Knowing vs. Feeling in Worship – Alistair Begg

The Christian faith engages our minds. This is something that we have to keep reminding ourselves of, so that we don’t allow our minds to fossilize, and that we continue to be sharpened and make progress of. I was at a church in California just a few weeks ago. I went there, I was staying with friends…. They had big screens and they had a clock on the screens that counted down from 5 minutes. And just at the right moment of time the band began and I was waiting for David Letterman at that point…

In this excerpt from his message at our 2009 West Coast Conference, Alistair Begg reminds us of the importance of knowledge in worship.

Full message:…
VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

Pornography – What’s the big deal?

A Veritas lecture at Fresno State University about the presence and effects of pornography today.

Russell Willingham, the first presenter, explores the issue of pornography and sexual brokenness. He examines the spiritual, psychological, social and cultural aspects of these issues from a biblical standpoint. He demonstrates how a biblical worldview on this subject is effective in transforming lives for the better. Russell Willingham is Director of New Creation Ministry in Fresno, California.

Dr. Tamyra Pierce, the second presenter at the 46th minute, shares her research and expertise on the content, some of it pornographic, found on teens’ ‘MySpace’ websites. Dr. Tamyra Pierce is assistant professor and director of the Dept. of Mass Communications and Journalism at Fresno State University. She holds a doctorate in Media Effects from University of Missouri, Columbia.

There is a Question and Answer session with the students at the end.

Seven problems with pornography:

  1. Pornography objectifies sex. It divorces sexuality from any kind of relationship.
  2. Pornography trains the person who engages in it to live in his head, in a narcissistic world of gratification.
  3. Pornography keeps the person stuck in an adolescent selfishness, rendering them incapable of true adult relating or sexual functioning.
  4. People who engage in pornography tend to become isolated.
  5. When it comes to pornography, more and more research has indicated that pornography has a lot in common with substance abuses and other addictive behaviors. There is an actual neurochemical kick involved with pornography.
  6. It often leads the person to act out the pornographic scenarios that they’ve seen.
  7. Physiologically, more and more research is indicating that porn actually stimulates the brain (in males and females) in ways that create an addictive experience, adrenal releases and neurotransmitter releases that actually change, not only brain functioning, but, brain tissue.

Pornography: What’s the Big Deal? from Veritas [2] on Vimeo.

The Social Institution Damages Pornography Causes:

(1) SOCIAL DAMAGE: In the social institution of Marriage- it chips away at it in a number of ways: 

  • If the couple engages in pornography together, they lose their intimacy, which takes years to develop. In time, the man tends to become more attached to the pornography and less attached to the wife.
  • Pornography provides images and scenarios that a spouse (man or woman) can never live up to and it breeds this chronic disappointment.
  • Pornography tends to isolate the user from the spouse, which can lead to solo sex, adultery and even prostitution.
  • It blinds their thought pattern. They stop engaging with spouse and children, or even their job, because they can’t think of anything else.

(2) PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE: In the relationship and with the training of children

  • Pornography has such an addictive quality that the person who engages in this (and this applies to all addictions) the addict has the addiction as his/her primary relationship in life. Every other relationship is secondary. In fact, the people in the addicts life are judged in whether they get in the way of their addictions or they encourage it. So, obviously, that’s gonna cause problems for  a father or a mother, who needs to be emotionally available to their children, when they are actually occupied with other pursuits in their mind.
  • Another issue is that addiction tends to rob us of our soul. We become automatons. It definitely impacts how we parent our children. They become truly unable to engage children’s real needs. Children need more than food, clothing, and shelter, a drive to the soccer practice, a movie or hot dog from time to time. They need adults who will engage them soul to soul, and addicts cannot do that effectively, because their soul is engaged elsewhere. Even if they’re not acting up as of this moment, it robs us of our ability to be human.
  • The emotional detachment that the children experience on the part of the parent who’s addicted to porn, feels to them like rejection. And this sets the children up, often times, for lifetime issues of abandonment, that will likely spur addictions in their own lives, down the road, to fill the hole. And the beat goes on.
  • Lastly, the person who engages in pornography, if they do any sex education at all, they will either give their children a warped view of sexuality or because of their own shame and guilt, they won’t talk to their children at all. (22:00)
  • If a person engages in certain types of pornography and allows certain walls to crumble in their own moral system,  they could even abuse their own children sexually. Pornography shapes and warps a person’s perspective not only for sexuality, but, for what people are for and what people are about and how to connect and it can create problems. Pornography has a way of breaking down laws of our own conscience, to the point where we don’t even see a problem anymore and anyone who points out that problem anymore is simply a ‘prude’.

(3) CULTURAL DAMAGE: How pornography affects culture

  • This is not just a private matter. We like to think we are islands, and what we do in private doesn’t affect anybody else. That’s a falsehood. 
  •  (1) First point about that is: There is an entire industry in pornography, that requires the violation of women and children. If you have engaged in online pornography (or videos or printed) you have helped support that industry. You’ve given your donation to them. You’re helping to enslave people. Much of the slave trade, human trafficking is related to pornography or prostitution.
  • (2) Pornography contributes to the cheapening of sex in our culture and the lowering of protection of marriage and children. Pornography contributes to many crimes: Rape, child abduction and molestation. At the national level, Americans spend between 8 and 10 billion dollars annually on pornography.
  • It contributes to the early sexualization of children and teens.
  • There’s been a link to teen sexuality and depression.

(4) SPIRITUAL DAMAGE: There is a damage that we inflict on ourselves when we engage in pornography.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:18 „Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” When Paul talks about ‘body’, he has a much more hollistic view than we do. He sees it as being – body, soul and spirit, the whole package. And, he is teaching that when we engage in sexually destructive acts, it does a number on our psyche, in a way that nothing else can touch. My sexuality is with me all the time. And, if my behaviors and my choices distort that, I carry that around with me the rest of my life. Thankfully, a person can experience healing from that. But, it is incredibly hard work. That’s one of the reasons the Bible pleads with people not to go down this road. Because whatever impacts the spirit and the soul, will eventually impact the body as well.
  • Sex, like every other desire, can burn out of control and it can cause damage. And, throughout history, every  culture that practiced a biblical sexual ethic, and what I mean by that is monogamy,  saw less violence against women and children, and even greater economic prosperity. If you’re interested in doing research on that, I would recommend a book called „The Gift of the Jews”. And, it’s argued in that book that the Jewish nation gave the world something it never had before: monotheism and monogamy. And every culture that’s been impacted by that has been blessed.
  • In my work, I have worked with some very broken men and women. By the way, the whole pornography issue is becoming a bigger and bigger issue for women now. That’s a first. That’s a whole new phenomena that’s never existed before. I’ve seen very broken people, marriages that had no hope. People who had been engaged in this behavior for 20 or 30 years start to heal. Start to experience not only behavior modification, but intra psychic change. And of course, as a Bible believing Christian, I believe that the Creator has the power to bring that about. It’s not a quick fix. It’s really the hard work of recovery just like AA has said for 100 years, encouraging everybody in their groups to reach up to a higher power. I just tend to be more specific about that power.
  • There is an interesting story in the New testament book of John. It tells the story of Jesus speaking to a female sex addict. And the way He interacts with her us fascinating. He’s talking with her about spiritual things and then He says, „Go and call your husband, I’d like to talk with him”. She says, „Well, I don’t have a hsband”. He says, „You’re right when you say that, you’ve had 5 husbands and the man you’re with now is not your husband. He’s a live in, but, you’re not married”. And she was stunned. She felt like He saw her whole life. But, not once does He bring the book down her head, not once does he tell her she needs to repent, she needs to get her act together. In fact, what He says to her is, „You’re here at this well looking for water, I have living water to give you, if you want it”.  My paraphrase? You’ve been looking for satisfaction and satiation for your soul in the arms of one man after another. You haven’t found it daughter. Only your Creator can give that to you. God is far from being shameful and angry at people who have sexual struggles. He wants to restore them. So, pornography is in fact a problem, but, there is a solution. (46:00)

In awe of God’s creation – Joshua Tree National Park – California – Pomii Yucca din Parcul National – Coplesit de Creatia lui Dumnezeu

Joshua trees in Joshua National Park,  California.

click on photo to see full size and source

Romaneste – Joshua Tree National Park – acest parc national din sud-estul statului California este declarat un parc national din 1994 cand Congresul SUA a declarat cei 3,199.59 km2   ca pamant/desert protejat. Parcul este numit pentru padurile cu pomii bastinasi Joshua (Yucca brevifolia) care acopera cei peste 3 mii de km patrati. Aces pamant este putin mai mare decat statul din estul Americii- Rhode Island. Parcul include doua deserte- cel elevat, Deserul Mojave si cel plat, Desertul Colorado. Muntii mici San Bernardino fac parte din sut-westul Parcului.

Joshua Tree National Park is located in southeastern California. Declared a U.S. National Park in 1994 when the U.S. Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act (Public Law 103-433), it had previously been a U.S. National Monument since 1936. It is named for the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) forests native to the park. It covers a land area of 790,636 acres (1,235.37 sq mi; 3,199.59 km2)– an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. A large part of the park, some 429,690 acres (173,890 ha), is a designated wilderness area. Straddling the San Bernardino County/Riverside County border, the park includes parts of two deserts, each an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado Desert. The Little San Bernardino Mountains run through the southwest edge of the park.

Photographed by Doug Dolde More images from this location at (via wikipedia)

Romanian – Pomii Joshua ( Yucca brevifolia), pentru care este numit acest parc national, se gasesc in Desertul elevat Mojave. Pomii se afla si in paduri si singuri la distanta unii de altii.

The higher and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of Yucca brevifolia, the Joshua tree for which the park is named. It occurs in patterns from dense forests to distantly spaced specimens.

The Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia, is a member of the Agave family. (Until recently, it was considered a giant member of the Lily family, but DNA studies led to the division of that formerly huge family into 40 distinct plant families.) Like the California fan palm, Washingtonia filifera, the Joshua tree is a monocot, in the subgroup of flowering plants that also includes grasses and orchids. Don’t confuse the Joshua tree with the Mojave yucca, Yucca schidigera. This close relative can be distinguished by its longer, wider leaves and fibrous threads curling along leaf margins. Both types of yuccas can be seen growing together in the park. The Joshua tree provides a good indicator that you are in the Mojave Desert, but you may also find it growing next to a saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert in western Arizona or mixed with pines in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Francis Chan: The Joy of Suffering – Biola University Chapel

Francis Chan speaks to the Biola  University students in 2009. One standout illustrative part is when he compares our memorizing Scriptures with an example of his daughter’s obedience. You can read about Francis Chan’s recent decision to step down from his church to move to San Francisco and work with the inner city here.

Here is an update (March 14th) from Francis Chan:

Our friends in Iran are still in prison, so please keep praying for them…  Some have been released but others are still suffering.  Much of their time is spent in solitary confinement.  Please Pray.  Here’s a link to read more:

As far as my life, things continue to go supernaturally well.  God has been showing me His grace and love constantly.  Lisa’s pregnancy is healthy and we are expecting our baby girl in May.  We continue to get more settled in San Francisco, however, I have been traveling so much that I still don’t feel like I have „moved” yet.

In regards to our adoption, some things have changed.  We are still in the process of adoption, but we have decided to pursue a sibling set through the foster system.  We found out that Isaac, the child from China, was also sought after by a wonderful Christian family.  Rather than „competing” for the same child, we thought it best to pursue other children that no one wanted.  We found out that around 500 children in California are in need of adoption every month!  You can be praying for us as we pursue this.  You can also be praying for yourself, as God may be calling you to do the same.

I am very excited about some writing projects I am currently working on.  One in particular is a discipleship project I am creating with David Platt.  We have both been deeply concerned with the fact that so few who attend church services are obeying the great commission and making disciples.  We are working on creating a free resource that would equip all lay people to make disciples.  I believe deeply that the future of the church in America depends largely in all believers doing the work of discipleship and placing less of a burden on paid staff.  I believe our best days are ahead.

One thing that I have been thanking God for lately is how much enjoyment I am finding in prayer, study of His Word, and telling others about Christ.  It has been little about discipline and work, and more about desire.  It is great

„Oh God, you are my God; earnestly, I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  Psalm 63:1to be in a season like this.

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In awe of creation – NASA photos of the earth – Poze cu planeta noastra

Creation Calls – Brian Doerkson (One of my favorite all time songs)

Creation Calls  by Brian Doerksen
I have felt the wind blow,
Whispering your name
I have seen your tears fall,
When I watch the rain.
How could I say there is no God?
When all around creation calls!!
A singing bird, a mighty tree,
The vast expanse of open sea
(Musical interlude)
Gazing at a bird in flight,
Soaring through the air.
Lying down beneath the stars,
I feel your presence there.
I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thundering breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
With endless bloom horizons fray.
Listening to a river run,
Watering the Earth.
Fragrance of a rose in bloom,
A newborns cry at birth.
I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thundering breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
With endless bloom horizons fray
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe just like a child
(Choir I believe..)
I believe

Recalling the famous Apollo-era pictures of Earth taken by lunar astronauts, this digital image is a spectacular portrait of the Western Hemisphere at the time of one of the strongest hurricanes ever observed in the Eastern Pacific.

This combination of science, engineering and artistry was generated by researchers in the Laboratory for Atmospheres at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, using data from three different Earth-observing satellite instruments.

Earth at night / Continentele  (sursa pozei suprapusa prin computer de NASA). Explanation: This is what the Earth looks like at night. The  image below is actually a composite of hundreds of pictures made by the orbiting DMSP satellites.

Pacific NW—Washington, Vancouver Island

This cloudless view of northwestern Washington and southeastern British Columbia is a study in varied land-use patterns: the forested Olympic Peninsula and Cascade Range contrast with the wheatlands of the drier east side of the mountains. The checkerboard pattern of clearcut forest is accented by snow in the range east of Seattle. Major cities and seaports of the Pacific Northwest—Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver—take advantage of the deep, sheltered channels.

The natural beauty and safe harbors of the region are products of tectonic processes acting on the western margin of North America. Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker are just two in a line of recently active volcanoes extending from the Coast Mountains of British Columbia to Mt. Shasta in northern California. Strong earthquakes are also frequent, as exemplified by the Nisqually quake (magnitude Mw 6.8) of February 28, 2001, which rocked Tacoma, Seattle and the surrounding area.

Astronaut photograph ISS004-E-10921 was taken by the crew of the International Space Station on April 29, 2002.

Western Pacific Coast of the United States and the East Coast

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders…

Psalm 65:8

Four Corners, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.

The Four Corners is so called because it is the point at which the corners of four states meet neatly at the sames pot. The states are: Utah in the northwest, Colorado in the northeast,New Mexico in the southeast, and Arizona in the southwest.

Also of interest is the Colorado River, which starts in Colorado and flows to the southwest, where it crosses the US border into Mexico to empty into the Gulf of California. While on its course south, the Colorado flows through the Glen Canyon in southern Utah, the Grand Canyon in northeastern Arizona, and Lake Mead on the Nevada-Arizona border. These three features provide some of the most breathtaking natural attractions in the United States.

Land Surface Temperature

Snow Cover


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