Saturday, December 23, 2006

P. Diddy Makes Fur Coats...from DOGS!

Below is an article I posted from yahoo news. Apparently P. Diddy's clothing brand has been producing faux fur coats that aren't so faux. They are made out of dog, fur. The article can be read it it's entirety either below or at this link:

I would just like to say that I personally think harvesting the coats of dogs is an awesome idea. First, dogs are so loving and trusting they would never see something like this coming. Imagine little Rover one minute fetching you a stick on a nice Spring day in the park and the next minute being brutely slaughtered to provide you a coat in the winter. There's poetic justice to that. Second, harvesting dog fur helps protect endangered species. Honestly, you would think that these humane groups would approve of this practice. Third, we could save on the expense of having dogs neutered. We could just drop off the excess doggies at our local clothing factory. Maybe even get a small bit of cash like you do when you drop off aluminum can to be recycled.

I am urging all of you who regularly read this blog (me) to write to Macy's in protest of their decision to pull these exotic coats. If we cave into these liberal extremists, what is going to be left for us to wear? Cotton!?!?!?

NEW YORK - Macy's has pulled from its shelves and its Web site
two styles of Sean John hooded jackets, originally advertised as featuring faux
fur, after an investigation by the nation's largest animal protection
organization concluded that the garments were actually made from a certain
species of dog called "raccoon dog."

"First these jackets were falsely advertised as faux fur, and
then it turned out that the fur came from a type of dog," said Wayne Pacelle,
president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.
Pacelle added that the issue is an "industry-wide problem" and its investigation demonstrated
that retailers and designers "aren't paying close enough attention to the fur
trim they are selling." He added that the issue is especially problematic when
"the fur is sourced from China where domestic dogs and cats and raccoon dogs are
killed in gruesome ways."

Raccoon dogs — which are not domestic animals — are indigenous to Asia,
including eastern Siberia and Japan, and have been raised in large numbers
because their fur closely resembles raccoon, Pacelle said.
Orlando Veras, a spokesman at Macy's, a division of Federated Department Stores Inc., confirmed Friday that the retailer had removed the jackets, releasing a statement saying
that it has a "long-standing policy against the selling of any dog or cat fur." He continued, "This policy is clearly communicated to all suppliers."

The Sean John jackets — one a snorkel style, the other a classic version — had been
labeled "raccoon fur," but were advertised as faux fur, Pacelle said.

In a statement by Sean "Diddy" Combs released by his publicist Hampton
Carney, the designer said: "I was completely unaware of the nature of this
material, but as soon as we were alerted, the garments were pulled off the
Macy's floor and Web site. I have instructed our outerwear licensee to cease the
production of any garments using this material immediately."

Macy's removal of the coats comes on the heels of other tests conducted
by the Humane Society of the United States on a range of fur-trimmed jackets
from retailers such as Burlington Coat Factory, Bloomingdale's, J.C. Penney and
Saks Fifth Avenue as well as from designers and clothing lines such as Baby
Phat, Andrew Marc, MaxMara and Calvin Klein. Those tests revealed that most of
the jackets labeled as "raccoon" or coyote" from China in fact contained fur
from raccoon dogs.

Of the 10 garments tested by the Humane Society, nine tested positive
as raccoon dog fur and were mislabeled, a violation of federal law.

The Humane Society is also calling upon Congress to amend the Dog and
Cat Protection Act — which bans the sale of dog or cat fur in the United States
— to include raccoon dog, since the organization says these dogs are so
"inhumanely" killed and their species are similar to domesticated

Friday, December 22, 2006

Free Will, Predestination, and Advertising

Tuesday night, we watched snippets of a Frontline special entitled "The Persuaders" on PBS. It traced the science/art of advertising from the age of the smoking Flintstones to the nueromarketing of today. It was a fascinating program and can be watched in its entirety at: .

Several thoughts:
  1. In regards to my previous post, while Big Brother may be a still distant vision, Big Business is already here and really creeps me out. The amount of information they have on you and the ability to use that information to filter out people who do not fit their target demographic is breathtaking.
  2. Related to #1, it was amazing how companies can look at a person and from seemingly banal facts about them, figure out how they vote, what type of car they drive, and
  3. One of the final statemens of the show reminded me of the Reformed understanding of the will. The reporter basically concluded that advertisers are not really trying to make us purchase something we don't want. Instead they are trying to find out what we want and then provide us with it. In a similar way, speaking of "free will" Reformed theologians contend that man is unable to do good on his own not because he is compelled by God to do wicked but because he doesn't want to do good. As Calvin writes: "Man will then be spoken of as having this sort of free decision, not because he has free choice equally of good and evil, but because he acts wickedly by will, not by compulsion. Well put, indeed, but what purpose is served by labeling with a proud name such a slight thing?"
  4. That last statement strikes me as especially profound. Fine, let's grant that man has free will. We're in the spectacularly unenviable position to freely choose any evil we desire! Advertisers exploit our greed, gluttony, and selfishness for financial profit. They are not manipulating us...just giving us what our far too wicked hearts desire.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Adoption & Conspiracy Theorists

Adoption may or may not be the best process to go through for those of you who fear Big Brother or occassionally scan the skies for black helicopters. On the one hand, we have had to give our agency, Catholic Charities, and the Guatemalan governemtn a great deal of personal information about ourselves. They will be storing it for who knows how long. Children, it seems, are not just handed out to anyone. At first, this certainly made me a little uneasy. Not because I have something to hide, but because maybe someday I will be important enough to have something to hide. I like to keep my options open.
On the other hand, there are some bright spots for conspiracy theorists. For example, after going through the fingerprinting process, I feel strangely more at ease. You see, part of completing our initial paperwork involves getting fingerprinted four times! And, for some reason, we can't be fingerprinted at the same place. We have been fingerprinted three different places and tomorrow we have to travel to Chicago to be fingerprinted there.

That's right! Even in a post-9-11 U.S.A., our governmental agencies aren't coordinated enough to even have a common database for fingerprints, much less information on your job, family, and what plans you may or may not have to conquer the world.

All that to say, for those of you who live in fear of some sort of ruthlessly efficient government watchdog (a la Minority Report) you can put those fears to rest. Trust me, after working with these governmental entitities, that is simply unfeasible. Here is a sample conversation I had during my third fingerprinting session with one of the employees at the sheriff's office downtown:
  • Her (after inking up my left hand and getting each finger's print): OK, now let me have your left hand.
  • Me (looking confused, but giving her me left hand again): Um, here.
  • Her: No, your left hand!
  • Me (pretending to think hard about it): I'm pretty sure this is my left hand.
  • Her: Oh, oops, I just ruined the form your wife waited an hour on the phone to have mailed to you via another example of our ruthlessly efficient government, the US Postal Service, which for some reason decided to not deliver your mail for several days last week because, as they explained, they never bothered to check their records to see when they should be delivering mail to you [true story].
  • Me (smiling really big): That's OK.

This of course means that I will be fingerprinted at least five times. We think another one of our fingerprintings was messed up by the person doing the fingerprinting, so it may be six.

So rest at ease, all you conspiracy theorists...we're in good hands!

Of course, maybe that's just what they want me to think....

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Theological Argument for Adoption, Part 3

Theological Truth #3: God Calls His People to Care for Orphans

Because God cares for orphans, He calls His people to care for orphans. Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Why are His people to care for Orphans? One reason is that caring for orphans is proclaiming the gospel—both to a child and to the world. To the world, it is a dramatic reenactment of the story of our own adoption. “But you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out Abba Father! The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15-16). To the child, we have the opportunity to speak into his or her life for the rest of our lives. As we bring them into our home, we practice the injunction of Deut 6 to teach God’s Word diligently to our children. We fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations. We participate in the worship of God that He has decreed from eternity past will consist of people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev. 5:9).

I’ll never forget my first day in seminary. The professor, Dr. Mark Young, told us we were going to be looking at the parable of the Good Samaritan. As I opened my Bible to Luke 10:25, I turned to what I thought was a very familiar story. However, as he went through the story and applied it to missions, God worked through Dr. Young in a special way that day and my life was forever changed as I saw my responsibility to love the lost in a whole new way.

The parable is a response to a lawyer’s question about what one must do to inherit eternal life. In the parable, a man who is traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho falls prey to robbers. They strip him and beat him. Disfigured and without clothes, he becomes unidentifiable and the question of the parable is who’s neighbor is this mystery man? A priest and a Levite both refuse to offer aid but a Samaritan comes upon the man and, moved by compassion, assists him.

That day in class, Dr. Young drew three truths from this parable: First, love of God and love of neighbor are essential characteristics of one who has inherited eternal life and is rightly related with God. Second, one who has inherited eternal life must have an unlimited concept of neighbor…love of neighbor has no qualifications. Third, compassion compels us to action. If you consider yourself a neighbor to all, you will be moved to some type of action when you are confronted with needs.

Is there a need to care for orphans?!?! In October of 2006, Unicef issued a report in which it estimated that there are over 130 million orphans worldwide. By 2010, that number will increase to almost 150 million. That is a staggering number…and an overwhelming opportunity! There are approximately 50 million evangelical Christians in the United States alone. God is working in the hearts of His people and helping them envision how He can use them to meet the needs of these little ones and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. By a God-given compassion, our hearts are compelled to meet the needs of these precious souls.

The question, then, for Whitney and I as we thought about this final truth was not if we would be involved in orphan ministry but rather how.

The Theological Argument for Adoption, Part 2

Here is part 2 of my discussion of the theological reasons for adoption.

Theological Truth #2: God has Adopted Christians

This truth really hit home as I though through whether or not God would call our family to adopt. As a Christian, I have certain beliefs about my relationship with God. Here are some things I believe about the adoption of those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin.

1. Our adoption was accomplished despite our condition.

Even though I was God's enemy due to sin, God chose to save me. Consider Romans 5:6-11:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath [of God] through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation (NASB).

In my mind, there is a profound implication for those of us who would consider adopting: There are no "unloveable" children! If God was willing to save and call His children those who were His enemies, how much more should we reject the thinking that there are some who are outside the reach of our care!

2. Our adoption was an act of God.

Though there is far too little space in this blog to deal with this issue, I believe that one incredible truth that seems to leap out of almost every page of Scripture is that God is Sovereign. He divinely directs the events of this earth to result in His glory. I believe that this control includes our adoption process.

John 1:12 tells us that it was God who gave the power to become children of God. In 1 John 4:19 we learn that we love because He first loved us. Romans 9:24-26 is especially poignant:

24 Even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25 As He says also in Hosea, "I will call those who were not My people, 'My people,' And her who was not beloved, 'beloved.'" 26 "And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, 'you are not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God (NASB).

God takes those who have no hope of being His people and works by His grace and power to call them His people.

The implication of this truth is that adoption love is both unconditional and initiatory. Children are not deciding to be a part of our home. We are calling them to become a part of ours.

3. Our adoption was accomplished at a great personal cost to God.

After making that decision, to save us He did what it took to bring the adoption about. We've already seen this truth in Romans 5. Consider Colossians 1:15-21:

(NASB) 15 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the [Father's] good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, [I say], whether things on earth or things in heaven. 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, [engaged] in evil deeds.

Here is the unfathomable mystery that is so crucial to the Christian faith. The universe is created by Jesus Christ; it exists for Jesus Christ; it is sustained through Jesus Christ. And yet, the Creator dies for the Creation. The price He paid only serves to glorify Him further.

The implication is that sacrifice, both financial and emotional is not to be a deterent in caring for those God lays on our heart.

4. Our adoption makes us a part of a new family.

We used to be a part of a really bad family. God's adoption removes us from that family and places us in a new one. Again in Romans we read:

14For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with [Him] in order that we may also be glorified with [Him.] (Romans 8:14-17, NASB).

By the work of God through adoption we cry out to God as our Father. This morning, I took an early morning jog through a park near our house. As I was running, I just began praying for my family and other things in my life. As I was praying, I was struck by how casual my conversation was. I had to stop for a moment and consider whether or not my prayer was even remotely appropriate. Here I was presuming to talk with the One who holds existence together by the power of His Word while on a jog! As I paused, I thought through what Scripture says regarding our relationship with God. Some have died for approaching God in a careless of flippant manner. As I thought about my actions some more, I realized my prayer was not casual in the sense of disrespect or lacking an awareness of the Divine Holiness of God, but casual in the sense of being at ease. Why is that appropriate? Because God is my Father.

When a family brings a new child into their home, an entirely new family is created. There can be no more separation. The permanence of God's adoption is mirrored in the papers that Whitney and I signed recently promising that this new child will have the same legal rights as our other children. There can be no "us" and "them" in a human adoption, neither is there one in a Divine adoption.

5. Our adoption can never be revoked.

Let me just conclude with Romans 8:14-39. In these precious verses we read about the adoption of God and its permanence.

14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with [Him] in order that we may also be glorified with [Him.]

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for [our] adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
26 And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for [us] with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to [the will of] God. 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to [His] purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to become] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God [is] for us, who [is] against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
"For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (NASB).

Whitney and I now have the ability to illustrate to a precious little one the permanence of the love of God. May God protect us as we endeavor to be faithful to those whom He entrusts to us!

The Theological Argument for Adoption, Part 1

People who are considering adoption must answer the fundamental question of "why" very early on in the process. Why would a husband and wife voluntarily bring a person whom they have no legal obligation to provide for into their home and commit to caring for them financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually? It is an important question and one I believe many people answer it wrongly. Many, perhaps, adopt out of a desire to meet a void in their own life or assuage themselves of some guilt.

Though it may sound strange, for our family, our motivation was (I hope!) ultimately theological. Therefore a discussion of our adoption story really begins as a theological treatise in some ways. My purpose is not to bore people while only on our second adoption blog, but rather to reveal our motives. Over the next few posts, I'm going to look at three theological truths concerning adoption.

Theological Truth #1: God Cares for Orphans

Throughout Scripture, we see that God has a special concern for those who are disenfranchised and can not care for themselves. Consider just these few examples:
  • "He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing" (Deut 10:18).
  • "Thou hast seen [it], for Thou hast beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Thy hand. The unfortunate commits [himself] to Thee; Thou hast been the helper of the orphan" (Psalm 10:14).
  • "A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation" (Psalm 68:5).
  • "For in Thee the orphan finds mercy" (Hosea 14:3)

Under Levitic law, the Israelites were held culpable for how they treated those among them who were most vulnerable. God wanted provision made for these and the one who refused that provision was challenging Him. The orphan could look to God confidently for His deliverance.

The implication of this is that ultimately, it is not we who cares for orphans but God.

Big News!

Whitney and I are going to be adopting a little girl from Guatemala within the next year! Over the next few months, we'll be updating this site with the most current news. But in the meantime, I'd like to use a few posts to just journal the process we were taken through to get to where we are today.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Jim Bakker's Punk Son Waxes Ineloquent

Jay Bakker, son Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner, published a recent commentary on Jay Bakker is currently the pastor of Revolution Church and stars in a documentary entitled "One Punk Under God." He recently wrote an article entitled, "What the Hell Happened to Christianity?" in conjunction with fellow Revolution staff person Marc Brown. Below is the link. I trust you will find it as well written and nuanced an article as the title suggests.

The only thing that could have been added to the article to make their case even more compelling WOULD HAVE BEEN TYPING IN ALL CAPS, a rhetorical effect often used by those with nothing compelling to say. What an incredibly poorly argued and written piece…how did they get it published? I think this would be my favorite section:

“So when did the focus of Christianity shift from the unconditional love and acceptance preached by Christ to the hate and condemnation spewed forth by certain groups today? Some say it was during the rise of Conservative Christianity in the early 1980s with political action groups like the Moral Majority. Others say it goes way back to the 300s, when Rome's Christian Emperor Constantine initiated a set of laws limiting the rights of Roman non-Christians.”

I appreciate how their firm grasp of church history helps them narrow down the rise of these insidious hate mongers from sometime in the fourth century to the 1980s.

Coming in second would be this section:

“His [Jesus'] parables and lessons were focused on love and forgiveness, a message of "come as you are, not as you should be." The bulk of his time was spent preaching about helping the poor and those who are unable to help themselves. At the very least, Christians should be counted on to lend a helping hand to the poor and others in need.

“This brings us to the big issues of American Christianity: Abortion and gay marriage. These two highly debatable topics will not be going away anytime soon. Obviously, the discussion centers around whether they are right or wrong, but is the screaming really necessary? After years of witnessing the dark side of religion, Marc and I think not."

I think the incoherence of their writing should speak for itself. But, just in case, let me give my two cents. I think their "argument" can be reconstructed as follows: (1) Jesus wants Christians to love, forgive, and help the poor. (2) [awkward segue alert] This brings us to abortion and gay marriage (?!?!). (3) A discussion of these issues is "obviously" about whether they are right or not. (4) Don't scream.

If I follow Bakker and company's argument, I arrive at a rather confusing place. First, I commit to caring for the poor (big fan of this, so no problem). Then, I am forced to consider whether abortion and gay marriage are right or wrong. This, according to the article, is the key issue, but interestingly enough they never mention where they come down on these issues. Finally, if I do believe that abortion is wrong, I have no idea how I am to respond. By feeding the poor?

Of course Christians should be at the forefront of caring for the poor and disenfranchised. That's why my wife and I are adopting. Of course Christians should be gentle and loving in their response to evils such as abortion. That's why the church is repulsed by extremists who commit violent acts in the name of Christ. But what Bakker and his fellow Revolutionary seemingly fail to grasp is that the real problem is not that there are some extremists who give the church a bad name but that the church itself has an intellectual and moral vacuum. We have failed to think carefully about how we are to give a strong, rational, cogent, loving response to a culture that embraces a worldview that is radically different from our own. The answer lies not in merely feeding the poor, or being more "loving", or in screaming REAL LOUDLY. It lies in having our thinking transformed by the Word and then filtering our culture through that grid. An article that is based on such careful thinking would be worth reading.