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I’ve received questions asking, “What is a ‘moderate Christian?’” First, let me separate the two words because it is not moderately being a Christian, but being a Christian who has a moderate or middle of the road or sitting on fences world view.

We hear so much from the “Christian Right” (which by the way is neither in my opinion) and how they are judging, excluding and overlooking the very people Christians are to serve as evidenced in Jesus’ life on earth. We hear so much from them because they are trying to take over the political system to further their power and beliefs. I’m all for sharing my beliefs, but not forcing them. “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words,” St Francis of Assisi.

Now, what it means – according to me. I grew up Baptist and still hold Baptist beliefs (while attending a Methodist church because that is where my wife and I feel God wants us to be). Many of the following thoughts are traditional, unchanged Baptist doctrine – not the creeds some want to sign and enforce.

Jesus Christ – born of a virgin, died, rose and lives.

Priesthood of the Believer – I believe that every person has a connection with God through prayer. Jesus and the Holy Spirit enable this link.

The Bible – God’s revelation of Himself to us. God used divinely inspired men to write it.

Meeting human needs – we are called to minister to those who need help.

Sanctity of human life – I am for life. I also think the government shouldn’t tell people what to do on a personal level.

Creationism – How God did it be it through big bang, evolution, whatever doesn’t matter. Interesting discussion and learning about science but that initial spark, the action that set it all in motion came from God.

Environmentalism – God created the world. We are earth’s stewards and must take care of what God has given us responsibly.

Life – there are so many applications here that it could fill pages. Wine and alcoholic beverages – drink them if you want to, just don’t get drunk or lose control of yourself.

Freedom of religion – the government shall make no law prohibiting or enforcing a religion.

Worship – worshipping God can happen anywhere at anytime. You don’t have to be in a specific location, just a specific state of mind.

Love – God loves all his creations more than we can imagine.

Grace – God’s grace is freely available to all who ask through Jesus.

The above post also now appears under the “defined” link above.

I just listened to a speech/sermon by the executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas., Dr. Charles Wade. I know there are some negative things circulating about Baptists, but let me tell you something – this group of people want to be Jesus’ representatives here on earth. They want to meet peoples’ needs – hunger, rights, poverty, environment. These are the people Baptists should be seen as, not those in the “new conservatives” who now run the Southern Baptist Convention and exclude the very people they should be reaching.

The other day I was in for my annual eye exam. While I was waiting in the exam room, I studied a poster of the eye and its muscles. As you would assume, the eye has muscles attached to the eye at numerous points allowing full rotation and movement of the human eye. One muscle in particular caught my attention – the superior oblique. This muscle actually passes through a loop of bone to provide intorsion and abduction (no, I didn’t know that, the reference is below). As I looked at the phenomenon, I marveled at God’s divine plan. I believe in science and I believe that God can use anything to achieve His outcome. To simply deny that God created life and humans implies that science, which typically takes the path of least resistance, created a muscle that grows through a loop of bone that grows for this sole purpose – to provide ocular motion. To see an image of the muscle:
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.perret-optic.ch/optometrie/anatomie_oeil/anatomie_oeil_image/muscles_oeil.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.perret-optic.ch/optometrie/anatomie_oeil/opto_anato_oeil_gb.htm&h=448&w=368&sz=33&tbnid=eLQRBx8Kyx2-pM:&tbnh=127&tbnw=104&prev=/images%3Fq%3Deye%2Bmuscles&start=1&sa=X&oi=images&ct=image&cd=1

From the great wikipedia:“The superior oblique muscle, or obliquus oculi superior, is a fusiform muscle in the upper, medial side of the orbit whose primary action is intorsion and whose secondary actions are to abduct (laterally rotate) and depress the eyeball (i.e. it makes the eye move outward and downward). One of the extraocular muscles, the superior oblique is the only muscle innervated by the trochlear nerve. 

The primary action of the superior oblique muscle is intorsion; the secondary action is depression (primarily in the adducted position); the tertiary action is abduction. A brief survey of neurology and physiology texts and websites reveals much confusion about the role of the superior oblique muscle, with many sources claiming that its role is to move the eye towards the nose. In fact, because of its positioning, it is able to rotate the eye away from the nose so that when the eye is already adducted (looking directly “inwards”) its rotational action turns the pupil downwards to look towards the mouth, which many texts misinterpret as its primary action.

Man, science is amazing.

As I watch Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Derek Shepherd is talking with a guy in the waiting room about Meredith. The sub plot of this episode is death, afterlife and what happens surrounding death. Losing someone is hard. Death and its finality, is hard. In the world of reruns and crazy reintroductions of “dead” characters we don’t see death as final. It is. Miracles do happen. Anyway, Derek and this guy share the names of their loved ones and the stranger says, “I guess its in the hands of the doctors.” Derek agrees. Then the stranger says, “I’ll add Meredith to my prayers.”
When I watch shows that deal with death, I pay attention to how and if they address God. At first, solely because I don’t understand how anyone who is not a Christian could possibly deal with death and it’s finality without Christ’s promise of eternal life and reunion with Him and others.
Now there’s another reason. On a tour of the Huntsville, Texas, prison, known as “the walls unit,” through which every male release is discharged – either alive or dead and a private tour with the warden of the death row and the lethal injection chamber, the warden started talking about the men who had been put to death in that room. The warden must attend every lethal injection that takes place in his prison. One story he told will always stick with me. “No matter the person on the table, athiest, agnostic, whatever religion, they always cry out to God just before the end.”

why do you wear a watch? to be on time for meetings? orient yourself? to know when the next time to eat is?
for a recent mission trip to Moldova (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moldova) i purchased an inexpensive digital watch that was designed to keep two different time zones. being bad at math, i set one for my home time and one for Moldova time and set off on my way. the original reason for setting the watch was to make sure i called home to talk with my wife during waking hours.
while on the mission trips i grow specfically interested in the cause, the country and the people. as we (i went with CERI http://www.cerikids.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?&pid=249&srcid=237) interacted with the orphaned children in the poorest country in the former Soviet Union, love was evident in their hearts as it was expressed vividly through our main form of communication – actions.
a little bit about moldova that the link doesn’t tell you. the country is beautiful with rolling hills, good land for agriculture and a decent climate. they have resources they could tap. amidst this, the chief export of the country is young girls into the sex trade. as i talked with, interacted with, made crafts with these orphans, i couldn’t stop thinking that i know with 80% certainty what will happen to you when you turn 16 and have to leave this orphanage to allow space for others who are younger. the boys there have a slightly different potential future. the boys, upon leaving the orphanage at 15 are not immune to the sex trade but have a higher chance of ending up in jail – caught for stealing in order to stay alive. knowing this, when we made crafts that centered around a biblical theme it made me cry every time one of those children once completing their craft ran over to one of us Americans and gave us their work as a gift. those who have nothing giving to those who comparatively have everything. the flight over to Moldova alone would sponsor a child in one of the orphanages five years. all they want to do is love. all they ask for is love.
i was there with a digital camera – it’s amazing how quickly they learn that their picture is on the back of the camera. it went like this. take a picture, everyone gathering around to see themselves. take a picture, everyone gathering around to see themeselves. repeat. one six-year-old boy knew about as much english as i russian. he followed me, helped me take pictures, taught me more russian and even showed off some of his talents for the camera. he looked at my watch and with gestures asked if he could have it. i said i couldn’t give it to him, but will always keep your time zone on my watch and every time i hit that button that shows your time, i’ll stop, think of you and pray for you. i do, everytime.