Alien on Film?

image

I know that I promised a blog on Bigfoot, but this alien film has to be spoken about.  If you haven’t heard, a man named Stan Romaneck has claimed to have true footage of an alien creature.  Romaneck claims that he thought that he had a peeping tom and set up a video camera to catch the lowlife who was looking in on his two teenage stepdaughters.  What he found was that he was being visited, yet again, by aliens and had captured one on film.  The official photo of the alien is above. The window is eight feet high which explains why all we see is the top of the head.  The aliens can only stretch their necks out so far (for proof, just go rent ET again). 

After seeing the image I have only three questions:

1.  Who would have thought that the aliens would look so much like Miss Piggy?

2.  Why would an advanced race or civilization need to look through the window?  You would think that if they could make it all the way here from a planet light years away that they would have binoculars or a telescope.

3.  Why is it that these things never happen in a place where a good picture can be taken?  Every time the aliens appear, it is to Uncle Pokey and his best friend Wienie, when they are out on a fishing trip drinking moonshine, rather than to the president.  It’s just a thought, but the aliens could make it a little easier on themselves.

All of this to say that while I don’t believe that this film is anything but either a mistake or a hoax.  While I do have a pretty carefully thought through theory about what constitutes the “Abduction Phenomenon,” I don’t think that what you see has anything to do with it.  What then are we to make of those who claim to have been abducted?  Some are experiencing sleep paralysis (google “old hag syndrome”), others have some serious mental problems, others (and there are many in this category) just like to make up stories.  Don’t believe those who say “they have no reason to make this up.” There are some who just like to be the center of attention and one way of getting this attention is claiming that some bizarre situation has happened to you.  But then there are those others, who are clearly not lying, experiencing mental difficulties or suffering from sleep paralysis.  What about those?  There are such people and I believe that they have experienced something real.  I’ll tell you what I think if you like, just let me know.  For now, however, I wouldn’t bet the farm on this image being a real alien.  Of course I could be wrong, in which case, can anyone lend me a Miss Piggy puppet?

Onward . . .

DrSamLam

Root Canal

Well I had my first root canal today and since I spent the extra money on the “gas” I pretty much slept through the whole thing.  I am not one who loves to spend money on anything but books, in hard copy or electronic format from Logos.com, but the nitrous at the dentist is a necessity for me.  I am phobic about the dentist, and only because of my great and very patient dentist do I now have anything resembling a healthy mouth.  All of that to say that the stories about root canals being near child-birth in the intensity of pain either were not true or were very well masked by the gas.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and helpfully comments.  I will give you a full report tomorrow, as well as owning up to another of my quirky interests: Bigfoot.

Until tomorrow, Onward . . .

DrSamLam

Another Quirky Interest of Mine: Bigfoot

Well I had my first root canal today and since I spent the extra money on the “gas” I pretty much slept through the whole thing.  I am not one who loves to spend money on anything but books, in hard copy or electronic format from Logos.com, but the nitrous at the dentist is a necessity for me.  I am phobic about the dentist, and only because of my great and very patient dentist do I now have anything resembling a healthy mouth.  All of that to say that the stories about root canals being near child-birth in the intensity of pain either were not true or were very well masked by the gas.

I am writing this under the influence of some pain medication, so please don’t take all that I say in this post as being written without a tongue in a fairly sore cheek.  some of it, however, is really serious.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is which.

BlackBoard

I will be teaching a course this summer on how to use Logos software (the greatest Bible software on the planet IMHO) and will be conducting some of the class online.  I am thinking of using a platform called “BlackBoard” and would like to know if anyone out there has any experience with this or other educational platforms.  If you wouldn’t mind responding here, rather than by personal note it would help keep the discussion public.

I plan to put up syllabus, grades, assignments, web-pages to be looked at, and other web based work, as well as insisting that students interact with one another online as well as in class.  Whatever help you can offer will be much appreciated.

Thanks Much

DrSamLam

The End.

The End.  What do those words really mean?  They show up in movies, cartoons, and books; in games, trips, and relationships, but what do they really mean?

Since this is the end of the semester, the end of the school year (perhaps the most difficult school year of my entire life), the end of softball season, and even the end of my son’s high school education I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to end.

Some things we don’t like to end, and as I have said in another post, even things that we don’t like, we never do anything, knowingly, for the last time without a feeling of sadness.  I had not played softball in almost fifteen years but I was convinced to come out and play in the church league this year with Josiah.  He is much, much better already than I ever was or ever will be, and when the last game came around, despite the fact that I played terribly, perhaps the worst player in the league, I still hated for it to end. 

It was fun.  It was community.  It was people encouraging each other, laughing and crying, shouting and yelling.  It was a wonderful time and no matter how many times I fell down (at least once a game); no matter how many times I ran up on the person who was on base in front of me (three games in a row); no matter how many times I struck out swinging in slow pitch softball (too many to count) I still had fun.  Isn’t that what church is supposed to be like?

Ending though is not just about stopping wherever you are; it takes real planning, endurance, and practice to end well.  At the end of the school year I always think back to the start of the year and realize how many students started out in my Greek class and then dropped out (usually about 25%).  I think about how so many of them come into class the first day and tell me how excited they are and how they are going to work as hard as they need to in order to do well in the class; then a few weeks go by and the material becomes a little more difficult, the vocabulary becomes a higher number of words, the number of inflected forms becomes more complex and some of those who said they were going to do whatever they could, drop the class.  They failed to end well.

The same was true of the softball season.  Some of those players who had shown a great deal of control all season, when it came to the championship game, lost that control.  This loss of control cost much more than the game, it cost them their testimony.  After such a wonderful season, why not finish well?  Because finishing well is hard.

We are all ending something and starting something else.  God calls us to end what we started well, so that we can start something new properly.  Sure, this was a tough year in many different ways, but God does not call us to finish well when things go well, but to finish well when things are difficult.

Some of us have more yesterdays than tomorrows in our lives.  We know that we will one day be finishing up not just a school year or a softball season, but our time here on earth.  What do you want to be said about you?  How about “ was the kind of person who could be depended on not just to start with enthusiasm, but to finish well.” With the blessing of our Lord Christ, we come to “the end” and hear a “well done . . .”

Finish Well,

DrSamLam

News That Might Matter

I can’t vouch for the total accuracy of all of this news, but I think that it should cause us to think and ask ourselves about what we are doing in our churches to communicate with those who are sitting in our congregations.

The leadership development organization Growing Leaders recently asked focus groups of young adults (ages 16-24) how they prefer to receive communication. Their order of preference: text messages, MySpace and/or Facebook, podcasts, instant messaging, cell phone, CDs, DVDs and Email.

Pastor’s Weekly Briefing 4/4/08

Americans named the Bible as their favorite book of all time, according to a Harris Poll. In addition to being the #1 book overall, the Bible also came in first across the board with all demographic groups. An estimated 92% of Americans own a Bible; the average household owns four. The New Yorker estimates Bible publishers sell 25 million copies a year. But just 45% of Americans read it in a typical week, says the Barna Research Group. In the poll, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was the nation’s second favorite read, while J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings fantasy series nabbed third.

Christian Post 4/8/08

Evangelical leaders were asked, “What is your preferred English Bible translation?” and were left to write in their response. 49% named only the NIV as their preferred translation, while another 18% named a second translation along with the NIV. Other versions listed included the New Living Translation, The Message, the New English Bible, the New Testament in Modern English (J.B. Phillips, 1962) and the King James Version.

Christian Post 4/11/0

Although Amazon.com hasn’t released sales figures for its e-book reader Kindle, it reports supply is not keeping up with demand. The International Digital Publishing Forum says e-book sales have risen from $6 million in ’02 to $33 million in ’07. Those numbers do not include many smaller publishers or library and educational purchases, so the download market is likely far larger. Publishers are reluctant to discuss sales figures but say they’ve seen double digit increases in e-book sales since the 11/07 Kindle release.

USA Today 4/4/08

A story is told of a South American tribe that went on a long journey. They’d walk for days without stopping, then all of a sudden stop, sit down and rest, and make camp for a couple of days before going any further. They explained to Westerners that they needed the time of rest so that their souls could catch up with them. What about you? Are you working so hard you’ve forgotten to let your soul catch up now and then? Are you feeling like your work is soul-less and little more than a method of producing a paycheck? Make it a habit to embrace Sabbath days and times in your life. Wisdom, peace, contentment and insight about investing your life in fulfilling work will grow in those times. Carve out those times for restoration and spiritual breathing. Even Jesus got away from the crowds periodically.

Adapted from No More Mondays, Dan Miller, WaterBrook 2008

How do any or all of these disparate pieces of news affect the way that Christians are going to share the gospel?  How does it affect the way that seminaries should be training their students?  Some of these issues are here to stay and not using them in the church, or not using them to train new students, is missing a serious opportunity.  The church and seminary should be ahead of, not behind the curve in methods of sharing the gospel.

I am really excited about the direction that Knox Seminary is going.  There are some great things happening here, and I am really glad to be a part of the school.  This is not meant to reflect badly on the old administration or faculty, but things are different and I think a fresh wind is blowing that will help Knox train some great students for the future.  I’ll write more about how this brings me both sadness and excitement in a post in a couple of days, so don’t send any critical letters yet.  Save them up.

For now, I wonder what you think about these news items and how you think that the Gospel is and will be influenced by these new pieces of information.  Put up your comments, I will OK them and put them up as soon as I can (usually within a couple of hours) and agree or disagree this can be a healthy place of discourse.

I really want to hear from you, especially if you disagree with me.

Onward,

DrSamLam

Software for Logos

Just so you know that I am still alive after yesterday (things always look worse the day and the day after they happen, I think) I thought I would give you some of the new books that I have been enjoying from Logos software. Of course I am a raving fan of Logos and think that all of the work that they do is simply wonderful. Every product that I have ever received from them has exceeded my expectations.

Logos has a different way of offering new products. It is called “Pre-Pub Specials.” What happens is that a product is offered at a substantial discount if a buyer is willing to commit to the product before it is actually in production. In this way the company can see if the demand will meet the costs for some of these obscure titles.

I have had a few of my pre-pubs come in lately:

The Cotton Patch Version– This is a particular version of the Bible which I have already blogged about so I won’t say any more about it here.

A Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period. This is a wonderful collection of essays on rhetoric (public speaking and argumentation). There are articles on memory, the voice, gestures, as well as articles on the difference between Aristotle’s and Cicero’s style of speaking and teaching speaking.

Three things which I am really anxiously waiting for:

Jesus and the Victory of God by N. T. Wright. I still remember the day that I bought this book from the bookstore at Trinity. As I read it, my understanding of the New Testament was opened in a way that no other book has succeeded in doing. This is a masterpiece of biblical theology. Sure there are places that will make the evangelical nervous (I note them in my review of the book for JETS if you want to search it out), but this is a great book about what Jesus came to do, and what Jesus actually did. I am surprised that it has taken so long to get up to release point.

The JBL Collection. For $99.00 I feel like this is a steal. There are so many good articles in JBL (Journal of Biblical Literature) and to have them all searchable on ones own hard drive seems to me a treasure worth selling a piece of land for. This pre-pub has been particularly slow for some reason and I am just stunned about that.

The Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. If you have been to the Logos site you will have seen my highest recommendation for this tool. I truly believe that this is going to be one of the most helpful tools for the pastor and the serious Bible student to come along in a very long time. Again, I don’t know why the pre-pub is taking so long.

Perhaps this post shows my impatience. It shows that I want it all right now and that I can’t be satisfied with the thousands of books that I have on Logos now and the thousands of books that I have on shelves in my office as I type this. I am looking for the next thing. I have a friend who is a marketer who told me that the average purchaer of a diet will buy another diet before the first one arrives in the mail. We all want our problems solved, our pain taken away, and we want it now.

That desire is not wrong. It’s just misplaced. A new book from Logos, or a new diet is not going to ultimately fill the void. The desire for perfection can only be filled by Christ and by the heavenly city. So now we wait, knowing that one day we move to a new apartment where the roof doesn’t leak, the neighbors aren’t noisy and the grass grows only as long as we want it to. A city that has no graveyards, hospitals, or funeral homes. A city of perfection which we long for now, but which we will get another day. And so we wait and try to make small things fill a big void, but deep down knowing that there will come a time when our longing will be met with fulfillment.

I long for that day. I hope you do. I hope that if you use Logos software it makes you love Christ more, praise God more, desire the Spirit more, and long for the new city more.

Onward to the city with no police,

DrSamLam

Sundays Can Be Tough Days

Every Sunday after the second service I head over to the fellowship hall to meet with those who might want to have a word with me after the service.  To tell you the truth this is the hardest part of the preaching job for me.  I am an introvert and standing around talking is not something that I enjoy doing, particularly after a long morning (I usually get up at five on Sunday mornings) but it is necessary so I always do it.

This morning started out like most others, people saying hello, well-wishers, and a few people who, by some miracle, had been blessed by the sermon.  The problem is that things didn’t stay that way.

The first problem was a young girl (early twenties I would guess) who began to question me about my commitment to repentance as part of the gospel.  When I asked her exactly what she meant by “needing to repent of ones sins before a person could become a Christian.” She told me, in a rather long monologue about why repentance was needed; why it was particularly important for people in her age group; etc.  When I told her that I, of course agreed that repentance from sin was important and that the way one lived after becoming a Christian indicated the truthfulness of one’s conversion she shot back “Why didn’t you even mention repentance in your sermon?” I told her that I couldn’t preach everything in one sermon, and she told me of her young pastor, a graduate of Dallas, whose sermons were on the web, maybe I could listen to some.

A couple of people later, it got worse.  Much worse.  A lady said that she wanted to ask me about something that I had said before today.  What she meant was something that I had said months or maybe even a year and a half before today.  She said that I had pointed out that both Mary and Jesus likely suffered shame as a result of the virgin birth.  This, she said, was a new idea that had only come out in the last ten years, she had never heard Dr. Kennedy say anything like that, and this idea only came from seminary people.

I tried to tell her that the Babylonian Talmud has very specific stories about Mary’s lack of chastity and that it certainly was not written ten years ago, but that got nowhere.  This afternoon I found an even earlier (350 a.d.) reference in a tract written by Origin against Celsus (1.28) Which says: “For he represents him disputing with Jesus, and confuting Him, as he thinks, on many points; and in the first place, he accuses Him of having “invented his birth from a virgin,” and upbraids Him with being “born in a certain Jewish village, of a poor woman of the country, who gained her subsistence by spinning, and who was turned out of doors by her husband, a carpenter by trade, because she was convicted of adultery; that after being driven away by her husband, and wandering about for a time, she disgracefully gave birth to Jesus, an illegitimate child . . .”

I tried to point out to here John 8:41 where Jesus is taunted by the words “we were not born of fornication” but that was seen as nothing.  I tried to ask her what other people would have thought if Mary had turned up pregnant before or shortly after she and Joseph were married.  She explained to me that the clothes that people wore in those days made it impossible to see that a person was pregnant.

Finally, I was at the end of my rope.  I had been standing in the fellowship hall for at least forty-five minutes and I simply said to her, “Listen, if it’s that big of a deal to you then don’t believe it, I don’t care.  Why is it so important to you that Mary never suffered?” By this time I had lost it.  She said she knew that God would not put Mary through all of this and I asked her to show me that from the text.  She didn’t have a Bible with her.  I said something that I regret and wish that I had not said, “I am suspect of someone who wants to correct the minister/seminary professor but doesn’t carry a bible to church.”

I know, that was out of line, shouldn’t have been said, no excuse, and all of that.  I was simply tired of going around about a point that seems very clear to me and not worth arguing about.  She became hurt and started to walk away at which time I apologized but told her that I just didn’t think that I could do her any good.  She exclaimed that she thought that I would at least have the decency to talk to her graciously about this, and then walked away.

I suppose I could make some excuses by saying that this has been an exceptionally long week.  We have had, in addition to regular classes, an accreditation advisor with whom the faculty met several times, a potential new professor who came down to do some guest lectures, and the planning for the graduation in less than two weeks.  All the while trying to prepare to preach one of the most difficult passages in the Gospel of Matthew.

All of that is just smoke really.  What I truly wonder at times like this is whether or not God is telling me that I am in the wrong place.  That maybe I ought not to be preaching on Sunday mornings like this.  Maybe I am in the wrong place and am just fooling myself in thinking that I am doing the Lord’s will.  It all seems so hard to figure out sometimes. 

So now you know, it’s not just you.  We all wonder if we ought to be doing something else every once in a while.  One days like this, when I’m tired, I wonder it even more.  But I don’t make any decisions on these days.  I wait for a good night’s sleep and hope that things will look better tomorrow.

Seeking the New City,

DrSamLam