Thursday, March 31, 2005
Michelle Malkin and AllThings2All both have excellent eulogies that are worth reading.
Our prayers are with Terri's family.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
The Netherlands, which was the first country to legitimize euthanasia, has suddenly found themselves slipping even further down the slippery slope of life and death decisions (hat tip: Considerettes):
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government, the first to legalize euthanasia for some terminally ill people, will tackle an even thornier ethical dilemma: what to do when doctors say it is best to end the lives of infants, the mentally handicapped or the demented.
Euthanasia opponents view the idea with horror, but The Royal Dutch Medical Association believes guidelines and a panel of experts should be created to vet such cases.
Health Secretary Clemence Ross, who has opposed expanding the current euthanasia rules, will send an opinion to Parliament in three or four weeks, said her spokesman, Richard Lancee.
If Ross approves, doctors acting with the families' permission would not be punished for administering lethal sedatives to "people with no free will," in cases that pass review.
Under current law, euthanasia is restricted to terminal patients suffering unbearable pain with no hope of improvement, and who request to die when they are of sound mind. Each case is reviewed by a panel of medical experts.
The new proposal calls for a similar panel for patients who cannot express themselves, with the addition of a judge or court official, giving a legal veneer to a practice that technically would remain illegal.
For advocates, the issue is one of transparency: Past studies have shown that doctors already carry out a handful of such euthanasia cases each year.
In the best known example, the Groningen Medical Center announced last year it euthanized four severely ill newborns in 2004, under guidelines known as "the Groningen Protocol" - a list of standards for performing and reporting euthanasia of newborns with serious, incurable deformities.
Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain damage from bleeding and convulsions, and diseases where a child could only survive on life support for the rest of its life, such as severe cases of spina bifida.
Euthanasia opponents say formalizing such practice would be another step in the Netherlands' slide down an ethical slope. Bert P. Dorenbos, director of Cry for Life, said the move would be a preliminary step to legalizing involuntary euthanasia.
"This is the most important moment, when we can still fight it," he said.
A similar proposal was stricken from the euthanasia bill that was passed in 2001 and took effect in 2002, making the Netherlands the first country to legalize a practice it says is common but unstated in most Western countries.
Since then, Belgium has also legalized euthanasia, while in France, legislation to allow doctor-assisted suicide is currently under debate. In the United States, the state of Oregon is alone in allowing physician-assisted suicide, but its law is under constant challenge.
The Terri Schiavo case would not fall under Dutch euthanasia law, because courts have held that withdrawing life support or a feeding tube is a decision left up to doctors.
Peter Holland, the director of the Royal Dutch Medical Association, said doctors support the creation of a vetting panel for "extreme cases." The Dutch Society for Voluntary Euthanasia has no official position on the latest proposal, but Chief Executive Rob Jonquiere said the organization generally supports it.
"The best argument for the review boards is the success of the existing system" in the Netherlands, he said.
There were 1,815 euthanasia cases reported to regional review boards in 2003, a slight decline from previous years. In eight cases, doctors were deemed not to have followed the rules properly and were referred to prosecutors.
According to a study published in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine in January, 22 cases of newborns being euthanized were reported to prosecutors since 1997. Prosecutors found that the Groningen guidelines were followed in all of them, so they recommended to superiors the cases not be pursued further though they were technically murder.
There are many, especially on the Left, that say the Congress had no business getting involve in Terri Schiavo's situation. The Netherlands is showing us why we need to be debating and dealing with this issue in Congress. If we don't aggressively pursue a culture of life then no life will have meaning - including yours and mine.
Monday, March 28, 2005
On the rush to kill Terri Schiavo:
This is not a criminal, not a murderer, not a person whose life should be in the gift of the state. So I find it repulsive, and indeed decadent, to have her continued existence framed in terms of ''plaintiffs'' and ''petitions'' and ''en banc review'' and ''de novo'' and all the other legalese. Mrs. Schiavo has been in her present condition for 15 years. Whoever she once was, this is who she is now -- and, after a decade and a half, there is no compelling reason to kill her. Any legal system with a decent respect for the status quo -- something too many American judges are increasingly disdainful of -- would recognize that her present life, in all its limitations, is now a well-established fact, and it is the most grotesque judicial overreaching for any court at this late stage to decide enough is enough. It would be one thing had a doctor decided to reach for the morphine and ''put her out of her misery'' after a week in her diminished state; after 15 years, for the courts to treat her like a Death Row killer who's exhausted her appeals is simply vile.
On Michael Schiavo's conduct:
Michael Schiavo is living in a common-law relationship with another woman, by whom he has fathered children. I make no judgment on that. Who of us can say how we would react in his circumstances? Maybe I'd pull my hat down over my face
and slink off to the cathouse on the other side of town once a week. Maybe I'd embark on a discreet companionship with a lonely widow. But if I take on a new wife (in all but name) and make a new family, I would think it not unreasonable to forfeit any right of life or death over my previous wife.
Michael Schiavo took a vow to be faithful in sickness and in health, forsaking all others till death do them part. He's forsaken his wife and been unfaithful to her: She is, de facto, his ex-wife, yet, de jure, he appears to have the right to order her execution. This is preposterous. Suppose his current common-law partner were to fall victim to a disabling accident. Would he also be able to have her terminated? Can he exercise his spousal rights polygamously? The legal deference to Mr. Schiavo's position, to his rights overriding her parents', is at odds with reality.
On the passion that has been shown on both sides of the debate:
We all have friends who are passionate about some activity -- They say, ''I live to ski,'' or dance, or play the cello. Then something happens and they can't. The ones I've known fall into two broad camps: There are those who give up and consider what's left of their lives a waste of time; and there are those who say they've learned to appreciate simple pleasures, like the morning sun through the spring blossom dappling their room each morning. Most of us roll our eyes and think, ''What a loser, mooning on about the blossom. He used to be a Hollywood vice president, for Pete's sake.''
But that's easy for us to say. We can't know which camp we'd fall into until it happens to us. And it behooves us to maintain a certain modesty about presuming to speak for others -- even those we know well. Example: ''Driving down there, I remember distinctly thinking that Chris would rather not live than be in this condition.'' That's Barbara Johnson recalling the 1995 accident of her son Christopher Reeve. Her instinct was to pull the plug; his was to live.
Read the whole thing.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
The Anchoress is reporting that under Florida ethics rules a judge who receives a campaign contribution from an attorney in a case he presides over is not required to recuse himself. She goes on to point out:
Nevertheless, a contribution can establish the appearance of impropriety, and the state's code of judicial conduct requires a judge to remove himself in such a case. (Emphasis in original post)
While this story does not entirely explain Judge Greer's insistence that Terri be murdered, it does constitute the appearance of impropriety. The appropriate thing for Judge Greer to have done would be to remove himself from the case. It's not too late for Judge Greer to do the right thing.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Regardless of whether you believe Congress was correct in attempting to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case the fact remains that they did intervene and in doing so gave very specific directions to the courts on how to proceed with her case. As Rich Galen points out today, the legislation passed by the Congress required Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube to be reinserted and a new trial be set to determine all of the facts surrounding her case. In spite of these very clear directions, the courts continue to flagrantly disregard the wishes of Congress.
One of the lasting impacts of this case will be the effect that it has on the judiciary. Certainly this case will help President Bush and Republican Senators make the case that activist judges are dangerous and should be kept off the bench. Judges are supposed to not just interpret the law but enforce it as well. Federal judges are subject to the authority of Congress. In fact, if Congress wanted to they could begin impeachment hearings against the federal judges that have failed to follow the mandate given by Congress. It will be interesting to see whether the House decides to proceed with impeachment hearings once this case has concluded. But judges everywhere should be on notice that they are still accountable to a higher authority even though they often behave as if they are not accountable to anyone.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Allen Barra's column today on Opinionjournal.com that Barry Bonds may retire as a result of the current controversy surrounding steroids in baseball. Indeed, Bonds has some cause to be concerned about the whole issue is unravelling. The fact that he is currently recovering from knee surgery may also influence his decision to retire.
The best thing for baseball would be for Barry Bonds to retire. His departure would go a long way towards putting baseball's steroid problem to rest.
The precedent that has been set by this case is frightening. It is up to our elected representatives to step up and ensure that this does not happen again.
As you can probably tell in my previous posts on this situation, Michael Schiavo's behavior makes me angry. I find it difficult to comprehend how a supposedly loving husband can treat his wife the way he has treated Terri throughout her illness. I'm not just speaking about the recent legal manuvers to have her feeding tube removed so that she can be starved to death. I'm talking about years of denying her rehabilitation, medical treatment, and other simpler comforts that would make her more comfortable and increase the chances of her recovery.
A loving husband would make sure that his wife got everything that she needed in order to be comfortable and would campaign tirelessly to ensure she gets all appropriate medical treatment even if the doctors are unwilling to give it to her.
As AnotherThink describes it, the Schiavo Protocol is a dangerous step along the path to euthanasia. We need to be careful in making these types of decisions making sure to err on the side of life. But more importantly, we need to serve one another in love.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Florida are scrambling to try to pass a bill that will help Terri Schiavo. Governor Jeb Bush has already said that he will sign the bill. The key senators can be contacted by e-mail by clicking on this link.
UPDATE 5:00PM EST: The Florida Senate has rejected a bill that would have allowed Terri Schiavo's feeding tube to be reinserted. Terri's fate now lies in the hands of the U. S. Supreme Court.
As Charles Krauthammer points out this morning, the law is failing Terri Schiavo. Because her wishes were not documented in a living will or other advance medical directive, the courts have had to rely on the conflicting accounts of her parents and her husband as to what her final wishes might be. Regardless of the outcome of the Schindlers appeals on behalf of the daughter, lawmakers are going to have to wrestle with this issue in order to prevent further cases like this being decided by the courts.
Although I generally don't favor the federal government getting involved in decisions such as this one, I believe that for the good of the country a federal law regarding living wills and life and death decisions will be necessary. One good approach would be that in the absence of a written living will that has been properly signed by the individual, witnessed and notarized, that doctors and medical facilities must take all steps necessary to preserve life.
I don't believe that this debate will end with Terri Schiavo. Although it has been heartbreaking to watch her suffer needlessly at the hands of her estranged husband and judges who do not want to stand up for life, I believe that her case will bring this important debate to the attention of all Americans and will present our elected representatives with the opportunity to do the right thing and prevent this type of travesty from occurring again.
UPDATE 12:56 PM EST: The Schindlers have filed a request for a rehearing en banc before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which means that they are asking the entire 12 judge panel to review the case. If a majority of the judges rule in favor of Terri Schiavo her feeding tube can be reinserted. The original opinion can be found at this link (PDF format).
Meanwhile, a friend of mine e-mailed me this post from Sharp Knife with some thoughts on the hypocrisy surrounding this case. Rich Lowry also has some thoughts on that issue.
And Michelle Malkin does an excellent job of exposing the mainstream media's bias in their coverage of the case.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
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Although there are many that will claim it is not worth fighting for Terri's life, Cal Thomas points out today that this case has substantial implications for our society at large:
The Schiavo case should not be viewed in isolation. It is part of a flow that began in modern times with abortion-on-demand and will continue, if not stopped, with euthanasia. Once a single category of life is devalued, all other categories quickly become vulnerable.
Monday, March 21, 2005
The Bible makes it clear that "husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). Anyone who needed to see a picture of what this type of sacrifical love looks like would simply need to see "The Passion of the Christ".
Unfortunately the biblical idea of sacrifical love has been lost in our culture. Marriage vows are no longer consider sacred. The media's preoccupation with celebrity marriages and divorces has served to further erode the sanctity of marriage. Marriage, like so many other things in our society, has become a disposable commodity because no one takes it seriously anymore. We would do well to heed the message of Hebrews 13:4: "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."
Congress has granted Terri Schiavo a reprieve. In an extraordinary midnight session, the House voted 203-58 to approve a bill to restore her feeding tube--removed last week by order of a Florida judge--and grant the federal courts jurisdiction over her case. The Senate had earlier approved the measure on a voice vote, but some Democrats obstructed the effort to pass it the same way in the House, forcing Republicans to assemble a quorum for a roll-call vote. President Bush, up well past his bedtime, signed the bill into law just before 1:30 a.m.
Supporters of Michael Schiavo's effort to end his wife's life have asked how conservatives, who claim to believe in the sanctity of marriage, can fail to respect his husbandly authority. The most obvious answer is that a man's authority as a husband does not supersede his wife's rights as a human being--a principle we never thought we'd see liberals question.
But why do those of us who aren't right-to-life absolutists side with Mrs. Schiavo's parents, who want to keep her alive, over her husband, who wants her dead? It's a fair question, and it raises another one: What kind of husband is Michael Schiavo?
According to news reports, Mr. Schiavo lives with a woman named Jodi Centonze, and they have two children together. Surely any court would consider this prima facie evidence of adultery. And this is no mere fling; a sympathetic 2003 profile in the Orlando Sentinel described Centonze as Mr. Schiavo's "fiancée." Mr. Schiavo, in other words, has virtually remarried. Short of outright bigamy, his relationship with Centonze is as thoroughgoing a violation of his marriage vows as it is possible to imagine.
The point here is not to castigate Mr. Schiavo for behaving badly. It would require a heroic degree of self-sacrifice for a man to forgo love and sex in order to remain faithful to an incapacitated wife, and it would be unreasonable to hold an ordinary man to a heroic standard.
But it is equally unreasonable to let Mr. Schiavo have it both ways. If he wishes to assert his marital authority to do his wife in, the least society can expect in return is that he refrain from making a mockery of his marital obligations. The grimmest irony in this tragic case is that those who want Terri Schiavo dead are resting their argument on the fiction that her marriage is still alive.
The Republicans clearly had an edge in the debate with sevearl physicians ready to make statements on Terri's behalf. House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) did an excellent job of preparing rebuttals to Democratic arguments against the bill.
Among the many ironies of the evening was the Democrats repeated argument that passage of this bill would be a violation of the principles of federalism. As I recall, Democrats have never been proponents of federalism. After all, Roe vs. Wade was a blatant violation of federalism by circumventing the will of the states at the time and creating the right to an abortion which, of course, did not exist in the Constitution.
Democrats are willing to embrace states rights but only when it suits their agenda. Consider for a moment the issue of gay marriage. Democrats will argue that it is a states rights issue because they know they cannot get federal legislation passed recognizing gay marriage.
Another really strange argument (coming from Democrats) is that Congress was wrong to step into what they felt was a "private, family matter". Yet it is Democrats who have repeatedly supported government involvement in private decisions. Given their current opposition to the President's plan to offer partial privatization of Social Security accounts this argument about goverment interfering in a private matter seems ludicrous.
One of the questions yet to be answered is what the long-term fallout will be from this debate. Democrats who stood up last night to oppose this bill have shown the world once and for all that they are the party of death and not life. It will be interesting to see whether any of the representatives voting against this bill will suffer any political consquences in 2006.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Michael Schiavo has maintained that Terri did not wish to be kept alive by such means as artificial life support. Mark Alexander makes an excellent point in his latest Townhall.com column:
If the intentional taking of an innocent human life is defined as murder, does this definition somehow change if the taker of life is the victim's spouse, guardian, or physician? If one person says to another, "Here's a knife; please stab me to death, as I want to die," does this then absolve the knife-wielder from culpability for murder? Is it really murder if and only if the victim says it's murder?
Because Terri had no advance medical directive (often referred to as a "living will") her true wishes are not known. We only have her husband's testimony about her wishes regarding medical care.
His testimony is not credible for several reasons. First, he is engaged to another woman. Second, he has fathered two children by this woman. Third, he has consistently denied rehabilitative treatment to his wife. Fourth, he has denied any type of diagnostic test that would determine her exact condition and whether any rehabilitative treatment would be available. Fifth, those same diagnositic tests that have been denied would also show whether allegations that have been made that Michael physically abused his wife therefore causing her "accident". Sixth, Michael has publicly stated that once his wife dies he intends to cremate her body again destroying any evidence of possible spousal abuse. Given all of these facts is it reasonable to assume that Michael is looking out for Terri's best interests?
The much larger issue at stake here, however, is the sanctity of life. One of the fundamental problems in this case is that Florida law makes it legal to have Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed. Although I am a strong proponent of states' rights, I am afraid that one of the only legislative solutions available that will prevent this type of situation from occurring again is a federal law outlawing the removal of life support in situations where no written advance medical directive has been given.
I was discussing this with an attorney friend of mine earlier this evening. He said that in all the time he has been practicing law he has never had someone come into his office asking him to draft an advance medical directive asking for someone to save their lives. The purpose of an advance medical directive is to instruct physicians not to take extraordinary measures to save a person's life.
There is still time to save Terri Schiavo's life. Continue to pray for a miracle.
Note: this is also cross-posted at Two or Three (.net).
Thursday, March 17, 2005
The hearings didn't produce any real new evidence and failed to document the extent of the problem of steroids in baseball as well as other sports.
There is no question that baseball has a problem with steroids. However, what has not been made clear is whether this is simply an issue limited to a handful of players or a wider issue of abuse among many players. Although baseball has taken steps to institute a stronger stance towards steroid use it remains to be seen whether recent rule changes will have any effect.
What is most puzzling is why Congress would want to take up this issue at this time (apart from showing that they are concerned about drug use and want to show they are "doing something" about it)? The answer is baseball's antitrust exemption.
Baseball obtained a unique place among professional sports in 1922 when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Federal Base Ball Club of Baltimore Inc. vs. National Baseball Clubs. The Baltimore club had alleged the National and American Leagues had conspired to run them out of business by buying up teams and players in the Federal League which at the time had been trying desperately to compete with the existing major leagues. The Court ruled that baseball did not constitute interstate commerce and as a result was not subject to federal antitrust regulation.
By dealing with the steroid issue in public hearings, it gives Congress leverage to revoke baseball's antitrust exemption and as a result insert themselves into yet another aspect of life. As long as baseball retains their antitrust exemption they are essentially free to conduct their business as they choose without too much interference from federal regulators. Although Congress has taken up the issue of repealing the exemption several times before they have never been able to do anything about it. Part of the issue is that it's not something the average citizen gets fired up about and so it is difficult for Congress to generate a whole lot of public support for such a measure.
The issue of steroids in baseball is a serious one and there is still much to be done about it. However, Congress getting into the middle of this issue is not a solution. The only way baseball will get serious about this issue is if they realize neglecting it will hit them where it really hurts: their wallet. When baseball fans can no longer trust in the integrity of the games being played, they'll stop coming.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
David Limbaugh has a great column today on the continuing fight to save Terri Schiavo's life. He asks many hard questions about her situation that do not have easy answers. But the most striking part of the column are the final paragraphs:
I find it haunting that we live in a culture of death where the presumption seems to be against finding that a human being would want to go on living and the burden of proof is on those promoting life.
Terri Schiavo and her parents need and deserve our prayers.
Monday, March 14, 2005
One of the arguments that has been made in the Terri Schiavo case has been that there is no hope for her to recover from the serious brain injury that she suffered that has left her in her current state. However, after reading the story of Kate Adamson posted by Dory over at Wittenberg Gate, it reminds me that God is capable of doing all things even though we sometimes cannot see how it is possible. Kate Adamson was a stroke victim and thought to be too brain damaged to survive let alone return to a relatively normal life.
Spread the word about Kate's story (and Terri's too) so that others can see that there is reason to hope for Terri.
Friday, March 11, 2005
The latest edition of Homespun Bloggers Radio is on the web. You can find out more about the latest installment at this link or click here to hear the current program.
Mark Daniels has an interesting essay on Dan Rather's retirement and the implications for the blogosphere.
Both Aaron and Seeker weighed in on the questions about worship I had answered over at Two or Three (.net).
Catez from AllThings2All has two great posts on bias in the news media (here and here).
Rebecca from The New York Minute Blog responds to a comment I made on her blog.
Baseball Crank wonders whether Ichiro Suzuki can get 4000 career hits.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
I vividly remember when I was at UNC looking forward to that Friday afternoon in March when the tournament would start. Four games in one day. It was quite a marathon of basketball. You didn't bother going to class that Friday afternoon. The tournament was on. There were more important things to do.
I won't dare make any predictions about the outcome even though my Tar Heels are the top seed. If history is any guide, we can expect to see the unexpected happen this weekend.
Like Joe, I don't watch the news on television (not having cable or satellite helps). I don't listen to the news much on the radio unless I'm out driving somewhere and happening to be listening to talk radio instead of whatever CD I have in my CD player. I don't read the newspapers either.
The fact is that most of what passes for "news" these days is really unimportant stuff. The important things are what goes unreported most of the time. Often it's not until some time has passed that we truly understand whether an event was really as important as the "news" made it out to be.
As Christians, we should be looking at events from an eternal perspective rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae of daily life. Avoiding the news is one way to accomplish that goal.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I'm pleased to announce that I am now a Mind and Media Reviewer.
In the coming weeks I'll be featuring books that have been sent to me to review. Mind and Media is looking for other bloggers to join the review team. To find out more about Mind and Media and how you can join in, click here.
My family is very excited about this movie as we are big fans of the Narnia books. We're currently reading the third book, "The Horse and His Boy".
While many Christians are worried about the fact that Disney had purchased the rights to the movies and are concerned about them watering down the spiritual message of the books, I am very encouraged that they are involved.
First of all, Disney understands how to make family-friendly movies. Second, they have the resources and knowledge to make the series a first-rate production.
I am anxiously awaiting the release of the movie which is due to be released December 9, 2005. In the meantime, I highly recommend reading the books.
1. People who are not religious often suggest that the Bible is a collection of myths and superstitious beliefs. What explanation has worked best in explaining the Bible's value to you?
People who dismiss the Bible as simply a collection of myths and superstitions haven't taken the time to read the entire Bible. The Bible encompasses many different types of literature: wisdom, poetry, prophecy, and history as well as the very practical epistles of the New Testament. I can point to specific passages and be able to say that they had a profound impact on my life and how I choose to live. That is the amazing power of the Bible: its ability to change lives.
2. What's wrong with the White Sox? (I ask this because Houston never gets more than one team of any kind, so we don't understand cross-town rivalries in pro sports - in fact, when Bud Adams [spit when I say that name ] took the Oilers out of the state, we were left to choose between cheering for [shudder] the Aints or [shudder] the Cowgirls).
Actually, I don't have anything against the White Sox (except when they play the Cubs). As a mentioned in this post, I became a Cubs fan before I moved to the Chicago area. If I hadn't already been a Cubs fan I would have had to make a choice between one or the other. Two things you can be absolutely sure of: (1) Chicagoans are either Cubs fans or White Sox fans and (2) you either read the Tribune or the Sun-Times.
By the way, my first Chicago baseball game was at U. S. Cellular Field (then called Comiskey Park). Wrigley Field is a far superior ballpark.
3. How big would you like your blog to become?
When I started blogging, I really didn't have any concept of traffic or any specific goals in mind regarding number of hits that I get each day. There are many bloggers who are much better writers than I am and their numbers reflect their superior talent.
I continue to be amazed by the wide variety of readers that my blog attracts (often for reasons that I don't understand). I'm thankful to have the traffic that I have but I try not to get too hung up on how large the traffic numbers are. I believe that if I ever start worrying about traffic then I'm going to be tempted to change what I say to appeal to a mass audience rather than simply follow God's leading to post things that he is impressing upon me.
4. Which is the coolest job from the guy perspective - Fireman, Policeman, Marine, or CFO?
I've always thought the coolest job was to be a Marine. I have tremendous admiration for those guys. It amazes me what they are capable of accomplishing. They are truly a rare breed of soldier and we are blessed to have them as a vital part of our national defense.
5. Politics and Religion often intersect - what is the right mix?
Politics and religion are not mutually exclusive. If a person's individual beliefs have any meaning at all then they should influence that person's political activity and political beliefs. For example, as a Christian, I believe that life is a precious gift given to us by God. As a result, that belief affects my political stances on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and other issues regarding life.
Thanks to D. J. for the great questions!
If you would like to be interviewed, leave a comment on this post. I'll send you five questions to answer on your blog. Post the answers on your blog and I'll link to them here.
While you're over at Mind and Media, check out what Stacy is doing with her new venture. She's tapping into the vast resources of the blogosphere to help promote books and films. Check out the opportunities available for bloggers to help her out in this new venture.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4)The book of James is one of my favorite books of the Bible because it is so immensely practical. The passage I cited above is one that God seems to be bringing me back to over and over again either (a) because I need to hear it or (b) I haven't learned how to properly apply it yet.
As I was studying this passage for my sermon this past Sunday at my church, God brought out three observations from this passage.
Observation #1: Trials are inevitable.
Notice in verse 2 that James uses the word "whenever" instead of “if”. It is a given that we will face trials of many kinds.
We live in a fallen world that hates us, attempts to marginalize us, and does not hold the same values that we do. We are criticized for who we are and what we profess. Sometimes that criticism will even come from within the body of Christ when we commit ourselves to applying God's word to every aspect of our lives.
Consider Jesus' encouraging words to his disciples:
"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets." (Luke 6:22-23)
Jesus tells the disciples that trials are inevitable. As long as we profess to be followers of Christ we will face criticism for His sake. I believe that one way to tell whether we are doing what God wants us to do is by seeing whether we are being criticized for what we are doing.
Observation #2: Trials are necessary to developing faith.
Look at James 1:3 – “knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
God uses trials to develop faith and character in Christ. One of my favorite examples is Joseph. When we first meet him in Genesis 37, God had just revealed to him in a dream a glimpse of what God had in store for him. Although the Bible doesn't specifically say it, I've often thought that Joseph might have been bragging a little to his brothers about God speaking to him in his dream. I think that might have contributed to the anger that Joseph's brothers felt towards him.
Although God had a specific purpose for Joseph, he first had to endure a series of trials in order to be fully prepared that purpose. He was sold into slavery, wrongfully accused of a crime by Potiphar’s wife, and thrown into prison. God used all of these trials in Joseph’s life to shape his character and prepare him for his ultimate purpose.
God also allowed the nation of Israel to wander for 40 years in the wilderness in order to shape their character as a nation:
"You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not."
And of course, Jesus suffered many trials for our sakes.
"Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate." (Hebrews 13:12)
I once heard someone compare faith to muscle. If a muscle is not used it will atrophy, wither away and become useless. However, if you exercise a muscle it will grow stronger. The same applies to our faith.
When I was in high school, I tried out for our basketball team. Although I was the tallest player on the team, I didn't succeed because I couldn't make it through preseason conditioning that was necessary to get us in top physical shape. Conditioning was hard work. I didn't have what it took to perservere. As a result, I failed to develop as an athlete.
Right after I graduated from high school, I went to Europe for three weeks. One of my stops was in Venice which is known for hand blown glass. We went to a factory where the work was being done. In order for the glass to be ready to be shaped it first has to be subjected to great heat so that it can be pliable enough that when the glassblower starts to make the piece by blowing into the tube the glass will be easily formed into the desired shape. The trials we face are like that fire. They are necessary for God to be able to shape us into the person in Christ that He wants us to be.
Observation #3: Our response should be to rejoice and trust in the Lord.
Our response to trials should be to rejoice as God is using the trials to strengthen and shape us.
"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
The apostle Paul knew something about trials. He encountered numerous physical, emotional, and physical trials during his ministry.
Jesus had this to say during the Sermon on the Mount:
"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way
they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)
We will all face trials during the course of our walk. Jesus himself told us to expect trials. God will use trials in our life to strengthen our faith and deepen our walk with him. Rather than become discouraged, we should rejoice in the middle of our difficulties knowing that God is with us.
There are great rewards for those who persevere:
"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12)
1. If you could take a (Great Com)mission trip anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
When I first read this question I thought about where I would like to go that I hadn't been before. Then I thought further about it and realized what I needed to focus on would be where God would want me to go if he ever called me to go on such a trip. If I had to pick a particular place it would probably be somewhere in Eastern Europe. I don't speak a second language so it would have to be somewhere that I would still be able to communicate with people without having to know their language.
2. If you had a chance to be part of any story in the Bible, which would it be and why?
I think I would either want to be alongside Joshua or Nehemiah. Both were leaders blessed with incredible wisdom and I believe there is much to learn from both of them.
3. Aliens come down from to Earth and vaporize Wrigley Field and abduct the entire Cubs team. Who do you root for now?
Is there really any other team worth rooting for?
4. What are 3 things you have taught your children that you hope they teach their children?
First, that they love Jesus, accept Him as their savior, and live their lives in obedience to Him.
Second, there is no greater joy in life than obeying God in everything that you do.
Third, that they see being a wife and mother as a honorable calling from God.
5. Who do you think would be more fun to hang out with for a day: the Dukes of Hazzard or the A-Team? Why?
I always thought the A-Team was more fun to hang out with. They seemed to have a lot more fun and enjoy being around each other. Plus I like the idea of working with a team of other guys who try to make the places they visit better that they were when they arrived.
Now it's your turn. If you would like to be interviewed, just leave a comment on this post and I'll come up with 5 questions for you (nothing too personal or embarassing, I promise). Then you post your answers on your blog and send me the link and I'll link to it on my blog. It's a great way to get to know fellow bloggers and promote your blog at the same time.
Monday, March 07, 2005
In your bio you allude to your calling as "father."
1) The idea of parenthood as a vocation is one that is unfamiliar to many people. How would you put describe the calling to the vocation of parenthood, and how did you first come to recognise it?
The idea of becoming a parent was one that my wife and I were discussing before we were married. We both recognized that God was placing a desire in our hearts for a family at some point after we got married. We were blessed to have wise counsel around us to help us as we were praying over the decision to start a family.
God has really impressed upon me that I have a responsibility not just to raise good children but that I have a responsibility to raise godly children. God continues to show me what I need to do to raise my children as He wants me to.
2) What is your favorite quote from scripture, and why?
My favorite verse has to be Philippians 4:13:
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
God is constantly reaffirming for me that He will give me the strength to do anything that He calls me to do. All I need to do is just trust in Him.
3) Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page? Why?
I've spent a lot more time listening to Eric Clapton than Jimmy Page so I'm immediately biased towards Eric Clapton. I have tremendous admiration for his skills and thoroughly enjoy listening to him. As a guitar player myself, I'd love to be able to play just a fraction as well as either of those guys do.
4) What is the troublesome thing you ever did in high school? Was it your idea, or did you go along with someone else's plan?
When I was in high school I had just been saved and so I was still working through basic issues of discipleship in Christ. While I had accepted Jesus as my savior, I hadn't fully accepted Him as my Lord and so I was still living very much according to the world rather than according to His Word.
There is no one particular thing that stands out to me except that I was involved in some relationships in high school (and even more so in college and right after college) that on reflection I wished I hadn't been involved in. It's a tough time on teenagers because there is a cultural pressure to be involved in dating someone else. I think God has something far better for us than what our culture projects as normal and healthy and we have a responsibility as parents to see that our kids don't make the same mistakes that we made.
5) If giving up one of your five senses would do something miraculous for the good of the world, which sense would you give up?
This was a really tough question. I suppose it would be my sight. I guess the bigger question is whether sacrificing one of my senses for the good of the world is one I would be willing to make. If I felt that was what God required of me then I would be willing to accept that.
Thanks to The Anchoress for such thought provoking questions. Be sure to stop by her blog often.
Update: Tracey at Worship Naked correctly pointed out that I had violated proper blogger ettiquite by not offering to interview other bloggers who commented on this post. My apologies for not including that offer in the original post.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
God reminded me of the truth of Philippians 4:13:
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Winston, here are your questions:
1. As an aspiring filmmaker, what role do you see for Christians in the arts and particularly in the area of filmmaking?
2. Apart from the Bible, what book that you have read has had the greatest influence on you?
3. What are the films that most influenced you in your decision to become a filmmaker?
4. Which do you prefer: baseball or football? Why?
5. If you had the opportunity to have dinner with any three people (apart from Jesus, living or dead) who would they be?
If you would like to be interviewed by me, please respond in the comments of this post. I'll give you five questions to answer on your blog and you post the answers on your blog. Then send me the link and I'll link to them here.
UPDATE: Winston has posted his answers here. Thanks to him for giving me the opportunity to interview him.
Coming next.....my interview with The Anchoress.
Friday, March 04, 2005
Mind And Media is a new site devoted to showcasing new books and other products. Stacy Harp, the founder, is recruiting bloggers to help promote new books. Check out her site and if you'd like to help out send her an e-mail.
Jim over at Stones Cry Out has an interesting post on Freedom of Speech for Churches and Charities.
Jeff at the Dawn Treader has some Emerging Concerns and with good reason. I haven't done a whole lot of reading on the Emergent Church movement but what I've read does not leave me with a good feeling. I can say I've witnessed seeker-friendly churches (including a visit to Willow Creek Community Church where Bill Hybels pastors and started the seeker-friendly movement) and had plenty of concerns after visiting there. Critics of the Emergent Church Movement suggest that it's worse that the seeker friendly movement. If that's the case then there is plenty of reason to be alarmed.
Dory at Wittenberg Gate has her third installment of Bloggers Best for Terri Schiavo.
Joe at Evangelical Outpost has some thoughts on issues currently facing the church. Seeker at Two or Three (.net) expands further on the problems facing churches.
Lorie Byrd, who is a friend of this blog and contributes over at Polipundit as well as having her own fine blog at Byrd Droppings is now also contributing over at a new blog called Confirm Them which is tracking developments in the judicial confirmation battles in the Senate. This will be a blog worth checking regularly in the coming months.
Robert Cox at The National Debate has some interesting thoughts on blogging that are worth reading. (Hat tip: Kevin McCullough).
Baseball Crank has some excellent analysis of the Supreme Court's decision this week to prohibit the use of the death penalty in cases where the criminal is under the age of 18.
Mommypundit believes the media is giving Howard Dean a free ride.
Blogroll update: Please welcome to the blogroll Agent Tim. He is wise far beyond his years. Not only does he have his own very fine blog but he's also a contributor for Virtue Magazine which is an online magazine started by a group of Christian students.
Finally, a personal prayer request. If you are so inclined, would you please pray for me on Sunday as I will be speaking at my church. I'm pretty nervous about this as it is not something I've done much of in the past.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Rebecca, here are your questions:
1. Why did you decide to start a blog?
2. What's the best thing about homeschooling your kids? Why did you decide to start homeschooling?
3. What is one thing that you would like for people to learn about you from reading your blog?
4. What do you like best about the place you live?
5. What is your favorite book?
As soon as Rebecca posts her answers I'll link to them here. If you would like to be interviewed (or interview me) just leave a comment.
UPDATE: Rebecca has just posted her very thoughtful answers here. Thanks to Rebecca for taking the time to respond.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Is this what conservative Christians wish to settle for: a governmental genuflection or acknowledgement that they exist? Do Christians wish to permit government not only to set the parameters for the pubic expression of their faith, but to define the faith itself?
The courts have been wrong for at least half a century in their limitation of religious expression, but the way to win back that right of expression is not mainly through courts, but through hearts.