him enough to bring him out of the pit he's in.

But there are some things that seem clear to me:
  • Bentley needed people in his life who loved him enough to pull him aside and tell him to cut out the nonsense. That's what happened in this case, with the result that Cain has repented and is seeking help.
  • It's never wrong to question what someone is teaching. Apparently, someone on GodTV said that anyone who questioned what was going on in Lakeland was demonic. That statement is, I believe, pretty demonic itself.
  • The problem with questioning someone's teaching comes when you assume that the person who is teaching has some sort of evil intent. What was the intent of Bentley and his group during this revival? I haven't a clue. I can't judge intent, but I can say where I believe someone's teaching lacks biblical basis.
  • God is absolutely able to stop something that is damaging to His people. He will protect His children, whether he uses other believers, or gets involved more directly.
I've got some more thoughts on what this says about the state of the church, but I'm too tired to keep typing coherently. (As though that's ever stopped me before!) These verses keep tripping through the cluttered back of my mind:

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Does this passage have any bearing on how we treat Bentley from here on out?

Monday, August 18, 2008

More thoughts on Todd Bentley, Lakeland, and spiritual correctness...

You know, I'm still processing a bunch of stuff about the Lakeland Revival business. For the past few months I've heard it from every angle--from "Lakeland thing is the real deal, you've got to get yourself down there to catch the anointing," to "Bentley and his crew are demon-following hucksters, dragging sheep to the slaughter." Both sides are completely sure that they are right, and that the other side is in deep error.

I'm not sure I'm clear about what I think concerning this particular piece of revival fever. But I am beginning to question how we deal with other believers that we think are wrong in their doctrines and/or practices. Here are a few things I am kicking around in my head. My thinking is still a bit fuzzy on this stuff, so I have no answers, just questions...
  • how much "good theology" does a person need to be saved?
  • what is the proper role for "fruit inspection" when it comes to judging a person or movement?
  • how much error can a person have in his/her theology before I break off fellowship with them?
  • if it's the Holy Spirit's job to lead us into truth, what is the role of other believers in that process?
  • when another believer is exposed to be in sin or error, what should my response be?
  • can a person be wrong without being evil?
I've actually got a lot more questions than I've got time for now. I'll have to sort them out in the days ahead. One thing I am pretty sure of: we're losing the idea of being loving AND truthful. It seems like too many of us are one or the other, but not both...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quick thoughts on the Lakeland Revival and Todd Bentley...

I've been pretty quiet on the whole thing that's been going on in Lakeland, Florida. Mostly that's because listening to both the pro- and anti- Lakeland Revival camps have made me think more deeply about how we treat believers we have disagreements with.

But it seems now that Todd Bentley, the evangelist who has been at the center of these events, is having some marital difficulties. (Scroll about halfway the linked page to see the letter from the board of directors.)

There is a larger issue about the whole Lakeland Revival thing that I won't address now. But it is pretty safe to say that Bentley is a polarizing figure in the body of Christ. Some people have claimed that he has a powerful annointing from God. Others think he's literally doing the work of the devil, deceiving the people of God.

Here's my quick thought for now: whatever your view of Bentley and the Lakeland events, it's clear that he and his family are going through a horrible time. I believe he and his wife have kids, and all of them will be hurt by divorce. Can we please, for once, come together in love and pray for and support a brother and sister who are hurting? Is there any chance we can use this as an opportunity to heal hurting believers, instead of using it as an excuse to blast Bentley?

I mean, I thought Jesus said the world would know we were believers by our love for each other, not by our ability to kick another believer when he's down...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Clean bill of health!

I haven't said a lot about it, because it's a mostly a private matter. But Toddler Houdini had some health problems last year, and she had to go through more tests than you can imagine just so her doctors could figure out what was going on. It wasn't a fun time for any of us.

Well, the doctors didn't find any major problems with her, and her problems haven't returned for over a year. Today she had a follow-up appointment with one of the specialists she saw last year. This doctor decided that she was fine, and discharged her. TH doesn't have to go back!

One truth keeps showing up, going through our kids' adoptions, and with this health scare. The truth is: you only have a short time with the people you love. Don't waste it being angry and doing stupid things. I know I've thought a lot about how things could have turned out for her, and I don't want to waste a second of the time we have together.

Her mom and I are just happy and thankful that God has blessed all of us with good health for our precious little girl...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The world's silence on the Georgia invasion is deafening...

Does anybody else wonder about this? When the US invaded Iraq, hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in cities all over the world, denouncing our country's actions. The protesters claimed our actions were a naked power grab. One of the slogans that was chanted constantly was, "No blood for oil!"

My, how things have changed! Russia invades Georgia under the pretext of protecting ethnic Russians who live in a Georgian province. Then the Russian troops kept pressing on, and now they control a large portion of Georgia.

Why is Russia doing this? Well, they certainly want to assert their control over the states that used to be in the Soviet Union. Russian prime minister has said that the breakup of the Soviet Union was the worst mistake of the 20th century.

But this is also about oil. There are oil pipelines that go through Georgia that lead to Turkey and to the Black Sea. Russia would love to get control of those pipelines so they could control even more of the oil that goes to Europe. (Russia already supplies much of the natural gas that Europe uses.)

So it seems pretty clear that this is a war for oil. Where are the protesters? Where are the people comparing Putin to Hitler, like they did to Bush? Where is the outrage over Russia's actions? I haven't heard a peep out of the usual suspects.

I know a lot of Europeans are scared of Russia, and they don't want to say anything to upset Putin. But the hypocrisy is overwhelming. Will anyone hold Russia to account? I'm not holding my breath...

One great thing about America...

I like to gripe about America as much as anybody. (Actually, I probably complain more than most.) But I also realize how blessed I am that I live in this country. Especially when I look at all the nonsense that is going on all over the world. And, although I'm a little freaked out that either this empty suit or this waffler is going to be president come next January, I'd still rather live here than anywhere else.

One of the things I am most thankful for is the ability to worship freely. My family and I are not part of a traditional church. We do get together with other folks, and different people take turns hosting the group for fellowship times. And we can do this without being afraid that we'll be shut down, arrested, or harassed by the government. That's a special freedom that I hope my children will be able to enjoy and appreciate.

There's actually no point to this, except that I'm thankful for my freedom, and I pray that all Christians will soon be able to worship freely...

China ushers in new era of religious freedom...

Hua Huiqi, a Chinese Christian based in Beijing, left for church last Sunday. It was a special day, because US President George W. Bush was going to be visiting the same state-approved Protestant church as Hua.

President Bush made it to church. Hua did not.

He was arrested by the Chinese police. His crime? Hua is active in the house church movement in China, a movement that is outside the control of the Chinese government. Authorities must have been afraid that Hua would make a scene while Bush was enjoying the "religious liberty" that China offers.

Hua apparently escaped from police custody. His brother says he is in hiding, being cared for by other Christians. The article I've linked to talks about other activists who are under virtual house arrest during the Olympics. It also sounds like they are just generally harassing house churches.

So, if you are a freedom-loving person enjoying the Olympics, just remember that there are a lot of people in China who don't have the same liberties you do. Pray for them, and rattle some cages in Washington. You never know what might happen...

The price of not being able to judge a leader's character...

"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue.

"I was able to get a sense of his soul."

--George W. Bush, talking about Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, June 16, 2001.

"I got the impression that here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word."

--Neville Chamberlain, talking about Adolph Hitler, September, 1938.

When you aren't able to discern someone's true character, all kinds of bad things can happen...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bad news for religious education...

I don't know if any of you have kids in religious elementary or secondary schools. But there is a court case working its way through the courts in California that could have an effect on religious schools all over the country.

The case involves 5 students from Calvary Chapel school in Murrieta, CA. They applied to the University of California, and some of the courses they took in high school were not accepted because they were taught from a narrow, Christian perspective. A federal court judge ruled that the university was within its rights to disallow these courses based on its Christian content.

I understand that universities have the right to decide what courses they will allow. But I do worry that this ruling will have the effect of forcing Christian schools to alter the spiritual components of its classes. It could happen that Christian schools will tone down or even eliminate those components, in order to make their classes conform to a certain university's idea of how the world works.

The case itself will be appealed, first to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Christian schools will lose there, and then their last appeal will be to the US Supreme Court.

I guess it all boils down to your view of the world. Universities are basically controlled by people who have accepted a materialistic view of the world. They don't have any room for spiritual or supernatural ideas to enter into the realm of objective truth. Depending on how widely they want to enforce their worldview, they could effectively neuter Christian secondary education in the US....

Read reports about the case here and here.