11:30 AM Last week I reported that the pastors had filled out brackets for March Madness (no money involved). When I asked this morning at staff meeting how we were all doing in the contest, Craig Hammond said he didn’t know. Howard Duncan sent this email a few minutes ago:
Since Ray asked about the NCAA tournament, and since this is the first time that I ever filled out a bracket list I will report that based upon total guess work that I have 8 teams in the sweet 16, and 5 still in the running for the final four: Illinois Louisville North Carolina Wisconsin Duke Ask me if I care?
Then Darin Weil sent this note:
Are the Packers in it this year? Thats all I care about.
8:05 AM I took the two entries below and turned them into an entry on the Crosswalk weblog called Death is Not Natural. 7:42 AM I wrote the entry below because of this fine post by Joe Carter at The Evangelical Outpost. Folks, we need to do some clear thinking on this topic. The reason we celebrate Easter is because Jesus came back from the dead. Death could not hold him. That alone should tell you that death is not “natural” or “normal” or “good” in the truest sense of those words. 7:36 AM We’re hearing a lot from certain people that you should “die with dignity” because death is “natural.” I’ve never believed that, not for a moment, and don’t see how you can square that with Christian theology. Death is the “last enemy” that will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26). On this week of all weeks, we ought not to fall for the secular, pro-death viewpoint that death is somehow noble or good or dignified. If death is so good, why did Jesus come back from it? Why didn’t he stay dead? I wholeheartedly agree that there are better and worse ways to die, and I thank God for those doctors and nurses and hospice workers and loving family and friends who give themselves tirelessly for the dying. God bless them all. They are doing God’s work. But let us not mistake compassion for the dying for a mushy, misty, touchy-feely view of death. Death may be a release from pain, and in that sense it can be a blessing, but death is also the result of pain and suffering. The Bible says that death came into the world because of sin (Romans 5:12), and without sin, there would be no death. That’s why Revelation 21:4 says that for those in heaven, God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Death, suffering and pain all belong to the “old order” that even now is passing away. Thank God, there will be no graves dug into the hillsides of heaven. Jesus made sure of that on Easter Sunday morning. 6:11 AM I’m going to be on Pastor’s Roundtable on WYLL, 1160 AM radio, from 3-4 PM today. Here are the topics we will be discussing: 1) The Terri Schiavo case. 2) NCAA Basketball: Is it OK to participate in tournament brackets where there is an entry fee and cash prize? 3) Illinois House Bill 1453 did not make it out of committee. It would have required abortion clinics, like Planned Parenthood, to honor a 24 hour waiting period before performing the procedure. In addition, it would have required doctors to provide pregnant women with information regarding the possible risks of the procedure, similar to the kinds of risk disclosure required in this state for procedures like tooth extraction and elective surgery. It would also have provided pregnant women with biological information regarding the fetus. Why do you think this bill was rejected in committee? Wouldn’t this give women information to make a more informed “choice”? 4) Are you, personally, enthused about the evidence of momentum toward democracy in Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and other counties in the Middle East? 5) Ashley Smith was taken hostage by the man who killed the judge and escaped in Atlanta. She says that she read from the Bible and the book “The Purpose Driven Life” to eventually lead him to let her go and turn himself in. Is she lucky, or was this the Providence of God? 6) Sunday is Easter. It is one time of the year when people, regardless of their beliefs, have to at least ponder who Jesus was (is). Who do you say He is? 7) Last week, a member of the Living Church of God congregation in Milwaukee pulled a gun, opened fire, and killed 7 people, including the Pastor, before killing himself. As a spiritual leader, have you ever worried about being vulnerable to attack in this way? Has this incident changed your thinking? 7) The Living Church of God calls itself a Christian church, but denies the diety of the Holy Spirit…saying in it’s belief statement that only the Father and Son make up the God head. Is it possible to be a Christian church without recognizing the complete Trinity? 8)Would you classify the Living Church of God as a cult? How would you define a cult? 9) The Barna Institute polled Protestant churches on their ministry priorities for the next year. The top 3 priorities surfaced as: 1. Spiritual development, 2. Evangelism and outreach, 3. Preaching. What are the top priorities for your congregation? 6:09 AM Here are the latest entries in the Crosswalk weblog: Terry Schiavo’s Fight for Life If I Should Die Before I Wake