Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Month: July 2007 Page 2 of 3

Guatemala Email 1

The following is the email sent by Kathy Harrelson to update parents and others about what is going on with the CCSM mission trip. I will be posting these as I receive them.

Hello from Antigua, Guatemala!

In case you did not receive the test email we sent earlier this week, let me introduce myself. I am Kathy Harrelson, the High School Director at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Our high school ministry is on a mission trip to Guatemala and one of our students has added your name to this email list. You will receive updates throughout our trip.

We have all (90 of us!!) arrived safely, though we had a number of logistical challenges with flights, passports, etc. Two persons (Sam Watson and Colin Hart) are still waiting on their luggage so please pray their bags arrive quickly. They have borrowed clothes and have a great attitude.

As I type, all the student are spread across the city of Antigua…one large group at the Plaza and one at the Market. They are all out sharing the Gospel. As Jon reminded us this morning before we went out, it is God that opens hearts to hear and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Speaking about Lydia in Acts 16, verse 14 tells us “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” Please pray that the Lord is doing that right now for the persons hearing what our students are sharing.

About noon (we are an hour behind Texas time so it is 10:20am here) we will gather for lunch, grilled cheese and fries I think, and travel by bus to Panajachel and then by boat to Santiago. Pray for safe travels we we reach our final destination at the Posada de Santiago.

This year we are excited that 5 folks from CrossPoint Community Church in Tomball, Texas, are a partnering with us. They flew down separately from Houston and met us here in Antigua last night; we had already gotten every flight out of DFW they would sell us. The youth minister at CrossPoint is Dixon Jowers, who was a part of Christ Chapel’s high school staff for years. We are really glad that he along with 4 of his youth: Scotty, Hanna, Bethany, & Jessica, are joining us.

Finally, I want to introduce you to Wayne Huff. He is a Wycliffe missionary who is helping lead our trip. If you’d like to know more about Wayne and see a picture of him, go to www.wycliffe.org. In the bottom left corner of the site there are 6 pictures. The bottom picture on the right is of Wayne. Click and read a little about Wayne. He is one of the most godly, faithful men I know. We are incredibly fortunate to have him here with us. Pray for Wayne this week and his wife Alice who is at home in Dallas.

Thanks for your prayers. I will continue to send updates and reports as I have time and internet access. We are grateful that you are partnering with us in prayer.

In Christ,
Kathy Harrelson
High School Director at Christ Chapel Bible Church

Two Views of Spiritual Regeneration – A Very Helpful Chart

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/a … views.html

Good News Concerning the Anbar Province in Iraq

News you just don’t hear about but need to …
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/conte … p/boot/657

Democrats pledge support for wide access to abortion

http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/poli … 0abortion/

More than anything, this makes me really sad for how our society can justify the murder of unborn children at a legal level. My wife is about to deliver our first child in a few weeks. And to see a baby moving inside of her, responding to me when I talk, I cannot possibly conceive how anyone, in such an organized, political manner, can justify abortion, as if it is some badge of honor to give legal consent to commit murder. And this is only because God has changed my heart by His grace, otherwise I would be darkened in my understanding just as those are who approve of such awful, horrific things. I take no credit for my stance on abortion. I am a sinner, and without the restraint of God turning me from my sin by His grace, I would by justifying abortion in the same manner. We are so prone to sin and we cannot even perceive how exposed we are.

So, could I be outraged and take up an offense against these particular Democrats on the basis of morality? Sure. Could I protest the politics of it all and defend the Republican stance against abortion? Absolutely. And I do defend the abolition of abortion. However, our ultimate hope as believers in Christ is not in the politics of this world, but of the politics of heaven where Christ reigns (His sovereignty over all things), where our citizenship lies. At the same time, I desire to do what I can in this world (voting) to keep people out of office who approve of and give free, unfettered easy access for citizens to commit infanticide. This to me trumps all other issues, as important as they are, because this is such a wickedly depraved act and exposes the rank unbelief that lies in the hearts of men. And to give approval of such things on a political level (as we already have) is to delve our nation further into unbelief of the Gospel. As far as the liberal stance on abortion is concerned, they do not need people like us yelling at them, they need us to love them by entering their lives, show them the Gospel, and they need their hearts of stone melted by the grace and mercy of God in Christ by the Holy Spirit.

They need the call of the Gospel, and in that the wakening of their souls from spiritual death to see the beauty of Christ. This is our only hope for changing people’s hearts to see the utter darkness of abortion: the work of the Holy Spirit to unbind hearts chained by sin. For such a sophisticated society as ours, we are one of the most barbaric cultures to approve of something as wretched as infanticide. May God have mercy on our nation and culture and cleanse us of our wickedness by His grace alone. Oh Lord, have mercy upon us as a people by turning our hearts from our wickedness.

Who Are We To Judge?

This is a common phrase spoken constantly in our culture. And it has even made its way into the church now. Our culture has redefined the terms judgment, acceptance, and tolerance to say that if you say anything against anyone else, it is judging. They say, “Who are we to judge the words, thoughts and actions of others?” The pillar text to back up this statement- is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Also, Romans 2:1, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” And while I absolutely agree that we should not judge others in the sense of seeing ourselves as morally superior and others as morally wretched (deluding ourselves), I believe a distinction must be made between two kinds of judgments or the church will continue to flounder in its influence to hold up the Gospel as THE WAY to God in this wretched, increasingly paganizing culture filled with poisonous doctrine that is against the Gospel. There is a type of judgment where you simply assess a situation, a persons’ words, understanding someone’s statements, and come to a discerning conclusion, based upon information given in that circumstance. Jesus spoke of this in John 7:24, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” And then there is a judgment in which you make ultimately final, authoritative calls: that is not your place to do so, Jesus’s point in Matthew 7. It is God’s place, and we are not God, therefore, we should not assume His place in this. And if we presume to take God’s place as the judge, we should fear because it fundamentally shows we have not really gotten the Gospel, Pauls point in Romans 2. So on the one hand, we make probably thousands of judgments (discerning calls) every day concerning all kinds of things. Are these evil? No! What is an evil kind of judging though? When you take God’s place as judge and set yourself up as morally pure and others as morally wretched, looking down upon them. It is making the proclamation that you are morally worthy of God’s favor based upon your works, not Christ’s, and are therefore righteous as a final authority in all the universe. How evil. It is ultimately a rejection of the Gospel and God’s grace. We should beware if we fall into this. Romans 2 and Matthew 7 in particular speaks to this very point.

Now I want to show the other type of judgment, the discerning type, that is not evil by bringing in some other Scripture passages that speak of a kind judging, or making judgments, that are not to be taken in the same way Matthew 7 and Romans 2 are taken. Galatians 1:9 says, “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Romans 16:17, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.” Ephesians 4:11-14, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry … so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” 1 Timothy 1:3, “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” 1 Timothy 4:3-5, “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

Is Paul not making judgments here and telling those he writes to to do the same thing? But what kind of judgments are these? Is he asserting his place as God, presiding over the judgment of men’s souls? No, he is making calls concerning false teachers and every wind of doctrine that blows to and fro that would lead us astray, that is from man and not from God. Are we as the church not supposed to make these kinds of judgments? Yes. Are we not to be discerning of good and bad doctrine? Absolutely we are. If we don’t, we will lose the truth altogether in our culture. However, we are not supposed to judge by taking God’s place as the final judge of all things. We do not know men’s hearts ultimately and have no place to make such an assertion before the time of judgment by God. However, are we not supposed to be discerning about what people state as the truth of the Scriptures? Paul seems to think so. Are not Paul’s writings inerrant Scripture? It seems to me the postmodern talk of tolerance, acceptance, and the cultures’ understanding of Jesus’ words have infiltrated the church’s understanding of when to make calls concerning right and wrong doctrine. the more muddled and grey the statements of Scripture become, the more we forfeit the only hope given among men by which they must be saved: Jesus Christ crucified.

So when someone says to me, “Who are you to judge,” my response to them is, “Who are you to judge me?” I’m trying to make the point to them that they are making a judgment about me just as I am of whoever else we are talking about (remember, a discerning judgment). In attempting to be inclusive of all people, once again, they are making exclusive judgments and doing the same thing to me they accuse me of doing. This thought process must be confronted, lovingly, first in our churches (where we stand up for doctrine and confessions of the Scripture) and then secondly, address our culture, and in doing so recover the Gospel, the hope of the world. This thought process is self-refuting and hinders the progress of Gospel-truth in our churches.

The Debate That Never Was

James White and Tom Ascol were going to debate Ergun and Emir Caner on Baptists and Calvinism back in the Fall of 2006. However, it never happened, for whatever reason (you decide (1), (2)). So White and Ascol decided to put together this audio clip with their opening statements for the debate that never was, as well as rebuttals to statements the Caner’s have made leading up to the debate. They give the Caner’s a fair look by playing audio clips from their sermons pertaining to Calvinism. Then White and Ascol respond to their statements. Very good …


Upgraded Webservers to PHP 5.2 and MySQL 5.0.45 Today

After a long process (not as long as I thought though) I finally got all my systems and sites converted to the latest backend web systems. The reason I converted was because just yesterday www.php.net announced the “end of life” for PHP version 4, which is what I have been running on. So I figured I should start converting code and get it done now just to be on the safe side. PHP code was actually the biggest pain of all to convert. The login system I use to maintain user accounts and security for www.westerfunk.net was originally coded to use <? to begin the PHP scripts instead of <?php which worked fine in PHP 4.4.7. But once I began utilizing PHP 5.2, everything broke. First I had to narrow down what the problem was after searching forums, and then I had to address it. I wound up having to go through the login system code and change every <? to <?php and now it works very well. It’s good I’m standardized as far as the code is concerned, but man it would be nice to actually have some things easily transfer over from an older platform to a newer one. Anyway, in addition to that, while I was at it, I got all my DB schemas converted to MySQL 5.0.45 and moved that system over to my other server off of the main webserver which has definitely increased performance. This was relatively painless believe it or not. I installed MySQL, backed up the schemas off the old MySQL server, uploaded the saved schemas, assigned rights, and it was good to go. Glad that’s over …

What Do “The Secret” and the Church of Satan Have in Common?

Many people in our society simply cast aside such a comparison as non-sense, mainly because The Secret, authored by Rhonda Byrne, is a first place New York Times best seller (on the list for 25 weeks now!), at one point selling around 4 times the amount of the second place best seller. Let’s start by talking about how they are not related: one is blatantly calling itself Satanism (the religion of self as they proclaim) and the other is packaging itself in a much cleaner fashion, in the form of love and tranquility. One is abrasive, the other is seemingly harmonious. In my estimation, The Secret will do far more damage to our society than blatant Satanism. But how does the “theology” of The Secret differ from that of Satanism? Well it doesn’t really when you get down to what each “religion” is saying. Quote from Anton Szandor LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, from their website:

“Since Satanism is essentially a religion of the self, it holds that the individual and his personal needs comes first … Satanism is the only religion which serves to encourage and enhance one’s individual preferences, so long as there is admission of those needs. Thus, one’s personal and indelible religion (the picture) is integrated into a perfect frame. It’s a celebration of individuality without hypocrisy, of solidarity without mindlessness, of objective subjectivity.” – Taken from http://www.churchofsatan.com/Pages/MostPower.html (WARNING – be careful on this site, a few bad pictures and a few bad links, I would say just stick to that one page and that will be enough to give you the overview).

Well unfortunately, Satanism is not the only religion which holds to this kind of thinking.

In comparison, here are some audio sound bites from Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret (just hover over the links below to play them in the window that pops up):

The Magnificence of You (MP3)
The Sun Rises for You (MP3)
You Are the Creator (MP3) < This one just amazes me

This teaching is blatantly Satanic. How? Just rewind to the Garden of Eden. Satan told Eve, “You will be like God.” (Gen 3:5) What is the fundamental difference between these two “religions”? None. It is all about self. Satan fell from heaven because of his assertion that he was God and could conquer Him. Is The Secret any different? The church must embrace the Biblical Gospel and cast aside anything that would come into our churches that is not only non-Christian but anti-Christian, like The Secret. According to Al Mohler, from this radio program (mp3) he did back in March, ladies watching Oprah (also this) are bringing this filth into Bible studies! Unbelievable. This is why we must preach a clear Gospel and Biblical doctrine from Scripture. People in our Christian culture are so unfamiliar with their own belief system they cannot even recognize something as blatantly Satanic as The Secret.

“A great civilization is not conquered from without, until it has destroyed itself from within.”
– Will Durant

The Goal of God’s Love May Not Be What You Think It Is – John Piper

SimplePHPBlog 0.5.0 Possibly on July 15th

According to their website, SimplePHPBlog will be putting out a new build of code possibly available on the 15th. I will eventually get over to this new version, but will have to modify some code. For those of you who do not know what this is, or even care to know, SimplePHPBlog is a textfile-driven weblog that does not use any backend database such as MySQL, MS-SQL, etc. It just saves the blog data into text files locally on the server and compresses them into gzip format to save space. So far, with 192,000 words written on my blog, I’ve only used about 511K of space, minus all of the other data it saves for the site. Pretty incredible deal …

Microsoft LifeCam: First Experience Not So Good

I purchased a new Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000 over the web from BestBuy.com and was thoroughly displeased. Upon plugging it into my server, it picked up a USB 2.0 device, which is normal (i.e. there was no driver for it to utilize). So I installed the software, and no matter what I did, I could not get the webcam to see the drivers. I tried several different procedures for installing the software and the webcam; no go. So I’m taking it back to try another one today. We’ll see how that goes.

Update @ 11:35 am

And there’s more: my sweet wife took the cam back to a Best Buy near us to exchange it this morning. You would think this would be simple enough. Nope. Apparently, because I used a gift card on BestBuy.com to order my cam, they had to fully refund the cam back to my account in two parts, $8.00 for the part I actually paid, and the $100.00 back to the gift card, which they will now send in the mail as they had to reissue a new one. So the cam didn’t work, they took it back, and now instead of just exchanging it for another of the same product, they must reissue a card? I’m confused on that one. Not a huge deal to wait, just as long as I get the $100.00 card back. So do not use a Best Buy gift card on BestBuy.com, in case you have to return the product.

Update @ 3:02 pm on 7/13/2007 – I have now obtained the VX-3000 model, which is half the price of the VX-6000, and it works well. I plugged it in and Windows XP found the drivers right away. It does not have the wide-screen lens, but it does what I need it to. The one drawback I can see so far is the software seems to be very limited on its ability to efficiently change brightness, contrast, gamma, flicker, etc. Some times I would change settings and it wouldn’t take

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