Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Jesus Tomb--Buried Already

Dr. Ben Witherington, an eminently qualified scholar, has a terrific piece about the current furor over The Jesus Tomb.

If you want answers, go here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

How Inconvenient (Filed Under "Other Stuff")

(Sometimes I get a little tired of the hysteria...and so, this article from The Tennessee Center for Policy Research.)

Al Gore’s Personal Energy Use Is His Own “Inconvenient Truth”
Gore’s home uses more than 20 times the national average

Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.

Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES). In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year. “As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.

In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.
The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee through free market policy solutions. (To read the article, click here.)

Go Against The Flow

I remember one of the first Christian T-shirts I ever saw. It had a school of brightly colored fish all swimming in the same direction. In the midst of the mass was a solitary white fish—as I recall—and it alone was swimming in the opposing direction. The slogan on the shirt?

“Go against the flow."

Ever feel like you're doing that? It's a good sign if you do. Since you are no longer of this world, but have become an alien, a stranger, you must feel out of step with the flow of this world.

Excepting the preaching of Christ, nowhere is that more apparent than when one expresses himself to be going against the tidal flood of acceptance of homosexual behavior. Try sharing that you think homosexuality is abnormal in your tolerant social studies class, and you’ll see what I mean. The flow and fight against you will rise like a sudden tsunami.

The intolerance of that opinion is especially apparent when you’re a high profile athlete.

Such is the case with Tim Hardaway, a former all-star NBA player. While declining to identify himself as a Christian, he has made it clear that he is not in agreement with the prevailing winds of opinion concerning what was once known as aberrant behavior. A longtime friend (Scoop Jackson) interviewed Hardaway for ESPN in an attempt to allow him to change his mind or at least do some "spin control." It is Jackson's belief that Hardaway is a drowning man...and he may be right. Hardaway’s opinion will likely cost him dearly, but he stuck to his beliefs.

I was amazed at how many times Jackson asked Hardaway questions to the effect, "Now, you're not really saying you think a gay lifestyle is wrong, are you?! I mean, come on--get with the rest of us and change your mind..."

I can't imagine how much pressure there was on Hardaway--a world-wide audience--and he stayed true to what he believes. While apologizing for having said, "I hate gays," still he said, "I don't condone their lifestyle."

And for that he is being vilified far and wide by those more savvy, and by those more willing to prostitute themselves so they can remain in the approval flow of this world...and profit from its benefactors. What a powerful lure that is.

Our opinion is going to cost us a lot. This article will give you a heads-up.

It's quite a read. Click here.

Simple Facts In A Porn-Saturated Culture

Tim Challies provides a vital, useful and to-the-point read about pornography on his blog. In particular, Tim gives parents some important tips on how to protect and prepare their children and family against the touch of this terrible plague. Our kids will see it--it's important that we have established trust and honesty before they do.

To read Tim's article, click here.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


If you enjoy fishing and have the funny memories and scars to prove it, you'll love this video. I post it in honor of this weekend's Bassmaster Classic Championship in Alabama.

After all of the tangles and messes and breakage and disappointment and expense I've endured, it's good to see the professionals endure some of the same. At least I think it is.

Even though Bill Dance has 23 bass fishing championships, he and I could go fishing together...and have an accident.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Q & A

(If you have a question you'd like to ask Ralph, email him at the address found in the column on the right. It may end up posted here.)

From Jason:
Ralph, I found your blog and ministry site by way of Justin Taylor's site. I'm interested to know your take on Powlison's article. From what I see on your site it seems like you don't hold to a view of indwelling sin in the life of a believer. I could be totally wrong. I know a few people who hold a similar views and I would love to hear how you see that working out in light of Powlison's article. Thanks for your time! I do believe that we are far more loved by God in Christ than we will ever realize (seems like what you are saying) and at the same time we are more capable of evil and sin than we realize. I'd love to hear any thoughts! Blessings in Christ brother.

Welcome, Jason.
While I think Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, has merit, I believe it focuses the Christian upon fleshly requirements and skills, rather than upon God. Way too much these days instructs us on how to behave, rather than on how to let God behave through us. If, indeed, God Himself lives in us, wouldn’t it be great to let Him do something, even whatever He wants? That, I believe, is the Christian life.

My highest goal is to know Jesus and the leading of the Spirit at every moment, especially when with people. They don’t need what I can work up by the flesh, they need Jesus. So, I look and listen and feel for Him who lives in me, and that’s when the burden is lifted from me and put on Him—and He’s perfect.

While relational skills are important, focusing upon them usually tangents us away from the love and life and counsel the Spirit would provide in any and every moment. Successful relational navigation in Chapman’s book means we attempt to produce the fruit that only the Holy Spirit can. And that’s a nasty attempt.

In my view, Powlison does a good, if slightly over-done job of showing just how selfish, fleshly, and even dangerous it is when we give ourselves to serving each other’s demands for love and affection. (Click here for the link.)

He writes, “Desires for good things easily become imperial demands that would enslave the very people who might try to speak my language—or yours. The lust that perverts such languages sets up an unholy law by which to command and to judge the performance of others in the eyes of an unholy king.”

Nicely said. I would add that while our desires can lead us astray, they should not be denied or rubbed-out. I believe they are in us to be met by Jesus Himself…and straightened up where needed. For sure, we are not satisfied until we are satisfied by Him—but He does mean to satisfy us!

As to your other question, I do believe the Christian has indwelling sin, as Paul described in Romans 7. However, I do not believe the Christian is the indwelling sinner. I believe we have been born all over again, born spirit, actual sons of God, with new natures to boot. We are actually holy, blameless and righteous sons, no longer sin-doers by nature, but righteous-doers. Do we sin? Sure. But, as Paul said following new birth, “I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” (Rom 7:20 NASB)

Further, I do not believe that we are the flesh, but struggle with it. We are spirit. In the same way that your skin isn’t you, but a part of you, so your flesh isn’t you, but a part. Since you’ve been born again and become a spirit, you are no longer your skin, your hair, your bones or your blood. You’re inside, a spirit son of God. The former things will remain with the earth at your passing, while the latter will rise and be revealed.


Hope this helps—Ralph

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

To End All Wars

You’ve got to see this movie, To End All Wars. Why it slipped past me in 2002 is a mystery, but I’m so thankful I’ve got it now.

If you would like to read a real review from a qualified film aficionado, go here. Otherwise, you can settle for mine.

I need to mention that this is a prisoner of war movie, and has all the graphically abhorrent scenes you would expect from a film dealing with such a traumatic theme. Because the Japanese viewed other nationalities as terribly inferior, and because these British and American prisoners had not killed themselves rather than accept capture, the Japanese soldiers treated them brutally. And you will see that, but it’s very germane to the film.

That’s that.

I have never seen a film anything like this that depicts the growing faith in Christ of many of the prisoners. It’s stunning. And what these captives do in relation to their captors would make the apostle Paul stand up and shout. It’s stunning. There were many times when my wife and I stopped the film because we wanted to talk and marvel over what we had just seen.

To End All Wars has joined the ranks of my Top Films.

Go get it. It’s stunning.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Five Lust Languages?

Now here's a beautiful how-do-you-do.

Justin Taylor at theologica.blogspot.com, has posted part of a review of Gary Chapman's book, "The Five Love Languages." Entitled, "The Five Lust Languages?" it's well worth reading. Click here to do it.

You won't leave it without an opinion...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

This Might Mess With You...Or It Might Open Your Eyes

Why Church Isn't Really a Church

Whatever you do, don't read the above article, don't click on this link. It may be too much for your weekend. Especially for your Sunday.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dread Or Delight?

If the field is "white unto harvest," what about our hearts as we labor in it? What about love?

Here's a good read about the motivation to give the gospel.

Do we do it under coercion and dread, or with freedom and delight?

Tell me what you think after reading the article...It may stir you up.

Have a read here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Apache Victory

Steve Addison has a brief, thought provoking article which will help you estimate the effectiveness of your organizational structure.

Are you Apache or Aztec?

He concludes with, "Your answer may determine whether you are facing victory or collapse."

To read more, click here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2006

Do you wonder if you've missed some good movies over the past year? I do.

Christianity Today has posted its Top Ten list for the best of 2006. While I don't agree with all of their film reviews ('Apocalypto', for example--I liked it a lot), their reviews are thorough and helpful.

This page begins with:

"What do we mean by 'redeeming' films? They're all stories of redemption—sometimes blatantly, sometimes less so. Several of them literally have a character that represents a redeemer; one even includes the Redeemer. With others, you might have to look a bit harder for the redemptive thread, but it's certainly there. Some are 'feel-good' movies that leave a smile on your face; some might leave you uncomfortable, even disturbed, and asking, How should I process that?' But you won't be able to shake it from your memory, either..."

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Glad He's Right

The Spirit reminded me this morning that while I often have widely divergent thoughts about myself—I’m a good man—No, I’m not—Yes, I am—No, I’m not—He has no such trouble.

In fact, His opinion of me is incredibly good, even astounding. It never wavers and He is never indecisive about me. I have moments when it overwhelms me. I like that.

And perhaps the best news is that He is going to carry on with me as though He is correct.


Ps 139:14-18
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.