Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gay Man Sues Publishers Over Bible Verses

Here's an article from USA Today that was forwarded to me. Apparently this took place back in July. I wonder what happened with the case? The text of the article is found below in bold type, with my comments in regular type:


CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A gay man is suing two heavyweight Christian publishers, claiming their versions of the Bible that refer to homosexuality as a sin violate his constitutional rights and have caused him emotional pain and mental instability.

Right off the bat, the whole idea that a gay man is suing a Bible publisher is laughable. The publisher has nothing to do with the content. For example, Amazon is selling copies of "Mein Kampf." Should they be sued? Should the publisher of the book? Secondly, which of this man's "constitutional rights" have been violated? Seriously, I'd like to know.

Bradley LaShawn Fowler of Canton, Mich., is seeking $60 million from Zondervan, based in Cascade Township, and $10 million from Nashville-based Thomas Nelson Publishing.

A grand total of 70 million? Wow. That's a high price for emotional pain and mental instability. For those of you outside of the Christian publishing bubble, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson are two of the biggest Bible publishers in the country.

Fowler filed the suit in federal court against Zondervan on July 7, the same day U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr. refused to appoint an attorney to represent him in his case against Thomas Nelson. Fowler filed a suit against Thomas Nelson in June. He is representing himself in both claims.

Good luck with that.

"The Court has some very genuine concerns about the nature and efficacy of these claims," the judge wrote.

Ya think?

Fowler, 39, alleges Zondervan's Bibles referring to homosexuality as a sin have made him an outcast from his family and contributed to physical discomfort and periods of "demoralization, chaos and bewilderment."

The question here is whether or not Zondervan's publishing of the material that condemns homosexuality, or the man's homosexual behavior itself, is what's causing the physical discomfort, demoralization, chaos, bewilderment, and has made him an outcast from his family. It's amazing (yet not amazing at the same time) that people refuse to take responsibility for their own actions.

The intent of the publisher was to design a religious, sacred document to reflect an individual opinion or a group's conclusion to cause "me or anyone who is a homosexual to endure verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence ... including murder," Fowler wrote.

Where in the Bible does it command Christians to abuse, discriminate, hate, or murder homosexuals? And don't say Leviticus something or other. That argument is so tired and worn out, and its been explained a million times. Those commands were given to a specific people at a specific time in a specific place. They don't apply to New Covenant, 21st century Christians. So really, where does the Bible say that?

Fowler's suit claims Zondervan's text revisions from a 1980s version of the Bible included, and then deleted, a reference to homosexuality in 1 Corinthians without informing the public of the changes. The other suit, against Thomas Nelson and its New King James Bible, mirrors the allegations made against Zondervan.

I have no idea what this refers to. But even if Zondervan and Thomas Nelson included or excluded certain verses, there are plenty of other Bibles out their from plenty of other publishers that we could check with.

As I think about it, I see only two possible reasons why this man would sue these Bible publishers: 1) he doesn't want to have to take responsibility for his actions and his sin (homosexual sin or otherwise); 2) he wants to get rich quick.

I suspect it's probably both.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Irresistible Evangelism?

I receive a weekly email from Group publishing that provides tips for children's and other ministries. The quality of the "tips" are hit and miss, but I found this week's tip particularly interesting (and to be filed in the "miss" category). This week's tip was entitled "Irresistible Evangelism" and is transcribed in bold type below. I've got some issues with what Group publishing considers "irresistible evangelism," so I put my own commentary in regular type. Judge for yourself.

As evangelistic results in the United States and throughout the Western world reach all-time lows, perhaps it's time to ask whether the problem is the messsage or the messengers.

Ok, they asked, so I'll answer. In one way, the message IS the problem. The Bible says that men are haters of God, and at enmity with God, and that the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. In other words, sinners are naturally hardened to the gospel. So when they hear the message of "Repent and believe," they immediately don't like the message. This doesn't absolve them of their responsibility to respond, however. So in one sense, the message is the problem.

In another sense, the message is NOT the problem. Because if the message is true, then it doesn't matter how unattractive it is. Even if it is disagreeable, truth is truth. It is therefore the responsibility of the hearer to respond to truth.

The problem certainly can't be the messengers. The messengers have been screwing it up for the last 2000 years, and yet people have come to salvation. If the success of evangelism depended upon the messengers, we'd be in a lot of trouble. Thank God that he's the one who does the saving, election, and work. This does not, however, absolve Christians of their responsibility to be obedient to the great commission.

If the most popular books on the shelves of your local bookstores are any indication, people are very interested in spirituality. On the Internet, spiritual sites receive hits more frequently than sites with any other nonpornographic subject matter. So how can we become (and train others to become) messengers who not only get heard but see the fruit and positive results that God desires?

Most spiritual books and websites that deal with spirituality are popular because they deal with what John MacArthur calls "Christianity Lite." In other words, it's a brand of Christianity that exists to solve a person's problems, meet their emotional needs (more on that further down), assure them success, and make them feel good about themselves. None of these things are at the heart of the true gospel. So it's not accurate to say that spiritual books and websites (Christian or otherwise) are popular because people are searching for God. They're usually just seeking to gratify themselves in some way.

On the topic of conversion, there is no biblical guarantee that any evangelist will ever live to see the fruit of his labor. God does the saving, and God works in his own time. Consider Noah: that man preached for hundreds of years and didn't see one convert. Did he change his message? No.

The messages that are likely to get through to a person's heart are the messages addressed to that person's individual needs. People have four layers of needs, and we frequently need to work through those layers in turn.

When you boil it all down, people only have 1 need: salvation. Plus, where the heck are they getting these "four layers of needs" from? Is that based on science? Also, it's not accurate to think that you have to peel away the layers of people like an onion in order for them to listen to you or interact with you. Again, truth is truth, whether I know you or not. It definitely helps to have a holistic approach, but it is certainly not necessary or vital for "successful" evangelism.

1) Physical needs. We start by meeting physical needs creatively and consistently. To do so, we must learn the skill of active kindness.

See above. I'm all for meeting physical needs, but they are not an end in an of themselves. They also aren't a means to an end. People can have all of their physical needs met and still go to hell. Also, how much time should I take to meet physical needs before I introduce the gospel. However long it is, isn't it possible that this person could die while still in the "having their needs met" period? Christians are always supposed to be loving and meeting needs. Do this in tandem with sharing the gospel.

2) Emotional/Relational needs. To better meet people's emotional and relational needs, we must brush up on active listening skills.

Ok, but what does this have to do with evangelism? Plus, I fear that far too often Christians just "talk" to people without ever asserting any biblical truth. If all we do is listen to each other's feelings and emotions, no one will ever believe anything.

3) Directional needs. To help people in the big directional questions of their lives, we need the skill of active wondering. This usually takes the form of asking questions that provoke people to think deeply about things and discover new insights-often giving you clues to the best way to approach them in layer 4.

"The skill of active wondering"? Give me a break. The only question people need to think deeply about is, "what will happen to YOU when you die?"

4) Spiritual needs. Once we've worked through the first three layers, people will subconsciously grant us the right (and credibility) to practice the final skill, active sharing.

Again, I'd just like to ask: what happens if the person I am "witnessing" to dies in layer 2, before I got to layer 4? Have I taken too much time meeting their needs? This whole model smacks of relational or "friendship" evangelism, and it just doesn't work - it's not practical, it's not realistic.

Also, I disagree with the notion that I have to earn the right or possess some sort of credibility in order to be heard. Either the message is true or it's not. And when I think about it, I can't think of ANYWHERE in the Bible where Jesus or the apostles EVER used an evangelistic method like the one listed above. Certainly Jesus and the apostles met the physical needs of others, listened to their stories, and asked them the "big" questions of life. But they never did it as a means of witnessing to them.

Our lives, as ordinary and mundane as they may seem, can have a wonderful and eternal influence on the lives of others!

Indeed, however the influence will be most effective, and most "irresistible" when done biblically.

Monday, February 23, 2009


As far as I'm concerned, this has nothing to do with politics - it's just plain creepy. The Detroit Free Press is encouraging people to download a picture of half of President Obama's face, hold that picture over their own face, take a picture, and then send it to them, and tell them "what part of Obama is in you." Seriously, check it out for yourself.

Am I weird for being creeped out by this?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Never Underestimate The Power Of AWedgie

This story made my day. This woman thwarted a car thief by giving him a good wedgie. The guy broke into a car in the parking lot where she works. When she confronted him, he took off. She gave chase. When she caught him, she grabbed a hold of his jacket, which he quickly squirmed out of. When she caught him again, she grabbed his boxers which were sticking out of the back of his pants and pulled up. When that stopped him, she proceeded to put him in a headlock and held him that way until police arrived. Read the whole story here.

Man, I love wedgies (giving them, that is, not receiving them). And now to know that wedgies are an integral part of the war against crime puts a smile on my face.

Never underestimate the power of a good wedgie.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One Trillion Dollars

I saw a movie a few years ago called Brewster's Millions. It's about a guy who stands to inherit 300 million dollars, except in order to receive the 300 mil he has to first spend 30 million dollars in 30 days. He finds it to be almost impossible, because he literally can't find enough things to buy for that amount of money.

President Obama is going to sign his stimulus package bill today which, when all is said and done, will likely total over one trillion dollars. Think about that number for a minute: one trillion. Do you realize how much that is? Brewster had a hard time spending 30 million dollars - can you imagine spending a trillion?

I came across this website that's totaling up all the money spent on the Iraq war so far. The website says that over a trillion dollars has been spent on the Iraq war in the last several years. They ask the question: "What could we do with 1 trillion dollars?" and they have a calculator there to help you find out. So then, according to this calculator, here's what I could do with a trillion dollars, I could:

Buy 100 Porsche 911 Turbos ($126,200 each)

Buy 100 Saleen S7's ($395,000 each)

Buy 100 Benley Azure Convertibles ($376,485 each)

Buy the New York Yankees ($1,200,000,000)

Buy the New York Mets ($482,000,000)

Buy every NFL franchise ($8,600,000,000)

Buy an estate on Honolulu ($7,999,000)

Buy Dracula's Castle ($140,000,000)

Buy 100 Beverly Hills Mansions ($165,000,000 each)

Buy 10 Air Force One planes ($325,595,000 each)

Buy 50 Lear Jets ($11,595,000 each)

Buy everyone on earth a 24-pack of Coke ($156,000,000,000)

Buy 100 islands in the South Pacific ($38,900,000 each)

Produce 10 Hollywood movies (150,000,000 each)

Build 10 Disney them parks ($3,500,000,000 each)

Purchase 20 McDonald's franchises ($1,000,000 each)

Buy an oil company ($16,400,000,000)

Buy 100 30 second Super Bowl ads ($2,600,000 each)

Buy 100 pairs of Harry Winston 60 carat diamond drop earrings ($8,500,00 each)

Buy 100 bottles of vintage 1787 Chateua Lefite wine ($160,000)

Feed 50,000 children from birth through age 18 ($2,160 each)

Build 25,000 homes through Habitat for Humanity ($60,000 each)

Feed 10,000 people 16 meals apiece ($1 each)

Remodel 1000 homes for disabled veterans ($10,000 each)

Adopt 2 polar bears ($100 each)

Provide cataract surgery for 1000 people in underprivleged nations ($33.00 each)

Restore coastal wetlands around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina ($14,000,000,000)

Rebuild the levees in New Orleans to stand up to a category 5 storm ($150,000,000)

Build 3000 miles of monorails for public transportation ($150,000,000 per mile)

Build and equip 2,500 hospitals in third world countries ($41,300,000 per hospital)

Buy the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas ($770,000,000)

Buy 100 townhouses in Manhattan ($18,000,000 each)

Buy 50 paintings by Pablo Picasso ($113,400,000 each)

Buy 50 paintings by Jackson Pollack ($142,700,000 each)

Buy 5 airports ($4,822,000,000 each)

Buy 100 Maltese Falcons - the world's fastest and most expensive boat ($100,000,000 each)

Buy a 12 acre winery in Napa Valley ($34,000,000)

Buy the New Hampshire Motor Speedway ($340,000,000)

So there you have it. That's a trillion dollars. That's the same about your government is about to spend. Oh yeah, don't forget that the government doesn't HAVE a trillion dollars to spend. Kind of makes you wonder.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Will We Be Vegetarians In Heaven?

So, I was listening to the rebroadcast of Jan Markell's radio program today, and she was interviewing Christian apologist, Dr. Ron Rhodes. Rhodes has recently written a book about heaven, and most of Jan's questions centered around Rhodes' interpretation of scripture regarding eternity. Dr. Rhodes brought up an interesting thought that I had never considered before, and I've found myself thinking about it all day: will Christians be vegetarians in heaven?

Now, before I go any further in fleshing out this idea, let me preface my thoughts by saying that whether a person agrees or disagrees with this idea, it certainly isn't something that Christians should fight over. This isn't a vital issue, and there's really no way to determine a concrete answer to the question. We can only look at the scripture and make some educated guesses. So consider that before you start a church based on Christian Vegetarianism. That being said, I think there's good evidence to support the idea that all the inhabitants of heaven will be (and are), in fact, vegetarians.

Rhodes supports this idea by first citing Genesis 1.29 - And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food." Rhodes (and many other good theologians) asserts that in the pre-fall earth there was no death. In other words, the Garden of Eden was the perfect place since there was no sin: there was no pain, no sadness, no death, no suffering, no disease, etc. Everything was perfect - very much like what the Bible says about heaven (note: this is not to say that the Garden of Eden was heaven in and of itself, but rather that the Garden seems to share several, if not most or all of the qualities of heaven).

Rhodes also says that the animal kingdom was included in this environment of peace and perfection. Thus the instruction to Adam and Eve to eat only fruit and herbs. Scripture seems to suggest that Adam and Eve were not killing and eating animals - just herbs, and as Rhodes sees it, if animals were being killed for food, then Eden would have ceased to be an environment of peace and perfection, because death would be included in the mix. And death has nothing to do with peace and perfection. It even seems as thoughanimals only ate the herbs and fruit, and not each other. In other words, there were no predatory or prey animals - they all got along and ate the vegetation. Genesis 1.30 - "Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food."

In fact, the eating of animals isn't mentioned in scripture until chapter nine of Genesis. After Noah and his family are off the ark, God seems to finally allow them to eat animals. Genesis 9.3 - Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. God then goes on to give them instructions as to HOW they should eat the animals. So it would seem that this is the first time in the history of the earth that animals are killed and eaten as food.

The first physical death that is reported by scripture is the killing of an animal by God in order to make coverings for Adam and Eve, after they realized they were naked, and after the fall into sin. So once the environment of peace and perfection had been infiltrated by sin, death was a new reality.

All that to say that there was no death in the Garden of Eden - the most heaven-like environment in the history of the earth. Scripture teaches that there will be no pain, suffering, death, or even tears in heaven either. So then, it seems reasonable to conclude that there won't be any killing in heaven - not even of animals, and not even for the sake of food. Meat wasn't a necessity in the Garden of Eden. In fact, it would seem as though meat was completely contrary to the whole idea of the Garden of Eden. So then, wouldn't it likewise be contrary to what we know heaven to be like? If we did eat meat in the kingdom of heaven, that means that something would have to die in order for us to have it. That doesn't seem to jibe with the kind of environment that heaven is.

So what's the conclusion? I don't know. Rhodes' idea seems to work scripturally. But I wouldn't worry about it if you're a Christian who enjoys a good rack of ribs. Like Paul Washer says, you'll be way too busy trying to figure out God while you're in heaven to even be concerned about what's for dinner!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Anointed Meat

I just heard this on the radio today, and thought it was pretty innovative: Charles Spurgeon used to have transcriptions of his sermons printed on butcher paper, and then he paid the local butcher to wrap meat purchases with the paper. That way anyone who bought some meat also got that week's sermon. Considering my receipt at Cub Foods today was about 4 feet long (not an exaggeration), perhaps that's the next medium for evangelism. They already put coupons on those things. I can see it now: go grocery shopping and get last week's sermon on your receipt!

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Need To Read More Calvin

No, not Calvin & Hobbes (although they're pretty good too!) - John Calvin.

Calvin on evangelism (from the Institutes): "Because we know not who belongs to the number of the predestinated, or does not belong, our desire ought to be that all may be saved; and hence every person we meet, we will desire to be with us a partaker of peace. But our peace will rest upon the sons of peace. Wherefore, on our part, let correction be used as a harsh yet salutary medicine for all, that they may neither perish, nor destroy others. To God it will belong to make it available to those whom he has foreknown and predestineated."

In other words: be obedient, preach the gospel, and God will use your obedience to save those whom he will (the elect).

The Advantages And Blessings Of Family Worship

I've been thinking a lot lately about the responsibility of parents in the spiritual upbringing of their children. Mostly because I have also been thinking about our Children's Church program at Riverview (although I suppose the fact that I have 1.5 children has something to do with it as well!). Unfortunately, I fear the only spiritual education and direction that many children receive comes at either 9:00 or 10:30 on Sunday mornings, and is neglected (at least for the most part) for the rest of the week.

The church often times wonders what went "wrong" with children in the church as they grew up, because 86% of kids who grow up in the church leave it after college. Could it be because the only spiritual direction these kids ever received as children was the hour they spent in Sunday School? I think that's definitely one of the main causes. And this lack of spiritual direction never leads them to a grounded faith in Christ as the only Savior.

I received what follows in one of my "Grace Gems" emails. It's a bit of commentary by A.W. Pink on the importance of establishing and maintaining a family based attitude of spiritual growth and worship.

"Pour out Your wrath on the heathen that do not acknowledge You--and on the families that do not call upon Your name!" Jeremiah 10:25

We wonder how many of our readers have seriously pondered these awe-inspiring words! Observe what fearful threatenings are pronounced against those who disregard family worship! How unspeakably solemn to find that prayerless families are here coupled with the heathen, who do not acknowledge the Lord.

How loudly should these words speak to us! It is not enough that we pray as private individuals; we are required to honor God in our families as well. Each day, the whole household should be gathered together to bow before the Lord--to confess their sins, to give thanks for God's mercies, to seek His help and blessing. Nothing must be allowed to interfere with this duty--all other domestic arrangements are to bend to it. The head of the house is the one to lead the devotions. If he is absent--or seriously ill--or an unbeliever, then the wife should take his place. But under no circumstances, should family worship be omitted. If we would enjoy the blessing of God upon our family--then let its members gather together daily for praise and prayer. "Those who honor Me--I will honor" is His promise.

All our domestic comforts and temporal mercies, issue from the loving-kindness of the Lord. The least we can do in return, is to gratefully acknowledge together, His goodness to us as a family. Excuses against the discharge of this sacred duty--are idle and worthless! Of what avail will it be when we render an account to God for the stewardship of our families--to say that we had no time available? The more pressing are our temporal duties--the greater our need of seeking divine help. Nor may any Christian plead that he is not qualified for such a work--gifts and talents are developed by use--and not by neglect.

Family worship should be conducted reverently, earnestly and simply. It is then, that the little ones will receive their first impressions, and form their initial conceptions of the Lord God. Great care needs to be taken, lest a false idea of the Divine Character be given to them.

The advantages and blessings of family worship are incalculable! First, family worship will prevent much sin. Daily prayer in the home, is a blessed means of grace for allaying those unhappy passions to which our common nature is subject. It awes the soul, conveys a sense of God's majesty and authority, and sets solemn truths before the mind. How can those who neglect the worship of God in their families--look for peace and comfort therein?

Personal piety in the home is the most influential means, under God, of conveying piety to the little ones. Children are largely creatures of imitation, loving to copy what they see in others.

Finally, family prayer gains for us the presence and blessing of the Lord. There is a promise of His presence which is peculiarly applicable to this duty, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name--I am there among them." Matthew 18:20. Many have found in family worship, that help and communion with God--which they sought for with less effect in private prayer.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Day The Music Died

Here are my dad's reflections on the "day the music died," when Buddy Holly, among others, perished in a plane crash outside of Clear Lake, Iowa 50 years ago:

Some people deride the attention given to Buddy Holly and his memory. For sure, he wasn't a saint; he was just a song writer and a singer. As it turns out, a talented writer and singer, and what he wrote and sang captured a generation. It was OUR music, nobody else's. I was 13 and in Gillette again when he died. We (the patients) heard about it on the TV and couldn't believe it. We always felt a little cut off from the world anyway because we were "inside," and we all thought it couldn't be true. Watching "American Bandstand" that day felt like being at a funeral. He was so well known and liked by young and old alike. How could it be true? He was "ours." And "poof," he, and the music, were gone.

Dollars To Donuts

Watch this video. Then consider that our government is about to spend another 900 billion dollars in a stimulus package. Where does that money come from? Right off the printer.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Unseen Super Bowl Ad

As usual, most of the Super Bowl ads last night were pretty good. There was, however, at least one ad that didn't get played: this one.

Why didn't the ad get played? Apparently NBC refused to carry any political style ads during the Super Bowl. It should be noted, however, that PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - also had an ad rejected. But not for political reasons. Their ad was rejected because it was too sexually explicit. PETA was apparently told by NBC that their ad would be run if they could tone down the sexuality. PETA apparently declined. But wait a minute: isn't PETA at least a semi-political group? Read more about this hypocrisy below.

NBC Sacks Pro-Life Super Bowl Ad

Network Nixes Commercial Celebrating Potential of Life

CHICAGO, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NBC has rejected an uplifting and positive pro-life ad submitted for its Super Bowl broadcast this Sunday. After several days of negotiations, an NBC representative in Chicago told today that NBC and the NFL are not interested in advertisements involving "political advocacy or issues."

Brian Burch, President of reacted: "There is nothing objectionable in this positive, life-affirming advertisement. We show a beautiful ultrasound, something NBC's parent company GE has done for years. We congratulate Barack Obama on becoming the first African-American President. And we simply ask people to imagine the potential of every human life."

"NBC told that they do not allow political or issue advocacy advertisements. But that's not what they told PETA," said Burch. "There's no doubt that PETA is an advocacy group. NBC rejected PETA's ad for another reason altogether."

According to an email posted on, Victoria Morgan, Vice President of Advertising Standards for Universal, said: "The PETA spot submitted to Advertising Standards depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards." Morgan even detailed "edits that need to be made" in order for the spot to run during the Super Bowl.

"NBC claims it doesn't allow advocacy ads, but that's not true. They were willing to air an ad by PETA if they would simply tone down the sexual suggestiveness. Our ad is far less provocative, and hardly controversial by comparison," said Burch.

"The purpose of our new ad is to spread a message of hope about the potential of every human life, including the life of Barack Obama," said Burch. "We are now looking at alternative venues to run the ad over the next several weeks."

The ad aired on BET in Chicago on Inauguration Day. It has become an Internet hit with over 700,000 views in seven days. The ad was in the top 10 "most viewed" category on YouTube on Inauguration Day last week.

The ad reads: "This child's future is a broken home. He will be abandoned by his father. His single mother will struggle to raise him. Despite the hardships he will endure...this child...will become...the 1st African-American President." The ad concludes with the tagline, "Life: Imagine the Potential." The ad is the first of several ads in new campaign launched by

The ad can be viewed at -- a project of the Fidelis Center for Law and Policy.

SOURCE Fidelis Center for Law & Policy