Archive for August, 2009

August 31, 2009

[843 acres] Presidential Death Threats

by Bethany

Death threats against President Barack Obama have risen by 400% since the inauguration. Recently, Chris Broughton – with an AR-15 firearm – arrived at a public speech given by the President in Arizona. The day before this event, Broughton was sitting in church, listening to his pastor give a sermon entitled, “Why I Hate Barack Obama.” In this sermon, Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe said, “And I’m going to tell you something. I hate Barack Obama. You say, well, you just mean you don’t like what he stands for. No, I hate the person. Oh, you mean you just don’t like his policies. No, I hate him … I am not going to pray for his good. I am going to pray that he dies and goes to hell.” [CNN]. Has Pastor Anderson read the entire Bible?

  • Has he read 1 John 4: 19-21 (“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”)
  • Some may argue that 1 John 4 only applies to “brothers,” i.e., fellow believers, of which we do not know whether Obama is. But, even if he is not, what about Matthew 5:43-47 (Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven … If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?), or what about Ezekiel 33:11 (“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.”)?
August 31, 2009

[Morning Walk] Kennedy’s Cancer : 1 Cor. 5

by Bethany

Today’s Readings1 Samuel 24, 1 Corinthians 5

In May 2008, Senator Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. Although doctors initially told him that the tumor was inoperable, he sought second opinions. In the end, he decided to pursue an extremely aggressive and exhausting course of treatment. First, in June 2008, he underwent a 3 1/2-hour surgery – during which he remained conscious – in order to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Second, after the surgery, he began a lengthy course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Although the operation was considered to be a success, no one knew exactly how much longer he would live. Over the next year, unfortunately, Kennedy suffered at least two more seizures and, he ultimately passed away on August 25th.

Kennedy sought an aggressive and risky treatment because he understood that one bad “seed” can infect the whole “bunch.” Similarly, Paul writes,

Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

Here, Paul warns that we should use aggressive treatment for our sin in order to get rid of it. We should – like Kennedy understood – take our “spiritual” cancer seriously by seeking to remove it entirely. We cannot live alongside it, ignore it with the hope that it will go away, or let it grow and fester until we become spiritually dead. Rather, we fight it, we confess it, we flee from it, and we do not boast about it. And we are capable of doing so because Christ has been sacrificed and has completed this work. Let us rejoice and put our faith in the great physician so that we may be spiritually alive into eternity.

August 31, 2009

[843 acres] IN THE NEWS: 8.31.09

by Bethany
  • Farewell to Facebook? [The New York Times Magazine]. What is the vision of the new “community”? And, to what extent does it not include meeting together? [Hebrews 10:25].
  • Would you vote to replace the entire Congress? 57% of you would. [Rasmussen Reports]. As long as they are our leaders, however, how should we approach them? [Hebrews 13:17].
  • Is it disturbing that a celebrity look-alike sperm bank is coming to NYC? [New York Magazine]. Since when was it our job to control the creation and beauty of a baby? [Psalm 139:13-14].
August 28, 2009

[Morning Walk] Why The Park Forum? 1 Corinthians 2

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 20, 1 Corinthians 2.

It would be malpractice for a lawyer to file a brief with a court without knowing, citing, and conveying the relevant statute. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter once told his students at Harvard Law School that there were three keys to interpreting a law: “(1) Read the statute. (2) Read the statute. (3) Read the statute.”

If reading a statute is an essential practice for a lawyer to interpret the law, then it stands to reason that knowing the Bible is an essential practice for a Christian to interpret the God who wrote it (2 Timothy 3:16). Yet, many of us reading this blog today will simply read the post (written by a mere human being) and not read the relevant Bible passage (written by the Creator of the universe).

The aim of The Park Forum is not to make you feel guilty about not reading the Bible. Rather, The Park Forum exists to help city dwellers access the Bible more readily. Accordingly, we are in the process of creating city-friendly Bible studies for small groups  (i.e., daily 10-minute quiet times that that will be available on iPhone applications, etc.), developing reading skills directly applicable to the Bible, and building the “843 acres of the near future” that looks at current events through a Biblical lens (under the theory that, if you can see that the Bible is alive on the pages of your city paper, you will be more likely to pick up the Word on your own).

So, why does The Park Forum believe that knowledge of the Word is essential for a Christian? As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (emphasis mine). NIV.

(1) The Park Forum believes that our faith cannot rest on men’s wisdom. All over the world, pastors and church leaders tell their congregants what the Bible says (which is important, Hebrews 10:25), but they rarely teach them how to read it. As a result, many Christians do not know what they believe and simply repeat what they hear. This practice is dangerous because it results in a faith that rests on men’s wisdom, which pales in comparison to God’s (1 Corinthians 1: 25: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom …”).

(2) The Park Forum believes that our faith must rest on God’s power. Only the word of God has a guarantee on it. In Isaiah 55:11, the LORD says, “[The word that goes out from my mouth] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” To the extent that our words are either not the Word of God or not closely implied from it, our words have no such guarantee.

In the next few months, you will see various ways by which we hope to get you excited to read the Word on a daily basis. We hope that we will get you to see that, “As the Park is to the City, so the Word is to Life” – democratic, playful, enjoyable, restful, explorable, and communal. We hope that you’ll join us on this journey of placing our faith on God’s power and not in men’s wisdom.

August 28, 2009

[843 acres] IN THE NEWS – 8.28.09

by Bethany
  • Can two Members of Congress (former MoC Tony Hall and current MoC Frank Wolf), who are involved with The Fellowship, provide a better commentary on the group than the press has been offering recently? [Christianity Today].
  • How will you finish your life? Senator Ted Kennedy, from the time that he was diagnosed with brain cancer 15 months ago, sought to have “a good ending for himself.” [The New York Times]. Similarly, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”).
  • Has Facebook and/or Twitter ruined friendships? [The Wall Street Journal]. Paul still could have tweeted, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (98 characters, Philippians 1:3).
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