Saturday, April 30, 2005

Bishop Spong Is Wrong

Retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong, a Charlotte native and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate, will be speaking here in Greensboro tomorrow and Monday. If you are not familiar with Spong, he has a decidedly negative view of Scripture. He believes that the Bible reflects only . . . the attitudes of when it was written and therefore is not relevant in today's society.

In an interview with News & Record religion writer Nancy McLaughlin, Spong says, "There are so many places where we've taken the Bible and frozen those attitudes . . . to hurt people today; to hurt black people, women, Jews, homosexuals, people of faith traditions."

He's right that man has taken the Bible, twisted it and used it to do harm to others, but don't blame God and the Bible for that. Those problems were the result of actions taken by sinful man. As for the "hurt," God gave His Word to protect us from hurting ourselves through our own disobedience, not to give honor to human tendencies and traditions. God and His Word are never changing—all we can rely on as the world changes around us. The teachings of Jesus Christ are as relevant today as they were during the first century A.D., when he walked among us.

As it says in Hebrews 13:8: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Bishop Spong cannot make the Bible into what he wants it to be, to reflect his personal definitions of right and wrong. Neither can I, nor can any other person on this Earth. Either you believe in what the Bible says, or you don't. You can't pick and choose cafeteria-style to justify your desires and behavior. Absolute Truth does exist, and it is found in God's Word everlasting.

In one of his columns on Beliefnet, Spong demonstrates his twisted attitude toward Scripture:

The Jesus who "died for our sins" has simply got to go in our post-Darwinian world. Christianity must move beyond a rescuing Jesus, who overcame a fall that never happened, even metaphorically, to restore human life to a status it has never had, even mythologically.

The Apostle John counters such thinking in 1 John 2:21–23:
I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

In his other heretical writings Spong fantasizes whether the Apostle Paul was gay, promotes assisted suicide as an ethical Christian decision and questions the Biblical account of the resurrection of Christ, besides inventing a plethora of other ideas that counter Scripture. This has angered Bible-believing Christians, and McLaughlin's column points out that while Spong has his supporters from the religious Left, he often receives death threats. "All of them by Bible-quoting true believers," he tells her, implying that their unwavering belief in God's Holy Word turns them into potential murderers.

What Spong fails to recognize is that although these people may quote the Bible, they are not "true believers" in the sense that they are taking God's Word to heart. Because as Jesus said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

They should heed Jesus' words and join me in praying that this misguided man will quit fighting God in God's name and someday join the real battle for His kingdom.
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Friday, April 29, 2005

Tearing Down WallBuilders

CitizenLink, a news site for Focus on the Family, reports today on how The Interfaith Alliance, a group representing the religious left, has objected to the work of David Barton, the founder of WallBuilders, an organization that emphasizes the Christian heritage found in American history. The Interfaith Alliance claims Barton is . . . presenting "revisionist history" in his guided tours of the U.S. Capitol, especially one he recently conducted on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

In a letter to Sen. Frist, Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, the president of The Interfaith Alliance, writes:

For the past 30 years, Barton has been evangelizing his extremist beliefs that the separation of church and state is a myth and that the United States was founded as and should be governed as a Christian nation; this is bad history and dangerous theology. By having Mr. Barton as a host of a religious heritage tour, you send a volatile message to all Americans that Washington has once again overstepped its bounds and is endorsing revisionist history along with advancing a right-wing agenda. Given the present mood of the country and the questionable role that religion has played in Washington recently, these are treacherous waters to be treading.

Gary Bauer, president of American Values, defends Barton's work, telling CitizenLink:
"It's the history books in most of our schools that are giving a distorted view. Mr. Barton has done an incredible job of researching the beliefs of our founding fathers and the strong role that faith played in those events leading up to 1776."

To give you an idea of where The Interface Alliance is coming from, it came out against Congressional intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, is actively campaigning against ending the current filibuster rules in the Senate's judicial confirmation process, attacked Rush Limbaugh in a press release for daring to suggest that the religious left has a problem with traditional Christians and Catholics who believe in moral absolutes, and its foundation gives out an annual Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award that "recognizes individuals who courageously promote democratic values, defend religious liberty and reinvigorate informed civic participation." A recent recipient was Bill Moyers. Enough said.
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Laura Ingraham Update III

I heard the first half-hour of Laura's radio show this morning when she called in and participated in the program. She sounded great. Copied below is the latest update from her Web site: . . .

LAURA UPDATE, DAY 4: Great news yesterday from the pathology report that was done on Laura's tumor and lymph nodes after her breast cancer surgery on Tuesday. Her lymph nodes were NEGATIVE, her HER-2 test was negative (a good thing), and her tumor was estrogen/hormone receptive (good thing). The tumor was 9 millimeters in diameter. The one bummer is that she needs to go back for another surgery next week because the dye they used showed some cancer cells remaining "outside the margin" of the tissue Dr. Katherine Alley excised during the first surgery. So, Dr. Alley will go back in and "clean the margins" a few more millimeters around the original tumor and that should be that. Laura is meeting soon with her oncologist Dr. Fred Smith to begin mapping out her post-op cancer treatment (radiation schedule, etc.). "Chemo could really cramp my style so I am hoping that is not necessary!" Laura laughed. "That could really mess up my highlights! Although, then again, it could save me money on salon waxing bills." "Botton-line," said Laura, "I am feeling better every day--your calls, emails, best wishes, and more than anything your prayers have made all the difference in keeping my spirits up. You remind me every day that I am too blessed and have too much to say and do to check out any time soon!"

Laura's site also links to Michelle Malkin's post from Wednesday that discusses Elizabeth Edwards' support and prayers for Laura amidst venom-spewing hatred for our favorite talk-show host from posters on the Democratic Underground site. It appears that some of the more-hateful posts have been deleted from the discussion thread. However, there's still plenty of trashing and bashing of Laura for you to read, courtesy of those compassionate and loving people from the Left. There are even a few posters who say they can't even bring themselves to pray for Laura. How sad.

Jumping in and posting to the DU forum was a classy thing for Mrs. Edwards to do. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer last fall, I don't recall Conservatives attacking her like this. In fact, I know of many people who voted against her husband's ticket who prayed for her and her recovery.

In addition to praying for people like Laura Ingraham and Elizabeth Edwards, we need to pray for our country and for hearts to soften and change before it's too late.
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The War on Christians and Christianity

I recommend that you check out David Limbaugh's column from today. In it, he encourages Christian conservatives to stand up to the secular Left and for us not to be intimidated or afraid to express our worldview in the public square.

David writes: . . .

If Christians are to honor Christ's Great Commission of spreading the Gospel to all nations, they must engage in the political arena and governance if for no other reason than that the Gospel cannot flourish as well in the absence of political and religious liberty. Christians have a duty to be involved to promote liberty.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

CRI Responds to NBC's Revelations

The Christian Research Institute has posted on its Web site several articles that counter the faulty theology found in the NBC-TV miniseries Revelations.

In addition to an article from the Assist News Service, in which CRI President Hank Hanegraaff discusses the miniseries' Biblical and theological errors in general, CRI has posted detailed . . . Biblical responses to specific scenes from episodes two and three. I assume CRI will follow up with articles countering episodes four through six once they air.

For example, here's CRI's analysis of a scene from last night's show:

Sister Josepha quotes Isaiah 47:13—"Let now the astrologers, the stargazers . . . stand up and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee"—as evidence that Dr. Massey, an astrophysicist, is the one on whom the salvation of humanity rests.

The Bible in context unequivocally condemns the practice of astrology (i.e., "stargazing") and Isaiah 47:13 is no exception. Aside from quoting the King James Version of the Bible, which uses archaic language, much of which is not readily understood by English speakers today, Sister Josepha fails to quote the verse in its context. This passage, which is part of Isaiah's pronouncement of judgment on Babylon for their wickedness, goes on to say, "Surely, they [i.e., your astrologers] are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by. That is all they can do for you—these you have trafficked and labored with since childhood. Each of them goes on in his error; there is not one that can save you" (Isaiah 47:14-15, NIV used throughout).

Thus, not only does Sister Josepha fail to distinguish between Dr. Massey's expertise, astrophysics, and the occult practice of astrology, she interprets a verse that is a sarcastic rebuke of the Babylonians' faith in their astrologers to mean that an unbelieving "stargazer" will actually be the one to whom we must look for salvation from the tribulations of the "end of days." She could not be more wrong! The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ has conquered evil and death through his death and resurrection and that we must persevere through times of trial by resting in the assurance of our future resurrection, knowing that in Christ our salvation is already won (Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4).

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Laura Ingraham Update II

Today on her Web site, Laura checks in with her fans from home: . . .

LAURA UPDATE, DAY 3: Hey everyone! I am sitting here in bed with my wireless laptop wishing I was going to be on air today (Thursday) as I planned. Oh well, the post-op was a bit more taxing than I thought (I felt great when the anesthetic hadn't worn off!), so I'm not ready to rock and roll quite yet. I think I took a turn for the worse when in the middle of the night I turned on CNN to see Al Gore popping gasket about "extreme" judges at the moveon.hasbeens rally. Or was that Darrell Hammond from an old SNL? Anyway, it was a jolt to my system. Awaiting lab results now to see just how "angry" that breast tumor was, its "hormone receptivity," etc. This is jargon that I hope that none of you ever have to become familiar with, but sadly 1 in 9 women in this country do! I cannot wait until I can resume our daily conversation. You all are so important to me, and I hope you know how grateful I am. Until I am back behind the mic, stay with the show--we need your support--and please keep the prayers coming. To quote Pres. Bush, "I feel comforted in the storm when people pray for me. People ask me why, and I tell them because I can feel it."

Remember to keep Laura in your prayers.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Laura Ingraham Update

An update on Laura's condition following surgery yesterday has been posted on her Web site and is copied below: . . .

THE POWER OF PRAYER AND LAURA UPDATE: Laura's breast cancer surgery yesterday "couldn't have gone better," in the words of her surgeon Dr. Katherine Alley. Initial sentinel node testing done during surgery showed no signs of cancer involvement in the lymph nodes, and we all hope that this good news is confirmed by more in-depth tissue testing done over the next 48 hours. "The outpouring of love and concern coast-to-coast in prayer, emails, telephone calls has left me feeling more blessed than I can possibly convey," said Laura Thursday morning from home. "I really don't know what I did to deserve such kindness but I will gladly wrap myself in it," she chuckled. "It's weird but getting cancer has made me feel more blessed than I ever felt before, and I will do everything I can to return the generosity 100-fold when I am feeling a bit better." According to Laura and her friends who were there throughout, the entire staff at the Surburban Hospital Outpatient Medical Center in Bethesda, MD was amazing. Absolutely top-notch! According to one of Laura's friends, as she was being taken into surgery, she joked about whether the hospital was running a "two-for-one" surgery special--"a lumpectomy and a lift together--20 percent off!"

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Preaching the Wrong Gospel

Two weeks ago, at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, author, speaker and Christian apologist Voddie Baucham told those in attendance that many people have been misled or given a false assurance of salvation by . . . pastors preaching a false Gospel.

According to an article from the Baptist Press, Baucham, an Elder at Grace Community Church in Magnolia, Texas, and an adjunct professor at The College of Biblical Studies in Houston and Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, said that pastors misrepresenting the Gospel will often use humor to manipulate people rather than call them to repentance and faith in Christ. Baucham, who has a doctorate from Southeastern and is known as an "evangelist to intellectuals," based his message on I Corinthians 15.

The article goes on to report:

"If we don't understand who Jesus is, we don't understand the Gospel," Baucham said. "We allow them to believe in this warm, fuzzy Jesus who is not the Christ of the Scriptures. Jesus is not just a warm, fuzzy guy who wants to be your friend."

This type of preaching frequently fails to mention sin, Baucham said. Instead, society is blamed for man's failure.

"We don't just make bad choices," Baucham countered. "We weren't just raised by the wrong parents in the wrong neighborhood.

"It's sin -- we're sinners."


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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Raising Our Children Too Softly

According to the folks over at The Barna Group, evangelical Christian parents are no different than mainstream American moms and dads when it comes to raising children, and neither group is doing that good of a job of it.

In his World Magazine column, Joel Belz analyzes . . . the data and points out how "timid" and "flabby" Christian parents have become in the goals they set for their children:

"Soft" goals may well be more palatable than "hard" ones—but they will also prove in the end to be the vulnerable underbelly of our culture. It's bad enough to be concerned and disillusioned about the current population of our country. It gets painfully worse when you consider how much softer the next generation might well be.

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Rashad McCants Decides for Christ

Carolina's Rashad McCants returned home to Asheville, North Carolina, Saturday night, joining a team from Crossfire Ministries as they took on a group of ACC senior all-stars, including his Tar Heel teammates Jawad Williams and Melvin Scott, at Asheville High School. McCants, who recently decided to forgo his senior season at Chapel Hill to play in the NBA, had apparently made an even bigger . . . decision a few months earlier.

According to an article by Tyler Norris Goode in Sunday's Asheville Citizen-Times, when Crossfire player-coach Randy Shepherd, a former Asheville High and UNC Asheville star, shared his testimony during the game's two-hour intermission he mentioned how McCants had accepted Jesus Christ over the Christmas break right there in the Asheville High gym.

"I have a great relationship with the Lord," McCants told Goode. "I pray every day, and he continues to bless me every day."

The paper also reports that at the conclusion of the intermission program, which was a combination church service, three-point shootout and slam-dunk competition, about 200 of the 2,500 people in attendance came forward to accept Christ.

Hat tip goes to the Tar Heel Sports Blog.

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Prayers for Laura Ingraham

I was visiting Michelle Malkin's Web site this morning and found out that Laura Ingraham, the Carolina Christian Conservative's favorite conservative radio talk show host, has breast cancer and is undergoing surgery today.

I've copied below a posting from Laura that is currently on her Web site's home page: . . .

PRAYER REQUEST FOR LAURA: You know I hate Drama Kings or Queens, but I am asking for your prayers today and for the forseeable future. On Friday afternoon, I learned that I have joined the ever-growing group of American women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. As so many breast cancer patients will tell you, it all came as a total shock. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who love me--my family, a wonderful fiance (if he thinks he's going to get out of marrying me because of this little blib, he's sadly mistaken!), my friends, and my church. I am absolutely blown away by how helpful and kind everyone has been--including total strangers who have experienced the same rollercoaster of emotions. The sisterhood of breast cancer survivors is inspiring. I am truly blessed. On Tuesday I will have an operation and within a few days will know more about the future. I am hopeful for a bright future and a "normal" life (well, scratch the "normal" part). Anyway, people have gone through much worse, and I know I'll obliterate this. I am thanking you in advance for your prayers. You are my family. And remember, I'll be back sooner than you think.

Please keep Laura and others affected by breast cancer in your prayers. And please remind the women in your life to have themselves examined regularly.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Keith LeClair: Witnessing Through ALS

For those of you here in the Triad, you may recall seeing an article in the sports section of Thursday's Winston-Salem Journal or Friday's Greensboro News & Record about East Carolina's recent baseball fortunes, including the school's new Clark-LeClair Stadium.

The stadium is named in part for Keith LeClair, the Pirates' former head baseball coach who suffers from . . . ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Coincidentally, my cousin Paul recently sent me an e-mail about Keith, his courageous friend:

Keith is the former head baseball coach at ECU who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in the summer of 2001. Keith, Lynn, Audrey and J.D. moved to Greenville, North Carolina, about the same time we did in the summer of 1997. To make a long story short, we were members of the same church, became friends and eventually helped start a new Young Adult Sunday School class.

Keith received his diagnosis of ALS about one month after we moved back to Danville, Virginia. I thought you'd especially like to know about Keith because he has been such a wonderful witness for Christ and has uplifted so many other people through his unwavering faith as he struggles against this horrible disease. He is a constant reminder to me of the things that truly matter in life.

Keith is completely immobilized by the disease and his only means of communication now is a special computer on which he types by eyesight. He's actually become quite a prolific writer on both baseball and his faith. You can easily locate some of his baseball writing on a search engine.

Paul then forwarded me this powerful e-mail written by Keith the day after Terri Schiavo died:

From: Keith LeClair
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2005 12:49 PM

HELLO EVERYONE,
I THOUGHT I WOULD TAKE A BREAK FROM WRITING MY MONTHLY JOURNAL, WHICH I MAY ADD IS TAKING LONGER THAN I THOUGHT. I AM ON THE FIRST MONTH AND ALREADY HAVE EIGHTEEN PAGES WRITTEN, IT TAKES SOME TIME TYPING WITH YOUR EYE, SO I NEED TO HAVE SOME PATIENCE.

I GUESS TODAY I WANTED TO WRITE AND THANK TERRI SCHIAVO FOR HER COURAGEOUS FIGHT. ALTHOUGH TO MANY, SHE WAS CONSIDERED JUST BRAIN DEAD AND IN A SO CALLED VEGETATIVE STATE, SHE STILL WAS AN INSPIRATION TO ME. MAYBE I CAN RELATE WITH TERRI AND WHAT SHE WENT THROUGH, BECAUSE JUST LIKE HER I AM KEPT ALIVE NOT ONLY WITH A FEEDING TUBE, BUT A VENTILATOR AS WELL.

WHEN PEOPLE SEE ME OUT IN PUBLIC I KNOW A LOT OF FOLKS ARE THINKING, "WHY DOES HE WANT TO KEEPING LIVING LIKE THIS." ON THE OUTSIDE MY APPEARANCE LOOKS AS IF I WAS DEAD, BUT ON THE INSIDE I AM ALIVE AS EVER. I KNOW MY EYE GAZE COMPUTER ALLOWS ME TO COMMUNICATE AND CONTINUE TO BE PART OF SOCIETY IN SOME CAPACITY, WHICH TERRI DID NOT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY OR ABILITY TO DO. I KNOW THIS IS A VERY CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE WITH MANY PEOPLE AND I AM NOT WRITING TO CONDEMN ONE'S POINT OF VIEW, BUT ONLY TO SHARE WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE A PATIENT SIMILAR TO TERRI SCHIAVO. EVEN THOUGH MY MIND IS CLEAR, I AM TOTALLY DEPENDENT ON ARTIFICIAL MEANS OF LIFE AND PEOPLE TO TAKE CARE OF ME EVERY SINGLE DAY, ESPECIALLY LYNN, MY WIFE, WHO HAS SACRIFICED HER FREEDOM OF LIFE TO TAKE CARE OF ME. IN THIS REGARD, IT IS NO DIFFERENT THAN TERRI OR ANYONE ELSE WHO IS TRYING TO PUSH ON IN THIS CAPACITY.

I TRULY BELIEVE GOD HAS HAD A PLAN FOR MY LIFE DURING THIS TIME BEING KEPT ON A FEEDING TUBE AND VENTILATOR, JUST AS I BELIEVE GOD HAD PLANS FOR TERRI SCHIAVO THE PAST FIFTEEN YEARS. WHAT THOSE PLANS WERE I CANNOT SAY, BUT IF SHE TOUCHED ONE LIFE IN THOSE FIFTEEN YEARS IT WAS ALL WORTH THE TIME AND SACRIFICES SHE AND HER FAMILY MADE. I THINK ABOUT JESUS IN MATTHEW WHEN HE TALKED ABOUT THE SHEPHERD WATCHING OVER HIS HUNDRED FLOCK OF SHEEP.

MATTHEW 18:12-13
"WHAT DO YOU THINK? IF A MAN OWNS A HUNDRED SHEEP, AND ONE OF THEM WANDERS AWAY, WILL HE NOT LEAVE THE NINETY-NINE ON THE HILLS AND GO LOOK FOR THE ONE THAT WANDERED OFF? AND IF HE FINDS IT, I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, HE IS HAPPIER ABOUT THAT ONE SHEEP THAN ABOUT THE NINETY-NINE THAT DID NOT WANDER OFF."

I'VE GOT TO BELIEVE TERRI'S ACCIDENT BROUGHT HOME ONE SHEEP THAT MAY HAVE WANDERED AWAY, AND MAYBE THROUGH HER COURAGE AND FIGHT EVEN MORE SHEEP WERE LED INTO JESUS' KINGDOM. I DO NOT THINK ANY GOVERNMENT, COURT OR INDIVIDUAL CAN PUT A PRICE TAG ON THE VALUE OF A HUMAN LIFE, MY FRIENDS, ONLY GOD CAN. WHAT I HATE MOST ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO TERRI SCHIAVO WAS THE FACT OUR COURTS MADE A DECISION TO STARVE HER TO DEATH. I DO NOT BELIEVE ANYONE CAN SAY WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE TOTALLY CUT OFF FROM FOOD AND WATER UNTIL DEATH. IF THIS PROCEDURE IS SO PEACEFUL, WHY DON'T OUR COURTS RULE IN FAVOR OF TRYING THIS ON OUR DEATH ROW INMATES, BETTER YET, TRY IT THEMSELVES FOR THIRTEEN DAYS AND SEE HOW PEACEFUL IT FEELS. YOU KNOW IF WE DID THIS TO OUR DOG WE WOULD BE SERVING TIME.

THANK YOU TERRI SCHIAVO FOR YOUR COURAGE AND FIGHT! WE KNOW YOU'RE IN HEAVEN NOW AND IN A PLACE WHERE THERE IS NO SUFFERING. GOD BLESS TERRI SCHIAVO.

DEUTERONOMY 31:6
"BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. DO NOT BE AFRAID OR TERRIFIED BECAUSE OF THEM, FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU; HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU."

GOD BLESS,
KEITH LECLAIR

If you would like to learn more about Keith's life and Christian witness, I encourage you to read an article written by Chris Kline that ran in Baseball America a little over a year ago.
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Very Tall Worshiper

As I was leaving church yesterday I noticed a very tall gentleman standing in the parking lot, and I mean TALL. It occurred to me that he looked like Sun Ming Ming, the 7-foot-8 3/4-inch basketball player from China who was profiled a couple of weeks ago in the Greensboro News & Record. This morning, I asked Todd Jones, one of our pastors and a huge basketball fan, and he . . . confirmed that it was indeed Sun, and that he has been attending the 11 o'clock service at Christ Community Church for several weeks (I regularly attend the 9:30 service).

Sun is in town to train with former University of Maryland and Greensboro City Gaters player Keith Gatlin for a shot at the NBA. He has been staying with some friends of Gatlin's, Rocky and Celeste Manning, who are members of Christ Community Church and live in Summerfield.

According to the News & Record article, language can sometimes be a barrier for Sun, but fortunately the language of our Lord knows no barriers. I hope I get a chance to meet him before he heads back to China next month.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Marketing the Lottery to Kids

With North Carolina headed toward a state lottery, a lottery that's justified and praised for what good it can do for our kids by providing increased funding for education, here's an example of how a lottery can be damaging to our youth: . . .

Michelle Malkin reports on her blog this morning about the Washington state lottery, and how it uses the video game character Pac Man and other cartoon characters to market its scratch-off lottery games, which are available in easily accessible vending machines.

Michelle also links to the Washington State Council on Problem Gambling, which cites a lottery-sponsored study reporting that thousands of Washington adolescents are considered "problem gamblers" and that tens of thousands more are at risk. Michelle asks, "Does anyone believe these kids are helped by the presence of vending machines containing Pac Man scratch cards?"

She goes on to compare this situation with R.J. Reynolds' marketing of cigarettes with a cartoonish Joe Camel back in the 1990s, which led to Reynolds dropping the ads. Relatedly, cigarette vending machines were banned in most public places shortly thereafter.

Here in North Carolina, Joe Camel's home state, lottery proponents continue to believe that a state-sponsored lottery will be windfall for North Carolina and its children. If they sincerely believe that, it only goes to reason that they would also think it appropriate to encourage kids to buy tickets. After all, what's the harm? At least their hard-earned allowance money would be going toward a good cause, right?

I'm praying that somehow, someway, North Carolina will continue to be the exception rather than the rule and not have a state lottery.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Should Churches Grow Smaller?

An article in today's Chicago Tribune (free registration required) talks about the selection of former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, and how he has been known for his uncompromising stances on doctrine and moral issues, stances that some say will . . . drive people away from the church. The article counters that claim by stating, ". . . Rev. Robert Silva, president of the Chicago-based National Federation of Priests' Councils, noted that as a cardinal Ratzinger said the church may have to become smaller in order to keep the true believers."

In response to this article, Ed Veith, in a post on the World Magazine blog, asks an interesting question of Protestants: "Might evangelicals, with our megachurch mentality and inflated membership rolls of nominal believers, also need to consider that strategy?" The discussion over at WorldMagBlog has been quite lively all day today. What are your thoughts?

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Our Confused Youth

Dennis Prager's column today provides an excellent look at how society can confuse young people by what it allows and honors. There's no denying that college students are impressionable, and what's drilled into them at school can change everything from . . . their view on politics to their sexual preference, as this example illustrates.

Prager's column features an excerpt from a interview he conducted on his syndicated radio show with a college student from Montreal named Anna Montrose (a full transcript is available from Prager's Web site). Prager describes Montrose as "a bright and articulate 22-year-old woman." He adds, "She is a fine example of the type of thinking and behavior a homosexuality-celebrating culture—such as that at our universities—produces."

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"The Bruce Willis of Catholic Saints"

If you're wondering about the history behind the pontifical name Benedict, chosen today by Joseph Ratzinger, here's some background from CatholiCity.com's Catholic Commentary: . . .

Saint Benedict, who lived in the sixth century, was the founder of the Benedictines (the very first religious congregation) is also famously known for his power to intercede against the forces of spiritual evil. The Saint Benedict Medal, perhaps the most popular Catholic medal after the Miraculous Medal of the Immaculate Conception, is considered lead-pipe-lock insurance against the forces of evil for those who wear it. The medal itself, designed by Saint Benedict, contains the first letters of Latin words which make up phrases that castigate and even humiliate spiritual beings. One of our favorites among them is directed to the head bad guy himself, Lucifer: "Go bark at the moon!"

Saint Benedict is the Bruce Willis of Catholic Saints. "Yippie Kai Yay!"

Hat tip to Hugh Hewitt
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Universal Entertainment Ratings

Radio host and film critic Michael Medved has an interesting op-ed piece in today's USA Today on how all entertainment—movies, broadcast and cable TV, video games and music—should be similarly rated so that parents can make better choices, without having to call for out-and-out censorship.

Medved recommends that . . . one easy-to-understand system should be adopted, suggesting that it ought be the current, familiar movie ratings system. However, he asks for one revision, that PG-13 be changed to R-13.

Medved writes:

The PG-13 category needs rethinking and relabeling, since the typical PG-13 release now contains enough sexual content and rough language to have earned an R-rating 10 years ago. It's also problematic that many moviegoers, including 6-year-olds, can buy tickets to PG-13 fare without challenge.

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Pope Benedict XVI

In reports today, the Associated Press (and I'm sure others) are referring to the new pope, Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, as "the Roman Catholic Church's leading hard-liner." Praise God for that. I may differ on . . . doctrine with the Roman Catholic Church, but I'm glad to see that the church will be continuing in the conservative tradition of Pope John Paul II.
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Mick Mixon Going Pro

I'm glad to see former fellow Granville-ite Mick Mixon get the Carolina Panthers radio play-by-play job. It's a great opportunity for him.

For the past 16 years, Mickey, as I knew him when we attended UNC together, did a . . . great job sitting alongside Woody Durham as the color man on Carolina (Tar Heels, that is) football and basketball broadcasts. His familiar voice—and lousy jokes and puns—will be missed.

I told him this afternoon that he should pursue Granville Towers as a sponsor for the Panthers pregame show, so that he could continue to reminisce on the air about the good ole days sitting by the pool at the "Carolina Hilton." Good luck in the Queen City, Mick, and remember to take along a good supply of Beefmaster hot dogs with you.

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N.C. Newspapers on MoveOn.org Hit List

Michelle Malkin is reporting that MoveOn.org has started a "grass-roots" letter-writing campaign, encouraging its left-wing supporters to flood newspapers in North Carolina with letters to the editor attacking Republicans in their efforts to appoint judges.

Michelle lists MoveOn.org's GOP-blasting "talking points" as well as a list of newspapers the organization is targeting, which include: . . .

The Carolina Peacemaker
The High Point Enterprise
The Times-News
[Burlington, I assume]
The Kernersville News
The Charlotte Observer
The News & Observer
The Roanoke Times
Winston-Salem Journal

It's interesting to note that one major newspaper smack-dab in the middle of this particular geographical area, our own Greensboro News & Record, is not included on the hit list.

Michelle, who has done a Nexis search that has turned up quite a few of these "fake" letters already out there, reports that the MoveOn.org site proclaims: "Our Progress So Far. So far, we've submitted 11,388 letters to 1,292 newspapers."

UPDATE: I found out last night (April 20) that the source Michelle credits for bringing this to her attention is fellow Greensboro blogger Chip Atkinson. Good job, Chip!
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Monday, April 18, 2005

My Friend Rich

Last night, the Lord decided to take the life of a dear friend of mine, Rich Keyes. His passing was sudden and unexpected and leaves a large void in my life and the lives of others.

I have known Rich for most of my life. He was my brother Don's best friend. With him and Don being 11 years older than me, they introduced me to a lot of things at a very young age, including . . . beach music, golf and a love for Carolina football and basketball.

Rich will always have a special place in my heart. Even though he was Don's friend, we grew closer after I became an adult. He was a groomsman in my wedding. We had season football tickets to Carolina home games together for nearly 20 years, and he would from time to time make my day by offering me a basketball ticket so that I could see a game in the Smith Center every now and then.

I'll always have fond memories of tailgating with him and his wife, Nancy, on fall Saturday mornings in Chapel Hill. Nancy can cook up a storm, and Rich’s smile, good humor and sunny disposition would quickly ease any burdens or troubles I brought along with me down I-85 that day. Later, our tailgating group expanded. First, a wife for me, then a son for him and Nancy, then a daughter for me and Tammie. We became one big extended family on game days.

And then there were the road trips to away football games and bowl games. Sometimes as a group and sometimes just him and me. I'll never forget the time we went to a game at Clemson. The night before the game, we sat in a nearly empty hotel bar in Greenville, South Carolina, watching a small group of locals trying to do "The Electric Slide." After that, "it's electric" became our rallying cry whenever things got too exciting for us two unadventurous types. Then there was the special time the Keyeses and the McLeans had in Atlanta for the Peach Bowl over New Year's 1993. Not only did we experience great food and fun—not to mention an incredible come-from-behind win for the Heels over those annoying cow-bell-ringing Mississippi State Bulldogs—it was our last game together as childless couples, as Jack Keyes came along nine months later, just in time for the beginning of another football season.

There was also golf, both as spectators and participants, although the two of us had not had much opportunity to play together in recent years. However, when it came to watching golf, we did a lot of that. In 40-plus years, I have attended many a GGO, as I still prefer to call it, with Rich. Since he moved to Raleigh in the 1970s, the tournament gave him a chance to get back to Greensboro and reconnect with people like me and my brother. We didn't get to go together this past fall, and I regret that. But since I was able to get tickets to this year's U.S. Open, I was looking forward to heading down to Pinehurst with him to see the game's best do battle, but now, that won't happen.

Yes, we had fun and many good times, but in all those years of attending sporting events and traveling together, there's one thing about Rich Keyes that made a lasting impression on me. He had a particular unwavering character trait that distinguished him: his kindness. Rich was one of the kindest people I've ever met. He lived "Love your neighbor as yourself" probably better than anyone I know. I rarely saw him angry with anyone or anything. And I often saw him go out of his way to do something nice for someone, or to help someone in need. He was a peacemaker and he had a big heart, and yesterday evening, as he and Jack watched another golf tournament wrap up on TV, that heart just gave out.

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Ann's Right on Time

Don't miss this week's (dated April 25) Time magazine cover story on one of our favorite female conservative political pundits, Ann Coulter. However, according to Matt Drudge, Ann's none too pleased with the distorted cover photo.

And speaking of photos, Time's Web site, in a photo gallery, has an image captioned "Demon and Idol: Protesters blast Coulter at the G.O.P. Convention in New York City last year." However, the photo is actually of . . . pro-Ann supporters holding satirical signs. One sign in the background even reads "Criminals for Gun Control," while another says "Liberating Iraqi Children from Tyranny Is Costing Too Much." The Time editors were apparently clueless as to what they were publishing. I haven't seen the print version of the magazine yet, so I don't know whether the same photo and caption made its way into there or not.

Hat tip to Free Republic and Michelle Malkin for exposing the Time photo gaffe.

UPDATE: Time has corrected the photo caption on its Web site.

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

The State of the Church

The Barna Group, led by researcher George Barna, released this week its "State of the Church 2005" report, which analyzes the results of a survey conducted in January of our country's religious beliefs and practices.

The annual survey, now in its 15th year, did find that nine out of 10 Americans take part in some sort of faith-related practice during a typical week and that more people are now . . . reading their Bibles outside of church. However, Barna's study indicates that most other areas concerning our religious life have showed little or no change over time.

"The meter hasn't budged for most of the trends we have been following over these 15 years," Barna notes on The Barna Group Web site. "The only discernible increases have been in the number of unchurched adults, those who are participating in small groups or cell groups, and the percentage of born again Christians who share their faith with non-Christians. The decreases relate to church attendance, Sunday school involvement, the percentage of people who align with Catholicism, and the number who have a biblical view of God’s character. In general, predicting next year's religious statistics is safer than foretelling whether the Cubs will win the World Series."

Barna believes these findings should be a wakeup call to the church and its leaders.

"One of the greatest challenges facing any ministry, no matter what its form is, has to do with what do you define as success," Barna told Allie Martin of Agape Press. "And we've got to break the [current] mold ... which says that success is about church attendance, and church budgets, and church programs, and church staff, and square footage and buildings.

"Jesus didn't die for any of that stuff. He died to see people's lives completely transformed so they try to be more like Him every moment of every day."

To bring about this transformation, Barna recommends that church leaders become more aggressive and be willing to take more risks, adding, "Merely tinkering with the existing system is a recipe for irrelevance and abandonment."

The survey also finds that, despite all the attention they received in the last presidential election, evangelicals make up only 7 percent of the American adult population, a figure that has not changed since Barna started measuring it in 1994. However, the survey does show that born-again Christians make up 40 percent of the population, with non-Christians (atheists, agnostics and adults associated with non-Christian faith groups) coming in at 21 percent and the remaining 39 percent being what Barna categorizes as "notional Christians," those who consider themselves Christians but are not born-again.

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Happy Birthday . . .

. . . to Mrs. Carolina Christian Conservative. Thank you for your love, support and prayers.
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Friday, April 15, 2005

An Evangelical President?

ReligionJournal.com asks the question "Is President Bush an Evangelical?" Through interviews with evangelical and other experts on religion, ReligionJournal.com's Adelle M. Banks examines whether President Bush's words and deeds put him into the evangelical camp.

Banks writes: . . .

Evangelical leaders, including speakers at recent mini-courses for the news media on "What Is an Evangelical?" generally concur that the president is one of them. But some observers of religion and politics say his outreach to Muslims and attendance at a mainstream Protestant church demonstrate he may not neatly fit the definition.

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Combating Culture for Our Kids

Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That's Gone Stark Raving Mad is a brand new book by Rebecca Hagelin, vice president of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. From all indications, the book, which is Hagelin's first, appears to be an excellent and practical guide for parents to use in combating the corrupt cultural "invaders" in our children's lives, such as . . . unmonitored Internet access, television, magazines and music. My wife and I have often found Hagelin's Townhall.com columns on parenting extremely helpful and look forward to reading a more in-depth treatment.

Townhall.com is offering an excerpt from Home Invasion on its site today. And here's an excerpt of that excerpt:

Even the best of families have fallen victim to a Home Invasion—not by a pack of criminals who brazenly and forcefully assault us in order to rob us of our possessions, but by a culture that has slyly slithered into our senses in order to rob us of our souls.

The purpose of this book is to encourage you to listen to that inner voice, that deep feeling that tells you something is amiss in the culture, and to act on it. Parents around the world are equipped with an instinct to protect their young—we know in our hearts basic truths about child-rearing and what characteristics are desirable in our kids. However, due to the constant onslaught of a culture that attacks basic moral principles and entices us to compromise, give in, and cast our good judgment aside, many of us have silenced our hearts through our own refusal to listen to what we know is true.

The book, which was officially released today, has, at this posting, already climbed to No. 66 on Amazon.com's Top Sellers list.
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Tar Heel Sports Blog

For all you true blue Carolina fans, there's a new presence in the blogosphere called Tar Heel Sports Blog. It offers daily news links to most anything and everything out there in cyberspace that's related to Tar Heel athletics. Check it out.

Hat tip goes to BobLee Swagger.
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BobLee Shifts Gears

"Author," "humorist" and "raconteur" BobLee Swagger, who is known in these parts for his irreverent take on sports and life in general, has combined his two Web sites, SimplySwagger.com and SwaggerSays.com, into one: SwaggerSays.com. In his commentaries, which come out every Monday and Thursday, BobLee plans to concentrate less on sports and move on to . . . more meatier topics. "I am not divorcing The Muse of Sport but we have decided to 'see other people' and 'remain friends,'" he wrote in a recent column. "For the foreseeable future Ye Olde Internet Legend will be dating The Muse of Refrigerator Art. I am moving up the food chain of subjects de commentary."
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President Shares Faith With Press

On the return flight from Rome following Pope John Paul II's funeral last Friday, President Bush spent some time with the members of the press corps aboard Air Force One. After fielding several questions on the pope and the funeral services, a reporter asked, "If there was ever a moment where you ever had any doubts in your own faith, what out of the past public things would strengthen your resolve and firm up your relationship with your God?"

The president responded . . ."I think a walk in faith constantly confronts doubt, as faith becomes more mature. And you constantly confront, you know, questions. My faith is strong. The Bible talks about, you've got to constantly stay in touch with the Word of God in order to help you on the walk. But the Lord works in mysterious ways, and during all our life's journeys we're enabled to see the Lord at work if our eyes are open and our hearts are open. . . ."

Hat tip goes to the Traditional Values Coalition.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

UPDATE: Tasteless T's

Michelle Malkin reports this morning that Cafe Press has removed the "Kill Bush" items from its Web site, and she gives bloggers a lot of the credit.

Here's a statement posted on the Cafe Press site: . . .

The "Kill Bush" products have been removed from CafePress.com. They were created by individuals across the globe, as are the more than 8 million products available on CafePress.com, a diverse network of more than one million shops.

Hate related materials are in violation of our terms of service and are prohibited from being sold through CafePress.com. CafePress.com is an automated service, and as such, products are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure that merchandise that is in violation of our terms of service is removed from our site.

However, Michelle goes on to report that there are still quite a few items available for Bush haters to purchase.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Revelations: An Opportunity for Christians

Dr. Marc T. Newman of MovieMinistry.com recommends that Christians should watch the NBC miniseries Revelations, which begins tonight (9 p.m. EDT), and use it as an opportunity to witness to nonbelievers.

In his column on Agape Press, he writes: . . .

In the midst of all this bad theology Christians can still make something useful of Revelations. The success of these kinds of sensational extra-biblical thrillers comes from a sincere desire on the part of many viewers to make sense of the world and to know what is coming. Christians can respond to this desire by focusing directly on Christ and examining what He actually says about Himself in the Scriptures.

Anyone who looks to the Bible quickly recognizes that there is no loss of drama, no lack of intensity. Shows like
Revelations give Christians a chance to speak about how to know the truth, and the inevitable coming of Judgment -- including the judgment that occurs at death for everyone even if the Lord tarries. There really is a spiritual war going on and Christians can explain the need to choose sides -- the Scriptures note that humans are not really completely free -- people will be obedient to God or to sin; there is no other way.

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Mark Creech on the N.C. Lottery

The Rev. Mark H. Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, weighs in with a commentary on the North Carolina state lottery bill, which was passed by the house of representatives last week and now heads for the senate.

In it he writes: . . .

Rep. Alma Adams (D-Greensboro) said people could be addicted to many things, but she was going to vote for a lottery in support of education. How sad that Adams and others like her can so easily dismiss the plight of over 300,000 new pathological gamblers that the lottery will create in North Carolina. Moreover, it was truly sad that a large delegation of students from North Carolina's schools watched and listened from the gallery as Adams made the case for state-sponsored gambling -- a way of life which undermines the work ethic, sacrifice, and the kind of moral responsibility that sustains democratic life. Is that what we want to teach our kids?

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Hispanics Embracing Islam

In an article by Chad Groening of Agape Press, W.L. Cati, a former Muslim woman who's now a Christian evangelist, explains the appeal of Islam to certain groups of people, especially Hispanics.

Groening writes: . . .

Cati's belief is that Islam is especially attractive to many Latinos who come from a strongly Catholic background -- particularly those who "do their penance, buy their prayer beads, or whatever." Her theory is that "religion attracts religion," and a works-oriented faith, as she assesses Islam to be, will appeal to those who want to "work [their] way into heaven."

"And that's what's so appealing about Islam," Zennah Ministries' founder says. "Islam is a religion that tells you what to do. It tells you that if you pray five times a day, you're going to please Allah -- you're going to get points for heaven." Sadly, she asserts, people in many faith backgrounds prefer the false notion of works righteousness to the truth of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

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Revelations According to NBC

Tonight (Wednesday), NBC-TV serves up part one of its six-part miniseries Revelations. No, this is not an attempt to bring to the small screen the similarly named last book of the Bible as written by the Apostle John—and make no mistake about that. Instead, this is an attempt to cash in on a perceived notion that Red State America wants to see Hollywood's version of the Bible.

Barbara Nicolosi, who trains religious writers and executives who want to work in Hollywood, said in an article by Gary Levin in today's USA Today that although the first episode is "well-crafted . . . it's very insulting to people of faith to see our scriptures and doctrines mixed up with weird, occultic imagery and scenarios. I think that the red-state, religious, Passion of the Christ–loving audience whom NBC is trying to attract with this kind of programming will actually be repelled."

The miniseries stars Bill Pullman as a Harvard scientist and skeptic who joins forces with a nun played by Natascha McElhone. In what some are calling an "X-Files" on the Apocalypse, the two investigate the signs of the times—famine, oil spills, tsunamis, etc.—and interpret them to mean the end times are near.

Now, I'm not saying that you should not watch this series (for the record, I don't plan to), but if you do, you should view it with a discerning eye. And if you have a hard time drawing a line between what in the series is Biblical and what is not, test it with Scripture. Read and study the Bible and see what God reveals to you on these matters.

But keep in mind, as Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." And I might add, neither do the producers and writers of NBC's Revelations.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Dissecting What DeLay Did or Didn't Do

If you are at all confused by all the charges and allegations being thrown Tom DeLay's way, check out Eric Pfeiffer's column over at the National Review. Pfeiffer does an excellent job of sorting out fact from fiction concerning the House majority leader's so-called unethical behavior. This is looking more and more like a partisan witch hunt being conducted by Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media, especially The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Pfeiffer writes: . . .

In the meantime, DeLay is not retreating from the negative publicity. [spokesman] Dan Allen says DeLay, "looks forward to the opportunity of sitting down with the Ethics Committee chairman and ranking member to get the facts out and to dispel the fiction and innuendo that's being launched at him by House Democrats and their liberal allies."

Hat tip goes to David Limbaugh.
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Tasteless T's

Yesterday, Matt Drudge had a link to a T-shirt being sold on the Cafe Press Web site that had emblazoned on it a message suggesting that Texas congressman Tom DeLay should commit suicide. Today, Michelle Malkin did some searching on the Cafe Press site (they've since removed the DeLay "suicide" shirt) and turned up quite a few hate-filled, anti-Bush products that, if I were a member of the Secret Service, I would consider threatening to our commander in chief.

It takes a . . . sick and twisted mind to come up with stuff like this, but many in our society think it's funny. I guess that in our growing culture of death, publicly suggesting that someone should be killed, including the president of the United States, has become nothing more than a joke.
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Monday, April 11, 2005

W's iPod Playlist

Last summer, President Bush's twin daughters gave him a iPod for his birthday. Since then, the president has used it to listen to music while mountain biking. This morning, The New York Times reveals what tunes make up the presidential playlist.

The president, who is, after all, a busy man, does not . . . download his own songs. That task, according to the Times, falls on the shoulders of his personal aide, Blake Gottesman, who buys the music from Apple's online iTunes store. Additionally, the article reports that the president's mountain-biking buddy, Mark McKinnon, who was his chief media strategist during the 2004 campaign, has added his own "eclectic mix" of tunes for the presidential ears to hear.

Among the 250 songs (the unit can hold 9,750 more!) helping to raise the president's heart rate while cycling are country hits by George Jones, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney, and classic rock tunes by Van Morrison ("Brown Eyed Girl" is a favorite), Stevie Ray Vaughan (the late Texan bluesman's "The House is Rockin'") and John Fogerty. Ironically, Fogerty participated in the anti-Bush (can't really call it "pro-Kerry") "Vote for Change" series of concerts prior to last fall's election. The baseball-loving president, however, chose Fogerty's "Centerfield" instead of Fogerty and his Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," which was used by the Democratic National Committee last fall in an ad designed to discredit the president.

McKinnon's "eclectic" contributions to the playlist include "Circle Back" by John Hiatt, "(You're So Square) Baby, I Don't Care" by Joni Mitchell, "My Sharona" by the Knack, "Castanets" by Alejandro Escovedo and "Alive 'n' Kickin'" by Kenny Loggins.

McKinnon told the Times, "No one should psychoanalyze the song selection. It's music to get over the next hill." But you know they will.

By the way, I'm still waiting for someone to give me an iPod. I don't ride a mountain-bike, but it would come in handy while dog-walking.

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Lessons Learned

I wanted to share with you a letter from Mike Lemont of Ceres, California, that was published in this week's World Magazine in response to their coverage of the Terri Schiavo case: . . .

My morning routine has changed drastically since doctors discovered a large tumor in my brain. This morning, as my wife helped me take a shower, she wiped my nose with her thumb. Talk about humor and humility. Some suggest that the lesson from Terri's struggle is to have a living will, but I have learned a more important lesson: Know who you are marrying. Will they mean it when they say, "For better or worse, in sickness and health"?

Hat tip to Joanna Veith at World Magazine Blog.
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Faith Under Fire

Since last fall, Lee Strobel, an author (The Case for Christ) and former atheist, has hosted "Faith Under Fire," a provocative debate show on religious issues that airs Saturday nights at 10 p.m. EDT on the PAX network (locally on WGPX Channel 16, Time Warner Cable Channel 12). Even though Strobel is a devout Christian, his show provides a forum for all points of view. I highly recommend it, and now that the NCAA Basketball Tournament is over, I can get back into the habit of watching it.

Tonight's show looks particularly interesting. Here's an overview: . . .

A POTPOURRI OF FAITH
Show No. 120 (April 9, 2005)

Faith plays itself out in places of worship...and in our daily lives. In this week's Faith Under Fire, we look at issues surrounding faith in the classroom, in the workplace, and in the life of the daughter of America's most famous evangelist:
- Teaching Evolution
- Billy Graham's Other Woman
- Faith at Work

Teaching Evolution
For generations of students, evolution has been taught as scientific fact. Yet there are scientists who doubt Darwin's theory and believe that intelligent design better explains the origins of life. How can this be? And should intelligent design be taught in the same science courses as evolution? Dr. John G. West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and associate director of their Center for Science and Culture, squares off with Rev. Barry Lynn, practicing attorney, ordained minister, and Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Billy Graham's Other Woman
She has been called the best preacher in the Graham family by none other than her father, world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham. Yet Anne Graham Lotz began her teaching ministry reluctantly. While still reserved by nature, Anne Lotz now fills indoor arenas when she teaches. The founder and head of AnGeL Ministries, Anne is an elegant spokesperson for God and the Bible. In a one-on-one interview with host Lee Strobel, Anne Graham Lotz discusses her new book, Why? which looks at how we should respond when God seemingly doesn't answer our prayers.

Faith at Work
From chaplains at work to bosses holding Bible studies in the boardroom, faith is leaving its mark in the American workplace. Is this appropriate, or should faith be relegated to churches and our homes? Christopher Scott, executive director of the "Forum for Faith in the Workplace," a Christian ministry that helps people live out and share their faith, ethics, and values in their jobs, debates these workplace issues with renowned secular humanist Dr. Paul Kurtz, editor-in-chief of Free Inquiry magazine and professor emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls to the Bible in America Part II

Last night, my wife and daughter and I returned to High Point to visit The Dead Sea Scrolls to the Bible in America one final time before it left the area. This time we brought along my brother and mother.

Even though I had thoroughly gone through the exhibit a week ago, I still found items that I had previously overlooked. And I have to say that I was even more moved last night at what I saw and heard. After taking in the entire exhibit, you will have no doubt that . . . God has done some incredible things through man that enable us today to read His Word in our own language.

Last night, we were also treated to a short lecture from the always accommodating curator of the exhibit, Dr. Craig Lampe. Dr. Lampe, an extremely engaging man with a powerful passion for God and His Word, is a walking, talking encyclopedia on the history of the Bible. In his talk, Dr. Lampe, who spends much of the year working and studying in Israel, pointed out that "the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed." On the former, he gave the example that the ancient Hebrew letters that make up the word "Torah" (the first five books of the Bible written by Moses) translate individually into "what comes from the man nailed to the cross." Dr. Lampe also took time to talk about how we can get our country back to where it needs to be, challenging pastors to preach the Gospel and women to be the "mighty warriors" God created them to be.

Also, be sure to take in one of Joel Lampe's short lectures on the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls. (Joel is Dr. Lampe's son.) He packs an incredible amount of information on the discovery in 10 short minutes.

If you have not had an opportunity to visit the exhibit, I implore you to do so before it shuts down for good tomorrow. It is open today (Saturday) from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and tomorrow from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are only $12 for adults and $8 for students. Providence Place is at 1701 Westchester Drive in High Point. For those of you in Greensboro, just head out west on Wendover toward High Point, turn left on Eastchester (N.C. 68). When you cross Main Street, the road becomes Westchester. Go three miles, and Providence Place will be on your left (for you old timers, it is in what used to be Westchester Mall). Allow yourself at least two hours to see it all, but I bet you'll end up staying longer.

And be sure to say hello to Dr. Lampe and tell him I sent you.

And please remember to pray for Dr. Lampe and his family and staff as they pack up the exhibit and move on next week to prepare for a showing in Paducah, Kentucky, later this month. North Carolina is truly going to miss them and their incredible Christian witness. May God Bless them as the continue to spread the message of how God has protected His Word down through the centuries.

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Sorry, Guys, Laura's Engaged

If you are wondering why single conservative men across the country are sad this week, it's because their favorite talk show host and the girl of their dreams, Laura Ingraham, has announced that she's finally getting married.

From Page Six of today's New York Post: . . .

Laura Ingraham's long search for love is finally over. The blond conservative pundit is getting married in late May or early June to Washington businessman James V. Reyes. The two met on a blind date last Memorial Day weekend. Reyes "runs the Washington operation of a privately held family business," a friend said, adding that the couple will live in Washington and also have an apartment in New York. Both places will have room for Reyes' two children from a previous marriage.

Well, guys, there's always Ann Coulter. Fortunately for me, I'm already married to a good-looking conservative woman who likes to talk.

Laura's radio show, by the way, can be heard locally on WSJS 600 AM, Monday through Friday, right before Rush, from 10 a.m. to noon. (Hey, SJS, I like Glenn Scott, but start picking up that first hour of Laura!)

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Charles and Camilla to Repent

London's Daily Mail reports today that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles will seek forgiveness for their past sins—most notably their adulterous affair while Charles was married to Diana, Princess of Wales—when their wedding is blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury tomorrow.

During the blessing, which will follow the couple's civil ceremony, Charles and Camilla, along with those in attendance, will read an act of penitence from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The Daily Mail reports: . . .

Charles and Camilla will say the prayer book confession which reads: "We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, by thought, word and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us."

It is my hope and prayer that they truly mean this from their heart and are not just doing it because it is expected of them.

Hat tip goes to Matt Drudge.
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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Pope's Funeral Is a Major Event

Great post from Ed Veith over at World Magazine Blog concerning the pope's funeral tomorrow.

Ed writes: . . .

As some three million people--mostly from supposedly secularized Europe--crowd into the Vatican to pay their respects to a pro-life moral absolutist, and as the world gears up to watch three hours of non-contemporary worship, what is going on?

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Ann Coulter on the Role of Women

In her column today, Ann Coulter compares and contrasts liberal and conservative views of the role of women in our society—as only Ann Coulter can—using Ashley Smith's encounter with murderer Brian Nichols as an example.

Coulter writes: . . .

In short order, Smith was reading aloud to Nichols from the Christian book "The Purpose-Driven Life" – in direct violation of his constitutional right to never hear any reference to God, in public or private, for any purpose, ever, ever, ever! For more on this right, go to the "People for the American Way" website.

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Bill Clinton and the Pope

Matt Drudge is reporting:

En route to Rome, Clinton told reporters the pope "centralized authority in the papacy again and enforced a very conservative theological doctrine. There will be debates about that. The number of Catholics increased by 250 million on his watch. But the numbers of priests didn't. He's like all of us - he may have a mixed legacy."

No, he was not . . . like you, President Clinton. The legacy of Pope John Paul II is nothing like the tarnished and tawdry legacy of William Jefferson Clinton.
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Virginia Baptists Take a Stand

The Danville Register & Bee is reporting that the Baptist General Association of Virginia has cut its ties with Averett University in Danville, Virginia, a school the Baptists had been affiliated with and supported for 145 years.

The split comes after a controversy over the formation of a Gay-Straight Student Alliance at Averett and the activities the student organization sponsored during a Gay Pride Week in February.

The article in the Danville newspaper states: . . .

The BGAV made its decision without any bitterness toward Averett, according to John Upton, executive director of the BGAV and the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.

"Our position has long been clear and decisive that homosexuality is a lifestyle that goes against scripture and is contrary to stated Virginia Baptist core values," Upton said.

It's great to see a church organization stand on its principals and not take the politically correct path. Sadly, both Averett and the city of Danville, where both of my parents' families are from, will suffer from the split. However, the one Averett student the Register & Bee saw fit to interview sees it differently:
"I think the general student reaction is that they are free from the oppression, bigotry, discrimination and the rules the BGAV laid down," [Averett senior David] Hammack said. "Students at Averett are open, liberal and accepting of everyone and grew tired of a group that gave them so little money and demanded so much."

Let's remember to keep Averett and its students, faculty, staff and alumni in our prayers.

Hat tip goes to my cousin Leslie, an Averett alumna.
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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bernhard Langer: Masters Champion and Man of God

Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson, in his reporting from Augusta National yesterday, wrote a no-apologies article that simply shares the Christian testimony of pro golfer Bernhard Langer.

In the article, Langer talks about his first Masters win in 1985 and how afterward he unknowingly took the Lord’s name in vain in front of the CBS-TV cameras. The reaction from fans . . . caused him to seriously take stock of his life, and led him to a Bible study with other PGA Tour players. Three months later, Langer turned his life over to Christ, which enabled him to better handle the ups and downs on the golf course. This was never more evident than in 1991 when he missed a short putt that cost the Europeans the Ryder Cup:

"If the Ryder Cup happened to be 10 years earlier, I might have fallen apart. Who knows?" Langer said. "Having a personal relationship with God, knowing there is a bigger picture, knowing there is more to life than golf and success, I could cope with it. And I got over it pretty quick.

"My faith has helped me not in difficult times, but in good times — in all times."

Langer did have an encore performance in front of the CBS cameras when he captured his second green jacket in 1993, on Easter Sunday, no less.

I’m praying that Brother Bernhard has another good week at Augusta this week.

Hat tip goes to Mark Bergin of the excellent World Magazine Blog.

By the way, the News & Record here in Greensboro chose to go with an alternate Doug Ferguson AP story on the Masters in this morning’s paper.


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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

CRI Moving to Charlotte

The Christian Research Institute, the Christian apologetics research organization led by the "Bible Answer Man" Hank Hanegraaff, is moving from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, to Charlotte, North Carolina. In a letter to supporters found on CRI's Web site, Hanegraaff says . . . "Last year CRI hired a firm to do a cost comparison of both locations. We found that over the next several years, our dollars would go further for the Lord’s work in Charlotte because it is a much more cost-effective place from which to minister."

Although CRI's headquarters, research center and "Bible Answer Man" broadcasts will be based in Charlotte, the organization's magazine, The Christian Research Journal, will remain in Southern California.

The move is scheduled to begin this month and be completed by June.

The "Bible Answer Man" can be heard locally, Monday through Friday, at 6:30 p.m., on WTRU 830 AM.

Welcome to North Carolina, Hank and CRI! We're glad to have you as fellow Tar Heels.

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Did Bishop Robinson Imply Jesus Was Gay?

In a post on his blog yesterday, David Limbaugh assumed that most of us had heard about what openly gay Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson had said concerning Jesus Christ and His lifestyle, but I had not. The comments, which many people construed to mean that Robinson believed Jesus was a homosexual, were made by Robinson on February 13 at a forum on sexual issues at Christ Church of Hamilton and Wenham in Massachusetts. His portion of the forum was titled . . .
"Homosexuality and the Body of Christ: Is There a New Way?"

Robinson, in a quote from an Associated Press wire story, denies that he was implying Jesus was gay, saying, "[Jesus] lived a very untraditional lifestyle. Which is not to say that I in any way asserted that he was gay, or anything about his sexual orientation."

However, according to a recording of the forum available on the church's Web site and reported on by AP, Robinson says:

"Interestingly enough, in this day of traditional family values and so on, this man that we follow . . . was single as far as we know; who traveled with a bunch of men, although there were lots of women around; who had a disciple who was known as 'the one whom Jesus loved'; who said 'my family is not my mother and father, my family are those who do the will of God.' None of us like those harsh words. That's who Jesus is, that's who he was, at least in his earthly life."

Based on how I read it, it appears he was definitely trying to stir something up with his comments and find yet another way to justify his "nontraditional" lifestyle by twisting Scripture. I also thought it was interesting how he threw a bone to the Da Vinci Code crowd with his comment that Jesus "was single as far as we know."

It is bad enough for this man to live openly and unrepentantly in his sin and be a leader in the church, but to twist Scripture and even hint that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ could have been a practicing homosexual is about as blatant a blasphemy as you can get.
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National Champions

Say what you want about Matt Doherty, but he did recruit a talented group of kids to play at Carolina. And the fact that Roy Williams was able to mold them into National Champions in two short years is nothing short of amazing. But that really shouldn't surprise us since it was that formula—Doherty recruiting, Williams coaching—that led to much success for Kansas in the 1990s.

And wasn't it great last night, Carolina fans, that . . . the Heels were able to win a National Championship game with no fluke play at the end to decide it. After living through Freddie Brown's errant pass in 1982 and Chris Webber's timeout in 1993, I couldn't help but wonder, as the game was coming to a close, what would happen this time that would give the ABC (Anybody But Carolina) crowd something to discredit the victory. I guess those things only happen to Dean Smith.
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Monday, April 04, 2005

A Look at God From the Left

An interesting dialogue has begun over at The Front Pew, the blog of Greensboro News & Record religion writer Nancy McLaughlin.

Yesterday, Congregational United Church of Christ began public sessions to read and discuss the book God's Politics, written by author and Democratic Party religion advisor Jim Wallis. The discussion group meets again next . . . Sunday, April 10, at 4 p.m., at the church (400 West Radiance Drive, Greensboro, North Carolina).

To complement these sessions, McLaughlin's blog is providing an online forum hosted by the pastor at Congregational UCC, the politically outspoken and Left-leaning Julie Peeples, who is always the N&R's go-to person for liberal theological quotes (see Jesus in 2005.)

For more of a look at the politics and beliefs of Jim Wallis, read Katherine Mangu-Ward's article God's Democrat: The Church of Jim Wallis, which appears in The Weekly Standard's April 11 edition. (Hat tip goes to Susan Olasky at World Magazine Blog.)

Here's an excerpt:

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to write a book called God's Politics. But you have only to read a few pages of Jim Wallis's new bestseller by that name to discover that it isn't actually about the politics of an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful deity at all. Instead, it's 384 pages of Jim's politics, and Jim (with a couple of notable exceptions) is a pretty average, down-the-line leftist who, by the way, believes in God.

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

We Need the Wisdom of Solomon

Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I were listening to Sean Hannity on his radio show interview Newt Gingrich. In discussing the Terri Schiavo case, Gingrich made an interesting point in comparing the decision whether or not to kill Terri to the wise ruling King Solomon made in 1 Kings 3:16–28, when he determined that the woman who was willing to give up her son in order for him to live was . . . indeed the child's mother.

Gingrich said that if Solomon had been deciding Terri's case, he would've likely sided with her parents and life. Of course, the two cases are not completely parallel, a healthy baby versus a brain-damaged grown woman, but who's to say which life is more valuable than the other? And at least Solomon knew a mother would choose life for the child she loved, even though it might mean that the child would live a less-than-perfect life away from his mother.

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Zogby Poll Concerning Terri Schiavo

David Limbaugh reports on his blog today that Zogby has released poll results in which the right questions concerning Terri Schiavo's care were finally asked. When those polled by Zogby were asked whether food and water should have been withheld from Terri, 79 percent said no and only 9 percent said yes. David also provides a link to an article from LifeNews.com that provides . . . more details on the poll results.

It's unfortunate that these numbers have come out too late to support Terri's cause, but it at least confirms that many of the polls conducted by the mainstream media over the past few weeks have been skewed.

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The Faith of the Tar Heels

In this day and age of scandals in college and professional sports, it is refreshing to read about college basketball players professing their faith in Jesus Christ, although you won't read about it often in the mainstream press or hear about it on TV.

I had heard that several Carolina players were Christians and participated in Bible studies, and this article from today's edition of the Kinston Free Press confirms it.

Here's an excerpt: . . .

[David] Noel said he believes the reason the Tar Heels are still playing this season is because of the bonding established through faith.

"It has flowed throughout this team this whole year and I think that's part of the reason this team has gone as far as we have," he said.

Hat tip goes to Mark Bergin at World Magazine Blog, who in this post mentions that freshman Marvin Williams is also a part of this Tar Heel revival.
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Nothing Could Be Finer Than Final Four Time in Carolina

My alma mater, the University of North Carolina, plays once again this evening in the national semifinals. I have been a Carolina basketball fan all my life and have been around to enjoy or lament 13 previous Final Fours that have featured the Tar Heels. As a kid, I worshiped those basketball players who wore light-blue Converse high tops (a pair of which I got every year as school shoes). When it came time to apply to college, I didn't even consider any other schools. Fortunately, I got in.

As a young child, I have vague memories of Dean Smith's first . . . Final Four teams, three in a row from 1967–69, which was when my brother was matriculating at Chapel Hill and when that Carolina magic spell first got a hold on me. I don't remember the Heels losing to Dayton in the '67 semis or to Lew Alcindor and UCLA in the '68 finals.

But in '69, I am watching as Rick Mount of Purdue drains shots to do us in. My parents later buy me a red-white-and-blue Rick Mount–model basketball that reminds me of that image every time I hit the ol' driveway court.

In 1972, I am bitterly disappointed when we don't get a shot at UCLA again, as Bobby Jones, Bob McAdoo and crew lose to Otto Petty and his fellow speedy Seminoles of Florida State. During my junior year of high school in 1977, I fret as the walking-wounded Tar Heels almost take it all but fall short to a sobbing Al McGuire and Marquette, as Mike O'Koren sits and sits at the scorers table, waiting to get back into the game.

When I finally make it to Chapel Hill for my four years of studying and waiting in line for basketball tickets, my timing is perfect as we make it to the title game each of my last two years. In 1981, the semifinal win over Virginia and Ralph Sampson (who I've always contended would've been a Tar Heel had we not served him franks and beans in the Granville cafeteria on the day of his official visit) is the highlight, with Al Wood (who was known to have a few interesting moves on the dance floor—just ask my wife) knocking down 39 points. The celebration on Franklin Street that late afternoon turns out to be one of the best post-game blasts I've ever experienced. Two days later, President Reagan is shot and Isiah Thomas and the Indiana Hoosiers end up cutting down the nets. The mood on Franklin Street that night is eerie and not very cheery. I look up several times to see beer-bottle projectiles flying through the air.

In 1982, I am a senior heading for a degree in journalism and life in the cold, cruel world, and the Heels have a freshman named Michael Jordan who makes the last shot to beat Georgetown in the finals. Underappreciated and overshadowed by the heroics of MJ in years hence is James Worthy, who was the real reason we won that game. And not just because the Hoyas' Freddie Brown gives him that gift in the closing seconds. I'll never forget his breakaway dunks, especially the one that ricocheted off of his fellow Gastonia buddy Sleepy Floyd's head.

An unforgettable all-night celebration downtown is followed by the team's triumphant return the next day at Kenan Stadium. In the wee hours of the morning on Franklin Street, my steady girlfriend fiercely yanks my hair because I have the audacity to hug another girl as we all dance, whoop and holler in the street. At Kenan the following afternoon, my classmate Chris Brust points out that his one free throw was the difference in the 63-62 final score, a memory that still makes me smile.

As I settle down in adult life, going through various relationships and jobs, the Heels stay out of the Final Four spotlight. They finally make it back in 1991. That spring I am a year away from getting married (not to the hair-pulling girlfriend of '82, by the way) and have just joined the ranks of the unemployed, and Carolina is headed for a showdown against Kansas and Roy Williams in the semis. Expectations are high, but all anyone can now remember is Dean Smith slowly walking off the court past his friend Roy and the Kansas bench after being tossed out of the game by referee Pete Pavia.

Two years later, I have a good job (with my current employer) and Carolina is back in the Final Four. My new bride and I watch the finals against Michigan's Fab Five on a big-screen TV set up in Carmichael. Donald Williams gets hot and Chris Webber calls time-out, and we head downtown in a light rain. Once there, it just isn't the same as '82. For the first time in Chapel Hill, I feel old and a bit out of place. No blue paint for me. I'm a spectator, not a participant. I don't even hug anybody this time.

In 1995, Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace fall to Arkansas in the semis, and then quickly bolt for the NBA, and I start to wonder why these guys don't want to stay in Blue Heaven for all four years like I did. (Of course, no one was dangling millions in front of my nose.) Two years later, I'm now a father of a beautiful daughter, Dean overtakes Adolph Rupp with his 877th win (I get to witness No. 876 in person in Winston-Salem), but the Heels fall to Arizona and the outstanding guard play of Mike Bibby and Miles Simon in the semifinals. Dean retires the following October, and to me Carolina basketball can never be the same.

Despite Dean's departure, going to the Final Four continues to be a habit for the Heels this decade, with Bill Guthridge leading them in 1998. My 2-year-old daughter learns how to say "Ademola Okulaja," which stuns passersby as she practices while shopping with her mom at the local Big Lots. However, the Heels shoot poorly against the Running Utes of Utah and lose once again in the semis.

In 2000, the Heels are not expected to go far, but with Greensboro's Brendan Haywood hitting from inside and Joseph Forte hitting from outside, Carolina and Uncle Gut, in his final year as coach, make a surprise run before falling to Florida in the semifinals.

Now, in 2005, I have a wife, a child, a dog, a job, responsibilities at my church and, of all things, a blog. After surviving the Matt Years, Carolina is back once again in the Final Four, this time with Roy back on our bench to coach a talented cast of players. No, I don't get as excited about these games as I once did. No, I don't worship the players in light blue any longer (maybe partly because they no longer wear Carolina blue Converse and instead opt for diamond ear bobs and multiple tattoos). I won't mope around and kick said dog should we lose tonight or Monday night. But I will be in front of the TV watching and cheering them on—if I can stay awake and if my meeting at church on Monday ends on time and if I'm not glued to my computer screen blogging. Win or lose, I think I will at least give my wife, daughter and dog a hug.

Go Heels!




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Praying for the Pope

Pope John Paul II has truly been a friend of evangelical Protestants, taking an unwavering stand on many of the important social issues of our day, including the recent Terri Schiavo case. I pray for him as he prepares to join Jesus in heaven. I'm also praying for the future leadership of the Catholic Church, that the next pope will continue in this man's standard of faithfulness.
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Friday, April 01, 2005

The Dead Sea Scrolls to the Bible in America

My wife and daughter and I FINALLY made it over to Providence Place in High Point today to see the exhibit The Dead Sea Scrolls to the Bible in America. We were not disappointed. It is incredible to see first-hand how God has protected and preserved His Word through the centuries. And to hear what great sacrifices men have made to make sure you and I can read and study the Bible in our own language makes you . . . not want to take that privilege for granted.

The exhibit, which opened in mid-January and has been held over twice, continues to draw in thousands of visitors. According to yesterday's Greensboro News & Record, 50,000 people have visited the exhibit over 87 days. But time is running out if you want to see it for yourself, and if you live near High Point, I highly recommend that you do. The exhibit, which is open 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Monday–Saturday, and noon–6 p.m., Sundays, ends its North Carolina run next Sunday, April 10. It heads next to Paducah, Kentucky, and will be in Spartanburg, South Carolina, this fall.

While we were there we were very fortunate to meet and talk with three of the curators, Dr. Craig Lampe, Lee Biondi and Joel Lampe, who were all very friendly and accommodating to visitors. I asked Dr. Lampe, who operates The Bible Museum in Arizona, if many skeptics had been through the exhibit and later convinced and convicted with what they saw. He said it has happened many, many times, and that it is hard for them to not to believe with all of the hard evidence right there in front of them.

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Laura Ingraham and the "But Monkeys"

If you're like me and enjoy listening to the wit and wisdom of Laura Ingraham on her radio talk show (locally in the Triad on WSJS 600 AM, 10 a.m.–noon), you'll appreciate this cartoon by Brett Noel.
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